Saturday, March 01, 2008

Ireland recognises Europe's newest Muslim state

From RTÉ:

Ireland recognises Kosovo independence

Friday, 29 February 2008 19:55

The Government has recognised the independence of the Republic of Kosovo.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern made the announcement, saying he was aware that the independence declaration was painful for Serbia.

However, he stressed that Ireland's recognition of Kosovo was not an act of hostility toward the country.

The minister added that he hoped Serbia and Kosovo could move toward a brighter future together in Europe.

On 17 February, the Kosovo assembly passed a resolution declaring it was an independent democratic, secular and multi-ethnic republic, guided by the principles of non-discrimination and equal protection under the law.

A number of countries have already recognised Kosovo's independence, including the US, Britain, France, Germany and Italy.

This is bad news. Ireland can be counted on always to act precipitously on occasions like this, revelling in her seat atop the free and democratic moral high horse, or perhaps hearing in Kosovo’s independence from Serbia an echo of her own independence, after a protracted and bitter struggle, from the British Empire nearly a hundred years ago.

But this analogy is false. Ireland is not, and has never been, a part of Britain. British rule in this country has always been that of an external and occupying force. Kosovo, however, is and always has been part of Serbia. Ireland has never been viewed as a sacred heartland by British people, the loss of which would result in a calamitous crisis of cultural identity, but Kosovo has always been such a heartland for the Serbs. And it is useless for Dermot Ahern to say that Ireland’s recognition of the breakaway province is “not an act of hostility” toward Serbia. The Serbs, stung to the quick by these events, will view it as a hostile act, no matter what Mr. Ahern might say.

The Kosovar declaration of “independence” from Serbia is an illegal act. It is not an assertion on the part of a sovereign nation of autonomy from a hostile foreign oppressor who has no right to be there in the first instance; it is the revolt of an internal province without any authority in law to make such a declaration. Of course the problem which confronts the Serbs in their attempts to keep Kosovo within their borders is that they blotted their copybook during the Miloševic years through innumerable atrocities and human rights violations perpetrated against the ethnic Albanian majority by Serb paramilitaries. But for western governments to focus their attention solely upon Serbia’s past track record in the sphere of human rights is to overlook the principal issue, which is a question of whether a local region within a sovereign state should have a right to dismember that state on its own authority and to establish itself as a new sovereign state in violation of the laws of the original state and against the consent of the government thereof. If we recognize Kosovo’s independence as legal, we must also recognize the independence of the Basques from Spain, and require that the Spanish do so too. And what of the Bretons in France? Or the Lapps in parts of Scandinavia? What of the Kurds in Syria, Iraq and Turkey? The latter definitely want their own state, and have been violently agitating in that direction for several decades. Why will Dermot Ahern not support their cause? The principle, after all, is the same. What of the aboriginal people in Australia, or the native Americans in the USA? And what of other places which contain substantial ethnic or religious minorities — shall we insist, for instance, that Great Britain grant independence to an Islamic Republic of Bradford, complete with theocratic rule and sharia courts, should this ever be requested?

Personally, Melancholicus strongly opposes any recognition of Kosovo as an independent state. Quite aside from the weighty political considerations already referred to, we would do well to remind ourselves of the religion to which most of the Albanian majority in Kosovo belongs. It is not a European religion; it is not Christianity. It is Islam. Shall we then recognize as an independent state a province the population of which is nearly 90% Muslim? Doubtless, in time, they will be seeking admission to the EU, and to admit Kosovo thereto would be even more problematic than admitting Turkey.

It is all very well for Kosovo to describe itself as a “democratic, secular and multi-ethnic republic, guided by the principles of non-discrimination and equal protection under the law”. These are doubtless the magic words which bewitched Mr. Ahern as well as every other western government that has so hastily recognised the independence of this break-away province. Time will reveal how well Kosovo will live up to its own self-description. Democratic? That may be so — for the moment. Has this region ever truly known the democratic process? Will it be capable of preserving it now? Or will the KLA establish a military dictatorship on the pretext of safeguarding Kosovo’s fragile democracy (whereupon the latter shall cease to exist)?

Now, secular: methinks they protest too much. Why should Kosovo draw attention to itself by using the word secular? Is this an attempt to hide the 500-pound Islamic elephant in the room? Melancholicus does not hold out much hope of Kosovo actually living up to this article of its “constitution”. The Wahhabis doubtless have their eye on the province. During the troubles there which prompted the intervention of KFOR, Kosovo (like Bosnia before it) was infiltrated by mujahideen from Arab countries whose purpose was not merely to help the Muslim natives militarily against the Serbs, but to accelerate an Islamic revival along extremist lines. This is the worst legacy of Slobodan Miloševic’s policy towards the rest of what was once Yugoslavia. The Muslims of Bosnia and Kosovo were once exceeding lax, secular and European; they are not so any more.

And as for multi-ethnic: there are two main ethnic groups in Kosovo, the Muslim Albanians and the Christian Serbs. The Albanians constitute at least 90% of the population, and this figure is probably rising continually since Kosovo has witnessed a steady exodus of Serbs since 1999. At this rate there will be no Serbs left in the near future. Consequently, this “multi-ethnic” badge is a sop to western liberals, with their romantic notions of multiculturalism and social harmony. Those Serbs remaining in Kosovo today are afraid, and they have every reason to be. Shall the KLA, once Kosovo is secure in a universally-recognized independence from Belgrade, not exact its revenge on the Serbian community for the atrocities of 1999? Shall the Serb minority not be persecuted by their angry (and Islamic) Albanian neighbours? Shall the Serbs be entitled to equal rights, equal legal standing, equal economic and educational opportunities and religious freedom? On the example of other states with a Muslim majority, we may take leave to doubt it. On the contrary, the Serbs will be reduced very quickly to the status of subjugated dhimmis within Europe’s newest Muslim state.

Melancholicus does not recognize the independence of Kosovo, but as his opinion does not count for much on the stage of world affairs, this is hardly worth saying.

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