Friday, December 29, 2006

10 minutes by Ahmed Imamovic - BEST SHORT FILM IN EUROPE

Powerful is all I can say.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Foggy Bottom

Richard W. Rahn, director general of the Center for Global Economic Growth, has some food for thought applicable to those planning the new EU mission in Kosovo:

A few advisers seem to view Kosovo as a life-time job rather than quickly transferring knowledge and leaving. The Americans are the most mission-directed but are frustrated in trying to deal with the endless U.N. bureaucracy. As it would be expected when there are numerous advisers from many countries and organizations, some of the advice is contradictory and poorly thought out.
The U.N. people were reluctant to make decisions for fear of being criticized, which meant crucial decisions were delayed for years. For instance, serious privatization has been under way for only two years. As a result, the economy depends largely upon remittances from Kosovans working abroad, and the donations and employment created by various international organizations and foreign government missions.


This is something straight out of a Kadare novel. There was a three minute "cordial" drama in the Skopje Airport. Kosovo PM and Serbia President were stranded there due to the fog in their respective capitals. Ceku went to see Tadic in the VIP room, where a short conversation ensued. B92 has the Tadic version of the story, and the third commentator on the story (balkanupdate) gives the K-daily Express version of the event, as reported by a witness that was traveling with Ceku. As you can imagine, they are quite different.  

Friday, December 08, 2006


Back to blogging. The Hague is definitely an expensive failure. I'm not sure what it's legacy will be. All sides complain that they are being targeted unfairly and that the people they fought against are not being persecuted enough. Hague, despite the big media attention it has gotten in the ex-YU countries has  rarely  brought us insights that we didn't already know. Some of the accused have even made a mockery of the court, and seems that we are in for another of those episodes with Seselj getting the right to  defend himself. Strap in for the  circus that will follow. 

But in  the mean time,  there is  one of those  less talked  aspects  of  Kosovo, an interesting witness testimony  in the Hague by an ex-police  commander  in Mitrovica  about the  command responsibility of  vice-PM at the time Nikola Sainovic  and the role of Kosovo Serbs - our neighbors - in the war. Although it has not been discussed, Kosovo Serbs were instrumental in providing local intelligence and doing the killings and burning missions. When they operated, they did it at night and always wearing masks. At times, neighbors to their surprise recognized the voices in the killing squads (Serbs think they have a sense of humor and can't withhold themselves from cracking jokes).

Naive me, got elated there for a second when I was reading this news in the hope that this witness is a Kosovo Serb. He's not - unfortunately. For me it's very important that these people step up and apologize for what they did and help find the rest of the missing persons - it will help heal the wounds of the victims' families and will make the life of the Kosovo Serbs that didn't have apartments in Serbia to escape to better.

At the session yesterday, the prosecutor presented an order issued by the Joint Command to “reinforce with the armed non-Šiptar population” the regular military and police forces in the action in Drenica in late March 1999. The witness says that the term “non-Serb population” was a synonym for local Serbs, assigned to specific military and police formations – Military Territorial Units and the Reserve Police Squads.About 6,000 local Serbs were part of the police, Cvetić says. As members of the Reserve Police Squads, they had the same weapons as other reserve police, but did not wear full police uniforms. Many prosecution witnesses identified armed local Serbs as the perpetrators of murders, expulsions, mistreatment and robbing the Kosovo Albanians. The witnesses often found it difficult to describe accurately how they were dressed and to identify their uniforms.

B92 - News - Society - Police insider testifies at Kosovo Six trial

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Thursday, November 23, 2006


Tim Judah writes:

Kosovo Albanians are still reeling from the discovery that the “final status” of Kosovo will not be decided by the end of this year as their leaders promised and as members of the Contact Group countries dealing with the issue had hoped.Now they face what some diplomats are calling the “the double disappointment” of additional delays that could push recognition of their new state back to late next summer or beyond.


Looks like my mission to blog to independence day has been extended by a couple of months. I'm sad and furious. The next couple of days will be very interesting. Depending on how much this news spreads in Kosovo we may be in for some good old rioting on the 28th. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Two bombs

A bomb explodes in a classroom that 20 minutes earlier had hosted Serb children B92

This is just what Kosovo needs at this time. We're lucky nobody was hurt.


Several sources have been reporting the same thing. Stances of the internationtional community on status will be presented soon after the elections in Serbia - probably in January. There won't be a wait for a new Serb government to form.

“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.” [US Ambassador Michael] Polt said.

B92 - News - Politics - Solution to immediately follow elections

Of course, it would be interesting if the whole Serb government resigns in wait for the new coalition to be formed in Belgrade. Do you think Serbia will be able to buy more time this way? What if it really starts making significant cocessions in January?

Monday, November 20, 2006


"We are suggesting no more than 2,500 people in all [to be the national defense force], very small, to be recruited from across the population of Kosovo, with no bars ethnically to anyone, no bars to current members of the Kosovo Protection Corps applying for posts within the defense force, but no right to posts within the defense force," said General Welch.

VOA News - New Report Calls for Creation of Defense Force for Kosovo

And what are you going to do with the rest of them? The KPC force already has only 3,000 permanent members, with 2,000 in reserve. You don't just disband an army. I thought we learned this in Iraq.

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Branch Office of Kosovar Agency for Investment Promotion opens in ViennaLuan Ibraj20 November 2006As per a project financed by the Austrian Development Agency – ADA, the Economic Initiative for Kosova - ECIKS will represent the Investment Promotion Agency of Kosovo - IPAK in German Speaking Countries. The project is to be implemented by ECIKS and supported by Kosovar Ministry for Trade and Industry.

SEE Portal - Homepage / News / News:Kosovo - Branch Office of Kosovar Agency for Investment Promotion opens in Vienna

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Sunday, November 19, 2006

Kosovo's Identity Crisis

"Now that they have almost achieved their goal of independence, the Kosovar Albanians are playing it safe. They have nothing to gain from upsetting negotiations on final status," says a European diplomat. "But there is a limit to their patience, and the politicians say it is increasingly hard to keep control of the more unruly elements," he adds. Many think the outburst of violence in 2004 was in fact salutary because it reminded the international community that Kosovo still existed.

During a visit to Paris last month the Kosovar prime minister, Agim Ceku, underlined his people's "concern" at the delay to negotiations. "People are fed up. They get the impression nothing is happening, whereas the situation is dramatic," says Nehad Islami, a moderate Albanian writer. "Almost half the population is unemployed and the others are living below the poverty line. They may blow their top at any time," warns Avni Zogani, of the Cohu! (Wake up!) organisation, which is trying to raise civic awareness among Kosovars.

Le Monde through Guardian Weekly

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

God's glory, man's shame

God's glory, man's shame, originally uploaded by kosova cajun.

Kosova cajun has many more beautiful photos.

Monday, November 13, 2006

FT Commentary

There are risks in imposing an early settlement. Belgrade could stir up Kosovo's Serbs, break transport links and - just possibly - provoke violence. But it must see that only the Serb-majority zone in northern Kosovo could possibly benefit. Serb communities in the south would face total isolation, or worse.

However, the dangers of international inaction are greater. Delay poisons Kosovo by preventing ethnic Albanians taking responsibility for their future and hampers economic development, as few companies will invest in a stateless zone. And, worst of all, it risks provoking renewed violence from frustrated ethnic Albanians.(FT)

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Inevitable Chaos?

Morton Abramowitz and James Lyon:

The West must ignore Belgrade's siren song. Serbian politics will be chaotic and unstable for the foreseeable future, and Serbian politicians will attempt to present this as an excuse to avoid facing the loss of Kosovo. Likewise, there will be problems establishing ties between Serbia and Kosovo under any circumstances.

But failure to proceed definitively now on Kosovo's final status will produce a worse Balkan situation -- one that blocks Serbia's move toward the West and membership in the EU, condemns Kosovo's ethnic minorities to dangerous ambiguity and imperils fragile states like Bosnia and Macedonia.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

BIRN Goodies

Richard Holbrooke, the former American diplomat and wartime mediator in Bosnia, suggested Russia’s threats over Kosovo were mainly bluff. He said he did not believe that “Russians are that stupid” to use their UN veto over Kosovo.
“The Russians don’t give a damn about the Serbs,” Holbrooke added. (
Full Article)

Turning to the failed negotiations between Serbia and Kosovo in Vienna, Holbrooke says that irrespective of tactical errors on the Albanian side, “history is on the side of the Kosovo Albanians for the first time in 800 years. The horrible events of 1912 and 1989 are in the process of being reversed. Albanians are very understandably impatient.. [and] I share that impatience”.

Holbrooke says the atmosphere of diplomatic lethargy in the State Department under Colin Powell only changed when Condoleezza Rice replaced him as secretary of state in January 2005 and as Nicholas Burns became her under secretary for political affairs.
“They made a brilliant decision to appoint Frank Wisner as the American envoy,” he said. “Wisner is one of the greatest diplomats of his generation. Wisner has just mastered the issue, and he and Ahtisaari will push it forward.” (The other article/interview)

Holbrooke also chastises Bush for not solving the problem when Dindic overthrew Milosevic. Not to stop with the Powell replacement, I would add that the recent sweep of the Hill by the Democrats is a good sign as well considering the similar approaches to foreing policy that Democrats and the career diplomats at the Foggy Bottom have.


