28 November 2006

NATO Reopens Bases In Northern Provinces of Serbia

Balkan reality intrudes on NATO's grand plans
November 28, 2006 8:24 AM
RIGA, Latvia-NATO leaders are preoccupied with the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan and an effort to transform their alliance into a global security organization. But it's still dogged by problems closer to home: the possibility of renewed unrest in the Balkans if Kosovo gains independence as expected next year.
Speaking before a summit in the Latvian capital, Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer made it clear that NATO could not afford to neglect Kosovo.
"I can assure anybody who wants to spoil things there that ... KFOR is there to prevent anything from happening," he said, referring to the NATO force that has been keeping the peace between majority ethnic Albanians and minority Serbs in the province since 1999.
On Tuesday, NATO's Supreme Allied Commander, Gen. James L. Jones, held up the flexibility of alliance forces in Kosovo as an example of how they need to be used in Afghanistan, where a number of contributing nations have placed restrictions, or caveats, on their use in the Taliban's southern strongholds.
"We have 16,000 NATO troops (in Kosovo), and there are virtually no restrictions no national caveats," he told a security conference.
"Kosovo was (also) overwhelmingly restricted by caveats, but we learned a lesson," Jones said, referring to deadly rioting by ethnic Albanians that shook the region in March 2004.
The need to keep a large NATO garrison in Kosovo has caused problems for Jones, who has been calling for the alliance to come up with 2,500 additional soldiers to beef up its 32,800 troops in Afghanistan.
Kosovo is the final unresolved problem stemming from the series of wars that followed the breakup of Yugoslavia in 1991, which claimed the lives of about 200,000 people.
The province has been an international protectorate since NATO forced the Serbian army to cede control following a short war seven years ago. The international community is now awaiting a proposal by U.N. special envoy Martti Ahtisaari on its future status.
Belgrade, which insists that the province must not gain independence, has already indicated it will not accept any proposal that severs its links to the province. But ethnic Albanians, who comprise 90 percent of Kosovo's 2 million population, are equally adamant that they will only accept full independence.
Complicating matters further for NATO is the likelihood that any precedent created by the breakup of an existing European state will almost certainly be exploited to justify secessionist moves elsewhere. This is particularly true of Georgia, whose breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia are also intent on independence.
After a series of delays, Ahtisaari's ruling on Kosovo's status has been delayed until after Serbian elections in January. Expecting trouble, NATO recently dispatched reinforcements to the Serb-inhabited north of the province and reopened two army bases there.
"There is a real potential for renewed violence in Kosovo," said Tim Judah, a Balkan expert. "If there is a delay or if the resolution is unclear, Albanian hard-liners will start to lose patience and bust out their Kalashnikovs."
Judah predicted an "intermediate solution" for the province. "This in effect is that Serbia loses Kosovo, but Kosovo loses the north, a sort of Cyprus in the middle of Europe," he said.
Paradoxically, although NATO bombed Serbia in 1999, and although Belgrade remains outside NATO's Partnership for Peace program to groom potential candidates for membership, it is now preparing to welcome the first Serbian contingent in Afghanistan.
In Belgrade, a defense ministry spokesman said that 20 army doctors will join a Norwegian field hospital in the town of Mazar-e-Sharif in northern Afghanistan.
Serbia, along with Bosnia-Herzegovina and tiny Montenegro, expects to be inducted into the PFP next year. Meanwhile, two other ex-Yugoslav states, Croatia and Macedonia, are hoping to join NATO in 2008, along with Albania.
"By 2008, I hope we will have less NATO in the Balkans, but more Balkans in NATO," de Hoop Scheffer said Tuesday.

25 November 2006

Putin's Statement to Europe

President Putin is facing a smear campaign lodged by the western governments to discredit him. His diplomacy and his tact in the face of his adversaries really underscores his commitment to Holy Russia and its allies. In the end, we will recognize him as a great Statesman and the leaders of America as Robber Barons using everything they can to gain the transient economic edge. Russia is not gambling but the west is, and the west will lose this round. Please stop drinking your martinis and try to come sober to the table when discussing policies that effect us little people.
Europe has nothing to fear from Russia
By Vladimir Putin
Published: November 21 2006 19:41 Last updated: November 21 2006 19:41
I would like to share my views on relations between Russia and the European Union ahead of Friday’s summit in Helsinki, primarily their strategic aspects.
Russia is a natural member of the “European family” in spirit, history and culture. Though it is not striving to join the EU, when I consider the future of our relations I do not see any areas that are not open to equal, strategic co-operation based on common objectives and values. When speaking of common values, we should also respect the historical diversity of European civilisation. It would be useless and wrong to try to force artificial “standards” on each other.

