Kosovo Albanians declared independence from Serbia on Sunday, February 17, 2008, almost nine years after NATO bombs drove out Serb forces to halt a wave of killings and ethnic cleansing by Serb forces in a two-year war against separatist rebels. Two major Western powers are expected to recognize the new state quickly, despite the fierce objections of Serbia and its ally, Russia. The UN Security Council held an extraordinary session on Thursday to discuss Kosovo. Russia called the meeting at Serbia’s request but said that Moscow had little hope that the council, which is deadlocked on Kosovo, can resolve the issue.
The Serbian government annulled in advance any move by the province’s Albanian-majority to “proclaim unilateral independence, because they violate the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Serbia.” Saying its claim to Kosovo was guaranteed by the United Nations and international law, the government said, “These acts and actions represent the violent and unilateral secession of a part of the territory of Serbia and are therefore null and void.” A government source said the most severe retaliatory measures would “almost certainly be taken against the United States” as it had been the strongest advocate for Kosovo’s independence. European Union foreign ministers met today. A clear majority of the 27 European Union members – certainly no less than 20 – were expected to recognize Kosovo immediately. However, in the meeting, the EU spilt only deepened with the many countries refusing to take a common stance and recognize Kosovo.
Kosovo, formerly a part of Serbia, wanted independence as a nation so that it could solve its own problems; something that they think was being ignored by Serbia. Ninety percent of Kosovo’s two million people are ethnic Albanians, but around 120,000 Serbs remain and there are fears that Serbs in northern Kosovo might make trouble. The primary reason for tensions in Kosovo is the explosive growth of the Albanian population. Even though the Yugoslav Federation tried its best to develop the region, no investments and no industrial growth rate could match the Albanian population growth. Therefore, despite much effort, the region remained the poorest region of Yugoslavia. Extensive autonomy given to the Kosovo Albanians was abused by them as they tried to cleanse the region of non-Albanians. This was to be their first step toward secession and the demand for Greater Albania. Kosovo Albanians are tendentiously depicted as victims of Serbian oppression. Yet, quite rightly, they have Albanian schools, newspapers, and other media and, in Pristine, the largest Albanian University anywhere, built and supported mostly by Serbian taxpayers. However, today most international (humanitarian) organizations are presenting the Kosovo issue as a one-sided violation of human rights by the Serbian authorities. They rarely report the violations and acts of terrorism against non-Albanian ethnic groups by organized units of Albanian militants and terrorists, financed and armed by oil-rich Islamic expansionists (especially Iranians and Saudis) and their Euro-American friends.
Vladimir Putin said that Kosovo’s independence would be “immoral and illegal” and that European countries should be “ashamed” of their double standards. These double standards are on the issue of not recognizing Northern Cyprus as an independent nation while demanding freedom for Kosovo. Kosovo’s freedom is a big question in front of the world but European divide on the issue might show the growing discontent among the Union otherwise known for its unity.
[Image Courtesy: Swifty]