Saturday, December 23, 2006
22 December 2006
Reaching a decision on the final status of the disputed Serbian province of Kosovo is becoming more difficult, because of Russian objections and a lack of consensus within the 25-nation European Union. VOA's Barry Wood has this report.
A decision by the European Union on Kosovo's future has been in limbo since the end of NATO's bombing campaign in 1999. Coupled with a lack of Russian support, it seems a quick solution for the region is further out of reach, according to Kosovo expert Daniel Serwer.
"I don't see the possibility of a peaceful, negotiated solution," he said. "Rather [I see] a continuation of delays and uncertainty, which could lead to problems in Kosovo."
Even though it remains officially linked to Serbia, Kosovo has been administered by the United Nations since fighting ended. Almost all its population - more than 90 percent ethnic Albanians - want independence, but Serbia refuses to agree.
A United Nations negotiator has been meeting for months with ethnic Albanians and Belgrade, trying to prepare a plan for Kosovo's future, whether it will become an independent nation or remain part of Serbia. An end-of-the-year deadline has been extended until at least January 21, however, to avoid undue influence on parliamentary elections Serbia is holding on that date.
Serwer tells VOA it will be difficult to obtain Russian support for conditional independence for Kosovo - the U.N. negotiator's most likely recommendation. Moscow, Serbia's traditional ally, has said repeatedly that no solution can be imposed against Serbia's wishes.
Bulgaria's foreign minister, Ivailo Kalfin, says Kosovo is the key to the entire western Balkan region. A peaceful, internationally accepted outcome, he says, will move Serbia, Albania, Macedonia, Bosnia and Montenegro towards European Union membership. Kalfin says it is essential that Kosovo retain its multiethnic character.
"It's crucially important that the Serbs in Kosovo can be involved and stay there," he said. "Of course, they need to have security. They need to receive the possibility to work, to make their living. They need to be more engaged in the political life of whatever is happening in Kosovo."
Bulgaria and Romania will become the 26th and 27th members of the European Union on New Year's Day.
Monday, December 18, 2006
If convicted, Ikonic and other suspects face up to ten years in jail and deportation from the US. "These cases demonstrate our resolve to identify and prosecute those who enter the US under false pretences," said deputy attorney general Paul McNulty. "Especially those who hide their military past," he added.
Those arrested were poor immigrants who had no money for lawyers of bail to defend themselves from freedom, the Serbian consul in Chicago, Desko Nikitovic, told Vesti daily. He said Serbia could not help them because most were Bosnian citizens.
"Unfortunately, this is a huge operation in which only Bosnia-Herzegovina can intervene with Washington. No-one needs to spoil the relations between our two countries, which have been improving," said Nikitovic.
Milwaukee lawyer, Nikola Kostic, said he was trying to organise a team to offer legal help to the arrested and their families, because neither Serbia nor Serb organisations in America have shown much interest in helping the suspects.
"Serbs are being hunted throughout America, but no one is checking Bosnian Muslims and Croats who have immigrated to the United States in the past 10-15 years," Zika Petrovic of Denver, Colorado, told Vesti. "No one asks them whether they have concealed what they did in the wars, what army they served and whether they committed crimes against Serbs," Petrovic said. "All this is creating an unfortunate impression that the war against Bosnian Serbs has now shifted to US soil," he concluded.
Vesti, distributed throughout Serbian emigre community - which numbers a million in the US - said that there is a list of over 300 people, submitted to the United States by Bosnian authorities and the United Nations' Yugoslav war crimes tribunal, who are suspected of having committed crimes during the 1992-1995 Bosnian civil war.
Officially, the suspects are being charged for failing to report to immigration authorities that they served in the Bosnian Serb army, which fought against local Muslims. (Vpr/Aki)
Saturday, December 09, 2006
The operation called the Flight of Eagle, which is an Albanian national symbol, was averted a day before it actually carried out its plans and maximal sentence for the crime, if convicted, would be up to 15 years in jail.
The group was arrested on September 9 on the eve of parliamentary elections in Montenegro, and planned to start terrorist activities during the election night with the help of former members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK), the indictment said.
Radovic said the group was financed by ethnic Albanian immigrants in the United States, based in Detroit, and five members of the group came from that area. The US has taken an interest in the case and has sent a team of doctors and legal experts to supervise the investigation.
Radovic said the police found a large quantity of weapons and explosives hidden in Malesia caves, river canyons and homes of the indictees, presumably brought by UCK members from Serbia’s predominantly ethnic Albanian southern Kosovo province. UCK started a rebellion against Serbian rule in 1998 and the province was subsequently put under United Nations control.
Ethnic Albanians make about five percent of the tiny Balkan country of Montenegro’s 620,000 population and are concentrated in the Malesia region, bordering Albania and around southern town of Ulcinj.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
A recent online article from the German magazine, Der Spiegel, titled "Al Qaida's White Muslims in Bosnia" (translated into English from the original German) featured an interview with former Al Qaeda operative in Bosnia, Ali Hamad, who is now in a Bosnian prison. Hamad only said what many of us have been saying for years -- that "young Arab males" aren't all that Homeland Security needs to looking out for. Thanks to the US' bungled Balkan policies, Al Qaeda has now set up a base of operations in the Balkans, recruiting blonde-haired, blue-eyed Bosnian Muslim terrorist sleeper cells to infiltrate Europe and the US. These Bosnians look like every other Slav, because by blood, they are -- their families were converts to Islam during the time of the Ottoman Turks. In fact, they look pretty much like the rest of us Americans, so perhaps the PC approach avoiding racial profiling at US airports, may yet redeem itself if it catches one of these guys prior to the next 9/11!
For years, even for those few in our US State Department who acknowledged that this radical Muslim element in Bosnia and Kosovo existed, still blamed Serbs for it because they say that these "mujahaddin only came to Bosnia (& Kosovo) to save their brother Muslims". "Not so", says Hamad. "Al-Qaeda wasn't interested in helping the Bosnian Muslims, they were interested in creating a base that would allow them to increase their radius of operations - much like the USA with their bases spread across the globe. Some leaders of the Western World noticed this, but did nothing." Yes, Hamad, and these Western leaders are still "doing nothing" -- unless you consider the US now trying to give Kosovo-Metohija (translated from Serbian: "Field of Blackbirds, Churchland") to radical Muslim Kosovo Albanians to be "doing something"! And it's a "something" designed to get even more of us in the West killed!
To those of us who listened to CNN's talking head, Christiane Amanpour during the Bosnian war continually bemoan the fate of the "poor unarmed Bosnian Muslims... fighting the Serbs with pitchforks", it may come as some surprise to know that according to Hamad, this was rubbish. "For example, the Bosnian army and our units were supplied with weapons from Iran during the time of the embargo ." If that gets a "Wow!" out of you, then how about the fact that little Christiane never mentioned the fact that she was married to then Clinton press secretary, Jamie Rubin? Or the fact that Christiane was born in Iran! "Unbiased reporting"? Yeah, sure, and if you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you! But, then again, Al Qaeda in Bosnia really didn't need those sophisticated arms all that much, because Hamad says that the mujahaddin preferred more readily available primitive weapons, "Of course our methods were cruel. Al Qaeda demanded to torture the enemy, to cut him into pieces with chainsaws, to massacre him with knives." Gee, Christiane, how come we never heard about that before? No wonder the Bosnian Serbs were furious!
Hamad is not the only one calling attention Wahhabist radicals in Bosnia (who seem to have won out over their Iranian Shiite counterparts). Bosnian Muslim, Jasmin Merdan says the same about this Wahabbi invasion. " Merdan is one of the few people to draw attention to the alarming situation in connection with the Wahhabis in Bosnia-Hercegovina. He says that when the Wahhabis arrived in Bosnia, 13 years ago, the people disapproved of them, considering them a foreign element. However, over the years, they managed to establish a "brand" so that the Bosniaks have in a way "legalized" their existence in Bosnia."
Big surprise to our leaders? Not really, Sky News did a piece on it a few years ago telling everyone that the Mujahaddin were still alive and well in Bosnia. But everyone was too busy listening to Carla del Ponte scream for the heads of Karadzic and Mladic on a plate to pay attention!
At least the Al Qaeda Wahhabis in Bosnia haven't been quite as obvious as they are in Kosovo where, since Bill Clinton authorized the 1999 NATO Bombing of Yugoslavia and the UN took over, you can now find a brand, spanking new "bin Laden mosque", flying the Saudi flag! Nice to see our tax dollars at work, helping Wahhabi Islam make inroads 2,000 miles from Mecca on Christian land!
Funny though, since American writers like Stella Jatras have called attention to the mosque, the Albanians have been attempting to change the name (at least temporarily) lest it hurt their chances for an "independent Kosovo". If I were them, I wouldn't worry about it. President Bush and Condi Rice have been so eager to not upset Democrats that they have refrained from messing with "the Clinton legacy" -- (read "Clintonista bungled Balkan policy". And people say that Clinton was doing nothing about the radical Islamists pre-9/11! Wrong. He was helping them establish themselves in the Balkans!). Unfortunately, Bush & Co have just continued the same stupid, defeatist course of being "against the Serbs", and "for the Bosnian & Kosovo Albanian Muslims", even if it kills them -- and us!
Independent of what we do, Bosnia will sooner or later come apart at the seams. Serbs will never again live under Muslim rule. They already did that for four hundred years and they aren't going back. To all the warring parties, Dayton was just "a truce", never "a pact" for the long term, no matter how much the West would like to delude itself into thinking otherwise. And the more that the Euro-Nazis demand centralization of Bosnia, the quicker the next war there will happen -- it's only a matter of "when", not "whether" it will happen. When Bosnia does come unglued again, just whose side will the US take, post-9/11? The one who harbors Al Qaeda (the Muslims) or the one who fought Al Qaeda before we did (the Serbs)? That is the IQ test for our leaders and don't expect many of them to pass it!
