Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Putin lying again, compares Kosovo to Crimea

Vladimir Putin is a lair. He has been lying to the Russian people and the rest of world for a long time now, but he has taken lying  to a whole new level with regards to his stances regarding Ukraine. Lying is  probably one of those skills he must have gained as an undercover agent in East Germany.As they say, old habits die hard. We get it: Putin can't help himself, he can lie with a straight face!

But, he has now taken lying to another horizon. Yesterday, he gave a long interview to the German public television ARD where he discussed a wide range of issues, among others the topic of  Crimea.  Attempting to justify the Crimean invasion, he declared with a straight face that no international laws were violated when Russia invaded Crimea and  compared it to Kosovo, saying the population declared independence via referendum. This got him Pinocchio awards from several European newspapers, including Build, which published a story titled: PUTINOCCHIO: Wie der 
Kreml-Chef die Welt belügt accompanied by the very appropriate picture below:

Foto: imago/ITAR-TASS
So that tells you  how successful Putin was with  his lies. To help Putin come to his senses, here are the 10 reasons why Crimea is so very different from Kosovo:

1. Kosovo was just one of the conflicts in the process of Yugoslavia's destruction.  The complete destruction of Yugoslavia took over 10 years of active conflicts and another 20-30 years before that  of political infighting with well drawn out lines. The situation in Yugoslavia was a well recognized international conflict. No such thing existed in Crimea, where before Russian invasion there wasn't even a single major  protest clamoring separation from Ukraine, let alone any recognized conflict. There was not a recognized international conflict in Crimea before Russian invasion or any attempts to resolve it. The whole thing started and ended in less than 4 weeks.

2. Kosovo was part of a federal state, which no longer exists. Ukraine was not a federal state and it still exists.

3. When NATO intervened in Kosovo, there was an ongoing armed conflict with over 5,000 dead, including numerous massacres of civilians, rape and torture.  Add to that 100's of thousands of displaced people (internally and external) and 100's of raised villages, with plans to do more. This was already happening when NATO intervened to stop it. Furthermore, NATO countries negotiated with Milosevic for years to try to get Milosevic to change his ways. In Crimea, there was no active armed conflict, no one was being killed, no villages were being raised to the ground and there no plans of removing the majority population from Crimea. So Russia intervened to start a conflict, not to stop one.  Furthermore, Russia did not try to negotiate any perceived injustices with the Ukrainian authorities.

4. NATO did not annex Kosovo within political boundaries of one of its countries, preferring instead to have Kosovo, Serbia and UN engage in almost 10 years of negotiations  to figure out the status of Kosovo. Russia annexed Crimea without any negotiations with the UN, Ukraine or anyone else.

5. After years of negotiations, Independence of Kosovo was recommended as the way forward by the UN mandated negotiator  Martti Ahtisaari. Crimea's annexation was not discussed by any legitimate international body. Russia annexed Crimea in direct contradiction of international law.

6. Independence of Kosovo was declared by the legitimate authorities of Kosovo. Election that produced those authorities were overseen and monitored by UN and OSCE. The Referendum in Crimea was not declared by any internationally recognized legal body. The referendum itself was not monitored by any independent monitors. As a result, the declaration of the referendum and the results cannot have any international legitimacy. 

7. The independence of Kosovo was validated by the highest legal body in the world, The International  Court of Justice. No legal international body has given any validation to the Crimean annexation, so it has no legitimacy in the eye of the world.

8. The independence of Kosovo has been recognized by the majority of UN members, including the vast majority of countries in Europe. The number of countries that have recognized the annexation of  Crime  is..........ZERO.

9. Despite all of the above, Russia has been claiming that Kosovo's independence was illegal and has not recognized it. Yet, Putin now says Crimea is the same as Kosovo. So, in Russian eyes, what they did in Crimea was illegal? In essence, Russians knew what they are doing in Crimea was illegal and they did it anyway? Isn't that called willful breaching of international law? But Putin said Russia did not break any international law? It's clear Putin does not have any coherence in his arguments and he is big hypocrite. 

10. Putin is a liar. Period

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Kosovo PM Thaci refuses to give up power, uses stacked constitutional court to prevent opposition from forming new institutions

Kosovo held it's last parliamentary election on June 8th, 2014. Observes from OSCE and other organization raved at the time that these election were the most proper election Kosovo ever held. Furthermore, all competing parties accepted the election as having been fair and proper. A coalition lead by the PM's party, PDK, lead in the results, gathering 37 seats out of 120. The combined Albanian opposition parties got 63 seats. The remaining seats are reserved for the minority parties.

Almost two months after the election were held, there has been zero progress in forming of new institutions. The parliament elected it's leader from the opposition ranks, but the PM Thaci's party took that decision to the stacked Constitutional Court. The court duly declared procedural irregularities and invalidated the decision. Two months later, back to the beginning.

Undemocratic Claim

The PM's party has been making an undemocratic and illogical claim that only it has the right to elect the head of parliament and the new PM. They are making a dubious argument that only the pre-election coalition that had the most votes has a claim to lead all major institutions. This is regardless of the fact that they cannot muster the necessary votes in the parliament to elect a dogcatcher with only 37 votes. Their claim is not supported by any common sense reading of the Constitution, and more importantly, it  is not an accepted democratic principle anywhere in the world. In parliamentary democracies, the majority is determined by the numbers in parliament. The problem here is that  Thaci and his ilk have gotten the stacked  Constitutional Court to agree with them, creating an unnecessary institutional crisis in the country.

Stacked Court
Given that composition of the court, it's decision to rule in favor of PM's party didn't surprise many people. The court is composed of men who have explicitly supported Thaci politically before they were elected as well as after. One of the judges, Kadri Kryeziu, was seen attending an election rally with the PM, an explicitly prohibited activity by the constitution. The court has yet to comment on this, despite being required to remove the offending judge. The head of the court, Enver Hasani, is seen as very close to PM's party and was seen meeting leaders of the party in restaurants prior to the decision.
Despite all this, however, some experts were hoping the judges  would not expose themselves to criticism by being so blatant in their decision towards their main benefactor, the PM. They were hoping against hope. With the decision to rule in favor of PM's party, the court has made a mockery of the justice system in Kosovo. In essence, they have said "screw the democratic principle of one man one vote. Only people who have installed us here should hold power". They have created an absurd situation where political parties that actually have the majority in parliament, cannot form new institution.

Power at all costs
PM Thaci has been in power now for the past 7 years, and during this time there was some significant progress in the way the country was governed, including to the economic infrastructure ( power, roads etc) , rule of law etc. However, in the past 3 or 4 years, the country has completely stagnated, with no visible progress anywhere. Corruption is widespread, but prosecution of it non existent. As a result, foreign investment has all but dried up, keeping unemployment rate the highest in Europe at over 50%. The PM's party has spread it's tentacles everywhere the state exists, including civil services, police, judges etc. The state is the party! It is no wonder Thaci will use every trickery and scheme to remain in power. There is a very high chance he or some of his close friends will be prosecuted for the misdeeds if they lose power. But even if they don't get prosecuted, they will lose access to all the state privileges. In Kosovo, without access to state institutions and their funds, you are nothing. All business are connected to the state/party. Given all this, Thaci wants to remain in power at all costs, damned be the country, damned be democracy!

What's next?
The Kosovo parliament is supposed to reconvene again in one weeks time to try to re-elect it's leadership. The PM's party is insisting again that only it can propose the leader of the legislature and it is using the ceremonial head of parliament, Flora Brovina ( oldest deputy leads the first ceremonial session), to prevent opposition from even proposing their candidate. Instead, it is making an absurd assertion that the opposition has to vote for it's candidate. If nothing changes by next week and the parliament fails to elect it's leadership, the country goes to another round of unnecessary election. One hopes that Thaci will come to his senses soon and let the normal democratic process play its course in parliament, but one cannot hope too much with him. He is likely to drag the country through mud if it means he will remain even a caretaker PM for a few more months. What a shame!


Friday, October 26, 2012

Wesley Clark puts name behind synthetic liquid fuel project in Kosovo

Good report from NPR on a business venture former NATO General Wesley Clark is doing in Kosovo.  The  Canadian company he leads, Envidity inc, is  investing up to $5.6 million dollars to extract synthetic liquid fuel from coal.  If this pans out, the plan calls for producing up to 100,000 barrels of synthetic diesel daily.

