Little late on Kosovo

Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier announced the Canadian government’s recognition of Kosovo’s independence Tuesday, a full month after the Balkan country unilaterally declared its independence.

Kosovo had religious and cultural autonomy from 1974 to 1989, when Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic put the province under Serbian control. Milosevic’s repression and ethnic cleansing of Albanians led to the 1999 Kosovo War, when NATO entered the war declaring its mission to remove Yugoslav troops and deploy peacekeepers to allow for Kosovar refugees to return.

Twenty-nine world states have recognized Kosovo’s formal autonomy since its parliament declared independence Feb. 17. On Tuesday, Japan and Canada became the last of the G7 countries to join the list.

Canada’s reluctance to recognize Kosovo seemed to stem form its concern over setting a precedent. Some analysts have drawn parallels between Kosovo’s quest for independence and Quebec’s, suggesting Canada might open the door to Quebec separatism by acknowledging Kosovo’s independence.

Comparing Kosovo and Quebec is naïve and illogical. Quebeckers live arguably freely and enjoy the benefits of federalism. The government’s month-long dawdling was unjustified—Bernier seemed to acknowledge this when announcing Canada’s recognition, carefully calling Kosovo a “unique case.”

Taking a month to make this statement is ridiculous and makes Canada look incompetent. The delayed response suggests the federal government actually sees Quebec as a less radical Kosovo—a twisted and hopefully untrue notion.

Canada initially defended its failure to recognize Kosovo with the contentious nature of such a stance with its allies and with Canada’s Serbian population. But Bernier made no mention of these factors, indicating nothing has changed since Canada’s hesitation except the government’s realization that continued refusal to recognize Kosovo would make it a pariah on the world stage.

If Canada should get any credit for this, it should be for finally stepping up to the plate. A month later, and after umpteen debates on the dangers posed for Quebec separatism, the government has said what was obvious at the time of Kosovo’s initial declaration. Canada’s tardy statement stands in stark contrast to other countries’ swift responses and makes the government look foolish and clueless.

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.