Kosovo is also a powder keg no matter what we do, and -- yet for whatever insane reasons -- the US State Department is intent on stealing it from Serbia and giving it away to the Kosovo Albanians. If the Kosovo Albanians get their way, "Kosovo" won't become independent, it will simply cease to exist. The Muslim Albanians call the place "Kosova" (which has no translation in any language) and they have already driven out two hundred thousand Serb Christians, among others, since the 1999 NATO Bombing, and they have destroyed/desecrated over 150 Christian Churches right under the noses of the UN & NATO Peacekeepers. In March 2004, Christian Serbs got a taste of what this independent "Kosova" would look like and they said, "We'll pass. We'd like to stay in Serbia, thank you", which they have every legal right to do. But because "Kosova independence" hasn't come quickly enough for them, the Albanians took out their wrath on UN Headquarters in Pristina just a few days ago. Expect violent repeat performances from the Albanians in the near future.
All the Internationals are so afraid of the Albanians that want to cut & run from Kosovo, which is why they are considering giving the Albanians their "independence" in the first place. Ordinarily, this "cut & run" policy might not be a bad one, since we should never have interfered in Kosovo the first place. But, in this case, it would be a disaster. Muslim radicals have already infiltrated the Kosovo, and "independence" would only give Al Qaeda another base of operations in the Balkans. The Albanian Mafia has already made Kosovo a hub for the traffic of heroin, sex slaves, and illegal arms, and it is only likely to get worse when the Internationals are no longer around and Serbia is no longer a factor.
And if anyone thinks the Albanian demands will end with Kosovo if they are successful, then they are sorely mistaken. Think Western Macedonia, Southern Serbia, Northern Greece and Southern Montenegro . Albanians in all of these areas are claiming that they are being "persecuted", when all the while, they are the ones ethnically cleansing the native populations.
The Albanians are trying to realize the dream of a "Greater Albania" and the Albanian American Civic League has made no bones about it. They even ran this map (below) of a Greater Albania on their website for years until once again --they got caught and removed it! ."
Open the door for one of these false Albanian land claims by giving them Kosovo and you open it for them to take it all -- as they already have on this map. If the Albanians are successful, then they will create an Islamic corridor from Albania straight through Kosovo, Northern Greece and Macedonia, up over the Sandzak in Serbia and up through Bosnia, linking up all the Muslims in the former Yugoslavia. This is Balkan corridor that has already proven useful for running drugs, weapons and sex slaves, right under the noses of the police and UN forces. Think of how well it would work for Al Qaeda if it was a UN authorized and financed operation, paid for with your tax dollars and mine!
There are some who see the issues clearly here and are fighting against this tide of stupid self-destruction that Western politicians have been embracing. In the US, The American Council for Kosovo, along with Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch, writers Julia Gorin and Stella Jatras, and Srdija Trifkovic, are doing everything that they can to call attention to this continuing Balkan blunder, in order to turn it around. But it has been an uphill climb for all concerned, mainly because the "pro-Albanian" propaganda still runs thick in the West thanks to the powerful PR whores, who are the best that Saudi money can buy! These PR firms did well in boodoggling the US against the Serbs in Bosnia which makes the second round fight against Serbs over Kosovo even easier, because no one wants to admit that they were wrong. Well I am not afraid to admit that we were wrong if it will save our lives. I tell President Bush & my elected representatives "no" on Kosovo independence regularly, and so should you! (Just click on the image below)
Believe it or not, even Russia turns out to be doing a better job protecting ordinary Americans (and themselves), than our own US leaders are doing -- Russia vows to use its Security Council veto if Kosovo independence is imposed on Serbia I know, I know, Russia isn't supposed to be our friend, but then again, our elected politicians are supposed to "represent the interests of the American people", too. Instead they are kneeling like dhimmi before the great god of Petroleum -- Islam -- and it's representatives on earth -- the Saudis. They expect the rest of us to do the same. These idiot politicians actually make me embarrassed to be an American and that's pretty hard to do, as I am the child of an unabashed ground-kissing, flag-waiving, immigrant-turned-citizen, who never let a day go by without telling his kids how lucky he felt to be here in the US and how blessed we should feel to be Americans, too!
This Russian promise to use its veto power has "taken the US by surprise", states Nicholas Burns, US Under Secretary for Political Affairs. It seems that only US diplomats who failed the "IQ test", like Nicholas Burns, Daniel Serwer, and Richard Holbrooke ever get sent to the Balkans. Given that this is precisely where WWI started, we might want to think about making better choices for Balkan assignments.
There are some who say that 9/11 was the first act in WIII. Others who say that it started much earlier than that with the first WTC bombing in the 1993.
Or -- maybe history has repeated itself and actually chose Sarajevo again, for such a fate. If so, then WWIII began on February 29th, 1992, when Muslims opened fire on a Serbian wedding party killing the groom's father and these shots became the first rounds fired in the Bosnian war. If this is the case, then the only place to end WWIII's Islamic Jihad is where it began on European soil -- in the Balkans. We draw a line in the sand and to paraphrase Nancy Reagan, "Just say No" to Kosovo Independence and "No" to any more Islamic States in Europe, period! Doesn't seem difficult to understand to me. As a matter of fact, it is the most clear and obvious choice of any -- yet for our elected and appointed US representatives who fail to pass that IQ test, this solution seems to be beyond them.
Monday, December 04, 2006
SPEIGEL ONLINE: You fought as the commander of an al Qaeda unit in Bosnia, ordered by Bin Laden. Today you call yourself his biggest enemy. Why did you renounce terrorism?
Hamad: I was hired by al Qaeda officers in Bahrain when I was 17 years old. My family had cast me out and I welcomed any help that could promise me a home and bread. After a 13 month long training in an al Qaeda camp in Afghanistan I became a soldier in one of Bin Laden's units. He convinced me that we would fight a Holy War for Islam, which I was told was under attack by Judaism and Christianity.
SPEIGEL ONLINE: Including suicide attacks?
Hamad: The lectures in Afghanistan had brain washed me. I would definitely have wired myself with explosives and blown myself up cold-bloodedly some place, if I could take hundreds of our enemies with me.
SPEIGEL ONLINE: You would have had no second thoughts about sacrificing your own life?
Hamad: If you see your fellow fighters embrace death without hesitation, you follow them blindly. Our teachers convinced us that death is painless - it would feel like the sting of a needle at most. And anyone who would kill a Christian or a Jew would only exchange his visible body with an invisible one.
SPEIGEL ONLINE: In the 8 years that you have been here in the Bosnian Zenica prison, you wrote a book about Al Qaeda. The book mainly deals with Al Qaeda's role in the war in Bosnia.
Hamad: Al-Qaeda wasn't interested in helping the Bosnian Muslims, they were interested in creating a base that would allow them to increase their radius of operations - much like the USA with their bases spread across the globe. Some leaders of the Western World noticed that, but did nothing.
SPEIGEL ONLINE: What makes you think that?
Hamad: For example, the Bosnian army and our units were supplied with weapons from Iran during the time of the embargo.
SPEIGEL ONLINE: While standing before the Hague tribunal, you were mainly asked about your connection to the Bosnian army. The prosecutors were interested, whether the mujaheddin -- who are known for their extreme cruelty -- had been under command of the Bosnians.
Hamad: 1992 there had been a mass influx of mujaheddin into the Balkans. Our route led via Frankfurt to Zagreb, Split and from there via Mostar into Bosnia. Croats and Bosnians let us pass and those who wanted a Bosnian passport received it - though most of us used false names for that. The political and military command of Bosnia at that time, granted us the highest privileges and immunity from the police.
SPEIGEL ONLINE:Was there no protest against your fighting methods?
Hamad: Of course our methods were cruel. Al Qaeda demanded to torture the enemy, to cut him into pieces with chainsaws, to massacre him with knives. Though we officially had to obey the command of the Bosnian army, our conditions were accepted. No Bosnian general was allowed to command us.
SPEIGEL ONLINE: Contrary to the Dayton peace treaty, the foreign combatants actually stayed in the country, as "sleepers" for future terror attacks on the European continent?
Hamad: The Bosnian leadership put themselves out so we would get Bosnian passports after the war. We were advised to marry Bosnian women, so we could stay in the country as civilians. Many al Qaeda fighters entered "humanitarian organizations" and got their papers that way. Concerning the future danger of terrorism: Had the terrorism in Bosnia not been able to root in the Balkan, he (bin Laden) would not be able to threaten Europe as open as he is doing it now.
SPEIGEL ONLINE: Bosnia wants to become a member of the EU. Doesn't al Qaeda have to fear that the persecution of potential mujaheddin will become much easier for the EU (and also the USA) in this way?
Hamad: In the current Bosnian leadership, there are those who welcomed our arrival in the past. Also there were 400 native, Bosnian mujaheddin in our unit, which supported the terrorist methods of al Qaeda. Today, about 800 Bosnians belong to the so-called "White al Qaeda " - they are terrorists with white skin. Their enrollment is supported by the economic crisis. These will help later on to expand this terror network into Europe.
(Translated from the original article in German)
Friday, December 01, 2006
"I saw an exhibition which was a big disappointment," Efraim Zuroff wrote in an article published in the weekly Globus.
"To my disbelief, there was not a single photograph of the commanders of Jasenovac," he said of the camp at which his organization estimates some 600,000 mostly Serbs and Jews were killed during World War II.
Zuroff said that any young visitors to the museum would "leave probably more confused then they were before" they visited an education center on atrocities committed at the camp by the "Ustasha" regime.
