Kosovo's Future The Path to National Independence

The future status of Kosovo -- currently a province of Serbia --was one of the remaining unanswered questions after the end of the 1999 war. Now the international community has come up with a plan for how Kosovo could become an independent country -- step by step.

UN Special Envoy for Kosovo Martti Ahtisaari will present his proposal for the future of the province this Friday.

UN Special Envoy for Kosovo Martti Ahtisaari will present his proposal for the future of the province this Friday.

The members of the Kosovo Contact Group -- the United States, Russia, Germany, Italy, France and the United Kingdom -- along with United Nations (UN) mediator Martti Ahtisaari have agreed on the main points of a plan for the independence of Kosovo. The strictly confidential draft outlines a complicated process that its authors hope will allow Kosovo to separate from Serbia by the summer -- without any major outbreaks of violence. The basic idea: Kosovo should declare itself independent, and the international community should create the conditions for it to do so.

The first step in the plan involves Ahtisaari presenting his proposal on the future of the province to the governments in Pristina and Belgrade this Friday, Feb. 2. His statement would say nothing conclusive about the question of Kosovo's status.

The second step would then consist of a UN Security Council resolution, the content of which was also voted upon last week. This resolution would again leave the question of Kosovo's status formally unanswered. But at the same time, UN Resolution 1244 -- which has regulated the international supervision of Kosovo since the end of the war in 1999 -- would be annulled. This would eliminate the international legal restrictions that currently prevent Kosovo from declaring independence. And both the Contact Group and UN mediator Ahtisaari assume the government in Pristina would immediately do just that.

If the ethnic Albanian majority in Kosovo will agree both to protect the Serbian minority and to accept European Union supervision, with extensive authority to intervene when necessary, then the countries represented in the Contact Group, possibly excluding Russia, would go on to formally recognize the new nation.

In addition to this process, the Western countries in the Contact Group intend to devote special attention to Serbia and compensate it for the loss of Kosovo with political and economic rewards. This would be necessary given that Russia -- traditionally Serbia's protector state -- is only prepared to accept the plan on the condition that Belgrade does not fundamentally reject Kosovan independence.


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