September Books 17) Kosovo’s Endgame

17) Kosovo’s Endgame: Sovereignty and Stability in the Western Balkans, by Aristotle Tziampiris

For the second time time this month I review a book on Kosovo given me by the author. He has done two important things with this book: first, it’s a pretty good comprehensive review of all the available academic and thinktanky literature on Kosovo as of late 2004, including also the full text of the key international documents on Kosovo’s future – UN Security council 1244, the Constitutional Framework, and the Serbian government’s proposals; second, I suspect it is the first book by a Greek author published in Greece which advocates Kosovo’s sovereignty in international law, subject to numerous conditions and restrictions, most of which I agree with (apart from the unworkable idea of total demilitarization).

Unfortunately there are two major problems with the book as well. The first is that the initial chapters contextualising the Kosovo problem seem to be trying to strike a balance between glib journalistic analysis of the situation and getting into the more theoretical aspects of international relations, and the argument therefore seemed to me to fall between two stools, not really clear which audience was being addressed. The second, which I suspect is not the author’s fault, is that the book is effectively two years too late. There is no reference at all to either of the reports of Kai Eide, the Norwegian ambassador to NATO, appointed to assess the situation in Kosovo by the UN, published in late 2004 and late 2005, which have completely altered the international political context; still less to the mission of former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari as the UN Special Envoy to resolve Kosovo’s status.

There is a very peculiar introduction by the author’s employers, a military think-tank near Athens, stating that the decision to publish the book was based on a rigorous independent academic assessment from which the author was excluded; further (and the bold face is as in the original text), “It should be emphasised that the opinions, arguments and analysis contained in this study are wholly the author’s.” These seem to me to be bizarre stipulations; it should be taken as read that any think-tank’s publications are peer-reviewed, and that the named author alone takes political responsibility; and I am really puzzled that the publisher feels moved to emphasize these points. Perhaps I am not sufficiently aware of the nuances and procedures in the Greek academic world, but the fact remains that if the Defence Analyses Institute had approved this text even twelve months ago (and preferably eighteen months ago) it would have been a lot more timely.

One thought on “September Books 17) Kosovo’s Endgame

  1. I really disliked “Vincent and the Doctor,” a thin, poorly-structured episode that might have been redeemed by its treatment of mental illness, if that treatment had been appropriate to a full television story rather than a heavy-handed PSA. (Lest anyone accuse me of ignorant insensitivity, I should say that I have immediate personal experience with both clinical depression and bipolar disorder.) It looks good next to the non-existent treatment of such illnesses in other television programs, but this isn’t a case where I’m inclined to grade on a curve. The performances were strong and the visuals were lovely, but that wasn’t enough to save the episode for me.

    I’m not a Worldcon member, but I’m pulling for The Lost Thing, just because I wasn’t terribly impressed with any of last year’s Who episodes and think the show has won enough Hugos to be getting on with. I haven’t seen Fuck Me, Ray Bradbury, but I don’t like the idea of something so tangential being eligible for the BDP award. (I still think it’s ridiculous that Gollum’s acceptance speech won a few years back.) Maybe there ought to be a category for this sort of related item.

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