Guess Kosovo wasn’t that ‘unique’: Separatism in the Caucasus



kosovo-clinton-thaci-1024-683

A study of differences and similarities between the break-away states of South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Nagorno-Karabakh in the Caucasus and Kosovo in the Balkans.

After February 2008 when Kosovo Albanian-dominated Parliament proclaimed Kosovo independence (without organizing a referenda) with obvious US diplomatic support (unilateral recognition) with explanation that the Kosovo case is unique in the World (i.e., it will be not repeated again) one can ask the question: is the problem of the southern Serbian province of Kosovo-Metochia really unique and surely unrepeatable in some other parts of the World as the US administration was trying to convince the rest of the international community?[1]

Domino effect in international relations

The consequences of recognition of Kosovo independence by bigger part of the international community are already (and going to be in the future) visible primarily in the Caucasus because there are some similarities in these two regions.[2]

At the Caucasus region (where about 50 different ethnolinguistic groups are living together)[3] a self-proclaimed state independence is already done by Abkhazia and South Ossetia[4] only several months after the self-proclaimed independence of Albanian “Republic of Kosovo”,[5] following the pattern of both the Nagorno-Karabakh (formally a province in Azerbaijan) in 1991 and Kosovo in 2008.

The experts from the German Ministry of the Foreign Affairs expressed already in 2007 their real fear that in the case of the US and EU unilateral recognition of Kosovo independence the same unilateral diplomatic act could be implied by Moscow by recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as a matter of diplomatic compensation and as a result of domino effect in international relations.[6]

2223450508_5088ff5c4d_b_South-Ossetia

It is also known and from the official OSCE sources that Russian delegates in this pan-European security organization have been constantly warning the West before 2008 that such scenario is quite possible, but with one peculiarity: from 2007 they stopped to mention possibility of the Russian recognition of the Nagorno-Karabakh’s self-proclaimed independence (on September 2nd, 1991).

It is most probably for the reason that Moscow does not want (up to now) to deteriorate good relations with Azerbaijan – a country with huge reserves of natural gas and oil.

Why the South Ossetia could be different?

On the first glance it can be said that the Orthodox South Ossetians are equally separatist as the Muslim Albanians from Kosovo. However, the South Ossetians are having sympathies towards the Serbs (not for the reason that both of them are the Orthodox Christians), but not towards, as we could expect, separatist Kosovo Albanians.

The real reason of such sympathies is similar legal state rights applied by both the Serbs in Kosovo and the South Ossetians.[7]

Historically, the South Ossetia was never really integral and authentic part of sovereign Georgian state,[8] in contrast to Kosovo-Metochia which was not only integral, but culturally and politically the most important region of the medieval Serbian state (called as the Ancient Serbia or Serbia proper) till the mid-15th century when Kosovo-Metochia became occupied by the Ottomans.[9]

The territory of present-day Georgia historically was never before it became part of Russia politically firmly united around its capital Tbilisi in contrast to Serbia which before it lost independence in 1459 was having a long period of experience of the unified state territory with Kosovo-Metochia as its center.

When Serbia gained the autonomy status within the Ottoman Empire in 1830/1833 and was later recognized by the European Great Powers at the Berlin Congress in 1878 as an independent state it was known for her rulers and politicians which historical territories belonged to her: Kosovo-Metochia was on the first place.[10]

The present day territory of Georgia entered the Russian Empire in parts – segment by segment. Ossetia as united territory (i.e., not divided into the Northern and the Southern Ossetia as today situation is) became (according to the Russian historiography) voluntarily part of the Russian Empire in 1774.

In the other words, the Russian Empress Catherine the Great (1762−1796), in order to be surely convinced that the Ossetians are really independent, before incorporation of this province into the Russian Empire sent a special commission which informed St. Petersburg that “the Ossetians are free people subordinated to no one”.[11]

Georgia itself became part of the Russian Empire in 1804 (27 years later then Ossetia). This fact is the most important argument used by the South Ossetians in their dispute with the Georgian authorities.

The Southern part of Ossetia was given to be administered by Georgia only in the USSR by decision of three Georgian Communists – J. V. Stalin, Sergei Ordzonikidze and Avelj Enukindze. It has to be also stressed that the border between two parts of Ossetia (the Northern and the Southern) never existed before 1994.