"In a museum dealing with nameless Ustasha (members), no individual can be made responsible," said Zuroff.
"More importantly, it lacks materials or explanations about the development of the Ustasha ideology before the war -- hatred against Serbs and anti-Semitism, which helped the spread of genocidal policy," he added.
The education center was opened Monday along with a new permanent layout of the Jasenovac museum in an official ceremony attended by Croatian President Stipe Mesic and Prime Minister Ivo Sanader.
The memorial museum exhibits the names of about 70,000 people killed at the camp.
But the number of people murdered at Jasenovac -- mainly Serbs, followed by Jews, Roma and anti-fascist Croatians -- is still disputed, with estimates ranging between 100,000 by the US Holocaust Memorial Museum and 700,000 by Belgrade.
During his visit Zuroff met with Croatian state attorney Mladen Bajic and urged him to intensify efforts to prosecute Ustasha police chief Milovoj Asner, now living in Klagenfurt, Austria.
Vienna rejected a request by Croatia in September 2005 for Asner's extradition on the basis that he has an Austrian passport, but said it would consider trying the man itself.
Asner, 93, is accused by the Wiesenthal Centre of having participated in the persecution and deportation of hundreds of people killed in Ustasha concentration camps.
"Time is rapidly running out in this case and therefore a concentrated effort must be made by all involved parties to finally convince the Austrian authorities that there is absolutely no basis for their refusal to turn over the former police chief," Zuroff said in a statement.
Zuroff also pressed Croatia to investigate former Ustasha commander Ivo Rojnica who is living in Argentina.
Thursday, November 30, 2006
The NATO decision came as a surprise in Belgrade, because some western countries, headed by the United States, had opposed until the last moment Serbia’s joining PPP, unless it cooperated fully with the International Crimes Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). There are six individuals indicted by the Tribunal for crimes committed during the last decade Balkan wars who are still at large, and the Alliance insisted they should be arrested before Serbia could join the PPP. The list of wanted individuals is headed by the war time Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and his general Ratko Mladic.
But NATO secretary-general Jaap de Hoop Scheffer told a press conference at the end of the Riga summit that the “the allies wanted to send a strong signal to Serbia that they consider it an important player in the region and want to have strong ties with it”. He said the invitation to Serbia was a “key political decision of the summit” which was arrived at after much wrangling, because it would strengthen the stability of the entire region. Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia were the only Balkan countries that were left out of PPP until now.
He added, however, that the Alliance expected from Serbia, Bosnia and Montenegro to cooperate fully with the Hague Tribunal and will “continue to exert pressure on that issue”. The ICTY chief prosecutor Carla del Ponte said, on the other hand, she was “surprised and disappointed” by NATO decision, about which she wasn’t consulted.
Tadic said that no one should think that the problem of the cooperation with the Hague Tribunal has been solved by NATO decision. “Serbia must solve this problem and all indictees must land in the Tribunal,” he said.
Serbian political analyst Aleksandar Radic said the NATO invitation to Serbia will be “awarded by greater support of voters to democratic forces at forthcoming parliamentary elections”. The elections are set for January 21 and West’s worst fear has been that SRS and radical forces might come to power.
Serbian government spokesman Srdjan Djuric said that joining the Partnership for Peace might help Serbia to block majority ethnic Albanians’ drive in southern Kosovo province for independence. “This agreement represents a stronger basis for NATO member countries to respect sovereignty and territorial integrity of Serbia in harmony with the United Nations Charter,” he said.
Kosacov suggested that the dispute should be solved in direct negotiations with Belgrade and offered Moscow's support in "establishing direct dialogue". He said unilateral proclamation of independence, without Belgrade's consent, would be a "dangerous precedent, contrary to European standards established after the Second World War". Kosacov told journalists, after meeting with Ceku, that these standards don't allow the change of state borders without the consent of all involved.
He actually echoed Belgrade's stand that any change of borders, or unilateral recognition of Kosovo independence, would destabilize the entire region and violate the UN Charter. "Russia could help in establishing such a dialogue which would lead to a compromise that would satisfy the Serbian and the Kosovo side," he said.
Belgrade has no authority in Kosovo since its forces were pushed out of the province by NATO bombing in 1999 and is offering ethnic Albanians a large autonomy. But ethnic Albanian leaders have said they would settle for nothing short of independence, hinting they might even resort to violence to achieve that goal.
Kosacov said Ceku has repeatedly stated the interest "to maintain open and constructive relations with Serbia, but only as two sovereign states". Titov said the search for a compromise solution, based on the UN Security Council Resolution 1244 should remain the basis for solving the Kosovo dispute.
Resolution 1244, which put Kosovo under UN control with strong international civilian and military presence, states that Kosovo is officially a part of Serbia. But the international community has been gradually moving towards granting Kosovo independence and, after eight failed rounds of negotiations, it is expected to make a final status decision early next year.
Russia is the only member of a six-nation Contact Group for Kosovo that has openly opposed independence. Other members of the group, which should make a final status proposal, are the United States, Great Britain, France, Italy and Germany.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
“By chance, due to the teacher’s absence, the fifth grade classroom in which the explosion took place was empty and the tragedy was avoided,” said a school official Zivorad Tomic. He said the school is usually attended by 450 ethnic Serb pupils, but all classes were later cancelled.
Violent incidents have lately increased in the breakaway Kosovo province, where majority ethnic Albanians demand independence, as the international community nears a decision on the final status of Kosovo. The province, in which ethnic Albanians outnumber the remaining Serbs by 17 to one, has been under United Nations control since 1999, but Belgrade opposes independence and reaffirmed Serbia's sovreignty over the area in its new constitution, approved recently.
Violence flared in the province when the Kosovo Liberation Army, supported by ethnic Albanians, came out in open rebellion against Serbian rule in the mid-1990s, sparking a brutal Yugoslav military crackdown.
Serbian forces began an 'ethnic cleansing' campaign against up to half of Kosovo's ethnic Albanians in 1999 triggering a NATO bombing campaign that drove Serb forces from the province. Some 800,000 people fled to Albania, Macedonia and Montenegro and approximately 10,000 died in the conflict.
Over 200,000 Serbs have fled Kosovo since it was put under UN control and some 3,000 have been killed or listed as missing, according to the International Red Cross. It believes about 1,500 have been murdered.
Monday, November 13, 2006
November 7, 2006
The southern Serbian province of Kosovo and Metohija is a region of many contrasts in landscape, culture, and historical perspective. From arid hills similar to eastern Afghanistan, to mountainous mining towns like those in Colorado, and wide fertile plains resembling parts of the American Mid-West, Kosovo has been the object of numerous foreign conquerors over the ages. Thracians, Ilyrians, Romans, Byzantines, Turks, Hungarians, Bulgarians, and Albanians have all vied for control of the region, but for the past 1,400 years it has been distinctly Serbian in character.
However, for the past 500 years, Kosovo has been undergoing a process of aggressive Albanization, which has accelerated exponentially over the past century. At the heart of the conflict lies a clash between waxing and waning nation-states, and the Westphalian concept of sovereignty.
Kosovo is the cradle of the Serbian nation and culture, the home of its ancient Orthodox Christian monasteries and site of its celebrated battles against Islamic conquest and foreign domination. Serbs can legitimately trace over 1,400 years of presence in the region, and repeated mass casualties to protect this heritage and territory over the centuries are well documented and indisputable.
Kosovo Albanians appeared in the region starting in the 15th Century, while it was under Ottoman Turkish domination, and many Orthodox Christian Albanians converted to Islam to curry favor with their foreign overlords. Moreover, as much as 40 percent of Kosovo Albanians' lineage can be traced directly to Serb ancestry, owing to large numbers of Serbs who converted to Islam and Albanized, in order to maintain their holdings or achieve social status through assimilation in the face of expansion by Albanian and Islamic societies. Whereas the Serbs have long sought accommodation with other nationalities, the Albanians are rejectionist, espousing exclusive ethnocentrism, which is, given the reality of their mixed bloodline, more of a cultural centrism.
The Serbs have a saying that "a convert is worse than a Turk", and like Bosnian Muslims and Croatians who were forced or voluntary converts from Orthodox Christianity, these populations are often at the extreme end of the national-political spectrum, known for their brutality towards their former brethren. In some regions, such as the Drenica region, renowned for Albanian nationalist extremism, almost 100 percent of the Serb population Albanized within the past century. Many in today's Kosovo Albanian separatist leadership have distinctly Albanized Serb names, and their national hero, Skender Beg, was an Albanian-Serb taken at early age as a blood tax by the Ottoman Turks to return first as a janissary, and then as an Albanian national liberator.
The Past Century
The Serbian majority has been systematically reduced to minority status, largely in three great migrations. The first was in 1690, when the Serbian Patriarchate and tens of thousands of Serbs fled Turkish reprisals due to a Serbian rebellious alliance with Austria. The second occurred in 1790, as Ottoman Turks lost control to Albanian violence, and hundreds of thousands of Serbs fled toward Austro-Hungarian lands. From 1876 to 1912, regional wars saw the flight of an additional 200,000 to 400,000. The Serbs attempted re-colonization in 1912 during the Balkan war, which in turn displaced Albanians. During World War I, the Serbs fled from the Austrian Army over the Albanian mountains in Winter, where they were continually harassed and ambushed by Albanians along their march to Greece. Casualties were estimated at 100,000.
During World War II, Kosovo Albanians sided with the Nazis, and formed several SS divisions, including the Skenderbeg Division. Germans and Albanians in Kosovo exterminated tens of thousands of Serbs, Jews, and Gypsies, driving hundreds of thousands into exile, further north into Serbia. During the period of Tito's Yugoslavia, hundreds of thousands more fled the increasingly militant Albanian-dominated region. Tito's own policies -- such as the prohibition against Kosovo Serb refugees' return, open border with Albania, and subsidies for high Albanian natality -- contributed to the inversion of population demographics. Tito espoused "Strong Yugoslavia, Weak Serbia", and created facts on the ground to ensure it.
