BELGRADE, Serbia, June 8 Seven years after Kosovo was placed under United Nations control, it appears increasingly likely that the province will be allowed to break away from Serbia formally and become an independent nation.
Members of the United Nations Security Council appear to be leaning toward permitting Kosovo to go its own way. The Council is expected to vote on Kosovo's fate by the end of the year, unless the Serbs and Kosovo Albanians, who have been negotiating unsuccessfully for months, reach a resolution.
But some of the world's most powerful countries are fearful the move will encourage separatist movements elsewhere to intensify their often bloody struggles and give hope to nascent independence groups that have not yet begun to fight........
For those who want to stop this, below is a letter (or email) that you can cut & paste. Then go here: http://www.firstgov.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml find your senator, congressperson and address for President Bush and send it. If they get enough response, they will pay attention. If not, it is a done deal and we will all have to deal with the consequences of a new, narco-terrorist state in Europe!
Dear President Bush,
Please read this carefully. I know that this is not what you and Congress intended for the Christian Serbs. We must now do something to stop the genocide of the few remaining Serbs in Kosovo. Furthermore, to cede Serbia's Jerusalem to the Kosovo Muslim warlords, would not be in our interest.
I expect to hear from you on this.
-"Serbs are the most endangered ethnic group in Europe. Today an ethnocide is being carried out on its soil in front of the international police force, which simply looks the other way, not wishing to see the reality."
-Over 3,000 Serbs have been killed or listed as missing since the province was put under United Nations control in 1999.
--Human Rights Watch confirms: "Right now, accountability for past crimes isnt on the agenda for Kosovo...But resolving Kosovos status without fixing the justice system will poison its future. "
Holly Cartner, Director Europe and Central Asia Division
Human Rights Watch
ADN Kronos International (Italy)
June 6, 2006
KOSOVO: PROVINCE IS A HUMAN RIGHTS "BLACK HOLE" FOR
SERBS, OFFICIAL WARNS
Belgrade - The ethnic Albanian majority southern
province of Kosovo's tiny Serb minority is facing
annihilation, a senior Serb official on Tuesday warned
the UN chief representative in Kosovo, Soren Jessen
The Serbian government's coordinator for Kosovo, Sanda
Raskovic Ivic, told Jessen Petersen that Kosovo is a
'black hole' when it comes to human rights, blaming
the international community for not doing its job
Since the continuing talks on Kosovo's final status
started last October, 186 ethnically motivated
incidents against Serbs have taken place, including
two murders and 20 serious injuries.
There will soon be no Serbs in Kosovo if the present
situation continues, Raskovic Ivic told Jessen
Petersen in a letter.
She pointed out that 140,000 remaining Serbs in Kosovo
live in isolated ghettos, without freedom of movement
and basic human rights, including the "right to live".
Serb officials have previously accused Petersen of
bias in his support for the ethnic Albanian drive for
Serbs in Kosovo were the victims of constant
harassment and even murders by the majority ethnic
Albanians, Raskovic Ivic stated.
"Today, Kosovo and Metohija (the Serbian name for the
province) is a 'black hole' when it comes to human
rights, and many democratic countries keep assaulting
the territorial integrity of Serbia through their
officials and lobbyists," said Raskovic.
"Serbs are the most endangered ethnic group in Europe.
Today an ethnocide is being carried out on its soil in
front of the international police force, which simply
looks the other way, not wishing to see the reality,"
Raskovic Ivic blamed the United Nations Mission in
Kosovo (UNMIK) for "killing even the Serbian word" by
censuring its press. "Only this time the gunshot did
not come from an Albanian sniper, it was fired from
UNMIK's office," Raskovic concluded.
The dramatic letter, distributed to the press, was
written on the eve of the seventh anniversary of
Kosovo being put under UN control in June 1999 and
ahead of Petersen's imminent report to the UN Security
Council on the situation in Kosovo.
Over 3,000 Serbs have been killed or listed as missing
since the province was put under United Nations
control in 1999.
Belgrade and local Serbs oppose Kosovo's independence,
which they regard as the birthplace of their state,
preferring a form of broad autonomy for the province.
According to signals from world powers, the
international community is now moving towards granting
Kosovo independence - wanted by most of its 1.7
million ethnic Albanians.
Who Will Protect Kosovos Christians?
by John Couretas, Director of Communications
Ruins of the Devic Monastery of St. Joanikije , (c. 1440), looted and vandalized, and the marble tomb of the saint desecrated. June 1999. Source: Serbian Orthodox Diocese of Raska and Prizren.
