10 December 2007
Three options for Serbia
It now looks certain that the Albanians in Kosovo will declare the territory independent before the end of January. When that happens the Serbs basically have three options. They will cave in and accept their defeat. They will go to war to uphold their country's integrity, or they will cut a deal with Albania that will surprise us all.
Nothing in Serbia's history suggests that they will suddenly bow down to outside pressure. It just doesn't seem to be in their nature. Kosovo is at the heart of their nationality, and I just don't see any way that the Serbian government could back down even if it wanted to.
I realise that by saying that I am in a minority. Most British commentators are taking the line that the Serbs will be reasonable, especially since all those EU subsidies are at state. What these commentators don't realise is that ideology tends to trump economic self-interest.
The second option is war. The west has broken the armistice agreement of 1999 which stated quite clearly that Kosovo is a part of Serbia. Russia helped negotiate that agreement, and it is to be hoped that she will back Serbia and thus prevent war. If she doesn't, then it looks likely that Serbia will go it alone, and hopefully the site of NATO bombers reducing Serbian cities to rubble will force her to act.
However, there is a third option. It is one that both the Serbia and the Albanians were discussing in 1999 and one which the west refused to accept. Kosovo could be divided between the two. Albania would get the lion's share, but Serbia would be willing to accept that so long as she kept the Serbian parts of the territory.
Why did the west refuse to accept this deal? Largely because it meant accepting that the Serbs and the Albanians don't want to live together. It ran up against their post-modernist view that we are all consumers together.
Hopefully saner heads will prevail because it looks as if a division of the territory is the only realistic way forward.