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07BELGRADE1223 2007-08-31 16:51:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Belgrade
Cable title:  

KOSOVO WEEKLY: RHETORIC OUTSHINES TROIKA TALKS

Tags:   PBTS PREL PGOV KPAO KV SR 
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RR RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
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R 311651Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY BELGRADE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1389
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
					  UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BELGRADE 001223 

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E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PBTS PREL PGOV KPAO KV SR
SUBJECT: KOSOVO WEEKLY: RHETORIC OUTSHINES TROIKA TALKS




1. (SBU) Summary: Anti-NATO rhetoric and talk of inflicting "injury"
in response to a Kosovo unilateral declaration of independence
(UDI), in Serbia, eclipsed the first week of talks in Vienna. Tadic
and his Democratic Party (DS) remain silent, while Kostunica and his
Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) lambaste NATO and supporters of the
Ahtisaari plan, as much for their foreign policy aims as for
pre-election positioning. The Radicals amplified their usual
retrograde messages for the same reason. Senator Inhofe visited
Belgrade and supported direct negotiations between Belgrade and
Pristina on Kosovo. The Ambassador met with the UN Office director
who expressed some optimism that the GOS may become more
constructive during the Troika talks. End summary.

PM Attacks NATO, Ahtisaari


--------------------------





2. (U) In public statements on August 25, Prime Minister Kostunica
for the first time publicly supported his fellow DSS ministers'
argument that NATO aims to form a state through an independent
Kosovo. Kostunica attacked the Ahtisaari plan for allowing NATO "a
role that no military organization has had anywhere in the
democratic world." He called the U.S. support for the Ahtisaari
Plan "a completely wrong approach" to resolving the situation in
Kosovo and said that a compromise solution on Kosovo would be
possible if the U.S. abandons its support for the plan. On August
30, Kostunica clarified his position by saying the purpose of the
"NATO state" argument was simply to draw attention to Annex XI of
the Ahtisaari Plan. The PM invited Serbian media to publish that
excerpt of the plan and said the government has "opened a public
debate" on NATO's role in Kosovo. The Prime Minister addressed NATO
membership briefly, saying that "no government body has discussed"
membership, only commitment to join Partnership for Peace.



3. (SBU) Holding the government's line against Ahtisaari and his
plan, Foreign Minister Jeremic on August 26 walked out of a
conference in Bled, Slovenia while Ahtisaari was speaking. He said
that he "would be better off spending... time in bilateral talks,
rather than listening to Ahtisaari, as his plan is no longer valid
as far as we are concerned."



4. (U) PM Advisor Aleksandar Simic, who started the recent round of
NATO-bashing and suggested that Serbian forces' return to Kosovo,
took aim at Slovenia's support for the Ahtisaari plan and Kosovo's
independence. Simic said that Slovenia "must not forget that its
separatism started an avalanche of separatism in the Former
Yugoslavia." Simic added that Slovenia will "not contribute
to...stability" if it "wants to violate the international order" as
EU president. (Note: Slovenia becomes President in January 2008.
End note.)

UDI Response


--------------------------





5. (U) Interior Minister (and DSS vice president) Dragan Jocic
warned on August 25 of a Kosovar UDI with U.S. support, and that it
is imperative that the international community prevent such a move.
He specifically called on EU Envoy Ambassador Ischinger to prevent
this "illegal and void act." PM Kostunica also told the press on
August 30 that Serbia is preparing a response to a UDI. Kostunica
noted that Serbia had averted the danger of a UNSC resolution
allowing for Kosovo independence, but that Kosovo's UDI remains a
threat. He added that a UDI would "injure Serbia" and, in order to
"protect both [Serbia's] integrity and dignity of [its] citizens,"
Serbia "has to inflict injury, in return."

Troika Meeting Reactions


--------------------------





6. (U) Kostunica only briefly addressed the Vienna talks, noting
that it was their "quality" that mattered, not duration. Belgrade
media reported on the statements by the Troika after the talks, as
well as FM Jeremic's public assertion that the Troika agreed to hold
direct Belgrade-Pristina talks during the UN General Assembly in
September in New York. Kosovo Minister Samardzic said that the GOS
team "presented a concept" for Kosovo status resolution and that
Serbia would grant Kosovo "greater powers that it had ever had in
history."



