Skip to comments.The forgotten land (Kosovo)
Posted on 06/21/2004 7:04:10 PM PDT by Jane_N
The forgotten land
Violence is bound to escalate if the UN's new representative in Kosovo fails to get the international community to deliver support
Misha Glenny Tuesday June 22, 2004 The Guardian
Last week, Kofi Annan named the Danish civil servant Soren Jessen-Petersen as his new representative in Kosovo almost five years to the day after Nato proclaimed its victory in its war against the Yugoslav army. A time, then, for celebration and moving forward? Not a bit. Nobody, neither Albanians nor Serbs nor internationals, was celebrating the fifth anniversary. And many diplomats were very unhappy at the mechanism which led to Jessen-Petersen's selection in which national vanities triumphed over the real needs of Kosovo - a desperate and potentially violent place these days.
What a contrast with June 1999 when Kosovo Albanians threw roses as the west's tanks rolled in. The Albanians, 85% of the population, were delirious at the prospect of a UN administration backed by Kfor, the Nato-led military force. Even those who clearly had not benefited, the Serbian minority in Kosovo, accepted the new reality without resorting to sabotage or terrorism in response.
But in the past three years, Albanian joy has turned into resentment. Serb bitterness has deepened. The UN, with a creditable record in peace-keeping, has proved hopelessly inadequate at governing a complex society like Kosovo.
The priority for the new boss in Pristina will be to defuse a bomb that is ticking loudly and insistently. If he fails, there is little that can stop a bloody social explosion from occurring in Kosovo which will in turn trigger a huge security crisis in the southern Balkans.
This latter prospect has generated an air of controlled panic in much (but worryingly not all) of Europe's foreign policy establishment. In mid-March, an Albanian mob stormed the streets and villages of Kosovo for two days resulting in 30 dead and a society more divided and ungovernable than ever. Observers fear that a second such outbreak will be much more violent. "The fact is if Kosovo goes up, we no longer have the military resources to deal with it - the troops just aren't there," one senior British diplomat told me.
But in addition to the security issue, the political implications of failure in Kosovo are equally grave. If a united international community is unable to improve matters in a relatively benign environment, what chances of a divided international community succeeding in more hostile places like Iraq?
During a recent visit which included both Kosovo and Serbia, Denis MacShane, the Foreign Office minister re sponsible for the Balkans, was quick to recognise how crucial it has become to head off another crisis in the region. As a consequence, the British government has now taken the initiative in trying to rouse the US, France, Germany and Russia out of the complacent slumber into which their Balkan policies have fallen.
For two years after 1999, Kosovo appeared to develop well. The reconstruction boom - when every government and NGO seemed to descend on the territory - conferred an air of swift growth and prosperity. But after that huge cash injection dried up, the economy began to contract at a time when refugees were being turned out of their host countries in Europe. The UN operation stagnated, proving itself especially poor at devolving political power to local instances as a colonialist mentality gripped its staff.
Little progress has been made on the difficult question of final status, ie a constitutional settlement which would allow everyone to get on with their lives. The Albanians still seek outright independence while the Serbian government in Belgrade is prepared only to concede limited autonomy for Albanians.
The international community should be acting as mediator between the two sides. But instead it prefers to watch this futile dialogue of the deaf from the sidelines. Meanwhile, the Kosovo economy has been sinking disastrously, in part thanks to the Kosovo Trust Agency, the privatisation body sullied by a stench of incompetence and corruption, and run by internationals who have little or no grasp of the province's economic needs.
As tens of thousands of school leavers enter the non-existent labour market every year, unemployment has raced up to 65%. And it is these frustrated, testosterone-packed kids who formed the mob in March, targeting not just Serbs but representatives of the UN and Kfor as well.
Annan's new representative has much to do in a short space of time. He must immediately address the economy to prevent unemployment from rising further. He needs to start dismantling the UN operation which is regarded with contempt by local people and international diplomats alike. Instead he must invest all local governing structures with greater authority.