What concerns the Kosovo Albanian case, it is known that the Albanians started to settle themselves in the region of Kosovo-Metochia from the present-day Northern Albania only after the First Serbian Great Migration (or Exodus) from the region in 1690. In the other words, before the Ottoman occupation of Serbia there were no Albanians in Kosovo-Metochia in any significant number (only 2% according to the Ottoman census in 1455).[12]

According to several Byzantine and Arab historical sources, the Balkan Albanians are originating from the Caucasus Albania – in the 9th century they left the Caucasus and have been settled by the Arabs in the Western Sicily (and the South Italy) which they left in 1043 and came to the Balkans.[13] The borders of the present-day territory of Kosovo-Metochia are fixed by the Yugoslav Communist authorities in 1945,[14] who in fact separated this province from the rest of Serbia together with the Province of Vojvodina.[15]

In addition, the Yugoslav Communist People’s Assembly issued the decree according to which it was forbidden for about 100.000 expelled Serbs from Kosovo-Metochia during the Second World War by the Albanian authorities to return back to the province.

This decesion was followed by migration of up to 200.000 Kosovo-Metochia Serbs during the period of the Socialist Yugoslavia from the province to the Central Serbia. In addition, during the Socialist Yugoslavia it is estimated that up to 300.000 Albanians from Albania migrated to Kosovo-Metochia.

Together with enormously high birth-rate of the Kosovo Albanian population,[16] these are the main reasons for drastically altered demographic picture of the province in Albanian favor during the time of the Socialist Yugoslavia thus making legal case for Serbs stronger to challenge Albanian thrive for Kosovo independence (and inclusion into Albania).

The people of the South Ossetia on the referendum about the future of the USSR on March 17th, 1991 voted for existence of the Soviet Union (like the Serbs upon Yugoslavia, but and Kosovo Albanians on referendum to become an independent from Serbia like the Georgians from the USSR).[17]

The referendum on March 17th, 1991 was organized two months after Georgian army started the war against the South Ossetia in which till September of the same year 86 Ossetian villages have been burned. It is calculated that more than 1.000 Ossetians lost their lives and around 12.000 Ossetians emigrated from the South to the North (Russia’s) Ossetia.

This is the point of similarity with expelled at least 200.000 Serbs from Kosovo-Metochia by the Albanian the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army[18] after the NATO peace-keeping troops entered and de facto occupied this province in June 1999.

A state’s independence of the Republic of South Ossetia from the Republic of Georgia was formally proclaimed on May 29th, 1992. However, this legal act can not been understood as a “separatist” one for the reason that at that time Georgia was not recognized by no one state in the world as an independent political subject and Georgia was not a member of the United Nations.

 photo AlbanianQuestion19191920.png

However, in contrast to the case of the South Ossetia, the unilateral proclamation of the state independence of Kosovo by the Albanians on February 18th, 2008 cannot be treated by the international community as a legitimate act (without permission by Belgrade) as Kosovo by the international law and agreements is an integral part of Serbia (the same legal reason was applied by the international community to the case of self-proclaimed the Republic of Serbian Krayina in 1991 from Croatia).[19]

Differently from the case of Georgia, when the South Ossetia proclaimed the state independence in May 1992, Serbia in 2008, when the Albanian dominated Parliament of Kosovo proclaimed the state independence, was an internationally recognized independent state and a member of the United Nations.

This is a common point of similarity between the Ossetians and the Serbs as the nations: both of them are fighting against separation of one part of their national body and the land from the motherland.

However, Tbilisi is doing the same like Belgrade, from this point of view, i.e. claiming that the South Ossetia (and Abkhazia) is historical and state’s part of Georgia.[20] From that point of view, there is a similarity between political claims of both states – Serbia and Georgia with one significant difference: historical rights of Serbia over Kosovo-Metochia are much more stronger in comparison with the same rights of Georgia over the South Ossetia (and Abkhazia).

In the other words, Kosovo-Metochia was all the time, from historical, cultural, state’s and identity point of views, a central/proper part of Serbia, while both the South Ossetia and Abkhazia have been just borderland provinces of Georgia.[21]

International system of governing and separation

The main argument for the western politicians upon the case of Kosovo self-proclaimed independence, as “unique case” in global perspective, is the fact that according to the “Kumanovo Agreement” between Serbia and the NATO, signed on June 10th, 1999, and the UN Resolution of 1244 (following this agreement), Kosovo-Metochia is put under the UN protectorate with imposed international system of governing and security.

