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The Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Massimo D'Alema has just declared (17h11)that Italy will recognize Kosovo with the formula "paese indipendente sotto la sovranita' della comunita' internazionale"- "an independent nation under the sovereignty of the international community."

The issue of recognition will be discussed in the House next Wednesday.

At the same time, the British Minister of Foreign Affairs, David Miliband announced Great Britain's recognition of  Kosovo as an independent state.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Mon Feb 18th, 2008 at 11:44:28 AM EST
Italy's backing of Kosovo's independence is and remains extremely queasy - by way of analysis, "La Repubblica" is giving frontpage headline-links to an article and an animated map+audio+transcript in the geopolitics mag "Limes" - here's my quick translation of excerpts (apologies for not bilingual-formatting but don't have time just now to start learning how to do one of those nice parallel-text thingies...).

Kosovo or Kosova, it's still our problem

The three Kosovos. Declaration of independence and flag under the aegis of the "geopolitically-correct". Political dependency on the West but infrastructures dependent on Serbia.  The many hotheads. The organised-crime trafficking. Kosova will become more and more a problem of ours.

(...) It's certain that from now on Kosova will become more and more a problem of ours. A European problem, an Italian problem. Our soldiers are in the front line, in the NATO framework.  And the notorious criminal traffickings that from Asia reach into our country crossing through that Balkanic territory will become even less controllable than before, in the new geopolitical and institutional context. But as usual, we turn up at the appointment-date unprepared, with no  real idea what to do. We shall recognise Kosova so as to maintain our little niche in the Contact Group, pretending we count as much as the other Euroatlantic partners. To do what?

The Problems of Independent Kosovo

An independent Kosovo immediately brings two issues into the field, one at local level and the other in the international sphere.  

At the local level, the problem is the fate of the approximately 120 thousand Serbs who decided to remain in the Albanian-majority province after the Kosovo war. They are concentrated above all in northern Kosovo along the border with  Serbia and in the area of the city of Mitrovica, divided between Serbians and Albanians along the Ibar river, which is readying itself to become a new Berlin.

But one must not overlook the Serbian enclaves around the many orthodox monasteries, often located along strategic routes for the illegal traffickings that constitute the main item in Kosovo's economy. One of these cases is that of the monastery of Decani.

In Kosovo the armed groups linked to the various clans are still active, and on both sides various paramilitary militias are in training.

Another crucial point is the situation in the Presevo valley, which is outside Kosovo, in Serbia, but is populated by Albanians who have close ties both with the Kosovars and with the Albanian minority in Macedonia. The Albanians of Albania are more detatched, although Northern Albania, being inhabited by the same Kosovar-Albanian  ethnic group, could come into the orbit of more-advanced Kosovo.

In the international sphere Serbia can count on the support of  Russia, which on the one hand is taking advantage of the issue to extend its influence into the former-Yugoslavia area and on the other is threatening to recognise the self-proclaimed independence of the Russian enclaves in the former Soviet space, headed by Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

On the other front, Kosovo can count on the support of the United States and of the European countries that host large Kosovar communities (Great Britain, Austria, Switzerland, Germany). The four "big powers" Italy, France, Germany and Great Britain intend to recognise the new State, unlike other European countries such as Spain and Greece, worried about their own independence movements. Kosovo's independence would in fact set a precedent favorable to independence movements all over the world.

"Ignoring moralities is always undesirable, but doing so systematically is really worrisome." Mohammed Khatami
by eternalcityblues (parvati_roma aaaat libero.it) on Mon Feb 18th, 2008 at 02:04:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Guardian has a pro-independence opinion piece by a Kosovan journalist, Kim Bytyci, who among other things says that Kosovo is a special case and its independence does not set a precedent for anywhere else. (Never mind that Putin has already linked Kosovo with Abkhazia, Transdnestria and South Ossetia.)

Her argument about why Kosovo's Serbs should not in turn form a separate entity could just as well be invoked against Kosovan independence itself:

Organised disobedience and attempts to revise borders along ethnic lines - in effect, partition - in a region full of "ethnic" pockets, could easily lead to a domino effect. One need not look as far as India and Pakistan to see the consequences of such attempts. We saw what happened in Bosnia in the 1990s. Europe cannot afford a repeat.

Incidentally, Bytyci's byline describes her as a 'Kosovan Albanian from Serbia'. Perhaps she is from the Presevo valley.
by Gag Halfrunt on Mon Feb 18th, 2008 at 02:29:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I've followed Limes on this for years- an excellent source on geopolitical affairs. General Fabio Mini who commanded forces there for a period in the '90's is very much an outspoken critic of the utter corruption and generalized idiocy behind the whole Kosovo story. Limes is the best source on the Balkans as mafia states.

Mini had a very ironic article up yesterday on Kosovo independance, February 17th, on page 13 of the Repubblica (not on line). It's well worth a read, or a meditation.

