Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Kosovo: Criminal Justice System Fails Victims

(Pristina, May 30, 2006) The criminal justice system continues to fail victims in Kosovo, despite almost seven years of international administration, Human Rights Watch said in a new report released today. Kosovo's future status is currently the subject of intense negotiations mediated by the international community. The 74-page report, "Not on the Agenda: The Continuing Failure to Address Accountability in Kosovo Post-March 2004," focuses on the criminal justice response to the March 2004 violence in the province. At that time, widespread rioting across the province, involving more than 50,000 people, left hundreds of minorities injured and thousands displaced from their homes.

"Right now, accountability for past crimes isn't on the agenda for Kosovo," said Holly Cartner, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. "But resolving Kosovo's status without fixing the justice system will poison its future."

Progress on prosecutions related to the March riots has been limited, despite being given priority in the justice system. More than two years later, only 426 individuals have been charged in connection with the violence, mostly for minor offenses such as theft, with just over half resulting in final decisions.

The criminal justice response to the March 2004 violence provides a useful yardstick by which to measure progress on accountability efforts in the province generally. After almost seven years of international administration, the authorities should have had sufficient time to address the shortcomings in the legal framework, the police, the prosecuting authorities and the courts. Moreover, in the wake of the March violence, there was an unequivocal commitment from the international community that those responsible would be brought to justice.

Yet the report analyzes the failure to bring to justice many of those responsible for the violence. Key factors include:
Inadequate preparation and training for the impact of major reforms to the criminal justice system introduced three weeks after the March riots. For example, the reforms gave prosecutors a central role in investigations, a shift in responsibility for which none of the players were adequately prepared.

The creation of a special, separate international police operation to investigate March cases, which was inadequate, de-linked from the mainstream investigation process and ultimately failed.

Ineffective policing, including lack of follow-up, poor coordination between international and national police, and inadequate collaboration with prosecutors.

Inadequate witness protection measures.

Inadequate oversight and prioritization of the criminal justice system by the United Nations administration in Kosovo.
"No one should pretend that building the rule of law in Kosovo is easy," said Cartner. "But there are plenty of basic steps ? like making sure that prosecutors are properly trained and institutions work together ? that can make a big difference today."

The inadequate criminal justice response to violence in March 2004 symbolizes one of the greatest problems faced by Kosovo today: rampant impunity for crime, particularly where it has a political or ethnic dimension. The track record on investigating and prosecuting war crimes and inter-ethnic crimes prior to March 2004 is also extremely poor.

The result is the continuation of a cycle of impunity and the reinforcement of the belief in all communities in Kosovo ? majority and minority alike ? that the criminal justice system is neither reliable nor in the service of the people. Minorities, particularly Kosovar Serbs, have less faith than ever that they can live safely in Kosovo.

"Not on the Agenda" also highlights the absence of an effective outreach strategy to inform affected communities about the outcome of investigations and prosecutions arising from the March 2004 violence, and the lack of transparency in the system. This makes it difficult for people to obtain basic information about the outcome of criminal cases and for groups to monitor the system as a whole.

The report calls on key actors in Kosovo, including the United Nations, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the police and the provisional government in Kosovo, to take immediate steps to tackle the criminal justice system. These include: ensuring proper oversight of the courts; developing an action plan to establish a judicial police branch to work directly with investigative prosecutors; increasing collaboration between international and national police, prosecutors and judges; and establishing a more effective witness protection system.

The report urges the six-nation Contact Group and the European Union to prioritize accountability in their policies toward Kosovo, including by ensuring that a functioning criminal justice system is accepted by all parties as integral to the successful resolution of Kosovo's status, and providing the material support necessary to enable the creation of an effective system for witness relocation and protection.

HRW news

Friday, May 26, 2006

Acton Institute: Who Will Protect Kosovo’s Christians?

by John Couretas, Director of Communications






Ruins of the Devic Monastery of St. Joanikije , (c. 1440), looted and vandalized, and the marble tomb of the saint desecrated. June 1999. Source: Serbian Orthodox Diocese of Raska and Prizren.

This week, Montenegro voted to end its union with Serbia, the last remaining alliance of the former Yugoslav federation. News accounts of the vote frequently add matter-of-factly that Kosovo, the Serb province placed under the administration of the United Nations in 1999, is next in line to gain its independence and probably by the end of the year.

But anyone who cares about religious freedom, the rights of minorities, and the rule of law should be highly skeptical of an independent Kosovo. Since 1999, when a NATO bombing campaign drove out Serb military forces fighting an Albanian separatist movement, the Orthodox Christian minority in Kosovo has been under intense pressure from Albanian Muslim extremists.

