This article does not mention the reverse ethnic cleansing practiced by the Albanians after the "succesful" intervention of NATO into Serbia's attempt to drive out many Albanians. Now the UN mission still has not convinced Serbia to allow independence. Probably in the long run Serbia will have no choice. After the UN intervention most Serbs and also gypsies were driven out or in the case of Serbs into small enclaves. Interesting the Serb guards are called "thuggish"!
Serb-Albanian gap wide as others decide Kosovo's fate
February 5, 2007
Thuggish Serbians maintain a vigil on the north of the Ibar River, ready to punish ethnic Albanians who cross the unofficial boundary in Europe's unfinished war.
Kosovo, a province of Serbia, is bitterly divided between Serbian enclaves, including a big part of the north, and the rest of the territory, which is ethnic Albanian. Now, as the UN nudges Kosovo towards what it calls final status and what Belgrade calls independence, Serbs in northern Kosovo are threatening to break away.
"Northern Kosovo will secede," said moderate Serbian politician Oliver Ivanovic. Mr Ivanovic said he had warned the UN, NATO, the European Union and the US that, nearly eight years after NATO bombing drove the Serbian army and other security forces out, it was too early to settle Kosovo's status.
"Kosovo's independence will leave no space for the moderates to act," he said.
Kosovo — more than 90 per cent ethnic Albanian — has struggled since early last century to free itself from Belgrade. With the break-up of Yugoslavia in the 1990s the fight began anew, but Serbia resisted.
UN mediator Martti Ahtisaari presented his plans for Kosovo's final status to officials in Belgrade and Pristina on Friday.
Serbian President Boris Tadic rejected the plans as a prelude to independence, while Kosovo Albanians welcomed them. With the blessing of the US, they have said they will accept nothing less than independence.
Most Kosovo Serbs will never accept an independent Kosovo.
"It would create a situation like Iraq or Lebanon here in Serbia," said Milan Ivanovic, head of Kosovo's hardline Serbian National Council. "We would fight to get Kosovo back with all legitimate means."
Kosovo Albanians and their international supporters hope that a high degree of autonomy in Serbian areas with guarantees for the protection of Serbian rights and strict international oversight will persuade Serbs in the territory to accept an Albanian-led government.
"Hopefully, with independence, a local Serb leadership will emerge to address the needs of the Serbs within the Kosovo system," said Muhamet Hamiti, an adviser to Kosovo's President Fatmir Sejdiu.
Kosovo is home to the Serbian Orthodox Church's most sacred sites. "This is the spiritual centre of the Serbian church," said Sister Dobrila, a nun at the monastery of the Patriarchate of Pec, built around a Byzantine church from the 13th century that holds the tombs of Serbia's medieval archbishops.
Birds are woven into Serbian folklore. The birds are the souls of the dead from the 14th century battle of Kosovo, in which a Serbian-led Christian army sought to stop the Ottoman advance — an advance whose legacy is the nominally Muslim Albanian majority in the province today.
NEW YORK TIMES