The Kosovo question

Albanian Kosovar leader, Veton Surroi, has warned that things could get nasty if Kosovo’s independence is held back any further. The territory (probably the best word under the circumstances) is currently under UN control, and looks likely to remain so after UN-led talks aimed at getting Kosovo a form of indepedence under EU supervision were knocked back by long-term Serbian ally Russia (Russia’s proclivity for throwing its hat in with Serbia was a key factor in triggering the First World War, just in case you’re interested).

Today the Contact Group (US, EU and Russia) is having talks before visiting Kosovo and Serbia. Serbia claims Kosovo as the cradle of Serb civilization, but the 90% Albanian-Kosovar population would rather go its own way after a short war with Serbia in 1998-1999. The war was ended with a NATO (read US) air campaign which bombed Milosevic’s men out of Kosovo, which incidentally, like Iraq, was not approved by a UN resolution.  

It’s a difficult one to call. For ninety percent of the population independence is the answer, but the remaining ten percent are seriously worried about their safety in the event that Kosovo does get its sought-after independence. And many claim that the granting of independence is simply rewarding ethnic cleansing (whilst media reports had the Serbs down as the undisputed bad guys – and Milosevic was certainly overstepping the mark, whilst the EU floundered around helplessly -, the Kosovan Liberation Army had been out looting and murdering its way through predominantly Serbian areas and driving  the locals from their villages – a fact which barely gets a mention in most news reports); and this would set a dangerous precedent, especially in other parts of the former Yugoslavia where divisions still exist within States.

Spain is dead-set against independence for Kosovo. Alberto Navarro, Spain’s Secretary of State for the EU, has expressed concern that outside powers are deciding on the fate of another country and that this will lead to another European State splitting up. But Albertito, we know that’s not what you’re really worried about. Any Spanish government support for Kosovan independence would fire up nationalists in Spain, who would charge their leaders with hypocrisy for supporting independence movements outside Spain whilst railing against them domestically. Of course, conditions in, say, Les Borges Blanques, bear little resemblance to Kosovo, and to attempt to apply the same criteria to both situations would be beyond puerile, but…

The EU could spice the deal with opening membership talks for Serbia, but there are a whole host of other issues which also block Serbian accession, such as turning over supposedly-difficult-to-find war criminals to the International Court of Justice at The Hague. In the meantime, Kosovo could unilaterally declare independence, possibly counting on the US for support, as well as several members of the EU, thereby highlighting another issue on which the EU can fail to reach a consensus on. 

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~ by Daniel on August 9, 2007.

One Response to “The Kosovo question”

  1. Spain is not the only country dead set against Kosovo’s independence. Although your analysis is quite accurate, I think Zapatero’s reasons for not supporting independence are well founded. Especially given Spain’s current state of affairs. Nonetheless, I don’t see Whitehall backing anyone’s independence, least of all Scotland’s.

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