The other week Kosovo declared independence. I happened to be walking through Times Square when I (almost literally) stumbled across a horde of people cheering and waving Albanian flags. Cars drove past adorned with flags and carrying passengers who hung out of windows and sunroofs holding yet more flags - both the double headed Albanian Eagle and the American Stars and Stripes. I heard shouts of 'Thankyou USA!' Doubtless in reference to the U.S. recognition of kosovo's declaration.

However, not everyone was happy. The Serbian population in the north of Kosovo showed their discontent with a large and well attended peaceful demonstration and a smaller more violent one which resulted in an attack on the U.S. Embassy.

Photo: Ivan Milutinovic/Reuters

Other countries were also not so keen on Kosovo's independence. Spain, for example rejected the claim perhaps feeling that to acknowledge it would fuel the Basque independence movement.

It also occurred to me that while the U.S. (and U.K.) is quick to recognise the Sovereign rights of Kosovo, they still place many preconditions on the formation of a Palestinian state. There are many other separatist campaigns around the globe and it seems like governments are being highly selective in their application of criteria. In the same week Turkey launched a new offensive against the PKK, a group fighting for the establishment of a Kurdish territory and denounced as terrorists by Turkey and the U.S. The timing of this does not seem coincidental to me. In fact, once again it seems law is being implemented and recognised only when it suits specific agendas.

The Balkans has had a tumultuous history (Archduke Franz Ferdinand anyone?) and this is just another chapter in the story. One that will have many repercussions I am sure.

For more on this subject, check out this article by Jeremy Scahill and this article by Adel Safty.

There is also a slideshow on the NY Times website with some history of the recent conflict in Kosovo and some stunning photographs by Andrew Testa. Check it out here


Jason Andrew said...

Thats a beautiful photo Tom. I would love to see it in color but what an amazing find and another reason why we should have our camera with us at all times.

Anonymous said...

wicked one tom... I also was impressed by that shot in the times, you beat me to it tho...