Thursday, February 21, 2008

Reasons why Kosovo should not be recognized now

Readers of this blog will know that I am in favor of an independent Kosovo. But not in the way it happens now.

International consequences
According to international law separations are only possible with the consent of the mothercountry. As this worked very well even with the most recent separations where that principle was respected (Soviet Union and Czecheslovakia) there is no reason to leave that principle here.
The arguments to consider Kosovo as a special case are weak. The death toll (around 5000) is very low compared to many other ethnic conflicts and even the number of refugees (around 800,000) has been exceeded in many other ethnic conflicts. Iraq's Kurds for example count around 250,000 dead and millions of refugees who lived in much worse circumstances.
Serbia may bring the countries that recognize Kosovo before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague. If this court sides with Serbia this would bring the US and other countries that recognize Kosovo in an uneasy position. The US will probably ignore the ICJ - as it did in the past with the verdict on the Nicaragua-contra case - and it will press Europe to do the same. But as much of Europe's influence on the neighbouring region (like the European Court of Human Rights) is law-based this will put Europe in an uneasy position.

Inside Kosovo
A unilateral declaration of independence will be a full win for Kosovo's nationalists. They have promised to implement the Ahtisaari Plan. But that plan offers only autonomy but offers noting to improve the desparate security situation of Kosovo's minorities. Actually it will deteriorate their situation as it aims ultimately to remove the parallel Serb institution that now protect many of Kosovo's Serbs.
Recent opinion polls showed that 30% of Kosovo's Serbs plan to leave if the province becomes independent. This shows how bad the proposed "solution" is in terms of balancing the needs of both sides.
A unilateral declaration of independence is being pushed by the US as a solution because both sides cannot reach a solution. But according to international law in that case the Serb position should prevail. The most recent Serb proposal (the Finland-Aaland proposal) is generous according all international standards. Given that Serbia has little interest in keeping a dirt poor hostile province except for historical monuments and the Serb minority the Albanians might even get more if they showed themselves cooperative on these aspects. But with the solid American support the Albanians haven't seen any need to do consessions.
Serbia basically has two interests in Kosovo: the Serb minority and the Serb monuments. If Kosovo would be able to give sound guarantees in those areas Serbia would be hard pressed to grant independence. It is not in Serbia's interests to have a poor, hostile province. But until now Kosovo has avoided to give any hard guarantee, claiming that it would violate their sovereignty. The actions of Kosovo's government show that the real reason is that they don't plan to keep their promises and they want the freedom to do so.

For the Region
As soon as Kosovo is secured under Albanian control we can expect that emboldened Albanian nationalists will aim to change the borders elsewhere where an Albanian minority lives: south Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Greece. A recent informal poll from the Albanian TV station Vision Plus showed that 90% of the interviewed believed that all Albanians should live in one country.
Albanians will interpret the "special case" argument as meaning that the only thing that counts is having friends on Capitol Hill. The have additional reasons to believe so: The US Army has in the last years several times intervened in Macedonia to save Albanian guerrilla's from certain defeat. And the Ohrid agreement that was more or less imposed on Macedonia by the West is seen by many as a preparation for separation.

2 comments:

Stories from the other side said...

You are lying when you say you support independence for Kosova.

You have in different forums expressed extreme, ultranationalist, pro- Milosevic, anti- democratic views that only the MOST extreme Serbs have.

You are also very good in manipulating sources and numbers. E.g. you claim only 5 000 Albanians were killed while International Red Cross say at least 10 000 were killed.

Who brings Kosova for International Court of Justice? Serbia, those who for 12 years have supported Mladic and Karadzic, please give me a breake

When was this written? When I read this I get the impression this was written before independence. Remember we have entered a one way street. Imposibble to reverse.

Wim Roffel said...

Stories, please come with arguments if you have something to say.

The only argument I read in your comment is about the number of killed. I can't find any Red Cross source that mentions 10,000. What I do know is where the 10,000 figure comes from. It is from the report by Patrick Ball. He used the data that were collected by four different organisations that interviewed Albanian refugees during the war. He then united those lists in big list - while trying to remove the doubles - and made an estimate of how many casualties would have been on none of the four lists. Immediately after the war this was the best estimate available. But removing doubles is a very inaccurate process if you have only names. Also people tend to run away when there is shooting and they often won't go back to see whether someone is really dead.

So I think it is at the present time better to estimate the number of killed by adding the number of bodies found and the number of people reported missing. The Red Cross seems to think the same as they list only 2047 people on their list of missing people and don't add any note that they believe there must be more missings.

Serbia doesn't threaten to make a complaint against Kosovo for the ICJ. It wants to make a complaint against the countries that recognize Kosovo.