Andrej Nosov, human rights activist from Belgrade, on the other hand talks of the "EU fix" for Serbia. Is EU helping the matter by closing its eyes? Is Europe by lowering its standards spoiling Serbia? 

There is no a rationale for Kosovo to remain under the Serbia's jurisdiction, whatever new draft constitution says. It is crystal clear that Kosovo has been independent from Belgrade for seven years already. The only issue for Belgrade is to negotiate a new position for the Kosovo Serbs with its counterparts in Pristina.
 Isolated in their remote enclaves, the Kosovo Serbs have been left to their own devices, to be used as pawns in Belgrade's power games. There is even a danger that Belgrade may encourage them to pack up and flee to Serbia proper in keeping with its own internal agenda. (
Full commentary)

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Rape of Serbia

A Serb poet commented last year: "If Kosovo is not ours, why are they asking us to give it up? If it is theirs, why are they taking it by force? And if they can take it by force, why they are so circumspect about it?"

The Empire is pushing hard for the ruling circles in  Belgrade to give up Kosovo, declare the rape of 1999 consensual, and abandon claims to law and principle in favor of temporary expedience. It is not a trade; the Empire is not offering anything. To take Kosovo, the Empire needs Serbia's The Rape of the Sabine consent. Much as some people in Belgrade would be happy to oblige, that consent is not theirs to give.

The battle for Kosovo is not over yet. (

Methinks: If the Empire offers something, does that make Serbia a prostitute? Ok, ok, how about a depressed gold digger?

Prizren, Kosovo [edit]

Prizren, Kosovo, originally uploaded by cabiria8.

One thing Serbs and Albanians agree on - that Prizren is called Prizren.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Gloomy ICG

International Crisis Group report on the new constitution of Serbia:

Belgrade continues to pursue three main Kosovo goals: first to delay status resolution indefinitely, in hopes of provoking Albanian violence and so strengthening Serbia’s position at the bargaining table; secondly, partition; and thirdly, to keep Kosovo from gaining diplomatic recognition and UN membership.

The new constitution makes it legally impossible – without further constitutional amendment – for Serbia to recognise Kosovo independence and could contribute to long-term political instability should it sanction neighbouring states for doing so. This would continue Serbia in its generation-long role as a source of instability in the Balkans, though it does not appear Belgrade would use its security forces to assert its territorial claim to any areas of Kosovo south of the Ibar River.

There is significant domestic political pressure against early parliamentary elections, particularly from the SPS, SRS, and DSS, but there is an increasing possibility they may be held within three months. It is doubtful that they would include a presidential election. The government, however, still wants to delay new elections as long as possible, partially in the hope this would cause the international community to delay the Kosovo status process out of concern an independence decision could bring the SRS to power. A real possibility exists that the new constitution could be misused to impose a temporary state of emergency to deal with the government’s political enemies.

Friday, November 03, 2006

The Lynx

Balkan lynx gets featured on the BBC. Once the lynx was an inhabitant of the deserted and mountainous Kosovo-Albania border. With the mines, bomblets, and the people movement in the recent years, I wonder what has happened to what is a very shy animal.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Countries rush to include Kosovo in their constitutions, after Serbia's move

Serb cell phone company has its illegal wireless towers in Kosovo dismantled. But there is still hope -- at least for the more beautiful of you.
Bidding for the new concession will begin in earnest on 17 January 2007. The 15-year licence carries a EUR20 million pricetag and will be awarded via a beauty contest. (link)
Official car of Miomir Dasic, coach of the Basketball Club Bambi Mitrovica and advisor in the Ministry for Communities and Returns was blown up on Saturday in Zvecane in northern Kosovo. Bambi joined the Kosovo Super League after initial threats to the players' families from fellow Serbs, which forced them to forfeit the game against the Albanian team across the river. So far Bambi is holding 7'th place with a surprising win over X Prishtina.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Press release

American Law Students and Professor take on Corruption in Kosovo

A group of law students at the Chicago-Kent College of Law and their professor and former dean have released a detailed report on how an independent Kosovo can bring public corruption under control. The report is the product of visits to Kosovo over the seven year period since the NATO intervention substituted a UN civil administration and an elected local government for the reign of former Serbian strong man Slobodan Milosevic, research into “best practices” for prosecuting public corruption in the United States, and discussions with FBI agents and assistant U.S. attorneys.

The hotly debated topic of corruption by public officials in Kosovo is the subject of the report, which is currently being distributed to high-level government officials in Kosovo and the United States. Professor and former Dean of the Chicago-Kent College of Law, Henry H. Perritt Jr., who has recently finished writing a book on the KLA and has been involved in the region for over eight years, led a team of law students in a research and policy analysis project focused upon putting corruption under a microscope.

The report examines successful experiences in combating corruption in other countries and generates ideas for reducing corruption in Kosovo, considering the country’s unique political and cultural landscape. A May 2006 trip to Kosovo convinced Professor Perritt and research assistant Jeff LaMirand that combating corruption was vital to the future success of Kosovo as an independent country. Kosovo is widely expected to become independent as a result of “final status” negotiations now taking place under UN auspices. Officially, Kosovo, though administered by the UN, is still a province of Serbia, a status which the 90% Albanian population militantly opposes.

The summer-long project resulted in an 85 page report beginning with summaries of other work on corruption in Kosovo by organizations such as the UNDP and USAID, and ending in recommendations and possible scenarios for reducing corruption in Kosovo in the future. Some of the new report’s recommendations are familiar: Kosovo must develop independent and courageous investigative, prosecution, and judicial resources as well as a genuine political will to fight corruption. Other assertions, however, are bound to be controversial. The report suggests that certain types of conduct currently viewed as corrupt in Kosovo society may actually be helpful, or at the very least relatively harmless in comparison to the most harmful forms of corruption such as embezzlement, bribery, and fraud.

The report claims that real progress in reducing corruption in Kosovo necessarily involves identifying the most harmful corruption to Kosovo society, and then attacking it at its highest levels. Anything short of this approach serves to undermine sincere corruption efforts by distracting the Kosovo public.

In regard to this need to set appropriate priorities, Professor Perritt said, “There is a big difference between selling smuggled cigarettes on the streets of Pristina and murdering one’s political opponents or commercial competitors. The world will know that the political will to bring corruption under control exists in Kosovo only when at least one government minister and at least one major businessman have been sent to jail.”

The report also faults the international community for having consistently been indifferent to corruption, despite its several years of primary responsibility for law-and-order functions in Kosovo. “International officials have been afraid of where serious investigation might lead. Rather than taking the risk of building a strong foundation for Kosovo’s future, they have preferred not to rock the boat,” Professor Perritt said.

Tackling corruption is essential to build confidence in a democratic political system. After his first trip to Kosovo, Mr. LaMirand said, “Everyone I talked to—everyone: law students, young businessmen, political activists, cab drivers, cellphone card sellers on the streets—identified corruption as a pervasive reality in Kosovo that undermines their confidence in the future.”

A copy of the report can be downloaded from Kent College of Law’s Operation Kosovo website at: In addition to Mr. LaMirand and Professor Perritt, second-year Chicago-Kent student Frank Bieszczat, third-year Chicago-Kent student Chair Mair, and Claremont-McKenna senior Lisa Atkins contributed to the research and writing of the report.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Virtual title

A little bit of virtual democracy to go with your daily cup of virtual multiethnicity.


Kosovo's independence will not jeopardize regional stability and co-operation, said Erhard Busek, the Special Coordinator of the Stability Pact for South East Europe.
"The region will be more stable if we move toward such solution," Busek said... (Makfax)

Friday, October 27, 2006

Five Pillars of Ardita

Tim Judah's take on the developments ahead for Kosovo. He's good.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Boss

Does UN Security Council even matter? No. Russia and China will stop it from doing anything that doesn't suit them. And US of A won't even ask them. I'm surprised UNSC wasn't dismantled 15 years ago. It is about as relevant as a conference Balkan pharmacists like to go to.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

On Kosovo's Sesame Street

There is an oppotunity for those of you living in the US to watch a documentary about the Kosovo production of Sesame Street. In Los Angeles it's showing on KCET at 9:00 PM. Interviews with children are morbidly funny, the kind of funny that would be more suitable to be shown in Kosovo itself. Glad to have been a little part of the project.

Hurray for TRA: Kosovo is finally dismantling illegal cellphone base stations. Come back in a few months for final final dismantling. It will be dead serious next time.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Results of Vienna: no agreement, but the understanding is there.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

What an irony!

These are the participants of the regional anti-organized crime conference taking place in Serbia.

There's only one thing missing: a Kosovo representative. Yes, the same Kosovo that is supposedly washed in crime (and thus shouldn't get independence).

Quick reads

Sticky carrots!

