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  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: With the dispute between Georgia and Russia in a new, dangerously confrontational phase, the risk of war in the South Caucasus is growing. Concerned by NATO's plans for further extension to former Soviet republics and Kosovo's unilateral but Western-orchestrated independence, Russia has stepped up manipulation of the South Ossetia and Abkhazia conflicts. Georgia remains determined to restore its territorial integrity, and hawks in Tbilisi are seriously considering a military option. Both sides need to recognise the risks in current policies, cool their rhetoric and cease military preparations. Russia should cease undermining its peacekeeper and mediator roles and be open to a change of negotiating formats. Georgia should adopt a new approach to the Abkhaz, encouraging their links to the outside world to lessen dependence on Russia and emphasising incremental con­­fidence building to establish the mutual trust needed for successful negotiations. The U.S. and European Union (EU) should be firm and united in cautioning both Moscow and Tbilisi against military adventures.
  • Topic: International Relations, NATO, International Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Asia, Soviet Union, Kosovo, Georgia, Tbilisi
  • Publication Date: 12-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Kosovo's transition to the status of conditional, or supervised, independence has been greatly complicated by Russia's firm support of Serbia's refusal to accept that it has lost its one-time province. Recognition of conditional independence has broad international, and certainly European Union (EU) and American, support. Under threat of Moscow's veto, the Security Council will not revoke its Resolution 1244 of 1999 that acknowledged Serbian sovereignty while setting up the UN Mission (UNMIK) to prepare Kosovo for self-government pending a political settlement on its future status. Nor will the Council be allowed to approve the plan for a conditionally independent Kosovo devised by the Secretary-General's special representative, Martti Ahtisaari, earlier this year and authorise the EU-led missions meant to implement that plan.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Development, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Kosovo, Moscow, Serbia
  • Publication Date: 10-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Southern Serbia's Albanian-majority Presevo Valley is one of the rare conflict resolution success stories in the former Yugoslavia. Outwardly, it is increasingly normal, with no major incidents in over three years. Yet, tensions linger: massive unemployment is still the single largest problem but the shadow of Kosovo's future status darkens the political landscape. How Kosovo's final status is determined in the next months will have a profound impact. If formal partition or large-scale violence accompanies independence, the peace could unravel; in a worst case scenario, ethnic cleansing in southern Serbia would be accompanied by significant, cross-boundary, two-way refugee flows. All parties – local Albanian politicians, the Serbian government and the international community – need to work with greater urgency on developing the region's economy and ensuring that developments in Kosovo do not disrupt its peaceful progress.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security
  • Political Geography: Eastern Europe, Kosovo, Yugoslavia, Serbia, Balkans
  • Publication Date: 05-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Serbia finally has a new government but one that is deeply divided between pro-Western and nationalist forces. Facing two difficult issues–Kosovo status and cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY)–its choice is between moving towards European integration or on to a more isolationist path. The government's composition, deep mistrust among many of its members and the parliament's nationalist majority suggest it will follow the second option. Pro-Western forces have suffered a significant setback, the government is vulnerable to manipulation by the security services and oligarchs, and the system of divided responsibility for the security services renders unlikely serious cooperation with the ICTY, especially the arrests of Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic. Although Kosovo independence could destabilise the government, it may surprise and last far longer and prove more stable than expected. The West should prepare for Serbia turning increasingly away from Europe and towards Moscow.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government, Nationalism
  • Political Geography: Europe, Eastern Europe, Kosovo, Yugoslavia, Moscow, Serbia
  • Publication Date: 05-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The debate on Kosovo's future status has reached a crucial point. The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has begun to consider elements of a draft resolution to determine the entity's future, which could be put to a vote in the coming weeks. The best way of ensuring regional peace and stability and lifting Kosovo out of an eight-year-long limbo, with a tired, temporary UN administration and an undeveloped, low-growth economy, is a resolution based squarely on the plan of UN Special Envoy Martti Ahtisaari. This would supersede UNSC Resolution 1244 (1999), define Kosovo's internal settlement and minority-protection mechanisms, mandate a new international presence and allow for supervised independence.
