Sunday, February 17, 2008

The troubled birth of a State

It shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that Kosovo announced today its independence from Serbia, as this rumor has been flowing through the mass media for a few days now. What makes the independence of Kosovo different than that of other countries, is that it was a unilateral decision, and that the Serbians never agreed to renounce sovereignty over the province of Kosovo, let alone to recognize it as an independent country.

As controversial as it gets, the unilateral declaration of independence of Kosovo has been welcomed by some around the world, criticized by others, and condemned by some others. For instance, and independent Kosovo has been backed by the United States and some of the European Union members, such as Italy, England and France. On the other hand, Serbia and Russia have fiercely opposed the recognition of Kosovo as an independent country. Russians specifically says that the recognition of Kosovo's unilaterally-proclaimed independence would be a 'bad example' for other separatist movements around the world.

The dilemma of the recognition of Kosovo as an independent nation won't only remain in the Balkans. In fact, it promises to bring lots of debate to other nations and organizations, such as the European Union. By now, some EU member nations, including Spain, Greece and Cyprus, have expressed their opposition to an 'immediate recognition' of Kosovo as a sovereign country. Why? Because these countries also have separatist movements active in their territories, and recognition of an independent Kosovo would give those groups a cue on what to do next.

It looks that, after all, the Russians got it right: Not only the independence of Kosovo wasn't agreed with Sebia and wasn't even discussed in the United Nations, but the international recognition of Kosovo as a sovereign nation would bring lots of trouble to countries currently dealing with similar problems. Here are some of the most notorious cases around the world:

  • China and the separatist movements in Tibet and Taiwan.
  • Russia and the separatist movement in Chechenia.
  • Spain and the separatist movements in the Basque Country and Catalunya.
  • Cyprus and the self-proclaimed republic of Northern Cyprus (recognized only by Turkey).
  • Turkey, Syria and Iraq and the separatist movement in Kurdistan.
  • Georgia and the separatist movements in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
  • Azerbaijan and the separatist movement in Nagorno-Karabakh.
  • Moldova and the separatist movement in Transnistria.
  • Somalia and the separatist movement in Somaliland.
  • Canada and the separatist movement in Quebec.
Regardless of these facts and threats to stability in some countries around the world, it looks that Kosovo, where about 90% of the population is Albanian, is decided to take a step forward and seek recognition after seceding without the approval of the Serbians. After all, they still remember those days in which Serbia, led by Slobodan Milosevic, undertook ethnic cleansing tasks against the Albanian minority. Seen from such perspective, an independent Kosovo would be fair.

This is a story that began many years ago and that has reached a quite foreseeable point. Now the only thing that is certain about this matter is uncertainty itself. Will Kosovo's dream of independence be recognized by nations around the world? No one knows, but time will say.

With some information from The Globe and Mail and AP.
Photo by AP


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