Thursday, January 31, 2008

Bolton & Eagleburger: Warning Light on Kosovo (WT)

By John Bolton, Lawrence Eagleburger and Peter Rodman

January 31, 2008

The Bush administration has indicated its readiness to recognize a unilateral declaration of independence by ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, a province of the Republic of Serbia that since 1999 has been under United Nations administration and NATO military control.

Such a declaration may take place as early as February. American recognition would be over Serbia's objections, without a negotiated solution between Serbia and Kosovo's Albanians, and without modification by the United Nations Security Council of Resolution 1244, which reaffirms Serbian sovereignty in Kosovo while providing for the province's "substantial autonomy." U.S. recognition may be joined by that of some members of the European Union, which has been under heavy diplomatic pressure from Washington, though several EU states and a number of countries outside Europe have said they would reject such action.

Attempting to impose a settlement on Serbia would be a direct challenge to the Russian Federation, which opposes any Kosovo settlement not accepted by Belgrade.

We believe an imposed settlement of the Kosovo question and seeking to partition Serbia's sovereign territory without its consent is not in the interest of the United States. The blithe assumption of American policy — that the mere passage of nine years of relative quiet would be enough to lull Serbia and Russia into reversing their positions on a conflict that goes back centuries — has proven to be naive in the extreme.

We believe U.S. policy on Kosovo must be re-examined without delay, and we urge the Bush administration to make it clear that pending the results of such re-examination it would withhold recognition of a Kosovo independence declaration and discourage Kosovo's Albanians from taking that step.

Current U.S. policy relies on the unconvincing claim that Kosovo is "unique" and would set no precedent for other troublespots. Of course every conflict has unique characteristics. However, ethnic and religious minorities in other countries already are signaling their intention to follow a Kosovo example. This includes sizeable Albanian communities in adjoining areas of southern Serbia, Montenegro, and especially the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, as well as the Serbian portion of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Recognition of Kosovo's independence without Serbia's consent would set a precedent with far-reaching and unpredictable consequences for many other regions of the world. The Kosovo model already has been cited by supporters of the Basque separatist movement in Spain and the Turkish-controlled area of northern Cyprus. Neither the Security Council nor any other international body has the power or authority to impose a change of any country's borders.

Perhaps the most troubling aspect of the current policy is the dismissive attitude displayed toward Russia's objections. Whatever disagreements the United States may have with Moscow on other issues, and there are many, the United States should not prompt an unnecessary crisis in U.S.-Russia relations. There are urgent matters regarding which the United States must work with Russia, including Iran's nuclear intentions and North Korea's nuclear capability. Such cooperation would be undercut by American action to neutralize Moscow's legitimate concerns regarding Kosovo.

If the U.S. moves forward with recognizing Kosovo, Moscow's passivity cannot be taken for granted. It may have been one thing in 1999 for the United States and NATO to take action against Yugoslavia over the objections of a weak Russia.

Today, it would be unwise to dismiss Russia's willingness and ability to assist Serbia. On an issue of minor importance to the United States, is this a useful expenditure of significant political capital with Russia?

Our Kosovo policy is hardly less problematic for our friends and allies in Europe. While some European countries, notably members of the EU, may feel themselves obligated to join us in recognizing Kosovo's independence, a number of those countries would do so reluctantly because of Washington's inflexibility and insistence. No more than the United States, Europe would not benefit from an avoidable confrontation with Russia.

Even if Kosovo declared itself an independent state, it would be a dysfunctional one and a ward of the international community for the indefinite future. Corruption and organized crime are rampant. The economy, aside from international largesse and criminal activities, is nonviable. Law enforcement, integrity of the courts, protection of persons and property, and other prerequisites for statehood are practically nonexistent. While these failures are often blamed on Kosovo's uncertain status, a unilateral declaration of independence recognized by some countries and rejected by many others would hardly remedy that fact.

The result would be a new "frozen conflict," with Kosovo's status still unresolved. The risk of renewed violence would further impede Kosovo's development. Moreover, heightened tensions might require reinforcing the U.S. presence in Kosovo when we can least afford it due to other commitments.

Serbia has made great strides in democratic development and economic revitalization since the fall of the regime of Slobodan Milosevic. Current policy with respect to Kosovo risks complete reversal of these gains. Faced with a choice between Western partnership and defense of their sovereign territory and constitution, there is little doubt what Serbia would decide.

The current positive trend could falter in the face of political radicalization and possible internal destabilization. Serbia's relations with countries that had recognized Kosovo would be impaired. Serbia would inevitably move closer to Russia as its only protector.

We do not underestimate the difficulty and complexity of the Kosovo question nor do we suggest the status quo can endure indefinitely. As with thorny questions elsewhere, viable and enduring settlements should result from negotiation and compromise. Such an outcome has been undermined by a U.S. promise to the Kosovo Albanians that their demands will be satisfied if they remain adamant and no agreement is reached with Belgrade. Such a promise cannot be justified by the claim, often heard from proponents of independence, that the Albanians' "patience" is running out, so independence must be granted without delay. This is nothing less than appeasing a threat of violence.

A reassessment of America's Kosovo policy is long overdue. We hope a policy that would set a very dangerous international precedent can still be averted if that reassessment begins now. In the meantime, it is imperative that no unwarranted or hasty action be taken that would turn what is now a relatively small problem into a large one.

John Bolton is former permanent U.S. representative to the United Nations. Lawrence Eagleburger is former U.S. secretary of state. Peter Rodman is former assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Western Leaders Try to Throw Serbia's Election

by M.V. Pejakovich

Let me start by saying that I don't care one whit who wins Serbia's election for president. I am an American and the US is my country, not Serbia. As far as I am concerned, Serbian citizens have as much right to elect "a savior" or "an idiot" as we Americans do (and will do in the near future), and no other country (or countries) calling themselves "progressive democracies" have any right whatever to interfere in their election process.

However, this is NOT what is happening with Serbia. Western leaders, impatient with the Serbian election process, are acting like a bunch of bullies by trying to force Serbia's citizens into electing the West's "chosen one" candidate, Boris Tadic, and unfortunately, the Western media (both print and internet) are cooperating in this extortion.

Last week, in the EU Observer , the EU went after Eurovision song winner Marija Serifovic for singing & speaking at a rally for Tadic's rival, Nikolic:

the singer now appears to support Tomislav Nikolic, the eurosceptic nationalist candidate of the Serbian Radical Party (SRS), who won the first round of the Serbian presidential elections last Sunday (20 January). Ms Serifovic participated in rallies organised by Mr Nikolic, including one in December in the Serbian town of Kragujevac and one on 15 January in Belgrade, singing her winning song, "Molitva" (Prayer)." (SerbBlog note: Marija Serifovic is also an ethnic Roma, AKA "Gypsy", so the title "nationalist" gets put in the proper context here. The EU wants to punish Serifovic for simply supporting a candidate who is not "pro-EU".)

Then consider the following statements & news stories in recent days on Serbia's hot-button issue "Kosovo":

From the Financial Times: "Senior western diplomats say the precise timing now (on Kosovo's independence declaration) depends on whether the next Serbian president is Boris Tadic, the pro-western ­liberal incumbent, or Tomislav Nikolic, a pro-Russian nationalist.....If Nikolic, the conservative, gets elected, then no one in Europe will see any benefit in waiting any longer with the independence declaration....If Mr Tadic returns to power, however, diplomats say EU states would see merit in delaying Kosovo’s independence by a few weeks, seeking to flesh out an agreement on closer EU-Serbian relations"

From Reuters: "Kosovo will declare independence from Serbia with Western backing the weekend after the February 3 Serbian presidential election if the nationalist candidate (Nikolic) wins, political sources said on Wednesday. "If (Tomislav) Nikolic wins, it's the 9th or 10th," one of the sources told Reuters on condition of anonymity....If pro-Western incumbent Boris Tadic wins the closely-fought race, Kosovo Albanians would be expected to wait until the following weekend, and possibly until after a meeting of European Union foreign ministers on February 18, the source said. The West is "pushing for February," the source added. The United States and major EU powers are trying to "coordinate" a declaration of independence by the Albanian majority province after almost two years of negotiations with Serbia ended in failure in December."

