Monday, October 30, 2006

EUROPE IS A PROPERTY MANAGEMENT COMPANY

Glas Javnosti
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

Nation-Destroying in the Balkans

By Doug Bandow

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.

Friday, October 20, 2006

VEIL DEBATE: NIQAB BAN A HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATION SAY BALKAN COMMENTATORS


Belgrade, 19 Oct. (AKI) - Banning immigrant Muslim women from wearing the niqab, the face-covering eyes-only veil is a denial of their fundamental human rights and a sign of intolerance, a Bosnian Muslim official and a leading Serbian expert on Islam, said on Thursday. Though the majority of Muslim women in the Balkans don’t wear the veil, most of the region's religious leaders and politicians were reluctant to get involved in the ongoing European debate on this issue.

"It’s the right of every woman to decide how she’s going to dress and what to wear," said Muharem Omerdic, the head of the religious education department of the Bosnian Islamic Community, representing some 1.5 million Muslims in Bosnia. "Preventing that amounts to a violation of basic human rights and a sign of intolerance," Omerdic told Adnkronos International (AKI). "In different societies, peoples dress differently, which is normal, and politicians should not interfere with that," he added.

Apart from the ongoing debate in Britain and France, Italy's prime minister Romano Prodi said on Tuesday that a wearing veil didn’t help Muslim women integrate in European society, but led to segregation. "You can't cover your face. If you have a veil, fine, but you must be seen," Prodi told Reuters television. "This is common sense I think, it is important for our society. It is not how you dress but if you are hidden or not," said Prodi.

But Omerdic said if Muslim immigrant women had to give up the veil in order to integrate into European society, "this leads to assimilation, not integration." He pointed out that in Bosnia women are free to wear whatever they want.

"In Sarajevo (the Bosnian capital) you would struggle to find twenty to thirty women wearing veil, but this is their free choice," he said.

Reacting to Prodi’s statement that it was important for people's faces to be visible, Omerdic said "it should be left to the people to reveal themselves, with or without the veil, and it is not the job of politicians to impose their views on the question."

Miroljub Jevtic, professor at Belgrade University’s political science faculty and an expert on religion, said the veil debate was a result of the "mistaken European perception of religion and misunderstanding of Islam.

"Whereas Jesus Christ was just a religious leader, and the Christian Church is separated from the state, Islam’s founder, Mohammed, was "everything – the head of state, religious leader and the supreme judge," Jevtic told AKI.

"Secularism is foreign to Islam and Europe should understand that," he underlined.

The face-veil is deeply rooted in the Muslim tradition and teachings and, "taken literally, those who renounce it are condemned to hell," Jevtic, who is a Serb and an Orthodox Christian, explained. Europe was "facing a difficult task, having to choose between granting religious freedoms and traditional rights to a growing Muslim population, or ultimately to abolish itself," he said.

"Denying such religious freedoms as the face-veil clearly violates the rights of Muslims, which are deeply rooted in Islam's teachings. Letting it develop freely, it is in the long run sentencing itself to Islamisation,” Jevtic concluded.

Belgrade mufti Hamdija Jusufspahic, the head of the 350,000 strong Islamic community in Serbia, remained unavailable for comments after two days of persistent attempts by AKI to reach him.


(Vpr/Aki)


Oct-19-06 16:20

Mafia, Jihadist Links in Balkan Narcotics

Defense & Foreign Affairs Strategic Policy. Alexandria: 2006.Vol.34, Iss. 7; pg. 13, 1 pgs

IT WAS DURING A UN POLICE SURVEILLANCE OPERATION Conducted in Pristina, the capital of the Albanian-occupied Serbian province of Kosovo, in January 2006 that it was discovered that several French Islamists of Moroccan background, who had fled from the French police following the Autumn 2005 ghetto riots in France, were being protected in a "Wahhabi safe house" in the center of Pristina.

According to the officer in charge of the surveillance operation, the parents of the Albanian Wahhabist who allowed the men to hide there were terrified because of the kind of "responsibilities" with which the son had become involved by joining the "brotherhood".

A couple of months earlier, on October 18, 2005, a Turkish citizen (Erdogan T.) was arrested in his Albanian-licensed leep as he tried to enter the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) at the Kafasan border crossing on Lake Ohrid. He had one kilogram of cocaine, more than four kilos of heroin and a half kilo of hashish, all packed into 19 packages. The man said that the drugs were for the Turkish narco-market, noting: "Macedonia was just a transit zone." But the drug movement in this east-west direction was a notable innovation, say Customs officials, because it represents a new path.

