Sunday, December 09, 2007

Kosovo, that name again 

Alas Kosovo (or Kosova or Kosove) is coming back into the hot news again. It is clear that the new government in Prishtina will declare independence from Serbia soon, and may only have delayed for a few weeks through frantic appeals from the European Union - effectively to delay secession and the probably inevitable start of a war until after the 2007 Christmas Holidays.

The mess and uproar in early January 2008 will be impressive. It looks as if this will be the first complex of foreign policy choices facing our new party leadership.
Can we marshal some context and expertise from our own ranks and contacts to help with this debate and necessary quick decisions?

There are few (probably no) information sources accepted as dispassionate by all sides in this situation. The best known UK book, (and the one I have read most closely) is probably that by Noel Malcolm ‘Kosovo – a short history’ which is denounced by enthusiastic Serbs as anti-Serbian.

What does seem to be clear is that ‘the Situation’ is not a centuries old Moslem-Christian matter. It is also clear that some participants in the upcoming mess, from several sides, will work very hard to make the contrary opinion the conventional wisdom. And in the present bear-pit of sensitivities this may be an inflammation too far. Plus with Putin’s Russia likely to be assertive on Serbia’s side this time many bets will be off.

Just to illustrate the delicacy in terms here - ‘Kosovo’ is the Serb form of the name. ‘Kosove’ – spelt with an umlaut over the ‘e’ - and ‘Kosova’ are the Albanian forms, the first being the ‘indefinite article’ form of the noun and the second the ‘definite article form’. Apparently choice of the article form has explosive political connotations in Albanian language contexts…

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