Leadership: Kosovo Consequences

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May 26, 2007: The UN effort to establish the Serbian province of Kosovo as a separate country is receiving a lot of resistance from countries that have separatist movements. But separatists the world over are cheering Kovsovo independence, and demanding equal treatment for themselves. This is causing quite a crises in the UN, and in many nations suffering from, or threatened with, separatist violence. A major cause of war in the world is separatism, the desire of one part of a country to become a separate country. Kosovo is a classic case, since 90 percent of its two million people are Albanian, while 66 percent of ten million Serbs are Slavs. Serbia used to be Yugoslavia, but successful separatism movements in the 1990s caused more than half the Yugoslavs to go their separate ways, leaving the Serbian core, and a rebellious Kosovo. NATO took control of Kosovo, by force, in 1999, despite UN objections. The NATO intervention was triggered by the Serb decision to drive all the Albanians out of Kosovo (into neighboring Albania). This is called ethnic cleansing, and is something of a national sport in Kosovo, where it has been applied half a dozen times in the last century, to one group or another.

Since its founding, the UN has been against separatism. This is in deference to its members, who joined the UN as independent, not fragmented, nations, and want to keep it that way. But once NATO forces had pushed Serbian troops out of Kosovo in 1999, the UN stepped in to administer the province. Once the UN gets control, the UN officials first idea is to help form another country, and a new member for the UN. Many UN members resist this, because there are over three dozen separatist movements active around the world. Some are low key, with little popular support, like the Puerto Rican independence movement in the United States, while others are actively at war (the Tamils in Sri Lanka, the Baluchis in Pakistan, the Basques in Spain, Chechens in Russia, Papuans in Indonesia, the Ogaden Somalis in Ethiopia, and so on). Kosovo is something of a special case, as the radicals in Kosovo, and nearby areas with Albanian populations, want to form a "Greater Albania," incorporating Albania, Kosovo and parts Macedonia, Greece and Serbia, in a large nation containing nearly all the Albanians in the region. In many parts of the world, ethnic groups split among many nations (like the Kurds) would like to unite in their own nation. The nations that would lose land and people resist this.

The UN is not breaking new ground here, as it recently got involved with taking East Timor away from Indonesia and helping set it up as a separate (if chaotic and poverty stricken) nation in 2006. East Timor had been briefly independent after the Portuguese colonial forces withdrew in 1975. Indonesia invaded, and the locals resisted this for three decades. Kosovo, like all the other independence movements in the world, was slightly different. But the basic problem is always the same. There are over 5,000 different cultures (based on language and customs) on the planet, but fewer than 200 countries. Not every culture has its own country, and many of those that do not, wish they did. Which is why Kosovo getting its independence via an assist from the UN is so important to independence minded minorities everywhere.

 


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