Kosovar independence in the General Assembly

Following up to my earlier post, some discussion of the international reaction to Kosovar independence.

At the moment, 43 countries have recognized Kosovo’s independence. (I’m defining “country” here as “member of the UN General Assembly. Sorry, Taiwan.) Since the UNGA has 192 members, that means that more than three quarters of the world’s countries have not recognized Kosovo.

Is that good or bad for the Kosovars?

Well… it depends.

In Kosovo’s favor, they hold a clear majority among countries that are, well, powerful and important. It’s just a fact that the United States, Japan, Germany and France count for more than Timor Leste, Djibouti or Belize. Seven of the G-8 countries recognize Kosovo, as do three of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. Of the world’s 10 largest economies, seven are recognizers. Of the 27 EU members, 20 are.

On the other side, if we measure by population, more than 80% of the world doesn’t recognize. And while the 43 include many big and important countries, there are some equally big and important countries — like Russia, China, India, Indonesia and Brazil — that are strongly opposed to recognition.

So two questions come to mind. One, why the split? And two, what are the prospects for resolution?

For the first question, it’s easier to look at reasons why countries don’t recognize than why they do. The “no” votes fall into several categories. There is some overlap, of course, as some countries have more than one reason to not recognize. But in most cases there’s a single reason that dominates, so I think the categories are valid.

Serbia and its traditional friends. That’s Serbia, Romania, Greece, Cyprus, and the current government of Slovakia.

Okay, so Serbia doesn’t have so many friends.

Russia and its posse. Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Moldova, Mongolia, and the five Central Asian states. Russia really hates the idea of Kosovar independence. The details of why would deserve another post. (Though alert readers will notice that I didn’t put Russia in the “traditional friend” category.) Anyway, the point here is that several countries, mostly states of the former USSR, are willing to follow Russia’s lead on this.

Ukraine sits schizophrenically on the edge of this group, but should probably be included — if only because even the most Russophobe elements in Ukraine’s government see no reason to pick another fight with Moscow.

Countries with their own separatist movements or regions. This is a huge group, and accounts for the largest bloc of resistance in the General Assembly. It includes several big and important countries — Indonesia, China, Argentina, Spain — and dozens of smaller ones, from Bolivia to Ethiopia.

Although a large group, it’s a somewhat squishy one. At one extreme, there are countries where the separatism either poses an existential threat (Sri Lanka, Sudan, Bosnia) or where anti-separatism has become a key part of the national identity (Georgia, Argentina, Azerbaijan). These countries are never going to vote for Kosovar independence. In a few cases, they might refuse to recognize it even if the rest of the UN does.

At the other extreme, there are countries with important separatist movements that have recognized Kosovo anyway. The existence of Scots nationalists, Corsican terrorists, Quebecois and Kurds has not prevented the UK, France, Canada or Turkey from recognizing Kosovo. (Turkey is particularly interesting because critics of Kosovar separatism almost always mention the Kurds: this will encourage Turkey’s Kurds to try seceding again! But the Turks themselves seem sublimely unconcerned on this point.) So local separatisms, while important, are not determinative.

The legalists. This is a large and important group. It’s all the countries who dislike Kosovar independence because they see it as a violation of the UN charter, as the unlawful dismemberment of a sovereign nation by force, or just generally as a disturbing precedent. This group includes Brazil, Australia, Mexico, India, and a lot of small neutral countries who put a high value on the UN. Countries as diverse as Portugal, Singapore and Chile have sincere concerns about the implications of recognizing Kosovo.

Note that this group, while large, is not as large as it might seem. Almost everyone who opposes Kosovar independence says it’s because of the precedent, the authority of the UN, etc. However, it’s not too hard to distinguish between countries who are truly concerned about this (New Zealand) and those who have other issues (Sudan).

The Anti-Imperialists. There are a few countries who oppose Kosovar independence because they see the whole thing as an imperialist aggression against poor Serbia. This group includes several countries that have been on the receiving end of American bombs within living memory (Vietnam, North Korea, Libya) or that have come close to it (Cuba, the current government of Nicaragua, Iran). These guys are understandably sympathetic to a country that was attacked by a US-led coalition. There are also a few governments — Zimbabwe comes to mind –that are still heavily invested in an ideology of anti-imperialist struggle.

And of course, Hugo Chavez.

The disinterested. There are some countries who just don’t have a dog in this fight. This group is smaller than you might think, because almost everyone either has a domestic issue that could be connected to Kosovo (ethnic cleansing in Burma) or has a relationship with a major power that has a strong position on Kosovo (Mongolia following Russia’s lead, Liberia and the Marshall Islands following the US). Still, there are some countries who are distant enough that they really don’t care one way or the other. There’s just no reason for the governments of Bhutan or Vanuatu to lose much sleep over Kosovo.

