Norms and Identity in Kosovo. The Troubled Relationship

  • Abstract:

    TzvetanTodorov argued a decade ago that “it is impossible to speak of identity without speaking of borders and vice-versa”. This article aims to scrutinise both variables, adding a third one: norms. In this context, the most prominent norm is territorial integrity, whose main purpose is to provide order by perpetuating the border status quo. Identities challenge this norm by reminding us that borders are human artefacts and as such they are volatile and vulnerable to human transformations. For the past two decades this assertion has become obvious in the Balkans with the disintegration of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) and the eruption of multiple states. The most recent example, Kosovo, declared its independence in February 2008. Article 2 of its new constitution states that the ‘territorial integrity of the Republic of Kosovo is intact, inalienable, indivisible and protected by all means’. This case of partition has transformed the frontiers of the region but it has not resolved ‘the border issues’, which are still contested by identities placed at the wrong side of the border. Thus, the new boundary redrawing has created more challenges (and potential for conflict) in the form of dozens of Serbian ethnic enclaves whose allegiance is (overwhelmingly) not towards Pristina but towards Belgrade. Relying mostly on fieldwork research, the article aims to explore the relation between those challenges and the principles of ‘territorial integrity’, ‘indivisibility’ and ‘inalienability’ mentioned in the Kosovo constitution.