|07BELGRADE1160||2007-08-17 17:26:00||UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY||Embassy Belgrade|
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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BELGRADE 001160
1. (SBU) Summary: Serbian leaders generally termed the Kosovo
Troika's first visit to Belgrade as positive and a new start --
leaving behind the Ahtisaari's proposal. The DSS quickly dismissed
partition of Kosovo as unacceptable and instead made pronouncements
alleging that NATO is trying to form a "state" in Europe through
Kosovo independence. Deputy PM Djelic made news by hinting at a
policy change regarding Kosovo debt maintenance that we expect the
GOS will not implement. End Summary.
GOS "SATISFIED" WITH TROIKA
2. (U) After the August 10 Belgrade meeting of Serbian officials and
the mediating Troika, President Tadic said in a cabinet statement
that the new negotiations present an opportunity to find a
compromise solution on Kosovo. He underscored that any final status
decision must come from the UN Security Council. PM Kostunica noted
in the same statement that the Ahtisaari plan cannot be the basis of
the new talks. FM Jeremic told the press that Belgrade resolutely
rejects Maarti Ahtisaari's plan and Kosovo independence. Minister
for Kosovo Samardzic claimed that the Troika did not mention the
Ahtisaari plan and called it a good sign. Samardzic said that
Serbia was "satisfied" with the visit and the Troika format.
3. (U) The GOS and Serbian Orthodox Church (SOC) publicly rejected
EU Envoy Ischinger's widely publicized suggestion that the Troika
would not oppose partition (among other things) if both Belgrade and
Pristina agree to it. On August 13, a spokesman for Kostunica's DSS
party told the press that partition was "unacceptable" for Serbia.
More dramatically, SOC Church Bishop Artemije told Dnevnik that he
preferred imposed independence to partition because "everything that
is imposed is temporary." Artemije also said that an imposed
solution would be tantamount to occupation and "every
occupation...ends." Artemije added that the "offer" of EU
membership to Serbia does not help "when the EU is the one that is
ripping apart our national identity."
DSS: NATO WANTS A STATE
4. (SBU) Increasingly, senior DSS officials echoed the political
theory that NATO is using Kosovo independence to obfuscate an
intention to create a "NATO state." Last week, Kostunica advisor
and UNOSEK negotiator Aleksandar Simic told NIN magazine that some
in the international community are using Kosovo independence to
"establish a NATO state." Simic added that "a careful analysis of
Ahtisaari's proposal, and especially of provisions in Annex XI,
raises the issue as to whether the world is faced for the first time
with the efforts of a military alliance to create its own state
where civilian institutions would not restrict its military might."
Simic warned that with NATO would control, without limits, all
military presence in Kosovo and that "Camp Bondsteel would
practically be the capital of an 'independent' Kosovo."
5. (SBU) Senior DSS officials have built on this theory and
increasingly targeted NATO (and the USG by thinly veiled
association) as a scheming force behind Kosovo independence. On
August 11, Interior Minister (and deputy DSS head) Dragan Jocic told
Beta Saturday the U.S. "must give up on its project" to "create a
NATO state," based on Annex 11 of the Ahtisaari plan. Jocic called
on the U.S. to withdraw support for the Ahtisaari plan and to
support negotiations based on a "strong framework of international
law and the Serbian constitution." On August 13, DSS spokesman
Branislav Ristivojevic told reporters that Serbia is hearing "from
NATO, and from the country that stands behind NATO, the U.S,...a
kind of supreme cynicism. If we agree not to discuss their
intentions, then we can be their allies and partners." Speaking for
his party two days later, Ristivojavic told Tanjug news agency that
Serbia should not join NATO if it must "give up on Kosovo" to do so.
6. (U) On August 14, Education Minister and senior DSS official
Zoran Loncar used even stronger terms. According to wires, Loncar
said that NATO capitalized on "problems with the ethnic Albanian
population in Kosovo" to "create its first military puppet state."
