BRUSSELS (Reuters) - EU leaders are expected to agree this week that efforts to reach a negotiated solution to the Kosovo problem are exhausted, and offer to take responsibility for security and justice in the breakaway Serbian province.
The West supports independence for the Albanian-majority territory, but insists it would not set a precedent. Other breakaway regions around the world disagree. Following are a few that might look with interest at the Kosovo case:
TRANSDNIESTRIA - Moldova
** A tiny sliver of land on the Dniestr river, Transdniestria broke away from Moldova in September 1990. A brief war killed hundreds before Russian troops intervened. The region of 550,000 people is dominated by Russian-speaking Slavs, who pressed for independence fearing Moldova’s Romanian-speaking majority would one day join Romania to the south. Around 1,200 Russian troops remain. Transdniestria covers one eighth of Moldovan territory but is home to the bulk of Moldova’s industrial base.
ABKHAZIA AND SOUTH OSSETIA - Georgia
** Home to 200,000 people, Abkhazia is sandwiched between the Black Sea and the Caucasus mountains and was once a renowned tourist destination. It fought a 1992-3 war against Georgia and effectively rules itself. It was isolated for years after the war but has since forged closer ties with Russia, which has given Abkhaz residents passports and pensions. South Ossetia fought to throw off Georgian rule in the early 1990s. A ceasefire was signed but the violence has threatened to reignite. Russia has peacekeepers in both regions.
NAGORNO-KARABAKH - Azerbaijan
** Sporadic clashes in Nagorno-Karabakh between Azeri and local ethnic Armenian irregulars began in 1998, escalating by 1992 into full-scale hostilities between Azeri forces and troops from Armenia. About 35,000 people died and hundreds of thousands fled before a ceasefire was signed in 1994. The territory remains part of Azerbaijan but is controlled by Armenian forces. A major BP-led pipeline linking Azerbaijan’s Caspian Sea oil fields to world markets passes a few kilometres from the conflict zone.
PAPUA - Indonesia
** In the remote eastern Papua province, activists have led a campaign for more than 30 years to break away from Indonesia, while a low-level armed rebellion has been rumbling for decades. Critics say military abuses and dissatisfaction over Jakarta’s distribution of wealth generated by the mineral- and gas-rich province has fuelled grievances. A 30-year insurgency in Aceh province, killing 15,000 people, ended in a European Union-monitored peace accord in 2005.
BASQUE COUNTRY - Spain
** Basque separatist movement ETA has spent the past four decades fighting for an independent Basque state in northern Spain and southwestern France, killing more than 800 people. The semi-autonomous Basque region in northern Spain is home to 2.1 million people. More than 750 suspected members have been detained since 2000. ETA declared a ceasefire last year, but the Spanish government scrapped peace talks in December 2006 after ETA bombed Madrid airport, killing two people.
THE KURDS - Turkey/Iraq/Syria/Iran
** Around 20 million Kurds are scattered between northern Iraq, Syria, Iran and Turkey, describing themselves as the world’s largest stateless minority. Most live in southeastern Turkey, where Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) guerrillas have fought an insurgency since 1984 in which more than 30,000 people have died. A ceasefire was called in 1999, but fighting resumed in 2004. Turkey fears that Kurds in northern Iraq plan to set up their own state, stirring tensions among Turkish Kurds.
WESTERN SAHARA - Morocco
** The Polisario movement of Western Sahara fought a low-level war for independence after Morocco annexed the desert territory with the pullout of colonial power Spain in 1975. U.N. troops have monitored an uneasy peace since 1991. It is Africa’s oldest territorial dispute, over land the size of Britain, inhabited by 260,000 people. A U.N. ceasefire agreement in 1991 promised a referendum on the fate of the territory, but it never took place and Morocco now rules it out, saying autonomy is the most it will offer.
SOURCE: Reuters Factiva
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