Kosovo at 62; still not unique

The Dominican Republic recognized Kosovo last week, which brings the number of recognizing countries to 62. Kosovo has been collecting recognitions at the rate of 1 or 2 per month lately — this is the tenth since the beginning of this year — and while recognition by Palau or the Comoros may not count for much, getting Malaysia and Saudi Arabia on board is no small thing.

That said, 62 is still a lot less than 192, which is the total number of UN member states. And — for reasons I went into a while back — quite a lot of UN members unless either (1) Serbia consents, or (2) the UN recognizes it. Since Russia and China are both committed to a veto of recognition, that’s unlikely to happen any time soon.

Still, there are a couple of interesting questions.
1) Can Kosovo possibly reach 92 recognitions, and so claim recognition by a majority of UN members?
2) If yes, then can it do so before the International Court of Justice renders its decision on the legality of Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence (expected next summer)?
3) Can Kosovo get a majority of members on the UN Security Council any time soon?

I’d say the answers are “probably, but not soon”; “very probably not”; and “quite possibly, but not in this Security Council, nor the next”.

Meanwhile, here’s an interesting article on how Kosovo’s independence is encouraging various separatist movements in Africa. — One of the arguments advanced by Kosovo’s supporters has always been that Kosovo is unique, and granting it independence won’t be a meaningful precedent. This has always been a rather weak argument; the world is full of separatist movements. Many of them represent groups that have suffered oppression as bad or worse than the Kosovars. I support Kosovo’s independence, but I don’t see the point of pretending it won’t set a precedent.

No, strike that. I see the point — it makes independence more palatable to nervous governments around the world. But it is, at best, a polite fiction.

Anyway. I wrote up my thoughts on who deserves independence, and who doesn’t, several years ago. Some of the facts have changed since then, but the underlying reasoning hasn’t. Independence shouldn’t be allowed lightly, but that doesn’t mean it should never be allowed.

I don’t envy the ICJ the Kosovo case: however they decide, a lot of people will be very upset, and rightly so.

41 thoughts on “Kosovo at 62; still not unique

  1. Hey, Doug! Good post, as usual, but I don’t know if I’d have bothered with the link to the All-Africa article. There wasn’t any there there. Sure, some movements have posted some stuff on websites, and Somaliland made another recognition plea, but that’s … well, small beer doesn’t capture it. What’s the smallest possible unit of beer?

    I rarely understand precedent arguments when presented in a vacuum. What’s the putative mechanism? Sometimes precedents make a difference, and sometimes they don’t. The only mechanism that I can see here is the possibility that if a government votes to recognize Kosovo, public opinion in that country might become more amenable to allowing secession at home. That mechanism does not strike me as particularly plausible.

    In other words, I don’t understand why you’re dismissive of the argument that the whole affair really is sui generis and won’t have any appreciable effect on the development of secessionist movements in other countries or regions, Georgia excepted for obvious (and also idiosyncratic) reasons.

  2. I’m dismissive because it’s obviously not sui generis. Whether it has an effect on other secessionist movements is a separate and distinct question.

    I can see several mechanisms by which it might encourage other secessionist movements, though at this point they’re all speculative. I’m not even sure how much attention secessionist groups are paying to Kosovo, really. Frex, nobody has yet picked up on the KLA’s incredibly successful accelerate-the-contradictions strategy. (On the other hand, that’s probably because that strategy needs an easily upset large power or alliance nearby. If Kosovo had been located in Central Africa instead of next door to NATO, it would have resulted in nothing but a lot of dead Albanians.)

    Anyway. I think the answer to this depends sensitively on whether, when and how Kosovo gains de jure, widely recognized independence. If it takes another 50 years, that’s one thing. If the ICJ rules in their favor — unlikely IMO, but could happen — that would be something else entirely.

    Doug M.

  3. Aren’t you contradicting yourself by saying that the situation isn’t unique and depends upon being next door to an easily-upset great power? And what are the other speculative mechanism? I get the impression that you might in fact agree with my argument. After all, when I think about Somaliland or South Sudan or Western Sahara or Casamance and run the counterfactual in my head, I can’t see the situation being any different because of what happened in a corner of Europe a little over a year ago. Can you?

