Thursday, February 21, 2008

Kosovo: Who Wants to Be in Serbia's Shoes?

As someone interested in world politics, I find the Kosovo case extremely interesting from several points of view. It is unique. No other conflict in Europe attracted so much attention, involved so many interests and raised such controversy in the post-communist era. It is new. This example of contemporary history in making brings about unprecedented combinations of events, decisions and alliances. It is unpredictable. Nobody knows what the recent developments – the unilateral declaration of one province’s independence from an internationally-recognized sovereign state and its swift recognition by US and major EU states – will eventually lead to. Yet, almost all European states have concerns, fears and expectations stemming from the Kosovo case. Take Romania, for example. Therefore, the decision whether to recognize Kosovo’s independence or not is determined primarily by the self-interest of individual countries.

Moldova has not recognized Kosovo, and is not intending to. It has strong reasons for that. Moldova has a region that has unilaterally declared its independence long time ago - Transnistria. No other country has recognized it since then. Even Russia who has frequently threatened to recognize it if the West recognizes Kosovo, has abandoned this intention and is now trying to save face . Although the nature of the Transnistrian conflict is essentially different from the Kosovo case, the separatist leaders of Transnistria have rushed to urge the international community to apply the Kosovo resolution to their case.

Another observation is related to how a country is forced to take collective responsibility for the atrocity against human beings enacted by its past leadership and army. Perhaps the majority of democratic countries with respect for human life still perceive Kosovo as a victim and Serbia as an aggressor. This type of perception is very important in contemporary Europe, which values world and regional security higher than national and ethnic interests. This perception enables European countries to endorse an action contrary to the spirit and practice of international law in the area of state sovereignty and territorial integrity. I bet no country would want to be in Serbia’s shoes right now.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Are Moldovan VIPs Really Very Important?

Today I came across an article about something I, too, have been pondering lately, namely a relatively recent fashion of identifying and ranking Moldovan VIPs, practiced by local mass media outlets. In this article, Vadim Tataru of the Civic Action wonders whether such ratings, instead of acknowledging real achievements and performance, in fact manipulate public opinion by creating the illusion that the shortlisted individuals are indeed very important and influential people in the Moldovan society.

Vadim Tataru's article describes the methodology which must be employed if the intended result is a credible and reliable VIP rating. Instead of using a sociologically-sound methodology, Moldovan media outlets tend to use rummors, cliches and unverified information as basis for their ratings. As a result, VIP ratings feature individuals of questionable influence such as singers Cleopatra and Pavel Stratan, but fail to include truly influential people such as the trainer of the national football team, Igor Dobrovolski.

Although a number of media try out such ratings, the most assertive is the local VIP Magazin with a flattering motto: "The magazine of famous people". Every Sunday afternoon there is a VIP Magazin program on ProTV featuring various people from politics, business, media, culture, etc. I actually don't mind reading and watching these people talk about their lives and careers as most of them are interesting. What I do mind, however, is their random labeling as a VIP, which in my understanding should be a person of outstanding achievement and significant positive influence on the development of the society. Unless a mass-media outlet can afford to use a scientifically-sound methodology properly, any half-way attempt is bound to result in a dishonorable exercise of public manipulation.

P.S. After having posted this, I found another ongoing online rating. This time the online magazine wishes to identify the degree of sexiness of 18 Moldovan politicians. By the way, many of these people are among Moldovan VIPs.