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August 11, 2007

Globe & Mail

One way or another, Kosovo will become an independent state. The real question is how to get from here to there without blowing up the Balkans. The solution may lie in coaxing Kosovo's leaders into issuing the most limited and self-constraining declaration of independence in world history.

Nominally part of Serbia, the territory has been administered by the United Nations since 1999, when the North Atlantic Treaty Organization bombed Serb positions and deployed peacekeepers to protect the province's majority Albanian population. In practice, Kosovo has been a separate state for eight years, under international authority.

There is no realistic prospect of reintegrating Kosovo into Serbia. The local population is overwhelmingly opposed and will almost certainly fight to prevent it. The last thing the region needs is a return to ethnic bloodletting, which would be difficult to contain within Kosovo's boundaries.

Last March, UN mediator Martti Ahtisaari proposed that the w...

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Roland Paris
Graduate School of Public and International Affairs

University of Ottawa

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