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Sliding from crisis to crisis… Kosovo March 20, 2008

Posted by WorldbyStorm in European Politics, European Union.
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Having mentioned the crisis that is emerging in Serbia the week before last I was actually slightly surprised at the speed with which events have moved over the intervening time.

Only yesterday it was announced that:

NATO PLACED the Kosovan town of Mitrovica under de facto military law yesterday after riots by a Serb population hostile to independence killed one UN policeman and forced the pull-out of UN personnel.

The Nato-led peacekeeping force K-For and the United Nations mission ordered all local Kosovo Serb police officers to park their patrol cars and suspend normal duties.

With UN police already withdrawn, the order left French, Belgian and Spanish troops in sole control of law and order in the northern slice of Kosovo, where Serbs opposed to its February 17th secession from Serbia dominate the population.

“We have not organised martial law,” K-For commander Gen Xavier Bout de Marnhac told a news conference in the capital, Pristina. “There is no intent as far as I know for installing it for the time being.” He said Monday’s riots had “crossed a red line with the deliberate intent to kill people, you know Molotov cocktails, fragmentation grenades and direct fire” aimed at UN and K-For personnel.

But this is nowhere near a surprise for a week or so ago we learned that:

SERB PRESIDENT Boris Tadic is poised to call a snap general election after a government comprising his allies and those of nationalist prime minister Vojislav Kostunica collapsed due to disputes over Kosovo and ties with the European Union.

Mr Kostunica refuses to deal with Brussels until it denounces Kosovo’s recent declaration of independence, while the more moderate Mr Tadic says Serbia must not let its opposition to the region’s sovereignty derail its own bid for EU membership.

This is bad bad news. As already noted the Radical Party is waiting in the wings, and the possibility of a link up between an even stronger RP – energised by these events – and Kostinuca’s Democratic Party is not beyond question. I don’t think, again as previously noted, that that would necessarily mean a slide towards catastrophe (indeed, hey, one of the best ways of showing up the shallowness of any nationalist programme is to get a self-avowed nationalist party into power – but generally that works in more stable democracies. Not an experiment I’d have any enthusiasm for in a Serbia bowed and bloody after a decade and half of various pressures), but it could be, at the very least a hairy time ahead. All the more so because their room for movement on Kosovo, etc is so limited. And the idea of a festering Serbia is not good.

“All parties want Serbia to join the EU, but the question is how – with or without Kosovo,” said Mr Kostunica. “There was no united [ cabinet] will to clearly and loudly state that Serbia can continue its path toward the EU only with Kosovo.” The prime minister has tried to portray the president as being too soft on the West and too quick to accept the “loss” of a historically and culturally important part of Serbia.

In the general election, Mr Kostunica’s party is expected to play the patriotic card and depict itself as the true defenders of Serb interests everywhere, including Kosovo; Mr Tadic’s party, on the other hand, is likely to claim that both parties are equally opposed to a sovereign Kosovo, but differ over whether Serbia should now isolate itself from the West.

And note how internal political dynamics reflect external political pressures resulting in even those with more moderate voices tilting towards the extremes.

“Kosovo is of course an integral part of our country,” Mr Tadic said. “I believe the issue is that the Serbian government does not have a united position over European and economic perspectives of Serbia and its citizens.”

Still, again as with these things, let’s not get too idealistic about Serbian nationalism, or indeed the reality of power politics. For note the following.

Mr Kostunica’s Democratic Party of Serbia, along with the Socialists and the Radicals – who are Serbia’s most popular single party – favour a closer relationship with Russia to offset a cooling of relations with Brussels and Washington.

In what was perceived as a “thank you” for Moscow’s support on the issue of Kosovo, Mr Kostunica recently sold most of Serbia’s state oil firm to Kremlin-controlled energy giant Gazprom, for a price that allies of Mr Tadic called a fraction of its real value.

So, beyond talk of ‘imperialism’ let’s just note that all the regional hegemons have an agenda, and that within the Serbian polity there are those who equally comfortable to align with whatever agendas are on offer. And whether those links are borne of cultural and historic precedent they are something that could easily have been predicted as gaining energy in a post-Kosovo secession period.

Meanwhile back at the interface…

Kosovo Serb leaders, who refuse to accept the authority of the fledgling state’s ethnic-Albanian government, bemoaned the infighting in Belgrade.

“This move just shows the irresponsibility of the political elite in Belgrade,” said prominent nationalist Milan Ivanovic.