Given the 15,000 metric tons of proven reserves of lignite coal, this will do wonders for Kosovo's economy. More investment is certainly needed to reach the full potential, but no doubt this could be a game changer for the country.
Listed to the report here:

More at Marketplace:
Wesley Clark puts name behind Kosovo coal project | Marketplace.org


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Historic meeting between Prime Ministers of Kosovo and Serbia

Kosovo PM  Thaci (second from the left) and Serbian PM Dačić meeting with the EU Foreign Policy chief  Baroness Ashton. This is the first time a Serbian leader has meet with a Kosovo leader since Kosovo effectively separated from Serbia in June of  1999. 

This is a huge change in Serbia's relation with Kosovo. Finally Serbia has come to the conclusion that Kosovo is its neighbor and not its province. Serbian PM is now talking reconciliation and referring to Thaci as Kosovo PM (PM: It is time for historic agreement).  Thaci is talking "New Chapter" in relation to Serbia. What a change from a few years ago when Dačić was referring to Thaci in derogatory terms such  as the  "snake"etc. Don't want to be carried away with this, but this a major change in thinking in Serbia.

 It seems the new government has concluded that it needs to change course and leave the 'Kosovo je Srbija" nonsense to the dustbin of history. Other Serbian politician are also talking more reconciliation and less "Kosovo je Srbija". Vuk Drašković is talking Kosovo is Serbia’s special neighbor and a Serbian FM is visiting Albanian for the first time in a long time.

So, what gives? What is causing Serbia to change course all the sudden? It's hard to get into their thinking, but its been very apparent for the past 6 months that Serbia's relation with EU was negatively affected visa vie it's relation with Kosovo. EU politicians have been opining in weekly bases that Serbia needs to have good relation with Kosovo if it wants to join EU. In Serbia, this has been taken as a code word that Serbia needs to recognize Kosovo. The government  has been trying to ignore these pronouncement with various excuses, such as  this is not EU policy, it's his/her personal opinion and other such variations. However, in mid October EU produced a document that explicitly mentioned Kosovo's sovereignty in context of what Serbia had to do to get closer to EU. This came as shock to the Serbian government, and it seems to have been the straw to broke the camel's back. This seems to have brought  Serbia to its senses.

Hard to say where we go from here, but there is no doubt this is  a major change in Serbia's thinking visa vie Kosovo. It will be interesting to see how this change will manifest itself in practice. Will Serbia now gradually give up on Kosovo? Will they now disown the parallel structures on the North? What will they ask in return? Will the EU carrot suffice for this or will Dačić continue insisting on partition? Is Kosovo government willing to offer something new to the Serb community?  We will have to wait for these questions to be answered, but at this juncture it seems Serbia and Kosovo have both decided their relations with the EU are too important to be jeopardized. 

Ferik F.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Constitutional Court in Kosovo says election of President was illegal, doesn't explain why

Kosovo's Constitutional Court ruled the other day that the election of President Pacolli by the parliament a month ago was unconstitutional according to Article 86 of the constitution.

For your reference, Article 86 of Kosovo Constitution is listed below:

1. The President of the Republic of Kosovo shall be elected by the Assembly in secret ballot.
2. The election of the President of the Republic of Kosovo shall take place no later than thirty (30) days before the end of the current president’s term of office.
3. Every eligible citizen of the Republic of Kosovo may be nominated as a candidate for President of the Republic of Kosovo, provided he/she presents the signatures of at least thirty (30) deputies of the Assembly of Kosovo. Deputies of the Assembly can only sign for one candidate for the President of the Republic.
4. The President of the Republic of Kosovo shall be elected by a two thirds (2/3) majority of all deputies of the Assembly.
5. If a two thirds (2/3) majority is not reached by any candidate in the first two ballots, a third ballot takes place between the two candidates who received the highest number of votes in the second ballot, and the candidate who receives the majority of all deputies of the Assembly shall be elected as President of the Republic of Kosovo.
6. If none of the candidates is elected as President of the Republic of Kosovo in the third ballot, the Assembly shall dissolve and new elections shall take place within forty five(45) days.

President Pacolli was elected by the parliament in the third round of voting with 62 votes pro, 4 against and 1 invalid vote( out of 120). Opposition boycotted the proceedings and there was no opposing candidate.

Kosovo's Constitutional Court is made of 9 members: Only 4 of which are Albanians, one is a Serb, one is from the Turkish minority and 3 other are "International" Judges.

My opinion about this:

In all frankness,Kosovo's Constitutional Court decision lacks the seriousness and professionalism one would expect of a high court. Those judges who made this decision either haven't read the Constitution, they don't seem to care about it or they just made a political decision instead of judicial one. It's so bad, they haven't actually stated with precision why the Constitution was broken and by whom. Article 86 has 6 section, but they don't care to opine which section was broken.

They allude to the fact that the constitution refers to 2/3 majority needed to have to elect the President on the first two rounds. Guess, what: the President was not elected in the first two rounds. There is nothing in the constitution that says 2/3 of parliament needs to be present in order for the round of voting to be valid.

Some media have talked about the lack of opposing candidate as referred to in section 5 as a possible culprit. Section 5 refers to an opposing candidate, but there is no requirement in there that there be one in order for the voting to be valid. If those who wrote a constitution wanted to have an opposing candidate, they could have said " an opposing candidate is required". It's very clear to anyone who reads the Constitution, Section 5 of Article 83 is designed to be a way out of a stalemate if no candidate gets 2/3 of votes.

Another possible violation has to do with the pause between the 2nd and 3rd rounds of voting. There was a long pause between the 2nd and 3rd rounds & it was used by the coalition to lobby more MP to vote for the President.There is no merit to this whatsoever because there is nothing zero nada in the Constitution that prohibits a pause.This is a procedural matter of Parliament & Constitutional Court does not regulate the procedural matters of parliament. If we use their logic, US Congress here in the US would have to be referred to the Supreme Court in a weekly basis. No court can regulate the internal working of a parliament in a democracy, but Kosovo's Constitutional Court doesn't seem to understand that. They seem to think they have a say in every matter that is brought to their attention.

The final nail in the coffin of this decision is that none of the supposed action the court finds "unconstitutional" were conducted by President Pacolli himself.So, who broke the law and who should be punished for it? The court does not say! You make a decision, but you do not label the violators and the punishment? In any other democratic country, this decision would be laughed at and would not be taken seriously. These judges have a made a laughing stock of this important institution.

It's just sad that the people of Kosovo have to deal with this kind of trivial stuff instead of real issues such as corruption, 50% unemployment, 10%+ inflation, lack of economic development and lack of further recognition for the country.
One cannot but question the impartiality of this court or at the very least it's professionalism.There is nothing in Article 86 to support their decision & there is no other precedent either.Plain and simple wrong!

Decision below: 03/30:
The decision and the dissenting options are here. Two out of three international judges dissented. It's unfortunate the dissenting judges were in the minority because their analyses makes far more logical sense and its far more in line with the constitution. They point out the logic and the decision by the majority, if fully implemented, leads to absurdity because Kosovo may never be able to elect a president because of the requirement that there be two opposing candidates.Given that each candidate must be nominated by 30 MP, we could have a situation where a candidate for President cannot be elected with 91 votes, because there cannot be an opposing candidate because he or she lacks the 30 votes necessary to get elected. This is absurd in addition to being undemocratic.

Below is the well argued dissenting argument by Judge Robert Carolan ( from US State of Dakota) and Judge Almiro Rodrigues ( Portuguese, one of the Judges in the panel that ruled Genocide was committed in Bosnia) :

We respectfully dissent from both the Judgment and the Conclusions of the Majority of the Court in this Referral.

The Applicants and the Respondent agree as to the facts that follow.
LOn 22 February 2011, the Assembly of Kosovo commenced voting for the election of the President of the Republic of Kosovo.
2.The only candidate nominated was ML Behgjet PacollL
3.When the first ballot was cast, there were 67 Deputies present in the Assembly. Mr.Pacolli received 54 votes.
4.When the second ballot was cast, there were 67 Deputies present. Mr. Pacolli received 58 votes.
5.Before the third ballot was cast there was a break of less than one hour.
6.When the third ballot was cast, there were at least 65 Deputies present. Mr. Pacolli then received 62 votes.

We will consider three main issues: (1) the quorum, (2) number of candidates and
(3)consequences of the Court's Judgment.

The Majority, at least implicitly, erroneously concludes that the definition of a "quorum" for purposes of electing a President is the same as the minimal number of votes that a successful candidate for President must receive to be elected and that this minimal number of voters must be present when opening the session.

A quorum is different than voting. A quorum is "the minimum number of members of a deliberative assembly necessary to conduct business".l Voting2 by the members of legislative body is part of the business of that legislative body. The rules applicable to each can be, and often are, different.

