Saturday, February 02, 2008

The Poisonous Issue

More about Kosovo and how the push for independence of the "ethnic" Albanians is wreaking havoc in Europe.

The note you're about to read was published at a news outlet from India with its own issues concerning breakaway nations.

Here you have it:

EU states vow not to recognise Kosovo's independence bid

2 Feb 2008, 0743 hrs IST,AFP

ATHENS: As the European Union struggles for a unified response to Kosovo's expected declaration of independence, several EU states - mainly those near the Serb province - fear the move could destabilise the historically volatile Balkan region.

"Certain countries fear that a unilateral declaration of independence threatens peace in the Balkans, while others are concerned about a negative precedent in international law," a European diplomat in Athens said.

"And then there is Spain, which faces its own separatist movement," he said.

Romania, Cyprus and Slovakia were the loudest to state their opposition this week, all vowing not to recognise Kosovo if it declares independence.

Greece and Bulgaria are also wary of potentially explosive border changes in their area while Spain and Slovakia cannot ignore the possible effects on their respective Basque and Hungarian minorities.

Spain faces an additional challenge as its northeastern region of Catalonia has long sought greater autonomy.

"What message are we sending to multi-ethnic societies or to other states that are facing ethnic issues or frozen conflicts?" Romanian President Traian Basescu said in a conference in Brussels.

"We could be casting a shadow on the United Nations charter and the Helsinki Final Act," he said, adding that these are "laws which guaranteed 60 years of peace in Europe".

Slovak Foreign Minister Jan Kubis struck a similar tone on Friday after a meeting with Serbian counterpart Vuk Jeremic, arguing that unilateral steps have "a great destabilisation potential".

Kosovo's ethnic Albanian leaders are expected to announce in coming days that they are breaking away from Serbia, a move opposed by Belgrade and its ally Russia.

The United States stands ready to recognise an independent Kosovo, as are many European Union states, with the EU set to deploy a justice mission to the territory to help oversee the transition from UN to local rule.

Greece has not publicly said whether it will recognise Kosovo, but the Greeks are averse to a unilateral move influenced by external pressure, says Theodore Kouloumbis from the Greek Foundation for Foreign and European Politics (ELIAMEP), pointing to Washington's keen interest in the affair.

Bulgaria - which has a 350-kilometre (220-mile) border with Serbia and lies only 45 kilometres east of Kosovo - is just as guarded in its statements.

"We will not be among the states to immediately recognise an independent Kosovo," Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov said Wednesday, while his foreign minister last month said that Bulgaria's position is "closer to that of the US than that of Russia."

Cyprus - which holds elections on February 17 - has seen all this before.

The island has been divided into ethnic Greek and Turkish parts since 1974, and the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) declared independence in 1983, though it is only recognised by Turkey.

"Cyprus, for reasons of principle, cannot recognise and will not recognise a unilateral declaration of independence," Cypriot Foreign Minister Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis said on Thursday.

"This is an issue of principle, of respect of international law, but also an issue of concern that it will create a precedent in international relations," Erato added.

In Spain's case, Kosovo is already being held up as an example by separatists in the northern Basque Country.

In January, leaders of armed Basque separatist group ETA sought to justify their own push for independence from Spain by naming Kosovo and Scotland as examples in an interview in the online edition of Basque newspaper Gara.

The unnamed ETA leaders pointed to the example of Kosovo and Scotland to argue that the group "is not talking about utopias".

While Spain officially refuses to link the two cases, Spanish officials privately admit that Kosovo is a "poisonous" issue for Madrid.

The funny thing is that while the "ethnic" Albanians started talking about independence barely ten years ago, the Basques have been demanding to get their sovereignty back for the last five hundred years, so, who is setting the example for whom?

And how come that the AFP never mentions the KLN when referring to Kosovo? Have they forgotten how many "ethnic" Serbian civilians have been murdered since NATO forces started shielding the "ethnic" Albanian armed group?

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