Ratko Tales + IMF is America's Stooge, Kosovo Ed

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in , at 11/19/2010 12:01:00 AM
Something that I enjoy at the LSE is attending presentations I know relatively little about. To paraphrase a certain song, I need to know a little bit about a lot of things lest I blog about the same topics over and over again. Variety is the spice of life. At LSE IDEAS, we have just held the well-received launch event of our sister Balkan International Affairs programme featuring Serbian Foreign Affairs Minister Vuk Jeremić and his Bulgarian counterpart Nickolay Evtimov Mladenov. This is a post in two parts:

I. When I last wrote about Serbia in these parts, I was planning my adventure to aid Serbia's EU accession by going on "Ratko Hunt 2010." Strangely enough, I've had no takers despite bounties worth millions of euros for his capture (since you'd probably wind up dead as a doorknob prior to enjoying any fruits of your mercenary work). That is, one of the preconditions for Serbia's process of joining the EU, among other things, is handing over the remaining one of the big three war criminals to the war crimes tribunal in the Hague. With Ratko still at large and rumoured to move around freely in Belgrade, let's just say things are not going swimmingly. Slobodan Milosevic is dead and gone, while Radovan Karazdic has long since been corralled. This, of course, leaves Ratko Mladic somewhere out there:
Serbia is still not co-operating fully with the United Nations war crimes tribunal in the hunt for fugitive former general Ratko Mladic, the chief prosecutor said yesterday, a key condition for eventual EU membership. Serbia’s past inability or unwillingness to find Mladic has long delayed its progress towards the EU, deterring foreign investment and diminishing EU accession funds. A UN war crimes court has indicted Mladic for genocide in the 1995 massacre of 8,000 Muslims in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica and the 1992-1995 siege of Sarajevo.

“While recognising a number of people are really doing an excellent job, we say at the same time there is room for improvement and in a number of areas, more can be done, and in a more professional way,” said Serge Brammertz, the chief UN war crimes prosecutor. In October, EU foreign ministers asked the bloc’s executive commission to consider starting entry talks with Serbia, but warned Belgrade any further progress would depend on its full co-operation with the war crimes tribunal. Mr Brammertz said he would send his latest six-month report on Serbia’s efforts to apprehend Mladic to the UN tomorrow, and the Security Council would discuss it on December 6th.
The bottom line for this story? Serbia's efforts towards joining the EU are lagging behind those of other former Yugoslavian entities:
The Mladic issue is the most prominent factor that has left Serbia lagging behind many other former Yugoslav republics. Slovenia is already an EU member; Croatia is close; and both Macedonia and Montenegro are further along than Belgrade. Even Albania, the region’s most isolated state under communism, is ahead of Belgrade. Only Bosnia and Kosovo, which remain international protectorates, trail Serbia in progress towards the EU.
II. And here's another titbit I picked up that I missed earlier. The matter of Kosovo being recognized as a nation is one of the remaining free-for-alls in terms of acknowledging new states. During the presentation there were some fireworks in store when a representative from Kosovo's consulate in London had a beef about the generally upbeat talk by the Serbian foreign minister. Let's just say they have...unresolved grievances. The UN will probably not recognize Kosovo as a nation after it declared independence in 2008 for as long as China and Russia remain in the P5. After all, they still have major issues with the way Western powers intervened.

As it stands, about a third of UN members recognize Kosovo, while two-thirds don't. Let's just say its membership in international organizations remains, erm, skimpy. Fascinatingly, however, I overlooked (sorry about this) Kosovo formally being made a member of the IMF at midyear 2009. As if we needed more proof that the IMF is an American bootlicker camp, well here you go:
Kosovo said the International Monetary Fund voted to accept it as a member, an important step in the former Serbian province's efforts to secure global recognition as an independent state -- and international aid. Kosovo's bid was actively opposed by Russia and Serbia, Russian and U.S. officials said. Serbia, for instance, wrote to all of the IMF's 185 members, asking them to reject Kosovo's bid. The fledgling Balkan nation of some two million unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in February 2008.

The U.S., France, Germany and the U.K. pressed for Kosovo's IMF membership. But admitting Kosovo has been a contentious issue at the IMF, a body that likes to work by consensus. Kosovo's deputy foreign minister, Vlora Qitaku, said Tuesday that -- as required -- a vote by more than half the IMF's member countries had produced a majority in favor of Kosovo's membership. IMF officials declined to comment Tuesday, because the results hadn't yet been made public.

The issue was pushed ahead partly by the weakness of Eastern Europe in the global crisis, as one economy after the other was forced to call for IMF aid. Pressure grew to bring Kosovo under the IMF umbrella so it could make sure of the same resource. Kosovo is widely expected to ask the IMF for financing.

Because the IMF is an international club, joining also is an important step on an arduous road to acceptance as a member of the international community, say government officials in Kosovo. A spokesman for the government said it expects to join the World Bank in early June, after a similar vote.

Other would-be nations have found the going tough as they sought membership in international bodies. Taiwan was booted out of the IMF in 1980 when China was admitted, and it hasn't applied to return since. Unlike Kosovo, Taiwan isn't recognized by the U.S. and most other major nations as a fully independent state, and an IMF application would be unlikely to succeed.

Unlike the United Nations, the World Trade Organization and some other international groups, the IMF's weighted-majority voting rules allowed Kosovo to join over the objections from Serbia, Russia and other countries that don't recognize Kosovo's independence. So far, 58 of the U.N.'s 192 member states have recognized Kosovo's independence.

Bratislav Grubacic, a veteran political analyst in Belgrade, said Serbia realized it wouldn't be able to block Kosovo's IMF membership and is focusing more on blocking Kosovo from the U.N. Serbia effectively lost Kosovo in 1999, after its troops were driven out of the mainly ethnic Albanian enclave by an extensive bombardment by the U.S.-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Serbian officials couldn't be reached to comment Tuesday evening. A Russian official in Washington said Tuesday that Russia was against Kosovo's IMF admission. Russia has opposed Kosovo's independence bid, saying it breached international laws guaranteeing territorial sovereignty and that it would create a precedent for other breakaway regions. Russia has since recognized the breakaway enclaves of South Ossetia and Abkhazia in neighboring Georgia...

Kosovo's future prospects for joining the European Union, which its government wants to do, are uncertain, as that requires unanimity. Five of the EU's member states -- Greece, Cyprus, Spain, Romania and Slovakia -- don't recognize Kosovo.
Would Kosovo have squeaked into the IMF had voting reform been in progress prior to Kosovo's bid for membership? It's an interesting question. Note that Kosovo was cleared to join the World Bank at roughly the same time with the sponsorship of a certain North American nation.