Time is getting short:
LONDON – The threat of a new war in the Balkans loomed yesterday after the collapse of talks between Serbs and Albanians over the future of Kosovo.
Three days of negotiations overseen by international mediators broke down with both sides refusing to budge over their claims to the breakaway province.
Kosovo’s Albanian majority has threatened to declare independence unilaterally…
The breakdown of the talks leaves Kosovo in the same limbo it has inhabited since the United Nations took over its administration in 1998 after NATO drove out Serbian troops [that attack, not authorized by the UNSC, sure looks like it may have not really solved anything – MC]…
Russia, which sided with Serbia to block a previous western-backed independence deal, looks set to remain opposed. But even countries such as Spain, Greece and Cyprus have signalled their disquiet at an independence deal, fearing it could embolden separatists within their own borders.
In Moscow, Russian media quoted Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying: “We cannot accept the incantation that this is a unique case, that independence is unavoidable.
No precedent exists for the creation of a new state by international committee and against the will of the sovereign power.
Serbia has cautioned that international recognition of Kosovo’s independence could cause the Serb enclave of northern Kosovo to secede and spark a secession movement among the Serbs of Bosnia…
Berlin announced it would be sending an extra 500 German troops to Kosovo, bringing their contingent in the NATO-led force to 2,800.
In Brussels, Gen. John Craddock, NATO’s supreme commander in Europe, said the alliance’s 16,000-strong Kosovo peacekeeping force had plans to tackle any violence…
Then there’s this rather gruesome view of the situation:
Predicting tough times ahead, the NATO commander in Kosovo called on Wednesday for clear guidance on how his force should act if the Serbian province declares independence as expected.
French Lt. Gen. Xavier de Marnhac also said the problem of tense relations between Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian majority and Serb minority would eventually reach a “biological end” as the average age of the Serbs was much older.
Asked if he had requested more troops for his 16,000-strong force, de Marnhac said he could call on reserve forces outside Kosovo but had not done so yet. One such battalion was conducting mission rehearsals in Kosovo now, he said.
In his briefing, de Marnhac also noted the average age of Kosovo’s Albanians was 28, while the figure for Serbs was 54…
Update: Just in case you think one is being alarmist:
UK troops ready for Kosovo crisis