In a Feb. 18 letter to President George Bush, the Serbian Orthodox bishop Artemije of Kosovo and Metohija – the ranking church official in the region – said that granting the province independence would hand terrorists “a significant victory” in Europe.

“Detaching Kosovo from democratic Serbia would mean a virtual sentence of extinction for my people in the province – the larger part of my diocese – who continue to face unremitting violence from jihad terrorist and criminal elements that dominate the Albanian Muslim leadership,” the bishop said.

Dozens of churches, monasteries and shrines have been destroyed or damaged since 1999 in Kosovo, the cradle of Orthodox Christianity in Serbia. The Serbian Orthodox Church lists nearly 150 attacks on holy places, which often involve desecration of altars, vandalism of icons and the ripping of crosses from Church rooftops. A March 2004 rampage by Albanian mobs targeted Serbs and 19 people, including eight Kosovo Serbs, were killed and more than 900 injured, according Agence France Press. The UN mission in Kosovo, AFP said, reported that 800 houses and 29 Serb Orthodox churches and monasteries – some of them dating to the 14th century -- were torched during the fighting. NATO had to rush 2,000 extra troops to the province to stop the destruction.

All this happened despite the presence of UN peacekeeping forces. According to news reports posted by the American Council for Kosovo, Albanian separatists are opposing the expansion of military protection of Christian holy sites by UN forces. A main concern of Christians is the fate of the Visoki Decani Monastery – Kosovo's only UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Direct talks, under the auspices of the UN, are now underway. Serbia is resisting pressure from Western powers to amputate Kosovo, where the UN says Albanians outnumber Serbs and others 9-1. One of the thornier issues is the possible return of non-Albanians who have fled the province since 1999. Some estimates put their number as high as 250,000.

Western diplomats and Albanian independence groups are promising that a new independent Kosovo would allow the Serb minority to live in peace and enable the province – one of the poorest regions in Europe – to rebuild its economy.

The Alliance for a New Kosovo, a pro-independence group with former U.S. State Department and elected officials on its advisory board, has been lobbying for a split from Serbia. William Ryerson, a former U.S. ambassador to Albania who is one of the group’s advisers, wrote recently that Serbia had “lost any moral claim” to rule Kosovo following “its campaign of ethnic cleansing” in the 1990s. He predicted that an independent Kosovo, linked economically to the rest of Europe, would “much more likely be a source of stability in the Balkans than one denied that status.”

If that is to happen, the province will first have to clean up its act. For years, the region has been a center of activity for criminal gangs. “Kosovo has become a black hole of corruption and organized crime, including trafficking in drugs, weapons and slaves,” Bishop Artemije told President Bush. “All too often, these things happen under the noses of NATO soldiers, who fear to confront these criminals directly.”

Journalist Srdja Trifkovic, writing on Serbianna.com, said an independent Kosovo would lead to a “criminal state not seen since the defunct Taliban regime in Afghanistan” and right on Europe’s southern border. Although the international community understandably desires “closure” on Kosovo some seven years after the UN assumed control, an outcome that separates the province from Serbia would “make a mockery” of some the United States’ most important security concerns, he said.

“It would be hard to find another example of a place where governments professing the war on international terrorism as their first priority are helping a Muslim terrorist movement with a strong jihadist element to detach what is universally recognized as a part of another sovereign state and consigning the remaining Christian element to extinction,” Trifkovic said.

Given the record of Christian persecution in Kosovo while under the supervision and protection of the UN, what could be expected from an independent province administered by Albanian Muslim politicians and security forces?

As Bishop Artemije told President Bush in his letter, the only decrease in violence against Serbian Christians has come about because there are fewer of them in the province, and fewer churches, monasteries and cemeteries now to be demolished. He pleaded with Bush to work toward a Kosovo solution that “provides for the human dignity and respect for all people, whether Albanian or Serb or Roma or Turk, whether Muslim or Christian.” An independent Kosovo, he added, “is neither inevitable nor desirable.”

Christians who are troubled by the persecution of their Church should pay heed to the bishop’s warning. Without adequate legal protection and security, the Christian minority and the centuries-old legacy of the faith in Kosovo may soon become a mere memory.

John Couretas is director of communications for the Acton Institute.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Muslims Gave Away a State to the Montenegrins, Leader of Islamist Community in Montenegro Says

Banja Luka. The Muslims gave away a state to the Montenegrins because if they hadn’t taken a mass part in the referendum for the state status and hadn’t voted for its independence the country would not have received its independence, the leader of the Islamic community in Montenegro Rifat Fejzic stated cited by Serbian agency TANJUG.

