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And so what Slobodan Milosevic wrought comes full circle

Kosova has declared its independence from Serbia and if ever a people have justification for not trusting the political institutions of another, it is the Kosovars. Perhaps this will, as some fear and other hope, start a wave of reasonable and logical separations… starting with Taiwan maybe?

64 comments to And so what Slobodan Milosevic wrought comes full circle

  • Patrick B

    This is a lesson to us all. An historically-Serbian province admits Albanians. They rapidly, through breeding and immigration, become a majority. The Serbs view is that Kosovo has been stolen from them, and the West has stopped them regaining their own territory.

    How many illegal immigrants of another culture does it take to seize a counry? Wait 20 years and see how England has fared.

  • Gabriel

    When you produce a post in 1 year and 4 months expressing surprise and disgust at news of the spread of Wahhabi fundamentalist Islam in Kosovo since independence … oh, you know what, forget it.

  • When you produce a post in 1 year and 4 months expressing surprise and disgust at news of the spread of Wahhabi fundamentalist Islam in Kosovo since independence … oh, you know what, forget it.

    Go play your crypto-fascist banjos for someone who gives a fuck. Kosova is very far from being an Islamic state.

    This is a lesson to us all. An historically-Serbian province admits Albanians. They rapidly, through breeding and immigration, become a majority.

    Jeez, your ignorance knows no bounds. Kosova was ‘historically Serbian’ until they lost a battle in 1389! And Jugoslavia did not ‘admit’ Albanians to Kosova, they were already there, having been there for 500 years. By the time of the Balkan War in 1912, Serbs were already only about 25% of the population. The only ‘lesson’ here is “Do not get conquered by the Ottoman Empire in 1389, or any other time come to think of it”.

    For that matter I am all for the independence of Republika Srbska and Herzegovina as well.

  • Plamus

    Perry, I have some relatives in Macedonia – reasonable, educated folks, non-crypto-fascists by any measure. From what they have related, Albanian communities tend to be rather unpleasant neighbors, and not for religious reasons, but because they are sort of semi-libertarians – they highly value their own freedoms, and have very little appreciation for the freedoms of their neighbors. It’s usually their way, or they pull out knives, AK’s, and mortars. No, not all of them – but the tendency is there. I am sure that the fact that you are not a racist will be of little help to you, should you choose to walk at night in the Bronx or in West Philadelphia; similarly, it’s only reasonable to be concerned in the case of the case of Kosovars. Tolerance is a two-way street, and they have very little of it, it seems. That, and not Wahhabi islam, is my concern. If they can pull off a Kurdistan without the PKK, all the power to them; however, the KLA is already there, and they are no noble liberators, but rather, mutderous thugs, and not likely to fade into oblivion once Kosovo is independent.
    Regards!

  • Cynic

    I’m not against Kosovo independence if that is what they want, but I think our government sending our last 1000 reserves soldiers there is downright folly.

  • Frederick Davies

    …starting with Taiwan maybe?

    Well, if they do, the Olympics this year would get very interesting… for all the wrong reasons!

    I often wonder how the Bush administration can keep talking about furthering Democracy in Iraq (which did not have it), when they do not have the courage to protect one that already exists (Taiwan) from bullying by a totalitarian state (China), and no one takes them to task for that inconsistency.

  • By the time of the Balkan War in 1912, Serbs were already only about 25% of the population.

    They’ll soon be 0%, if the Kosovars have their way.
    It was a fight between two tribes. I don’t see how one is better than the other. But I really know little about it, and care less.
    I don’t get why it was imperative for the US and NATO to intervene. None of their interests were at stake.

  • Plamus, I think you misunderstand me. I can believe that all quite easily as I have spent far too much time in that general neck of the woods to have any illusions about the region.

    My point is that I can see no justification whatsoever for a continuation of rule from Belgrade and given recent history, no one has any right to expect Kosovars to just trust their fate to Serbian polity. That does not mean I was planning to move there myself :-)

  • But I really know little about it, and care less.

    Then why waste pixels as by your own admission you do not know what you are talking about? There are plenty of other topics that you clearly do even if I do not always agree with you.

  • The argument about whether or not NATO will or should get involved in yet another ethnic cleansing fest in Kosovo always reminds me of this bit from PJ O’Rourke.

    Taken from the Telegraph-“Why Americans Hate Foreign Policy”
    (Link)

    In the fall of 1996, I travelled to Bosnia to visit a friend whom I’ll call Major Tom. Major Tom was in Banja Luka serving with the Nato-led international peacekeeping force, Ifor. From 1992 to 1995, Bosnian Serbs had fought Bosnian Croats and Bosnian Muslims in an attempt to split Bosnia into two hostile territories.

    In 1995, the US-brokered Dayton Agreement ended the war by splitting Bosnia into two hostile territories. The Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina was run by Croats and Muslims. The Republika Srpska was run by Serbs.

    IFOR’s job was to “implement and monitor the Dayton Agreement.” Major Tom’s job was to sit in an office where Croat and Muslim residents of Republika Srpska went to report Dayton Agreement violations.

    “They come to me,” said Major Tom, “and they say, ‘The Serbs stole my car.’ And I say, ‘I’m writing that in my report.’ They say, ‘The Serbs burnt my house.’ And I say, ‘I’m writing that in my report.’ They say, ‘The Serbs raped my daughter.’ And I say, ‘I’m writing that in my report.”‘

    “Then what happens?” I said.

    “I put my report in a filing cabinet.”

  • Ivan

    Gabriel:

    When you produce a post in 1 year and 4 months expressing surprise and disgust at news of the spread of Wahhabi fundamentalist Islam in Kosovo since independence … oh, you know what, forget it.

    Much like in Bosnia, that’s what you get when you proclaim an arms embargo in a war — and a real bloody, hateful war, in which even the bare survival of the defeated is highly questionable — where one side is armed to the teeth with weapons of all calibers, while the other is lacking even basic small arms and ammunition. In such a situation, the latter side is hardly in a position to pick allies willing to provide some concrete military help. You can’t ask questions about what strings might come attached with the help of Saudis or Iranians if they’re the only ones willing to provide what you desperately need to survive at this very moment.

    On the other hand, I’d say that Wahabis will have a much harder time establishing themselves in Kosovo than in Bosnia for reasons of very different social structures in those two countries. But that’s a complicated topic.

  • Ian B

    And Jugoslavia did not ‘admit’ Albanians to Kosova, they were already there, having been there for 500 years.

    Why the fuck are they called “Albanians” then?

  • Elizabeth

    I am interested to see how Serbia starts treating Vojvodina. Perhaps Gyurcsany starts banging the drum for the Magyars in Slovkia, Roumania and Serbia. He does have an election in 2 years and by all accounts half the nation wants to lynch him.

