in ,

Is the Kosovo Case a “Unique”? A Comparison Between the Balkan and Transcaucasian Separatism (2)

There are around 200 territorial-national separatist movements around the world for whom the case of Kosovo’s “precedent” is going to serve as the best moral and legal foundation for their own independence.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of this site. This site does not give financial, investment or medical advice.

Part 1

An international system of governing and separatist movements

The main argument for the western politicians upon Kosovo’s independence in 2008, as a “unique case” of the Kosovo situation, is the fact that according to the “Kumanovo Agreement” between Serbia and NATO signed on June 10th, 1999, and the UN Resolution 1244 (following this agreement), Kosovo was put under the UN protectorate with the imposed international system of governing and security. However, such an “argument” does not work in the case of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as the Ossetians and Abkhazians are governing their lands by themselves and much more successfully in comparison with “internationally” (i.e. the N.A.T.O.) protected Kosovo. It was quite visible in March 2004 when international organizations and military troops could not (i.e. did not want to) protect ethnic Serbs in Kosovo from violent attacks organized by the local Albanians when during three days (March 17−19th) 4,000 Serbs were exiled, more than 800 Serbian houses are set on fire followed by 35 destroyed or severely damaged Serbian Orthodox churches and cultural monuments.

The “2004 March Pogrom” revealed the real situation in the region of Kosovo – a region that had to be under effective protection by the international community. The position of the South Ossetians in independent Georgia from 1991 to August 2008 could be compared with the position of the Serbs in Kosovo after June 1999. Differently from the Kosovo case after June 1999, or even after February 2008, South Ossetia, Abkhazia, and Transnistria showed much more political-legal bases to be recognized as independent states as they showed real ability to govern themselves by only themselves but not by the international organizations as it is in the case of Kosovo. They also proved much more democracy and respect for human and minority rights in comparison with the Albanian-ruled Kosovo Republic which is, in fact, transformed into the Islamic State of Kosovo (Kosovo ISIL/DAESH).


The region of Nagorno-Karabakh is the most contested conflict area in Transcaucasia during the last three decades. It became a part of Azerbaijan with autonomous status in 1936 within the Soviet Union but not a part of the Armenian Socialist Republic established as such also in 1936 as one of 15 socialist republics of the U.S.S.R. During the whole time of the existence of the Soviet Union there were tensions between Azerbaijan and Armenia over enclave (province) of Nagorno-Karabakh which was at the Soviet time populated by Islamic Azeri majority and the Christian Orthodox Armenian minority. However, the enclave was historical with the majority of the Armenian population but due to the Islamic terror the Christian Armenians became a minority on their land which happen the same with the Christian Orthodox Serbs in Kosovo in relation to the Muslim Albanians. For the Armenians, the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave was unjustifiably separated from Armenia by the Soviet authorities and included in Azerbaijan in order to keep good political relations with neighboring Turkey. The Serbs, similarly to the Armenians in regard to Nagorno-Karabakh, were complaining about the same practice with regard to Kosovo status from 1974 to 1989 when the “cradle of Serbia” was practically torn off from the rest of the motherland and granted actual independence from Serbia having much stronger relations with the neighboring Albania than with Serbia.

The frictions between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh ultimately led to the open bloody war mostly within the enclave which started in 1989 when the central Soviet authorities already have been in the process of collapsing. The war led in 1993 to the Armenian occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh and some strategic territory of Azerbaijan.[1] Consequently, Armenia became cut off from Azerbaijani oil supplies, and as naturally devoid of mineral resources or fertile soil Armenian economy collapsed in the mid-1990s. For instance, the Armenian GDP had fallen to 33% of its 1990 level followed by inflation of 4000%. Naturally, as politically supported by Moscow, the Armenian economy became mostly oriented toward Russia: for instance, 60% of Armenia’s export went to the Russian market. Up to today, Armenia was not been directly attacked by Turkey exactly for the reason that it is politically but also and militarily protected by Russia whose armed forces are located on the territory of Armenia nearby Turkey’s border.

There are several similarities but also great dissimilarities between conflicts over Nagorno-Karabakh in Transcaucasia and Kosovo in the Balkans.

In both cases, the international community is dealing with an autonomy of a compact national minority that is making a majority on the land in question and already has its national independent state which is bordering this contested territory. Both Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians and Kosovo Albanians do not want to accept any other solution except separation and internationally recognized independence. Both conflicts are in fact continuations of old historic struggles between two different civilizations: the Muslim Turkish and the Christian Byzantine. In both conflicts, international organizations are included as mediators. Some of them are the same – France, the USA, and Russia as members of both Contact Groups for ex-Yugoslavia and Minsk Group under the OSCE umbrella for Azerbaijan. Both Serbia and Azerbaijan have been against the policy that their problem cases (Kosovo and Nagorno-Karabakh) would be proclaimed by some kind of the “international community” (the UN, the EU, the OSCE, etc.) as the “unique” cases as it would be (as the Kosovo Albanians already proved on February 18th, 2008) a green light to the Albanian and the Armenian separatists to secede their territories from Serbia and Azerbaijan without permission given by Belgrade and Baku.

