Tuesday, 17 February 2009

One year on Kosovo remains an affront to international law

I must, at some point, have signed up to a Foreign and Commonwealth Office mailing list, because I receive regular e-mails featuring, disproportionately, assorted inconsistent and condescending musings dispensed by David Miliband, in which he variously condenses, simplifies and misrepresents a series of geopolitical circumstances throughout the globe. His latest offering extols the success of one year of Kosovo Albanian independence, wilfully ignoring the baleful sequence of events which recognising theuniversal declaration put in train, and oblivious to the fact that Pristina is not even close to becoming capital of a functioning, healthy or democratic state.

Most conspicuously, recognition of the Kosovo Albanian claim by the US, UK and other western powers established a trend for unilateral, sparsely recognised declarations of independence. South Ossetia and Abkhazia, similarly semi-independent, quasi states predictably followed the Balkan example. Although the full implications of the precedent set in Kosovo have yet to work themselves out, one immediate piece of fall out was war in Georgia. Other regional conflicts may follow.

Meanwhile, in Kosovo itself, even the most enthusiastic cheerleaders for the province’s independence agree that the northern Serb regions are not under Pristina’s control. This represents almost one quarter of a small country. 15,000 UN peace keepers remain in Kosovo and reliance on EU ‘mentored’ alternatives is, as yet, pie in the sky.

The Serb minister responsible for Kosovo, Goran Bogdanovic, insists that the province should still be considered an integral part of Serbia. By any reasonable interpretation of international law he is almost certainly right.

By recognising Kosovo’s independence, fifty five states have denigrated the legal principle of territorial integrity and simultaneously bolstered ethnic nationalism as a preferred option to decide borders. Tensions in the province have only increased over the intervening year and EU structures designed to fill a security vacuum have not yet even been deployed. It has not been possible to copper-fasten Kosovo as a quasi-independent EU protectorate, never mind as a functioning independent state!

Serbia continues to seek a ruling from the International Court of Justice. Until this institution makes a ruling, an independent Kosovo remains an affront to international law.


CW said...

It's like the so-called Turkish republic of northern Cyprus, (unrecognised by every country in the world except of course Turkey)but without the tourists.

Still, look on the bright side, there's a chance that Kosovo might be in N. Ireland's group for the next set of Euro qualifiers - so there's a chance for you to sample the delights of Pristina ;-)

Hernandez said...

They'd have to gain recognition from UEFA/FIFA first.