Friday, March 27, 2015


Go to and Kosovo does not exist, not even a mention on its page about Serbia. Go to Wikipedia and you will learn that "Kosovo is a partially recognised state in Southeastern Europe that declared its independence from Serbia in February 2008 as the Republic of Kosovo." "Southeastern Europe" is simply a typical error of Wikipedia, in this case of grammar and spelling. "Partially recognised" is an interesting choice of terminology. So utterly tentative is the existence of this self-declared independent state within Serbia, it even has its own website dedicated to the matter of recognition,, on which, at least at the time of penning this blog, one hundred and ten member states of the United Nations received much appreciation, each in their own language, for their having joined the list of recognisers, the latest the Solomon Islands, though the truth is that most of the recognisers are European Union members for whom the expansion of the growing empire of the EU into those territories that once belonged to the Soviet Union is rather more significant than any specific concern for the countries that will make up that expanded empire and keep Comrade Putin at bay - and most of the other recognising countries are small, dependent states around the world; dependent, that is, on one or several of the members of the European Union.

Why exactly there is a country, or at least an attempt at a country, named Kosovo is by no means easy to explain, especially as most Kosovans are actually Albanians, and not Serbs, let alone whatever a Kosovan might be, at all - at the very most, at any previous point in its history, an autonomous province. But to declare independence one has to become independent of somebody, and in this case, as noted above, it was Serbia, a land that had itself ceased to exist after the First World War, when the Hapsburgs united it with Vojvodina and transformed it into Yugoslavia, only to find itself divided up amongst the lands of Hungary, Bulgaria, Croatia and Italy when the Nazis swept across Europe, and then reunited, but with somewhat different borders, when Tito's Communists took power, and then collapsed altogether into genocidal civil war when Tito was finally allowed to die, at which time Serbia attempted to seize control of the entirety of Yugoslavia, and did manage to retain some of itself as well as Montenegro, but lost Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia and Kosovo to independence. Serbia and Montenegro remained together as the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia until 2006, when Montenegro too went its own way.

On the other hand, it is not in the slightest bit difficult to explain why there is a group of people, who may or may not be ethnically Kosovans, but who nonetheless decided to call themselves Kosovans, and to form an independent country separate from either Serbia or Yugoslavia. The explanation lies in two words, of which one is Slobodan and the other Milošević, the leader of Serbia after the fall of Communism, who launched a wave of genocide against Albanians in the province of Kosovo - you can read the full text of his 1989 speech at Gazimestan here, marking the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo, a speech of which Hitler would have been very proud, though he would have said "Jew" where Milošević said "Kosovan".

The full mess of the Balkans War that raged through the 1990s is far too complicated to explain here, and easiest to follow by looking up the archives of the various war crimes trials that ensued, several of them still in progress. It is a very long list!

Kosovo's "missing remembrance"
Was the declaration of independence as an autonomous state worthwhile? Was the long war and the hundred thousand plus deaths worthwhile? Probably, but not certainly. Kosovo is landlocked and only partially recognised. Backed by Russia, Serbia still refuses to do so. The United Nations cannot formally recognise it because eighty-five of its members do not do so. Ten per cent of its population are ethnic Serbs, who live in separate areas, protected by UN peace-keepers. Of the ninety per cent who are ethnic Albanians, about ninety per cent live in abject poverty. Most of its land is mountainous, which does not bode well for the development of its agricultural economy. That it has a 35-year-old woman President may be an indication of youthful vigour and forward-thinkingness, or it may just have been that she was the only non-partisan candidate in a Parliament riven by ideological differences, and therefore an expedient compromise. Moslem-Christian tensions continue to add fuel to the fire as well: the Serbs are predominantly affiliated with the Serbian Orthodox Church, the Albanians are mostly Moslems, and there is a Roman Catholic minority as well. No Jews, they were exterminated jointly by all Yugoslavs in the 1940s. Some Roma though, making up about 3% of the population - the attempt at exterminating them in the 1940s somehow failed, but not for lack of trying. Genocide and ethnic cleansing have a long history in this region. Actually, if you want to go back and look at the Battle of Kosovo and the era of the Crusades, they are this region's history.

Marks for: 3 for effort

Marks against: minus 3 for everything else

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