Saturday, April 28, 2007

About UN mission to Kosovo and how the Serb propaganda coup fizzled


UN ambassadors strolling through a street in Kosovo. From right to left: US ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, Head on UN Mission in Kosovo Joachim Rycker, French ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sablière and Vitaly Churkin ( far left) from the Russian mission to the UN. Kosovo media report that the Russian ambassador went to extraordinary lengths to hide from the media. He hasn't said a single thing to the media during the two day mission to Kosovo.

In keeping with his bizarre behaviors of leaving a hall if there are people he doesn't agree with, Mr. Churkin was the only ambassador who refused to attend a meeting with non Serb minorities.

Xhazair Murat and Zylfi Merxha, members of Kosovo Parliament representing non Serb minorities, who were present at the meeting, were quoted as saying that they were surprised to see Mr. Churkins seat empty. According to media reports Churkin refused to attend a meeting when he learned that all non Serb minorities were strongly pro independence.

Propaganda Coup Fizzles

In another bizarre but related story, Kosovo daily Express reports that bus loads of Serbs from the Kosovo town of Shterpc and other towns traveled to the Serbian side of the border with Kosovo to ask the UN delegation to help them return to Kosovo. Later, those same people were caught on camera by RTK holding signs that said they cannot return to Kosovo. I have always said: Serbs never cease to amaze.

The propaganda coup fizzled when it became evident that most of the Serbs protesting at the border were actually living in Kosovo. The UN delegation refused to visit the border citing “logistical” difficulties.

Ferick F.


“Tsar Lazar Guard” rounds up Kosovo volunteers

PublishBELGRADE -- The so-called
St.Tsar Lazar Guard is gathering volunteers ready to wage a war in case Kosovo becomes independent.

Picture: "soldiers" who will save Kosovo?

According to Belgrade daily Danas, an organization known as the National Serbian Movement will host a Serbian Assembly in the Lazarica Church in Kruševac on May 5, where it plans to swear in “the Saint Tsar Lazar Guard vowed to free Kosovo and Metohija.”

Serbian Veterans Movement president Željko Vasiljević said that May 5 would see “the establishment of a first uniformed Christian militia squad, comprised of war veterans from all over Serbia.”

“A hundred veterans will attend the Assembly”, he said, and added that the number of “eager volunteers” in Serbia already topped 5,000 mark. Fair used from
B92 and Danas.

Kosovo offers U.N. envoys macabre misery tour


Flowers are laid on the graves of some of the men and boys killed by Serb forces in March 1999 in the village of Mala Krusa, April 25, 2007. Fifteen ambassadors of the United Nations will visit this Kosovo village on Saturday and the delegation from the Security Council will tour divided towns and devastated villages before weighing the merits of a Western-backed plan to give independence to the breakaway Serbian province. (Hazir Reka/Reuters)

By Matt Robinson and Shaban Buza

MALA KRUSA, Serbia (Reuters) - The long grass was freshly cut and the thin trunks of the plum trees painted white in the orchard where Qamil Shehu cheated death in March 1999.

When 15 ambassadors of the United Nations visit this Kosovo village on Saturday, 71-year-old Shehu plans to tell them how he pulled himself unhurt from under the bodies of almost the entire male population of Mala Krusa.

His will be one of many stories of loss when a delegation from the Security Council tours divided towns and devastated villages before weighing the merits of a Western-backed plan to give independence to the breakaway Serbian province.

The two-day agenda has been crafted to give equal time to the 90-percent Albanian majority and the remaining 100,000 Serbs, stoking a macabre contest over who has suffered most in the southern province.

For Shehu, the grounds for independence lie near the plum trees in the ruins of the house where he and more than 100 other men and boys were rounded up and raked with bullets.

Shehu survived by being in the corner. He lost 40 members of his extended family, including two sons. "Two of the six policemen wore masks," he said. "I think they were from here.

"After what I saw, we can never live with Serbs again. We had no rights under them. We can't be neighbors anymore."

The men were murdered a day after NATO began bombing Serbia to stop its army, police and paramilitaries from torching villages and killing civilians in a 1998-99 war with Kosovo Albanian separatist guerrillas.

Ten thousand died, and almost one million took temporary refuge in Albania, Macedonia and Montenegro. The bombing ended after 78 days when Serbia capitulated and pulled its forces out.

RUSSIAN OPPOSITION

Kosovo has been run by the U.N. since, stuck in economic and political limbo, breeding bitterness and impatience.

If the Western powers behind NATO's first "humanitarian" war have their way, this week's U.N. visit will mark the last step before the Security Council votes on a U.N. plan to give Kosovo's 2 million Albanians the independence they demand, supervised for years to come by the European Union.

But Russia, which holds a U.N. veto, refuses to fall into line, demanding more talks and branding the plan a "failure".