“The Muslims voted for Montenegro’s independence so that the Great Serbia and its ideas would come to an end,” he said and added that now “Montenegro has the great obligation to value that which the Muslims have done for it”.

24 May 2006 | 20:14 | FOCUS News Agency

Monday, May 22, 2006

BALKANS: MONTENEGRO OPTS FOR INDEPENDENCE IN HISTORIC VOTE

Podgorica, May 22 (AKI) - Montenegrins and Serbs woke up in two different states on Monday, after tiny Montenegro voted for independence in a record turnout of 86.3 per cent at a referendum on Sunday, a referendum marking the end of the former Yugoslavia. Montenegro was the only republic that remained in a state union with Serbia after the break up of former Yugoslav federation in 1991, but as one analyst put it “the unhappy marriage” definitely ended on Sunday.

The verdict was pronounced by president of the state referendum commission, Czech diplomat Frantisek Lipka who announced preliminary official results Monday morning. Lipka said that based on still incomplete results, 55.4 per cent of valid ballots were cast for independence, 44.6 per cent for the state union, with 0.13 per cent invalid ballots.

Lipka pointed out that the results from 45 polling stations, comprising some 25.000 voters were still to be counted. He promised to give the final results at another press conference Monday afternoon.

Lipka said he was encouraged by the fact that there have been no complaints of irregularities and that low percentage of invalid ballots showed that Montenegrin voters were quite aware what they were voting for.

Montenegro Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic, who spearheaded the independence drive, proclaimed a victory at two o’clock in the morning, saying that 55.5 per cent of Montenegro’s 485.000 voters opted for independence.

"Montenegro statehood has been renewed tonight," Djukanovic told cheering crowd of his supporters.

In a long night, full of controversy and conflicting reports, opposition leader Predrag Bulatovic, whose bloc advocated continuation of the state union with Serbia, disputed the results, saying that according to his incomplete information, the independists were leading with 54 per cent, but suggested that Lipka’s official results should be awaited before drawing any conclusions.

The European Union which has set the terms and supervised the referendum ruled that 55 per cent of the turnout voters should opt for independence for referendum to be valid.


In view of Lipka’s results, the pro-independence bloc exceeded the 55 per cent target by les than 2,000 votes, and the remaining ballots could theoretically offset their victory. But it would largely depend on the area from which these ballots were expected.

Generally, ethnic Albanians and Muslims voted for independence and if the ballots are missing from these areas Djukanovic’s victory would be unchallenged.


On the other hand, if the ballots are missing from rural areas in northern Montenegro, the stronghold of the “unionists”, the majority of 55 per cent might be in question. In any case, the independists have scored a clear victory, with some 40.000 margin in their favor.


"I want to congratulate, first of all, the citizens of Montenegro on their state, because this is the most important day in a century long history of Montenegro," said Djukanovic. But he also congratulated Serbia, which has favored the state union, but indirectly became independent due to Montenegro vote.

He also thanked those who voted against independence, "but contributed by their participation at the referendum to its success according to the highest European standards. In doing so, Montenegro has presented itself as a democratically mature society," said Djukanovic.

“We have a state, and I’m sure that we shall never allow that this state of ours be brought into question,” Djukanovic concluded. (Vpr)



(Vpr/Aki)

Friday, May 19, 2006

Nothing is over yet

James Jatras Interview for Serbian Daily "Vecernje Novosti"

May 13, 2006

Translated to English from Serbian, by Alex Belgrade

From Wednesday, May 3, on the Washington political scene, there is yet another institution - the American Council for Kosovo, a professionally led NGO whose prime mission is to prevent the independence of Kosovo and to take that stance even as a defence of America's own interests. The management of this organization consists of respectable people, former admirals and generals, diplomats and state officials, with little or no ethnic and emotional ties to the Balkans.

We are talking to James Jatras, a key figure of this new institution and who was a former foreign policy analyst for the Senate Republican Policy Committee.

What's your main goal at the moment? Our goal is to educate the American public and decision makers about the policy of the West towards Kosovo, prinicipally the US policy, which has been so far based on innertion. Everyone knows that the current discussions are not getting anywhere. Albanians are only ready to talk about the only thing Serbs have said that they cannot give them, and that's independence. When talks at one point reach a dead end, the international community will just put into action an already prepared "solution" - one that would give Kosovo independence but would be put in a conditional form, with respect of human rights etc.