Kids for Peace leader invited to UN as Kosovo enters final status talks

D'Alema's position on Kosovo

Kosova C powerplant and the Shibovc mine that will supply it will cost $3.5 billion

Monday, October 16, 2006

Kosovo is Serbia

Truthiness I was talking about:

While choosing among various topics like sports, music, movies and websites, I have decided to write on a small part of my country called Kosovo and Methojia. The territory occupies the southern part of the country called Serbia, including borders with Macedonia, Albania and Montenegro. Major historical events regarding Serbian history and culture occurred in Kosovo and Metohija during the 11th and 12th centuries, so the significance this part of my country has to me and Serbian people is tremendous. No matter what others say or do, I believe that Kosovo is Serbia. (Progressive U)



B92 brings excerpts on article 16 of the Serb Constitution discussed on Life in Kosovo in the previous post:

“If you read this constitution, it states in article 16 that any decision made on an international level, and also includes resolutions by the United Nations Security Council, automatically becomes a part of the national law. If the Security Council states tomorrow that Kosovo is independent, the decision automatically takes effect.” Nosov said.


Kosovo Invites Bulgarian Investors

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Serb Constitution Wiki

Their victims were their neighbhors. Jasmina Tesanovic on the war crimes indictees in Belgrade:

These Serbian policemen from kosovo would do it all again, with even more vigor, even when not ordered to do it. Their only regret is not having done more and better. That their regime lost the war. They had to flee instead of killing all the Albanians. As 10 percent of the Kosovo population, they had to leave their property to the 90 percent majority. They were Orthodox and Serbs, the superior race in their holy land, living in paranoid agression for centuries on end.


From Radio Television Kosova' Life in Kosova comes a program about the new Serb constitution. Participating are a lawyer from Kosovo, two Serbs from Kosovo, and a civic leader from Belgrade. Unfortunately it's in Serbian and Albanian only and available until 26 October. There will be a special bonus at the end when "Kosova's son in-law" (a Yankee) goes to Gracanica to ask its citizens to sign a petition for an independent Kosovo and Metohija. 


Out of the blue the so-called democratic forces in Serbia pulled their joker card to delay Kosovo's independence. Like seven years weren't enough. Serbs have been working on a replacement for what is a Milosevic constitution since the "democratic" forces took power. They were never able to do it because of the delicate balance of power in the parliament. In September political leaders struck a deal with the Radicals and then the parliament voted on the constitution three days later without much discussion. A referendum is scheduled for this month. Elections might be held in December or as late as next March.

Albanian voters will not be allowed to vote (necessary to make the 50% voter threshold possible) and yet president of Serbia according to this constitution will take the oath to defend Serbia "and Kosovo and Metohija as it's inseperable part." This is where Web 2.0 part comes in. If Serbia makes it's constitution a Wikipedia-like wiki, immediately after Kosovo's gone, they will be able to edit it to fit their new truthiness. Or they might choose to leave it alone even if there isn't a Kosovo to defend; just like in Wikipedia, as long as enough Serbs agree on Kosovo is a part of Serbia in a referendum, it is truthiness enough.    

From Tadic's viewpoint, the goal of all this is to win time in discussions on Kosovo's final status. By puting Contact Group capitals in a checkmate where ultranationalists would win if Kosovo is given away before an election, Tadic is able to argue for a delay. Yet this is a crisis that the "democrats" initiated by hastening elections. London and Washington right now should be asking themselves: why should the victim bear the burden of democratcratization of its agressor? Hasn't Kosovo gone through enough pain during the war and more than seven years since?

Friday, October 06, 2006

Loose lips sink collection rates!

Bishop Artemije has recruited TV evangelists Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell to his "Kosovo is a Muslim hellhole" crusade. How's that for an opener?

However, another supporter to Artemije's cause, The Washington Times, is changing its editors. The Washington Times was close to the Serb lobby and has consistently published more editorial pieces from Artemije & Co than news on Kosovo itself. But it was the support of Confederacy and other extreme right causes that got them.

Still Kosova has more pressing issues at hand than whether we the faithful have prepared the landing sites for Jesus' comeback. For Kosovo winter is close and nobody can guarantee power during it. 

This brings me to the most ridiculous news this week: an international manager at Kosova's public power company KEK has accussed the union for a E2 million collection rate drop last month. Earlier the KEK union had published the exorbitant salaries that the local and international managers get while accusing them of incompetency for producing only debatable levels of power. Local and international managers threatened with firing the employees that divulge company secrets and undermine KEK's competiviness. In other words: they think Kosovars are idiots. Boy we're lucky Kosovo doesn't have ships otherwise they would all be at the bottom of the seas now. 


EU citizens might want to write Brussels about the fact that EU "experts" in KEK are making more than Mr. José Manuel Durão Barroso.    

Monday, October 02, 2006

Good stuff

Is Kosovo the next West Bank?

When diplomatic solutions to a crisis are delayed, the situation begins to fester.

from Anna Di Lellio

Slightly strong language, but she hits it on the head.

She also mentions the fact that there is very little communication of what will come out of the status talks. Kosovars have been left in the dark from their delegation and some of the points agreed will be painful so nobody from the delegation wants to give the bad news. Realizing this, last week UNMIK's vice Steven Schook blasted (sq) again Kosovar leaders for not arguing their decisions to the population. However, I believe this to be disengenious of him since UNMIK and UNOSEK were glad to deal only with the leaders and put the people affected by their decisions in front of a closed case.  

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Bosnia has spoken

Despite poverty and high unemployment, issues of ethnicity and nationalism have dominated the election campaigns, says the BBC's Nicholas Walton in Sarajevo.

The office of the International High Representative, which oversees the peace process, will close in mid-2007.

But if it judges that Bosnia's politicians are unable to take on the responsibility for taking the country forward, the international community has warned that it might not hand over power after all, our correspondent adds. (BBC)

 As we witness the cutout in Kosovo with decentralization it is important to take in the lessons of Bosnia. When economy and laws (and ways to enforce them) are concerned, a strong central government should take precedent. The primary motive for the EU was not because Europeans were in love of each others langueages, cultures, and beaches. At the end of the day, a common market and the laws that enforce it are what will unite Bosnia.

Sarajevo should also do more to discourage ethnic homogenization of the population. If it wants a unified Bosnia, Serbs living in the Federation and the other way around is the best demoracratic way to ensure it.

Now, RS Serbs should be able to promote their cultural ties with Serbia. Just like a teenager that can't let go of home, this nationalism will also pass. Ties with Serbia will pacify Serbs of Bosnia and take away the cause away from the rebels. (Cultural rights are sacred in Europe, so I wouldn't argue against them anyways). It is often repeated about Kosovo the the opening of the border with Albania was when Kosovar Albanians stopped wishing for unification. Although even before that it was mostly a rebel rally call rather than a sincere wish.   

So, economic unification in exhange for cultural ties with Serbia should do the trick. If it doesn't, EU, or more like the US, will have to bring in the hammer one more time.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Minority Edition

Serbs want Kosovo but not the Kosovars. Not that it matters, though it's an exercise in interestingness.

Kosovo and Croatia sign Free Trade Agreement

The trade exchange between Croatia and Kosovo in the first 2006 semester amounted to 55.4 million euros. The export operations from Croatia to Kosovo totaled 55.3 million euros, while Kosovo exported 107.000 euros worth of goods to Croatia.

I don't see what Kosovo has to lose from this.

Serbia has a new constitution ready for approval.

It also grants a form of self-rule to the northern province of Vojvodina, said Dusan Petrovic, from the pro-Western Democratic Party. No other details about the draft's contents were immediately available. (IHT)

Radicals (SRS) have said they will fight the proposed document because of the Vojvodina clause, despite the fact that it is designed to "show to the international community that Serbia is united in its bid to preserve its identity" (i.e. Kosovo) (IHT). Could Vojvodina end up the unexpected  winner in all this?


Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) trained minority journalists in Kosovo at the end of which they came up with the following articles:

Belgrade Media Keep Kosovo Serbs in the Dark

Relentlessly negative reporting from Serbia isolates Kosovo minority more than ever

Village For Sale

With no jobs for the young and no security for the old, no wonder entire Serbian villages are on the market.

Serbs and Albanians Play Politics with Heritage Sites

After a deal looked close, both sides appear to have decided that scoring points is more important than making a breakthrough.

Kosovo Serb Political Divisions Grow

With final status talks seemingly no nearer a conclusion, the politicians representing the Serb minority are growing further apart.

In June for the first time any dissatisfaction with Belgrade was recorded among Kosovo Serbs. Although the number was still a paltry 15% and affected by events at the time, it's a move in the right direction. Of course, others favor a whole new and sad direction.

Kosovo Serbs Seek Radical Salvation

Hard-line rhetoric and grandiose pledges are winning hearts and minds in isolated Serbian enclaves.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Would you like a bomb with that meeting?

roundup of important political events in Kosovo and about Kosovo this week.

There have been four bomb attacks. The first three caused some material damage and were definitely designed to send a message to government officials. Details are missing yet but the the ones in Gjilan might be realated to decentralization and the unsatisfaction in that area about what is being planned.

