Friday, March 20, 2009

Scotland, and not recognising Kosovo

An odd thought occurred to me yesterday, we were chatting about the independence of Kosovo and its recognition by other states. So far only 22 out 27 EU states recognise Kosovo as an independent and sovereign state. The EU has a large mission in Kosovo, EULEX, where it has taken over from the UN and is basically partnering with the nascent institution of the Kosovar government, providing a parallel civil service. One of my colleagues has actually been seconded to the mission so is now living in Pristina. Anyway, because of the non-unanimous position within the EU, EULEX in Pristina can't use a list of words in any official documents that refer to independence, including the former Finnish president and nobel peace prize winner, Martti Ahtisaari, who negotiated the plan for Kosovo's independence and the plan is named after. Spain, Cyprus, Greece, Romania and Slovakia are the five EU members that won't recognise Kosovo. I'm not certain why Greece won't but it probably is connected to their long running (and to outsiders, rather pointless) fight with Macedonia over it's name. Romania and Slovakia both have I believe large Hungarian minorities and they fear separatism from those communities. Cyprus doesn't want Turkish North Cyprus to gain recognition as a sovereign state, and Spain is worried by Basque and Catalan separtism.

But if all these countries fear that recognition sets a precedent leading to other breakaway movements - why wasn't the UK in the slightest bit concerned that recognition could set a precedent for a Scottish unilateral declaration of independence? The UK strongly supported recognition from early on. I'm tempted to say it is because the UK is a mature and stable democracy and we (both Scots and and non-Scots) just don't do that sort of civil war mongering, but are we really that much more mature than the Spanish? So there must be another reason - is it something to do with the Scottish nationalism being more of the French-citizen type than the Germanic blood-and-soil type? Answers on a postcard please to the normal address (the comments box).

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