RUGOVA'S MASKS

- With such a course, America will not gain any sympathies in the Islamic world, even though some suggest it will. Not only that, but just about every principle of international law will be violated. Sir Thomas Moore once said that even the devil himself would be given the right to refer to laws, and Serbia is not a devil - the devils in this case are Ceku, Haradinaj and Thaci. A simple fact is that they are terrorists and criminals. Whatever masks Rugova used, those masks are now off. Despite just saying that there will be some "guarantees" for Serbs, Roma and other communities in Kosovo (Jews are all gone, and Albanian Catholics are almost all gone too), the so called "Kosova Republic" would not have a chance for survival, yet alone a normal life.

Are your opponents ready to change their opinions?

The American Council for Kosovo and certain lobbying and PR activities related to it, want to present this issue in the light of day and place it for the judgment of the American people, outside the so-called Balkan specialists in the State Department and several quazi-independent institutes which all support the official policy. We want to place the Kosovo issue in a broader context - jihad terrorism, endangered Christians in regions with a Muslim majority, drug and human trafficking and so on.

Even in this early stage of our endeavor, many people whom we talk to, are showing signs that they are ready to question their position on Kosovo, provided that we explain it to them the right way. I am convinced that the change of the course is possible, and that it will be achieved as we progress with our activities.

It is absurd and immoral that tens of thousands of people should disappear, and not as a result of our passivity (like in Darfour), but as a result of a direct decision of "democratic" governments of nominally Christian countries, and all that allegedly just because of one man (Milosevic) who was toppled from power 6 years ago and who is now dead.

RISKS FOR THE USA

What are your key points and the points of the Council which you represent? What will, in your opinion, have a key impact on the American officials and public?

These are the two sides of the same medal - jihad terrorism and crime. If the USA were to support the taking away of Kosovo from Serbia, there would be an Islamic state, fully run by terrorists and criminal elements, and, as such, that would have the following consequences:

1. The elimination of all Christians that still remain, 2. The strengthening of global jihad and international crime, 3. Fatal desruption of the principles of international law in international relations.

Not only would that be bad for Serbia (which is not our primary problem), but it would also be bad for the USA, which is by all means our problem. When we present our case to the American public, we will make sure that they know the detailed biographies of the 3 possible leaders of an "independent Kosovo" - Agim Ceku, Ramush Haradinaj and Hashim Thaci.

This is the first lobbying and information endeavor of this kind in the United States. Why is it so? Albanians have been lobbying for decades as opposed to Serbs?

I will stress once again that this is an American endeavor, even though it was initiated by the Serbian National Council for Kosovo and Metohia. Its effectiveness will show that the current US policy is damaging to the US itself. I really can't answer why Serbia has not tried something similar in terms of lobbying, in the previous years. Perhaps Serbs were naive and they just waited for the truth to surface by itself sooner or later. In Washington, the truth needs a professional approach in order for it to be heard.

The key Albanian position is - give us what we want, or there will be chaos! But, there will be a lot more chaos if we do give them what they want.

Isn't that threat of violence effective and isn't the "international community" unprepared to stop it? Look at all the jihadist movements in the world - Bosnia, Kosovo, Chechenya, Palestine, Kashmir, the Philipines etc, and ask yourself when was giving in to terrorists and pleasing them effective? Ask the Russians, Israelis or Indians. Giving in to the jihadists in Kosovo would only boost their appetites for something bigger.

IT'S NOT TOO LATE

Isn't it too late to stop what seems unstoppable - the process of Kosovo's independence? Absolutely not! It's not too late! On the contrary, the false impression that Kosovo's independence is "innevitable", has been created by the Albanians in order to influence Western (and Russian) policies, towards an outcome that would be a disaster. Albanians want to make Belgrade submit, to accept what is unacceptable for Belgrade. The Serbian Government should stand firm on its position while we are doing our work in Washington.

*****************

Please go to The American Council for Kosovo and let your voie be heard!

Monday, May 15, 2006

Kosovo: The Plot Thickens

By Srdja Trifkovic

For a long time the proponents of Kosovo’s independence have acted as if the game was up, that all that remained was for the “international community” to settle on the formula for independence—and for Serbia to sign on the dotted line under pressure. Until recently, many old Balkan hands in the world’s capitals that matter expected that by the end of 2006 it would be all over. There are recent signs, however, that “it” won’t be over that soon, and that the outcome is by no means preordained.

It did not look that way when the United Nations abandoned its own policy of “standards before status” last fall. The achievment of “standards”—measured in terms of non-Albanians’ personal security and the return of non-Albanian refugees, which number a quarter of a million—only required a pretense of ethnic and religious tolerance on part of the Kosovo Albanians, but they refused to offer even that much. In addition, the political leadership in the province passed into the hands of three notorious war criminals with jihad-terrorist and organized crime connections, Agim Ceku, Ramush Haradinaj, and Hashim Thaci.