However, such “argument” does not work in the case of the South Ossetia as the Ossetians are governing their land by themselves and much more successfully in comparison with the “internationally” (i.e., the NATO) protected Kosovo-Metochia.

This was quite visible in March 2004 when the international organizations and military troops could not (i.e., did not want to)[22] protect the ethnic Serbs in Kosovo-Metochia from violent attacks organized by the local Albanians when during three days (March 17−19th) 4.000 Serbs were expelled, more than 800 Serbian houses were burned and 35 Serbian Christian Orthodox churches and cultural monuments were destroyed or severely damaged.

The “March Pogrom” of 2004 revealed the real situation in the region of Kosovo-Metochia. The position of the South Ossetians in independent Georgia from 1991 to August 2008 could be compared with position of the Serbs in Kosovo-Metochia after June 1999 which is under the total Albanian domination.

The fact is that the South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Pridnestrovje[23] showed much more political-legal bases and capabilities to be recognized as an independent for the reason that they showed real ability to govern themselves by only themselves, but not by the international organizations as it is in the case of the Albanian-governed Kosovo (the “Republic of Kosovo” from February 2008) after June 1999 up today. They also proved much more democracy and respect for human and minority rights in comparison with the Albanian-ruled Kosovo.[24]

The Nagorno-Karabakh and Kosovo-Metochia

There are several similarities, but also and dissimilarities between conflicts in the Nagorno-Karabakh province and Kosovo-Metochia. In both cases the international community is dealing with autonomy of a compact national minority who is making a majority on the land in question and having its own national independent state out of this territory.

Both the Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians and the Kosovo Albanians do not want to accept any other solution except separation and internationally recognized independence (and later unification with their motherlands).[25]

Both conflicts are in fact continuations of old historic struggles between two different civilizations: the Muslim Turkish and the Christian Byzantine. In both conflicts the international organizations are included as the mediators. Some of them are the same – France, the USA and Russia as the members of both Contact Groups for ex-Yugoslavia and the Minsk Group under the OSCE umbrella for Azerbaijan.

Serbia and Azerbaijan were against that their cases (Kosovo-Metochia and the Nagorno-Karabakh) will be proclaimed as the “unique” as therefore it would be a green light to both Albanian and Armenian separatists to secede their territories from Serbia and Azerbaijan without permissions given by Belgrade and Baku (what in reality already happened).

However, there are differences between Kosovo-Metochia and the Nagorno-Karabakh cases.

Firstly, Kosovo-Metochia was internal conflict within Serbia (which is after June 1999 internationalized), but in the case of the Nagorno-Karabakh there is external military aggression (by Armenia).

Secondly, in difference to Armenia in relation to the Nagorno-Karabakh, Albania formally never accepted any legal act in which Kosovo was called as integral part of a state territory of Albania (with historical exception during the Second World War when Kosovo-Metochia, the Eastern Montenegro and the Western Macedonia have been included into Mussolini’s the so-called “Greater Albania” with the capital in Tirana).

Delegation from Albania did not take any participation in the talks and negotiations upon the “final” status of Kosovo-Metochia between Prishina and Belgrade in 2007−2013, while Armenia has official status of “interested side” in the conflict in regard to the Nagorno-Karabakh. However, the Armenians from the Nagorno-Karabakh such status did not obtain.

cropped-Balkan-geographic-map.jpg

While the Armenian army (i.e. from the Republic of Armenia) was directly involved in the military operations in the Nagorno-Karabakh, officially part of an independent state of Azerbaijan,[26] in the Kosovo-Metochia conflict of 1998−1999 the official regular army of the Republic of Albania was not involved (differently from a great number of the volunteers from Albania).

As a result, Armenia occupied 1/5 of Azerbaijan territory and the victims of ethnic cleansing are mainly the Azerbaijani. A military weaker Azerbaijan side in comparison to Armenia, which was supported by Russia in arms and other war material, did not apply to the NATO for the military help, but military weaker Kosovo Albanian side in comparison to Serbia’s police and the Yugoslav army forces did it during the Kosovo conflict of 1998−1999.[27]

Conclusion

It can be concluded that the Albanian unilaterally proclaimed Kosovo independence in February 2008 is not “unique” case in the world without direct consequences to similar separatist cases following the “domino effect” (the South Ossetia, the South Sudan, the Crimean Peninsula, the Eastern Ukraine, Scotland, Catalonia, Bask region…).

