Saturday, June 30, 2007
By Michael Djordjevich
June 29, 2007
At the forthcoming summit, among other issues, Presidents Bush and Putin will face the problem of independence for the Serbian province Kosovo.
Kosovo is unfinished business, left over from the violent dissolution of Yugoslavia in the past decade and the legacy of fundamentally flawed American policies promulgated by the Clinton administration and then perpetuated by his successor. In terms and perspective of American long-term geostrategy and the ongoing struggle with radical Islam, it is indeed unfathomable how our foreign policy establishment has rationalized its strategy in the Balkans. Already, a body of impartial evidence strongly suggests an inexplicably steady policy of accommodation by the United States to Islamist demands. Essentially, at several key junctures on the road to peace and stability in the Balkans, America gave veto power to extreme Islamist leadership and its supporters worldwide.
The U.S. objective in Bosnia has been to establish a unitary state governed by Muslims, in effect abrogating the international treaty, the Dayton Accords. Together with the European Union, the United States has exerted consistent and relentless pressure to abolish or at least severely diminish the Serbian entity.
Currently in Kosovo, America is aggressively forcing the establishment of the second Muslim state in Europe. This is in contravention of international law and despite serious misgivings in Europe and resolute resistance by Russia.
An independent Kosovo would be a failed state, ethnically and religiously cleansed of Serbs and other minorities. During the past eight years of U.N. and NATO control of the province, the non-Albanian population experienced ethnic cleansings, destruction of a great number of homes and more than 100 churches and other medieval evidences of overwhelming Christian presence. Add to this a flourishing international drug and white slave trafficking, Kosovo is rather far from the democratic and multicultural model that the U.S. foreign policy establishment professes to support. Obviously these are not credentials for independence.
Equally serious is the undeniable rise of the puritanical strain of Wahabbi Islam and real potential for increased interacting between heroin trafficking and crime with terrorists in Kosovo, Southern Serbia, Bosnia and Northern Macedonia.
Where is the quid pro quo for rendering such significant aid to the Islamist agenda in the Balkans? Putting aside slogans and calculated deceptions, the U.S. geostrategic balance sheet in the Balkans shows perceived assets — such as, for example, the preservation of NATO by activating it in war in Bosnia and against Serbia, testing the functioning of international laws and treaties and institutions in the post-cold war world, standing up for expansion of democracy and multiculturalism, punishing Serbia and ascertaining Russian response, stopping wars and ethnic cleansing in the Balkans, imposing its will on Europe and concerns of the European Union and establishing a beachhead in Albania.
Likely, the most significant asset was recently named by the chairman of the House foreign affairs committee, Rep. Tom Lantos. Advocating independence for Kosovo, he said "just a reminder to the predominantly Muslim-led governments in this world that here is yet another example that the United States leads the way for creation of a predominantly Muslim country in the very heart of Europe." Impartial examination of each of these strategic assets may not value them highly. They can in fact be liabilities for our long-term strategic interests and will undermine Europe.
Bosnia is a failed state; Albania is simply incapable of democracy and multiculturalism; Kosovo is a foreign policy disaster in waiting. Instead of building a strategic position in this important region of the world around the Serbs and the Greeks — our trusted friends from both world wars — we have in effect traded them for Bosnia, Albanian and Kosovo Muslims.
Our credibility as a champion of international law and order has been seriously undermined. Our ideals of democracy, justice and liberty have possibly suffered irreparable damage.
With Albania, Bosnia and Kosovo, Europe will have three Muslim states in the Balkans, an historical "soft underbelly." The Ottoman armies marched from there to spread Islam into Europe for five centuries. Presently, a more insidious threat is emerging from the region. Estimates are that some 90 percent of heroin reaching Europe come via the Balkans. Waves of illegal emigrants travel with ease through the region to the heartland of Europe. Among terrorists directly involved in the September 11 attack on America and on terrorist attacks in Spain and the UK were jihadists who had come from the Balkans. Al Qaeda's links and dormant cells in the region are indisputable.
Hopefully, the United States will pragmatically consider and reassess the impact of Kosovo independence on her long-term geostrategic interests.
Michael Djordjevich is president of the Studenica Foundation.
Podgorica, 29 June (AKI) - The former president of Montenegro, Momir Bulatovic, has admitted that his country was involved in a multi-million dollar cigarette smuggling scheme to Italy while the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) was under international sanctions in 1990s. “We lived on it and it was a state project,” Bulatovic told Podgorica media on Friday. He said he was asked by the Italian ambassador to Belgrade whether Montenegro was involved in cigarette smuggling and replied affirmatively.
“I told him: of course we are smuggling cigarettes because you have imprisoned us and put us under sanctions, and we will stop when the sanctions are lifted,” Bulatovic explained.
Serbia and Montenegro were subject to international sanctions because of last decade Balkan wars and Bulatovic argued that it was the only way to survive. “How else can a prisoner behave but as criminals,” he said.
Bulatovic said he insisted that cigarette smuggling be stopped after the sanctions were lifted in 1995, but that prime minister Milo Djukanovic decided otherwise, which led to the split between president and prime minister. Bulatovic later sided with Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic and became prime minister of FR Yugoslavia.
Djukanovic has been investigated by Italian prosecutors for masterminding cigarette smuggling scheme, and prosecutors in the southern city of Bari have said that an indictment against him was imminent. Serbian police recently arrested a group of people allegedly belonging to “cigarette smuggling mafia” linked to Djukanovic’s scheme, but Djukanovic has repeatedly refuted charges.
“The situation with the Italian judiciary is much more serious than it appears and the amount of money turned over by the cigarette smuggling is enormous even by European and Italian standards, Bulatovic said. Apart from benefiting the state, huge sums of money went into private pockets, he added.
Djukanovic resigned as prime minister last year after leading the country to independence from Serbia, but is still considered the most powerful figure in Montenegro. Bulatovic said that western countries took no action against Djukanovic so far, because they needed a “symbol of democracy” and a “good guy” in the struggle against Milosevic who was toppled from power in October 2000. He was later charged with war crimes and died in the Hague jail in March last year.