The disinterested group overlaps somewhat with the legalists, because even a country that has no interest otherwise is likely to be a little concerned about the precedent. But it’s possible to distinguish between countries that are really worried about the legal issues, and those to whom it doesn’t much matter one way or the other.

The “yes” votes in waiting: There are somewhere betweeen five and fifteen countries that are going to recognize Kosovo within the next year or so, but that just haven’t done it yet. This group includes a couple that are starting the process of recognition (Malta, Qatar), a couple more that have said they will (Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh), and a couple that are ready and willing, but whose governments are waiting for the right moment to gain maximum political benefit (Kosovo’s own neighbors Macedonia and Montenegro). In addition, there are probably ten or a dozen nations who fall into the category of “don’t care, but willing to recognize if someone will just pay for it”. See, e.g., the various small nations that still recognize Taiwan as the government of China; about two thirds of these do so because Taiwan has paid or is paying them for it.

Okay, so that explains why 150 countries aren’t supporting Kosovar independence. Are they likely to change their minds? That probably deserves another post.

35 thoughts on “Kosovar independence in the General Assembly

  1. Do you doubt that Canada and the UK, would refuse to let Quebec or Scotland go if they have a clear popular vote demanding it?

    With the exception of Turkey (the former colonial power) is there a country that has a chance of violence due to separatism that has recognized Kosovo?

  2. Doug,

    A very, very interesting post. Two *short* comments:

    1.
    You included Australia in the ‘legalists’ list when Australia has recognised Kosovo. Maybe you meant to say New Zealand.

    2.
    Romania has historically has good relations with Albania, but that does not seem to extend to the Albanian population of Kosovo. An Albanian family was even royalty in Moldavia, but these things change with the passing of time I guess. French at one point were the most pro-Serb nation in western Europe and there is a monument in Belgrade to the French-Serbian friendship which reads: “We [the Serbs] love France as much as she [France] loves us.”

  3. “Where anti-separatism has become a key part of the national identity (Georgia, Argentina, Azerbaijan).”

    Why Argentina? Yes, the country came close to disintegration in the 19th century, but separatism hasn’t been an issue for over a century. Nobody pines for Uruguay or Paraguay, and nobody worries about secession or secessionist movements.

    (There was a remarkably bad New York Times article about Patagonia back during 2002, which took one poll result — a poll I’d never heard of — and some random interviews and turned that into an existential threat to Argentine unity.)

    What led you to include Argentina in that group? I would very much like to know.

  4. Charky, Noel —

    Argentina views the Falklands as a separatist issue. From their POV, the islands have always been a part of Argentina, but were seized by force and then implanted with alien colonists by Britain.

    IMO “the Malvinas have always been Argentine” is right up there with “Macedonia has always been Greek” in terms of deep and utter idiocy, but that’s neither here nor there. The Argentines take it very seriously. In diplomatic terms, this makes them reflexively hostile to self-determination according to ethnic differences or geographical isolation, or by means of popular referendum.

    If the comparison to Kosovo seems far-fetched, all I can say is that the Argentines really seem to see it this way.

    Doug M.

  5. It might indeed — but my impression is that they’re more concerned about the precedent. India takes the UN pretty seriously.

    Doug M.

  6. Ah, now I understand what you were getting at. The confusion is understandable. The thing is, Argentina’s opposition doesn’t run as deep as you think, and the country belongs in either the “legalist” or “anti-imperialist” categories. I’d say the latter, given the policy preferences of the Fernández Administration, but that’s arguable.

    First things first. Argentina isn’t reflexively hostile to “self-determination according to ethnic differences or geographical isolation, or by means of popular referendum.” (Where did you get that from?) After all, Argentina recognized the Baltic States on August 25, 1991, before the USSR officially dissolved. Ditto, Ukraine on December 5. A year later, it recognized Croatia two weeks /before/ the SFRY dissolved itself. It sent troops to both Bosnia and Kosovo and supported the creation of UNMIK.

    Nor does Argentina see the Falklands dispute as a separatist issue. (Where did you get that from?) Of course, inasmuch as the Falklanders would vote to remain part of the U.K., the current Argentine government does worry about any precedents that would allow a vote to define the islands’ status. But I haven’t heard anyone mention that. Rather, the talk is that recognizing Kosovo would make it harder for Argentina to defend its claims in international courts.