I like that last line in the Reuters story -- "after almost two years of negotiations with Serbia failed". To anyone who has been following this story for the last "two years", there were absolutely NO "negotiations" between Serbia and the Albanians on Kosovo. Both Condoleeza Rice and President Bush had already released statements months before these "negotiations" began, saying "Kosovo will become independent", and they simply continued that same drumbeat through out the sham meetings between Serbia and the Kosovo Albanians . What that created was a sad display with Serbia on one side of the table, turning itself inside out to give the Albanians anything they wanted short of handing over their sovereign Serbian territory, and the Kosovo Albanians on the other side of the table, (with their US and EU backing) basically "buffing their nails" until the so-called "negotiations" were over, because the Albanians knew that the West had already committed to legitimize the theft of Kosovo. So why bother to even call it negotiations when the US & EU had already decided the outcome, beforehand? So that the uninformed, stupid or the corrupt, could believe and promote our US & EU governments' lies when they say , "We tried, it failed, and then we had to do something".

Now if the sham negotiations weren't bad enough, the West isn't even bothering to hide their extortion tactics anymore in the Serbian presidential elections. The message to Serbia's citizens is clear, "Elect Nikolic and we will amputate Kosovo with a meat-ax soon, you will get no anesthetic and we will let the Albanians kill as many Kosovo Serbs as they want (and then blame it on you). Or elect "our man" Tadic and we might (if we feel like it) give you a couple of aspirin for the pain of amputating Kosovo from you and let a few more Serbs live." It's a "lose-lose" proposition for Serbia, as anyone can see -- just as it is designed to be.

However, since the demise of Milosevic, all that Western intimidation of Serbia seems to have ever done is to drive Serbia closer to Russia. Russia's support of Serbia in the UN Security Council on the Kosovo issue, and the Russian Gasprom deal signed with Serbia last week (which sunk the EU/US Nabucco plan and likely cost US State Department #3 man, Nicholas Burns, his job) has done more for Serbia than Western promises (and bombing) have done in the last 17 years. Combine this with the Serbian concept of "inat" (stubborn defiance in the face of bullies) and this all works in Nikolic's favor, regardless of whether Nikolic is worth a damn or not.

But on the other hand, hope springs eternal in the human breast. For the life of them, Serbs still cannot understand why the US & EU would wish to continue punishing them and stealing their land. Serbs are Christians who speak multiple European languages and their kids want the same security & toys that other normal European kids have -- and so do their parents. Based on this commonality, some Serbs believe that this torture has to stop soon -- perhaps if they jump through just one more humiliating hoop then the West will see them for who they really are, perhaps if they elect just one more "pro-Western leader" then the West will recognize that Serbs ARE Europeans. This slim hope (or "wishful thinking", depending on who you talk to) of one day maybe joining that EU "fun & goodies fraternity", is all that Boris Tadic has to offer them. And the West knows this -- which is why they had to throw in the ham-handed "club them if they don't vote for Tadic" pressure to make the alternative even less attractive.

The big question that remains to be answered about this Western intimidation of Serbian voters to vote for Tadic in the upcoming run-off, is: "Will it work? Or will it backfire?"

Ultimately, Serbian citizens can (and should) be the ONLY ones to answer that, when they vote in the run-off election on February 3rd. It's their fate to decide, not ours.

Slovenian diplomat quits after report of US meddling in EU presidency

29 January 2008, 19:33 CET

(LJUBLJANA) - The Slovenian foreign ministry announced the resignation of a top Slovenian diplomat Tuesday who press reports claimed had taken orders from the United States about Slovenia's EU presidency.

The Foreign Ministry announced on its website that political director Mitja Drobnic had resigned and would be replaced by state secretary Matjaz Sinkovec during Slovenia's six-month term as EU president.

Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel "has accepted the resignation of political director Mitja Drobnic", the ministry said in a statement.

The resignation comes after a report in the daily newspaper Dnevnik last week which said that Slovenia had been taking orders from the US.

According to the newspaper, which quoted an internal foreign ministry report, Drobnic had met in December with US Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Fried, who allegedly suggested to the Slovenian side what their priorities should be during the EU presidency.

Fried encouraged Slovenia to be among the first to recognise the independence of the breakaway Serbian province of Kosovo, the newspaper claimed.

Fried had also reportedly told Drobnic that there was "no need to worry" about the recognition of Kosovo's independence by all EU members, but that the most important thing was for an EU mission of police and lawyers to be sent to the province "despite critical positions of Russia and Serbia," the newspaper said......EU Business

SerbBlog: As a friend described it, "Slovenia -- the Germany's sock-puppet on loan to the US"!

BBC Blog: "The Bishop Behind Barbed Wire"

By Mark Mardell January 29, 2008

Gracanica monastery

This is the first time I have been to a church service held behind barbed wire.

Inside the chapel next to the Gracanica Monastery in Kosovo, a priest in white robes adorned with red crosses swings a silver censer, and the tinkling of bells and and the sweet, musty smell of incense fills the air.

His companion is preparing the host, behind a wooden screen painted with glorious icons.

Most of the congregation are nuns, clad head to foot in black. There are six other worshippers.

The youngest of them, a girl perhaps in her late teens, yawns and covers her mouth. The service started at seven and it is now nine and the ethereal rhythmic chanting is somewhat soporific.

Swedish sentry

Outside, a Swedish soldier stands in his sentry-post built into the side of the monastery, cradling an automatic rifle..... BBC Blog

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Interview with Peter Handke on BSA: "In Kosovo, There is only Hate"

An interview with Peter Handke, translated from Italian by Timothy Fenton

“Without involvement in the wounds of the Balkans I would not be a true writer”.

“There are no human rights, nor democratic guarantees. The remaining Serbs are not even allowed to tend their graves, they are living in terror. And the EU, headed by the Slovene Janez Janza, a leading criminal of the Yugoslav drama, will recognise its independence, otherwise the Albanians are threatening a new war”

By Tommaso Di Francesco, Paris

Wary but frank, Peter Handke receives us into his house on the remote outskirts of Paris. Diaphanous, tall and bony, in a white shirt which he wears when he comes to meet us despite the cold, he appears like one of the angels from “Sky Above Berlin” [aka Wings of Desire (1988)], the film by Wim Wenders for which he wrote the screenplay.

For many years he has lived here, he popped up in these parts like one of the mushrooms for which he looks during his long walks in the woods near his house. He is one of the most politically incorrect of writers, practically persecuted by the cultural institutions of the world, as when two years ago in Germany his award of the “Heinrich Heine” prize was rescinded, or straight afterwards in France La Comédie Française dropped one of his plays from their programme. Moreover only two months ago Handke has won a case for defamation against Il Nouvel Observateur which had written, mendaciously, that he had laid a red rose on the grave of Milosevic.

What is his crime? Peter Handke is accused of being pro-Serb, now, during Nato’s bloody “humanitarian” bombing of former Yugoslavia and in the period of the interethnic war. We are meeting him while he prepares to leave on a new “winter journey” to Serbia where he will take part in the Festival of Cinematographic Schools which takes place in the city of cinema planned by Emir Kusturica in Mokra Gora, meanwhile the battle over the status of Kosovo rages and everyone waits for the presidential elections in Belgrade on 20 January.

Serbs are Not "Pretending to be Afraid", They are Living in Terror.....BSA

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Sretna Savindan! Happy Saint Sava's Day!

Today, January 27th, is Savindan, the day that the Serbs celebrate the life and legacy of the founder of the Serbian branch of the Orthodox Church, and the founder of the Serbian nation.

From Saint Sava came a beautiful quote that is as appropriate today as it was when it was made, regarding the fate of the Serbs:

At first we were confused. The East thought that we were West while the West considered us to be East. Some of us misunderstood our place in the clash of currents so they cried that we belong to neither side and others that we belong exclusively to one side or the other. But I tell you Ireneus we are doomed by fate to be the East in the West and the West in the East to acknowledge only heavenly Jerusalem beyond us and here on earth--no one.” —St. Sava to Irenaeus, 13th Century

Saint Archbishop Sava
(Serbian: Свети Сава, Sveti Sava) (1175 - January 14, 1235), originally the prince Rastko Nemanjić (Serbian: Растко Немањић) (son of the Serbian ruler and founder of the Serbian medieval state Stefan Nemanja and brother of Stefan Prvovenčani, first Serbian king), is the first Archbishop of Serbia (1219-1233), the most important saint in the Serbian Orthodox Church and important cultural and political worker of that time.