Bulatovic said Djukanovic was “to blame for many things”, but added he would not testify against him before foreign courts.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
From the Daily Telegraph
By Paul Kent
June 29, 2007 12:00am
WHEN last we met, she was the pretty brown-eyed girl with the survivor's story.
Ana Ivanovic came from virtual obscurity to reach the French Open final this month, engaging all around with her unlikely tales of practising around NATO bomber planes on a court converted from a disused swimming pool.
Here was hardship.
Here was a young girl who wanted it so much she worked beyond the bombs and discomfort until she got where she wanted, which was as far away from where she came from as she could get.
She rode it all the way to the Paris final, when everything changed.
The French Open – indeed, the tennis world – had suddenly been awoken to the little country of Serbia that had provided three of the eight semi-finalists in Paris.
Heck, not only the tennis world was awoken, Serbia was awoken as well.
"Yes, it was very nice," Ivanovic, 19, said.
Afterward she flew to Belgrade with fellow Serbs Jelena Jankovic and Novak Djokovic. A car was waiting at the airport.
They were taken to Parliament in the centre of Belgrade and shown to the terrace overlooking the square.
Thousands were waiting.
"Maybe, I don't know, 10,000 . . . 15,000 people to welcome us," she said.
"It was an unbelievable feeling because they used to do that for basketball, yeah, volleyball players when they would win gold medals.
"This was one of the first times they organised for individual athletes. That was a thrilling moment."
For the sake of history, she didn't visit the pool they famously emptied and filled with an old carpet so the kids could practise their forehands. But she could have.
"Actually the kids are still practising there," she said.
"It still exists, the club I grew up playing tennis. So I go back there sometimes because it's very close to my house.
"Yeah, maybe one day I'll hit again there."
As the early grind of Wimbledon continues, the players are doing what they always do at this stage of a grand slam, which is jostle for elbow room as the first battle – to survive past the weekend – goes on. Throughout, Ivanovic remains a light. Still beautiful, still untouched.
She played American Meilen Tu last night in the next round of "exciting times", excited about the job ahead, as around her Martina Hingis advanced alongside Serena Williams, Justine Henin and Jankovic, all due to play tonight.
Far too predictably, the championships have thrown up no real surprises, at least none of any note, to spice up the early rounds.
Staying with the lack of surprises, the Aussie girls are almost all gone as the tournament heads into the third round.
Alicia Molik, Sam Stosur and Casey Dellacqua are all out with only Nicole Pratt remaining heading into last night's round, the last Australian woman, but almost by default.
Pratt advanced after eliminating Dellacqua, meaning at least one Australian had to progress from that match, and played world No. 10 Nicole Vaidisova last night.
Like in Paris, Ivanovic has promised not to look any further ahead than her next match. She is having too much fun staying in the moment to bother with what is too far ahead.
It is why she is the joy of her people.
"They recognise us much more because tennis is becoming so much more popular now and so many people follow our results," she said.
"We don't spend much time home. When I go back, I actually realise how many people know us and follow."
She is still too young to be bothered, though."I think that's part of what we are doing," she said
Polt’s Last Charade
The outgoing U.S. Ambassador to Serbia Michael Polt, King of Arrogance and Conceit, has managed to put a foot in his mouth once again, at his last public performance in Belgrade’s Fine Arts Center where the Soros-funded “Independent Journalists’ Association of Serbia” (NUNS) organized his speech.
In his memorable mudslinging style, Mr Serbs-Can’t-Wait-To-See-His-Back expressed his “disappointment for not being able to give a lecture at the Belgrade Faculty of Political Science,” explaining that he was “not allowed to speak there because the school was wary of a negative reaction from the Serbian Government if the speech was attended by journalists.”
Since the Serbs are already familiar with Polt’s fertile imagination, it came as no surprise when the faculty issued a statement revealing that Polt’s claims are entirely false. The fact of the matter is that the Faculty of Political Science invited Polt to give a lecture for students of specialized U.S. studies on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Marshall Plan. Polt accepted the invitation, but demanded to have media present during his lecture along with the students.
Taken aback by such request which shows that the university would be misused as the U.S. Ambassador’s personal soapbox for his political agenda, the faculty rejected Polt’s demand for media attending the event, stating that it was unusual to have media present at such seminars.
“The faculty did not in this or any other instance prevent the American Ambassador from saying what he thinks needs to be said. All we wanted to do was to make sure that no one politicized the lecture,” a statement from FPN said, adding that the faculty also told the American embassy that Polt would be able to address the media after the lecture.
PSYOPS Polt’s Way
So, having his soapbox moved over to a much more cherished audience consisting solely of media representatives, U.S. Ambassador wasted no time in cheerfully kicking the Marshall Plan to the curb — who gives a damn about that! Instead, Polt used all his formidable put-down skills to inform the Serbs one last time of their utter insignificance and futility of their struggle to preserve Kosovo province within Serbia.....................Read the Rest at Byzantine Sacred Art
Some 60 years after the Battle of Kosovo, Constantinople fell, the capital of Eastern Christianity. The Christian emperor, of Serbian blood and origin by 1 of his parents, was killed. It could be said that that disaster was like Kosovo. And it might also be said that it was an event even greater than Kosovo. God forbid! In the field of Kosovo the Christian army marched toward death, while in Constantinople they remained in the town hoping to the last moment that death would somehow turn its back on them. When the first cannonballs in history penetrated the city ramparts, terror ensued so that both the army and the citizens were panic stricken. All the churches were filled with crying and prayer to God for the salvation of the city, that is for the salvation of their bodies and for the salvation of the state and the earthly kingdom. That is why the Greeks recorded the fall of Constantinople as night and not as day, as destruction and not as victory. It is true that it was a battle between the cross and the crescent, but without an epopee and without any inspiration for future generations.
For a defeat understood only as defeat cannot arouse anybody's enthusiasm. Nor can Golgotha itself without the Resurrection inspire and strengthen anybody.
The Serbian Kosovo is a totally different matter.
As the dead are dressed in new and expensive clothes, so was the Serbian army dressed in its best robes. The glowing procession hurried from all the borders of the empire onto honor and fame, to the field of Kosovo. Shaded with cross-shaped banners and the icons of their family saints (slava), singing and cheering, singing and playing musical instruments, with song and joy, the army rushed toward its execution. Does not that remind us of the first groups of Christians who in such a mood went under the sword or to the fire or before the beasts?
