Thursday, November 30, 2006

SERBIA: POLITICIANS EXALT AT NATO INVITATION

Belgrade, 29 Nov. (AKI) - Serbian politicians reacted with elation on Wednesday to the decision of NATO leaders at their summit in Riga to invite Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina to join Alliance’s Partnership for Peace Programme (PPP). "It's a great news for the citizens, army and state," said Serbian president Boris Tadic. Foreign minister Vuk Draskovic said it was "a clear message to the retrograde political forces in Serbia that there is no turning back to the past". He was referring to the political forces in the country, led by the ultranationalist Serbian Radical Party (SRS), which oppose Serbia’s Euro-Atlantic integration.


The NATO decision came as a surprise in Belgrade, because some western countries, headed by the United States, had opposed until the last moment Serbia’s joining PPP, unless it cooperated fully with the International Crimes Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). There are six individuals indicted by the Tribunal for crimes committed during the last decade Balkan wars who are still at large, and the Alliance insisted they should be arrested before Serbia could join the PPP. The list of wanted individuals is headed by the war time Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and his general Ratko Mladic.

But NATO secretary-general Jaap de Hoop Scheffer told a press conference at the end of the Riga summit that the “the allies wanted to send a strong signal to Serbia that they consider it an important player in the region and want to have strong ties with it”. He said the invitation to Serbia was a “key political decision of the summit” which was arrived at after much wrangling, because it would strengthen the stability of the entire region. Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia were the only Balkan countries that were left out of PPP until now.

He added, however, that the Alliance expected from Serbia, Bosnia and Montenegro to cooperate fully with the Hague Tribunal and will “continue to exert pressure on that issue”. The ICTY chief prosecutor Carla del Ponte said, on the other hand, she was “surprised and disappointed” by NATO decision, about which she wasn’t consulted.

Tadic said that no one should think that the problem of the cooperation with the Hague Tribunal has been solved by NATO decision. “Serbia must solve this problem and all indictees must land in the Tribunal,” he said.

Serbian political analyst Aleksandar Radic said the NATO invitation to Serbia will be “awarded by greater support of voters to democratic forces at forthcoming parliamentary elections”. The elections are set for January 21 and West’s worst fear has been that SRS and radical forces might come to power.

Serbian government spokesman Srdjan Djuric said that joining the Partnership for Peace might help Serbia to block majority ethnic Albanians’ drive in southern Kosovo province for independence. “This agreement represents a stronger basis for NATO member countries to respect sovereignty and territorial integrity of Serbia in harmony with the United Nations Charter,” he said.



(Vpr/Aki)

(Kosovo Albanian) Ceku Gets Cold Shoulder in Moscow

Moscow, 30 Nov. (AKI) - Kosovo prime minister Agim Ceku got a cold shoulder from Russian leaders on Thursday in an effort to rig support for independence of the province which has been under United Nations control since 1999. Ceku's visit got a low profile treatment, aimed not to offend Belgrade, which opposes independence of the province in which ethnic Albanians outnumber Serbs by 17 to one. He met with deputy foreign minister Vladimir Titov and president of the foreign policy committee of the Russian parliament, Konstantin Kosacov, but failed to get Moscow's commitment for independence.

Kosacov suggested that the dispute should be solved in direct negotiations with Belgrade and offered Moscow's support in "establishing direct dialogue". He said unilateral proclamation of independence, without Belgrade's consent, would be a "dangerous precedent, contrary to European standards established after the Second World War". Kosacov told journalists, after meeting with Ceku, that these standards don't allow the change of state borders without the consent of all involved.

He actually echoed Belgrade's stand that any change of borders, or unilateral recognition of Kosovo independence, would destabilize the entire region and violate the UN Charter. "Russia could help in establishing such a dialogue which would lead to a compromise that would satisfy the Serbian and the Kosovo side," he said.

Belgrade has no authority in Kosovo since its forces were pushed out of the province by NATO bombing in 1999 and is offering ethnic Albanians a large autonomy. But ethnic Albanian leaders have said they would settle for nothing short of independence, hinting they might even resort to violence to achieve that goal.

Kosacov said Ceku has repeatedly stated the interest "to maintain open and constructive relations with Serbia, but only as two sovereign states". Titov said the search for a compromise solution, based on the UN Security Council Resolution 1244 should remain the basis for solving the Kosovo dispute.

Resolution 1244, which put Kosovo under UN control with strong international civilian and military presence, states that Kosovo is officially a part of Serbia. But the international community has been gradually moving towards granting Kosovo independence and, after eight failed rounds of negotiations, it is expected to make a final status decision early next year.