Pursuant to Paragraph 3 of Article 69 of the Constitution, "The Assembly of
Kosovo has its quorum when more than one half (1/2) of all Assembly deputies are present". That provision is the only one mentioning a quorum. The Rules of Procedure of the Assembly also establish the same quorum for the Assembly, which is more than one-half of all deputies (61 deputies). That quorum is kept unchanged during the session3, regardless of the business of the Assembly even though the minimum number of votes to take a decision may change.

Therefore, pursuant to both the Constitution and the Rules of Procedure of the Assembly, a successful candidate for President, on either the first or the second ballot cast by members of the Assembly, must receive the votes of two-thirds (80 deputies) of the votes of all deputies.

On the third ballot to be elected as President, the successful candidate must receive the vote of more than one-half (61 deputies) of all the deputies.
In this case, on 22 February 2011 there was a quorum of the Assembly because between 67 and 65 deputies were present.

The only candidate nominated did not receive the required two-thirds votes (80 deputies' vote) that he needed to be elected President on either the first or second ballot. However, on the third ballot, the only candidate nominated received 62 votes, more than the minimum number of votes (61) required by both the Constitution and the Rules of Procedure.

The drafters of the Constitution clearly understood the difference between a quorum and voting by allowing the Assembly on the third ballot to elect a President with a different number of minimum votes but never changing the number of members that had to be present to have a quorum.

A rule that would require a quorum of 2/3s would allow a small minority of the members (41 deputies) to prevent the majority of parliamentarians from doing the business and will of the majority by simply refusing to meet and do the work they took an oath of office to do. It would prevent the majority from discharging the duties they were duly elected to do. It effectively would allow the minority to thwart the democratic will of the majority. It would also prevent the Assembly from acting pursuant to Paragraph 4 of Article 86 of the Constitution and elect a President on a simple majority vote of the deputies of the Assembly. Such an interpretation would make Paragraph 4 of Article 86 meaningless. The drafters of the Constitution specifically designed the Constitution in such a way so as to prevent the minority from thwarting the will of the majority.

The Majority erroneously concludes that the Assembly cannot elect a President of the Republic unless there is more than one candidate.
A successful candidate must be nominated by at least 30 deputies of the Assembly.
Therefore, a maximum of four and a minimum of one candidate might exist. However, the Majority erroneously concludes that the Assembly of Kosovo cannot elect a President of Kosovo unless at least 60 deputies nominate two different candidates for President even in a situation where they may all support just one candidate.
As the Majority implicitly concedes, under its interpretation of the Constitution the first President of Kosovo, his Excellency, the late Ibrahim Rugova, could not have been elected President of the Republic by acclamation in 2002 even if that was the will of the entire Assembly. Certainly the drafters of the Constitution never intended such a result.

In fact, the Majority clearly misreads paragraph 5 of Article 86 of the Constitution by inferring that it requires that there be at least two candidates. If two candidates were required, the drafters of paragraph 5 of Article 86 could have and would have stated that there shall be more than one candidate. Indeed, in the following paragraph of the Constitution, paragraph 6, the very same drafters of the Constitution specifically used the word "shall" when they stated what would happen if none of the candidates was elected in the third ballot. Furthermore, the expression "any" under paragraph 5 of Article 86 of the Constitution, in accordance with all dictionaries, means "one or more".

Thus, "any candidate" means "one or more candidate". In addition, the combination of a two thirds (2/3) majority for the two first ballots and the majority for the third ballot also mean that one or more candidates may exist, as the two thirds (2/3) majority is more appropriate for a running off when more than one candidate and majority for only one candidate.

The fact that the drafters of the Constitution chose not to use the same language anywhere in the Constitution with respect to how many candidates must be nominated in order for the Assembly to elect a President but specifically used the term "shall" with respect to the consequences of the Assembly not electing a President by the third ballot clearly means that the drafters never intended that there had to be more than one candidate for President before the Assembly could elect a President.

There is no requirement that there must be more than one candidate for President before the Assembly can elect a President. The only requirement in the Constitution in this regard is that if there are two candidates when the third ballot is cast, the winning candidate must receive a majority of the votes of the deputies (61).

If the Constitution were to be interpreted as requiring at least two or more candidates, it could prevent the election of a candidate that the majority of the elected deputies of the Assembly supported. If such a requirement existed it could easily be met by simply having 30 other deputies sign a document supporting the other candidate but then voting for the popular candidate.

This interpretation would create a sham and mockery of the election system for the highest elected office in Kosovo. The drafters of the Constitution could not have intended such an illogical result. The Constitutional Court does not have the authority to order the Assembly to nominate more than one candidate.
In sum, the foregoing is in accordance with a systematic and teleological interpretation which allows the conclusion that the main purpose of the Constitution is guaranteeing the regular functioning of the political institutions and ensuring the political stability.

Furthermore, we cannot say that, being the President the head of the State and guarantor of the unity of the peoples, the President must necessarily be elected by two thirds (2/3) of the votes of all deputies, as, even when there is more than one candidate, the President can be elected only by majority of the votes.


The Majority concludes, and it is undisputed, that, on 22 February 2011, the Assembly had three rounds of balloting for the Office of President of the Republic. At the conclusion of the third round of balloting the President of the Assembly declared that Mr. Behgjet Pacolli had been elected President. This Court cannot change the facts or re-write what happened on February 22. Three ballots were cast for the Office of President of the Republic. The President of the Assembly then declared Mr. Behgjet Pacolli the elected President of the Republic of Kosovo. If that election process violated the Constitution, paragraph 6 of the Constitution is very clear with respect to what the Constitutional remedy is: "If none of the candidates is elected as President of the Republic of Kosovo in the third ballot, the Assembly shall dissolve and new elections shall take place within forty five (45) days". (emphasis added.) The Constitutional Court does not have the authority to order the Assembly to nominate at least two candidates for the office of President or to order the Assembly to revote for a fourth time.

However, at the outset, when the Court determines that there was a violation of the Constitution in the election procedure of the Assembly, the Constitution then mandates that the Assembly shall dissolve and new national elections of the Assembly shall take place within forty five days. By declaring that the election process on 22 February 2011 violated the Constitution, this Court declared that the Assembly had not elected a President after the third round of balloting. The Constitution then mandates the dissolution of the Assembly and new national elections within 45 days. The Court's elToneous decision of today, which cannot be without consequences, forces that result. The Court by simply declaring the election process on 22 February 2011 violated the Constitution implicitly acknowledges that it does not have the authority to order the Assembly to re-vote. Since the Court also does not have the power to declare the election unconstitutional without a remedy, the decision of the Majority forces the dissolution of the Assembly and new national elections. Respectfully


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Serbian Mercenaries Fighting on Behalf of Gaddafi

A Serbian newspaper claims it has received information from the military that indicates Serbian mercenaries are fighting to protect Muammar Gaddafi. The source in the Serbian military claims the so called " dogs of war" were the first to arrive in Tripoli and are now helping patrol the city and presumably killing civilians as reported by other agencies. It goes on to say that Gaddafi trusts Serb mercenaries because they are "good"(at killing?) and because Libya has had a long relationship working with Serbs over the past 20 years. Apparently Serbs have done this before in 1990's when Gaddafi hired them to fight the Islamists.

This information is now being collaborated by first hand eyewitness reports from Tripoli. A newspaper in India received the following information from one of its sources: "Serbian mercenary pilots are helping the air force in Mirage bombing runs in cities, including the capital Tripoli". Various other individuals report via twitter and other website the same story.

The Alo newspaper from Serbia(screen shot on the right) goes on to say that these mercenaries, some of whom work in various African countries as hired guns and other live in Serbia, immediately swung in action after being contacted by Libyans. They left their current jobs because Libyans are apparently paying them in 10's of thousands of dollars. According to the newspapers military source these are former members of Serbian Special Forces military group called "Red Berets" who was disbanded in 2003 because too many of them were found to have connections with criminals and with the major massacres in Bosnia and Kosovo. The same people who brought us the Srebrenica and Račak massacres are now back in action again.God have mercy on Libyan civilians!

Now we know why Gaddafi's son Seif al-Islam Gaddafi referenced Yugoslavia a few days ago when he essentially threaten to repeat the bloodshed Yugoslavia saw in 1990's if protesters didn't stop. These mercenaries must have reminded him of Yugoslavia -there is no other reasons why one would compare the conflict in Yugoslavia to the current one in Libya.

It's also worth mentioning that Lybia's relation with Serbia goes much further than these mercenaries.Serbia's Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremić has bragged recently about his countries close relationship with Tripoli and its refusal to recognize the Independence of Kosovo. Not a single word from him or the Serbian government over these atrocities in Libya and these allegations that Serbian citizen are actively taking part in them. The silence is deafening.

