Tuesday, October 28, 2008
....Ever since the United Nations took over Kosovo in 1999, indeed, the province’s endemic corruption has exploded, as I was able to confirm by talking to two American policemen who work for the international administration there. “Every level of society is corrupt,” one of them said. “Every single aspect of the society is criminal.” This is largely because the Kosovo Liberation Army, the US-backed Contra-style guerrilla force which runs the province and which controls the government, the army and the police, is also notorious for its role as a powerful organisation running drugs, guns and sex slaves to Western Europe.... Read the rest at Brussels Journal
Friday, October 24, 2008
....So, the 2008 Nobel Peace Prize winner brought the message that those he represented were willing to flatten Belgrade and to kill 500 000 people in a week. The threat was made only to make NATO look like a winner of a war game Western politicians had started because they ignored every opportunity since 1991 to find a mediated, negotiated solution to the Kosovo problem – something some of us devoted our lives to at the time. Additionally, they had done it without UN Security Council mandate. And Ahtisaari was the man called upon to be the ‘fixer’ for this bunch of – well, non-convicted NATO war criminals.....Read the Rest at TFF
Patriarch Pavle, adored by his countrymen and religious brethren has been called by many Serbs “a living saint”.
But Pavle said he could no longer efficiently perform his duties “because of poor health and weakness”.
He has been hospitalised for months in a Belgrade hospital, although his health is described by doctors as stable.
Serbian press has been speculating for months on Pavle’s possible withdrawal.
Observers say hardline Kosovo archbishop Artemije and rival archbishop Amfilohije have emerged as the main candidates to take over the spiritual leadership from Pavle of some eight million Orthodox Serbs.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
"If Al-Qaeda wants to defeat the United States, it should hope the country keeps up its 'fight against terrorism' and the policies already seen in its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan so that we can fight until the last soldier has been killed," wrote one Al-Hesbah user.
"Al-Qaeda supports McCain in the presidential election - so that America can continue the failed policies begun by George W. Bush," wrote another website user.
Other messages posted to Al-Hesbah rejoice in the US economic crisis and the falls seen on its financial markets .
"This crisis reinforces on an economic level the damage done to countries by the mistaken wars against Iraq and Afghanistan," wrote another website user.
American Forces Press Service
ABOARD A U.S. MILITARY AIRCRAFT — Serbian and American military officials understand the two nations disagree about Kosovo, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Oct. 21, but they recognize the relationship has to be about more than just that nation.
Navy Adm. Mike Mullen met with Serbian President Boris Tadic Oct. 20, and discussed ways the U.S. and Serbian militaries can work together.
Tadic recognizes that there is more to the U.S.-Serbian relationship than their disagreement on Kosovo, Mullen said. The United States quickly recognized Kosovo's declaration of independence from Serbia in February.
Serbia has turned to the West, and is working to join the European Union. It is also a member of NATO's Partnership for Peace program, often a stepping-stone to full membership in the alliance. The nation is working to eliminate the barriers to full integration in the European economy and the Euro-Atlantic community, the chairman said.
This includes energetically searching for Ratko Mladic and other war criminals from the Bosnian war.
"I get the sense that they are focused on the underpinning of the military-to-military [relationship] and a future that has them as members of the European Union and NATO," Mullen said.
Serbia has a strong strategic commitment to keep tensions low and to make sure violence doesn't break out over Kosovo, Mullen said. The United States and Serbia must continue to make progress in Kosovo, he said, and the next big way is to support the European Union Rule of Law Commission in Kosovo.
"There is so much focus on security and stability in Kosovo that everything is seen through the prism of Kosovo," Mullen said. "We have got to look beyond Kosovo independence, because that isn't the end of the importance of the region. We have to focus on the Balkans writ large. I'm mindful to focus on Serbia as Serbia affects the region, and not just how Serbia affects Kosovo.
"There has to be a balance there," he said.
