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[Opinion] Kosovo

Posted February. 19, 2008 03:11,   


East Timor is often called, “the first independent nation of the 21st century.” It proudly became the 191st member of the United Nations on May 20, 2002, four months after it declared its independence under the name of the Democratic Republic of East Timor. East Timor was a colony of England, the Netherlands, Japan and Portugal, in turn, before it was ruled by Indonesia for 24 years. The struggle for independence was a long, arduous process. More than 60,000 East Timorese were killed by the Japanese military during World War II. Some 200,000, or one fifth of the entire population, are said to have been killed from famine, genocide or diseases since Indonesia occupied East Timor in 1975. Korea dispatched Sangnoksu peacekeeping troops for four years to help the island country after independence.

Kosovo, which has yearned for freedom as much as East Timor, declared independence from Serbia on Sunday. Its independence appears to be only natural, considering that 92 percent of its 2-million population are Albanian ethnics. However, Serbians, who make up 5.3 percent of the population, acted as if they were the owners of the entire land. Serbia killed more than 10,000 Albanians and carried out ethnic cleansing in 1998 and 1999. More than 800,000 Albanians were deported from Kosovo during those two years. Kosovo, just like East Timor, has achieved independence at the end of the long, bloody struggle.

It is hard to take sides on Kosovo disputes which erupted in 1389, when the Ottoman imperial forces defeated a Christian alliance led by Serbia. Case in point, the world is showing mixed reactions on the declaration of Kosovo’s independence. Though the U.S. and key European countries, such as Britain, France, Germany and Italy support its independence, Serbia and Russia are strongly opposed to it. Thus, the U.S. and the European Union, which supported Kosovo’s independence behind the scenes, holds great responsibility.

Kosovo citizens all went out to the streets. They said in jubilation, “We have awaited independence over the past five hundred years under the occupation of Turkey and Serbia.” The international community must join hands and make diplomatic efforts to prevent a hot war from destroying the Balkan Peninsula, a "powder keg" of Europe.

Kosovo’s independence is not a matter irrelevant to Korea, which has already dispatched its troops to disputed countries, including East Timor, Afghanistan and Iraq. We hope Kosovo will overcome difficulties wisely and become “the second independent nation of the 21st century.”

Editorial Writer Bhang Hyeong-nam, hnbhang@donga.com