More recognition for Kosovo, diplomatic nightmares for Serbia

posted at 9:35 am on March 19, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

Three more European nations agreed to recognize Kosovo as an independent state, all of whom border Serbia. Hungary, Bulgaria, and Croatia all announced diplomatic recognition of the breakaway province, further isolating the Serbs and challenging their Russian allies. Serbia warned that diplomatic relations would suffer with its neighbors as a result:

Bulgaria, Croatia and Hungary recognised Kosovo’s independence on Wednesday in a new blow to Serbia’s efforts to resist the province’s breakaway.

Serbia immediately warned its three neighbours that their relations with Belgrade would suffer for joining the growing list of nations giving diplomatic support to Kosovo.

Bulgaria, Croatia and Hungary announced their move in a joint statement. “The decision on the recognition of Kosovo is based on thorough consideration,” the three countries said.

Thirty-two countries have now recognised Kosovo’s independence, which the Serbian province’s ethnic Albanian-dominated parliament unilaterally declared on February 17.

It comes two days after the worst violence in Kosovo since the proclamation, which is bitterly opposed by the Belgrade government and Kosovo Serbs, who are outnumbered by ethnic Albanians by more than nine to one.

The coordinated action by Serbia’s neighbors makes it more difficult for Belgrade, and for Vladimir Putin. Serbia had hoped to keep nations in southeastern Europe from taking sides on the issue and forcing it back to the UN Security Council. Croatia’s recognition could be expected, as little love has been lost between Serbs and Croats for centuries. However, the alliance of the Croats with Hungary and Bulgaria must come as a minor shock, and it underscores the opposition Serbia has generated in the region.

The momentum has accelerated for an independent Kosovo. Russia can wage economic war on the region to attempt to reverse the tide, but even Russia has to trade with some of Europe. Putin can hardly afford to write off the Adriatic region altogether. Ultimately, Russia has to look after its own interests.

Unfortunately, the government in Belgrade cannot survive if it accepts Kosovan independence, and the region may not like what follows if the current Serbian government gets replaced. The destabilizing effect of Kosovo’s unilateral declaration and its quick adoption by Serbia’s neighbors will produce a reactionary impulse in a nation tired of having its provinces amputated. The coordinated recognition by Hungary, Bulgaria, and Croatia is meant to send a message to the Serbs that they will have to fight everyone if they go to war over Kosovo — and the Serbs may still not be deterred by that prospect.

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Methinks this emanates from Brussels.

JiangxiDad on March 19, 2008 at 9:42 AM

I’ve been to Croatia, and trust me, there is much bitterness between Croats and Serbs (not to mention just about every other Slav ethnic group). There are still land mines littering the countryside.

Putin can hardly afford to write off the Adriatic region altogether. Ultimately, Russia has to look after its own interests.

It will be interesting to see Putin’s response, but it’s guaranteed to be shrewd and for the self-interest of Russia’s economy.

Pent. on March 19, 2008 at 9:50 AM

Hitchins had an article recently about the artificiality of Jugoslavia and how the Serbs had brought this upon themselves.

Much as I sympathize with the Serbs for losing historically important lands (when I think, for example, of the fate of Asia Minor), the place is hardly Serbian anymore. And aren’t decentralization, local government and self-determination things we conservatives support?

Tzetzes on March 19, 2008 at 9:51 AM

all of whom border Serbia. Hungary, Bulgaria, and Croatia

?

burt on March 19, 2008 at 9:55 AM

burt on March 19, 2008 at 9:55 AM

Yes, Hungary, Bulgaria and Croatia all border Serbia. Bulgaria to the east, Hungary to the north, and Croatia to the west of Serbia’s northernmost section. Croatia itself is a strangely-shaped country, and partially surrounds Bosnia. Northern Serbia includes an autonomous region called Vojvodina, whose status is similar to the former status of Kosovo, and which is home to many ethnic Hungarians. (I don’t know if they’re the majority.)