Not a single Christian martyr is known to have prayed to God to save him from his approaching death, while thousands and thousands are known to have prayed not to be spared from a martyr's death. Neither did Lazar's army hold prayers for salvation from death. On the contrary, it confessed its sins and took Communion in preparation for death. An entire people as one Christian martyr, obedient to the thoughtful will of the Almighty, accepted the bitterness of death, and that not as bitterness but as a life-giving force.
And has not Kosovo right up to the present day, indeed, served as a vital force to dozens of generations?
In the history of the Christian peoples there is not another case of 1 entire army, an entire nation being imbued by the wish to die in order to meet death for the sake of its religion. This was not to meet a suicidal but a heroic death. Kosovo is unique in the 20 centuries old history of the Christian world. Those are mistaken who say that Kosovo stopped the wheel of our history and held us back. If it had not been for Kosovo, we would have been a great nation today! It was Kosovo that made us a great nation. It is our Golgotha; but it is at the same time our spiritual and moral resurrection.
Still, the holy body of Lazar, imbued with Heavenly power, lies whole even today curing all human disabilities. The bodies of the other knights of the cross were not lost, although they remained on the battlefield. Their bodies were sanctified by their holy souls, and the entire land of Kosovo was dedicated by their holy bodies. Thenceforth Kosovo became the campo santo, the holy field.
That is why the Serbs, even those living in America, come and take a handful or a bag of soil from the holy field of Kosovo to carry it and keep it as a sacred relic in their places of worship and their homes, as is done from the tomb of St. Dimitrije in Salonika or the graves of other Christian martyrs. Kosovo is the greatest tomb of Christian martyrs killed in a single day. No other of such magnitude is known to us. And celebrating the deathday of their saint, the whole Serbian people honor and commemorate St. Vitus' Day (Vidovdan). He who honors the holy martyrs, such as the archdeacon Stefan or Djordje or Dimitrije or Teodor or Trifun or Good Friday and Easter Sunday or Ss. Petar and Paul, does not honor the defeated but the victor; neither does he honor the dead but the living.
Therefore, by celebrating the great martyrdom of the Kosovo martyrs, we do not celebrate the defeated ones but the victors, not the dead but those who are alive. Vidovdan is the greatest Slava of the Serbian people. It is day and not night - it is the Day.
"Whoever keeps his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it."
The book itself preached to the Tsar:
"Tsar Lazar of noble ancestry!
Which kingdom will you choose?
Will you choose the earthly kingdom?
Or will you choose the heavenly kingdom?
If you choose the earthly kingdom ...
All the Turkish host will perish.
If you choose the heavenly kingdom ...
All your army will perish,
And you, O Prince, will die with them."
After the Tsar heard these words,
He pondered all sorts of thoughts:
"Dear God, what shall I do and how shall I?
Which kingdom shall I choose?
Shall I choose the earthly kingdom?
Or shall I choose the heavenly kingdom?
The earthly kingdom lasts only a brief time,
But the heavenly kingdom always and forever."
So the Tsar chose the heavenly kingdom ...
Then the Turks mounted their attack against Lazar.
And the Serbian Prince Lazar perished,
Together with his entire army,
Seventy-seven thousand in number,
And all was holy and honorable
And acceptable to gracious God ...
From the epic cycle of Kosovo
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
ANKARA, Turkey-A Turkish court on Tuesday ruled that the Istanbul-based Orthodox Patriarch is not the spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians, and is only the head of the local Greek Orthodox community.
The court's decision, however, has no impact on his status outside Turkey. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I is the internationally recognized spiritual leader of the world's 300 million Orthodox.
The court's verdict could help strengthen the Turkish government's position in disputing the patriarch's global role. The government has long sought to contain Bartholomew's influence, and objects to the use of title "ecumenical" or universal.
Turkey, a predominantly Muslim country that is seeking European Union membership, has long kept close tabs on the patriarch, suspicious of his close ties with Turkey's traditional regional rival Greece and other predominantly Orthodox countries.
The Patriarchate's spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.
The ruling was included in an appeals court verdict that upheld a lower court's decision acquitting Bartholomew of charges of illegally barring a Bulgarian priest from conducting religious services. The court also upheld the acquittals of other top church leaders on the same charges.
Bartholomew, who is a Turkish citizen and an ethnic Greek, has spiritual authority over the world's 300 million Orthodox Christians and directly controls several Greek Orthodox churches around the world, including the United States.
Turkish officials however, reject any Vatican-like status for the Patriarch and says he is the religious head of the Greek community of around 3,000.
"The Patriarchate, which was allowed to remain on Turkish soil, is subject to Turkish laws," the appeals court argued. "There is no legal basis for the claims that the Patriarchate is ecumenical."
The court said Turkey could not give "special status" to any of its minority groups.
The Patriarchate dates from the Byzantine Empire, which collapsed when the Ottomans conquered Constantinople, today's Istanbul, in 1453.
The charges against Bartholomew and 12 senior clerics were first filed in 2002, by the head of a Bulgarian Church Foundation, who argued that Bartholomew had no authority to dismiss Kostantin Kostov, the Bulgarian priest.
The Bulgarian foundation had claimed the priest was punished after he refused to refer to Bartholomew in prayers and refused to conduct religious services and issue baptism and marriage documents in Greek.
In Athens, the Greek Foreign Ministry said the court decision would not change the Christians' perception of the Patriarch.
"The ecumenical dimension of the Patriarchate of Constantinople is based on international treaties, the sacred regulations of Orthodoxy, on history and Church tradition," ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos said.
"But, above all, recognition of the Ecumenical Patriarch as a spiritual leader is, and has been for centuries, deeply rooted in the conscience of hundreds of millions of Christians, Orthodox or not, worldwide."
Bartholomew went about his business Tuesday regardless of the ruling, meeting with Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko for talks that included the state of Orthodox churches in Ukraine.
Yushchenko was in Istanbul to attend a regional leaders' meeting. Orthodox churches were all under the Russian Orthodox Church in Soviet times but became divided after independence.