    I’m curious, though. What exactly is the ICJ ruling on, and what would flow from a ruling one way or the other?

  4. …talking about two different things here. One, the military-political situation in 1998-9, when the KLA doubled down on NATO intervention. That was unique in the sense that every war is unique. It’s also interesting in that the KLA, despite being an unimpressive mix of thugs, unemployed bouncers, warmed-over Marxists, and 19 year old college dropouts who’d watched way too many Tito-era partisan war movies, nonetheless came up with one of the most successful insurgent strategies of the last 25 years. Whether this was unexpected brilliance on the part of the KLA leadership or simple dumb luck is left as an exercise for the student.

    Where was I… oh yeah, the military situation in 1998-9 was unique, or at least very unusual. But now, in 2009, we’re talking about a legal case. And legally there’s not much to distinguish Kosovo from a bunch of other would-be independent nations.

    Somaliland or South Sudan: er, I agree. Was that not clear? I don’t think there’s been much difference /yet/. I think there *might* be, in the future, depending on how things play out.

    The ICJ: Serbia asked the ICJ to rule on whether Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence (UDI) was legal.


    This was damn clever of them on several levels. Frex, notice that they’re not asking for a ruling on whether Kosovo has the right to be independent? Ah hah, no. They’re only asking if /that UDI, at that time/ was legal. This is a broad invitation to the Court to take the easy way out and say “oh, well, we’re not reaching the general question of independence — we’re just saying that /this particular/ declaration was wrong –” [too soon, procedurally imperfect, not justified, didn’t follow UN Resolution 1244 adequately, not written in chicken blood on virgin papyrus, whatever] “– so go back to the end of the line, Kosovo.”

    This would be pretty cheesy, but consider the alternatives. A Court decision that stated firmly that Kosovo /did/ have the legal right to declare independence would be hugely consequential; a decision stating that it /did not and never could/ have that right would be even bigger.

    So I’m sure they’ll be tempted to wiggle out of it.

    Doug M.

  5. If the ICJ rules in favour of Serbia, what could be the consequences? As you point out, 62 countries, including most of Kosovo’s neighbours and seven of the G8 countries, recognize Kosovo, and Kosovo certainly acts as an state independent of Serbia with the support of the very large majority of its population. Could an ICJ ruling that Kosovo’s UDI was illegal actually be enforced?

  6. Kosovo would remain a version of Taiwan only much poorer and criminal. A cross of Taiwan and North Cyprus if you will.
    It would reduce new recognitions to almost zero but not cause many countries to unrecognise. Scandinavians perhaps?

  7. Shoot, where was I reading yesterday that Kenya was allowing T-72s to pass into southern Sudan?

    Oh right, it was here. Small beer. With tanks.

  8. Randy,

    It’s an advisory opinion. Not formally binding on anyone.

    That said, it would be a big moral victory for Serbia. It would certainly stop new recognitions dead, and might roll back a few that have already recognized.

    The internal effect would be pretty modest. But externally, it would be a heavy blow indeed. Kosovo would be stuck in limbo for many years to come, with no prospect of membership in the EU, the United Nations, regional organizations, or Eurovision. Which would suck.

    Doug M.

  9. If you’re talking street crime, Prishtina is safer than most places.

    Except when they are killing Bulgarian peacekeepers because they are sounding Serbian…

    I would say that Prishtina is safe as long as you do not speak Serbian.

  10. Srdjan, the Valentin Krumov incident was ten years ago.

    Here’s a more recent experience, by a Serbian professor who lives in Belgrade but visited Prishtina in April of this year:

    “I was reluctant to speak Serbian openly at first. But whenever someone overheard me speaking it in a café or restaurant, the only reaction was pleasant surprise and genuine joy.

    “Most Albanians in those situations will squeeze out as many words of Serbian they know (be it a lot or just a little), smile, ask how are things in Belgrade, or even play some music commonly considered as “naÅ¡a” (covering a wide array from Serbian turbo-folk over Bosnian sevdalinke to Croatian soft pop, but that’s an altogether different story)…”


    Nobody’s going to be upset about you speaking Serbian today.

    Doug M.

  11. A situation where extreme amounts of money (by local standards) is channeled through government and handled by unaccountable foreigners will lead to organized crime and corruption. This is unavoidable. That situation would go on due to a legal limbo.