  • Ivan

    Perry de Havilland:

    Jeez, your ignorance knows no bounds. Kosova was ‘historically Serbian’ until they lost a battle in 1389! And Jugoslavia did not ‘admit’ Albanians to Kosova, they were already there, having been there for 500 years. By the time of the Balkan War in 1912, Serbs were already only about 25% of the population.

    To put it in grossly simplified, but still mostly accurate terms, both Serbs and Albanians have been migrating and expanding towards north in recent centuries. Serbs were massively escaping the poverty and hardships under Ottomans by moving to the border regions of the Hapsburg Empire, where they were mostly welcomed and given local autonomy in exchange for military service (there’s a well summarized Wikipedia article on the Great Serb Migrations(Link)). By the onset of the modern times, Serbs had already become a minority, replaced principally by Albanians, in most of the far Serbian south (i.e. Kosovo), but they had become a majority in Vojvodina (basically the northernmost quarter of today’s Serbia) and several other regions of the Hapsburg Empire.

    For that matter I am all for the independence of Republika Srbska and Herzegovina as well.

    I don’t know what exactly you mean by “Republika Srbska and Herzegovina”. :-) There is Republika Srpska(Link) (which you probably have in mind), and the region of Herzegovina(Link), which partly belongs to Republika Srpska. The official country name “Bosnia and Herzegovina” refers to two regions of which the country is composed, but the border between those two is nowadays purely customary and doesn’t correspond to any demographic lines or formal subdivisions of the country.

    Yeah, it’s a complete mess, but that’s what you get, besides rivers of blood, whenever the ideological Molotov cocktail of the modern ideas of nationalism, democracy, and “self-determination” is applied to an ethnically and religiously heterogeneous area. :-(

  • Ivan

    Ian B:

    Why the fuck are they called “Albanians” then?

    Well, they speak the Albanian language and have little to zero cultural differences with the population of Albania. How would you call them, or expect that they call themselves?

  • Ian B

    They live in Kosovo. What’s wrong with them being Kosovan? It doesn’t bode well for an “independence” demanded by people who entirely identify themselves ethnically as citizens of another state, does it?

    So far as I can tell they only start being Kosovans when they’re killing each other for control of organised crime in Hackney. At least when I lived there that was the case.

  • Ivan, Republika Srbska was a typo (obviously)

    …and by ‘Herzegovina’ I was not referring to BiH :-) I was referring to the Croatian bit of Herzegovina. I really do not think Bosnia Herzegovina makes much sense as a unitary state, particularly as they have not really returned to the pre-war demographic status.

    By the onset of the modern times, Serbs had already become a minority, replaced principally by Albanians, in most of the far Serbian south

    To be honest why anyone would want to live in Kosova is beyond me :-)

  • They live in Kosovo. What’s wrong with them being Kosovan? It doesn’t bode well for an “independence” demanded by people who entirely identify themselves ethnically as citizens of another state, does it?

    Why not? A Kosovar is an Albanian who lives in Kosova, that’s all. Why does a nation-state’s borders have to trump culture and language? Moreover what does it matter if they unite with Albania at some time in the future if that is what most people in both places want?

  • Ian B

    From the Torygraph-

    “But the doubts mattered little on the streets of Pristina yesterday where the crackle of gunfire rang out as thousands of revellers marked their joy in a traditionally Balkan manner.”

    Oh, those jolly ethnic types with their cute little traditions. Meanwhile the “free” British are denied anything more than a spud gun. I tell you, I wouldn’t mind Gordon Brown and his cronies hearing the joyful sound of massed AK47s once in a while.

  • Ian B

    Perry-

    Why not? A Kosovar is an Albanian who lives in Kosova, that’s all. Why does a nation-state’s borders have to trump culture and language? Moreover what does it matter if they unite with Albania at some time in the future if that is what most people in both places want?

    So nationality then isn’t a description of the place you were born, or live? Pakistani descended persons in, say, Luton, are still Pakistani, not English? Can we take it that therefore it would be entirely appropriate for them to declare independence for Luton, and perhaps join it in political union with Pakistan? What of London’s Chinatown? Shall we cheerily wish the inhabitants well if they decide to join the Peoples Republic?

    If you follow that logic, it’d be okay for ethnic Scots to just take over England and…

    um

  • Following your logic then there would never be an England for them to take over, because people from London and Northumbria and East Anglia should be Londoners, Northumbrians and East Anglians, not Englishmen… presumably because lines on a map are more important that a geographically contiguous linguistic distribution of people?

    I mean, unlike Bradford and Karachi, you do know Albania and Kosova are right next to each other and are not separated by anything other than a line on a map, right?

  • Ian B

    No Perry, not following my logic. I was following your logic.

    I mean, unlike Bradford and Karachi, you do know Albania and Kosova England and Scotland are right next to each other and are not separated by anything other than a line on a map, right? So, we move a few million English north of the border, then abolish Scotland. The nationalists will whine, but they’re a minority, after all. What say do they deserve?

  • “I wouldn’t mind Gordon Brown and his cronies hearing the joyful sound of massed AK47s once in a while.”

    Do they ever go to Hackney?

  • Ian B

    Should read, with HTML not fuxx0red-

    No Perry, not following my logic. I was following your logic.

    I mean, unlike Bradford and Karachi, you do know Albania and Kosova England and Scotland are right next to each other and are not separated by anything other than a line on a map, right? So, we move a few million English north of the border, then abolish Scotland. The nationalists will whine, but they’re a minority, after all. What say do they deserv

  • Ivan

    Ian B:

    So nationality then isn’t a description of the place you were born, or live?

    Not the way it’s understood on the Continent, unfortunately. This has of course resulted in endless rivers of blood and streams of refugees during the last century, but that’s the way things are, and any realistic policy has to recognize that fact. The problem has deep historical roots, which can’t be analyzed with any accuracy without hurting lots of feelings and producing lots of grossly un-PC remarks, with the consequence that most of what’s being said about it in the mainstream media and academia is rubbish.

    The basic problem is that under the old multi-ethnic empires and kingdoms that disintegrated in WW1, Eastern Europe, including the Balkans, used to be one of the ethnically and religiously most heterogeneous and thoroughly mixed areas of the world. Because of this, the subsequent attempts to organize French-style nation-states in that part of the world were a recipe for a bloody disaster. The situation stabilized only after WW2, because the wartime and post-war campaigns of mass exterminations and expulsions have finally made the new nation-states homogeneous enough to be stable. In just about any place in Eastern Europe, Nazis killed off the local Jews, Soviets killed or expelled the local Germans, and the local minorities of other ethnicities (Poles, Ukrainians, Hungarians…) were mostly expelled and herded into the bounds of their allotted states in the period 1945-1950, according to Soviet-sponsored population transfer agreements. Similar problems that happened after the breakup of the Ottoman Empire were resolved by the same means already by the 1920s.