This week, Montenegro voted to end its union with Serbia, the last remaining alliance of the former Yugoslav federation. News accounts of the vote frequently add matter-of-factly that Kosovo, the Serb province placed under the administration of the United Nations in 1999, is next in line to gain its independence and probably by the end of the year.
But anyone who cares about religious freedom, the rights of minorities, and the rule of law should be highly skeptical of an independent Kosovo. Since 1999, when a NATO bombing campaign drove out Serb military forces fighting an Albanian separatist movement, the Orthodox Christian minority in Kosovo has been under intense pressure from Albanian Muslim extremists.
In a Feb. 18 letter to President George Bush, the Serbian Orthodox bishop Artemije of Kosovo and Metohija the ranking church official in the region said that granting the province independence would hand terrorists a significant victory in Europe.
Detaching Kosovo from democratic Serbia would mean a virtual sentence of extinction for my people in the province the larger part of my diocese who continue to face unremitting violence from jihad terrorist and criminal elements that dominate the Albanian Muslim leadership, the bishop said.
Dozens of churches, monasteries and shrines have been destroyed or damaged since 1999 in Kosovo, the cradle of Orthodox Christianity in Serbia. The Serbian Orthodox Church lists nearly 150 attacks on holy places, which often involve desecration of altars, vandalism of icons and the ripping of crosses from Church rooftops. A March 2004 rampage by Albanian mobs targeted Serbs and 19 people, including eight Kosovo Serbs, were killed and more than 900 injured, according Agence France Press. The UN mission in Kosovo, AFP said, reported that 800 houses and 29 Serb Orthodox churches and monasteries some of them dating to the 14th century -- were torched during the fighting. NATO had to rush 2,000 extra troops to the province to stop the destruction.
All this happened despite the presence of UN peacekeeping forces. According to news reports posted by the American Council for Kosovo, Albanian separatists are opposing the expansion of military protection of Christian holy sites by UN forces. A main concern of Christians is the fate of the Visoki Decani Monastery Kosovo's only UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Direct talks, under the auspices of the UN, are now underway. Serbia is resisting pressure from Western powers to amputate Kosovo, where the UN says Albanians outnumber Serbs and others 9-1. One of the thornier issues is the possible return of non-Albanians who have fled the province since 1999. Some estimates put their number as high as 250,000.
Western diplomats and Albanian independence groups are promising that a new independent Kosovo would allow the Serb minority to live in peace and enable the province one of the poorest regions in Europe to rebuild its economy.
The Alliance for a New Kosovo, a pro-independence group with former U.S. State Department and elected officials on its advisory board, has been lobbying for a split from Serbia. William Ryerson, a former U.S. ambassador to Albania who is one of the groups advisers, wrote recently that Serbia had lost any moral claim to rule Kosovo following its campaign of ethnic cleansing in the 1990s. He predicted that an independent Kosovo, linked economically to the rest of Europe, would much more likely be a source of stability in the Balkans than one denied that status.
If that is to happen, the province will first have to clean up its act. For years, the region has been a center of activity for criminal gangs. Kosovo has become a black hole of corruption and organized crime, including trafficking in drugs, weapons and slaves, Bishop Artemije told President Bush. All too often, these things happen under the noses of NATO soldiers, who fear to confront these criminals directly.
Journalist Srdja Trifkovic, writing on Serbianna.com, said an independent Kosovo would lead to a criminal state not seen since the defunct Taliban regime in Afghanistan and right on Europes southern border. Although the international community understandably desires closure on Kosovo some seven years after the UN assumed control, an outcome that separates the province from Serbia would make a mockery of some the United States most important security concerns, he said.
It would be hard to find another example of a place where governments professing the war on international terrorism as their first priority are helping a Muslim terrorist movement with a strong jihadist element to detach what is universally recognized as a part of another sovereign state and consigning the remaining Christian element to extinction, Trifkovic said.
Given the record of Christian persecution in Kosovo while under the supervision and protection of the UN, what could be expected from an independent province administered by Albanian Muslim politicians and security forces?
As Bishop Artemije told President Bush in his letter, the only decrease in violence against Serbian Christians has come about because there are fewer of them in the province, and fewer churches, monasteries and cemeteries now to be demolished. He pleaded with Bush to work toward a Kosovo solution that provides for the human dignity and respect for all people, whether Albanian or Serb or Roma or Turk, whether Muslim or Christian. An independent Kosovo, he added, is neither inevitable nor desirable.
Christians who are troubled by the persecution of their Church should pay heed to the bishops warning. Without adequate legal protection and security, the Christian minority and the centuries-old legacy of the faith in Kosovo may soon become a mere memory.
John Couretas is director of communications for the Acton Institute.