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A momentous occasion for Kosovo

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I had the privilege of walking on Mother Theresa street yesterday amongst thousands of Kosovars witnessing history being made.  At 3:39 p.m., Kosovo officially took its first step as an independent country.  Whatever side you are on, you could not help but be moved by excitement and hope.  After years of struggle and active diplomacy with their international partners, Kosovo finally reached its goal of independence from Belgrade.

In many ways, the easy part is done.  Kosovo’s hardest road is ahead. 

Can Kosovo sustain their goal of being a democratic, European nation characterized by good governance, a solid economy, and the rule of law?  Can Kosovo leave the Balkanization and ethnic nationalism that has plagued other Yugoslav states?  Can Kosovo live up to the ideal of equal integration of the country’s six ethnicities?  These questions are still left unanswered and will certainly take years before we know.  But so long as no one forgets the hopes and dreams of Ibrahim Rugova, Kosovo is destined to succeed.  It has to.

Of course, there will be naysayers, both within and outside of Kosovo.  That is natural.  Kosovo needs to look past the criticisms, invariable roadblocks, and history itself, and continue to look forward toward European ideals.  That will take a solid commitment by the Kosovar government to put real practice and brave reform over rhetoric and inflammatory remarks.  That will take a solid commitment by the citizenry to put tolerance over ethnic nationalism and hatred.  And that will also take a solid commitment by the international community to do its best to empower and support Kosovars as they make their transition as the world’s newest country. 

Indeed, the world will be watching closely. 

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About Mr. Cheeseburger 9000

I am Mr. Cheeseburger 9000. I like my burgers medium-rare with a side order of french fries.

8 responses to “A momentous occasion for Kosovo

  1. JIM-ROD ⋅

    Kosovo just isolated itself in its own region. It is a land locked country and most of their neighbors are not friendly towards Kosovars.

  2. Dear Jim-Rod,

    Actually, the only country isolating itself in its own region is Serbia. Kosovo has reached out, both in theory and in practice, to Europe. Serbia, on the other hand, has threatened to cut all ties with countries that recognize Kosovo independence — give it a few weeks, but the countries that will recognize Kosovo independence will be most of the EU.

    Sincerely,
    Mr. Cheeseburger 9000

  3. TexMan ⋅

    “Indeed, the world will be watching closely.”

    Oh, definitely. The world may watch as the Serbs emphatically refuse to let Kosovo go. This has the potential of being another gruesome bloodletting as seen during the 1990s. Unless pressured or forced to acquiesce, I cannot see Serbia sitting by and letting Kosovo separate, especially with the Field of Blackbirds just outside Pristina. And with Russian support, Serbia will be embolden to prevent Kosovan independence. I certainly hope I am wrong and that there is no violence, but I think that may be a definite possibility.

  4. Dear TexMan,

    Thanks for your comments. You are right to observe the possibility of disaster if the Serbs, either officially via the military or though an “unofficial” group like the Tsar Lazar guard, attack Kosovo. Either way, it will be seen by the Kosovars as an act of war that will spark up ethnic nationalism as it did most recently in March 2004.

    Let’s hope that NATO and cool heads prevail.

    Sincerely,
    Mr. Cheeseburger 9000

  5. Anonymous ⋅

    Hurray for Kosova. This is great news! I was always certain that the Kosovar people would obtain their independence one way or another. To have the courage to make such a statement is wonderful. I wish only the best for my Kosovar friends and families. This statement of independence is well deserved, and I hope the struggle forward will not be as difficult as it has been getting to this point. I hope the countries that support Kosova have the courage and strength to ensure that Kosova maintains its independence status.

  6. LEX

    Dr. Mr. Cheeseburger,

    Thanks for running this blog, it’s got a lot of interesting stuff, but I have to respectfully differ with most of your opinions on Kosovo – which, incidentally, means Blackbird in Serbian.

    In your post “A momentous occasion for Kosovo” you wrote: “I had the privilege of walking on Mother Theresa street yesterday amongst thousands of Kosovars witnessing history being made”, which echoes President Bush congratulating “Kosovars”.

    Who, exactly, are these “Kosovars”? With the exception of UN staff and other internationals in Kosovo, nobody uses this term because it doesn’t exist. There are no such people. There are Albanians, Serbs, Roma, Ashkali, Turks, and the other peoples who have historically inhabited Kosovo, but who are now mostly gone because they are not made to feel welcome in an Albanian-run Kosovo. In fact, in its entire history, Kosovo has never been less pluralistic.

    While independence, I believe, was the only solution, it is also true that Serbia deserved something in return for having a large piece of its territory forcibly removed. Nor can it be said that ethnic Albanians in Kosovo have behaved in a manner that should be dignified by independence because if we look at the history of this region, Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian population has a long history of using violence to establish their long-term goal of creating a Greater Albania (independent Kosovo is the next best thing), notwithstanding the common perception that Serbs are solely responsible for ethnic cleansing and war crimes.