Russia is the only member of a six-nation Contact Group for Kosovo that has openly opposed independence. Other members of the group, which should make a final status proposal, are the United States, Great Britain, France, Italy and Germany.


(Vpr/Aki)

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

KOSOVO: BOMB EXPLODES IN SERBIAN SCHOOL

Pristina, 21 Nov. (AKI) - An explosive device went off early on Tuesday morning in a Serbian elementary school in the central Kosovo village of Ropotovo, but there were no casualties, police said. Kosovo police spokesman Veton Elsani said the device was placed in a storage cupboard. Fortunately, the classroom, which can hold up to 200 pupils, was empty, because the teacher didn’t show up for the classes and, apart from material damage, there were no injuries, he said.

“By chance, due to the teacher’s absence, the fifth grade classroom in which the explosion took place was empty and the tragedy was avoided,” said a school official Zivorad Tomic. He said the school is usually attended by 450 ethnic Serb pupils, but all classes were later cancelled.

Violent incidents have lately increased in the breakaway Kosovo province, where majority ethnic Albanians demand independence, as the international community nears a decision on the final status of Kosovo. The province, in which ethnic Albanians outnumber the remaining Serbs by 17 to one, has been under United Nations control since 1999, but Belgrade opposes independence and reaffirmed Serbia's sovreignty over the area in its new constitution, approved recently.

Violence flared in the province when the Kosovo Liberation Army, supported by ethnic Albanians, came out in open rebellion against Serbian rule in the mid-1990s, sparking a brutal Yugoslav military crackdown.

Serbian forces began an 'ethnic cleansing' campaign against up to half of Kosovo's ethnic Albanians in 1999 triggering a NATO bombing campaign that drove Serb forces from the province. Some 800,000 people fled to Albania, Macedonia and Montenegro and approximately 10,000 died in the conflict.

Over 200,000 Serbs have fled Kosovo since it was put under UN control and some 3,000 have been killed or listed as missing, according to the International Red Cross. It believes about 1,500 have been murdered.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Defense & Foreign Affairs Special Analysis: Historical Considerations on Kosovo

By V. Groginsky, GIS Station Kosovo
November 7, 2006

The southern Serbian province of Kosovo and Metohija is a region of many contrasts in landscape, culture, and historical perspective. From arid hills similar to eastern Afghanistan, to mountainous mining towns like those in Colorado, and wide fertile plains resembling parts of the American Mid-West, Kosovo has been the object of numerous foreign conquerors over the ages. Thracians, Ilyrians, Romans, Byzantines, Turks, Hungarians, Bulgarians, and Albanians have all vied for control of the region, but for the past 1,400 years it has been distinctly Serbian in character.

However, for the past 500 years, Kosovo has been undergoing a process of aggressive Albanization, which has accelerated exponentially over the past century. At the heart of the conflict lies a clash between waxing and waning nation-states, and the Westphalian concept of sovereignty.

Kosovo is the cradle of the Serbian nation and culture, the home of its ancient Orthodox Christian monasteries and site of its celebrated battles against Islamic conquest and foreign domination. Serbs can legitimately trace over 1,400 years of presence in the region, and repeated mass casualties to protect this heritage and territory over the centuries are well documented and indisputable.

Kosovo Albanians appeared in the region starting in the 15th Century, while it was under Ottoman Turkish domination, and many Orthodox Christian Albanians converted to Islam to curry favor with their foreign overlords. Moreover, as much as 40 percent of Kosovo Albanians' lineage can be traced directly to Serb ancestry, owing to large numbers of Serbs who converted to Islam and Albanized, in order to maintain their holdings or achieve social status through assimilation in the face of expansion by Albanian and Islamic societies. Whereas the Serbs have long sought accommodation with other nationalities, the Albanians are rejectionist, espousing exclusive ethnocentrism, which is, given the reality of their mixed bloodline, more of a cultural centrism.

The Serbs have a saying that "a convert is worse than a Turk", and like Bosnian Muslims and Croatians who were forced or voluntary converts from Orthodox Christianity, these populations are often at the extreme end of the national-political spectrum, known for their brutality towards their former brethren. In some regions, such as the Drenica region, renowned for Albanian nationalist extremism, almost 100 percent of the Serb population Albanized within the past century. Many in today's Kosovo Albanian separatist leadership have distinctly Albanized Serb names, and their national hero, Skender Beg, was an Albanian-Serb taken at early age as a blood tax by the Ottoman Turks to return first as a janissary, and then as an Albanian national liberator.

