31 January 2007

Srdjan Djuric Demands Explanation of Ahtisaari

Ahtisaari must explain Kosovo proposal presentation prior to new government appointment
Belgrade, Jan 30, 2007 – Director of the Serbian government's Office of Media Relations Srdjan Djuric invited UN Special Envoy Martti Ahtisaari to explain why the proposal for the resolution of Kosovo issue is to be brought to Belgrade before Serbia gets new government.
Srdjan DjuricIn a statement to the Beta news agency, Djuric said that Ahtisaari should make the effort for the sake of the public and explain which principles and standards he used as guide lines when he decided to come to Belgrade before a new government is formed.Djuric asked if there are any similar examples in the democratic Europe which Ahtisaari could refer to, or whether he is simply determined to make precedents when it comes to Serbia.According to all indicators, Ahtisaari is consistent in two respects, which are to conduct experiments on Serbia and make precedents, as well as to persistently avoid explaining his actions, stressed Djuric.

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Serbian PM Threatens EU, NATO Over Kosovo

January 31st 2007
Serbia's outgoing prime minister is threatening to sever ties with countries that would recognize independence of the mainly ethnic-Albanian Kosovo province.
The Democratic Party of Serbia, headed by conservative Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica, announced Wednesday its stand for forming a new Serbian government following parliamentary elections Jan 21, the Serbian news agency Beta said.
Kostunica's party said a new coalition government should declare null and void a decision by any state or international organization, which recognizes the province of Kosovo independent of Belgrade.
The recognition of Kosovo's independence by any NATO member country would seriously endanger Serbia's relations with the alliance as it would mean that NATO air bombardment of Serbia in 1999 was aimed at snatching away Kosovo, Kostunica's party said.
Kostunica's democrats were the third strongest party, behind the opposition ultra-nationalist Serbian Radical party and the Democratic party of Serbian President Boris Tadic.
Officials of the European Union in Brussels have made public their expectations the parties of Tadic, Kostunica and a pro-EU reformist party to form a pro-European coalition government to support the EU stand on Kosovo.

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Russia, China voice similar positions on search for Kosovo compromise, InterfaxJanuary 31, 2007 on 5:29 am

BEIJING. Jan 31 (Interfax-China) - Russia and China have stated that they have similar positions on the situation surrounding Kosovo, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Vladimir Titov said.
“The Russian and Chinese positions coincide in that we advocate a search for a compromise in the talks,” the Russian diplomat said after consultations with Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui.
“This decision must not be locked in any time frames, if a solution is to be found that would strengthen peace and stability in the Balkans and in a wider context,” he said.
Russia has said on many occasions, said Titov, that the method to be chosen in settling the Kosovo problem “will be of serious importance and will be projected to other regions and international situations.”
The first ever attempt is being made to detach a part from an integral state, not an independent entity from a federative state, the Russian diplomat said.
“If the separation takes place without the state’s consent a very negative precedent will be created for other international situations,” he said.
Titov also announced that the UN secretary general’s special envoy Marti Ahtisaari was expected to inform Belgrade and Pristina of the proposals on ways to settle the situation.
“Further developments will depend on the reaction to these proposals by the parties concerned. We’ve always wanted these proposals to facilitate the negotiations,” he added.
During the consultations the parties “exchanged views on the situation in Europe as a whole and on various international organizations’ activities in Europe,” he said.

30 January 2007

Serbia Offers Internal Independence

Serbia offers interior independence to Kosovo-Metohija
Belgrade, Jan 29, 2007 – Advisor to the Serbian Prime Minister and coordinator of the state team for negotiations on Kosovo's future status Slobodan Samardzic stated today that Serbia offers interior independence to ethnic Albanian majority in Kosovo-Metohija through an agreement which would symbolically preserve "the membrane of Serbian sovereignty" over the issue of the province.

In an interview for the Reuters agency, Samardzic said that Serbia only needs respect of its borders, adding that interior organisation of the state may ensure maximum flexibility.

He explained that Belgrade will not govern all other issues related to the vital interests of ethnic Albanians, such as economic, social and cultural ones. He also stressed that these issues could be directly related to financial institutions.

Belgrade's plan does not insist that Serbia controls the border and this matter could be left to international police, said Samardzic and stressed that the Serbian side does not demand that its army and police return to the province.

He said that in ten years' time, Serbia's and Kosovo-Metohija's membership in the EU would reduce the importance of borders and equalise the monetary and customs policy.

Samardzic noted that Belgrade has not been offered the chance to come up with its own suggestions and added that applying pressure is not a good way to solve this issue in the next few months, as the West is doing now.

The problem of Kosovo is 100 years old and Ahtisaari provided only three hours of Serbian-Albanian status talks last year with a note that it was the meeting of the deaf.

Serbia's plan is a multi-layered plan of administration under the umbrella of Belgrade, he said and concluded that Europe is brimming with successful self-determination stories with no secession.


29 January 2007

Ahtisaari Won't Wait Until Government Is Formed

No one to meet Ahtisaari”

29 January 2007 12:41 -> 13:12 Source: B92

BELGRADE -- DSS official Miloš Aligrudić says Martti Ahtisaari’s visit to Serbia is premature, as the new government has yet to be formed.According to the Constitution, the Government of Serbia, whose current composition is still pending, is "the sole state body entitled to run foreign policy", Aligrudić pointed out in regards to Ahtisaari’s plans to set a time limit after he has presented his proposal to Belgrade and Priština.“The main issue in question is whether the Government, the sole state body entitled to run foreign policy, can accept the proposal and give its opinion within the timeframe that Martti Ahtisaari may set", Aligrudić said. The new Government is not yet formed, and for the outgoing Government, "to take on that task would be irresponsible in my opinion", he continued. "In that sense, I believe that there is no need to rush things, having in mind the Constitutional time limits for the creation of a new government". “The caretaker government does not have the capacity to deal with foreign affairs, which is beneficial to Prime Minister Koštunica and Serbia for that matter”, Aligrudić said. He added that the Belgrade negotiating team’s legitimacy stems from the Government, leaving its current authority in question. “Martti Ahtisaari must realize that three or four weeks is not too much to wait”, he concluded.

28 January 2007

Nations Take Sides Over Kosovo

Rift Widens Among Nations Over Kosovo
The Associated Press
January 26, 2007

But it will be an acceptable package, we believe, for the people of Kosovo
Russia is pressing for more time to examine a U.N. proposal for the future of Kosovo, Western and Russian officials said Friday, underscoring a widening rift between Moscow _ a key ally of Serbia _ and the United States and its European allies.
'Russia wants a longer period' to consider the plan, which U.N. special envoy Martti Ahtisaari presented in Vienna to diplomats from the so-called Contact Group _ U.S., Russia, Britain, France, Germany and Italy _ a Western official told The Associated Press.
Other members of the Contact Group insisted that 'we've got to set a time limit' on the roadmap for the independence-minded province, said the official, who was not authorized to discuss details of the proposal and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Russia is a traditional ally of Serbia, which considers Kosovo the heart of its ancient homeland and insists that it remain part of Serbian territory. Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority has been pushing for outright independence.
The U.N. Security Council will have the final say on Ahtisaari's plan, which the former Finnish president will formally present to both sides on Feb. 2.
Moscow's apparent misgivings _ and its veto power at the U.N. _ have raised the possibility of a diplomatic showdown with the United States, which backs the province's drive for statehood.
The other members of the Contact Group 'agreed that the plan should go to the parties' without delay, the Western official said. But a Russian diplomat told the AP that the Kremlin 'would prefer to wait' at least until Serbia, which held parliamentary elections earlier this month, forms a new government.
'We would not favor hasty moves,' the Russian official said. The Russian official also was not permitted to discuss the proposal publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Ahtisaari's deputy, Albert Rohan, called Friday's meeting 'very good and positive,' but declined to provide details. The diplomats planned to take the document to their capitals for further review, spokesman Remi Dourlot said.
In Pristina, Kosovo Prime Minister Agim Ceku reacted with impatience to the Russian request, insisting: 'There are no more reasons to delay the status process.'
Ceku said he realized the proposal 'may contain elements that are not that favorable _ not all will be what we want.'
'But it will be an acceptable package, we believe, for the people of Kosovo,' he said. 'I am confident that Kosovo will be independent and that when Ahtisaari goes to the Security Council he will propose independence for Kosovo.'
His deputy, Lufti Haziri, said the U.N. blueprint was crafted around 'two main issues, two main principles: Kosovo's right to its future and Kosovo's obligations toward minorities.'
But diplomats and officials have said the proposal likely will not mention the word independence, although it is expected to give Kosovo some attributes of a sovereign state, such as access to international institutions and provisions for a security force.
Kosovo has been under U.N. control since mid-1999 _ when NATO airstrikes ended former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's crackdown on ethnic Albanian separatists _ and is currently patrolled by a 16,000-strong NATO-led peacekeeping force.
Ahtisaari has said his plan focuses on the protection of Kosovo's small Serbian minority and envisages a strong international presence backed up by the NATO peacekeepers.
International mediators have held yearlong talks between ethnic Albanian and Serbian leaders on issues such as giving self-rule to Serbs in areas where they form a majority, protecting their religious and cultural monuments and offering them constitutional guarantees so they are not overruled.
Oliver Ivanovic, a moderate Kosovo Serb leader from the ethnically divided city of Kosovska Mitrovica, said he was briefed earlier on key elements of the plan. He said Serbs 'will have special rights in security, health services, education and cultural matters.'
Diplomats said the plan also outlines post-status international supervision, with the European Union's top envoy in Kosovo likely to have veto power over laws and government decisions.
That would resemble the Dayton accords that ended Bosnia's 1992-95 war and established an international administrator to oversee that country's day-to-day affairs.