"I hope that our unity can be a reality not only in Ukraine but in all corners of the world," the Anatolia news agency quoted Bartholomew as saying after the meeting.
Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
The comment by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Lantos, D-Calif., came during a heated discussion with Russian lawmakers in Washington last week and highlights sharp differences with Russia over the future of Kosovo, whose majority ethnic Albanian residents want independence from Serbia.
Lantos and Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., said the United States supported the U.N. plan for Kosovo independence drawn up by Finnish diplomat and former President Martti Ahtisaari.
Russian officials have opposed the plan, wary that it might set a precedent for many of the ethnic enclaves in their own country. As a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, Russia has a veto and could block the plan.
"We will solve the (Kosovo) problem either via the United Nations," said Lantos, "or the Kosovars will declare their independence unilaterally.
"I can assure you the following day, the United States will recognize Kosovo as an independent country, as will the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Holland, Denmark and all the others."
Both he and Engel sought to reassure the visitors from Moscow, members of the Russian Parliament, or Duma, that independence for Kosovo would not set a precedent.
But they did not appear to succeed, and the Russian parliamentarians pointed out that independence for Kosovo would be the first time in post-World War II European history that the boundaries of a unitary nation-state had been redrawn against its will.
"Why can't Kosovo be seen as a precedent for Abkhazia or Transnistria or Southern Ossetia?" asked Alexander Kozlovsky, deputy chairman of the Duma's International Affairs Committee, referring to three ethnic enclaves in the former Soviet Union with independence movements.
"If Kosovo achieves independence, there won't be a single Abkhazian or Southern Ossetian (who) will not understand why can't he achieve independence," he concluded.
Belgrade, 27 June (AKI) – Serbian foreign minister Vuk Jeremic on Wednesday asked NATO to protect minority Serbs in breakaway Kosovo province as tensions grew over the status of the province with majority ethnic Albanians, which has been under United Nations control since 1999. Jeremic was quoted by Serbian media as telling NATO secretary-general Jaap de Hoop Schefer in Brussels that the situation in Kosovo was complex and asked the western military alliance, which has a contingent of 17,000 soldiers (Kfor) stationed in Kosovo, “to do everything to protect peace and security of Serbs in Kosovo”.
“Regardless of political and diplomatic developments, maintaining peace and stability in Kosovo and the region must be absolute priority,” Jeremic said. His warning came as thousands of Serbs were planning to commemorate 617th anniversary of the historic battle of Kosovo in which Serbian army was defeated by Ottoman invaders, opening doors to six centuries of Turkish occupation of the Balkans.
Western powers are pushing for Kosovo independence to sooth majority ethnic Albanians, but Belgrade and Russia oppose the move. Moscow has threatened to use a veto in the UN Security Council and demanded fresh negotiations which might lead to a negotiated settlement.
Ethnic Albanians, who outnumber the remaining Serbs in the province by 17 to one, have grown restless over independence project being stalled in the Security Council and have hinted they might resort to violence.
“Schefer has completely agreed that the situation was complex, but he underlined that Kfor would do everything in its power to completely protect peace and stability in Kosovo,” Jeremic was quoted as saying.
Meanwhile, a group of Serbian youths calling themselves “The Guard of emperor Lazar”, who embarked on a two-week march from Belgrade to Kosovo on June 14, reached Kosovo on Tuesday and was ready to take part in the commemoration at Gazimestan, near Kosovo capital of Pristina.
Emperor Lazar led Serbian forces at the historic 1389 battle, and the Guard rallies Serbian youths irritated over prospective loss of Kosovo. On the other hand, veterans of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), which started a rebellion against Serbian rule in 1998, have threatened to settle accounts “with the Guard of criminals” and warned Kfor not to try to protect them.
“Hands away from Kosovo and the provocations which might lead to new wars in the region,” KLA veterans said in a statement.
Saturday, June 23, 2007
Friday, June 22, 2007
Tension is running high between Russia and Western leaders following talks last week on the future of Kosovo—talks to which Moscow was not invited. Russia is furious that representatives from Germany, Italy, the UK, the U.S. and the UN had “secret talks” to knock out a common position on the predicament that is Kosovo.
After a year of negotiations, little progress has been made on the final status of the province of Kosovo, which has been administered by the United Nations since 1999. Kosovo’s 90 percent Albanian majority seeks independence; Belgrade, after having been already gutted of almost all its provinces, wants to maintain sovereignty over Kosovo. The European Union and the United States are backing a UN plan that would give Kosovo internationally supervised independence—with the EU playing a key role. Russia has threatened to veto the plan in the Security Council. Yesterday, the EU and the U.S. circulated a revised UN resolution that would allow for a 120-day delay in implementing the plan for Kosovo’s independence. Russia has already rejected the new draft. Neither side is about to back down.
Much is at stake.
Though the general media might put the confrontation in terms of Russia against the West, or the U.S., this is really a contest between Russia and Germany. What we are seeing is a jockeying for power in Europe by both nations. For Moscow, to have the West impose its will on Serbia (a historic ally to Russia) would signal the loss of Russian influence in Europe. For Berlin, the stakes are even higher....Excerpt, Read the Rest at The Trumpet
Thursday, June 21, 2007
One of the more persistent misconceptions about the current Emperor is that he is from Texas. He may have lived there for many years, may have even been the governor of the state, but he was in fact born in Connecticut. A real Texan would know a thing or two about playing poker.
There is a great country song by Kenny Rogers, called "The Gambler." Part of it goes, "You got to know when to hold'em, know when to fold'em/Know when to walk away and know when to run." It doesn't seem His Imperial Greatness has ever heard of it, though, because he is trying to raise the stakes even as others are calling his bluff.
The Misunderestimating of 'No'
Mere days after being clearly informed by Russian President Vladimir Putin in Heiligendamm that Russia's "no" to the proposed independence of Kosovo in fact meant "no," and not "yes" or even "maybe," Emperor Bush – basking in the glow of a personality cult in Albania – declared his Empire's absolute commitment to the separatist Albanian cause.
According to BIRN, the Emperor told his Albanian hosts:
"You get your diplomats working with Russians and EU diplomats to see if there is not a common ground. If you end up being in a position where you don't, at some point of time, sooner rather than later, you got to say: that's enough – Kosovo is independent."
