Date: 25 Feb 2008


Say no to Kosovo 

The Pioneer Edit Desk 

We can't return to Ottoman days

Only those who dream of the return of the Ottoman Empire and the re-emergence of Islamic imperialism will support the secession of Muslim majority Kosovo from Christian majority Republic of Serbia. It is, therefore, not surprising that radical Islamists and Muslim organisations, including in India, are celebrating Pristina's declaration of 'independence' from Belgrade. Nor should we be astonished by the UPA Government's limpid response -- "we are watching the situation... there are several legal issues involved" -- because rejection of Kosovo's 'independence' would be perceived as repudiation of the Prime Minister's "Muslims first" policy. What is amazing, however, is the stupendous folly of certain Western nations, especially the US, in pursuing a pro-Kosovo line: The Americans believe that it will help create a pro-Washington enclave in pro-Moscow Serbia; this is their way of striking out at a resurgent Russia and a tough-talking Vladimir Putin. They also believe that by backing Kosovo, the US will be able to score brownie points in the Arab street. Of course this is stupid and terribly short-sighted, but the prospect of a NATO protectorate being created in the Balkans has persuaded France, Britain and Germany to toe the American line. Europe, obviously, refuses to learn from its experience of Islamism, nor does it appear to be particularly bothered about the rekindling of ethnic violence in the Balkans whose tremors will be felt beyond the region. The Serbs are already up in arms and Belgrade is seething with rage -- not that all of Europe has declared support for the seceding Kosovars; in fact, the EU is split down the middle, with many members aghast at the idea of legitimising such blatant violation of Serbia's territorial integrity. Others are worried that if Kosovo is recognised as a sovereign state, similar demands will be raised within their borders. This explains unequivocal objections raised by China, Russia, Indonesia and Sri Lanka, apart from Greece, Spain, Cyprus, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Romania.

What the unfolding crisis in the Balkans -- largely encouraged, if not engineered, by the US -- also highlights is the abysmal failure of the UN to facilitate a solution acceptable to both Serbs and Kosovars. Not that UN mediation has helped resolve similar conflicts in the past; on the contrary, it has only made the situation messier -- for evidence, look at what's happening in East Timor. In fact, Resolution 1244 adopted by the UN Security Council after the US-led NATO bombing of Serbia crushed the spirit of Serbian nationalism, was hugely flawed. The resolution placed Kosovo under 'transitional' UN administration, authorised a NATO-led peace-keeping force and allowed Kosovo autonomy within the Republic of Serbia. Having agreed to vote for Resolution 1244, China and Russia could not effectively block the so-called 'negotiations' to determine the 'final status' of Kosovo. In the event, the 'negotiations' were reduced to UN Special Envoy Martti Ahtisaari producing a document recommending the 'supervised independence' for Kosovo. Russia refused to endorse this recommendation; subsequent initiatives by the US, the EU and Russia to break the deadlock have proved futile. Meanwhile, rather than wait for a deal acceptable to Belgrade, Pristina has gone ahead and announced Kosovo's status as an 'independent' state. Such belligerence should not be rewarded with recognition of Kosovo as a sovereign state; it should be punished by snubbing Pristina. This, however, is unlikely to happen because Washington can't look beyond its nose.