Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Kosovo Precedent

When the independence of Kosovo was rammed through by the U.S. government, those of us not blinded by the ubiquitous anti-Serb propaganda in the media recognized the dangerous precedent that was being set. There are numerous peoples across the globe with at least as great a claim to autonomy and nationhood as Kosovo, and it was inevitable that the precedent would return to haunt us. If Kosovo can be carved out of the territory of a sovereign state and member of the United Nations — against that country’s wishes — how can high-minded people in the West speak with a straight face about “the inviolability of internationally-recognized borders”?

The bullets fired into the air by jubilant Kosovars had barely returned to Earth when Russia’s incursion into South Ossetia invoked the “Kosovo precedent”. The Finnish author Iivi Anna Masso has written an essay on this and related topics. KGS of Tundra Tabloids has translated it into English, and excerpts from the article are reproduced below.

First, an introduction from KGS:

Iivi Anna Masso, a European political analyst and writer based in Helsinki, wrote the following essay on the dilemma created by Europe’s recognition of Kosovo, the subsequent Russian invasion of Georgia, and the possible ramifications if the Russian government decides to recognize the independence of the two run-away Georgian provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Russia, since the publication of the article (15.09.08), has done just that, it has already claimed independence for the provinces, and the West doesn’t know what to do about it. Though the various Western governments haven’t offered the “right-to-independence” rhetoric that Masso warns about in the article, they don’t really claim Georgia’s integrity very assertively either.

And now Iivi Anna Masso’s essay:

The Dilemma of Independence For All Comes at a Price…

The leaders of the Georgian areas of South Ossetian and Abkhazia announced Monday that they soon intend to demand international recognition of their provinces’ independence. Russia, in the aftermath of the Georgian-Russian conflict, has also begun to once again demand “independence” for those provinces.

South Ossetia and Abkhazia had already declared their independence early in the 1990s, but no other state has recognized them. There is little likelihood that the West recognizes their autonomy even now. Many people, however, believe that in this situation we can no longer expect the Georgians and Ossetians to be able to live together in the same country.

Russia appeals to the Kosovo precedent, while it remains comfortably silent about Chechnya. As the West supported the creation of a second Albanian state in Kosovo, Russia already hinted that the separatist regions in Georgian also needed full “sovereignty”. In fact, Russia couldn’t care less about the tiny national groups’ autonomy. Otherwise, they would support the independence of the Caucasus states within Russia, Chechnya and North Ossetia (with its half a million population, ten times as big as in South Ossetia ), as well as the Ingush, Dagestan and the Balkar.

It will be interesting to see how the West reacts to the Georgian regions’ claims of “independence”. In the case of Kosovo, the West assured it was an exception, and would not set a precedent.

Now opposed to each other are one the hand, Georgia’s territorial integrity and on the other hand Russia’s strong support to the separatist regions, but also a background of years of violent conflict and the West’s mistrust of the ability of the ethnic groups of the region to coexist peacefully.
- - - - - - - - -
[…]

If the EU accepts the idea that even the smallest ethnic groups in Europe’s periphery, like in the Balkans and the Caucasus, need a separate state in order to be able to live in peace, it pulls the mat from under its own official multiculturalism teachings.

In the light of the current trend, it no longer feels such a far-fetched idea that at some point minorities could be claiming independence within the EU as well — not only the native ethnic minorities, such as the Basques, Flemings and the Catalans, but also some relatively new minorities like the Russians of North-East Estonia or perhaps the Arab speakers of southern Sweden. What will be the EU’s response then?

It is possible that Western countries for now will stand behind Georgia’s territorial integrity, as the inclusion of such a point in President Sarkozy’s peace plan allows us to hope. In that regard, the above considerations are just speculations this far.

But the selectivity in understanding the aspirations for independence still seems to be the trend of the moment. The criterion for understanding is not so much the capacity of the irredentist groups to actually function as a state, as realpolitik speculations and the presence of violence or the threat of it. This trend is not encouraging for small nations — not even for Finland.

Read the rest of Ms. Masso’s essay at Tundra Tabloids.

8 comments:

briefs said...

I may be called deeply naive for asking this question, Silver lining in independence movements? but I wonder aloud if these movements could be the eventual downfall of China or Russian or even Iranian dictatorships.

KGS said...

Well....if not for the heavy handed nature of the totalitarian and authortarian ideologies represented in the states mentioned, you might have a point.

Only when the Russian's held back from the knee jerk reaction to "crack down", did the Soviet "velvet revolution" begin to take shape.

Arius said...

How about the future downfall of the USA? Hispanics have already started an independence movement in the Southwest.

MyKosova said...

What if the dependence produce genocide, mass graves, deportation of indigenous population, and the privation of the right to exist?

I agree that the unilateral proclamation of independence is not s.th could be taken easily, but they are specific cases as the most passionate adversary of independence cannot negate. I mean them who have the wisdom to admit the truth even when that doesn't fit their arguments.

It is not first time Kosova declared independence but not any recent ones had support from international community. It was needed four bloody wars across ex-Yugoslavia and millions of killed civilians to introduce Serbian nationalism and the risk coming from them.

