An issue that loomed large throughout this six part investigation is how important an historical consciousness, and the knowledge thereof is not only on the case of Belgium but other examples also as was evident when we investigate how Yugoslavia was replaced with five independent countries; Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro and Macedonia thus far. And second, that the recognition of modern new states in Europe from Belgium all the way to the break-up of Yugoslavia, except for Montevideo, has been thwarted by the actions and decisions of powerful nations while basing their decisions on their political interests, historical ties and economic sphere of influence. The available evidence, made us furthermore conclude in P.6 that so long as this practice is accepted, there will be no uniform standards, and that efforts towards cooperation will be perceived with skepticism and doubt, most likely resulting in failure. And a third issue of course was whether the dissolution of Yugoslavia was inevitable and a result of the drive of its republics for independence or, whether their independence resulted from already weakened Yugoslavia which presented an opportune moment for republics to secede and seek independence. In fact as soon became evident, Yugoslavia was indeed a text book example of a state that has lost its ideological purpose and was faced with failed mechanisms for state control and equal distribution of wealth among different republics.
Poor economic conditions and large debt of the country only aided the dissatisfaction of its population. An environment that added to a fertile ground for the rise of nationalistic forces, which led by strong nationalistic leaders with separatist agendas, brought Yugoslavia to its end. In this context as we have seen, Slobodan Milosevic in Serbia and Franjo Tudjman in Croatia as we have seen, were two key factors that brought about the break-up of Yugoslavia. In fact, the events which took place and the process that unfolded clearly attest that the break-up was not inevitable or preordained. Yugoslavia was not · doomed to fail' after Tito' s death. There was no grand universal scheme either by the international community or by different ethnic groups to destroy a unified country. Rather its dissolution was a result of very complex circumstances which involved poor economic conditions which gave rise to black market across the country, unequal distribution of wealth among republics and autonomous provinces, nationalistic forces characteristic of both Milosevic's and Tudjman's politics, inadequate and inconsistent response of the international community which was caught by surprise by the crisis.
In the Belgian case, it was apparent from the process of its secession from the Kingdom of Netherlands and the process of its recognition by the Great Powers of Europe, that its quest and desire for recognition was defined and formulated during the process rather than prior to the start of hostilities. Belgium was united with the Netherlands by the Great Powers, with the purpose of providing a buffer against the French expansion. And it was only after France threatened to intervene that the Powers took the matter into their own hands. Realizing that they could use the opportunity provided by high level of tensions between the Powers, Belgians were quick to form their own provisional government and declare independence. And with their main priority being maintenance of peace and security in Europe, the Powers were focused on securing their aims rather than ensuring the desires of Belgium were met. There were numerous problems that needed to be resolved some of which involved issues related to the question of boundaries, the division of the national debt, the navigation of the rivers and canals, the form of government for Belgium. Even though most of the powers such as Russia, Austria and Prussia were opposed to Belgian independence, it was the fact that the British and French supported it which brought a reversal in the decision of Belgium' s recognition.
Belgium as part of the Kingdom of Netherlands and Belgium as a neutral country however, had only one purpose in the eyes of the great powers which was the preservation of peace in Europe and maintenance of the balance of power. Neutrality gave the great powers the assurance that Belgium after its recognition would continue to serve its pre-recognition purpose of being a buffer state. In the Belgian case thus, recognition was a question of necessity in order to preserve status quo within Europe. The fact that the Netherlands was not happy with the decision of the Great Powers and that it refused to recognize Belgium had no influence on the decision to extend recognition to Belgium. Therefore their recognition of Belgium without having prior consent of the mother state was a form of intervention.
Our investigations of Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia, had a task of examining the historical tendencies towards statehood of each entity. We traced the development of Slovenian and Croatian states from the time the first populations inhabited their territory until they gained recognition in 1992. There have been numerous debates regarding whether the creation of Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia and their quest for statehood and recognition was a long dreamed up historical goal or whether it was a recent development utilized as a political tool of extreme nationalists. The purpose of our historical analysis in the latter case was to evaluate the extent to which historical grievances and memories (as would be the case if Belgium where to break up) play a role in people's (ethnic group's) attempts towards self-determination, secession and independence. In addition, we examined whether historic claims to statehood and the process according to which these states were created is a part of there cognition criteria or decision-making of states when granting recognition.
More particularly, the Sloven research showed that it had existed within its borders and with its current population before, which helped Slovenes develop their uniqueness evident in its language, customs and culture. Foremost, Slovenes also had established affiliation with Austria, Italy and Germany and developed a strong economy and legal system compatible with those of the western countries. The Slovenian elite, as our research pointed out, played a prominent role in developing this feeling of superiority and separateness from other nationalities. The fact that most of the population in this republic was comprised of Slovenes only strengthened their unity. The decision to declare independence came after the government of Slovenia realized that Serbia headed by nationalistic Milosevic posed a threat to security to its population. The events which took place in Kosovo including ethnic violence between the Serbs and Albanians sent signals to the Slovenes that they may be the next target and that they would soon lose their freedom as an independent republic. Even though no republic expressed a desire for the dissolution of Yugoslavia and unity was still on everyone's agendas, the Slovene leadership reached the point where they perceived themselves in a stalemate and the only way out of it was by separating from Yugoslavia and the leadership in Belgrade. The Slovenians saw this as an opportune moment to appeal for recognition. Their first step was to turn to the international community and obtain their approval. It was only after Slovenia felt secure that it will receive the support of the rest of Europe that it proceeded to declare independence. Slovenia used the security argument as its tool to obtain backing of European countries and make a case for independence. It also presented itself as an emerging democracy fighting for independence from the old ideologies propagated by Belgrade. The fact that the republic was comprised mostly of ethnic Slovenes and that it had no other minorities, made Slovenia's independence rather smooth. Even though there is no evidence in the guidelines for recognition regarding the requirement for the population occupying its territory for a specific period of time, the fact that the Slovenes have lived on its territory for a long period of its history played a role in the international community justifying its recognition. A very important component was that this element supported the EC requirement that there should be no change in borders.
With respect to Croatia, our research revealed that an historical counsciousness was even stronger. Croatia has historically encompassed Bosnia and Herzegovina both in the 10th century and during the Second World War. However, the state that was formed during the latter period was run by Ustashas and supported by the Nazi Germany. It was an illegitimate state that was never recognized by the international community. There was never a referendum held to determine whether its population supported the state. Even though the legality and legitimacy of this state is subject to debate, the fact that Croatian state did exist indeed influenced the thinking of Croatians in modern times. Historical facts cannot be altered; they can be manipulated and constructed to create new realities. History constructed by the Croatian leadership headed by a nationalist Franjo Tudjman presented a potent and mobilizing force. The role of the leadership was to remind the population of their forefathers, their struggles towards Croatian independence and put it in the context of current events and their policy goals. Erecting old Ustasha insignia, songs and rhetoric served a clear purpose of both awakening and creating nationalistic feelings among Croatian population while aggravating and alienating the Serb population in the region.
