What happened
If the U.S. and Europe don’t step in to guide Kosovo toward independence when failed negotiations with Serbia officially end on Monday, an “unsupervised, possibly violent” independence process could destabilize Kosovo’s Balkan neighbors, according to a report by the International Crisis Group. (Reuters in The New York Times)

What the commentators said
“Violence is not inevitable,” said the Los Angeles Times in an editorial, “but it is likely.” Now that the efforts by United Nations negotiators to broker a deal between Kosovar Albanians and the Serbian leadership are hopelessly deadlocked, the major powers will have to act fast if they hope to avert “yet another bloody crisis in the Balkans.”

“It is not too late for Moscow to play a more constructive role,” said The New York Times in an editorial, “and to bring Serbia along with it.” Both have “more to gain from stability—and good relations with Europe and the United States—than from whipping up old hatreds.”

Kosovo must take some responsibility, too, said Timothy Garton Ash, also in the Los Angeles Times. It must accept the U.N. negotiators’ proposal for international supervision, a continued NATO presence, and a liberal constitution. And it must not declare independence before Serbia’s Feb. 3 presidential election too fast, because that would only “catapult an extremist into the presidential office in Belgrade.”

“The problem is,” said the London Guardian in an editorial, “impatience and frustration will boil over if Kosovo's Albanians think they have been hoodwinked about independence once too often.”