Both incidents showed the changing logistical patterns of two negative forces which are often controlled by the same people: the radical jihadist movement and the mafia business in drugs, firearms and human trafficking. The Balkans is becoming a fertile base for both to flourish, and it is clear that radical Islam and Wahhabist movements have been funded by mafia groups, especially the Albanian and Turkish ones.

First, radical Islamists looking to escape from the European Union by hiding in the Balkans are frequently encountered in all the Muslim-inhabited countries of the region. With EU passports, there is no need for them to acquire visas, and the perennially-corrupt and poorly-enforced borders of Balkan countries in any case make it easy for Islamists to take shelter.

Authorities in Macedonia claim that lslamists in the EU who are in danger of being expelled to their original countries in the Middle East have been using FYROM villages populated by Albanians and Macedonian Muslims (as well as Wahhabi strongholds in the capital, Skopje) to hide for the past two years at least.

And, a former intelligence officer in Skopje who was active during the Yugoslav wars claims that foreign mujahedin who remained in Bosnia following the wars "are being shuffled back and forth" hetween the European countries, now that the US has urged the Bosnian Muslim Government to deport all former foreign fighters. However, jihadi chief Abu Hamza claimed publicly that if the Government did this, the mujahedin would rise up against the Muslim state itself.

This intelligence officer claimed that the movement of mujahedin between the Balkans and other corners of Europe with growing extremist populations was partially being done through the Albanian ports of Drac (Durrës) and Valona (Vlorë), "on lumber ships traveling to and from Norway and Sweden ... in these two countries, there are two centers of Islamic Relief, which are coordinating the movement of Wahhabi extremists from Scandinavia and the Balkans." For the liaison within FYROM, the source claims, the Islamic NGO El Hilal, in Skopje, was involved.

Other routes for transit of mujahedin are through the mountainous areas of Macedonia and Albania, through Montenegro and its port of Bar, across to Ancona, Italy, and up to Milan, which is a major city for global jihadis with a diverse variety of nationalities represented. Milan has also long been a major city for Albanian migrant workers from the Balkans.

Regarding the drugs trade, a very high-ranking official in FYROM's Customs Administration stated privately to a Defense & Foreign Affairs source early in 2006 several interesting developments.

While the traditional heroin route in this part of the Balkans was Turkey-Bulgaria-Macedonia, this continues but is complemented by a new route, 4Albania-FYROM (and in some cases, on to Turkey or Kosovo). Specifically, the drug route is a short stretch of road which straddles the northern edge of Lake Ohrid, coming from Albania at the Kafasan border crossing and passing through Struga (now Albanian-controlled), and along the western road leading north to Gostivar-Tetovo and then Skopje. From there, the highway continues past Kumanovo to Kriva Palanka on the Bulgarian border crossing of Devet Bajer. This has been the scene of several high-profile arrests in the past year implicating the Albanian-Turkish narcomafias.

For example, a Macedonian border police action of November 28, 2005, resulted in the seizure of five kilos of heroin in a Turkish-owned passenger bus making the regular trip from Istanbul-Ohrid. One week earlier, the same bus company had been caught at Devet Bajer with 2,800 liters of hard alcohol. Previously, on November 9, 2005, an Istanbul-Struga bus traveling through Bulgaria was found with four kilos of heroin. A prime suspect in these operations was one specific company, Alpar Turism, which operates numerous buses between Turkey and Macedonia.

These seizures and resulting arrests exposed a network of Albanian drug dealers from Skopje, Kumanovo, and Struga, working together with Turkish citizens. Several months ago, police reported the arrest of two Turkish-origin FYROM citizens from the western village of Vrapciste, in separate cases involving people-trafficking in Tiranë and heroin smuggling from Turkey.

The new drugs route through Albania has aroused concern. The Customs official told us that "last October [2005], at the Kafasan border, we started to see a big trend from Albania-Macedonia-KosovoSerbia, but the media doesn't report this ... In one month 20 kilos of heroin was captured going through there; this is something big."