It is apparent from the analyses we of Slovenia and Croatia that even though they were increasingly dissatisfied with the situation in Yugoslavia, neither republic automatically demanded independence. For both the proclamation of independence was a result of a number of factors including nationalistic pro-Serb leadership of the Belgrade government, deteriorating economic situation in the country and the feeling among them that there was an unequal distribution of wealth in the country as well as unfair distribution of responsibility for paying Yugoslavia's debt. The situation became rather precarious after the government in Serbia refused to allow a Croat, Stipe Mesic to take over his turn in the rotating Yugoslav Presidency. Both governments in Ljubljana and Zagreb feared that they will object to Milosevic's oppressive and discriminating regime and that their status as independent republics was in jeopardy. The main difference between the Slovene and Croatian perception of the situation was in the fact that once it became obvious that Yugoslavia would not survive the crisis, Slovenia wanted independence while Croatia, next to its independence, wanted to pursue its expansionist goals and incorporate parts of Bosnia into its territory. For both however, independence meant preservation of their own culture, uniqueness and freedom to develop independently of the Serbian influences. In order to answer the previous question of why certain countries are recognized, from our research it is clear that in the aftermath of the Montevisdeo Confernce the international community does award recognition to the entities whose claim to statehood appears legitimate. Both Slovenia and Croatia have established that case for themselves. Slovenia has developed independently within Yugoslavia and once the country dissolved, Slovenia wanted to develop both politically and economically independently of the rest of the Yugoslav republics. With respect to Croatia, its argument was based on a demonstration of a historic effort to achieve independence. The instances in which Croatia had independence, irrespective of how illegitimate the state may have been, clearly showed a genuine desire of the Croatian population to become a separate country and have a government that operated independently of Belgrade. Hence, in the cases of Slovenia and Croatia, the international community perceived the situation of that of legitimate claim to the right of statehood based either on the genuine desire for separateness as was the case with Slovenia and strong historic attempts towards independence in the case of Croatia.
Bosnia and Herzegovina stands as a rather unique case. This republic has had a history of foreign conquests of its territory, the most significant one being that by the Ottoman Empire. The most prominent nationalistic figure that supported and propagated the creation of a Muslim state in his writings was Alija Izetbegovic. The Muslims of Bosnia and Herzegovina have over the years been rather concerned about preserving their rights to practice their religion and maintain their culture alive. Realizing that both Slovenia and Croatia were to become independent, Izetbegovic feared the governments in Belgrade and Zagreb and did not want Bosnia and Herzegovina to become a part of "Greater Serbia" nor "Greater Croatia". His main fear was shared with Muslims, as they did not know what kind of future would await them under the Belgrade regime and whether they would be allowed to exercise their religion and maintain their culture and rights. This is the main reason behind their decision to opt for independence. For Bosnia, recognition was in a sense a way to escape being divided between Serbia and Croatia.
Realizing that the existence of a Muslim entity, in case Herzeg-Bosna and Republica Srpska joined Croatia and Serbia proper, was unrealistic and would not be permitted by the international community, Izetbegovic supported unified Bosnia within its existing borders. Hence with respect to Bosnia and Herzegovina, recognition was perceived as a necessity. There was a common belief that by recognition Bosnia and Herzegovina, both Serbia and Croatia would have to cease claims to Bosnian territory. It was a decision that was implemented more due to international security reasons than Bosnian desire for independence. At times, as was the case with Bosnia, developments on the ground may dictate the aspirations of an entity. Faced with expansionist Croatia on the one side and expansionist Serbia on the other, Izetbegovic was only left with the choice of seeking independence in order to preserve the Muslim culture and the existing borders of Bosnia.
The international community imposed a very important guideline with respect to recognition which pertained to the borders which were required to be maintained. Since all three entities under the old Yugoslavia had their borders already established, the international community supported 'no change of borders' policy. With respect to Bosnia and Herzegovina, the international community also wanted to preserve its unity as the best solution to preventing expansionist politics of Belgrade and Zagreb. Hence, in this case of state entities it was political interests of the international community rather than the self-determination principle of Serbs and Croats of Bosnia that prevailed and determined the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The news of recognition of Bosnia and Herzegovina was simultaneously announcement of the beginning of the civil war in Bosnia. Analogous to the refusal of the Muslims to be subjected to the government in Belgrade, the Croats and Serbs of Bosnia and Herzegovina pledged their allegiance to their respective countries. Historically, both the Serbs and Croats have looked down upon the Muslims and neither ethnic group would have ever acquiesced to completely giving up their ties to Belgrade and Zagreb and belonging to a Muslim government. This is why both ethnic groups opted to create their own entities within Bosnia and Herzegovina and declare independence. What took place in this state with respect to ethnic cleansing and the war itself had nothing to do with historic hatred between the three ethnicities or the hot-blooded mentality of the Serbs or Croats. It was a result of a desire to acquire new territories and claim what both Serbs and Croats felt was their historic right to land. Both Serbs and Croats created their own states forming an independent government, permanent population with their ethnic groups forming majorities, declaring clear territorial boundaries and establishing politically and financially strong relationships with Serbia and Croatia respectively.
The treatment of the two independent entities within Bosnia and Herzegovina by the international community was vastly different. Even though both entities exhibited very similar characteristics only the Serb entity was acknowledged. Herzeg-Bosna was forced to join the Muslim entity. The international community imposed a joint agreement and an ultimatum was delivered to Franjo Tudjman that if he did not support the Federation and there was no cease-fire, there would be sanctions imposed against Croatia and it would be isolated from the international community. Even though the international community prided itself on the achieved peace and an agreement the Federation is a fictional entity. In reality the Croats and Muslims are divided and remain so to this day.
Mostar is a divided city separated by a Boulevard as a divider between two ethnicities that refuse to be united. An agreement which was forced upon the Muslims and Croatians living in Bosnia and Herzegovina, a decade later remains just a fictional agreement. On the ground, Bosnia and Herzegovina remains divided into three entities Republika Srpska, Herzeg-Bosna and the Muslim entity.
The analysis of parastatal entities has provided us with many revealing aspects of recognition. With respect to Herzeg-Bosna we have learned that an entity can exist and as a (para)state or a state within a state, without being acknowledged by the international community. Herzeg-Bosna has all the attributes of an independent entity. The fact that it has not been recognized by the international community has not prevented its existence nor has it forced its population to assimilate with the Muslims. Our research also shows that although the international community acknowledged Republika Srpska, it did not have a duty to acknowledge Herzeg-Bosna as an independent entity which was created by the same means and has the same attributes of a state as Republika Srpska.
Furthermore the fact that Herzeg-Bosna could not argue for self-determination within Bosnia and force the international community to acknowledge it attests to the fact that political interest of the international community outweighs that of the legal rights. Even though for example Germany argued in favor of Croatian and Slovenian independence based on the principle of self-determination, no country in the international community was willing to make the same argument for the two entities within Bosnia and Herzegovina. The importance of acknowledgement of a (para)state or an entity within a state is equivalent to recognition of a state into the international community. In both cases acknowledgment/recognition grant an entity the right to act as an equal member either among other para(states) or states. Even though (para)states can exist without being agknowledged, the same way Herzeg-Bosna did, it is the act of acknowledgment that gives them official permission to exercise their rights and attributes of sovereignty. In same fashion, recognition grants a state permission to hold its place and rank in the character of an independent political organism in the society of nations.
The main reason why (para)state Herzeg-Bosna did not receive the same acknowledgment as Republika Srpska was political in nature. The European Community did not endorse a Muslim state in the heart of Europe due to international security reasons. Hence the reason why Herzeg-Bosna was not acknowledged was because of the consequences that it would have on the future security in Europe. If Herzeg-Bosna was acknowledged it would have meant that the international community also endorsed it joining Croatia in which case Republika Srpska would naturally join Serbia. The two entities would try to divide up the Muslims between them which could have escalated the conflict even further. Izetbegovic was clearly against any idea that involved dividing Bosnia. However if the two entities of Herzeg-Bosna and Republika Srpska separated that would leave Muslims by themselves to form their own Muslim state. And if there was a Muslim state in the middle of Europe it would cause instability in the region and European powers would never have agreed to this arrangement.839 According to many experts on the region, from the political and security standpoint this would be unacceptable(a similar problem as we frequently pointed out, exists in the case of Turkey visa vis a semi-authonomous Kurdistan in Iraq). In Bosnia and Herzegovina there was an increased presence of Muslims from the Middle East and reports came out that a number of terrorist training camps were formed on its territory. Clearly a Muslim state in the middle of Europe was not an acceptable option, which is the main reason why the United States and the rest of the international community pushed for the Federation.