The Past Century

The Serbian majority has been systematically reduced to minority status, largely in three great migrations. The first was in 1690, when the Serbian Patriarchate and tens of thousands of Serbs fled Turkish reprisals due to a Serbian rebellious alliance with Austria. The second occurred in 1790, as Ottoman Turks lost control to Albanian violence, and hundreds of thousands of Serbs fled toward Austro-Hungarian lands. From 1876 to 1912, regional wars saw the flight of an additional 200,000 to 400,000. The Serbs attempted re-colonization in 1912 during the Balkan war, which in turn displaced Albanians. During World War I, the Serbs fled from the Austrian Army over the Albanian mountains in Winter, where they were continually harassed and ambushed by Albanians along their march to Greece. Casualties were estimated at 100,000.

During World War II, Kosovo Albanians sided with the Nazis, and formed several SS divisions, including the Skenderbeg Division. Germans and Albanians in Kosovo exterminated tens of thousands of Serbs, Jews, and Gypsies, driving hundreds of thousands into exile, further north into Serbia. During the period of Tito's Yugoslavia, hundreds of thousands more fled the increasingly militant Albanian-dominated region. Tito's own policies -- such as the prohibition against Kosovo Serb refugees' return, open border with Albania, and subsidies for high Albanian natality -- contributed to the inversion of population demographics. Tito espoused "Strong Yugoslavia, Weak Serbia", and created facts on the ground to ensure it.

The League of Prizren in 1878 sought to create a Greater Albania autonomous from the Ottoman Empire throughout Albania, Kosovo, parts of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Greece. This was promoted at the Congress of Berlin, and the Second League of Prizren in 1943. The issue of militarist Albanian designs on the region was made known as early as 1912 when at a London conference Kosovo Albanian leader Isa Boletini said: "We will fertilize the land of Kosovo with the bones of Serbs." The invading Ottomans, Austrians, Tito, Albanians, and now NATO have killed or driven out the Serbs in waves, reducing their numbers from majority to minority status in less than two generations. The map which Hitler created of a Greater Albania based on the League of Prizren is espoused by current Albanian nationalists, and openly backed by some in Washington, Brussels, and elsewhere. Moreover, the US has re-created the Ottoman system, by empowering Albanians to persecute Serbs to further US designs on the region.

But as they had with the Turks, the Albanians still have plans of their own.

The Present, Tense

The Serbian province of Kosovo is nearing the artificially-imposed time limit for a "final decision" on its status as either an autonomous Serbian province, or an independent state, albeit an international protectorate. That "decision" has probably already been made, foretelling another human exodus.

The casual observer could be forgiven for attributing normalcy to present day Kosovo upon first glance. Pristina's cafes are filled with reveling Albanian and international patrons. Perhaps a quarter of the cars in urban areas are late-model BMWs, Mercedes, or Audis. New construction projects rise along many major roads and Albanian population centers. It appears that Albanian Kosovo is undergoing an economic boom. The Albanian flag waves proudly beside the Stars and Stripes, perhaps the only Muslim region where it does so. And a spirit of freedom pervades the majority Albanian society. But image is not reality, neither in media, nor in strategic issues. And Kosovo is neither normal nor stable.

Kosovo today is the nerve center of organized crime in Europe.

The Kosovo Albanian mafia - whose capos are the ethnic Albanian leaders of Kosovo (Hashim Thaci, Agim Ceku, Ramush Haradinaj, and hundreds of others), and US allies - control most of the heroin, arms, and white slavery/prostitution rings in Europe. Most of the luxury autos in Kosovo are stolen in central Europe, and given false papers; there are so many that prices are as low as 4,000 euros . Kosovo is the safe-haven for their laundered funds, often invested back into construction projects on real estate stolen from Serbs.

Kosovo Albanians have committed armed robberies in France with automatic weapons and RPGs, and have overtaken the Sicilian Mafia in Italy, largely due to their ruthlessness and closed society. Their criminal enterprises have been documented by law enforcement agencies to stretch throughout Western Europe and the US. Their money has allegedly bought off US senators and congressmen; their revisionist history and expansionist aims have been made official policy of the US Congress, and State Department. In Kosovo, their heroin labs are protected and heroin transported by units of the US military. During the Albanian insurgency of 1997-1999 (and through 2001 in Macedonia and Presevo), US Special Forces and British SAS armed, trained, and gave battlefield expertise to Albanian separatists waging brutal separatist campaigns in the region. During the war in Kosovo in 1999, the US military airlifted the Albanian UCK (Ushtria Clirimtare e Kosove : the Kosovo Liberation Army, also referred to as the KLA) terrorists into some Serbian villages, where every civilian was killed or expelled, for instance the village of Trpeza near Gnjilane.