“Instead of joining ranks toward solving the most important issue – preserving Kosovo within Serbia – they seem to call for anarchy.”

And the trouble on the ground really kicked off over the last week or so.

KOSOVO SERBS attacked United Nations police and Nato troops with guns, grenades and petrol bombs in the ethnically divided town of Mitrovica yesterday, in clashes that injured more than 100 people and fuelled fears of further violence.

While the European Union and Nato blamed Serb extremists for the fighting, Belgrade accused international peacekeepers and police of using excessive force in Mitrovica and said it was discussing an appropriate response with its main ally, Russia.

This latest series of events followed on from:

Riots erupted when about 100 police officers stormed and retook a UN courthouse in Mitrovica that had been seized last Friday by Serbs who were angered by Kosovo’s western-backed declaration of independence a month ago.

The police arrested 53 people who were occupying the courthouse, but were set upon by a Serb mob when they drove them away for questioning.

This, almost as if in a mathematical equation led to the events of the last couple of days:

A Ukrainian police officer serving with the United Nations died overnight of injuries sustained in the riots. Polish, French and Ukrainian officers were among 42 UN police and 22 K-For soldiers injured.

The violence was the worst since Kosovo’s Albanian majority declared independence and highlighted the risk of the new state’s partition along ethnic lines.

And while this has been an expression on the ground, politically the rhetoric has ratcheted up as well.

Serbia’s minister for Kosovo, Slobodan Samardzic, said the “brutal” international forces had broken a pledge not to use force to evict the occupiers of the UN courthouse.

“This is what they have done to us. We’ll pay them back,” he told a crowd in Mitrovica, which is divided between Albanians on the southern side of the Ibar river and Serbs on the northern bank. It has been a regular flashpoint for ethnic violence, most recently during deadly riots that erupted exactly four years ago yesterday.

And this is echoed across a range of people…

Serb prime minister Vojislav Kostunica accused international forces in Kosovo of “implementing a policy of force against Serbia”, and said Belgrade and Russia were discussing how to stop “all forms of violence against Kosovo Serbs”.

Tomislav Nikolic, whose ultra-nationalist Radical Party is Serbia’s most popular, accused UN police and Nato soldiers of “brutal and savage” acts reminiscent of those which “Hitler’s occupying regime carried out against Serbs” during the second World War.

Dangerous talk, and self-serving too, but there is a political end. As Ian Traynor notes in the Guardian…

The riots come as the EU prepares to steer Kosovo to statehood while Serbia gears up for elections after the Kosovo crisis brought down the government in Belgrade. Serbia is planning to extend its national and municipal elections in May to the Serb areas of Kosovo, a move the Albanians and international diplomats see as an attempt to partition Kosovo. Serbia has not staged municipal elections in Kosovo since the UN takeover and to do so would breach the security council resolution mandating the international mission.

“The concern is that the aim is to further Serbia’s links with the Serb-majority areas of Kosovo and set up parallel institutions,” said a European diplomat. “That would seriously undermine Kosovo statehood.”

Surely, but from a Serbian perspective it would retain the all important links into Kosovo. And yet again it points up the bankruptcy of the previous agenda prosecuted by the EU and the US. Because if ever a problem was unamenable to the sort of zero-sum thinking we’ve seen displayed here it is that of Kosovo.

And while it is true that the reality that Mr. Ivanovic must face is that Kosovo is now lost to Serbia (although perhaps there may be some redrawing of maps at the borders) there is a painful corollary that Serbia is – potentially – lost to Europe for some time to come. At least it is in the absence of the EU and the US sitting down and rethinking what has come before.
In recent weeks commentators have been blowing hot about positive outcomes from future elections in Serbia and consider the following quotes:

Slovenian foreign minister Dimitrij Rupel, whose country holds the EU’s presidency, said he saw “encouraging signs” that pro-EU parties would win the election.

“To be quite frank, I don’t think there is any other possibility for our Serbian friends than the European Union,” he said. “Where else should they go?”

The EU’s external relations commissioner, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, said it was time to offer Serbs a sign of Brussels’s commitment to forging closer ties with Belgrade. “What we have to do is to show the Serbian population that we want them in the European Union,” she said of EU proposals for phasing out visas for Serbs travelling to the EU, more scholarships for Serb students and better EU-Serbia transport links.

But this is close to wishful thinking. It might come to pass. But there is no certainty that it will come to pass.

