Balkan Insight has spotted that the International Court of Justice will announce its advisory opinion on the legality of Kosovo’s declaration of independence next Thursday, at 3pm.
The case, brought by Serbia, which rejects Kosovan independence as illegally constituted, is, of course, unlikely to be resolved next Thursday. Many discussions are yet to be held and the Court’s opinion provides one more landmark stage in this process. A genuinely reform-minded regime in Serbia under Boris Tadić provides a hopeful sign of optimism – his attendance at this weekend’s Srebrenica commemoration was welcome, as was the apology finally pushed through the Serbian parliament earlier this year.
Nevertheless, memories remain fresh; and wounds remain raw. They will heal – and tracking down and handing over Mladić, whose units were responsible for the massacres, to be tried in the Hague alongside Karađić will help. Tadić needs to follow through on his weekend words here.
In the meantime, and in this other theatre of that war, Kosovo’s independence must be allowed to stand. While upholding the general principle of the importance of protecting the integrity of national borders, a state that attacks its own people, conducting campaigns of terror amongst and making refugees of its citizens, has conceded the right to have those borders respected. Modern Serbia needs to recognise that its past approach is ultimately why Kosovo has gone: and both Kosovo and Serbia need to be given support for EU accession: preserving peace amongst states previously at war is simultaneously the Union’s raison d’être and its continuing most important role. Greater leadership is needed here, too – despite the Union’s other evident concerns, building peace and relationships is what it exists for and it needs urgently to expand its role in and for Serbia and Kosovo.