Jesus is the Beginning of Healing All Evil

From St. Nikolai


About the Man Whom no one knows

" `Who are you?' Jesus saidto them: `The beginning' "(St. John 8:25).

The Lord Jesus is the beginning of creation, the beginning of restoration, the beginning of salvation, the beginning of resurrection, and the beginning of immortal glory.

Wherever there is any evil in the world that needs to be uprooted, He is the beginning. Without Him, it is impossible. Wherever there is any good that is desired to be done in the world, He is the beginning. Without Him, it is impossible. If anyone desires to uproot dissent and malice in the family, in the village, in the town, in the entire world, without Him, it is impossible. One must begin with Him. If anyone desires to instill good-will, peace, love and unity in the family, in the village, in the town, among the peoples in the entire world, without Him it is impossible. He is the beginning.

Why is it that without Christ, one cannot uproot evil nor sow good? Because all evil is from sin and only He can forgive sins. When He and only He forgives sin, then sin is plucked out by the root. No type of good is possible to be sown without Him because in Him is the treasury of all good; all the seeds of good. He is the only Sower of Good in the field of the world.

The Apostle Paul, who understood all of this better than we, says: " I can do all things through [Jesus] Christ Who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13). Without Jesus Christ, who can begin to heal oneself of evil, to heal others from evil and to sow good in oneself and to sow good in others? No one, truly no one.

Therefore, brethren, if we are determined to uproot evil in ourselves and in others and in place of evil to sow good in ourselves and in others, let us begin with the Beginning [Christ]; i.e., let us begin with the Conqueror over evil and the Sower of good; with the Lord Jesus Christ.

O Lord Jesus Christ, You be to us the beginning in every struggle against sin and in every good work.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.

Decani Monastery Relief Fund Appeal

KiM Info Newsletter 28-01-07
Decani Monastery Relief Fund Appeal - Help School Children in Kosovo During the Winter
Letter by +Very Rev. Archimandrite Nektarios SerfesPresident of the Decani Monastery Relief Fund USA

Beloved in Christ our Lord,

May the peace of God that passeth understanding be with you always!
Once again I must appeal to you on behalf of the Decani Monastery Relief Fund USA and for the sake of our struggling brothers and sisters in Kosovo/Metohija.
The children of the region are freezing when they are at school. Indeed, the children are now cold all the time, since only some of the classrooms even have wood stoves. There is no high tech central heating system for them as we are accustomed to having in the schools our American children attend.
Back in late January and early February of last year (2006), I visited the region in my role as president of the Decani Fund. Some of the schools I visited were in unheated buildings! In one school I visited with Bishop Teodosije, we met together with the teachers in one of the classrooms. During that meeting, the room was intensely cold; we all felt we were freezing!
Elsewhere, in a classroom that was heated, the only source was a wood stove. When the children went outside for recess, they were each asked to bring in a log to add to the stove. When the supply of firewood was exhausted, that classroom too would go unheated. The schools are allotted some firewood by the Kosovo Coordination Center (run by the Republic of Serbia). When this is used up, the children must return to attending to their studies in icy cold classrooms.
This situation is so common that these children have grown accustomed to being cold. One must wonder, though, what effect such conditions have on their ability to learn and on their teachers’ ability to teach.
We cannot even imagine such conditions in our own children’s schools!
But the situation for Kosovo’s Serbian children is even worse than a lack of heat in the schools they attend. Some of these schools do not have electricity either. The children must arrive late and leave early-- they can have classes only during the daylight hours.
When the Decani Monastery fathers learned that there won’t be enough firewood available to supply the region’s schools for the entire winter, they’ve rushed to assist the schools by procuring additional supplies of wood through the Decani Monastery Relief Fund. Because of past years’ experience with this ongoing situation, they now keep in contact with these schools, anticipating that they will have to assist them when they run out of firewood or encounter other problems.
At this hour, beloved in Christ our Lord, let us act together to keep the children warm in their classrooms. With Christian love, let us assist them to have both heat and electric lighting in their schools so that the time they spend there will be productive and conducive to real learning.
The schools, like many of the families in the area, cannot afford sufficient firewood or electric power. Children return to unheated homes from unheated schools, to homes where the only illumination comes from candles or lanterns. Life in Kosovo/Metohija has regressed to a primitive level for many of the remaining Serbian citizens. Even worse conditions would ensue if it were not for the armed guards and tank patrols that surround the schools and give some measure of safety to the children at least while they are there.
Please remember, my brothers and sisters in Christ, that for Christians, charitable works are not an option, they are a mandate. We live to be servants of our Lord and we serve Him by serving each other and all others. Christ Himself commands us to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to take care of the poor and needy among us. In Christ we are one body, one family. As one family, all the children are our children, all the people are our brothers and sisters.
The Decani Monastery Relief Fund exists to carry out that mandate in Kosovo/Metohija. Let us also rise to the call and help them provide assistance to alleviate the bitter cold and darkness these young children must face in their schools and in their homes. Let us warm them, our children, with both our charity and with our ceaseless prayers.
Please send your donation, designated to be used to provide Firewood for Schools in Kosovo to:
Decani Monastery Relief Fund USAC/O Very Rev. Archimandrite Nektarios Serfes2618 West Bannock Street Boise, Idaho 83702 USA
Telephone: 208-345-6147
Your tax deductible donation will be wired immediately from the Fund’s account in Boise, Idaho to the Decani Monastery Relief Fund’s account in Belgrade, Serbia where the good fathers can draw on it to purchase additional firewood and pay utility bills for the schools in their district as needed throughout this winter. May God abundantly bless you for your Christian stewardship and for your human kindness!
Peace to your soul!
+Very Rev. Archimandrite Nektarios SerfesPresident of the Decani Monastery Relief Fund USAJanuary 2007

Glory to God in the Highest, and on Earth Peace, Good Will Toward Men!
Decani Monastery Relief FundBringing Christians from the United States and Serbia together

Bishop Teodosije expresses gratitude to DMRF Donors
Having received the Financial report by the DMRF Treasury for the period from June 9, 2006 to January 19, 2007 Bishop Teodosje would like to express his most sincere gratitude to all DMRF donors, known and unknown, who have been keeping suffering Christians in Kosovo and Metohija in their hearts and minds.
Extending our prayers to the Lord of Mercy we feel obliged to mention the names of our donors in this period asking the Lord to grant them every good for their love and solidarity and abundantly bless their families and dear ones.
Some of DMRF donors specifically asked their names not to be mentioned but nevertheless their names are known to the God who knows the hearts of all.
The names of our donors are listed in chronological order from June 2006 to Jan 2007. Some of the listed donors have made donations to DMRF two or three times during the year.
Decani Monastery brotherhood expresses particular gratitude to Fr. Nektarios Serfes, for all his dedication, love and efforts to provide funds for the needy in Kosovo and Metohija. The brotherhood is also grateful to Lois Fletcher, the DMRF Secretary and Mrs. Gioia Maria Frahm the DMRF Treasurer:

