What does the E.U.'s Georgia report mean for Kosovo?

The section of the E.U.'s recently released fact-finding report (more here) on the 2008 Georgia war that deals with the question of South Ossetian and Abkhaz independence is also worth taking a look at:

Both South Ossetians and Abkhaz consider their right to self-determination as the legal basis for their quest for sovereignty and independence of the respective territories. However, international law does not recognise a right to unilaterally create a new state based on the principle of self-determination outside the colonial context and apartheid. An extraordinary acceptance to secede under extreme conditions such as genocide has so far not found general acceptance. As will be shown later, the case of the conflict in August 2008 and the ensuing recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, the Mission has found that genocide did not take place.


Furthermore, much of international state practice and the explicit views of major powers such as Russia in the Kosovo case stand against it. This applies also to the process of dismemberment of a stae, as might be sdiscussed with regard to Georgia after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. According to the overwhelmingly accepted uti possidetis principle, only former consituent republics such as Georgia but not territorial sub-units such as South Ossetia or Abkhazia are granted independence in case of dismemberment of a larger entity such as the former Soviet Union. Hence, South Ossetia did not have the right to secede from Georgia...

It's interesting that they raise the example of Kosovo. I can't help thinking that this very same argument could apply their declaration of independence. I wouldn't be surprised if the Serbian government seized on this report in their campaign to have Kosovo's Unilateral Declaration of Independence deemed illegitimate. 


A madlib speech from Hu Jintao on China's big day

On the day of China's big 60th anniversary parade, the Beijing sky was bright blue -- thanks to some strategic short-term factory shut-downs and and a fleet of 18 aircraft equipped with rain-clouds disperal chemicals. The female militia units, clad in red mini-skirts and go-go style white boots, goose-stepped to perfection. The procession of nuclear missiles, some capable of striking Washington, went off without a hitch. China sure can put on a stellar parade.

And President Hu Jintao's ten minutes speech .... yawn. He gave no clues as to new directions or aspirations for the country, the economic or environmental crossroads China now finds itself at, his proposed solutions or looming questions. Riveting excerpts include:

The development and progress of New China over the past 60 years fully proved that only socialism can save China and only reform and opening up can ensure the development of China, socialism and Marxism ...Today, a socialist China geared to modernization, the world and the future has stood rock-firm in the east of the world."

It might seem odd to American audiences that Beijing's political elite would put more apparent energy into enforcing a pigeon ban within a 125-mile radius of Tiananmen Square, than into prepping the Chinese president for his 10 minutes in the global spotlight -- a chance to make a big statement about China's place in the world at this significant milestone. 

At Washington Monthly magazine, where I previously worked as an editor, my boss was Paul Glastris, a former speechwriter for Bill Clinton. After every State of the Union Address, a swarm of foreign news outlets, such as the BBC, would call him to dissect the meaning of particular presidential turns of phrases, exploring how each speech measured up in the canon of great presidential oratory.

But expectations are radically different in China. One of the results of a political system that doesn't hold elections is that its political leaders aren't required to kiss babies, craft compelling personal narratives, or learn how to inspire the public with speechs that exhalt the spirit or signal new directions for the country.

In a sense, public speeches in China are a bit like Madlibs; the major nouns (dates, names, countries) are duly swapped out, but the essential structure and enduring slogans remain the same.

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