Update (02/25/2011 at 9:37):
Ben Wedeman of CNN just reported on Piers Morgan Show that more Serbian as well as Ukrainian mercenaries are pouring in Libya to help prop up Gaddafi.Just confirms what I wrote above.

Second Update (02/28/2011):
Gaddafi gave his first International Interview since the crisis to Serb TV PINK:

How on earth a small TV station such as TV PINK gets such an interview?

I had to post this final update 03/21/2011:

Icing on the cake:A Facebook group in Serbia supporting Gaddafi got over 31,000 supporters just two days after being created. It's titled: Support for Muammar al Gaddafi from the people of Serbia.
I rest my case!

What I wrote a few days ago is being reported by news agencies 3/24:
Libyan opposition accuses Serbs of supporting Gaddafi. Says multiple online support groups from Serbia with 50K + members have been waging a campaign against them and in support of Gaddafi.

From B92:

The movement also noted that "for such a small country as Serbia, with a relatively modest number of internet users", organizing more than 50,000 actively involved Gaddafi’s supporters who jointly act online "represented a grand project that demanded a lot of work, commitment and money".

“We suspect that there are powerful political organizations and political parties behind this pro-Gaddafi movement and we call on the international community to urgently do something about it,” the Libyan opposition movement concluded

There is no doubt he has strong links with Serbs and Serbia.
Ferik F.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Kosovo: Media lynching Of Behgjet Pacolli

Behgjet Pacolli may be about to become the President of Kosovo, but he first needs to survive the vicious media lynching he has faced over the past week. Ever since it became clear a week ago that he was on his way to the Presidency, some media in Kosovo and elsewhere have waged a coordinated and disgusting attack against him. He has been called a Russian spy, a Slavic sympathizer (a big no no in Kosovo),a traitor and some have even question whether he is Albanian at all.

The campaign seems to be directed by the Koha Group who publishes Koha Ditore and also owns the Koha TV. Both, the newspaper and the TV, seem to have ditched any sense of professionalism and have gone on an attack mode against the future President. Koha Group is owned by Veton Surroi,whose father, Rexhai Surroi, was a prominent Ambassador of Former Yugoslavia. The irony of these attacks is that Surroi, who harbors Presidential ambitions himself, has been accused over the years of being pro Slavic ( a.k.a pro Serb) on account of his fathers work for Yugoslavia.

Mr. Pacolli initially ignored these attacks, but the other day he was forced to issue a statement denying all allegations against him and essentially saying he feels physically threatened by the propaganda.

Here are some of the things that have appeared on Koha Ditore and other media owned by the Koha Group:

"There are suspicions that Pacolli is Russian Trojan Horse",
" Pacolli unacceptable",
" Pacolli: I want to be the Tito of Kosovo",
" Pacolli: Serbia is a mother to Kosovo",
" Pacolli: Kosovo cannot do without Serbia".

This is just a sample of the things they have said. Other comments on their online website compare Pacolli to the illiterate thug Ramzan Kadyrov, Russia's puppeteer in Chechnya. The implication is clear here: Pacolli is a Russian/Serbian puppeteer and hence he will work against interest of Kosovo. The question is, are there any facts to seriously back these claims? Well, I took a look at the context he made these comments and all of his work over the years and there is nothing to support this slanderous campaign against him.

There is no There There:

The Russian Trojan Horse Allegation:

This allegation is based on the fact that Pacolli and his Mabetex Group have done major construction work in Russia, making him million of dollars. He essentially build and renovated all of the government buildings used by the Kremlin,including the parliament and the White House( see video here: starts at 4:10). This he did in early 1990's, when Boris Yeltsin was President.

So the questions arises: For such a small company ( at the time),how did he get these major contracts? There appears to be a reasonable explanations: In early 1990 he was working on a small project in Yakutia where he befriended Mayor Pavel Borodin who later became head of Presidential Property Management Department. In essence Pacolli knew the right people in the right places. There were allegation that he essentially paid off this person, which is quite possible in Russia of early 1990', but there was an investigation by the Russian prospector which later was dropped out for lack of evidence. In fact, Mr. Pacolli sued the lead Russian prosecutor Yuri Skuratov for libel and won the case and one million dollar in damages.
Again, Pacolli appear to have known the right people at the right places. The fact that he has not won any major contract in Russia in over 10 years, appears to support this theory.Kudos to him for winning this contract and for doing such an incredible job building the Kremlin (and now the new capital of Kazakhstan, Astana). Pacolli does not appear to have any kind of connection whatsoever with the current folks running the Kremlin. Nothing to see here but another possible slanderous lawsuit again the Koha Group.

Pacolli: I want to be the Tito of Kosovo

This, and the other comments where he appears to suggest Serbia was the mother of Kosovo, were made to tabloid Croatian and Serbian tabloid newspapers known for wild sensationalism.When one reads these interviews in context, it's clear he was attempting to use metaphors to describe certain action. The " I want to be the Tito of Kosovo" in fact was a metaphor to say that I want to do good for Kosovo as Tito did for Yugoslavia. In former Yugoslavia most people, at the time,thought that TITO did some good work, rising the standard of living everywhere. The " Serbia is Kosovo's mother" was a poor metaphor in Pacollis' part. He was in effect saying, Kosovo had to split from Serbia just like a child is taken a way from an abusive mother. The tabloid media converted this into: Pacolli said Serbia is Kosovo's mother. No such thing was ever said or implied. The case is closed. In fact there was never a case to begin with.

The case for Pacolli to be the President of Kosovo:

In fact a case can be made that Pacolli is exactly what Kosovo needs right now.First, he is simply the most credible person in the international scene. On his own accord and with his own resources he has in fact done more to promote the Independence of Kosovo than the government itself.He claims that as a result of his direct lobbying 25 countries recognized the independence of Kosovo. Whether 25 is the right number is perhaps a matter of some debate, but there appears to be strong evidence he was more effective in his lobbying effort than the government itself. I would argue the Kosovo government has proved itself to be very weak in this area without any ability to organize initiatives on his own. They have mostly relegated themselves to meeting world ambassadors at UN gatherings with little to show for it.

Second, Pacolli appears to have on his network of connection an incredible number of world leaders outside of Europe. This is what Kosovo needs: a chance to make a case to these countries. The Kosovo government in fact has never made a case to leaders of these countries. I heard Pacolli recently say that most of the leaders of these small countries he convinced to recognize Kosovo told him that they have never received a request from Kosovo for recognition.It's not unheard of for diplomatic cables to get lost, especially those coming from frankly unimportant countries such as Kosovo.

It's very important for Kosovo to have at least 100 countries recognize it over the next two years ( 25 more) so as to prevent Serbia from claiming that most countries do not recognize Kosovo. Right now Serbia FM Vuk Jeremic keeps going around the world asking countries to not recognize Kosovo because " most have not recognized it". Some countries feel comfort in wanting to be with the majority. Serbia should be defeated on this last claim, and I believe Pacolli can be very instrumental in this respect. In normal circumstances I would oppose a billionaire to become a leader of any country, but Pacolli fits the bill for the current needs of Kosovo.He has the wherewithal to present Kosovo's case in Capitals outside of Europe. Kosovo has been recognized by Europe, now the challenge is beyond it in Asia, Middle East, Africa and Latin America. Pacolli, at the very least, will give Vuk Jeremic of Serbia a run for his money....literally!

Rumblings in Europe:

There appears to be some rumblings in Europe about Pacolli becoming the President of Kosovo. Newspapers in Germany and Switzerland have published similar allegation against him as the Koha Group ( why do they care if Kosovo's president is pro Russian anyway?). They appear to think he will take Kosovo's issue beyond their capitals. They are used to other Kosovo leaders kneeling in front of them and they get the sense he won't do that easily. Good news is he appears to have gotten the go ahead from US embassy in Kosovo, a must for any major decision in Kosovo.

Give him a chance

The bottom line here is the allegation against Pacolli are scandalous and without any merit whatsoever. Koha Group, who used to be a credible media company, should be ashamed of itself for peddling Veton Surroi's hate and jealousy. Pacolli has proven himself in being very successful in the business world, something no other leader in Kosovo has done. He is not a man of empty words- he has actually proved that he can use his network of connections around the world to the benefit of Kosovo. Pacolli has what it takes to push Kosovo's agenda to the next level and we should all give him a chance.

Ferik F.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Serbia admits it will use organ trafficking"case" for diplomatic offensive against Kosovo

Hague Cooperation Council head Rasim Ljajić: Serbia will "enter a diplomatic offensive in all international forums".

Serb President Tadić: " Kosovo will be viewed differently" as a result of the report. "He also expressed hope that such an investigation would shed the light on the creation of the co-called state of Kosovo."