Fr. Konstantine Eleftherakis
John & Holly Kluits
David & Kathy Linke
George & Fotini Sideris
Mile Klasnic
Kri N. Zaroyiannis
Lois K Fletcher
Christopher and Lori Michas
Luba Fabrycky
Christopher and Lori Michas
Luba Fabrycky
Paul & Phyllis Martinsen
Dino & Sofia Vlahakis
Presvytera Ruth Uhl
Dragon & Marie Stefanovic
Bobby or Evelyn Vucenovic
Kevin & Amy Hoger
Marie Eliades
Diana G. Theodore-Galetsa
George & Stella Jatras
Tammy K. Cremeens
Elizabeth T. Packer
Darlene Gakovich
Mirjana & Rade Petrovic
Dmitri Younes
Kathleen Djordjevich
Ray & Effie Kaufman
Ladies Philoptochos Society, Boise, ID
Michael J. Redmond
Norman & Miroslava J. Ness
Metropolitan Herman, St. Tikhon’s Seminary & Monastery, South Canaan,
PADaughters of Penelope Mentes
Anthony P. Barajas
John & Jennie Billo
St. John the Baptist Russian Orthodox Church
Kenneth & Maria Worth
Rev. Bratislav
B. Krsic
Rev. Milan Zobenica
Robert A Rither
Stevan Pirocanac
Serbian Lodge Rodoljub,
George Martich
Branko Dobric & Stoianka Yonkova
Ralph & Charmaine Masterjohn
Connie Angelos
Nativity of Christ Greek Orthodox Parish, Novato, Ca
Fr. Thomas & Presbytera Deborah Tomasi
The Smith Family, Smymour TN
Mr. & Mrs. Kurt SherryTroy,
Dmitri, Alexander, & Tatiana
Leo & Angela Bournias
Branko & F. Caroline Nikolich
W. Degrado
Kingsley C. Smith
Charles & Nancy Warren
Slavisa Mededovic
Mary Bouras
Rev. Anthony & Presbytera Tomaras
Philip & Helen Anast
Mary Kiousis
Ralph & Charmaine Masterjohn
Ivan Knezevic
Thomas Kurdonik
Yasmina Spector
Charles & Nancy Warren
Robert & Margita Vunovich
Mark & Angela McGuire
Robert & Christine Yannes
John & Barbara Reeder
John & Elaine Poulos
Natalie O. Strintzis
Pavel & Christine Pirocanac
Walter & Mila Nolan
Stevan Pirocanac
Anthony & Maria Leovaris
Justin & Annemarie Bosl
Kingsely C. Smith
Donna Moore
Peter & Sarah Raketic LTC
Steven & Gisela Oluic
Ivan & Radmila Gorup
Mileta & Judith Solujich
Stephan & Kay Pappas
Katherine Vaporis Herron
Robert & Elizabeth Fitzgerald
John & Milica Vukasovich
Dragan & Marie Stefanovic
Aaron & Christine Blooding
Sara V. Ingenito
Donna Ingenito
John & Christine Heuer
Vera S. Wasaca
George Zarglis
Robert & Margita Vunovich
G. Arnold & Patricia Powell
Circle of Serbian Sisters and Church Sunday school Milwaukie, OR
Harry & Joan BlackPaul & Angela Papich
Michael J. Redmond
Allan B. Haberman
Stefanie N. Niketic
Zoran Smaic
Nikola Grulovic
Branko & Stoianka Yonkova
Brian & Carrie Bullard
Olja Meyer
Megan SadlerNick & Maria Demos
Fr. Deacon K. Michael Shelby
Melissa T. Panopoulas
Peter Fotes
In the course of 2006 DMRF has provided c. 50.000 USD for the needy in Kosovo and Metohija.
KIM Info-service ARCHIVE
2004 Archives: March April May June July August September October November December 2005 Archives: January February March April May June July August September October November December 2006 Archives: January February March April May June July August September October November December 2007 Archives: January
More News Available on our:Kosovo Daily News list (KDN)KDN Archive
Earlier Newsletters can be found at: http://www.kosovo.net/erpkiminfo.html Photo Galleries of the March pogrom are available at: http://www.kosovo.net/pogrom.html

27 January 2007

UN envoy's Kosovo proposal angers Albanian majority
Released : Saturday, January 27, 2007 1:30 AM

SERBIA: Self-rule without independence will not satisfy either community in the divided province, writes Daniel McLaughlin in Mitrovica

Fear and frustration united the ethnically divided town of Mitrovica in Kosovo yesterday, after a United Nations envoy unveiled controversial plans for the region's future.
Martti Ahtisaari's proposal to grant Kosovo broad self-rule without explicitly declaring it "independent" irked the province's 90 per cent Albanian majority, most of whom dread a situation in which Serbia can continue to exert influence over their lives.
The former Finnish president also sent a shiver of fear through Kosovo's Serbs, who live in well-guarded enclaves where few people trust the region's ethnic Albanian government, and many believe only closer ties to Belgrade will guarantee their safety.
"We couldn't live here under Serb control," said Xhevdet Ferizi (50), near the bridge over the Ibar river that separates the Albanian and Serb sides of Mitrovica. "It would be better to be dead than back with the Serbs."
Mitrovica huddles between hills scarred by a vast lead mine, and the sprawling, skeletal remains of the decrepit smelter that processed the metal. Of the 120,000 people who survive here, 17,000 are Serb - and all of them live north of the river.
Serb and Albanian lived together until 1998, when Slobodan Milosevic dispatched troops and paramilitaries to crush Kosovo's separatist rebels, in a campaign that claimed some 10,000 Albanian lives before Nato bombing ended it in 1999.
Subsequent reprisals forced thousands of Serbs to flee their homes, and many came to northern Mitrovica.
Sporadic clashes between the communities continued, and the town's divisions became entrenched; ethnic riots that killed at least eight people and injured hundreds in 2004 only rekindled mutual fear and suspicion.
Mitrovica is quiet now, the foreign soldiers guarding the bridge wear soft berets and stand at ease, and the streets are busy on both sides of the Ibar.
But Serbs are loath to cross to the south, and many Albanians suspect their neighbours would try to break away from an independent Kosovo and join Serbia proper.
"If the UN gives us special relations with Belgrade, then that would be good. But if we are cut off from Serbia, perhaps we will have to leave ourselves," said Nikola (24), a student in northern Mitrovica.
His neck still bears a long scar from the day in 2001 when an Albanian threw a grenade at him while he was playing basketball in the street.
"The Albanians could use terror attacks against us, put a bomb in a bar or cafe," he said. "How could I ever trust them?"
About 750km away in Vienna, Mr Ahtisaari was telling the Contact Group of US, British, French, German, Italian and Russian officials that Kosovo should be allowed to join bodies like the UN and World Bank, but remain under international political and military supervision as it moves through an unspecified transition period to full independence.
Diplomats also revealed that Mr Ahtisaari advocated broad autonomy for Kosovo's Serb communities, protection for their ancient Orthodox churches and monasteries, and the right to receive money from the government in Belgrade, provided it is channelled through the central administration in the regional capital, Pristina.
Washington and the EU fear the absence from a UN resolution of the key word - "independence" - could anger Kosovo Albanians and prompt them to declare independence unilaterally; but they are also loath to bolster nationalist power in Belgrade - and anger its key ally Russia - by stripping Serbia of a large chunk of territory that it considers its historical heartland.
"If Pristina unilaterally declares independence, then some Serbs here will probably declare independence," said Oliver Ivanovic, a moderate Serb leader in northern Mitrovica, who supports a unified Kosovo and co-operation between its communities.
"That would be a legitimate response . . . and would have some support, perhaps tacitly, from Belgrade," he added.
Across the river on the Albanian side of Mitrovica, council chief executive officer Sadri Ferati said nothing could now stop Kosovo becoming independent.
"If it is not stated in the UN resolution, one option is to declare independence unilaterally," he said. "Then each country would recognise us, one by one, just as they did at first with Slovenia and Croatia.
"Kosovo will not be part of Serbia, that is the most important thing. If we have to declare independence, so be it - it may take one, two, or three years, but eventually international supervision will end. Now we are just talking about the terminology - Kosovo is moving towards full independence."
Mr Ahtisaari is due to present his plan next week in Belgrade - where a government has yet to be formed after last week's elections - and in Kosovo, where patience is wearing thin and security is being beefed up.
"There is no need for another delay," Kosovo's prime minister Agim Ceku said yesterday. "The Contact Group assured us before that there wouldn't be another delay."
Copyright 2007 Irish Times. Source: Financial Times Information Limited - Europe Intelligence Wire.

Russia and West Far Apart Concerning Kosovo

Russia and West divided on UN Kosovo plan
REUTERS, Fri Jan 26, 2007 9:22 AM ET
By Matt Robinson

VIENNA (Reuters) - Russia is skeptical about a plan by United Nations envoy Martti Ahtisaari that would give Serbia's breakaway province of Kosovo virtual independence, a senior diplomat told Reuters on Friday. After a meeting in Vienna with the six-member Contact Group of major powers, the diplomat said Russia had urged a delay in any U.N. decision on Kosovo until Serbia had formed a new government following an inconclusive parliamentary election on Jan 21.
"It was a very tough meeting. The Russians are very skeptical about the plan," the diplomat said on condition of anonymity. "I have never seen the Quint (United States, Britain, France, Germany and Italy) more united."

Ahtisaari's spokesman Remi Dourlot told reporters after the meeting the envoy would travel to Belgrade and Pristina as planned on February 2 to present his proposal to officials.
The Contact Group has set policy on Kosovo since the U.N. took control in 1999 of the province where 90 percent of the population is ethnic Albanian. Ahtisaari drafted his plan after a year of shuttle diplomacy and fruitless Serb-Albanian talks.
Diplomatic sources said the Vienna meeting was the last step before he presents his proposal to officials next Friday. He will hold further bilateral talks in coming weeks, but diplomats say that would be merely fine-tuning details of the plan.
Eight years after NATO drove out Serb forces accused of ethnic cleansing in Kosovo while fighting Albanian separatists, Kosovo's Albanians demand nothing less than full independence.
Their patience was tested in November, when the Contact Group told Ahtisaari to delay until after Serbia's election.

