Opposition by countries such as Spain to the independence of Kosovo is motivated more by domestic concerns about calls for self determination within their own borders than concepts of International diplomacy or law. Celtic League General Secretary, Rhisiart Tal-e-bot, analyses the disingenuous nature of the opposition of Spain and others to the freedom of Europe's youngest nation (see below):
"On Sunday 17th February 2008, the province of Kosovo declared independence, as previously predicted by the League.
In expectation of the declaration, the Basque Government's Spokeswoman, Miren Azkarate, said on the weekend that Kosovo's independence was:
"...a new example in Europe in which problems can be solved through democracy and dialogue, respecting the wishes of its citizens."
She went on to say that the twenty first century:
"...is identity and nations century" and that the majority of "European States, except for Serbia, Russia and Spain, are in favour of Kosovo's independence" and that although it was "not the first" it signalled "a new example and way to solve problems." She added that the peoples of Belgium, Scotland, Basque Country and Catalonia are all pushing for their right to self determination, which in her opinion was "the key".
Azkarate´s comments pre-empted the Kosovo Assembly's declaration of independence which came a few hours later in Pristina, the capital of Kosovo.
The Declaration stated that:
"We, the democratically-elected leaders of our people, hereby declare Kosovo to be an independent and sovereign state. This declaration reflects the will of our people and it is in full accordance with the recommendations of UN Special Envoy Martti Ahtisaari and his Comprehensive Proposal for the Kosovo Status Settlement."
The Republic of Ireland Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern has said that his Government will recognise Kosovo to help bring stability to the Balkans, but for the most part Europe still remains hesitant.
The UK and France have given their provisional recognition of the new state, no doubt influenced by their Government's support of the US, who has been a key player in pushing for independence.
Russia, Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Spain and Serbia (including China) however are among the states that oppose independence. Spain has argued that EU recognition of an independent Kosovo will send out the wrong signals to other regions and nations in Europe who are also seeking greater autonomy or independence. The Spanish Government is particularly concerned about the consequences that the independence of Kosovo will have for the nations within their state, especially the Basque Country and Catalunya, who are both due to hold referendums on independence in the near future.
Russia, who is strongly opposed to the independence of Kosovo, was quick to point out to state Governments the implications that it could have for the other stateless nations of Europe. In addition, as the 'The Scotsman' newspaper reported last week, Russia is using:
"...Scotland as a key tool in its armoury against Kosovo's independence"
As yet Plaid (Wales) and the SNP (Scotland) have remained fairly quiet over the issue, no doubt happy that the UK is recognising the fledgling state. One surprise has been the French Government's own support for the independence of Kosovo. Since becoming President of France, Sarkozy has sought closer US/French relations and this latest move could be an French affirmation of that relationship. It is not likely to herald a thawing of its staunch attitude towards the the peoples within its own state, like the Bretons for example. For the foreseeable future the French Government is not likely to grant any concessions to its peoples, at least while Sarkozy is still wielding power.
The French Government has never even tried to avoid its hypocrisy and its proposal to make 2008 the United Nations International Year of Languages, while refusing to even recognise the myriad of different languages within its own state, is just one obvious recent example.
Azkarate is right to say that this is the century for the nations in Europe. Spain's reaction represents an old way of thinking in a new Europe and only demonstrates the fact that Spain is out of step with the growing realisation that increased autonomy or independence is the way forward for the peoples of Europe.
The Celtic League congratulates the people of Kosovo for exercising their right to self determination and looks forward to the colonised Celtic nations drawing positively on this experience and following suit at some point in the near future.
Declaration of Independence:
Related article on Celtic News here:
J B Moffatt Director of Information Celtic League