The League of Prizren in 1878 sought to create a Greater Albania autonomous from the Ottoman Empire throughout Albania, Kosovo, parts of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Greece. This was promoted at the Congress of Berlin, and the Second League of Prizren in 1943. The issue of militarist Albanian designs on the region was made known as early as 1912 when at a London conference Kosovo Albanian leader Isa Boletini said: "We will fertilize the land of Kosovo with the bones of Serbs." The invading Ottomans, Austrians, Tito, Albanians, and now NATO have killed or driven out the Serbs in waves, reducing their numbers from majority to minority status in less than two generations. The map which Hitler created of a Greater Albania based on the League of Prizren is espoused by current Albanian nationalists, and openly backed by some in Washington, Brussels, and elsewhere. Moreover, the US has re-created the Ottoman system, by empowering Albanians to persecute Serbs to further US designs on the region.
But as they had with the Turks, the Albanians still have plans of their own.
The Present, Tense
The Serbian province of Kosovo is nearing the artificially-imposed time limit for a "final decision" on its status as either an autonomous Serbian province, or an independent state, albeit an international protectorate. That "decision" has probably already been made, foretelling another human exodus.
The casual observer could be forgiven for attributing normalcy to present day Kosovo upon first glance. Pristina's cafes are filled with reveling Albanian and international patrons. Perhaps a quarter of the cars in urban areas are late-model BMWs, Mercedes, or Audis. New construction projects rise along many major roads and Albanian population centers. It appears that Albanian Kosovo is undergoing an economic boom. The Albanian flag waves proudly beside the Stars and Stripes, perhaps the only Muslim region where it does so. And a spirit of freedom pervades the majority Albanian society. But image is not reality, neither in media, nor in strategic issues. And Kosovo is neither normal nor stable.
Kosovo today is the nerve center of organized crime in Europe.
The Kosovo Albanian mafia - whose capos are the ethnic Albanian leaders of Kosovo (Hashim Thaci, Agim Ceku, Ramush Haradinaj, and hundreds of others), and US allies - control most of the heroin, arms, and white slavery/prostitution rings in Europe. Most of the luxury autos in Kosovo are stolen in central Europe, and given false papers; there are so many that prices are as low as 4,000 euros . Kosovo is the safe-haven for their laundered funds, often invested back into construction projects on real estate stolen from Serbs.
Kosovo Albanians have committed armed robberies in France with automatic weapons and RPGs, and have overtaken the Sicilian Mafia in Italy, largely due to their ruthlessness and closed society. Their criminal enterprises have been documented by law enforcement agencies to stretch throughout Western Europe and the US. Their money has allegedly bought off US senators and congressmen; their revisionist history and expansionist aims have been made official policy of the US Congress, and State Department. In Kosovo, their heroin labs are protected and heroin transported by units of the US military. During the Albanian insurgency of 1997-1999 (and through 2001 in Macedonia and Presevo), US Special Forces and British SAS armed, trained, and gave battlefield expertise to Albanian separatists waging brutal separatist campaigns in the region. During the war in Kosovo in 1999, the US military airlifted the Albanian UCK (Ushtria Clirimtare e Kosove : the Kosovo Liberation Army, also referred to as the KLA) terrorists into some Serbian villages, where every civilian was killed or expelled, for instance the village of Trpeza near Gnjilane.
One of Kosovo's Albanian warlords and Mafiosi, Hashim Thaci (who uses the nickname "The Snake", and who is a friend of former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and CNN ccorrespondent Christiane Amanpour, and whose Victory Hotel in Pristina is adorned with a Statue of Liberty and upside-down US flag; this is where KBR and Halliburton employees are housed) recently stated in Koha Ditore:
"... [O]rganized crime and mafia which has penetrated to the highest ranks of the government pyramid are the biggest dangers for Kosovo ... but what will happen after the status [ie: sovereignty recognition for Kosovo]? Who will stop the criminal gangs that have been installed by this weak government?"
Certainly it won't be the very criminals who are the prime culprits.
The official response of US Government officials to questions about the role of jihadist and radical Islamist elements in the Kosovo Albanian independence movement is that it is an inconsequential phenomenon, and that most Albanians are secular nationalists. The attitude of Western policy makers is that if the Kosovo Albanians are not given independence soon, they will be driven into the camp of Wahhabists out of frustration. Wahhabist influence is unrelated to Kosovo's status, and is already well entrenched.
Western military intelligence officials have extensively documented the inroads made by jihadist /terrorist elements, and their presence throughout Kosovo, and links to global Islamist terror networks and narco-mafias is widely known. In many areas, young Kosovo Albanians are being converted to the Wahhabist faction, and are highly visible in their telltale short haircuts, beards, and ankle-length pants. As well, many Arabs are present from the Middle East and France, presumably leaders of jihadist cells. Moreover, anti-Western jihadist sermons are now a regular feature at many of the new mosques. Iranian and Middle Eastern radical imams are preaching jihadist rhetoric in mosques in Prizren; al Qaeda linked mosques exist in Urosevac and Talnivoc. Many Albanians including moderate imams are concerned about the growing power of Wahhabist influence. Western military intelligence officials have stated that the findings of their investigations into the jihadist terror networks are routinely ignored or blocked by NATO, UN, and US officials.
Kosovo Albanian nationalists as well have voiced concern over the rising influence of Wahhabism in Albanian society. Writing in the Albanian-language daily Express, Genc Morina stated:
"The warriors of pure Islam", as the Wahabists like to call themselves, began their activity in Kosovo and the beginning of the 1990s ...
The NGOs still active under the auspices of the Saudi Joint Committee for the Relief of Kosovo and Chechnya, which came to Kosovo after the most recent 1999 war, are profiting from poverty in the suburbs of Kosovo cities but also to a large degree in the surrounding villages...
... Islamic Education Foundation (IEF) is offering Kosovo children "an education" in over 30 Q'uranic schools throughout Kosovo. The children are being offered 50 euros to learn certain ayats and suras from the Q'uran by heart. In schools built with funds from the Saudi Joint Committee for the Relief of Kosovo and Chechnya and with the assistance of the Islamic Education Foundation, work is being done to create a new generation of loyal Muslims - not (loyal) to Kosovo but to the Islamic internationale . Ever in the service of this project in mosques identified as "theirs" Wahhabi activists have opened Internet cafes to attract children ...
On top of the above-cited facts mujahedin activists have also targeted other parts of the Kosovo population. Widows, people fired from their jobs, peasants, unemployed youth, some "intellectuals" are receiving financial means (150 euros and other kinds of assistance) to lead a completely Islamic manner of life in its most radical form.
There are two very distinct Kosovos easily visible today. In minority enclaves (Serbs, Gypsies, Gorani, Egyptians, Croats, Turks, Ashkali and others), populations live in a state of constant fear from Albanian intimidation or attack, which occur almost daily. Not one Jew remains. Serbs are routinely murdered with no legal recourse, as the "justice" system is entirely in the hands of ethnic Albanians, placed there by Hashim Thaci and United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) officials. Prosecutor Ismet Kabashi, an Islamist, is one such example. While nine percent of the Kosovo Police Corps are ethnic Serbs, they are mere stage-props, as the real power is in the hands of its Albanian core which temporarily maintains a facade of minority tolerance to appease their backers in the "international community".
Since 1999, more than 1,000 ethnic Serbs have been kidnapped and murdered, with few of the bodies recovered. Few ethnic Albanians have been arrested or tried for these murders, or for the destruction of over 130 historic Serbian churches, the countless monuments and graveyards vandalized, or the ethnic cleansing of 230,000 Serbs and other minorities.
Those minorities which remain do so in conditions very different from the majority Albanians. Serbs and other persecuted minorities venture out of their hamlets and enclaves at great risk, and having been completely disarmed by KFOR/NATO, have no means of defense even within them. Armed incursions by Albanian attackers still occur, and are often directed against isolated, vulnerable, and often elderly civilians. Even if Serbs had the means to defend themselves, the Albanian leadership waits for any possible excuse to launch another pogrom against Serbs, such as that of March 2004, where thousands of Serbs were expelled under the watchful eyes of NATO troops, and dozens of centuries' old churches demolished. The pretext was the drowning of some Albanian boys in a river, purported by Albanian radio to have been chased there by Serbs and their dog, but the incident turned out to be an accident. The pogrom was centrally directed, well organized, and methodical.
The Office of the Ombudsperson in Kosovo goes further in describing the events of March 17, 2004. According to the IVth Report of the Ombudsperson's Institute in Kosovo July 12, 2004:
"... [T]his onslaught was an organized, widespread and targeted campaign. Minority areas were targeted, sending a message that minorities and returnees were not welcome in Kosovo. The Secretary-General saw this as a targeted effort to drive out Kosovo Serbs and members of the Roma and Ashkalija communities and to destroy the social fabric of their existence in Kosovo. It also showed a lack of commitment among large segments of the Kosovo Albanian population to creating a truly multi-ethnic society in Kosovo."