One of Kosovo's Albanian warlords and Mafiosi, Hashim Thaci (who uses the nickname "The Snake", and who is a friend of former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and CNN ccorrespondent Christiane Amanpour, and whose Victory Hotel in Pristina is adorned with a Statue of Liberty and upside-down US flag; this is where KBR and Halliburton employees are housed) recently stated in Koha Ditore:

"... [O]rganized crime and mafia which has penetrated to the highest ranks of the government pyramid are the biggest dangers for Kosovo ... but what will happen after the status [ie: sovereignty recognition for Kosovo]? Who will stop the criminal gangs that have been installed by this weak government?"

Certainly it won't be the very criminals who are the prime culprits.

The official response of US Government officials to questions about the role of jihadist and radical Islamist elements in the Kosovo Albanian independence movement is that it is an inconsequential phenomenon, and that most Albanians are secular nationalists. The attitude of Western policy makers is that if the Kosovo Albanians are not given independence soon, they will be driven into the camp of Wahhabists out of frustration. Wahhabist influence is unrelated to Kosovo's status, and is already well entrenched.

Western military intelligence officials have extensively documented the inroads made by jihadist /terrorist elements, and their presence throughout Kosovo, and links to global Islamist terror networks and narco-mafias is widely known. In many areas, young Kosovo Albanians are being converted to the Wahhabist faction, and are highly visible in their telltale short haircuts, beards, and ankle-length pants. As well, many Arabs are present from the Middle East and France, presumably leaders of jihadist cells. Moreover, anti-Western jihadist sermons are now a regular feature at many of the new mosques. Iranian and Middle Eastern radical imams are preaching jihadist rhetoric in mosques in Prizren; al Qaeda linked mosques exist in Urosevac and Talnivoc. Many Albanians including moderate imams are concerned about the growing power of Wahhabist influence. Western military intelligence officials have stated that the findings of their investigations into the jihadist terror networks are routinely ignored or blocked by NATO, UN, and US officials.

Kosovo Albanian nationalists as well have voiced concern over the rising influence of Wahhabism in Albanian society. Writing in the Albanian-language daily Express, Genc Morina stated:

"The warriors of pure Islam", as the Wahabists like to call themselves, began their activity in Kosovo and the beginning of the 1990s ...

The NGOs still active under the auspices of the Saudi Joint Committee for the Relief of Kosovo and Chechnya, which came to Kosovo after the most recent 1999 war, are profiting from poverty in the suburbs of Kosovo cities but also to a large degree in the surrounding villages...

... Islamic Education Foundation (IEF) is offering Kosovo children "an education" in over 30 Q'uranic schools throughout Kosovo. The children are being offered 50 euros to learn certain ayats and suras from the Q'uran by heart. In schools built with funds from the Saudi Joint Committee for the Relief of Kosovo and Chechnya and with the assistance of the Islamic Education Foundation, work is being done to create a new generation of loyal Muslims - not (loyal) to Kosovo but to the Islamic internationale . Ever in the service of this project in mosques identified as "theirs" Wahhabi activists have opened Internet cafes to attract children ...

On top of the above-cited facts mujahedin activists have also targeted other parts of the Kosovo population. Widows, people fired from their jobs, peasants, unemployed youth, some "intellectuals" are receiving financial means (150 euros and other kinds of assistance) to lead a completely Islamic manner of life in its most radical form.

There are two very distinct Kosovos easily visible today. In minority enclaves (Serbs, Gypsies, Gorani, Egyptians, Croats, Turks, Ashkali and others), populations live in a state of constant fear from Albanian intimidation or attack, which occur almost daily. Not one Jew remains. Serbs are routinely murdered with no legal recourse, as the "justice" system is entirely in the hands of ethnic Albanians, placed there by Hashim Thaci and United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) officials. Prosecutor Ismet Kabashi, an Islamist, is one such example. While nine percent of the Kosovo Police Corps are ethnic Serbs, they are mere stage-props, as the real power is in the hands of its Albanian core which temporarily maintains a facade of minority tolerance to appease their backers in the "international community".

Since 1999, more than 1,000 ethnic Serbs have been kidnapped and murdered, with few of the bodies recovered. Few ethnic Albanians have been arrested or tried for these murders, or for the destruction of over 130 historic Serbian churches, the countless monuments and graveyards vandalized, or the ethnic cleansing of 230,000 Serbs and other minorities.

