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International Politics - Kosovo

I think Kosovo declaring independence from Serbia will be a disaster and the US and other countries that have been urging/supporting them to do so are being irresponsible and have opened a whole can of worms for future provinces wanting to 'break away' from the mother state. South Ossetia and Abkhazia (both Georgia) are both want-to-be breakaway states and Trans-Dniester (Moldova) declared independence from Moldova and has never been recognised - and that's three xapmles in Europe alone without looking further afield or to really high tension spots like Palestine.

It is completely irresponsible and double-standards for certain countries to choose who to recognise and who not to recognise. There is no reason why Kosovo should be supported in its independence push when other countries with the same - or worse - problems are ignored or even condemned for the same aspirations.

As we've seen today trouble has already flared in both Kosovo and Serbia because of the decision and the support of America and many EU States - and it'll only get worse. The countries supporting this will be directly responsible for much of the conflict that this could lead to and that's ignoring the additional problems in relations we'll all niow have with both Serbia and, more important;y, Russia - who have been itching to reassert themselves as a military world power (as seen from their increased air incursions, military budget spending and declaration of a new arms race due to the so-called 'Shield Wall' that NATO is building in many ex-Soviet states.

We'll see what happens but I'm not optimistic and once again we've shot ourselves in the foot longer-term by supporting and recognising (official recognition is expected from the UK, US and several other countries on Monday) a breakaway State in regards to our future conduct of other such States (the same way that I still feel the enemy non-combatant tag and Guantanamo Bay have made it so much harder for certain countries to complain about the treatment of their civilians and troops should the shoe be reversed).

You can bet if it was a pro-Russian State wanting to break away from a pro-Western country the countries that are supporting Kosovo wouldn't be so enthuiastic and keen for it to happen.

Kosovo MPs Proclaim Independence (BBC News Online; Sunday 17th February 2008)


( 29 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 18th, 2008 12:48 am (UTC)
Although I look at the US with respect and admiration for its achievements, the country has had negative influence in several foreign affairs. The US has always supported 'democracy' even in countries which are not able to stabilize themselves.
I can't say much for the UN, as their disasters and achievements outweigh each other. Speaking of which, that was the organization that failed to prevent the four day massacre of 7 000 Srebencian men AND boys. It is impossible for Kosovo to grow and be productive by themselves at this time. They will just mess up and create more conflicts.
Feb. 18th, 2008 01:11 am (UTC)
Kosovo was independant until Western countries including the US and the UK decided to just smoosh the whole region together and called it Yugoslavia. They have far more right to independance than Trans-Dniester do.
Feb. 18th, 2008 08:56 am (UTC)
Kosovo has been in-and-out of Serbian control since the 12th century. Admittedly the Ottomans rules it for several hundred years too.

It's always been a region of conflict and has been part of Yugoslavia twice (once in 1929 and then again in 1945 after the axis control had been removed). Kosovo was under Serbian control when the first Yugoslavia was formed and had been for a while.

Kosovo can not survive as an independent country at present. Given more years to calm the tensions and disputes that still underlay much of the region from the wars and conflicts of the last 10-20 years then maybe. At the moment though too many people - both within the region and outside it - will take advantage of the situation to settle their own scores or to try and assert influence over the area for their own benefit.
Feb. 18th, 2008 08:10 pm (UTC)
Yep. Serbia's done a great job with Kosovo so far. Say, remind me, why did they need UN intervention again? Well, nevermind, I'm sure they'll do better in the future. That's why pencils have erasers!
Feb. 18th, 2008 06:17 am (UTC)
So are you objecting to a free, democratic people choosing their own form of government? Or that it doesn't happen more often?

I mean this in the most respectful way, but you really should read up on the history of Yugoslavia.
Feb. 18th, 2008 09:03 am (UTC)
I'm saying that it should be one rule for all and not only when superpower A or B decide it's in their interest.

Plus having localised areas of countries breaking away to form their own countries is very tricky. Imagine if California or Washington States wanted to break away from the US and form their own independent country, Quebec in Canada, Scotland in the UK, etc.

If the majority of citizens from those areas wanted to form their own countries and break away from the larger whole would they be supported by the same countries supporting Kosovo's independence?

And none of them are as highly connected to the parents history as Kosovo is to Serbia. Kosovo is a area of major historical and traditional importance to the Serbs and they aren't just going to roll over and say "sure, go your own way". It'd be a bit like Christians giving up all claim on Jerusalem! (Ok, over exaggerated the Jerusalem bit but you get the general meaning).

I know a fair amount of Yugolavian history and also one of my closest friends is Serbian (who really doesn't want to see another war explode in the region as she was a kid in the last one - but she knows what a lot of Serbs/Kosovans are like and is very worried about the situation).
Feb. 18th, 2008 12:06 pm (UTC)
What part did the Stalinist regime in Albania play in the increase in Kosovo's Albanian population, I wonder?

I doubt whether Kosovo has the wherewithal to sustain independence (like Quebec and Scotland you could argue) and think maybe the 90% Kosovo-Albanian population has declared independence knowing that USA/UN/UK/EU would be obliged to act to prevent major blood-letting.
Feb. 18th, 2008 03:41 pm (UTC)
There are 16,000 UN troops in Kosovo. The majority of the violence so far has been in Serbia. Draw your own conclusions.

