Recognizing Kosovo

Are the U.S. and Europe right to recognize Kosovo and continue to poke Russia with a stick?

Posted by David Ignatius & Fareed Zakaria on February 25, 2008 9:54 AM

Readers’ Responses to Our Question (16)

joel :

Najeeb Kazmi said - 'Kosovars were victims of massive hate filled genocide like many other minorities in Serbia and do not wish to co-exist with the Serbs, what is so strange about that? Imagine if Serbia is your nieghbouring country.'

Serbians represent the largest ethnic group of refugees in Europe and Serbia is still the most ethnically diverse State of the FRY. I'm sorry, but these facts don't square with your hatefilled propaganda

Anonymous :

Najeeb Kazmi said - 'Kosovars were victims of massive hate filled genocide like many other minorities in Serbia and do not wish to co-exist with the Serbs, what is so strange about that? Imagine if Serbia is your nieghbouring country.'

Serbians represent the largest ethnic group of refugees in Europe and Serbia is still the most ethnically diverse State of the FRY. I'm sorry, but these facts don't square with your hatefilled propaganda.

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ogie2 :

It was wrong from the first principal. I would quote David Binder from NY time: "A question to ponder: If you now can transplant a human heart, implying amputation of the original heart, can you transplant the heart of a nation?

The question, outside the category of geography, is posed by what is happening these days with Kosovo-Metohija, the heart - heartland - of the Serbian nation.

What has been created in mist of Europe is a new "Israel-Palestine" conflict. Knowing their stubbornness and attitude their national goal will be getting Kosovo back since Holy land was taken away from them.... Based on Serbian history it took them 400 year to get Turks out Serbia. Europe will never be stable and happy place again since to EU and US was more important to make 2 million Albanians happy more than 8 million Serbs….

DZ :

If the Kosovo issue were solely about Kosovo and its relationship with Serbia, then yes, Kosovo should be recognized by the world as an independent country. The majority population there is not Serbian, they were being persecuted by the Serbs, the Serbs had a highly visible track record of violence against nearby ethnic groups, and they were going to do it to the Kosovo Albanians as well.

But Kosovo is about more than that. It is about Great Power relations. Specifically, it is about the relationships between the United States, the European Union, Russia, and China. Also, the recognition of Kosovo sends a message to the Muslim world - the United States is not your eternal enemy, Americans do not hate all Muslims, just the ones who are attacking it.

I like the wording of the question "..should they keep poking Russia with a stick?" Well, poking a large, sleeping bear with a stick usually isn't a wise thing to do. But if you are a large eagle, and you are backed up by a large octopus, and the stick you are poking this bear with is a taser, and the bear is locked in a cage and can't get out, then maybe it's not so dangerous. It can even provide you with some entertainment, watching the angry bear squirm as it is jolted by electric shocks.

Is it wise to slice Kosovo away from Serbia and grant it independence? I don't know, but it looks fair and moral, at least to most Westerners. But is it wise? Really, how fair is it?

If the Albanian Kosovars have a right to their own free country, on the basis of being a clear majority within a demarcated area on a map, and suffering obvious persecution by a nearby ruling ethnic group, then there are many other peoples who can make the similar claims and should also be supported in their drives for independence. Just off the top of my head, I can come up with a list:
1. The Palestinians.
2. The non-Muslim tribes in Darfur.
3. Chechenya.
4. Turkish and Iraqi Kurdistan.
5. Tibet.

So why are these peoples not being offered independence by the great powers? In the case of Iraqi Kurdistan, the greatest power of all, the United States, has helped carve a protectorate for them and allowed them to become freer than they have ever been before. They are virtually independent now. Why not sign a piece of paper granting them true independence? What is the difference vis-a-vis Kosovo?

There is no moral difference. But Kurdistan will not get independence recognized by the United States because it is not in the interest of the United States to make enemies with its best Islamic friend and ally, Turkey, which would be outraged by such a move. The U.S. needs Turkey as a bulwark both against Russian and Iranian expansion and as a moderate voice in the Islamic world which is relatively pragmatic and Westernized and does not burn with eternal hatred towards Israel. So Turkey will continue to be allowed to persecute and try to force-assimilate its own Kurdish population and have a veto over any Iraqi Kurdish moves towards independence.

Were the United States, or any other country to recognize the independence of Tibet, China would consider this an act of war. China even gets upset when the Dalai Lama, in exile for around 40 years, meets privately with other world leaders.

If the Arab League, for example, were to use the Kosovo precedent to encourage Palestine to declare unilateral independence from Israel, and then recognize the new nation and send troops to protect its borders, this would clearly be an act of war against Israel and would correctly be seen as such. This is basically what has happened in Kosovo. The differences are so small as to be insignificant. In fact, the Palestinians can claim to have suffered far more persecution than the Kosovars. This persecution has been well-documented and has been available for years on television, in magazines and newspapers.

