Saturday, December 11, 2010

Wikileaks cables- Kosovo: Ambassador Dell: Strategy for Northern Kosovo an important step in the right direction

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O 291235Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY PRISTINA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9662
INFO RUEHBW/AMEMBASSY BELGRADE PRIORITY 0049
RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN PRIORITY 0643
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 0459
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 0990
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO PRIORITY 1339
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 1877

C O N F I D E N T I A L PRISTINA 000048

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR ASSISTANT SECRETARY PHIL GORDON FROM THE AMBASSADOR

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/14/2019
TAGS: PGOV PINR PREL KV
SUBJECT: KOSOVO: STRATEGY FOR NORTHERN KOSOVO AN IMPORTANT
STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION

Classified By: Ambassador Christopher W. Dell for Reasons 1.4 (b), (d).

1. (C) Phil - I know that you are seeing Robert Cooper on
Tuesday, February 2, among other things, to discuss Kosovo
and the strategy for northern Kosovo. Integrating Kosovo
Serbs into Kosovo society and preserving the country's
territorial integrity is central to Kosovo's and the region's
long-term stability and has been a core U.S. policy objective
since 1999. In November 2009, we had a breakthrough that
ended ten years of Belgrade-imposed stalemate when thousands
of Serbs in southern Kosovo took part in Kosovo municipal
elections. We want to replicate that success in the north
and end the stalemate that has left Kosovo's future
uncertain. That fundamentally is what the so-called northern
strategy is about. We want to coax the population into
greater cooperation with Pristina, not to impose outcomes on
them.

2. (C) Currently, we have a growing, if still somewhat
fragile, consensus within the international community in
Pristina that the time is right to end the years of drift on
the north and to alter the dynamic of a hardening partition
between the north and the rest of Kosovo. In part, this is
sparked by the new willingness among Kosovo Serbs to engage
with Kosovo institutions. It also stems from Belgrade's
increasingly aggressive actions in the north (e.g., seizure
of the Valac electrical substation; unilateral appointment of
Serb judges to illegal parallel courts) that have underscored
to representatives of the international community on the
ground the risks of continuing to do nothing. For ten years,
we told the Kosovars to trust us -- "let us handle the
situation, and we will protect you" -- and now the government
of independent Kosovo is increasingly asking us when we are
going to make good on that commitment. KFOR is drawing down
(in six months NATO could take a decision to cut its forces
in half). We need to take advantage of a unique opportunity
that has crystallized and act now while we still have a KFOR
presence capable of handling any contingency.

3. (C) Belgrade has reacted vehemently to the northern
strategy. I think this intensity is rooted in the concern
that any positive momentum in the north will undermine
Belgrade's likely post-ICJ strategy: push to reopen status
talks and formalize the emerging de facto partition of
Kosovo. Furthermore, Belgrade has shrewdly judged that
raising the specter of confrontation rattles our EU partners
and is an effective tactic for derailing the strategy
altogether. Cooper will likely reflect this anxiety with
you, but I do not sense that this concern is nearly as strong
within the local Quint (with the exception of Italian
Ambassador Michael Giffoni, who spent ten years on Javier
Solana's staff, where the Brussels bureaucrats have long been
anxious about taking any difficult decision on the north).
With this in mind, I recommend that you stress three points
with Cooper. First, the northern strategy is not radical.
Much of it restates what the international community, in
general, and the EU, in particular, are already committed to
doing. Second, it provides a vehicle for constructively
channeling the GOK's ambitions for the north and takes
advantage of Prime Minister Hashim Thaci's readiness to offer
inducements to northern Serbs who engage with Kosovo
institutions. Third, we now have legitimate Serb partners
(elected by fellow Serbs) who are ready to help us in the
north. These are the elements of a soft approach, which is
the northern strategy's leading edge.

4. (C) We should expect Belgrade to challenge all elements of
the strategy and to misportray the strategy as hard and
confrontational. Serbian Ministry for Kosovo State Secretary
Oliver Ivanovic has already declared that Pristina is
promoting conflict. This is not the case. There is no
interest here in conflict (not among the Quint and the ICO,
nor within the GOK), but the current situation is untenable
and deteriorating. The aim is to stop the rot in the north
and create the positive momentum there that we need to secure
our long-term policy objectives: a secure and stable Kosovo
and a Serbia focused on its EU future, not old ambitions and
grievances. We need to start the process now, and we should
not allow Belgrade to use threats of confrontation as a veto
to block progress.

5. (C) You can tell Cooper that the northern strategy offers
incremental, but fundamental, steps necessary to getting the

north right. We know, however, that there will be difficult
challenges that pose risks. For example, EULEX must get
serious about rolling up organized crime networks in the
north that feed the parallel structures and make the current
situation unsustainable. The northern Serbs are the first
victims of these thugs, and there is a growing body of
reports that they would welcome a change if EULEX can deliver
it. We must, also, deal with the blatant theft of Kosovo
property that has allowed Serbia to, in effect, seize the
northern power grid in Kosovo. Dealing with these issues
will require hard choices and fortitude. Our message to
Cooper should be that we want to coordinate and consult with
Brussels every step of the way. This process, after all,
only works if Brussels makes clear to Belgrade that its EU
future depends on real cooperation on Kosovo. In recent
meetings with Boris Tadic, both Angela Merkel and Nicolas
Sarkozy reportedly emphasized that Serbia's path to Brussels
runs, in part, through constructive relations with Pristina.
This is the perfect message. Brussels needs to repeat it --
regularly. We, of course, are also ready to consult with
Belgrade, as well, and to offer them the opportunity to
engage constructively. Where we part company with some
within the EU, however, is in not being willing to accept
that we must have Belgrade's agreement before taking any
steps.

6. (C) I need to emphasize the importance of this moment.
Failure to act soon means losing northern Kosovo and will
re-open the Pandora's Box of ethnic conflict that defined the
1990s. Fortunately, our European partners increasingly
recognize this. My British colleague here confirms what Stu
has also heard -- that there is a greater degree of
commitment and resolve in member capitals than may be the
case in the Commission and the Council officialdom in
Brussels. Even there, though, initial anxieties over the
strategy appear to be easing as they look more carefully at
the content and less at the rhetoric.
DELL

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