A Human Rights Watch report is particularly instructive of how the Albanians operated in creating the larger conflict:
"...The KLA was responsible for serious abuses in 1998, including abductions and murders of Serbs and ethnic Albanians considered collaborators [sic : loyal to] the state. In some villages under KLA control in 1998, the rebels drove ethnic Serbs from their homes. Some of those who remained are unaccounted for and are presumed to have been abducted by the KLA and killed ... The KLA detained an estimated 85 Serbs during its July 19, 1998, attack on Orahovac. Thirty five of these people were subsequently released, but the others remain missing as of August 2001. On July 22, 1998, the KLA briefly took control of the Belacevac mine near Obilic. Nine Serbs were captured that day and they remain on the ICRC's list of the missing. In September 1998, the Serbian police collected the 34 bodies of people believed to have been seized and murdered by the KLA, among them some ethnic Albanians, at Lake Rodanjic, near Glodjane. Prior to that the most serious KLA abuse was the reported killing of 22 Serbian civilians in the village of Klecka ... The KLA ... engaged in military tactics which put civilians at risk. KLA units sometimes staged an ambush or attacked police and army outposts from a village, and then retreated, exposing villagers to revenge attacks ... Most seriously, as many as 1000 Serbs and Roma [gypsies] have been murdered or have gone missing since June 12, 1999...elements of the KLA are clearly responsible for many ... of these crimes...There is also a clear political goal in many of these attacks: the removal from Kosovo of non-ethnic Albanians in order to better justify an independent state."
One US UN official stated that the total Albanian deaths in the 1998-1998 war with Serbia was 2,700 to 2,900. This included both civilian and military, and included combat deaths and summary executions. Serbian High Command, possibly Pres. Slobodan Milosevic, ordered that bodies be removed from Kosovo, and hidden in Serbia. After the fall of Milosevic, the Serbian Government turned over 800 bodies of Albanians, who had been buried in a mass grave at Batajnica. Included in the figure were women and children. Similarly, refrigerated containers containing dozens of bodies were disposed of. Most remains have been returned to the Kosovo Albanian Administration.
However, the international community has, like in Bosnia and Croatia before, been indifferent towards military excesses when the recipient population was Serb. Video and photographic documentation is plentiful of Albanian excesses against non-Albanian civilians, yet even the few who have been indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) are given wide reign in Kosovo. Of those who have been indicted, among the more than 100 actual war criminals, most were indicted for crimes against fellow Albanians. (Ramush Haradinaj killed hundreds of Albanians in the Drenica region for refusing to give their sons to the KLA. The bodies he disposed of in a lake near Djakovica had to be dredged up when he was tipped off that it would be searched by international forces, to avoid a political embarrassment.)
Defense & Foreign Affairs Special Analysis, March 19, 2004: New Kosovo Violence is Start of Predicted 2004 Wave of Islamist Operations: the Strategic Ramifications.
Defense & Foreign Affairs Special Analysis, October 25, 2005:
Special Report 1: New Evidence Highlights Albanian Link to Explosives Used in London, Madrid Bombings .
Special Report 2: Jihadist Terrorist Leader Returns to the Balkans as Actions Intensify to Promote Kosovo Independence .
Special Report 3: Heroin Production Facilities Flourish in Kosovo Area Under US Military Protection .
Defense & Foreign Affairs Special Analysis, January 25, 2006: Death of Kosovo's Albanian President Ibrahim Rugova Delays Status Talks and Increases Likelihood of Violence .
Defense & Foreign Affairs Special Analysis, October 27, 2006: Growing Evidence of Complicity of UN and Western Officials in Support for Jihadists in Kosovo .
Saturday, November 11, 2006
By Katherine Boyle in The Hague (TU No 476, 10-Nov-06)
The trial of the former leader of the rebel Serb authorities in Croatia Milan Martic this week heard testimony from a witness who accused the UN of favouring the Croats over the Serbs and claimed that the US and Germany were instrumental in providing Croatian troops with weapons during the bloody Balkan wars.
Patrick Bariot, a former UN Protection Force, UNPROFOR, soldier, strongly defended Martic and the Serbs, portraying the Serb population in the self-proclaimed Serbian Autonomous District of Krajina, SAO Krajina, as victims of an aggressive Croatian government and military and an international community that intentionally ignored their pleas for help.
“There was an embargo on arms [in Croatia] since 1991, but it was equally obvious that the Croats were arming themselves with help from Germany and the USA,” said Bariot who was a Lieutenant Colonel in the French army when he joined the UN peacekeeping mission in the Balkans. “There was no ambiguity that the Croatians were arming themselves in order to take Krajina back.”
During cross-examination, however, prosecutor Colin Black pointed out that the American firm Bariot claimed was giving the Croatians weapons was not affiliated with the US government.
Bariot also claimed the UN turned a blind eye to the under-the-table arms dealings even after finding American-made weapons in the hands of Croats.
However, he said an economic embargo imposed by the international community on Serb-held areas was strictly enforced.
“The [RSK] was totally cut off,” he said. “It was isolated from the world. There was total poverty for the people there. The peacekeeping marshals were in despair [over the situation].”
These circumstances, he said, put the Serbs on the defensive and left leaders like Martic with little choice but to respond to Croatian attacks.
Martic is charged with the persecution, murder and forced removal of hundreds of non-Serbs from the RSK and from large parts of Bosnia. He is also accused of unlawfully attacking Zagreb and various Muslim and Croat villages
Bariot became acquainted with Martic in 1994 when he spent several months working as an anesthesiologist for UNPROFOR at the Glina hospital in the RSK.
The Frenchman, who was later made an honorary RSK citizen and has acted as the area’s ambassador in Paris, is well known for his various books and articles defending notorious indictees including Martic and fugitives Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic. All three men have written forewords for his publications.
He has described the Hague tribunal as “illegitimate” and affirmed this week that his views have not changed. Bariot has publicly stated that he believes Martic is innocent and should be allowed to go free.
Dismissing the charges listed in the indictment, Bariot rejected the suggestion that Muslims and Croats in the RSK were treated any differently than the Serb population.
Bariot said some Croats decided to leave the RSK for Zagreb because of the strict economic embargo imposed on the region.
He added that he met Croats who decided to stay in the RSK and live at peace with the Serbs, asserting that they were never attacked or harmed during his time in the region.
“There were never any threats, any forced expulsions,” he said. “I can say this with certainty, because I was taking part in the daily life of citizens of Krajina. I went to the hospital in Glina every day and also to small villages and isolated farms.”
During his time at the hospital, Bariot said that any Muslim or Croat who came to the facility received food and medical care, despite the scarcity of supplies. He said in the Glina hospital all patients were treated equally and doctors gave blood “even to Muslims”.
The only fear in the area, he said, existed among the Serb population.
“These people were really terrified,” he said. “They constantly referred to World War Two, the Ustashas.”
At first, the presence of the UNPROFOR reassured the Serbs, said Bariot.
“They feared the invasion of Krajina, and set all their hope on the international community,” he added. “They hoped they would be saved from aggression.”
Once these hopes were dashed, Bariot said Croatian Serbian leaders like Martic had no choice but to defend the Serbs in the RSK themselves.
The Martic trial will resume on November 13.
Friday, November 10, 2006
On June 12th 1999, the 78 days of US/NATO bombing of Kosovo ended. Today, Kosovo is governed by the United Nations Interim Administration (UNMIK) . Hundreds of International Non Governmental Organizations (NGO), thousands of peace-keepers (40,000-45,000 NATO/US soldiers), more than 5,000 UN police, looked on while a massive ethnic cleansing was committed by the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) and extremist Albanians. According to UN figures, 230,000 ethnic minorities were driven out of the Kosovo region, and these numbers are low according to the Serbian figures which are 250, 000 or more.
The ethnic minorities living in Kosovo prior to 1999 were: Serbs, Roma, Turks, Gorani (Muslim Slavs), Bosnian Croats, Jews, and others. This was the second biggest ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavia. The first one took place in Krajina, Croatia, where Croatian forces ethnically cleansed the region of up to 350,000 minorities, predominantly Serbs. These ethnic cleansings were barely reported in the world news.
Today, almost five years since the "humanitarian bombing" and the establishment of a UN protectorate, Kosovo is one of the most dangerous places in the world for Roma. Very few Roma have remained; estimates range from 22,000-25,000. Before the US/NATO intervention in Kosovo there were more than 150,000 Roma in the region.
Freedom of movement is still one of the biggest concerns for Roma; most are unable to move about freely, go to work, shop for their families, or attend schools. No international NGO wants to hire Roma as translators, because they are either already run by Albanians uninterested in integrating Roma into the society, or because of fears that they might be targeted by extremist Albanians. Many Roma are unable to travel to the hospital for routine or emergency treatment. The hospital in Mitrovica is more than an hour's drive from the Serbian enclaves near Pristina where many displaced Roma are living. Most of the Roma that are left in Kosovo today live either in Serbian enclaves where they are protected by numbers of minorities, or in Internally Displaced Person's (IDP) camps.
Roma today, in free and liberated Kosovo, cannot even obtain a birth certificate in the place where they were born. Roma have lived in Kosovo for 700 years, but since international institutions arrived in Kosovo, bringing "democracy, free society, civil society, ethnic harmony, peace and tolerance" Roma are more abused, persecuted, and ignored than ever. In Western Europe, thousands of Roma are facing forced repatriation, by the very same countries that spent billions of dollars bombing Kosovo.
Is this what democracy is all about? Is this what the US is bragging about as a "success story"? Is another Diaspora, with no right to settle and no hope if they return, what the Roma of Kosovo have to look forward to in the 21st Century?
Voice of Roma is working tirelessly to bring hope to the Roma of Kosovo by promoting human rights/advocacy programs to increase safety, stability, and economic opportunities for Roma living in Kosovo or as refugees elsewhere in Europe.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Livni's statement came after her meeting with the Serbian Foreign Policy Minister, Vuk Draskovic who is on an official three days visit to Israel.
"We have concluded with the Minister [Livni] that even in a case of a painful Kosovo decision, we can in one diplomatic offensive achieve much so that such decision could be reversed," said Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Draskovic.