But at the same time, he has to persuade Albanian politicians to encourage the return and resettlement of tens of thousands of Serbian refugees from the homes whence they were driven. And for that, he needs money and support from the international community. If the Serbs don't come back, then Kosovo will continue its perilous drift towards partition, a process with the gravest implications for the stability of south Serbia, Macedonia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
And if that were not enough, he must devise a strategy that will lead to a final status enabling Serbia and Kosovo, whether it is independent or not, to accelerate the process of European integration. If Jessen-Petersen fails, the Balkans will be making front-page splashes once again for all the wrong reasons by this autumn or next spring at the latest.
· Misha Glenny is the author of The Balkans 1804-1999 and runs See Change 2004, promoting cross-border cooperation in the Balkans
Analysis on the situation in Kosovo and what may be ahead.
More beheadings of Serbs?
And killing old people after having robbed them and burned down their homes...but hey, it's ok...it's all in the name of revenge for the terrible things these grandmothers did to them (/sarcasm).
When will people stop belittling these crimes and stop calling them acts of revenge. Murder is murder no matter what the reason behind.
Kosovo needs the Serbs now. What irony! A blast from the past listed below is from wire reports and picked up by the local paper dated April 26, 1999, when clintoon ordered the US military & NATO to bomb Yugoslavia breaking international law by disregarding the UN Charter, the 1980 Vienna Convention on the Law of the Treaties and the Helsinki Accords Final Act of 1975. This was done to divert public attention away from clintoon's erupting sex scandals. As a reminder, there was never any proof of "ethnic cleansing" or mass burial graves.
NATO Vows To Extend Its Defense (Allies will retaliate if Serbs attack neighboring countries)
WASHINGTON--As bombs rained down on various parts of Yugoslavia on Sunday, NATO leaders promised Albania, Macedonia and five other countries neighboring Serbia that the alliance will fight for them if the conflict spills across their borders and help them rebuild after the war.
Also Sunday, NATO announced a further troop buildup in Albania and Macedonia.
And early today, bombs rocked the northern Serbian city of Novi Sad, destroying the last bridge over the Danube River.
On Saturday, Hungary, which borders Yugoslavia on the northeast and is one of three new members of NATO, agreed to allow NATO to use its air bases to stage some of the bombing raids on Yugoslavia.
"If Mr. (Slobodan) Milosevic threatens them for helping us, we will respond," President Clinton said Sunday, the final day of a three-day NATO summit in Washington.
The summit originally was called to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the alliance but largely was overshadowed by Kosovo. "What NATO did here this weekend was to reaffirm our commitment to a common future rooted in common humanity," Clinton said in his closing statement. "Standing against ethnic cleansing is both a moral imperative and a pratical necessity."
The leaders went away declaring that they would succeed against Milosevic by sticking to their original strategy of an air campaign. But they vowed to escalate the attacks and expand the targets.
They left open how long it would take for the air campaign to achieve their goal of degrading Milosevic's military forces in Kosovo and forcing him to capitulate.
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said, "It's not going to be easy. It's going to take longer than we would have originally hoped for, but shall win."
Later Sunday, during a 60-minute telephone conversation, Clinton urged Russian President Boris Yeltsin to press Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to comply with NATO demands that he pull out of Kosovo and allow ethnic Albanian refugees to return under international military protection.
While again declaring that NATO does not intend to launch a ground war, officials announced that 4,000 more troops in two battle groups, one German and one British, were being deployed to Macedonia to stand ready to go into Kosovo once Milosevic's forces pull out.
That brings the number of NATO troops in Macedonia to 16,000. The British defense secretary, George Robertson, said the NATO force level would grow to 28,000, the number originally planned under the pre-war Kosovo peace treaty that Milosevic rejected. Robertson said NATO's secretary general, Javier Solana, would study whether "further numers" were needed.
