Monday, 10 December 2007

Take It Easy Guys!

Today, sadly, has seen time run out in the negotiations over the status of Kosovo.

Regrettably it has not been possible for a deal to be struck which would satisfy both sides. This is sad but unfortunately inevitable given the strength of feeling that exists on both sides.

It would be wonderful to dream that Kosovar Albanians and Serbs in Kosovo could share a future together but sadly there is such a gulf between both sides as can readily be seen on a visit to Mitrovica. The River Ibar might as well be an ocean. There is genuine fear on both sides of the ethnic divide and frankly a considerable amount of misinformation.

I enjoyed meeting people from both communities when I had the privilege of working there this summer. The gulf between the groups was very clear at the start of the training I gave but I felt that it was beginning slowly to close.

I can understand the frustration of Kosovar Albanians. They have been through hell to be frank. I can also see the point of view of the Serbs in Kosovo who feel that a part of them has been taken away with the loss of Kosovo. Milosevic must bear a huge responsibility for his appalling treatment of the Kosovar Albanians leading to the terrible violence and enduring hatred that exists. He escaped justice for his crimes but he failed Serbs who have to bear the stigma of his crimes.

What will now happen is inevitable but I plead for the Kosovar Albanian leadership under Thaci to show good sense and restraint. A hasty unilateral declaration of independence will not serve the interests of anyone. It will create violence, play into the hands of extremists and invitably the losers will not be the politicians but the ordinary people of both communities.

Just take it easy guys!

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