Goes to show Serbia is not interested in Justice, but in scoring political points.What country in the world freely admits that they will try to score political points out of a possible crime? That means the investigation was done in such a way as to produce the needed results. This strategy is well known in the western circles and it doesn't fly.

I would be happy to see anyone involved in such a crime be sent to the slammer for the rest of his life, but let's not kid ourselves- there is not a single shred of evidence to support the claim that organ extraction was done at this house or let alone Thaci was involved in it. This must be one of the most investigated case in the whole of Balkans without a single shred of forensic evidence [ a.k.a bodies on the freezer trucks dumped in the river] which lends credence to the theory that it's done for political purposes.

Serbia, enjoy your political limelight for the next few weeks, but when you are done with that, give it a shot and see if you can find some of the 1500 Albanians who are still missing from the war.I know that's not going to help you score political points, but it might, just might help justice prevail for the families of these people. These are real people with real names, real birthdaysand actual faces, not some phantom creatures once seen living in colored houses.

Ferik F.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Wikileaks cables- Kosovo: Ambassador Dell: Kosovo celebrates second anniversary with success and challenges

DE RUEHPS #0084/01 0481534
P 171534Z FEB 10




E.O. 12958: N/A

PRISTINA 00000084 001.2 OF 005


1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Kosovo celebrated the second anniversary of its
independence on February 17. These two years have seen political
stability that has allowed the country to create legitimate new
institutions, including the Constitutional Court and the Kosovo
Security Force, and to start fulfilling its Ahtisaari Plan
obligations, such as decentralization. Challenges remain, and
Pristina and the international community must focus on moving the
country towards eventual membership in the Euro-Atlantic
institutions that will act as a guarantor of Kosovo's viability and
security. Progress towards European Union membership and a role
within NATO will require a concerted focus on building institutions,
strengthening the country's system of justice, protecting its
multi-ethnicity, and developing its economy. In each of these
fields, Kosovo has been active in laying foundations for progress.
However, we cannot ignore that work remains. Political parties need
to move beyond their regional bases for support and cooperate better
in pursuit of national goals. The GOK, with more effective support
from EULEX, needs to build on its initial reforms in the justice
sector and intensify its anti-corruption efforts. Pristina, with
the help of the international community, wants to replicate the
success of decentralization in southern Kosovo that empowers Serb
communities and extend the same hope to northern Kosovo, where
Belgrade maintains an illegal stranglehold on municipal governance.
The GOK must use its string of economic reforms and privatizations
as a springboard to motivate private-sector growth. Eventual
membership in the European Union and other Euro-Atlantic
institutions will mitigate the challenge that Kosovo's small size
poses. The largest threats to this agenda come both from Belgrade
and the risk that Brussels will not use its influence there to
compel Belgrade's greater cooperation in allowing Kosovo to develop
and strengthen. END SUMMARY


2. (SBU) The Republic of Kosovo turned two years old on February 17.
It has been two years marked by a number of successes. Most
notably, we have seen peace and government stability. Kosovo has
taken responsibility for ensuring its own democracy with elections
that it ran on its own for the first time since the end of the
conflict. Serbs in southern Kosovo participated in these elections
and are starting to accept that their survival runs through Pristina
rather than Belgrade. More Serbs, in fact, cast ballots in Kosovo's
municipal elections in November 2009 than in the illegitimate
parallel elections for local Serbian institutions that took place
throughout the year. New institutions, like the Constitutional
Court, are standing up and starting to earn respect as legitimate
bodies. Internationally, Kosovo has secured membership in both the
World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, and recognitions of
Kosovo's independence now stand at 65 countries. At the
International Court of Justice, Kosovo (supported by many in the
international community, including the United States) presented a
strong case to challenge Belgrade's contention that the country's
independence fails to accord with international law, and we expect
that even an ambiguous opinion from the Court will open the door for
more states to recognize the country's independence.

3. (SBU) In short, Kosovo has much to celebrate on its independence
day. We must not forget, however, that Kosovo is a nascent state
that still confronts challenges. Its stability is laudable, but
its political scene is fractious as inexperienced political parties
tend to elevate narrow interests above national goals. The legacy
of conflict and socialism has weakened its institutions, and its
economy remains a work in progress. Kosovo continues to look to the
international community for guidance, and it sees in this advice a
path that will lead to eventual membership in the Euro-Atlantic
community of nations, an end-goal that will act as a guarantor of
the country's independence, viability, and stability. In helping
Kosovo ultimately realize both European Union and NATO membership,
we need to focus our efforts in fostering the state's institutions,
developing the rule of law, promoting its multi-ethnicity, and
strengthening its economy.


PRISTINA 00000084 002.2 OF 005


4. (SBU) Kosovo's two largest parties -- the Democratic Party of
Kosovo (PDK) and the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) -- have
coexisted in stable government since national elections in November
2007. This stability has allowed the GOK to focus on several
post-independence institution building projects: embarking on
decentralization, standing up the Kosovo Security Force (KSF), and
creating the Constitutional Court, among others. The results have
been positive. We have seen Serbs turnout in large numbers to elect
Serb candidates for mayor and municipal assemblies in the new,
Ahtisaari-mandated, Serb municipalities. The KSF has broken ties
with the legacy of the Kosovo Liberation Army and is showing a
commitment to becoming a multi-ethnic force with its new pan-Kosovo
recruitment campaign. The Constitutional Court has earned
legitimacy as the final arbiter of elections-related disputes.

5. (SBU) The stability allows us to focus on critical economic
projects -- like the New Kosovo Power Plant and the privatization of
the state telecom, Post and Telecom of Kosovo -- with a stable
government partner focused on work rather than campaigning. It also
gives us time to encourage Kosovo politics to move beyond its
post-conflict paradigm, when all parties focused on independence to
the exclusion of other considerations. Left-right policy dimensions
do not yet exist here. The large political parties have not yet
developed policy platforms that extend beyond reaffirming promises
to their core supporters. The LDK still sees itself as the
standard-bearer for late President Ibrahim Rugova. The PDK and the
Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) are outgrowths of the KLA
and continue to appeal to regional support bases. These lingering
identities too often obfuscate priorities and encourage leaders, at
times, to forget that national interests must take precedence.


6. (SBU) On February 16, President Sejdiu appointed new Supreme
Court judges and prosecutors. This action builds on a years-long,
continuing process of vetting for professional competence judges and
prosecutors. The vetting process involves both Kosovo and
international community arbiters, and the GOK's full acceptance of
the results shows a commitment to developing an independent
judiciary that will start to fill the gaps that exist in Kosovo's
rule-of-law institutions. A similar process of interviews and
testing went into the selection of the Constitutional Court justices
last year, and we have seen this court grow in legitimacy over the
past several months. It has already had its own minor Marbury v.
Madison moment, exercising unchallenged authority over legislation
that controls the funding of the state radio and television
broadcaster. Although the ruling has invited critics and
controversy, none of these critics has questioned the role that the
Court has played. This is a significant step in shoring up the
independence of the country's judicial institutions.

7. (SBU) There remains a need for more progress. In January of this
year one of Kosovo's most widely read newspapers noted in an
editorial that Kosovo's system of justice needs deep reform. The
GOK, too, recognizes that it faces a challenge in developing its
legal institutions, and the Prime Minister has adopted a legislative
strategy for the year that prioritizes the rule of law. It is a
strategy that will modernize and reform the court structure,
invigorate the country's prosecutorial ranks, and create an
institutional foundation where objectivity has an opportunity to
flourish. Concurrent with this legislative strategy, the GOK --
with more active assistance from EULEX -- will need to strengthen
its anti-corruption efforts, a difficult challenge in a country this
small, where businesses often claim a political patron. Despite the
inherent difficulties, our institution-building efforts must
prioritize the rule of law and the fight against corruption. The
public needs to feel confident that laws apply to everyone. EULEX
needs to step up its activity and deliver long-promised arrests of
high-ranking corrupt public officials, or we run a risk that our
rule-of-law reforms will fall flat and leave the public with a
perception that the government is little more than a kleptocracy.