In the past few years, the EU and Russia have become important political and economic partners. Such co-operation should not be used to the detriment of relations with other countries and regions. I personally believe this policy will benefit everyone, including the EU. Our relations are becoming mature and well structured. Co-operation between our industries is gathering momentum, and our justice and interior ministries are participating energetically in dialogue. We are promoting scientific, cultural and humanitarian contacts in a streamlined and systematic manner with the goal of establishing four areas of common interest: economic issues and the environment; issues of freedom, security and justice; external security, including crisis management and non-proliferation; and research and education, including cultural aspects.
We also have similar approaches to issues of international security. Russia and the EU stand for strengthening universal regimes, primarily the non-proliferation regime. In spite of tactical differences, we have a common desire to find a fair solution to the most complicated international problems, such as the Middle East conflict or the issue of the Iranian “nuclear dossier”.
Russia is closely watching the EU’s evolution, not least because the pace of development of our relations and their future depend largely on changes in the EU. The Union could remain a predominantly intergovernmental association or acquire supranational functions. Russia wants its largest neighbour to be stable and predictable, and hopes that changes and expansion will not erode the EU’s uniform legal framework, primarily in the sphere of ensuring equal rights to all EU people irrespective of country of origin, nationality and religion.
We are developing relations with the EU with a view to the future, not the present day. I firmly believe that dialogue should not be limited merely to technical or “industrial” issues such as quotas, tariffs and anti-dumping and technical standards, although these are important and should be addressed jointly. Rather, I think we should first decide what we want from each other over the next several decades and what we can do for our people.
Russia’s approach to the future of European integration is well known. Our main objective is to create a common economic space and guarantee freedom of movement for our people, as advocated by our business, cultural and scientific communities. A long and complicated road leads to the fulfilment of these objectives, which are nevertheless quite feasible. Many partners in the EU share this approach.
We will soon start working together on a new accord to replace the partnership and co-operation agreement expiring in 2007. We hope the EU-Russia summit in November will give a boost to the negotiations. Our dialogue so far shows that we see eye-to-eye on many provisions of the future agreement. Russia thinks it should be a compact but politically significant document geared toward the future and stipulating clearly defined goals and mechanisms for equal co-operation.
I hope that joint work on this document will bring Russia and the EU closer together. Future talks should not deteriorate into an exchange of complaints. We will not be able to turn a new leaf in the history of our co-operation if we succumb to fear of growing interdependence. Those who warn of the danger of Europe becoming dependent on Russia see Russia-EU relations in black and white and try to fit them into the obsolete mould of “friend or foe”. Such stereotypes have little in common with reality, but their persistent influence on political thinking and practice runs the risk of creating fresh divisions in Europe. The past must not be used to divide us, because we cannot rewrite history. Our current goal is to join forces so that Russia and the EU can build a common future as partners and allies. Russia is prepared to work for this and I hope a constructive approach will also prevail in the EU.
The writer is president of Russia
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2006
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21 November 2006

U.S. Ambassador Polt Misguided Comments

During World War II, General Draza Mihhailovic and his chetniks, non-communist Serbian loyalists who sided with the Allies against the Nazis were betrayed by Winston Churchill, Harry S. Truman as the two threw their weight behind Serbia's Stalin backed Partisans. The head of the Serbian faction was Marshall Josip Broz Tito. After extermininating as many Serbs as he could, Tito further added insult to injury by declaring Kosovo-Metohija an autonomous province and allowing the enemies of the Serbian people to migrate and takeover lands. In this manner he continued policies and mechanisms put in place by the Ottoman empire to subjugate and spiritually exhaust the Serbian peoples. Although Ambassadors are supposed to be well versed in the histories of the countries they served, Mr. Polt has demonstrated a disturbingly myopic and distorted view of events leading to the excesses of the Milosevic regime. Just as the John Brown uprisings which occurred in the United States just before the civil war were a reaction to oppression, there was and in Serbia continues to be a legacy of injustice that the Serbian people have endured, first under the Ottoman empire, then under the communist and now under the nefarious economic and political machinary of the western powers. The west seems to be scared to death to suddenly wake up and find that the Russia and her allies are in command of a great deal of the natural resources that keep the entire world going. Instead of adjusting to the new reality, instead of working as a good neighbour, the West has chosen to carry its philosophy of domination of markets for its own needs no matter what the costs to others to an extreme position, which is now playing out over the attempt to further Tito's spiteful work and create an independent Kosovo-Metohija. Just before the civil war, the slaves were involved in various violent protests against their inhuman existence, and there were excesses. The John Brown uprisings are a case in point. However, the United States, for economic, political, social and perhaps for spiritual reasons realised that the country could not continue as one that promoted equality and liberty and freedom for all while it was dependent on a slave society. The little acts of rebellion only made this more clear. But in Serbia, the acts of rebellion against inhumane treatment is used to accuse and malign a whole race of people, minimizing the oppressions and sacrifices they have endured for over 800 years. Through the mouth of Mr. Polt, America is revealing itself to be the biggest, greediest hypocrite on the entire earth. They are the modern Ninevah, that the world is beginning to cry out against to God "Who has not suffered under her hand?!"
BELGRADE -- Michael Polt said that the status proposal will be given to both Belgrade and Priština several days after the elections.
(FoNet)The US ambassador to Belgrade told Radio B92 that Belgrade and Priština would play critical roles in the process of finding a Kosovo status solution, which means that the two sides would be responsible for the implementation of all agreements reached.The international community would play a central role; its responsibility would be to offer security and political presence in Kosovo. Polt said that Kosovo is high on the list of America’s priorities in Europe. He also confirmed the Contact Group’s stance that the Kosovo status proposal will be revealed as soon as the parliamentary elections in Serbia are held. “After the postponement, this means right after the elections, several days, a week or two, but soon after the elections, the two sides will be presented with Mr. Ahtisaari’s proposal. After that we wish to quickly continue towards the completion of the process.” Polt said. Polt also said that the preservation of territorial integrity is not a central question in the Kosovo discussions. “Should we protect the territorial integrity of every regime that chooses to kill its own citizens?” Polt asked, adding that it is in the international community’s best interest to offer everyone the same rights. “Belgrade will have to live with the results of the Kosovo agreement, as will Priština. Both sides can choose to continue resistance against it, fight against it and live in constant animosity towards such an agreement. If Belgrade rejects the reached agreement for Kosovo and says that they will resist it, I would like to know if the people of Serbia really want that kind of a future.” Polt explained. The US ambassador said that the possibility for violence breaking out in Kosovo still exists, but that it will not be tolerated. “A violent past exists in Kosovo and we cannot forget who started that past violence in the 1990s. It was the Milošević regime.” Polt said. “And of course there could be violence as a result of the agreement. I think that it would be a great mistake for whatever groups starts the violence, because it will not be tolerated by the international community.” he said.

Grenade Explodes In Classroom

PRISTINA, Serbia (Reuters) - A grenade exploded in a classroom used by Serb children in Kosovo on Tuesday, but the elementary school pupils escaped injury, police said.