Polls suggest the election will, like several recent presidential and parliamentary ballots, boil down to a close battle between the Democrats and their allies and the Radicals, who are currently the biggest single party in parliament.

Mr Kostunica and the DSS are likely to come third in the election and again be cast in the role of kingmaker, forcing the premier to choose between giving support to extreme nationalists or liberals.

But what if Kostunica does choose the nationalists? Then the point made by the Slovenian foreign minister becomes moot. As already argued here, a sullen Serbian state, disconnected from a Europe that a significant section of its populace considers to have (at the least) assisted in the delivery of an historic defeat is arguably going to be quite content in the short term to remain aloof. It is possible that the Russians can take up some of the slack, although nowhere near enough. And that merely prolongs a dismal situation for the Serbian people.

Comments»

1. splinteredsunrise - March 20, 2008

I’m not certain about the municipal elections – Traynor may possibly be right about that. But there was certainly polling in Kosovo in the recent presidential election and last year’s parliamentary. Nobody seemed to raise any objections at the time. And the Kosovo Serbs are in the habit of voting Radical, which tells you something.

Kostunica is an interesting character in his own right – I’ve recently been rereading the book he co-wrote with Cavoski in the 1980s on the emergence of the one-party state. Probably Serbia’s most prominent Francophile. If he’s striking pro-Russian shapes, that may also tell you something.

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2. Jim Monaghan - March 20, 2008

Alas, Connolly’s dictum seems true here as well as in Ireland “a carnival of reaction”.
Every side seems to want to put the boot in for past wrongs. Voices calling for respect for minorities seem to be in an oppressed minority for evn voicing this position.
A Balkan federation might be an idea. In this no one ethnic group would be big enough to bully the rest. A sort of mini EU where the big powers, British, Germans. French et al counterbalance each other.
In the Balkans, the Serbs, Romanians, Greeks, Bulgarians, etc would be similarily kept in check and the smaller groups allied would count for something.
Below o link to a Greek leftiist call in the wind
http://www.internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article1446
In real terms probabl;y utopian. The situation will probably lead to more ethnic cleansing where every side gets their retaliation in first.

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3. Dec - March 20, 2008

Kosova needs to let the three northern municapalities go. The face there first test as a state; they can act pragamatically or romanitically. There is no advantage to the fledgling state to try to integrate the northern municapalities.

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4. Jim Monaghan - March 20, 2008

Being pragmatic they should offer an exchange for the minority Albanian area still in Serbia. I think there were problems here a while ago
The problem is of course that the Aklbanians in Macedonia will wnt to follow suit.

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5. WorldbyStorm - March 20, 2008

splintered, I’d actually have a bit of time for Kostunica, hence I think your point as regards his current approach is so telling.

Jim, it’s not quite a disaster, but it’s getting there…

Dec. That’s fine for those areas, but what about the areas deep within Kosovo which have significant Serb populations. No amount of land transfer can assist there. Which is why the EU/US approach has been rubbish. An hint of imagination and effort could have crafted something better than this…

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6. Phil - March 20, 2008

Really, an autonomous province within a sovereign Serbia doesn’t look like such a bad idea. But nobody (I mean, literally nobody) seems to want both parts of that.

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7. Worldbystorm - March 20, 2008

It’s sort of a Spanish solution… more or less. Not the worst…

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8. just_a_serb - March 20, 2008

I’m puzzled how easily you reach the conclusion that “Mr. Ivanovic must face is that Kosovo is now lost to Serbia”. How come he “must”, and why? Because you, as an American puppet, recognized it, along with the remaining 30 states, while about 170, where 75% of population of the world live haven’t?

Read this news first http://tinyurl.com/2wxfn7
than you make your straw conclusions.

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9. WorldbyStorm - March 21, 2008

just a serb…. go read what else I’ve read before considering me an American puppet. But also, consider that at all times I’ve respected the Serb claims without seeing them as greater say than Kosovan self-determination. I tend to see an equivalence. My point is purely that it seems that in a context where the EU is not going to (as I would wish) rework this dispensation that therefore the status quo is what we’ve got (and no disrespect, but the 170 don’t care one way or another about it any more than care about Irish independence or whoever…). I genuinely wish it were otherwise.

