Despite Serbia’s entreaties, Russia’s vehement refusals and China’s misgivings, the final nail in former Yugoslavia’s coffin was hammered in by the people of the ex-Serbian province of Kosovo. After Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro which broke away from Marshal Tito’s Yugoslavia, Kosovo has become the latest to proclaim its independence. So, from the communist powerhouse of Yugoslavia, all that’s left is the tiny Serbia.
In the words of Prime Minister of the ‘newly’ independent Kosovo, Hashim Thaci, ‘we (the Kosovars) are on the brink of a very crucial moment-an important decision that will make us one of the free nations of the world’. He was right but not in a wholly positive manner.
The breakaway of Kosovo from greater Serbia has been a rather interesting for the mere fact that its pitted European allies while members of the United Nations Security Council are, figuratively at least, at each others throats. The European Union nations of France, the United Kingdom, and Germany are for Kosovo’s independence while Spain and Cyprus are vehemently opposed to it.
Personally, I’m all for the rights of a people to determine their own futures, however, I’m against the methods that the Kosovars used in their quest for independence. I don’t feel comfortable in the fact that a former region in a sovereign nation can, without preamble and involvement of the other parties, declare themselves ‘free’.
But I’m not going to delve further in this argument i.e. pro or anti-Kosovar independence. Rather, I want to comment on what this all means in the larger scheme of things.
The Kosovar unilateral declaration of independence opens up a whole can of worms vis-à-vis the legal precedence that it sets. Now that this small European region has become independent with the support of the biggest global powers, which have recognised its move, what does it mean for all the other peoples clamoring for a nation? What happens to the Basque people of Spain, who have been agitating for a homeland?
What about the people in the ‘French’ island of Corsica? The people of Northern Ireland certainly have a right to cede from the United Kingdom, don’t they?
Let’s not forget the people of Darfur who are being trodden on by the ‘Arab’ Sudanese or the people of Tibet and, before I forget, don’t the Acholi of northern Uganda deserve their own motherland?
Because, if the people of Kosovo are allowed to do what they did, then fairness and even common sense dictates that all the mentioned people should be allowed to break away from their mother nations without the resistance of the international community or their national governments.
My question is, “why in the world should they be forced to take such drastic steps in the first place”? Is it because the idea of the ‘melting pot’ is archaic?
Should the unitary state become a thing of the past, with each individual group barricading themselves from the dreaded outsider? I’m frightened that that’s what the new rationale might become.
I’m an optimist and I believe that different people can, and should, be able to live and prosper together. It’s a lazy individual who would think that turning the world into a bunch of ghettoes will lead to less conflict. Just look at Rwanda.
Rwandans live in an almost homogenous society but did the fact that they were one people stop the events of 1994? Not at all. In fact, the quarrel amongst brethren is often more bitter than those witnessed among perfect strangers.
Kosovars were brutally treated by the Serbia of Slobodan Milosevic. They were killed, tortured by his security apparatus and ignored economically. They truly had a reason to feel unwanted in the Serbian Federation. However, was that enough reason to cede? I don’t think so. We mustn’t throw out the baby along with the bathwater. There must be a difference between the behavior of certain governments (like Milosevic’s) and states these governments lead.
Large unitary states have certain advantages that homogenous ones don’t. Not only in an economic sense but also in larger sphere of what makes us human.
The myriad of different cultures in these nations are wonderful things that foster a greater understanding of the things that make us human. People must not be afraid of each other because they are different.
Tolerance of the things that make us different while enjoying those that make us similar is what I’m trying to talk about. It’s sad that the Kosovars don’t see that.