Monday, February 18, 2008
Kosovo's declaration of independence from Serbia on Sunday, Feb. 17, has caused both celebrations and protests - as well as plenty of media coverage and an avalanche of blog posts.
Below is a selection of some Anglophone bloggers' views (Elia Varela Serra's earlier Global Voices roundup on Kosovo is here).
Prishtine: Independence and Kanun is celebrating and taking "tons of pics" (but hasn't posted any of her own yet):
I-DAY is Here!!!
Less than 2 hours away from the eventual announcement. I wish I could feed you a live video feed but I am not that tech savy ... It's a regional party and apparently, everyone is invited. [...] No politics talk today. I just want to be happy for a people who seem happy. [...]
REPUBLIC OF KOSOVA!!!
[...] and the party is on.... please, be careful with the "happy shooting". [...]
Living in Shkoder and Stepping Stones report on the celebrations taking place in Albania.
Ed Alexander of Balkan Baby writes:
[...] Today is a celebration, a country is born. Kosova has played its part with the utmost of humility and today is a reward and recompense for the trials which preceded it. There will be countless problems which the new Republic of Kosova will encounter but there is no doubt that with the same determination that has brought them independence anything can be overcome. There will be time for analyses in coming days, but for now, as is always the case with events that truly define our history, it is best to watch them unfold. [...]
Viktor Marković of Belgrade 2.0 reports on and posts video footage of the rioting in Serbia's capital:
Except for the broken windows, destroyed public property in front of the [U.S. embassy] and several mildly bruised antiriot policemen, due to the stones and flares throwing, nothing big happened. Group of mostly younger people, probably football hoolingans, tried to enter the embassy at one point, but all they managed to do is to break all the windows and a gate.
Slovenian embassy is, as I understand from the news, heavily damaged.
Viktor is also posting updates on Twitter; here's one of the latest mini-reports:
McDonallds restaurant destroyed, some reports say hooligan groups heading towards mosque [...]
Here are some of Viktor's earlier reflections on Kosovo's independence:
[...] Our prime minister says that European Union, together with the US will “kidnap” a part of Serbia. But the reality is, Kosovo is not going anywhere, Albanians are not really going to take the part of the land and carry it over to a whole different place, as the word “kidnap” suggests. The border will stay where it was, with probably the same crossing fluency. Monasteries will stay where they are, hopefully. The name will change, instead of “Kosovo province” it will become something completely different – are you ready? wait for it… (drumroll) – “Kosovo”.
But the biggest question remains as it has been for the last eight years – non-Albanians’ safety and the right to live and move freely in Kosovo. In the future, this issue will be the responsibility of Albanians only, since our prime minister and our politicians have done very little to show that they care about the people as much as they care about the territory, monasteries and the name. [...]
Jasmina Tešanović, guest-blogging at Boing Boing, writes:
[...] Last week in Geneva, I talked to a young Albanian blogger. He told me: this time "independence" will be declared for real, because it is not our independent decision but that of the world community. Nobody asks us anything anymore. They just give us orders and set rules.
Most young Serbian people have never visited Kosovo. There is nor reason to go to Kosovo if you are not trapped in Kosovo already. It is a hard place. Since the fall of national Yugoslav radio and television, Serbian has fallen out of use there. The Serbs never bothered to learn Albanian.
The last sentence in my 1999 diary was: I hope they don't build a wall. Today I must say the same: I hope the Serbian population in Kosovo survives, and I hope they don t build a wall: them, us, their armies, our armies, foreign armies.
May it be a beginning of new era; may our children never have another war with their neighbors just because they speak a different language and have a different sign on their graves. The Balkans have always been a multiethnic territory. No matter who wins the battle, nobody will be able to win a war.
Alan Jakšić of Balkan Anarchist is worried about the fate of Kosovo Serbs, too:
[...] Personally, I'm mostly worried about the Kosovo Serbs, my fellow ethnics in the province who live as a beleaguered minority. I hope that they will stay in the province and maintain links with the perhaps soon-to-be reduced Serbia, and not leave in great number from their homes and villages. However, I have seen on the news that the UN is already prepared to offer aid to these could-be future refugees in the north of the province.
One idea I heard the Serbian president Boris Tadić mention is a possible Kosovo Serb parliament to represent all the Serbs in the province. I think this could be a good idea, as such an institution could make the province's Serbs feel represented by a major institution whose members they would be able to elect. And as such, it could provide Serbs with the reassurance they need to stay in Kosovo. [...]
Eric Gordy of East Ethnia writes:
[...] Some people will undoubtedly be celebrating the event, but it will take serious and committed work to assure that the new situation means something more than jobs for a new crowd of politicians. I am neither thrilled nor outraged, but rather think that what matters most is how the problems that have been left from the past and the new ones that are going to be generated are going to be addressed. Kosovo and Serbia are both now states, and each one has the opportunity now to show that it has the capacity to behave like a responsible one. [...]
