Another European Cross-Road? Kosovo on the Brink of Recognition and Chaos
The current situation facing Kosovo is the result of a long historic process which essentially began several hundred years ago. This process accelerated following the break-up of the Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s. While the series of conflicts between Croats, Serbs and Bosniaks resulted in national independence for the six Yugoslav Republics, Kosovo remained an inseparable part of Serbia, despite its strong independence oriented identity.
This was to change in the late 1990s when the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) was formed and began a low-intensity conflict with Serbia in the hope of wrestling authority away from Belgrade. As KLA attacks became more frequent, and negotiations broke down, Serbia responded in the spirit of 1990s Balkan excesses, with a deliberate policy of ethnic cleansing and wanton violence against both KLA targets and the Ethnic Albanian civilian population. As the humanitarian situation deteriorated NATO was prompted to intervene.
This intervention went under the name of Operation Allied Force and was designed to end the humanitarian crisis in Kosovo. The problem then (1999) as now was what to do with Kosovo once NATO was in firm control of it. After operations in Kosovo subsided, the UNSC passed Resolution 1244 which retro-actively legitimated NATO military deployments – in what has become known as the ‘Zorro Principle’ which highlights the morality but illegality of an action – and authorised NATO to deploy peacekeeping forces under the command of ‘KFOR.’
The 1999 war, and subsequent administration of Kosovo by NATO and the UN (under UNMIK), did not solve the Kosovo question. Ethnic tensions periodically flared-up (between Kosovar Muslims and Serbs) and until 2007, the future of Kosovo seemed very uncertain. However, in February 2007 Martii Ahtisaari, the former UN Special Envoy to the Kosovo Status Negotiations, prepared a contingency plan for the ‘supervised’ independence of Kosovo.