According to the official, hard drugs like heroin and cocaine as well as synthetics were being supplied through Albania not only for export but now for domestic consumption. "In general, the people involved in the consumption of heroin include a high number of Albanians ... this is because it is a 'status' issue, and users of cocaine are more from the upper-class [Macedonian] circles." Thus, heroin is also cheaper.

The cocaine coming through Albania at Kafasan is South American, smuggled either directly on container ships through Vlorë or else on small vessels with the cooperation of the Southern Italy Calabrian mafia, Ndrangheta, which enjoys close connections with the Albanian mafia according to Italian experts.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The Future of Kosovo from a Serbian-American Perspective

By: Michael Pravica, Ph.D.

(Originally published in Serbian in Glas Javnosti, Saturday, September 23, 2006)

I first visited Kosovo in 1988 with a group of Serbian-American
students who toured some of the many historic monasteries and
churches of Serbia and Montenegro. Even then, it was obvious to me
that there were ethnic tensions in the Serbian province as ancient
Churches were desecrated with Albanian graffiti, a car with Belgrade
license plates was overturned, and we had to always walk with a guard
during our stay at the Patriarchate of Pec. For me, this visit was
critical in solidifying my cultural awareness and pride as a
Serbian-American.

In that spirit, I strongly encourage the government of Serbia not to
allow the West to bully it into granting Kosovo independence. Though
there have been many innuendos about Serbia's difficulty in joining
the EC if Kosovo is not "let go," and talk of "lost incentives" for
Serbia, we should be very wary of any "promises" coming from the West as they have always been reneged. Serbia has a long tradition of self-sufficiency and independence. Joining the EC will not be a panacea.

In Kosovo, Serbs and Albanians have coexisted there for over 1300
years and must relearn how to coexist in the future. Granting
independence to this Serbian province would set a dangerous precedent that terrorists who slaughter, ethnically cleanse, and terrorize innocent civilians can successfully alter the borders of nations and would encourage terrorists the world over in conflict-ridden places such as Chechnya, Canada, Spain, Turkey, Iraq, China, etc.

From a Serbian-American perspective, Kosovo is part of Serbia, a sovereign nation. Though the ethnic demographics have shifted so that Albanians are currently in the majority, this has been due chiefly to illegal immigration of Albanians (encouraged by Tito) into the province. Granting Kosovo independence would be a dangerous
harbinger of what might happen to America due to massive illegal
immigration across its' Southern border with Mexico as many of these
immigrants wish to reclaim "Azatlan" for Mexico. Kosovo is now the
"black hole" of Europe and is becoming a fifth-column and training
ground for terrorists who will attack Western interests.

The West has no legal basis to steal Kosovo from Serbia. The UN (of
which Yugoslavia was a founding member) has no business interfering in Serbia's internal/domestic affairs. NATO was established to counter the no longer existent Soviet threat and should be out of Kosovo. Countries such as Germany that participated in the Holocaust of Serbs during WWII and helped catalyze the destruction of the former Yugoslavia for their own national interests should never have been allowed to station their troops in Kosovo. Serbia must regain Kosovo so that she can restore law and order because the UN and NATO are not doing the job. Serbia must also reclaim the businesses that were illegally pilfered by "philanthropists" such as George Soros. The Serbian Orthodox Church was the largest landowner in Kosovo before Tito. Lands that were illegally confiscated from The Church must be returned to their rightful owner.

During the summer of 2005, I met with two members of Congress,
Shelley Berkeley and Jon Porter (my Nevada representatives). They
agreed that Kosovo should remain with Serbia. I believe the US
government is beginning to realize that major errors were made
regarding Kosovo - especially in the post-9/11 climate - and my
feeling is that with enough activism and steadfast resistance from
the Serbian government, there is a good chance that the independence effort will not succeed. The Serbian government should work to restore ties with the United States and partner with it in the war on terrorism. We Serbian-Americans stand ready to aid the Serbian government in liaising with our elected officials and offering advice if requested. We must all jointly overcome lack of Serbian unity, lack of communication between the diaspora and Serbia, and lack of vision for the future.

No nation gives away land for nothing. The West may illegally
recognize Kosovo's independence but no self-respecting Serb should
ever accept it. Defeat occurs only when one accepts fate instead of
trying to change it.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

R.I.P. Congresswoman Chenoweth, we should have listened to you!