This conclusion clearly points to the fact that the theory of recognition is firmly tied to the theory of geostrtegic, international security. The definition of geostrtegic international security depends on the interests of the international community at a particular point in history and as seen in case of the Kosovo war below, it is rather difficult to provide a unified definition. During the Yugoslav 'dissolution' the community was primarily concerned with peace in Europe. At the time when the EC was growing economically while also developing political unity, facing civil war in its backyard was perceived as a threat to region's stability. Recognition of new entities was perceived by many European states, especially Germany, as a vehicle that will help ensure that the balance of power and stability in Europe is preserved. The Muslim state would have clearly disrupted that balance and posed a threat to neighboring states. This is the main reason why the existence of Herzeg-Bosna was ignored, its structure and legitimacy was overlooked and the agreement was imposed on the government in Zagreb without ever consulting the wishes of the Croats living in Bosnia.
and Herzegovina from that point became a "protectorate" of the
European Union whose task was to equip this state with all the attributes of a
functional, legitimate state, a task which even today is challenging as we have
If the historic case of 19th century recognition of Belgium is compared to that of former Yugoslav states one can notice obvious similarities. The same way the great powers felt in charge of European security and responsible for preserving peace and stability in Europe, so did the European community which felt it was its responsibility to preserve peace on its soil. In both instances this was their right but also their responsibility and interest. Both conflicts threatened to spread to other countries and pose crisis of even larger proportions. In both cases an international conference was called when the future of the countries was determined. It was apparent in the case of Yugoslavia and even more so in the case of Belgium that the powers had a lot of say in determining the future of respective countries.
The main difference between the two cases of recognition is that in the case of Belgium the Opera revolution, has already stopped at the time of recognition. In Yugoslavia however, recognition came while the territories were still contested on the ground which ignited a horrific civil war. This is largely because there was no agreement over the recognition of Bosnia and Herzegovina by its own population. Both Serbs and Croats living in Bosnia did not want to be separated from Belgrade and Zagreb respectively and perceived fighting as their only weapon to prevent this from happening. Unfortunately the international community did not take this into account when extending recognition. Therefore the main lesson from the Yugoslav case is that there must be a cessation of fighting and an agreement among different ethnic groups living on a territory of a country regarding their desire for recognition. Furthennore in order for recognition not to be perceived as intervention, the mother state must be in agreement with extending recognition, otherwise it may perceive the act as a cause of war.
1389 28 June - Epic Battle of Kosovo heralds 500 years of Turkish Ottoman rule. Over the ensuing decades many Christian Serbs leave the region. Over the centuries the religious and ethnic balance tips in favor of Muslims and Albanians.
1689-90 - Austrian invasion is repelled.
1912 - Balkan Wars: Serbia regains control of Kosovo from the Turks, recognized by 1913 Treaty of London.
1918 - Collapse of the Ottoman empire; Kosovo becomes part of the kingdom of Serbia.
1941 - World War II: Much of Kosovo becomes part of an Italian-controlled greater Albania.
1946 - Kosovo is absorbed into the Yugoslav federation.
1960s - Belgrade shows increasing tolerance for Kosovan autonomy.
1974 - Yugoslav constitution recognizes the autonomous status of Kosovo, giving the province de facto self-government.
1981 - Troops suppress separatist rioting in the province.
1987 - In a key moment in his rise to power, future president Slobodan Milosevic rallies a crowd of Kosovo Serbs, who are protesting against alleged harassment by the majority Albanian community.
1989 - Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic proceeds to strip rights of autonomy laid down in the 1974 constitution.
1990 July - Ethnic Albanian leaders declare independence from Serbia. Belgrade dissolves the Kosovo government.
1990 September - Sacking of more than 100,000 ethnic Albanian workers, including government employees and media workers, prompts general strike.
1992 July - An academic, Ibrahim Rugova, is elected president of the self-proclaimed republic.
1993-97 - Ethnic tension and armed unrest escalate.
1998 March-September - Open conflict between Serb police and separatist Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). Serb forces launch a brutal crackdown. Civilians are driven from their homes.
1998 September - Nato gives an ultimatum to President Milosevic to halt the crackdown on Kosovo Albanians.
1999 March - Internationally-brokered peace talks fail.
Nato launches air strikes against Yugoslavia lasting 78 days before Belgrade yields.
Hundreds of thousands of Kosovo Albanian refugees pour into neighbouring countries, telling of massacres and forced expulsions which followed the start of the Nato campaign.
1999 June - President Milosevic agrees to withdraw troops from Kosovo. Nato calls off air strikes. The UN sets up a Kosovo Peace Implementation Force (Kfor) and Nato forces arrive in the province. The KLA agrees to disarm. Serb civilians flee revenge attacks.
2002 February - Ibrahim Rugova is elected as president by the Kosovan parliament after ethnic Albanian parties reach a power-sharing deal. Bajram Rexhepi becomes prime minister.
2003 October - First direct talks between Serbian and Kosovo Albanian leaders since 1999.
2003 December - UN sets out conditions for final status talks in 2005.
2004 March - 19 people are killed in the worst clashes between Serbs and ethnic Albanians since 1999. The violence started in the divided town of Mitrovica.
2004 October - President Rugova's pro-independence Democratic League tops poll in general election, winning 47 seats in 120-seat parliament. Poll is boycotted by Serbs.
2004 December - Parliament re-elects President Rugova and elects former rebel commander Ramush Haradinaj as prime minister. Mr Haradinaj's party had entered into a coalition with the president's Democratic League.
2005 February - Serbian President Boris Tadic visits, promises to defend rights of Serbs in Kosovo.
2005 March - Mr Haradinaj indicted to face UN war crimes
tribunal in The Hague, resigns as prime minister. He is succeeded by Bajram
2005 July - Nearly-simultaneous blasts go off near UN, OSCE and Kosovo parliament buildings in Pristina. No-one is hurt.
2005 August - Two Serbs shot dead and two injured when their car is fired at.
2006 January - President Rugova dies in Pristina after losing his battle with lung cancer. He is succeeded in February by Fatmir Sejdiu.
2006 February - UN-sponsored talks on the future status of Kosovo begin.
2006 March - Prime Minister Kosumi resigns following criticism of his performance from within his own party. He is succeeded by former KLA commander Agim Ceku.
2006 July - First direct talks since 1999 between ethnic Serbian and Kosovan leaders on future status of Kosovo take place in Vienna.
2006 October - Voters in a referendum in Serbia approve a new constitution which declares that Kosovo is an integral part of the country. Kosovo's Albanian majority boycotts the ballot and UN sponsored talks on the future of the disputed province continue.
2007 February - United Nations envoy Martti Ahtisaari unveils a plan to set Kosovo on a path to independence, which is immediately welcomed by Kosovo Albanians and rejected by Serbia.
2007 July - US and European Union redraft UN resolution to drop promise of independence at Russian insistence, replacing it with pledge to review situation if there is no breakthrough after four proposed months of talks with Serbia.
Giving just one example of why the problems in Yugoslavia caused international security problems; in March 1998 when President Slobodan Milosevic was attempting to provoke a situation that would justify a major military strike on Albanian separatists in Kosovo, a wide area of the Decani region in Kosovo, bordering Albania, had come under heavy attack by Serbian forces armed with tanks, armored personnel carriers, helicopters, and artillery; while at the same time Albania agreed to allow Turkey to rebuild its main naval base, placing Albania now in the Greek-Turkish confrontation; all the same while the United States was trying to convince Greek Cypriots not to install Russian anti-aircraft missiles; all the same while Serbia accused Montenegro of conspiring with West, and on June 18 a Kosovo pact between Serbia and Russia was made in a still ongoing drive of Russia, to re-place itself in key positions in the Balkans, the Aegean, the Middle East and Asia. In this scenario Russia at that time, was attempting to refashion as much of the international system as it could before the United States disentangled itself from its first Iraq war. A dysfunctional Serbia/Kosovo, hence was in Russia's best interest because it installed a point of permanent instability in a region that was then already within NATO and EU borders.
Ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union, it was inevitable that other nations would seek to create a counterbalance to the United States designed to create room for maneuver for themselves. Creating such a counterbalance was extremely difficult. The economic advantages of collaboration with the United States were so great, that political or military resistance to American initiatives was irrational. Neither Russia nor China, for example, would collaborate with each other if the consequence of such collaboration would be American economic retribution. Thus, where for example the Asian economic crisis at the time, and the Russian economic collapse were only barely connected economically, they were profoundly connected politically. As Russia's and China's economies struggled under the burdens of economic contraction, each began to experience a degree of internal political instability. Each, in its own way, sought to stabilize its economy by reigning in liberals (those who sought collaboration with the United States) and increasing dependence on conservatives (those who sought to pursue a course simultaneously more nationalistic, and more political and military in nature). The liberals and economists grew weaker. The conservatives, apparatchiks and generals grew stronger.
The United States, believing that the events of 1989-1992 had permanently transformed the world so that only the American geopolitical understanding was viable, resisted the Russian attempt to redefine its sphere of influence. The Russians became more uneasy and aggressive. It appeared logical to us that Russia would find it in its interests to create a new bloc partly to defend itself, partly to assert itself and partly as a bargaining chip against the IMF and the United States. Few nations would initially collaborate with Russia.
Russia was once more trying to take a leading role in Central Asia, alternately
cooperating with and challenging Iran, forging political, military, and
economic ties with China and Japan, allying with Syria and Greece against the
Turkish-Israeli Bloc, restoring ties with Belarus, and generally expanding its
involvement throughout its old sphere of influence. And through the Kosovo
crisis, it wanted to save Milosevic and drive back the "ineffective"
Ideally furthermore, from the Russian point of view, the United States would find itself in a position where in the case of Kosovo, for the first time since World War II, it was conducting air campaigns simultaneously in two widely dispersed theaters. The ideal for the Russians was an ineffective, prolonged campaign in Iraq and an intensive one in Serbia. Neither can succeed, neither can end, both will together sap U.S. military strength while straining the American alliance system.
At the same time, the United States' government had received reports that it found credible of a terrible genocide underway in Kosovo and decided that it had to intervene to stop it. The U.S. began by attempting to dictate terms to the Belgrade government, drafting a document now called the Rambouillet Accords. It gathered around itself its NATO allies, and demanded that all sides agreed to those Accords. There was substantial hesitancy on all sides, but in the end, the Albanians agreed. The Serbs did not. Leading NATO, the United States announced that unless the Serbs agreed to the Accords, precisely as stated with no further negotiation, NATO would begin a bombing campaign against the Serbs. The United States said this with full confidence that Belgrade would capitulate. But Belgrade did not.
Kosovo issue for the US of course was a side issue. The key to the lives of the
Kosovars is not in Washington but in Belgrade and Moscow. Serbia wanted
guarantees of a unified, sovereign nation. Russia wants a sphere of influence.
Thus what happened is that Yeltsin's intercession in the Kosovo crisis served
to undercut the U.S. and its efforts to forge a unified NATO response to the
crisis. That U.S. effort, part of an overall debate on the role of NATO in a
post Cold War world, was already suffering from splits within the organization
over whether NATO should await a UN mandate or act alone. Not only did Russia's
mediation efforts forestall a possible precedent-setting NATO action, but it
reinforced the extension of Russia's sphere of influence over Yugoslavia. In
short, the Yeltsin-Milosevic meeting was first and foremost a poke in the eye
for the United States, and if it settles the Kosovo crisis, then all the
better. And Russia, its experiment with liberalism over, would begin the long
process of reconstructing its empire and its position of power at the heart of
When on March 24, 1999, NATO aircraft began to bomb Yugoslavia, they were unable to force Belgrade to capitulate to its demands using the force available during the first month of the conflict. And was because Madeleine Albright, Sandy Berger, Richard Holbrooke and the US President, made a decision to impose the Rambouillet Accords on both sides in Kosovo.
It was simply assumed that, given the threat of bombardment, Slobodan Milosevic would have no choice but to capitulate and accept the accords. The evidence that Washington expected capitulation was in its complete lack of preparation for an extended conflict. In fact, Milosevic's view was that a bombing campaign over Kosovo would increase his domestic political power, by positioning him as a champion of Serbian national unity, thereby limiting the ability of his opposition to oppose him. But the second reason of course had to do with the shift in Russia's position. And Milosevic expected a vigorous Russian reaction to war. Thus, both sides miscalculated. The United States assumed that Milsosevic would capitulate when he realized that the United States would actually bomb Serbia. Milosevic assumed that the Russians would be a more limiting factor on NATO behavior and that American concern for the Iraqi theater would deter them as well.
In the end NATO's war against Yugoslavia set a precedent at considerable cost. It was the first instance of unilateral NATO intervention in a sovereign nation during the alliance's 50-year history. NATO sent more than 1,000 aircraft to fly more than 38,000 sorties, at an eventual estimated cost of tens of billions of dollars. The alliance deployed 38,000 peacekeepers, drawn from 28 countries, with no foreseeable end to their mission. Reconstruction has barely begun and is expected to cost another $32 billion.
And the winner clearly was Russia for it not only received $4.5 billion from the IMF at the time, it also maneuvered itself into the position of being an honest broker, trusted by both Germany/Italy and the Serbs.
Following the war a wave of reprisals against Serbs carried out by Kosovar Albanians, including members of the KLA. Nevertheless on September 03, 1999, after weeks of negotiations, leaders of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) and NATO signed a plan, allowing part of the guerrilla force to become a legitimate armed authority in Kosovo. The authorities in control of Kosovo were either unwilling or unable to muster the force necessary to control the KLA, and have defaulted to the only remaining option - to give the KLA a legal position and to try and keep them dependent on NATO for supplies and training. The KLA tested Russia and NATO's strength and came out the victor. Municipal elections in Kosovo on Oct. 30 next, brought to power a moderate political force under the League of Democrats of Kosovo, led by Ibrahim Rugova. But the party's victory over the Democratic Party of Kosovo, the conservative legacy of the former Kosovo Liberation Army, did not draw the international fanfare extended to other pro-democratic victories in Croatia, Bosnia and Serbia.
Also when the security force KFOR initially entered Kosovo, it to fulfill three missions: to ensure safety, enforce compliance with the June 1999 cease-fire agreements and temporarily assist the United Nations with civilian functions, such as policing and reconstruction. Yet Kosovo steadily became an upside-down world of reversed roles, where increasingly, KFOR troops where defending themselves not just against remaining pockets of Serbs, but apparently against their wartime allies in the KLA.
And where a year after the war ended, violent crime was falling the largely rural province was far from safe. In many ways, the state of affairs in Kosovo however was the result of a lack of government; in fact one year after peacekeeping began there was none. With at the same time ethnic Albanians as the predominant smugglers in the Western European heroin market, by gaining access to Western European cities trough exploiting their reputation as refugees. And tensions between the Serbs and ethnic Albanians continued to challenge stability in Montenegro and Serbia, the remaining Yugoslav republics at that time.
Then ironically, with the fall of Slobodan Milosevic's regime in Belgrade at the end of 2000, the security situation in Kosovo deteriorated even further. Before the new democratically elected Kostunica took office as new Serbian Premier, maintaining KFOR peacekeepers in Kosovo was enough to deter the Yugoslav army from making it back to the province. As well, it was safe to talk halfheartedly about Yugoslav sovereignty over Kosovo.
the democratic government in Belgrade is asking for the return of its former
province. Europe and America realized that if they ignore Belgrade's request
for much longer, the current pro-Western government will lose popular support.
And where Europe would have preferred to return Kosovo to Yugoslavia. They also
understood that Kosovar Albanian leaders would never agree to that solution.
And with the safety of Serbs and other minorities, such as the Roma, questionable in much of the region, northern Kosovo became the Serbs' primary enclave. Thus finally on Nov. 5 2001, the United Nations and Yugoslavia signed a joint declaration that would reinforce existing protections for Serbs living in Kosovo, yet at the same time committing themselves to give Serbs autonomy within their region of Kosovo.