PRISTINA 00000084 003.2 OF 005


8. (SBU) Kosovo has made a strong start in fulfilling its promises
under the Ahtisaari plan to empower Serb communities. Serb mayors,
following municipal elections in November 2009, now hold office in
the new municipalities of Gracanica, Klokot, and Ranilug. In
Strpce, a pre-existing municipality where the Serb majority refused
to participate in the November 2007 elections, a new legitimate Serb
mayor has taken significant steps to undo the influence of the
illegal parallel municipal government that answers to Belgrade. In
Pristina, the central government is devolving more authority to all
municipalities, giving local residents a louder voice in shaping
their communities' future. Most refreshing is that that the GOK
continues to focus on these Serb communities, providing them with
significant new resources in the 2010 budget that will allow them to
strengthen the new municipal structures and develop their

9. (SBU) In northern Kosovo the challenges surrounding integration
are greater. Belgrade's legitimacy outstrips Pristina's in the
northern municipalities of Leposavic, Zubin Potok, and Zvecan, but
it may not be as unchallenged as Belgrade would like us to think. A
municipal preparation team (MPT) is now working in the planned new
municipality of North Mitrovica, which will hold a special election
later this year to select its inaugural government. This MPT is the
GOK's first step in building on the success of its decentralization
efforts in the South. It has adopted a comprehensive approach to
the North that entails an incremental "hearts and minds" campaign to
win greater support from northern Serbs to work with Kosovo
institutions. The illegal parallel institutions that control the
North are little more than fronts for organized crime, and the
region has become stagnant. The Serbs north of the Ibar River
consistently point to the absence of the rule of law there, and this
could prove to be the tool that begins their acceptance of Pristina
-- if the GOK and EULEX, together, can make meaningful progress in
shutting down the criminal networks that dominate throughout the
North. Pristina can offer hope, but it cannot achieve success on
its own. The Europeans need to contribute. EULEX needs to crack
down on organized crime, and Brussels must use the lure of EU
integration to compel Belgrade to play a helpful role in returning
law and order to northern Kosovo. Pristina cannot return hope to
the North if the international community will not stop Belgrade from
interfering in the region's development.


10. (SBU) At the central level Kosovo has laid a strong foundation
for economic reforms. In recent months the Assembly has adopted a
debt law that sets rational limits on the amount of debt that the
country can incur and should allow Kosovo to pursue a sovereign
credit rating that will permit it to finance its development. The
IMF has provided guidance on a Central Bank law that will both
strengthen the institution and open opportunities for more
development assistance. And, the GOK is demonstrating an ever
improving control of its budgetary process, delivering a
comprehensive and reasonable 2010 budget to the Assembly that
prioritizes critical needs. Amid these steps, privatization
continues. The GOK hosted a pre-bid conference for representatives
from three pre-qualified consortia interested in entering into a
public-private partnership for the Pristina Airport which we expect
will attract a 100 hundred million Euro investment, with a contract
awarded in April. Further cause for optimism is on the near horizon
with the upcoming privatization of the Kosovo Energy Corporation and
development of a new 500MW power plant that will put an end to the
rolling blackouts that still affect the country. When this plant
comes online, industry will find a more inviting environment for
setting up business.

11. (SBU) These important steps do not mask Kosovo's current
economic woes that leave many Kosovars without work. With an
unemployment rate of greater than 40 percent, the economy is
suffering. There is little industry, the private sector is
underdeveloped, and the country's greatest natural resource --
lignite -- is underutilized due to a dilapidated power
infrastructure. At present, the government remains the primary

PRISTINA 00000084 004.2 OF 005

engine that drives the economy, a model that is not sustainable.
Government contracts for road-building projects help to provide
temporary employment, but they do not offer the longer term economic
stability that the country requires. In the coming years, both the
government and the international donor community need to redirect
their efforts towards projects that will spark greater dynamism and
diversity within the private sector. The central reforms that have
occurred -- and will continue throughout the rest of the year --
provide hope that Kosovo will soon feature a strong economic
framework where private sector growth will necessarily follow.


12. (SBU) Kosovo's small size presents a challenge for its survival,
a challenge that the international community can help surmount with
its Euro-Atlantic institutions. The lure of these institutions --
in particular, the European Union and NATO -- are tantalizing
opportunities that focus the attention of the GOK. With a small
population where family and klan ties provide dominant affiliations,
Kosovo is susceptible to corruption that will retard development.
On the security front, Kosovo is currently a NATO protectorate, but
those forces are beginning to withdraw, and Kosovo leaders are
wondering whether or not the small (no more than 2500 active members
according to the Ahtisaari Plan) and lightly armed Kosovo Security
Force (KSF) can fill the void that KFOR will leave. The antidote
for both of these problems is membership within the European Union
and NATO, and this Euro-Atlantic orientation is the primary issue
that unifies the country's dueling political forces around a core
national vision.

13. (SBU) Prime Minister Thaci, daily, expresses his commitment to
readying Kosovo for EU consideration, and he regards the next
European Union Progress Report on Kosovo, due in June, with a mix of
anxiety and optimism. He wants to show the electorate that his
leadership is bringing Kosovo closer to Brussels, and he wants to be
the person who brings EU visa liberalization to Kosovo. Over the
longer term, the country needs EU membership as an outlet for its
young workforce and as a unified market for exports. It also needs
to define its future relationship with NATO. Every Kosovar desires
full membership in an institution second only to the United States
in the hagiography of Kosovo's recent history. The limitations that
the Ahtisaari Plan places on the Kosovo Security Force are going to
prove contentious over time, especially once KFOR withdraws
completely. Without an agreed and viable connection to NATO, we run
the risk that unofficial militias will again develop out of fear
that the country is unable to defend itself from aggression.


14. (SBU) Kosovo's independence has been a success story. The worst
fears -- large scale population movements and outbreaks of violence
-- following February 17, 2008, never materialized. The political
scene, while fractious, works together on the big issues, like
decentralization and establishing new institutions. The
international community and the Kosovars, themselves, can feel good
about the positive steps that have occurred over the past two years,
but we cannot ignore the challenges that remain. With each passing
day we need to see the GOK take more responsibility for securing the
country's future -- more activity on lobbying for recognitions, more
temperate political debate, greater respect for the rule of law, and
a concerted focus on national interests -- but there remains an ever
present role for the international community. Pristina cannot yet
extend its authority across its entire territory. The International
Steering Group on February 8 gave its blessing to a comprehensive
approach that will bolster Pristina's presence in the North, but
this approach will also require international support. Indeed, each
of the steps towards Kosovo's eventual membership in the European
Union will require international attention, and we need to make sure
that Brussels gives Pristina the same consideration that it pays to
Belgrade. Above all, the progress that Kosovo makes in overcoming
the challenges it confronts should play the determining role in the
country's qualifications for European Union and NATO membership. We
need to keep the GOK's focus squarely on its responsibilities while
reminding our European partners that they too have a role to play.

PRISTINA 00000084 005.2 OF 005


Wikileaks cables- Kosovo: Ambassador Dell: Strategy for Northern Kosovo an important step in the right direction


DE RUEHPS #0048/01 0291235
O 291235Z JAN 10




E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/14/2019

Classified By: Ambassador Christopher W. Dell for Reasons 1.4 (b), (d).

1. (C) Phil - I know that you are seeing Robert Cooper on
Tuesday, February 2, among other things, to discuss Kosovo
and the strategy for northern Kosovo. Integrating Kosovo
Serbs into Kosovo society and preserving the country's
territorial integrity is central to Kosovo's and the region's
long-term stability and has been a core U.S. policy objective
since 1999. In November 2009, we had a breakthrough that
ended ten years of Belgrade-imposed stalemate when thousands
of Serbs in southern Kosovo took part in Kosovo municipal
elections. We want to replicate that success in the north
and end the stalemate that has left Kosovo's future
uncertain. That fundamentally is what the so-called northern
strategy is about. We want to coax the population into
greater cooperation with Pristina, not to impose outcomes on

2. (C) Currently, we have a growing, if still somewhat
fragile, consensus within the international community in
Pristina that the time is right to end the years of drift on
the north and to alter the dynamic of a hardening partition
between the north and the rest of Kosovo. In part, this is
sparked by the new willingness among Kosovo Serbs to engage
with Kosovo institutions. It also stems from Belgrade's
increasingly aggressive actions in the north (e.g., seizure
of the Valac electrical substation; unilateral appointment of
Serb judges to illegal parallel courts) that have underscored
to representatives of the international community on the
ground the risks of continuing to do nothing. For ten years,
we told the Kosovars to trust us -- "let us handle the
situation, and we will protect you" -- and now the government
of independent Kosovo is increasingly asking us when we are
going to make good on that commitment. KFOR is drawing down
(in six months NATO could take a decision to cut its forces
in half). We need to take advantage of a unique opportunity
that has crystallized and act now while we still have a KFOR
presence capable of handling any contingency.

