Tuesday, February 19, 2008


I am in Skopje, the capital of the Republic of Macedonia, just a few kilometers away from Pristina, the capital of Kosovo, the region which has unilaterally declared its independence from Serbia on Sunday. Some big and “important” countries, like the USA, the UK, France, Germany and Italy, and others “not so important”, like Belgium, Denmark, Finland and Poland, have already recognized Kosovo’s independence. Other “important” countries like China and Russia, and other “not so important”, like Cyprus, Romania, Slovakia and Spain and, of course, Serbia, have announced that they won’t do it, ever or at least for now. What is there with such a small territory with a not so big population that splits the world in two? Well, I won’t pretend to be able to explain such a complex situation in a post… but I will give you my opinion. Some ten years ago, there was an American president who was caught in a sexual scandal. This American president had probably watched the movie “Wag the Dog” and thought that a war would probably be a good way of splitting the attention of the media. Counting on the support of a public opinion that was still feeling guilty about what had happened in Bosnia and had been educated to identify Serbians as the seeds of all evil in the Balkans (for which Mr. Milosevic also helped, of course), he decided to launch a war against Serbia (which at that time was still called Yugoslavia) and occupied, through NATO, the region of Kosovo. Since then, Kosovo has been ruled by the UN and the EU, based on the military support of NATO. The intervention, which was justified by the need to protect the Albanian population from the ethnic cleansing perpetrated by the Serbian minority, soon turned out to be a way of actually transferring the power from one (Serbian) to the other (Albanian) ethnic community. On the way, thousands of Serbian were expelled and deprived from their rights, properties and political influence. Ten years after, the region became, de facto, ruled by the Albanian majority and when, some moths ago, the people chose one of their most radical leaders as prime minister, everyone knew what was going to happen. Interestingly, the so-called international community, which was supposed to be neutral, instead of trying to build an agreement between Kosovo and Serbia, preferred to impose the independence of Kosovo to Serbia, and blame them for everything. The need to defend an ethnic minority might be enough for most of you to accept what happened on Sunday; for me, it’s not. First of all, because whatever it is at stake, the rule of law should prevail; and, according to the UN Charter, a unilateral declaration of independence is not legal. Then, because I don’t agree with the principle that says that if a certain ethnic minority becomes the majority in a certain territory, it immediately gains the right for self-determination. Kosovo was Serbian for centuries and Albanians became a majority there since some decades only, due to demographic patterns specific to this community. If this principle is to be applied everywhere, not only Russia will be more than entitled to recognize the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia regions in Georgia, but any neighborhood/city/region inhabited by migrants in any big city or region in any country in the world, will be entitled to declare its independence too. Moreover, I find it ironic that the first countries to recognize Kosovo’s independence are exactly countries like the USA which have simply got rid of their indigenous populations and deprived them from any political right at all; or like the UK, which still today occupies Northern Ireland (not to mention Scotland and Wales) and Gibraltar; or Germany, which seems to be now taking its revenge from their defeat in the Balkans on World War I. In my opinion, dear readers, nothing of this is about the rights of poor Albanians or the right of people’s self-determination in general: this is just another play in the after-cold war conflict between Russia and the USA, between the East and the West. They have invented it, portrayed it for us, and now they need to show some evidence of it. And, as they have done it previously with the mass-destruction arms in Iraq, when there’s none, they create them for us. The recognition of the independence of Kosovo, and everything in the process that led to what happened last Sunday, is, on the top of everything, a tremendous lack of respect and gratefulness for everything that the people in this region has done, throughout the centuries, in “protecting” the Western world from the Ottoman empire. It’s shameful to see the same leaders that claim that Turkey cannot join the EU because Christianity is the cornerstone of the European idea, being the first ones recognizing Kosovo’s independence. I can’t help asking myself if the result would be the same if Serbia, instead of being Orthodox, was Catholic or Protestant. Honestly, I’m afraid it wouldn’t… My sincere wish, after saying all this, is that everything works well, for the people of Kosovo, as well as for the one of Serbia; but also for the people liviving in other countries in the region where Albanian minorities’ wishes for more autonomy or even independence have just received a boost, and where in the past people have already died on inter-ethnic conflicts, as it is Macedonia’s case. I also wish that these powerful people sitting in their comfortable cabinets in nice Western cities, think about all the people living in this region and in their right for a peaceful and prosperous future, before taking decisions that are easy to take when we don’t have nothing to do with them; because, after all, politics shouldn’t be about states, but about people. In an era when so many of us are committed to tear down the walls, the borders and all kind of barriers to people and their ideas, the birth of a new country is never an event to celebrate.


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