The fun and fuss as viewed from the Balkans
A busy, busy week. In London, MPs start debating the Lisbon treaty in detail.
Open Europe are trying to keep the argument for a referendum in the limelight, and compensate for some of the rather wonkish arguments that will ensue, by holding a series of votes in marginal seats.
They plan ten such campaigns at first starting in the seat of the Europe minister Jim Murphy in East Renfrewshire in Scotland .
The Government is pretty confident that it will win the votes that matter to it in the House of Commons and that any Labour rebellion will be of the “small explosion, nobody hurt” variety.
But the background for the debate is not auspicious for the Government: the Labour-dominated and important foreign affairs select committee has issued a report saying the Government has downplayed and underestimated the effects of the treaty .
This gives the Shadow Foreign Secretary, William Hague , the opportunity to use terms like “stitch-up”, “cynical spin” and “discredited.”
In Belgrade, they will be absorbing the results of the Serbian presidential elections and working out where the votes of the knocked out candidates will go in the next round in early February.
Not only Belgrade: specialists in Washington and Moscow, Berlin and London will be doing their calculations too. The Russian deputy ambassador to Serbia was at the Radical rally I mentioned the other day and if they take power they are less likely to duck confrontation with the West over Kosovo.
I am never a great fan of the idea that party leaders can herd their voters like sheep but what the Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica says could be crucial. He backed the third-placed candidate.
Mr Kostunica is hard line on Kosovo and has a difficult relationship with President Tadic. But would he really throw his hat in with the radicals? Not an easy crystal ball to gaze into.
In Brussels there is a long-awaited announcement of a big package of measures on fighting climate change . As far as I can see, on the end of a long lens from the Balkans, one of the main issues is a European mirror image of a debate that rages worldwide over carbon dioxide emissions.
Should less developed countries be allowed to pollute more that their richer neighbours?
The European Union’s answer is a resounding “yes”. “Burden-sharing” will be renamed to make it sound less burdensome. But the UK, France and Germany will be expected to make even greater cuts backs while some other countries like Romania will actually be able to pollute more. My carbon foot print will grow as I leg it back to Brussels midweek to listen to the details.
Ramush Haradinaj, a former Prime Minister of Kosovo could be sentenced this week at the war crimes tribunal in The Hague .
Prosecutors say that as commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army’s “Black Eagle” brigade he was responsible for the murder rape and torture of Serbs.
They are asking for a sentence of 25 years in prison. It’s a reminder to the West that in Yugoslavia’s civil war there were atrocities on both sides.
No such reminder is needed for the Serbs. I have just been to a village in central Kosovo, a mixed village before the war, which was painstakingly rebuilt as such, at huge cost, in 2004.
Nearly 50 houses were set aside for Serbs and were taken up. Now only around ten families remain. No one suggests they were threatened or intimidated so it is not clear why they came back and then left again.
The Serbian man who would speak to me, while stressing his belief in a multi-ethnic future, said he would be off if independence was declared. I don’t quite believe him: given that everybody knows it is only weeks away, unless things get really ugly, everybody who wants to go has already gone.
Given such a busy week it’s difficult to know where to go. So I am heading for Albania. It seems pretty quiet there .