    (Why does Buenos Aires care about its ability to defend its claim to the Falklands in international courts? Partly stupid domestic politics: las Malvinas son argentinas and all that. Partly, however, because Britain has recently tried to annex a broad swath of the South Atlantic, down to issuing exploration contracts to British firms. Argentina says that violates a 1995 agreement. London ripostes by pointing out that Argentina unilaterally abrogated that agreement in 2007 when Kirchner started to make noise again about the Falklands. Fernández’s government is now so weak that she’s in no position to alter its stand on the issue … easier to duck it. Not that anybody in Argentina cares about Kosovo or the Falklands at the moment.)

    In other words, the Argentine government “dislikes Kosovar independence because they see it as a violation of the UN charter, as the unlawful dismemberment of a sovereign nation by force, or just generally as a disturbing precedent.”

    Emphasis on “disturbing precedent.”

    That would be your definition of legalist.

  7. Noel,

    You may well be right. My assigment of Argentina to the “worried about separatism / territorial integrity” group was based on very limited knowledge of the country.

    That said, here is one of the links that made me put it there:

    Por las Malvinas, el Gobierno decidió no reconocer a Kosovo

    Pretenden no sentar precedentes que puedan ser usados por los kelpers.

    […]

    El canciller argentino subrayó que el Consejo de Seguridad del que formaba parte entonces la Argentina, “se pronunció a favor del respeto al principio de integridad territorial”. Y “además la Resolución 1244 -agregó Taiana- especificó que cualquier salida del diferendo debía pasar por un acuerdo o negociación de las partes”.

    El respeto al principio de integración territorial y negociación y acuerdo entre los sectores involucrados cuando hay una disputa de soberanía, forma parte de la estrategia argentina en la difícil relación que tiene con Gran Bretaña, luego de la derrota militar de 1982.

    Kosovo tiene más del 90% de población albanesa que siempre vivió en ese lugar, varios cientos de años antes que llegaran las migraciones de los eslavos.

    Este dato comprobable históricamente forma parte de los elementos que -llegado el momento- ha preparado la Cancillería argentina para argumentar en defensa de la soberanía argentina en Malvinas.

    Es que además del principio de integridad territorial y del acuerdo de partes, la Argentina ha sostenido siempre que los kelpers no son los habitantes originarios de Malvinas, sino que se trata de una población trasplantada por una potencia colonial, como es Gran Bretaña. En otras palabras, los técnicos de Relaciones Exteriores entienden que el Reino Unido no podrá utilizar a favor el ejemplo de lo ocurrido en Kosovo, porque no son situaciones comparables, aseguran.

    Pero sabiendo que el terreno está resbaladizo, la Argentina adoptará una actitud prudente, dicen, y sin hacer mucho ruido se ubicará entre aquellos países que no reconocerán a Kosovo.

    Es también la posición adoptada por el gobierno de España, que tiene una realidad mucho más delicada por el reclamo de independencia del País Vasco y también por la peculiar situación del peñón de Gibraltar que es un dominio inglés desde 1713, arrancado a España tras la derrota en la guerra de sucesión.

    La independencia de Kosovo, en esa línea, entienden los analistas oficiales argentinos, es un mal precedente para Malvinas, el País Vasco, Gibraltar, la parte turca de la isla de Chipre, los húngaros parlantes que viven en Rumania y otras minorías europeas.

    http://www.clarin.com/diario/2008/02/20/elpais/p-00701.htm

    _Clarin_ is a fairly important newspaper, right?

    Of course, this piece could have been written by the local equivalent of Maureen Dowd. But brief googling shows it’s not the only time Argentine sources have made this connection explicitly. Argentine Foreign Minister Jorge Taiana has said, “If we were to recognize Kosovo, which has declared its independence unilaterally, without an agreement with Serbia, we would set a dangerous precedent that would seriously threaten our chances of a political settlement in the case of the Falkland Islands,” And on February 20 UPI wrote that “Argentina will not acknowledge the independence of Kosovo for fear of the impact it could have on its own dispute with Britain over the Falklands.”

    So if I’m wrong to connect Argentina’s concerns about the Falklands to Kosovo — and, I say again, I may well be — what am I missing?

    Doug M.

  8. You’re not wrong. You’re just misreading Argentina’s intentions. By placing it in the “anti-separatist” group, you’re inadvertently reducing that category to incoherence.

    The story first. Clarín is a very important paper. I read it pretty much every day, because staying on top of Argentine politics is (a fun) part of my job.

    The official position — and this is what it says in the article — is that there is no official position. President Fernández has quite explicitly decided not to say anything publicly. The unofficial position (also from the article) is that Buenos Aires supports Resolution 1244’s requirement that both side negotiate an accord. The reason given for the unofficial position is that recognizing Kosovo sets a bad precedent for the Malvinas.

