The people of Montenegro (population 620,000) on Sunday chose to break up their union with Serbia -- all that was left of Yugoslavia -- and give birth to the Continent's 24th and 25th new nation-states since the end of the Cold War. As long as these decisions are freely, peacefully and constitutionally made, the more the merrier.
The break-up party will continue in Kosovo (population two million), which wants to part ways with Serbia as well. Once that happens the Serbs can at last celebrate their independence from Titoist delusions of grandeur. Elsewhere in Europe, Flanders and Wallonia may follow suit to put Belgium down; Catalonia and the Basque country might split from Spain. Compared with Europe's old but thriving city-states of Liechtenstein, Monaco, San Marino and Andorra -- whose populations range from 28,000 to 67,000 -- these possible new arrivals are veritable giants.
Balkanization doesn't always deserve its bad name. Throughout history, Europe's microstates have tended to be less bellicose (shrimps don't pick fights), more democratic (government is closer to the people) and, with fewer resources to waste, economically savvier. To thrive the Tiny Tims need open trade -- thank the European Union for that today -- and peace, which now comes courtesy of a U.S.-led NATO.
Montenegro's leaders plan to join the EU as soon as possible and attract investors with policies inspired by slightly larger Estonia. Seven years ago, when Slobodan Milosevic misruled the rump Yugoslavia, Montenegro dropped the Serbian dinar and unilaterally adopted an Estonian-style currency board using the deutsch mark, now the euro.
The mushrooming of new states in Europe has tended, especially after the wars of the early 1990s, to coincide with the spread of freedom on the Continent. May it continue.
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