Clashes however continued to take place, for example on March 17, 2004, when well-armed Serbs and Albanians clashed Mitrovica, home to about 263,000 ethnic Albanians and a majority of the province's Serbs- with round 25 people killed and 500 wounded.
This put new Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica in a difficult spot. He has maintained domestic popularity in Serbia in part through his strong nationalistic sentiment and by taking a tough line on the future of Kosovo. He was forced to bring even more nationalistic elements into his government, including Slobodan Milosevic's Socialist Party. After just weeks in power, however his government could not afford to look weak on Kosovo.
When on February 22, 2006 then, negotiations over possible independence for Kosovo started, Belgrade once more, wanted to maintain some political authority over the province, or at least ensure the safety of its Serb minority, while Albanians wanted complete independence for the province. And on Nov. 28, 2006 U.N. police fired tear gas to disperse some 3,000 ethnic Albanian protesters who surrounded the U.N. headquarters of the Kosovar capital of Pristina.
After getting NATO support in 1999 to secure their provisional break from Serbia, Kosovar Albanians grew weary of waiting for full and official independence from Belgrade. Serbs consider Kosovo to be the birthplace of their national identity and view Kosovar Albanians as little more than a recent infestation, though the province's population is now more than 90 percent Albanian and less than 5 percent Serbian. The Albanians want nothing less than independence, and for the Albanians the Serbs want anything shy of it.
Finally early June 2007, President George W. Bush became the first American president to visit Kosovo, calling for a final ruling on its independence. By then Kosovo issue has gotten caught between the competing interests of not only Russia, but also France and Germany. French President Nicolas Sarkozy met with Putin on June 8 to negotiate a compromise, the talks failed and Sarkozy proposed postponing the Kosovo decision for another six months in order to give Putin some time, to "oblige the Serbs and Kosovars to negotiate and to avoid a split in the international community.'' Putin immediately shot down this idea. While at the same time German Chancellor Angela Merkel, was bent on using the Kosovo issue to cement her legacy as EU president while trying to push to fast-track Serbia's EU membership talks as Belgrade's reward for letting Kosovo go while Russia was actively campaigning for support for Serbia. Putin then personally invited Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica to St. Petersburg, where he guaranteed Kostunica that Russia will veto Kosovar independence, and he vowed to help Serbia with its security, energy and economic needs.
Conclusion: The issue has been on the table since 1999, when the United States and its NATO allies, angered over Serbian behavior in Kosovo, ignored Russian objections and waged a 60-day air war against Yugoslavia. The Clinton administration charged that the Serbians were either conducting genocide against the Kosovar Albanians or were on the verge of it. Washington demanded the withdrawal of Serbian forces from Kosovo and, when that failed to happen, it commenced the air campaign. Plus since Russia, in particular, opposed the war, it made U.N. Security Council passage of an enabling resolution impossible.
The fact that Moscow has promoted itself as Serbia's protector before already has been an excuse Russia has used to get involved in many conflicts, including World War I. In 1999, however, the United States did not take Russia seriously when it considered how to handle Serbia. The war, however, did not go as expected. The Serbs did not capitulate after the first few days of bombardment, and neither the United States nor NATO was prepared to mount a ground attack into Kosovo. After two months of bombings, a diplomatic initiative was launched via Moscow, whose channels into Belgrade remained active since the Serbs retained some trust in the Russians. In a complex round of diplomacy, the Serbs agreed to withdraw their forces from Kosovo as long as the occupying force included a substantial Russian contingent.
In fact, the Russians sent a contingent of troops from their base in Bosnia through Serbia to Kosovo, arriving at the airport in Pristina as the bombing ended. Rather than integrate the Russian forces into the NATO force in Kosovo, the peacekeeping presence known as KFOR, NATO marginalized them. From the Russians' point of view, they had been double-crossed. They had gotten the Serbs to agree to a withdrawal on the proviso that the Russians would be a substantial part of KFOR. This was crucial because it was understood that they would guarantee the one part of the agreement that was a dealmaker to the Serbs. Serbia would withdraw from Kosovo, but it would not give up sovereignty. When the Americans and Europeans bypassed the Russians, Russian credibility, as low as it was, plummeted even more.
In a sense, Kosovo broke the back of Yeltsin's strategy. The Russians perceived the motherland as a poor but powerful country, one that not only had become poorer, but also was treated with contempt by the United States. Russian nationalists, even of the mildest sort, recoiled at what they saw as the American double-cross. Many issues sank Yeltsin, but Kosovo was critical. One of Putin's missions, then, has been to rebuild Russia's international standing.
Eight years after the war, KFOR continued to occupy Kosovo, though Europe and the United States are trying to bring the conflict to a conclusion by granting Kosovo independence. Their argument is that Kosovo, whatever its historical significance to Serbs, now has a majority of Albanians. In addition, the Albanians had been mistreated by the Serbs, so they cannot be returned to Serb control. Therefore, the only reasonable thing is for Kosovo to be granted independence.
The Serbs where intensely opposed to losing a province permanently. For the Russians, there are a number of issues. First, Putin wants to demonstrate to Europe and the United States that they cannot simply ignore understandings reached with Russia. The Russian opposition to Kosovo's independence was made clear eight years ago, and it remains clear now. Second, the Russians want to demonstrate that alliance with them has meaning as they attempt to expand their sphere of influence. Until now, their successes have been confined to the former Soviet Union. They want a showdown over the interests of a Balkan ally simply to demonstrate their loyalty and effectiveness, as well as the limits of American and European power. Finally, they want to expand their influence in the Balkans, an area of historical interest to the Russians.
On June 24,2007, Putin attended an energy conference of southeast European leaders. While there, he made it clear that Russia is prepared to expand capital investment in power networks and pipelines in the Balkans. He also supported the creation of an "energy ring" in the Black Sea region that might serve to define the parameters of a common European power grid. That was the carrot. The stick was a warning that the Russians will not accept an independent Kosovo.
Europe just wanted Kosovo off its plate. It is uneasy about extending the Muslim reach in the Balkans and it is concerned about the principle of changing borders based on ethnic makeup. In Europe, Spain's Basque region has had a separatist movement for years, while there are predominantly Hungarian regions in both Slovakia and Romania. The Russians, however, are most uneasy about the principle because if Kosovo is given independence, why not Chechnya?
The Europeans and Americans want to wrap up the Kosovo issue as soon as possible. For Bush, who has been portrayed as rabidly anti-Islamic, having a pro-Muslim policy somewhere in the world has obvious benefit. Albania, as demonstrated by Bush's recent visit, is the one place where he can gather sympathetic Muslim crowds, and he is not about to give it up. As for the Europeans, they want to let go of the tar baby and move on. By visiting Albania, therefore, Bush has signaled Putin that he is committed to Kosovar independence. The point the Bush administration is missing, however, was that rather than being deterred by Bush's show of commitment, Putin saw it as an opportunity to embarrass Bush and assert Russian power. He wanted to force Bush to back down on an issue on which the American president has staked himself publicly.
The United States in fact proposed a quid pro quo deal with Moscow that revolved around the issue of Iran, the International Herald Tribune reported Oct. 30, 2007. The article said Washington is prepared to meet unspecified Russian demands with regard to the implementation and modification of the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty in exchange for Russian help in passing new sanctions targeting Iran's nuclear program, as well as Moscow's support for Western efforts to grant independence to the Serbian province of Kosovo.