Mullen said he is pleased with the path of the military-to-military relationship between the United States and Serbia. "Part of that is the great relationship with the Ohio National Guard [as part of a Guard partnership program], but part of it is the general slope-up."
The chairman said he'd like to see Serbian forces working alongside U.S. forces in actual operations. "You can only learn so much from training," he said. "There's always learning that goes on from a real-world operation."
Monday, October 20, 2008
By M.V. Pejakovich(The following is my final update of the Kosovo Litmus Test, prior to the US Presidential elections.)
Even the best of us have a hard time keeping up with all the subtleties of every foreign policy issue around the world and what each presidential candidate's position on that issue is. But of all the foreign policy issues, Kosovo is perhaps one of the best issue we could possibly use as a test of foreign policy ability for a presidential candidate, largely because it involves both integrity and how the candidate sees the role of the
Today, we know that there was no "genocide of 100,000 Kosovars", neither on the ground, nor in the supposed "planning stages". It was all a propaganda production, designed to get us to support the 1999 NATO Bombing of Yugoslavia and ultimately support Kosovo (Albanian)
So which of the current crop of Presidential candidates, who include some of those who were in Congress in 1999, were honest and which ones were bought? Who stood up for American decency and who still actively supports the lie that "Kosovo was a success" and we should defend Islamofascists?
(CP) Chuck Baldwin of the Constitution Party. Chuck Baldwin raised the alarm on Kosovo intervention early on his radio programs, telling Americans that they were being lied to about the 1999 NATO Bombing of Yugoslavia. Chuck Baldwin has the endorsement of Representative Ron Paul, who showed aggressive opposition to the 1999 NATO Bombing of Yugoslavia, both during and after the bombing. and led a bi-partisan coalition that actually sued President Clinton for violating the War Powers Act as a result of that bombing. Chuck Baldwin believes that neither the President nor Congress have the right to exceed the powers granted to them by the US Constitution and the American people, and as such is a non-interventionist.
(L) Bob Barr of the Libertarian Party. Bob Barr as Georgia's Senator was part of the same coalition that sued President Clinton for the NATO Bombing of Yugoslavia and voted against the invasion of Kosovo. Has stated that "America's purpose has never been to be an occupying power".
(G) Cynthia McKinney of the Green Party. Cynthia McKinney voted yes to prevent the United States from invading Kosovo in 1999. She also wants to close United Nations psychiatric hospitals in Kosovo because there is proof many prisoners have been raped and beaten in front of a pathetic staff in the facility. Cynthia McKinney voiced concern that "our limited engagement in Kosovo has become a permanent occupation."
(R) Senator John McCain who made his name nationally known by advocating the 1999 NATO Bombing of Yugoslavia, and the empowerment of radical Islamofascists in the Balkans. Back in 1999, McCain even advocated the we send American troops into Kosovo on behalf of the secessionist drug-running KLA. McCain has consistently been on the Albanian American Civic League's payroll and even marched with them a year after the NATO intervention. McCain is an active interventionists and has surrounded himself with foreign lobbyists who are just itching to start the next war that McCain can "promise to protect us from". Sarah Palin, as much as we would like to see her as "one of us", is just a sock puppet cheerleader intended to bolster McCain's chances to occupy the Oval Office.
(D) Barack Obama began on my "The Jury is Still Out List", but infected by Serbophobe Joe Biden, Barrack Obama has embraced Albanians and Kosovo Independence with both arms. Hard to tell which came first -- believing the bald-faced lie that there really "500,000 Albanians in the US" (when the US Census shows 157,000) or the rotten egg named "Biden" he chose as a running mate -- but Barack Obama has definitely gone over to the dark side on this issue, and now lies through his teeth as well as Biden about Kosovo.
Biden, not only backed the 1999 NATO Bombing of Yugoslavia, he co-sponsored the bill with Senator John McCain that would have put American troops on the ground in Kosovo. Biden actually wrote an article describing why "All Opponents of Kosovo Independence Must Be Stopped"-- obviously forgetting that the
The Kosovo issue is both a foreign policy test and and test of integrity.