"There is no need for another delay," Kosovo Prime Minister Agim Ceku told reporters in Pristina on Friday. "The Contact Group assured us before that there wouldn't be another delay."
Belgrade is offering only far-reaching autonomy for a territory it sees as the sacred cradle of the Serb nation.
Diplomatic sources told Reuters this week Ahtisaari's plan would set Kosovo on the road to independence with international supervision, giving it the right to apply for membership of international organizations.
It would provide for a right to dual citizenship and urge Pristina to establish good relations with Serbia, but contain no reference to Serbian sovereignty.

Russia's insistence on waiting for a new government in Belgrade could mean a delay of weeks or months. Last weekend's national election in Serbia failed to produce a clear majority and parties were preparing for lengthy coalition talks.
The ultranationalist Radical Party won 28 percent of the vote but could find no partner that would give it a majority.
The pro-Western Democratic Party came second and is looking for a deal with the party of moderate nationalist Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica and a smaller liberal party.
Kostunica used increasingly hardline rhetoric during his campaign and has said a common stance on Kosovo is the key to a coalition deal. It is not clear how easy it will be for him to agree with the Democrats on how to handle the potential loss of the province.
Parties have until late May to agree on a coalition, or a fresh election would have to be called.
After a meeting in Brussels, NATO, which keeps 16,000-plus peacekeepers in the province, also advised against a delay.
"There was a strong sense around the table on the need for a (U.N.) resolution as soon as possible," NATO spokesman James Appathurai told reporters. "Long delays risk a lack of clarity, risk fostering instability," he added.
The alliance is on alert for ethnic tensions caused by the report and wants to ensure it is not caught napping by any new violence in Kosovo, as it was in March 2004 during two days of rioting by ethnic Albanian mobs.

26 January 2007

Vojislav Kostunica Campaign Speeches of 2000

These speeches are from the website antiwar.org

Vojislav Kostunica'sCampaign Speeches 9/20/00
Anti War Editorial note: We present below two campaign speeches by the candidate of the united Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS), Vojislav Kostunica, delivered before the DOS pre-election convention. You can read a campaign speech by Slobodan Milosevic, by clicking here.

Dear Friends, Belgrade, Serbia,
We are given a great opportunity and a great chance to begin a different life in a different state after September 24. But first let's see what kind of state we live in today. Woe is the state and wretched the life we lead in it.
Woe is the state whose freedom depends on one single man. Woe is the state whose welfare depends on one single man. Woe is the state whose defense depends on one single man. Woe is the state that is a hostage to one single man.
And it must be terrifying, and burdensome, to be that man. I would certainly fall short of such an onerous task, I must confess. Such an enormous responsibility would no doubt scare me. I would have to step down.
Slobodan Milosevic does not want to step down. He experiences himself as a King who is the Sun. The King who used to say: apres moi le deluge. And who nearly flooded the state.
I am an ordinary, average man. It has never occurred to me to see myself as some historic greatness. I have never dreamed about some global historic mission of mine.
I only know that what you want, and what I want, of course, is to live in an ordinary, average European country. A state free from within, democratic, that is. A state free towards the outside, that is to say independent. A state of average standard of living. Average relations with other states. Average membership of international organisations. Average economy. An average industrial growth. An averagely stable national currency. Average banks. Averagely supplied shops. Average salaries and pensions, which are averagely regular. An average social care system. Average health care. Average media in which field or cultural events would hit the headlines. In a word, a state of averagely European everything.
Some would say: averages are boring, there is nothing exciting about them, nothing vivid. Something is always going on here.
Yes, indeed! Something has been going on for more than half a century, more intensively so over the last decade. These dramatic events of ours have made us all but unique in the world. What have we been through? The wars in which we did not take part, but coffins reached us nevertheless. The waves of refugees - our kinsmen exiled from their hearths over the Drina River. The Serb border along the Drina. Inflation that took our breath away. Queues for all kinds of everything. Sanctions. Isolation. The media demonisation of our country. NATO's criminal and frantic bombing of our country. Declared war victory in the wake of the Kumanovo capitulation. Foreign troops and foreign administration in Kosovo, the very same troops and administration the Socialist Party of Serbia claims Slobodan Milosevic, precisely the one who brought them in, will chase away in less than no time.
I am absolutely sure that we have tired of all those stormy and tempestuous events. What we need is the New-Testament "peace amongst ourselves." We need calm. We need a kind of life in which excitements would be confined primarily to the personal plane - let the public, political life be monotonous, even boring if you like.
In a nutshell, what we need is a normal and civilised state. A mundane and replaceable authority, whose term in office would be limited time-wise. An ordinary, democratic state where law rules. And order. A state in which the authorities fear the people, not vice-versa. A state whose citizens would not live in the permanent fear of destitution and poverty.
This is the only state the Democratic Opposition of Serbia and I can offer to you. The country not to be bordered by bloody rivers, the one in which we would never be menials or servants to anyone, be they foreign or domestic conquerors. The country that, ordinary as it is, all of us would love and build in peace.
You have heard the offer. It is up to you to verify it on September 24. May God give us all wisdom and courage to win freedom. For Serbia, of course.
Speech #2
How miserable is this life of ours now... How miserable is the state whose freedom depends on a single man how poor and miserable is the state whose prosperity depends on a single man (the public jeering and booing again), how miserable is the state whose defence and protection depends on that man.
Miserable is the country taken hostage by only one man. This must be terrifying and horrible for that man, the current Yugoslav president. I admit that I would be also terrified if I were in his shoes. I admit that I would withdraw if I were in his position. But Slobodan Milosevic would not do that for anything in the world
He's acting as if he were Louis XIV, Le Roi Soleil; he's behaving as if there will be nothing left after he's gone. Today our state is drowning beneath him. I'm just an ordinary man, just like all of you, and my intention is not to try to change the world, my intention is to change this state of ours for the better. I'm well aware that you want to live in a normal democratic state which should be integrated in the mainstream of Europe.
We wish to live in a state which is free and wise, and therefore, democratic. Both you and I wish to live in a state which is independent. We all wish to live in an average country in which everything would be normal and average: media, health care, social security, economy.
We want to live in an normal European state. So little and yet so much we need to do in order to achieve our goal. However, there are those people who say that whatever is average is also boring to death. So many turbulent and catastrophic events have been happening for the past decade... for the past ten or even fifty years.
Let's see what these dramatic events have brought to us: wars in which "we haven't been involved" and yet corpses and coffins have been streaming from those war-plagued territories back to the country. These horrible events resulted in columns of refugees streaming from the predominantly Serb-populated region of Krajina in Croatia towards Serbia, and then from the southern Serbian province of Kosovo to Serbia proper.
The consequences of those horrible events are isolation, sanctions, queues, social unrests, insecurity, uncertainty... last year's villainous NATO bombing campaign against our country... In the aftermath of such a chain of sinister events we have been presented by fait accompli reflected in the signing surrender papers in Kumanovo, Macedonia, and yet ironically, this shameful capitulation has been declared a victory by the regime of Slobodan Milosevic.
Today we have foreign troops and foreign administration in the southern Serbian province. Those people who brought those foreigners to Kosovo certainly will not drive them away from the province. Entire Serbia wants to live at peace with the world. Our wish is to translate the New Testament's message of peace into reality.
We wish to live in peace, in a democratic state, in a state with the rule of law and order, in which the authorities will be in fear of the will of the people, and not vice versa. Let us wish to live in a country in which its citizens will have no reason to fear misery and poverty, in a state of peace and serenity.
This is what the Democratic Opposition of Serbia and myself, as the presidential candidate, are pledging to fulfill. This is our promise. This is our political platform for the upcoming elections. This is a platform which could be summed up in one word only - PEOPLE. Their political agenda could be summed up in a single word - POWER, power at any cost, holding on to power until the last citizen of Serbia is sacrificed for their benefit.
The Serbian Democratic Opposition and I, as the presidential candidate, are promising that after September 24 our country will not be governed by foreigners, our adversaries, occupying forces... we, the people, will take over the reins of power. Dear Belgraders, dear Serbia, this is our offer. Now it's up to you to accept and verify our offer on Sunday, September 24. Let good Lord help us and give us enough courage and wisdom to win freedom on September 24 for the whole of Serbia. OF COURSE

