Below you can read the transcript from the Noel Malcolm’s speech during the reception for the Fourth Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence of Kosovo at The Ballroom, Hotel Corinthia, London – 17th February 2012
In Kosovo many things have improved, there is improvement in infrastructure, the strengthening of democratic institutions; there is much to celebrate about but I think that much of that it is known to you already. So I thought instead I am commenting on some very recent history, the history of last two days, namely David Cameron’s visit to Scotland to ask Scots not to declare independence from United Kingdom.
Because I happen to agree with Mr Cameron on that point, I also very strongly feel that it was right for Kosovo to become independent, and my friends and colleagues sometimes say to me isn’t there a contradiction between these two positions?
So very briefly I would just like to say why I think that there is no contradiction at all. I think that there are many contrasts that one can make between these two cases, let me just make two or three most important ones.
First the long term history; Scotland and England have been united under one throne since the early seventeen century, united in one country since the early eighteen century, and in those hundreds of years our two societies have intermixed and grown organically together. There are so many families that have intermarried and moved in one way or the other across that border. There are many families of mixed descent with Scottish origins; somewhere in the story Mr Cameron’s family is one example my own family is another.
Compare that to the case of Kosovo, which only came into any sort of rule from Serbian or Yugoslav state in twentieth century, in modern times. First time that came into such rule was in 1912, and it did so only because of the military conquest, against the wishes of the inhabitants.
This is hugely a different story and in century since 1912 there was very little of any inter-mixture or organic growth in the single policy or single culture, for obvious reasons, because the majority of population in Kosovo had a different language, different culture, different traditions. There are many many fundamental differences there.
My second point is more obvious one, about recent history. Anyone who followed what happened, not only in the terrible fighting and expulsion of the population in 1999, but also in many years before that when Milosevic had created what could really be described as an apartheid state in Kosovo. This is something quite extraordinary, unique in modern Europe. Whereas as far as I know in the last twenty or thirty years the worst thing that English have to done to the Scots was to occasionally beat them at rugby.
My final point is something which I think is important but it is not so widely appreciated. Alex Salmond talks about Devo Max, maximum devolution, as a possible alternative to independence.
It is not clear what this would involve, but if you look at Kosovo in the final period of the Tito’s Yugoslavia, before it was overthrown by Milosevic, what you find is something more than devolution, you find the powers of units in a federation. United Kingdom has never been a federation. Kosovo was unit in a federal system that had powers that Alex Salmond doesn’t have. Not only did it have its own parliament, government, its own ministers it had its own national bank, it had its own territorial defence force and so on.
Now, if Scotland already had Devo Max, and if Mr Cameron went to Edinburgh only to abolish it, unilaterally, and to introduce an apartheid system and then Scots would have very strong reason to seek independence. But that is absolutely no case in Scotland, it is what happened to people of Kosovo.
And I think, that position that Kosovo had as a unit of a federal system was fundamentally the same enjoyed by Croatia, Slovenia, Macedonia, other states that are now fully independent states, and they were quickly recognised by the European states, states worldwide, including many of those that for some reason or another still not recognising Kosovo. And it puzzles me that they do not see a fundamental legal and constitutional background was exactly the same. I think that there is a contradiction in that, in position of those states, even after the opinion of the International Court of Justice, thus are still refusing to recognise Kosovo, and I do believe the future historians when they go through that policy will say that this was foolish and ill-judged policy that brought absolutely no long term benefit to those countries, because Kosovo is independent, it will remain independent, it is recognised already by large number of most important democracies of the world. Countries that have recognised it represent more than two thirds of world’s GDP.
This is a completely irreversible position, and it can only go from strength to strength as more recognitions come in.But meanwhile we will celebrate four years of Independence and this is very strong four year old that will grow and grow and will have many more birthdays to come.