Saturday, April 20, 2013

North Kosovo Status Changing After Serbia Deal

Map of Serbia, Kosovo, and North Kosovo
Map by Evan Centanni, based on these two blank maps by Nord-NordWest. License: CC BY-SA
Kosovo & Serbia in Historic Agreement
Serbia and the breakaway Republic of Kosovo reached a landmark deal on Friday to normalize their relations, partially compromising on several contentious issues between the two governments in southeastern Europe. Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia in 2008, but due to Serbia's opposition it has still not achieved full international recognition. 

Status Change for North Kosovo
North Kosovo is the largest of several areas within Kosovo where the majority of people are part of the Serb ethnic group, whereas 90% of people in Kosovo as a whole are ethnically Albanian. When Kosovo split from Serbia, many Serbs in the north refused to go, governing themselves separately from Kosovo and choosing instead to continue cooperating with and accepting government funding from Serbia.

Territory Name:  
• North Kosovo (English)
• Severno Kosovo (Serbian)
Kosova Veriore (Albanian)
Claimants: 
• Republic of Kosovo
• Serbia
Actual Control: Local pro-Serbia groups, foreign peacekeepers
Status: No official status
Capital: Kosovska Mitrovica (de facto)
Under the new agreement, Serbia will stop treating North Kosovo as part of its territory, in exchange for the region receiving a degree of autonomy within Kosovo. Notably, Serbs in North Kosovo will now be able to legally manage their own police force. However, there may still be a bumpy road ahead, since Serb leaders in North Kosovo are refusing to accept the compromise.

Flag of the Republic of Kosovo Country Name:  
• Kosovo (English, Serbian)
• Kosova (Albanian)
Official Name:  
Republic of Kosovo (English)
Republika e Kosov√ęs (Albanian)
Republika Kosovo (Serbian)
Status: Partially recognized; claimed by Serbia
Capital: Pristina/Prishtina
Eligibility for EU
The biggest benefit Serbia gets out of this week's deal is eligibility to apply for membership in the European Union (EU). The EU, which admits new members on a case-by-case basis, had told Serbia it would never be considered unless it first relinquished control of North Kosovo. Serbia has also agreed not to get in the way if Kosovo applies to join the EU too.

Serbia Still Not Recognizing Kosovo
The Holy Grail for Kosovo would have been official diplomatic recognition of its independence from Serbia. However, the agreement stopped short of Serbia calling Kosovo an independent country. Kosovo's Prime Minister has claimed that the deal counts as recognition anyway, but Serbia has emphatically denied this.

Kosovo is recognized as independent by about half of all the world's countries, including the majority of the EU and NATO, but opposition from Serbia and Russia has kept it locked out of the UN. For a current map of all of the countries that recognize Kosovo, see Kosovo Recognition Update: April 2103.

Article by Evan Centanni. Kosovo flag graphic by Cradel (source) (CC BY-SA).