The negotiations in Vienna opened in late February, but they have not been going well and are doomed to fail: the province’s Albanians will settle for nothing less than independence, and that is the only issue on which Belgrade will not budge. Serbia entered the talks in spite of the fact that the UN envoy presiding over them is Martti Ahtisaari, the former president of Finland who was instrumental in deceiving the Milosevic government into surrendering Kosovo to NATO in 1999, and who has since served on the Board of the International Crisis Group (ICG), together with Wesley Clark, Morton Abramowitz, and other notorious pro-Albanian interventionists.

Over the past week, however, there have been signs of significant counter-movement. Articles critical of the proposed independence scenario have started appearing with surprising regularity. In a Baltimore Sun op-ed on May 10, Christopher Deliso reminded us that “[a]verting a humanitarian catastrophe was NATO’s stated justification for bombing Serbia” but then came “ethnic cleansing of more than 200,000 Serbs and other minorities by Albanian militants.” “Behind their façade of optimism, Western leaders negotiating Kosovo’s future status are panicking,” Deliso says. If Kosovo becomes independent, the remaining Serbs will flee—and the UN already dismayed them by making Agim Ceku, “a man who once terrorized them, prime minister”:

Such privileged treatment reveals the fatal flaw of the U.N. mission. Canadian police Detective Stu Kellock, who headed the U.N. Regional Serious Crimes Unit in 2000 and 2001, says investigations implicating Albanian politicians or their associates were routinely blocked. The orders came directly from Washington, London and Brussels. Mr. Ceku and Mr. Haradinaj control Kosovo’s militant factions and are considered heroes by Albanians. An anxious United Nations continually has sought to stay on their good side through appeasement.
Alarmingly, Deliso concludes, the West has no Plan B for ensuring Balkan peace:

In early 1999, Kosovo was a brutal but contained local conflict, relegated to villages. Botched Western intervention has made it a potential precedent for multiregional warfare.
A day earlier, on May 9, Admiral James “Ace” Lyons warned in the Washington Times that “the drug, sex slave, weapons, money-laundering, and other illicit trades” are flourishing in Kosovo, but none of this should come as any surprise:

Even in 1999, when the Clinton administration decided to take military action in support of the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), there were numerous and credible intelligence and news reports of the KLA’s criminal and terrorist inclinations. Predictably, KLA veterans found even more opportunity to ply their illicit trades when, ostensibly demobilized, they were recruited by the UN into Kosovo’s police, civil administration, and quasi-military ‘Kosovo Protection Corps.’ The foxes were asked to guard the chicken coop—another U.N. fiasco.
If Kosovo becomes independent, Adm. Lyons concludes, even the minimal interference in the Kosovo-based gangs’ operations will be removed:

A criminal state not seen since the defunct Taliban regime in Afghanistan will be set up with easy proximity to the rest of Europe. Such an outcome would make a mockery of some of the United States’ most important global security priorities. While the international community desires some sort of “closure” to the ongoing mess in Kosovo (and this is understandable), it is hard to think of a supposed solution worse than independence. Seven years after the 1999 war, this is one Clinton legacy that demands urgent reconsideration.

The name of the former commander of America’s Pacific Fleet was noted, only days earlier, on the list of distinguished writers, policy analysts, diplomats, clerics, and military men who have joined the Board of Advisors of the newly-launched American Council for Kosovo, a Washington-based nonprofit organization “dedicated to promoting a better American understanding of the Serbian province of Kosovo and Metohija and of the critical American stake in the province’s future.” The Council’s stated mission is to “generate a heightened American awareness that an independent Kosovo—forcibly and illegally detached from Serbia, as is now being contemplated by the international community—would be harmful to U.S. national interests and to European and global security.”

Seven years after the 1999 war, the Council’s introductory statement goes on, criminal and jihad terrorist elements of the supposedly disbanded “Kosovo Liberation Army” dominate the province’s administration and maintain a reign of terror over Kosovo’s still-dwindling Christian Serb population. Churches and monasteries that have not already been desecrated, blown up, or burned by mobs of Muslim Albanians exist under tenuous protection from NATO. And yet,

Incredibly, elements of the international community—including some sectors of the U.S. government and important voices in Congress—have accepted the idea that the only ‘solution’ for Kosovo is to detach it formally from Serbia and to make it an independent state. This would mean officially handing power to the criminal and jihad terrorist KLA leadership, who would then be empowered as a ‘sovereign’ government. The terrorist and organized crime menace emanating from Kosovo would increase. The last Christian Serb elements (and all other non-Albanians, such as the Roma) would be eradicated. Kosovo independence also would violate every principle of the international system by forcibly and illegally detaching Kosovo from a recognized state, Serbia, to which the government of that country justifiably insists it will not agree.

