Kosovan Independence 8


Kosovo is apparently about to declare its independence from Serbia, against resistance from Serbia. I have mixed feelings about Kosovo, which is run by a particularly nasty Albanian mafia, but then if the people want self-determination, they should get it.

There is a very important point here for Scotland. We shall see how the EU and UN react. Gordon Brown, his tame UK government lawyers and the New Labour hack academic establishment in Scotland continue to argue, against the last twenty years of international experience, that it would be impossible in international law for Scotland to claim independence unilaterally without the agreement of the UK authorities. Kosovo is about to show that is not the international legal position in 2008.

Given that the UK will recognise Kosovo, it is ludicrous for the same people to argue that for Scotland to do the same as Kosovo would be illegal.

Meanwhile the citizens of Berwick Upon Tweed allegedly wish to rejoin Scotland, according to an opinion poll. Of course they are Scottish. But we certainly shouldn’t formally expand any further South after that for a while, or we’ll get lumbered with Northern Rock.

I love railways, and travel often over the main East Coast line on that beautiful curve over the glistening Tweed. But it still amazes me that the Victorians drove the track right through the keep of Berwick Castle, one of the most historic sites in the UK.

There is an important point in all this. Bringing Berwick into Scotland would of course move the potential lateral maritime boundary between England and Scotland. You may recall that, as Head of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Maritime Section, I personally negotiated the UK’s current maritime boundaries with France, Denmark (the Faeroes) and Ireland. I calculate that Berwick would bring an independent Scotland about 1360 square miles of hydrocarbon rich seabed, when the oil price is making marginal and residual production increasingly attractive. So this is less frivolous than it sounds.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/tyne/7248529.stm


8 thoughts on “Kosovan Independence

  • macshealbhaich

    The English had broached the Act of Union 1707 within the year, and so there is no legal basis, it would seem to me, for the Union. It has survived for 300 years because (a) it was desired by most Scots, who then invested a lot in it, and (b) it was convenient.

    But, if it were still considered desirable by the majority in a truly free and fair referendum, the Union could only survive now as a federation or confederation; and that would mean the arrangement for governance in a new Act would need rethinking – and, yes, that would mean an English parliament.

    It seems to me that given the inequity of the representational arrangements for Scotland in the UK Parliament of the Act (originally 45 MPs plus 16 peers, when there should have been at least 117 and all the Scottish peers going on relative population sizes at the time, and the inequity maintained ever since) there are grounds for a substantial renegotiation of the whole governance deal that Blair cooked up to try and maintain NeoLabour hegemony of Scotland.

    Furthermore, the unicameral system may have historical sentiment on its side, but without recreating, and adding to, the Estates it is a bad arrangement and inefficient. The whole of Scottish politics is now determined by the population-heavy belt that runs from, say, Greenock to Dundee, thus effectively ignoring the Galloway to North Berwick agricultural belt, the north-eastern lowlands, and the Highlands and Islands north of Stirling and west of Blair Atholl.

    I think that the idea of an independent Scotland "within the EU" is swapping one bad colonial arrangement for another worse one. We need to look seriously at the "Norway Option".

    But I don't see much evidence of independent and original thinking from any of the major parties (maybe from Annabelle Goldie's Scottish Tories, but the SNP seems to have become too cosy wearing NeoLabour's clothes) and the small parties are still not getting much of a hearing.

    But you're right. Sauce for the Kosovar goose is sauce for the Scottish gander.

    Saor Alba, agus cum a ' Ghaidhlig beo.

  • Sabretache

    I too have very mixed feelings about Kosovo independence. I take your point about self-determination etc, but let's not be under any illusions about this; genuine democratic freedom in Kosovo has about as much chance as a snowball in Hell given the nature of the present regime with its terrorist and organised crime origins and its guarantors in NATO. The plain fact is that there would be no question of US/EU-backed independence from Serbia were it not for the need for a secure (ie non-Russian controlled) pipeline route to the EU for Caspian oil/gas and the concomitant US military installations. How many people in the West know that the biggest Foreign US military base in the world is now in Kosovo (Camp Bondsteel) with over 7,500 military personnel and truly vast quantities of war fighting equipment stationed there? Just 5 short years ago there was NO US military presence. As usual the real name of the game is control over Oil/Gas which trumps every other consideration.

    There is some perceptive analysis of the issues at 'Global Research' here http://tinyurl.com/2lfo4p and here http://tinyurl.com/2mqgfa .

    A Pandora's box is being opened. Scotland is an interesting one – but so is the Spanish Basque issue and a host of others that could prove very embarrassing for the West.