The Quest For A Mandate

Radicals Want to Pick New Serbian PM
January 25, 2007 7:58 PM
BELGRADE, Serbia-A Serbian party once allied with former President Slobodan Milosevic is seeking to form a new government after having garnered the most votes in recent parliamentary elections, officials said Thursday.
Aleksandar Vucic, a leader of the ultranationalist Radical Party, urged Serbian President Boris Tadic to officially entrust the group with chosing the next prime minister, who would then organize the government.
"The Radical Party should head a new government," Vucic said, although his group failed to win an outright majority in the Jan. 21 elections.
The Radicals remain loyal to the ideas of Milosevic, a staunch nationalist who died last year while being tried on war crimes charges by a U.N. tribunal. The Radicals oppose independence for the province of Kosovo, the focus of a 1998-99 war between Milosevic's troops and separatist ethnic Albanians.
The new government will likely include less hard-line parties, which finished second, third and fourth in the race for the 250-seat parliament.
The State Election Commission released official results Thursday evening: the Radicals won 81 seats, the Tadic's pro-Western Democrats clinched 64, the conservative Popular Coalition of outgoing Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica won 47, and the liberal G17 Plus won 19, while the remainder went to smaller groups.
Kostunica, a moderate nationalist, has not ruled out any post-election pact. If he aligns himself with the Radicals, all reform-minded and pro-European parties would end up powerless with Serbia possibly falling back into international isolation.
An immediate challenge awaiting a new government is the U.N. plan on the future status of the southern province of Kosovo, the breakaway region populated mainly by separatist ethnic Albanians.
The province has been a U.N. and NATO protectorate since the 1998-99 war there between Serb troop and Kosovo Albanian rebels.
U.N. envoy Martti Ahtisaari has drafted a plan that could open the way for Kosovo's independence, albeit under international supervision, while Belgrade has offered only broad autonomy for the province and rejects a redrawing of borders

Profile Vojislav Kostunica

Thursday, 5 October, 2000, 22:52 GMT 23:52 UK
Kostunica: Man of Conviction

Vojislav Kostunica has never been a top-level politician
By south-east Europe analyst, Gabriel Partos
The man who has rallied Serbia's people and its disparate opposition forces against Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic is Vojislav Kostunica, a 56-year-old law professor.

Kostunica's popularity has grownThe popular professor is the only prominent opposition leader - apart from the younger generation - who never joined the ruling party during the communist era.
He has also been the most consistent Serb nationalist on the political stage, except for the ultra-rightist Vojislav Seselj.
These qualities of consistency and standing by his principles over the years explain, at least in part, why so many Serbs were prepared to support him in his bid oust Mr Milosevic. And they did so in spite of the fact that Mr Kostunica, a political loner, lacks the charisma or popular appeal of other opposition leaders.
Personal convictions
Born in Belgrade in 1944 as the son of an officer in the pre-war Yugoslav army, Mr Kostunica studied law at Belgrade University in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
He has not tried to do deals with President Milosevic and has not attempted to enrich himself Anti-communism and nationalism were combined in Mr Kostunica's thinking as far back as 1974 when, as a young academic, he criticised Tito's reshaping of the Yugoslav constitution along the lines of a loose-knit federation.
He believed the federation undermined the position of Serbs who lived outside Serbia, or in Serbia's then newly-autonomous provinces, Kosovo and Vojvodina. He was punished for his criticism by being dismissed from Belgrade University's law faculty.
By the mid-1980s it had become fashionable in Serbian intellectual circles to espouse the Serbian nationalist cause. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, Mr Milosevic responded to the rise of nationalism by abolishing, in practical terms, Kosovo's autonomy and encouraging Serbs to rebel against the authorities in Croatia and Bosnia-Hercegovina.

Mr Kostunica is not connected with President MilosevicIn the meantime, multi-party politics had returned to Serbia. Mr Kostunica was among the founding members of the Democratic Party but he left in 1992 because he considered it was not sufficiently nationalist. His newly-established Democratic Party of Serbia formed an alliance with the charismatic Vuk Draskovic's conservative Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO).
The revival of Serb nationalism with the escalation of the Kosovo conflict gave Mr Kostunica another chance But just a year later, personal rivalry prompted Mr Kostunica to break with Mr Draskovic. Thereafter, his party remained on the margins of Serbian politics, and Mr Kostunica distinguished himself primarily by his repeated attacks on the various peace plans, including the Dayton accords, put forward for Bosnia. His opponents in Mr Milosevic's administration described Mr Kostunica at the time as forming a "war party", along with Mr Seselj.
When most of Serbia's opposition parties came together to form the "Zajedno" alliance in 1996, Mr Kostunica never became more than a semi-detached member of the coalition. He stayed away from the mass public protests in late 1996 and early 1997 which helped to force President Milosevic to concede the opposition's unprecedented election victories in Serbia's major towns.
Public image
His failure to line up behind the "Zajedno" coalition appeared to cost Mr Kostunica considerable political support. His group was dubbed the "van party" - on the grounds that all its supporters could fit into one vehicle.

President Slobodan Milosevic still has strong supportBut the revival of Serb nationalism with the escalation of the Kosovo conflict gave Mr Kostunica another chance - particularly because other better-known opposition leaders had lost public backing through their public disputes.
Mr Kostunica is also respected because he has not tried to do deals with President Milosevic and has not attempted to enrich himself. Married with no children, he still drives a battered Yugo car and spends his holidays in a quiet mountain village.
Mr Kostunica might still have remained in comparative obscurity - at least in terms of international attention - had not President Milosevic decided in July to combine constitutional amendments to allow him a second term, with changing the method of election from a vote in parliament to a nationwide ballot.
At that time it seemed that the much-divided opposition would not be able to mount an effective challenge.
Broad support
But much of the opposition - with the exception of Mr Draskovic's SPO - forged an alliance to nominate Mr Kostunica. This was in the expectation that Mr Kostunica, as a firm nationalist, would stand the best chance of beating President Milosevic following his defeat in Kosovo.
Mr Kostunica also enjoyed the advantage of never having been close to power at the national or local level; and, as such, he neither negotiated with Mr Milosevic nor has he been tainted by corruption.
He combines the rhetoric of advocating that Serbia join Europe and European institutions with strong anti-Nato criticism.
This is despite the fact that the vast majority of K-For peacekeepers in Kosovo are from Nato's European members. He has also embarrassed the United States by denouncing Washington's establishment of an office in Budapest to assist the Serb opposition. He called it interference in Serbia's affairs.
Mr Kostunica's policies and pronouncements may not be to the West's liking. But he is considered a democrat, unlike Mr Milosevic

25 January 2007

Two Types of Democrats in Serbia Politics

They've got it wrong again
Henry Ford democrats accept the right of people to vote for any party - so long as it's pro-western
Neil ClarkThursday January 25, 2007
The Guardian
Are you a true democrat or a Henry Ford democrat? True democrats accept the right of people to vote for any party they choose, be it socialist, nationalist or Islamist - and accept the results with magnanimity. Henry Ford democrats accept the right of people to vote for any party they choose, so long as it's pro-western.
The leaders of the "international community" take their cue from the famous automobile manufacturer. For having the temerity to vote for Hamas, Palestinians were punished with suspension of aid. For re-electing the unreconstructed statist Alexander Lukashenko, Belarussians were hit by fresh sanctions. And Fordian democracy has again been illustrated in EU and US reaction to elections in Serbia. Despite European and US exhortations, the Serbs voted the wrong way at the weekend, making the anti-Nato, Eurosceptic Radicals the largest party in the new parliament.
The Radicals, with 28.3% of the vote, could reasonably be expected to form a government with Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica's DSS party and the Serbian Socialist party. Except that this coalition - the best representation of the people's will - has been ruled strictly verboten by the self-appointed apostles of democracy. As soon as the results were announced, the EU's (unelected) foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, called for the "speedy" formation of a pro-western government "in line with the EU" - ie one without the largest party in the country. The US ambassador claimed "the majority of Serbia's citizens have spoken out in favour of a secure, prosperous future inside the Euro-Atlantic community", conveniently forgetting that more than 50% had voted for parties opposed to Nato membership or not voted at all.
Although the Radicals' leader, Vojislav Seselj, currently on trial for war crimes at the Hague, is an anti-Yugoslavia Serb nationalist with a history of ugly chauvinist rhetoric, it would be a mistake to see the vote for the Radicals as a sign that Serbs are enthusiastic for an "ultra-nationalist" agenda. Those quick to condemn the opposition to Nato membership as "hardline" should ask themselves if they would be keen to join a military alliance that bombed their country, without UN approval, for 78 days and nights less than a decade ago. The Radicals' line on the EU - that Serbia should join only when the time is right and on its own terms - is also shared by increasing numbers.
Then there is the economy. The "official" version is that Serbia, since the fall of Milosevic's Socialists in 2000, has boomed with the move to a free-market economy. The reality is different. GDP is still only 60% of the 1989 level. Unemployment is 31.6%. About 40% live at or below the poverty line. Like Hamas, the Radicals offer a social programme that the "reform" parties, desperate to adhere to the dictates of the IMF and global capital, lack. The Democratic party, likely to lead the next coalition, will accelerate privatisation - adding to unemployment and increasing popular discontent.
If these problems weren't enough, there's the question of Kosovo. The Radicals' strong stance against its independence is shared by most Serbs. The UN mediator's proposals - conveniently postponed until after the elections - are expected to recommend limited independence, which will only boost the party's support. Giving up Kosovo would be seen as the surrender of the cradle of Serbian civilisation.
For the west's Fordian democrats, financial inducements, cajolery and threats of isolation are usually enough to get the election results they desire. But the problem of what to do when the natives - be they in Palestine, Belarus, Iran or Serbia - insist on a car in a colour other than black, remains.