Those minorities which remain do so in conditions very different from the majority Albanians. Serbs and other persecuted minorities venture out of their hamlets and enclaves at great risk, and having been completely disarmed by KFOR/NATO, have no means of defense even within them. Armed incursions by Albanian attackers still occur, and are often directed against isolated, vulnerable, and often elderly civilians. Even if Serbs had the means to defend themselves, the Albanian leadership waits for any possible excuse to launch another pogrom against Serbs, such as that of March 2004, where thousands of Serbs were expelled under the watchful eyes of NATO troops, and dozens of centuries' old churches demolished. The pretext was the drowning of some Albanian boys in a river, purported by Albanian radio to have been chased there by Serbs and their dog, but the incident turned out to be an accident. The pogrom was centrally directed, well organized, and methodical.

The Office of the Ombudsperson in Kosovo goes further in describing the events of March 17, 2004. According to the IVth Report of the Ombudsperson's Institute in Kosovo July 12, 2004:


"... [T]his onslaught was an organized, widespread and targeted campaign. Minority areas were targeted, sending a message that minorities and returnees were not welcome in Kosovo. The Secretary-General saw this as a targeted effort to drive out Kosovo Serbs and members of the Roma and Ashkalija communities and to destroy the social fabric of their existence in Kosovo. It also showed a lack of commitment among large segments of the Kosovo Albanian population to creating a truly multi-ethnic society in Kosovo."

A Human Rights Watch report is particularly instructive of how the Albanians operated in creating the larger conflict:

"...The KLA was responsible for serious abuses in 1998, including abductions and murders of Serbs and ethnic Albanians considered collaborators [sic : loyal to] the state. In some villages under KLA control in 1998, the rebels drove ethnic Serbs from their homes. Some of those who remained are unaccounted for and are presumed to have been abducted by the KLA and killed ... The KLA detained an estimated 85 Serbs during its July 19, 1998, attack on Orahovac. Thirty five of these people were subsequently released, but the others remain missing as of August 2001. On July 22, 1998, the KLA briefly took control of the Belacevac mine near Obilic. Nine Serbs were captured that day and they remain on the ICRC's list of the missing. In September 1998, the Serbian police collected the 34 bodies of people believed to have been seized and murdered by the KLA, among them some ethnic Albanians, at Lake Rodanjic, near Glodjane. Prior to that the most serious KLA abuse was the reported killing of 22 Serbian civilians in the village of Klecka ... The KLA ... engaged in military tactics which put civilians at risk. KLA units sometimes staged an ambush or attacked police and army outposts from a village, and then retreated, exposing villagers to revenge attacks ... Most seriously, as many as 1000 Serbs and Roma [gypsies] have been murdered or have gone missing since June 12, 1999...elements of the KLA are clearly responsible for many ... of these crimes...There is also a clear political goal in many of these attacks: the removal from Kosovo of non-ethnic Albanians in order to better justify an independent state."

One US UN official stated that the total Albanian deaths in the 1998-1998 war with Serbia was 2,700 to 2,900. This included both civilian and military, and included combat deaths and summary executions. Serbian High Command, possibly Pres. Slobodan Milosevic, ordered that bodies be removed from Kosovo, and hidden in Serbia. After the fall of Milosevic, the Serbian Government turned over 800 bodies of Albanians, who had been buried in a mass grave at Batajnica. Included in the figure were women and children. Similarly, refrigerated containers containing dozens of bodies were disposed of. Most remains have been returned to the Kosovo Albanian Administration.

However, the international community has, like in Bosnia and Croatia before, been indifferent towards military excesses when the recipient population was Serb. Video and photographic documentation is plentiful of Albanian excesses against non-Albanian civilians, yet even the few who have been indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) are given wide reign in Kosovo. Of those who have been indicted, among the more than 100 actual war criminals, most were indicted for crimes against fellow Albanians. (Ramush Haradinaj killed hundreds of Albanians in the Drenica region for refusing to give their sons to the KLA. The bodies he disposed of in a lake near Djakovica had to be dredged up when he was tipped off that it would be searched by international forces, to avoid a political embarrassment.)

See also:

Defense & Foreign Affairs Special Analysis, March 19, 2004: New Kosovo Violence is Start of Predicted 2004 Wave of Islamist Operations: the Strategic Ramifications.