From the Town Crier Blog who expresses her loss beautifully:

I got the first news of the fatal accident yesterday that took the life of patriot, former congresswoman Helen Chenowith-Hage from a friend who met Helen the about the same time I did.

Helen gave a keynote speech a few years ago, at an event held in Klamath Falls, Oregon,where a lot of good Americans were doing their best to keep the federal government and rabid environmental lawyers from destroying the lives of 1400 farm families and the entire community. Helen and her husband Wayne Hage were there supporting their fellow Americans.

The couple met just months earlier and found love and companionship and common cause and worked tirelessly until Wayne's death of cancer just a few months ago.

We know Helen for her outstanding, outspoken work on property rights, but that wasn't all she was about. America has lost a great leader and friend. These are her words from 1999.

"Consider the case of the southwestern United States, a region referred to as "Aztlan," the mythical homeland of the Aztecs, by such militant groups as the "Brown Berets." Aztlan radicals have announced their intention to conduct la reconquista — the re-conquest — of that region through unrestrained illegal immigration, as well as subversion and violence. It is not difficult to foresee a future scenario in which the "international community" authorizes the use of military force in support of "autonomy" for Aztlan, in the same way that the war in Yugoslavia was launched in support of "autonomy" for an Albanian Muslim-dominated Kosovo."

Our Illegal War
by Congressman Helen Chenoweth

Congress must reclaim its authority

Vol. 15, No. 09
April 26, 1999


When the order was given for American military personnel to attack Yugoslavia, it was not issued following a declaration of war from Congress. Nor was the order given by the President as a means of repelling a sudden attack on America by a foreign aggressor, or as a measure intended to rescue Americans abroad from unexpected peril. In fact, the order to attack Yugoslavia didn’t even follow the pattern set in Korea and Vietnam, in which our nation was committed to protracted foreign wars through unilateral presidential action. On March 23rd, the order to commence hostilities was given to an American general by a Spanish Marxist — NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana.

"I have just directed the Supreme Allied Commander of Europe, General [Wesley] Clark, to initiate air operations in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia," announced Solana, who insisted that the attack "is intended to support the political aims of the international community." Congress played no role in defining those political aims, which means that the American people — in whose name Congress is empowered to act — were not permitted to play any role in the decision to commit our nation to war.......Excerpt, the rest at TownCrier

Vjecnaja Pamjat Congresswoman Chenoweth! You will be missed!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

RECONSIDERING KOSOVO: Keynote address by Bishop Artemije of Raska and Prizren

October 6th 2006
The Conference on Kosovo was held at Capitol Hill Club (Eisenhower Lounge) in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, September 28, 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM. The conference was organized by The American Council for Kosovo, Christian Solidarity International, and Religious Freedom Coalition.

Good morning and thank you all for attending this important conference, “Reconsidering Kosovo.” As the archpastor of the Orthodox Christian Serbs of Kosovo and Metohija, I have visited the United States this week and met with executive and legislative branch officials and policy makers to describe the agony that has befallen the Christian people of Kosovo and to warn against the path that lies before us.

As the title of this conference indicates, and as I conveyed to these officials during my meetings, it is hoped that the United States reconsiders the current direction of its policy toward Kosovo. For far too long, America has supported Kosovo’s path toward independence without realizing, perhaps, that it would condemn my people to extinction. And, of great concern to the international community, Kosovo independence would ultimately lead to the creation of a new rogue state. Can Europe afford to have a Muslim-led rogue state within its borders during this ongoing, US-led global war against Islamo-Fascism?

How can the United States and its European allies consider support for an independent Kosovo, when, under the nose of the United Nations and NATO, Kosovo has become a black hole of corruption and organized crime? Is it to be expected that an independent Kosovo will suddenly end the trafficking of drugs, weapons and slaves – including women and children – when the international community has been unable to end these atrocities for seven years?

A European black hole of corruption and organized crime will only enlarge itself if Kosovo is forcibly detached from Serbia. Kosovo’s failed and corrupt provisional institutions are already led by Muslim Albanian former members of the terrorist organization, the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). KLA terrorists have close ties to the Albanian mafia and these ties will only tighten should independence occur.