    (Sorry – still unable to post a working html link, but a copy-and-paste should suffice)

  • writeon

    I'm not only sceptical about 'independence' for Kosovo, I'm also rather sceptical about the whole concept and philosophy of 'self-determination' for a 'folk' of the same blood. Personally I am deeply distrustful of 'blood nationalism' especially in a european context where so much destruction and loss of life has followed on from the growth of 'romantic nationalism' when it's taken to extremes.

    However, this is massively complex, vast, and emotive subject to get into, so I'm going to step back.

    I think Sabretache's points are valid. It's important to remember that the 'narative' about Kosovo has been written by the same people, more or less, that devised the false narative about Iraq, so we'd be well-advised to keep our critical faculties atuned.

    In my opinion Kosovo isn't really a nation at all. It's a province of Serbia according to international law, and it is unilaterally declaring independence. One can argue that a huge majority of Kosovo's people support independence from Serbia, on the other hand one can also agrue that a huge majority of Serbs don't support independence for Kosovo. Who decides which majority is legitimate and where does one draw the line for who is allowed to vote about independence? Are the Serbs in the north of Kosovo also entitled to vote to break away from Kosovo and and join Serbia, or does self-determination only apply to some people? Who decides?

    Kosovo is decribed as a country, yet it's very small, with only around 1.8 million people. Surely it should be part of Albania? Does it have a viable economic foundation for independence? As far as I can see it's always received substantial economic subsidies, as it does today. It's a very poor region and crime and corruption are rife. Craig's point about the 'Mafia' is accurate. It's been estimated that Kosovo is the most 'criminalised' region in all of europe. Drugs, guns, smuggling, and women, are the foundation opon which it's economy is based.

    Unemployment is somewhere between 30% or 60%. There really is no 'state' to speak of apart from the 'military'. Putting Kosovo on its feet is going to take decades and an awful lot of money and resources. Are we really prepared to invest so much in Kosovo, don't we already have enough on our plate?

    In reality Kosovo is a protectorate and is likely to remain so for the forseeble future. All we in the west are really interested in is cutting Serbia down to size as it was the only country in the region that could potentially pose a threat to our strategic plans for the Balkans. It really is telling how few people in the west have heard about the enormous American 'Camp Bondsteel' base. I think the population in Kosovo are in for a sad and rude awakening, when they discover how little their lives will really change after 'independence'. If they believe they are headed for the land of milk and honey, they are truly deluded.

    What are the wider consequences of Kosovo independence? Isn't it interesting how little involvement there's been from the United Nations in this whole project?

    What about Israel's Palestinians are they allowed to push for self-determination too? If the tiny Palestinian enclaves on the West Bank are supposed to form the basis of a viable Palestinian state, why can't the Palestinian enclaves in Israel itself be allowed self-determination as well?

  • johnf

    I too have my doubts.

    Russia slighted over Kosovo can lead very quickly to Russian minorities in places like Georgia and the Ukraine and all sorts of other places in the ex-Soviet Empire suddenly remembering their love of all things Russian and (backed by Moscow) declaring UDI.

  • George Dutton

    "Internet Death List"

    "One thing that is certain, is that the writer of these words, and all of you who read these words have been marked for ?'€?disappearance,?'€

  • ziz

    When when the nuclear power stations are merely radioactive monuments , much good will your sadly depleted 1360 square miles of hydrocarbon rich seabed be.

    The Scots were conquered at Falkirk and let none forget , they have been a conquered race ever since.

    A haven for dissolute, drunken, obese louts, and a handy lagoon for nuclear submarines.

    Notably the kilt wearers with their fond dreams of a nationalism seem to congregate a little further South to spread their reign of terror amongst their colonial masters and oppressors.

    Flee to the Hills and save your precious depopulated wilderness !

  • RichardT1977

    Sorry to burst your Scottish bubble.

    There's a radical difference between Kosovo and Scotland – namely Scots are fully integrated into the political life of Britain (see Gordon Brown if you have any doubts). The rights of Scots are fully protected (at least as fully as the rest of us). They can speak their own language if they choose, and practice their own, or any, religion if they choose. In the international legal context this is what we call the exercise self-determination.

    The Kosovans on the other hand, experienced almost none of these facets of self-determination. In the absence of Serb guarantees to change that situation independence is a completely legitimate move Kosovo.

  • RichardT1977

    Sorry to burst your Scottish bubble.

    There's a radical difference between Kosovo and Scotland – namely Scots are fully integrated into the political life of Britain (see Gordon Brown if you have any doubts). The rights of Scots are fully protected (at least as fully as the rest of us). They can speak their own language if they choose, and practice their own, or any, religion if they choose. In the international legal context this is what we call the exercise self-determination.

    The Kosovans on the other hand, experienced almost none of these facets of self-determination. In the absence of Serb guarantees to change that situation independence is a completely legitimate move for Kosovo.

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