Sunday, February 17, 2008

Kosovo Declares Independance


Kosovo, the breakaway province of Sebia, declared independence today. Germany, England, and France are expected to annoiunce recognition within 48 hours, and the rest of the Europan Union to follow suit. The U.S. is leaning to recognition, but has made no official decsion.

Kosovo — a predominantly Muslim, poor, landlocked territory of two million -- has been a United Nations protectorate since 1999, policed by 16,000 North Atlantic Treaty Organization troops. In the civil war of the 1998-99 an estimated 10,000 civilians were killed most of them Albanians, while 1,500 Serbs perished in revenge killings that followed. Another 5,000 people were reported missing, of which half were never found.

In some ways, Kosovo reminds me of the West Bank, and the Kosovo Albanians of the Palestineans. The Israeli's, of course, are then cast in the role of the Serbs. Serbia views Kosovo as its historic heartland. Serbs have great emotional attachment to Kosovo's hills and historic sites. Unfortunately for the Serbs however, they long ago migrated north and west, and the majority of Kosovo residence today are ethnic Albanians and Muslims to boot. Serb identity was largely forged by their struggles against the Muslim Turks in the 13th and 14th centuries.

But despite fierce Serb opposition, backed by their ally Russia, it looks like the Kosovars will gate away with this. Serbia has, wisely IMO, said it will not use military force to re-integrate Kosovo. I suspect that Kosovo independence will be a blessing in disguise for Serbia. If Serbs learn to let go, than in 10 or 20 years, the may find themselves integrated into the EU, and there economy growing again. The Kosovo issue just kept them mired in the past, focused on the wring issues for success in the modern world, and outcasts from Europe.

Is there a lesson here for Israel and Palestine? Perhaps. Its something to think about.

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