Despite the winter storm, our McDonnell Douglas seems to be ready to leave Denmark on time and begin its climb through the reddish morning light. The last days have been eventful, both personally and professionally. One of my manuscripts is now on track (although admittedly not a short one) towards publication in Political Studies, another paper has been accepted for the ECPR Graduate Conference in Barcelona and, following their declaration of independence last Sunday, I again find myself thinking back on the summer’s visit to Kosovo.
Though they were quick to take it back, the threat of military force given by Russia’s NATO ambassador Dmitrij Rogozin did not bode well. Yet, the frustration of the Serbs in Mitrovica is fully understandable. Often, conflicts of this kind come to feel intractable, especially when you hear the personal stories. Getting my morning coffee in Lund the other day, I came to talk with the café man who I know comes from Kosovo. Seemingly happy he told me that at last his people was free to rule themselves, to decide what to teach in the schools and to pray according to their own religion.
I did not feel like arguing by suggesting that those freedoms had been secured ever since the bombings of 1999 and the creation of UNMIK. Neither did I ask what he thought about the hundreds of minorities in the world who potentially would like to have a state of their own, especially the Serbs in northern Kosovo. But leaving with my coffee I could hear the chilling words of Todor Gligorov, the former president of Macedonia: “why should I be a minority in your country when you can be a minority in mine?”.
And now, sitting here at the gate in Copenhagen, writing on a paper on global federal governance, I finally know what I should have said there at the café. That the great idea of the European Union has been to not change borders but rather the meaning of borders.