    Now, due to peculiar local circumstances, the area of the former Yugoslavia was mostly an exception to these events, and remained throughly ethnically mixed until its disintegration in 1991 (just check out this ethnic map of Bosnia-Herzegovina(Link) from 17 years ago). Basically, Tito’s regime played the same role as the Russian, Hapsburg, and Ottoman empires had played earlier in history, suppressing by force any outbursts of nationalism. What has happened in the former Yugoslavia since 1991 is basically the same that happened throughout Eastern Europe from 1918 to (roughly) 1950. And here we get to the ugly and extremely politically incorrect truth: once the demons of nationalism and the viral memes of “self-determination” have been let loose in an ethnically heterogeneous area, democracy will invariably lead into bloody wars that can be resolved only by ethnic cleansing or by establishing a supra-ethnic, non-democratic government with the power to override and discipline democratically elected nationalist politicians. Such an unelected government, composed of foreigners with NATO military backing, established essentially by force as a part of the Dayton Agreement, has been the only thing keeping Bosnia peaceful for the last 12 years. Of course, the whole thing has to be veiled in PC terms, so that the people running the protectorate are officially “building democracy”, although their real job is to prevent the domestic democratically elected rabble-rousers from implementing their agenda.

    Therefore, there is no pretty and politically corrcect solution for Kosovo, or any other part of the world with similar problems. Either there has to be a non-democratic government of some sort that will keep nationalism in check, or the area must be ethnically homogenized to enable the establishment of a stable nation-state. Sad, but true.

  • So, we move a few million English north of the border, then abolish Scotland. The nationalists will whine, but they’re a minority, after all.

    Not sure who ‘we’ are but if you mean an invasion, well no. If you mean natural demographics and migration, sure, why not, although if Scottish culture proves stronger, all that will really do is create a bunch of Scotsmen of English decent rather than end the notion of Scotland. But then the real thing is to just weaken the nation state so that it hardly matters.

    You still have not explained why the largely muslim Albanian speaking Kosovars who make up 90% of Kosova should feel separateness from largely muslim Albanian speaking Albanians in Albania.

  • Alice

    Certain NATO members (you know who they are) are already failing to meet their commitments to provide forces to secure Afghanistan. What are the chances that NATO will actually fulfill its commitment to protect Kosovo and its several peoples from whoever?

  • Ivan

    Perry de Havilland:

    …and by ‘Herzegovina’ I was not referring to BiH :-) I was referring to the Croatian bit of Herzegovina. I really do not think Bosnia Herzegovina makes much sense as a unitary state, particularly as they have not really returned to the pre-war demographic status.

    The problem is that very few parts of Bosnia-Herzegovina are ethnically homogeneous even at the local level. It’s not like you can zoom on the ethnic map of Bosnia until you find some level at which the subdivisions become reasonably homogeneous, and then draw the lines of division there; it’s like zooming on a fractal image until you reach the level of individual houses (and even then you sometimes have mixed couples within them!). Breaking up the country along ethnic lines by the principle of majority at any level can just shift the centers of instability. As I wrote in my previous post, stability can be brought either by forcibly homogenizing large swaths of land and then breaking up the country, or by maintaining the present state where a dictatorship staffed and militarily propped by foreigners is keeping the rabble-rousers in check until hopefully the passions subside at some time in the future.

    To be honest why anyone would want to live in Kosova is beyond me :-)

    Well, it’s a matter of relative perspective, both geographically and historically. 700 years ago, even some Croats from Dubrovnik found Kosovo attractive enough to move there permanently. :-)

  • Ian B

    You still have not explained why the largely muslim Albanian speaking Kosovars who make up 90% of Kosova should feel separateness from largely muslim Albanian speaking Albanians in Albania.

    That’s because I’m not trying to. I’m asking a general question of how one defines at a political level when somebody has a valid claim to some territory. If Kosovans have a right to their own nation, what about the Cornish? More signficantly perhaps, how long does an ethnic group have to live in a territory before it’s indigenous?

    I’m asking this, as you may have guessed, because we see in some countries mass immigration creating ethnic enclaves. At what point do those enclaves earn a moral right to independent existence? Lutonistan, anyone?

    These are serious issues, especially when host populations who consider themselves broadly a self-identified group with a claim to their territory are told that keeping it to themselves is some kind of “ism” or “phobia”.

    Distinct cultural groups fear one another for practical reasons, because culture groups seek, like persons, self preservation and compete for dominance. This is why what we like to call “ethnic strife” breaks out again and again. Kosovo will be another Islamist state. We know that. That’s something that Serbs reasonably fear. We can’t just brush that under the carpet for ideological reasons. You can brush me off as a crypto-fascist too if you like, but that won’t make human nature go away.

  • Ivan

    Alice:

    Certain NATO members (you know who they are) are already failing to meet their commitments to provide forces to secure Afghanistan. What are the chances that NATO will actually fulfill its commitment to protect Kosovo and its several peoples from whoever?

    That depends on whose protection against whom you have in mind. Albanians are already numerous and well-armed enough to defend themselves from any plausible threat. As for the remaining Serbs and other minorities in Kosovo, the existing NATO forces (KFOR) have already shown as largely incapable of protecting them from the Albanians. You might remember the 2004 incidents(Link), and these were not the only ones since 1999.

  • ic

    One thing about Taiwan: it is not dependent and it is not independent. Bush is not doing anything because there is nothing to be done. China will continue its tradition of lobbing missiles over Taiwan that explode before they do any damages. Taiwanese are the largest investors in China. Taiwan doesn’t want to be ruled by China. China doesn’t want to rule Taiwan because of Taiwan’s nasty habits of holding elections. China cannot subdue Hong Kong and has to agree to general election by 2015(?). They can’t have another province (Taiwan) that holds pesky elections. Thus China will continue to swagger, Taiwan will continue its “independent” talk, and nothing will happen.

  • Ian B

    Here’s another question, and it’s one I’m asking because I have no idea what the answer is, rather than as a debating point IYSWIM.

    Regarding the Kosovan “Albanians”. They consider themselves ethnically Albanian, but what do Albanian Albanians think of them? Do they consider Kosovan Albanians to be as Albanian as an Albanian Albanian, or is it similar to the Northern Irish Unionists, who consider themselves very British but which the average British person doesn’t feel much community with, seeing them as rather Irish with strange customs and a funny accent?

