People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
February 24, 2008
THE declaration of independence by Kosovo, a province of Serbia, is the last act in the disintegration of Yugoslavia which was initiated by the Western powers nearly two decades ago. If in 1991, Germany instigated the break-up by recognising Slovenia and Croatia, the US and the European powers went ahead to carve out Bosnia and Herzegovina. This was facilitated by the NATO waging war on Serbia by large-scale aerial bombing and the eventual ouster of Slobodan Milosevic. The destruction of Yugoslavia was part of the plan the US initiated for control of the Balkans, a region crucially connected to the energy resources of the Caspian basin. The formation of a Kosovan state is the final act.
The declaration of independence by the Kosovan parliament has come when 16,000 NATO troops are present in the province. They have had the job of creating the conditions for the Kosovan state. This act contravenes international law and the United Nations' Security Council resolutions enacted after the US-NATO war against Serbia in 1999.
The United States and its western allies fashioned a new doctrine in the early nineties to justify their aggrandizement and their desire to impose neo-liberal policies on areas hitherto outside their purview. Ethnic conflicts were stoked to argue for "humanitarian interventions" which overrode national sovereignty. Madelene Albright, the then US Secretary of State termed "national sovereignty" a nineteenth century concept which needs to be abridged to meet contemporary times and needs. From "humanitarian interventions" to the "war on terror", US imperial ideologues have arrogated to the West the right to militarily intervene and carve out protectorates. The occupation of Iraq preceded by the Kurdish protectorate in the north is founded on this imperial doctrine.
The United States, Britain, France and Germany have declared their intention to recognise the new state. The British ambassador was the first to visit the Albanian leadership and offer support. This is the same Britain which fought the IRA in a long debilitating war to prevent the secession of Northern Ireland. But Europe is not unanimous in support for an independent Kosovo. At least six countries, Greece, Spain, Cyprus, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Romania have said they are opposed to Kosovo's independence.
Serbia and Russia have vehemently opposed the move and taken the issue to the Security Council. China has expressed "grave concern". The Chinese foreign ministry spokesman added that it "affects the fundamental norms governing international relations, as well as the authority and role of the UN Security Council".
Other Asian countries such as Indonesia and Sri Lanka faced with separatist demands have also opposed the move. Many countries with national minorities face secessionist demands. India too, should have come out with a clear statement against the break up of Serbia. But the spokesperson of the ministry of external affairs has taken an ambiguous stand. Commenting on the issue, the spokesperson said: "We have taken note of the unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo. There are several legal issues involved in the declaration. We are studying the evolving situation." While stating this, he also said "It has been India's consistent position that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries should be fully respected by all states." If that is so, it applies to Serbia too. Then why is the government of India taking shelter behind studying the "serious legal issues".
India having faced a number of secessionist demands since independence, should have been categorical on this blatant violation of national sovereignty and the brazen use of force to redraw territorial boundaries. That it has not done so, speaks a lot about the predilections of the UPA government. On no major issue of international significance, does the government want to appear to be in dissonance with the United States. At least on such a vital issue as the sovereignty of countries with minority populations and the challenge to a basic principle of international law, India should speak up.
As for the latest act of imperialist impudence, the creation of a NATO protectorate in the Balkans does not augur well for peace and stability in the region.