When the forces of history were distributing nationalities they got a bit sloppy when it came time to fill the Balkans.
Slovenia and Croatia basically worked out OK. But when confronted with buckets of Serbs, Montenegrins, Kosovo Albanians, Bosnians, and one bucket clearly marked “FYR Macedonians”, the forces got frustrated and just sort of randomly packed them into the area that would come to be known as “the power keg of Europe.”
In the 1990s, Americans switched channels from the OJ Simpson trial to the ongoing Yugoslavian break-up saga. It looked to be another unending soap opera, one that could last perhaps even longer than Days of Our Lives. But in 1999 the forces of history conspired to create the environment for NATO military intervention in the Serbian province of Kosovo. Since that time it has been administered by an international force. Now it looks to become the latest successor state to Yugoslavia, the Kingdom of Southern Slavs, if the UN, EU, US, NATO, and RF can’t figure out what to do ASAP.
Some European countries with angst-ridden, long-settled minorities like Spain and France might not like the idea of giving independent statehood to any old random group of human beings. If the Kosovo Albanians get their own state, why not hand one out to the Kashubians, Basques, Frisians, and Sami, not to mention the Catalans, Scots, and Welsh?
Other European countries like Sweden are miffed at the idea of another Balkan country emerging that will vote for their neighbors in the Eurovision Song Contest, meaning that the contest will be held somewhere between Athens and Vienna for the rest of its existence.
The Russians obviously don’t like the situation because it could continue the general devolution of their conglomerate state, especially at a time when the government is centralizing political structures and the opiate of the masses is Russian nationalism — Russia for the Russians, not the Chukchi!
From the Euro-Atlantic perspective though, it’s hard to see any alternative. If Montenegro gets a state, why not Kosovo? Do you really want to tell the Kosovo Albanians that they may have a serious list of grievances, but they aren’t as believable a state as Montenegro, so they have to suck it up and stick with their former ethnic cleansers for eternity?
There is another alternative you know. Because the Kosovo Albanians speak Albanian, and there exists a state for Albanians right next to Kosovo called Albania maybe it would make sense to make Kosovo in some way part of Albania. I know, it’s a far-fetched idea.
The reason this option wouldn’t work is because it might make some actors in the region even more unhappy than they already are. It would reconstruct the fear of “Greater Albania” — of sword-wielding guys with two-headed eagles on their shields riding from village to village and giving residents one choice: to either make burek the Albanian way, or stop making bureks all together!
Balkan residents quake in their boots at this option; they’d rather have an independent Kosovo than be force fed bureks from Greater Albania. But seriously, I guess the European strategy is that sooner or later all of this territory will join a strong European Union where driving from Slovenia to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (where mostly FYR Macedonians live) will require zero stamps in your passport, and you’ll be able to pay for bureks in Euros from Ljubljana to Skopje without first bribing armed border guards.
And because it will be almost impossible for a small landlocked state to have its own functional foreign policy, it will most likely have to defer to the larger EU states on union-wide issues, allowing, say, Germany to speak on behalf of more people while saying exactly the same thing. So if Kosovo becomes a state soon, don’t fret. It’s the European way.