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Only 4 Countries Vote For Kosovo Independence At The United Nations
By Times staff, 10/Apr/2007
UN mediator Marti Ahtisaari seated before a map of Kosovo. Little initial support for independence.
NEW YORK, April 10, 2007 - Despite energetic US State Department cheerleading, Kosovo's independence drive is off to a slow start at the United Nations. A plan by UN Special Envoy Marti Ahtisaari - endorsed and lobbied for by the United States - is attempting to grant Kosovo sovereignty from Serbia, overriding Serbia's protestations.
Notwithstanding American enthusiasm, during the first round of consultations on the issue Tuesday, only four of the 15 members on the UN Security Council voted in favor of Ahtisaari's plan.
Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica believes that the plan contradicts the UN Charter and that this is the reason it has failed to secure any substantial support at the UN.
The UN is not in a position to grant any country sovereignty and has no influence in Pridnestrovie. Kosovo, however, is a special situation since it is currently a UN protectorate. As such, its independence aspirations hinges on UN decisions, a factor which is not required in other cases such as Pridnestrovie (Transnistria) or Somaliland, for instance.
Meanwhile, in the US Senate, a bi-partisan draft resolution submitted by Joseph Lieberman, Joseph Biden and John McCain will urge president George W. Bush to step up the heat in the United Nations, increasing US pressure in the UN Security Council to have Kosovo declared an independent state.
Biden, the Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, is known for favoring realistic diplomacy and the democratic right to self-determination over what is seen as "the tired mantra of territorial integrity." He has proposed a separation of Iraq into three parts; one for Sunnis, one for Shiites and one - Kurdistan - for the Kurds.
US Senator Joe Biden wants the right to self-determination and democracy to come before territorial integrity.
Lost in the debate is the fact that some parts of Europe have a stronger historical and legal claim to independence than Kosovo. As Pridnestrovie's president Igor Smirnov has pointed out, the territory east of the Dniester river has never been part of Moldova at any time in history and declared independence (not from Moldova, but from the MSSR, then a part of the Soviet Union) one year before the Republic of Moldova even existed.
Moldova has traditionally been a part of Romania. Pridnestrovie - or Transnistria, by its Romanian name - has never been part of Romania. It has a Slavic majority and has at various times belonged to Kievan Rus, Poland, Lithuania, Ukraine and Russia.
Unilateral independence declaration a possibility
The failure of the US State Department to achieve traction ion its push for imposed Kosovo independence has led some US handlers to recommend that Kosovo "go it alone", declaring independence on its own and putting the principle of Kosovo's right to self-determination above the conflicting principle of Serbia's territorial integrity.
In Podgorica, Montenegro, an aide to Kosovo’s Prime Minister Azem Vlasi expressed Monday his belief that at least three countries - Montenegro, Macedonia and Albania - would recognize Kosovo’s independence in case the Serbian province decides to declare independence unilaterally, reported the Tanjug news agency.
Such a move would make Kosovo a member of a small club of countries around the world which exists as de facto independent countries but which have limited international recognition and are not members of the United Nations. Taiwan is the best-known example of such countries, but the group also includes the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, Somaliland, Abkhazia, Transdniester (Pridnestrovie) and Western Sahara, among others.
The countries meet the requirements for statehood under international law and are sovereign in all practical regards. Their limited diplomatic relations is caused by political reasons, and not any practical absence of sovereignty.
Attacks on Christians
In Kosovo, most of the Serb minority of 200,000 people oppose Kosovo independence and wish to remain as a formal part of Serbia. This is in stark contrast to Transdniester, where most of the locally resident Moldovan minority supports independence and oppose unification with Moldova.
The Serb minority in Kosovo has been under persistent attacks and are afraid to move around freely unless protected by UN soldiers. The violence extends to the Serb's cultural and religious symbols, including mortar attacks on Christian churches by the Muslim majority in Kosovo.
A mortar attack launched last week on the Serb Decani Monastery in Kosovo was condemned by the Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, as the Monastery is on the World Heritage in Danger List.
" - I condemn the attack on the Monastery of Decani," the Director-General declared. "UNESCO and the whole international community recognized the universal value of this property when they inscribed it on the World Heritage List. I urge the leaders of all of Kosovo's communities to exercise restraint."
The Monastery - the largest Medieval church in South-Eastern Europe, featuring vivid and rich Byzantine paintings and Romanesque statues - has come under attack several times since the late 1990s. Other Christian Serbs have also been targeted in recent months. A Seventh Day Adventist church reported vandalism and arson against their place of worship in January 2007, and individual Serbs fear for their lives if they speak Serb in public.
No such events have ever been reported in Transdniester, where Moldovan is one of three official languages and where the ethnic Moldovan minority takes an active part in the public administration of the unrecognized country.
Source: Tiraspol Times frontpage