The History Behind Recent Violence in Serbia Serbs laid siege to the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade last week to protest Kosovo's declaration of independence. NPR Senior News Analyst Daniel Schorr discusses the history of secession.
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The History Behind Recent Violence in Serbia

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The History Behind Recent Violence in Serbia

The History Behind Recent Violence in Serbia

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LIANE HANSEN, host:

Not much remains of the U.S. State Department presence in the embassy in Belgrade. All non-essential staff were evacuated after rioters attacked the compound earlier this week to protest Kosovo's secession from Serbia.

NPR's senior news analyst Daniel Schorr compares the Kosovo situation to other historical examples of secession.

DANIEL SCHORR: I've been thinking about Kosovo. The latest of a people's in recent years to sever their ties to larger entities. It wasn't always this way. The 18th and 19th centuries gave us an era of consolidation. Persian and Hessian joined to become German. The Dutches and principalities of France joined into the French Republic. And not to be forgotten, 13 British colonies merged into the United States of America. That union survived a civil war.

In this age, the trend has gone the opposite way towards deconstruction. The vast Soviet Union dissolved into 15 constituent republics. And now Russia is resisting further fragmentation and has fought two bloody wars to hold onto a separatist Chechnya.

The Yugoslav federation was held together by the charisma and toughness of Marshall Tito. After his death it dissolved into its constituent republics.

Now Serbia is threatened with further fragmentation as the people of Kosovo, mostly ethnic Albanians, declare their independence despite Serbian opposition.

Serbia has ancient roots in Kosovo and says it will never let go.

The situation has the makings of a renewal of a civil war that ended only when NATO planes bombed Serbia to force it to stop its ethnic cleansing campaign against the Kosovos.

NATO and the United Nations support self determination for Kosovo. The question now is how far the right of self determination should go.

The Kurds in northern Iraq have long sought an independent Kurdistan, which would include the Kurdish areas of Turkey. Turkey is not about to let that happen.

But the pressure for deconstruction goes on.

This is Daniel Schorr.

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