    Which is true. But that’s the legalist position that you described, as I understand it, not the anti-separatist one. After all, the Falklands ship has sailed right out of the Argentine Republic, and it’s not coming back.

    The Fernández Administration is worried about legal positions not because it has a hope in hell of reclaiming the islands. Rather, it is worried that if an international court rules that the islands are indeed British now-and-forever, the Argentine government will lose its leverage over the oil and gas deposits.

    And so, “recognizing that the ground is slippery, Argentina will adopt a prudent position, analysts say, and quietly position itself among the countries that will not recognize Kosovo.”

    The problem here is with the categories of analysis. On the one hand, the Argentines are worried about the precedent that Kosovo sets for a territorial dispute. That, indirectly, puts them in the “anti-separatist” camp that you described. (I won’t split hairs on that point.)

    The problem is that Argentina just doesn’t fit with the other nations in the group, because anti-separatism simply isn’t “part of the national identity.” Argentine governments have been perfectly willing to support separatism overseas — especially when there was a domestic electoral gain from doing so, as there sure was when the USSR and SFRY broke up.

    The Malvinas are a part of Argentine national identity, but only sort of, because Argentine governments have been perfectly willing to finagle the issue without suffering any adverse popular pressure. Argentine ones have almost complete freedom of action short of de jure recognition of British sovereignty. (The 1995 de facto recognition went a long way, until the 2007 dispute over who got to issue oil and gas exploration permits.) This is very different from the way Greek public opinion influences Greek governments, as you explained it. Sure, you could put Argentina in the anti-separatist camp, but it seems a stretch.

    So if Argentina doesn’t fit into the “anti-separatist” category, where does it fit? Well, you could put it in the “anti-imperialist” camp, since the Kirchner government loved to tweak the U.S. and the IMF and received no small amount of support from Chávez. The Fernández government showed some signs of moving away from that position, but her recent problems have put the kibosh on that. Still, my gut feeling is that sticking it to the Man isn’t the purpose behind the Argentine position.

    What is? Quite simply, the legal precedent. Right now, with war off the table — and the polls show that a war would be mighty unpopular — Argentina can hold two sticks over the British. One of them will go away (and the other will be severely weakened) if an international court declares that las Malvinas son británicas, even if doing so requires a referendum on the islands followed by some sort of treaty of association.

    That worry fits the “legalist” position to a T. And Argentina has actual cash money in that fight, not just its national pride, which wouldn’t be affected by any sort of international court decision.

    Hmm. Doug, would AFOE readers be interested in the Seriously Cold War going on between Britain and Argentina in the South Atlantic?

  9. “What am I missing” isn’t really right here. More like, your narrative makes sense, but it’s not consistent with some other things I’m seeing here — the Clarin editorial, the public statement by the minister, various other googly odds and ends.

    I’m not sure how to parse this. Help a brother out.

    Also, re your last sentence? “This sets a disturbing precedent for the world” is legalist. “This sets a disturbing precedent for some region of our country,” not.

    Doug M.

  10. Now you’ve lost me.

    I’m just going to say three things.

    First, Argentine governments in general have no none zero zip nada problem with recognizing unilateral secession. They have done it before.

    Second, right now, though, there is a legal issue that they are, probably wrongfully, worried about, and so they have quietly decided to take the non-position of sticking to the language of Resolution 1244. The fact that this avoids conflict with Hugo and irritates precisely nobody elsewhere is an added bonus. When I say legal issue, I mean an actual will-come-before-courts legal issue, not an ill-defined matter of political principle.

    Third, your “anti-separatist” category is not exclusive. Neither are the others. If you wish to make them exclusive, then you need to establish a hierarchy. As you say, “a single reason that dominates.”

    So in the Argentine case, which motive is the real one? We know that neither general principle nor public opinion is driving Argentine opposition. Otherwise the Menem government would have behaved differently in the early 1990s. Ergo, something else is more important. That something is /legalist/, again as defined by you, until you changed the definition.

    The way to square the circle in your head is to change your “anti-separatist” category to “self-interested.” Some of the self-interested are emotionally self-interested. Others may honestly fear Western intervention on behalf of secessionists. And others, like Argentina, may worry about genuine court decisions in both British and international courts that will affect real business decisions and the flow of millions of dollars.

  11. Wrong: it is much, much easier to explain the recognitions.

    The ones that recognized the mafia state on Serbian territory are:

    a) hanging out of Uncle Sam’s arse;

    b) part of joint criminal enterprise which committed illegal aggression against FR of Yugoslavia;

    c) or both of the above.

