“Kosovo’s statehood is not just the result of a popular will for self-determination. It was made possible by the value-based liberal international order dominant in the post-Cold War era.
In 1999, NATO drove out Yugoslavia and the UN suspended its sovereignty over Kosovo due to its policy of ethnic cleansing. In 2008, Kosovo unilaterally declared independence based on the same liberal rulebook. Through a contract with the West, it agreed to present itself as a special case, not a precedent for secessions, and gave strong safeguards for the Serbian minority.
As a “sui-generis” case, Kosovo was recognized by 114 countries, joined many multilateral institutions and started a contractual relation with the EU. The belief was that full international legality – UN membership – would eventually come as Serbia would slowly accept reality. Serbia’s aspiration for EU membership was thought to be the magic wand, because it would expose it to EU conditionality.” (Full article at EWB)