Axver (axver) wrote,

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Thoughts on Kosovo, statehood, and geography

I feel like I should have more concrete, firm thoughts on Kosovo's independence than I do. I even stayed up into the wee hours of the morning, waiting for the official announcement. I think this is on balance a good thing; the majority population clearly has absolutely no desire to remain a part of Serbia and derive no gain from remaining a part of it, and Kosovo is going to be under such rigorous international scrutiny that it will have to follow through on its positive talk about full respect and equality for the Serb minority. It is disappointing that international recognition of Kosovo at the United Nations level is going to turn into a pathetic squabble with Russia staunchly opposing Kosovo's independence. I've never been particularly impressed by the fact that just one country of the elite group of five permanent members of the Security Council can veto anything it likes. It seems to me that a much better idea would be to allow a two-thirds or even four-fifths majority of the Security Council to over-ride a veto.

It will be interesting to see if Kosovo's independence empowers any other secessionist movements. Frankly, I hope it does in some cases. I have never really grasped why some de facto independent states lack de jure independence. I am especially thinking of Somaliland, which is doing a hell of a lot better for itself than the rest of Somalia in that it actually has a functioning government and maintains peace, but lacks international recognition. Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia and Transnistria in Moldova are three other very good examples. For all of my political science studies, I am still at a loss to really comprehend why states keep clinging to territories they have so obviously lost. They lack any kind of de facto control over the territory, the will of the people is for independence, and a functioning government is ready to take the reins. Why keep burning money in stubborn refusal to acknowledge the obvious? You aren't gaining any real advantage out of the territory's resources and people, and you're threatening the internal peace of your country, not to mention posing a potential threat to regional stability too. Let it go. It's gone. Work to create a peaceful transition; odds are you'll probably get more of your interests fulfilled that way anyway, through bargains and compromises over resource access and minority questions.

On a less serious note, I must admit I find the independence of any new country to be very exciting. When I was little, maps were a considerable source of fascination and I have been a geography nerd my entire life. I remember that when I was three, I got it into my head that the borders marked in my atlas were actually flight paths for airlines, since roads, railways, and major ferry routes were already listed! Those disputed borders marked with dotted lines had to be air routes operated only seasonally, or perhaps temporarily abandoned due to war! As I got older, I liked to plot out my own countries. I divided up New Zealand, Australia, the Pacific, the US, Canada, China, and elsewhere, all according to my own peculiar logic. Secession movements have thus fascinated me and I must admit to occasionally letting my guard down and allowing the instincts of my childhood to make me biased towards these movements in the absence of proper analysis of the issues. Though as it turns out, I have a hard time thinking of serious secession movements I would oppose anyway.
Tags: geography, independence, kosovo, maps, politics, serbia, statehood, united nations

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