For many years, Yugoslavia was defined by turmoil between its ethnic Serb and ethnic Albanian populations, culminating in state-sanctioned oppression of the Albanian population in Kosovo by Yugoslavian later Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic. While Kosovo is a new state, the international community has been involved in the Kosovo conflict since George Bush's secret Christmas Warning to Serbia in , where Bush warned Milosevic that Serbian aggression in Kosovo would provoke an international response.
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Even after the NATO bombings, it became apparent during negotiations on Kosovo's status that Serbia was unwilling to cede control of the territory. At the same time, Kosovar Albanians were beginning to assert their rights independent of the international negotiations.
As peace talks continued, Finland's former president, Maarti Ahtisaari, drafted a settlement proposal between the leaders of Serbia and Kosovo, but after years of negotiations, it became clear in that independence was the most appropriate solution to the Kosovo conflict.
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While Ms. Osmani discussed Kosovo's long path to independence, I realized how little attention the media had given the conflict.
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For over a decade Kosovo's status had been indeterminate, but the majority of the audience seemed to be learning about Kosovo's history for the first time. As Ms.
Kosovo in Europe: Ten Years of Contested Statehood in unsettled neighbourhood | ÖFZ
Osmani noted in her opening, though, Kosovars faced numerous problems even after gaining independence. First, Kosovars had been largely denied educational and career opportunities during Milosevic's presidency. As a result, Kosovo had no economy, no rule of law, and no other governmental institutions. Second, most of Kosovo's population had been displaced during the war and had emigrated to other countries.
Therefore, the daunting task of state-building fell upon a population composed primarily of younger Albanians, who through luck and hard work had obtained enough of an education to assist in the rebuilding process. Osmani, who became became a legal advisor to Kosovo's President at 23, is one such example. Although 65 countries currently recognize Kosovo's statehood, Serbia has challenged the legality of Kosovo's declaration of independence and asked the International Court of Justice ICJ to render an advisory opinion on whether the "the unilateral declaration of independence by the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government of Kosovo is in accordance with international law.
Osmani strongly believes that this question misleads the court. When the UN Security Council authorised negotiations to determine the final status of Kosovo in October , most observers confidently expected the Serbian province to become an independent state by the end of the following year. However, the process did not go as planned. Kosovo: The Path to Contested Statehood in the Balkans charts the course of the status process from to the present and analyzes how and why it went so very wrong.
This clear and perceptive account will be essential reading for anyone with an interest in the recent history of the Balkans or in international conflict resolution.
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He also has a practical background in conflict analysis and resolution, having previously served as director of a think tank and as the co-ordinator of the Greek-Turkish Forum at the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies RUSI. The argument and analysis are first-class.
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United Nations authority: after Kosovo
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