  • Topic: International Relations, Development, Peace Studies
  • Political Geography: Eastern Europe, Kosovo, United Nations
  • Publication Date: 10-2005
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Although there are some shoals still to be navigated, the narrow pro-independence victory in Montenegro's 21 May 2006 referendum should, on balance, increase rather than diminish stability in the western Balkans. It is in the interest of the European Union (EU), now that its previous policy of keeping Serbia and Montenegro together has run its course, to welcome the new state and speed its accession to international institutions. Podgorica still faces significant challenges associated with transition, but none should affect regional stability, and all can be resolved as the country moves forward with the Stabilisation and Association process towards EU membership. Given the positive international response to the referendum, Montenegro can aspire to becoming a “boring” country moving toward integration with Europe. But its opposition, and Belgrade, need to be persuaded not to renege on their commitments to the EU to accept the referendum result, lest this generate new uncertainties in the region as a Kosovo status decision approaches.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Peace Studies
  • Political Geography: Europe, Caucasus, Kosovo, Serbia, Balkans
  • Publication Date: 09-2005
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The international community has properly decreed that Kosovo's final status must not involve division of its territory. But this declaration has not been followed by sufficient action. Belgrade's policy of pursuing some form of partition is far advanced in the restive northern city of Mitrovica and its hinterland, and a major security, political and financial effort is required to save the situation. Capacity should be built immediately, and its implementation should begin once the Contact Group has declared its support for Kosovo's future as a functional, conditionally independent state within its present borders.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Government
  • Political Geography: Eastern Europe, Kosovo
  • Publication Date: 05-2001
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: This report describes the current situation in Albania, paying particular attention to relations with the country's Balkan neighbours, Kosovo, Montenegro, Macedonia and Greece. The recent upsurge in fighting in the Presevo Valley of southern Serbia and in Macedonia has damaged the reputation of all Albanians in the region and has once more raised the spectre of a Greater Albania. Consequently, the Albanian government has been at pains to stress that it does not support the ethnic Albanian insurgents and wishes to see the territorial integrity of Macedonia upheld. To this end, Tirana has requested NATO's assistance to secure the Albania-Macedonia border, and has called for a solution to the crisis through dialogue.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Eastern Europe, Greece, Kosovo, Serbia, Balkans, Macedonia, Albania, Montenegro, Tirana
  • Publication Date: 04-2001
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: In late February, violence flared in Albanian-inhabited villages in northern Macedonia close to the border with Kosovo. In mid March, the violence spread to Macedonia's second largest city, Tetovo. The rebels claimed to be defending themselves against Macedonian security forces, i.e. their own government, and to be fighting for Albanian national rights in Macedonia. The coalition government in Skopje promptly raised the alarm, blaming Kosovo Albanian elements for exporting rebellion to Macedonia, and calling for the NATO-led forces in Kosovo (KFOR) to seal the border. The rebels claimed they were local Albanians, numbering 2,000 and recruiting dozens of volunteers from the surrounding area every day.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Ethnic Conflict
  • Political Geography: Eastern Europe, Kosovo, Macedonia, Albania
  • Publication Date: 01-2000
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: With the immense challenges facing the international community in its effort to secure and rebuild Kosovo, one critical outstanding matter that has received very little attention is the ongoing detention in Serbian prisons of several thousand Kosovar Albanians. Arrested by Serbian forces in the course of the Kosovo conflict, these prisoners were hastily transferred to Serbian jails and penitentiaries in the wake of the Kumanovo military-technical agreement, which ended the NATO air campaign and established a timetable for the withdrawal from Kosovo of all Serb forces.
  • Topic: International Relations, Ethnic Conflict, Human Rights, Politics
  • Political Geography: Eastern Europe, Kosovo, Serbia, Albania
  • Publication Date: 12-1999
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The enterprise known as Trepca is a sprawling conglomerate of some 40 mines and factories, located mostly in Kosovo but also in other locations in Serbia and Montenegro. Its activities include chemical processing and production of goods as varied as batteries and paint. But the heart of its operations, and the source of most of its raw material, is the vast mining complex to the east of Mitrovicë/a in the north of Kosovo, famous since Roman times. This report examines the current position of the mines, together with the associated smelting complex at nearby Zvecan.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Eastern Europe, Kosovo, Serbia, Montenegro
  • Publication Date: 12-1999
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: After an unprecedented, multilateral military intervention in Kosovo succeeded in expelling Serb forces and enabling the return home of more than a million displaced persons, the international community embarked on the ambitious, long-term project of securing, rebuilding, and establishing the rule of law in Kosovo, while setting the territory on the path to self-governance. Visionary promises were made to the people of Kosovo, and careful planning was undertaken at NATO and United Nations headquarters and in many European capitals. But six months into the mission, the international community has so far not been able to deliver on its promises. No Kosovars of any ethnicity feel secure, tens of thousands of people remain without adequate shelter as winter sets in, civil registration has yet to get underway, there is as yet no agreed-upon, functional system of justice, and criminals – including suspected war criminals – continue to operate with effective impunity.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Eastern Europe, Kosovo, United Nations
  • Publication Date: 06-1999
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: On 28 June 1989, Slobodan Milosevic stood on the site of the ancient Serb battleground of Kosovo Polje and delivered the speech that was to propel him to prominence and the leadership of. Ten years on, Milosevic remains firmly entrenched in power. He has survived three Balkan wars in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo, economic sanctions, 78 days of NATO air strikes, and an indictment on charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government, Human Rights, Politics
  • Political Geography: Bosnia, Eastern Europe, Kosovo, Yugoslavia, Balkans, Croatia
  • Publication Date: 06-1999
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The ICG Balkans Report N°66, "Kosovo: Let's Learn from Bosnia", of 17 May 1999 looked at how experience in Bosnia could be useful in Kosovo, and also at the extent to which the Rambouillet agreement of 23 February 1999 resembled the Dayton agreement of 21 November 1995.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government, Politics, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Bosnia, Eastern Europe, Kosovo
  • Publication Date: 05-1999
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The limits of the West's resolve to enforce a solution to the crisis in the Balkans were freshly exposed last week at a press briefing by U.S. President Bill Clinton. Speaking to reporters on 6 May 1999, Clinton admitted that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic might well survive the current crisis and remain in power in Belgrade as long as he accepted the West's terms for a settlement in Kosovo and permitted refugees to return home. He also made clear that a NATO invasion of Yugoslavia from the north, the one option open to the West that would facilitate the forcible removal of the Milosevic regime and with it the greatest single source of instability in the Balkans, was something "our (NATO's) goals never entailed".