  • Ivan

    Ian B:

    Regarding the Kosovan “Albanians”. They consider themselves ethnically Albanian, but what do Albanian Albanians think of them? Do they consider Kosovan Albanians to be as Albanian as an Albanian Albanian, or is it similar to the Northern Irish Unionists, who consider themselves very British but which the average British person doesn’t feel much community with, seeing them as rather Irish with strange customs and a funny accent?

    From the medieval times until 1912, the territories of today’s Albania and Kosovo were both ruled by the Ottoman Empire. Therefore, until less than a century ago, there had been no border separating the Kosovar and “proper” Albanians. Albanians do have their internal religious, dialectal, and tribal divisions, but as far as I know, none of these differences have the border between Albania and Kosovo as a cut-off line. Furthermore, unlike Northern Irish Unionists, who form a very small group compared to the population of Britain, Kosovar Albanians form a sizable part of the entire Albanian ethnicity: there are about 2 million of them versus about 3.5 million people in Albania.

    Also, even though Kosovo was the poorest part of former Yugoslavia and has suffered war and ethnic unrests in recent years, it has always been and remained in a better shape than Albania economically. Bad as it was, Tito’s dictatorship still looked like a libertarian utopia in comparison with Hoxha’s Stalinist regime, and Albania has also had its fair share of internal unrest since the fall of communism, including a complete collapse of all organized government in 1997, which had to be restored by a NATO intervention (with a UN fig-leaf).

    As for the current attitudes in Albania, its government is definitely supporting the independence of Kosovo, and I have the impression that Albanians from both sides of the border are massively in favor of it. Of course, they are viewing this independence as a prelude to a closer integration between Albania and Kosovo, although for understandable reasons, their politicians aren’t mentioning anything like it in public.

  • mike

    “Perhaps this will, as some fear and other hope, start a wave of reasonable and logical separations… starting with Taiwan maybe?”

    I can’t see it happening myself. The democratisations of 1989 were all in response to a sudden weakening of the Soviet Union whilst the timing of events in Lebanon and the Ukraine a few years ago was merely coincidental was it not?

    Besides which, I’m not sure a declaration of independence by Taiwan would change anything, though perhaps a substantial increase in military expenditure might.

  • mike

    ic – if I had a penny for the every person I’ve met who speaks about the Taiwan strait issue like that…

    So long as the PRC can successfully remain in control of China, then one might think there is little to worry about regarding Taiwan, since it is apparently nonsensical to imagine rational people setting out to destroy their investors and trading partners.

    Yet the extent to which the PRC can maintain control of the mainland in the future is not something to be talked about with cast-iron certainty, moreover any reference to the PRC leadership as ‘rational’ would miss the point.

    In order to maintain the status and impetus necessary to retain control over the beuracracy in the event of severe internal crises, the PRC may well choose to expound on the theme of Chinese nationalism by upping the ante over Taiwan. Not because the PRC wants to forcibly retake Taiwan (I’m sure most of them don’t give a shit), but because it is merely a card they can play in furthering their own domestic survival. It is not about strategic interests of the Chinese nation – it is about strategic interests of the PRC as an institution under threat.

  • Ian B.: the Serbs do have valid concerns and fears regarding Kosovo, but I am not sure Kosovan independence changes the situation one way or the other. Serbs are repeatedly pointing out the similarities between their situation and Israel’s vis a vis the Palestinians, and the comparison seems valid. I really don’t see why the PA becoming an independent state would make things any worse than they are now (the situation we face with Gaza is quite similar to the one we face with S. Lebanon – a nominally independent state), and it seems to me it should be the same with Kosovo. Note, I am not saying the situation will be good, only that independence will not make it worse, because in any case it will get as bad as it can be imagined, and probably worse. Ivan, what do you think?

  • If Kosovans have a right to their own nation, what about the Cornish?

    If the Cornish had a recent history being being brutally repressed by the UK, then yes, why not?

    The recent demise of Jugoslavia kicked off in Kosova when Milosevic decided it would suit him politically stomp on the Kosovars, setting off a chain reaction that blew the country apart.

  • Ian B

    You mean his crackdown on the terrorist Kosovo Liberation Army, perpetrators of atrocities, linked directly to Jihad Islamism, and whose war aim was to provoke the Serbs into a military assault, dragging NATO in? That thing?

    That’s another interpretation of what went on there. There’s an awful lot of blood on an awful lot of hands in the Balkans.

    It’s a bit like that whole plucky Palestinian freedom fighters versus Z1onazis thing, isn’t it?

  • Do you not know the KLA launched its first attacks in Kosova in 1995, well after the start of the Milosevic crackdown on Kosova in the late 1980s? Support for the KLA did not just pop out of nowhere (prior to Milosevic’s actions, the KLA was an irrelevant splinter group holding meeting in beerhalls in Switzerland).

    There’s an awful lot of blood on an awful lot of hands in the Balkans.

    So fucking what? How is that relevant to this? There was an awful lot of blood on an awful lot of hands in World War II as well. And? So when a nation-state dominated by one ethnic group stomps on another ethnic group, does some sacredness of borders means the stomped on ethnic group just have to remain politically attached regardless? Why? Even if they politically and militarily gain de facto independence?

  • Ian B

    Do you not know the KLA launched its first attacks in Kosova in 1995, well after the start of the Milosevic crackdown on Kosova in the late 1980s?

    Do you not know that the Kosovar Albanians were rioting back in 1981 in support of a “Greater Albania”? What of the apparent fact that Milosevic capitalised on extant complaints by ethnic Serbs that the Albanians were oppressing them? How do we know who to believe here?

  • Actually they were protesting for Kosova to be granted republic status within Jugoslavia, give that they were 90% of the population. It was even reported that way in the Jugoslav press at the time, sparking outrage in certain Serbia circles towards the Jugoslav media.

    Milosevic pretty much came to power in Serbia on the basis that not only would he not allow Kosova to become a Jugoslav republic, he would strip it of the limited local autonomy it already had and run it directly from Belgrade. And that is exactly what he did and thereby kicking off the death of Jugoslavia as all the other republics could see where this was headed.

  • Jacob

    Perry,
    Leaving aside the details of Balkan tribes, which Ivan explained rather well (thanks!).

    What bussines had NATO intervening in Kosovo ? Was it a threat to European security (the objective of NATO)? Especially – why had the US to be dragged in ? I understand the total European military impotence, even in dealing with Serbia alone, but I don’t think that was reason enough for the US to step in. The US certainly had no dog in this fight.

    Once NATO intervened – why didn’t they prevent the ethnical cleansing of the Serbs in Kosovo? In what moral light does it cast them ? I mean – the intervention was claimed to be a humanitarian one – but resulted in ethnical cleansing.