7. (U) Serbian Radical Party (SRS) leader Tomislav Nikolic, however,
told the press on August 25 that the SRS "was not invited" to
participate in the Serbian negotiating team. He said that
Pristina's team includes members of the opposition, but that that
GOS leaders "did not want to share responsibility" with the Radicals
by including them. Nikolic repeated that the SRS would request the
GOS "terminate diplomatic relations" with any state that recognizes
Kosovo. Nikolic has repeatedly said that he will resign from
politics if Russia does not prevent Kosovo's independence. Nikolic
said that "there is always a danger that a state whose territory is
being seized from it will enter into war" and said that Serbia would
have "the strength to break Kosovo separatism" as long as Tadic is
not in charge. On August 30, Nikolic said that he expects no
outcome from the Troika talks and that Kosovo will declare

BELGRADE 00001223 002 OF 002


independence in December and called for Serbia to have a "united
front" against such an outcome.

Senator James Inhofe's Visit


--------------------------





8. (SBU) Senator Inhofe, visiting Belgrade on August 29, had
separate, private meetings (no notetakers) in Belgrade with
President Tadic and Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic. He also met with
Defense Minister Sutanovac. Following his meetings, the senator and
FM Jeremic held a brief press conference in which Jeremic called
Senator Inhofe a great friend of Serbia. Jeremic told the press
that the two had discussed bilateral relations, and military and
economic cooperation. Jeremic thanked Senator Inhofe for his work
on helping Serbia access IMET funds. Jeremic also said they had
discussed the important role of faith, particularly with regards to
Kosovo, and stressed that it was important to reach a compromise
solution on Kosovo. Jeremic said that Kosovo is important "in the
heart because of Christian heritage and history." In his remarks to
the press, Senator Inhofe said it appeared to him that direct
negotiations between the parties were necessary to resolve Kosovo.
He said he considered both the President and the Foreign Minister as
his brethren, and referred to Tadic as a real leader in the region
who holds the best interests of Serbia at heart. Inhofe said he
intended to try to expand the IMET program for Serbia, which should
include a cost sharing mechanism.

Diplomatic Activity


--------------------------





9. (SBU) In a meeting with the Ambassador on August 30, the head of
the UN Office in Belgrade, Jens Modvig (protect throughout),
expressed guarded optimism that the GOS might soften its Kosovo
policy during the months ahead. (Note: the UN Office in Belgrade is
both a liaison with the UN Secretary-General's office and for UNMIK.
The office enjoys good access to senior GOS officials. End note.)
Modvig said that Belgrade's leaders "absolutely do not like" a UDI
scenario. Modvig said that the leaders here want to avoid the
disruption to their international relations (especially with the EU)
and the consequences of radicalizing the electorate in Serbia.



10. (U) UK: British Ambassador to Serbia Stephen Wordsworth told B92
on August 25 that Ahtisaari's plan should be implemented if Belgrade
and Pristina fail to reach an agreement during the Troika talks. He
said he did not understand recent GOS officials' statements accusing
NATO of creating a state in Kosovo, saying that NATO only guarantees
security in Kosovo and the UN plays a much larger role.



11. (U) Netherlands: Dutch Foreign Minister Maxim Verhagen met with
PM Kostunica, President Tadic and FM Jeremic on August 29 in
Belgrade. In public statements, he supported a compromise solution
within international law and the UN. Kostunica and Tadic said that
they had told Verhagen that Serbia is ready to find such a solution.
Belgrade media widely covered Verhagen's later comments to Dutch
radio in which he called Kosovo's partition "acceptable" if both
sides agree. Belgrade media noted that Verhagen is the first
European FM to publicly support partition.



12. (SBU) Comment: Belgrade politicians must decide how to manage
Kosovo negotiations while national elections loom within the next
6-8 months. The comments this week both by Kostunica and Nikolic
are for domestic consumption and intended to hold political ground
going into election season. Both are using the specter of a UDI for
this purpose. For yet another week, Tadic and his DS have chosen to
remain silent and let others define how Serbia engages with their
avowed "strategic imperatives" of NATO and the West.


MUNTER