Yet the issue of integrity knows no borders. If they can lie to us about what's happening overseas, they can lie to us about what's happening in our own country. Our current financial crisis is a perfect example of how "business as usual" in DC can lie to us with a straight face and sell us all out.
This presidential election, like most of the elections I can remember over the last 20 years has, for most people, become a choice between "the lesser of evils". Fear of one of the major candidates over the other, keeps us running to elect "one of the two", "the lesser of evils", when in fact who we should really be afraid of is both of them! The lesser of evils is still evil! Bankrupting us with useless wars abroad, or bankrupting us with bailouts still leaves us what? Bankrupt!
If there was ever a year for telling traditional DC Republicans and Democrats that we are sick of them bailing out their banker buddies on our dime, and tired of financing their attempts at ruling the world at America's expense, this is the year!
Vote third party, not just for the sake of "Kosovo" -- that was just the test -- vote for a third party (my choice is Chuck Baldwin) for the sake of America!
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Velika Hoca, 14 Oct. (AKI) - By Vjekoslav Radovic
Just 600 Serbs now live in Kosovo's Velika Hoca enclave and many houses now stand empty after their owners moved to Serbia in search of a more secure and better life.
The isolated 12th-century village lies some 60 kilometres southwest of Kosovo's capital Pristina, amid rolling hills that are dotted with vineyards.
“My family roots here are centuries old, and I want to remain and raise my children in this place, but it’s not going to be easy,” Marko Spasic, 24, told Adnkronos International (AKI).
An elementary school art teacher in Velika Hoca, Spasic is one of some 200 young people who decided to stay in this isolated remote village when the Serbian army and police pulled out of Kosovo after NATO's airstrikes in 1999 and it was placed under United Nations control.
Even Kosovo's declaration of independence from Serbia in February has not weakened the determination of Spasic and others to stay.
“Apart from security, though, the key problem here is what to do and how to survive economically. There are no jobs. We can cultivate only about 20 percent of our land and we can’t move far away from the village,” Spasic told AKI.
To make things worse, electricity and water shortages are a part of every day life. “We measure time here by the hours when there is electricity, and when there is not,” Spasic added.
But Spasic finds encouragement in the fact that there are 64 pupils currently attending the local elementary school. For high school, they will have to move from the isolated village to Serbia, or the ethnically divided northern Kosovar city of Mitrovica.
“Only God knows how many will return and decide to seek their future here,” said Spasic.
The nearby city of Prizren was the seat of the Serbian medieval state, founded by Stefan Nemanja. Wine growing in the area dates back to the same era and is a Serb tradition.
Neglected vineyards are a sure reminder that there is no one to tend them and that their Serb owners had fled.
Three Serbs were killed while working their vineyards in Velika Hoca and Swiss peace-keepers from the international peacekeeping force (KFOR) stationed in Kosovo are now guarding the area from a hilltop above the village.
Before 1999, Kosovo produced some of the best wines in the former Yugoslavia, deriving mostly from area around Velika Hoca and from Suva Reka in the Prizren district of southern Kosovo.
Now, the villagers produce delicious, full-bodied, dry, red wine for their own use, although there is more wine than can be consumed.
“We live here like Martians,” says 67-year-old Dimitrije Micic, the head of the village office.
“No one can come to visit us, nor can we go out without police escort.”
Driving through Kosovo with Serbian number plates is very risky and Velika Hoca's villagers are escorted by KFOR peacekeepers when they take a bus to the Serbian part of Mitrovica for supplies.
About one half of Kosovo’s 100,000 remaining Serbs are concentrated in the north of Mitrovica, next to Serbia, and they have barely felt the effects of Kosovo's independence.
But the rest are dispersed in isolated enclaves throughout Kosovo protected by peacekeepers.
Last week an escorted bus was stoned in the nearby town of Malisevo. Some Serbs have acquired Kosovar automobile licence plates and travel unescorted.
“But what do you do if you get stuck in a hostile Albanian village? You may just vanish,” says Novica Savelic.