    Thirdly: was it worth having a row with Russia just for the sake of these Kosovars ? Russia is a major part and a major power in Europe, and will always be. Wouldn’t it have been better to find a solution WITH them rather than against them. Are the Kossovars such an important cause as to justify a rift with Russia ?

    Now a provocative hypothetical analogy: would it have been ok with you if NATO had intervened in Northern Ireland and established an independent IRA run republic ?
    Isn’t it better to leave the locals to resolve their conflicts the best they can, rather than have foreign powers step in and impose this or that arrangement, which is in no way better than any other?

  • Alice


    Albanians are already numerous and well-armed enough to defend themselves from any plausible threat. As for the remaining Serbs and other minorities in Kosovo, the existing NATO forces (KFOR) have already shown as largely incapable of protecting them from the Albanians.

    Let’s look at a plausible scenario. After the word-mongers have dragged this thing around a bit, the situation settles down with Kosovo claiming independence and Serbia refusing to recognize it.

    Then, next winter, the Albanians/Kosovars/Islamists decide on a bit of agro — find some of the historic churches in Kosovo that they had previously failed to burn & take care of them, do some rape & pillage on the Serbian minority.

    Serbia says — Enough! And sends its army across the border into what Serbia still claims as part of its territory, to knock a few terrorist heads together and protect the minority. Mother Russia looks on with approval, and sends materiel support.

    What will the disarming EU do? What will President Obama do, when his hands are full pulling US forces out of the Middle East and there is zero public support in the US for intervention?

    The history of the Balkans is far from over.

  • Jacob

    The history of the Balkans is far from over.

    And I’m not sure the NATO intervention helped.

    Isn’t it better to leave the locals to resolve their conflicts the best they can

    To clarify: it might be advisable, for humanitarian reasons, to have a NATO protectorate imposed on Kosovo, as per Ivan’s suggestion that a foreign intervention is the only way to prevent massacres. Fine. But: 1. The protectorate has to do it’s job, i.e. prevent massacres, ethnical cleansing and atrocities. It looks like NATO was incapable of this.
    2. The protectorate should promote agreed arrangements as a long range solution, and not accept unilateral proclamations that lead to further conflict, as Alice has said.
    To continue Alice’s thread: when will NATO leave Kosovo ? What happens then ? Has the Kosovar independence declaration helped solve the problem ?

  • …a quarrel in a far away country between people of whom we know nothing…

  • Ivan

    Alisa:

    Ian B.: the Serbs do have valid concerns and fears regarding Kosovo, but I am not sure Kosovan independence changes the situation one way or the other. Serbs are repeatedly pointing out the similarities between their situation and Israel’s vis a vis the Palestinians, and the comparison seems valid. I really don’t see why the PA becoming an independent state would make things any worse than they are now (the situation we face with Gaza is quite similar to the one we face with S. Lebanon – a nominally independent state), and it seems to me it should be the same with Kosovo. Note, I am not saying the situation will be good, only that independence will not make it worse, because in any case it will get as bad as it can be imagined, and probably worse. Ivan, what do you think?

    Well, first I’d say that it’s better not to make any analogies between Middle East and Kosovo. In both places, things are complicated enough in their own way, and superficial analogies can only add to the confusion. In particular, Israel is faced with the problem of ensuring the basic safety of its population against terrorism, and its enemies have its complete destruction as a long-term strategic goal. In contrast, the Albanians don’t have any strategic goals in Serbia beyond seceding Kosovo, and they’re definitely not interested in stirring up trouble in the rest of Serbia (although, if given the opportunity, they are interested in stirring up trouble in regions of other neighboring countries where they form local majorities, as they’ve already done in Macedonia(Link)). Furthermore, from a military point of view, there is a balance between Albanians and Serbs; the latter have no realistic possibility of reconquering the province even if NATO stood aside this time, again very much unlike the situation that Israel faces against Palestinians from a purely military point of view.

    Now, the practical independence of Kosovo is already a fait accompli, and has been ever since the Serbian forces were withdrawn from Kosovo in 1999. The province is populated by an overwhelming (>90%) and well armed majority of Albanians, whose general attitude is that they would rather go to another war than admit any sort of Serbian rule ever again. This time, Serbs are powerless to do anything but complain and make symbolic diplomatic gestures. In my opinion, the only relevant question that the independence of Kosovo opens is whether this sets a precedent for similar breakaway regions throughout the world. It’s a potentially important precedent because it will really be the first time in modern history that a secession done contrary to the will of the central government is internationally recognized even though it doesn’t have a formal legal basis. Unlike Kosovo, the federal republics of the USSR and former Yugoslavia did have a constitutional right to secession (however unrealistic this option might have seemed before late 1980s).

  • Ivan

    Ian B:

    Do you not know that the Kosovar Albanians were rioting back in 1981 in support of a “Greater Albania”?

    As Perry has already remarked, they were actually seeking the status of a federal republic within Yugoslavia. This wasn’t entirely unreasonable, since they were in a position where in Yugoslavia, 2 million Albanians (almost 10% of the Yugoslav population, and an overwhelming majority in a large geographical region) had a minority status, while, for comparison, Slovenians (2 million), Macedonians (1.2 million) and Montenegrins (less than 500,000) were officially “constitutive nationalities” with their own federal republics.

    And it’s not like Albanians suddenly showed up out of nowhere and started demanding concessions — as several posters, including myself, have already noted, they had become the majority in Kosovo by the time this province was abandoned by the Ottoman Empire and incorporated into Serbia that had become independent from the Ottomans somewhat earlier (and later Yugoslavia). Even Serbian nationalist sources concede that Albanians had become the majority in Kosovo by late 19th century at latest. Incorporating such an area into a Serbian nation-state, and later into a state based on the ideology of South Slavic unity (Albanians are not Slavic by any stretch of imagination), was bound to create huge problems from day one.

    Now of course, far from it that Albanians have been saints. You ask:

    What of the apparent fact that Milosevic capitalised on extant complaints by ethnic Serbs that the Albanians were oppressing them? How do we know who to believe here?

    Well, the problem is that there is nobody to believe. Both sides are mostly correct when complaining about the oppression and atrocities from the other one and mostly full of crap when trying to present themselves as saintly and innocent.

    Most of the basic historical facts that Serbs point out are true. Kosovo was a Serbian province of immense historical and cultural importance in medieval times. Serbs were indeed suffering pretty badly under the Turks, and the gradual process of building up the Albanian majority in Kosovo through the centuries wasn’t exactly peaceful and respectful of the rights of Serbs at all times (thought many Serbs did leave more or less voluntarily for the more free and prosperous Hapsburg Empire). It is also true that in the ethnic violence that broke out in times of war throughout history, including WW2 and the recent conflict, the Kosovo Serbs were usually the ones whose numbers would be more badly diminished at the end.

