News Release

Serbian-Kosovo Crisis

STEPHEN ZUNES
Professor of politics at the University of San Francisco, Zunes returned from Serbia last week. He just wrote the piece “Kosovo and the Politics of Recognition.”

Zunes said today: “Even among longstanding supporters of independence for Kosovo, the eagerness with which the Bush administration extended diplomatic recognition immediately upon that country’s declaration of independence on Feb. 17 has raised serious concerns as a result of the violence and instability that may result. U.S. policy has contributed a great deal to the tragic political climate in this corner of the Balkans, which marginalized the more moderate Kosovar nationalists in the early- to mid-1990s and encouraged the more hard-line elements which dominate today. And, once again, questions are being raised regarding U.S. double-standards when it comes to recognizing the right of self-determination.”
More Information

ROBERT HAYDEN
Director of the Center for Russian and East European Studies at the University of Pittsburgh and author of Blueprints for a House Divided: The Constitutional Logic of the Yugoslav Conflict” Hayden said today: “We have in Serbia a situation in which the U.S. has forced an action — the proclamation of independence by the Kosovo Albanians — that is in clear violation of the most fundamental principles of international law after World War II. Borders cannot be changed by force and without consent — that principle was actually the main stated reason for the 1991 U.S. attack on Iraq.

“The tragic thing is that negotiations could have resolved this. Borders can be changed, but it has to be without force and with consent. Serbia may well have agreed to proposals whereby Kosovo gets independence, but Serbia retained some territory and a special status was created for the major Serbian cultural and religious sites. Unfortunately, U.S. officials prevented serious negotiation by taking the position that if there was no agreement reached between the Albanians and Serbia, the Albanians would get everything they were demanding.

“Now, you will have a bizarre situation in which Kosovo has been recognized by the U.S. and some other countries, but will not be admitted into the United Nations and other major bodies and thus have no international legal status. Countries such as Spain, Romania, Cyprus and Greece have not and will not recognize Kosovo independence because of the fear that it will set a precedent for secessionist movements in their countries, and is in any event a severe violation of international law.

“Worse, in northern Kosovo, NATO is now in the position of trying to defend a boundary that is not an international border, and which is not recognized as a border by the people living on either side of it, who are thus very hostile to NATO. This is a dangerous situation, and entirely the creation of the Bush administration.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167