Both in the Balkans and in the Caucasus, the dominant international re-sponse to de facto states, or quasi-states, has been one of isolation; they violate the principle of territorial integrity, they are often based on warfare, and the legitimacy of their frequently ethnically-based claims to independence is rejected. This article finds that pragmatism has occasionally led to some form of reluctant engagement, but this has been ad hoc and its depoliticised nature has been stressed. De facto states have been viewed solely through the lens of ethnicity and there has been insufficient under-standing of internal dynamics. International policies for Kosovo have long impacted on the strategies adopted by other de facto states and recent developments have reig-nited hopes for recognition. The US and the EU have rejected any talk of a legal prece-dent, but Kosovoʹs recognition does have important political consequences; it intro-duces a new dynamism into currently stalled peace processes. This could lead to a hardening of positions, but it could also positively impact on the internal dynamics of the de facto states
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