Livni has confirmed to Serbian reporters that "Israel supports a compromise agreement" on Kosovo status and that she was very interested in hearing all ideas that the Serbian side was willing to accept as an outcome in the talks.
Livni was grateful to Serbia for its offer to use its influence in the Islamic world to help bring about official recognition of the state of Israel as well as Serbia's "clear condemnation of Iranian president's comments on Israel."
"Everyone, and Albanians should respect the UN principle of territorial integrity," said Draskovic. "I am asking Israeli support of Serbia on this issue."
After a meeting with Draskovic, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that Israel is ready for an economic offensive into Serbia that could bring in about $4 billion in investments. Draskovic confirmed that Israeli investment opportunities in Serbia are "practically limitless."
At the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial, Draskovic was moved by the memory of Jasenovac, a Nazi era Croatian concentration camp where over 1 million Serbs and Jews were murdered.
"It is our responsibility to remember as long we are alive. To forgive? We do not have the right to forgive for those that are dead and murdered," wrote Draskovic in the Memorial's book of memories.
Monday, November 06, 2006
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni welcomes Serbian Foreign Minister Vuc Drascovic at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem.
Photo: Ariel Jerozolimski
The main obstacle to peace in the Middle East is the "stubborn refusal" of certain Arab countries and organizations to recognize Israel's right to exist, Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Draskovic declared Sunday while on a visit to Jerusalem, which he called the capital of Israel.
"I fully understand the fear of the Jewish people, because refusal to recognize the existence of Israel must remind Jews of the Holocaust and seem a demand for a new annihilation, and this couldn't be a basis for negotiations," Draskovic told The Jerusalem Post.
Draskovic said he could well understand the importance of recognition for Israel since the lack of recognition of Serbia's territorial claims to Kosovo form the central cause of the conflict there between the province's Albanian Muslim majority and its tiny Serbian minority.
Others have asserted that Serbia is at fault for not recognizing the right to self-determination of Albanians in the region.
One of Draskovic's chief goals in coming to Israel was to garner support for Serbia in its bid to retain control of the strife-ridden province, which he described as the "Serbian Jerusalem" because of its central place in Serbian history and religious tradition.
Draskovic said the parallels between the experiences and treatment of Israel and Serbia by the international community should draw the two countries together. He alluded to criticism in the UN and media.
"Many newspapers are writing that Israel is terrorist No. 1 in the Middle East [and] that Serbia is terrorist No. 1 in the Balkans. We're not. This is the wrong perception of us - both of us," he said. "We have to support each other."
To that end, Israel and Serbia signed two memoranda Sunday, one easing certain visa restrictions and another pledging bilateral cooperation. Draskovic also met with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu.
Draskovic said he was fully satisfied with Israel's response to his requests concerning Kosovo.
At a joint press conference, Livni said, "I believe in an agreed solution and in compromise and bilateral discussions, and not in forcing both sides to accept something that is being enforced from the outside."
Kosovo, while nominally under Serbian jurisdiction, is currently being run by the United Nations Mission in Kosovo in anticipation of a final-status resolution.
Draskovic stressed the centrality of Jerusalem, referring to it as "the capital of Israel." But the Serbian ambassador to Israel, Miodrag Isakov, indicated that the country has no immediate plans to move the embassy to Tel Aviv.
"Jerusalem is the capital of Israel," he said. "Where the administrative capital is [located] is less important. More important is that we do recognize and admit Jerusalem as a capital."
Those efforts are being led by the same "quartet" - the US, EU, UN and Russia - that spearheaded the road map and is working to find accommodation between Israelis and Palestinians.
If there is any question about Israel's right to exist, the Serbian foreign minister said, then the quartet states "also have no right to exist, because the historical roots of all of them are here."
Draskovic, a devout Christian, will be visiting Jerusalem's Old City, Nazareth and Galilee during his three-day stay. He will meet with representatives of the Orthodox Church but not Palestinian officials.
Those comments reflected Serbia's position on the issue, according to Draskovic.
Friday, November 03, 2006
Up against Richard Gere and Nicole Kidman, the historical record doesn’t stand a chance. Gere is in Bosnia and Kidman just visited Kosovo. Beating a dead horse, the former is entering the familiar genre of anti-Serb films (Behind Enemy Lines, The Peacemaker) — and UN Goodwill Ambassador (and, coincidentally, Peacemaker star) Kidman is listening to more unverifiable yarns from Kosovo’s Serb-loathing Albanian Muslims (without, of course, visiting those who are actually under siege in the province — the handful of remaining Serbs who can’t step outside their miniscule NATO-guarded perimeters without getting killed by Albanians).
How can we fight the jihad when Kidman and Gere are being used to enable it? Just when the Aussie gave us some hope in so prominently signing her name to an anti-terror ad in the L.A. Times — going against the grain and calling terrorism against Israelis by its name — we’re still at Square One when it comes to terrorism against Serbs.
Of course, if our own government is helping the jihad secure its Balkan base, what does one want from two actors?
For Gere’s movie — a “light-hearted thriller” entitled Spring Break in Bosnia that has him hunting down the fugitive former Bosnian-Serb leader Radovan Karadzic — filming is being done in Croatia and Bosnia, with the help of local propagandists as consultants, of course. The Serbs, yet again, will be collectively portrayed as the villains in the Balkan tale. Never mind that Gere returned from Bosnia to Croatia ahead of schedule last month, after only 10 days of shooting, reportedly because he was “too scared to stay” in the area.......Excerpt, Read the Rest at Frontpage Mag
Monday, October 30, 2006
By Brana Crncevic
Serbia is a renter in Europe. We take out our old property registers and history books trying in vain to prove that we are living on our own property and paying abnormally high rent for it. They say the old books are not valid. We are not registered in Europe. In vain does Kosovo remain in the same location where it has always been. The Finn Ahtsaari) drawing up the new property registers for Serbia says that Serbia must be redivided. The Finn is the authorized surveyor who has already concluded that Kosovo will now live in Kosovo because Serbia no longer owns its own house. And where is Serbia supposed to live? Well, where is Serbia's proof that it built its house on its own land?
With each passing day our living space is getting smaller and our rent is getting higher. In the past there have been times when monasteries paid tithes to mosques because two Gods disagreed over religion and the faithful but somehow those times were easier to bear than this time of faithlessness. The candle was never extinguished. Now in Kosovo they are snuffing out our candle and our lightbulb, too; we pray to God in the dark. They say we deserve this darkness for our earlier and unforgivable sins? Atheists masked as faithful demand that we confess to them and admit our sins. The priests of the New World Order - a Godless church - among whom Mr. Ahtisaari is a shining example teach us that we did not know how to handle greatness and so now we must be small and meek; perhaps therein our fortune lies.
I watch all kinds of TV duels on every Serb issue and my hair stands on end. When some radical mentions Russia, China or Belorussia as possible friends of Serbia on whom we can count, the democratizer, who denies the radical the very right to exist, twists his mouth in a condescending smile. Russia, China, Belorussia... what nonsense! That smile says what the democratizer himself will not; he finds it amusing that there are still people today who believe in Russia, Belorussia and China instead of ingratiating themselves to America. The balance of power is clear to the democratizer. Only kowtowing to America and Europe can ensure we are registered in the European books. Otherwise, we don't exist. It's no secret that the people who are dividing up Serbia are the same people who are dividing up the planet. And if the entire planet accepts being divided up, well, who are we (to resist) if we don't even know who we are supposed to be kissing up to?
The democratizers accept the new political Western produced in America. Occasionally, they do show some sympathy for Serb nationalists, the red-skinned tribe condemned to destruction because of the irrational, hawkish actions of their former chiefs, the same ones who drove us all to this point. But the democratizers know that the Indian cause is a lost one and that the thing to do now is to sign up with the cowboys. Today they are riding on rockets of unfathomable range. We both saw it and we felt it. The cure for American and European pressure does not lie in Russian, Chinese or Belorussian pills. Let's be rational and accept everything. Those who think otherwise deserve a reservation or at the very least - lustration.
I have no quarrel with people who believe in democracy. It's a nice form of government, even the best form. Every democrat is OK. But I can't say the same of a single democratizer. Because democracy assumes respect for difference of opinion whereas a dictatorship of democrats does not. The democratizers are the Bolsheviks of democracy. You have to think the same way they do, or not at all!
Recently I was watching the American ambassador to Serbia, Mr. Michael Polt, on Radio Television Serbia. He is an intelligent politician. Three journalists besieged him with their courteous questions. They were polite; he was politer. He politely explained what his American colleague had meant when he said that the Albanian, it doesn't matter who, who heroically surrendered to the Hague tribunal from which that Serb, it doesn't matter which one, is fleeing in such cowardly fashion. Had I been there - as I was not - I would have asked him: "Mr. Polt, if Serbia heroically surrenders, is there hope that it will be released on its own recognizance? Will we get our own house back at that point or are we condemned to this comic fate of renting our own house?"
(Translated by sib on October 29, 2006)
Saturday, October 21, 2006
PRIZREN, Kosovo - Life in a monastery is normally a challenge. But life in the Monastery of the Holy Archangels is a particular challenge.
The original building was destroyed in the 16th century by the invading Turks. The Orthodox Church eventually built a small church, residence, and workshop amid the ancient ruins. In 2004, a mob from the nearby city of Prizren descended upon the complex.
Although the monastery was nominally guarded by German members of the international Kosovo Force (KFOR), most of them packed up when the crowd arrived, taking the monks with them. This pusillanimous behavior was repeated throughout Kosovo that day. Reported Rachel Denber of Human Rights Watch: "In too many cases, NATO peacekeepers locked the gates to their bases, and watched as Serb homes burned."