How is Kosovo less worthy or capable than any of the other nations that've split off from Yugoslavia?
Feb. 18th, 2008 10:54 pm (UTC)
Possibly from a historical perspective, perhaps.
There have been clear national identities throughout the last few centuries, even without a nation state, and the odd one with national boundaries without a strong case for the former. AFAIK, Croatians have a longstanding identity as a cultural/national group. Slovenes maybe too. What weakens Kosovo's case is that the push to independence is coming from its majority Albanian population. Like Bosnia, who is to say who is the indigenous population?
But then, it's all a question of perspective, this time-served right to call yourself a nation.. the Scots were a tribe from Ireland after all, and one of our national heroes, Robert "the" Bruce was of Norman extraction (descended from one Robert le Brus, who fought at Hastings with William). And the Normans were 3rd generation vikings...
Feb. 18th, 2008 03:38 pm (UTC)
"Imagine if California or Washington States wanted to break away from the US and form their own independent country, Quebec in Canada, Scotland in the UK, etc."

Quebec votes on it periodically. They haven't gotten past 50% yet. Hawaii or Puerto Rico are better examples from the US, but neither is particularly likely, but if they wanted to go, more power to them. I really have no problem with Scotland or Wales declaring independence from the UK. Where's the harm?

The parts that have broken off from Yugoslavia caused a great deal of misery when they formed their own nations, but how are they hurting anybody now?

I'm just really surprised to see this paternalistic POV from you, Angus.

Yes, the Serbians want to hold onto Kosovo. They also wanted to hold onto Croatia and all the rest. That's not a compelling argument unless you're a Serb.
Feb. 18th, 2008 04:07 pm (UTC)
Imagine if California or Washington States wanted to break away from the US and form their own independent country, Quebec in Canada, Scotland in the UK, etc.

More power to them if they did.

Would London really be able to withstand the terror wrought by the Welsh Republican Army if independence was denied?
Feb. 18th, 2008 09:49 am (UTC)
totally with you on this one - rightly or wrongly Kossovo and Serbia have been largely one thing for centuries, and kossovo has no more right to independence than Cornwall here or Britanny in France. The only reason the yanks, UK and EU are in favour of it is political: Serbia is a loyal ally of Moscow, so the weaker the better, as far as the west are concerned.

Like you said, if a state of the US or a part of one European country decided they wanted independence would they support it? would they fuck
Feb. 18th, 2008 03:43 pm (UTC)
You should google

Kosovo History

and read up on it. You're assumptions are incorrect.
Feb. 18th, 2008 10:00 am (UTC)
Cold War thinking in a Hot Climate.
On the subject of Break-away states...

Whats the betting that The US will not support the Iraqi Kurds in their Northern (and oil rich) territory, who ALSO want to be an independant state...

TBH, I think this is the US playing fast and loose with international politics again, in the hope of destabilising the rising prominence of Eastern Europe... Same shit they have been doing since the cold war.

Feb. 18th, 2008 12:08 pm (UTC)
Re: Cold War thinking in a Hot Climate.
"Whats the betting that The US will not support the Iraqi Kurds in their Northern (and oil rich) territory, who ALSO want to be an independant state..."

Absolutely not! After all, a large population of rather militant Kurds live in Turkey and the US needs Turk support (and airbases) in the region.
Feb. 18th, 2008 03:50 pm (UTC)
Re: Cold War thinking in a Hot Climate.
An independent Kurdistan would impact a bunch of countries: Iran, Iraq, Turkey, and Syria. Personally, I think that's a good idea too, and one that's long overdue. Google "Treaty of Sèvres" or "Kurdistan History" for more info.

The US -created- Iraqi Kurdistan by providing the no fly zone and other substantial support since 1992. I know people decry the idea of partitioning Iraq into three countries, but I think it makes a lot of sense in the long term.
Feb. 18th, 2008 11:05 pm (UTC)
Re: Cold War thinking in a Hot Climate.
One of the reasons Sadam claimed for invading Kuwait was that it had been Iraqi until when was it... 1946?

In an ideal world maybe carving Turkey/Iraq up for an idependent Kurdistan would be a reality; the Basques would find some degree of autonomy they'd be happy with. After all, I like flags and if people want to group together under at notion of being a separate people... but the big boys have to play their games and it suits them to invade Iraq and not Zimbabwe.
Feb. 18th, 2008 11:56 am (UTC)
As the ex is going over there to lecture their prison service in how to do their jobs at the end of the month, I am up to speed on many things Kosovan! :-(
Unless I'm mistaken, you'll notice that Spain hasn't recognised Kosovo. Not likely to either, given Basque demands for a state-within-a-state and IMO they have a greater cultural claim.

Feb. 18th, 2008 03:07 pm (UTC)
The Irish Foreign Minister put it like this:

"Serbia effectively lost Kosovo through its own actions in the 1990s. The bitter legacy of the killings of thousands of civilians in Kosovo and the ethnic cleansing of many more has effectively ruled out any restoration of Serbian dominion in Kosovo."