    Serbia might have many more friends than you’d like. And gaining…

  12. It’s interesting, because as far as I can tell, public opinion in both the Czech Republic and Slovakia is vaguely pro-Serb. Both Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia came out of the same pan-Slavic movement back in the day, so there was always a certain amount of good feeling between the two countries; and, then, there’s the factor of the Munich agreement. I don’t think the recognition of Kosovo as an independent state is anything close to the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia at Munich, but it makes a good rhetorical point. So it makes a certain amount of sense, I suppose, that Czechs and Slovaks are generally a little suspicious of Kosovo’s independence. But it doesn’t seem like either country has anything to gain from refusing to recognize Kosovo, and the Czechs basically said they didn’t see any reason not to recognize it and jumped in when everyone else did.

    It seems to me that Slovak national identity and nationalism are, to a certain extent, still tied up with pan-Slavism, at least to a much greater extent than they are in the Czech Republic. So refusing to recognize Kosovo could essentially be seen as the government’s way of asserting national identity to the “international community”. It seems like a pretty pointless way to do that, though. The other idea that this could lead Hungarian separatists to demand independence for southern Slovakia is ridiculous, but unfortunately, there are people who believe it. And I really didn’t want to think that this sort of idiotic nationalism could be behind Slovakia’s decision, but maybe it is.

  13. “would AFOE readers be interested in the Seriously Cold War going on between Britain and Argentina in the South Atlantic?”

    I do not want to be a buttinski, but yes, I think we would be interested 🙂

  14. @ Douglas

    I think that its better to incorporate the Ukraine into “Countries with their own separatist movements or regions” than into “Russia and its posse”
    As you know, after the orange revolution the Ukrainian government has become pro-western and pro-nato. So they cant be considered to belong to Russia’s posse anymore.
    The population of the Ukraine is divide; the west is pro-Europe while the east and south is pro-Russia. The main separatist movement is to be found in the “Autonomous Republic of Crimea”. This peninsula was Russian territory till 1954, when the president of the USSR (a native Ukrainian) hand it over to the Ukraine. Although the ARC is official Ukrainian territory, the Russians have maintained a great influence here. Among other things, the Ukrainian and Russian government had a dispute over the Russian black sea fleet which is stationed here. The Ukrainian government have said that the are not willing to prolong the lease contract that they made with the Russian government about the marine facilities in the Crimea, which will end in 2017. The majority of the inhabitants in the ARC are in favour to maintain the ties with Russia, and the staying of the Russian fleet. Last month their was a rumour that there were some busses with western-Ukrainians on their way to the ARC, to smash up a newly erect statue of empress Catharina. A pro-Russian crowd came to the statue to guard it, and they declared that if the statue was going to be attacked, they will go to Lemberg (L’viv) to destroy the newly erect statue of a Ukrainian nationalist over there. (Lemberg is the former capital of a short lived western-Ukrainian state in the time of the inter-bellum. It’s the centre of the anti-Russian movement in the Ukraine.) To understand this statue conflict you have to know that the pro-western government has started a process of re-writing it’s history. In the western Ukraine the criminals of the past (Stepan Bandera and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army) are becoming today’s heroes, while the heroes of the past (the Red Army) are becoming today’s criminals. Of course this is good news for the publisher of the history books they use on Ukrainian schools.
    Ron.

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  17. “would AFOE readers be interested in the Seriously Cold War going on between Britain and Argentina in the South Atlantic?”

    Another vote in favour, here!

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  19. “(Lemberg is the former capital of a short lived western-Ukrainian state in the time of the inter-bellum. It’s the centre of the anti-Russian movement in the Ukraine.)”

    Why “Lemberg”? That name hasn’t been used since the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

  20. Lemberg is the german version of the name. The Ukrainian government in the inter-bellum most assuredly did not call it Lemberg.

    Russians are going to be a minority in Crimea soon. It is currently undergoing catastrophic population loss – 16% since 1989, even though 200,000+ Crimean Tatars have returned there from Central Asia since the fall of the Soviet Union. The combined total of the Crimean Tatars and the Ukrainians in Crimea will be a majority soon, and since there seems to be a differential exodus out of Crimea (and death rates), it is likely that Russian influence in Crimea will continue to erode. Match this with the efforts Russia is taking to build its own Black Sea fleet base (which suggests they are taking the Ukrainian government seriously), and I think it likely in the long run that separatism in Crimea will decline.