  • Topic: International Relations, NATO, Diplomacy, Human Rights, Politics, War
  • Political Geography: Eastern Europe, Kosovo, Yugoslavia
  • Publication Date: 04-1999
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The early part of 1999 has been turbulent for Republika Srpska. Political life has been unsettled by three separate and hardly-related crises: the decision of the High Representative to remove from office the RS President Nikola Poplasen; the decision of International Arbitrator Roberts Owen to give the municipality of Brcko neither to RS nor to the Federation but to both as a condominium; and the NATO air-strikes on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY).
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, NATO, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Eastern Europe, Kosovo, Yugoslavia
  • Publication Date: 03-1999
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The Kosovo peace talks, held at Rambouillet (France) under the auspices of the sixnation Contact Group, have been suspended until 15 March 1999 after a provisional agreement was reached on granting substantial autonomy for Kosovo. However, neither the Kosovo Albanians nor Serbian delegates have yet signed the draft peace accord, which calls for a NATO peacekeeping mission in Kosovo, and in which the "final status" issue has been deliberately fudged. The immense complexities of the Kosovo question were dramatically illustrated at Rambouillet by the last-minute refusal of the Albanian delegation to sign the accord, due to pressure from a hardline faction of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) which refused to attend the talks.
  • Topic: International Relations, Ethnic Conflict, Politics, Treaties and Agreements, War
  • Political Geography: Eastern Europe, Kosovo, Serbia
  • Publication Date: 03-1999
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: While last spring saw conflict erupt in Kosovo's central Drenica region when Serbian security forces attacked and killed residents of the villages of Prekaz and Likoshan, this spring brings the possibility of peace. The proposed deployment of a 28,000-strong international force for Kosovo will dramatically and immediately halt the sporadic low-intensity battles between Serbian security forces and ethnic Albanian rebels that have displaced 300,000 people. This peace will allow refugees to return to their homes, and provide the day-to-day sense of security on the ground that will enable Kosovo's transition to self-government.
  • Topic: International Relations, Ethnic Conflict, Politics, Treaties and Agreements, War
  • Political Geography: Eastern Europe, Kosovo, Serbia
  • Publication Date: 09-1998
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: During the past six months, Serbia's southern, predominantly Albanian province of Kosovo has emerged from international obscurity to become the world's most reported conflict zone. That said, the history of ethnic animosity in this contested land, the complexity of competing Serb and Albanian claims and the speed with which the fighting has escalated make it difficult to keep up with the events, let alone analyse and try to understand them. What had, on 1 January 1998, been a long-standing ethnic Albanian political aspiration, namely an independent Kosovo, had evolved, by 1 March 1998, into the military objective of a popular insurrection and had by, 1 July 1998, become part of the cause of an impending humanitarian catastrophe with hundreds of thousands of people displaced by the fighting.
  • Topic: International Relations, Human Rights, Politics
  • Political Geography: Eastern Europe, Kosovo, Serbia, Albania
  • Publication Date: 05-1998
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: When on 15 May 1998 Slobodan Milosevic met with Ibrahim Rugova it was the first time that the Yugoslav president had met with an Albanian leader from Kosovo in close to a decade. The event, heralding weekly talks between Kosovo's Albanians and the Serbian government, has thus been hailed as a "dramatic turn-about" and "a first step toward peace in Kosovo". However, the fact that, after so many years of stale-mate, some kind of negotiations have begun, should not in itself be a reason for euphoria. Key to the success of any talks is the framework within which they take place. Negotiations concerning the future status of Kosovo may, as a result of the concessions offered to the Yugoslav president, have got off to an inauspicious start.
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy, Economics, Ethnic Conflict, Politics
  • Political Geography: Eastern Europe, Kosovo, Yugoslavia