What Others Are Saying

December 03, 2007

Since the Kosovo problem began back in 1912, 1981, 1989 or 1998 (take your pick), no one would - or should - be foolish enough to predict that we are now entering the Kosovo endgame. However, it is clear that one chapter in this tortuous story is closing and a new one opening. Beginning today in the Austrian spa of Baden, Serbian and Kosovo Albanian leaders are meeting for one last time under the aegis of the Troika of mediators from the U.S., Russia and the European Union. No one expects any significant results. The Kosovo Albanians have stuck firm to their demand for independence and Serbia has insisted that it will concede no more than autonomy.

A few ideas are now doing the diplomatic rounds. One is that pressure should be put on the Kosovo Albanians to delay declaring independence until well into the New Year. While news of this delay has begun filtering out in the press, the reason for it has been less clear, and with good reason. What the diplomats hope to achieve by securing a delay on Kosovo's independence is the re-election of Boris Tadic as president of Serbia.

The logic of this is simple. There only two serious candidates for the presidency, Mr. Tadic and Tomislav Nikolic, the acting leader of the Serbian Radical Party. Western diplomats fear that if Mr. Nikolic wins the presidency in February, there would be a serious risk of "losing Serbia," but that if Mr. Tadic secures a second term, there is a far higher chance of Serbia, after a period of anger at losing Kosovo, staying the path when it comes to Euro-Atlantic integration.

- Tim Judah in Balkan Insight

CHEERS ... to Norma Johnson for her role in saving four children from a burning house on East 75th Street. She caught them as their father dropped them from a second-floor window. In an interview later, she defined precisely the thinking that leads to heroism: "I was scared, but I had to put that aside."

JEERS ... to a guy who apparently doesn't know when to quit. Kermit Gabel, a.k.a the Silver Burglar, was arrested last week in Shaker Heights, where police said he broke into two homes. In the 1970s, he was practically a one-man crime wave in the area. But at 76, he really ought to retire.

- The Cleveland Plain Dealer

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