neljapäev, november 22, 2007

European nonsense

When the forces of history were distributing nationalities they got a bit sloppy when it came time to fill the Balkans.

Slovenia and Croatia basically worked out OK. But when confronted with buckets of Serbs, Montenegrins, Kosovo Albanians, Bosnians, and one bucket clearly marked "FYR Macedonians", the forces got frustrated and just sort of randomly packed them into the area that would come to be known as "the power keg of Europe."

In the 1990s, Americans switched channels from the OJ Simpson trial to the ongoing Yugoslavian break-up saga. It looked to be another unending soap opera, one that could last perhaps even longer than Days of Our Lives. But in 1999 the forces of history conspired to create the environment for NATO military intervention in the Serbian province of Kosovo. Since that time it has been administered by an international force. Now it looks to become the latest successor state to Yugoslavia, the Kingdom of Southern Slavs, if the UN, EU, US, NATO, and RF can't figure out what to do ASAP.

Some European countries with angst-ridden, long-settled minorities like Spain and France might not like the idea of giving independent statehood to any old random group of human beings. If the Kosovo Albanians get their own state, why not hand one out to the Kashubians, Basques, Frisians, and Sami, not to mention the Catalans, Scots, and Welsh?

Other European countries like Sweden are miffed at the idea of another Balkan country emerging that will vote for their neighbors in the Eurovision Song Contest, meaning that the contest will be held somewhere between Athens and Vienna for the rest of its existence.

The Russians obviously don't like the situation because it could continue the general devolution of their conglomerate state, especially at a time when the government is centralizing political structures and the opiate of the masses is Russian nationalism -- Russia for the Russians, not the Chukchi!

From the Euro-Atlantic perspective though, it's hard to see any alternative. If Montenegro gets a state, why not Kosovo? Do you really want to tell the Kosovo Albanians that they may have a serious list of grievances, but they aren't as believable a state as Montenegro, so they have to suck it up and stick with their former ethnic cleansers for eternity?

There is another alternative you know. Because the Kosovo Albanians speak Albanian, and there exists a state for Albanians right next to Kosovo called Albania maybe it would make sense to make Kosovo in some way part of Albania. I know, it's a far-fetched idea.

The reason this option wouldn't work is because it might make some actors in the region even more unhappy than they already are. It would reconstruct the fear of "Greater Albania" -- of sword-wielding guys with two-headed eagles on their shields riding from village to village and giving residents one choice: to either make burek the Albanian way, or stop making bureks all together!

Balkan residents quake in their boots at this option; they'd rather have an independent Kosovo than be force fed bureks from Greater Albania. But seriously, I guess the European strategy is that sooner or later all of this territory will join a strong European Union where driving from Slovenia to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (where mostly FYR Macedonians live) will require zero stamps in your passport, and you'll be able to pay for bureks in Euros from Ljubljana to Skopje without first bribing armed border guards.

And because it will be almost impossible for a small landlocked state to have its own functional foreign policy, it will most likely have to defer to the larger EU states on union-wide issues, allowing, say, Germany to speak on behalf of more people while saying exactly the same thing. So if Kosovo becomes a state soon, don't fret. It's the European way.

9 kommentaari:

LPR ütles ...

Happy Thanksgiving Day!

space_maze ütles ...

There is another alternative you know. Because the Kosovo Albanians speak Albanian, and there exists a state for Albanians right next to Kosovo called Albania maybe it would make sense to make Kosovo in some way part of Albania. I know, it's a far-fetched idea.

I don't see any reason why Albania would want to touch that hot potato. Albania has enough problems of its own as it is.

In general, though, the nature of the EU should, ironically, be quite supportive of various separatist movements all over Europe, be it in the UK, in Belgium, or in Spain.

I doubt the EU will want to touch Kosovo too soon either, though.

klx ütles ...

it's all too old fashioned an idea to simply deny a people in this day and age self determination.

if anything, it rings of the same paternalism that saw prussian or czech germans forced out to make tidy ethnically based states, throwing liberty and personal freedom into the bidet.

democracy and choice is the way forward not only for europe, but for everyone (even russians, when they're ready).

antyx ütles ...

If Montenegro gets a state, why not Kosovo?

At the very basic level, because Montenegro hasn't been assholey about it. A referendum deciding on peaceful separation is far better than ethnic cleansing.

Maybe Kosovo should just do what Puerto Rico did and become a European Autonomous Dominion?

Also, I just asked this question over at Ed Lucas's blog: if the Greeks are pissed at FYROM and the folks there decide it's not worth the bother, is there anything else that Macedonia could be called?

stockholm slender ütles ...

I remember how the Yugoslav situation was debated in the West in the early 90's: independence for Kroatia and Slovenia was seen to be the actual problem - and the continuation of the federation as the solution. As if the conflict would have thus disappeared. As we now see, getting independent was the solution, now Slovenia and Kroatia are increasingly strongly integrated with Europe and even Serbia might be slowly getting there.

If they had continued as a union they probably would still be bitterly fighting and far too unstable to join anything. But if you have the outlook of great metropolitan powers it is easy to see these messy nationalities as the root of the problem, when often the real cause is one nation's continuing strive for empire and domination...

Colm ütles ...

Thanks for a post about this issue. It is certaintly one that I should know something about but unfortunatly don't.

Jens-Olaf ütles ...

The Kosovo issue was there after "Yogoslavia" denounced the status of Kosovo. The autonomous one. That was the beginning of the end of it, even before the end of the SU.

egan ütles ...

Hacim Thaci has an interesting Wikipedia entry, I'll say that for him.

Kristopher ütles ...

If Kosovo gets independence, I'll be throwing my weight behind the the Goranis to seek independence from Kosovo.

An Islamic Slavic people that worships a Christian saint -- and they make good candy, according to a certain online encyclopedia.

Barring the emergence of a local Gorani splinter group, could this be a regional powerhouse?

I think so.

As I calculate it, they're short a beer and an airline from nationhood. And they'll have to lobby hard to prove that Gorani is a separate language, but if the Montenegrins did it anything is possible.