A Kosovo police spokesman said the grenade exploded in a stove used to heat the classroom shortly after lessons began at around 7.50 a.m. (0650 GMT) at the Trajko Peric school in the village of Veliko Ropotovo near the eastern town of Kamenica.
"The stove was completely destroyed and some parts of the classroom as well," said spokesman Veton Elshani.
A Kosovo Serb education official said the children had been moved to another classroom minutes earlier because their teacher was absent, leaving the room empty. "So tragedy was avoided," Zivorad Tomic told the Serb state news agency Tanjug.
Kosovo is braced for a possible rise in ethnic violence following a move by major powers this month to delay a decision on the ethnic Albanian majority's demand for independence from Serbia.
This story extracted from an Reuter's story.

President Tadic Recovering From GallBladder Operation

Serbia president undergoes operation
November 20, 2006 5:24 PM
BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) -Serbia's pro-Western President Boris Tadic underwent a gall bladder operation Monday and was feeling well after the surgery, his office said.
The 47-year old leader, elected in 2004, was taken earlier Monday to a military hospital in the Serbian capital. He is to remain hospitalized for several days, his office said in a statement.
Last November, Tadic canceled official duties for a few days after he developed a severe cold. In 2004, he was hospitalized for more than two weeks with a lung infection.

History and Political Understanding in the Common Man

American's Lack of History Affects Understanding of Kosovo-Metohija

Michael Mennard writes in Washington Post 18 Nov 2006:
Americans don't understand or like history, which most other cultures accept and study as an invaluable source of knowledge and experience. Americans generally look at history as an unnecessary burden that can have only a negative influence on the present.

Your editorial regarding Kosovo, the very cradle of Serbia, showed such ignorance. Nowhere did it note that Kosovo has been part of Serbia since the Serbs moved to it in the sixth century, four centuries before any Albanians were heard of in the Balkans.
Moreover, the editorial said, "By incorporating Kosovo into a new constitution, Serbia's leaders staked out yet another of the reckless nationalist stands that have caused their country so much damage in the past 15 years."
Wrong. It is ignorance of historic facts displayed by The Post and other similarly inspired American publications that has caused so much damage to a small but brave nation and a loyal ally in two world wars. The Serbs do not want what belongs to others, but they will not give away what is rightfully theirs.
The United States and its citizens would react in the same way if someone suddenly decided that Southern California or New Mexico should secede just because Spanish-speaking Mexicans live there.
As for your specter of 2 million Albanians in Kosovo being enraged, they should just go back where they came from -- neighboring Albania. Most Albanians came to Kosovo during World War II or during the rule of Marshal Tito of Yugoslavia, which maintained an open border with Albania, its fellow communist neighbor. Since then the incoming Albanians have systematically pushed untold numbers of Kosovo Serbs out of Kosovo.
Your editorial writers should study history to ensure more meaningful and more accurate editorials.
-- Michael Mennard
Potomac Falls

21 November 2006

Dear Editor,

Although I agree with Michael Mennard's editorial in general, I feel compelled to say that comparing an hypothetical secession of California or New Mexico is not a good reference point. Those areas were taken from the Mexican Government just after it won its independence from Spain early in the 19th century. The Alamo is in actuality a glorification of a hostile takeover of land wanted by the United States government. Intrigue played a big part in the developments that led to citizens of the United States asking to have lawful Mexican territory annexed to the U.S. Colonists, supported by American citizen Stephen Austin, basically homestead on land already considered a part of the United States of Mexico. Yes he did purchase the land, but I don't think the Mexican Government expected him to hand it over to the U.S. The land grab by the United States of America was facilitated by unstable circumstances in Mexico's new government. The parallels to the Kosovo-Metohija situation is uncanny, and underscores the United States favoring of independence of this province of Serbia. Whether Albania has plans to incorporate an independent Kosovo-Metohija or not remains to be seen. So far its voice in this affair has been strangely mute. Maybe the U.S. thinks that it will gain some influence in the area (and irritate Russia) by acting as the Brits did during the Texas crisis in the late 19th century. The Brits thought to gain influence by supporting Texas independence as a way to continue to have an influence in the New World. The bottom line is that the United States move violated Westphalian Principles enacted in 1648. Now currently, the United States has violated International Laws concerning sovereignty of states, those states rights to self-determination and freedom from interference by other states. These are the issues that the Prime Minister of Serbia Kostunica brings up again and again, and which are ignored by Great Britain, Germany, and the United States consistently. I don't understand why our government is behaving so badly. It is acting as a surreal reincarnation of the 13th century King John, who was eventually forced to sign the Magna Carta. Maybe the other nations will have to stop bowing to America's supposed military might and demand that it act as a good neighbour not only in word, but in deed as well. Perhaps, if more of the U.S. citizens understood its politics in a historical context, our current foreign policy would mandate that we rectify our past mistakes by acknowledging Serbia's territorial integrity. But apparently in the minds of U.S. political leaders, that would constitute a negative effect.
xenia lynn teresa williams
Eugene Oregon

Solution Should Not Grant Kosovo Rights Normally Given to Sovereign States

Russia insists on all-party agreed solution to Kosovo
www.chinaview.cn 2006-11-04 04:25:32
BRUSSELS, Nov. 3 (Xinhua) -- Any decision on Kosovo's final status must be acceptable to all parties, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday, casting aside an imposed solution.
"It can only be a compromise, it has to be a decision which is acceptable to all parties," Lavrov told a news conference in Brussels after talks with Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja, representing the European Union presidency.
Lavrov warned that a decision made "from the top down" would "just simply fall apart".
The UN-sponsored talks on Kosovo's final status were launched at the end of 2005. Although the deadline was set at the end of this year, the negotiations are dragging on, raising the likelihood that a solution will be imposed.
The UN mediator for Kosovo Martti Ahtisaari has recently produced a draft proposal, which reportedly grants Kosovo certain rights normally enjoyed by sovereign states.
Lavrov said the proposal could be submitted to all parties with a view to future talks, but not necessarily as an ultimatum on any party.
Although technically still part of Serbia, Kosovo has been run by the UN and NATO since a NATO bombing campaign in 1999.

