Most observers make the following points
about Kosovo in their articles: "Kosovo
is the cradle of Serbian civilization and the place
where they lost a famous battle against the Ottoman Turks in 1389"
90 percent of the population in Kosovo today is Albanian".
I can't help but think that these two arguments,
while both true, seem to miss a very essential element: How
and when did Kosovo become 90 percent Albanian? Obviously, the cradle of
Serbian civilization must have been populated by majority Serbs at some
point in time. According to the 1931 census, the population
of Kosovo was 60 percent Albanian and 30 percent Serb, which is a ratio
of 2 to 1. The current population ratio of 9 to 1 in favor of Albanians
is therefore a much more recent phenomenon, and mainly due to the record
population growth rate of Kosovo Albanians, which has been among the
highest in the world since 1945.
The critical question that has not been
asked yet is: Does the population imbalance
give the minority political rights, such as the right to form their own
country? If so, would other "civilized democratic countries"
give their own minorities similar rights? Say Hispanics in California or
Cuban immigrants in Florida want their own state since they already have
reached more than 50 percent of the population. Would they
get the independent California or Florida for the asking? I doubt it. Not
to mention other minorities in many places around the world. In many areas
of the United States, Native Americans would probably qualify for their
own country, too. The last time I checked the best they could show for
all their demands for self rule were the native reservations, although
they are acknowledged as sovereign nations for some purposes such as the
running of tribal government and gambling halls.
The "cradle of the civilization"
will still retain its importance in history books, the "old
monasteries" can be transferred elsewhere if they are so important.
But one has to wonder if Western politicians
are supporting political rights of an ethnic minority just because they
have been reproducing so fast? Well, in the case of Kosovo they are.
Yet this is not the case of Chechnya, or other places where players are
more important than Serbs. Different standards? Definitely (which should
come as no surprise).
The West is now playing hard ball with the
Serbs, pushing them to give Kosovo Albanians back their autonomous status.
That will not suffice. Kosovo Albanians do not want to share a "multi-ethnic"
state with the Serbs, that is just a pretext, the first step on the way
to full independence. They want an independent ethnically homogeneous Albanian
state of Kosovo which will kick
the remaining Serbs out, as has happened in Croatia and by and large
the parts of Bosnia controlled by Muslims and Croats. After all, Kosovo
had its political autonomy from 1974 to 1989, with its schools (including
universities), provincial government, and the state-run media all
in Albanian language
- certainly much more than any other ethnic minority had anywhere else
in Europe - and yet that was not enough. In 1980 riots broke
out all over Kosovo with the slogan "Kosovo Republika," demanding
a status equal to that of other Yugoslav republics, with a final goal of
I guess the saddest
thing of all is to watch the Serbs, who are only now realizing what a tragic
mistake it was to have their national interest totally sacrificed since
1945 for the good of the former Yugoslav federation. They are now
losing their last piece of their country while being accused of "rabid
intolerant nationalism." That accusation comes from the world media
and from the very same neighbors who are cleansing Serbs from their new
independent states with impunity, while the rest of the world is looking
the other way. All that in the name of "greater democracy and multiculturalism."
If it was so important to preserve
multi-ethnic nature of Bosnia by not allowing its division
and by forcing the three groups (Serbs, Croats and Muslims) to live in
it together against all odds, then why
was it not equally important to save the multi-ethnic Yugoslavia,
in which the Serbs accounted for a mere 40 percent of the population? Instead,
the old Yugoslavia was encouraged to dissolve violently, all in the name
of the same high "principles."
The Prime Minister of Canada recently stated
that Quebec cannot separate from Canada unilaterally, and that "all
Canadians will have a say in the future of their country". Note that
the same view was missing when the former Yugoslav republics were extended
recognition by Canada, which gave them full support for their acts of unilateral
secession. The old moral rule "don't do onto others as you would not
have them do onto you" does not seem to count for much in politics.