    On the other hand, the situation wasn’t very pretty from the Albanian perspective either. Kosovo was incorporated into the Serbian nation-state, founded on strongly nationalist principles, and then later into a federation of South Slavs (you probably know that “Yugoslavia” literally means “land of South Slavs”). As a non-Slavic ethnicity who were generally looked down on by the Slavs as a weird, primitive, backward, and dirty people, and also a target of traditional hatred because their presence was seen by the Serbs as a result of the centuries of Turkish oppression, they could hardly feel comfortable in either state. Many of them were forcibly expelled as soon as the province was incorporated into Serbia, and the government of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia had plans for expelling them en masse into Turkey and colonizing the province with Serbs. An agreement to this effect was actually signed between the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and Turkey in 1938, but there were unexpected delays in the implementation, and Yugoslavia was occupied by the Germans soon afterwards.

    After WW2, Tito tried to solve the issue by giving Kosovo the special status of an autonomous province within Serbia with lots of local autonomy, language and cultural rights, the right to staff the local police with Albanians, direct representation in the federal government, etc. However, this didn’t help, as Serbs felt that this made Kosovo de facto independent from Serbia (its autonomy was indeed so broad that it was almost a separate federal republic for most practical purposes). Albanians were also unhappy for the already stated reasons. Tito’s regime heavily cracked down on both nationalisms, which ensured peace, save for occasional minor incidents, for almost four decades.

    However, after Tito’s death, the ethnic conflicts escalated again in the 1980s, but this time, the central government didn’t react by cracking down on nationalists in general. Instead, Slobodan Milosevic, a rising star in the Communist Party hierarchy, placed himself openly on the side of Kosovo Serbs in these conflicts, which enabled him to get mass popular support among Serbs in general, outmaneuver the federal party leadership, and start implementing openly anti-Albanian policies in the late 1980s. The autonomy of Kosovo was abolished, Albanian leaders were put on a show trial, representatives of Kosovo in the federal government were replaced by Milosevic’s puppets, and the Albanians were repressed harshly by the Serbian police. This was the beginning of the end of Yugoslavia, since by that time, it was obvious to most Slovenians and Croats that the same fate might be easily expecting them too if Milosevic succeeded in turning Yugoslavia into his empire (and he was close to taking complete control of the federal institutions at one point).

    That would be the history in a nutshell. I’m afraid you won’t find any great heroes or clear good guys there; just centuries of endless wars, misery, suffering, and mutual hatred and oppression. I should probably add that the present ethnic hatred between Serbs and Albanians is immense, far more intense than the hatred between Serbs and Croats was even at the height of the conflict in Croatia. This will likely make any nice-looking solutions impossible for quite a while.

  • Ivan

    Alice:

    Let’s look at a plausible scenario.

    I wouldn’t say it’s very plausible. :-) In particular:

    After the word-mongers have dragged this thing around a bit, the situation settles down with Kosovo claiming independence and Serbia refusing to recognize it.

    Then, next winter, the Albanians/Kosovars/Islamists decide on a bit of agro — find some of the historic churches in Kosovo that they had previously failed to burn & take care of them, do some rape & pillage on the Serbian minority.

    Possible, but unlikely. After many Serbs left Kosovo in 1999, and after another exodus that followed the outbreak of violence in 2004, the remaining Kosovo Serbs have been ghettoized into a few small enclaves heavily guarded by KFOR. Even without any further Albanian attacks, their economic and demographic prospects are entirely bleak. Albanians know that, so I doubt they will risk any further confrontation with KFOR and the resulting bad press just to make the lives of the remaining Serbs additionally miserable.

    Some devastation of small, weakly guarded Serbian cultural monuments might take place, but those have been mostly destroyed already anyway.

    Serbia says — Enough! And sends its army across the border into what Serbia still claims as part of its territory, to knock a few terrorist heads together and protect the minority. Mother Russia looks on with approval, and sends materiel support.

    No way. Serbia is extremely weak militarily nowadays, armed with old Yugoslav hardware that’s been badly maintained for the last 17 years, and whose best parts have already been lost in the 1990s wars. There is no way they could mount any major offensive operations into hostile territory. Furthermore, despite the omnipresent nationalist rhetorics in Serbian politics and the recent electoral success of the ultra-nationalist Radical Party, the actual fighting spirit of the Serbs is extremely low; only a tiny minority would be willing to risk their lives in another military adventure after all the recent disastrous wars, even if such an adventure had any realistic chances of success.

    And the Russian leadership couldn’t care less about the Serbs, except that they occasionally find them handy to mooch off some minor concession from Western countries by saying, “look, we conceded your point re the Serbs, now please do us a counter-favor”. And how would they send material support to the Serbs? Serbia is now landlocked, and all the air and land paths from Russia to Serbia are crossing several countries that would be hard to persuade to be used as Russian military corridors.

    You might be unaware that Russians couldn’t even be bothered to maintain a token presence in the international (in practice NATO-operated) peacekeeping force in Kosovo. They withdrew from it already in 2003(Link). Political brotherhood with Russians is a complete wishful thinking delusion on the part of Serbian nationalists.

  • Ivan,
    So, do you think the NATO intervention, and the imposed solution was a reasonable and successful move ?

  • Elizabeth

    Ivan, I do not mean to sound as if I am contradicting your opinions, however, if Russia did intervene in the last Kosovar War, would not that make their potential intervention in a putative second Kosovar War more likely? Granted, it was an ill-equiped Airborne Brigade on old, rusting Anatov’s (sp), but their arrival was unannounced and their posture was hostile.

    Considering the new social radicalism in Russia, the emotional appeal of historical pan-slavism, the strengthening of the Orthodox church and petrodollars lying about, I would say that a few brigades of Russian volunteers is more likely now that when they actually did it in 1998/9.

    As is so often pointed out here, Russia wants to roll with the big, swinging dicks but is too poor to invest in the electronic and computing infrastructure to create the 3rd generation military systems one needs to fight a proper enemy. A conflict in Kosovo would add credence to their blustering against the EU, Ukraine, Georgia and others; and it would be cheap. You could bloody some elite troops while pacifying the xenophobic, hard right elements with a slavic, crusade against heathens.

    I hope you are right. Your arguments and insights are all perfectly rational and logical. But we are talking about Russia.