NATO Warned Not To Recognize Independence

Serbian PM warns NATO against recognizing Kosovo
www.chinaview.cn 2006-11-20 10:26:24
BELGRADE, Nov. 19 (Xinhua) -- Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica warned NATO members on Sunday of serious consequences if they unilaterally recognize the independence of the Serbian southern province of Kosovo.
"The fact that NATO bombed Serbia without the UN Security Council's approval is its huge mistake, big enough for the last and this century," Kostunica told a meeting of his ruling Democratic Party of Serbia.
Any new, even the slightest, mistake of the NATO regarding Kosovo would have serious consequences, the prime minister warned.
Serbia announced a new constitution earlier this month, which enshrines Kosovo as an "inalienable" part of Serbia. The document, unanimously adopted by the Serbian parliament on Sept. 30, was officially confirmed in the national referendum on Oct. 28 and 29.
Still, Kostunica said he was confident that "NATO countries would not recognize Kosovo's independence unilaterally, without a relevant UN Security Council decision, or in violation of such a decision."
Technically still a part of Serbia, Kosovo, a place with ethnic Albanians taking up about 90 percent of the population, has been kept under the UN administration since 1999 in line with UN Security Council Resolution 1244.
NATO launched a 78-day bombing campaign on former Yugoslavia in 1999 without the approval of the UN Security Council under the pretext of seeking an end to the ethnic conflicts in Kosovo.
Martti Ahtisaari of Finland, the UN envoy for Kosovo, has said he would wait to present his plans for the future of Kosovo to the UN Security Council until after Serbia's general elections on Jan. 21 next year, delaying the scheduled end-of-year deadline.
This delay drew concerns from Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha who said further delays in deciding Kosovo's final status would threaten the delicate peace and stability in Kosovo and beyond.
Kostunica said the Serbian government was confident that the UN Security Council would never violate the UN Charter and the explicit provisions of UN Security Council Resolution 1244 on Kosovo as part of Serbia's sovereignty and territorial integrity.
He said it was important for the NATO member countries to "strictly abide by Resolution 1244 and international law principles."

19 November 2006

A Clarification of GI Troops In Kosovo

What GIs need to know about Kosovo
By Stella Jatras
The Nov. 6 article Training helps Guardsmen get Kosovo-savvy deserves a response.

Through our flawed foreign policies in the Balkans, we destroyed* a Christian people, our ally of two world wars, in order to appease the Muslim world, a world that cannot be appeased. Sept. 11 is a case in point.
The Stars and Stripes reporter states that ethnic Albanians in Kosovo make up 90 percent of the population. Actually, a more precise number is 97 percent. It is also necessary for your readers to understand just how the Kosovo (Muslim) Albanians became the majority — considering the Christian Serbs were once the majority until hundreds of thousands of them were either ethnically cleansed or killed by Adolf Hitler’s Nazi troops, followed by the communist Josip Broz Tito, who, in his hatred for the Christian Orthodox Serbs, encouraged Albanians to cross illegally into Kosovo.
While training for the situation as it exists today is important, we too often send our young men and women into these foreign countries to do impossible tasks without a clear understanding of the cultural and historical background of the region. What the Wailing Wall is to the Jews, what the Vatican is to the Roman Catholics, and what Mecca is to Muslims, Kosovo is to the Serbs. It is their Jerusalem. It is their heart and soul.
While under the watchful eye of NATO’s Kosovo Forces since 1999, more than 150 Serbian Orthodox churches and monasteries have been destroyed or desecrated and dozens of new mosques have been built — including the Osama bin Laden mosque that now stands on Serbian soil. Is this why peacekeepers are in Kosovo? To protect mosques named after the prime terrorist who has vowed to destroy our country?
"Bin Laden" mosque in Kosovo now renamed because it endangers Muslim Albanian hopes to acquire Serbian territory.
Following are facts of importance that should not be ignored:
We have known as far back as 1999 the terrorist connections of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) when The Washington Times reported that “some members of the Kosovo Liberation Army, which has financed its war efforts through the sale of heroin, were trained in terrorist camps run by international fugitive Osama bin Laden."
In 2004, a report by National Review stated: “A pogrom started in Europe on Wednesday. A U.N. official is quoted as saying that ‘Kristallnacht is under way in Kosovo.’ Serbs are being murdered and their 800-year-old churches are aflame. Much of the Christian heritage in Kosovo and Metohija is on fire and could be lost forever. By these deeds too many of Kosovo’s Albanians have shown that all the speeches about democracy and multi-ethnicity we have been hearing in Kosovo since June 1999, and the naive repetition of them by the international community, are false. These words too are burning, as is the hope in the hearts of right-thinking policymakers across the world that Kosovo’s barbarians can be civilized at little cost to the West.”
Serbian culture, language and religion are being eradicated by Albanian mobs with the help of the Kosovo Liberation Army that has now been morphed into the Kosovo Peace Corps. Even under U.N. control, as noted in a May 20, 2002, briefing by Derek Chappell, spokesman for the U.N. Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) Police, sex slavery, prostitution and rape are rampant in Kosovo. The situation has become worse, not better.
The Wall Street Journal of Nov. 1, 2001 — in an article titled “Al Qaeda’s Balkan Links” — writes: “For the past 10 years, the most senior leaders of al Qaeda have visited the Balkans, including bin Laden himself on three occasions between 1994 and 1996. The Egyptian surgeon turned terrorist leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri has operated terrorist training camps, weapons of mass destruction factors and money-laundering and drug-trading networks throughout Albania, Kosovo, (FYROM) Macedonia, Bulgaria, Turkey and Bosnia. This has gone on for a decade. Many recruits to the Balkan wars came originally from Chechnya, a jihad in which al Qaeda has also played a part.” …
It is a well-known fact that many of the jihadists who have taken over the government in Kosovo were trained in bin Laden’s terrorist camps. Sitting in the seat of government, Kosovo’s prime minister, Agim Ceku, helped to mastermind the most brutal ethnic-cleansing campaign in post-communist Yugoslavia’s history. According to an Amnesty International report, “Croatia: Impunity for killing after [Operation] Storm,” nearly the entire ethnic Serbian population of the region, estimated to be at least 180,000 people, fled in face of the attack. Hundreds of civilians were murdered, most of the victims being elderly and disabled persons who were unable to flee. The report estimates that “5,000 structures were torched by the advancing Croatian army.”
While the training emphasizes building relationships with the town leaders, does that include building relationships with the few Serbs who are left? Also, are our GIs being prepared for the renewed violence that Albanian Muslims have warned of if independence for Kosovo is delayed or refused? The violence may be directed at Americans who up until now they have considered to be “on their side.”
After Sept. 11, President Bush told the American people that we would do whatever it takes to defend our country against the Islamic terrorists, yet we denied the Serbs the right to fight the same enemy that we are fighting today.
Am I cynical? You bet. Through our flawed foreign policies in the Balkans, we destroyed a Christian people, our ally of two world wars, in order to appease the Muslim world, a world that cannot be appeased. Sept. 11 is a case in point.
* the Serbian people are not destroyed. They are alive and well, and their faith in God strong. xltw