    As an aside, the Crimean Tatar leadership is very pro-Ukrainian and pro-Orange Revolution. They remember what happened to them the last time Russia ruled Ukraine very well.

  21. “Lemberg is the german version of the name. The Ukrainian government in the inter-bellum most assuredly did not call it Lemberg.”

    Interbellum? Which interbellum?

    In the past century, the city’s official name has gone from the Polish L’wow to the Russian L’vov to the current L’viv. None of these countries used Germanized placenames. That I know of.

  22. @Randy
    I have tried to reply earlier, but that was not possible due to some technical troubles with this site.
    Anyway, with the inter-bellum I did mend the period between WW-1 and WW-2.
    Lemberg is the Dutch/German name for the former Galician capital. And because I am Dutch, I am using this name. In Ukrainian the name of the town is L’viv, but also the Polish name L’wow and the Russian name L’vov is frequently used. The last time the town itself was using Lemberg as its official name was 1944.
    Lemberg is a weird but beautiful town, which I frequently visit. The towns centre consists mostly of buildings that are dating from the time that Lemberg was the capital of Galicia, the biggest province of the Austrian empire. As through a miracle, the town survived practically undamaged all the 20th centuries battles (the buildings that is, not the people!). As was the fate of a lot of post-war Eastern Europe towns, there was a total lack of maintenance of the outside of the buildings. This gave the town a quite desolate look.
    However a few years back, the new pro-western government gave a huge amount of money for the total restoration of the town’s historical centre, this because of its 750th anniversary. Nowadays Lemberg is one of Europe’s most beautiful towns, filled with good restaurants, trendy café’s, and luxury shops. But this former Austrian town has still to be discovered by western tourists. This would probably find place during the European football championship in 2012, which is partly taking place in Lemberg.
    This was the good part of Lembergs story, the part about it stones. The part about its inhabitants is rather sad.
    At the beginning of WW-2, about 60% of its inhabitants were polish and one third was Jew. Well, we know what happened to the Jews; they were all murdered by the Nazi’s. And the polish inhabitants were all deported toward the not existing town of Breslau (Wroclaw). Not existing, because Breslau was completely destroyed during the war (festung-Breslau). Can you imagine all those polish inhabitants of Lemberg that were forced to leave their beautiful city and were now gazing to a giant pile of bricks, which happened to be their new place of living?
    The end of the war didn’t mend peace for Galicia, because after the defeat of the Germans, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) kept on battling against the red army for another decade. The Ukrainian government is trying to bring the remains of the former UPA-leaders back to Ukraine, and re-burry them on the famous Lychakivskiy cemetery in Lemberg (I’ve been there; it’s really an amazing place!).
    Last year they erect a statue in Lemberg of the UPA-leader Stepan Bandera. This was seen as an insult by the pro-Russian Ukrainians, because they consider the UPA-members not as national heroes but as Nazi-collaborators and enemies of the red army, who liberated the Ukraine. They reacted by erecting in the Crimea a statue in remembrance of the UPA-victims. History still has a big influence on today’s politics in the Ukraine…
    Walking through Lemberg, there are some things I can’t understand considering the average Ukrainian salary. How can they afford to buy al those expensive articles in the luxury stores? And why can’t you see any bicycle’s, but does it seems almost everybody drives a much more expensive car instead, causing traffic jams all through Lemberg during rush-hour? But of at least one question I found the answer; why can’t you see water anywhere in Lemberg, while the river Poltva is flowing right through its centre?

    http://infostore.org/info/1505897?refer=1505842&rs=3

    Ron

  23. @Randy

    I have tried to reply earlier, but that was not possible due to some technical troubles with this site.

    Anyway, with the inter-bellum I did mend the period between WW-1 and WW-2.

    Lemberg is the Dutch/German name for the former Galician capital. And because I am Dutch, I am using this name. In Ukrainian the name of the town is L’viv, but also the Polish name L’wow and the Russian name L’vov is frequently used. The last time the town itself was using Lemberg as its official name was 1944.

    Lemberg is a weird but beautiful town, which I frequently visit. The towns centre consists mostly of buildings that are dating from the time that Lemberg was the capital of Galicia, the biggest province of the Austrian empire. As through a miracle, the town survived practically undamaged all the 20th centuries battles (the buildings that is, not the people!). As was the fate of a lot of post-war Eastern Europe towns, there was a total lack of maintenance of the outside of the buildings. This gave the town a quite desolate look.

    However a few years back, the new pro-western government gave a huge amount of money for the total restoration of the town’s historical centre, this because of its 750th anniversary. Nowadays Lemberg is one of Europe’s most beautiful towns, filled with good restaurants, trendy café’s, and luxury shops. But this former Austrian town has still to be discovered by western tourists. This would probably find place during the European football championship in 2012, which is partly taking place in Lemberg.