Earlier on Oct. 9 2007 Kosovo's leaders said in London, that Kosovo will declare its independence almost immediately if there is no deal reached with Serbia before a December 10 deadline. Prime Minister Agim Ceku said: "This will happen in a couple of days if the deadline runs out." The Kosovan leaders want supporting countries, of which Britain is one, to offer pre-arranged recognition at once. Mr Ceku was in London with the Kosovan President Fatmir Sejdiu to meet the British Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, and other officials. Without an agreement, a region that saw Nato wage war on Serbia to make its forces leave Kosovo in 1999, would not find the settled political way forward that international diplomacy has been seeking. It could precipitate another crisis between Russia and the West, with the United States and at least some European Union states recognising Kosovo as an independent country. Russia would object, having always said that no final steps should be taken without the agreement of both Kosovo and Serbia. If the US and some EU states do recognise Kosovo, as appears inevitable, Russia might be tempted to recognise three enclaves in Georgia and Moldova that have looked to Russia for support. These enclaves are Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia, and Trans-Dniester in Moldova.
A British official dismissed the threat, saying that Kosovo was "clearly unique". The official all but confirmed that Britain would recognise an independent Kosovo by saying that a UN-sponsored plan for "supervised" independence was the best way forward without an agreement. Britain's attitude could also be gauged by the fact that it offered one of the finest rooms in the Foreign Office, the Locarno Room, for the Kosovan news conference.
The UN has set a deadline of 10 December for the Kosovo negotiations. The talks reached deadlock in New York last month and will be taken up again in Brussels on 14 October, with no hopes of progress evident. The point at issue is quite simple. Kosovo wants to be independent. Serbia wants it to be autonomous. The Kosovo leadership has accepted a plan proposed by a UN appointed mediator, Martti Ahtisaari, for "supervised" independence. This independence would not allow Kosovo to join Albania (most people in Kosovo are ethnic Albanians). The plan is subject to three other principles: no division of Kosovo (some Serb areas might otherwise want to stay with Serbia); no return to the situation before the war of 1999 (that means no return of Kosovo to Serbian sovereignty); and acceptance by the people of Kosovo. Serbia has countered with an offer for Kosovo to be given substantial autonomy within the Serbian state, a proposal rejected by the Kosovo Albanians. Serbia argues that some key events of its history took place there and that it should not have these taken away. Russia has blocked a Security Council resolution giving effect to the Ahtisaari proposal. It argues that any unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo would have no legal basis and should not be accepted by other countries. There could also be a secondary crisis within the EU, if a unanimous position cannot be found. At the moment, it looks as if there would be a split. Britain, France and Germany are expected to lead the way calling for recognition but Greece, Cyprus, Romania and Slovakia have all indicated that they would need UN approval first. The EU seeks to formulate a joint foreign policy, but if no common position can be found, states can go their own way.However "Kosovo has no economic potential," said Behget Pacolli, a self-made millionaire whose newly created New Kosovo Alliance came third in Saturday's election. "But we have people who can work, a youth prepared for challenges."
But even if Kosovo wins quick Western recognition after a declaration expected to come in the next couple of months, things may get worse before they get better. Far from coming to terms with the loss of its province, Serbia is bitterly opposed to secession and may try to inflict as much pain as possible, by blockading recognition, trade, borders, power, telephones and whatever else it can influence. Serbs living in the northern corner of the province will almost certainly reject the new republic, and since they have Serbia at their backs plus full support from Belgrade, there is little Kosovo can do to prevent de facto partition. So the flag-raising jubilation of independence day will have a sober undercurrent. Kosovo faces a long climb to the level of prosperity of the European Union, whose white four-wheelers will soon replace those of the United Nations. Update Nov. 18, 2007: Following our Introduction in regards to the parliamentary elections on Nov.17, the results of which have now been announced. Comment:
The true Meaning of the Montevideo Convention
As we have seen, with the emancipation of the Latin American states they were standing on an unsure ground and were fearful of European states and the United States mingling into their affairs. Therefore, they needed reassurance that a new era was beginning for them and that they could develop without constantly worrying of other states violating their sovereignty. This was also the time after the world had witnessed the First World War and was developing mechanisms to prevent another war ftom occurring. The preservation of the newly established peace was the main goal of both the U.S. and Latin American countries. Numerous Conferences that were organized on the initiative of Latin American countries and later the United States were aimed at achieving mechanisms for protecting their security, safety and sovereignty. The Sixth and Seventh conference also sought to establish a firm foundation for the doctrine of equality of states which had as its aim to prevent intervention into the affairs of other states.
One of the most significant achievements of the conference was the agreement on non-intervention into the affairs of other states. Montevideo is often quoted and credited for establishing the criteria for statehood and recognition of states. The criterion established at the time was a reflection of general legal criteria that characterized each state. In addition as we have seen, the section on The Rights and Duties of States, article 3, indicates that "political existence of the state is independent of recognition by the other states. Even before recognition the state has the right to defend its integrity and independence, to provide for its conservation and prosperity."
Interestingly, as the cases we presented in this investigation have clearly shown, the course of action taken by the international community with respect to former Yugoslav states was analogous to that of Belgian independence in the 19th century. First they tried to address the issues with all parties involved and then they organized a conference to determine the status of Yugoslavia and resolve the issue of recognition. As was the case of Belgium. the conference determined that the union of Yugoslav republics was no longer possible. With respect to Yugoslavia the decision was made that the country was in the process of dissolution. Similarly to Belgium, even though there were powers such as the United States who at the beginning opposed recognition, Germany as the most powerful European state wholeheartedly supported it and announced its willingness to recognize Croatia before other powers could even assess the situation in the country and decide on the course of action. In the case of Belgium it was France and Britain who recognized Belgium even though many issues have not been resolved and other powers objected to it. In both cases recognition was awarded due to necessity. In the Belgium case it was to preserve peace in Europe and in the case of Yugoslavia it was to stop the fighting and create stability in the region. Interestingly recognition in both instances recognition was extended prior to the approval of the mother state which according to the international law is a case of intervention into the affairs of a state.
One could argue that what has changed with respect to recognition is closely related to the developments in international law. With respect to former Yugoslavia for the first time the international community has formed an ad hoc committee comprised of prominent lawyers to detennine the status of Yugoslavia and its seceding republics. The European Community also established the Guidelines for recognition which included respect to the provisions of the Charter ofthe United Nations, guarantee for the rights of ethnic and national groups and minorities respect for the inviolability of a11 frontiers, acceptance with regard to disannament and nuclear non-proliferation. These criteria were chosen by the European Community according to the European political standards of statehood.
Yet recognition of former Yugoslav states did not adhere to the Guidelines or the recommendation of the Badinter Commission. Even though Montevideo criteria remain the most referred to document and the only instance of codification in history of statehood, the process of recognition by states never followed it. This is especially evident in the case of Bosnia and Herzegovina which was recognized even though the Badinter Commission recommended otherwise, its territory was being disputed, its Sarajevo government did not control all of its territory, there were two state entities on its territory, and three paramilitary groups which continued to fight for three years after its recognition. Yet the country was recognized mostly because the act was deemed necessary to create stability and stop the fighting in the region. This indicates that even though there is a movement towards following guidelines with respect to recognition, at the end of the day it is the international security that will carry more weight and will take precedence over international law.
Permanent population, territory, government and ability to conduct foreign relations are the four conditions, which have developed into customary international law. These criteria are so basic, that a state would not even be able to function without having the four standards fulfilled. However, fulfillment ofthe four standards and the existence of statehood does not guarantee recognition. Nor, does recognition create statehood. The determinant of statehood is functionality. By recognizing a new state, the international community is not proclaiming a state but rather it is expressing self-interest in that particular state's being an official member of the community of nations. The ultimate decision whether to recognize an entity can only be determined on case by case basis. One component or criterion of recognition that will always be present is the international security component. The existence and acceptance of an aspiring state into the international community will be weight against the contribution this state will make to the security in the region. If the recognition of a particular state is contested and it is known that the act itself will cause conflict, the entity will likely not receive recognition. Hence, this political aspect of recognition is a reserved right that recognizing states maintain in order to preserve balance and stability.
This however does not mean that the process of recognition is strictly political or that there should not be a normative criterion guiding the process of recognition as was the case in former Yugoslavia. International law plays a prominent role in establishing stability in the world. Ifrecognition is viewed as a dependent variable, the list of independent variables is largely a subject of the world order we live in and the priorities of the international community at the time it receives an application for recognition.
