Friday, February 22, 2008

Kosovo

Since Kosovo declared its independence earlier this week the situation in Serbia seems to be tense. I haven't heard too many Romanians talking about it. But, I gather that Romania will not recognize Kosovo in order to maintain its ties to Serbia. What I wonder is exactly how close the two neighbors are. I'm sure there may be more going on than what I can see, but I haven't seen or heard of any clear examples of a close relationship. Years ago Serbia and Romania joined forces to create a hydro-electric dam on the Danube and today they share the electric output. However, I can't say I know of any other examples of cooperation. I mean, I haven't found a Romanian bank that will change Serbian money. Seem strange? They are neighbors after all.

I've also heard that the Romanian government is reluctant to make any official statements of support since it's worried that Kosovo might set a precedent for other separatist movements. Romania itself has had some issues with territorial disputes (The area now known as The Republic of Moldova was separated from Romania in the 1940s. Moreover, there have been years of ethnic tensions in the Transylvania region, to some degree at least. The sizable Hungarian minority in the area hasn't always mixed well with Romanians. In fact, they claim that Transylvania is rightfully a Hungarian region. I've even been told that such Hungarians view Budapest to be their capital, not Bucharest. So, perhaps Romania can at least sympathize with Serbia's wish for national unity. And, considering these things, it becomes more apparent why Romania wouldn't wish to say anything that might tacitly encourage another separatist movement (whether within their own borders or elsewhere in Europe).

In any case, it will be interesting to see how Romania reacts to the current situation. I wonder if the EU will put any pressure on Romania to recognize Kosovo. In any case, with the recent attack on the US Embassy in Belgrade, and general uncertainty about what will happen next, one thing is for sure: I think I'll put any trips to Belgrade on hold for a while.

3 comments:

BM said...

Well, Serbia is considered to be "the only neighboring state that Romania never had any serious (territorial) conflicts with" - that's where the "strong ties" theoretically come from.

On the other hand, in the relatively recent past (before the 1990s) there really were strong economical links with Serbia/Yugoslavia, but they ended abruptly with the 1992 embargo and never really resumed (and btw it's because of this lack of economical relations that you can't find banks that change dinars into lei).

RS said...

You might get some insight from Andy's post about this.

Ossicle said...

There's so much history behind these issues that it's difficult to know where to start talking about them.
My favorite book Balkan history is The Balkans by Misha Glenny - relatively concise for its scope, accessible and well written.