Unilateral declarations have played a central role in Israeli politics over the past years. Israel's withdrawals from both the south of Lebanon and the Gaza strip have been controversial in the region's politics. On the one hand, Israeli leaders were awarded by major support both internally and internationally, resulting from withdrawal. However, Israel is still dealing with the consequences: Hizbollah arming in Lebanon and the daily escalating violence in the Gaza Strip. When diplomacy fails and all hope is gone, unilateral actions tend to follow.
Kosovo's recent declaration of independence results from the failure of both sides to reach common grounds over diplomatic talks. Kosovo's Albanian citizens are not willing to wait anymore. As major European powers, including France, Germany, Britain and the United States officially recognized Kosovo's declaration, countries like Spain, Russia and China have been reluctant to recognize the State, claiming that the declaration did not respect international law.
The Israeli government has not formally announced its opinion. However, several Hebrew bloggers have been reacting and comparing the political fatigue in the Balkans to that back home. Ilan Goren's post, in Hebrew, caught my attention for its descriptive comparison between the two regions. It is translated below:
“If they continue to behave so wildly we'll simply cut off their electricity supply”, promises a senior politician to his supporters. “Lets see them behave that way in the dark and cold”. The audience applauds and flags are waived. National pride in its full force while all stand still. Foreign diplomats are far from thrilled.
The senior politician is not alone. This is an accepted tone in the wild east of 2008. At least 75 per cent of the electricity supplied to the stubborn region saturated with blood and hate comes from the larger, more powerful neighbor's power plant. The region is rebellious and stubborn, wanting independence and sovereignty as a country. The big war resulted with mass exile, killings and the war criminals on both sides declaring themselves as leaders. Now the local Muslims dream of independence; demand it. If by means of force, or even through heavy violence. Whatever price is necessary.
Nationalists from the big, powerful country, surrounded by enemies, will never concede. If necessary, they will limit the population's access out of the region. Also, a ban on trade and commodities will certainly be possible… As we are dealing with peoples’ claim of right to the land of their fathers, we are also dealing with national rights of a poor and deprived population, including the right for refugees to return to their land. The local national party swears by this, and is willing to use terrorist methodology. From its point-of-view, this is a fight for freedom.
Yes. You guessed right. I am obviously writing about Serbia and Kosovo. I did not refer to Israel and the Palestinians (written in cynical font).
Serbia and Kosovo are not Israel and Palestine. There are many substantial differences. Over there, international military forces intervened, here only diplomacy. From some 50 years ago, the amount of death and exile is not similar. At least not in recent years. But one thing the conflicts do have in common: restraint is not in fashion. Politicians who want to succeed, especially in times of elections, choose the extreme: throwing inflammable material into the already existing fire is a sure sell. And what about the citizens? At first, they will be enthusiastic, but later scurry to purchase emergency lights and fire extinguishers.
In that sense, the Balkan is here.