I’ve been to Croatia, and trust me, there is much bitterness between Croats and Serbs

I was there recently. Although the Serbs and Croats speak essentially the same language, called “Serbo-Croatian”, this term is offensive to at least the Croats. To my surprise, when my tour group was in Krka National Park, we got to visit a Serbian Orthodox monastery.

Bigfoot on March 19, 2008 at 10:09 AM

burt on March 19, 2008 at 9:55 AM

That’s right. Hungary to the north, Croatia to the northwest and Bulgaria to the southeast.

Harpoon on March 19, 2008 at 10:10 AM

?

burt on March 19, 2008 at 9:55 AM

Your question-mark is towards whether or not the Duchy of Vojvodina is to be considered part of Serbia. (I’m sure you can guess Belgrade’s stance on that.)

Tzetzes on March 19, 2008 at 10:13 AM

Great, they are just setting up the Muslims to be able to exterminate Christians from their country. Can’t wait! /sarc

Tim Burton on March 19, 2008 at 10:17 AM

Although the Serbs and Croats speak essentially the same language, called “Serbo-Croatian”, this term is offensive to at least the Croats.

Bigfoot on March 19, 2008 at 10:09 AM

They speak the same language, essentially, but with differences. The obvious one to the outsider is that the form used by Catholic Croats is in Latin script and that by Orthodox Serbs in Cyrillic, though this is writing, not language. Connected to that however is that the Orthodox Serbs have always been much closer, if often in violent opposition, to Byzantium, and are more strongly affected by the Balkan Sprachbund. For example, they (as all but a couple dialects of Greek) have lost the infinitive: the Croats say “I want to do this”, while the Serbs (and Greeks) say “I want that I should do this.” (Sounds mafioso, but it isn’t!)

I long ago crossed Serbo-Croatian (or whatever you want to call it) off my list, but it would be a worthwhile language to learn, if just to have immediate access to the revolutionary folklore work of Parry & Lord.

Tzetzes on March 19, 2008 at 10:22 AM

Great, they are just setting up the Muslims to be able to exterminate Christians from their country. Can’t wait! /sarc

Tim Burton on March 19, 2008 at 10:17 AM

I repeat my question about self-determination. (Not, of course, that such means an abdication of responsibility to others.)

Tzetzes on March 19, 2008 at 10:23 AM

International recognition of a nation’s sovereign territory:

Aztlan is next

pseudonominus on March 19, 2008 at 10:24 AM

And aren’t decentralization, local government and self-determination things we conservatives support?

I thought we conservatives supported minding our own business.

Metro on March 19, 2008 at 10:34 AM

Oh boy, can the independent nation of Vermont be far behind?

rbj on March 19, 2008 at 10:36 AM

I thought we conservatives supported minding our own business.

Metro on March 19, 2008 at 10:34 AM

Exactly. If they want to do it, we don’t intervene as long as it doesn’t threaten us or our allies.

Tzetzes on March 19, 2008 at 10:37 AM

Thank you George W. Bush for siding with the Muslims.

Indy Conservative on March 19, 2008 at 10:45 AM

Thank you George W. Bush for siding with the Muslims.

Indy Conservative on March 19, 2008 at 10:45 AM

It was Clinton, who (as Blair’s poodle and with mandate neither from Congress nor the UN) bombed the crap out of the Serbs.

I’m no isolationist, but it was a conflict we never should’ve gotten into, but left up to other Europeans, if they wanted anything to do with it. It garnered us zero gratitude from the Ummah, but set the Orthodox world against us. (I was living in Greece while this was happening and it came up constantly.)

Tzetzes on March 19, 2008 at 10:53 AM

It was Clinton

Tzetzes on March 19, 2008 at 10:53 AM

And now George W. bush.

Indy Conservative on March 19, 2008 at 11:04 AM

Indy Conservative on March 19, 2008 at 11:04 AM

By “siding with” you mean recognizing? (If so, we’re not alone.) Let them have their self rule, and I wish them the best. Let them unite with Albania, if that’s what both countries want. Let’s trade with them, and so enrich both them and ourselves.