Three thousand Serbs have been killed or have disappeared since since 1999, according to the Red Cross.
“There are still some good Albanians,” says Bogoljub Stosic, sipping his exquisite home-made grape brandy rakija with his visitors. “There are good and bad people everywhere.”
His pre-war Albanian friend from nearby town of Orahovac calls at least once a week and asks if he needs anything. “Occasionally he drops in and brings supplies,” says Stosic’s wife Vida.
Their two sons have immigrated to Norway and started a new life there. They had paid 1,200 euros each to mediators to get visas. Thousands have emigrated over the past several years, villagers said.
“There is no life here, just bare survival,” says Micic. Serbia is fighting a diplomatic battle to retain Kosovo under its control and is paying each family in the enclaves an equivalent of 150 euros per month in Serbian dinars to help them stay.
In the enclaves much trading is still done in dinars, although euros are the official currency throughout Kosovo. But the help from Belgrade is not enough - even to survive economically, Micic said.
“The future here is very bleak,” Micic, a retired economist, said. “As long as there is any Serbian state presence here, there is some hope. But if that vanishes, the village will simply die away."
Apart from wine, Velika Hoca is famous for its 13 churches, some dating back to the medieval time, dedicated to various Serbian Orthodox saints. But there are no longer enough parishioners to fill them.
Last weekend Velika Hoca celebrated its patron saint St. Cyriac the Ascetic. Serbs from other enclaves came escorted by the KFOR to join the celebration, which lasted until the small hours.
Kosovo's Archbishop Artemije held a special outdoor mass (photo), local youngsters performed traditional folk dances and children sang old Serbian songs
A young French diplomat who came from Pristina, felt uneasy about France’s recognition of Kosovo independence.
He referred to the long-standing friendship between Serbs and the French, pointing out that France was “always on the side of the oppressed."
"In 1999 it seemed to be the ethnic Albanians, but now the situation is completely reversed,” he said.
“The killing had to stop, but now the only hope for the future of Kosovo is that ethnic Albanians treat Serbs correctly,” said the diplomat, who asked not to be named.
Thursday, October 09, 2008
....." McCain rushed to publicly support the Georgian republic during its recent conflict with Russia and amplified his threat to expel Moscow from the G-8 club of major powers. His running mate, Sarah Palin, suggested in her first major interview that the United States might have to go to war with Russia one day in order to protect Georgia--the kind of apocalyptic scenario the United States avoided during the cold war.
|Jeremić addresses the UN GA on Wednesday (FoNet)|
74 countries abstained, Tanjug news agency reports from New York this afternoon.
The European Union member countries, according to a Beta news agency report, did not have a united stand on the issue, with the UK and France abstaining, while Slovakia, Greece, Cyprus, Spain and Romania voted in favor.
In the discussion that preceded the voting, Serbia was supported by Panama, Cuba, Mexico, Indonesia, Costa Rica, Algeria, Egypt, South Africa.
The United States and Albania voted against the adoption of the resolution.
They were joined by the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, and Palau.
British Ambassador to the UN John Sawers reacted to the result by saying that he was surprised by the outcome.
In the debate before the voting, Sawers said Belgrade's resolution was "politically motivated".
U.S. representative Rosemary DiCarlo said she would vote against, since Washington considers Kosovo Albanians' declaration to have been in line with international law, and added that her country "firmly believes in Serbia's and Kosovo's European future".
When Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremić addressed the UN General Assembly ahead of the debate and voting, he urged the representatives of the United Nations to support Serbia's ICJ intiative.
Sending the resolution to the court, Jeremić told the assembly, would reduce tensions in the region and in the rest of the world.
"The Republic of Serbia believes that sending this question to the ICJ would prevent the Kosovo crisis from serving as a deeply problematic precedent in any part of the globe where secessionist ambitions are harbored," Jeremić said explaining Serbia's request.
