Tuesday, December 25, 2007




As Kosovo moves towards independence in the New Year Celtic League
General Secretary, Rhisiart Tal-e-bot, looks at the broader implications
for small States including the Celtic countries which yearn for freedom,

'It is expected that next month, or early in February, Kosovo will
make its declaration of independence, making it the newest European
state since Montenegro became independent on June 3 rd 2006.

Kosovo independence can only be a beneficial development for the Celtic
countries own march to self determination, provided that violence
does not erupt between the Serbs and the ethnic Albanians on the scale
of the 1990's. A more or less peaceful transition to independence
will show the world that small nations can become safely independent
- even in a hugely volatile nation like Kosovo - and that it is the
responsibility of the international community to support this goal
in the face of fierce opposition from individual states.

The road to independence for Kosovo has been a bloody and turbulent
one, where troubles have constantly dogged the two million population
of ethnic Albanians and Serbs since the nineteenth century. The United
Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) currently
governs the province, along with the local Provisional Institutions
of Self-Government (PISG), with security provided by the NATO-led
Kosovo Force (KFOR). However, Serbia's sovereignty over the region
is recognised by the international community, but at the beginning
of 2008 this is due to change.

It is expected that the European states will recognise an independent
Kosovo in different stages, with the UK and France being among the
first. The EU as a whole however remain undivided and it is likely
that each state will be left to make up its own mind on recognition,
although European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso said this
week that he hopes that all European Governments will be able to reach
a consensus over Kosovo.

Nevertheless it is estimated that as many as 22 of the 27 EU states
are ready to recognise Kosovo as an independent country. Romania and
Cyprus have openly criticised independence without UN approval and
Slovakia remains hesitant. Of course Russia is fervently opposed to
independence like its ally Serbia, while the United States is in favour.
It is believed that the European Commission hopes that Kosovo independence
will not be declared until after the Serbian Presidential elections
on the 20th January and 3rd February, to avoid unnecessary upset.

The European Free Alliance/Green group in the European Parliament,
which is the representative voice of nationalist political parties
from four of the six Celtic nations are in favour of Kosovo independence,
with the Dutch Green MEP Joost Lagendijk saying in March 2007:

"Independent status for Kosovo, under initial EU supervision, will
end the years of uncertainty for Kosovo and the region. It would grant
Kosovo desperately- needed access to international financial organisations
and enable it to normalise its relations with the EU and realise its
European prospects."

In turn, the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) Westminster Leader,
Angus Robertson MP said this week that:

"It's clear that the wishes of the majority of people in Kosovo is
to move towards independence, and those wishes must be respected.

"Independence in Europe is the normal state for European nations and
there should to be a future for both Kosovo and Serbia within the

Earlier this year President Putin of the Russian Federation commented
in an interview published in French newspaper Le Figaro:

"In the West, this solution will set off separatists in Europe. Look
at Scotland, Catalonia, the Basque Country…"

Indeed it seems as though the independence of Kosovo will set a powerful
precedent for nationalist movements across Europe, but it is highly
unlikely that they will pursue a 'separatist' agenda, as Putin or
other commentators have suggested.

There are already dates set for referendums on independence across
Europe with the Basque Country set to be the first in 2008, with a
non legally binding (according to Madrid) referendum . This will be
followed by the planned 2010 referendum on independence in Scotland
and a possible referendum in Catatonia in 2014. The political situation
in Belgium is also uncertain with the Flemish still largely undecided
whether they want to form a state Government at all, after a general
election on June 10 . Wales is also likely to hold a referendum on
gaining greater powers of autonomy for the country within their term

There is little doubt that 2008 will see a new independent European
state emerging in the shape of Kosovo, but this will not be the last.
Today, future independence and greater autonomy for the Celtic countries
seems more certain than ever before, especially when viewed as a part
of the current European political trend. Even though the independence
of Kosovo will be a motivational force for the self determination
movements of other small nations, they are by no means dependent on
it in their own march to self government.'

(This article prepared for Celtic News by Rhisiart Tal-e-bot)

J B Moffatt
Director of Information
Celtic League


The Celtic League has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It works
to promote cooperation between these countries and campaigns on a
broad range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It
human rights abuse, monitors all military activity and focuses on
socio-economic issues.

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