3. (C) Belgrade has reacted vehemently to the northern
strategy. I think this intensity is rooted in the concern
that any positive momentum in the north will undermine
Belgrade's likely post-ICJ strategy: push to reopen status
talks and formalize the emerging de facto partition of
Kosovo. Furthermore, Belgrade has shrewdly judged that
raising the specter of confrontation rattles our EU partners
and is an effective tactic for derailing the strategy
altogether. Cooper will likely reflect this anxiety with
you, but I do not sense that this concern is nearly as strong
within the local Quint (with the exception of Italian
Ambassador Michael Giffoni, who spent ten years on Javier
Solana's staff, where the Brussels bureaucrats have long been
anxious about taking any difficult decision on the north).
With this in mind, I recommend that you stress three points
with Cooper. First, the northern strategy is not radical.
Much of it restates what the international community, in
general, and the EU, in particular, are already committed to
doing. Second, it provides a vehicle for constructively
channeling the GOK's ambitions for the north and takes
advantage of Prime Minister Hashim Thaci's readiness to offer
inducements to northern Serbs who engage with Kosovo
institutions. Third, we now have legitimate Serb partners
(elected by fellow Serbs) who are ready to help us in the
north. These are the elements of a soft approach, which is
the northern strategy's leading edge.

4. (C) We should expect Belgrade to challenge all elements of
the strategy and to misportray the strategy as hard and
confrontational. Serbian Ministry for Kosovo State Secretary
Oliver Ivanovic has already declared that Pristina is
promoting conflict. This is not the case. There is no
interest here in conflict (not among the Quint and the ICO,
nor within the GOK), but the current situation is untenable
and deteriorating. The aim is to stop the rot in the north
and create the positive momentum there that we need to secure
our long-term policy objectives: a secure and stable Kosovo
and a Serbia focused on its EU future, not old ambitions and
grievances. We need to start the process now, and we should
not allow Belgrade to use threats of confrontation as a veto
to block progress.

5. (C) You can tell Cooper that the northern strategy offers
incremental, but fundamental, steps necessary to getting the

north right. We know, however, that there will be difficult
challenges that pose risks. For example, EULEX must get
serious about rolling up organized crime networks in the
north that feed the parallel structures and make the current
situation unsustainable. The northern Serbs are the first
victims of these thugs, and there is a growing body of
reports that they would welcome a change if EULEX can deliver
it. We must, also, deal with the blatant theft of Kosovo
property that has allowed Serbia to, in effect, seize the
northern power grid in Kosovo. Dealing with these issues
will require hard choices and fortitude. Our message to
Cooper should be that we want to coordinate and consult with
Brussels every step of the way. This process, after all,
only works if Brussels makes clear to Belgrade that its EU
future depends on real cooperation on Kosovo. In recent
meetings with Boris Tadic, both Angela Merkel and Nicolas
Sarkozy reportedly emphasized that Serbia's path to Brussels
runs, in part, through constructive relations with Pristina.
This is the perfect message. Brussels needs to repeat it --
regularly. We, of course, are also ready to consult with
Belgrade, as well, and to offer them the opportunity to
engage constructively. Where we part company with some
within the EU, however, is in not being willing to accept
that we must have Belgrade's agreement before taking any

6. (C) I need to emphasize the importance of this moment.
Failure to act soon means losing northern Kosovo and will
re-open the Pandora's Box of ethnic conflict that defined the
1990s. Fortunately, our European partners increasingly
recognize this. My British colleague here confirms what Stu
has also heard -- that there is a greater degree of
commitment and resolve in member capitals than may be the
case in the Commission and the Council officialdom in
Brussels. Even there, though, initial anxieties over the
strategy appear to be easing as they look more carefully at
the content and less at the rhetoric.

Wikileaks cables- Kosovo: Ambassador Dell: Success in the North key to a sucessful KFOR drowdown

DE RUEHPS #0044/01 0271544
O 271544Z JAN 10

Wednesday, 27 January 2010, 15:44
EO 12958 DECL: 01/27/2020
REF: A. 09 PRISTINA 509 B. 09 USNATO 409 C. BELGRADE 0003
1. (C) SUMMARY: While skirmishes and security incidents may be rare from day to day, an impending frozen conflict in Northern Kosovo remains the greatest threat to a safe and secure environment (SASE) in Kosovo in the near and medium terms. Fortunately, a constellation of factors exists that could reverse ten years of rot in Northern Kosovo and avoid letting this region become a frozen conflict. An impressive level of international consensus exists to address Northern Kosovo issues, and international actors and the GOK have agreed on a Northern Strategy to do just that. KFOR, at its current robust “Gate 1” force posture of 10,000, can play an important role, deterring extremists both north and south, as this strategy is implemented. As decisions are made on progress to “Gate 2” (5,000 troops) and beyond, the best way to operationalize the NAC’s central condition for successful drawdown -- maintenance of a safe and secure environment, with a threat level assessed as low -- will be success in this Northern Strategy. Benchmarks for this success include replacement of illegal parallel structures with legitimate Kosovo bodies, the establishment of robust rule of law institutions, the re-establishment of customs controls and revenue collection, and the re-establishment of legal, normalized electrical services and billing under KEK control. END SUMMARY
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2. (C) We have argued (ref A) that to achieve the conditions-based drawdown of KFOR troops agreed by the North Atlantic Council (ref B), it is crucial both to build local security capacity and address existing security threats now, while KFOR’s force posture remains robust. Northern Kosovo -- home base for illegal Serbian parallel structures and a region rife with smuggling and organized crime -- remains perhaps the greatest threat facing Kosovo in the short and medium terms. Kosovo institutions have exercised little control there since 1999, and practically none since riots after Kosovo’s independence in 2008. The result has been a zone where customs collection is essentially on an “honor system,” courts don’t function, international police all but fear to tread, and the only municipal governments are those elected by the Republic of Serbia in polls held in direct contravention of UNSCR 1244. Lack of activity or even access by Kosovo authorities in Northern Kosovo is a constant irritant for Kosovo’s leaders and the country’s majority Albanian population, and it represents for both the very real threat of the partition of Kosovo -- a reversal of ten years of USG policy and a grave threat to stability in Kosovo and the Western Balkan region. A series of recent statements by Belgrade’s leadership has established that the ultimate partition of Kosovo is, at a minimum, one of the policy options Belgrade has in view (ref C).
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3. (C) For much of the past ten years, pursuit of our strategic goal of a stable, democratic, multi- ethnic Kosovo has taken a back seat in the North to tactical concerns of avoiding demonstrations and clashes. Fortunately, there is a growing consensus in the international community that the time is now to reverse this trend. Embassies of the major European powers, the U.S., the International Civilian Office and the European Union Rule of Law Mission EULEX have agreed on a Northern Strategy to displace the illegal parallel structures, introduce legitimate, legal GOK structures, and increase the presence and improve the performance of rule of law institutions (customs, police and courts) in Northern Kosovo. The GOK has accepted this strategy as its own, and has pledged budget resources toward its implementation.
4. (C) That this international and local alliance for action in Northern Kosovo comes while KFOR remains at a robust presence of roughly 10,000 troops is fortunate. The Northern Strategy (septel) has been designed to incentivize participation in GOK structures, not to impose them by force. That said, local forces, including Serbs and Albanians who benefit from the current near lawless environment, could attempt to use violence to disrupt attempts to collect customs duties or reopen courts. KFOR at 10,000 will play an important, if ancillary, role in this strategy to ensure Kosovo’s long-term stability and territorial integrity. At 10,000, KFOR remains capable to respond to multiple, simultaneous incidents. KFOR’s ability to respond with overwhelming force to multiple provocations will itself serve as a valuable deterrent. As recently as January 26, Serbian State Secretary for the Ministry of Kosovo and Metohija Oliver Ivanovic raised the specter of violence, arguing it is the inevitable outcome of the Northern Strategy. Whether meant as a warning, or simply to rattle the less committed elements of the International Community, Ivanovic’s statement was a useful reminder that some Serb elements consider such threats and tactics as legitimate. A strong KFOR is the best deterrent to extremists on either side of the River Ibar.
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5. (SBU) While a robust KFOR is important to the success of the Northern Strategy, the implementation of the strategy is an opportunity for KFOR, a roadmap to a successful drawdown to deterrent presence. In our view, the central condition established by the North Atlantic Council for KFOR’s eventual drawdown to deterrent presence is “maintenance of a safe and secure environment (SASE), with a threat level assessed as low.” In the past, we have been all too quick to assess the durability of Kosovo’s threat level based on the presence or absence of security incidents on a daily basis. Depending on a definition of SASE as the absence of security incidents risks masking a disturbing reality -- Northern Kosovo can be, at the same time, both free of security incidents and a frozen conflict in the making, at risk of partition. A Northern Kosovo like this, as it is today, is a far cry from stability, and is in fact an engine for future instability in Kosovo and the wider Western Balkan region.
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6. (SBU) As the NAC debates the move to “Gate 2” (5,000 troops) and beyond, we would argue that the time is ripe to move from a negative operationalization of security, based on the absence of incidents, to a positive one. Such an operationalization would establish realistic, observable measures of success in reversing a decade of erosion in Northern Kosovo and establishing Kosovo’s authority throughout its territory. Such benchmarks should include:
-- successful establishment of the decentralized municipality of North Mitrovica;
-- re-establishment of collection of customs revenue at Gates 1 and 31, as part of a single, Kosovo-wide customs regime;
-- the staffing of the Mitrovica District Court with ethnic Serb and Albanian judges recognized by the Kosovo justice system;
-- enhanced EULEX police presence in Northern Kosovo, and the full integration of Kosovo Serb members of the Kosovo Police (KP) in Kosovo Police structures;
-- the replacement of illegal parallel municipal authorities in Northern Kosovo with, legal, legitimately constituted Kosovo bodies;
-- the arrest and prosecution of major organized crime figures; and,
-- the normalization of electric power distribution and billing throughout Northern Kosovo by KEK, according to UNMIK law and regulation.
7. (C) Some may protest that the establishment of such benchmarks represents a break with KFOR’s status neutral stance. This is patently untrue. In no case do the benchmarks listed above violate UNSCR 1244, the source of KFOR’s mandate, and in most cases -- like electricity and local self- government -- success in these benchmarks would represent a re-establishment of the UNSCR 1244 regime, respect of UNMIK laws and UNMIK regulations. In the end, this is true status neutrality. What some would request, only taking positions and actions which are equally acceptable to Belgrade and Pristina, isn’t status neutrality, but rather value neutrality. This is neither in KFOR’s interest nor in Kosovo’s, and was never USG policy in the region.
8. (C) For ten years, stability in Northern Kosovo has been defined as merely the lack of conflict. Today’s KFOR, at “Gate 1” levels of 10,000 troops, presents our best opportunity to define stability properly, as success in addressing Kosovo’s most vexing security threat: Northern Kosovo as an emerging frozen conflict. Success in the Northern Strategy -- including reintroducing Kosovo structures to this region, and eliminating illegal Serbian parallel structures -- represents our best chance for a peaceful, stable Kosovo governing within the
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full extent of its recognized borders, and KFOR’s surest roadmap to a successful reduction in troop strength to “Gate 2” and beyond. DELL