Kosovo is an unpleasant bit of unfinished business the West would prefer to forget.
Like other conflicts throughout the Balkans, the problem goes back centuries. Serbian identity is rooted in both Kosovo's military history, particularly the 1389 defeat by the Turks in the Battle of the Blackbirds, and spiritual significance, represented by ancient churches and monasteries.
War has come often to the Balkans, topped by decades of communist rule. During the 1980s the territory (in Yugoslavia) enjoyed substantial self-rule and resulted in ethnic Albanian mistreatment of Serbs. Two decades ago Slobodan Milosevic used Serb nationalism, highlighted by a speech in Kosovo, to grab power. Then Albanians suffered, leading to an increasingly bitter guerrilla war.
There was much to criticize in Belgrade's conduct, but the Kosovo Liberation Army was no different than the usual guerrilla force. Indeed, a U.S. diplomat labeled the KLA a "terrorist" organization.
Although the conflict was ugly, over the years most European states had combated one or another secessionist movement. Moreover, in global terms, Kosovo was minor, a tiny horror compared to, for instance, Sierra Leone, in which an estimated quarter of a million people died. But the media always gives greater attention to the killing of white Europeans than to the killing of people of color elsewhere.
Nevertheless, Washington decided to intervene, attempting to impose a settlement on Yugoslavia that would have effectively stripped Belgrade not only of effective control over Kosovo, but also of much of the government's authority throughout the rest of the country (mandating free access to NATO forces in all of Yugoslavia). Milosevic unsurprisingly said no, so in March 1999 the Clinton administration decided on war. The world's most powerful alliance launched an unprovoked, aggressive attack against one of Europe's smallest and poorest nations – which had not assaulted or even threatened either the U.S. or any of its allies. After 78 days of bombing, Yugoslavia conceded Kosovo, allowing the U.S. and its allies, joined by Russia in a last-minute military charge into Pristina, to occupy Kosovo.
However, the victors left Kosovo's final status to be decided in the future. UN Security Council Resolution 1244, which provided ex post facto ratification for NATO's war, affirmed Serbia's authority and mandated interim international control to "facilitate a political process designed to determine Kosovo's future status." The process is about to come to an end.
Unfortunately, Western officials, starting with then-secretary of state Madeleine Albright, developed policy in a fantasy world. They underestimated Serbian nationalism, and therefore expected a couple of days of bombing to bring Belgrade to heel; when that didn't happen, all they could think of doing was to continue bombing, even as meaningful targets were eliminated.
Even worse, however, Washington and its allies believed that they would be able to concoct a multi-ethnic Kosovo in which Albanians and Serbs would join hands singing "Kumbaya" around communal camp fires. In fact, having used their American-supplied air force to eject the Serb military, the victorious ethnic Albanians saw no need to compromise to preserve the ethnic Serb population. Quite the contrary, the most vocal (and violent) Albanians wanted the Serbs to leave.
Needless to say, the intervening years have not been pretty. Shortly after the war ended, Secretary Albright declared: "Another key issue is whether the new Kosovo will include its ethnic Serb, Roma, and other minorities, and whether they will be able to live safely now that Belgrade's forces have withdrawn." With unintended irony, she added, "We will measure our success by whether the rights of all those who choose to live in Kosovo are respected."
At that very moment America's allies, the Albanian majority, were conducting ethnic cleansing on a grand scale, kicking out most Serbs, Jews, Roma, and even non-Albanian Muslims. As upwards of 200,000 people were fleeing Kosovo, Albright was telling the Council on Foreign Relations in America that the allied occupation force "takes seriously its mandate to protect Kosovars, including Serbs. And its effectiveness will increase as deployment continues, and demilitarization gains steam."
But Western rule did little to stem endemic violence, crime, and instability. Isolated Serbs were regularly killed, beaten, and kidnapped. Even Serbian enclaves were vulnerable to drive-by shootings. All told, some 900 Serbs are believed to have been killed since 1999. Attacks eventually diminished, largely because most of the Serbs had fled. Just 120 of 40,000 Serbs remain in the capital of Pristina, for instance. Almost all ethnic Serbs live in enclaves, many isolated within majority Albanian areas.
However, any Serb who travels outside an enclave does so at his own risk. At the quasi-border between Serbia and Kosovo, most drivers replace their Serbian license plates with ones marked Kosovo. Otherwise, they would risk not only their cars but their lives. (Some clueless British tourists recently were roughed up and their car was destroyed because the vehicle had been rented in Belgrade.)
Persistent low-level violence exploded into brutal anti-Serb riots in March 2004. A series of coordinated assaults, staged by as many as 50,000 people, killed 19, injured about 1,000 more, displaced 4,000 Serbs, destroyed 36 churches and monasteries, torched numerous homes and farms, and vandalized cemeteries. Today, many Serbs driven from their homes remain in small camps, unemployed and living in shipping containers.
With only slight overstatement, many Serbs called the series of attacks an Albanian Kristallnacht, mimicking the infamous Nazi assault on Jews. Human Rights Watch's Rachel Denber said, "This was the biggest security test for NATO and the United Nations in Kosovo since 1999, when minorities were forced from their homes as the international community looked on. But they failed the test."
No surprise, the violence did not encourage ethnic reconciliation. Derek Chappell, spokesman for the UN military force, UNMIK, observed, "[S]ome in the Kosovo Albanian leadership believe that by cleansing all remaining Serbs from the area … and destroying Serbian cultural sites, they can present the international community with a fait accompli." Even the International Crisis Group (ICG), which believes in a multilateral response to every problem, acknowledged that the rampage "shattered international confidence that the Albanians were committed to a tolerant society," confidence that obviously was never justified.
So many violent incidents should yield a prosecution-rich environment, but not so. Despite occasional international hand-wringing, few of those responsible even for murder have been prosecuted. Marek Antoni Nowicki, former international ombudsman for Kosovo, acknowledged last month that "in Kosovo police can find information on who committed a crime, but they can't get evidence and witnesses. No one wants to testify, because testifying in Kosovo, not just about ethnically motivated crimes, is very dangerous."
Even the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has conceded, "This relatively weak response … not only contributes to the impression of impunity among the population for such kinds of ethnically motivated crimes but may also be considered inadequate to prevent similar acts of public disorder in the future." Similarly, the ICG warns that "the possibility of a repeat lurks in the background of all players' final status calculations."
While the Albanian political leadership did not publicly support the attacks, its complicity seems probable: former guerrilla leaders, some accused of wartime atrocities, run the government. And their goals likely remain unchanged from 1999. Acknowledges the ICG, "With no vision for the future of Serbs in Kosovo, one might suspect that the latent Albanian hope is that they will all eventually sell out and leave." The Washington Post captured this attitude when it quoted an 18-year-old ethnic Albanian cigarette vendor: "Really, the Serbs ought to go back to Serbia."
The ethnic Albanian leadership also has been implicated in the explosion of organized crime, including drug dealing, money laundering, and sex trafficking. Maria Kalavis, UNICEF's regional director for Southeast Europe, recently warned, "We know that child trafficking within Kosovo's borders is on the rise." Some have referred to Kosovo as the "black hole" of Europe.
Although Islam was never much of a factor in the past, radical Islam appears to be on the rise. There has been an influx of Saudi money, which has underwritten many of the 200 mosques constructed since 1999; on a recent trip, I saw a Saudi flag flying over a mosque. Christian converts have been threatened, and some analysts believe that terrorists have infiltrated the Balkans through Kosovo as well as Bosnia. Thomas Gambill, a onetime OSCE security official, has observed, "My biggest concern has always been the incursion of radical Islam into the area."
Imagine the possibilities: Kosovo, the newest tourist donation! "Sex, crime, terrorism, it's all there," one U.S. diplomat recently told me.
All told, even the most optimistic assessment of Kosovo's progress suggests a disappointing record after years of tutelage in democracy by the "international community." At a congressional hearing in May, Charles English of the State Department stated, "Discrimination remains a serious problem. Access to public services is uneven. Incidents of harassment still occur. Freedom of movement is limited. And too many minorities still feel unsafe in Kosovo." Similarly, Joseph Griebowski of the Institute on Religion and Public Policy argues that "the present record of rule of law, protection of the rights of religious and ethnic minorities, and the return/resettlement of internally displaced people by the Provisional Authority of Kosovo – all of which are indispensable for democratic governance – have been gravely unsatisfactory."
Even Javier Solana, the European Union's foreign policy head, and Kai Eide, the UN's special envoy, last year criticized Kosovo's failure to meet the political benchmarks necessary for gaining independence. Earlier this year, the ICG, which continues to push for an independent Kosovo, warned, "The international community's immediate priority is to avert a new exodus of Serbs, new Albanian-Serb clashes, or a new wave of burning houses and churches." Kosovo hardly sounds ready for primetime.
But the facts on the ground appear to have little impact on allied policy. The Western powers are now preparing to declare victory and leave – with a planned celebratory lap for good measure. They once advanced a policy of standards before status. More recently, however, Nicholas Burns, undersecretary of state for political affairs, advocated "standards and status."
The subtle shift reflects the fact that the allies, which privately recognize the insoluble mess that they created, desperately want out, and that means giving Kosovo what it wants. The Contact Group (U.S., Britain, France, Germany, Italy, and Russia) in January 2006 stated that there should be "no return of Kosovo to the pre-1999 situation, no partition of Kosovo, and no union of Kosovo with any or part of another country."
Kofi Annan selected former Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari as UN special envoy to oversee talks on Kosovo's future, and the latter is thought by many to have promised ethnic Albanians independence. Along the way, he made his bias known, suggesting that the Serbs were collectively guilty for Milosevic's misbehavior. And Ahtisaari, along with other allied leaders, have continually browbeat Serbia to accept Kosovo's independence.