As expected, Serbian authorities condemned Bush's statement: "The U.S. has to find some way of showing its favor and love for the Albanians other than presenting them with Serbian territories," Prime Minister Kostunica quipped.
Expectations that Moscow or Belgrade would fold – accept the demands for independence of the occupied Serbian province – have proven wrong on every count. They hold strong cards: international law, precedent, principle, rules, charters and treaties. What is in Bush's hand?
Arrogance and Stupidity
It appears the Empire is holding nothing but a single Will-to-Power. It has been known for some time now that Bush and his closest followers believed their actions shaped reality itself, and all criticism was merely inconsequential chatter of the "reality-based community." Now even lower-level bureaucrats, such as Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Fried, have actually come to believe in this notion.
During his visit to Serbia this week, Fried launched into a diatribe against Serb "denial," claiming that he was the only one with enough courage to tell the "truth" – which, according to him, is that "Milosevic lost Kosovo when he went to war with NATO and committed atrocities against the Kosovars."
But it wasn't Slobodan Milosevic who went to war with NATO – it was the other way around! As for the "atrocities," the Empire has not managed to produce a single shred of evidence that any of them actually took place, even after eight years of NATO occupation. Meanwhile, Albanian atrocities against Serbs, Roma, Turks and other Albanians have taken place under the very noses of NATO "peacekeepers" and are documented in detail.
The UPI report quoting Fried's drivel framed the possibility of "ethnic violence" in Kosovo as an expected result of Serb desires for Kosovo "to remain a part of greater Serbia" (sic!) or attempt partition. In fact, it is the Albanian separatists threatening violence against both Serbs and the UN/NATO occupiers, if they do not get their way. "Violence is not acceptable and KFOR will deal with it," UPI quotes Fried as saying.
Just as they "dealt with it" in 2004?
One has to commend the Department of State for efficiency, however, for putting such arrogance and stupidity in the same package.....
Excerpt: Read the Rest at AntiWar
MOSCOW. (Lev Dzugayev, member of the RIA Novosti Expert Council) - The new architecture of the European Union, its expansion, and Russian-American ties are among the most frequently discussed issues in international relations.
They are directly connected to geopolitical events, which sometimes provoke justified concern.
I am not referring to "Polish meat imports," or the United States' protectionist policies, or Russia's unwillingness to sign the Energy Charter under unacceptable conditions.
I am deeply worried that some forces are trying to reopen Pandora's box, boldly thinking that they can deal with the consequences which promise disasters.
Europe has seen this before. It has suffered the shame of the Munich Agreement, which Neville Chamberlain, Benito Mussolini and Edouard Daladier signed with Nazi Germany in 1938. It paved the way for the Soviet-German non-aggression pact signed by Russia's Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov and his German counterpart, Joachim von Ribbentrop, in 1939.
In 1938, Western Europe, trying to keep Hitler away from its borders, settled on the "appeasement" policy, although the Munich Agreement gave Germany the Sudetenland starting October 10, and de facto control over the rest of Czechoslovakia as long as Hitler promised to go no further.
In 1939, just 20 years after World War I, Europe was shaken by another global catastrophe. Western military historians put the blame for the Second World War on Soviet Russia, saying that the non-aggression pact it signed with Germany (a year after the Munich Agreement) led to the partition of Poland (which, I'd like to remind you, had taken part in the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia the year before).
One of the lessons we have overlooked is that by ignoring the principle of cause and effect, we provoke new conflicts between countries.
Who has pulled out of the ABM Treaty? Who has not ratified the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe? Who is stubbornly moving towards the Russian border despite promises not to expand NATO eastward? Not Russia. Why put the blame on it then? This reminds me of what a Russian fable writer said: "The weak against the strong is always in the wrong."
This is why so many Western forces dislike Russia, which is struggling to regain its position on the global scene and the right to express its opinions, primarily about its own future.
The Wall Street Journal wrote in an editorial on June 11, 2007: "Mr. Bush's principled stand on behalf of a small European nation's right to self-determination and freedom is America at its best in Europe. Not least when in the process Washington pushes back against an authoritarian leader in the Kremlin with neo-imperial designs on the Continent's eastern half."
But when President Vladimir Putin spoke up in defense of the rights and freedoms of Abkhazia and Ossetia, his position was described as destructive and neo-imperial.
According to an article entitled "Europe must now stand up to Russia over Kosovo" (Financial Times, May 25, 2007), "Independence (...) is the non-negotiable demand of the overwhelmingly ethnically Albanian population."
Why then is the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia negotiable, even though they demanded it at least seven years before Kosovo, while all the other circumstances are the same?
The Canadian Globe and Mail wrote on June 12, 2007: "No matter how fervently Serbians might wish it were otherwise, Kosovo is no longer part of their country. Serbian troops departed eight years ago, forced out at the end of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's bombing campaign. Since then, the territory has been administered by the UN and its security has come from a NATO-led peacekeeping force. The Albanians of Kosovo are nearly unanimous in their determination never again to be under Belgrade's thumb. It does not matter that Serbia has embraced democratic reforms or that it might be open to granting significant autonomy over local affairs."
Now, let's replace some of the words in the above quotation, and here is what we get:
"No matter how fervently Georgians might wish it were otherwise, Abkhazia (or South Ossetia) is no longer part of their country. Georgian troops departed nearly 15 years ago, forced out at the end of a campaign waged by Abkhazes and North Caucasian volunteers who supported them. Since then, the territory's security has come from a Russian-led peacekeeping force and UN and OSCE observers. Abkhazes (or Ossetians) are nearly unanimous in their determination never again to be under Tbilisi's thumb. It does not matter that Georgia has embraced democratic reforms or that it might be open to granting Abkhazia (or South Ossetia) significant autonomy over local affairs."
See the difference? No? Not surprising, for there is none. Why is the Kosovo situation unique then? Because it is located in the Balkans? Abkhazia and South Ossetia are located in the Caucasus, but this should not be important in terms of international law.
However, "there are no parallels to be drawn between the UN-administered Kosovo and such troubled regions as South Ossetia in Georgia," according to The Globe and Mail.