    My point is that the rest of the Balkans will improve given time and hopefully the EU’s efforts. This will not happen in Kosovo, not with an unclear status. Especially as a state of latent crisis discourages criticism of the government.

  12. …there’s a small Balkan state whose Prime Minister is under indictment for Mafia-related activities. But it’s not Kosovo.

    There’s another Balkan state that has recently lost over $100 million in EU funds for blatant corruption. But, again, it’s not Kosovo.

    There’s nothing special about Kosovo in this regard. But for some reason, it’s got the region’s most negative image.

    The rest of the Balkans will improve, but Kosovo won’t: following your reasoning, Kosovo wouldn’t have improved in the last few years. Yet it has.

    Kosovo’s GDP growth was 3.5% in ’07, 5.2% in ’08, and is projected at a bit over 3% in ’09. Google around and you’ll see these are almost identical to the numbers for the rest of the region.

    I actually agree with you that the prospect of EU membership is a powerful engine for positive change. But you’re assuming that the opposite must also be true — viz., that without the near-term prospect of membership, a country is doomed to backwardness and stagnation. This is demonstrably untrue; Turkey has been waiting for almost 50 years now, and they’re doing just fine.

    Doug M.

  13. It is not the question if the Balkan state are corrupt, they are, but if the Kosovarians them self are criminal. And in the racist mind of Europe they are.

    Kosovo is a lot poorer than the rest of the Balkan, get a lot of EU money and they have a rising instead of falling population. That their growth is average isn’t good.

    Turkey is a giant with sea access. Kosovo is a landlocked, mountainous and small country who’s natural trading partner is their enemy. Turkey also got money because of the cold war and its strategic position. Kosovo isn’t strategic and the cold war is over.

    Talking about Serbia. Serbia needs people and Kosovarians are Serbians citizens(atleast according to the Serbian government. My guess is that they will suck Kosovo dry of people. Will take a few years but will be successful in the end.

  14. “Talking about Serbia. Serbia needs people and Kosovarians are Serbians citizens(atleast according to the Serbian government. My guess is that they will suck Kosovo dry of people. Will take a few years but will be successful in the end.”

    So Kosovar Albanians are going to move en masse to one of the poorest countries in Europe, also a country with a long record of violent anti-Albanian sentiment because … ?

    A mass flight of Kosovar Serbs makes sense. A more likely target for Kosovar Albanian emigration is, unsurprisingly, western Europe, maybe even Albania.

  15. What does ‘independence’ for Somaliland mean, anyway? The country it’s independent from doesn’t exist anymore.

  16. Serbia is a lot richer than Kosovo. They can work there legally unlike the rest of Europe which compensates for Serbia low GDP per capita.
    Serbia also wont stay poor. Serbia is not part of Europe but close by, with good infrastructure to the rest of Europe, a well educated population and they control the Danube.
    Serbia can manufacture goods without EU rules but Europe can’t really close the border because of the Danube.

    The Future of Kosovo simply doesn’t look so bright. Small, mountainous nation with EU rules and bad infrastructure and MNC who don’t want to invest because of Russia.

    Greece isn’t a country with a long record of violent anti-Albanian sentiment because otherwise not so many Albanians would live there.

    “A mass flight of Kosovar Serbs makes sense. A more likely target for Kosovar Albanian emigration is, unsurprisingly, western Europe, maybe even Albania.”

    You’re right but then Serbia has to depend on others for that to happen. This will work for certain and if the other happens too than Kosovo is even faster depopulated.

  17. “Serbia is a lot richer than Kosovo. They can work there legally unlike the rest of Europe which compensates for Serbia low GDP per capita.”

    That might be true, but Serbia’s still quite poor. If you’re a Kosovar migrant where would you prefer to work: a wealthy Italy where there’s a large Albanian community already installed, or a poor Serbia with a long history of electing people who want to drive you from your homes?

    “Serbia also wont stay poor. Serbia is not part of Europe but close by, with good infrastructure to the rest of Europe, a well educated population and they control the Danube.”

    Fine, but it’s also going to stay poor relative to the rest of Europe and its neighbours. Illegal immigration to rich countries tends to be rather more popular than legal migration to poor countries, especially when those poor countries are run by people who tend to commit crimes against humanity against your ethnonational group.