  24. This was the good part of Lembergs story, the part about it stones. The part about its inhabitants is rather sad.

    At the beginning of WW-2, about 60% of its inhabitants were polish and one third was Jew. Well, we know what happened to the Jews; they were all murdered by the Nazi’s. And the polish inhabitants were all deported toward the not existing town of Breslau (Wroclaw). Not existing, because Breslau was completely destroyed during the war (festung-Breslau). Can you imagine all those polish inhabitants of Lemberg that were forced to leave their beautiful city and were now gazing to a giant pile of bricks, which happened to be their new place of living?

    The end of the war didn’t mend peace for Galicia, because after the defeat of the Germans, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) kept on battling against the red army for another decade. The Ukrainian government is trying to bring the remains of the former UPA-leaders back to Ukraine, and re-burry them on the famous Lychakivskiy cemetery in Lemberg (I’ve been there; it’s really an amazing place!).

    Last year they erect a statue in Lemberg of the UPA-leader Stepan Bandera. This was seen as an insult by the pro-Russian Ukrainians, because they consider the UPA-members not as national heroes but as Nazi-collaborators and enemies of the red army, who liberated the Ukraine. They reacted by erecting in the Crimea a statue in remembrance of the UPA-victims. History still has a big influence on today’s politics in the Ukraine…

    Walking through Lemberg, there are some things I can’t understand considering the average Ukrainian salary. How can they afford to buy al those expensive articles in the luxury stores? And why can’t you see any bicycle’s, but does it seems almost everybody drives a much more expensive car instead, causing traffic jams all through Lemberg during rush-hour? But of at least one question I found the answer; why can’t you see water anywhere in Lemberg, while the river Poltva is flowing right through its centre?

    http://infostore.org/info/1505897?refer=1505842&rs=3

    Ron

  25. “Lemberg is the Dutch/German name for the former Galician capital. And because I am Dutch, I am using this name.”

    Thanks for correcting me! I’d been under the impression that you might have been some the sort of Russian nationalist or Russophile who believes that Ukrainians don’t really exist, or that they’re only the Galicians. My apologies.

  26. @ Randy

    No need for apologies, you was a bit right, for i always try to be neutral (even while i am aware that its not 100% possible), so i also take the Russian view in consideration

    In my former reply i was talking about the good part of Lembergs story, the part about it stones. The part about its inhabitants is rather sad.

    At the beginning of WW-2, about 60% of its inhabitants were polish and one third was Jew. Well, we know what happened to the Jews; they were all murdered by the Nazi’s. And the polish inhabitants were all deported toward the not existing town of Breslau (Wroclaw). Not existing, because Breslau was completely destroyed during the war (festung-Breslau). Can you imagine all those polish inhabitants of Lemberg that were forced to leave their beautiful city and were now gazing to a giant pile of bricks, which happened to be their new place of living?

    The end of the war didn’t mend peace for Galicia, because after the defeat of the Germans, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) kept on battling against the red army for another decade. The Ukrainian government is trying to bring the remains of the former UPA-leaders back to Ukraine, and re-burry them on the famous Lychakivskiy cemetery in Lemberg (I’ve been there; it’s really an amazing place!).

    Last year they erect a statue in Lemberg of the UPA-leader Stepan Bandera. This was seen as an insult by the pro-Russian Ukrainians, because they consider the UPA-members not as national heroes but as Nazi-collaborators and enemies of the red army, who liberated the Ukraine. They reacted by erecting in the Crimea a statue in remembrance of the UPA-victims. History still has a big influence on today’s politics in the Ukraine…

    Walking through Lemberg, there are some things I can’t understand considering the average Ukrainian salary. How can they afford to buy al those expensive articles in the luxury stores? And why can’t you see any bicycle’s, but does it seems almost everybody drives a much more expensive car instead, causing traffic jams all through Lemberg during rush-hour? But of at least one question I found the answer; why can’t you see water anywhere in Lemberg, while the river Poltva is flowing right through its centre?

    http://infostore.org/info/1505897?refer=1505842&rs=3

    As i have said before, Lemberg is a weird city; its a western European town (Austrian build) with eastern European inhabitants, who are proud of their town. Therefore, walking through Lemberg brings me in a sort of surrealistic mood. And then i often think about the idea of making Lemberg Europe’s new capital. It will end the stupid and expensive dual-capital system that exists today. Cultural it could be easily accepted as new capital by the old western members as well as the new eastern members. And its representative enough to be functioning as a European capital (remember that its build and designed to function as a beautiful capital).There’s only one problem left; first the Ukraine must join the ranks of the European members…

    Ron

  27. @ Randy

    There’s no need for apologies, you was a bit right, for i always try to be neutral (even while i am aware that this is not 100% possible), i also take the Russian view in consideration.