Yes, parallels must be drawn between the two areas. A Russian-led peacekeeping operation, which began 15 years ago, stopped the war between Georgians and Ossetians and prevented new ethnic clashes in the conflict zones. The Georgian enclave in South Ossetia lived peacefully by and large, and the two sides gradually restored trust, thanks to Russian peacekeepers' mediation.
However, the situation exploded in 2004, after Mikheil Saakashvili came to power in Georgia and acted on the recommendations of his "friends."
Meanwhile, an anti-Serb cleansing campaign was carried out in Kosovo, a UN-administered territory whose "security has come from a NATO-led peacekeeping force." Hundreds of thousands of Serbs fled their homes, and dozens of monuments of Serbian culture were destroyed. It is not surprising, therefore, that Western experts studying the situation in that province ask themselves what lies in store for Serbs, death or flight.
The G8 countries reportedly agreed at their summit in Germany that the Serbs and the Albanians of Kosovo should be given some time to continue talks. But several days later, U.S. President George W. Bush made it clear in Tirana that the only reasonable political solution for Kosovo was independence: "At some point in time, sooner rather than later, you've got to say enough is enough, Kosovo is independent."
According to The Financial Times, "The answer then is for European governments to bury any misgivings and, to borrow the cliche, stand shoulder to shoulder with the U.S. Germans need to talk less about the risks of confrontation with Russia, more about bringing to a permanent end the cycle of violence that began with Berlin's recognition of Croatia. [I find the latter phrase rather interesting, as we had been told before that it was Serbs who started the wave of violence] Spaniards, Greeks and the rest should forget about precedents. The stakes are too high to be held hostage to hypotheses.
"Rather, European governments, individually and collectively, should tell Moscow that, regardless of any Russian posturing at the UN, they intend to carry on with the process of moving Kosovo towards statehood. There will be no room for temporizing."
It appears that the U.S. will reject Putin's proposal to jointly use the Gabala radar in Azerbaijan, and will deploy its early warning radar and anti-missiles in direct proximity to the Russian border.
This reminds me of Emperor Augustus' last words: "Acta est fabula, plaudite!" (The play is over, applaud!).
British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain said upon returning from Munich in 1938: "My good friends, for the second time in our history a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honor. I believe it is peace for our time." Everyone knows what happened after that.
"This is the hour of Europe," cried M. Jacques Poos, the foreign minister of Luxembourg, when the fighting broke out in Yugoslavia in 1991. Now even the West admits that the violence that ensued was largely provoked by the hasty recognition of independence of some of Yugoslavia's constituent republics.
So what is it to be this time? Europe's hour or, once again, Europe's shame?
The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
MOUNT LAUREL, New Jersey-Anti-FBI graffiti found in the prison cell of a man accused of aiding in an plot to attack soldiers at a military base in New Jersey adds further proof that the defendant is a risk and should remain in custody until his trial, authorities said in a legal filing Monday.
Guards found two drawings in the one-person cell where Agron Abdullahu is being held in the Federal Detention Center in Philadelphia. One had the letters "FBI" with a drawing of a gun pointing to them. The other had the phrase "Rainca Kosava UCK," which federal prosecutors say refers to the Kosovo Liberation Army, the guerrilla force that also fought Serb troops during Kosovo's 1998-1999 war.
Authorities said Abdullahu admitted to drawing the graffiti and explained that "Rainca" was the town where he was born.
The drawings were found more than a week after Abdullahu, who is charged with providing weapons to illegal immigrants, was denied bail. He is one of six foreign-born Muslims who authorities clain planned to attack soldiers at Fort Dix.
The plot was foiled when an electronics store clerk notified authorities about a video the men allegedly brought in to the store to be converted into a DVD.
All six were arrested May 7. The five other defendants, who include a Jordanian and a Turk, are charged with conspiring to kill military personnel, charges punishable by life in prison.
Abdullahu's attorney has been trying to have him released on bail pending his trial, arguing he must take care of his parents and younger sisters. His lawyer says Abdullahu, who like three others charged is an ethnic Albanian born in the former Yugoslavia, is not a risk because he was not willing to go along with a plot to kill soldiers.
Prosecutors, however, point to the drawing as another reason why he should not be released from custody.
In a court filing, the U.S. Attorney's Office said Abdullahu seemed to be thinking about "seeking revenge against the FBI agents who caused him to be imprisoned in the first place."
"Releasing Abdullahu now would not only endanger the community at large, but also the agents who investigated this case," prosecutors wrote.
Authorities said the drawings were found more than a week after the initial denial of bail.
Abdullahu's public defender, Lisa Evans Lewis, who generally does not speak to reporters, did not return an after-hours call to her office. Greg Reinert, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office, said his office would not elaborate on the government filing.
U.S. District Judge Robert Kugler has said he hopes to try the case in October.
read more | digg story
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
By Scott Taylor
June 18, 2007
Eight years ago today I returned home to Canada after spending more than three weeks covering the bloody conclusion of the NATO intervention in Kosovo.
In total, Serbia had been subjected to 78 days of continuous aerial bombardment by the allied air force. The original NATO timetable estimated it would take just five days to force Serbia to withdraw their armed forces from the disputed province of Kosovo. In the end, despite air defences that could offer only token resistance, stubborn Serbian defiance forced NATO to a negotiated settlement.
My perspective on this conflict is unique as I was one of only a handful of western journalists granted a visa from the Belgrade authorities. As such I reported on the NATO air campaign from the Serbian perspective and witnessed the collateral damage of innocent civilians killed by errant bombs and endured the depravations brought about as a result of the destruction of the power grid and water plants.
Arriving in Pristina in advance of the NATO ground forces, I was in Kosovo when the Russian troops defiantly took possession of the Zlatina airfield and dared advancing British troops to ignite World War III. Thankfully, calmer heads prevailed and NATO yielded to the Russians, but widespread interethnic killing continued. The Serbian minority population in Kosovo fled en masse in the wake of violent Albanian reprisals conducted without intervention by NATO security forces.
Under the terms of the UN resolution 1244 ceasefire agreement, Serbian military and police forces were to withdraw from the province in exchange for Kosovo remaining recognized as a sovereign Serbian territory. An estimated 250,000 Serb civilians fled with the departing military columns rather than face revenge at the hands of the Albanians.
