Should Kosovo Be Independent?

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THE PLANK FEBRUARY 27, 2008

Should Kosovo Be Independent?

In The New York Times today, Serbia's foreign minister has an op-ed on Kosovo's independence. Here's the key section:

The case against recognition is based not only on the Security
Council’s 1999 resolution reaffirming Serbia’s sovereignty over Kosovo,
but also founded on the view that the international system has, as a
result of this hostile act by the Kosovo Albanians, become more
unstable, more insecure and more unpredictable.

Here’s why.
Recognizing the unilateral declaration of Kosovo’s independence from
Serbia legitimizes the doctrine of imposing solutions to ethnic
conflicts. It legitimizes the act of unilateral secession by a
provincial or other non-state actor. It transforms the right to
self-determination into an avowed right to independence. It legitimizes
the forced partition of internationally recognized, sovereign states.

It
violates the commitment to the peaceful and consensual resolution of
disputes in Europe. It supplies any ethnic or religious group that has
a grievance against its capital with a playbook on how to achieve its
ends. [Italics Mine]

You
hear this argument frequently from the Serbian government and its
Russian allies: If American and Europe recognize Kosovo, the
international community will "legitimize" unilateral secession. But
legitimize it with whom? The international community? If Europe does
not want some Russian republic to declare independence, it can say as
much, and point out Kosovo's particular circumstances. The Serbian and
Russian argument seems premised on the idea that once the West
recognizes Kosovo, they will have to recognize anyone and everyone who
wants their own state. Of course, no one in the West is actually saying this--only the Russians and the Serbs are! So then, who is
making it more likely that a breakaway republic is going to declare
independence? It's not the Kosovars, and it's not the Americans, either.

--Isaac Chotiner

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