    “Serbia can manufacture goods without EU rules but Europe can’t really close the border because of the Danube.”

    Which explains why the European Union suffered so while Serbia prospered in the sanctions regime of the 1990s.

    “The Future of Kosovo simply doesn’t look so bright. Small, mountainous nation with EU rules and bad infrastructure and MNC who don’t want to invest because of Russia.”

    Why is Russia involved here? More to the point, Kosovo’s relatively young population gives it a decided advantage over its neighbours insofar as finding a workforce is concerned, while its location in an increasingly dynamic southeastern Europe and other human and natural resources make it as good a bet in the long haul as Serbia.

    “Greece isn’t a country with a long record of violent anti-Albanian sentiment because otherwise not so many Albanians would live there.”

    Unlike Serbia, yes.

    “You’re right but then Serbia has to depend on others for that to happen.”

    I have no idea what you mean here.

    “This will work for certain and if the other happens too than Kosovo is even faster depopulated.”

    I likewise have no idea what you mean here.

    At any rate, Serbia’s relative poverty and instability has made it a country of mass emigration itself, even after the end of the sanctions regime that saw hundreds of thousands emigrate.


    This, in turn, contributes to the ongoing shift of Serbia population growth into negative territory and population aging that will severely harm economic growth in that country.


    What interest would Kosovars have in immigrating to a relatively poor and strongly anti-Albanian country?

  18. Italy has a not so long history of electing people who want to kick out illegal immigrants. And they have the law on their side unlike the case of Serbia.

    Russia showed that illegal immigration to rich countries is much more popular than legal immigration to not so rich countries because all the Russians outside immigrated to the West and not to Russia. O wait that is not true.

    Europe was in a semi war state with Serbia in the 1990’s don’t think that counts or do you really think that Europe will find a reason for semi war with Serbia.

    Russia is involved because MNC probably want to sell in Russia. Problem with Kosovo is that it is true that the population is young but not exactly well educated for Eastern Europe.

    I was sarcastic. I could point at the way Greece handled the Albanians after WWII or the police does now.

    You’re talking about total GDP, not GDP per capita and that is the important one.

    Which country isn’t strongly anti Albanian?

  19. There is no secret that among the many Albanians looking to make a living there are also a number of criminal elements. Never heard of Albanian mafia? It is a country’s right not to want to import mafia, so Italy and Greece(btw what’s the comment about WWII? unless you mean nazi collaborator scum) have everyright to choose the people they accept as immigrants.

  20. The numbers are too high to be all Nazi collaborator scum. Seems to me more like ethnic cleansing.

  21. charly, what numbers do you refer to? And, who, where and when supposedly did any cleansing? There are well-documented attrocities by Nazi collaborator scum(e.g. the SS Skanderberg division and Ivan Mihailov’s Ohrana.) Up till 1945 there were hardly any governments in the regions, just partizan forces, so who would be the mastermind behind cleansing? And partizan forces had widespread support except (understandably) for nazi collaborators.
    There is no evidence or even allegation of any cleansing. “Packed up and left” for fear of retaliations when their Nazi friends were packing too, does not qualify as cleansing.
    And please remind me when these “high numbers” punished a single one of their kin for collaborating with the nazis. Sorry, no tears for nazi collaborators.

  22. Even though this is irrelevant to Kossovo, the “source” you quote is junk(the author has his own balkan preferences and will adopt any idiotic theory if it goes against countries he does not like. And the ones he does like are the ones with bloodiest record, like Turkey).
    If you think for a minute, you will see that
    a) the doctrine “90% of the population does not collaborate” is just that -a doctrine. You could have said that about the german population too
    b) you still need to answer “who, when, where” did the alleged cleansing. Because the government in charge(who had a responsibility to see to it that nothing bad would happen) was the Cham friend Adolf.

    What’s next? The Ustashi asking for compensation for the evils they suffered under Tito?

  23. @Liam
    since when is wikipedia a serious source especially if we are talking about a controversial part of history?