Western journalists and analysts have provided a background drumbeat. Typical was Tod Lindberg of Policy Review, who contended that "Serbia needs to decide whether its future is Western integration or instead a return to dead-end nationalist politics." Daniel Serwer of the U.S.-funded United States Institute of Peace cheerfully opined, "Serbs will resent the loss of Kosovo, but it is not a vital national interest and they will get over it, as they have quickly got over the loss of Montenegro."
In short, the recent negotiations have been a pious fraud, intended to offer a veneer of legitimacy for a decision made long ago.
But Belgrade has not been willing to play along. The latest round of UN-sponsored talks on Kosovo recently ended with no agreement. Deadlock impends. Observes Albert Rohan, in charge of the Vienna negotiations, "We could talk for another 10 years and not change anything." Ahtisaari says that an agreement is not in the cards, "at least not in my lifetime."
The official villain is obvious. For instance, the Contact Group has denounced Serbia's "obstruction." Morton Abramowitz and Mark L. Schneider, both associated with the ICG, argue that even if Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica "continues to stonewall," independence should be granted. The reason? The Serbs are being intransigent in offering everything short of independence. (Even Ahtisaari admits that the Serbs "would agree to anything but independence.") In contrast, the Albanians are demonstrating flexibility in demanding nothing but independence. (Kosovo "President" Fatmir Sejdiu declared independence "the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end of our position.") It is like living in a Star Trek parallel universe.
All through this international farce the Western allies cheerfully retained the pretense of objectivity. Even as it denounced Belgrade, the Contact Group called for "a negotiated settlement." Undersecretary Burns stated, "One of the primary factors that concerns us going into these negotiations is that, at the end of them, neither side emerges as a loser in the process." But he fooled no one. The ethnic Albanians know the West is desperate to get out. They have no reason to make any concessions beyond formalistic promises to respect the Serb minority, promises that are unlikely to be kept by the Albanians or enforced by the allies.
There is no simple, fair, and just solution to Kosovo's final status. The ethnic Albanians understandably don't want to live under Serb rule. The ethnic Serbs understandably don't want to live under Albanian rule. Majority rule favors ethnic Albanians, but the steady population shift from Serb to Albanian last century reflected political decisions by the communist government as well as natural demographics.
None of Kosovo's neighbors, save Albania, favors independence. Many of them have their own ethnic Albanian populations, some of which also desire independence or incorporation into a greater Albania. Indeed, the "principle" of Kosovar independence would have widespread implications, reaching from Bosnia's Serbs to Ossetia and Abkhazia in Georgia to Spain's Basques to Taiwan and even to America – some Mexicans call southern California, grabbed by the U.S. after its victory in the Mexican-American War, "Aztlán," and predict its eventual reconquest through immigration. Writes National Interest editor Nikolas Gvosdev, "there are very real concerns that the Kosovo question, if mishandled, will prove to be destabilizing not only for the region, but for the international system as a whole."
The least satisfactory answer at the present time is independence. Establishing the precedent of international intervention to stop ongoing bloodshed is problematic enough. Establishing the precedent of international intervention to dismember another sovereign state is worrisome indeed.
It would be even worse to do so based on the illusion that the "international community" can forcibly engineer a federal state that protects minority rights. For instance, the ICG speaks of "forging an inclusive, multi-ethnic state identity for Kosovo, as a tool to engage minority communities and the European Union." The Washington-based Alliance for a New Kosovo dreamily predicted, "At the time when the prospective 'clash of civilizations' between the West and Islam is widely feared, the creation of a Muslim-majority secular state, tolerant of all ethnic peoples regardless of personal creed, would be viewed as a victory for the national values espoused by the United States and the nations of the European Union."
In fact, independence almost certainly means more ethnic cleansing. A top U.S. official in Kosovo told me on my recent visit that he figures not a Serb would remain within five or 10 years after independence. That is, granting Kosovo independence would mean the completion of the process of ethnic cleansing that began seven years ago. Worse, since the West has been in charge, granting independence would mean ratifying the very process that the allies went to war to prevent.
Perhaps worst of all, however, if the West imposes independence, it will be doing so in response to the threat of violence. Ethnic Albanian unrest is palpable. The group Self-Determination! has been organizing nonviolent protests against the UN (some demonstrators have gone to jail, unlike the killers of hapless Serbs). More ominously, a so-called Kosovo Independence Army already has begun threatening UNMIK personnel and destroying occupation vehicles. Adem Demaci, a leading ethnic Albanian politician, last year warned of "violence of such dimensions that 17 March 2004 will be forgotten" if the West does not grant independence. The speaker of Kosovo's legislature announced in September that "if our aim of independence is not realized, then citizen's revolts are expected." Western officials privately acknowledge that they fear violent unrest if they don't grant independence.
In order to get around this rather embarrassing dilemma, Western governments are talking about conditional independence, that is, independence only after ethnic Albanians meet certain standards. Proponents of this "solution" may be criminally naive; more likely, they are simply seeking the least publicly embarrassing strategy to get out of Kosovo.
However, despite all the right public promises from Albanian officials to respect the rights of minorities, there is little reason to believe popular attitudes have changed. Bishop Artemije (Radosavljevic) of Raska and Prizren sadly observes that "crimes happened not just seven years ago but are happening now as we speak." One resident of a refugee camp who fled deadly mobs two years ago told me that "we see people living in our homes and sleeping in our beds talking about how good democracy is."
And if seven years of tutelage by the allies under military occupation isn't enough to teach the majority Albanian community democratic manners, what more can the allies do? The ICG has plaintively called on the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) to use its remaining time, after seven years of failure, to "create at least a little more democratic space, limit the entrenchment of kleptocracy, and encourage incorporation into the system of new political blood." Good luck.
Nor will tough conditions imposed as part of the independence process likely be enforced. Everyone knows that the allies will not get tough and block independence; they are even less likely to return the territory to Belgrade if the ethnic Albanian majority violates its promises. The West has done little enough to protect the Serbian community while occupying Kosovo. They won't even have the theoretical ability to act with a minimal military presence in an independent Kosovo. Moreover, even before independence has been granted, the ICG is campaigning to create a Kosovo military (of course, "both the legacy of the insurgent Kosovo Liberation Army and those linked to organized crime, must be minimized" and minorities must be protected – presumably as they are today). The supposed humanitarian crusaders of 1999 simply want to withdraw their 17,000 troops and go home.
The most important barrier to the West's cynical game is winning UN approval for Kosovo's independence. Even as the U.S. and Europeans decided on independence, their relationship with Russia deteriorated, raising the possibility that Moscow might block independence. China, aware of the implications for Taiwan, also might oppose Serbia's forcible dismemberment. If either power vetoes an allied UN resolution to grant independence, the Balkans will go from a regional to a global problem.
However, the allies still have time to step back from the brink. They should restart the negotiations, insisting that they really are negotiations. The ethnic Albanians should understand that intransigence does not guarantee victory.
The fact that there is no obvious plan to satisfy everyone should impel the two sides and interested outside parties to think creatively about mechanisms to meet the other side's strongest interests and objections. For instance, one proposal would grant ethnic Albanians citizenship in an authority subject to EU governance even while living in a Kosovo administered by Serbia. A system of parallel citizenship in the same territory might be awkward, but it offers one approach that breaks free of the independence/autonomy stalemate.
Equally important, the allies should drop multiculturalism as an objective. Last year, Undersecretary Burns told Congress that "failure to secure a multi-ethnic Kosovo would be a failure" of years of effort. No, failure to achieve a solution widely accepted as legitimate that allows all Kosovars to live in peace and promotes regional stability would be a failure. The allies have no warrant to force people who hate each other to live together.
One proposal, disliked by Washington, is to leave the Serb-dominated city of Mitrovica, and adjoining territory north of the Irba River, with Belgrade while granting Kosovo independence. The idea horrifies Western officials. Joachim Rucker, head of the UN's civil administration in Kosovo, says that it will "resolutely" prevent secession. Partition within partition may or may not be a good idea, but Western officials pushing to partition Serbia are in no position to object to it in principle.
If the allies are determined to grant independence, allowing the Serb-dominated north to join with Serbia is the only way to protect the bulk of Kosovo's remaining Serbs. Indeed, Mitrovica Serbs have developed their own institutions, rather as the ethnic Albanians responded to Serbian rule in the 1990s. Even the ICG acknowledges that a foreign occupation would be necessary after independence, since "leaving a new Kosovo government to try to incorporate the north would invite a violent breakdown."
Which presumably means the allies would use military force to make the Serbs submit – an ugly prospect for countries loudly and sanctimoniously proclaiming their commitment to self-determination and democracy. What's the alternative? The ICG proposes that the occupation forces "make a more determined effort to educate Serbs and Albanians in Mitrovica about developments and conditions on the other side of the Ibar divide by supporting new public information programs and encouraging relevant news about the other in their respective media." A PR campaign?
Well, a PR campaign might be better than sending actress Nicole Kidman. The UN's "goodwill ambassador" recently visited Kosovo to, in her words, "learn so that I can help your country at this crucial, crucial time for the future, to meet people, hear their stories and educate myself, and I suppose be a voice for you if you need it." Yes, let Nicole Kidman sort everything out.
Washington should never have intervened in the Balkans. The region was a minor interest to Europe and of virtually no importance to America. The allies managed to replace ethnic cleansing with ethnic cleansing and, more than seven years after their glorious victory, have no idea how to finish their international project. At this point the West's primary goal should be to not make the problem worse, as would forcibly dismembering Kosovo and creating a potential failed state. Kosovo offers the U.S. a foreign policy model of what not to do: intervene in a distant civil war of no geopolitical concern to America.