But how does an organization created so late in the day intend to go about it? One of the officers of the American Council for Kosovo is an occasional “Chronicles” contributor, James Jatras, who says that the task of educating the American public and policymakers of the inadvisability of the inertial course of supporting Kosovo’s independence is by no means impossible:

When the Vienna talks inevitably stall, the ‘gameplan’ is for the Western powers to announce the ‘solution’ they have already decided upon. Aside from the futility of their trying to assuage global Islamic sensibilities by such a course, detaching Kosovo from Serbia without her consent breaks every principle of international law. Sir Thomas More famously quipped about giving the devil himself benefit of law—and Serbia is no devil, but Ceku, Haradinaj, and Thaci are indeed the devil. The simple fact it that they are terrorists and criminals. Whatever the bona fides of the late Mr. Rugova, the mask is off.

Despite the pretense of “guarantees” for Serbs, Roma, etc. (there are no Jews left, and even Catholic Albanians are almost gone), their fate in a future “KosovA” is clear: there is none. The American Council for Kosovo—and the lobbying and public relations actitivites working in parallel with it—are predicated on the belief that it is necessary to break this issue out of the Balkan policy specialist ghetto where it currently residesThe Council will seek to focus on Kosovo the concerns of a broader range of opinion with respect to jihad terrorism, persecution of Christians in Muslim-dominated areas, anti-drug, anti-slavery, etc. Even this early into the effort, says Jatras,

I am sensing that people here are surprising ready to rethink Kosovo if the issue is framed right. I am confident that a change of course can and will be effected as this unfolds. The absurdity and immorality of cold-bloodedly consigning tens of thousands of people to extinction—not by inaction (Darfur) but by a ‘positive’ decision of ‘democratic’ governments of mainly Christian countries—ostensibly because of a man who’s been out of power for six years and is dead anyway, is inescapable.

The Council’s twin themes are jihad terrorism and crime. Its position is that the United States must not support detaching Kosovo from Serbia to create an independent Muslim Albanian state because doing so would lead to the elimination of the remaining Christian Serb population, strengthen global jihad terrorism and organized crime, and fatally undermine the rule of law in international affairs. Not only would this be bad for Serbia (which is not a primary American concern), it would be bad for the United States, which should be our concern.

The American Council for Kosovo is “an American effort,” its founders say. While it is undertaken on behalf of the Serbian National Council of Kosovo and Metohija, it will seek to show why the current drift of policy is harmful to American interests. They vehemently deny that it is too late in the day to reverse what is often described as an irreversible process:

It absolutely is not too late! In fact, the false sense of inevitability is one of the means by which the pro-independence lobby hopes to stampede western policy (and even Russian policy) into a bad outcome, and even to box Belgrade into accepting the unacceptable. The Serbian government must remain unyielding on this matter. Any number of reasonable arrangements are possible—but only if Kosovo remains within Serbia. Any number of Muslims live inside majority non-Muslim countries which, with no exception I can think of, better protect their interests than is the case of any Christian minority in any Muslim country. Muslim Albanians in Kosovo are being offered anything and everything they could possibly want (and indeed, had enjoyed even before launching their initially political, and then terrorist, efforts for independence), showing that what is at issue is not how they will live as human beings but whether they will wield state power—in effect, to have the ‘right’ to persecute and eradicate, as their behavior has shown.

What ultimately lies behind the Kosovo Albanian movement is violence, they warn: “give us what we want, or there will be trouble. (And if you do—even more trouble!” At the same time, many voices in the West suggest that we should give the jihadists what they want, or there will be violence. That would be self-defeating: among the many jihads in the world—Bosnia, Kosovo, Chechnya, Kashmir, southern Philippines, etc.—appeasing the jihad has never worked. Moreover, Jatras adds, if the international community, especially the United States, try to appease the jihadists in Kosovo, that would only whet the appetite of the terrorists for new victories. It would establish the principle that once a militant Muslim minority resorts to violence in a majority non-Muslim country, they are “entitled” to detach the area where they are concentrated and create a new state where they can persecute and uproot the non-Muslims.