With the noose around Yugoslavia getting tighter, a high-level member of the Yugoslav government said people in his country must realize that "we are alone" aginst the world and accept a compromise peace plan if one is drafted. Vuk Daskovic, deputy general prime minister and a voice of opposition before the war, said he expected Russia and the West to work out a settlement under U.N. auspices.
Sunday night, Clinton dispatched his top Russia envoy, deputy secretary of state Strobe Talbott, to Moscow to meeting with Yeltsin. Last week, Yeltsin's Balkan envoy, Viktor Chernomyrdin, met with Milosevic. Clinton and other NATO leaders are conerned that a naval embargo of oil imports to Yugoslavia could risk a high-seas confrontation with Russia.
With Washington, D.C., battened down to protect the hundreds of officials and dignitaries from 40 nations, the NATO summit focused on the alliance's eastern and southeastern borders. The main focus was a meeting with the presidents and prime ministers of the seven "frontline" states that share a border with Yugoslavia: Albania, Macedonia, Hungary, Bosnia, Croatia, Romania, and Bulgaria.
Solana said the group had assured the leaders of the seven nations that NATO has "a direct interest in their security." While they are not being given the same defense priority as NATO members, where an attack on one is considered an attack on all, Solana said the alliance "will not tolerate a threat to their security."
In many parts of southeastern Europe, public opinion has strongly opposed the NATO air campaign. National leaders from these nations, however, have all offered NATO use of their air space, condemned Milosevic's "ethnic cleansing" campaign against Albanians, and are eager for closer relations with the West. Few beside Albania and Macedonia are seriously concrened about MIlosevic lashing out at them militarily.
After the war, NATO intends to work out a settlement that will end the ethnic violence and instability that has plagued the Balkans for centuries.
"We must make the Kosovo conflict a turning point for southeastern Europ," said NATO spokesman Jamie Shea. "We must exorcise once and for all the demon of nationalism in that part of Europe."
Placing Germany at the helm, leaders pledged to help stabilize the region and integrate it into the European community with economic aid much as the U.S. rebuilt much of Western Europe following World War II.
AT A GLANCE SUNDAY DEVELOPMENTS:
1. NATO again knocked Serb television off the air. The alliance has accused Serb TV of being a propaganda tool critical to Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's war machine. The broadcasts resumed hours later.
2. Refugees fleeing Kosovo gave new accounts of Serb gunmen killing civilians by the dozens in villages around Kosovo's capital, Pristina.
3. The rebel Kosovo Liberation Army appealed for NATO to supply them arms and deploy U.S. Army Apache helicopters against Serb forces immediately.
4. Cornelio Sommaruga, head of the Geneva-based international Committee of the Red Cross, toured wreckage from earlier NATO strikes on Serbia's second largest city, Novi Sad. He plans to meet Milosevic today, hoping to secure the return of ICRC staff to Kosovo and access to three U.S. servicemen captured by the Yugoslav army March 31.
Serbia has all the troop needed to bring peace to their province. They will return, sooner or later. If the internationalists are worried about what would happen then (yeah, unlike the peace they've imposted!), their troops can remain on the scene as observers.
Or we can just let the Muhammedans keep killing people and burning Churches until there's nothing left. "You-know-who" would approve of that move.
THE ANTI-CHRIST ARE PLENTY! We have many of them in Washington!
The WOT began in earnest in the Balkins, of course Clinton entered the war on the wrong side.
Welcome to the electric chair
Grim warning for new Kosovo governor |
June 21, 2004.
Veton Surroi is the publisher of Pristina daily Koha Ditore. In an editorial published on June 17, he offers open advice to the newly appointed head of the UN mission in the province, under the title Reasons you should not become administrator.
First advice: Dear Sir, dont come!
If you want three pieces of advice before your arrival in Kosova, then here they come. The first advice is: Do not come!
