A short and no-depth history lesson. Yugoslavia was one of the Versailles states, drawn up in 1918 at the conclusion of the First World War. It was an interesting idea as they managed to lump in the Croats and Serbs, who had a history of beating the shit out of each other for generations, and the Christians and the Muslims who had a history of beating the shit out of each other for generations into one easily combustible package. That it took another 70 years to really kick off was something of a miracle.
It was always a bit of testy area when it was part of the Ottoman Empire, as evidenced by the assasination of Arch-Duke Ferdinand. What a bloody mess.
Fast-Forward a hundred or so years and the benefits of the old Empire, and the federal state are still being reaped. Especially in the UK where the word Kosovan is almost a by-word for the sort of person who arrives in Dover in the back of an HGV (although I understand these days it's normally Eritreans, Iraqis, Iranians, Sudanese and Vietnamese).
Following years and years of repression, persecution and general nastiness, the vast majority of ethnic Albanian Kosovan Muslims decided they'd had quite enough of Serbia, thank you very much, and on 17th February 2008 they declared independence.
It could have gone quite badly, one can only think back to the reactions of Serbia when Croatia and Bosnia did the same. Thankfully, it all went Slovene smoothly. Probably something to do with the shit load of UN troops camping out in the area. Serbia no doubt remembered the big bangs echoing around Belgrade when the missiles came raining down earlier on in the story.
Serbia aren't happy about this. For some reason, and I'm a bit hazy on the socio-political history bit here, they seem to view the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia as being Serbia and some other bits all doing what Serbia say. I'm not sure that's how a Federal model works. I thought the whole point of a Federal model was that it gave all constituent parts an equal say in the running of the place, a washing-up rota and stuff. Perhaps I'm wrong.
Kosovo is a country that was never out of the news and became a by-word for the very worst of Europe. Having struck out on its own and we haven't heard a peep since. It's like Estonia, things must be going fairly well in Estonia, because we never hear anything about it.
You'd have thought that everyone would have been very pleased with this state of affairs, it has allowed us all to focus on the job of making things go bang in an entertaining fashion elsewhere. It's like trying to sit in the garden reading your book when the burglar alarm goes off on the house down the road. It'll cause you to tut and is just a little bit more than a minor irritation, not enough for you to do something about it, but when the noise stops, it's lovely.
So now we have this bizarre situation, where the people of Kosovo who have been quietly getting on with life and not hurting anyone (indeed quite the reverse, the recent exchange of land with Macedonia is a model of how two sensible countries should act) now have to wait and see if some other people will be nice enough to give them permission to have their own country.
Well, what bloody business is it of theirs? Who the hell are the ICJ to say 'Yes, we'll allow you to be a country.' or 'No, sorry, we think you should do what the Serbs tell you, off you go now.'? Why the hell do these people have a say over the wishes of the people that actually live in this place?
Wherefore self determination?
Of course it should be pointed out that ICJ is not binding. Well, what does that mean? According to the Groan:
The judgment from the ICJ in The Hague – to be issued at 2pm – is not legally binding, but is likely to have profound consequences for Kosovo and other de facto states and territories that might secede in the future.
So it's not binding, but we know what that means, don't we? It's not binding, as long as you abide by the ruling. The moment you tell them to sod off, you can bet the big guns will be wheeled out.
Unfortunately for Kosovo, the largest organisation active in the country is EULEX, the European Union Rule of Law Mission. They already use the Euro, they're already caught in the trap. They'll swap one top heavy centralised disinterested government for another. If Kosovo gets the green light, you can bet the EU will be there like a shot whispering in their ear like Grima Wormtongue.
I wish Kosovo well, but fear their new independence will be shortlived as they become addicted to the heroin of 'EU' cash and the attendent machinery that goes with it.
The bottom line, as I see it, is this. The will of the electorate is sovereign. If the people of Kosovo, Kurdistan or Cornwall want independence, then fine. Two conditions; don't go picking fights, don't expect me to fund it. You want to stand on your own two feet? Then go ahead and do it, you'll get a handshake and wishes of best luck from me.
The ICJ has ruled in favour of Kosovo. Serbia significantly unchuffed. I don't understand why, keeping a part of a country in against its will can only result in serious trouble.
Whilst I'm pleased to see that the will of the population is not illegal, I still don't see what bloody business it is of theirs.