18 February 2008

Applauds for Kosova Independence

Last semester, I had an amazing opportunity to hear the Serbian ambassador to the US speak here at UGA. This was a man who had fought to overthrow Milosevic - a worth goal to be sure. But as his lecture concluded, I was quite disappointed about his statements regarding the independence of the Kosovo region. His argument was mostly that the area was important to Serbs as it housed many medieval Orthodox monasteries and that the Serbs in Kosovo would be in danger. And I'll agree that protecting historic buildings and people are both laudable goals. But he offered no evidence that the Albanian majority in Kosovo (Kosovo is actually Kosova, an Albanian term for the same region - Serbs call it Metohia, which means "church-owned land") would try to destroy the monasteries or butcher the Serbs.

There is a young Serb woman in my International Relations class who has, for two semesters now, used the argument that Kosovo is in Serbia and is important to Serbs, no matter if it is also the homeland of Albanians as well - and more recently, at that (in essence, the Serbian government is trying to undo the actions of the Ottoman Empire by keeping the region under Serb control).

I'm usually cautious of nationalism - it has this nasty habit of leading to genocide, such as in Turkey, Germany, Rwanda, and Serbia. And it would be really easy for the Albanian majority (90% of the Kosovan population) to take revenge on the Serbian minority (about 5%) for the genocide of the 1990s. But for perhaps the first time in history, a nationalist movement has lead to a new state and included other ethnicity/cultures on the flag (for those who don't know, the Kosovan flag is a blue field with a gold outline of Kosova and six gold stars, one for each of the six main ethnicities). In times past, the flags of nationalist movements have been nothing more than images of ethnic superiority (the "Aryan" swastika serves as a pretty good example of this). As small of a gesture as this may be, I have great hope that the Kosovan government will do all in its power to ensure human rights are protected. I wish I could say the same for the Serbian government.

Let us pray that Serbia does not take military action.

On the US side of the event,we are recognizing the new nation. But more interesting, especially, in an election year, Obama and McCain have yet to comment (at least, on their website) about the new state. Clinton (First Lady during the Serbian genocide - though, allegedly, she encouraged Mr. Clinton to not act, and he didn't, or at least until we found out about his cigar) has not only given the new state her blessing, but taken up her husband's tradition of referring to the region as Kosova. Although, the last part of her statement is mostly about how the Bush Administration has failed to keep the Balkans on the top of his priority list. But enough politics.

Congratulations, Kosova!

Rock on.