As far as Islam goes, you’ll find no-one with a lower opinion of the religion than that which I hold. But that doesn’t mean that Moslems have to be ruled over by Christians any more than that Christians or others should be ruled over by Moslems.

If they become a threat to us or our allies, whack them hard. Otherwise, more power to ‘em.

Tzetzes on March 19, 2008 at 11:19 AM

Canada’s Government announced this morning that it to would recognize Kosovo. Sad, really sad.

cdn.infidel on March 19, 2008 at 12:09 PM

Bomb and kill the filthy murderous Christian Kaffir Serbs! The innocent blood of Islam in Europe, this fresh national seedling of the Caliphate must be protected by the US and Europe. The US should provide transport for foreign mujahadine who will come to cut Serb throats./s

Shame on my home country Canada for recognizing Kosovo.

BL@KBIRD on March 19, 2008 at 12:48 PM

And aren’t decentralization, local government and self-determination things we conservatives support?

If you support self-determination for illegal immigrants you’re going to have to take a few stars off your flag.

Exactly. If they want to do it, we don’t intervene as long as it doesn’t threaten us or our allies.

Is this a joke? THe KLA are an al-Qaeda affiliate. Kosovo is a Bin Ladenite terror state like Gaza or pre-9/11 Afghanistan in the heart of Europe. This is a disaster!

Hitchens only supports the WoT because he likes the idea of spreading secularism in the ME. He got a kick out of seeing Catholics and Orthdox Chrsitians bombed in the ’90s.

But that doesn’t mean that Moslems have to be ruled over by Christians any more than that Christians or others should be ruled over by Moslems.

Moslems come to Christian lands illegally and then proclaim that Christians cannot rule over them. The way things are going there won’t be any Christian countries left!

aengus on March 19, 2008 at 12:59 PM

If they become a threat to us or our allies, whack them hard. Otherwise, more power to ‘em.

Tzetzes on March 19, 2008 at 11:19 AM

Like us dealing with Iran?

“Whack them hard?”

Indy Conservative on March 19, 2008 at 1:17 PM

If you support self-determination for illegal immigrants you’re going to have to take a few stars off your flag.

I don’t support self-rule for people in a country illegally; I support jailing them if possible and then deporting them. But I support the right of citizens to vote on secession from a ties they find to their disadvantage, be it the Quebeqois, the Scots, the Basques, the Kurds, the Tibetans, or 18th-century North American Englishmen.

Is this a joke? THe KLA are an al-Qaeda affiliate. Kosovo is a Bin Ladenite terror state like Gaza or pre-9/11 Afghanistan in the heart of Europe. This is a disaster!

There is a difference between terrorist organizations who fight for independence and peaceful citizens who vote for it. Compare again the Basque situation. If the KLA threaten us or our allies, then I have no problem with attacking them on their own soil.

Hitchens only supports the WoT because he likes the idea of spreading secularism in the ME. He got a kick out of seeing Catholics and Orthdox Chrsitians bombed in the ’90s.

I’m for spreading secularism in the Middle East too. But as for Hitchens, he has stated several reasons for his support of the WoT.

Moslems come to Christian lands illegally and then proclaim that Christians cannot rule over them.

I’m opposed to both.

Like [our] dealing with Iran?

I have no problem at all with military intervention in Iran and I think diplomacy should be largely of the gunboat kind. (Though we have to be careful not to over-extend ourselves. And I’m for keeping nuclear weapons on the table–they certainly are!–but I cringe whenever I read a commentator here say simply “nuke ‘em!” And a fall of the regime from within would be both to our advantage and to that of the largely, if not exclusively, pro-American population.)

Tzetzes on March 19, 2008 at 3:10 PM

Ah, further Iran, this just in.

Tzetzes on March 19, 2008 at 3:16 PM

I don’t support self-rule for people in a country illegally; I support jailing them if possible and then deporting them. But I support the right of citizens to vote on secession from a ties they find to their disadvantage, be it the Quebeqois, the Scots, the Basques, the Kurds, the Tibetans, or 18th-century North American Englishmen.

