Apr 11 2008
Once more on the recognition of Kosovar independence and its ramifications . . .
Today’s Johnson’s Russia List#74 includes an enlightening interview with Sergei Shamba, Foreign Minister of Abkhazia. He hails Kosovar independence as something that makes Abkhazia’s break-away from Georgia more likely than ever before. To quote him at length,
After February 17, after Kosovo’s recognition, the second wave of recognition of the former Soviet and Yugoslavian autonomous states begins.
Certainly, we hope to be in this second wave. We can now discern a direct analogy between Kosovo and Abkhazia, even though Abkhazia has much greater legal, historical, and moral reasons for having its independence recognized than Kosovo does.
We live on our native land. We ourselves obtained our independence without any foreign military aid, in contrast to Kosovo. The Abkhazians ourselves drove out the Georgian aggressors from our territory.
In contrast to Kosovo we have developed all structures of state and government authority, developed civil society, a multiparty political system, an independent mass media, and non-governmental funds and organizations. During the last twenty years we have had presidential and parliamentary elections.
But Kosovo’s precedent gives us hope that the process of recognition can develop more quickly. In global affairs things develop unexpectedly and quickly. Almost anything can happen as a result of present events.
I do not happen to support the break-up of Georgia, and I am certain that the current administration in Washington feels the same way. My point is that the recognition of Kosovo as an independent state, and the precedent it sets for national self-determination trumping the sovereignty and integrity of states, has pernicious consequences for precisely those governments that pushed Kosovo independence.
One hears a lot about frozen conflicts around the former Soviet Union. While frozen conflicts are bad things, they sure beat the thawed ones, much like the Cold War was a heck of a lot better than its Hot equivalent would have been. By thawing Kosovo, the US and EU have made life much more difficult for putative Western allies in the former Soviet block.