Of the 40,000 or so Serbs who remained in Kosovo, many paid the ultimate price in the orgy of violence that followed NATO’s entry and the rest banded together in protected enclaves. The 2,700 NATO accredited journalists who rushed into Kosovo alongside the troops were quick to proclaim victory and downplay the Albanian reprisal killings as a justifiable settling of scores.
In the subsequent eight-year occupation of Kosovo, it has become apparent that the victory declarations may have been a little premature. The continual presence of NATO troops and the virtual isolation of the Serbian population from the Albanian majority has given Kosovo the outward appearance of relative stability. However, as the massive pogrom into the Serbian enclaves in March 2004 and the ongoing protests against the international community reveal, Kosovo remains a boiling pot of inter-ethnic hatred. Despite the best of intentions and a massive infusion of foreign aid, Kosovo has not developed into the peaceful, prosperous entity that was promised.
Many observers in the international community, in particular the UN police force, realize that granting Kosovo independence at this stage would be premature. While U.S. President George Bush is backing the Albanian Kosovo independence movement, this is more driven by the hard-pressed American military necessity to close the books on at least one conflict rather than on common sense.
Even UN special envoy Martti Ahtisaari has recommended that any independence granted to Kosovo should still be supervised by the international community. As the pogrom of April 2004 clearly illustrated, the Albanians have no intention of allowing the few remaining Serbs to reside peacefully in their Kosovo enclaves. Should George Bush get his wish and Kosovo becomes truly independent in the near future, the final Serbian residents will be wise to depart with the last of the NATO soldiers.
If that transpires, then NATO’s intervention in 1999 to prevent ethnic cleansing will have resulted in the most thoroughly ethnically cleansed region in the entire world.
A victory worth remembering.
Jerusalem – The Simon Wiesenthal Center today expressed its sense of outrage and disgust in the wake of a massive show of fascist salutes, symbols and uniforms at a rock concert by popular ultra-nationalist Croatian singer “Thompson” attended by 60,000 people in Zagreb last night. In a letter sent today to Croatian President Stjepan Mesic, the Center’s chief Nazi-hunter Israel director Dr. Efraim Zuroff noted the presence of Croatian dignities, including the Minister of Science, Education and Sports, at the event and called for the banning of concerts by singers like Thompson who glorify fascism and racism.
Zuroff: “According to the Croatian media, the concert turned into a massive fascist demonstration with tens of thousands of people shouting the infamous Ustasha salute of “Za dom spremni.” In addition,… numerous participants came wearing Ustasha uniforms and symbols. To make matters worse, in attendance last night were officials and members of Parliament, as well as the Minister of Science, Education [!!] and Sports. “Under the current circumstances, I believe that the time has come to prohibit public concerts by those who write songs of nostalgia for Jasenovac and inspire the show of Ustasha symbols, which constitute open and blatant incitement against all the minorities in Croatia.”....
Excerpt, read the rest at Republican Riot
Monday, June 18, 2007
Excerpt, read the rest at: Who are America's allies are in the Balkans?
Friday, June 15, 2007
During the Clinton administration we bombed Serbia for 78 days in order to support the ethnic Albanian majority of Kosovo. It sounds like we were, once again, standing up for the underdog. Here's the problem: Kosovo belongs to the Serbs, it always has. It is considered the heartland of Serbia. The Albanians who were fighting for Kosovo's independence belonged to the KLA, a group with ties to Usama Bin Laden, and a group recognized by our own state department as a terrorist group. That is until President Clinton found them a useful poster boy for a group of freedom fighters and had them removed from the terrorist list in 1999.
The Serbian army was fighting its own war against Islamic terrorism, and we sided with the terrorists. Now, I don't want to stand up for the late Slobodan Milosevic. He was a brute and a dictator. But Serbia did not start the war in Kosovo, the Albanians did. The Albanians began illegally immigrating to Kosovo (probably assuring the Serbs they were there to do the jobs the Serbs wouldn't do) and once they constituted a majority of the population they demanded independence.
Somehow, I don't think independence is what they really want. They want to ethnically cleanse the area of Serbs. Today Serbs are only 10% of the population. They live in ghetto like conditions, unable to leave their fortified neighborhoods without risking violence upon themselves.They are prisoners in their own homes, and prisoners in their own country. The international community, instead of telling the thieving Albanians to get out, is insisting that the Serbs vacate their own country. After this ethnic cleansing is complete, the newly independent Kosovo will most likely attempt to unify itself to Albania.
By President Bush's logic, we should give the southwest back to Mexico. After all Americans are quickly becoming a minority in those states as illegal immigrants from south of the border(here to do "jobs Americans won't do") continue to pour in. And unlike Kosovo belonging to the Albanians, the southwest once belonged to Mexico. Perhaps the U.S. could take a lesson from the Balkans and be reminded the price of open borders, what happens to a country when the cultural and ethnic balance shifts, and maybe we can wonder where the loyalty of our new arrivals lie?
Rewarding illegal immigrants, whether it is with amnesty, or giving them an independent country that isn't there's, is never a good idea.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Wednesday June 13, 2007
So that's that, then. After a meeting with the Italian prime minister Romano Prodi at the weekend, President Bush announced that it was time to bring the issue of Kosovan independence "to a head". In other words, Kosovo should become independent even without the approval of the UN security council. Now the emperor has spoken, is there really any point discussing the future of the disputed Serbian province any further? Well yes, actually, there is.
What is at stake is not just the illegal seizure from Serbia of the cradle of its national history, and rewarding the campaign of violence by ex-KLA members which has seen an estimated 200,000 Serbs, Roma, Turks and other non-Albanian groups fleeing or being driven from the province since 1999. There is also the question of whether one dangerous and globally lawless state, the US of George Bush, has the right to redraw the map of the world in any way it chooses.
Bush is pressing for "independence" for Kosovo, and the word needs to be in inverted commas as the Kosovo the US has in mind will be no more "independent" than Iraq or Afghanistan - though not out of concern for Kosovan Albanians, or a passionate belief in self-determination. Contrast Washington's stance on Kosovo with its position on the pro-Russian breakaway provinces in Georgia and Moldova, whose claims for statehood they regularly dismiss. Rather, Bush is acting because this is the final stage in what has been called the west's "strategic concept" - the destruction of the genuinely independent and militarily strong state of Yugoslavia and its replacement with a series of weak and divided World Bank-Nato protectorates.
