It sounds increasingly like Kosovo is going to unilaterally declare independence from Serbia tomorrow.
Whatever you think of the arguments for and against Kosovo becoming an independent state, it's a dangerous step that could provoke fresh violence not only in the Serbian areas of Kosovo (if Serbia is divisible, why isn't Kosovo?), but in ethnically divided Bosnia-Herzegovina as well. Leaders of the "Respublika Srpska" could be forgiven for wondering why - if Kosovo is allowed by the international community to go its own way - they can't also declare independence or push again for union with Serbia.
Russia's foreign ministry once more earned itself the enmity of Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili last week when it linked the fate of Kosovo with Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Georgia's two breakaway regions. But the Russian stance has some merit: Why are the Kosovars more worthy of independence than the Abkhaz or the South Ossetians?
(It's worth noting here that many Georgians see the logic in what the Kremlin is saying: "Today there is no bigger problem for Georgia than possible recognition of Kosovo," Kakha Dzagania of the opposition Labor Party was quoted as saying yesterday. "That may become a precedent for recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.")
There are those who will argue that the Abkhaz and South Ossetian separatism movements are not genuine, that they are manufactured by the Kremlin as a way of maintaining influence over its former colony. While there's certainly some truth to this, you could say the same about Kosovo, which has been nurtured and protected by NATO since 1999.
My point here is not to argue for or against independence for Kosovo. But I do find myself wondering how the United States and the European Union find it reasonable to argue that the Kosovars deserve the right to determine their own fate, Serbia be damned, but other peoples of Eastern Europe in similar situations do not.
If Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence is going to get the support of the international community, let's make the right of national self-determination the new global standard. Let's set about determining the real will of the Abkhaz and the South Ossetians and back open and fair (not Russian-sponsored) referendums on whether they want to remain in Georgia. Then let's help them enforce the results.
Hell, while we're at it, let's do the same for the Transdniestr, the Respublika Srpska , Chechnya and the Crimea. If we're going to open this Pandora's Box in Eastern Europe, let's open it all the way.
Anything less looks like the West is picking favourites to suit its geopolitical agenda. And that's just begging for trouble.