Montenegro now a Candidate Country for EU Membership

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The European Commission has decided to add Montenegro to the list of Candidate Countries. In an opinion issued on the 9th of November the Commission stated:

On Montenegro, the Commission concluded that Montenegro is ready to become a candidate country to EU membership, while further reforms are needed in a number of key areas, as set out in the opinion, before the country is ready to start accession negotiations.

Montenegro still has criteria to meet under a few headings, Political Criteria, Economic Criteria and EU Legislation.

Political Criteria

Montenegro needs to address the following:

  • The effectiveness of anti-discrimination policies,
  • Freedom of expression,
  • Government relations with civil society
  • The situation of displaced persons from Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo.

Economic Criteria

In this area Montenegro needs to

needs to further address internal and external unbalances, as well as weaknesses, notably in the financial sector and the functioning of labour markets. To be able to cope in the medium term with competitive pressure and market forces within the Union, Montenegro needs to continue implementing reforms and reducing structural weaknesses.

EU Legislation

In this area Montenegro needs to work on the following areas to align them with EU Legislation and Rules,

  • freedom of movement for workers, services and capital,
  • public procurement,
  • competition,
  • services,
  • information society and media,
  • transport policy,
  • energy,
  • economic and monetary policy,
  • consumer and Health Protection.

With this, Montenegro joins Croatia, Iceland, FYR Macedonia and Turkey as Candidate Countries.

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Tibet

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.

The Kosovo Declaration of Independence

I wonder will this document become as famous as its American Counterpart! Heres the full text via Kosovothanksyou.com. Its written like a UN resolution.

Kosovo Declaration of Independence

Convened in an extraordinary meeting on February 17, 2008, in Pristina, the capital of Kosovo,

Answering the call of the people to build a society that honours human dignity and affirms the pride and purpose of its citizens,

Committed to confront the painful legacy of the recent past in a spirit of reconciliation and forgiveness,

Dedicated to protecting, promoting and honoring the diversity of our people,

Reaffirming our wish to become fully integrated into the Euro-Atlantic family of democracies,

Observing that Kosovo is a special case arising from Yugoslavia’s nonconsensual breakup and is not a precedent for any other situation,

Recalling the years of strife and violence in Kosovo, that disturbed the conscience of all civilised people,

Grateful that in 1999 the world intervened, thereby removing Belgrade’s governance over Kosovo and placing Kosovo under United Nations interim administration,

Proud that Kosovo has since developed functional, multi-ethnic institutions of democracy that express freely the will of our citizens,

Recalling the years of internationally-sponsored negotiations between Belgrade and Pristina over the question of our future political status,

Regretting that no mutually-acceptable status outcome was possible, in spite of the good-faith engagement of our leaders,

Confirming that the recommendations of UN Special Envoy Martti Ahtisaari provide Kosovo with a comprehensive framework for its future development and are in line with the highest European standards of human rights and good governance,

Determined to see our status resolved in order to give our people clarity about their future, move beyond the conflicts of the past and realise the full democratic potential of our society,

Honouring all the men and women who made great sacrifices to build a better future for Kosovo,

1. We, the democratically-elected leaders of our people, hereby declare Kosovo to be an independent and sovereign state. This declaration reflects the will of our people and it is in full accordance with the recommendations of UN Special Envoy Martti Ahtisaari and his Comprehensive Proposal for the Kosovo Status Settlement.

2. We declare Kosovo to be a democratic, secular and multi-ethnic republic, guided by the principles of non-discrimination and equal protection under the law. We shall protect and promote the rights of all communities in Kosovo and create the conditions necessary for their effective participation in political and decision-making processes.

3. We accept fully the obligations for Kosovo contained in the Ahtisaari Plan, and welcome the framework it proposes to guide Kosovo in the years ahead. We shall implement in full those obligations including through priority adoption of the legislation included in its Annex XII, particularly those that protect and promote the rights of communities and their members.

4. We shall adopt as soon as possible a Constitution that enshrines our commitment to respect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all our citizens, particularly as defined by the European Convention on Human Rights. The Constitution shall incorporate all relevant principles of the Ahtisaari Plan and be adopted through a democratic and deliberative process.

5. We welcome the international community’s continued support of our democratic development through international presences established in Kosovo on the basis of UN Security Council resolution 1244 (1999). We invite and welcome an international civilian presence to supervise our implementation of the Ahtisaari Plan, and a European Union-led rule of law mission. We also invite and welcome the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to retain the leadership role of the international military presence in Kosovo and to implement responsibilities assigned to it under UN Security Council resolution 1244 (1999) and the Ahtisaari Plan, until such time as Kosovo institutions are capable of assuming these responsibilities. We shall cooperate fully with these presences to ensure Kosovo’s future peace, prosperity and stability.

6. For reasons of culture, geography and history, we believe our future lies with the European family. We therefore declare our intention to take all steps necessary to facilitate full membership in the European Union as soon as feasible and implement the reforms required for European and Euro-Atlantic integration.

7. We express our deep gratitude to the United Nations for the work it has done to help us recover and rebuild from war and build institutions of democracy. We are committed to working constructively with the United Nations as it continues its work in the period ahead.

8. With independence comes the duty of responsible membership in the international community. We accept fully this duty and shall abide by the principles of the United Nations Charter, the Helsinki Final Act, other acts of the Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe, and the international legal obligations and principles of international comity that mark the relations among states. Kosovo shall have its international borders as set forth in Annex VIII of the Ahtisaari Plan, and shall fully respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all our neighbors. Kosovo shall also refrain from the threat or use of force in any manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations.