  • Ivan

    Elizabeth:

    Ivan, I do not mean to sound as if I am contradicting your opinions, however, if Russia did intervene in the last Kosovar War, would not that make their potential intervention in a putative second Kosovar War more likely? Granted, it was an ill-equiped Airborne Brigade on old, rusting Anatov’s (sp), but their arrival was unannounced and their posture was hostile.

    I would hardly call this an “intervention”. What happened is that once NATO started bombing the infrastructure all around Serbia, Milosevic realized that he wouldn’t be able to hold out for much longer, and sought a way to withdraw from Kosovo in a way that wouldn’t threaten his immediate political survival. At that moment, there happened to be about two hundred Russian soldiers in Bosnia as a part of the peacekeeping force there (which was NATO-led, with a token presence from Russians and a few other nationalities). Milosevic arranged for them to cross over into Serbia and parade through several Serbian cities and move to Kosovo while his regime TV trumpeted “Russians are coming to save us”.

    By that time, the Serbian army was withdrawing from Kosovo, and NATO was just about to move in, when the Serbs handed over the control of the only decent airport in Kosovo to these 200 Russians. Milosevic managed to pull a surprise trick by this machination, and the presence of Russians confused the NATO commanders, who got into a quarrel over what to do now that the airport was in Russian hands. Later, the stories about these quarrels and the level of hostility shown by Russians were greatly exaggerated, although it seems that these events did create serious subsequent problems for Wesley Clark. However, the misunderstandings with Russians were soon cleared and NATO moved in according to the plan.

    At the end of the day, the Russian parade and the confusion that slightly delayed the deployment of NATO troops had no practical effect whatsoever, except that it helped Milosevic survive the defeat politically against the domestic opposition. The parade cost Russians absolutely nothing and it was a good domestic policy piece of propaganda for them (they still like to pretend to be a superpower). However, since any further engagements would actually cost the Russians money, as well as the diplomatic effort necessary to arrange the transfer of troops and materiel over other countries, they flat-out refused any further help to the Serbs. A small, purely token Russian presence remained in Kosovo until 2003, when Putin decided that they weren’t worth the cost of upkeep either.

    The moral of the story: yes, Russians will help the Serbs if it offers a convenient opportunity to make a show of force and to pretend that their sphere of interest is being encroached so as to mooch off minor concessions from the West in other matters — however, this help will come only if it costs them absolutely nothing.

  • Ivan

    Jacob:

    So, do you think the NATO intervention, and the imposed solution was a reasonable and successful move?

    Well, that depends on how and from whose perspective you measure success and reasonableness. For the taxpayers in NATO countries, the intervention definitely wasn’t worth even considering, unless you believe in interventions undertaken for purely altruistic reasons. The global strategic significance of the place is zero; this time it really was “a quarrel in a far away country between people of whom we know nothing”. As for the consequences for Serbs and Albanians themselves, it’s hard to tell what would have happened without the NATO intervention. It is however likely that the total number of dead and exiled would have been higher, as the conflict would have likely continued for a long time with ever increasing levels of hatred and brutality, with each side capable of seriously hurting, but not obliterating the other. It is also likely that the Serbian army, much better equipped with heavy weapons, would have been able to do a much better job of protecting the Serbian tows and villages from the Albanians than vice versa, so the Albanians would have likely suffered far worse.

    Measures taken after the Serbian withdrawal can certainly be criticized on the grounds that they amounted to unconditional support for the Albanians in practice, even if you take the most unfavorable view of the Serbs. I have the impression that the Western governments put a too great political stake in presenting the Albanians as righteous freedom fighters, so that subsequently it was politically impossible for NATO to react harshly against the Albanians when they started new rounds of violence against the remaining Serbs and vandalism against the Serbian cultural heritage. Furthermore, the complete strategic victory of the Albanians and the unconditional Western support they were given encouraged them to start another rebellion in Macedonia(Link), where, unlike in Kosovo several years earlier, they definitely didn’t have any reasonable grounds for armed uprising.

    Overall, it turned out to be a pretty bad mess, and it’s hard to say if it would have been an even worse mess otherwise.

  • Alice


    Serbia is extremely weak militarily nowadays, … There is no way they could mount any major offensive operations into hostile territory

    .

    You might be right, Ivan. On the other hand, you might be wrong.

    The part of the scenario that you did not question is that NATO, the EU, and the US are likely going to sit out the next round — whenever it comes.

    Then throw in some of the other loose ends — the Spanish gov’t does not intend to recognize an independent Kosovo (for internal reasons); Italians are worried about organized crime based in Albania; jihadists have dissipated much of the former guilt-driven Western support for oppressed Muslims; etc.

    Take the US Air Force out of the equation, and even a weak Serbia may still be by far the biggest, toughest kid in the next fight.

    Only the wildest optimist would predict that the situation in the Balkans has been resolved.

  • Ivan

    Alice:

    You might be right, Ivan. On the other hand, you might be wrong.

    The part of the scenario that you did not question is that NATO, the EU, and the US are likely going to sit out the next round — whenever it comes.

    Then throw in some of the other loose ends — the Spanish gov’t does not intend to recognize an independent Kosovo (for internal reasons); Italians are worried about organized crime based in Albania; jihadists have dissipated much of the former guilt-driven Western support for oppressed Muslims; etc.

    It seems like many people here are making the huge mistake of considering the Balkan Muslims in Bosnia, Albania, Kosovo, Bulgaria (I’d bet few are aware of the very existence of those :-)), etc. as a part of the global issue with radical islam. That’s a very wrong perspective. Believe me, they’ve got nothing to do with the radical Islam that’s creating trouble around the globe. Seriously, although Saudi radicals have been trying to establish base among them in recent years, their culture and mentality is worlds apart from any sort of Islamism. I personally grew up in that part of the world (my Catholic home was a 10 minute walk from a 16th century mosque, for what that’s worth), so I think I know what I’m talking about. It’s purely the nationalism that’s driving hatred in the Balkans; religion is an entirely secondary issue.

    But anyway, I’m digressing — OK, let’s assume that NATO sits out the next round. So, you say…

    Take the US Air Force out of the equation, and even a weak Serbia may still be by far the biggest, toughest kid in the next fight.

    Honestly, the way you put it sounds really funny to me. :-) Serbia is right now in a situation where its military might is very near absolute zero. It doesn’t have a professional army worth of mention, and the overwhelming majority of its people would much rather hide than answer a mobilization call for a new “patriotic” war, after the experience of so many bloody battles in the 1990s that invariably ended with nothing but bitter defeats and humiliations for Serbs. Even without this factor, an average resident of Belgrade or Novi Sad would have no desire to go and die for defending some backward piece of land that’s still stuck in the 15th century (as they actually see Kosovo, despite the nationalist rhetoric they’ll occasionally throw about it). Even in 1991, during the pinnacle of Serbian nationalism, Serbs from Vojvodina and Serbia Proper were massively hiding and deserting when drafted to go to war to “defend their brethren” in Croatia; despite their occasional affinity for nationalist rhetoric, most of them actually view other Serbs as backward peasants unworthy of any serious expense, let alone dying for.

