2/17/2008

Kosovo and Independence

I see that Kosovo has declared itself an independent country. The assembly voted to adopt a declaration of independence read by Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, declaring Kosovo 'an independent and sovereign state'.



I have never really looked at the different arguments in relation to Kosovo in much detail.

Serbs argue that Kosovo is an integral part of Greater Serbia and the indigenous Kosovo Albanians who make up 90% of the Kosovo population argue that they should be independent from Serbia.

When you look at Kosovo, like many deeply divided societies with deep constitutional arguments, you have to look at the history of the place.

Now, you can argue either way and with evidence for either proposition as to who were the first inhabitants of this region.

You see, I find the language and arguments of many in the West to be quite spurious in relation to the legitimacy of this independence. Ireland has said that they will recognise Kosovo as an independent nation but I find the arguments of Dermot Ahern quite surprising.

He said that “Serbia effectively lost Kosovo through its own actions in the 1990s"

Can a country ever lose part of its territory in this fashion?

I am sure that the Kosovo Albanians would not agree with Dermot Ahern's reasoning in this case.

1. Serb-Kosovo and the psyche of Greater Serbia

The first battle of Kosovo occurred on the field of Kosovo Polje on June 28 1389 when the Prince of Serbia, Lazar Hrebeljanović, was defeated (?) by the Turks.

While he was defeated many Serbs took heart by this great act of sacrifice and so it has been assimilated into the Serb psyche. "Our forefathers chose death over slavery. They lost kingdom on Earth for kingdom in the Heaven." became a common phrase.

Just before the fall of Communism in Yugoslavia Serb Nationalism began to gather pace and it was influenced by the actions of Slobodan Milosevic.

In 1987 he went to Kosovo to qualm the fears of local Serbs amid a strike by Kosovo Albanian miners that was paralyzing the province. In a famous speech televised throughout Serbia, he told the waiting crowd of angry Serbs, "You will not be beaten again."

For the Serbs it seems to be less the actual loss of territory but more about the damage it may do to a people who follow the mantra that "Only Unity Can Save the Serbs".

2. Kosovo Albanians-Independence

They claim to be the descendents of Illyrian tribes and as such the rightful inheritors of Kosovo. Their suffering at the hands of the Serbs can not be disguised; the identity cleansing that occurred in the early 1990's was only a snippet of the pain and hurt that these people have been forced to endure.

Russia is of course backing their Slavic ally Serbia in this dispute and they are refusing to recognise the independence of Kosovo.

For my own part I am still undecided as to the legitimacy of this declaration of independence. That said I don't hold any sympathy for the Serbs, when I see the word ethnic cleansing all I can think of is Srebrenica.

Their destructive racism has led them to this day; they have no one to blame but themselves.

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