    The article at wikipedia referred to the orthodox chams (yes, there were orthodox and muslim chams) as greeks which is slightly incorrect. They were albanian orthodox, they spoke albanian (actually cham dialect). Old people in the reagion still do speak albanian/cham but younger generations are of assimilated. And there you have it. The greek nationalistic doctrine follows the simple maxim orthodox = greek. Religion and nationality is equal. Albanian doctrine follows the slightly different maxim where language plays the central role, not religion. In all, the article was very biased. And just to shake your belief in wikipedia when it comes to history read http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Expulsion_of_Cham_Albanians which uses the same sources as the article you gave.

    I think the nationalistic doctrine (religion = nationality) is the main reason why Greece still does not recognise any minority which is a shame for an EU country. For I hardly believe that in a Balkan country that came out of the Ottoman Empire there are no minorities. But this is another story.

    Now, chams in Albania, mostly descendants of those early 30.000 (currently estimated at around 200.000) have a seat in the new parliament. There are good chances that they will force Berisha into passing a resolution condemning the cham ethnic cleansing and taking legal measures for some kind of compensation.

  24. eni,
    wikipedia is a much more serious source than some of the fistful bloggers.

    I do not see anything controversial about saying that Chams collaborated with the nazis.
    In fact, probably from the point of view of most balkan people moslem albanians had also the “privilege” of having not only collaborated, but in fact served as the long arm of the Ottomans with a long history of massacres and brutality against non-moslems.
    Also I am not sure where you get your info on national doctrine. For example there are old and well-established armenian and jewish communities in Greece, so your theory does not seem to hold water. For a minority to be recognized, it must first of all WANT to be recognized as such.

    The crux of this matter is that a) Chams themselves have not cleaned up their mess -i.e. punish those responsible for the collaboration, expresss regret(at the very least) for the actions of the collaborationists
    b)by any sort of legal argument, i) there was no expulsion. If you wish to argue that Chams were forced to flee because of retaliations by greek partisan groups, then you should argue no less about greek villagers having to flee as a result of Cham attrocities. In fact lots of people did have to flee. ii) it is always the responsibility of the government for whatever happens in a country. At the time, there was no greek government, so the only responsible for whatever happened would be Hitler. The nonexistent greek government cannot take any responsibility for actions by partisan groups, including against each other.

    As for the rest: Claims that out of an initial 20000(or 30000 as you claim) the population has grown 10 times in 50 years are obviously not believable. Looks like some people joined for the ride for a shot at “compensation”.
    I think Albania will be shooting himself in the foot by such a resolution, which not only is not well-founded, but will probably provoke a justified reaction from the greek side. It will be easy for Greece to also adopt a similar resolution condemning the cleansing of greek villagers by Cham nazi collaborators and ask for compensation as well as extradiction of the war criminals, as well as adopt much tougher immigration measures. I think Albania will have much to lose here.

  25. Folks, this is drifting off topic. We encourage lively discussion, but threads should be at least loosely connected to the original post.

    Also, no offense, but both sides are getting a bit sloppy with the facts. It’s not hard to look this stuff up. I’d agree that, where Balkan history is concerned, wikipedia is a very frail reed. But it’s possible to get a good first grounding in a topic without ever going near wikipedia.

    Doug M.

  26. I’m not arguing whether or not most Cham collaborated. I’m arguing that a) not all did b) that it was the excuse and not the reason why they were ethnicly cleansed. The Greek government didn’t let some return so the collaborate angle is just an excuse. But we came to this because Randy claimed that Albanians wouldn’t go to Serbia because they are mistreated there and i claim that that doesn’t seem to work for Greece. I think you are proofing my point.

    10 times is believable. 60 years is 2 generation. Average 5 kids per generation and your there. Add intern marriage and increased life expectancy and you get there easy.

  27. Charly, when I say we’re drifting off topic, that’s not an encouragement to continue in the same vein.

    Greece vs. Serbia: that’s not a good comparison at all. One, there’s already a huge Albanian community in Greece, hundreds of thousands of immgrants both legal and illegal. The Albanian community in Serbia, outside the Presevo Valley, is tiny. Two, anti-Albanian feeling runs much deeper and stronger in Serbia than in Greece. Greeks are often biased against Albanians and Greek officialdom tends to treat them badly. But there is a general acceptance that Albanians are needed, if only to do the dirty jobs that Greeks don’t want, and that they are in some sense part of society. This is nothing like the situation in Serbia, where hating Albanians has become part of Serb nationalism. Very few Serbs under thirty have ever met an actual Albanian, and most have only vague and ridiculous notions of what Albanians are like.