That is the real reason why, for instance, the government of Cyprus is not supporting “Kosovo Albanian rights to self-determination” as the next “unique” case can be easily the northern (Turkish) part of Cyprus which is, by the way, recognized only by the Republic of Turkey and under de facto Ankara’s protection and the occupation by the regular army of the Republic of Turkey from 1974 onward.[28]

Finally, that Kosovo “domino effect” well works in the practice showed the Russian authorities in the spring 2014 when Moscow recognized separation of the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine based on the self-determination of the local inhabitans exactlly calling the 2008 Kosovo case of self-proclaimed independence.


[1] The region of Kosovo (under such name known in the western politics and science) is traditionally and historically called by the Serbs as Kosovo-Metochia, while by the Albanians as Kosova or Kosovë. The western portion of the region is Metochia and the eastern one is Kosovo.

[2] “Южную Оссетию смерили косовским взглядом”, Коммерсант, 15. 11. 2006: http://www.kommersant.ru/doc/721626.

[3] On history, antropology, religion and ethnography of the Caucasus, see: N. Griffin, Caucasus: A Journey To The Land Between Christianity And Islam (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2004); B. Grant, L. Yalcin-Heckmann (eds.), Caucasus Paradigms: Antropologies, Histories and The Making of A World Area (LIT Verlag, 2007); Ch. King, The Ghost of Freedom: A History of The Caucasus (Oxford−New York: Oxford University Press, 2008); Th. De Waal, The Caucasus: An Introduction (Oxford−New York: Oxford University Press, 2010); J. Forsyth, The Caucasus: A History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013); A. Tsutsiev, Atlas of The Ethno-Political History of The Caucasus (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2014); G. M. Hahn, The Caucasus Emirate Mujahedin: Global Jihadism in Russia’s North Caucasus and Beyond (McFarland & Company, 2014). On ethnopolitical conflicts in the Caucasus, see: S. E. Cornell, Small Nations and Great Powers: A Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict in the Caucasus (London−New York: RoutledgeCurzon, 2001); E. Souleimanov, Understanding Ethnopolitical Conflict: Karabakh, South Ossetia, and Abkhazia Wars Reconsidered (New York−London: Palgrave MacMillan, 2013).

[4] On self-proclamation of the state’s independence by Abkhazia and South Ossetia and followed war between Georgia and Russia in August 2008, see: S. E. Cornell, S. F.  Starr (eds.), The Guns of August 2008 Russia’s War in Georgia (M. E. Sharpe, 2009); R. D. Asmus, A Little War That Shook The World: Georgia, Russia, and The Future of The West (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2010); D. Gierycz, The Mysteries of The Caucasus (Xlibris Corporation, 2010).

[5] Up today there are more than 100 states in the world, according to Kosovo Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who recognized this territory as an independent state. Among them are and 26 EU member states. However, Kosovo is not still a member of any international political, economic or sport organization. The first two states which recognized Kosovo proclamation of independence in February 2008 were Afghanistan and the USA. The number of states who really recognized Kosovo independence is very questionable.

[6] Moscow used the domino effect principle in the case of unification of the Crimean Peninsula with Russia in the spring 2014 and can use the same principle for the unification with Russia of any other region of Ukraine or other ex-Soviet republics with significant number of the Russian-speaking population or at least to support their autonomous or separatist political movements.

[7] There is a claim that the Ossetians are only European nation in the Caucasus, but this claim is up to now not scientifically proved. The Ossetians themselves believe to originate from the Sarmatian tribe of Alans. The Ossetians speak a language that is remotely related to the Persian.

[8] See: Ph. M. Parker (ed.), Ossetia: Webster’s Timeline History 1204−2007 (ICON Group International, Inc., 2010).

[9] The Serbian Christian Orthodox cultural heritage in Kosovo-Metochia is of the crucial importance for the national identity of all Serbs (Политичка ревија, Тема броја: Косово и Метохија, питање идентитета и српског националног интереса (Београд: Институт за политичке студије, vol. 35, no. 1, 2013)).

[10] М. Екмечић, Дуго кретање између клања и орања. Историја Срба у Новом веку (1492−1992) (Београд: Евро−Ђунти, 2010), 203−94.

