The Brussels Agreement on the Path to Recognition

The rules of the international system are made by governments. Governments normally see it as their first duty to protect and preserve the territorial integrity of the state they represent. Hence, the international system is stacked against those seeking independence without the consent of the central government. The history of the destruction of secessionist Biafra by Nigeria from 1967-70, or the fate of the Catalans in Spain more recently, amply demonstrate this fact.

Hence, it is not surprising that Kosovo has faced a massive uphill struggle in obtaining, and then consolidating, its independence in the face of opposition from Serbia. This was demonstrated in the pressure cooker that was the Rambouillet conference, in the Ahtisaari negotiations that followed, and in the subsequent negotiations led by Brussels. At each step, there was a strong sense that Serbia would have to be compensated for concessions relating to Kosovo and, eventually, for the actual loss of Kosovo.