Welcome to the World, Kosovo
Posted by jonathanfryer on Sunday, 17th February, 2008
There was jubilation on the streets of Pristina today, following the parliament’s declaration of Kosovan independence. Thus Europe gets its newest nation, born out of years of often violent tension between ethnic Albanians and Serbs. EU and other international institutions will continue to play a role in Kosovo, not only to help protect its territory, but also to try to ensure security for the Serbian minority, most of whom opposed the state’s quest for independence. There have been angry demonstrations in Belgrade, and Russia has decried Kosovo’s move. Some commentators in Moscow are portraying it all as a dastardly US-led Western led plot, in language reminiscent of the Cold War.
Tomorrow, in Brussels, EU Foreign Ministers will be discussing how to react, though alas, once again as in the recent history of the Balkans, they are unlikely to present a united front. Whereas countries such as Britain, France and Germany are likely to offer early recognition to the new country, at least three — Cyprus, Romania and Slovakia — are said to oppose this. Cyprus, of course, worries that the Turkish-occupied north of the island could see an independent Kosovo as encouragement to pursue its so far unsuccessful attempt to persuade anyone other than Turkey to recognise the self-styled Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Amd many Romanians worry about the possiblity of Hungarians in Transylvania pressing for secession. Slovakia’s situation is a little more complicated, as it actually pressed for its ‘velvet divorce’ from the Czech Republic, leading to the break-up of Czechoslovakia.
From the EU’s point of view, the important thing now is to limit any fallout from the Kosovan declaration. And it will be trying to work with democratic forces in Serbia, including the recently re-elected president, to ensure that Serbia pursues its own EU vocation. Before the end of the decade, in principle, the whole of the Western Balkans could achieve EU membership. Solving regional differences should in principle be easier inside the EU than outside.