"We also believe that the ICJ advisory opinion would provide politically neutral, yet judicially authoritative guidance, to many countries still deliberating on how to approach UDI in line with international law," Jeremić added.
He stated that Serbia believes "that recourse to the Court would strengthen the rule of law in international relations, and make the proposed course of action a symbol of the world community's resolve to take the UN Charter as its guide".
"Supporting this resolution would also serve to reaffirm a fundamental principle: the right of any member State of the United Nations to pose a simple, basic question-on a matter it considers vitally important-to the international court," Jeremić set out, noting that to vote against would be in effect a vote to deny the right of any country – now or in the future – to seek judicial recourse through the UN system.
Jeremić underscored that "to vote against would also mean accepting that nothing could be done when secessionists in whichever part of the globe assert the uniqueness of their cause, and claim exception to the universal scope of the international legal order".
The foreign minister continued to say that the question posed is "amply clear and refrains from taking political positions on the Kosovo issue".
"The answer to come, in the form of an advisory opinion, will be based on international law, in accordance with the ICJ's Statute and Rules of Procedure."
Jeremić expressed belief that "the draft resolution in its present form is entirely non-controversial. It represents the lowest common denominator of the positions of the member States on this question, and hence there is no need for any changes or additions."
"Let us adopt it and allow the Court to act freely and impartially within the framework of its competencies. We are confident that the ICJ will know what to do, and that it will take into account the opinions of all interested member States and international organizations," Jeremić concluded his address, noting also that "the most prudent way to proceed today is to adopt our resolution without opposition, as was the decision on the inclusion of this item in the agenda at the General Committee."
Earlier in the day, reports indicated that Belgrade is optimistic and expects that following intensive efforts to galvanize support, the UN General Assembly could adopt the motion.
Jeremić said he expected the debate that will follow his address to be "heated". Nonetheless, he was hopeful of a positive outcome.
“We will endeavor, as we did at the General Committee, to make a sweep at the start of the session—in other words, get as many countries as we can from all continents, from different parts of the world, to take part in the debate, to support Serbia’s position, and for the whole debate to assume a course that will later be favorable for pushing through our resolution,“ said the minister.
President Boris Tadić is also hoping for a good result.
“We need to stay calm until the voting is over. I’m not a good tipster, I’m a better worker—my job is to work and I’m working here, seeking backing for our resolution from all our colleagues here that I have the chance to meet,“ Tadić said.
“I’m looking forward to the day with the feeling that we’ve done everything we could—60 meetings at the General Assembly, the Foreign Ministry with hitherto unprecedented international activity,” the president said.
He added that a “good thing about the whole Serbian initiative is that it will remain a positive result in the international political domain.”
Nevertheless, one of the chief obstacles to adopting the resolution is the possibility that certain smaller countries who intend to support the document decide, under pressure, to abstain or not attend the vote at the last moment.
Another clear unfavorable possibility is that one or more countries submit a joint amendment in a bid to reformulate or change the document.
Such an amendment would also be put to the vote and be adopted or rejected on the basis of a simple majority.
However, Jeremić claimed that Serbia was ready for all eventualities.
“The UK has circulated a paper on the basis of which one can expect someone to introduce an amendment that would change the meaning and significance of our resolution,“ said the minister.
“Obviously, we’ll fight to the last to prevent any changes to the text of our resolution. We’ll warn those on our side and who we see today that there is the possibility of an amendment,” he said.
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
Miloje Milinkovic has spent the past 12 years working by himself, but he is never alone.
Day after day, for many of those years, he has stood on a shaky 15-foot-high scaffolding at St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Church in Jackson, painting images from the Gospels. He believes it is a sacred mission.
Over the years, he has come to know the stories of the saints, and he feels their presence with him while he works.
"I'm never ever alone, they're here," said Milinkovic, opening his arms wide.
Sometime in the next few days, he will put down his paintbrush.
After filling the church's walls and ceiling with more than 400 images, the iconographer will finally finish the art project he started in 1996 at the oldest Serbian Church in North America.
