Sunday, February 17, 2008

Independent Kosovo - victory for freedom or international tinderbox ?

The Independent last week drew paralells between the (now-declared) independence of Kosovo and the annexation of Kuwait by Saddam Hussein:

When Saddam Hussein annexed Kuwait, the Western powers insisted that sovereignty and borders determined and protected by international law and the UN must be protected. Those same self-proclaimed guardians of international law are now turning their own arguments upside down to ensure Kosovo's separation from Serbia.

Hello? Come in? Is anyone at home? Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait against the wishes of the Kuwaitis. Kosovo has declared independence itself.

If there is a paralell, I can't think of one. Rhodesia announced a UDI (Unilateral declaration of independence) but that was within the constraints of white rule.

Broadly, this appears to be a popular movement within Kosovo and, as such, it is to be welcomed. (The historically well-accepted principle of self-determination appears to be under-pin the declaration.) But I say that rather nervously. Goodness knows what precedents this will create, with "me too" situations following. And with Vladimir Putin getting awfully bellicose in Moscow, one is even more nervous.

In more febrile times, this could kick off the sort of chain of events down alliances which started the First World War.

So....fingers crossed.

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