Regular readers will know I opposed Kosovo’s Unilateral Declaration of Independce as it was illegal under international law, but what about Tibet?

To me if I start going down the road of supporting Tibet I’ll end up ignoring the Olympics and I LOVE the Olympics. I dont know why but I do. This to me is an moral/ethical dilemma.

Then theres the issue of a friend. A good friend of mine is from Chéngdū and firmly belives that the Tibetans are doing this to ruin the Olympics, and I kind of agree with him. On the other hand though due to the Olympics, China is under the most intense watch of the Foreign Media it has ever known, so the Tibetans are exploiting this.

My question is though, does Tibet have a history of being independent?
So lets take a quick jog through Tibeten history. From Wikipedia

Many parts of the region were united in the seventh century by King Songtsän Gampo. In 1751, the Qing dynasty, which ruled China from 1644 to 1912, established the Dalai Lama as both the spiritual leader and political leader of Tibet who led a government with four Kalöns in it. Between the 17th century and 1951, the Dalai Lama and his regents were the predominant political power administering religious and administrative authority over large parts of Tibet from the traditional capital Lhasa.

Tibet proclaimed its independence from China in 1911 on the eve of the fall of the Qing dynasty and it’s subsequent internal turmoil, while China never renounced its claim of sovereignty to Tibet. No country formally recognized Tibet as an independent country from 1912 to 1951. Tibet remained a defacto independent state until shortly after the conclusion of the Chinese civil war, when on October 1, 1949, the People’s Republic of China was formally proclaimed in Beijing and the following year launched an armed invasion of Tibet. The Chinese army of 40,000 men routed the unprepared defending Tibetan army of only 5,000 near the city of Chamdo. The defeat subsequently led to he signing of the Seventeen point agreement by the Tibetan Government. Currently every country in the world recognizes China’s sovereignty over Tibet.

Okay so Tibet was a country though unrecognised from 1912 to 1951 and had existed previous to that as an independent state, granted it was previous to 1751. Now in Ireland we said we were an old country independent till the Birtish rulled us for 800 years etc (yada yada yada!) so Tibet has only been ruled by the Chinese for 250 years (with a short break). Does this give Tibet the right to be a soverign nation? This is a question I am torn on. I’m thinking if we apply that logic to Ireland, which was controlled by the British since 1169, then Tibet has the right to be free.

So another question, does Tibet have a ‘Distinct Cultural Tradition’ from China?
Well Tibet has its own language. Tibet has its own religons, Buddhism and Bön. Tibet uses a Lunar calender and has its own cusine (then again so do many parts of Germany, so cusine will not have a strong weighting in the arguement). Tibet also has its own history in Art, Customs, Dress, Drama, music and Literature. I think it is fair to say that Tibet has a ‘Distinct Cultural Tradition’ which differs from China.

So I think we have shown that Tibet has the historical and cultural differences to be Independent, so why should Kosovo be free and Tibet not?
Well, lets see the bigger question. Kosovo was being ruled over by Serbia who are trying to join the EU. Serbia does not want to upset the EU. The Majority of states supported Kosovo’s Independence. Serbia, did have the backing of Russia though but this was not enough as Kosovo had the support of Germany, France, UK, and the USA.

Now lets look at Tibet. Tibet is currently ruled by China. That country does not want to join the EU (or similar organistaion) so is not looking to placate anyone. China is a diverse country, it comes with being a big country so if it concedes to the Tibetans who else will want to be free? China has a history of using force to get its way in what it sees as internal affairs (Taiwan is an exception, but Taiwan is supported by the US). Is China right to use force to silence these protesters? No, China is limiting their free speech, then again free speech isnt high among the rights given to ordinary Chinese citizens.

This is the important difference, Kosovo: Supported by big states. Tibet: Supressed by a big stare who no one wants to offend.

Thats the crux of it.

So where do I stand in all this? Im still unsure. China claim to soverignity is recognised by nearly everystate in the world. So it is a legal claim under international law. “But what about Tibets history and culture I have been yapping on about?” you ask, well I believe they are stong arguments to why Tibet should be free. For the moment I wont be posting any Free Tibet or Boycott the Olympics stuff.

Kosovo: Who recognises the new state?

Its been over 24hrs since Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia. The following countries have recognised an Independent Kosovo:

  • Afghanistan, 18 February 2008
  • Albania, 18 February 2008
  • Australia, 19 February 2008
  • Costa Rica, 17 February 2008
  • France, 18 February 2008
  • Turkey, 18 February 2008
  • United Kingdom, 18 February 2008
  • United States, 18 February 2008

Partailly Recognised States who recognise Kosovo:

  • Republic of China (Taiwan), 18 February 2008
  • Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, 18 February 2008

Kosovo will also be recognised by the International Olympic Committee, but it will be too late to organise a delegation for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Other countries in the process of recognising Kosovo are:

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Croatia
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland, 29 February 2008
  • Germany, 20 February 2008
  • Hungary
  • Ireland
  • Italy, 20 February 2008
  • Japan
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Pakistan
  • Panama
  • Poland
  • Slovenia
  • Sweden, 4 March 2008
  • Switzerland

The following states are refusing to recognise an Independent Kosovo:

  • Azerbaijan
  • Belarus
  • People’s Republic of China
  • Cyprus
  • Georgia
  • Greece
  • Kazakhstan
  • Moldova
  • Romania
  • Russia
  • Serbia
  • Slovakia
  • Spain
  • Sri Lanka
  • Vietnam

Other countries are waiting for a decision from the UN, which will be slow coming as the P5 on the Security Council are split on the issue.


Kosovo declares itself independent as an EU Colony

Today the Kosovar Assembly voted unamimously for Independence from Serbia. What does this actually mean for the province is something else entirely. Independence here is entirely symbolic as the EU will be running the Administration, the Courts and the Police Service, with NATO being the Army. Not exactly an “Free, independent and sovereign state”?

Pristina will be able to pass laws and sign treaties but will depend on EU Officals to implement them. The EU mission, when it is up and running, will have sweeping executive powers. It will have the right to veto the elected government if it deviates from the Brussels-approved reform path. It will have the power to intervene directly in Kosovo’s internal affairs.

The EU of course are playing these powers down. Saying they will be seldom used, or are for emergencies only. Kosovo can be expected to be ruled like Germany and Japan after World War II for at about five to eight years.

Kosovo will be the EU’s first time being an exporter of democratic principles. The EU has of course helped countries in tranisition from Dictatorships (Greece, Portugal, Spain) and from Communism (Estonia, Latvia, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Lithuania and Poland). Kosovo is different as it is it defiance of international law. United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 which in the preambulatory clauses states “Reaffirming the commitment of all Member States to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the other States of the region, as set out in the Helsinki Final Act and annex 2”

This leaves Russia in a strong poistion in the UN. It can veto any application by Kosovo to join the UN, it can also block changes to Reslution 1244. Conversely France, the UK and the US can block Russian moves to have the UNSC declare the move illegal. So its stale mate at the UN.

Serbia, immediately disregard the´declaration saying it will not recognise a ‘false state’ which would be a “satellite state known as Kosovo”. Serbia of course has ruled out the use of force, but will use ddiplomatic means to try and bring Kosovo back in.

Serbia remains the main trading partner of Kosovo so if Serbia brings in sanctions then Kosovo could be worse off.

Only time will tell if Kosovo will end up a “Free, independent and sovereign state” or just a failed state.