Hence, the European Community's Guidelines for recognition were the independent variables mostly based on conventions and standards of the European states as they stand today. Some of the other independent variables that should be considered on the list of independent variables include democracy and political freedom the new states offers to its citizens and other states, consensus among the populations for the new state, willingness to respect and abide by the international treaties, stability of the regime and the government of the new country, nature of its government and its compatibility with other states, and economic utility to other states. The fact that the European Community decided to form a Badinter Commission composed of prominent international lawyers points to the fact that there is an effort to establish new normativity with respect to recognition. The recommendations that the Commission made with respect to Yugoslavia and the requirement for new states does point out that the international legal decisions do take account of stability which is why there is a defmite role of international law with respect to questions of recognition.
As we have shown, there is a single independent variable which is essential for recognition without which a nascent state will not be recognized.That variable is international security as interpreted by policy makers of the moment. This variable is the single most important component and it shapes the decision-making regarding recognition. As we have seen in the case of 19th century Belgium, the country was recognized upon the condition of neutrality of Belgium, which was also a guarantee of European security. At the time European security was a matter of interpretation which in the cases of the great powers included their self interest and preservation of the established balance. If Belgian independence did not coincide with the interests of great powers at the time, Belgium would not have been afforded the right of independence. In the case of Yugoslavia, recognition was granted in hope that the act would shift the conflict from civil to international and in that would bring peace while preventing further violence. Recognition achieved just the opposite. It fired a gunshot which started the most brutal race for territorial acquisition driven by both economic and political interests.Therefore, one of the most potent lessons of Yugoslavia is that recognition is not an effective tool for putting out fires and should not be used as such because it can have a reverse affect and add fuel to the burning fire. The study further points to the fact that recognition is not a 'crowning' process or the 'icing on the cake' extended to an entity which deserved recognition. Most importantly, recognition by itself does not create viable states. For example the case of Bosnia and Herzegovina by any international standard did not represent a viable state at the time of recognition. Despite that fact, it was recognized and accepted into the community of states. This was done strictly for political reasons which could not be found or explained through the prism of any political theory or any standard of international law.
From our investigation it is also clear that the way an entity achieved statehood, the source of its desire for statehood and the process it went through does playa role in determining whether an entity will be recognized or not. This component is not stated in Montevideo however as established Montevideo was about non-intervention rather than about statehood and recognition of new states. The most important factor in making the final decision on whether an entity is extended recognition its relevance and impact on the international security. If the recognition of a new entity is deemed to strengthen the security of a region and maintain the balance in the existing system, it will be allowed to join the club of nations. Therefore it is the international security interests tied with economic interests that drive the actions of existing states in deciding whether to extend or decline recognition to a new entity.
Recognition in the 21 st century thus has emerged as a powerful creature of the international community. Its purpose is not to aid the creation of states, nor to display politically based favoritism, but rather to promote the preservation of peace and stability in the international system. The fact is that states emerge independently of recognition. The rights and attributes of sovereignty belong to it independently of recognition. It is recognition however that creates a stable juridical foundation for the relationship between the recognizing state and the one being recognized. Recognition gives a state the right and assurance to exercise attributes of sovereignty and an opportunity develop political, economic and security relations with other states as an equal member of the community of nations. As shown, recognition is not 'all politics', however recognizing states reserve the right to consider political components especially those pertaining to international security and base their final decision on it. This fact makes it rather difficult to write a legal text that will complement the political decision-making and be applicable in all situations. This is why today one cannot speak of duty to recognize as in the cases where recognition of a state impedes or endangers international security, the state will not receive recognition. This is precisely why Montevideo criteria were adopted as ambiguous as it was and why the United States had reservations about the eleven articles that defined criteria for statehood and recognition. Codifying statehood and switching recognition into the realm of international law would be the equivalent of giving up the right to intervene and control international affairs. It would be the analogous to states giving up their reserved political right to extend or withhold recognition, which is not a realistic option. The way the Great Powers established themselves as guarantors of peace in Europe in the 19th century, the same way the leading states of today perceive themselves as responsible for the peace and stability in the world. Recognition today and for the years to come remains a powerful tool available to those states to control the international security and ensure the preservation of peace in the world.
And as for our conclusion in regards to Kosovo today:
As we have seen in our introduction, the Yugoslav question finally became a 1990s issue, while the Kosovo issue has appeared to be one of those conflicts that never quite goes away but isn't regarded very seriously by the international community. However, Kosovo is getting very serious again.
The United States and Europe appear committed to making Kosovo, now a province of Serbia, an independent state. Of course, Serbia opposes this, but more important, so does Russia. Russia opposed the original conflict, but at that point it was weak and its wishes were irrelevant. Russia opposes independence for Kosovo now, and it is far from the weak state it was in 1999 - and is not likely to take this quietly. Kosovo's potential as a flash point between Russia and the West makes it important again. Let's therefore review the action to this point.
In 1999, NATO, led by the United States, conducted a 60-day bombing campaign against Yugoslavia and its main component, Serbia. The issue was the charge that Yugoslavia was sponsoring the mass murder of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, just as it had against Bosnian Muslims. The campaign aimed to force the Yugoslav army out of Kosovo while allowing a NATO force to occupy and administer the province.
Two strands led to this action. The first was the fear that the demonstrable atrocities committed by Serbs in Bosnia were being repeated in Kosovo. The second was the general feeling dominant in the 1990s that the international community's primary task was dealing with rogue states behaving in ways that violated international norms. In other words, it was assumed that there was a general international consensus on how the world should look, that the United States was the leader of this international consensus and that there was no power that could threaten the United States or the unity of the vision. There were only weak, isolated rogue states that had to be dealt with. There was no real risk attached to these operations. Yugoslavia was identified as one of those rogue states. The United States, without the United Nations but with the backing of most European countries, dealt with it.
There was no question that Serbs committed massive atrocities in Bosnia, and that Bosnians and Croats carried out massive atrocities against Serbs. These atrocities occurred in the context of Yugoslavia's explosion after the end of the Cold War. Yugoslavia had been part of an arc running from the Danube to the Hindu Kush, frozen into place by the Cold War.
Muslims had been divided by the line, with some living in the former Soviet Union but most on the other side. The Yugoslav state consisted of Catholics, Orthodox Christians and Muslims; it was communist but anti-Soviet and cooperated with the United States. It was an artificial state imposed on multiple nationalities by the victors of World War I and held in place after World War II by the force field created by U.S.-Soviet power. When the Soviets fell, the force field collapsed and Yugoslavia detonated, followed later by the rest of the arc.
The NATO mission, then, was to stabilize the western end of this arc, Yugoslavia. The strategy was to abolish the multinational state created after World War I and replace it with a series of nation-states -- such as Slovenia and Macedonia - built around a coherent national unit. This would stabilize Yugoslavia. The problem with this plan was that each nation-state would contain substantial ethnic minorities, regardless of attempts to redraw the borders. Thus, Bosnia contains Serbs. But the theory was that small states overwhelmingly consisting of one nationality could remain stable in the face of ethnic diversity so long as there was a dominant nation -- unlike Yugoslavia, where there was no central national grouping.
So NATO decided to re-engineer the Balkans much as they were re-engineered after World War I. NATO and the United States got caught in a weird intellectual trap. On the one hand, there was an absolute consensus that the post-World War II borders of Europe were sacrosanct. If that wasn't the case, then Hungarians living in Romanian Transylvania might want to rejoin Hungary, Turkish regions of Cyprus might want to join Turkey, Germany might want to reclaim Silesia and Northern Ireland might want to secede from the United Kingdom. All hell could break loose, and one of the ways Europe avoided hell after 1945 was a cardinal rule: No borders would shift.
