Today Kosovo is the official subject of all sorts of separatist tendencies, real and imagined. The speed with which key European states rushed to support its declaration of independence was dizzying. With the consequences of that support (real and tacit) still unfolding, a number of cracks have already emerged across mainland Europe.
Germany’s historic relations with Putin is at an all time low. It was always going to happen. Angela Merkel’s government hastened to support the secession, against calm but sensibly firm advice from most reputable quarters, the Institute for Science and Politics included. Not only would it sour relations with Russia, they were advised, but it will also add to eruptions in separatist conflict across the Balkans. All Germany could see was how this impending conflict would loosen Russia’s grip over a gas rich region. Strange how greed makes some people stop using that grey matter between the ears (assuming it was there in the first place).
Spain is in a most unenviable position, threatened with internal break-up that will cripple that country. It’s always been good government policy (worthy of emulation all over the world, really — with an unequivocal unifying vision and programme for the entire country, one should add as proviso) to have strong local government; a sort of strengthening of the delivery arm where it matters most, i.e. where people live their lives. Catalonia and the Basque regions are the most influential and richest provinces in Spain. Well, guess what? These two regions want greater economic independence. Great, hey? No. Not within the context of the Kosovo controversy.
It is the government of Sarkozy that’s beset with every problem any governement fears having in uncertain times like these. With the country’s economic situation the worst in a long while, recent clashes with organised workers from the country’s supermarkets and serious divisions in the ruling party, France’s government is not the most stable ground for anyone to cut their political teeth.
Europe is always seen as the economic paradise of the so-called free world. There is trouble in paradise.