Early life

Rastko was born ca. 1175 in Gradina (near modern-day Podgorica, Montenegro).

In his youth (c. 1192), he fled from his home to join the orthodox monastic colony on Mount Athos (Holy Mountain on the Chalkidiki peninsula) and was given the name Sava. He first traveled to a Russian monastery and then moved to the Greek Monastery of Vatopedi. At the end of 1197 his father, who on becoming a monk was named Simeon joined him. In 1198 they together moved to and restored the abandoned monastery Hilandar (Chilandari, in French) which, since that moment, became the center of Serbian Christian monastic life. Hilandar is one of the twenty monasteries on Mount Athos that still function, and its position in the hierarchy is fourth.

St. Sava's father took the monastic vows under the name Simeon and died in Hilandar on February 13, 1199. He is also canonised, as Saint Simeon.

Serbian Orthodox Church

After his father's death, Sava devoted himself to the ascetic life and retreated to a skete close to Karyes which he built himself in 1199. He also wrote the Karyes Typicon valid for both for Hilandar and his skete. The typicon has been inscribed onto a marble board at the skete and still stands there. Sava stayed on Athos until the end of 1207.

In 1208, St. Sava returned to Serbia, where the feuding between his brothers had created a state or anarchy. St. Sava set up his base at Studenica monastery, and started to organize the Serbian Orthodox Church. He had brought with him several monks to help him perform his pastoral and missionary duty among the people. St. Sava eventually managed to free the Serbian church from the jurisdiction of the Greek Orthodox Archbishop of Ohrid. In 1219, St. Sava was consecrated the first archbishop of the new Serbian Church by Patriarch Manuel I of Constantinople, who was then in exile at Nicaea.

Saint Sava is considered the founder of the independent Serbian Orthodox Church and Serbian Orthodox Christians celebrate him as patron saint of education and medicine. He is commemorated on January 27 according to the Julian calendar and on January 14 according to the Gregorian calendar. Since the 1830s, Saint Sava has become the patron saint of Serbian schools and schoolchildren. On his day, students partake in recitals in church.

St. Sava died in Turnovo, capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire, during the reign of Ivan Asen II of Bulgaria. According to his Life, he fell ill following the Divine Liturgy at the Feast of the Epiphany on January 12, 1235. Sava visited Turnovo on his way back from the Holy Land, where he had founded a hospice for Syrian pilgrims in Jerusalem and arranged for Serbian monks to be welcome in the established monasteries there. He died of pneumonia in the night between Saturday and Sunday, January 14, 1235. [1] He was initially buried at the St Forty Martyrs Church in Turnovo, but his holy relics remained there until only May 6, 1237 when they were translated to the Mileševa monastery in southern Serbia. 360 years later, in 1595, the Ottoman Turks unearthed his remains and took them to Vračar hill in Belgrade where they were incinerated on a stake.

The Temple of Saint Sava in Belgrade, whose construction was planned in 1939, begun in 1985 and awaits completion by 2004, is the largest active Orthodox temple in the world today. It was built on the place where the bones were believed to have been burned. In reality, what is Vračar hill now used to be outside the city walls and not within easy reach. There used to be a different Vračar hill where today is located the Tašmajdan. This place was used by Ottoman Turks for executions and seems much more likely to have been the spot where St. Sava's relics were burnt. Also, tradition holds the place of burning as "Čupina Umka", the tallest point in Tašmajdan.

Djokovic Completes `Impossible' Task by Winning Australian Open

By Grant Clark
Jan. 28 (Bloomberg) -- Novak Djokovic's decision to discard his skis for a tennis racket paid off when the 20-year-old became a Grand Slam champion for the first time at the Australian Open yesterday.

As a child, Djokovic had been intent on following his father, uncle and aunt into professional skiing. Instead, he opted for service and slice over slalom and snow, and headed to a tennis academy in Munich as a 12-year-old.

Less than eight years after, Djokovic defeated unseeded Jo- Wilfried Tsonga in the Melbourne Park final to become the first Grand Slam singles winner from Serbia. The country doesn't have a hard court and was racked by war when he was growing up.

``Considering all the bad times we had when I grew up and practiced there, it was basically impossible,'' Djokovic told reporters at Rod Laver Arena. ``But I always believed.''

Djokovic, who won over fans at the U.S. Open with his player impersonations, had the spectators against him as Tsonga continued his crowd-pleasing run to clinch the first set with a top-spin lob at full pace.

It was Djokovic's first loss of a set at this year's Australian Open and his expression contrasted the smiley face logo he uses as a string dampener on his racket.

``This is something that you have to fight against,'' said Djokovic. ``The crowd was more behind him. (You) just try to keep your head in the match.''

Toddler Tennis

Djokovic worked his way back into the match and constrained Tsonga's flair, grinding him down in a fourth-set tiebreak after struggling with a hamstring pain. His 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (7-2) win was the first Grand Slam victory by a player other than Federer and Nadal for three years.

``He played unbelievable,'' said 22-year-old Tsonga, appearing in his first final at any tournament.

Djokovic's rise has been rapid, even for a player who first swung a racket as a four-year-old. He turned professional in 2003 and was the youngest player in the top 100 by the end of 2005. He won his first men's tour title at the Dutch Open the following year before breaking into the top 10 last year.

Nicknamed Nole, Djokovic clinched five titles in 2007 and became the first player to defeat Federer and Rafael Nadal at the same tournament, the Rogers Cup in Montreal. He joked it should be re-named Novak's Cup.

Djokovic, whose tennis idol is Pete Sampras, got his first shot at a major championship in New York. Then, nerves got the better of him and Federer clinched his fourth straight U.S. Open title and 12th Grand Slam.


``Playing in a Grand Slam final gave me a lot of experience which I used today,'' he said after yesterday's final. ``In these crucial moments I was probably more patient and focused.''

Djokovic ended Federer's 19-match winning streak in Melbourne in the semifinals -- the Serb's fourth straight appearance in the last four of a major. He handed the top-ranked Swiss a first straight-set defeat at a Grand Slam in 102 matches stretching back to the 2004 French Open.

His victory yesterday was a milestone for Serbia, a country of 10 million people lacking tennis facilities. Three of the singles semifinalists in Australia were Serbs, while another, Janko Tipsarevic, took Federer to five sets in the third round.

Like Australian Open runner-up Ana Ivanovic and semifinalist Jelena Jankovic, Djokovic needed to go abroad to develop his talent. On the advice of his first coach Jelena Gencic, who also worked with nine-time major winner Monica Seles, Djokovic went to Niki Pilic's academy in Munich in 1999 - - the year when NATO bombed Serbia.

`No System'

``This hunger for success and the times and things we went through made us stronger,'' Djokovic said. ``It's still unexplainable because there was no system whatsoever in our country for tennis.''

Djokovic, who plans to build a national tennis center in his home country, might face a challenge to remain the top- ranked Serb -- and the top-ranked Djokovic. His 16-year-old brother Marko appeared in the Australian Open junior tournament and 12-year-old Djordje is also an aspiring tennis player.

Djordje rates his eldest brother's most annoying trait as his lateness. Yesterday, he waited a set before his No. 1 game arrived to dispatch Tsonga. Sitting next to the trophy less than two hours later, he said the victory hadn't sunk in.

``I'm still probably on the court and still with the thoughts on the match and these two weeks,'' Djokovic said. ``But I think people in my country will prove it to me big time."

More on Djokovic and the other top-seated Serbian players on Byzantine Sacred Art Blog

Saturday, January 26, 2008

AKI: Russia: Moscow and Belgrade sign gas pipeline dea

Moscow, 25 Jan. (AKI) – Russia and Serbia have signed an historic deal for a 1.5 billion euro gas pipeline deal.

At a solemn ceremony in the Kremlin on Friday, Russian president Vladimir Putin, his Serbian counterpart Boris Tadic and prime minister Vojislav Kostunica, signed an agreement to build a gas pipeline to transport natural gas from the Black Sea via Bulgaria and Serbia to the west.

