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Fragile fictions of ’sovereignty’ and ‘territorial integrity’

Tug of WarJust a few months ago the United States along with Britain, Germany and a host of Western states, embraced the unilateral declaration of independence of Kosovo from Serbia, over the vehement protests of Russia. The Western states solemnly declared that the will of the majority of Kosovans could not be ignored for the sake of ’sovereignty’ or ‘territorial integrity’. Last week these roles were laughably reversed. It was the West which backed Georgia’s onslaught into South Ossetia to end the rebellion - even though the entire population there, along with that of Abhazia, clearly want to be free of Georgian rule. The two contrasting situations have revealed the utter hypocrisy of the United States, Europe and the Russia when it comes to notions of ’sovereignty’ or ‘territorial integrity’; they have amply illustrated that whether these are important principles or fragile fictions depends wholly on if and how they suit or frustrate the self-interested maneuvers of powerful states.

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