America’s leadership must ask itself if it really wants a new rogue “state” led by jihad terrorists and criminals. Kosovo’s current so-called “prime minister” is a man who bears command responsibility for the murders by KLA terrorists of 669 Serbs and 18 members of other ethnic groups, 518 counts of inflicting serious bodily harm – including torture and wounding – and 584 counts of abduction, many of the victims of which are presumed dead. This same man who would lead a forcibly detached Kosovo recently met with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and posed for pictures with her. Why is this man welcomed in Washington and treated as a legitimate statesman when he has yet to face justice for his war crimes? Is it wise for the United States to meet with a terrorist leader during this war against Islamo-Fascism?

Among the characteristic jihad terror practices of the KLA terrorists is the beheading of victims, as seen in other countries with active jihad terror movements. In 1999, soon after the beginning of the international administration in Kosovo, KLA terrorists kidnapped Hieromonk Hariton of the Holy Archangels monastery. His body, showing signs of torture, was found, but not his head. Why are jihad beheadings an outrage in the rest of the world, but not in Kosovo? When photos exist of KLA terrorists – whose identities are known but who have not been to justice – with heads of their Christian Serb victims, why does the international community not push Kosovo’s leadership for their arrest as war criminals?

The jihad in Kosovo was launched in 1995 at a meeting in Tirana, Albania between Osama Bin Laden and two leaders of the KLA. These two terrorists now regularly meet with Kosovo’s so-called “prime minister” to manage criminal rackets. I have come to America to ask for an end to this policy of dealing with KLA terrorists – a policy inherited from the past Administration. As my country Serbia is faced with increasing pressure from these violent terrorists, is it fair to expect the Serbian government to hand over part of its territory to this violent Islamic movement?

This Islamic movement within Kosovo is responsible for an intifada against Christians, which has resulted in 220,000 Serbs and non-Albanians being forced to leave Kosovo since 1999 – AFTER the end of the war. In addition, centuries-old churches and monasteries – more than 150 of them – have been destroyed.

Every day a violent crime happens in Kosovo and Metohija. Although some would like to turn their back and ignore this unpleasant truth, I bear witness to this violence every day. The Muslim Albanians use violence to eradicate the remaining Serbs and non-Albanians in the hope of creating an Islamic rogue “state”.

Symbols of Christianity are targeted by Muslim Albanians for destruction with particular zeal. When churches are attacked, particular targets for demonic rage are the crosses on top of the church, and images of our Lord Jesus Christ and His Most Holy Mother. In Kosovo, not even the Christian dead may rest peacefully – Muslim Albanian desecration of Christian cemeteries is, sadly, an all-too-common occurrence in Kosovo and Metohija. How can the international community ignore religious freedom and the eradication of Christianity when considering the forcible detachment of Kosovo from Serbia?

Detaching Kosovo from democratic Serbia, of which it is an integral part, would mean a virtual sentence of extinction for my people in the province and create a rogue state in which the terrorists are the government. At a time when America is leading the free world in a global struggle against jihad terror, Kosovo must not continue to be an exception, where, for reasons I do not understand, American officials have taken the side of the criminals and jihadists.

As America has discovered in the past, appeasing jihadists cannot buy protection from jihad. Neither will sacrificing our land and our blood.

In closing, let me note what I respectfully suggest is your responsibility as Americans. This catastrophe will not happen unless your government insists upon it. It is well known that among the countries in the Contact Group, the United States -- or more more properly the State Department -- is pushing for the illegal and forcible detachment of Kosovo from democratic Serbia. So today I ask you, as Americans, please think how we can convince your government to stop and consider the consequences of what they're doing and change course before it is too late for us, --and maybe for you as well. Thank you.

Bishop Artemije of Raska and Prizren (Kosovo and Metohija),
spiritual leader of Kosovo’s Christian Serbian community

Friday, October 06, 2006

And that Wasn't Even the Tough Question, Primadonna Bill

In the much talked-about Chris Wallace-Bill Clinton interview on Fox, Clinton made several pointed insistences to Wallace that "at least I tried" to confront terror. This of course implies that the Clinton administration gave a damn in the first place. But how does one reconcile that with the fact that this man allied us with al Qaeda in the Balkans?

That Clinton had a tantrum over an obvious question asking why he didn't go after bin Laden, that he would consider such an interview a "hit job," is high comedy. This diva, unused to being challenged by the media except on sexual matters, can't even appreciate that in seven years, not one interviewer has ever asked him a single question about why he allied us with al Qaeda-trained terrorists who fabricated a genocide in Kosovo, in a war of aggression against a multi-ethnic European nation that never threatened any of its neighbors, much less the United States.

