Monday, June 11, 2007

George Bush's Generosity

G. W. Bush on his way out of Europe yesterday gave a magnificent present to the Albanians. He gave them a large piece of land that currently belongs to Serbia. Unfortunately President Bush forgot to check with the Serbs. For some unimaginable reason they are highly ticked off that President Bush declared that Kosovo should become an "independent" country. The territory of Kosovo has historically been Serbian but currently has a large Muslim Albanian majority in it. In the 1990's the United States lead a NATO bombing campaign against Serbia in response to a perceived campaign of large scale human rights violations orchestrated by the former Serbian strongman Slobodan Milošević. Since NATO's occupation of Kosovo began the Serbian minority has been suffering widespread persecution ranging from minor harassment and discrimination to overt violence and murder. It is impossible to estimate the number of Serbian Orthodox churches and monasteries that have been destroyed and desecrated by the Muslim Kosovars.

The Serbian Government has expressed its indignation over President Bush's comments supporting the secessionist Kosovars. Few seriously think the Kosovars will not move quickly to cement ties with Muslim Albania if they gain independence. Also the fate of Serbian Christians in Kosovo is very much a matter of grave concern. Russian President Vladimir Putin has thus far been highly critical of any plans for separating Kosovo from Serbia. It is questionable whether any plan can succeed without Russian acquiescence. At present that does not seem highly likely. Stay tuned.

Read more here.


Christopher said...

There is an underlying question at the heart of the general disagreement - as distinct from specifics such as who persecuted whom first, why hasn't the UN or NATO adequately protected non-Albanians and their property, etc. The underlying question is whether historical ties to land are more important than current or recent majorities in that land.

Kosovo had been the heart of Serbia up until about 100 years ago when Serbs began streaming into cities outside of Kosovo. Certain policies of Tito helped this along even further and helped ethnic Albanians to become dominant in the region.

In a similar vein, all Serbian land north of the Danube, Vojvodina, became Serbian by a massive migration of Serbs seeking to escape Turkish rule. They were welcomed into traditionally Hungarian land in Austria-Hungary and over the years become the majority. In 1918, Vojvodina was incorporated into Serbia matching up the borders of this nation-state with Serbian ethnographic distribution - Serbia then joining with the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (later known as Yugoslavia).

So, the question becomes more interesting: if Vojvodina was historically Hungarian, but is now Serbian, why should Kosovo by Serbian and not Albanian? This is simply one example close to the dispute over Kosovo, the same can be pointed to in areas around the globe., e.g., aboriginal peoples, British claims in France, Greek claims in Turkey, German claims in Poland and Russia, Christian claims in the Middle East, etc.

Sophocles said...

Indeed. Also should be noted the President's actions upon his re-election in relation to Greece and Macedonia. Having won the 2004 election immediately the US backed the newly formed state which also has a very confusing(to the American pluralistic mind) political situation.
This was done, again, after winning to not threaten the American Greek vote.
In some fairness to our current president, it should be remembered that Bill Clinton was in office as NATO, 79 days straight, bombed the tar out of Serbia, destroying so much. It is heartbreaking to see these things.

Steve Hayes said...

It should also be noted that Albanian Albanians and Kosovo Albanians are rather different. Albania has religious freedom for Orthodox Christians, and they have freedom of worship. Their freedom might also be threatened if there was any form of union with an independent Kosovo, which would have a very different culture and ethos,