Many will support the independence of Kosovo on simple grounds of self-determination: about 90% of Kosovans desire separation from Serbia. But Kosovo is no simple case. Given the recent history of the area, the minority rights of the non-Albanian population must also be a central concern. And the verdict of the Minority Rights Group that "nowhere is there such a level of fear for so many minorities that they will be harassed simply for who they are...nowhere else in Europe is at such a high risk of ethnic cleansing occurring in the near future - or even a risk of genocide" hardly inspires confidence in the future.
Furthermore, it is difficult to see how the creation of another new state in the Balkans will not destabilise the region further. Albanian separatists both in Montenegro and in Macedonia, where military hostilities took place as recently as 2001, will be encouraged. Serbia will face further disintegration: Albanians in the south of the country are keen to be included in a new Kosovo, while Hungarian demands for self-determination in Vojvodina are also likely to intensify.
Far from being concerned about this fragmentation, Washington encourages it. "Liberating" Kosovo from direct Belgrade control, achieved by the illegal 1999 bombardment of the rump Yugoslavia, has already brought rich pickings for US companies in the shape of the privatisation of socially owned assets.
Even more important, it has enabled the construction of Camp Bondsteel, the US's biggest "from scratch" military base since the Vietnam war, which jealously guards the route of the trans-Balkan Ambo pipeline, and guarantees western control of Caspian Sea oil supplies. The camp, which includes a detention facility used to house those detained during Nato operations in Kosovo, was described by Alvaro Gil-Robles, the human rights envoy of the Council of Europe, as a "smaller version of Guantánamo" following a visit in November 2005. To guarantee US hegemony in the region, it is essential that Kosovo is severed permanently from Serbia - a country which, with its strong historical links to Russia, is never likely to be as obedient a servant as the empire demands.
Since the end of the cold war, Russia has allowed the US to surround it with military bases and, through interference in the electoral process, bring to power governments ready to do its bidding. But the tide is turning. The US's attempt to engineer another "colour-coded" revolution in Belarus backfired spectacularly last year and, buoyed up by oil revenues, an increasingly assertive Russia is challenging the empire's Drang nach Osten. And at last week's G8 summit, President Putin reiterated his support for Serbia and his opposition to Kosovan "independence". Let's hope he keeps his word.
For those who believe the best hope for peace and progress for humankind is the derailing of the US juggernaut, it is imperative that on the issue of Kosovo, the bear makes a stand.
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
In the current debate on the future of Kosovo, it is often overlooked that hundreds of thousands of Serbs and other non-Albanians had fled the province under Albanian pressure well before the KLA terror campaign of 1996-1998. Under Tito, the Albanians’ share of the population thus rose from 64 percent in 1953 to 77 percent immediately following his death in 1980.
To understand the conditions that prompted the exodus of non-Albanians from Kosovo even in peacetime, we don’t need to look further than Cherry Hill, NJ. This prosperous Philadelphia suburb known for good schools is the home to the Duka brothers, three “Yugoslav” Albanians arrested in connection with the jihadist plot to attack Fort Dix.
As we now know, the extended Duka family (three brothers, a grandmother, parents, wives, children) was in the habit of slaughtering lambs in their backyard with a kitchen knife.
Excerpt, Continue Reading at Chronicles
By Jesse Petrilla
FrontPageMagazine.com | June 5, 2007
I have recently returned to the U.S. from my trip through the Balkans which had an aim to see what the ever expanding Middle East into Europe looks like up close. Here is my after-action report for those who are interested in hearing about a situation which may chillingly parallel future events in America if we do not take action to prevent them today.
I landed in Kosovo on a flight from Istanbul directly into the Kosovo capital city of Pristina. This city is a showpiece for the Kosovo Albanians who often take visiting dignitaries and American politicians through a twisty roundabout path through the city, avoiding the many destroyed churches and other evidence of the less than tolerant attitudes so prevalent in the region. I went on a very different tour of Kosovo than what our politicians see. I didn't stick to only seeing the few good parts of Pristina, I went to other parts of Kosovo where Christians are forced to live in military-like compound ghettos, with the terror and fear of death if they ever set foot outside of their enclaves without protection. I saw a rogue and wild west region with very little self built infrastructure, and vast amounts of foreign money flowing in from Saudi Arabia and other nations hell bent on exporting their extremist ideals. The only real infrastructure I saw were remnants of Tito's Communist Yugoslavia, with the current flow of money primarily being dumped into new construction projects of Wahabi mosques and madrases. But what is scariest of all is that I saw America several generations from now if we continue to allow Islamism to spread through the socialist and naive policies so many American politicians have adopted.
From Pristina I headed for Gracanica, a small enclave of Christian Serbs who's ancestors have been living in Kosovo for thousands of years. Gracanica Monastery has been the site of Christian churches since the 6th century, yet when I arrived I was struck by the towering concrete walls adorned with coiled barbed wire and machine gun nests, all required now for the protection of the nuns and bishops who live there. The outside was also spotted with vehicle blockers reminiscent of Normandy Beach, with KFOR guards and vehicles patrolling to protect the Christians from Islamist attacks.
I visited with the nuns in the monastery, who told me their stories, how much they lived in fear of being murdered by radical Muslims. My heart sank as I saw that even though their families had been there for countless years, they knew that their situation would never get better, and that sometime in their lives they would either be murdered or forced to leave. My mind shot back to Dearborn, Michigan, and I found myself wondering if Christians there would one day be forced to live like this. Dearborn today is estimated at around 30% Muslim, and they are emboldened enough to hold Hezbollah rallies last year which attracted an estimated 10,000 people. What will happen when they are over 50%? The ludicrousness astounds me how any of our politicians can believe that simply because the Muslims have the majority in Kosovo, Serbia, it entitles them to have their own Islamic country, yet if you ask any of those same politicians if they believe the same would apply for Dearborn, Michigan in a few years, they never seem to have a solid answer.
Excerpt, go to FrontPage Magazine for photos and the Rest.