Limes also has an English edition, Heartland, but has very little on line.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Mon Feb 18th, 2008 at 04:00:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm a great Limes fan too, they do wide-spanning analysis with lots of hard info and have the best-ever range of geopolitical maps.  Also a Mini fan - his "La guerra dopo la guerra" (2003 - "War after War: soldiers bureaucrats and mercenaries in the age of virtual peace") is a classic, it taught me so much - really woke me up to some of the realities behind the politically-correct blahblahblah. It's one of the very few recent Italian books that really should have got itself translated into dozens of languages... but no such luck, not EU-orthodox enough. Grrrr very frustrating to hear that La Repubblica published an article of his on Kosovo yesterday but not in its online edition :-(

"Ignoring moralities is always undesirable, but doing so systematically is really worrisome." Mohammed Khatami
by eternalcityblues (parvati_roma aaaat libero.it) on Mon Feb 18th, 2008 at 05:05:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I've quoted him here or at Booman before on his analysis of the Iraq invasion. It was an interview by Bonini and D'Avanzo. He showed that the entire military campaign had to be based on prior knowledge that Saddam had no WMDs.

Here's the quote, The Significance of Plame.

Here's his tongue in cheek piece on Kosovo yesterday. Slap me with unfair use and enjoy.

Si può essere certi che il primo segnale che il Kosovo intende mandare al mondo con la preannunciata dichiarazione d´indipendenza sarà di moderazione e rassicurazione. I dirigenti kosovari sanno che l´Assemblea nel cui ambito verrà trattata l´indipendenza è pur sempre un organo transitorio, sotto il controllo dell´ Unmik. Non ha facoltà giuridica né di proclamare né di imporre l´indipendenza una volta per tutte. Il Kosovo ha bisogno ancora di tempo. Deve raccogliere molte adesioni formali da Paesi significativi. Non è in grado né di sopravvivere né di svilupparsi senza l´aiuto sostanziale, e non solo a chiacchiere, dell´Europa, dell´America e di una buona parte dei Paesi del mondo. L´indipendenza non può risolversi in un auto-strangolamento. Anzi deve portare ricchezza.
Questa leadership deve poi essere certa di essere indipendente dalle responsabilità del passato. Nessuno deve collegarla agli eccidi, alle pulizie etniche e ai massacri. Deve essere indipendente dalla gestione che in un decennio ha assorbito risorse enormi e non ha prodotto alcun risultato duraturo. Nessuno deve chiedere conto ai kosovari del fallimento della ricostruzione gestita in tandem dall´Unione Europea e dalle Nazioni Unite, del fallimento istituzionale gestito dall´Osce, del fallimento dei piani fasulli per il rientro dei rifugiati, dello scempio dei diritti umani e di quello della proprietà pubblica, cooperativa e privata, della sceneggiata della dissoluzione delle bande armate e dell´evaporazione dei miliardi di dollari entrati in Kosovo in varie forme. Nessuno deve chiedere conto ai vari leader di oggi di ciò che è stato fatto ieri, anche se sono lì, e gli stessi, da sempre.
Per acquisire questa indipendenza e irresponsabilità bisogna essere cauti, collaborativi e silenziosi. Bisogna avere alleati forti di braccia e di naso che facciano scudo agli interrogativi sul passato e sul presente. Per questo si può essere ragionevolmente certi che non ci saranno draconiane prese di posizione, e quello che verrà dall´Assemblea sarà un misurato e "responsabile" atteggiamento, accolto da un compassato applauso.

La Repubblica 2008.02.17, pagine 13

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Mon Feb 18th, 2008 at 06:18:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks!  ;-)

"Ignoring moralities is always undesirable, but doing so systematically is really worrisome." Mohammed Khatami
by eternalcityblues (parvati_roma aaaat libero.it) on Mon Feb 18th, 2008 at 06:31:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
you know, things written in English create more waves. You can say what you think, as long (practically) no-one listens. I'm not justifying the hidding of information; just pointing that it exists.
by findmeaDoorIntoSummer on Mon Feb 18th, 2008 at 06:38:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have a conservative friend who works at an American think tank. He always reads Limes for the quality and diversity of contributers. He considers it better than Foreign Affairs. Limes looks at the world from a non-American viewpoint. And its focus issues invariably have top-notch contributions from the nations put under scrutiny.
by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Tue Feb 19th, 2008 at 08:42:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You know, there is no substitute to the knowledge of foreign languages. Dominate a language is the highest intellectual achievement of most of us. After all, languages are the framework for the construction of thoughts, not sentences.

the reason why one may forget to read italian-based strategic thinkers is behaviours like this (from Dedefensa, again not in english). when things like this are an everyday event in your own country, you don't go seek them elsewhere; you try escape from them. ("you" here means many people, including me).
Don't you appreciate the depth of studien-von-zeitfragen?

by findmeaDoorIntoSummer on Tue Feb 19th, 2008 at 12:23:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you for the reference. I'll read Limes with pleasure.
by findmeaDoorIntoSummer on Mon Feb 18th, 2008 at 06:33:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
thanks for the description. minor note: minorities of foreign nationals do not dictate foreign policy.
by findmeaDoorIntoSummer on Tue Feb 19th, 2008 at 12:33:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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