The examples you give are all historic peoples who have legitimate claims to their territory. The “Kosovars” are a phony made up people – Albanian illegal immigrants into Serbian territory.

Just like the mythical Palestinians who emerged from an ancient era (the 1970s) the “Kosovars” are a clever propaganda gimmick. I don’t accept self-determination for a race of people who suddenly came into being after I was born.

However if you add 21st-century Mexican-American settlers of the South West to your list I will accept your perspective.

There is a difference between terrorist organizations who fight for independence and peaceful citizens who vote for it. Compare again the Basque situation. If the KLA threaten us or our allies, then I have no problem with attacking them on their own soil.

The Fort Dix plot was in May 2007 is that recent enough?
At least one of the plotters was an active member of the KLA. Two others had ties. As for attacking them “on their own soil”, it isn’t their soil but like you I’m all for attacking them.

But as for Hitchens, he has stated several reasons for his support of the WoT.

He also said in numerous interviews that his “temporary neoconservative allies” only gained his trust by bombing a Christian country on behalf of Muslims.

Moslems come to Christian lands illegally and then proclaim that Christians cannot rule over them.

I’m opposed to both.

I think you misunderstood me here. What I meant by “Christians cannot rule over them” (clumsily phrased) is that Muslims will not accept the rule of law after they have migrated to Christian countries.

They live an extra-legal existence i.e. the Pakistani immigrant to Britain who killed and ate one of the Queen’s swans last year because “[he] was hungry”. I do NOT mean that its okay for Christians to colonise countries in the Middle East.

aengus on March 19, 2008 at 4:04 PM

Pass the asprin.

ThePrez on March 19, 2008 at 4:14 PM

aengus on March 19, 2008 at 4:04 PM

The Albanian-speaking presence in Kosovo goes back to the Middle Ages. They were part of the Serbian Empire, then the Ottoman Empire, then the artificial Jugoslavia (which means “Land of the Southern Slavs”, though there are a number of non-Slavic peoples there, including not only the Albanian-speakers but the Wallachians). But, more to the point, let me emphasize that I’m only in favor of self-determination by citizens, not illegal immigrants. Sovreignty is important to me.

(The case of the Palestinians, or “Philistines” as I like to call them [which, by the way, rhymes with Frankenstein and turpentine, not “beauty queen”], is different in my opinion because the Jews were kicked out of nearly all the rest of the Ummah, so I don’t find it unfair to cut one tiny slice of the Ummah out for them. But let’s not get on to that again, if we can avoid it.)

I’m under no illusion that Hitchens is any kind of conservative. Though he now speaks of his time at The Nation as “my leftist days”, he’s still a leftist. But he still makes good points and is a pleasure to read, even when one disagrees with him. And our positions need not be based on his motivations.

As for the rule of law, integration and respect for the country one finds oneself in, I couldn’t agree with you more. We’re very much on the same page there, and I think not so far apart on a lot of the rest. (By the way, I always enjoy your comments and am glad for what you add to these conversations.) I’ve spent about six years abroad, in Greece, England and Germany, and plan to spend more. I’ve always respected the laws of my hosts entirely, including residency regulations, and expect the same of my fellow ex-pats. (I spent a glorious year in Stratford, studying the Swan of Avon, and though the real-life swans on the river today are beautiful, I never succumbed to the temptation to eat one!)

Tzetzes on March 19, 2008 at 4:39 PM

Ah well then we not so much in disagreement. Though I predict in five or ten years from now US troops will be storming Kosovo, trying to recapture Bill Clinton Boulevard from the insurgents. Thank you for your polite tone.

aengus on March 19, 2008 at 4:54 PM

Thank you for your polite tone.

aengus on March 19, 2008 at 4:54 PM

Would you expect anything other from the twelfth century’s greatest scholar? :)

Tzetzes on March 19, 2008 at 5:03 PM