Defense & Foreign Affairs Special Analysis, October 25, 2005:
Special Report 1: New Evidence Highlights Albanian Link to Explosives Used in London, Madrid Bombings .
Special Report 2: Jihadist Terrorist Leader Returns to the Balkans as Actions Intensify to Promote Kosovo Independence .
Special Report 3: Heroin Production Facilities Flourish in Kosovo Area Under US Military Protection .

Defense & Foreign Affairs Special Analysis, January 25, 2006: Death of Kosovo's Albanian President Ibrahim Rugova Delays Status Talks and Increases Likelihood of Violence .

Defense & Foreign Affairs Special Analysis, October 27, 2006: Growing Evidence of Complicity of UN and Western Officials in Support for Jihadists in Kosovo .

Saturday, November 11, 2006

UN Protection Force Witness Says UN Favoured Croats

Ex-UN soldier says the international community ignored the plight of Krajina Serbs.

By Katherine Boyle in The Hague (TU No 476, 10-Nov-06)

The trial of the former leader of the rebel Serb authorities in Croatia Milan Martic this week heard testimony from a witness who accused the UN of favouring the Croats over the Serbs and claimed that the US and Germany were instrumental in providing Croatian troops with weapons during the bloody Balkan wars.

Patrick Bariot, a former UN Protection Force, UNPROFOR, soldier, strongly defended Martic and the Serbs, portraying the Serb population in the self-proclaimed Serbian Autonomous District of Krajina, SAO Krajina, as victims of an aggressive Croatian government and military and an international community that intentionally ignored their pleas for help.

“There was an embargo on arms [in Croatia] since 1991, but it was equally obvious that the Croats were arming themselves with help from Germany and the USA,” said Bariot who was a Lieutenant Colonel in the French army when he joined the UN peacekeeping mission in the Balkans. “There was no ambiguity that the Croatians were arming themselves in order to take Krajina back.”

During cross-examination, however, prosecutor Colin Black pointed out that the American firm Bariot claimed was giving the Croatians weapons was not affiliated with the US government.

Bariot also claimed the UN turned a blind eye to the under-the-table arms dealings even after finding American-made weapons in the hands of Croats.

However, he said an economic embargo imposed by the international community on Serb-held areas was strictly enforced.

“The [RSK] was totally cut off,” he said. “It was isolated from the world. There was total poverty for the people there. The peacekeeping marshals were in despair [over the situation].”

These circumstances, he said, put the Serbs on the defensive and left leaders like Martic with little choice but to respond to Croatian attacks.

Martic is charged with the persecution, murder and forced removal of hundreds of non-Serbs from the RSK and from large parts of Bosnia. He is also accused of unlawfully attacking Zagreb and various Muslim and Croat villages

Bariot became acquainted with Martic in 1994 when he spent several months working as an anesthesiologist for UNPROFOR at the Glina hospital in the RSK.

The Frenchman, who was later made an honorary RSK citizen and has acted as the area’s ambassador in Paris, is well known for his various books and articles defending notorious indictees including Martic and fugitives Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic. All three men have written forewords for his publications.

He has described the Hague tribunal as “illegitimate” and affirmed this week that his views have not changed. Bariot has publicly stated that he believes Martic is innocent and should be allowed to go free.

Dismissing the charges listed in the indictment, Bariot rejected the suggestion that Muslims and Croats in the RSK were treated any differently than the Serb population.

Bariot said some Croats decided to leave the RSK for Zagreb because of the strict economic embargo imposed on the region.

He added that he met Croats who decided to stay in the RSK and live at peace with the Serbs, asserting that they were never attacked or harmed during his time in the region.

“There were never any threats, any forced expulsions,” he said. “I can say this with certainty, because I was taking part in the daily life of citizens of Krajina. I went to the hospital in Glina every day and also to small villages and isolated farms.”

During his time at the hospital, Bariot said that any Muslim or Croat who came to the facility received food and medical care, despite the scarcity of supplies. He said in the Glina hospital all patients were treated equally and doctors gave blood “even to Muslims”.

The only fear in the area, he said, existed among the Serb population.

“These people were really terrified,” he said. “They constantly referred to World War Two, the Ustashas.”

At first, the presence of the UNPROFOR reassured the Serbs, said Bariot.

“They feared the invasion of Krajina, and set all their hope on the international community,” he added. “They hoped they would be saved from aggression.”

Once these hopes were dashed, Bariot said Croatian Serbian leaders like Martic had no choice but to defend the Serbs in the RSK themselves.