The fourth one happenned in Klina with four members of a Serb family wounded from it. This was also designed to send a massage. The fact that it happened just a day before imporant decision-making meetings of the UNSC and the Contact Group - and the fact that every such meeting is preceded by similar attacks - makes me think it was well planned and with clear intentions. Just when arguments for independence are most needed these heineous crimes against defensless Serbs will happen. I would love to know who's doing them - they definitely are not friends of Kosovo. 

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Balkan Peace Park

British conservationists are working with Kosovo, Montenegro and Albania on creating a protected zone in the Accursed Mountains shared by the three countries. Here is a map of the area they intend to include (600 kb). As blogged previously on this blog, this area is underdeveloped and often cut-off from the world during the winter months. Underdevelopment can hurt the environment as much as development does. This could be a sustainable way of using this area to promote cooperation in the border area and preempt any undesirable development or destruction down the road.

I don't know about you but this just seems too enticing to me:

Whilst traveling in the region you will be able to sample some of the local produce. Local industries include honey-making, raki-making, cheese-making, baked goods, fresh fruits and vegetables, including wild strawberries and herbs (such as to make mountain tea).

Shala Mountains

Plav Lake
playing the national albanian instrument çifteli

Head to the official Balkan Peace Park Project web site and see if you can help them out.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Howto make the Kosovar Nation

Cafe Babel brings a topic not familiar even to people familiar with Kosovo. You see we're builing a new nation but can't figure out what it means to be a Kosovar. This issue will become important once we start accepting national symbols designed in blue and yellow by our international friends.


Kosovo refugees in Prokupjle, Serbia struggle to make ends meet


Kosovo Parliament has voted down a request to make Turkish the third official language in the Prizren municipality. This is absolutely unacceptable.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Serb President Boris Tadic visited Washington last week. The outcome of the meetings was/ was not opportune for Belgrade, as he relayed it live from Washington to his home audience. One has to genuinely wonder whether he really believed that he would achieve anything.

Serb lobby had actually tried to soften up the stance in Washington by playing these infomercials on two DC radio stations inviting the public to write to their congressmen. Have a listen!

powered by ODEO

The problem with the message is that DC population is awfully small and disinterested in the Balkans (it is mostly African-American) to care about to whom Kosovo goes to, on top of their representative not carrying a vote in congress. Some senators did write to Bush on July 28 regarding Kosovo, although all they asked from him is not to withdraw from Kosovo, which I second. The lobby has received the money and it has to spend it lobbying for something.

On the other hand the Albanian lobby responded with another very public appeal to the administration to support an independent Kosovo. It made a deal with McDonald's and KFC restaurants across DC to send forth its message through the in-your-face, primary-colored signs like the one below.

There is this train of thought among dog breeders that the moment a fighting dog drops his tail, he will be too weak to be a fighter anymore. I have the same idea with the communist taint of current political actors in the Balkans. Albanian PM Sali Berisha has made a smart move by enlisting the help of former US Department of Homeland Security Tom Ridge for his government and Albania. The details are still vague, although Ridge seems to be an accomplished and honorable man. I hope that veteran government leaders like Berisha (and his montenegrin countepart Milo Djukanovic, who seems to have won another election yesterday) will draw power from Ridge's example and retire from government and politics. They may open their own political consulting firms, go into charity, or even do a blog, but please retire from politics. The political scene in the Balkans needs new blood from people that are less divisive and don't have their resumes begin and end with politics.

*Ok, I made up the part about signs on McDonald's. The rest is dead serious.

Serb President Boris Tadic visited Washington last week. The outcome of the meetings was/ was not opportune for Belgrade, as he relayed it live from Washington to his home audience. One has to genuinely wonder whether he really believed that he would achieve anything.

Serb lobby had actually tried to soften up the stance in Washington by playing these infomercials on two DC radio stations inviting the public to write to their congressmen before Tadic's visit. Have a listen!

powered by ODEO

The problem with the message is that the DC population is awfully small and disinterested in the Balkans (it is mostly African-American) to care about whom Kosovo goes to, on top of their representative not carrying a vote in congress. Some senators did write to Bush on July 28 regarding Kosovo, although all they asked from him is not to withdraw from Kosovo, which I second. The lobby has received the money and it has to spend it lobbying for something.

On the other hand the Albanian lobby responded with another very public appeal to the administration to support an independent Kosovo. It made a deal with McDonald's and KFC restaurants across DC to send forth its message through the in-your-face, primary-colored signs like the one below.

There is this train of thought among dog breeders that the moment a fighting dog drops his tail, he will be too weak to be a fighter anymore. I have the same idea with the communist taint of current political actors in the Balkans. Albanian PM Sali Berisha has made a smart move by enlisting the help of the former US Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Tom Ridge for his government and Albania. The details are still vague, although Ridge seems to be an accomplished and honorable man. I hope that veteran government leaders like Berisha (and his montenegrin countepart Milo Djukanovic, who seems to have won another election yesterday) will draw power from Ridge's example and retire from government and politics. They may open their own political consulting firms, go into charity, or even do a blog, but please retire from politics. The political scene in the Balkans needs new blood from people that are less divisive and don't have their resumes begin and end with politics.

*Ok, I made up the part about signs on McDonald's. The rest is dead serious.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Albania 1989

Gjirokaster Albania 1989, originally uploaded by Maverick12.

From the good old days of 1989 Albania comes a full set of photographs on Flickr.


Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Trajkovic: Serbs have sold property worth 3 billion euro

Belgrade, 5 September 2006. (Beta) - Leader of Spot Momcilo Trajkovic stated that Serbs in Kosovo since June 1999 have sold property worth three billion euro and that money has ended up in Serbia.

"I have two hectares of land. If I sold that land, I could get 1.5 million euro. But selling land, house in Kosovo, that means to sell territory, state and national interests," said Trajkovic on the show Openly on Kosovo.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Today is the International Day of the Missing

International Committee of the Red Cross:

In the Balkans there remain thousands of persons still unaccounted for as a result of the former conflicts in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, and Kosovo. Of more than 33,000 tracing requests for missing persons opened by the ICRC since the outbreak of hostilities, today 18,555 remain unaccounted for – 13,862 from Bosnia and Herzegovina, 2,409 from Croatia and 2,284 from Kosovo respectively. Their families, living in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Serbia proper and Montenegro, continue to live in uncertainty and anguish hoping to receive news on their missing relatives. In order to remind the authorities and the public of the problems that they continue to face and appeal for the elucidation of the fate of their loved ones, the Kosovo Albanian families will gather in Pristina, the Kosovo Serb families in Gracanica, Serbian families in Belgrade, while Bosniac and Croatian family associations will get together in Zagreb on the occasion of this year's International Day of the Disappeared.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The "terrorist" that threw the bomb at the infamous Dolce Vita cafe in northern Mitrovica may be a teenager with hemophilia and two brain operations that have caused him to lose all memory until one year ago. However, one Albanian witness put Adem on the bridge (away from the cafe) at the time of the explosion, while his family was shopping nearby in the southern part of Mitrovica. Under these circumstances, it is pure luck that Adem was moved to the Albanian part and not to the north as was attempted, where later a crowd of about 500 Serbs rioted.

Our friend, Serb leader Oliver Ivanonic, was at the cafe and witnessed the attacker approaching. Serb media and leaders (B92 quoted above nonincluding) have gone berserk accusing Albanians of terrorism and whatever other pre-conceived notions they had about the group.

I promised to say more on what the results of the Ahtisaari's visit to Pristina were going to be. The truth is that I don't know what's going on. On Wednesday it seemed that there was pressure on the Kosovo delegation to move from its previously held position. On Friday same Ahtisaari came out somewhat pleased with the (same?) results.'s Tuesday posts can give you an idea on what the contentions are. The delegation kept working on finalizing its proposals until the Monday night deadline when it was supposed to forward its final stances to Ahtisaari. Semantically, Kosovo's delgation remains on its 5+1 position, but of course this is displomacy. The delegation is expected to address parliament soon, despite the fact that the proposals were sent off.
One of the more novel proposals is the idea to unite the future municipality of northern Mitrovica with Zvecan, a majority Serb municipality. This idea seemed to have the support of Ahtisaari but Pristina came vocally against it. Although Mitrovica is likely to be split in two municipalities as Serbs request, returning Albanian population in the northern part could still be a majority or a sizeable minority depending on how hard life for them remains there. Of course, it is odd that decentralization that is supposed to lead to better local governance is dealing with the fusion of territories into larger areas that are designed to allow one ethnic group overwhelming vote on issues. Maybe this fact alone reveals the real reasons behind the Serb push for decentralization.

USIP report

United State's Institute of Peace has issued a new report on Kosovo: Ethnic Nationalism at Its Territorial Worst. The conclusion boils down to this: Serbia is asking to delay sovereignty for 20 years (Belgrade argues that Kosovo should be given everything but a seat at the UN) during which Serbia will establish itself within the up-for-grabs Serb enclaves in Kosovo, with the Serb state sovereignty eventually spreading over those territories.

