Monday, December 17, 2007

When it comes to Kosovo , Canada's in odd company

This article simply ignores the Kosovan ethnic cleansing of Serbs. There is a long history of that. See this TV clip. After the NATO bombing there was again reverse ethnic cleansing. It included others than Serbs, for example gypsies. See this site.
The contrast between the mosque and the church gives visual expression to the last six years of Kosovo's history. Since the end of the NATO bombing in 1999, over 200,000 Serbs have been driven from Kosovo, and roughly 3,000 killed. Of those who left, only 12,500 have returned. Most found their homes either torched--as in Orahovac's no man's land--or occupied by Albanians. Not one of the Serbs we have met in Kosovo feels safe, and almost all say they will leave Kosovo if it becomes independent--the likely outcome of negotiations that are expected to begin later this year.

The article is no doubt correct that Canada will not recognise Kosovo because of the implications for Quebec separatism. However, the whole NATO bombing of Serbia was unwarranted and another case of interventionism justified only by "success".

When it comes to Kosovo, Canada’s in odd company
The Telegram

By Richard Gwyn

Among the close to 200 member states of the United Nations, it’s hard to find any that have less in common than do Canada and Georgia, tucked away down in the Caucasus.

Georgia is small; we are huge, geographically at least. Georgia is poor; we are rich. We are part of the New World; they are of the Old World.

Yet on one crucial issue of the day, we and they think alike, even though this leaves both of us in a pretty small minority at the UN.

This issue is the bid by Kosovo, a province, to break away from Serbia to be a nation-state on its own.

The reason for Kosovo’s urge to go it alone is that more than 90 per cent of its population is ethnic Albanian. Serbia’s attempt in the mid-1990s

to ethnically cleanse its southern province Kosovo of Albanian Kosovars led to armed intervention by NATO (including by Canada) and the recreation of Kosovo as a UN protectorate even while leaving it nominally part of Serbia.

This week, the United Nations will issue a report that formally declares that its attempt to find an amicable and peaceable way for Kosovo to separate from Serbia has failed.

From this point on, everyone has to figure out what to do — including Canada and Georgia. Serbia itself resolutely refuses to accept that Kosovo has a right to secede. Serbia’s diplomatic weight is relatively modest. Behind it, though, is Russia, which has made it clear it will block the move by exercising its veto in the UN Security Council.

One way exists to end the stalemate. As Kosovo’s Prime Minister Hashim Thaci has already declared he intends to do, Kosovo can make a unilateral declaration of independence. The probable date this will happen is sometime in late January.

Most of the global players that matter, including the United States and the European Union, have made it clear they will recognize Kosovo once it declares itself independent.

The arguments for accepting Kosovo’s independence do seem overwhelming. All of its 2 million people are ethnic Albanians but for some 200,000 Serbs in the north. True, Kosovo was the spiritual birthplace of the Serb nation but that historical legacy was cancelled out

by dictator Slobodan Milosevic’s attempt at ethnic cleansing.

Nevertheless, Georgia won’t be exchanging ambassadors with the new nation-state of Kosovo. And neither, it’s safe to guess, will be Canada.

Georgia’s motive is easy to identify. Within Georgia there are a couple

of ethnically distinct statelets, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and both aspire to be independent. Both are likely to use what happens to Kosovo as a precedent they can use. (Behind the scenes, Russia, now in a prolonged quarrel with Georgia, supports these independence movements.)

Canada’s motive is more complex. Remember the Clarity Act enacted by former prime minister Jean Chrétien in response to the near-defeat of federalism in Quebec’s 1995 referendum? This legislation proclaims that a pro-separation majority in any future referendum would not give

a Parti Québécois government the right to declare independence unilaterally.

Instead, and as confirmed by the Supreme Court, any separation-bound PQ government would have to negotiate first with the Canadian federal government of the day.

Accepting Kosovo’s right to declare independence unilaterally would ensnare us into accepting Quebec’s right to do the same. In fact, we will not be entirely alone with Georgia. China leans the same way (because of Tibet) and likewise Cyprus (because of the breakaway Turkish region in the north or the island). Spain is worried about a precedent that might apply to Catalonia.

Russia is the strongest opponent of all, even if its real purpose is to make the United States and the European Union pay attention to it.

Given a free choice, there’s no doubt Canada would support Kosovo’s independence.

Instead, we’re going to stand among the naysayers, while looking embarrassed.

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