Jatras also rejects suggestions that Russia may agree to Kosovo’s independence because it stands to gain by invoking that precedent for its own purposes in S. Ossetia, Abkhasia, Transdnistria, Nagorno-Karabakh, and other unrecognized ethnic statelets in the former Soviet Unin. There had been suggestions of that sort from Moscow, but that notion seems to be weakening:

My sense is that Moscow’s willingness to go along with independence in the UNSC and the Contract Group is falling fast. Also, as we thrown sand into the pro-independence machinery here in Washington, I hope that will also add to Moscow’s reluctance to go along. Certainly, not long ago, some in the Putin administration had suggested that if Kosovo is detached from Serbia, the same principle should apply to places Russia cares about. Moscow’s gambit as least had the virtue of unapologetic self-interest: if we look the other way at your bit of larceny, we’ll expect you to return the favor. But as becoming ever more evident to Moscow, the favor wouldn’t be returned, as western capitals have made very clear. Kosovo, they say, is ‘unique.’ Indeed it is. It would be hard to find another example of a place where governments professing the war on international terrorism as their first priority are helping a Muslim terrorist movement with a strong jihadist element to detach what is universally recognized as a part of another sovereign state and consigning the remaining Christian element to extinction. Indeed, if we’re looking for Kosovo to become a ‘universal’ precedent with application to Russia, a more plausible future candidate would be Chechnya.

It appears that Moscow has realized that it could never expect any credit from its western partners on breakaway regions of other former Soviet republics. Even the prospect of a Russian union with Belarus—a recognized sovereign state, presumably entitled to do what it wants—will remain on the verboten list. Finally, given the kind of anti-Russian rhetoric coming out of Washington these days, there is no reason for Mr. Putin to offer any favors.

****

In conclusion, it is worth remembering that the U.S. policy in the Balkans is not cast in stone. The dominant modalities of the “resolution” in Kosovo have acquired an explicitly Clintonesque flavor only in the second half of 2005, most notably with the return of Nicholas Burns to the center stage. Never a paragon of original thought or principled consistency, his nominal boss Dr. Rice has internalized the views of Mr. Burns, and other Albright proteges like him, on what needs to be done on Kosovo and Bosnia. She has come to favor a Balkan strategy that is hardly different from that advocated by candidate John Kerry in 2004, but that strategy has never been subjected to serious scrutiny within an Administration that has far bigger fish to fry further east. As recent developments indicate, not all is lost. On Kosovo in particular, things are not nearly as bleak for the opponents of independence as that strain of the “international community” embodied in the ICG and Mr. Burns wants them to believe, or as the decision-makers in Belgrade are often cajoled into believing.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Botched Kosovo intervention dims hopes for peace

By Christopher Deliso

May 10, 2006

SKOPJE, MACEDONIA -- Averting a humanitarian catastrophe was NATO's stated justification for bombing Serbia and its Kosovo province in 1999. But initial successes quickly succumbed to the reverse ethnic cleansing of more than 200,000 Serbs and other minorities by Albanian militants.
Now, despite seven years of U.N. policing and donor largess, Kosovo's remaining minorities still live in fear, and the economy and infrastructure remain in shambles.

Behind their façade of optimism, Western leaders negotiating Kosovo's future status are panicking. Realizing that Albanians will violently contest any continued affiliation with Serbia, they believe independence alone can ensure peace. Yet Kosovo is a classic quagmire, one with ominous repercussions for peace.

Deciding Kosovo's rightful ownership is difficult. It pits two peoples, and two hallowed principles, against each another. Albanians - 90 percent of the population - invoke self-determination to justify independence. Yet Serbian cultural legacy goes back seven centuries in Kosovo, which was only independent when Adolf Hitler's Albanian allies briefly enjoyed their Nazi puppet state. Further, U.N. Resolution 1244 in 1999 affirmed Yugoslav sovereignty.

Kosovo's independence will be conditional, promises the West, on its treatment of minorities. Yet nothing can realistically enforce compliance. If the Albanians continue intimidating Serbs, penalizing them by delaying NATO or European Union accession will have little impact; an advanced Balkan candidate, Macedonia, won't enter NATO before 2008, or the EU before 2013.

A well-informed international official predicts remaining Serbs will flee within 10 years of Kosovo's independence. So by the time Kosovo gets anywhere near NATO or EU accession, the minority issue will be moot.

Albanian attacks against Serbs still occur amid an atmosphere of a siege mentality. If the last Serbs are expelled, Belgrade's remaining argument for possession will vanish. Its first argument, for cultural heritage, no longer applies because since 1999, over 100 Orthodox churches, some 700 years old, have been damaged or destroyed by Albanians - thus eliminating Kosovo's most lucrative tourist attractions.

Further, the United Nations dismayed Kosovo's minorities by making a man who once terrorized them prime minister. Albanian war veteran Agim Ceku, whose name was removed from Interpol's wanted list after fierce U.N. lobbying, is accused of widespread atrocities while serving in Croatia's military and while leading the Kosovo Liberation Army in 1999.

Mr. Ceku's close associate and another veteran, Ramush Haradinaj, was indicted by the Hague Tribunal. Nevertheless, Mr. Haradinaj is now free to participate in Kosovo politics though he's technically an indicted war criminal awaiting trial.

