He makes it all sound so easy, holding a series of plebiscites to decide where to draw new lines on the map. He allows that there are difficulties sometimes because “Populations are not always neatly grouped.” Let me rephrase that more accurately: populations are never neatly grouped. And even if they can be gathered together for a moment, the same forces that led to their mixing – travel, business, love – will quickly reassert themselves.
Daniel Hannan imagines that his solution might have prevented the war in Bosnia. Actually, no, the war was caused by precisely the kind of attempt at line-drawing that he is encouraging. The deadly term “ethnic cleansing” entered the English language. Lines on maps turn communities into minorities, wherever those lines are drawn.
The solution to the problem is to make those very lines matter less. When it becomes a matter of life and death which side of a line you find yourself, fighting a war over the location of that line becomes a rational act. Submitting governments on both sides of that line to an international rule of law and guarantees of human rights means that the consequence of being on the wrong side of the line starts to become bearable. Be part of a single market and the commercial consequences are reduced. Allow for the free movement of peoples and the social consequences shrink.
The problem in Kosovo is the fetishisation of national borders at all. It is the prospect of EU membership that is needed to bring peace to the region. But Daniel Hannan will agree that he is the wrong person to advocate that.