The deal provides for Russian energy giant Gazprom (photo) to buy 51 percent of Serbian oil industry NIS for 400 million euros. Russians have agreed to invest another 500 million euros in NIS in the next four years.

Putin said it was an important event for both countries, whose bilateral relations have been on the upswing.

“Serbian people can be sure that they have a reliable friend and partner in Russia,” he said. Putin pointed out that bilateral trade between Russia and Serbia had increased six times in the past eight years and topped 2.7 billion euros in 2007.

At the centre of the Moscow talks was the fate of Kosovo, whose majority ethnic Albanians are poised to unilaterally declare independence next month with the support of western powers.

Russia, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, has blocked the independence move, but the US and most European Union countries have said they would recognise independence bypassing the UN.

The EU is preparing to send a civilian mission to Kosovo to replace the current UN administration and to enforce independence.

But Belgrade and Moscow insist such a move would be illegal without the approval of the Security Council.

“Russia categorically opposes Kosovo independence, because it would cause serious damage to the entire system of international law, with negative consequences for the Balkans, the world and the stability of other regions,” Putin said.

Tadic said Serbia would continue to defend its sovereignty over Kosovo “strictly based on the international law".

"We will use no other methods,” he said.

Serbian officials have consistently warned that Kosovo independence would violate the UN Charter, which guarantees inviolability of the existing borders of internationally recognised states.

They claim it would encourage separatist movements throughout the world.

Kostunica thanked Russia for its “principled and fraternal support” on Kosovo, and warned that plans by the EU to send a mission to Kosovo without UN approval was “a dangerous act”.

In addition to the UN administration, there are 17,000 NATO soldiers in Kosovo, which has been under UN control since 1999.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

IAN: Russia's Nuclear Declaration, A Defense, Not An Attack

by David Storobin

We have no plans to attack anyone, but we consider it necessary for all our partners in the world community to clearly understand ... that to defend the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Russia and its allies, military forces will be used, including preventively, the use of nuclear weapons."
-Gen. Yuri Baluyevsky.This announcement was largely ignored by the American media as it debated what’s more important for the next President: the shape of the candidate’s genitals or the color. In more wonkish corners, the statement drew concerns and talk of a new Cold War. And yet, Moscow is not trying to threaten the world despite the panic that the word "nuclear" usually provokes. The General's statement is also not particularly extraordinary. Russia’s new stance is not a threat to the West, much less the beginning of a new Cold War.

To understand why Vladimir Putin’s administration made the statement one needs to go back to the Balkan wars in the 1990s since the “ally” Moscow was talking about was Serbia in the anticipation of the potential unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo Albanians and recognition of the new state by the European Union and the United States.

In the early 1990s, Yugoslavia fell apart along ethnic lines. The most contentious place was Bosnia where the Muslims clashed with Christian Serbs. Both sides committed atrocities, but as has been the policy of the West since the 1930s, the US and EU sided with Muslims. While some countries, at some points (France in the 1950s, US since the 1960s), made an exception for Israel, it has been a consistent pattern of American and West European foreign policy to support Islamic nations – Afghanistan against Russia, Pakistan against India, Turkey over Greece (though the US-Greek relations weren’t hostile, Turkey was clearly the preferred friend), Somalia against Ethiopia. The United States even had an arms embargo against Israel and sided with Egypt over not only Jerusalem, but also Britain and France during the 1956 war. It was not the United States that turned away from Muslims and towards the Jewish state, but rather it was the Arabs who abandoned the alliance and sided with Moscow, leaving the U.S. with little choice but to ally itself with Israel. When Egypt decided to switch sides again, Washington promptly issued it over $2 billion in annual aid and forced Jerusalem to give up Sinai.......IAN

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Under the Media Microscope, They Find "a Stupid Serb"

As most of you know, if anyone in Serbia burps these days, the Western media is determined to twist it into "the release of a Serb biological weapon".

Bits of bad behavior that can be found in any significant ethnic population get special attention when the when the title "Serb" can be attached to it. And the whining little cowards with a keyboard who usually write this racist bull, try to hide behind the upside-down idea that they "are really fighting racism", rather than owning up to the bigots that they really are.

But once in a while in all this Western microscopic media scrutiny of Serbs, they run across a stone-cold Serb moron that even Serbs would agree deserves a kick in the head.

Well, we've got a real winner Serb idiot this time -- one whose name and fame for moron-status and bad taste deserve a special , "ARE YOU STUPID?" mention from SerbBlog. His name is Dusan Zabunovic and he owns the "Mr. President Hotel" in Belgrade, featuring -- of all things -- "The Hitler Suite!

The best and the worst of this story is, Zabunovic is not "a Nazi" or "a Nazi-sympathizer". He has said that he thinks that Hitler was an evil man and regards the Hitler painting in the suite as "similar to Hitler's likeness at Madame Tussaud's". He goes on to say that "Hitler's crimes should not be forgotten", hence the "Hitler Suite". Well if that's the case, it's a good idea gone all fantastically wrong, because the suite comes off as "a tribute to Hitler" to any person who wasn't soundly dropped on his head as a baby.

For the last 17 years, the media has tried to tie Serbs to "Nazism" with something tangible and they have always come up with nothing, other than their racist words and a skinhead or two in the whole country. It's because in fact, Serbs are the least racist group of people you will ever meet -- that's why Serbia has the largest refugee population (including Albanians, Croats & Muslims) in all of Europe. During WWII, Hitler's "Operation Punishment" (retribution for Serbian resistance to the German Nazis) nearly leveled all of Belgrade to the ground. And Serbs were the ONLY ethnic group in the former Yugoslavia that were consistently Anti-Nazi and pro-American -- even when it killed them. And it killed over a million of them.

But now -- while Kosovo hangs in the balance and the Albanians are trying to prove some false case that Serbia's current democratic government is "racist" and "aren't to be trusted", -- Mr. Zabunovic comes along with his stupid hotel suite and gives the hungry media wolves exactly what they are looking for with a tangible association of "Serbia" with "Hitler" for the headlines. And this "Hitler Suite" story has made the rounds of every news from ABC news to USA Today, once already.

Yet, is anyone going to notice that the "Hitler Suite""has riled the Serb locals" or the Hitler Suite is, as Zabunovic describes "most highly demanded by German, Croat and Slovenian guests"? Of course not. Croat teenagers can walk around with neo-Nazi garb hanging off them and export their hate-music worldwide, because they call this rabid neo-fascism "freedom" and the know-nothing press defends them. Is there a double-standard? Hell, yes! But that does not dismiss the level of disrespect that Mr. Zabunovich showed for the million plus Serbs, Jews and Gypsies slaughtered by Hitler's war machine, and what that means to the legacy of ALL their descendants.

Today, the (Jewish) Anti Defamation League publicly condemned Zabunovic and the "Hitler Suite" --as well they should. They are absolutely right.

It doesn't take "a law" to tell people that this kind of display is outrageously wrong and an insult to sanity -- it just takes the hotelier to have "a brain". And if that is absent, it takes enough people willing NOT to stay there to get any hotelier (stupid or not) to change his ways.

I have one and one question to ask Mr. Zabunovic: "Is making the German, Croat and Slovene Sieg Heil guests who chose the Hitler Suite feel comfortable, more important than honoring those who died defending your country against that monster?" (That should NOT be a tough question!)

Not every Serb is meant to be a Nikola Tesla or Michael Pupin, but will someone please call this guy's mommy and tell him that he needs to come home before he hurts himself -- and the rest of humanity?

Bosnia Has Waited 16 Years to Start Expelling Mujahadeen

Sarajevo, 23 Jan. (AKI) – Bosnian authorities have decided to expel a former mujahadeen fighter and veterans’ leader Imad al-Husini, known as Abu Hamza, local media reported on Wednesday.

Abu Hamza, a Syrian, was one of several thousand mujahadeen fighters who came to Bosnia from Islamic countries to fight on the side of local Muslims during 1992-1995 civil war, but many have remained in the country afterwards and were allegedly indoctrinating local youths with radical Islam.

Under international pressure, the Bosnian government has formed a special commission to re-examine the citizenships granted to thousands of foreigners during and after the war and several hundred citizenships have so far been revoked.