I'm inclined to agree that popular opinion, at least in this country, leans in that direction. Considering that there's Irish troops stationed there as a human shield between the ethnic groups it's an interesting perspective.
Feb. 18th, 2008 03:33 pm (UTC)
It's interesting to see that many countries who have provinces that want independence (ala Spain) are against the move.

I think each nations opinion in this is pretty much how it helps/hinders them and not looking at the situation neutrally for the regional and humanitarian secuirty of Kosovo and it's neighbours.

The US are obviously happy for Kosovo to break away as it weaken's the Russian alliance and also causes turmoil and confusion within the EU (which the US administration have pinpointed as a future threat so obviously having internal disputes within the EU is a bonus for them longterm as is potentially getting additional US-friendly voting states ala Kosovo signed up to the EU).
Feb. 18th, 2008 03:53 pm (UTC)
Here's another item you should research: Kosovo has been seeking independence since the breakup of Yugoslavia started, and formally requested it from the international community in 1992. Back then, they got the cold shoulder.

So what's different now? Once you can answer that question, you'll have a better understanding of why things are playing out the way they are.
Feb. 18th, 2008 04:01 pm (UTC)
I think it's unsurprising that Spain et al are against the move. Similar to how it's unsurprising that countries like Ireland (who won their independence etc) are for this.

Nations are tricky concepts and people can get really worked up about them. But sometimes it's very easier to see where the borders should be than others. Is Kosovo declaring independence really that much different to Ireland declaring independence when you get down to it?
Feb. 18th, 2008 04:09 pm (UTC)
No more different than Brittany or Normandy declaring independence from France. Just have a lot more recent history of bloodshed than the French example.
Feb. 18th, 2008 04:18 pm (UTC)
Considering the oppression of parts of Breton culture in France I'd be inclined to say they'd have a point for wanting more independence from the central Government, but that's a different argument.

I honestly believe that Ireland was right to declare independence and that we are entitled to rule our own affairs, despite not buying into republicanism or the violent side of the movement. I find it very hard to not lend similar support to situations like this where there are solid historical grounds for the will to independence. Scotland could argue for independence on ethnic grounds to some extent but (importantly) it doesn't generally because London doesn't abuse it. If the UK committed the acts that went on in Kosovo or Ireland (auxiliaries etc) then I don't think you could justify denying its people's right to independence.

Then, considering my nationality, it's very stereotypical for me to think this way so perhaps I'm just falling into the trap of drawing too many parallels between my country's history and the history of Kosovo.
Feb. 18th, 2008 07:37 pm (UTC)
Which is such a great concern for France that they... oh, wait, no, they recognized Kosovo as an independent nation today.
Feb. 18th, 2008 07:46 pm (UTC)
That's because France hasn't had an internal civil war in the last ten years and is pretty stable. But the historic comparison between Kosovo and Serbia and Normandy and France is a good one.

Both Region and Nation are integrally linked historically and culturally. France would be up in arms if the local authorities in Normandy decided to suceed and form their own state.

Recent history and nationalism (on both sides in the serb/Kosovo issue) are the major differences. Kosovo declaring complete idnependence also goes against the UN Resolutions covering the area and its governship.

But then its been proved plenty of times that nations tend to ignore the UN Resolutions when it doesn't actually suit them (thinking about Israel/Palestine/Syria here as well as the more recent Iraq invasion).
Feb. 18th, 2008 08:16 pm (UTC)
"Both Region and Nation are integrally linked historically and culturally."

Do you think the people of Normandy consider themselves French?

Do you think the vast majority of people in Kosovo consider themselves Serbian?

Do you know anybody who considered themselves Yugoslavian? Ever? Well. maybe Tito. But aside from him?
Feb. 18th, 2008 10:14 pm (UTC)
**Do you think the people of Normandy consider themselves French?**

Most do, but some do consider themselves Norman first. We have similiar cases with the Cornish in England! :p

**Do you think the vast majority of people in Kosovo consider themselves Serbian?**

Not anymore certainly.

**Do you know anybody who considered themselves Yugoslavian? Ever? Well. maybe Tito.**

I actually know quite a few people who considered themselves Yugoslavian. In fact the taxi driver I had on Saturday night said he was Yugoslav before then changing it to Serb. Yugoslavia has been around for the majority of most peoples lives and many regarded themselves as such before the break-up of states in the early 90's.

Yugoslavia isn't really the issue though as Kosovo was a province of Serbia long before the formation of Yugoslavia.
Feb. 18th, 2008 11:15 pm (UTC)
AFAIK (my get-out clause as always), the Cornish are racially more akin to the Welsh than the English, and were even known as the "West Welsh" around the time of King Alfred.
Also, it was in-fighting between the nobles of the French regions that contributed to their defeating themselves at Agincourt in 1412. It was the French equivalent of "I'm not taking orders from you, you f*cking Brummie/Georgie/Scouse ponce!"

And one of my oldest mates is half Ukranian/half Yugoslav until the fighting, and then he became half Croat.
( 29 comments — Leave a comment )

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