    As the term “Kosovar” exemplifies, the world’s newest country is built on decades of lies, obfuscation, and violence. An examination of how, over the past 120 years, demographics have come to so greatly favour Albanians at the expense of Serbians is one long story of ethnic cleaning and war crimes of Albanian against Serbs.

    Beginning in the late 19th century, when 200,000-400,000 Serbs were driven out of the province, then again in World War One, and then again in World War Two, when the region’s Albanians became ardent followers of fascist ideology, with Albanian SS troops (Skendeberg SS Division) wantonly killing Serbs, Roma and Jews, and on through to the 1960s, when Albanians in Kosovo began using intimidation and long-term cunning strategems to tilt the population figures strongly in their favour with the aim of gaining their own state or joining the province to Albania, the history of Kosovo over the past century is the story of Albanians using violence and intimidation against Serbs. There are some exceptions – Serbs committed violence against Albanians at the end of World War One in reprisal for Albanian crimes, and of course, from 1989 until the Nato bombing, Serbians used intimidation against the Albanians in a last ditch attempt to stop the inevitable. Yet, Serbian crimes against Albanians, including the up to 10,000 deaths of Albanians in 1999 at the hands of Serbian paramilitaries, are a fraction of the crimes committed by Albanians against Serbs.

    It was also Albanians who had the last word in the bloody tit for tat- reprisal killings took thousands of lives following the Nato bombing campaing, and as recently as 4 years ago, in 2004, Albanians once again torched hundreds of Serbian homes, displacing 4,000 people, and burning dozens of historically important churches and monasteries — all under the nose of international peacekeepers.

    And while Serbia is the most cosmopolitan of Balkan countries, based on the number of nationalities living in Serbia, and the number of languages spoken in Belgrade, it is Serbia that has the reputation of bigotry. And Kosovo, one of the few places in the world where speaking a different language (Serbian) can cost you your life, Kosovo is regarded as a pluralistic democracy.

    Although Albanians have clearly been present in small numbers for a long time in Kosovo, this was unequivocally Serbian land since the 1100s – there are hundreds upon hundreds of Serbian monuments, mostly monasteries, whereas the Albanians have left virtually nothing to mark their presence, and are now even using historical revisionism to argue that medieval monuments, especially Ottoman mosques but also Serbian monasteries, are somewhow Albanian.

    To make this pill even more bitter for Serbs, Albanians were able to gain a strong foothold in Kosovo by adopting Islam in large numbers for the political and economic advantage conversion conferred under Ottoman rule. Also, came into Kosovo in larger numbers only when Serbians fled Ottoman reprisals.

    When you look at the entire story from beginning to end, you’re left with the clear impression of Albanians using opportunism and violence to become Kosovo’s predominant population. Here are a people who have lived in the middle of Europe since at least the 11th century, yet have left no trace of civilization (writing, architecture). They have been described as the most peculiar of all peoples in Europe, in the sense that so little is known about them or their culture, because there are so few clues to follow.

    And yet, they are the only people in Europe to have TWO countries.

    Congratulations to the “Kosovars”, whoever they are, and to the United States, for it’s newest creation.

    LEX

  7. Dear Lex,

    Thanks for your comments. Well reasoned argument.

    Although we disagree on some points, I’m glad that we can agree to disagree! I enjoy these types of comments because the few readers I have can look at the marketplace of ideas and make the decision for themselves or to do more research.

    I do not profess to be the holder of the truth. I’m simply here to express an opinion and I appreciate when someone can recognize that and provide a solid counter argument.

    Sincerely,
    Mr. Cheeseburger 9000

  8. Kru ⋅

    Dear Mr. Cheeseburger and Lex,
    I really did not enjoy reading another Serbian history lesson about who are the Kosovar people. In fact you can read a book written by Noel Malcom, Kosovo a short history to learn more about the Kosova people. It is not wonderful to see one side of the story (Serbian) totally wipe out the relevance and existence of the other side on a computer. I would like Lex to spend the same amount of time educating himself, researching, and writing about the Kosovars as he did the Serbians. I remember being in Kosova and speaking with a Macedonian fellow, and him mentioning how the Kosovar Albanians multiply like rabbits. They are a dirty, savage type people. To me the Kosovar Albanians are looked at as an inferior savage race unlike the more civilized Serbs, Russians, Macedonians etc… Lex you are correct the Kosovars did participate in revenge burning of homes once the US forced the Serb military from Kosova. Every night I witnessed homes being burned that once belonged to Serbians. This was in July of 99. I saw an older Serbian lady walking down the road in Ferizaj being stoned by children. She was hit and fell into an outdoor cafe the shop keeper picked her up and heaved her back on the walk. He did not help her at all. On the other hand I personally went into 100s of Kosova homes and spoke with the families and could still see the terror and fear in them. Their homes were gutted of everything you could imagine. Bullet holes could be seen on both the inside and outside of the homes. Big black graffiti written on their walls. It just seems when I read something by a Serbian or Serbian sympathizer they briefly mention something like Srebrenica. In my opinion, reading what you just wrote is like reading Tim Judah’s book about Kosovo. Something that was also written with no compassion for the other side.
    My Best Kru

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