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10. Conor McCabe - March 21, 2008

It’s interesting that the Spanish government has refused to follow the EU and recognize Kosovo. Spain of course has its own problems with separatists in Catalonia and the Basque country. They see the EU recognition of Kosovo as sending a signal to the two autonomous communities that maybe they too would be recognized by the EU if they voted to break away from Spain. And the Spanish government’s stance on Kosovo is not unpopular either – that is, it seems to be shared by many Spanish outside of the separatists´communities.

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11. WorldbyStorm - March 21, 2008

What is your take on that Conor re Catalonia and the Basque country? Best to continue with the current situation or push for greater autonomy? I’m very conflicted on this issue, and supportive of separatist instincts, but I think in part it comes down, as with Scotland and Wales to majorities within areas (although we’ve seen the trouble that can cause as well…) seeking independence but framed within joint structures (And actually the SNP for example has a fairly nuanced approach to all this).

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12. just_a_serb - March 21, 2008

@Word by Storm

No matter what you wrote earlier, your expression that Mr. Ivanovic “must” do something in order to accept a decision of someone else (which is, BTW illegal) that would turn him out into a servitude speaks volumes, though you can’t see it.

There is a difference between enslavement, conducted by an overwhelming force and without the acceptance of the enslaved, and servitude, which presupposes the acceptance of the serf.

You advocate here servitude for Serbs embodied in Ivanovic.

That is what you can accept for yourself and rant about your divided homeland and how the world was unfair about it, but accepting the decision of that someone else, regardless it was William the Bastard’s (a.k.a. the Conquoror) Court, or EU.

But there is the difference between you and us: We don’t accept it.

So, you can only enslave us if you are mighty enough. And, speaking of might, read that link I posted above.

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13. Conor McCabe - March 21, 2008

I don’t know enough about Catalonia and the Basque country to comment, but I do find it interesting that my Aragonese friends and students, a mixture of both socialist and popular party voters, all have the same opinion on Kosovo; namely, that it should not be recognized because it was never an independent nation in the first place. It’s almost impossible to get the two voting factions in Spain to agree on anything, but on this there seems to be a consensus. A straw poll I know, but still.

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14. WorldbyStorm - March 21, 2008

just_a_serb… I’m simply suggesting the situation as it now stands in purely pragmatic realpolitik terms is such that it seems vanishingly unlikely that the situation ante is going to be restored, i.e. Kosovo will once more be an autonomous region within Serbia, and even more unlikely that it will be restored as a province of Serbia. In that sense Mr. Ivanovic would be better employed pressurising the EU to look at something well short of that.

Nor do I advocate servitude for Serbs in Kosovo. Quite the opposite, I’m arguing for overlapping sovereignty between Kosovo and Serbia and have previously written about how I felt Serbia was more flexible than its critics gave it credit and how the EU/US didn’t seem in any sense open to that flexibility.

This however is not to ignore the fact that there is a massive majority within Kosovo which seeks entirely legitimately self-determination. Nor that the political institutions of Serbia in the past two decades acted in a fashion which was contradictory to the interests and welfare of that majority and entirely contradictory to the interests and welfare of the Serbian people within Kosovo.

Your approach, with the best will in the world, appears to be an inverse of the Kosovan Albanian approach which equally sees servitude at the hands of Serbia. How am I or anyone to judge such claims when presented with real people and their aspirations? You want to retain Serbian sovereignty, Kosovan Albanians want to generate their own in that territory. The EU/US gifted one above the other. I will continue to say that was the wrong way forward and would argue strongly that it should be reconsidered and reworked so that your Mr. Ivanovic can live in a political context which affords him links to Belgrade and security, and that offers Kosovan Albanians a deeper degree of self-determination and equal security. Which means that no-one, Mr. Ivanovic included, will get everything that they want, but that the ultimate situation might be closer to his wishes than the present one.

As for a ‘rant’ about my homeland, I don’t see it.

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15. WorldbyStorm - March 21, 2008

Hmmm, Conor. I wonder though what are the feelings within Catalonia and the Basque country… The centripetal dynamic within the broader Spanish population is well known and unsurprising.

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16. Conor McCabe - March 21, 2008

Don’t live there so I can’t comment.

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17. yourcousin - March 21, 2008

I thought the lack of coverage on the elections (ie boycotts) in Basque country were interesting. Save the gracious imput of “racist” Basques “butchering” people “in front of their wife and children”.

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18. WorldbyStorm - March 21, 2008

Well, that perhaps was a factor yourcousin. Although the broader context of a contest between right and left (and in particular a left untainted by the Iraq war) was I suppose seen as more important… Mind you any separatist inclined person would say that was precisely the point since their story was swamped by the supranational political entity.