On page 225 of his new book "In the Line of Fire," Pervez Musharraf writes that it is believed that Omar Sheikh, the mastermind behind reporter Daniel Pearl's kidnapping, "was recruited by the British intelligence agency MI-6. It is said that MI-6 persuaded him to take an active part in demonstrations against Serbian aggression in Bosnia and even sent him to Kosovo to join the jihad."

Here we have a Muslim leader admitting what our own leaders will not: that with the U.S.-led mischief in the Balkans, the West was facilitating, supporting and financing a jihad in Europe. Musharraf's statement is consistent with the 9/11 Commission's finding that the "groundwork for a true terrorist network was being laid" in 1990s Bosnia, as former Senate Republican Policy Committee analyst James Jatras described it in his testimony at the Milosevic trial in 2004.

And in the Commission Report this has stayed, never to be spoken of since by any of our hard-nosed journalists of varying political stripes who dutifully "question" politicians' motivations for war. Understandably, they wouldn't want to alienate the President of Peace by bringing up not only that he didn't go after bin Laden, but that he did his bidding. For they would get more than the knee-poking that Chris Wallace got.

But as early as 1997, there was a Senate Republican Policy Committee report titled "Clinton-Approved Iranian Arms Transfers Help Turn Bosnia into Militant Islamic Base." And in 2003 Gregory Copley, president of International Strategic Studies Association, wrote an analysis titled "Bosnian Official Links With Terrorism, Including 9/11, Become Increasingly Apparent as Clinton, Clark Attempt to Justify Support of Bosnian Militants."

MI-6's involvement, meanwhile, is more than just "believed" or "said," and Sheikh wasn't the only one the Brits recruited to wage a terror campaign in Yugoslavia. See this Fox News video/transcript from "Dayside" just three weeks after London got a taste of what it (and we) gave Belgrade.

As the UK Guardian reported late last year, "Britain now faces its own blowback: Intelligence interests may thwart the July bombings investigation."

It is significant that in Musharraf's book Daniel Pearl is mentioned on the same page as the Western-promoted Kosovo jihad -- as it is that Pearl's kidnapper fought in Kosovo. For it was Daniel Pearl who first brought us the following revelation about the alleged Serb "aggression": "[A]llegations -- indiscriminate mass murder, rape camps, crematoriums, mutilation of the dead -- haven't been borne out in the six months since NATO troops entered Kosovo. Ethnic-Albanian militants, humanitarian organizations, NATO and the news media fed off each other to give genocide rumors credibility. Now, a different picture is emerging." The article was printed on the day the jihad was scheduled to come to our shores but was averted -- December 31, 1999.

Excerpt..Read More at Jewish World Review

US evangelists 'join campaign to keep Kosovo within Serbia'

By Guy Dinmore in Washington


Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, outspoken and influential televangelists in the US, are joining forces with Serbia's Christian Orthodox church to campaign against independence for the mainly Muslim province of Kosovo, according to the spiritual leader of the Serb minority there.

Bishop Artemije, the most senior Orthodox cleric in Kosovo, said the two Christian broadcasters had promised to alert their followers and exert their influence.

"They point out that they have friends at the highest level of government and will urge them to help us so that Kosovo remains in the borders of Serbia," he said.

Diplomats in Washington say that whipping up Christian fervour in the US reflects the increasingly vitriolic and intolerant debate within Kosovo that occasionally spills over into violence.

Efforts on both sides are intensifying as the ethnic Albanian majority - overwhelmingly secular but with a majority tracing Muslim roots - lobbies hard for full independence.

Martti Ahtisaari, the United Nations mediator, is due to present his recommendations on final status by the end of the year. Kosovo has been a ward of the international community since 1999, when Nato bombed Serbia and occupied the province to stop further ethnic cleansing of the ethnic Albanians.

In an interview with the FT during his third visit to the US this year, Bishop Artemije set out the argument shaping the Serb case - that independence would provide a base for an "extremist Islamic jihad" and endanger the Balkans, Europe and the US.

Followers of the puritanical Wahhabi strain of Sunni Islam and al-Qaeda jihadists would be drawn there, he said. Already the province, under UN rule, was the "black hole" of Europe, run by criminal gangs trading in people, guns and drugs, while murderers and desecrators of churches and cemeteries were trying to "eradicate" the Christian community.