The Martic trial will resume on November 13.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Serbs Are Not the Only Suffering: Plight of the Kosovo Roma

From VoiceofRoma.com

On June 12th 1999, the 78 days of US/NATO bombing of Kosovo ended. Today, Kosovo is governed by the United Nations Interim Administration (UNMIK) . Hundreds of International Non Governmental Organizations (NGO), thousands of peace-keepers (40,000-45,000 NATO/US soldiers), more than 5,000 UN police, looked on while a massive ethnic cleansing was committed by the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) and extremist Albanians. According to UN figures, 230,000 ethnic minorities were driven out of the Kosovo region, and these numbers are low according to the Serbian figures which are 250, 000 or more.

The ethnic minorities living in Kosovo prior to 1999 were: Serbs, Roma, Turks, Gorani (Muslim Slavs), Bosnian Croats, Jews, and others. This was the second biggest ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavia. The first one took place in Krajina, Croatia, where Croatian forces ethnically cleansed the region of up to 350,000 minorities, predominantly Serbs. These ethnic cleansings were barely reported in the world news.

Today, almost five years since the "humanitarian bombing" and the establishment of a UN protectorate, Kosovo is one of the most dangerous places in the world for Roma. Very few Roma have remained; estimates range from 22,000-25,000. Before the US/NATO intervention in Kosovo there were more than 150,000 Roma in the region.

Freedom of movement is still one of the biggest concerns for Roma; most are unable to move about freely, go to work, shop for their families, or attend schools. No international NGO wants to hire Roma as translators, because they are either already run by Albanians uninterested in integrating Roma into the society, or because of fears that they might be targeted by extremist Albanians. Many Roma are unable to travel to the hospital for routine or emergency treatment. The hospital in Mitrovica is more than an hour's drive from the Serbian enclaves near Pristina where many displaced Roma are living. Most of the Roma that are left in Kosovo today live either in Serbian enclaves where they are protected by numbers of minorities, or in Internally Displaced Person's (IDP) camps.

Roma today, in free and liberated Kosovo, cannot even obtain a birth certificate in the place where they were born. Roma have lived in Kosovo for 700 years, but since international institutions arrived in Kosovo, bringing "democracy, free society, civil society, ethnic harmony, peace and tolerance" Roma are more abused, persecuted, and ignored than ever. In Western Europe, thousands of Roma are facing forced repatriation, by the very same countries that spent billions of dollars bombing Kosovo.

Is this what democracy is all about? Is this what the US is bragging about as a "success story"? Is another Diaspora, with no right to settle and no hope if they return, what the Roma of Kosovo have to look forward to in the 21st Century?

Voice of Roma is working tirelessly to bring hope to the Roma of Kosovo by promoting human rights/advocacy programs to increase safety, stability, and economic opportunities for Roma living in Kosovo or as refugees elsewhere in Europe.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Israel backs Serbia on Kosovo, ready to invest $4 billion

November 6, 2006 -- Israel supports Serbia's negotiating position on the Kosovo status talks and is against any imposed solution because they will not hold, said Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.

Livni's statement came after her meeting with the Serbian Foreign Policy Minister, Vuk Draskovic who is on an official three days visit to Israel.
"We have concluded with the Minister [Livni] that even in a case of a painful Kosovo decision, we can in one diplomatic offensive achieve much so that such decision could be reversed," said Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Draskovic.

Livni has confirmed to Serbian reporters that "Israel supports a compromise agreement" on Kosovo status and that she was very interested in hearing all ideas that the Serbian side was willing to accept as an outcome in the talks.

Livni was grateful to Serbia for its offer to use its influence in the Islamic world to help bring about official recognition of the state of Israel as well as Serbia's "clear condemnation of Iranian president's comments on Israel."

"Everyone, and Albanians should respect the UN principle of territorial integrity," said Draskovic. "I am asking Israeli support of Serbia on this issue."

After a meeting with Draskovic, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that Israel is ready for an economic offensive into Serbia that could bring in about $4 billion in investments. Draskovic confirmed that Israeli investment opportunities in Serbia are "practically limitless."
At the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial, Draskovic was moved by the memory of Jasenovac, a Nazi era Croatian concentration camp where over 1 million Serbs and Jews were murdered.

"It is our responsibility to remember as long we are alive. To forgive? We do not have the right to forgive for those that are dead and murdered," wrote Draskovic in the Memorial's book of memories.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Jerusalem Post: Serbian FM, "Arabs blocking peace talks"

HILARY LEILA KRIEGER and TOVAH LAZAROFF, THE JERUSALEM POST

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni welcomes Serbian Foreign Minister Vuc Drascovic at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem.
Photo: Ariel Jerozolimski

The main obstacle to peace in the Middle East is the "stubborn refusal" of certain Arab countries and organizations to recognize Israel's right to exist, Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Draskovic declared Sunday while on a visit to Jerusalem, which he called the capital of Israel.