Blackmail of International Community Insures Their Support of Pristina

NATO braces for violence in Kosovo
R January 25, 2007 7:38 AM
BRUSSELS, Belgium-NATO foreign ministers are to hold a hastily arranged meeting Friday to discuss stepping up military and reconstruction missions in Afghanistan as the country braces for an expected increase in violence with the spring thaw.
Also on the agenda is rising tension in Kosovo ahead of a key U.N. report that the province's ethnic Albanian majority hopes will set them on the road to independence from Serbia.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice proposed the meeting to follow up calls at a summit of NATO leaders in November to improve coordination between NATO's 32,000-strong military force in Afghanistan and civilian development efforts.
The Washington Post reported Thursday that the White House will ask Congress for at least US$7 billion (€5.4 billion) in new funds for security, reconstruction and other projects in Afghanistan, and Rice is expected to push other allies to boost their commitments.
Faced with a rise in violence last year as NATO troops moved into the Taliban's southern heartland, alliance leaders are seeking to put renewed emphasis on winning support from the local population. They want to immediately launch development projects such as building roads, schools and clinics in areas newly brought under the control of NATO forces and the Afghan government.
Afghanistan's Foreign Minister Rangeen Dadfar Spanta will set out his government's priorities for channeling the international aid at the meeting. Senior officials from the European Union, United Nations, World Bank and major donors Japan and South Korea also set to attend.
"There is a need for greater cooperation," NATO's Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer told reporters this week. "We can do better."
NATO officials stressed that Friday's meeting was not expected to produce new troop commitments or increased aid donations. However, several nations are considering boosting their contributions as NATO commanders say more troops are needed for a push against the Taliban in the spring.
The U.S. Defense Department has decided to extend the combat tour of 3,200 soldiers by four months. British news reports this week said the government is mulling the deployment of 600 extra troops, Poland is sending about 1,200 soldiers and Germany is expected in the next few days to announce the dispatch of six Tornado warplanes.
Traditionally, Afghanistan enjoys a lull in violence during the winter, when heavy snowfall in the mountains hinders military movement. After last year's bloodshed, there are fears of renewed Taliban activity in the spring, but NATO commanders also want to make sure they have sufficient forces to launch pre-emptive attacks.
One senior U.S. official this week said that if anybody was going on a spring offensive it would be the NATO troops and their Afghan army allies.
On Kosovo, the ministers will want to make sure NATO's 16,000 peacekeepers are prepared for any outbreak of unrest following the presentation in the coming days of the U.N. report which is expected to recommend some form of conditional independence for the province, despite Serb opposition.
NATO also wants to draw up plans for closer cooperation with the EU which is preparing to take on a major role supporting the administration and policing of Kosovo following a U.N. decision on the province's status.

Serbia's Wrong Way is the Right Way-Commentary by FirstPost of UK

Serbia votes ‘the wrong way’

The West will ignore the millions of Serbs who voted against Nato and the EU

Those silly old Serbs. Don't they understand that 'democracy' doesn't mean voting for any party you like, but for the party to whom the 'international community' has given its approval?
Instead of supporting the pro-Nato, neo-liberal Democratic Party so beloved of the European Union and the US State Department, the Serbs have gone and voted, in their millions, for the anti-Nato, eurosceptic Radicals, whose 29 per cent of the vote makes them the largest single party in the new Parliament.
The international community tried all it could to get the Serbs to vote 'the right way', even to the extent of Tony Blair writing to national newspapers advising people to vote "in a way that will help realise a positive vision of Serbia's future in Europe".
Now, faced with an embarrassing rejection of their advice, the apostles of democracy are
set to do what they did when faced with other undesirable expressions of the people's will in Palestine and Belarus. Ignore it.
The EU's (unelected) foreign policy chief Javier Solano has called for the "speedy" formation of a pro-Western government "that will be in line with the European Union".
The Dutch Foreign Minister Ben Bot congratulated Boris Tadic (left), leader of the Democratic Party. "The fact that Mr Tadic doubled his position in parliament is very significant because it means the Serbian people are interested in a pro-European course," he said - conveniently ignoring the fact that 77 per cent of Serbs who voted did not vote for Tadic.
The message from the international community could not be clearer: Serbia must form a government without the Radicals, or face a new era of isolation. In other words, in the name of 'democracy', the country's most popular party must never be allowed to hold power. Just how democratic is that?
Related links
Ici Londres: EU invents a far-right menace
The rise of far-right Europe
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Russia Asks EU To Withdraw Support Over Kosovo

Breaking News

Russia May Veto Kosovo's U.N. Independence
Sign the Petition
No Independence For Kosovo

By StaffJan 24, 2007
Russia may veto a U.N. resolution declaring Serbia's mainly ethnic-Albanian Kosovo province independent of Belgrade, a Russian lawmaker said.
Konstantin Kosachev, head of a Russian delegation attending a parliamentary session of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, France, Wednesday asked EU lawmakers to withdraw their backing of a draft proposal supporting Kosovo's independence, the RIA Novosti news agency reported.

Kosachev said the Council is not competent to support an independent Kosovo, and it is the U.N. Security Council that should decide on the future status of the province.
Moscow officials have suggested Russia may oppose a U.N.-produced resolution on Kosovo's independence, as it could encourage some of independence-seeking former Soviet regions.
Martti Ahtisaari, U.N. special envoy to Kosovo talks between Serbs and ethnic-Albanians, is to discuss his proposal on the future status of Kosovo with foreign ministers of the six-country Contact Group in Vienna Friday.
Next week, Ahtisaari is to have talks in Belgrade and Pristina, before he produces a final version and submits it to the Security Council for approval in March or April. (c) UPI

24 January 2007

Ahtisaari Proposal Will Pave Way For Independence

Dear Readers,

This proposal of Ahtisaari is a ploy into trying to trick the American people and the Russian Federation into supporting at least eventual independence of Kosovo. No Independence For Kosovo simply means No. It means no now and it means no forever. We must see through the deception and I am sure that Kostunica and Putin already do. The Serbian Goverment will have the resources it needs to deal with the economic and social needs of all the citizens of Kosovo. God Himself will see to it. The region will pull together and help each other in unprecedented ways. Please allow them to take care of all their citizens. Educate yourselves.


Anticipated Proposal Will Offer Graduated Independence
PRISTINA, Serbia (Reuters) - Kosovo will gain access to international institutions under a U.N. package that Germany and Britain say will lead to independence for the breakaway Serbian province.
A plan to be presented to major powers on Friday is expected to "advocate independence for Kosovo but with limits on its sovereignty," German deputy foreign minister Gernot Erler told Reuters in Berlin.

Independence is demanded by the 90-percent ethnic Albanian majority in Kosovo, which was occupied by NATO in 1999 to end a counter-insurgency war and has been run by the
United Nations ever since. Serbia insists it must retain sovereignty.
In the Kosovo capital, Pristina, British Foreign Office political director John Sawers said the six Contact Group powers agreed a solution "should be acceptable to the great majority of the people of Kosovo, and I think that speaks for itself." Political and diplomatic sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, gave details of the proposal U.N. envoy Martti Ahtisaari would discuss with representatives of Russia, the United States, Britain, France, Italy and Germany on Friday. It states that Kosovo should be given "the right to seek membership of international organizations and institutions."

A Western official said these could include the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank although none were identified in the text of the document. If it passes the U.N. Security Council Kosovo would become Europe's newest independent state and the last to be carved from what was once Yugoslavia.