[11] On history of Georgia, see: R. G. Suny, The Making of The Georgian Nation (Indiana University Press, 1994); D. Rayfield, Edge of Empires: A History of Georgia (London: Reaktion Books Ltd., 2012); S. F. Jones, Georgia: A Political History Since Independence (I. B. Tauris, 2014).

[12] For instance, see: H. Hadžibegić, A. Handžić, E. Kovačević (urednici), Oblast Brankovića: Opširni katastarski popis iz 1455. godine (Sarajevo: Orijentalni institut u Sarajevu, 1972).

[13] About this issue, see: Кавкаски Албанци лажни Илири, Проширени текстови реферата изложених 21. јуна 2007. године на мултидисциплинарном округлом столу у САНУ „Методолошки проблем истраживања порекла Албанаца“, Београд: Пешић и син, 2007; Ј. И. Деретић, Д. П. Антић, С. М. Јарчевић, Измишљено досељавање Срба (Београд: Сардонија, 2009).

[14] Before 1945 it was hardly known what the exact borders of this province have been as it historically depended on the power of the local feudal lords (ex. the Branković’s) or foreign power (ex. the Kosovo Vilayet in the Ottoman Empire) which was administering the province.

[15] The Albanian minority in Serbia within the region of Kosovo-Metochia in the Socialist Yugoslavia enjoyed all kind of minority rights according to the international law and even above it. The region has its own president, constitution, parliament, police, academy of science, law, press, education system, etc. In the other words, Albanian-run and dominated Kosovo- Metochia was in fact an independent political subject in Yugoslavia equal with all Yugoslavia’s republics. Within such political conditions Kosovo Albanians developed a high range of the policy of the oppression and expulsion from the region of the ethnic Serbs with a strong tendency to separate the region from the rest of Serbia and include it into a Greater Albania. What S. Milošević’s government did in 1989 it was abolishment of just political independence of both autonomous regions in Serbia – Vojvodina and Kosovo-Metochia in order to protect the country from territorial destruction. However, even after 1989 Kosovo Albanians enjoyed minority rights according to the basic standards of the international law. Many minorities in Europe or elsewhere today can just dream about minority rights left to Kosovo Albanians by Serbia’s government in 1989. For the matter of comparison, for instance, the Kurds in Turkey (from 1999 a candidate country for the EU membership) enjoy no single minority right for the very reason as they are not recognized as minority group at all. From the legal point of view by the Turkish government, the Kurds do not even exist in Turkey as the ethnocultural and linguistic group. For this reason, the process of Kurdish assimilation in Turkey is on the way on. On the Kurdish question in Turkey, see: M. Heper, The State and Kurds in Turkey: The Question of Assimilation (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007); C. Saraçoglu, Kurds of Modern Turkey: Migration, Neoliberalism and Exclusion in Turkish Society (Tauris Academic Studies, 2010); M. M. Gunter, The Kurds: The Evolving Solution to the Kurdish Problem in Iraq and Turkey (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011); N. Beratsky (ed.), The Kurds (Greenhaven Press, 2013); R. Aras, The Formation of Kurdishness in Turkey: Political Violence, Fear and Pain (London-New York: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2014). On Slobodan Milošević from the western perspective, see: L. Sell, Slobodan Milosevic and the destruction of Yugoslavia (Durham-London: Duke University Press, 2002); A. LeBor, Milosevic. A Biography (London-Berlin-New York-Sydney: Bloomsbury, 2012).

[16] The Kosovo Albanian birth-rate after the Second World War is highest in Europe and even higher than in Albania for the very political reason to claim Kosovo-Metochia to be exclusively Albanian territory – a claim to be based on the ethnic rights as the Albanians do not have any historic right on this province ((P. V. Grujić, Kosovo Knot (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: RoseDog Books, 2014)).

[17] The South Ossetian referendum is called by Georgia as illegal like Kosovo Albanian referendum is also called by Serbia’a authorities as not legally based. At the moment of the Kosovo Albanian referendum this South Serbian province did not have any political autonomy. Kosovo-Metochia enjoyed very wide political autonomy until 1989 when it was cancelled by Belgrade in order to prevent separation of the province from the rest of the country. It was left to Kosovo-Metochia after 1989 cultural and education autonomy for the local Albanians – the right which they enjoyed in Montenegro and the FYR of Macedonia. The South Ossetia was never enjoying such wide political autonomy (semi-independence) in the USSR as it was the case of Kosovo-Metochia in the Socialist Yugoslavia till 1989.