Dejan of Anegdote is being serious in a non-serious kind of way. He has re-posted a photoshopped image of PM Vojislav Koštunica as a contestant in the Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? quiz show (uploaded from a Serbian-language forum with a mystifyingly telling name of Parapsihopatologija - "Parapsychopathology") - and has translated the question and four answer choices:
A. Serbia [Koštunica's pick]
B. independent [correct answer]
C. less than independent
D. more than autonomous
Hugh Griffiths, on his B92 blog, explains why the current rioting in Belgrade may signify the "imminent departure" of PM Koštunica:
[...] For the first part, shouting offensive remarks about Albanians while crying "Kosovo is Serbia" in one breath, and support for mass murderer Ratko Mladic in the next is a general blow to the "international law" themed PR that's been doing the DSS rounds. Burning cars, attacking police, smashing traffic signs and punching journalists while waving the Serbian flag does no favours to what some refer to as the "branding" process and others call "national pride".
[...] what really signals Vojo's imminent departure, bar some more wailing, is what the ne'er do-well flag wavers were chanting.
"Save Serbia and kill yourself, Kostunica"
Why this should worry the current leader of the party of international law, is that despite pandering to the views of ignorant extremists, Kostunica has lost their support. And by betraying the DS over not endorsing Tadic for president, Kostunica has finally irrevocably alienated the more decent with whom he was in coalition with. [...]
Having made his premiership about hanging onto both Kosovo and [Montenegro], and failing to do either; making enemies out of all these king-makers means that he will be removed in the not too distant. Unlike Djindjic, this will be a democratic process, but history will be none too kind.
In an earlier post, Hugh Griffiths writes about two rallies that took place in Belgrade last week, prior to Kosovo's declaration of independence:
[...] The latest two demonstrations in Belgrade continue to present a vision of two very different Serbias. The first, on the February 11 would not look out of place in any European capital: a civic procession with peaceful purpose, smiling faces but a serious message, cheerful whistles and drums, good humour and witty posters. A pretty girl kissing a policeman. Good street theatre in a capital city moving forward.
This was a youth demonstration in support of Serbia's integration into Europe, an event backed by more than 70% of Serbia's population and a majority of those who bothered to vote in the presidential elections, despite the Kosovo red herring.
Then there was a second protest on 16 February. Around 1000 people demonstrating for the Kosovo red herring. A small, yet violently vocal group of misfits. [...]
In the comments section to this post, one Serbian reader (badreligion) responds:
neither of two is mine
Both rallies represent extremes, and I find it hard to identify with either.
I just wonder why do all the foreigners see us Serbs so black and white? It seems one has to shout his head off or blow his bollocks through the wistle to be heard... There are some quiet and disgusted people here as well, you know. Those are people who are pro EU and against independent Kosovo.
Lucy Moore, on her B92 blog, criticizes John Bolton, former U.S. representative to the U.N, for a remark he made at "The Implications of Kosovo’s Independence for U.S. Foreign Policy" event in Washington, D.C., last Friday:
Calling Kosovo’s pending independence a “fundamentally European solution,” he noted that independence for Kosovo came out of not one but two instances in which the authority of the U.N.’s Security Council was largely dismissed -- first in NATO’s 1999 air strike and now in the current failure by the international community to back a change in Kosovo’s status with a U.N. resolution.
And in a moment of bold directness, Bolton told any European citizen sitting in the audience to take this message back to Europe:
“It should be a long time before any of you criticize action without Security Council authorization.”
Wonderful. South Eastern Europe is again on the cusp of destabilization. What democratic headway Serbia had made has been kicked into reverse. Europe must now find a way to incorporate an economic wasteland into its already strained folds. And all Mr. Bolton -- once America’s voice at the UN -- has to say is America may have F*ck up but we're not alone. [...]
Douglas Muir of A Fistful of Euros comments on Kosovo's prospects of being recognized internationally:
[...] As for international recognition: somewhere between 20 and 30 countries are poised to recognize Kosovo pretty quickly, with a larger number inclined to recognize but planning to wait a bit. There’ll probably be a UN Security Council meeting next week, which will lead to much discussion but nothing concrete.
So, unless Serbia does something stupid — which is certainly possible — in the short run, not much will change. In the longer run, well, I’ve used the phrase “Balkan Taiwan” before. It’s not very close; really, Kosovo is unique. But I expect a long war of diplomatic attrition rather than a crisis. Again, we’ll see soon enough.
Mark MacKinnon writes about the precedent-setting element of Kosovo's independence and the "Pandora's Box" effect it may lead to in Eastern Europe - and, as a reader points out in a comment, elsewhere in the world:
[...] My point here is not to argue for or against independence for Kosovo. But I do find myself wondering how the United States and the European Union find it reasonable to argue that the Kosovars deserve the right to determine their own fate, Serbia be damned, but other peoples of Eastern Europe in similar situations do not.
If Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence is going to get the support of the international community, let's make the right of national self-determination the new global standard. Let's set about determining the real will of the Abkhaz and the South Ossetians and back open and fair (not Russian-sponsored) referendums on whether they want to remain in Georgia. Then let's help them enforce the results.
Hell, while we're at it, let's do the same for the Transdniestr, the Respublika Srpska , Chechnya and the Crimea. If we're going to open this Pandora's Box in Eastern Europe, let's open it all the way. [...]
While MacKinnon mentions Russia's foreign ministry's allusion to Abkhazia and South Ossetia in its last week's statement on Kosovo's independence, James of Robert Amsterdam's blog reports on Vladimir Putin's remarks on Kosovo and Spain's Basque and Catalan regions:
When Russia speaks out against recognizing Kosovo's independence, there are quite a few feathers to ruffle among other EU members that have separatist issues of their own. It appears that President Vladimir Putin struck a chord in making the Spanish comparison. [...]