    I note in passing that there are small Albanian communities in Slovenia and Croatia — partly from Yugoslav times, partly more recent immigrants, legal and otherwise. That’s because anti-Albanian prejudice in those countries, while a real problem, is very mild compared to Serbia.

    Finally, note that it’s impossible for Kosovar Albanians to emigrate to Serbia legally, since Serbia doesn’t recognize Kosovar passports.

    Doug M.

  28. On topic: Agreed with Doug, Greece(or Italy) and Serbia are completely different. Mostly because Greece and Italy never had any sizeable Albanian citizen community. Also, part of the bad rap Albanians get sometimes stems from violent crimes commited by Albanians. True, a small minority of Albanians, most of whom work hard and only want a better life than they had at home. I believe many of them will be assimilated, just like kids of immigrants to the US very likely choose to take an american identity, rather the identity from the land they left behind. But while we can talk “racism” and “nationalism”(to which Albanians are far from immune-in fact they will beat in that department any of the countries mentioned hands down), that is no consolation if you are a victim of such crimes. So if there is a bias, it is not completely without basis. I am not sure Greece or Italy officialdom tends to treat them badly. Especially Greece has seen all sorts of critisism, yet the measures taken against illegal immigration are practically non-existent, certainly no comparison to the US or Italy.

    As for the rest of Charly’s comment, by the argument that a 10 fold increase in 60 years
    is believable, why has not the population of the entire country risen by that amount and only a small segment had such an explosive growth. Also, it is hard to claim you know what was in the mind of a partisan military commander when he attacks a legitimate military target. And as for some being innocent, the most modern example in the region is Yugoslavia. How many people lost their lives and home through no fault of their own?

  29. Liam, actually both Greece and Italy have had large Albanian citizen communities dating back centuries. Google “Arbereshe” and “Arvanites”. Francesco Crispi — Garibaldi’s lieutenant, a key figure in Italian unification and later twice Premier of Italy — was an ethnic Albanian who didn’t learn Italian until he went off to school.

    In Italy, large numbers of Albanians have obtained legal residence since 1991, and thousands have taken Italian citizenship. I’m going to oversimplify a complex situation and say that in Italy, there are spasms of aggression and hostility against illegal immigrants, but the general background is of tolerance and relative welcome for Albanians. (Note that when Italian politicians talk about illegals, they’re generally talking about black Africans, north Africans, and — bizarrely enough — Roma.) Keep in mind that Albania was a former Italian client state and later colony. The relationship goes back for generations; the history is complex but not always adversarial. Much of Albania’s first generation of intellectual and political leaders were schooled by Italians.

    Greek officialdom: umm. Spend half an hour at a border checkpoint between Albania or Macedonia and Greece, and you’ll have plenty of opportunity to see how Greek officials treat Albanians. Or spend half an hour at a cafe in Tirana talking to Albanians who’ve worked in Greece. The general attitude is that Albanians are a necessary evil, to be hassled and occasionally squeezed for bribes but not actively persecuted.

    Doug M.

  30. Doug,
    one important point: Do these “Arbereshe” and “Arvanites” actually consider themselves Albanian?
    Because otherwise I see no point in calling them such. That would be like going back and trying to attribute other ethnicities to descendants of turkish jennisaries for instance. It makes no sense to me to try an attribute to people an identity they do not want.

    I’m also not sure what you mean by “general attitude”. I assume any country has the right to control its borders and to select which people to let it. The groups targeted are the groups perceived to create problems, for instance Puerto Ricans or Cubans rather than Chinese immigrants in the US. Same idea for Italy or perhaps Greece.
    I can recall my own experiences in France where even EU citizens with a contract for working there and who are entitled to work, need a Carte de Sejour(work permit), which although the State cannot deny, one first needs to get health insurance. And to get health insurance, you need, you guessed it, a work permit…
    But the bottom line is that especially for non-EU citizens, if things are so bad, why don’t you go somewhere else? As for Greece, my understanding is that the state does not treat its own citizens any better(other than EU requirements), so I am not sure there is a basis for complaining there either.

