Kosova Independent Within A Fortnight

08 February 2008
SNP MEP Alyn Smith has safely returned from Kosova from a three day fact finding and observation mission having met the European Commission and United Nations missions in Pristina, as well as Kosovan politicians from across the political spectrum, the two Deputy Prime Ministers and Kosovan civil society.
Mr Smith's European Commission organised visit came the day after the final vote in the Serbian Presidential election and during the final preparations for Kosova's forthcoming Declaration of Independence.  It seems almost certain that this will take place before the end of the month.

Speaking from Edinburgh, Smith said:

"Kosova has a wretched recent history, and you do not need to go far in Pristina to see the evidence of conflict, I was humbled just to be there and comprehend the scale of Kosova's problems. I counted nine tanks on the road just in from the airport.

"But the buzz around the place was inspiring. Independence is on everyone's lips, and is accepted by all international observers that it is the only way forward to build a nation.  I met politicians from all points of the political and ethnic spectrum, and certainly all those I spoke to were conscious that the right to self determination goes hand in hand with the obligation to ensure civil rights for the minority populations and equality before the law for all.

"Meeting politicians from the Kosovan Serb community was particularly helpful.  There is an acceptance that independence will happen and that so long as their rights are secure they will work with the government. Under the constitution presently being discussed in the Kosovan parliament all rights are guaranteed, but legal rights on paper are worthless without observance and enforcement of them.

"Meeting the international community was instructive. The UN, and now the EU has been instrumental in promoting Kosovan independence, and it is likely that the UK will be amongst the first states to recognise Kosova as independent. EU funds also will be instrumental in keeping the Kosovan civil police and judiciary running while the Kosovans themselves train sufficient personnel to take over.

"Kosova was badly let down by the international community in 1999, and the EU response was woeful. However, those lessons appear to have been learned, and there is a real commitment on the part of the EU to make Kosova a success. The credibility of the EU is on the line, but that is as nothing compared to the nervousness and apprehension felt by many Kosovans and those doubts must be assuaged if Kosova is to have any chance to flourish."