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Views & Analysis
What GIs need to know about Kosovo By Stella Jatras
A Silent Genocide: Serbian genocide in WW2 By Ioannis Michaletos
Key Features of Serbia's New Constitution By Boba Borojevic
Vratnica: Kosovo Roots of a Macedonian Village By Carl Savich
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18 November 2006

Unilateral recognition of independence of Kosovo-Metohija legal violence
Belgrade, Nov 18, 2006 – Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica said yesterday that he does not believe that a solution for Kosovo-Metohija can be reached by unilateral recognition of the independence of the province, because that would be a most serious violation of the UN Charter and the UN SC Resolution 1244.
In an interview to the news agency Beta, Kostunica said that in that case we would have an example of legal violence and two-fold violation of fundamental principles of international law. He said that, on one hand, it would go against the UN Charter and the UN SC Resolution 1244, and on the other hand such a decision can not be brought without the Security Council.According to Kostunica, ignoring the Security Council and the UN can not be without consequences for countries which take that step, a step which cannot be considered anything else but legal violence. The Serbian Prime Minister stressed that that is particularly the case with NATO member countries because it would completely alter the light in which the so called humanitarian military intervention by NATO in Serbia in 1999 is seen.Kostunica pointed to the fact that then a connection could be made between the military action against Serbia and the seizure of part of its territory seven years later.In that case relations between Serbia and these countries could change radically, without regard to details. I strongly believe that they will not resort to unilateral recognition of the independence of Kosovo-Metohija and legal violence, said the Serbian Prime Minister.According to Kostunica, not even a single political party in Serbia would tolerate any unilateral solution, at this moment. Kostunica stressed that all political parties in Serbia, through parliament resolution, and finally through the Constitution, have taken the unified position that Kosovo-Metohija is and must remain an integral part of Serbia, and warned that responsibility lies with the other side, with those who might resort to legal violence. He said that the Serbian government succeeded in clearly formulating and pursuing a single policy, which showed results in practically all segments. The Serbian Prime Minister explained that Kosovo is being offered the highest degree of autonomy and that the model for autonomy has been made according to other models in the world. Serbs and ethnic-Albanians lived together for centuries, with the strains that also exist within one ethnic community, let alone different ones, said Kostunica. He added that Serbs, during their history, never declared that they cannot live with Albanians, which is a very significant fact and should be stressed upon.He pointed to the fact that the Serbian government presented the proposal that the province is regulated, for the first time, according to democratic principles and that Kosovo-Metohija gets substantial autonomy inside Serbia. According to Kostunica, the government has made progress in all areas and that is something citizens can feel.We have confronted corruption and crime, although that is a fight which continues. In that fight no one has been spared. At the same time recognition arrived from outside – by the European Commission, the World Bank, recalled Kostunica, and added that no one is trying to conceal the fact that a lot remains to be done. He stressed that the Serbian government has achieved enormous success in cooperation with the Hague tribunal and has done more than all previous governments when it comes to the issue of the number of indictees sent to The Hague in a manner which did not create disturbance in the society.Ultimately, it was accepted by the public that a country can not be held hostage by individuals, and that the development of the country can not be stopped because of it. I am convinced that after all that has been achieved, even though cooperation with The Hague has not been concluded, it is very near the end.The Prime Minister denied the assertion that there was no political will to conclude cooperation with the Hague tribunal.That is an issue of technical conditions, explained Kostunica, and added that political will undoubtedly existed and was made concrete through the Action Plan and cooperation between all security departments which has improved significantly.He said that it is very important that the new Constitution of Serbia was adopted just a few months after Serbia became a separate state, and that our country has thus shown maturity.The new Constitution is a good basis for further development of our country and is a result of consensus of parliamentary parties and the expression of the general will of citizens at the referendum, said the Prime Minister, and added that due to that the Constitution is indeed a historical one.