The question of Kosovo's status is gradually boiling down to the question of the status of the Kosovo Serbs, and the degree of their integration into the rest of Kosovo. Or, to put it another way, the question of Kosovo's status is not whether it will be independent or not, but whether it will be sovereign and, if so, over what territory.
Kosovo is already independent in the sense that the Albanian-populated areas govern themselves, within limits imposed by the UN Security Council, independently of Belgrade. No one in Belgrade has put forward a plan to govern the Albanians, and no one any longer imagines as Milosevic did that they can chase the Albanians from Kosovo. But if decentralization allows separate governance of the Serbs within Kosovo, without reference to Pristina, Kosovo will not be sovereign over the territory occupied by Serbs. It should be no surprise then that some in Belgrade and in West European capitals imagine that Kosovo can be given independence but not a seat at the UN, where all sovereign states rightfully sit.
This kind of ambiguous solution is a formula for failure and violence. Seven years after NATO's intervention, the future of Kosovo and most of the rest of the former Yugoslavia is once again at stake. With talks on the future status of Kosovo already initiated, the implications of ethnoterritorial separation inside Kosovo need to be understood: calling it decentralization does not change reality, and the reality of ethnoterritorial separation leads to instability and violence. The international community and the people of the Balkans have come too far over the past decade to end up in a scenario that would only satisfy extreme nationalists. The Balkans endgame can be a peaceful one, but only if ethnoterritorial separation is ruled out.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Gegë and Toskë

One is Gegë, the other is Toskë Turk-Arnaut (Turkish-Albanian). Pay attention to the graceful flowing moves and countenance of the Toskë kid.

Monday, August 21, 2006

I'm giving too much publicity to this guy but he seems to be the only one not parroting Belgrade. Oliver Ivanovic is keen enough to see across the hill, beyond the end of the current talks.

[Jevtic] What is your grudge against the Belgrade negotiating team?

[Ivanovic] Besides what people think, I would add Belgrade taking the question of decentralization too lightly. If we succeed in keeping Kosovo part of Serbia, only decentralization can ensure normal life for Serbs in an Albanian environment. Belgrade is putting emphasis on status, while questions on technical talks that have to do with everyday life are considered less important. That precisely is the basis for Serbs to remain in Kosovo. However status is resolved we must establish relations and be protected through the institutions.

In the rest of the interview Ivanovic complains that Kosovo Serbs's views are not being considered by Belgrade. That, at least in theory, is not true. In Vienna Kosovo Serbs voluntarily left the talks sumbitting the right to negotiate for them to representatives of the government from Belgrade. K-Serbs, as PM Çeku says may be confused, but in no way can they blame Belgrade for their failures anymore.

Today chief UN negotiator in the talks Marti Ahtisaari returns for a three day visit to Kosovo. He will be asking Albanians to give 10 new municipalities to Serbs and allow for more municipalities in the future in places where Serb returnees will make at least 5,000 people, which was set earlier by Ahtisaari as the border that would justify a municipality. Albanians are saying they will not move from the current offer of 5+1 which accounts for the 24% of the territory of Kosovo and includes 82% of the Serb population. A clause that I find concerning is the ability of these municipalities to nullify any central authority. In the way it is currently being phrased, this rule could become an issue of contention later on. This possibility for more municipalities, along with an earlier understanding to allow returns wherever Serbs wish, will also be used to design the map of Serb municipalities by encouraging returns in such ways as to connect Serb territories through places where Serbs currently don't live and then ultimately to Serbia. Couple this with the "we don't care about Prishtina" clause and we're in for another Bosnia. Like in Bosnia, if this thing is not done right now, in ten years we may have to go back to the drawing board.

Ahtisaari's goal is to move quick and close the decentralization part by September. He will apply pressure to whichever side seems weakest. Come back in three days to see the results to what will be his most memorable stay in Prishtina.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Rücker is funny and would like to dine with... Check out his "10 answers" to EU in Kosovo website.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Since I last blogged seriously, a few things have happenned.

Kosovo now has the last UN head...before it gets an EU head. The German Joachim Ruecker took over from his previously-held position at the EU pillar of UNMIK that is in charge of economy and things such as electric power (KEK), telecom (PTK), and privatisation through KTA. EU mission in Kosovo is expected to be involved in similar duties and more. From this perspective, an UNMIK head with this kind of background and also German is an excellent choice. As far as Ruecker the man is concerned, I'm not overwhelmed with his track record in Kosovo, though it's possible that the problems he presided over were also some of the toughest to crack. His pledge
"to make it his priority to give Kosovo's two million people 'a clear perspective'" is good, but I will wait and see the performance before making up my mind on this choice.
From other news: the meeting the alternative leader of Kosovo Serbs Oliver Ivanovic with Kosovo's Prime Minister Agim Ceku was largely ignored in the press. It is the first such meeting with the PM Serbs consider a "war criminal" in a warrant still out in Serbia. Ivanovic seeked respect for Serbs in the institutions in exchange for Serbs returning to them. How many K-Serbs will follow Ivanovic remains to be seen when Ivanonic actually goes back parliament.
Integration might actually start with basketball. Basketball is the hottest sport in Kosovo. Stadiums of 3-4000 people are often full of standing and singing fans. But basketball matches are definitely bound to become more exciting with the addition of a Serb team from Mitrovica to the first league. "Bambi" will have to play its games in the stadium located in the southern part of the city with majority Albanian. This is the second Serb team to join a Kosovo league, with the less visible handball (for Americans out there, yes there is such a sport) league being the other one to have a Serb team. Most of the basketball fans at their site were welcoming of the move, and were curious to see the atmosphere. Some though were grumbling about the fact that Serb team will catapult directly to first league.
Division of Kosova trial balloon has been launched again. This time it was Sandra Ivkovic of the Belgrade's office for Kosovo doing it on BBC, and a member of her party immediately bringing it down.

The Institute for Peace Vice President told daily Građanski List that Belgrade does not want to encourage Kosovo Serbs to participate in regional institutions and return to Kosovo, because they do not want an integration of the Kosovo Serbs, they want a division of territory.(B92)

Random children

, originally uploaded by jo.vanka.

I couldn't resist another one.

Donated by UN or symbols of UN?

Prizren, originally uploaded by jo.vanka.

Garbage bins in Prizren.

A local sign

Local sign, originally uploaded by connect2europe.

Appropriately so

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Lobby update

Why the Republican Bush administration can't call it quits on Kosovo before the coming midterm elections in November:

The main priority of the Bush Administration and the Republican Party in 2006 has to be to maintain control of Congress. Given the number of seats at risk in states with significant numbers of Serbian American voters, and the comparatively small gains possible from courting the Albanian American vote, odds are that the Administration will be mindful of the costs of the timing of any final resolution on Kosovo. An early announcement on independence for Kosovo is a political risk for the Administration.

Albanian lobby on the Serb lobby:

An intensive Serb lobbying effort over the past three months peaked in mid July with a round of consultations and public appearances in Washington and New York by Serbia Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica. Looking at both the extreme tactics of the American Council for Kosovo and the “high road” approach subsequently taken by Prime Minister Kostunica, the Kosovo Notes and Comment assessment is that the Serb lobbying effort to date has been a failure in the United States. Serb efforts may impact timing of a final solution for Kosovo (see U.S. Elections article, above) but appear to be unable to stop eventual independence.

Check out the whole thing here Kosovo Notes and Comment Issue 11 - it's much richer than usual.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

When inter-ethnic relations are concerned, policy in Kosovo has for the most part been a makeshift one of appeasement and reaction. As mentioned in the document quoted below, it is the overwhelming money and manpower that made segregation feasible for such a long time. But this regimen won't substitute for a long-term solution. The going line has been that one group doesn't have to love the opposing group but merely has to learn to live with them. The fatal mistake here was the international community didn't take proactive steps to address genuine concerns stemming from war, leaving the cloud of mistrust lingering on.

From Minority Group International's report on Kosovo:

The problem is not lack of financing. Conversely, the fact that so much money has been spent on the region has allowed segregation in public services to become an easy solution to conflict between groups. A short-term mentality, the use of quota systems in public services and an electoral system based on rigid ethnic representation show a lack of commitment to implementing minority rights in any meaningful way.

The report shows that measures that separate communities through religion or ethnicity should be transitional, if they have to be used at all. The future status talks offer a chance for change. Otherwise, the danger is that the patterns of segregation that are accepted in Kosovo, and that lead to the terror of ethnic cleansing, will be enshrined in the Constitution, and will be played out again over the next decade.

Where ethnic tensions and violence divide societies, as in Kosovo, respect for minority rights advances the conditions for political and social stability and peace. Rather than promoting segregation and separation, minority rights are based on the principle of an integrated society, where each can use their own language, enjoy their culture and practise their religion but still feel part of a broader, inclusive national identity. In such societies, various national, ethnic, religious and linguistic groups are able to live confidently together, communicate effectively, and recognize value in their differences and in their society's cultural diversity.

The diverse ethnic, religious and linguistic communities of Kosovo must realize that solutions lie in their hands as much as they are the responsibility of governments and the international community, and make concerted efforts to move beyond the current divisions. The political will to reach just and durable solutions must be demonstrated by the whole of civil society, as well as by states and international actors.

