Back in 1999, after the UN demurred, NATO, under pressure from the United States attacked Serbia on behalf of the Kosovar Albanians. You see, Kosovo is in Serbia, and the Serbs consider it the birthplace of their nation. The Kosovars have lived there for quite a while, but control of the region lay with the Serbs. The Kosovar Albanians decided they wanted more of an identity. "We'll CALL ourselves part of Serbia," they said, "but we will have our own money, our own languages, our own language, and we won't pay national taxes." Surprisingly, Serbia didn't like that. Long story short, we invaded to protect the Albanians, and we (the U.S. and NATO) insisted that an independent Kosovo was not a consideration.
Now, Serbia-Montenegro and Kosovo are in negotiations to determine what the future status of Kosovo should be. Perhaps not surprisingly, things aren't going completely swimmingly. One of the primary issues? Kosovar Albanians want independence. How surprising. Serbia doesn't want to give up control of part of their country. The "Contact group" of nations overseeing the discussions, which include US, Germany, Britain, France, Italy and Russia, insist that any agreement must be acceptable to the Albanians in Kosovo.
What if the shoe was on the other foot? What if it was the US who was trying to keep a minority from declaring independence from our country's birthplace, Massachussetts, or Virginia, for example? Say, a Native American tribe who was subjugated or forced from their lands under threat of force or inequitable bargaining position... Have we established a precedent where we would allow that to happen? Or is this an example of international hypocrisy?
The problem started by allowing Kosovo to have too much lattitude in its provincial affairs, creating a quasi-independent state in a region that has had millenia of turmoil.
I don't know what the solution is, but I think some preventative maintenance back in 1999 might have been a good start.