Ukraine, Catalonia, Kurdistan and Kosovo. They have all fought for their independence in many different ways, but they might also share a lot of approaches in their fight towards freedom. By looking at all of these for countries and their journey towards independence
At the end of the 20th century, year 1991, when the Soviet Union fell, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, took control of nearby provinces. Kosovo being one of them. But over time places like Bosnia and Montenegro broke free, leaving the southern Serbian region of Kosovo under Serbian rule. The remainder of the Kosovo people were not happy and the Kosovo Liberation Army fought Milosevic´s Serbian army forces. This lead to an independence war going on between 1998 and 1999. The United Nations Security Council created a resolutions that ended the war in June, 1999. After the NATO peacekeeping force was placed in Kosovo and the people settled down, they also started to crave independence more and more. Many major countries started working with Kosovo towards their independence from Serbia, such as UN, EU and US. Russia was a crucial part of Kosovo gaining its independence as the country was a member of the UN council member and their veto had great power. February 2008 the Kosovo people voted for independence but the Serbs declared it illegal. This decision was supported by Russia.
After four days countries like Germany, France, Italy and Austria had recognized Kosovo as independent and after only a little over a year 63 countries around the world supported Kosovo. They have now been recognized by many countries but a membership within the United Nations will most likely have to wait until countries such as Russia and China admits Kosovo´s independence. (Rosenberg)
during the 20th century, in the late 1970s, the governmental power started to forcefully re-locate the Kurds from the city of Kirkuk and then replacing them with Arabs. A campaign for retribution was launched in 1988 by Saddam Hussein towards the Kurds. The Kurdish rebellion lead by Massoud and Jalal Talabani got so violent that the US and its allies had to impose a no fly zone over the affected areas. During this time, the kurds enjoyed an independent ruling, but the two great powers that had gotten together to rule disagreed and this lead to a four-year war which erupted in 1994. An election for independence was held in 2017, but this was disregarded as the Iraq government insisted on it being illegal. (BBC, Who Are the Kurds? – BBC News)
The Spanish dictator Francisco Franco annulled the Catalonia independence in 1939 and therefore also supresses their language and culture. In 1979, three years after a democratic constitution had emerged and granted catalonia autonomy. The autonomy got prolonged in 2006, but in 2010 the Spanish supreme court rules parts of the autonomy illegal. This later lead to a rally in Barcelona where 1.5 million Catalans participated. On October 1st 2017, the Catalan president Charles Puigdemont called for a binding independence referendum. (BBC, Catalonia’s Bid for Independence from Spain Explained – BBC News)
In 1921, Ukraine was joined together with the Soviet Union. Just a few years after this Joseph Stalin´s Great Purge began and all Ukrainian´s that spoke of Ukraine’s sovereignty were exiled or killed. Within just 10 years of this as many as 7.5 million Ukrainians died under the Soviet Polices responsibility. This time was later named the Holodomor (Carnes). December 1st 1991, a referendum was held where the people voted for independence, 92% of the population participated. 1994, Ukraine´s first president lost his re-election to Leonid Kuchma. After ten years, scandals about the election surfaced and the people responded with The Orange Revolution. The twenty-third of February 2014 Putin ordered the take-over of Crimea. Freeland called this what might become ´a new cold war`. Since then about 7% of Ukrainian territory remains under Russian occupation and most parts of east-Ukraine got occupied. (Bloc)
All of these four countries have had struggles with corrupt governments ruling over them. The Serbs (FRU) forcefully taking over Kosovo leading to a war of independence, the relocating of the Kurds and the exchange of them for Arabs, Catalonia’s independence taken away from them by Franco in 1939, and Ukraine’s suppression in ´the great purge`.
The Kurds, Catalonia and Ukraine all had uprisings, campaigns or a revolution started by the people. But kosovo did not, they had an independence war that was fought between the Kosovo Liberation Army and the forces of Milesovic. This can, in a way, be seen as an independence movement, but this one, compared to the other three countries, was a war. You could compare the war of independence in Kosovo with ´the Great Purge` in Ukraine as they were both run by some kind of governmental power, both of them could also be seen as wars with one of them being a public war for Kosovo’s independence and the other one being a more discrete war between the nations and the people.
These four countries have all had support from other powers at some point and have gotten help in their journey, but not many of them have been opposed by another country not being the one they are fighting. This is where you can see a difference between kosovo and the other three countries as Kosovo’s vote for independence was rejected and declared illegal by the Serbs. This decision was supported by Russia which had a big influence on the outcome of it as Russia is a part of the UN and had a veto of great power.
If we now take all of these similarities and differences into consideration, and the fact that Kosovo is the only country that has reached independence, we can see that some methods are more productive than others.
BBC. Catalonia’s Bid for Independence from Spain Explained – BBC News. 2018, p. 3, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-29478415.
—. Who Are the Kurds? – BBC News. 2017, p. 3, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-29702440.
Bloc, Soviet. “10 Maps That Explain Ukraine ‘ s Struggle for Independence.” Brookings, vol. 1, no. 1, 2015, p. 2, https://www.brookings.edu/blog/brookings-now/2015/05/21/10-maps-that-explain-ukraines-struggle-for-independence/.
Carnes, Ben. Ukraine’s Long Struggle for Independence: Column. 2014, p. 2, https://eu.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2014/02/18/ben-carnes-ukraine-independence/5588113/.
Rosenberg, Matt. “A Brief History of Kosovo Independence.” Corbis Hstorical, 2018, p. 1, https://www.thoughtco.com/kosovo-independence-overview-1435550.