By Geoffrey Cook, MMNS
I have been expecting to write this article for quite some time, but the news only came over the wires this morning — Sunday February 17th.
This has been a long-expected move by the (now) independent, tiny 90% Muslim nation of two million souls. Kosova, strangely enough, is also considered the historical birthplace of the Serb nation–to whom that enclave of Albanian Muslims belonged until last Saturday. Although Kosova is only 10% Serbian and 90% Albanian, yet it is such a sensitive issue with Belgrade, as shown by the spontaneous rioting by Serbs in surrounding regions and even inside Kosova.
15% of an already small nationâ€™s territory has been sliced away–cutting deep into the heartland of the Southern (Former) Yugoslavian nation: A terrain considered the historical heart of Serbia, the central moral justification for Serbiaâ€™s atrocities and oppression, has been ripped away.
When the Prime Minister Hashim Thaci announced the decision of his legislature to finally proclaim their sovereignty, he declared that his nation would henceforth be known as Kosova — the name of the territory in Albanian and not the Serbian name of Kosovo.
Thaci declared that Kosova was â€œâ€¦an independent and democraticâ€ State â€œFrom this day onwardsâ€¦Proud [to be]â€¦free.â€
Further, he asserted a commitment to â€œmulti-ethnicity.â€ The Parliamentary Speaker of their legislature further pronounced that the governmental form would be â€œan independent, democratic republic.â€
Serbia, of course and her big sister Russia, fearing this would acerbate their own fissures, oppose a free Kosova. As do the Chinese. However, immediately after its independence Kosova was recognized by the United States as well as several other prominent Western powers, notably not including Spain–which in its own self-interest in relation to its own ethnic enclaves (chief among them the Basque Separatists) scare the Spanish. However, the overwhelming majority of European, North American and Muslim nations support Pristinaâ€™s action. Belgrade has pledged to use all diplomatic methods to oppose this move.
Monday, Britain, Italy France and the United States formally recognized the diminutive republic as well as their long time supporters the Turks and their neighboring Albania–in fact by ethnicity the Kosovars are related to the Albanians, although their nation is claimed by the Serbs.
There had been a fear of a Serbian attack before. NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization) has a modest garrison to protect the U.N. administered district that would be overrun by a massive Serbian assault, but Belgradeâ€™s desire to join the European Union will probably discourage a violent reaction against Kosova along with an unstated extensive retaliatory attack from NATO, for it was in this minuscule part of Yugoslavia that the genocides by the Serbs began — encouraging a mass NATO response â€“ during the 1990s, and the break-up of Yugoslavia.
Besides the slaughters, hundreds of thousands of people fled their homes. Both the U.S. and the EU are committed to maintaining Balkan stability. Brussels decided in a meeting on the 18th that all Balkan countries will be part of their august Community in time. Because of the especial problems with Kosova, it will probably take more time there than in the rest of Southeastern Europe.
The Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunca was quoted as saying, however, â€œCitizens of Serbia, we have to come together [to] show that we do not acknowledgeâ€¦aâ€¦state on our territoryâ€¦As long as there are Serbian people, Kosovo is Serbian!â€
The American President said from Ghana that he favors a limited Statehood under International Supervision, and â€œitâ€™s in Serbiaâ€™s interest to be aligned with Europeâ€¦â€ Succinctly, though, Bush holds the opinion that Kosovoâ€™s â€œstatus must be resolved before the Balkans [question] can become stable.â€
Kosovaâ€™s liberty was stated as an â€œinevitable, forceful and unilateral declaration.â€
The U.N. administration is to be replaced by the EU, and the NATO troops will have to remain there to guarantee the safety of the minority Serbs. So, their freedom is more of an autonomy to the International Community.
Belgrade and Moscowâ€™s official complaint is that Kosovaâ€™s self-determination is, they say, not legitimateâ€“violating International law–because it did not come through the U.N. brokered talks that they (the Russians and Serbs) obfuscated.
Therefore, Russia has demanded that the Security Council declare Kosovaâ€™s independence null and void. This has already been rejected by a majority of the permanent members before the Council has even met, but a veto from Saint Petersburg can hold Pristinaâ€™s international recognition up along with all the advantages of that. Although the majority of the permanent members of the Security Council support Self-rule, the Security Council is deeply divided because of the will of Russia and Beijing.
If any of you have been following my articles on Kosova and the South Balkans, you are aware of the challenges ahead for this the newest of nations and the revival of Islam in Europe. Kosova has been depending on vast amounts of aid from the West. To build a stable Kosova that aid and technical aid will need to continue its inflow from the West and its Muslim partners.