Wikileaks cables- Kosovo: Scene setter for the visit of Vice President Biden

DE RUEHPS #0183/01 1291302
O 091302Z MAY 09

Saturday, 09 May 2009, 13:02
EO 12958 DECL: 05/09/2019
TO KOSOVO, MAY 21, 2009
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1. (C) Mr. Vice President: You last saw the President and Prime Minister of Kosovo in Washington during their first meetings with the new Administration in February, just after the one year anniversary of Kosovo’s independence. That meeting proved a huge boost for a Kosovo public anxious to be reassured of the continuing support of the United States, and your visit here will further encourage Kosovo to understand that it has the strong backing it needs, but must take the initiative on its own to pursue democratic and economic development in a way that meets the demands of its citizens.
2. (C) As Kosovo’s leaders told you then, they have emerged at the end of a long and arduous journey with independence achieved, but many serious challenges ahead. Their accomplishments in the last 18 months and longer -- in fact throughout the difficult status determination period -- are admirable and should be recognized. At our urging, Kosovo leaders have taken the high road and largely ignored the seemingly unendless provocations lobbed their way by successive regimes in Serbia: violence in Kosovo’s north sanctioned by Belgrade, the destruction of customs operations on the border with Serbia, Serbian support for parallel governing institutions and parallel elections, the continuing refusal of Belgrade to permit Kosovo Serb participation in multi-ethnic municipal administrations or in Kosovo’s police and security forces, a Serbian trade embargo on Kosovo’s exports, the insistence on raising a case against Kosovo’s declaration of independence in the International Court of Justice, and -- lately -- efforts by Belgrade to target prominent Kosovo figures for prosecution in Serbia and extradition from any Western country where they may travel. Though the pro-Western government of Serbian President Boris Tadic is an improvement on its predecessor in many ways, the general parameters of Serbia’s Kosovo policy remain unchanged under the single-minded focus of Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic and his Foreign Ministry cohort.
3. (C) The need to deal with the flow of problems stemming from Belgrade’s policy has cost us and the Kosovars. It opens the Kosovo leadership to venomous opposition accusations that the government is not doing enough to establish its own authority in response to these Serbian moves, particularly in Kosovo’s north, and it distracts from the real requirements of responsible governance in Kosovo -- expanding economic growth, eliminating corruption, and enhancing the transparency and effectiveness of major social institutions. Indeed, the north has become a proxy battleground for two differing visions of the region’s future: for Serbs and for Belgrade (notably for President Tadic himself, who has spoken openly in the past of his thinking), it represents that part of Kosovo most likely to be retained by Serbia in a partition scenario as a precursor to Serbia’s accession into the EU, while for ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, retention of the north remains the symbolic key to proving Kosovo’s legitimate sovereignty. The fragile EU rule of law presence inserted triumphantly last December in the north and elsewhere in Kosovo is no match for this political minefield, and we can expect regular ethnic confrontations -- with attendant casualties, including among international peacekeepers -- until such time as either side accepts the futility of its ultimate aims in the north.
4. (C) With close to 2000 EULEX police, justice and customs functionaries in Kosovo, the European Union should have an overriding interest in a stable relationship between Kosovo and Serbia, and indeed recent months have seen an ongoing dialogue among EU representatives and the governments in Pristina and Belgrade designed to press for practical progress on a variety of issues of importance to both sides. The talks, however, have limped along without much to show; full resumption of customs operations on the northern border is months away, assuming Belgrade ever gives the go-ahead, and Serb police remain outside the Kosovo Police structure in Kosovo’s south despite ample time (and full salaries paid by the Kosovo government) for their reabsorption. EU visitors from Brussels tell us that they “lack leverage” with Serbia (more accurately, they lack leverage with the five EU states that do not recognize Kosovo) and, despite the obvious imperative of gaining Belgrade’s cooperation to ensure the success and momentum of the EULEX mission, they seem to have
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abandoned any attempt at real leadership to push for concessions. We can already sense a strong degree of “Kosovo-fatigue” among our European counterparts which, coupled with the palpable sense here in the region that Europe has given up on further expansion, could prove a bad combination in providing the necessary EU-inspired incentives for further advancement in Kosovo.
5. (C) In the economic realm, Kosovo must find a way to deal with its moribund and budget-consuming energy sector if it is to attract investment and avoid popular unrest due to rolling blackouts. International organizations and donors -- the World Bank, the IMF (which Kosovo will join after a successful board vote this May), the European Commission, the U.S. and others -- must do a better job of coordination and providing effective guidance to the Kosovars, who lack the relevant experience and are often subject to mixed messages which do little to sketch out a clear way forward. The clearest example of this is in the energy arena, where the World Bank has taken a position on the development of Kosovo’s vast lignite deposits at odds with most of the other donors and stakeholders.
6. (C) All this, without question, makes continuing American leadership and support to Kosovo that much more imperative, in every sense possible -- political, technical and military. The need for KFOR to remain present in Kosovo, especially in the north but in other mixed ethnic areas as well (for example in Kosovo’s east and south where USKFOR has its area of responsibility and where the majority of Serbs live), cannot be overstated. Recent moves by some allies to depart Kosovo in a fashion uncoordinated through NATO bode ill for KFOR’s future effectiveness; that will be especially apparent if, as we anticipate, the French downsize their presence in Mitrovica and the north later this year.
7. (C) Kosovo is, thus far, a success story. Still, any of the factors we have enumerated -- continued Serbian pressure, counter-productive reactions from volatile political elites in Kosovo, EU vacillation and weakness, mounting territorial-cum-political tensions in the north, premature NATO withdrawal, or, maybe most serious, failure to secure a strong economic foundation for Kosovo’s future -- could create obstacles to Kosovo’s enduring survival. Kosovo is looking to the United States -- and to you, Mr. Vice President, as a known friend and long-time champion of human rights and dignity in the Balkans -- to assert yet one more time (and, yes, the continual reassurance is necessary under circumstances like those elaborated above) that we will be here for the long run to help get Kosovo through the difficult times ahead.
8. (C) But the quid pro quo, and one we must insist on with increased frequency and volume, is an acceptance of Kosovo’s own responsibilities -- in governance, in outreach to its non-majority communities, and in getting beyond the provocations from Serbia to focus on Kosovo’s future. Kosovo has been steeped in Serbia-related mayhem for too long; real maturity will come with the wisdom and ability to see beyond. You will carry this message in your meetings with leaders, in your address to the Assembly, and in your very appearance in Kosovo at this critical time. KAIDANOW