17 February 2008

Kosovo independence imminent

According to the BBC celebrations have begun in Kosovo's capital, Pristina, in anticipation of a expected declaration of independence sometime today. Thousands of Kosovars have been dancing in the streets, setting off fireworks and waving Albanian flags. A few minutes ago Kosovo's Prime Minister Hashim Thaci has requested an emergency session of parliament to discuss a declaration of independence from Serbia. Mr Thaci said parliament was to meet at 1100 GMT to discuss the motion - as well as a new set of state symbols. Independence is supported by the US the UK and several EU countries but (unsurprisingly, given that is it a province of the nation) it is bitterly opposed by Serbia and also by Russia

In the flashpoint town of Mitrovica, in northern Kosovo, Nato peacekeeping troops have laid concrete and razor-wire barriers to separate Serbs from Albanians. Lieutenant-General Xavier de Marnhac, the French commander of the Nato peacekeepers, said his troops would react swiftly to any provocation from the Albanian or Serbian side of the divided town. Local and UN police, as well as the Nato troops, are maintaining a high profile to reassure all the citizens of Kosovo that they have nothing to fear. On Saturday, the EU approved sending a police and justice mission to Kosovo. The 2,000-strong mission, known as Eulex, will begin deploying from next week and is expected to take over from the United Nations by early June. It is tasked with helping to prevent human rights abuses and ensure that Kosovo's fragile institutions are free from political interference.

Serbia has threatened to use diplomatic and economic measures against Kosovo, though it has ruled out using force. Russia's foreign ministry has indicated that Western recognition of an independent Kosovo could have implications for the Georgian breakaway provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. (presumably it will also have consequences for the Moldovan breakaway state of Transnitria.)

A UN plan for Kosovo drawn up by special envoy Martti Ahtisaari, an experienced Finnish diplomat and politician, would give Kosovo independence - but with limits, and under international supervision. It would open the way for Kosovo to join the UN and have its own flag and national anthem - but it would prevent Kosovo from amalgamating with Albania, or having its Serb areas split off and be part of Serbia. Faced with a veto threat from Russia, the UN Security Council has failed to endorse the blueprint.


There seems to be an inevitability to Kosovan independence but despite the best intentions of Nato and the UN, I can’t help but imagine it will be the trigger for more violent conflict in the region: Although Kosovo is overwhelmingly Albanian (see the above map) the northern parts are majority Serb. Will they want to stay in Kosovo? I somehow doubt it. Will the Balkans see a new outbreak of ethnic cleansing and civil war? Will Serbia go to war over the loss of a province. I think both are pretty likely despite the nation's assurance that it will not undertake military action.

I know I am rather pessimistic about world affairs but the recent precedents all point to more bloodshed in the near future. Sometiems I wonder if the not-wife is right when she hopes for an even that will wipe the human race off the face of this planet...

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

......and leave it to the low-life, rats and politicians?

Beaman said...

The not-wife makes a good point. :)

I can't help but be pessimistic of the results of this breakaway either. Also I wonder why they didn't do it earlier. Why now?

Jimmy St James said...

And this also opens up the possibility of yet another balkan country in the Eurovision Song Contest.

jams o donnell said...

Until the late 1990s it would have been crushed. Whatever happens now I hope to hell it's peaceful. Somehow I doubt it Beaman.

Haha Jimmy. 12 guaranteed votes for Albania and vice versa methinks..

Courtney Hamilton said...

Kosovo's declaration of 'independence' is just that - 'independence'.

These events should really be entitled 'Kosovo's declaration of dependence'. Indeed, as was made clear by Hashim Thaci, the acting prime minister who stated that 'Kosovo will do nothing without Washington and Brussels. No unilateral actions'.

The 'not-wife' sounds like a first-class misanthrope to me...

jams o donnell said...

She has a big misanthropic streak, no doubt about that

Brian said...

Well, I Googled "Kosovo Independence Blog," and here I am. Being in Boston, MA, USA, I am happy that this is an Irish dude's blog, since 20% of my friends are Irish natives in "America's Most Irish City." I guess I just needed somewhere to vent. I do not know a single person who (a) cares or (b) if they do care, wants Kosovo independent. We all learned after our anti-ethnic cleansing campaign in the region that it was the not Serbs who initiated such; the most grotesque atrocities were in fact committed by non-Serbs, upon Serbs, in non-Serb dominated areas. Kosovo is a province in a sovereign nation; if they wish to be independent, let them rely on Albania for annexation, not the UN or EU. I oftentimes find myself siding with Putin these days, and I am a very conservative, Republican voter. So this is odd, but I am glad I think for myself. Many people here will just think, "Great, we're supporting independence." But we only seem to do that when it suits us or grates Russia. Imagine if we got involved one way or the other with Northern Ireland. (Though I think most people here would love to see a unified Ireland, we don't get involved because London is our pal.) My mouth is agape that we are letting a province do this; and they are only doing it because they know they have our support. Well, not mine.

Kosovo said...

Kosovo (Albanian: Kosova or Kosovë) is a country in the southeastern Europe, Its Provisional Institutions of Self-Government have recently declared independence from the genocidal Serbia, which contested the act; as the Republic of Kosovo

KOSOVO NEWS