Enver Hasani


State building of the union between Serbia and Montenegro represents the biggest challenge for peace and stability in the Balkans and beyond, with the issue of an unsettled Kosovo as an everlasting indicator of that challenge. The USM Agreement alone is not enough to produce the desired results. Only an overall, nonterritorial restructuring of Kosovar society along the principles and norms of the rule of law, democracy, and the respect for human and minority rights can produce the desired results. An approach based on new internal territorial divisions, such as the ongoing process of decentralization, can only further exacerbate the situation by reviving old and bitter memories of self-determination as a phenomenon associated with violence and cruelty, leaving Kosovo a less secure region of the Balkans.

In response to this challenge, I argue that state building in the newly established Union of Serbia and Montenegro might take the same path as in the countries in Africa or South Asia following their decolonization in the 1960s and 1970s. The lessons of state building in Africa and South Asia can inform the process in the USM. This is not to say that the process will not be without difficulties, some of which are already obvious-the decentralization of Kosovo and the strained dialogue among Albanians and Serbs are examples.

I also argue that the USM Agreement was signed not to prevent Montenegro's secession, but Kosovo's outright independence. The price that will be paid for this new path is unclear. Although the Balkan region seems stabilized for now, the region likely will not remain stable because Kosovars and Albanians most likely will be those disillusioned in the new Balkans, a region purporting to emulate Western and liberal values of political organization, including multicultural and multiethnic coexistence. Whether this disillusion of Albanians will translate into an aggressive and violent movement remains to be seen.

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