    In my former reply i was talking about the good part of Lembergs story, the part about it stones. The part about its inhabitants is rather sad.

    At the beginning of WW-2, about 60% of its inhabitants were polish and one third was Jew. Well, we know what happened to the Jews; they were all murdered by the Hitler’s gang. And the polish inhabitants were all deported toward the not existing town of Breslau (Wroclaw). Not existing, because Breslau was completely destroyed during the war (festung-Breslau). Can you imagine all those polish inhabitants of Lemberg that were forced to leave their beautiful city and were now gazing to a giant pile of bricks, which happened to be their new place of living?

    The end of the war didn’t mend peace for Galicia, because after the defeat of the Germans, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) kept on battling against the red army for another decade. The Ukrainian government is trying to bring the remains of the former UPA-leaders back to Ukraine, and re-bury them on the famous Lychakivskiy cemetery in Lemberg (I’ve been there; it’s really an amazing place!).

    Last year they erect a statue in Lemberg of the UPA-leader Stepan Bandera. This was seen as an insult by the pro-Russian Ukrainians, because they consider the UPA-members not as national heroes but as Nazi-collaborators and enemies of the red army, who liberated the Ukraine. They reacted by erecting in the Crimea a statue in remembrance of the UPA-victims. History still has a big influence on today’s politics in the Ukraine…

    Walking through Lemberg, there are some things I can’t understand considering the average Ukrainian salary. How can they afford to buy all those expensive articles in the luxury stores? And why can’t you see any bicycle’s, but does it seems almost everybody drives a much more expensive car instead, causing traffic jams all through Lemberg during rush-hour? But of at least one question I found the answer; why can’t you see water anywhere in Lemberg, while the river Poltva is flowing right through its centre?

    http://infostore.org/info/1505897?refer=1505842&rs=3

    As i have said before, Lemberg is a weird city; its a western European town (Austrian build) with eastern European inhabitants, who are proud of their town. Therefore, walking through Lemberg brings me in a sort of surrealistic mood. And then i often think about the idea of making Lemberg Europe’s new capital. It will end the stupid and expensive dual-capital system that exists today. Due to its strange cultural nature, it could be easily accepted as new capital by the old western members as well as the new eastern members. And its representative enough to be functioning as a European capital (remember that its build and designed to function as a beautiful capital). There’s only one problem left; first the Ukraine must join the ranks of the European members…

    Ron

  28. For some reason, my reply keeps being fitered out when i was trying to ad it. Well, trafelling through eastern-Europe made me good in improvising, so i have put my reply on the web, and you can read it by clicking on the following link;

    http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=dhgz6cjv_1cmq999c2

    Among other things, you will find there why i think that Lemberg is suitable to be Europe’s next capital.
    Ron

  29. Doug about Romania’s positions
    Besides the ‘friends of Serbia’ category I think it can also safely be part of the ‘Countries with their own separatist movements or regions.’ I followed the developments in Romania following Kosovo’s UDI and although the idea is not voiced, it’s clear that Romanian politicians fear that recognizing Kosovo’s indepedence they will give a bigger voice to the Hungarians asking for territorial autonomy in the Székely Land (east of Transylvania). They’re not asking for independence but for territorial autonomy; not the same thing but too much for most Romanians. Hungarian politicians in were the only ones in Romania that saluted Kosovo’s independence while Romanian politicians rallied around the flag defending the holy principle of territorial integrity. Instead they should have recognized the big differences between the situation of the Hungarians in Romania (that have an acceptable amount of minority rights) and that of Kosovo Albanians in Serbia. Romanian politicians had the chance to react with confidence, recognize Kosovo’s independence and in this way prove that they have nothing to fear but instead chose an easier, nationalistic and paranoid reaction. Ohh well.

  30. Hm, this doesn’t look good. At first my comments were filtered out, and much later, when there was no need anymore to do so, all my failed attempts were published after all. But the reason for me to go back to this topic is that I want to share some pictures I made in Lemberg during the South-Ossetian war, which proof once again the anti-Russian attitude of a substantial part of the Ukrainian officials.

    http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=dhgz6cjv_15c2xb2jfk

    Ron.

  31. Pingback: Kosovo at 62; still not unique | afoe | A Fistful of Euros | European Opinion

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