Such privileged treatment reveals the fatal flaw of the U.N. mission. Canadian police Detective Stu Kellock, who headed the U.N. Regional Serious Crimes Unit in 2000 and 2001, says investigations implicating Albanian politicians or their associates were routinely blocked. The orders came directly from Washington, London and Brussels. Mr. Ceku and Mr. Haradinaj control Kosovo's militant factions and are considered heroes by Albanians. An anxious United Nations continually has sought to stay on their good side through appeasement.

Independence is a mere panacea for Kosovo's Albanians. They will remain poor. Erstwhile Albanian refugee workers - Kosovo's real breadwinners - will be sent home by European governments sensitive to popular anti-immigrant sentiments. Minorities will flee as nationalist militants remobilize to purge Serbs and annex Albanian-inhabited areas of Macedonia and Montenegro.

Bosnian Serbs, as well as Bosnian Muslims in Serbia's Sandjak region, also could demand self-determination.

Alarmingly, the West has no Plan B for ensuring Balkan peace. Plan A - open borders through eventual NATO and EU membership for all - is far off and ignores the anti-expansion sentiment among EU electorates. Membership may never arrive. The Balkans might well drift aimlessly.

In early 1999, Kosovo was a brutal but contained local conflict, relegated to villages. Botched Western intervention has made it a potential precedent for multiregional warfare.



Christopher Deliso is an American freelance journalist in Macedonia and director of an independent Balkan-interest Web site. His e-mail is cdeliso@balkanalysis.com.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The American Council for Kosovo

Announcing the Formation of the "American Council for Kosovo"!

"The American Council for Kosovo is a U.S. nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting a better American understanding of the Serbian province of Kosovo and Metohija and of the critical American stake in the province’s future. The Council’s mission is to make accurate information and analysis about Kosovo available to officials of the Executive and Legislative branches of the U.S. Government; to think tanks, media, NGOs, religious and advocacy organizations; and to the general public. In particular, the Council’s educational activities will generate a heightened American awareness that an independent Kosovo – forcibly and illegally detached from Serbia, as is now being contemplated by the international community – would be harmful to U.S. national interests and to European and global security."

"It is the position of the American Council for Kosovo that the United States must not support a misguided course of detaching Kosovo from Serbia to create an independent Muslim Albanian state dominated by terrorist and criminal elements. Doing so would:
Lead to the elimination of the remaining Christian Serb population;

Strengthen global jihad terrorism and organized crime; and

Fatally undermine the rule of law in international affairs."

The Advisory Board of American Council for Kosovo includes a number of distinguished writers, politicians and political analysts such as Doug Bandow, Canadian Ambassador James Bissett, Julia Gorin, Sir Alfred Sherman and Robert Spencer.

Please visit www.savekosovo.org and let your voice be heard!

"Days Made of Fear"

Within the past couple of weeks I became aware of a DVD titled "Days Made of Fear" produced by Ninoslav Randjelovic, a Serb and an independent author and producer. The DVD consists of 8 documentary-style films (roughly 20-25 minutes each) documenting what Albanian terrorists have done and are doing to our people and religious sites in Kosovo. As you might expect, the films are heart-wrenching to watch but are "must see" if you truly want to understand what is going on. Throughout the films you will see the Kosovo Albanian terrorists leave their calling card ("UCK", meaning "KLA") where they have inflicted their destruction and evil.

Thanks to God, within the past few days he has received some encouraging news--the Serbian Unity Congress has agreed to begin promoting the DVD and offering it via their Web site, as well as to sell it at their events including the big June 26-27 event on Capitol Hill to commemorate Vidovdan and the 150th birthday of Nikola Tesla.

If you are in a position to do so, please consider ordering a copy of the DVD ($20 each, see instructions below) and sending Ninoslav (ninoslav28@yahoo.com) a note of encouragement and thanks. He is truly a hero in my book and deserves our support. If you don't have online access or want to help by making an additional contribution to Ninoslav, let me know and we can accomplish it another way.

And please also pass this request along to as many other Serbs and friends of Serbs as you can. If we each help even a little, together we can make a big difference!



Instructions for Ordering Online by Credit Card:

1. Go to the following link: http://www.daysmadeoffear.com/buy.html

2. Click on the "PayPal" symbol.

3. On lower left side of page, under "Don't Have a PayPal Account?", click on the "Secure Checkout" button.

4. Fill in the blanks in the order form with your name and address info, then click on the "Continue Checkout" button at the bottom. Follow the remainder of the instructions and fill in the additional data requested to complete checkout and submission of your order.