February 17, 2008

Ode To Oy, Part II

As predicted, the province of Kosovo -- under Serbian control for more than six centuries -- declared its independence today amid celebrations and condemnations. Russia has demanded and received an emergency UN Security Council meeting to stop the EU and the West from recognizing the nation of Kosovo. The UK will send the last of its reserves to Kosovo to prevent a breakdown that could start another round of ethnic cleansing:

Kosovo's parliament has formally declared independence from Serbia, ending a long chapter in the violent breakup of Yugoslavia.

Celebrations were underway in the Kosovan capital Pristina as an emergency parliamentary session was held to make the historic declaration. ...

However the breakaway attracted immediate condemnation from Serbia's president, Boris Tadic. "Serbia will never recognise the independence of Kosovo. Serbia has reacted and will react with all peaceful, diplomatic and legal means to annul this act committed by Kosovo's institutions," he said in a statement. "I appeal to all our citizens in Serbia and in Kosovo to be led by reason."

Russia claims that the EU has no power to recognize the independence of Kosovo. They want the UNSC to reassert its authority as the administrator of Kosovo to keep the US or European nations to give legitimacy to Thaci's declaration:

The United Nations Security Council will meet in emergency session Sunday afternoon at the request of Russia, which opposes Kosovo's declaration as an independent nation and bid for international recognition.

The Security Council's president received the request from Russian diplomats and has scheduled a meeting, said Angelica Jacome, a spokeswoman for the current council president, Panama's U.N. Ambassador Ricardo Arias.

The 15-member council remains deeply divided on the future of Kosovo with Russia backing its close ally Serbia and calling for more negotiations while Britain, France and other European Union members are supporting the Kosovo Albanians.

It's an absurd situation made even more absurd by the UN administration of the province. For almost nine years, the UN sat paralyzed by the mutually exclusive demands of the majority Albanians and minority Serbs in Kosovo, and the equally exclusive demands of the West and Russia. Rather than confront this quickly and cleanly from the beginning, the UN allowed all sides to believe that they would succeed through stalling.

And in the end, it may not have saved anything. Relations between Russia and the West have foundered on the Balkans policy over the last thirteen years. The military commitment there will deepen after the independence of the last of the Yugoslavian provinces, and in this one the Serbs had a pretty fair argument for opposing independence.

The breakup of Serbia calls into question whether the concept of Westphalian sovereignty remains extant. Shall Burgundy go back to the Burgundians, if they so desire? Will Wales and Cornwall exit from Great Britain? Can Texas declare its independence? More pragmatically, are we seeing a return to the micronationalism that generated numerous wars on the European continent over the centuries before Westphalia?

This occurs in the shadow of the struggles in Africa and the Middle East over nationalism, sovereignty, and statehood. Just as we want to solidify the boundaries between nations in these regions to produce more stability, we seem to be supporting the breakdown of the exact same system in Europe. The end of the Age of Empire has left civilization struggling for a new model of political stability for almost a century -- and the struggle continues today in Kosovo.


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Please note that unverified Disqus users will have comments held in moderation. Please visit Disqus to register and verify your account. Comments from verified users will appear immediately.