NTERVIEW WITH BALKANS EXPERT DUSAN RELJIC
'Kosovo Is not Independent, It Is an EU Protectorate'
Kosovo's declaration of independence has been recognized by many Western countries, but Serbia claims the move is illegal. Kosovo expert Dusan Reljic tells SPIEGEL ONLINE about his concerns that the move will undermine international law, pave the way for future disputes and prevent longterm peace in the region.
Kosovo's declaration of independence on Sunday has been recognized by many Western countries, including the United States, Germany and the United Kingdom. However, Serbia and its ally Russia insist that the move is illegal and threaten to do everything they can to make life difficult for the new state.
Kosovo expert Dusan Reljic, who spent many years working as a journalist in Belgrade and now works at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP), tells SPIEGEL ONLINE about his concerns that the move will undermine the United Nations and international law and pave the way for more separatist groups.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: How problematic is Kosovo's declaration of independence from the perspective of international law?
Dusan Reljic: Three out of the five veto powers in the United Nations Security Council, France, the UK and the US, are of the opinion that Resolution 1244 (Eds: which guarantees Serbia's "territorial integrity) is still valid despite the decision of the parliament in Kosovo, and two, Russia and China, did not. And a majority of the countries that are non-permanent members of the United Nations Security Council were also of the opinion that the declaration of independence is illegal. So it's a political interpretation at the end of the day.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: What are the implications for the UN?
Reljic: The fact that the majority of Western countries are recognizing this move by the parliament in Kosovo means that the West has opted for a resolution to this situation outside the UN system. And this of course is not strengthening the UN.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: What steps will Serbia take now?
Reljic: I think that Belgrade will make life extremely difficult for the government in Pristina... Representatives of Kosovo will not have access to all institutions that are governed by UN law.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Will the West's position be weakened if Russia begins to encourage Georgian break-away provinces to declare independence, in the light of Kosovo's declaration?
Reljic: If NATO tries to expand in the Caucuses and tries to incorporate Georgia, Russia might try to recognize these breakaway provinces. And this is obviously something that Georgia is afraid of because the Georgian government has said that it has no intentions of recognizing Kosovo.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Do you think that EU's failure to show a united front on Kosovo has damaged its attempts to have a coherent foreign policy?
Reljic: It shows that there is a plurality of thinking within the European Union and the EU is not a homogenous bloc. I don't think that any one expected the EU to act as a single state. The EU is not a single state.
The decision of the Kosovo Albanians to proclaim independence is not something that the EU has endorsed. The EU has been pushed by the US into this position. This was not original EU policy.
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