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19. just_a_serb - March 21, 2008

@ WorldbyStorm

There are two presumptions in your attitude that are fundamentally flawed from my perspective. Though I realize we have different perspectives, but that’s what this is all about.

The first one is that you (USA/EU/NATO) are for some reason entitled to judge who is right and who is wrong in Kosovo and that you base your authority on some legal or moral principles. You aren’t. The only base you have is might. What’s been done is illegal and immoral – particularly having in mind that the reasons pronounced against Serbs in Krajina and Republika Srpska to deny their right for self-determination TO BE LOYAL TO THEIR COUNTRY – Yugoslavia – AND NOT TO SECEEDE, were exactly the opposite ones that were applied in the case of Serbia/Kosovo.

The second one is that you apply your lifestyle-attitude to Milan Ivanovic and Serbs and judge our presumed goals according to your cost/benefit criterion. Anything short of outright rejection of decision of certain states (and not EU, not to mention UN) and seeking some modus vivendi with the consequences of such a decision by Milan Ivanovic would assume some quid-pro-quo. “Grantors” would “grant” him his (inalienable?) right to live as a human being, but he would have to, by receiving their grant, implicitly express his acceptance of their decision. He is expected to accommodate himself by asking some benefit from EU “short of that (sovereignity of Serbia in her territory and his right to be a citizen of Serbia)”.

The trick is, who is Milan Ivanovic?

That’s what you don’t see.

If his ascendants have accommodated themselves during about between 250-450 years of Ottoman yoke, as he is expected to accomodate himself to USA/EU/NATO yoke now, Milan wouldn’t be Milan. He would be Alija, or Hamza, or Mohammad.

So just steer clear from advising us from your “pragmatic realpolitik terms” perspective. It’s offensive.

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20. eamonnmcdonagh - March 21, 2008

it wasn’t “the basques” who did it. It was a gang who claim to speak for all of the basques and reserve the right to murder those who don’t meet their definition of what the correct opinions for a basque to hold are

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21. WorldbyStorm - March 21, 2008

just_a_serb, no, I actually don’t argue that the EU is ‘entitled’ to judge. And in a way I agree with you as regards ‘might’. But, Serbian rule in Kosovo was based precisely on might as well, as indeed are calls to the Russians to assist. What moral or legal basis is there there?

Nor do I disagree with you as regards the Republika Srpska, hence my disagreement with the EU/etc about Kosovo – although my point would be that to ensure the security of citizens such compromises were probably the only way forward in the patchwork quilt of the former FRY. I’d be happy with continuing deepening ties between R Srpska and Serbia proper…

Re Ivanovic, I’m obviously talking about Serbs generally. But how has anything I’ve said cut against his rights. If anything I believe in upholding them as fully as is possible, and that could be very fully indeed. And that’s precisely why I’m arguing against the sort of zero sum analysis that you make or indeed that the EU makes.

PS..I’m not advising you. You asked me a question on foot of a post that I put up which argued as one of a series that I’ve done recently that the dispensation in Kosovo is unfair to Serbia and destabilising to the region. No disrespect but if you find my answer offensive, and I write as one who is instinctively sympathetically for decades to Serbia, that’s not my problem and I’ll keep writing as I see fit.

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22. WorldbyStorm - March 21, 2008

That eamon is part of the problem with the smallest fractions of Basque separatism, that they cleave to a very elitist view in many respects which completely reifies nationalist identity over democratic expression. There’s a balance…

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23. just_a_serb - March 21, 2008

@ WorldbyStorm

I came accross to this site following google blogsearch keyword Kosovo – here was the first hit. I basically don’t care about other positions of yours, and that’s the attitude more and more Serbs will adopt.

The legal right of Serbia over Kosovo is basically all principles of sovereignity of states, international law and order in world and europe as part of it.

Yet another moral principle of Serbia over Kosovo is that most of the facts you presupposes your attitude about discrimination of K-Albanians in Yugoslavia and Serbia are simply hoax and MSM media lies. The same goes for mere “might” as the grounds for rule of Serbia in Kosovo.

But, since neither me, nor you, could invest such an effort to debunk each and every one of those lies, it’s convenient we agreed it’s up to the might. And with these consequences I live already some 19 years, while we are yet to see if you’ll have to live with in future or not.

