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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.


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Sep. 28th, 2006 11:54 am (UTC)
Kosovo's Endgame
Dear Nicholas,
Thank you for you kind and fair brief review. I just want to clarify two points. My book (submitted for publication in 2005) was published by the Defense Analysis Institute (IAA) that is part of Greece's Ministry of Defense and responsible for advising the Minister of Defense, under whose direct aegis it was operating at that point. Hence, the understandable need to stress that the opinions contained were solely the author's, lest they were misrepresented or misconstrued in any way with government policy, since they were published by a governmental institution with a clear ministerial link. Also, in Greece, sometimes think tanks publish articles or books that are not peer reviewed, hence the need to clarify that as well.

Aristotle Tziampiris
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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