[18] On the Kosovo Liberation Army, see, for instance pro-Albanian and pro-western points of view on historical background for the Kosovo Liberation Army with described its activities up to and including the NATO intervention: H. H. Perritt Jr., Kosovo Liberation Army: The Inside Story of An Insurgency (University of Illinois, 2008); J. Pettifer, The Kosova Liberation Army: Underground War to Balkan Insurgency, 1948-2001 (London: C. Hurst & Co. (Publishers) Ltd, 2012). The last book is official history of the Kosovo Liberation Army ordered and financed by the Albanian-run Kosovo government composed by the Kosovo Liberation Army veterans. The Albanian Kosovo Liberation Army is not lesser separatist and terrorist than, for instance, the Kurdish PKK. However, it is allowed for the Turkish government by the „international“ community to use all legal and other means to fight the PKK including and a clear violation of the human rights.

[19] About the case of the Republic of Serbian Krayina see: В. Ђурић, Република Српска Крајина. Десет година послије (Београд: „Добра воља“, 2005). Regarding the case of destruction of ex-Yugoslavia in the 1990s, see: J. Guskova, Istorija jugoslovenske krize (1990−2000), I−II (Beograd: ИГАМ, 2003). Up today, the Republic of Kosovo is not a member of any international political, sport, cultural or economic organization.

[20] According to 1989 data, ethnic breakdown of Georgia was: the Georgians 69%, Armenians 9%, Russians 5%, Azerbaijanis 3%, Ossetians 3%. In 1993 it was 146.000 refugees in Georgia. At the same time about one million persons left Georgia, live in break-away regions or were expelled after 1989 (I. Ivekovic, Ethnic and Regional Conflicts in Yugoslavia and Transcaucasia: A Political Economy of Contemporary Ethnonational Mobilization (Ravenna: Longo Editore Ravenna, 2000), 18.

[21] See: C. Francis, Conflict Resolution and Status: The Case of Georgia and Abkhazia (1989−2008) (Academic & Science Publishers, 2011); A. Saparov, From Conflict to Autonomy in the Caucasus: The Soviet Union and the Making of Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Nagorno Karabakh (New York−London: Routledge, 2014).

[22] Neue Zürcher Zeitung (14. 05. 2004).

[23] An unrecognized the Republic of Pridnestrovje, the break-away region of the Republic of Moldova is very good example of transitional, or uncompleted statehood. It is de facto not under Moldovan control, possessing all formal attributes of a sovereign state, like the “Republic of Kosovo”. Pridnestrovje, or Transdniestria, forms part of the world-wide belt of “pseudo states” (V. Kolossov, “A Small State vs a Self-Proclaimed Republic: Nation-Building, Territorial Identities and Prospects of Conflict Resolution (The Case of Moldova-Transdniestria)”, S. Bianchini (ed.), From the Adriatic to the Caucasus: The Dynamics of (De)Stabilization (Ravenna: Longo Editore Ravenna, 2001), 87). Abkhazia, the South Ossetia and Pridnestrovje are the only “states” in the world who recognized the self-proclaimed independence of the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh in 1991. However, it is not done up today by any of the UN member states.

[24] On the issue of violation of minority rights in Albanian-governed Kosovo-Metochia, including and the policy of ethnic cleansing, see, for instance: The March Pogrom in Kosovo and Metohija (March 17−19, 2004) with a survey of destroyed and endangered Christian cultural heritage (Belgrade, 2004); H. Hofbauer,  Experiment Kosovo. Die Rückker des Kolonialismus (Wien: 2008); M. Чупић, Отета земља. Косово и Метохија (злочини, прогони, отпори) (Београд: Нолит, 2006), 387−88; V. B. Sotirović, “Kosovo & Metohija: Ten Years After The ‘March Pogrom 2004’”, Српска политичка мисао (Serbian Political Thought), vol. 43, no. 1, (Belgrade: Institute for Political Studies, 2014), 267−83. Such policy of violation of minority rights including and ethnic cleansing, at least at such extent, is not recorded in the cases of the South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Pridnestrovje. According to Miroljub Jevtić, both Kosovo Albanian secesionism and destruction of Serbian Christian Orthodox national and cultural heritage in this province have Islamic background (М. Јевтић, „Исламска суштина албанског сецесионизма и културно наслеђе Срба“, Национални интерес (National Interest), vol. 17,  no. 2 (Belgrade: Institute for Political Studies, 2013), 231−52). On Islamic fundamentalism, see: L. Davidson, Islamic Fundamentalism: An Introduction (Santa Barbara, California: Praeger, 2013).