Have a nice day

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24. eamonnmcdonagh - March 21, 2008

I have nothing against basque nationalism any more than any other sort but psuedonymous fuckwits sneering at the murdering of a harmless working man because he had the wrong opinions makes my blood boil

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25. WorldbyStorm - March 21, 2008

just_a_serb, I’m not asking for you to care. I’m giving my opinion. That’s a small but crucial distinction from what you propose. Also I’m not supporting the EU/US approach.

As regards legal rights. Perhaps, perhaps not. Half the left seems indifferent to legality or question it, but then shelters behind it when it suits. I take a different view which is more rooted in pragmatism or what is achievable. That’s why I think the current situation in the North of Ireland is – as such things go – reasonably successful as a model of overlapping sovereignty etc and certainly not something that represents ‘giving up’.

As regards discrimination, that may well be your opinion. But it’s incorrect. There was discrimination just as there has been discrimination within Kosovo against Serbians. It wasn’t a hoax and it’s entirely self-serving for you to suggest otherwise. As for ‘might’, that too was part of the imposition of rule in Kosovo. There were other issues I don’t disagree.

You’re also right that we’re not going to debunk these things to each others satisfaction.

You have a nice day too

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26. yourcousin - March 22, 2008

“fuckwits”, very mature. Being that the majority of people online use some sort of pseudonym, including the authors of this site I’ll not be feeling very guilty over it considering that it’s a constant pseudonym and I largely refrain from trolling. Though since we’re being knit picky I’ll note that you spelled pseudonym incorrectly. As for sneering at anyones death, not really. What I sneer at is when people get self righteous online. Many people are killed all over the world for having the wrong opinion amongst many other reasons.

Now I will admit that my Spanish is relegated to construction oriented tasks and urging others to do things to various body parts (also picked up on the job). While my understanding of the Basque language is non existent so you will obviously be better informed than me, but a few things struck and piqued me which was why I posted my comment. According to the BBC he was shot 3(ish) times after leaving his house. So he wasn’t butchered. Now multiple gun shot wounds aren’t pretty but “butchering” denotes something along the lines of well, actually butchering. Also the fact that his wife and children ran out after hearing shots means that he wasn’t “butchered” in front of them ala Pat Finucane. That is not to say that their pain and grief is diminished but then again we’re not them. It is not my pain or my grief so I’m not obliged to get carried away with what is quite frankly, fairly shallow rhetoric. You are certainly entitled to be upset and rant and rave all you like I will not stop you. Conversely I am under no obligation to read it without commenting on it myself.

I know that it may seem that my semantic hair splitting is denigrating this man’s death. That is not my intention, but spewing vitriolic words does little to persuade anyone of the merits of your point. It also attempts to create a story along the lines of “harmless working man/socialist butchered by racist scum”. When I see that, I think of things like this. That’s not quite the same as, “politician murdered by ETA”. Doesn’t mean that what happened was right but it’s different that’s all.

PS. I can pretty much guarantee that there’ll be a typo in here so you needn’t point out my hypocrisy, as it’s already been duly noted.

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27. WorldbyStorm - March 22, 2008

In a way saying that it was a politician murdered by ETA is somehow worse because it strips away emotive language and brings us straight to the heart of the story and at least potentially uncovers some of the rhetoric used to justify the murder… I don’t support ETA as it happens, I think they are elitist, wedded to a ‘myth’ of armed struggle and indifferent (at best) to democracy.

As regards anonymity. I do think that it is reasonable for people here or anywhere in this context to use pseudonyms. I use one myself for reasons articulated way back, it’s partially work related. I don’t think that it undermines the credibility or legitimacy of a position, particualy as yourcousin notes when its used constantly and comments can be matched against a broad and long term output say in a blog. That allows distinctions to be made between trolls, opportunists and everyone else…

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28. ejh - March 22, 2008

You know you’ve registered yourself on Blogger as WorldbyStom?

As far as the Spanish situation is concerned – I personally prefer not to express very many opinions on the politics of Catalonia or the Basque country: where you’re constrained in what you can say it’s often best just to say nothing. (I seem to recall Seamus Heaney writing something similar.) I’m quite sure though that Conor correctly judges Aragonese opinion on the subject of the Kosovan precedent. Then again it might be observed that it’s not really down to the Kosovans to give a monkey’s about whether or not they set a precedent for Spain.

