Kosovo: The Albanian Dilemma

Kosovo: The Albanian Dilemma

The International Court of Justice at The Hague ruled on July 22 that the unilateral declaration of independence of Kosovo was not illegal. This resolution does not imply acceptance of that decision, but does have important implications for global geopolitics.

Today only 69 of the 192 United Nations members and three of its five permanent members of the Security Council recognize Kosovo. If the former autonomous province of Serbia manages to incorporate into the UN, as required by the U.S., the floodgates will open to dozens of other provinces or ethnic groups that could seek further integration.

There is an entity, the UNPO (Organization Unrepresented Nations and Peoples), which includes 54 towns that have aspirations of becoming states. For the United Nations to incorporate a new associate mandates a series of requirements, because, otherwise, it is believed it could give the green light to a series of fragmentations and conflicts between nations.

One of the criteria it has had is that the country requesting to be part of the UN has been an entity with borders and previous administration clearly demarcated, either for having been a colony within an empire or a republic within a multinational federation.

The United Nations has taken a hundred old dependencies in Asia, Africa, the Caribbean and Oceania, but has refused to recognize the sovereignty of Biafra, Katanga, Kurdistan or the Mapuche as these areas (although they are populated by ethnic characteristics very different from their environment) never acquired a status of separate administrations during times when they were part of the last empire that dominated.

In the case of three former socialist federations of Eastern Europe, the UN has accepted the independence of the 15 republics that made up the former Soviet Union, 6 of Yugoslavia and 2 of Czechoslovakia. However, it still refuses to recognize the sovereignty of either autonomous entities before the disintegration of the federations containing each of the federated republics.

Kosovo never acquired the status of a republic within the Yugoslav federation. There it had the rank of the two autonomous provinces of the Republic of Serbia.

The Albanians, however, claim that they have as much or more right to secede as the six republics in the disintegrated federation. This is because, unlike them, they are the only non-Slavic-majority region and because, except for Slovenia, the only province where at least 90% of its inhabitants belong to the ethnic separatist group.

The veto against recognition of Kosovo has been by states that have raised the fear that this would lead to fragmentation of their own countries: Spain by the Basque Country, Catalonia, Galicia and Canary Islands, Greece and Cyprus by the Turkish Cypriots, Argentina by the British in Las Malvinas, Russia for Chechnya and other regions: China Tibet and Xinjiang, etc.

The Albanian dilemma

After the Second World War, a number of nations were divided into different states. We have threetypes of different cases. One is that of the historic towns split around conflicting social models. Another is of the ancient nations divided among various republics. Finally there is the case of important parts of a given nation who were outside the territory in which it formed the bulk of a State.

In the first case we have five examples. These are Vietnam (reunited in 1975 under the aegis of the Communist Party), Germany, Yemen and Korea and China (who remain separated).

In the second case we see many nations that continue to be distributed between different republics: the Tamils between India and Sri Lanka, the Kurds from Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Syria and the USSR, the Basques from Spain and France, Iran and Pakistan Baluch , etc. In the Americas there are also movements that claim sovereignty and unification of different indigenous nationalities (such as Aymara, Mapuche and Quechuan), but they have never gone so far as to have the weight that similar currents have them in the old world.

In the third case, experiences are included such as Hungarians, Albanians or Romanians that, during World War II, as nations they were reunited under the control of Hitler's friends, but after the Allied victory were fragmented. After 1945, a large part of the Hungarian majority population was 'returned' to their neighboring Romania, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia. Moldova was separated from Romania (with whom they share the same language and history) to be re-incorporated into the Soviet Union, and Kosovo and Western Macedonia were 'returned' to Yugoslavia.

In relation to these three cases, the UN has responded in different ways. The UN has recognized the partition of nations among republics with conflicting socio-economic systems and their subsequent unification. In the Chinese case it was recognized only with the small capitalist republic (of Taiwan). The Taiwanese remain as a separate state, under the dilemma of having to rejoin 'red' China or declare as a separate nation (with the risk of provoking an invasion from Beijing).

With regard to the various nations scattered among recognized states, the UN has avoided accepting any of them. At best, it has interceded to ask that their democratic rights are respected as well as a number of degrees of autonomy in the republics where they are maintained.

Regarding the third category, the situation is more complex. The UN has accepted Moldova (because Romania does not object), but not the Turkish Republic of Cyprus (vetoed by Greece, Cyprus and the EU). What happens around Kosovo could tip the balance. The people of this province are mostly Albanians, who during World War II and before World War I were part of states where the rest of the people were Albanians. But Serbia is backed up by Russia and objects to it.

If Washington wins, it gives rise to new countries asking to be States, if Moscow impedes this triumph many possible expansions will be halted in becoming members of the UN.


Translated from the Spanish version by:



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Author`s name Oksana Orlovskaya