Hamza, who became vice-president of the mujahadeen war veterans’ organization Ansar, has led a protest against the revocation of citizenships and the expulsion of those whose citizenships have been revoked.

According to Bosnian law, unwanted individuals should be deported to the country of their origin, but Hamza, who is believed to have links with Islamic terrorist networks, has said his life would be in danger if he were deported to Syria.

Bosnian television reports said Hamza has lost all appeals and would be deported to neighboring Croatia in two weeks, because he, like most mujahadeen, had come to Bosnia via Croatia.

Dzevad Glijasevic, a Bosnian expert on terrorism, told the daily Fokus that that there were still 1,200 former mujahadeen from Afro-Asian countries in Bosnia, some of whom had up to three different passports and identities.

Galijasevic, himself a Muslim, was the first post-war mayor of the central town of Maglaj, where he first came into conflict with the mujahadeen, and has been exposing their activities ever since.

He blamed Bosnian Muslim authorities of being lenient towards radical Islamists, saying many of the current Muslim leaders were involved in “importing” them to Bosnia.

“The issue of terrorism and the links of political circles in Bosnia with organized crime and terrorism is the number one question for the national security,” Galijasevic said.

“What is important in this case, isn’t whether you take away citizenship and deport such persons, but to cut off the possibilities for such ‘imports’ and ties with persons who provided them with false citizenships,” Galijasevic said.

Galijasevic said he believed there has been a silent agreement in Bosnia “on the highest level” with mujahadeen not to interfere with each other, because mujahadeen could be “unpleasant witnesses” on how they came to Bosnia in the first place and who brought them.

“It’s not advisable even to talk about it, let alone investigate their activities,” he said.

The mujahadeen could be a source of precious information “on who brought them to Bosnia and why, what they have been doing, where the logistic bases of al-Qaeda are located in Bosnia and what are their links to political circles,” Galijasevic said.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Terrorism Expert Recieves Death Threat (from the USA)

Belgrade, 21 Jan. (AKI) – Serbian terrorism expert, Darko Trifunovic, has cancelled a visit to Germany next week after claiming he received death threats from Muslim extremists.

Trifunovic, a professor at Belgrade University, said he has cancelled plans to attend the 11th European police congress in Berlin, after reporting death threats from alleged extremists in Bosnia.

Trifunovic, who has used the term “white Al-Qaeda”, to describe young European Muslims recruited by Islamic terrorist organisations, has been most outspoken on the activities of Islamic extremists in Bosnia and their links to Osama Bin Laden and al-Qaeda.

“I’m not panicky, but I do feel in danger,” Trifunovic told Adnkronos International (AKI) in an exclusive interview.

He said he had decided to avoid the Berlin congress on the urging of his friends and associates, after a threatening message was posted on a Bosnian extremist website,

“Help us God to erase Trifunovic and his entire family from the earth,” the message said.

“If Darko Trifunovic goes to the 11th Police Congress in Berlin, God help us that all Muslims finish him,” it added.

Individuals like Trifunovic should be harassed and discredited by all means “and to the very end, until others dare not show up to talk about terrorism” the message continued.

The website ( is based in New York and its editor Esad Krcic had written to the Berlin congress organisers urging them to ban Trifunovic, saying he was spreading ideology of hate and lies against Muslims.

But the congress said on its website Trifunovic had informed the organisers he was not able to attend because he “received very dangerous death threats” and had “decided not to expose himself and endanger the congress”.

The site has been closed after Trifunovic made the threats public claiming it had been attacked by hackers.

Trifunovic said was glorifying Muslim extremists, such as Sakib Mahmuljin, whom he accused of being a “high ranking Bosnian Al-Qaeda member, and imam of a Sarajevo King Fahd mosque, Nezim Halilovic Muderis.

The King Fahd mosque was built in 2000 on the outskirts of Sarajevo with Saudi money and named after the Saudi monarch.

“I have been following Muderis’ activities since 1999 and his Friday sermons, available on Bosnian websites, are replete with incitement to violence in Israel, Kashmir, Chechnya, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and the Philippines,” Trifunovic told AKI.

Trifunovic said Muderis is preaching a radical, Wahabi form of Islam, and is indoctrinating local youths, while local Muslim authorities are looking the other way.

“His ideas are well accepted by the young, who should be the most protected by the state, which opens the question on the role of the state and some Bosnian politicians at the highest level,” Trifunovic added.

Wahabism is a conservative 18th century reform movement of Sunni Islam founded by Muhammad ibn Abd-al-Wahhab, after whom it is named. Wahhabism is the creed upon which the kingdom of Saudi Arabia was founded and is the dominant form of Islam found in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar.

The Wahabi ideology was brought to the Balkans by thousands of mujahadeen fighters, who came from Islamic countries to fight on the side of local Muslims during Bosnia’s 1992-1995 civil war and has been slowly gaining strength ever since.

A group of 15 Wahabis was arrested in Serbia’s Sandzak region, with sizable Muslim population, in March last year and is currently standing trial before a Belgrade court. They have been accused of plotting terrorist activities, including an attack on the US embassy in Belgrade.

Trifunovic estimated that up to 40,000 Muslims had been indoctrinated with radical Islam in Bosnia. But he said there are also active Wahabi cells in Sandzak, Serbia’s breakaway Kosovo province and other areas with substantial Muslim communities.

“If only one per cent of these individuals is prepared for the most radical forms of terrorism, the international community should be seriously concerned,” Trifunovic said.

“We are no longer talking about foreign mujahadeen, who have more or less finished their work in Bosnia, but about a ‘small army’ of local followers, with strong logistics, who are recruiting new members and spreading fear."

SerbBlog: First tried to discredit Trifunovic, and when that didn't work, they threatened Trifunovic and his family. There is more on this story about threatening Trifunovic and disrupting the Euro Police Congress here.

Reuters: "U.N. prosecutor says ex-Kosovo PM approved rape and murder"

Mon Jan 21, 2008 5:55 PM GMT

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Kosovo's former prime minister Ramush Haradinaj approved the rape, persecution and murder of Serb civilians when he led a guerrilla force in the 1990s, prosecutors at his war crimes trial said on Monday.

Haradinaj, a Kosovo Albanian who served as a regional commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) during the 1998-99 war with Serb forces before becoming prime minister, is charged with responsibility for torture, murder, rape and deportation.

"There was a saying: 'God in heaven, Haradinaj on earth'," prosecutor David Re said, summing up his case at the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague.

"His degree of control was such... that the murders, tortures and rapes could not have occurred without his approval," he added.

Prosecutors are seeking a 25-year-sentence for Haradinaj, 39, and his two co-accused Idriz Balaj, the commander of the "Black Eagles", a special unit of the KLA, and Lahi Brahimaj, Haradinaj's uncle....(Reuters)

SerbBlog: Guess that this is just more that current Prime Minister Agim Ceku thinks that his KLA "doesn't need to apologize" for. You have to know that something is truly wrong with the entire political picture on Kosovo when every elected Kosovo Albanian "Prime Minister" is a sadistic war criminal.

Serbia Tries Wahhabis For Attempted US Embassy Bombing

Both AKI and Serbianna have been covering the trials of Wahhabis in Southern Serbia who were trying to bomb the US Embassy in Belgrade and assassinate another Serb Muslim cleric.

Must say, these Wahhabis have been putting on a real show in court!

Between calling George Bush "the father of all terrorists", "blaming Jews for 9/11" and "asking Allah to damn America", I can only imagine that ordinary Americans are having a tough time keeping a scorecard on who is supposed to be America's "friends" and "enemies" in the region. Well, here's a hint:

1. Back in 1989, there was something called "the Golden List" of donors that fledgling al Qaeda drew up, which would not be discovered until 2001 -- in Sarajevo. If you are counting the years, 1989 is two years before the Islamic fundamentalist leader of Bosnia Alija Izetbegovic pushed for Bosnian (Muslim) independence from Yugoslavia and two years before the Bosnian war ever began.

2. The US supported the Bosnian Muslims against the Christian Serbs and "looked the other way" (wink, wink) while Bosnia issued Osama bin Laden a passport and imported mujahadeen from our supposed "friends" in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East. (Saudi Arabia is 2,000 miles from Bosnia and the arrival of these mujahadeen in Bosnia was the first incursion of Wahhabist Islam into the Balkans.)