It disturbs me a but when people start talking about whether Kosova itself should now be split, the Serb provinces going one way and the Albanian another – but then again, that’s the nature of the problem and why I’m less attracted to separatism than I was, perhaps, some years before. We surely know that any such splintering will be accompanied by population transfers, don’t we? And with murder and burning and looting as people are driven out to where they ‘belong’?

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29. WorldbyStorm - March 22, 2008

I’d tend to agree completely ejh, particularly about your second paragraph. Partitions aren’t great news.

Incidentally, I wasn’t aware I was on blogger…

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30. ejh - March 22, 2008

Here?

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31. WorldbyStorm - March 22, 2008

Wow, that’s some sort of automated thing. I thought I was just filling in the form. Not good, cheers for that.

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32. ejh - March 22, 2008

I thought I was just filling in the form.

They should have tried that one after the Dublin Post Office thing didn’t come off….

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33. WorldbyStorm - March 22, 2008

🙂

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34. Dec - March 23, 2008

The problem with The Republic of Kosova seeking to secure its territory to include the three northern municpalities is that those munipalities will define the political development of the young state.

This is something that Kosova can do without. It is not sustainable that the three municipalties can be included in the new state, which by its very nature is a Albanian ethnic state partitioned out of Serbia. Kosova if it is to evolve into a modern liberal democracy will not be able to do so in the event that its northern border is unstable, its police force spends it time monitoring its own ethnic minority, its political parties continually are offered the opportunity to play lazy nationalist vote harvesting, its very relations with its own neighbors poor and foreign investment non existant for stability reasons.

Kosova should look at this from a cold POV and let the three municpalities drift back to their natural owner.

WBS you ask about the other Serbs living in the area. Aside from Strpce, in the south, all the other municpalities are overwhelmingly Albanian. Strpce is a Serb enclave and geographically isollated with high mountains, it is sparsely populated with only about 6,000 Serbs. The main industry is tourism.

As fo the other sub Ibar river Serbs, they live in small isolated pockets and villages in Kosova. There are too fragmented and too few in number to be be politically or militarily a threat to the new state. They will integrate into the new country simply because their is no other option.

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35. Wednesday - March 23, 2008

It disturbs me a but when people start talking about whether Kosova itself should now be split, the Serb provinces going one way and the Albanian another – but then again, that’s the nature of the problem and why I’m less attracted to separatism than I was, perhaps, some years before. We surely know that any such splintering will be accompanied by population transfers, don’t we? And with murder and burning and looting as people are driven out to where they ‘belong’?

That’s already been going on for a long time in Kosovo. In 1981, the last census considered reliable recorded Priština’s population at 70% Albanian. As of last October the OSCE was estimating it at 95%. The change is due not only to the fleeing/expulsion of Serbs but also of all other minorities, the population of whom was roughly halved over that period. This wasn’t seen as a reason to not partition Serbia – on the contrary, the March 2004 pogroms and subsequent smaller-scale acts of ethnic cleansing were used in support of independence, as if the perpetrators were merely acting out of frustration with the province’s status.

That argument is now predictably coming back to bite the international community in the arse. Having repeatedly stated that Kosovo independence was inevitable because the Albanians simply would not accept Serbian rule, they’re now having to invent explanations as to why the equally determined Serbs in the border region aren’t equally entitled to self-determination. It is patently a double standard. Now maybe this will all blow over and the Serbs will learn to live with Albanian rule, although I wouldn’t hold my breath (and Belgrade certainly isn’t helping matters), but if the opposition continues and makes the region ungovernable from Priština then it’s hard to find any rational basis for forcing it to remain, especially given the logic that was employed in support of Kosovo’s independence.

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36. WorldbyStorm - March 23, 2008

That’s very true Wednesday. In fairness pretty much all you predicted has turned out much as you said.

That’s a harsh prescription Dec re Serbs elsewhere.

Incidentally, if I could clarify my statement previously re Ivanovic. I’m not suggesting for a moment that Kosova Serbs should give up looking for support for their own autonomy/links to Belgrade (which are not mutually incompatible aims) but rather that the Kosovo as an integrated part of Serbia train has left the station. But there’s a lot of space from that point inwards for KS’s to develop a fairer dispensation and that’s what I think (and again I’m not giving advice for who would take it?) they should bend their energies to securing.

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37. Dec - March 23, 2008

Harsh, yes, but reality bites. The goal should be to create states that have a chance into developing into sustainable entities, Kosova in its present borders is not one.

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