There are no easy solutions to the problems of Koso-vo; however, there are paths ahead that offer the greatest potential for inclusion, peace, stability and development. Such paths must firmly reject segregation and ethnic cleansing, and embrace the rule of law and minority rights. The alternative is a future of continuing division, distrust and uncertainty, which has the potential not only to bring suffering and conflict once again to the lives of the people of Kosovo, but also to further inflame the tensions of a region that has suffered enough from the destructive consequences of nationalism and discrimination.

Marko Jaksic, leader of the Association of Serb Municipalities in Kosovo, on his decision to let only Belgrade negotiate on decentralization in the second days of talks in Kosovo:

"To agree to discussions of the rights of a community outside of this context would mean that we agree on the status of a minority, and it is generally accepted and natural that a people cannot be considered a minority in their own country, because we are Serbs from Kosovo, a region that we have always seen and will always see as an inseparable part of the sovereign state of Serbia.”

Oliver Ivanonic, another K-Serb leader, largely in the periphery of talks:
“No one can know what our problems are better than we can in this field and no one knows better than we do about how under-spoken we are in the institutions. The question of collective rights is not solved in the institutions alone, so I think that our attendance should be mandatory. The decision to not participate is a consequence of the earlier stance of participation and legitimacy, but the institutions exists and no one can deny their legitimacy, at least not in that way. The only people who have information from the field regarding Serbs will not be participating in the discussions. I think that this is the wrong move. We are losing a lot of points in the preliminary rounds, which will be a problem in the finish. The Serbs in Kosovo will be even more concerned by the fact that their interests are not being protected by people from their region but by theorists.” Ivanovi� said.

“We want to integrate into the institutions, but to also have a mechanism for protection. We want to have protective rights, which no one will be able to change with a vote in parliament. The Albanian majority should not be allowed the possibility of changing something like that without more than half of the Serbian officials’ votes. That is the way towards integration, but building walls and separation, that is a primitive approach; they are not good solutions and are only increasing tensions. Serbs will be the first to suffer from these tensions, and will deal with it the same they have been so up until now, by moving away.” Ivanovi� said.

Friday, August 04, 2006

A rather good conclusion for a weak article from Le Monde diplomatique:

The only response to the challenge of a Greater Albania, as with a Greater Serbia, is full European integration. The prospect of a national unity that requires border changes is potentially dangerous for the region. Nevertheless the issue of a national trans-border “Albania” is a reality.

It should be possible for anyone writing a book in Shqiptari to address likely readers in Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia, while an ethnic Albanian student should be free to study in Tirana, Tetovo or Pristina. But the borders will have to be far wider open than they are today.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Albanian Alps

Dinaric Alps, originally uploaded by kosova kid.

These are some of the many beutiful mountains from northern Albania. My grandad used to teach in the village of Valbona nearby in the early 30's. Like then, this area continues to be one of the poorest in Albania and is continuosly cut off from the outside world during the winter. Not to hurry the seasons but a ski resort here would make for a great investment for all parties concerned.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The big dilemma

Letters sent by the late Serb PM Zoran Dindic back in February 2003 reveal that Dindic since then was worriying that Kosovo was slipping away. The comments show the big dilemma that Serb politicians have been facing in the last seven years: if Kosovo works out, it proves her ability to fuction independently, if it doesn't work out, local Serbs get the blame.

...[Late Serb PM Zoran] Đinđić then believed that the worst thing that Serbia can do is wait, because the situation will get better in the meantime and people will take that as evidence that the institutions of an independent Kosovo can function properly, and if the situation does not get better, a massive exodus of Serbs from the region will ensue.

In March 2004 riots erupted targeting UN and local Serbs for hampering the
progress towards independence.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

From NY Times:

Every five years, the inhabitants of the two villages, high up in Kosovo’s Shar mountain range, close to the boundary with Macedonia, come together for an extraordinary festival — its version of a Muslim rite of passage. For three days, upward of 3,000 people gather here to feast, sing and dance and take part in traditional Turkish sports, like wrestling.

...the distinguishing feature of this festival is the ceremony of Sunet, or circumcision, that takes place in one day for all of the host village’s boys age 5 or under — 111 of them this year in Gornje Lubinje.

Patrick Moore, a long-time Balkans analyst, inadvertently answers Carl Bildt's fears of general chaos in the Balkans after in independent Kosovo. I have nothing against Bildt - in fact I have large respect for his intellect and most of his ideas. But I bring him up as a showcase of European diplomacy of the previous decade: the go it slowly and carefully policy that ultimately created much more suffering and hatred and broken relations than if Europe had acted decisively from early on.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Smoking away katastrofa

My first shot - Part 4: Respect
Student made videos from Macedonia. YouTube has four more, including an explanation of the project.

The goal of this blog is to get behind the fog of news and to put things in perspective for somebody (Westerner, yes) who would otherwise dismiss events as a proof of whatever theory she holds on Kosovo. This news is just like one of those. An international prosecutor has dropped the case started after the stabbing of a Serb youth in Mitrovica by two Albanians. Serb victim and witnesses apparently have refused to cooperate. The camera recording is of poor quality.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Carl Bildt bets against Kosovo. Bet for and you get his money.

Massive new refuges waves will be a high probability, borders will be sealed again as hostility becomes the name of the game, Bosnia will become unpredictable and the entire European strategy of the past decade will be in tatters.

Albanians and Serbs are trading houses from their respective enclaves creating ethnicly pure territories. Security may not be a problem but then there is so much more to life than just security. Very good reporting by IWPR once again.
When "Special US envoy for Kosovo negotiations Frank Wisner says that the solution for Kosovo's future status may not be acceptable for both Belgrade and Pristina, adding that the protection of Serbs and other minorities was of key importance during this process," he surely means some kind of autonomy for northern Mitrovica in an independent Kosovo. This was the International Crisis Group suggestion in February. Yet it doesn't seem like even the experts have a clue on how Mitrovica will be handled.Fife-hundred extra policemen were deployed to the north from other areas of Kosovo supposedly for the safety of Serbs there, and 650 German soldiers are also being sent to the French, who are more pro-Serb, sector to "show readiness of NATO to ensure security and stability in the region." These are clearly preemptive measures against the partioning of Kosovo, but a plan for reintegration of northern Kosovo has yet to be seen.

After so much wait and promises, it's no surprise that people are taking their houses to the market.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Koen's "revelation"

We have been told that so far Vienna talks have been all about technical issues, issues that wouldn't make a difference no matter what the status of Kosovo will be. However, in an article subtitled "Blame the Albanian side," B92 writes:

Belgrade delegation member Leon Koen said that the Priština team and its stance that Kosovo independence is a “done deal” is the main reason for the lack of progress in the discussions so far.

Koen isn't just anybody. He along with Samardic are the brains behind the Serb delegation strategy. So if the two delegations were supposed to be talking and reaching an agreement only on technical issues, why does Koen blame the stance of the Albanians on what is supposed to be a future discussion topic?

I can undestand the Serb strategy to push through the status talks early on, as I already commented here. Though that is tricky since Serbia might be left with neither technical results nor status results. I hope that Serb delegation's Game Theory practices will reveal this possible outcome to them. Or maybe they've run the Game as promised but the value they have attached to the future of K-Serbs was just to low to matter as an alternative.


Another good article from B92. Among the revelations from Rohan:

I think it will be an important meeting. Both sides wanted it, they now have it and this leads us into the new phase of the negotiations”, Rohan told the BBC.

“We haven’t concluded the technical part of the negotiations. One of the issues – true community – has not even been addressed, because neither side showed any desire to discuss it. We only touched on the economic problems once, at the beginning. Therefore it is our proposal that we work on practical issues, with a new momentum, after the status talks”, Rohan concluded.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Repishti's open letter to Kostunica

Baldwin, New York, USA
Open Letter
July 14, 2006

H.E. Vojislav Kus’tunica
Prime Minister, the Government of Serbia
Belgrade, Serbia (Europe)

Your Excellency:

On Wednesday, July 13, 2006, I received a Serbian version of your speech before the UN Security Council, reproduced in Belgrade’s newspaper POLITIKA (SWET I MI).Because of the importance of the speech, and the forum where it was delivered, I read it with great interest. I admit my great disappointment.

The content of the speech could have had some converts, if it were delivered before the tragic massacres of 1998-99 in Kosova. However, since then, everything has changed. The mass graves of over 12.000 innocent victims – old men, women and children, the defenseless members of our society, - the over 3.000 Albanians wo have disappeared, unaccounted for or still held incommunicado in Serbian jails (as is the case of the university professor Ukshin Hoti), the forceful expulsion of nearly one million people, beaten, raped, robbed and humiliated, by the Serbian Army, Police and Serbian gangsters, instructed to act freely in Kosova with guaranteed impunity – have changed everything. After this ordeal, to claim Serbian sovereignty over the martyrized land of Kosova is more than unjust: it’s immoral, it’s illegal, it’s criminal! I am,therefore, convinced that there will be no converts to your thesis, now!.