The moment Kofi Annan offers you the post of his Special Representative in Kosova, he will offer you a job whose description is marked with personal failure. You will be the almighty man in Kosova without real instruments of democratic power. You are a man without an army, police, central bank, prosecutor, often without laws, with very few judges, no constitution and without friends. You will wake up in the morning with the feeling that you must take a country towards democracy and its final status and you will go to sleep after many hours of frustration with the feeling that you have not done anything that would make that day special compared to the previous day. Once you start understanding a problem, you will see that in the meantime the list of problems you need to face has lengthened.
You will come with the feeling that you have a mission to help a nation which suffered in Kosova, and by end of the mission you will get the impression that there are more bad things than good ones that can be said for that very same people. When you eventually leave this place, you will be given a stone by Dr Rugova, a caricature as a gift by our editorial office, the standard good words of appreciation from the EU (we highly appreciate your contribution to...), the worst gossip from the people you have been working with in the mission, and speculation about who your successor will be.
You will try to increase the importance of your mission. You will catch yourself repeating that Europe cannot forget Kosova because Kosova is a part of Europe. Then you will realize the fact that you are a confirmation of the real situation of forgetting more than anything else.
In our common continent, there are two basic rhythms: the one of the peoples that are masters in their own houses and are making efforts to expand their common European home; and the rhythm of the people that are not masters in their own houses and are stagnating, while the others are making progress. You come from a country where the issue of being a master in your own home was solved so long ago that it is not worth even talking about it. When you were born, your country had emerged from World War II with established basic freedoms, economic revival and a clear Euro-Atlantic prospect.
When you arrive here, you will face a fundamental dilemma: you are being sent here to be a king, president, prime minister, minister of finance, minister of the rule of law and of all other important posts. Meanwhile, upon arriving at the airport, you will realize you are not such a man, that you have not been educated in that way and that you have been educated in a spirit of the right of the people to be masters of their houses wherever they are.
You think you have a plan, but the reality will be more stubborn. Before you come to Prishtina, your secret plan, which you will not tell anybody, will seem a form of healthy thinking and applicable. But, the reality will surprise you. There will be a murder somewhere and all of us will deal with that for one week, then one of the units of the power plants might break down and you will suddenly see yourself turned into an expert on boilers: yes it leaked; no it did not; there is or is not enough coal; electricity is exported somewhere and we do not know that; and so on. There will be an initiative from Belgrade asking for an identical security system to the basic right to vote freely: instead of one man one vote, they will ask for one Serb police officer for each Kosova Serb. You will insist that neither of these things is important, that the important thing is to implement the standards and after some time you will not believe your own words.
Your macro-projections will not be understood by anybody: when you get together with the leaders of the political institutions, you will understand from their eyes that the whole conversation was more or less in vain. You will talk about standards and joint work; they will talk also about standards and joint work. One of them will laugh and ask you for formal recognition of independence. At the end of the talks, you will leave with a mutual feeling that you have not learned anything from each other.
You will catch yourself thinking: is it worth all this trouble? You will think about your family, your environment, your friends, and about when you had far fewer responsibilities. You will see more and more poverty, you will read about the growing number of people leaving Kosova, you will see people becoming more critical towards you, and you will have associates around you with fewer and fewer powers, experience, or will to work.
You will curse the day when Annan flattered you, telling you he considers you as the most serious candidate for such an important mission as Kosova.
Second advice: If you decide to come anyway
With the first, you will find yourself in an unusual situation. You have agreed to be the head of a body that is changing from within, or at least pretends to be changing. While you accept the post, some capitals are putting together drafts of the new structure of UNMIK. According to them, this or that pillar of UNMIK should be removed. By the time you arrive in Prishtina, somebody could propose that the OSCE be on its own, the EU on its own, and you could remain responsible for special police officers from India and Pakistan, a sample of cooperation within the UN.
There will also be elections, which for many months will paralyse the efforts to talk with the Kosovar leadership about standards and cooperation. After the elections there will be increased pressure by the people to push things forward much faster in Kosova, in particular on the status.
You will ask for a system of accountability, which will look weird. You have grown up with and are used to such a system; that is a very normal and everyday thing for you. The system is simple: the parliament answers to its constituents; the government to the parliament. But to who does your authority here answer?