The U.N. ambassadors' visit was Russia's idea, to highlight the precarious plight of the Kosovo Serbs and give the lie to Western promises of a future for all in an independent Kosovo.

The delegation will visit the Serb ghetto in Orahovac near Mala Krusa, and the northern Serb village of Svinjare, which was razed to the ground by Albanian rioters in 2004. It has been rebuilt, but only a former miner and his wife have returned.

There, and in Belgrade on Thursday, they will hear of at least 100,000 Serbs who fled a wave of revenge attacks in 1999 and never returned. Thousands of displaced plan to demonstrate at the U.N.-guarded Kosovo boundary on Thursday and Friday.

Belgrade was reported to be unhappy with the initial agenda for the visit, believing it did not include enough "painful areas".

The revised timetable, Kosovo Serb political leader Nebojsa Jovic said this week, will "familiarize the Security Council mission with all the crimes committed against Serbs and the concentration-camp conditions in which they live".

Friday, April 13, 2007

INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ABOUT KOSOVO OPENS IN US


Former US President Bill Clinton sits between Kosovo PM Agim Ceku (left) and Kosovo President Fatmir Sejdiu ( Right). Picture from Kosovapress.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Senate Resolution:Expressing the sense of the Senate that the United States should support independence for Kosovo

S.RES.135 Title: A resolution expressing the sense of the Senate that the United States should support independence for Kosovo.
Sponsor: Sen Lieberman, Joseph I. [CT] (introduced 3/29/2007)
Cosponsors (3):
Sen Biden, Joseph R., Jr. [DE] - 3/29/2007
Sen McCain, John [AZ] - 3/29/2007
Sen Smith, Gordon H. [OR] - 3/29/2007
Latest Major Action: 3/29/2007 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations.

Picture: Lieberman and Kosovo PM.


SRES 135 IS
110th CONGRESS
1st Session
Expressing the sense of the Senate that the United States should support independence for Kosovo.
IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
March 29, 2007


Mr. LIEBERMAN (for himself, Mr. BIDEN, Mr. MCCAIN, and Mr. SMITH) submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations
RESOLUTION

Whereas the United States has enduring national interests in the peace and security of southeastern Europe, and in the greater integration of the region into the Euro-Atlantic community of democratic, well-governed states;


Whereas, in March 1999, the United States, along with other members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), commenced military action aimed at ending Slobodan Milosevic's brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing against the people of Kosovo;


Whereas that military action resulted in the defeat of Serb forces and the creation of the United Nations Mission in Kosovo, an interim United Nations administration that governs Kosovo, and which ended, de facto, the sovereignty that was previously exercised by the Government of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia over Kosovo;


Whereas the men and women of the Armed Forces of the United States have served bravely in Kosovo since 1999, and their presence and participation in the NATO-led Kosovo Force has been indispensable in protecting the people of Kosovo and stabilizing the region;


Whereas United Nations administration was never intended nor understood as a permanent solution to the political status of Kosovo;


Whereas, in light of NATO's military intervention in Kosovo and the United Nations trusteeship established in Kosovo pursuant to United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999), the international community has recognized the political circumstances in Kosovo as unique, and the settlement of Kosovo's status therefore does not establish a precedent for the resolution of other conflicts;


Whereas continuing uncertainty about the status of Kosovo is unacceptable to the overwhelming majority of the inhabitants of Kosovo, inhibits economic and political development in Kosovo, and contributes to instability and radicalism in both Kosovo and Serbia;


Whereas, in 2005, the United Nations Secretary-General appointed the former President of Finland, Martti Ahtisaari, as United Nations Special Envoy for Kosovo to develop a comprehensive settlement proposal to resolve the political status of Kosovo;


Whereas, in March 2007, after 14 months of intensive diplomacy, Special Envoy Ahtisaari submitted to the Security Council a comprehensive settlement proposal that would result in supervised independence for Kosovo, with robust protections for the rights of minorities; and
Whereas Special Envoy Ahtisaari has explored every reasonable avenue for compromise in the course of his diplomacy and has stated that further negotiations would be counterproductive: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That it is the sense of the Senate that--
(1) the United States should support the independence of Kosovo in accordance with its currently constituted borders, a resolution that represents the only just, sustainable solution for an economically viable and politically stable Kosovo;


(2) the United States should, in consultation and cooperation with its allies, vigorously and promptly pursue a United Nations Security Council resolution that endorses the recommendations of United Nations Special Envoy for Kosovo Martti Ahtisaari;


(3) in the absence of timely action by the United Nations Security Council, the United States should be prepared to act in conjunction with like-minded democracies to confer diplomatic recognition on, and establish full diplomatic relations with, Kosovo as an independent state, much as the United States worked in cooperation with like-minded democracies to protect the people of Kosovo in 1999;