Serbia in 2006, thanks to her policies engineered by the war criminal Slobodan Milosevic, and the pro-fascist Serb Radical Party of the accused criminalVojislav.Seselj’s supporters – who maintains you in power, today – is resolved to live in the dark past, refuse today’s reality, and reject a promising future in post-war Europe. That’s deeply regrettable for Serbia, and her pro-Europe neighbors.

1) You refer to the region as “Kosovo i Metohija”, “Kosovo” and“Kosmet”. The law professor Kos’tunica is aware that the official name of the region is “Kosovo or Kosova”, recognized and enshrined in the 1969 Constitutional Law, and the following documents, mainly the 1974 Constitution of Kosova, The name was changed to “Kosovo i Metohija” in March 1989, by the war criminal Slobodan Milosevic, then President of the FR of Yugoslavia, the man who stripped Kosova of her autonomy. By using the “Kosovo i Metohija” slogan, you approve Milosevic’s act, you follow in his ignominous steps. You didn’t have to do it, if you were thinking differently from the war criminal Milosevic.

2) You insist on “the respect for the territorial integrity of Serbia, as basic element of the international public law, and of the UN Charter”. Yet, you carefully neglect to mention that ALL authority in any democratic country resides with the will of the people (the American “We the People”), and that the cornerstone of every governmental responsibility is the protection of, and the safety, of its population/citizens. Serbia has cruelly violated both principles.
There is no moral basis for Serbia to rule over the martyrized Kosova; and, as a result, there is no obligation on the part of the aggrieved party, the Albanian victims, to obey the laws of the oppressive Serbian State. By using widespread terror, killing, maiming, raping and mass expulsion in Kosova, Serbia has forfeited its right to rule over Kosova. This is the opinion of the international commu-nity, that forced Serbia to leave Kosova and accept a UN Administration there until such time that Albanians in Kosova will be able to freely express their will.

Legally speaking,the question of sovereignty was litigated before the Permanent Court of International Justice (predecessor of today’s World Court). It was decided that “…self-determination could trump national sovereignty, and justify the break-up of a state, only during period of extreme chaos, “times of transition”, when the central government finds itself unable to do its job, and regular rules no longer apply.

The former Yugoslavia was, indeed, facing a “time of transition”…As for Kosova, it remains an extraordinary episode in modern history…Kosova is the rare case where the strict conditions set by the international law for secession were met. Even more remarkably, the Western community noticed and came to the aid of the separatists…. When Kosova erupted in full-fledged rebellion, Yugoslavia had largely ceased to exist.” (Jonathan Temperman,”No Dangerous Precedent”, The International Herald Tribune, June 23, 1999)

3) The UNSC Resolution 1244 (1999), on which you insist so much, does not pre-clude an eventual independent final status for Kosova. According to the authoritative Center for Strategic International Studies (Princeton,N.J.1993), Serb claims of sovereignty and territorial integrity for the FR of Yugoslavia do not rest on sufficient legal foundations. Therefore, it concludes that “ the UN Resolution 1244 is NOT a barrier to resolution of final status.” Serbia herself, by participating in the on-going negotiations held in Vienna, Austria, to resolve the problem of Kosova has, de facto, accepted these premises.

The Security Council has made it clear that the UN Administration was only “ an interim” entity, pending the settlement of the final status of Kosova.,”,,,organizing and overseeing the development of provisional institutions for democratic and autonomous self-government pending a political settlement including the holding of elections.” (UNSC Res.1244(1999),par.ll) Consequently, a Constitutional Framework for Provisional Self-Government was set up and approved.

The “interim” UN Administration in Kosova was also charged by the Security Council with the obligation to facilitate “a political process designed to determine Kosova’s future status, taking into account the Rambouillet Accords” (UNSC Res. 1244(1999), par.11) What was left for the Security Council is providing an express time table for resolving the question of the final status of Kosova, which according to the Rambouillet Accords “,,,set a three year time frame…” expiring in June 2003. Now, the transfer of sovereign functions to the Kosova institutions continues , to be completed with the institutions existing the day of the solution of the final status.

Serbian references to the UNSC Resolution 1244, and the Annex 2 of the 1975 Helsinki Final Act, do not consider the fact, that the above documents provide for the equal recognition of state’s right to sovereignty and territorial integrity, AND OF A MINORITY’S RIGHT TO SELF-DETERMINATION. Serb sovereignty and territorial integrity are expressly placed within the context of the “Interim” political framework agreement providing for substantial self-government for Kosova and, “…the necessity of taking full account of the (1999) Rambouillet Accords.” UNSC Res. 1244(1999), Annex 2, par. 8)(Emphasis is mine.SR)

The Accords did provide for the near total expulsion of the FR of Yugoslavia’s sovereignty over Kosova, and for the creation of a mechanism to determine the final solution within three years (2003). To deny these facts is tantamount to deviate the truth.

4) You oppose the freely expressed will of the 90 percent plus of a population trying to break the shackles of a century-old Serbian yoke, and set up an independent country of their own, peacefully and in cooperation with the international community.Serbia became a state after throwing away the Ottoman yoke. The same holds true for all Balkan countries. The same should hold true for Kosova, too!

The 1776 American Declaration of Independence states:” When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the politcal bands which have connected them with another, and to assume, among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect for the opinion of the mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation…” I will limit myself to the following:

a) Paris Peace Conference,1919,vol.XII, PPC 184.018/3

The Secretary of State to Mr. A.J.Balfour, Paris, April 18, 1919

“…British Embassy at Washington has informed the Department of State as following regarding alleged massacres of Albanians in Montenegro:”Gusinje, Plava, Ipek(Peje), Djakova, Podjour, and Roshji (Rozhaje) have been scenes of terrorism and murder by Serbian troops and Serbian agents whose policy appears to be the extermination of the Albanian inhabitants of the region…”Very truly yours, Robert Lansing(Secret.of State)

b) What happened before 1919(since the 1913 occupation of Kosova) is seen in the Serb legislation aimed at depriving Albanians of their basic rights, and in the atmosphere of terror described in the Carnegie Endowment Report. The Balkan Wars (Washington, D.C.1913) and in the Report of the International Commission to Inquire into the Causes and Conduct of the Balkan Wars (Washington,D.C, 1914)

c) The subjugated Albanian population was not represented in the Parlament and

Government of the SHS Monarchy, and later of Yugoslavia.Serb officials and officers became their deputies. Land was confiscated and given to new Serb-Montenegrin settlers. Serb PM N.Pasic took 10.000 acres of fertile land for himself.Albanian language was prohibited in all government offices. No school was open from 1913 to 1941. No book, magazine, or newspaper was published. Teaching of Albanian language was punished by death, as is the 1929 case of the Franciscan Father, Stephen Gjecov. Illiteracy reached 95 percent. Impoverished and persecuted, wave after wave of Albanians emigrated, to end up in the deserted lands of Anatolia. Their properties sequestred, their ID documents taken away, leaving them with no chance for return. Three Albanian deputies who entered the Parliament in Belgrade were assassinated.

d) In l937, the Cubrilovic Memorandum appealed to the Yugoslav Government “to force” Albanians to emigration. A 1938 Convention with Turkey was concluded, for that purpose, providing for the emigration of 150-300.000 Albanians. In 1940, a second Memorandum by the Serbian diplomat/writer, Ivo Andric (1938 Nobel Prize for Litera-ture (sic!)recommanded to the Yugoslav Government the dismemberment of Albania among her neighbors, in order to secure the permanent Serbian rule over Kosova. In 1944, a second Cubrilovic Memorandum, of the same nature, was requested by the Serb A.Rankovic and the Montenegrin M.Djilas, but was rejected by the Slovenian E.Kardelj and finally by the Croatian J.B. Tito.

e)During WWII (1941-44)Kosova was occupied by the Axis powers, and dismem-<> bered. Many Serbs left to escape punishment. In 1945, they returned with a vengeance. As many as 36.000 Albanians are believed to have been killed by Tito’s partisans. Kosova was recognized an autonomus status, but under the rule of Serbia. Since 1945 to this day, the list of Serb oppressive policies is long, ending with the Milosevic’s abolition of autonomy (March 1989), and the devastating Serb aggression of 1998-99.

f)These racist policies found two solid allies: The Serb Orthodox Church and the Serb intellectual class.. In 1967, a Serb Blue Book accused Albanians of pressuring Serbs to emigrate. The leader of this infamous publication was the writer Dobrica Cosic, former President of the FR of Yugoslavia. In 1986, a Memorandum prepared by the Serb Academy of Science and Arts, and the Serb Literary Association (Francuska 7) accused Albanians in Kosova of committing crimes against the Serbs, and appealed to divest Kosova of her autonomy and punish Albanian leaders. Over 550.000 Albanians went through Police hands –arrested, beaten up, killed, jailed,- according to Yugoslav officials. The 1998-99 Serb military aggression on Kosova is the result of a wicked and abomi-nable propaganda led by Serb intellectuals.