[25] On the case of Nagorno Karabakh, see: H. Krüger, The Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict: A Legal Analysis (Springer−Heidelberg−Dordrecht−London−New York: Springer, 2010); B. Balayev, The Right to Self-Determination in the South Caucasus: Nagorno Karabakh in Context (Lexington Books, 2013).

[26] On political history of Azerbaijan since 1991, see: Svante E. Cornell, Azerbaijan Since Independence (M. E. Sharpe, 2010).

[27] Azerbaijan did not apply fot the NATO help for at least three reasons: 1) not to spoil good relations with Russia; 2) not to provoke Iran – a country which was supporting Azerbaijan in its conflict with Armenia; and 3) the NATO at that time was not ready for the confrontation with Russia in the region which was de facto recognized by Brussels and Washington as the Russian zone of interest. On the Kosovo-Metochia War in 1998−1999 in the context of destruction of ex-Yugoslavia, see: C. Hadjimichalis, “Kosovo, 82 Days of an Undeclared and Unjust War: A Geopolitical Comment”, European Urban and Regional Studies, Vol. 7, No. 2, (2000), 175-80; T. Judah, Kosovo: War and Revenge (New Haven-London: Yale University Press, 2002); A. Finlan, The Collapse of Yugoslavia 1991-1999 (Ospray Publishing, 2004). On the NATO’s air war for Kosovo-Metochia in 1999, see: T. G. Carpenter (ed.), NATO’s Empty Victory: A Postmortem on the Balkan War (Cato Institute, 2000); B. S. Lambeth, NATO’s Air War for Kosovo: A Strategic and Operational Assessment (Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 2001); D. Henrikson, NATO’s Gamble: Combining Diplomacy and Airpower in the Kosovo Crisis 1998-1999 (Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 2007). On the NATO’s „humanitarian“ intervention in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1999, see: D. N. Gibbs, First Do No Harm: Humanitarian Intervention and the Destruction of Yugoslavia (Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 2009).

[28] The author of this article has strong belief that the USA and the Russian administrations simply decided in 2008 to recognize at the moment de facto situation upon the Balkans and the Caucasus affairs: Kosovo-Metochia will be recognized as the USA domain, while the South Ossetia and Abkhazia as the Russian one. By now, and of course, such a “secret diplomacy” deal cannot be proven by any document.

2. Sotirovic 2013

Prof. Dr. Vladislav B. Sotirovic

www.global-politics.eu/sotirovic

globalpol@global-politics.eu

© Vladislav B. Sotirovic 2015

_____________________

Original source of the article: http://russia-insider.com/en/2015/01/10/2319

crimea-3rd-pic

Save

From Kosovo to Crimea — Tales of referendums



pb-140315-crimea-flags-05_748bb0f971b5bfe1cafccd127ff104d1

Following the death of President Tito in 1980 the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia slid towards chaos. In the 1990s the plunge accelerated into civil war and one of the regions most affected was Kosovo from which Serbia withdrew after a NATO bomb and rocket offensive from 24 March to 11 June 1999. That blitz involved over 1,000 mainly American aircraft conducting some 38,000 airstrikes on Yugoslavia that killed approximately 500 civilians and destroyed much of the economic and social infrastructure of the region.

NATO said its air bombardment was essential to halt repression of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo and justified the deaths of hundreds of women and children as being necessary to defeat a «great evil». The air attacks were not authorized by the United Nations Security Council and there is no article in the North Atlantic Treaty that justifies such a war. It resulted, however, in Kosovo declaring independence from Serbia in 2008.

As reported by the Washington Post, NATO supported the rebel Kosovo Liberation Army whose members are now, belatedly, being convicted of war crimes.

On March 26, 2014 President Barrack Obama said in a speech in Brussels that regarding the 1999 war on Yugoslavia, «NATO only intervened after the people of Kosovo were systematically brutalized and killed for years. And Kosovo only left Serbia after a referendum was organized not outside the boundaries of international law, but in careful cooperation with the United Nations and with Kosovo’s neighbours».

The President of the United States, whose State Department has some 15,000 experts to keep him informed about international affairs, told the world that Kosovo had held an independence referendum «in careful cooperation» with the United Nations Organization.