Russia, a friend of Serbia's with the right of veto in the Security Council, says there can be no deal unless both sides agree. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said he expected "a solution which will not be vetoed by Russia."
Diplomats say Russia may block Kosovo's membership of the U.N. but access to the World Bank and IMF will in the long run prove more important to the poor territory.
Ahtisaari, who mediated months of largely fruitless talks between the two sides last year, was due to present his proposal on a visit to Serbia and Kosovo on February 2, after which a fresh round of meetings would be conducted. "I don't think there's going to be a fundamental renegotiation of the whole process," Sawers cautioned. Contrary to Serbian reports that the deal would be re-opened, the new talks would simply involve "fine-tuning" of the proposal.
Publication of the Kosovo plan was postponed from the end of 2006 to prevent it influencing a parliamentary election in Serbia, where ultranationalists are still strong.
The election was held on Sunday but failed to produce a clear majority and Serbia now looks headed for lengthy coalition talks just as the fateful plan for its province is launched.
Serbia's main party leaders all reject independence but are divided on how to resist an international solution.
The pro-Western Democratic Party of Serbia's President Boris Tadic appealed to Ahtisaari to delay publication further. "Some speedy move on Kosovo could make formation of a democratic government more difficult, and that is not in anyone's interest," said Bozidar Djelic, the party's candidate for prime minister. "These are delicate issues and we have to have full control over things such as the armed forces," he said.
Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica who is key to a coalition deal and is seeking a new mandate, said he did not care what Ahtisaari did because Serbia was unanimously opposed to independence for Kosovo and had Russia to back it up. "It is absolutely irrelevant when (Ahtisaari) will give his proposal, before or after the government is formed," he said.
(Additional reporting by Noah Barkin in Berlin, Fatos Bytyci in Pristina and Douglas Hamilton in Belgrade)

Lessons of parliamentary elections in Serbia

24/ 01/ 2007

MOSCOW. (Pyotr Iskanderov for RIA Novosti) - Last Sunday's parliamentary elections in Serbia were indicative in many respects. They cast a new light on domestic political processes, prospects of Kosovo settlement and the future of Serbia's relations with the European Union (EU). Moreover, they are bound to affect the destiny of breakaway republics on post-Soviet territory. Preliminary results of the voting suggest the first conclusion - it was wrong to talk about voter apathy in Serbia. Over 60% of eligible voters have turned up at the polling stations - more than for elections held in the past few years. This fact not only attests to the Serbians' high political activity but also shows that the elections fairly and legitimately reflect the domestic situation.

Secondly, two formerly influential forces - the Socialist Party and the Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO) - have actually left the political scene. The former has barely passed a 5% threshold needed to win seats in parliament. The latter has remained without a faction in parliament, which is a heavy blow to SPO leader and current Foreign Minister Vuk Draskovic.

Thirdly, the results of the elections are particularly alarming for the West. The Serbian Radical Party (SRS) is still the leading political force in the country. Its leader Vojislav Seselj has been on trial in the Hague since February 2003. It is an open secret that in the past few months, the West was doing all it could to secure success in the elections for the loyal parties, first and foremost, the Democratic Party (DP) headed by the current President Boris Tadic. UN envoy for Kosovo Martti Ahtisaari even broke his promise to resolve the Kosovo problem by the end of 2006. He delayed the publication of his plan till late January to prevent the Serbian authorities from having to choose between Kosovo and European integration. But this tactic has failed, and in preliminary estimates the DP has received less than 23% votes, which is a clear setback considering powerful propaganda support for its campaign at home and abroad.

As a result, the parliamentary majority will go to the fierce opponents of Kosovo's separation from Serbia. Unlike Boris Tadic, who called on the Serbian voters to accept Kosovo's potential loss, even his colleague in the democratic camp, DP leader Vojislav Kostunica, promised to do all he could against Kosovo's cessation, and actually sided with the radicals on this score. The Socialists, an opposition party, are most likely to vote against the Ahtisaari plan, all the more so if it is brought to parliament by the much-hated President Tadic. The DP and the other emphatically pro-Western party of Liberal Democrats (LDP), which has been elected to parliament, will not have enough votes to let it approve Kosovo's independence.

Moreover, it may happen that the forces united under the democratic opposition banner since the times of Milosevic will not be able to form a valid government. Despite a relative setback of his party, Vojislav Kostunica is not going to give up his premiership to a DP candidate and will need SRS support for this. A vague situation and political bargaining may last for three months (this is the term assigned by the Serbian constitution for the government's formation) and eventually lead to parliament's dissolution and new elections, at which the voters, disappointed over the squabble among the Democrats, are most likely to give even more support to the opposition radicals.

To sum up, the Sunday elections in Serbia have increased the likelihood of a scenario that has been a nightmare for the Kosovo separatists and their Western soul mates for a long time. If the Serbian parliament refuses to recognize Kosovo's independence, its cessation can only be imposed on Belgrade by force. This is exactly the case against which President Vladimir Putin has warned more than once. He is firmly resolved not to allow the UN Security Council to pass a decision on Kosovo that would be unacceptable for Belgrade. It is clear what he meant as the head of a state with the right to veto in the UN Security Council.

The leaders of the breakaway republics on post-Soviet territory should draw their own conclusion from the elections in Serbia. I think they will become even more disappointed with the ability of the Western leaders and international officials to exert effective influence on the domestic situation in foreign countries. Consolidation of the supporters of united Serbia may provide only a scant relief to Chisinau and Tbilisi. The Serbians' resolve to determine the destiny of their country without any outside interference fully conforms to the aspirations of breakaway republics. Hence, the idea of national self-determination will receive a new impetus in Transdnestr, Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Pyotr Iskanderov, Institute of Slavic Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and may not necessarily coincide with the opinions of the editorial board.

Sign Petition Against Kosovo Independence

No Independence For Kosovo-Metohija

Dear Brethren and Friends,

We have created a petition which can be accessed by clicking onto the link to the right of this blog, or by going to ipetitions.com and entering the above title or just by entering Kosovo in their search engines. Please tell all interested friends and brethren and write to your newspapers encouraging other like minded folks to sign. Don't forget to write to small town newspapers as well.

thank you,


UNs Kosovo plan to allegedly focus on minority rights
January 24, 2007 5:13 AM
STRASBOURG, France-The chief U.N. envoy for Kosovo, Martti Ahtisaari, said Wednesday his plan for the future of the restive Serbian province focuses on minority rights protection and envisages a strong international presence.
Ahtisaari, who has mediated yearlong talks between Serbia and Kosovo's ethnic Albanians on the province's future, is expected to present his recommendations to Western governments and Russia in the coming days. He will then offer the plan to Serbian and ethnic Albanian leaders Feb. 2.
Human rights focus versus enforcement: Kosovo Albanian government has been focusing on human rights of Christians yet a Bishop needs an armed international escort to view desecrated Christian graves.
"My settlement proposal focuses strongly on the protection of minority rights. It provides the foundation for a democratic and multiethnic Kosovo in which the rights and interests of all communities are firmly guaranteed and protected by institutions based on the rule of law," Ahtisaari told the Council of Europe's parliamentary assembly.
"It also forces a strong international civilian and military presence within a broader future international engagement in Kosovo," he said.
Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority is pushing for independence from Serbia, while Serbian leaders and the Serb minority in the province want it to remain within Serbia's borders.
The province has been under U.N. control since mid-1999 and is currently patrolled by a 16,000-strong NATO-led peacekeeping force.
EU diplomats have said Ahtisaari is widely expected to recommend some form of conditional independence for Kosovo. Ahtisaari did not reveal more details of his plan to the Council of Europe.

23 January 2007

Islamic Extremist Still At Large In Kosovo as Status Proposal Looms

Macedonia Warns On Kosovo Albanian Extremists, Criminals
Macedonia Seeks Resolution of Land Dispute Before Status Proposal is Revealed
SKOPJE, Macedonia (AP)--Macedonia's president warned Tuesday that stability in neighboring Kosovo is still at risk as the U.N. prepares to unveil its plans for the future of the disputed province, with extremists still at large.
"The capacity of Kosovo institutions is weak. We must not underestimate the risks and our institutions will remain vigilant and will closely monitor the developments in the region," said President Branko Crvenkovski.
Many extremists and criminals were still at large in Kosovo, he said.
Crvenkovski was speaking after a National Security Council meeting, convened ahead of a report by U.N. envoy Martti Ahtisaari on the future of Kosovo. The province of 2 million people has been under U.N. administration since 1999.
The proposals, due to be unveiled early next week, are widely expected to propose conditional independence for Kosovo. Serbia wants to keep Kosovo as part of its territory and has offered broad autonomy to its citizens, 90% of whom are ethnic Albanian and want independence.
Macedonia wants to settle an ongoing border dispute before Kosovo's final status is determined. Kosovo claims more than 2,000 hectares (4,900 acres) of land in Macedonia.
January 23, 2007 11:13 ET (16:13 GMT

From The United Nations:

The Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Kosovo Martti Ahtisaari’s status proposal will be presented to the general public very soon.

As a first step, Ahtisaari will share his proposal this Friday with the Kosovo Contact Group in Vienna. The Contact Group includes representatives from the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy and Russia.

Asked whether the Secretary-General still intends to meet Ahtisaari, the Spokeswoman said that he intends to meet with Ahtisaari while both are in Paris this week.

Asked further about Ahtisaari’s plans, the Spokeswoman said that, at this point, Ahtisaari plans to travel on 2 February to Belgrade and Pristina to officially present his proposal to both parties.