However, there are significant differences between Kosovo and Nagorno-Karabakh cases. Kosovo is an internal conflict within Serbia (which is after June 1999 internationalized) but in the case of Nagorno-Karabakh, we have to speak about external military aggression (by Armenia). In difference to Armenia in relation to Nagorno-Karabakh, Albania formally never accepted any legal action in which Kosovo was called an integral part of the state territory of Albania (with the historical exception during WWII when Kosovo, East Montenegro, and West Macedonia have been included in Mussolini’s sponsored and protected “Greater Albania”). A delegation from Albania did not take participation in the talks and negotiations upon the “final” status of Kosovo between Pristina and Belgrade in 2007, while Armenia has the official status of “interested side” in the conflict concerning Nagorno-Karabakh. However, the Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh such status still did not obtain. The official regular army of Albania never was involved in the Kosovo conflict (differently from a great number of volunteers from Albania), while Armenia’s army (i.e. from the state of Armenia) was directly involved in the military operations in Nagorno-Karabakh from the very beginning of the conflict, but officially part of the independent state of Azerbaijan. As a result, Armenia occupied 1/5 of Azerbaijani territory and the victims of ethnic cleansing are primarily the Azeri as more than one million of them are being displaced as a result of the hostilities.

Differently to the case of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, in which the main victims became a former majority population (the Muslim Azeri), in the Kosovo case the principal victims of the war are the Christian Serbs as a minority population of the province. Nevertheless, differently from the Kosovo case, the weaker Azerbaijani side did not apply to NATO for military help, but a weaker Albanian side did it during the Kosovo conflict in 1998−1999 and only due to the N.A.T.O.’s military intervention on the Albanian side and direct military occupation of Kosovo after the war it was possible for the Albanians to commit almost a full scale of the ethnic cleansing of the province during the first five years after the war (up to the end of March 2004).[2]


It can be concluded that the Albanian unilaterally proclaimed Kosovo independence in February 2008 is not at all a “unique” case in the world without direct consequences to similar separatist cases following the “domino effect” (Abkhazia, South Ossetia, South Sudan…). That is the real reason why, for instance, the government of Cyprus is not supporting “Kosovo Albanian rights to self-determination” as the next “unique” case can be easily the northern (Turkish) part of Cyprus which is by the way already recognized by the Republic of Turkey and under de facto Ankara’s protection. Or even better example: the Spanish government does not want to recognize Kosovo’s independence for the very “Catalan” reason as a domino effect of separatism can be easily spilled over to the Iberian Peninsula.

There are around 200 territorial-national separatist movements around the world for whom the case of Kosovo’s “precedent” is going to serve as the best moral and legal foundation for their own independence. Subsequently, the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh is recognized now by three non-UN member states according to Kosovo’s pattern: Transnistria, Abkhazia, and South Ossetia. Furthermore, in 2012 (four years after Kosovo’s independence proclamation), a member of Uruguay’s foreign relations committee stated that his country could recognize Nagorno-Karabakh’s independence and the Parliament of New South Wales (Australia) called upon the Australian government to recognize Nagorno-Karabakh. Two other Transcaucasian separatist republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia became like Nagorno-Karabakh recognized after Kosovo’s independence proclamation in 2008 by several states and quasi-states: Russia, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Nauru, Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, Nagorno-Karabakh, Transnistria, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Abkhazia and South Ossetia (each other).

In sum, Kosovo’s independence proclamation in February 2008 became, in fact, not “precedent” as the US and the EU’s administration declared: it became rather a boomerang example of “domino effect” in international relations. The case of Crimea in 2014 was in this respect quite clear: the Crimean popular self-determination rights to separate the peninsula from Ukraine and to become part of Russia were at least formally founded on the same rights used by Kosovo’s Albanians (as a majority in the province) to proclaim the state independence from Serbia.

End of the article.

Dr. Vladislav B. Sotirovic

Ex-University Professor

Research Fellow at Centre for Geostrategic Studies

Belgrade, Serbia

© Vladislav B. Sotirovic 2023


[1] On the Armenian approach to the conflict, see [Armenian Center for National and International Studies,  Nagorno Karabagh: A White Paper, Yerevan: ACNIS, 2008].

[2] On the conflict on Nagorno-Karabakh, see [Moorad Mooradian, Daniel Druckman, “Hurting Stalemate or Mediation? The Conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, 1990−95”, Journal of Peace Research, vol. 36, no. 6, 1999, 709−727].


The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of this site. This site does not give financial, investment or medical advice.

What do you think?

12 Points
Upvote Downvote
Notify of
1 Comment
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
January 29, 2023

The “globalists” believe that some animals are more equal than others.

I Answer Those Who Say I Lie, And Prove Them FALSE.

The Roots Of Modern Eco-Terrorism: From MK Ultra And The Unabomber To Maurice Strong And Yuval Harari