Loncar said NATO "bombed Serbia, brought its troops to Kosovo," and
is now using Annex 11 of the Ahtisaari plan "to set up a state of
its own" without limits to military power. He said "Serbia will
never allow NATO to create a quasi-state on its territory."
Finally, on August 15, Kosovo Minister Samardzic added his voice and
called on the U.S. to abandon the idea of creating "[their] NATO
state" in the form of independent Kosovo.
7. (SBU) In a surprising display of solidarity with DSS cabinet
members, Labor and Social Policy Minister Ljajic said on August 15
dismissed the threat of violence in Kosovo as "a bad model for
solving a political problem" and that Kosovo negotiations should
have no deadline. Ljajic, who ran with Tadic's DS party in the
January 2007 elections, had refrained from such public mimicry of
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the Kostunica line until now.
DJELIC MAKES NEWS ON DEBT, POLICY CHANGE UNLIKELY
8. (SBU) Unsourced news reports this week cited an alleged statement
in July by Deputy PM Bozidar Djelic that he plans to raise Serbia's
financing of Kosovo's debt with the World Bank (at the fall meetings
in Washington). Djelic noted that while Serbia services Kosovo's
debt, taxes from Kosovo citizens go to UNMIK (actually the PISG).
Thus, he felt the Bank should not hold Serbia responsible for the
Thus, he felt the Bank should not hold Serbia responsible for the
debt. It does not appear that Djelic's comments have any blessing
from those with actual authority on Kosovo political and economic
policy. (Note: The GOS has refrained from asking the Bank to erase
Kosovo debt as it would undermine Serbia's sovereignty claim over
Kosovo. End note.)
9. (SBU) Econoff has raised this issue in several introductory
calls. At the technocrat level, several contacts admit they would
like to find a way to get the debt off their books, but each of them
have commented that any decision would only be made at the highest
political levels and they did not foresee any change in the current
policy. To push the debt off their books would involve signing a
document that would not fit with the leadership's negotiation
strategy, and just to stop paying it would restrict Serbia's access
to future loans. Post will continue to follow this issue.
REPORTED USG STATEMENTS
10. (U) RTS reported on August 15 that U.S Special Envoy for Kosovo
Frank Wisner telling Serbian VOA service that the framework
principle of the mediation mission for the Kosovo status talks is
based on the Contact Group principles but that the Troika is
prepared to consider all ideas presented by Pristina and Belgrade.
Wisner reiterated that Ahtisaari's plan is "very much alive" and
that enjoys support of many countries.
11. (U) Russia: Russian Ambassador to Serbia Alexeyev was quick to
clarify, in comments to Vercernje Novesti on August 14, that Serbia
that had not raised partition during or following the visit of the
Troika. Alexeyev said that the first official mention was that of
EU envoy Wolfgang Ischinger. Russia's Troika representative
Aleksandar Botsan-Kharchenko was quoted in local press on August 15
as saying that the plan offered by Ahtisaari is not a basis for the
negotiations and described claims that Kosovo's partition is an
option as "spurious."
12. (U) KFOR: On August 15, B92 cited KFOR Commanding General Roland
Kather as saying that "the Kosovo situation might reach violence if
the mediating Contact Group Troika does not persuade the parties to
arrive at an agreement." Kather also said that "patience is not
endless and the decision about Kosovo's future status has to be made
as soon as possible." Kosovo Ministry State Secretary Dusan
Prorokovic responded in the press by saying that KFOR is ultimately
responsible for Kosovo's stability.
13. (SBU) The DSS has added the specter of a "NATO state" to its
Kosovo policy campaign to its repertoire of sensationalist
propaganda for the domestic and international consumption.
Kostunica and his ministers had been quiet since late June, when
their anti-U.S. rhetoric culminated into a "battle for Kosovo"
between the U.S. and Serbia, "between power and justice." Kostunica
renewed hard-line rhetoric that still plays well to the
nationalists. Kostunica has also seized on a target of opportunity
to use Kosovo to pry away public support for NATO integration,
something DS would have publicly protested in the past. Tadic and
his DS ministers' silence has spoken for them this time. End