09 February 2010

Priština - Not a Capital

On Sunday a draw for the qualifications for the UEFA European Football Championship 2012 was held in Warsaw. The national teams represented at the draw included tiny statelets like Liechtenstein and San Marino, countries not geographically in Europe like Cyprus, Israel and Azerbaijan, and even non-sovereign entities like the dependency of Faroe Islands and the four Home Nations of the United Kingdom.

But one entity not represented was the Albanian state in Kosovo. So far the Albanian declaration of Kosovo as their state has been recognised by around sixty governments, majority of European governments among them. Despite this UEFA did not admit the Football Federation of Kosovo as its member coolly explaining that it is a body which disassociates itself from politics which is why according to its statue only the governing bodies of football of states recognised by the United Nations are eligible to join.

This is significant. In reality to an average person the recognition of organisations like UEFA, FIFA, FIBA, IOC and others is vastly more important than the recognition of any national government or even the UN itself. As long as Kosovo Albanians can not participate at events like European Championship in the mind of the average person in Europe theirs will not be a normal state even if their own government recognises Priština. At least as long as this is true for the world public opinion Kosovo will remain a territory whose status is disputed, regardless of the impatient and self-deceiving insistence of Western officials that the matter is closed and that the Serbs 'need to move on'.

Every sporting event that goes by without a team representing the so called 'Republic of Kosovo' is a reminder that it is not a normal country, but merely another frozen conflict like Northern Cyprus or Transnistria, regardless of recognition by the US, the European powers, and their satrapies.

This is not to say UEFA and others will not somewhere in the future find a way to admit Albanian governing bodies of sport on the territory of Kosovo. After all despite their protestations to being independent of politics they were complicit in demonization of Serbs in the 1990s by going along with a blockade on FR Yugoslavia, when it banned its national team and sports clubs from international sporting events. But so far this is not in the cards.

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