3. The US ignored the Muslim crimes against the Serbs, and focused solely on the Serb's retaliatory crimes against Muslims.

4. While all protests by Serb-Americans and others who knew the real score in Bosnia were being ignored, ridiculed or labeled as "Serb propagandists" by the media and by the talking heads in Washington, Islamic jihadists -- including one of the 9/11 bombers (as documented in the 9/11 Report) --were cutting their murderous teeth slaughtering Christian Serbs in Bosnia. So what did the President Clinton do about these Wahhabists in Bosnia? In 1995, he used NATO to bomb the Serbs! Instead of helping fight the Islamic terrorists, Clinton actually helped the terrorists who would later be responsible for 9/11!

5. This same jihad against Serbs --which included torture, murder, and even the rape of Christian nuns-- was also quietly continuing in Kosovo by Albanian Muslims, as thousands of Serbs were forced out of Kosovo through the 1980's and 1990's . Finally, Serbia's President Milosevic decided that he had enough of Serbs & other minorities being forced out of Kosovo and Serbian police being killed by KLA terrorists, so he cracked down on the Albanian secessionists. So what did the US do to help combat this Islamic terrorism in the Balkans this time? We bombed the Serbs again!

6. 9/11, The Utah Gunman, Two of the Fort Dix Six, the London Bombing, The Madrid Bombing, the Bombing at the US Embassy in Greece and now this attempted bombing of the US Embassy in Belgrade -- all of these were facilitated by our supposed "Muslim friends from the Balkans".

7. Meanwhile, Serbia still keeps chugging along, trying to save itself from being overwhelmed by radical Islamists, while they cover our butt, too -- in spite of the fact we are still trying to steal Serbian land in Kosovo and give it to Albanian Islamists.

Go figure!

Thaci refuses to apologize for KLA crimes

Hashim Thaci has refused to apologize to the Serbs for the crimes committed while he was the leader of the KLA.

The so-called Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), which the
Serbian state considered terrorist, was involved in attacks on Serb police and civilians before and during the 1999 war in Kosovo.

But Thaci was not the subject of investigation by the Hague Tribunal prosecutors, who raised indictments against three former KLA leaders, Ramush Haradinaj, Idriz Balaj, and Lahi Brahimaj, for their actions in 1998.

The new Kosovo prime minister was taking part in a news conference in Čaglavica's media center today, when reporters asked whether he felt guilty for the crimes committed against the Serbs in the province.

Journalists also wanted to know if Thaci would apologize to the victims, now that he has assumed the duties of the province's prime minister.

"I am very proud of my past and the past of my people who, along with NATO, arrived at the goal," he answered, in reference to the NATO bombing of Serbia in the spring of 1999, which ended after 78 days with the withdrawal of Serbian securty forces from the province, and its placement under UN administration, regulated by the Security Council Resolution 1244.

"We need to turn to the future, not to the past," said Thaci, and then added, "everyone knows who should be apologizing."

Speaking about the Kosovo government's plans, he said it will "guarantee all minorities their rights as envisaged in the Ahtisaari plan."

Thaci explained that a new office for minorities will soon open with his cabinet, and called on all those driven out of their homes in the province to return to Kosovo, adding that his government would guarantee them security.

Official data shows that nearly 190,000 Serbs and other non-Albanians left the province after the war in 1999. Almost all of them now live in other parts of Serbia as IDPs, or internally displaced persons.

Thaci said today that the resolution of Kosovo's status should not bring fear, but rather a better future for all residents, and stressed that "there has been no ethnically motivated violence for the past two years."

"The patriotism of the Albanians is today seen in their respect for the minority communities," the Kosovo prime minister said, adding that those Serbs who entered his cabinet as ministers "will not be merely decoration."

Thaci did not wish to speculate on the date Kosovo Albanians might decide to unilaterally declare the province's independence, but said this would happen "in the near future and in coordination with Washington and Brussels."

SerbBlog: Well, I'd really like to know what Agim Ceku is "not apologizing for".

Would it be the wanton kidnapping and murder of the helpless Christian priest-monk, Father Hariton, who was tortured and beheaded by his KLA and when his body was finally discovered could only be identified by his monastic garb and his prayer rope?

Would it be the 200,000 Serbs, Roma and Jews who have been driven from Kosovo since the 1999 NATO bombing and have been too petrified to return since?

What about the 150 Christian churches in Kosovo that have been torched, bombed and desecrated since the KLA has taken power? No apology, not even a false one for the press?

How about the fact that both children and old people must be guarded by barbed wire and armed guards in Ceku's Kosovo and even that is often not enough to protect them?

Does Agim Ceku really believe that George Bush and the current cadre in Washington & the EU are like some Middle Eastern potentates and that as long as he pays them off and kisses their rear end, "Kosovo independence will just proceed as planned"?

If that is really true, then this isn't America anymore and I am not sure what in the hell I am doing here!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Pentagon's Top Islamic Authority a Victim of Political Correctness

Maj. Stephen Coughlin, the military's top authority on Islamic war doctrine, was pushed out of the Pentagon, where he worked as an intelligence analyst for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, after a high-level Muslim official protested his making a connection between Islamic law and terror.

Hesham Islam, a personal aide to deputy Defense secretary Gordon England, criticized Coughlin for telling a hard truth that could save soldiers lives and help us win the war against jihadists.

But what really set him off, according to Washington Times Pentagon correspondent Bill Gertz, were briefings Coughlin recently prepared for the U.S. military warning that major U.S. Muslim groups were fronting for the Muslim Brotherhood, a worldwide jihadist movement based in Egypt.

Turns out Islam, who was born and raised in Egypt, is heavily involved with one of the groups -- the Islamic Society of North America, which U.S. prosecutors last year named an unindicted co-conspirator in a major terrorfunding case.

Islam has persuaded his boss England to do various outreach with ISNA, including speaking at its convention last fall, a move that scandalized counterterrorism officials.

Addressing the confab, DOD's No. 2 intoned that "there is no contradiction between the peaceful religion of Islam and America's values and principles."

Coughlin reached a 180-degree opposite conclusion.

In a 333-page report submitted to the National Defense Intelligence College, he warned that Islamic law sanctions violence. In fact, he wrote that the Quran and other Islamic texts make clear that it is an obligatory requirement for Muslims to wage jihad when non-Muslim forces enter Muslim lands.

"So how does one explain the prevailing assumption that Islam does not stand for such violence undertaken in its name with the fact that its law and education materials validate the very acts undertaken by 'extremists' in Iraq?" he asked, logically.

The mandate to wage jihad is also taught, still, in Saudi school textbooks, Coughlin says, and explains why the home to Islam's holiest shrines is the No. 1 foreign supplier of suicide bombers in Iraq.

"The first 'radicalizing' lesson that Saudi youth receive that motivates them to travel to Iraq and fight coalition forces does not come from 'extremist' groups like al-Qaida," he observed, "but rather is taught as part of Saudi Arabia's standard secondary school curriculum."

Bottom line: "The enemy is driven by Islamic law," he warned -- not poverty, lack of education or other socioeconomic factors often used by official Washington and the punditry to blur the demonstrable link between Islamic devotion and terror.

Unfortunately, Coughlin's critical findings were too politically hot for Pentagon brass trying to make nice with Muslim groups at the urging of Muslim aides involved with them. So instead of the aides, he got the boot, which is outrageous but not surprising for Washington......AINA

SerbBlog: And we wonder why Bush and Company is so consistently anti-Serb and pro-Muslim? It's looking like they are also anti-American!

Friday, January 18, 2008

The Globalist War Against Orthodox Christianity in Serbia

The following are videos were produced by a small mission of American Orthodox Christians in the San Luis Obispo area about the war against Orthodox Christianity and the persecution of Orthodox Christians in Serbia:

Part One

Part Two

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Kosovo Independence Will Encourage Secession -- of Vermont?

The move to independence in Kosovo is being closely monitored by a group thousands of miles away in the United States. For 230 years residents in the U.S. state of Vermont have harboured a desire to secede from the United States. Vermont separatists are hoping Kosovo will set a precedent they can follow.