g) On March 1999, explaining the reaon of the NATO intervention against Milosevi’c Yugoslavia, US President J.W. Clinton had this to say:” …We act to protect thousand of innocent people in Kosova from a mounting military offensive…Milosevic stripped Kosova of the constitutional autonomy its people enjoyed. Now, they (the Serbs) started moving from village to village, shelling civilians and torching their bodies. We have seen innocent people taken from their homes, forced to kneel in the dirt, and sprayed with bullets. Kosovar men dragged from their families, fathers and sons together, lined up and shot in cold blood. This is not war in the traditional sense. It is an attack by tanks and artillery on a largely defenseless people, whose leaders have already agreed to peace. Ending this tragedy is a moral imperative…”(Federal Document Clearing House)

5) You enumerate Serbian losses in Kosova in terms of human beings, as well as properties, mainly Church properties, without any reference to the victimized population of Kosova, or without any reference, directly or indirectly, to the “butcher of the Balkans” S. Milosevic, who ruled over Yugoslavia and Serbia. Thanks to a ruthless military power, Serbia inherited from the former Yugoslavia an army and a tyrant led by criminal instincts. Serbia’s political and military leaders are now before the UN War Crimes Tribunal for Yugoslavia, for planning and executing atrocities against humanity, and war crimes, “…in a joint criminal enterprise…whose main object was to secure the continued Serb control over the province (of Kosova), to change the make-up of Kosova by expelling half of the population…Thousands were killed, men were beaten, women raped…” the prosecutor Thomas Hannis, told the UN War Crimes Tribunal. “Serb and Yugoslavs burned villages and towns as they went in order that those who were expelled had nothing to return to. Yugoslav and Serb forces forced refugees to hand over identifi-cation documents and took licence plates from cars and tractors before they (refugeess) crossed the border.

This is a clear manifestation of the plan to modify the ethnic balance of Kosova.

Once outside the country without legal documents how were they ever going to return to the country ?” he asked. For all this, a sinful silence reigns in Serbia!

How can Albanian Kosovars – and Serb aggressors- forget the savagery of the Serb criminal groups, such as “the Tigers” of Arkan and “the Franks” of Seselj whose prefered weapon was “the knife”, the glorified “noz’”, so dear to Serbian marauders since the inception of their state? Human Rights sources calculate that over 174 Albanian families have been burned alive in their houses, men, women and children…!

6) You refer to the ugly events of March 2004. They were ugly but nor planned. An unfortunate incident that caused the drowning of three Albanian teenagers was the sparkle for the outburst. We condemn it! However, you neglect to explain that out of the 19 victims, 11 were Albanians and 8 Serbs. You also neglect to indicate that the Government of Kosova has spent substantial amount of money to repair the damaged churches, houses, and other objects belonging to the Serbs. In Belgrade, the only mosque serving 300.000 Moslem Serbs, has not received the permission to rebuild and operate!

7) You speak about “accepting the compromise and reaching an agreement”. The essence of your compromise is the permanent Serbian sovereignty over Kosova. Albanians refuse it net. Which Black citizen of South Africa would accept the return to “the apartheid”, on a “democratic” South Africa? Which Russian Jew would accept the return to a society where the Russian policeman would be “the guarantor” for a free and prosperous life? None! Why should the Albanians feel and act otherwise? Albanians in Kosova ,too, are entitled to a life in freedom and dignity, and they intend to earn it for themselves and their descendants. One hundred years of Serbian rule over Kosova have been a century of Serb policies to dominate, expel, starve, and humiliate an entire people, the Albanian Kosovars! Never again! Never again!

8) You are concerned about the preservation of religious and cultural monuments in Kosova. We agree! They are universal patrimony, and they belong to the entire humanity.

Protection of Serbian monuments in Kosova has been a noble tradition cultivated by the local Catholic and Moslem populations for over four centuries of Ottoman rule. In l960, Serbian Patriarch, Gherman, awarded the Medal of Recognition of the Serb <>Orthodox Church to the Albanian family Nikci, of Peje, for having guarded the Patriarchate of Peje, generation after generation. These are the same monuments that you refer to, now. They survived – and continue to survive- thanks to the spirit of religious tolerance and traditional respect Albanian population has for all houses and objects of worship. Unfortunately, one cannot say the same for the Serbs. During the 1998-99 Serb aggression, over 190 Moslem mosques and Catholic churches were totally or partially destroy ed by the Serbs in Kosova, oftentimes by “Serbian neighbors”

9) You speak about “standards” and their fulfillment before the final status. Of course, no miracle has happened in Kosova. The UN Representatives in Kosova have frequently reported to the UN Security Council about the progress, or the lack of, in this field. A lot has been achieved, more remains to be done. However, no one can deny that the institu-tions of Kosova are democratic, motivated and intend to provide peace, bread and prosperity to all the citizens of Kosova.

10) “The decentralization”, as a democratic system of Government, is expected to protect ALL citizens, without exception. That’s why it has assumed great importance in the negotiating table. However, this democratic principle has been utterly distorted. You ask for a horizontal link between the predominantly Serb-inhabited communities as a divider of the territory of Kosova, and a direct vertical link with Belgrade, as an extended arm of the Serb presence in Kosova. Briefly stated, you are using a democratic solution for a political gain. I am certain that a similar Kosovar claim on the Albanian mnority in the Presheva Valley, would be rejected by the Serb Government.

11) Your insistence that 15 percent of the territory of a sovereign state ( in this case, Serbia) cannot be separated to satisfy the demands of “a threatening” Albanian popula-tion in Kosova. We respectfully disagree!

a) Kosova is a land inhabited by over 90 percent of Albanians, an autochthonous population, born and grown up there, who love it, till and preserve it, and are ready to defend it. Kosova was forcefully annexed by Serbia three times in the past century, For the first time, Albanians in Kosova are given the chance to expres themselves freely. They want independence. It’s the will of the overwhelming majority of Kosova, and we must respect it. It’s a reality on the ground which cannot be neglected, much less denied.

b) By her policies of expulson and extermination, Serbia has lost all her moral and legal rights to rule over Kosova. Now, the international community recognies this fact, and is on the verge of recognizing Kosova’s “legal” rights, and confirm them by a new UN Security Council Resolution.

Excellency: please, do not forget that a major war was fought in Kosova in 1998-99, and Serbia lost. An Agreement to withdraw all Serbia’s army and police forces from Kosova has been reached, and Serbia has signed it. A total withdrawal of Serbian forces was enforced (June 1999), and the vacuum left was replenished by the UN Mission in Kosova, and the NATO troops, according to the UNSC Resolution 1244 (1999) that ”…effectively said Kosova’s sovereignty will be determined at a later day.” (US Amb. Nicholas Burns), most probably by a popular Referendum, or a new UNSC Resolution.

In order to achieve that goal peacefully, talks are been held in Vienna,Austria,where Albanian and Serb negotiators intend to solve “the technical issues”. Some of the worst crimes in Europe, after Hitler, were perpetrated successively in Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and finally in Kosova. A consensus has been reached that the sovereignty of Kosova needs to be determined, and agreed upon, by the international community. Afew basic principles have been set and approved, namely

a) No Serbian return to Kosova. b) No partititon of Kosova. c)No union of Kosova with another State, mainly with Albania. d)Kosova has to be a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic state. e) The will of the majority of the population in Kosova must be respected.
We know all too well that Serbia finds it difficult to accept the new proposals. Indeed, under your leadership, Serbia is mobilized to oppose it. It will be in vain! Your claims on Kosova are seen as being irrational and deviating from the truth.

What is left, according to you, is the language of threat.” The independence of Kosova will be a destabilizing element in the entire region.” This language of fear is unaccep-table in the year 2006 . The fascist Serb Radical Party threatens open war. Bishop Artemije threatens of a “holy war in Kosova”, “to liberate our lands and brothers”. This sounds ominously similar to the cries of 1878, 1913, 1918, and 1945. However, the world has changes, and Serbia must change “sous peine de mort!” ( or die). It is my sincere hope that the leadership of Serbia will do all it can to prevent the consequences of this threat. The Balkans, especially since 1991, are fed up with war, crimes, and atrocities and will not accept new deaths and destructions.

Excellency, I invite you to visit Kosova, this time without a machine gun in your hands. Come and see her mass graves, more than 200.000 households destroyed, mos-ques, churches and other objects of worship ruined or desecrated by Serbia, come and see the tens of thousands of widows and orphans without a roof over their heads, the destruction of the infrastructure brought by Serbian Army, Police, and gangster forces, the poverty that tortures that people, the pervasive fear that chokes them and cuts the enthusiasm for a new beginning. Please, come and see the rivers of blood and tears shed by the victimized Albanians on Kosova as a result of Serbian savage atrocities.

Then, I am confident that you, as the rest of the world did, will come to the conclusion that it’s time for Serbia to settle down, to meditate, to ask for forgiveness, to atone. And to let the people of Kosova enjoy their newlyfound freedom, and the forthcoming independence.

Please, Excellency, accept the assurances of my high consideration. Sincerely yours,
Sami Repishti Ph.D.
City University of New York
Former political prisoner (1946-56)
Human rights activist