Current Events Compass: Kosovo declares independence

Sunday marked two weeks since Kosovo, former Serbian province
and a United Nations protectorate for the last decade, declared unilateral
independence to become the world’s 195th country on February 17. Following the initial fan-fare, the ensuing
days have been fraught with tension and violence. While many nations, including
the United States, the United Kingdom, and France, quickly accepted the
Declaration, other dominant powers, like Russia, China, and Spain, refuse to
recognize Kosovo as a sovereign state. On February 22, hundreds of Serbian
protesters attacked the United States’ embassy in Belgrade, Serbia. Yesterday,
Serbian officials claim to have “retaken” a Kosovo rail line.

Why the fracas? Ethnic Serbs claim that Kosovo is central to
the Serbian heartland, and an integral piece of their historic and
predominantly Christian Orthodox religious heritage. Serbs make up a minority
of Kosovo’s population, however. Ethnic Albanians, the majority of whom
identify with the Islamic faith, now represent over 90% of the region’s
citizens following a period of rapid growth (one of the highest in Europe)
throughout the 1900s. Most ethnic Albanians in Kosovo and neighboring Albania
strongly support independence, while Serbs in Kosovo and Serbia vehemently
oppose the notion.

Those sympathetic to the cause for independence cite ethnic
tensions and years of persecution at the hands of Serbian radicals and
Serbian/Yugoslavian human rights violator Slobodan Milosevic as justification
for Kosovo’s right to self-determination. Those parties in opposition argue that
Kosovo’s declaration violates a UN resolution (1244) and sets a dangerous
precedent for secession of ethnic minority groups around the world. The issue
is extremely complicated; perhaps the only certainty is that there will not be
an easy solution.

As students of geography, it’s incumbent upon us to seek an
understanding of all contexts and perspectives on the matter. Delve deeper into
the debate with these articles and online resources.

From BBC News:
1. Kosovo declares independence, article

2. Kosovo Declaration of Independence, full text

3. Debate: Should the world recognize and independent Kosovo?
Views from the international community
Views of ethnic Serbs & Albanians

4. Map: Kosovo ethnic breakdown

5. Slovakian, Romanian, Spanish, and Cyprus officials on why they oppose the Declaration

6. “Serbia ‘retakes’ Kosovo rail line”

From other news sources:
7. “International reaction to the Declaration”: Wikipedia article

8. “Belgrade on Fire,”

History Lesson:
9. U.N. Resolution 1244

10. Q&A on the history of strife in Kosovo, MSNBC

11. Flashback to Kosovo’s War, BBC

12. Yugoslavia Timeline, BBC


Sarah for My Wonderful World


3 thoughts on “Current Events Compass: Kosovo declares independence

  1. When you mention Ottoman and Turks claiming ethnic cleansing, are you referring to events that took place during the Ottoman Empire?

  2. They just don’t talk about freedom, they talked about the things that had occured during the claim of Kosovo becoming independent. Which in fact is a mjor thing. 90% of population in Kosovo are Albanians, about 2% are Serbs.
    There has been a lot of conflict over the past years with Kosovo about Ethnic and religion. Especially when it came to Ottomon and Turks claimed a one of the largest ethinic-clensing in history. It’s a wonderful job Kosovo claimed independence from Serbia. I’m just interested in seeing how Kosovo will handle it’s new state.

  3. you always talk about freedom, just do support it .
    90% are not Serbs.
    All Moslems believe in Jesus as a holy person, so no problems.
    God bless Kosovo and Freedom.

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