Monday, September 04, 2006

"You can always count on them to bungle it"

This quote or something very close to is attributed to late Croatian President when he was referring to the Serbs (Serbian government). The legend has it that he was more confident in Serbs making wrong decisions then Croatians making right decisions during the war in Croatia. Boy wasn’t he right.
In recent years the Serbian government has given new life to this theory. Every important International representative and institution involved in Kosovo has been insulted and condemned by the Serbian government. Starting with the infamous indictment of Clinton and Blair on “war crime” charges in 1999 up to the recent condemnation of Ahtisari, the message from Belgrade has been this: we are masters at insulting important people at our own peril.

This seems to be a Serbian trait that does not go away with changing of guards. There have been several governments in Serbia since 1999, but almost all of them have continued to insult important international diplomats and institutions. Here is the short list of Individuals and Institutions that have been a target of Serb insults:

  1. 1999- Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, Javier Solana and the German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder were indicted on “war crime” charges by the Milosevic regime. Having in mind that these were the most important decisions makers in the western world, this indictment convinced most people what they already feared: the Serb Government was lead by lunatics. In addition to that, these “indicted” leaders were even more determined in opposing the Serb position in Kosovo, which by default benefited Albanians. In Kosovo there is even a boulevard named after Clinton.

Lesson I: Don’t piss off important people in the international stage unnecessarily. They are humans and if insulted, they will make decisions that you may not like. The Kosovo government can count on Serbs continuing with this trend as negotiation over Kosovo intensifies.

  1. Hague Tribunal: the Serb attack against the tribunal has been constant. They call it biased against Serbs, anti Serb and you name it. Every government since Milosevic has maintained this position. Their beef is that the Tribunal has indicted more Serbs then any other ethnic group. What they don’t get it is that this logic does not play well in the western world. Of course the tribunal has indicted more Serbs because more Serbs committed war crimes then any other ethic group. Get it? This attack against the tribunal has pissed off a lot of people at The Hague making them more determined to condemn the Serbian government when they don’t deliver the indicted criminals. Compare this with Kosovo: a lot of people in Kosovo are not happy about the tribunal decision to indict former KLA members, but nobody has questioned its legitimacy and certainly nobody has insulted the prosecutor at The Hague. The result: Kosovo Albanians are allowed to defend themselves in freedom, while Serbs are not.

Lesson II: Don’t question the legitimacy of an international institution when that legitimacy is not question by any other nation. Why piss off institutions that can have a devastating affect in your country? If you don’t like an international institution, don’t insult them: just shut up. Silence is needed sometimes (See Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo).

  1. International Administrators in Kosovo: The vast majority of UNMIK chiefs have been condemned by Serbia. The usual accusation is: you are anti Serbian, you are promoting the independence of Kosovo, and you are pro Albanian. These accusations lead these administrators to actually be more pro Albanian. Who wouldn’t? If someone doesn’t like you, why the hell you would want to like them, back?) So they ended up not talking to Belgrade at all, which helped the Kosovo government (especially during Peterson’s rule – he didn’t even try to appear to be listening to Belgrade-this incensed Belgrade). The current German administrator has already been condemned by Belgrade, barley 3 days into his job, for advocating the Independence of Kosovo.

Lesson III: if you want people to be sympathetic to your cause, don’t insult them and their job. The Kosovo government doesn’t like UNMIK that much either, but they have the decency not to insult and condemn them. Don’t insult people who have the power to make your life miserable.

  1. The Fiasco against Ahtisari- the international negotiators has recently been condemned for asking Serbs to take responsibility for their past. Yes! The Serbian government is so pissed, that it launched a diplomatic offensive against the man that will soon advice the international community on the status of Kosovo. I said it before; the Kosovo government can count on Serbia to screw things up. Just be patient and appear cooperative!

Lesson IV: Don’t insult international negotiators for your sake.

  1. Calling Albanians Terrorists: the head of Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovo calls Albanians terrorists. He does not say there are terrorists in Kosovo (which there are none in any case), but he actually refers to the whole Albanian population as terrorist. In several of his visits in Washington he asked “not to give Kosovo to terrorist” (i.e. Albanians). What an idiot priest! You want to live in a population dominated by Albanians (90%), you want them to treat you well, yet you call them terrorists? On top of that, you think you going to find sympathy in Washington and Brussels? NO! It just convinces them that you are a lunatic not a religious figure.

Lesson V: Don’t insult an entire nation that you live in because you will be treated like the lunatic you are, and your cause will find no sympathy.

The list goes on, but this is a big enough sample to draw a definite concussions: You can always count on Serbs to bungle it. The Croatian president was smart enough to realize this, but has the government of Kosovo learned from him? By the looks of it, it appears that they have. They should keep doing what they are doing now with the expectation that Serbs will bungle every step of the way!

Ferik Ferizaj

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