Monday, March 16, 2009

What part of "independent"... they not understand?

In what could turn into a(nother) ugly dispute, Serbia's Minister for Kosovo ...yes, they still have one at the cabinet level... and his entourage were refused entry into Kosovo by the Kovovar Border Police.

They were planning to hold a parliamentary committee meeting in the town Ranilug, which while populated in the majority by Serbs is inside the recognized borders of Kosovo. Recognized, that is, in the general sense... Serbia has yet to recognize Kosovo's independence, unlike 56 other countries including the U.S.A. and most all of the E.U.

Now, let's be clear: if the territory of Kosovo was occupied by a foreign power like South Ossetia or the Northern Territories are, then this author would be cheering the Serbian government for making the attempt at re-asserting itself. The problem here is that while the U.N. charter does not recognize occupation / annexation by force, it does allow for territorial devolution (Independence of a territory from a larger state) at the will of the population there resident. No, relocation or removal ("ethnic cleansing") of the previous population and then repopulating it with one's own nationals doesn't count. Cf. Kaliningrad and non-Israeli Palestine for the usual arguments there, but there are lots more. Kosovo doesn't fit the description.

What the Serbs could, and should, be doing is a steady diplomatic effort to get some recognition of minority rights made a permanent part of the constitution of Kosovo... and then get on with recognizing the situation as it is. A beneficial accord that would allow for Serbian pride and history to be commemorated in the "Birthplace of Serbia" would be the right thing to do. Throw out the memory of the last 50 years and celebrate the wonder of the survival of the Serbian people over the last 630 years.

Otherwise, well, let's just say that there are *lots* of people around the Balkans who have an axe to grind with the Serbs, and it would be a shame if Serbia found itself surrounded by an inherently hostile alliance.

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