15 November 2006

Ahtisaari Should Resign

Ahtisaari not objective, should resign, ruling party
November 13, 2006 11:10 AM
BELGRADE, Serbia-Serbia's ruling party said Monday the U.N. special envoy for Kosovo talks, Martti Ahtisaari, is not objective and should resign.
"With his way of handling the negotiations, Ahtisaari has hit a dead end," said Andreja Mladenovic, spokesman for the Democratic Party of Serbia. "He should leave the talks to someone impartial and objective so that a solution for Kosovo can be reached, a solution acceptable to both sides."
Kosovo, still officially a province of Serbia, has been under U.N. administration and NATO protection since a 1999 alliance airwar halted a Serb crackdown on ethnic Albanian rebels seeking independence.
The province's future is being negotiated in talks led by the United Nations with Ahtisaari mediating between Belgrade and Kosovo's majority ethnic Albanian leaders, with little success.
The province's ethnic Albanians insist on full independence while Serbia and Kosovo's minority Serbs want Belgrade to retain control over Kosovo.
Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica and his party have often criticized Ahtisaari, claiming he favors independence for the ethnically divided province.
Ahtisaari announced last week that he would delay presenting his proposal for Kosovo's future until after Serbia's Jan. 21 elections. The move indicated Ahtisaari might prefer to see a stable Serbian government in place before making his recommendations on Kosovo.
But the announcement prompted Kostunica to say that elections in Serbia were not Ahtisaari's concern and that any future Serbian government must abide by the newly adopted constitution, which states that Kosovo is an inalienable part of Serbia.
Mladenovic said his party believes "Ahtisaari crafted a secret plan with Pristina behind Belgrade's back ... to have Kosovo become independent" but met with "resistance from Russia," one of the six-nation Contact Group team working with Ahtisaari in the Kosovo talks. Mladenovic did not substantiate the claim.
The so-called Contact Group comprises the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and Italy. Western powers and Russia have endorsed the U.N. brokered talks to begin almost a year ago.
Serbia perceives the United States as supportive of the Kosovo ethnic Albanian bid for independence. Kostunica repeatedly has said he is counting on Serbia's traditional ally, Russia, to block possible Kosovo independence at the U.N. Security Council where it holds veto power.

13 November 2006

Defense Minister of Greece Meets With Patriarch Pavle


Defence agreement signed by Greece and Serbia
Bilateral relations between Greece and Serbia and the situation in the wider region - focusing particularly on the Kosovo - dominated talks held by Defence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis in Belgrade on Thursday. Meimarakis was formally received by his Serb counterpart Zoran Stankovic at Topcider military base in Belgrade. Talks focused on bilateral defence cooperation while a new broader defense agreement was signed by the two sides. Meimarakis stressed in a press conference that the new agreement gives special emphasis to military training and cooperation between training centers for peace operations in Belgrade, Serbia and Kilkis, Greece, while he assured his Serb counterpart that the Greek government supports Serbia’s Euro-Atlantic prospect. On his part, Stankovic thanked the Greek minister for the support and revealed that Greece will back Serbia’s accession into the NATO Partnership for Peace initiative in the imminent NATO summit to take place in Riga, Latvia in late November. Kosovo was the dominant issue at the meeting Meimarakis had with Serb Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica, who reiterated that his country cannot accept a solution that will not respect its sovereign rights in the region. The Greek minister pointed out the need for a mutually acceptable solution soon, stating that a likely extension of uncertainty would have a negative effect on stability in the wider region. Meimarakis wrapped up his contacts in Belgrade by meeting Serb Patriarch Pavle. The head of the Serb Orthodox Church referred to the historical ties shared by the two peoples and thanked the Greeks for their support to the Serbs. Before leaving the Serb capital, Meimarakis visited the newly built St. Sava Cathedral, the largest Orthodox Christian church in the Balkans.

