On the eve of continuing the dialog about Kosmet, Belgrade and Pristina firmly hold their stances. Belgrade will never recognize Kosmet, but it is ready to negotiate the possible solution. For Pristina, on the other hand, the independence is a done deal. In such situation, the solution seems unattainable. However, the history of ethnic and territorial disputes tells us something else… Cyprus model, South Tyrol, Northern Ireland, Aland Islands – those are just a few of the solutions that could lead to the sustainable solution for Kosovo and Meothija. Ivana Subasic has more on the subject.
While announcing intensive diplomatic battle for Kosmet, Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic said he was ready to suggest some solutions that had been used to overcome similar disputes in many European countries. A segment of the expert public is skeptical towards the idea, because according to them, it is questionable if any of those models is applicable to Kosmet. The fact is, each of those solutions emerged in different social, religious, economic, geographical and historical circumstances, and after the proclamation of independence the circumstances in Kosmet have considerably changed. Still, most analysts believe that the combination of various solutions could lead to finding a model that would be acceptable for both Belgrade and Pristina.
The model of Cyprus is most frequently mentioned, because it was also the case of a unilateral secession of one ethnic group. The way that the EU solved that problem may be also applicable to Kosmet. Namely, Cyprus was admitted to the EU, with the clause that until the agreement is reached between the Turks and Greeks, the rule and legislation of the Union are not implemented in the northern part of the territory.
The South Tyrol was separated from Austria after WWI, and added to Italy. The Paris Treaty, after 1945, gave the German minority a wide scope of rights – local administration bodies, educational and cultural autonomy, proportional employment. Later agreements have confirmed these rights, and their scope was expanding over time. The foundation of the “Belgian model” is the position of the German community in the Walloon section. Although they make primarily a linguistic community, with some 70 thousand people, the Germans in this country have wide political rights, and their parliament even has the right of veto to the decisions of the central authorities.
The issue of the Northern Ireland is certainly best known ethnic and religious problem in Europe, between the Protestant majority and Catholic minority. After several decades of negotiations and failed agreements, the peace treaty from 1998 finally gave the Northern Ireland a government with wide autonomy and in return the IRA has renounced violence as the means of solving disputes. The agreement was then confirmed in referendums in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
Mentioned with increased frequency is the model of Aland Islands. When Finland declared its independence after the October Revolution of 1917, the citizens of the Aland Islands, who are in 95% of cases of Swedish origins, asked for secession and annexation to Sweden, so the issue was opened in the League of Nations. However, the international community did not allow for the secession. Instead, in the decision of 1921, the Aland Islands got a wide autonomy within Finland. This territory is demilitarized, but the Islands have their government and parliament, their own flag, police and membership in the Nordic Council. The government and parliament can decide on everything but foreign policy, defense and most things relating to the civil and penal code, judiciary system, customs and state taxes.
The least acceptable approach is the model of “two German states”, suggested by German diplomat Wolfgang Ischinger, and envisaging that Belgrade and Pristina should establish relations modeled after two independent German states in 1972. Even though they did not recognize each other, both states had seats in the UN, which is out of question for Serbia, because it would mean recognizing Pristina in a roundabout way.
None of these models on its own is directly applicable to other ethnic and territorial disputes, such as the one in Kosmet, but in each of them there are elements that could provide inspiration in search for the optimum resolution of the problems in the southern Serbian province.