    On the other hand, in Kosovo, just about any Albanian household can come up with an AK-47 and a few grenades if necessary, and this is more than enough to withstand any possible threat that Serbia could mount (and the Albanian Kosovo government could also come up with much more if necessary). Therefore, the idea of Serbia starting some sort of military offensive in Kosovo in any foreseeable future is sheer fantasy.

    Note: I’m writing this after seven pints, so please excuse the possible lack of refinement in this comment. :-)

  • Ivan: I suspected that there are great differences between the situation in the Me and Kosovo – that is why I needed your input, and thank you for that. However, while every situation in any other place is different, you yourself still talk about the Kosovo case being a possible precedent. It means people will insist on comparing their situation to the one in Kosovo. And, however meaningless such comparisons may be, we (by which I mean the “world community” in general, and Israel in particular), better be prepared to deal with them.

    Also, my original question (in the form of a remark directed at Ian B.’s comment) still remains: does the declaration of independence by Kosovo and its recognition by the majority of the world change the situation in any meaningful way, as far as the actual lives and safety of the actual people on the ground are concerned?

  • Jacob

    Overall, it turned out to be a pretty bad mess, and it’s hard to say if it would have been an even worse mess otherwise.

    So a whole bobmbing intervention, wrecking Serbia’s infrastructure and killing x people (in 1998), NATO tax money spent, and troops commited for 10 years and counting, and all of this to turn mess A into equal mess B ??

    But, hey, it was Bill Clinton’s war, so it was “our” war and all the usual peaceniks and leties supported it.

  • Ivan

    Alisa:

    Ivan: I suspected that there are great differences between the situation in the Me and Kosovo – that is why I needed your input, and thank you for that. However, while every situation in any other place is different, you yourself still talk about the Kosovo case being a possible precedent. It means people will insist on comparing their situation to the one in Kosovo. And, however meaningless such comparisons may be, we (by which I mean the “world community” in general, and Israel in particular), better be prepared to deal with them.

    Well, the only sort of scenario where the independence of Kosovo sets a precedent is where the majority of the population of a non-sovereign region of province favors its independence, while this bid for independence is contrary to the will of the central government that has formal sovereignty over that territory, and there is no constitutional basis for secession. This is in contrast to the breakup of the USSR and former Yugoslavia, whose federal constitutions formally recognized the right to secession of individual republics (although of course it was very unwise to loudly mention this option in either place before the late 1980s. :-)). Kosovo however wasn’t a Yugoslav republic, but only a province of Serbia, and therefore has no such formal constitutional right.

    Now, I’m hardly an expert for Middle Eastern affairs, but still, here’s my two cents for what the independence of Kosovo implies for the situation there. The precedent is obviously highly relevant if parts of Iraq declare independence, and it also makes the Kurdish separatists in the neighboring countries look much better from the perspective of international law (they’re trying to do more or less the same thing as Kosovar Albanians). I suppose it would also make the position of Hezbollah stronger if they decided to declare formal independence in south Lebanon, but as far as I know, they don’t have such plans, as they’re more content with holding de facto independence and bullying Lebanon’s weak central government. As for the Palestinians, I suppose PA could now also claim full sovereignty in the West Bank and Gaza. But is this really relevant in practice for Israel?

    Of course, I would bet that just about any sovereign government, regardless of its particular attitude towards Kosovo, will pretend that the precedent doesn’t exist in just about any other issue. :-)

    Also, my original question (in the form of a remark directed at Ian B.’s comment) still remains: does the declaration of independence by Kosovo and its recognition by the majority of the world change the situation in any meaningful way, as far as the actual lives and safety of the actual people on the ground are concerned?

    Well, the only people whose lives and safety are potentially in danger are the remaining Serbs and other minorities in Kosovo. I would say that the declaration of independence might actually make them safer, at least in the short run, since the Albanians are trying hard at the moment to build a positive image of Kosovo as a modern European country worthy of being recognized as independent. Therefore, the Kosovo government will certainly try hard to prevent any major anti-Serb incidents that would give them bad press. In the long run, I doubt it will help the remaining Kosovo Serbs much, since as I wrote above, they have already been ghettoized into a few small enclaves, with zero long-term economic and demographic prospects. Serbia will continue treating them as citizens and keeping them alive by sending money from Belgrade, but I doubt this will make their prospects much better.

  • Jacob

    The declaration of independence does have, and will have consequences. Actually NATO has imposed a solution by force: Kosovo independent, Serbs ‘raus from Kosovo, Serbia and Russia: shut up, you’re not asked.
    I’m not saying this is good ar bad… I don’t know, I’m just describing what happened.

    The precedent, if it’s a precedent at all, is not that this or that province will be granted independence, but that some of the great powers, unrelated in any way to the issue, reserve themselves the right to impose a unilateral arrangement by force on smaller nations, whether that involves independence of a minority or the prevention of it.
    That’s what great powers always did in the past, so it’s nothing new.

  • Paul Marks

    Once most Albanians (even in Albania) were not Muslims – let alone Wahabbi Muslims.

    King Zog and the rest would have been astonished that people thought that Albanians were all Muslims.

    The trouble is that Chrisitianity (both Orthodox and Roman Catholic) did not hold up so well under Communist pressure as Islam did.

    Nor do the Albanians see themselves as Turks – they believe themsleves to be the ancient Illyrians who were in the region before the comming of the Slavs.

    This belief may be quite absurd (or may not be) – but that is what they believe.

    As for Kosovo – it is true that the Albanians have a much higher birth rate than the Serbs.

    The Serbs were most likely the majority of the population before World War II.

    However, – whose fault is the change?

    The Albanians who had babies – or the Serbs who had one of the highest abortion rates in the world?

  • Paul Marks

    The Albanian reputation for crime – sadly this is true. Including disgusting crimes such as forcing women into prostitution.

    However, the Serbs are not totally pure – and neither is this a recent thing.

    The murder of the Serbian Royal couple in 1903 and the Black Hand murders that set off the First World War in 1914 spring to mind.

    Both the murders of of 1903 and the Black Hand (“Union of Death”) were organized by the same Serbian “national hero”.

    Before Gabriel comes in:

    I am not pretending that Imperial Germany did not have World Wide power lust in 1914 – but one must also accept that what the Black Hand did was evil.