"I fully understand the fear of the Jewish people, because refusal to recognize the existence of Israel must remind Jews of the Holocaust and seem a demand for a new annihilation, and this couldn't be a basis for negotiations," Draskovic told The Jerusalem Post.

Draskovic said he could well understand the importance of recognition for Israel since the lack of recognition of Serbia's territorial claims to Kosovo form the central cause of the conflict there between the province's Albanian Muslim majority and its tiny Serbian minority.

Others have asserted that Serbia is at fault for not recognizing the right to self-determination of Albanians in the region.

One of Draskovic's chief goals in coming to Israel was to garner support for Serbia in its bid to retain control of the strife-ridden province, which he described as the "Serbian Jerusalem" because of its central place in Serbian history and religious tradition.

Draskovic said the parallels between the experiences and treatment of Israel and Serbia by the international community should draw the two countries together. He alluded to criticism in the UN and media.

"Many newspapers are writing that Israel is terrorist No. 1 in the Middle East [and] that Serbia is terrorist No. 1 in the Balkans. We're not. This is the wrong perception of us - both of us," he said. "We have to support each other."

To that end, Israel and Serbia signed two memoranda Sunday, one easing certain visa restrictions and another pledging bilateral cooperation. Draskovic also met with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu.

Draskovic said he was fully satisfied with Israel's response to his requests concerning Kosovo.

At a joint press conference, Livni said, "I believe in an agreed solution and in compromise and bilateral discussions, and not in forcing both sides to accept something that is being enforced from the outside."

Kosovo, while nominally under Serbian jurisdiction, is currently being run by the United Nations Mission in Kosovo in anticipation of a final-status resolution.

Draskovic stressed the centrality of Jerusalem, referring to it as "the capital of Israel." But the Serbian ambassador to Israel, Miodrag Isakov, indicated that the country has no immediate plans to move the embassy to Tel Aviv.

"Jerusalem is the capital of Israel," he said. "Where the administrative capital is [located] is less important. More important is that we do recognize and admit Jerusalem as a capital."

Those efforts are being led by the same "quartet" - the US, EU, UN and Russia - that spearheaded the road map and is working to find accommodation between Israelis and Palestinians.

If there is any question about Israel's right to exist, the Serbian foreign minister said, then the quartet states "also have no right to exist, because the historical roots of all of them are here."

Draskovic, a devout Christian, will be visiting Jerusalem's Old City, Nazareth and Galilee during his three-day stay. He will meet with representatives of the Orthodox Church but not Palestinian officials.

Those comments reflected Serbia's position on the issue, according to Draskovic.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Gere-ing Up for Nazi Propaganda

By Julia Gorin

Up against Richard Gere and Nicole Kidman, the historical record doesn’t stand a chance. Gere is in Bosnia and Kidman just visited Kosovo. Beating a dead horse, the former is entering the familiar genre of anti-Serb films (Behind Enemy Lines, The Peacemaker) — and UN Goodwill Ambassador (and, coincidentally, Peacemaker star) Kidman is listening to more unverifiable yarns from Kosovo’s Serb-loathing Albanian Muslims (without, of course, visiting those who are actually under siege in the province — the handful of remaining Serbs who can’t step outside their miniscule NATO-guarded perimeters without getting killed by Albanians).

How can we fight the jihad when Kidman and Gere are being used to enable it? Just when the Aussie gave us some hope in so prominently signing her name to an anti-terror ad in the L.A. Times — going against the grain and calling terrorism against Israelis by its name — we’re still at Square One when it comes to terrorism against Serbs.

Of course, if our own government is helping the jihad secure its Balkan base, what does one want from two actors?

For Gere’s movie — a “light-hearted thriller” entitled Spring Break in Bosnia that has him hunting down the fugitive former Bosnian-Serb leader Radovan Karadzic — filming is being done in Croatia and Bosnia, with the help of local propagandists as consultants, of course. The Serbs, yet again, will be collectively portrayed as the villains in the Balkan tale. Never mind that Gere returned from Bosnia to Croatia ahead of schedule last month, after only 10 days of shooting, reportedly because he was “too scared to stay” in the area.......Excerpt, Read the Rest at Frontpage Mag