The state is known for green mountains, liberal views and the second lowest population in the United States. But thousands living in this small state are pushing for a very big change - to break ties with Washington.

Thomas Naylor is the man behind the movement known as the Second Vermont Republic.

“In our view the United States, the empire, has lost its moral authority. It's engaged in massive illegal activity both at home an abroad. It is unsustainable economically, militarily, politically, environmentally. The titanic is going down,” Thomas Naylor says.

Vermont was independent for 14 years before joining the Union in 1791.

Naylor, a retired economics professor and published author says “the U.S. is too large to be run by one central government”, which he calls unfixable and corrupt on both sides.

The anti-war and eco-friendly supporters of the Second Vermont Republic created their own flag, manifesto and anthem.

The movement has even attracted attention from secessionists in other states like Virginia, Alaska and Texas, which culminated in a North-South Succession Summit that took place this week.

Among the topics of discussion was Washington's support for Kosovo's independence.

It's something secession advocate Kirkpatrick Sale is keeping an eye on.

“Once they do that. Once they are for a secessionist state in Europe, than they can't be against a secessionist state here in America. How can they oppose Vermont's succession when they've already agreed to the principal of the right to succession?” Kirkpatrick Sale wonders.

While principal is one thing, Vermont and Kosovo aren't identical situations.

A decade ago, it was war, ethnic divide, and U.S. and European military intervention that brought Kosovo to where it is today. And while the leaders of Kosovo want independence, Vermont's Governor and state representatives don't support succession.

Attorney Paul Gillies says the move is technically legal, but believes it would be an economic disaster.

Meanwhile, a survey by the State's University found 13 per cent support succession from the United States. Not an overwhelming majority, but the movement is gaining popularity.

While the future status of Kosovo may be known relatively soon, Vermont secessionists believe their fight will take up to a decade. They vow to stay determined and focused, hoping to create a stand-alone republic that first broke free two centuries ago.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Spiked: "Kosovo’s Declaration of Dependence"

Tuesday 15 January 2008
David Chandler

Hashim Thaci, one-time guerrilla turned PM of Kosovo, has promised to break away from Serbia. It's independence, Jim, but not as we know it.

Hashim Thaci, the former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) guerrilla leader, has been formally installed as the prime minister of Kosovo. Ruling over a new coalition government, he has promised to declare the province’s independence from Serbia within weeks. The United States and Germany have agreed to recognise Kosovo, and to get the rest of Europe to follow suit. However, Kosovo’s long anticipated declaration of independence will not create an independent state. Rather, it confirms that Kosovo will remain an international dependency.

One could be forgiven for thinking that Kosovo’s promise last week to declare independence has caught the international community off-guard. It appears to be a highly divisive issue; the United Nations Security Council has been unable to reach an agreement on Kosovo’s future status. Even European Union member states have been unable to reach a consensus on recognition and will do so unilaterally rather than collectively.

Considering its divisive nature, it might seem strange that Kosovo’s independence has become such an apparently urgent international question. It might appear that the electoral success for separatists or disagreements between the Kosovo government in Pristina and the Serbian government in Belgrade have forced the issue on to the agenda. In fact, Kosovo’s declaration of independence has little to do either with elections in Kosovo or with relations with Belgrade.

It is the United States and leading European states that have pushed for a ‘declaration of independence’, despite the lack of international consensus on the question and despite Serbian government opposition. However, it would be wrong to see this move as being driven by the desire to weaken or to punish Serbia. In fact, the Kosovo question has been a major problem both for the EU and the Serbian government, holding back the possibility of closer cooperation and EU enlargement.

At the formal level of legal sovereignty there has been substantial disagreement over recognising Kosovo’s independence from Serbia. States opposing recognition - EU members such as Cyprus or Security Council member Russia – have been primarily concerned over the legal principles held to be at stake and the state-based international order they uphold. The same goes for outspoken opponents of Kosovo’s independence in the US, such as Lawrence Eagleburger (1).

However, to see the issue of Kosovo’s independence solely in terms of traditional international relations questions of state sovereignty and the framework of international law would be to miss the dynamics of the Kosovo declaration, which has been driven by the need to change international institutional structures for managing the province rather than by conflicts over control of the territory.

In practice, Kosovo has effectively been independent from Serbia since the end of the Kosovo war in 1999, when the UN administration of the province was established under Security Council resolution 1244 (2). International encouragement for the Kosovo government’s declaration of independence has not been driven by the need to restructure Kosovo’s relationship with Serbia, but by the need to overcome the stasis of the UN administration.

The real negotiations behind Kosovo’s ‘independence’ have not been between Pristina and Belgrade, but between Western governments over the reform of the mechanisms of international administration. What will change with the declaration of independence will be the abolition of the structures of the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) regulations and their replacement by oversight by the European Union. Despite the declaration of independence, at no point will the Kosovo government assume independent authority over the province.

Thaci may have once been a rebel leader, but in declaring ‘independence’ he is merely doing the bidding of the US and European Union. Far from a radical statement of political self-government, this is one of dependency. Thaci has himself proclaimed that no move would be made without the approval of the United States and key European powers. This means that no declaration is likely before Serbia’s presidential elections in late January and the likely run-off in early February. As Thaci clearly stated before the Kosovo parliament vote on 9 January: ‘Kosovo will do nothing without Washington and Brussels. No unilateral actions.’ (3)

Recognition of Kosovo’s ‘independence’ by the US and European states will be dependent on the government’s acceptance of the EU administration. Following this recognition, the UN administration will be formally brought to an end and the EU will assume administrative control over Kosovo, sending a 1,800-strong administrative mission to take over UNMIK’s responsibilities while still relying on the use of NATO troops. This will occur whether or not all the EU member states formally recognise Kosovo’s declared independence (4).

The decision to replace the UN mission with an EU one makes the discussion of whether or not to recognise Kosovo’s independence little more than a side-show. The EU has made it clear that, for Kosovo, ‘independence’ will not be the same as ‘total independence’. The Slovenian prime minister Janez Jansa, whose country currently holds the EU Presidency, stated on 7 January that the EU mission would not be sent to a ‘totally independent country, [a] sovereign country’ (5).

During the NATO-led war over Kosovo, the conflict was famously billed by then British prime minister Tony Blair as ‘a war fought not for territory but for values’ (6). However, for the following nine years, the discussion in international policy circles has been about territory rather than values. The fallout from undermining Serbian sovereignty over the province is one that is still far from being resolved. Kosovo will come under similar EU protectorate powers as those exercised by the EU’s Special Representative over Bosnia. Giving formal recognition to Kosovo’s separation from Serbia is by no means the same as giving the province independence.


BALKANS: Discrimination Rife Within Kosovo

By Apostolis Fotiadis

PRISTINA, Jan 15 (IPS) - In the northern part of the ethnically divided city Mitrovica, 38 km north of Kosovo capital Pristina, 60 people have occupied an abandoned two-floor building. Among them is Alexander Damianovic, of Serbian ethnic origin, who arrived in Mitrovica in 2001 after transiting through various places in former Yugoslavia.

Damianovic, a refugee of the Serbo-Croatian conflict in 1995, lives with his daughter in a single room in the building, which is now used by local authorities and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) as a collective shelter. His two other children were sent to a centre in Kraljevo in southern Serbia that looks after children from families that vanished during the wars, or who cannot provide for them.

Damianovic's mentally sick wife lives in his building, separately in the space once reserved for the receptionist; efforts to send her to a mental asylum failed. She became ill after she lost her father and brother during the war in 1998.

"After seven months we received this box of provisions as support from the Red Cross," Damianovic said, pointing to a small box on the floor. "We are supposed to receive 50 euros per month as social support, but the last four months we did not get even this. Just the medicines I need cost 30 euros a month."

Three kilometres east of Mitrovica, in an area called The First Tunnel, the Albanian family of the Jassaris has occupied an abandoned and semi-demolished Serbian house.

"The municipality promised us an apartment eight years ago but we never got it," Debran Jassari said. "We live nine of us in two rooms, and receive help only from people who sometimes bring food or flour." Fortunately, he says, no claim has been made by anyone to repossess the property.

