Thursday, April 28, 2005

"There can be no partition of Serbia"

Historian Dušan Bataković, author of the Kosovo Chronicles and currently Ambassador of Serbia-Montenegro in Athens, gave a very interesting interview to NIN magazine this week. I've taken the liberty of translating some highlights:
...what is bad for Kosovo is bad for Serbia. Taken together, they are an organic whole, and despite the differences in mentality, chronic violence and contrary political tendencies, they are bound by many unbreakable ties.
It is Serbia's duty, regardless of the seemingly intractable conflict, to protect in the long-term the interests of all its citizens in the province - Albanians, Serbs and others.
Any form of independence of Kosovo is absolutely unacceptable for Serbia, not just because that endangers Serbia's vital interests, but also because Serbia and Montenegro, as responsible members of the international community, cannot accept dangerous precedents with long-term catastrophic consequences... The independence of Kosovo would not only violate the UN Charter, the entire international order and the Helsinki Final Act of 1975, it would also set a dangerous precedent encouraging all other aggressive separatist movements in Europe and Eurasia. ... There is no separate "Kosovar" nation with a separate identity; there are only Albanians and Serbs.
The old notion of the Albanian lobbyists – to pay off Serbia for ceding Kosovo - de facto recognizes that Kosovo does not belong to them. They may not be aware of this, but the subconscious is at work here. If you want to buy something, that means you are conceding it belongs to someone else.
The independence of Kosovo would mean the partition of Serbia. Whenever it is said there can be no partition of Kosovo, I always agree, because there can be no partition of Serbia, either.
We are... at the crossroads of highways, railways, riverways, oil and gas pipelines, and in that context the issue of Kosovo - though threatening and incendiary - becomes only part of a geopolitical jigsaw. Which is why I always emphasize the following: you cannot satisfy the extremely particular interests and 19th-century ideological demands of 1.7 million Albanians in Kosovo, while permanently frustrating eight million Serbs, who are the key to the long-term stability of Western Balkans.

Bataković is a fan of "Euro-Atlantic integration," which I am not, but his positions on Kosovo are easily the best-articulated Serbian policy I've heard in a long time.

Also interesting is his answer to the question about "certain officials" (i.e. former FM Svilanović and others) who "privately" renounce Kosovo in talks with foreign officials:
If that is true... then it is an act of ultimate political irresponsibility. Part of the political elite that holds such opinions - and the foreigners need to be aware of this - does not represent the majority political opinion in Serbia. Those are private opinions of suck-ups, not positions reflecting official state policy. We have here a dangerous mix of provincialism and false cosmopolitanism, both reflections of a pathetic personal and political inferiority complex among the political class.

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