Serbia: South Ossetia conflict, result of Kosovo's seccession, analysts claim

Belgrade, 11 August (AKI) – The deadly conflict between Russia and Georgia in the breakaway province of South Ossetia is an indirect result of Kosovo's declaration of independence in February, Serbian analysts and politicians said on Monday.

 “If there wasn’t a ‘Kosovo precedent’, as the greatest world powers headed by the United States called the secession of a part of Serbian territory, there wouldn’t have been a war in South Ossetia,” Oliver Ivanovic, Serbian government official in charge of Kosovo told the Belgrade daily Blic.

Ivanovic said that Kosovo's example was “inspiring to South Ossetia, so they wanted to strain relations and to define their position.”

Georgia wanted to solve the problem of separatist South Ossetia by the use of force, just like Serbia had tried to do in Kosovo in 1999, he explained.

The only difference between the conflict in South Ossetia and Kosovo was was that NATO airstrikes drove Serbian forces out of Kosovo, while Russian troops intervened in South Ossetia on behalf of the separatist government, Ivanovic said.

He pointed out that the United Nations Security Council was deadlocked over South Ossetia, just as it was the case over Kosovo.

Key Serb ally Russia last year blocked in the UN's top decision-making body a plan for the European Union to supervise independence in Kosovo, where 90 percent of the population are ethnic Albanians.

The only difference was that this time, western powers insisted on the sovereignty of Georgia over its breakaway province, unlike in Serbia’s case.

On the other hand, Russia, which opposed Kosovo's independence, this time sided with separatist forces in Ossetia, he noted.    

 “Like in the case of Kosovo, the policy of double standards has surfaced in the UN again,” Ivanovic said.

Serbian opposition party, the New Serbia, said in a statement it was now “absolutely clear that Kosovo wasn’t a precedent,” isolated from other similar situation in the world.

“The NATO and European Union policy of double standards in Kosovo and South Ossetia will open a ‘Pandora's box’ in other crises areas,” the statement said.

Commentator Dragan Petrovic told Tanjug news agency that the United States had encouraged a conflict between Russia and Georgia to strengthen its influence in the region.

“The Americans want to drive a wedge between Georgia and Russia to improve their position in the area because of an oil pipeline, future actions against Iran, to isolate pro-Russian Armenia and to encourage the aspirations of the Muslim population in the North Caucasus,” Petrovic said.

Former Serbian foreign minister Goran Svilanovic said he now saw Georgia as a “Russian sphere of interest”.

He said it will soon “become clear to everyone in Russia, Georgia and the countries in the region”.

Similiarly, “Kosovo is in effect a European sphere of interest and the sooner we realise it, the better”, Svilanovic said.

Fighting over South Ossetia erupted late last week when Georgia launched an overnight assault on the territory, which has had de facto independence since the end of a war in 1992.

The conflict is reported to have claimed up to 2,000 lives.

Ossetians are a distinct ethnic group originally from the Russian plains just south of the Don river. South Ossetians want to join up with their ethnic brethren in North Ossetia, which is an autonomous republic within the Russian Federation.

Ethnic Georgians are a minority in South Ossetia, accounting for less than one-third of the population.

NATO's 1999 bombing of Kosovo came amid ethnic fighting and gross human rights abuses during a two-year war with guerrillas that killed thousands.

Hundreds of thousands of refugees fled to Albania, Macedonia and Montenegro (photo).


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