Superficial knowledge leads to drive wrong parallels. Who knows better the region and it's story has plenty of arguments to understand why for the specific case of Kosova, the independence is the solely solution not only for Albanians and Serbs but for the entire Balkan.

The products of ignorance are the fear and nationalistic, religious and racist stereotypes. The only way to get rid of them is to open your mind and to study the argument in depth.

Anonymous said...

MyKosova, nobody kept Albanians in Kosovo from moving back home. And the only claim to sovereignty is made by winning a war with guns and tanks. And the only real solution would have been for the Serbs to send Albanians home. The solution to avoid genocide is ethnic cleansing and anyone who knows the history of the region knows that Kosovo was gained by the Albanians due to the Serbs being killed in WW2, even if they inhabited a region that is theirs historically. So you have two cases:
1)one has a right to a land and the Serbs have it because just due to Albanians going there and having higher birth rates and certain policies that made Serbs move isn't giving someone a claim to a land, especially since Albanians already have a country, which wasn't the case for the Jews, for example.
2)backing your independence with tanks and guns
The Albanian case for Kosovo isn't only weak, it's non-existent. I'm glad my country didn't recognize it's independence. Oh, and the indigenous population of Kosovo historically isn't Albanian, so I don't see how you can say the deportation of the indigenous population was done by the Serbs.

MyKosova said...

Rebeliousvanila - MyKosova, nobody kept Albanians in Kosovo from moving back home.

MyKosova - They are home.

Rebeliousvanila - And the only claim to sovereignty is made by winning a war with guns and tanks.

MyKosova - That's a big lie! We don't have tanks. They belonged to heavy militarized Serbian state. Many of them where destroyed after the NATO air – strikes against Serbian troupes.

Rebeliousvanila - And the only real solution would have been for the Serbs to send Albanians home.

MyKosova - You still keep the old Milosevic's mentality. It's been a long time the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Serbian Orthodox Church have been a deep Serbian brainwashing. Very difficult to moderate the heavily radicalized and manipulated Serbian mentality.

Rebeliousvanila - The solution to avoid genocide is ethnic cleansing...

MyKosova - No comment about this statement. You made it clear how your mind works. It makes more easy for the reader to understand why Kosova should be Independent.

Rebeliousvanila - and anyone who knows the history of the region knows that Kosovo was gained by the Albanians due to the Serbs being killed in WW2, even if they inhabited a region that is theirs historically.

MyKosova - That's a complete Historical ignorance. Kosova was annexed from Serbia after the London Conference of Great Powers where Serbia was supported by the Russians. Nazis knowing the Kosovars aim to be free tried to gain support among the Kosovar people. Whatever it was, it was a very small support consisted in one company. Of course Nazis had much more support from Serbians (including here Serbian Orthodox Church also). Nazism and anti-Semitism in Serbia was very strong and what people don't know is that Belgrade was declared the first capital in Europe free of Jews. Whatever this still an other argument and I'm not going to waste more time with it because it's irrelevant. Your statement shows your lack of arguments to sustain what you are pretending for.

Rebeliousvanila - So you have two cases:
1)one has a right to a land and the Serbs have it because just due to Albanians going there and having higher birth rates and certain policies that made Serbs move isn't giving someone a claim to a land, especially since Albanians already have a country, which wasn't the case for the Jews, for example.
2)backing your independence with tanks and guns
The Albanian case for Kosovo isn't only weak, it's non-existent. I'm glad my country didn't recognize it's independence. Oh, and the indigenous population of Kosovo historically isn't Albanian, so I don't see how you can say the deportation of the indigenous population was done by the Serbs.

MyKosova - We didn't ask you for. If we would we would had been dependent. Actually you have two choices, to recognize our independence or not. In the context of regional cooperation we would like to have good relationship with all Balkan peoples. According to threats, the way how it's developed the story, very difficult they will have any effect over Kosovars. Actually they looks to me too childish ;). The stories where told to you by Dobrica Cosic and Co, are bullshit nobody is going to believe. The theory of geometric progression of Albanian population growth is a total idiocy as by now the whole Europe would have been speaking Albanian. Only an Serbian sick logic would conceive such idea.

Whatever it is, Kosova is 90% Albanian. Serbians may claim the right to land in the whole world wide; it is their own right to make any claim they want to.

Anonymous said...

MyKosova, if you don't have tanks and guns, then you aren't a sovereign nation. That sums it up.

Also, it's hilarious when someone claims that the Nazis wanted to free people.

MyKosova said...

Rebelliousvanilla - MyKosova, if you don't have tanks and guns, then you aren't a sovereign nation. That sums it up.

MyKosova - They are many things who establish the sovereignty of a nation. That does not depend only on the tanks and guns. We didn't had all of them but your tanks and airplanes are gone (blown up) ;). BTW did you heard about Bondsteel? However I don't think Serbia will dare anymore to put it's dirty feet in Kosova, whatever will be it's deafening claims & declarations.

Rebelliousvanilla - Also, it's hilarious when someone claims that the Nazis wanted to free people.

MyKosova - Seems you run out of arguments and you are trying to misinterpret my comments. I didn't said Nazis wanted to free us! They just replaced one occupation with an other one, and tried to play they freed us. That's all.