"It is unbelievable to see the US on one side declaring war on terror around the world and on the other side tolerating it in Kosovo," he said.

Mr Falwell, a Baptist minister and Moral Majority founder, and Mr Robertson, the Christian broadcaster, have courted controversy in portraying what they see as the threat to the western world emanating from the nature of Islam.

In 2002 Mr Falwell provoked outrage among Muslims by calling the prophet Mohammed a "terrorist". His comments led to deaths among rioters in the Indian city of Mumbai and he later apologised.

Mr Robertson is on record as saying that Islam "is anything but peaceful", subjecting unbelievers to forced conversion or death. "It's just that simple," he said. Neither responded to FT queries about their reported offers of help to the Serbs.

While earlier this year it was commonly believed that the US backed full independence for Kosovo, analysts and diplomats believe there has been a recent shift towards a form of "conditional" independence that falls short of full sovereignty.

Asked if he felt he was making progress in his lobbying, Bishop Artemije answered: "We are still sowing the seeds and we have to wait for the final gathering of the crop." He also said that since July he had felt "a different breeze" crossing the Atlantic. "All of this shows we are following the right path," he said, urging the international community to let negotiations continue beyond this year. He endorsed Belgrade's call for substantial autonomy for Kosovo.

Bishop Artemije cited an aide to Dick Cheney, the US vice-president, as saying he believed Kosovo would get "some form of independence".

Diplomats said Boris Tadic, Serbian president, made a strong impression last month on Mr Cheney and Condoleezza Rice, secretary of state.

He projected Serbia as an ally in the "war on terror" while warning that independence for Kosovo could hand power at the next elections - probably in December - to the anti-western Radicals and Socialists.

Serbia has a growing military relationship with the US and is to send a small contingent of medics to Afghanistan and possibly personnel to Lebanon. Analysts say these are remarkable developments for an army still going through reforms since the atrocities committed against ethnic Albanian Muslims in the late 1990s.

Independent academic experts on Kosovo are highly sceptical of the notion that a new state would provide Islamist extremists with a foothold on the edge of Europe.

But they do recognise the danger of Kosovo becoming a weak state reliant on international aid and prone to exploitation by criminal gangs involved in drugs and human trafficking.

Anna Di Lellio, former adviser to Agim Ceku, the Kosovo Albanian prime minister, warned that a partially independent Kosovo could come to resemble the West Bank - with all the attendant political violence.

Stretched in Iraq and Afghanistan, the US is eager to draw down its 1,700 troops and police stationed inKosovo.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Sen Santorum Calls Kosovo Violence Against Christian Serbs, "Islamic Fascism"

Dear Serbian-Americans,


As you know, for some time I've been sending you messages warning about the dangers of radical Islamic violence in Kosovo. Jihad terror in Kosovo is a mortal danger not only to the Christian Serb community there, but to the rest of Europe and to America.

Sometimes it seemed our warnings were falling on deaf ears, but that is not the case. Below is a letter released on 28 September from U.S. Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania to Bishop Artemije of Kosovo. In it the Senator commends the Bishop for his reminder that "the defense of freedom, like the global terror movement itself, is indivisible. In Kosovo, no less than in the United States or the Middle East, the reality of Islamic fascist violence must be called by its proper name and opposed in every possible way."

This is not a Democrat or a Republican issue. It is an issue of national security and sovereignty. It is the first time any American official, in either the Legislative or Executive branch, has called the terrorist violence in Kosovo what it is -- Islamic fascism. It is particularly significant that this came from Senator Santorum, who is the one who originated that expression, which now has been picked up by President Bush. I should note that Bishop Artemije was present at the National Press Club when Senator Santorum gave his speech in which Islamic fascism was defined and described.

As you know, Senator Santorum is in a tough reelection race. However much some of my readers might like his opponent, Mr. Casey, he has not spoken out in support of the Kosovo Serbs. I think it would be a disaster for the one member of the Senate who has put his political career on the line to oppose Islamic radicalism to be defeated. Pennsylvania voters, please join me in supporting Rick Santorum in his campaign and helping in any way you can. Please also help get this message around to as many of our fellow Serbian-Americans.

Zivela Kosovo! Stella Jatras