An Independent Kosovo: The Least Bad Option

An Independent Kosovo: The Least Bad Option

Citing unnamed EU diplomats, the International Herald Tribune reports that the United States and Germany are prepared to green-light Kosovo's independence soon after Serbia's two-stage elections conclude in the first week of February. Once Kosovo declares independence, according to the paper, U.S. President George W. Bush and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will move quickly to recognize the predominantly Albanian enclave, with the rest of Europe's major powers -- Britain, France and Italy -- following suit.

In a world as complex as ours -- and in a region as messy as the Balkans -- Washington seldom has the luxury of choosing the best option. The challenge is to choose the least bad option. An independent Kosovo is just that.

That option could be further complicated by the political situation in Belgrade. Round one of Serbia's presidential elections on Sunday winnowed the field down to Boris Tadic, the Western-oriented incumbent, and Tomislav Nikolic, a one-time ally of Slobodan Milosevic. Neither was able to win a clear majority. Although both oppose Kosovo's independence, Tadic's tone and track record make him far more palatable to the West.

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