But as reported on Fox News of America, «During his speech in Brussels, President Obama showed a lack of knowledge of the political situation in Kosovo. Kosovo never organized any kind of referendum, but the Assembly of Provisional Institutions of self-government of Kosovo made a unilateral declaration of independence on February 17th 2008».

Although there was no referendum in Kosovo before its declaration of independence from Serbia it is apparent that the majority of Kosovans desired independence and would have voted for separation from Serbia if they had been given the opportunity to do so. And according to Mr Obama there is no reason their wishes should be denied. After all, in 2010 the UN International Court’s Advisory Opinion concerning Kosovo indicated that «international law contains no prohibition on declarations of independence», a clear-cut endorsement of Kosovo’s actions — and of other such decisions around the world.

No doubt Mr Obama approved of the opportunity given to the people of Scotland to vote in an Independence Referendum a few months after his enthusiastic endorsement of a non-existent plebiscite in Kosovo. In the Scottish Referendum I wasn’t allowed to vote, in spite of being Scottish-born and educated, because I live outside Scotland (although I have a vote in the UK’s general elections); and in other blatant attempts to influence voting the Scottish National Party decided (in the already independent Scottish Parliament which met first in May 1999, coincidentally at the height of the US-NATO blitz on Serbia) to reduce the voting age from 18 to 16 and to forbidScottish soldiers serving outside Scotland — in Afghanistan, for example — to vote unless they had a residence address in Scotland.

The attempted manipulation didn’t work, and the majority of Scots voted against independence (much to the vexation of very many English people), but justice was seen to be done.

Just as justice was done in the Crimea referendum.

I wrote last year that «some 90% of the inhabitants of Crimea are Russian-speaking, Russian-cultured and Russian-educated, and it would be strange if they did not vote for accession to a country that welcomes their kinship, empathy and loyalty» and that there was not «a single case of bloodshed in the run-up to the plebiscite, the free vote as to whether the population wished to accede to Russia or support the «status of Crimea as a part of Ukraine». The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) was asked by the government of Crimea to send representatives to monitor the referendum butrefused to do so».

It was no surprise that the OSCE rejected the offer to observe the referendum and provide independent assessments concerning its conduct and result, because its findings would have been extremely embarrassing for the West and especially Washington which had no intention of accepting the result of any referendum in which voters would favour Russia. Obama’s assertion that the popular accession of Crimea to Russia was «annexation» is on the same level as his bizarre claim about a non-existent referendum by the citizens of Kosovo.

There were energetic attempts in the West to paint the post-accession treatment of Ukrainian military personnel in Crimea as harsh, but some newspapers refrained from deliberate lies. Even the ultra-right-wing British Daily Telegraph reported that «Like many of the Ukrainian servicemen in Crimea, the 600-strong marine battalion in Feodosia has strong local links. Many of the men are either local recruits or have served here so long they have put down roots. Only about 140 of the 600-strong battalion stationed here are expected to return to Ukraine. The remainder, with local family and friends, have opted to remain in Crimea — the land they call home».

To President Obama it is irrelevant that the vast majority of Crimean citizens want to belong to Russia. His hatred of Russia and especially of President Putin has tipped any balance he may have displayed and is now extreme to the point of being malevolently insulting. He is increasingly intent on confrontation and has stated that the decision of the citizens of Crimea to accede to Russia is illegal. The White House announced that «We reject the ‘referendum’ that took place today in the Crimean region of Ukraine», and Obama declared «I again call on Russia to end its occupation and attempted annexation of Crimea».

But what is Obama going to do about Crimea? Does he seriously believe that 1.2 million Crimean Russians could accept domination by Ukraine’s Poroshenko? There would be civil insurrection and mayhem if Ukraine took over the country as suggested by Obama.

Mr Obama’s claim that «Kosovo only left Serbia after a referendum was organized not outside the boundaries of international law, but in careful cooperation with the United Nations and with Kosovo’s neighbours», was rubbish — but was clear indication that he approves of UN-supervised independence plebiscites in territories whose citizens indicate that they wish to alter their circumstances of governance. Given the practicalities of his admirable moral stance it is obvious that in order to clarify matters to his satisfaction he should propose another referendum in Crimea.


By Brian CLOUGHLEY

Source: http://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2015/06/28/from-kosovo-crimea-tales-referendums.html

crimea-referendum-would-break-international-law-nato-says

Save