9. We hereby undertake the international obligations of Kosovo, including those concluded on our behalf by the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and treaty and other obligations of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to which we are bound as a former constituent part, including the Vienna Conventions on diplomatic and consular relations. We shall cooperate fully with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. We intend to seek membership in international organisations, in which Kosovo shall seek to contribute to the pursuit of international peace and stability.

10. Kosovo declares its commitment to peace and stability in our region of southeast Europe. Our independence brings to an end the process of Yugoslavia’s violent dissolution. While this process has been a painful one, we shall work tirelessly to contribute to a reconciliation that would allow southeast Europe to move beyond the conflicts of our past and forge new links of regional cooperation. We shall therefore work together with our neighbours to advance a common European future.

11. We express, in particular, our desire to establish good relations with all our neighbours, including the Republic of Serbia with whom we have deep historical, commercial and social ties that we seek to develop further in the near future. We shall continue our efforts to contribute to relations of friendship and cooperation with the Republic of Serbia, while promoting reconciliation among our people.

12. We hereby affirm, clearly, specifically, and irrevocably, that Kosovo shall be legally bound to comply with the provisions contained in this Declaration, including, especially, the obligations for it under the Ahtisaari Plan. In all of these matters, we shall act consistent with principles of international law and resolutions of the Security Council of the United Nations, including resolution 1244 (1999). We declare publicly that all states are entitled to rely upon this declaration, and appeal to them to extend to us their support and friendship.

Its an interesting read. One line in particular stands out for me “Kosovo is a special case arising from Yugoslavia’s nonconsensual breakup and is not a precedent for any other situation” hmm I know alot of people in unrecognized countries with dispute that. Along with Serbians!

Its is very Pro-EU and US. I dont think I have ever read something so biased towards the EU from a non-member state!

Futher reading:
Comprehensive Proposal for the Kosovo Status Settlement. Ahtisaari Plan
Draft Constitution of Kosovo (PDF, English) Also availible in Albanian, Serbian, Turkish, Bosnian and Roma

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.

Source

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.

Ireland to recognise an Independent Kosovo


This is the news story of today. Kosovo is expected to declare indepence from Serbia this afternoon. I had to google it but I finally found a website that lists the countrues that will recognise an Independent Kosovo. They are (EU member states in bold):

  • Albania
  • Argentina
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Canada
  • Cote d’Ivoire
  • Croatia
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Fiji
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Greenland
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Kuwait
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Macedonia, FYR
  • Malaysia
  • Malta
  • Mauritania
  • Monaco
  • Montenegro
  • Morocco
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Pakistan
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Slovak Republic
  • Slovenia
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Tonga
  • Tunisia
  • Turkey
  • Tuvalu
  • United Kingdom
  • United States

3 EU member states are missing from the list. Cyprus, Spain and Romania, have not signalled a willingness to recognise a Independent Kosovo.

Of course the biggest opponets to Kosovo’s independence are Russia and Serbia. The Serbs have promised no military backlash against moves for independence but will punish the country with economic sanctions and use its political influence against it.

I assume Russia will block any future Kosovo attempts to join the UN.

It will be an interesting few days.

Morning Briefing, 16th February

Dia Duit

An nuacht ar an maidin seo.

The row over the cost of the Mahon Tribunal continues today (Breakingnews) with Judge Mahon saying the tribunal will only cost €300m, maybe less. Also Labour are getting in on the act (RTÉ) saying that the government are trying to delay the tribunal. Well d’uh

Russian President Vladimir Putin has appointed a former rebel as President of Chechnya (France 24) Pity he wasn’t elected.

Serbia has rejected the UN plan for Kosovo (CNN). Surprise surprise. I can’t see any Serbian parliament accepting independence, virtual or not, for Kosovo.

North Koreans are celebrating Kim Jong-Il 65th birthday (France 24). Though state media in north korea seam to warning about a military threat from the US. I don’t see how they can invade as the armed forces are stretched to the limit Iraq and Afghanistan.

The US House of Representatives is due to vote on a resolution against the troop surge in Iraq today. (CNN)Also House speaker Nancy Pelosi has stated that “Bush lacks authority to invade Iran”

The European Parliament has adopted a report which implicates 13 member states in cooperating with CIA rendition flights (France 24) The national governments specifically criticised for their unwillingness to cooperate with Parliament’s investigations were those of Austria, Italy, Poland, Portugal and the UK. The report also gives detailed evidence of investigations of illegal rendition or CIA flight cases involving Germany, Sweden, Spain, Ireland, Greece, Cyprus, Denmark, Turkey, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Bosnia and Romania (EU Parliament Website)

Thats it for now!

Slán!

Morning Briefing, 26th January

Dia Duit ar an maidin fuar!

An nuacht ar an lá seo.

A conference is taking place in Spain on the EU Constitution (BBC). Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain are sending ministers and Germany, Ireland and Portugal are sending observers. Im not sure what outcome it will have as only 17 member states are attending.

The UN will announce its plan for Kosovo today (BBC). Hopefully it will safe gaurd

In a historic step the Prime Minister of Vietnam has met with the Pope (CNN)

Kofi Annan has returned home to Ghana (CNN) after his ten year stint as head of the United Nations. He is thinking of entering agriculture

No more .um sites (CNN)awww, but there are talks of getting rid of .su sites also.

The US has unveiled an non-lethal ray gun!(CNN) i thinks its a cool idea. It makes u think ur going to catch fire, wo wont run from that!

And finally in UCC RAG week is over and nominations for the Student Union Elections open next wednesday. I am intending to seek a nomination to run for Welfare officer in the SU. check out my website its still under construction so check back. But i do have a Bebo, MySpace and Facebook profiles