Saturday, February 16, 2008

Balkan ballet

Serbia has nothing but its own arrogance and stupidity to blame for Kosovo's drive for independence, which is expected to come to fruition tomorrow. Kosovo's parliament is expected to declare independence from Serbia, despite frantic diplomatic maneuvering and threats of sanctions from Belgrade. The European Union today approved a 2,000-member force to replace U.N. peacekeepers who have been separating the breakaway province from Serbia since NATO forced Belgrade to withdraw its troops with a 78-day bombing campaign in 1999. Serbia, which includes Montenegro, is all that remains of the former Yugoslavia, which saw its provinces of Croatia, Bosnia-Herzogovina and Macedonia secede in the brutal war of 1991-1999. Kosovo, with a population that is 90 percent ethnic Albanian, was a largely self-governing province of Yugoslavia until 1989, when former Yugoslav president Slobodon Milosevic, subsequently indicted for war crimes, began exerting more control. In 1998, Yugoslavia sent soldiers to Kosovo to put down an insurgency by the Kosovo Liberation Army, leading to the 1999 NATO intervention. The United States and most of the European Union are expected to recognize Kosovo's independence in the next few days, despite protests from Serbia and Russia, which have denounced Kosovo's expected declaration as illegal and the West's acceptance of it as a bad precedent. Serbia considers Kosovo to be the cradle of Serbian civilization and a historical part of its territory.

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