Serbia is voting this weekend on its new constitution. The controversial part is that the new constitution (necessitated by Serbia’s split with Montenegro, which opted for independence earlier this year) maintains that Kosovo is an “integral part” of Serbia. And most Kosovars disagree. Serbian politicians have urged citizens to either vote for the new constitution or risk “grave consequences”.
Kosovo is currently governed by the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), with security provided by NATO. Since most Kosovars want independence from Serbia, the UN will likely eventually give it to them, and hopefully Serbia won’t have the military might (or will) to resist seriously. So Serbia’s new constitution will likely have no impact on Kosovo’s actually status.
Instead, it could hurt Serbs themselves. Serbia is hoping to join the European Union sometime soon, and without protection for the rights of (or possibly independence for) Kosovars, Serbia’s chances of joining the E.U. are close to nil.
From my short time in the former Yugoslavia, I got the impression that everything I had read was more or less correct. Blind nationalism and religious self-righteousness were found on all sides. The Serbs just had better weapons, so the others suffered more.
Hard feelings are close to the surface between ethnic and religious groups. Over breakfast coffee in Split, right next to Diocletian’s palace, a former Croatian tank commander told me about fighting for “his country, his people”, gesturing that he smiled when he got to fight.
And I realized a sort of truth about pretty much every war in history. What group has ever gone to war without believing that fate, or luck, or righteousness was on their side? And what people have fought a war not believing God was on their side?