Tarun Roy of Kingston, Ontario
While watching the CBC national news last Monday evening, I heard about Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence from Serbia, and the next day I read the same news in the Whig-Standard. In addition, the CBC's Politics show broadcasted comments by a Parti Quebecois member of Quebec's National Assembly who was delighted about Kosovo's declaration of independence, and Montenegro's earlier declaration of independence, from Serbia. This Quebec politician suggested that these two events set precedents for the future separation of Quebec from Canada.
It appears that people have a very short memory about the history of the former Yugoslavia. The independence of Montenegro and the declaration of independence by Kosovo are unrelated events. Kosovo was a province of Serbia for at least the last 600 years, whereas Montenegro was an independent state for most of that time.
After the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria at Sarajevo in 1914, the then-Kingdom of Serbia received an ultimatum from the Austro-Hungarian Empire. With the threat of a possible war with a major European power, then-King Nikolaus of Montenegro proposed a voluntary federation with Serbia. After the end of the First World War, the victorious Western European alliance rewarded Serbia with territories from the defeated Austro-Hungarian and Turkish empires, Macedonia, Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, with Montenegro remaining a voluntary member - and thus Yugoslavia, or the South Slav Kingdom, was formed.
After gaining its independence from the Turkish Empire, nearby Albania remained a poverty-stricken country. A series of "strong man" rulers mismanaged the country and its economy. During the early days of Yugoslavia, Albanians began illegally crossing the border into neighbouring Montenegro, Kosovo and Macedonia, a movement of people that has continued up to the present day.
After the Second World War, Yugoslavia's government under President Josip Broz Tito for some reason tolerated these illegal immigrants from Albania instead of deporting them back to Albania. One reason could be that Albania was then ruled by Enver Hoxha, a Stalinist dictator and an opponent of Tito who was helping the Soviet Union's dictator to bring Yugoslavia back under Soviet control. Later, Tito granted some citizenship rights and limited autonomy to the illegal residents from Albania who were living in Kosovo.
During the breakup of Yugoslavia under President Slobodan Milosevic, it was these illegal residents from Albania and their descendants who started insurgencies in Montenegro, Kosovo and Macedonia and terrorized the local populations. These terrorist insurgents had a plan for a greater Albania, with part of Montenegro, Kosovo and Macedonia included in it. They acted against the advice of Kosovar Albanian politicians. Later, these moderate politicians lost an election organized under the supervision of NATO and the European Union to organizers of the insurgencies. The current prime minister of Kosovo was the leader of a terror campaign against the local indigenous populations of Montenegro, Kosovo and Macedonia.
Montenegro joined voluntarily with Serbia in a federation in 1914. Hence it had a right of cession from Serbia, and Serbia reluctantly accepted this separation. The situation of Kosovo is different and not comparable to that of Montenegro, and by recognizing the independence of Kosovo, Canada would be rewarding illegal immigrants, insurgents and terrorists, thereby creating a dangerous precedent.
Let us consider two different scenarios:
1) The United States is now faced with illegal immigrants from Mexico and other Latin American countries flooding into U.S. border states. By numbers they constitute a majority in some southern regions of the U.S. They remain separate linguistically and culturally, and local authorities are starting to provide them with services in their own language now. These newly arrived illegal residents are not going to assimilate into the mainstream population of the U.S., and they will not be part of the American melting pot. Fifty years from now, they and their descendants will be demanding to join Mexico or to become a separate, independent state. Whether the U.S. would allow this to happen peacefully remains to be seen. This could be another Kosovo waiting to happen.
2) In Canada, Alberta is an energy- rich province. It is envied by our neighbour to the south, and secretly coveted by it as well. Quiet population movements from south of our border to Alberta could change the demography of the province so that American illegal immigrant would become a majority. A few years later, they could demand to separate from Canada and join their motherland, and gain tacit support from Washington in an armed insurgency.
Recognition of Kosovo is like a double-edged sword. We should remember what future generation of Canadians could face at some time to come.