Washington Considers Military Options With Delay

Kosovo: False calm before the real storm?
By M. Bozinovich, Serbianna USAIn the immediate aftermath of the successful referendum in Serbia on its new constitution, the EU foreign Minister Javier Solana congratulated Belgrade on referendum's orderly conduct and suggested that it is an important step in aligning Serbian legal structure with that of the European Union whose membership Serbia covets. In Washington, likewise, there was an approval of the referendum, while both, the EU and US stressed that the Kosovo status process must go on and Serbia is obligated to accept the results of the negotiating process.
Solana's and Washington's favorable reaction to the Serbian constitutional referendum was immediately objected by Albania, Kosovo Albanians and the International Crisis Group.
Albania blasted the Serbian constitutional referendum as "unacceptable" because it complicates the diplomatic negotiation on Kosovo at a time when, presumably, the UN Security Council is suppose to vote on amputating Kosovo from Serbia, and Serbia, finally got itself a constitution that major powers recognize and will have to consider what it says for any decision making process.
Albanian President Alfred Moisiu then raised the specter of violence with a claim that in case the Serbian referendum complicated the decision on Kosovo and precludes its independence then such "postponement of the decision on the final status of Kosovo will activate the extremist forces in the two countries." The countries Moisiu was referring to that will turn violent and extremist is Albania and Kosovo.
Kosovo Albanians dutifully dismissed the referendum as "not deserving a comment" so that by keeping their silence, Kosovo Albanians endorsed Moisiu's threat of violence and thus escalated their hostility against Serbia with whom Kosovo shares the longest border in case it ever becomes independent.
The International Crisis Group, however, sought to produce, at least some, civilized evidence for this forlorn dud and join the ethnic Albanian political body in malevolent attacks of spite on the Serbian state. In it's media release titled Serbia's Constitutional Referendum: A Question Of Validity, the Group sought to delegitimize Serbian referendum by making claims that it has witnesses that saw mass voter fraud although the only authoritativeness of that press release may be the appearance of a colon in the title that imitates serious analysis.
So says the Group: "Witnesses and videotape evidence indicate that many voters were permitted not only to vote without providing photographic identification," writes the Group and adds that "entire referendum process was deliberately skewed in advance by the authorities."
That ethnic Albanian political leadership is, indeed, seriously upset by the Western endorsement of the new Serbian constitution was expressed by ICG’s Belgrade director, James Lyon, who roared in his blog on the web site of B92 with a Stalinist parody of the Serbian referendum.
Land-for-protection offer
The EU appears less alarmed by the ethnic Albanian threats of violence then Washington.
"The issue of the future status of Kosovo is a different matter that is being dealt with by [UN envoy] Martti Ahtisaari," said European Commission spokeswoman Krisztina Nagy and left the matter at that.
Washington, however, was quick to send its envoy Frank Wisner to Kosovo while some "unnamed" diplomats told the Kosovo Albanian newspaper Ekspres that UN is prepared to take away Serbian sovereignty over Kosovo but was not willing to grant full independence.
"Although the draft solution on the status of Kosovo, presented to the Contact Group by the mediator in the negotiations Martti Ahtisaari, does not contain the term independence, it provides for authorizations that could lead to conditional independence", wrote the daily citing some unnamed source who may have spoken in order to lay some ground work in advance of Frank Wisner's discussion with Kosovo Albanians.
Nevertheless, this is a significant development because it is the first time that, supposedly a Washington-based, unnamed source has altogether sidelined independence, unconditional and conditional, from the negotiating table.
In the past, this "unnamed" source close to the Contact Group was first promising an unconditional independence, then a "precisely worded" Security Council Resolution that will recognize Kosovo independence once some 13 criteria are met by Albanians, then rumors floated of a supervised independence and now the independence is sidelined altogether and replaced by administered sovereignty.
The point here is that there is a gradual and sustained reduction in the levels of independence that the Contact Group is offering to Kosovo Albanians and that for every reduction in the independence offer we have an escalation of independence rhetoric in the media in order to compensate for the anger the reduction may cause to the ethnic Albanian political leaders.
Exhausting All Independence Options
It then emerges that the deadline that Washington is chasing may be more for military reasons then for any practical matters of diplomacy that sound logic dictates.
"You need only three people, one landmine, one flag and a press communique to have an incident," says Macedonian Foreign Minister Antonio Milososki after talks with EU officials. Then he added that it is always best to take difficult decisions in the Balkans in winter before the snows melt and fighters can take to the mountains.
Since the Serbian army is mostly a mechanized mobile force that prefers to stay away from mountains, it follows that whatever the tough decision Contact Group makes, that decision will trigger Kosovo Albanian military reaction against the NATO troops on the ground.
It is perhaps this forward diplomatic knowledge of the effects of the actual decision that prompted NATO to sign military withdrawal rights through Serbia last year while using media to raise Kosovo Albanian expectations through the heavens not that they will ever be delivered but in order to tranquilize and perhaps set the most extremist elements of the Kosovo Albanian leadership in power and for a dramatic fall.
It is unlikely that the 1,100 US military personnel will institute the fall because they are there to stay. Recent beating of an American serviceman by Kosovo Albanians in a gas station demonstrates the precariousness of these troops that are afraid to even retaliate for that brutal beating although many know the names of these Kosovo Albanian drug-military gangsters that did the beating.
Before and if any military action breaks out in Kosovo, Washington appears to be engaged in a demonstration to the Kosovo Albanian leadership that it is willing to explore all diplomatic venues and thus exhaust all independence options. Given that independence is taken off the table, Washington has delinked sovereignty from independence and is publicly peddling that mantra.
Promising that he will press on the issue of an administered sovereignty with Belgrade, Wisner probably asked Kosovo Albanians in his recent visit for some additional token bargain that he could offer once he arrives in Belgrade.
According to a UPI report, once in Belgrade, Wisner said that in an independent Kosovo minority Serbs will be the best protected national group in the Balkans although, a wise diplomat that Wisner is, he should have known how ridiculous this "land-for-protection" offer sounds.
Wisner then proceeded to real business of reminding Serbia that status decision is near, a code word for urging Belgrade to quickly ratify the constitution because the idea of writing a new Serbian constitution suddenly became a paramount issue in Serbian politics only after Serbian President Tadic's visit to Washington in early October.
As the showdown on the decision on Kosovo status rapidly approaches the Security Council table, Washington and the British are also refining their promises to Kosovo Albanians arguing that, despite Russian and Chinese promises to veto independence, the Security Council will allow other states to recognize Kosovo Albanian independence.
“The Security Council would issue a mandate for a mission led by the European Union and invite individual countries to recognize Kosovo,” says said Anthony C. Welch of Britain, the coordinator of a review of Kosovo’s future security needs commissioned by the United Nations.
In other words, Kosovo Albanians are no longer promised any independence and, based on the track record of broken promises, a sane Kosovo Albanian politician now in power should not believe anything that the West is saying.
Instead of independence then, Washington and London are telling Kosovo Albanians that the Security Council will veto independence, that the EU will come in to rule Kosovo and perhaps, if they are good pets, individual countries may recognize them.
Will there be criteria for recognition? If so what is it? Is there a time line and if so what is it? Kosovo Albanians have no answer to any of these concrete questions yet they are blindly believing anything that Washington and the British promise to them.
According to a Reuters report, Agim Ceku expressed this blind trust in Western powers to grant Kosovo independence by the end of 2006.
“We trust the international community to drive this process through to the correct conclusion," Ceku said in a speech at Chatham House, the foreign policy think-tank, after meeting the British government on final status talks.
According to another unnamed senior European diplomat in the Kosovo capital Pristina the Security Council will offer Kosovo Albanians a solution proposal that only appears to have characters of independence but in reality, Kosovo Albanians will not get it.
“He doesn't mention independence but Ahtisaari is describing the criteria which characterise an independent country,’ the unnamed one said.
As a result of a Security Council deadlock, no independence but only promises, Kosovo Albanians would unilaterally declare independence and thus instigate a crisis with Serbia.
At that point, the Resolution 1244 would be suspended because it would be replaced with another. The language of the resolution that replaces the 1244 will dictate what happens after Kosovo Albanians unilaterally declare independence.