The re-engineering of Yugoslavia was not seen as changing borders. Rather, it was seen as eliminating a completely artificial state and freeing genuine nations to have their own states. But it was assumed that the historic borders of those states could not be changed merely because of the presence of other ethnic groups concentrated in a region. So the desire of Bosnian Serbs to join Serbia was rejected, both because of the atrocious behavior of the Bosnian Serbs and because it would have shifted the historic borders of Bosnia. If all of this seems a bit tortured, please recall the hubris of the West in the 1990s. Anything was possible, including re-engineering the land of the south Slavs, as Yugoslavia's name translates in English.
In all of this, Serbia was seen as the problem. Rather than viewing Yugoslavia as a general failed project, Serbia was seen not so much as part of the failure but as an intrinsically egregious actor that had to be treated differently than the rest, given its behavior, particularly against the Bosnians. When it appeared that the Serbs were repeating their actions in Bosnia against Albanian Muslims in 1999, the United States and other NATO allies felt they had to intervene.
In fact, the level of atrocities in Kosovo never approached what happened in Bosnia, nor what the Clinton administration said was going on before and during the war. At one point, it was said that hundreds of thousands of men were missing and later that 10,000 had been killed and bodies were being dissolved in acid. The post-war analysis never revealed any atrocities on this order of magnitude. But that was not the point. The point was that the United States had shifted to a post-Cold War attitude, and that since there were no real threats against the United States, the primary mission of foreign policy was dealing with minor rogue states, preventing genocide and re-engineering unstable regions. People have sought explanations for the Kosovo war in vast and complex conspiracies. The fact is that the motivation was a complex web of domestic political concerns and a genuine belief that the primary mission was to improve the world.
The United States dealt with its concerns over Kosovo by conducting a 60-day bombing campaign designed to force Yugoslavia to withdraw from Kosovo and allow NATO forces in. The Yugoslav government, effectively the same as the Serbian government by then, showed remarkable resilience, and the air campaign was not nearly as effective as the air forces had hoped. The United States needed a war-ending strategy. This is where the Russians came in.
Russia was weak and ineffective, but it was Serbia's only major ally. The United States prevailed on the Russians to initiate diplomatic contacts and persuade the Serbs that their position was isolated and hopeless. The carrot was that the United State agreed that Russian peacekeeping troops would participate in Kosovo. This was crucial for the Serbians, as it seemed to guarantee the interests of Serbia in Kosovo, as well as the rights of Serbs living in Kosovo. The deal brokered by the Russians called for a withdrawal of the Serbian army from Kosovo and entry into Kosovo of a joint NATO-Russian force, with the Russians guaranteeing that Kosovo would remain part of Serbia.
This ended the war, but the Russians were never permitted - let alone encouraged - to take their role in Serbia. The Russians were excluded from the Kosovo Force (KFOR) decision-making process and were isolated from NATO's main force. When Russian troops took control of the airport in Pristina in Kosovo at the end of the war, they were surrounded by NATO troops.
In effect, NATO and the United States reneged on their agreement with Russia. Russian President Boris Yeltsin and the Russian Foreign Ministry caved in the face of this reneging, leaving the Russian military - which had ordered the Kosovo intervention -- hanging. In 1999, this was a fairly risk-free move by the West. The Russians were in no position to act.
The degree to which Yeltsin's humiliation in Kosovo led to the rise of Vladimir Putin is not fully understood. Putin represented a faction in the intelligence-military community that regarded Kosovo as the last straw. There were, of course, other important factors leading to the rise of Putin, but the Russian perception that the United States had double-crossed them in an act of supreme contempt was a significant factor. Putin came to office committed to regaining Russian intellectual influence after Yeltsin's inertia.
The current decision by the United States and some European countries to grant independence to Kosovo must be viewed in this context. First, it is the only case in Yugoslavia in which borders are to shift because of the presence of a minority. Second, it continues the policy of re-engineering Yugoslavia. Third, it proceeds without either a U.N. or NATO mandate, as an action supported by independent nations - including the United States and Germany. Finally, it flies in the face of Russian wishes.
This last one is the critical point. The Russians clearly are concerned that this would open the door for the further redrawing of borders, paving the way for Chechen independence movements, for example. But that isn't the real issue. The real issue is that Serbia is an ally of Russia, and the Russians do not want Kosovar independence to happen. From Putin's point of view, he came to power because the West simply wouldn't take Russian wishes seriously. If there were a repeat of that display of indifference, his own authority would be seriously weakened.
Putin is rebuilding the Russian sphere of influence in the former Soviet Union. He is meeting with the Belarusians over reintegration. He is warning Ukraine not to flirt with NATO membership. He is reasserting Russian power in the Caucasus and Central Asia. His theme is simple: Russia is near and strong; NATO is far away and weak. He is trying to define Russian power in the region. Though Kosovo is admittedly peripheral to this region, if no European power is willing to openly challenge Russian troops in Kosovo, then Russia will have succeeded in portraying NATO as a weak and unreliable force.
If the United States and some European powers can create an independent Kosovo without regard to Russian wishes, Putin's prestige in Russia and the psychological foundations of his grand strategy will suffer a huge blow. If Kosovo is granted independence outside the context of the United Nations, where Russia has veto power, he will be facing the same crisis Yeltsin did. If he repeats Yeltsin's capitulation, he will face substantial consequences. Putin and the Russians repeatedly have warned that they wouldn't accept independence for Kosovo, and that such an act would lead to an uncontrollable crisis. Thus far, the Western powers involved appear to have dismissed this. In our view, they shouldn't. It is not so much what Putin wants as the consequences for Putin if he does not act. He cannot afford to acquiesce. He will create a crisis.
Putin has two levers. One is economic. The natural gas flowing to Europe, particularly to Germany, is critical for the Europeans. Putin has a large war chest saved from high energy prices. He can live without exports longer than the Germans can live without imports. It is assumed that he wouldn't carry out this cutoff. This assumption does not take into account how important the Kosovo issue is to the Russians.
The second option is what one might call the "light military" option. Assume that Putin would send a battalion or two of troops by air to Belgrade, load them onto trucks and send them toward Pristina, claiming this as Russia's right under agreements made in 1999. Assume a squadron of Russian aircraft would be sent to Belgrade as well.
If that happened, there are other areas of interest to Russia and the West where Russia could exert decisive military power, such as the Baltic States. If Russian troops were to enter the Baltics, would NATO rush reinforcements there to fight them? The Russian light military threat in Kosovo is that any action there could lead to a Russian reaction elsewhere.
The re-engineering of the Balkans always has assumed that there is no broader geopolitical price involved. Granting Kosovo independence would put Russia in a position in which interests that it regards as fundamental are challenged. Even if the West doesn't see why this should be the case, the Russians have made clear that it is so - and have made statements essentially locking themselves into a response or forcing themselves to accept humiliation. Re-engineering a region where there is no risk is one thing; re-engineering a region where there is substantial risk is another.
In the end, the West will postpone independence again, but the Albanians might force the issue by declaring unilateral independence. The Russians would actually be delighted to see this. But here is the basic fact: For the United States and its allies, Kosovo is a side issue of no great importance. For the Russians, it is both a hot-button issue and a strategic opportunity. The Russians won't roll over this time. And the asymmetry of perceptions is what crises are made of.
Putin wants to demonstrate that Russia is a great power. That would influence thinking throughout the former Soviet Union, sobering eastern Central Europe as well, and Poland in particular. Confronting the West as an equal and backing it into a corner is exactly what he would like. In our view, Putin will seize the Kosovo issue not because it is of value in and of itself but because it gives him a platform to move his strategic policy forward.
Germans have neither the resources nor the appetite for such a crisis. The
Americans, bogged down in the Islamic world, are hardly in a position to deal
with a crisis over Kosovo. The Russian view is that the West has not reviewed
its policies in the Balkans since 1999 and has not grasped that the geopolitics
of the situation have changed. Nor, in our view, has Washington or Berlin
grasped that a confrontation is exactly what the Russians are looking for.