"I wanted to make sure I captured them because this is a special church to Serbs everywhere," Milinkovic said.
He worked at two other churches during that time, but St. Sava has a special place in his heart.
"This church was built by poor and hungry people who didn't have much but made sure they had a church," said the artist. "I wanted to make it just right."
St. Sava, which opened in 1894, is the mother church of all of the Serbian Orthodox churches on the continent. The church was built by miners; 11 died in one accident on Aug. 27, 1922, and are buried in the graveyard that surrounds the church.
Serbian Orthodox churches are not considered complete without frescoes. In 1996, Milinkovic – who previously had worked at the Church of the Assumption in Fair Oaks – began painting.
Church leaders won't disclose the cost, but "it is well into the six figures," said the Rev. Stephen Tumbas, the church's priest. He added that it was a big financial undertaking for a congregation of about 50.
Visitors often have dropped by to see the small white church that sits on a hill off Main Street. Now that the frescoes are nearly done, church leaders expect even more.
"The work is amazing. People are already coming by," said Tumbas. "Miloje has accomplished in 12 years what it often takes generations to do."
Now the walls and ceilings are covered with brightly covered religious images that represent scenes from the Bible. The birth of Jesus, the raising of Lazarus, Jesus' death on the cross. There are also drawings of saints and other holy figures that would have special meaning to the Serbian Orthodox such as St. Sava, a member of the royal family who gave up his crown to become a monk.
"Iconography is considered the poor man's Bible," said Triva Pavlov, a deacon in the church. "Most of the people didn't read, but they were familiar with the stories."
Milinkovic, who turns 50 today, found his calling at 20 and trained under experts in Serbia and Greece. He also lived with monks so he could have a better understanding of the ascetic life of many of the saints, a lifestyle he admires. He tries to live simply – Pavlov said he has seen the artist take naps on the floor.
The artist's dedication has impressed those who have watched him work over the years.
"God provided us with Miloje," Pavlov said. "God has guided his hand in the writing of these icons."
SerbBlog: More photos and video at SacBee.com
Monday, October 06, 2008
Saturday, October 04, 2008
.....If the Democrats do go on to win the White House, Paul said, one positive effect might be to restore Republicans to the conservative foreign policy positions they held when Bill Clinton was president.
"When Clinton was bombing Serbia and Kosovo, about 98 percent of Republicans were complaining," he said....Star Ledger
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
WASHINGTON -- Democrat candidate for the White House Barack Obama has told voters of Albanian descent that he supports Kosovo independence.
|Barack Obama (FoNet, archive)|
“I support Kosovo’s independence and her desire to move towards full sovereignty. I believe that the U.S. should help develop a strong democracy in Kosovo that will be guaranteed by the application of laws that safeguard the interests of all people. I support Kosovo’s integration in Euro-Atlantic institutions, and that will best be accomplished by creating a free, tolerant and wealthy society that promotes minority rights and protects religious and cultural monuments,“ said the senator for Illinois, who, according to the latest opinion polls, has a narrow lead over Republican rival John McCain.
In the letter to Americans of Albanian origin, Obama underlines that his administration would assist in the construction of infrastructure and the energy sector in the province, and the interest of U.S. capital in that area is reflected by the fact that as many as three U.S. companies are competing for the contract to build a new thermo-power station there, states Politika.
This constitutes the Democrat candidate’s first address to U.S. Albanians (of whom there are, according to his team’s estimates, over 500,000), while Albanian media add at the same time that this is an attempt to “clarify“ earlier statements given by Obama linked to Serbia and the Serbs that had caused concern among the Albanian diaspora.
The daily points out that the senator’s HQ have released statements on a number of occasions stressing their support for Serbia’s EU integration, supporting the rights of Serbs in Bosnia-Hercegovina and Croatia, though he has made it clear that he considers Kosovo to be “Serbia’s neighbor“.
Priština daily Koha Ditore reported Obama’s comments on its front page under the title, “Obama promises Kosovo full sovereignty“, reports Politika.