12 November 2006

Ahtisaari's Concern With Elections Should Not Influence His Suggestions Concerning Kosovo

Ahtisaari should enable real talks on Kosovo
Belgrade, Nov 10, 2006 - Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica said today that the mandate of UN Special Envoy for negotiations on Kosovo-Metohija Martti Ahtisaari is not to think about elections in Serbia, but to enable real talks on Kosovo, which has not been the case so far.
Commenting Ahtisaari's decision to postpone the submitting of a proposal for the future status of Kosovo until the elections in Serbia are held, Kostunica told Tanjug news agency that in every free and democratic state the issue of holding elections is an internal issue of that country, and added that Ahtisaari's mandate is to find a solution in line with the UN Charter. He said that Serbia's stance on Kosovo has been defined in the Constitution and confirmed by the people's sovereign will, which means that every future Serbian government will have a principled and consistent position on Kosovo.Representatives of international community know that Serbia's definite position, which no one can change, is that Kosovo has always been and will forever remain an integral and inalienable part of Serbia because it is thus written in the UN Charter and the Constitution of Serbia, the Serbian prime minister stressed.Since the Security Council will not breach the UN Charter, every one-sided legal act of violence against Serbia and the seizure of 15% of its territory would have immeasurable consequences and jeopardise stability in the region, Kostunica warned.He said that Serbia will consistently defend principles of international law and respect both UN Security Council Resolution 1244 and the Dayton Peace Accords.

07 November 2006

Israel Backs Serbia

Israel backs Serbia on Kosovo, ready to invest $4 billion
November 6, 2006 -- Israel supports Serbia's negotiating position on the Kosovo status talks and is against any imposed solution because they will not hold, said Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.
FM Tzipi Livni and Serbian FM Draskovic sign cooperation agreement
Livni's statement came after her meeting with the Serbian Foreign Policy Minister, Vuk Draskovic who is on an official three days visit to Israel.
"We have concluded with the Minister [Livni] that even in a case of a painful Kosovo decision, we can in one diplomatic offensive achieve much so that such decision could be reversed," said Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Draskovic.
Livni has confirmed to Serbian reporters that "Israel supports a compromise agreement" on Kosovo status and that she was very interested in hearing all ideas that the Serbian side was willing to accept as an outcome in the talks.
Livni was grateful to Serbia for its offer to use its influence in the Islamic world to help bring about official recognition of the state of Israel as well as Serbia's "clear condemnation of Iranian president's comments on Israel."
"Everyone, and Albanians should respect the UN principle of territorial integrity," said Draskovic. "I am asking Israeli support of Serbia on this issue."
After a meeting with Draskovic, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that Israel is ready for an economic offensive into Serbia that could bring in about $4 billion in investments. Draskovic confirmed that Israeli investment opportunities in Serbia are "practically limitless."
At the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial, Draskovic was moved by the memory of Jasenovac, a Nazi era Croatian concentration camp where over 1 million Serbs and Jews were murdered.
"It is our responsibility to remember as long we are alive. To forgive? We do not have the right to forgive for those that are dead and murdered," wrote Draskovic in the Memorial's book of memories.

PM Kostunica and Russian OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Leader Lyubov Sliska

Russia consistent in position that UN principles must not be violated in resolving Kosovo-Metohija issue
Belgrade, Nov 7, 2006 – Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica met with a delegation of the State Duma of the Russian Federation, led by first vice-speaker of the State Duma and head of the Russian delegation to the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Lyubov Sliska.
Sliska said at the meeting that the principled position of Russian President Vladimir Putin and the State Duma is that the fundamental principles of the UN should not be violated while resolving the issue of the future status of Kosovo-Metohija, neither should exceptions be made in the international order. She reiterated that Russia will consistently hold to principled politics.She pointed to the fact that Russia is against declarations that the issue of Kosovo-Metohija should be resolved by the end of this year, and added that the process of seeking a solution is not over. Sliska stressed that the result of the referendum, at which the majority of Serbs supported the Constitution, which states that Kosovo-Metohija is an integral part of Serbia, must be taken into account while deciding the future status of Kosovo-Metohija.Kostunica said that Serbia greatly values the principled position of President Putin and the State Duma that international law must be respected and there can be no one-sided decision to change state borders. The Serbian Prime Minister warned that any attempt to impose a solution would set a dangerous precedent and have far reaching and unpredictable consequences.Kostunica stated that Serbia has confirmed her commitment to upholding basic principles of international law through the new Constitution, in the Preamble which states that Kosovo-Metohija is an integral part of the territory of Serbia.The participants of the meeting stressed that Russia and Serbia cherish traditionally close friendly ties, and emphasized that cooperation between parliaments of the two countries is exceptionally good, adding that there is a great scope for further improving economic cooperation.

03 November 2006

Kojadinovic Expresses Gratitude to Patriarch Alexei and President Putin for Support of Serbia

Kojadinovic expresses gratitude to Russian Patriarch for helping Serbia
Belgrade/Moscow, Nov 3, 2006 – Serbian Minister of Culture Dragan Kojadinovic met today with Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexei the Second, who organised a reception for participants of the Slavic Cultural Forum.
A statement of the Ministry of Culture says that Kojadinovic expressed gratitude to Russian Patriarch Alexei for his concern for the Serbian people, Serbian Orthodox Church, and for help provided by the Russian Orthodox Church for the construction of the Saint Sava Temple in Vracar, and particularly for Serbian churches and monasteries in Kosovo-Metohija.Russian Patriarch Alexei stressed that Kosovo-Metohija is the cradle of orthodox spirituality and the statehood of the Serbian nation. Alexei the Second said that Kosovo-Metohija is an unalienable part of Serbia and voiced hope that it will remain so forever. After the March 2004 violence in Kosovo-Metohija I appealed to the public world wide to condemn the destruction of world cultural heritage, but the reaction was lukewarm when compared to situations where historical monuments were destroyed in Afghanistan, recalled the Patriarch of Moscow and all of Russia, Alexei the Second.Kojadinovic presented the Patriarch with a phototype edition of the 15th century Gospel of Duke Nikola Stanjevic.During his stay in Moscow, the Minister of Culture will attend a reception at the invitation of Russian President Vladimir Putin, which will be held on November 4 on Russia’s National Unity Day.Minister Kojadinovic will be the only representative of Serbia at the reception and will use the opportunity to express gratitude to Russian President Putin for his personal, and state-level efforts of Russia to safeguard Kosovo-Metohija as an integral part of Serbia, reads the statement.
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