21 April 2007

Bantustans for Europe? Should Kosovo be independent?

Is Europe about to get its own independent homeland of Bapetikosweti? The Nato attack on Yugoslavia in 1999 (which was every bit as foolish as the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, lest anyone think that there is any significant difference between the two major US political parties) not only failed to solve the problems of Kosovo, it exacerbated them.

One of the things that seemed odd to me, as a South African, was that just at the time that we were at last abandoning the follies of apartheid, Europe seemed to be embracing them. The following extract from an article by Jan Oberg puts the situation in a nutshell:

One of the most dangerous and unrealistic ideas circulating today in international politics is that the Serbian province of Kosovo is a "unique" case.

So much blood has been shed and so many international administrations and peacekeeping forces have ruled in dozens of other regions around the world facing a similar situation involving separatism. Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Palestine, Northern Cyprus, the Basque region, Chechnya, Northern Ireland, Tibet, Taiwan, Kurdistan ...

People in all of these areas, and many more, are following the Kosovo story very closely, especially given that most of them have suffered more violent conflicts and have waited for the solution of their problems much longer than the province of Kosovo.

Given the continuous pressure on the Serbian community in Kosovo, it is easy to imagine that the independence of the province would most certainly lead to a mono-ethnic Albanian Kosovo. Serbs who left would never come back.

Such a result would completely undermine the arguments of those who supported the NATO bombings in 1999, which were said to be carried out for the "multiethnicity" of Kosovo. The 1999 bombings would be seen as a campaign for Kosovo's independence, which is a long way from the proclaimed goals of the "humanitarian intervention."

It has been an open secret for a while now that "goodwill advisers" have been suggesting to the team of the United Nations chief negotiator for Kosovo, Martti Ahtisaari, to find a legal basis for the "uniqueness" of Kosovo in order to avoid setting a precedent that could affect other regions of the world.

But Ahtisaari should avoid a "one- time solution" that gives independence to Kosovo. Breaching international law might appease Albanian separatist aspirations in Kosovo, but it would certainly open a Pandora's box of separatist causes worldwide.

Jan Oberg, Lund, Sweden. Director of the Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research

Aleksandar Mitic, Brussels. Chief Analyst at the Institute 4S and TFF Balkans team leader

There is also a longer and more detailed article about the ethnic cleansing that has been taking place under Nato supervision here.

Apartheid didn't work in South Africa, where its detractors sometimes referred to it as "balkanisation". And now it has been re-exported to Europe, where the voices calling for the Bantustanisation of the Balkans are growing louder.

It's a strange, strange world we live in, Master Jack.

3 comments:

John said...

Good article. I am concerned about the push for an independent Kosovo, as well. There is nothing unique about Kosovo. In my view, there is no such thing as a "Kosovar": there are Albanians, there are Serbians and then there are Albanians who have moved into Serbia. Albania itself has been a marginal proposition all along. An independent Kosovo defies all reason, and as you note, just stokes the fires of separatism all around the world.

Rod Dreher wrote of this recently, at http://www.beliefnet.com/blogs/crunchycon/2007/04/serbia-and-islamized-europe.html ,

as did, Spengler at

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/ID17Ak01.html

Steve Hayes said...

I thought it interesting that during the bombing of Belgrade many citizens stood on bridges with signs saying "Free Texas", and have been saying (perfectly logically, as far as I can see) that if Western Europe wants an independent Kosovo, they must first set their own house in order by creating a separate state for the Basques. There is little to choose between the UCK in Kosovo and the ETA in Spain.

Other Western European examples could be Wales and Scotland, and in North America there is also Quebec.

John said...

Exactly so! The "Free Texas" example is rich--and so appropriate under the circumstances. All the examples you list--the Basques, Wales, Scotland, Quebec--all have infinitely more legitimate claims to nationhood than Kosovo. And to that list we could add: Catalonia, splitting Belgium between the Flemish and the Walloons, Corsica, Bavaria, Sicily, Savoy, and Hawaii. The list goes on and on.

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