Everything in Kosova will be done without a system of accountability and will be done in your name. Any of your aides who take decisions will do so in your name. What will happen is that you will not reach any decisions, out of a fear that you may damage your career. But, if you do not ask to know what the system of accountability is, you will be in the same situation as your predecessors. Everybody will hide behind a system in which it is not known who is accountable to whom and, in the first place, how the chief administrator is accountable.
Look over your shoulder. Not even half a year will pass from your appointment before there will be a race for a new post: the post of the mediator for Kosova, something about which your three predecessors have dreamed. In their eyes, as in yours, the appeal of the post of chief administrator is the appeal of the mediator of the conflict, a person who will make history as the man who solved hundreds of years of conflict between Albanians and Serbs.
You will make a mistake if you follow this path: the moment you take up the post of chief administrator, you have become a party to the conflict, not a mediator. Somebody else will be the mediator and he will treat you as a half-local.
How to start on the first day? Your choice will be simple: Either to be a democratic or an autocratic leader
Even after many consultations outside Kosova you will start your first day without a clear idea what you are doing. You will enter a new UNMIK building outside Prishtina - a fortification with helicopter pad - and your aides will be waiting for you there to brief you on how a non-functional organization functions.
My advice is: do not prepare a plan before talking to the Kosovars. All your predecessors skipped that for different reasons, and they left without finishing the job. Haekkerup came without talking to anybody. He invented Covic as a governing partner, adopted a Constitutional Framework, with the consent of the Kosovars, which further degraded legislation in Kosova, and then left. Then came Steiner, who established the Government of Kosova, as Kosovars could not do that by themselves, and left us dealing with the Standards for a year. Holkeri came with the idea of becoming Kosova's administrator and a mediator in talks between Pristina and Belgrade at the same time, and left without being either.
If you talk to Kosovars, perhaps you may hear some wise words, perhaps not. You will definitely not hear a unified opinion regarding the new policies in Kosova. The Kosovar leaders do not consult with one another, some of them do not consult with anyone at all. As a result, you will hear confused opinions. But, it is worth, at least nominally, having them as a party to the process.
Perhaps the best thing would be if you completely changed the attitude of UNMIK chief. After Kouchner's initial success, all your predecessors fell into the trap of unlimited power. Paradoxically, UNMIK's mission is meant to build self-governing capacities in Kosova, but when it comes to all fundamental issues it has decided by itself.
You can undertake radical changes if you forget the dogmas created to date. Apart from Resolution 1244, you have no other legal obligation. If that is the case, you can interpret the Resolution this way: all decision-making responsibilities lie with the Kosovars; UNMIK has the right to veto all Kosovars' decisions that violate Resolution 1244.
If you forget the dogmas, you will have the right of correcting everyday life and not dictating the everyday rhythm of decision-making. This would be an epochal change. From an autocratic official (with democratic credentials) you would be become a democratic official with clear arbitrage rights. From the mission impossible of governing a foreign country, you would move to a possible mission of helping in the governance.
The situation will not change in a spectacular way if you adopt this approach. Unemployment will not decrease immediately, and the same will be the case with poverty. But, the political process will be unblocked, and so will life in general in Kosova.
When the Kosovars go out to vote this coming autumn, they would know that they would be electing the people who indeed have rights in their hands. There would also be institutions they can hold accountable, because the current institutions that have atrophied since birth would not be able to hide behind UNMIK's failures any longer.
Until the elections, please do block every effort that seeks to carry on with the old policies: the parrot refrain on standards, the current model of blocked privatization, and the decisions on vital issues such is decentralization. This UNMIK with the current Kosovar institutions cannot reach any worthwhile common decision.
So, welcome to the electric chair. The only thing we can freely say is that you will not have the monotony of normalcy. You will discover all the rest on your own, and when you think that you have understood the essence, the end of your mandate will arrive.