You could write a book about all these above examples. I won't do that here. But before I go, there are more examples to think about. Recognizing Kosovo's independence is a Pandora's Box. There are many, many other ethnic groups in the world who may or may not have experienced persecution at the hands of a ruling majority and would like to declare independence. Kosovo will only strengthen their resolve and work against the efforts of their ruling countries to keep them under control. Kosovo Independence could lead to more terrorism, as minorities use the Albanian example and launch wars of independence, hoping at the end of the day to receive great power protection and independence. Here are some potential examples:

1. Quebec.
2. Flanders & Wallonia.
3. Northern Ireland.
4. The Basque Country.
5. Catalonia.
6. Corsica.
7. parts of Macedonia.
8. too many places in Russia to mention.
9. parts of indonesia.
10. most parts of africa.
11. some of Mexico's indio tribes.

The United States and Europe have little to lose in recognizing Kosovo. It is Russia and China which are afraid of the consequences. Europe doesn't even care what the borders are like within the supranational empire it is building, and the U.S. doesn't have any separatist ethnic groups who don't consider themselves American. If they had any, they were exterminated back in the 18th and 19th centuries.

mike :


Loretta Benjamin :

what makes a people "a People"? It is the bonds of often language shared heritage and a sens of oneness contribute to nationalistic pride and thus the all important "Nation-State". This issue is not one which is new for this geopolitical area, ethnicity and division among neighbours has always been a pressing issue within the Balkans. Hoever in my opinon although this issue has international political implications. In my mind the issue at the forefront is the people of Kossovo's right to freedom and self determination. I think that any people are within their rights to do so.

mohammad allam :

The kosovo independence is so worthy for europe and usa then why you not ask all these to come out from mud of iRaq and Afghanisatna.If fredom is so loveable for them then why not they recognise the freedom of palestine.these group only play with opponant.they never left any chance to tease to other.all those arein living in fooldom who think that europe,usa and russia are different.they are same for islamic world.they fool the islamic world and all peace loving countries of world.if they so different then why they agreed on sanction on Iran.if there is really something teasing and stick then Russia has golden chance to stick back usa and europe on Iran matter.
The independenc of koso is nothing but lolly pop of western diplomacy which destroyed the hegemony of Turkey in middle east and eastern europe.
1914 the situation was same as of today.Turkey operatiing in Iraq.Russia europe and usa in kosovo.Iran like mute spectator.

no-time-to-waste :

No time to waste to post!
There is no sense to post things here due to it make no sense at all!

Najeeb Kazmi :

I am appalled to see the slant of opinion of different people on any political issue, be it Kosovo, or anything else.

People just talk about international power equilibrium, power balance, anti-Americanism, legality etc. etc. Very few people actually highlight the real issue. The dirty nationalistic tilt of Serbian power brokers and the capacity to commit horrible crimes against helpless people and their subjugation is the real issue. For heavens sake where is your human dimension ??

Kosovars were victims of massive hate filled genocide like many other minorities in Serbia and do not wish to co-exist with the Serbs, what is so strange about that? Imagine if Serbia is your nieghbouring country.

Salamon :

Without doubt, now that the ethnic cleansing of Kosovo is fait accompli, and since a $1 billion military base [USA/NATO] is about completed, there is no reason to question the legality of NATO involvement in ex Yugoslavia sans UN sanction. In other words, Kosovo is same as Iraq, Afganistan, Somalia et al, wherein power politics of USA hegenomy override international law.
Now comes the spin-doctoring by USA/UK talking headsl, trying to make gold out of the sow's ear.

Shiveh :

What is the relationship between a land and its people? Is the current generation living on a land the undisputed owner of the land and can do what it wants to it, or are they the custodians of the land left to them by previous generations, responsible for its safe keeping and obligated to surrender it to the next generation intact and unharmed? Does a generation living on a land trusted to them by their forefathers have the right to break it up or such an act is beyond the rights and privileges bestowed upon them? Does a contract among generations, a generational contract, exist and if so, should it be honored by the world community?

I believe such a contract exists and it is the predominant force behind the legitimate resistance to regional cessation desires around the world. Because of this contract not even the majority will of the ones who want to break away is enough to break up such unions. America’s civil war is a good example of this legitimate resistance. It explains why changes to the boundary of a state are always bloody and by overwhelming force.

Does the Kosovo cessation fit this model? Kosovo is independent because of forceful intervention of NATO and the cessation is disputed by the Serbs as they are obligated to do so.

The stated purpose of NATO’s intervention was to stop genocide. With that accomplished, NATO should have recognized and respected the Serbs obligation to keep the land in one piece. The logical next step was a plan for reconciliation not separation. Breaking the generational contract opens a wound that will burn Balkans for years to come.

frak :

Once again, under the Bush administration's lie of working for "independence" and "freedom", the real reason lies concealed: OIL!!!

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