  31. The Arberesh most definitely consider themselves Albanian, albeit of a special and distinct kind. (Their dialect is barely comprehensible to modern Albanians — it’s rather like Shakespearean English would be to us.)

    Puerto Ricans… umm, dude. Puerto Ricans are US citizens. There are half a dozen of them in Congress, tens of thousands in the US military, and one’s about to be seated on the Supreme court.

    Cuban-Americans are one of the most prosperous immigrant groups; US born CAs have a higher average income than native Americans. They tend to be socially conservative and not a particular crime risk. In South Florida a CA is more likely to be a cop than a criminal.

    No offense, but your image of US immigration seems to be drawn from bad movies and Grand Theft Auto.

    Doug M.

  32. American political correctness alert: Doug, U.S.-born Cuban-Americans are “native Americans.” Ixnay, caballero!

    But, yeah, Cuban-Americans are wealthy, on average. And very successful politically.

    Liam, your post is more than a little weird. You’re arguing that countries limit immigration from “problem” groups and treat them badly, and the U.S. treatment of Spanish Caribbean immigrants is an example of that.

    But consider. Britain unceremoniously tossed out the Caribbean and imposed restrictions on the ability of Britain citizens to migrate to Britain. Congress could have tossed Puerto Rico out but it did not. So your example kinda proves the opposite of what you think it does.

    (FYI, the U.S. did in fact toss the Philippines out of the union to limit immigration, yet Filipinos are very successful in the U.S. and viewed as such.)

    Your Cuban example, same problem. Cubans had /no/ migration limits imposed on them from independence in 1902 until 1994. (In point of fact, there were no restrictions before then either. That’s why Martí could live in the States and publish in a New York magazine called “Revista Ilustrada.”)

    After August 19, 1994, Cubans received a quota of 27,845 emigrants per year … but any Cuban who managed to make it to American soil still received the automatic right of abode. A weird system, but not what you’d expect from a country that viewed Cuban immigrants as a problem.

    So your statement about how Americans impose immigration limits on them problematic Caribbean-type Spanish-speakers just doesn’t make any sense, even on its own terms.

    Plus, as Doug points out, this is a country with senators named Salazar, generals named Sanchez, and supreme court justices named Sotomayor. It probably won’t be very long before there is a Latino president; the mayors of Los Angeles and San Antonio are plausible future candidates, as is the current interior secretary. And as we saw in 2008, it’s quite possible that few today have heard of the person who will elected President of the United States in 2016 or 2020.

    Any potential Albanian-Greek prime ministerial candidates? Albanian-surnamed generals and high court judges?

    What was your point again? Since your analogy didn’t make sense, the argument disappeared.

  33. Noel,
    The first point is that Italy “targets” Africans because they are perceived to create problems. Not sure I’d go as far as to say “treat them badly”, if by that you mean some sort of institutionalized bad treatment or general directive to the police or authorities. For instance I’d say the US often treats its own citizens worse(say you are a group of 3 just talking on a typical college street at 19:00. A couple of mounted cops show up and tell you to “break it up”. Another group of teenagers gets the same order. When asked why?, the horse steps on the guys’s CD player. Is that what you mean “bad treatment”?

    Cubans and Puerto Ricans…. Yes, we are talking about citizens. Anyone else is in too sensitive a situation to even think about complaining. What I wrote is just the general sentiment towards these groups. I could add “Arabs” after 9/11. Anyway, once you are a citizen in any western country, the US, Italy, Greece, you are eligible for anything and nobody looks at ethnic background. So of course nobody can object to a judge Sotomayor. But at the same time one cannot be too happy about the Puertorican gangs.

