February 17, 2008 will be remembered in the Balkans as the day when the Kosovo government led by Prime Minister Hasim Thaci read a unilateral Declaration of Independence from Serbia. As expected, Serbia did not recognize its independence while Russia, China, Spain, Slovakia, Greece, Cyprus sided with the Serbians allegedly due to political reasons both at national and international level. Serbia went as far as to filE a lawsuit with the International Court of Justice, (ICJ) in The Hague against Kosovo’s unilateral Declaration of Independence claiming that it violated international law, among other things. Two and a half years later, when the ICJ ruled that Kosovo’s unilateral Declaration of Independence was not a violation against international law, everything seems intact – business as usual. Continue reading
This week will be discussed for years to come because of the military conflict in Georgia’s province of South Ossetia. I expect a lot of interpretations about it in the future, and it cannot be otherwise. After all history can be interpreted differently no matter whether or not we want it.
Today’s general parliamentary elections in Serbia were crucial for the country. Everybody who has been following the issues in the Balkans knows the meaning of this statement. It is not another cliché statement about elections in a country – Serbian citizens had an abundance of parties to choose from with three of them being the major competitors but only two paths for the future.
Today is 21 February 2008: four days after Kosovo declared independence from Serbia without waiting to be recognized first. The whole world, and especially the Balkans, is watching things in Kosovo very carefully and now we see reactions that were initially expected – even before 17 February 2008. Spain, Romania, Slovakia, Cyprus and Greece oppose Kosovo’s declaration of independence; Serbia, Russia and China firmly oppose it; USA, UK, France, Germany, Slovenia, Afghanistan and Turkey recognize it; Bulgaria, Macedonia and Bosnia-Herzegovina have not decided what their positions are yet. The question is whether those reactions are justified or not. Continue reading
The Serbian province of Kosovo, with capital Pristina, is expected to declare independence on 17 February 2008. Kosovo’s Albanian majority wants to separate the province from its belonging to the territory of Serbia and continue its existence as an independent country. However bright Pristina’s ambitions look at first sight, the entire procedure is rather long and delicate. Even if Kosovo declares independence on 17 February 2008 and thus become an independent country, gloomy days await its people. Internationally, most EU countries and the U.S. support an independent Kosovo, but Serbia and Russia firmly oppose it. After it lost Montenegro in 2006, Serbia will not easily let another part of its territory separate from it. Belgrade already came out with a warning – if Kosovo becomes independent, there will be high taxes imposed by the Serbian government to Kosovans who would like to enter Serbia for whatever reasons. I assume that other inconveniences to Pristina will be imposed. Kosovo may be denied good relations with Serbia in terms of business and any other kind of support that is common between countries such as humanitarian aid, for example. The latter is needed in Kosovo since there is high unemployment rate, about 40% of the population, and common needs such as water and electricity are not being delivered on a permanent basis. What people who are not involved in the conflict would ask themselves in this case is why the Albanian majority in Kosovo would want independence since the living conditions are harsh. The answer lies in the 1999 war there when Serbian troops entered the province and tried to banish the Albanian population. I believe that their not wishing to be subordinate to a government whose troops tried to expatriate them is what caused their decisiveness in creating a new state.