He will then wait for feedback from the parties before sending the proposal on to the Secretary-General.

The Secretary-General will then transmit it to the Security Council, and it will be up to the Security Council to decide when it wants to consider Kosovo, Montas added.


In some posts past I tried to correct myself about China role on the United Nations Security Council. Actually, China is one of the five permanent members of the Security Council, but is has not been consistently listed as a part of the Contact Group which overseeing affairs of the Kosovo Status question . I apologise for the confusion.

22 January 2007

Tadic Was Not Planning on Kostunica as PM

Serbia faces hard quest for stable majority
22/01/2007 20:49
By Beti Bilandzic
BELGRADE (Reuters) - Serbia headed for long coalition talks and a possibly short-lived government on Monday after elections failed to produce a clear majority, dashing Western hopes that nationalists would be sidelined.
European Union officials denied that the result, which gave the hardline Radical Party 28 percent of the vote, reflected the failure of Western efforts to quell chauvinist sentiment and steer Serbia onto a pro-EU path.

They said pro-Western parties were in the majority and would likely form the next government.
But there is little doubt they would have preferred a better result for the Democratic Party of Serb President Boris Tadic, the party most likely to be cool-headed over an imminent decision on the future of the breakaway province of Kosovo.
The Democrats won 23 percent and were seen seeking a deal with the party of outgoing prime minister Vojislav Kostunica, which won 16 percent, and smaller parties. They said they would insist on their candidate, economist Bozidar Djelic, as premier.
"It won’t be easy to form a government," said Democrat spokeswoman Jelena Markovic. The Democrats were not ready to let Kostunica be prime minister again.
Velimir Ilic, a minister in Kostunica’s coalition, said even though they came third they would be "the backbone of the new government" and hold key posts including that of prime minister.
Kostunica says the key issue in coalition talks would be the parties’ positions on Kosovo. The West is sitting on a plan expected to give some form of independence to the Albanian majority in Kosovo, run by the United Nations since NATO drove out the forces of late autocrat Slobodan Milosevic in 1999.
Tadic has said Kosovo may already be lost, but Kostunica echoes nationalist rhetoric that insists the land Serbs hold sacred as the cradle of their nation will never be conceded.
"The negotiations will last long and it is possible we have new elections soon," said political analyst Dusan Janjic. Tadic and Kostunica would need to compromise, especially because some Democrat officials oppose allying with Kostunica.
The result cast a pall over European Union and U.S. hopes for a strong Belgrade government that could make a rapid decision on the future of Kosovo and resume Serbia’s frozen EU membership bid, by arresting war crimes suspects.
"I would say to the Serbs once again that we think their place is in Europe, among us in the European Union," EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said in Luxembourg.
Kostunica and Tadic were once allies against Milosevic, who was ousted in 2000 and died in detention at The Hague last year. They fell out after reformist premier Zoran Djindjic was assassinated by Milosevic loyalists in 2003.
The Radicals would like to extend Serbia’s borders one day to embrace ethnic Serbs in Bosnia and Croatia, justifying the ethnic bloodshed of the 1990s when Yugoslavia fell apart.
Their official leader, Vojislav Seselj, is on trial in The Hague for war crimes. They would refuse to arrest former Bosnian Serb general Ratko Mladic, charged with genocide in Bosnia, and send him to The Hague, because they see him as a war hero.

Ultranationalists Claim Victory


Belgrade, 22 Jan. (AKI) - Based on partial results, the ultranationalist Serbian Radical Party (SRS) has retained its place as the strongest single party taking 28.32 percent of ballots cast in Sunday's general election. President Boris Tadics's centre-left Democratic Party (DS) ran second with 22.67 percent, followed by prime minister Vojislav Kostunica's centre-right Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) with 16.37 percent. A record 60.65 percent of registered electors voted in Sunday's poll, demanding revitalised democratic government that could set the country on a clear path to future membership of the European Union . The G-17 Plus of former finance minister Mladjan Dinkic was fourth with 16.38 and the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) of former president Slobodan Milosevic was fifth with 5.64 percent. The biggest surprise was the success of the Liberal democratic party (LDP) of former vice-premier Cedomir Jovanovic, which passed the required five percent threshold winning 5.33 per cent of votes. A total six parties have entered the 250-seat parliament.Jovanovic was the only party leader openly advocating independence for Serbia’s breakaway Muslim-majority Kosovo province - a position considered a blasphemous by other leaders. Nonetheless, he garnered 211,000 votes out of a turnout of over four million. The biggest loser was the Serbian Renewal Movement of foreign minister Vuk Draskovic, which failed to enter parliament with only 3.38 per cent of votes. Altogether, the four pro-European parties – DS, DSS, G-17 Plus and LDP - returned over 155 MPs to parliament and were in a position to form a coalition government. But analysts said it would take tortuous negotiations before the parties could come to terms on the distribution of power. The radicals have been the strongest single party for the past seven years, but they are unable to find a coalition partner in the pro-European bloc. The new parliament has to be constituted by the end of February. If a new coalition government is not formed in three months, new elections should be held. EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana on Monday urged the rapid formation of a new Serbian government. "The majority voted for forces that are democratic and pro-European," Solana was quoted as saying as he arrived for a meeting of Eu foreign ministers to discuss the 27-member bloc's policy towards Belgrade in light of Sunday's vote."I hope very much there will be a speedy formation of a government that will be on the line of pro-European forces," he told reporters. He denid the election results had demonstrated the fialure of Western efforts to to quell nationalist feeling in Serbia.

20 January 2007

United States Moves To Block Russia's Veto on Kosovo Succession

US to prevent Russian independence veto on Kosovo
January 20, 2007 1:16 AM
WASHINGTON-The U.S. government is pushing for a quick resolution on Kosovo's final status following the planned release of a United Nations proposal that could lead to independence for Serbia's breakaway province.
The United States is signaling that it will work to prevent Russia from using its veto in the U.N. Security Council to delay imposition of a settlement. Russia insists that any outcome must be acceptable to Serbia.
A special U.N. envoy, Martti Ahtisaari, is expected to recommend some form of independence for Kosovo when he issues a report in coming weeks. That report had been delayed, with the blessing of the United States and the European Union, so it would not inflame nationalist sentiment in Serbia ahead of national elections, and thereby hurt moderate politicians.
With the elections planned for Sunday, a senior U.S. government official said the White House would now like to see the process move quickly to a final settlement and approval by the U.N. Security Council. The official spoke on condition of anonymity, because he was not authorized to speak publicly.
Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Fried recently told the Voice of America that a consultation period with the Serbs and Kosovars would follow release of the Ahtisaari plan, but he signaled that the U.S. government would not let the negotiations drag on.
"We really can't stay where we are because it's been almost eight years, and the Kosovars and the Serbs both deserve to see this issue resolved so they can get on with their lives and have a future," he said.
Kosovo has been an international protectorate since 1999, when NATO airstrikes halted a brutal Serb crackdown on the province's ethnic Albanian Muslim majority. Belgrade has insisted that Kosovo, cherished by Serbs as the heart of their homeland, remain part of Serbia.
U.S. policy long has favored Kosovar independence, although some within the administration of President George W. Bush and in Congress have warned against alienating Serbs and undermining liberal and democratic Serbian politicians.
Pressure has increased on the White House from the new Democratic Congress. Democratic leaders of the committees that deal with foreign policy are strong proponents of independence for the mostly Muslim province.
The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Joseph Biden, is urging the Bush administration to make the final push for independence with muscular diplomacy.
"In the next few months, adroit diplomacy to secure Kosovo's independence could yield a victory for Muslim democracy, a better future for southeast Europe and validation for the judicious use of American power," Biden wrote in an opinion piece published in London's Financial Times on Jan. 2.
Some Congressional aides say that in the event of a Russian Security Council veto, pressure will grow for the United States and allies to recognize Kosovo directly, outside the U.N. framework.
"The Kosovo independence train has left the station," said Antony Blinken, Biden's staff director, in a statement sent to The Associated Press.
Biden's counterpart in the House of Representatives, Democrat Tom Lantos, also conveyed a sense of urgency on the issue by proposing a resolution on Jan. 5, the second day of the new Congress, that backs Kosovar independence and warns that further delay could lead to instability. The measure was co-sponsored by the top Republican member on Lantos' Foreign Affairs Committee, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.
Republican Sen. George Voinovich, also a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, who is of Serbian and Slovenian descent, has expressed concern in the past about rushing toward independence. But he said it is in Serbia's interest to eventually let the province go. He remains insistent that any settlement protect Kosovo's minority Serb population and have the support of the Serbian government.
"It is absolutely critical that before the U.N. Security Council decision is finalized, there is infrastructure for enacting the plan and protecting the rights of Kosovo's minority populations," Voinovich said.
"This plan cannot be successful without adequate infrastructure, including funding, troops, international police, international prosecutors, and the help and support of the government of Serbia."
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