    Which brings us to the second, and most important point: According to Doug,
    “The Arberesh most definitely consider themselves Albanian, albeit of a special and distinct kind”. I have not seen any evidence for this and Doug does not provide any, but let’s take his word. I take this to mean that the Arvanites do NOT. Hence, unless you believe you have been self-appointed as their representative and really know best what they are, they may not be considered as an Albanian minority. Because they do not want to.
    So the question:
    “Any potential Albanian-Greek prime ministerial candidates? Albanian-surnamed generals and high court judges?”
    makes no sense, since Arvanites do not consider themselves Albanian-Greek. Plus, fyi, “Arvanitis” in Greece appears to be a common name and not excluded in anyway from any public office, as in any western country. But these people do not consider themselves Albanian, according to Doug, so what is your point? Unless you mean whether non-citizen immigrants are eligible to be PMs, supreme judges or army generals. I assume the answer would be no in any country

  34. Liam, I’m sorry, but you’re not making any sense.

    You said that “Greece and Italy never had any sizable Albanian citizen community”. I said that was wrong; Italy had the Arberesh, while Greece had the Arvanites. Then you said, well, do they consider themselves Albanians today? Which is moving the goal posts, but okay — the Arberesh certainly do, the Arvanites don’t. The Arvanites were Albanians-in-Greece back in the 19th century, but by WWII most of them considered themselves Greeks who happen to have Albanian ancestry. A few still speak Albanian at home, but it’s more of a curiosity than an ethnic identity — sort of like those Americans who like to say they’re one-sixteenth Cherokee.

    But the point is, yes, both Italy and Greece had historical Albanian minorities. Greece very gradually assimilated the Arvanites, while the Arberesh remain distinct, but that’s neither here nor there.

    Albanian-Greek ministers and such: actually, one interesting aspect of Greece’s immigration system is that they’re resistant to granting Greek citizenship to non-ethnic Greeks — and they’re /very/ resistant to granting it to “undesirable” nationalities such as Albanians. In fact, it’s almost impossible for an Albanian to get permanent residence in Greece. The system is designed to keep legal immigrants on an endless treadmill of applying to renew their status. So, although there are tens of thousands of Albanians who have been in Greece since the early 1990s, and tens of thousands more who were born and grew up there, speak perfect Greek, and consider Athens (or wherever) to be their home — none of these people can become Greek citizens, never mind ministers or judges.

    (This is in contrast to Italy. Italy does allow a path to naturalization, though it’s slow and tortuous; some thousands of Albanians from Albania have taken Italian citizenship since 2001.)

    “I have not seen any evidence for this” — I said, and I quote, “google Arbereshe and Arvanites”. I’m sorry, is googling too hard? This internet stuff is very complicated sometimes, I know. Here’s a Pro-tip — type /inside/ the little window.

    I have a one-year-old here at home, Liam. She gets all my spoon-feeding: there isn’t any left over.

    Doug M.

  35. Who is not making sense?
    With regard to Arbereshe, I googled and did find all the history how they emigrated to Italy and so on. What I did not find is any hint that they consider themselves any different from the other italians. With regard to Arvanites, how on earth does a community which does not consider itself Albanian qualify as Albanian community? This is not about moving the goalposts, it’s a fundamental difference: I don’t think I know best what someone else really is. I am not sure if you do.

    Thanks for clearing up Noel’s remark on pms and judges; we are talking about becoming citizens first, then pms and judges.
    I am not sure Greece’s or Italy’s naturalization or citizenship procedures are any hasher than any other country, for example the US. Some of the questions applicants are asked there may seem downright degrading, but at the same time every country
    has a right to choose who to accept as a citizen. In Switzerland for example, the choice is up to the local community; if they like you, they may grant you citizenship very soon. If not, never. And there are no quotas either: You do not HAVE to give citizenship to such and such a number of applicants or such a percent.
    In the case of Greece or Italy I assume that especially since the EU takes no responsibility for security issues, one cannot seriously question the national procedures. After all, the example of a multiethnic state like Yugoslavia is still fresh. My point is that every country has its own procedures regarding immigration and they should be completely respected. And yes, such a path will probably be slow and tortuous. Why, for instance, may the average citizen ask, should one give citizenship to fanatical islamic immigrants(I do not mean Albanians, who are pretty secular, but immigration procedures probably cannot openly discriminate between Albanians, Chinese or Afhgans)? So that Rome or Athens can have a share of the bombings of Madrid, Paris or London?

  36. Doug,

    I found the Malcolm article on the differences between South Ossetia and Kosovo pretty strong. Especially interesting were the legal arguments why Kosovo had the same legal right to being a country as Croatia, Slovenia etc. Maybe you can discuss such arguments in your next Kosovo post :), for in this discussion it passed unnoticed (well, the cham thing, my fault I know 🙂 ).

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