Friday, February 22, 2008

Kosovo is "unique" - US State Dept.

I was up early this morning and saw two officials from the US State Department, including Nicholas Burns, the Under Secretary for Political Affairs, talk about Kosovo. The State Department line seems to be that Kosovo is a "unique" situation, and therefore not a precedent for other independence-minded ethnic groups to follow. The logic goes that Kosovo was unique because its independence was established as part of a UN-led plan (managed independence it was called) - so while ethnic minorities may be being persecuted in other countries, there are no others in the UN-led "managed independence" category, so therefore they can't use Kosovo as a precedent.

It’s a very neat little argument, but unfortunately it doesn't work.

The UN had been overseeing Kosovo since 1999, and there was a "managed independence" plan on the table, but Serbia was absolutely set against it and their ally Russia threatened to block the plan in the UN Security Council. So rather than allow that to happen (or to try to continue negotiating with Serbia over Kosovo's status), the United States and European Union decided to take the process out of the hands of the UN and recognize Kosovo on their own terms. The rest is, as the saying goes, history.

Kosovo's independence then was not really the result of a UN plan, punching a hole in the State Department's logic. Nice try though.
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