Another Albanian, Mustaf Istrefi, lives with another nine members of his family in Stari Trg, two kilometres east of The First Tunnel. Unemployment in the village, which hosts one of the richest mines in Europe, with rich veins of lead, zinc, cadmium, gold and silver, is above 95 percent. The mine has been inactive since 1999.

Istrefi struggles to raise his seven children on 100 euros he makes every month. He manages to send them to school, but without support he cannot offer them more.

His eldest son was admitted by the university in Pristina in the faculty of economics, but the family could not support him. So he had to stay home and join the unemployed mass.

Istrefi's family lives in an apartment previously hosting Serbian miners. He is afraid that if the mine is activated, or the owner returns, they might have to go.

There are thousands in Kosovo like Damianovic, Jassari and Istrefi.

Most remain socially excluded, and trapped in an environment of political turmoil that has provided no stable social structures. They have become a secondary, and neglected, social problem.

The focus is all on the status of Kosovo. The Albanian majority in Kosovo, a United Nations protectorate since the end of the 1998-99 war, wants full independence from Serbia, which is offering only broad autonomy.

The population movement caused by ethnic repression during the last period of Yugoslavia's dissolution has pushed these people into areas in and around Kosovo. Serbs are concentrated in the northern part of Kosovo and in enclaves scattered around the region. Albanian refugees have mostly migrated abroad or moved into Pristina.

"Official sources in Serbia, and in Montenegro, put the figure of internally displaced persons at more than 200,000," according to the Public Information Unit of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Kosovo. "This figure includes Serbs, Montenegrins, Roma, Ashkaelia, Egyptian, Muslim, Bosniak, Gorani and others (but excludes Albanian)."

An additional 21,000 (including all communities) internally displaced persons are estimated to have moved within Kosovo. In some way, displacement and exclusion have affected people of all ethnic origins.

The fate of Damianovic, Jassari and Istrefi is not inevitable.

"Kosovo has received 30 million euros per year since 1999 for constructing alternative housing," Touncho Zourlev, a Kosovo Property Agency (KPA) enforcement officer told IPS. "This is a lot of money. But who can tell what happened with it." About an equal amount for social support is reported to have been sent into Kosovo from Belgrade, supposedly to take care of ethnic Serbs.

KPA is the international body responsible for reclaiming and administering property on behalf of internally displaced persons and refugees. KPA eviction officials admit that they often have to remove families from reclaimed properties who were found to be living below subsistence levels. Still, they implement decisions only in the south since the police refuse them effective assistance in areas inhabited by Serbs.

"It is really brutal especially when you arrive in the winter and the children are sleeping, many times six or seven together," KPA official Charlotte Ajavon told IPS.

Municipalities are meant to care for these people but KPA officials admit that they mostly disregard their obligations towards the poor and the homeless, leaving them alone to cope with social exclusion and lack of support. (END/2008)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

It's Time to End the Serb Bashing

The Guardian
Neil Clark
January 14, 2008

On Cif last week Anna di Lellio, who was a political adviser to the former Kosovan prime minister and one-time Kosovan Liberation Army chief of staff, Agim Çeku, claimed that "Serbian nationalism briefly subdued after the fall of Milosevic" is back in full force with its "old tactics". Di Lellio offers very little evidence to back up her assertion, except a declaration from the Serbian parliament that - horror of horrors - the country is determined to defend its territorial integrity in compliance with international law.

What is undoubtedly "back in force" with all its "old tactics" is Serb-bashing, of which Di Lellio is only one of many culprits in the western media (including, it must sadly be said, Cif). The Serbs have been demonised not because they were the party most responsible for the wars of secession in the 1990s - they were not - but because they have consistently got in the way of the west's hegemonic ambitions in the region.

The west wanted Yugoslavia destroyed, with one militarily strong, independent state replaced by several weak and divided Nato/IMF/EU protectorates. "In post-cold war Europe no place remained for a large, independent-minded socialist state that resisted globalisation," admitted George Kenney, former Yugoslavia desk officer of the US state department.

The Serbs' great "crime" was not reading the script. Out of all the groups in the former Yugoslavia, the Serbs, whose population was spread across the country, had most to lose from the country's disintegration. At a meeting at The Hague in October 1991, the leaders of the six constituent republics were presented with a paper entitled "The End of Yugoslavia from the International Scene" by European Community "arbitrators". Only one of them - the Serb leader Slobodan Milosevic - refused to sign his country's death certificate. "Yugoslavia was not created by the consensus of six men and cannot be dissolved by the consensus of six men," he declared.

For his pro-Yugoslav stance, Milosevic was rewarded with over a decade of demonisation in the west's media. Despite his regular election victories in a country where 21 political parties freely operated, Milosevic was (and is) routinely labelled a "dictator", a description which even his consistently hostile biographer Adam LeBor concedes is "incorrect". Some of the attempts to incriminate Milosevic for events he played no part in have been ludicrous: in a Guardian article in 2006 Timothy Garton Ash, a professor of European studies, wrote of Slovenes "trying to break away from Slobodan Milosevic's Yugoslavia in 1991", even though the leader of Yugoslavia at the time was the Croat Ante Markovic (a correction to the claim was published).

In the standard western rewrite of history, Slobo and the Serbs were also to blame for the break-out of war in Bosnia. Yet the man who lit the blue touch paper for that brutal conflict war was not Milosevic, nor the Bosnian-Serb leaders, but the US ambassador Warren Zimmerman, who persuaded Bosnian separatist Alija Izetbegovic to renege on his signing of the 1992 Lisbon agreement, which had provided for the peaceful division of the republic.

Even after the 1995 Dayton agreement brought an end to a totally unnecessary conflict, there was to be no let up in the west's Serbophobia. In Kosovo, the west's strategic objectives meant them siding with the hardliners of the Kosovo Liberation Army, a group, officially classified as a terrorist organisation by the US state department.

No one, certainly no Serb of my acquaintance, denies that Serb forces committed atrocities in the Balkan wars and that those responsible should be held accountable in a court of law (though not one financed by the powers who illegally bombed their country less than 10 years ago). But what makes Serbs so incensed is that whereas Serbian atrocities have received the full glare of the western media spotlight, atrocities committed by other parties in the conflict are all but ignored.

While massive media attention focused on the relatively low-scale tit-for-tat hostilities between Yugoslav forces and the KLA in 1998/9, Operation Storm - where an estimated 200,000 Serbs were driven out of Croatia in an operation which received logistical and technical support from the US - is hardly mentioned. No publicity, either, for massacres such as the slaughter, on Orthodox Christmas Day 1993, of 49 Serbs in the village of Kravice, near Srebrenica. The town recently held a commemorative service to mark the 15th anniversary of the atrocity: no members of "the international community" were present.

Now, with Kosovo again in the headlines, the Serb-bashers are once more out in force. Once again, the dispute is being portrayed in Manichean terms. While much is made of the treatment of Kosovan Albanians by Yugoslav forces in 1998/9, little is said about the KLA's campaign of intimidation which led to an exodus of an estimated 200,000 Serbs, Roma, Bosnians, Jews and other minorities from the province after "the international community" moved in.

"Nowhere in Europe is there such segregation as Kosovo ... Nowhere else are there so many 'ethnically pure' towns and villages scattered across such a small province. Nowhere is there such a level of fear for so many minorities that they will be harassed simply for who they are. For the Serbs and 'other minorities', who suffer from expulsion from their homes, discrimination and restrictions on speaking their own language, the pattern of violence they have endured for so long may be about to be entrenched as law in the new Kosovo, as the future status talks continue."

So concludes the Minority Rights Group report on "liberated" Kosovo - but hey, let's brush that one under the carpet because it doesn't blame Serbs.

The double standards imposed where Serbs are concerned are breathtaking. Independence for Kosovo is a simple issue of self-determination, we are repeatedly told. Yet the same principle does not apply to Bosnian Serbs who wish to join up with Serbia.

Instead of championing Kosovan secessionism in contravention of international law, Britain and the west should, in fact, be reconsidering its policy towards Serbia. It's too late to undo past crimes - such as the barbarous 1999 Nato bombing campaign - but changing its policy on Kosovo would at least be a start on redressing the injustices of the last 20 years. It's high time we gave the Serbs a break.

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