Just how will the International Court of Justice rule on Kosovo?

The hearings of the UN International Court of Justice on the legality of Kosovo’s independence will obviously confirm the “world community’s” inability to meet the modern-day challenges. With several days to go before the start of the debate, which is due to last until December 11th, the Court’s high-level officials admitted their inconsistence. The court instance in question will deliberately make the decision that it will pass maximally streamlined and obscure, so that all parties to the Kosovo conflict will be able to see their own truth in it. Efforts will continue to be made to create in Central Europe an Albanian quasi-state as an outpost of the “new world order”, while Russian diplomacy could habitually limit itself to pointing out “double standards” that have actually long since been the only possible ones, rather than “double”, on the plans of “the world’s invisible movers and shakers”.

The International Court President Hisashi Owada has dotted all the i’s by saying that the Court will come up with a 30-page advisory opinion that will not be a clear “yes” or “no”, “for” or “against”. One will just have to read the document. He added that the judges could have differing, even conflicting comments. In other words, the International Court President has given us to understand that the forthcoming Court decision will be made up of a number of quotations from conclusions by experts who defend their viewpoints.

You may remember that the “advisory opinion is not mandatory”. Hisashi Owada said in a circumlocutional statement that to examine and discuss the issue was exceptionally positive and quite useful since it helped one to see the various viewpoints and that it was difficult to assume or forecast just how the discussion of the issue would proceed, and the problem did not boil down to whether the unilateral declaration of Kosovo’s independence was legal or not.

Well then, WHAT does the problem boil down to?

It turns out that “it is important per se that this kind of problems is brought up for discussion”. When translated into ordinary English, this would mean that it does not matter if the court puts a murderer or rapist behind bars. The main thing is that the problem should be brought up for discussion. And to exonerate the International Court of responsibility for the future of Kosovo, Mr. Owada stressed that the final conclusions would be drawn by the UN General Assembly, which had actually filed a relevant request with the International Court. The President of The Hague-based UN International Court of Justice withheld the fact that any General Assembly decisions on the status of territories are no more than permissive unless seconded by a UN Security Council resolution. The Kosovo problem will become a vicious circle, with Albanian nationalists in other Balkan areas and their western puppet masters enabled to carry out their plans without having to take the United Nations into account.

So, what’s the point of the hearings that have got under way? The Serbian authorities are known to have addressed their inquiry to the UN International Court not to obtain any international law leverage to preserver Belgrade’s jurisdiction over Kosovo. The pro-western Serbian leadership is acting in keeping with a scenario that’s been specially written for it. The scenario is due to side-track the country’s public attention from the inability and reluctance of President Boris Tadic and the Mirko Cvetkovic Government to make some real moves to counteract the West and help the Kosovo Serbs. Heated debates at the UN International Court between the world’s leading powers, the many-month tedious waiting for the decision and a pompous but toothless document is what the pro-western Serbian elite can write off its impotence vis-à-vis the Kosovo problem to. The implication being that since the United States and Russia have failed to reach agreement, and the International Court has admitted its impotence on Kosovo, then we, the Serbs, have to eat leeks and walk back on our demands. The main thing now is to gain time and prevent the Serbian opposition from getting a pretext for accusations of the treachery of national interests.

But, of course, Serbia’s arguments at The Hague hearings in favour of retaining jurisdiction over Kosovo are absolutely correct and perfectly well founded. The chief Serbian delegate Dusan Batakovic, a diplomat, historian and the author of several fundamental studies of the Kosovo problem laid emphasis on the international law aspects of the problem when addressing the UN International Court on December 1st. He described Kosovo as “Serbia’s historical cradle and the essence of its identity” and said that action by Kosovo’s Albanian separatists was an attempt to “reverse”, without prior arrangement, the UN and UN Security Council’s decisions on Serbia’s territorial integrity and the need for a negotiated settlement of the Kosovo problem. He pointed out that when the UN administration and NATO force came to Kosovo after 1999, 60% of Serbs, 66% of Gypsies and 70% of Goranets fled the province. Another Serbian expert, Saša Obradovic, emphasized that the principle of self-determination of nations, which Priština and the West are referring to, cannot be applied to Kosovo since Kosovo Albanians are not “a nation as such”.

This made the reasoning of the chief Kosovar delegate, “Foreign Minister of the Republic of Kosovo” Skënder Hyseni look unconvincing when he kept emphasizing the idea that the process of gaining independence by Kosovo “could not be reversed”, that Serbs perpetrated crimes during the Kosovo conflict and that the idea of Kosovo’s self-determination has won support from “many states”.

It is obvious that the UN International Court of Justice in The Hague will not proceed from Serbia’s reasoning when handing down its ruling, since that reasoning was first put forward more than 10 years ago and is known only too well. It is precisely when The Hague Court got down to the hearings on Kosovo that Skupština, or the Serbian Parliament adopted the Statute of another of its autonomous region Vojevodina, which the Hungarian separatists see as the first stage of using the Kosovo secession scenario. The Democratic Party of Serbia’s official Andrea Mladenovic has remarked aptly in a comment on the move that “the effort seeks to create an independent Vojevodina identity as a basis for further destruction and division of the country”. You may happen to remember that it was the Kosovars’ “identity” that Kosovo separatism originated from…

Serbia’s Skupština deputy, Chairman of the Economic Council of the Democratic Party of Serbia and a leading expert on the Kosovo problem Nenad Popovic has told yours truly that Serbia’s recourse to the UN International Court of Justice to secure recognition of Kosovo’s independence as illegal was in actual fact devoid of the objective that it was officially said to be attaining. According to him, “it was clear from the outset that the UN International Court is unable to help the Serbian State in its struggle for Kosovo. It is perfectly understandable that the United States, most European Union countries and other nations that were involved in decision-making on recognizing Kosovo’s independence, proceeded from political, rather than legal considerations. They also stood to gain by taking the issue to an international body that looks authoritative on the outside, but is actually incapable of making a binding international law-based decision”.

Mr. Popovic says the only legally sensible thing to do is for the Serbian authorities “to bring the case before the national courts of the countries that have supported Kosovo’s independence”. According to him, The Vojislav Koštunica government was about to resort to this kind of legal procedure but had no time since in July 2008 the pro-western group under Boris Tadic forced the Koštunica Cabinet to resign. And it was earlier still that the previous Cabinet was deprived of putting on a fully-fledged performance, – just two weeks after the unilateral declaration of Kosovo’s independence.

But then, the situation that’s taken shape around the hearings on Kosovo at the UN International Court may even play into the hands of Russia by releasing it from the obligation to abide by the decisions and recommendations of various international courts, institutions and organizations for the reason of their legal impotence. Given the way the situation is developing in the Caucasus and other areas of “controlled conflicts” in Eurasia, this may prove quite useful. Meanwhile Moscow and Russian society continue to support Serbia’s sovereignty over Kosovo. Russian-Serbian brotherhood was forged on battlefields in the centuries that knew of no United Nations or International Court. Now it is important to find the staunch supporters of the Serbian people’s interests and Russia’s true friends on Serbia’s motley political map. Russian diplomacy could do that very well in its day.


_______________Piotr ISKENDEROV – A Senior Fellow with the Institute of Slavonic Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Cand. Sc. (History), international observer of the Vremya Novostei (News Times) daily and Voice of Russia radio company.

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