But there are potential secessionist arenas in Europe itself. Cyprus understandably opposes Kosovo’s move, given the pretensions of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Turkey, which set up the TRNC, has its own problems to worry about given the ongoing insurgency of Kurdish secessionists. Spain may one day be less than thrilled about Pristina’s action if its own Basque separatists are encouraged to rev up their violent campaign. And London, which vied with Washington in its enthusiasm for Kosovo’s independence, may have reason to rue that stance if Scotland decides on independence.
In short, Washington and the “EU 3” — Britain, France and Germany — have created a multitude of international problems with their policy regarding Kosovo. All three governments claim that the Kosovo situation is unique and sets no precedent, but that is an extraordinarily naive view, and other influential countries clearly do not agree.
Although incumbent governments might worry about secessionist troubles, there is also a tremendous potential for some countries to use the Kosovo episode to create mischief. Moscow could one day cite it as a precedent for dismembering neighboring Georgia by recognizing the independence of that country’s Abkhazian or South Ossetian regions. Or the Kremlin could use it as justification some day to wrench the Russian‐speaking Crimea away from neighboring Ukraine.
The international precedents are not the only probable negative consequences of Kosovo’s action. By cynically bypassing the U.N. Security Council (and hence Russia’s veto) and encouraging a unilateral declaration of independence, the Western powers have further poisoned their already troubled relations with Moscow. The Russians were still smarting about the NATO powers having bypassed the Security Council in 1999 to attack Serbia and detach Kosovo from Belgrade’s jurisdiction. Now, the Western powers have again shown their contempt for Russia’s views and made it clear they will respect the Security Council’s prerogatives only when it is convenient for them.
Risking further tensions with Moscow might be warranted over a crucial issue, but to do so over something as peripheral as the political status of a tiny Balkan entity is beyond foolish.
Finally, granting Kosovo independence will not, as the United States and its allies expect, bring greater stability to the Balkans. It will almost certainly produce the opposite result.
It is likely to usher in further abuses against Kosovo’s remaining non‐Albanian inhabitants. During the 1999 war and its aftermath, more than 240,000 people — mostly Serbs, but also Roma (Gypsies), Bulgarians, Jews and other groups — were driven from the province. That large‐scale ethnic cleansing campaign occurred on NATO’s watch, and the alliance did nothing to halt it, much less reverse the effects.
In addition to the initial ethnic cleansing, the Kosovar government and NATO have failed to stem acts of violence against the non‐Albanian remnant or the systematic destruction of Christian churches and Serbian historical sites.