(4) the United States should oppose any delay in the resolution of the political status of Kosovo as counterproductive, potentially dangerous, and likely to make the achievement of a lasting settlement more difficult;


(5) the United States should work together with the European Union as a full partner in supporting the political and economic development of an independent Kosovo;


(6) the United States should support the integration of Kosovo into international and Euro-Atlantic institutions, including its timely admission to the Partnership for Peace program of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), with the ultimate goal of full membership in NATO;



(7) the United States should reaffirm its commitment to southeastern Europe, including the continuation of the military mission in Kosovo to deter and disrupt any efforts by any party to destabilize the region through violence;


(8) the Government of Kosovo should exercise responsible leadership under supervised independence and thereby accelerate the transition to full independence, taking particular care to reassure, protect, and ensure the full political and economic rights of Serb and other minority communities in Kosovo;


(9) the Government of Kosovo should make every reasonable effort to develop a cooperative relationship with the Government of Serbia, in recognition of its legitimate interests in the safety of the Serb population in Kosovo and in the protection and preservation of the patrimonial sites of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovo; and


(10) the Government of Serbia should exercise responsible leadership and seize the opportunity and the imperative presented by the independence of Kosovo to end the dark chapter of the 1990s and focus its energies toward achieving a prosperous and peaceful future through regional cooperation and integration into Euro-Atlantic institutions, including NATO and the European Union, and toward the establishment of open, constructive relations with the government of Kosovo.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Genocide Court Ruled for Serbia Without Seeing Full War Archive

Joel van Houdt/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Protesters at the International Court of Justice in February, after the court ruled on genocide in Bosnia. Lawyers said the outcome might have been different if the court had sought documents censored by Serbia.


By MARLISE SIMONS-NYT.
THE HAGUE — In the spring of 2003, during the trial of Slobodan Milosevic, hundreds of documents arrived at the war crimes tribunal in The Hague marked “Defense. State Secret. Strictly Confidential.”

The cache contained minutes of wartime meetings of Yugoslavia’s political and military leaders, and promised the best inside view of Serbia’s role in the Bosnian war of 1992-1995.
But there was a catch. Serbia, the heir to Yugoslavia, obtained the tribunal’s permission to keep parts of the archives out of the public eye. Citing national security, its lawyers blacked out many sensitive — those who have seen them say incriminating — pages. Judges and lawyers at the war crimes tribunal could see the censored material, but it was barred from the tribunal’s public records.

Now, lawyers and others who were involved in Serbia’s bid for secrecy say that, at the time, Belgrade made its true objective clear: to keep the full military archives from the International Court of Justice, where Bosnia was suing Serbia for genocide. And they say Belgrade’s goal was achieved in February, when the international court, which is also in The Hague, declared Serbia not guilty of genocide, and absolved it from paying potentially enormous damages.

Lawyers interviewed in The Hague and Belgrade said that the outcome might well have been different had the International Court of Justice pressed for access to the full archives, and legal scholars and human rights groups said it was deeply troubling that the judges did not subpoena the documents directly from Serbia. At one point, the court rebuffed a Bosnian request that it demand the full documents, saying that ample evidence was available in tribunal records.

“It’s a question that nags loudly,” Diane Orentlicher, a law professor at American University in Washington, said recently in The Hague. “Why didn’t the court request the full documents? The fact that they were blacked out clearly implies these passages would have made a difference.”
The ruling — which was binding and final — was in many ways meticulous, and acknowledged that the 15 judges had not seen the censored archives. But it did not say why the court did not order Serbia to provide the full documents.

Two of the judges themselves criticized that failure in strongly worded dissents. One, the court’s vice president, Awn Shawkat al-Khasawneh of Jordan, wrote that “regrettably the court failed to act,” adding, “It is a reasonable expectation that those documents would have shed light on the central questions.”

As part of its ruling, the court said that the 1995 massacre of nearly 8,000 Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica, a designated United Nations safe haven in eastern Bosnia, was an act of genocide committed by Bosnian Serb forces, but that it lacked proof in this case that the forces were acting under Serbia’s “direction” or “effective control.”

The ruling raised some eyebrows because details of Serbian military involvement were already known from records of earlier tribunal cases. For instance, evidence showed that in late 1993, more than 1,800 officers and noncommissioned men from the Yugoslav Army were serving in the Bosnian Serb army, and were deployed, paid, promoted or retired by Belgrade.

These and many other men, including top generals, were given dual identities, and to help handle that development, Belgrade created the so-called 30th personnel center of the general staff, a secret office for dealing with officers listed in both armies. The court took note of that, but said that Belgrade’s “substantial support” did not automatically make the Bosnian Serb army a Serbian agent.

However, lawyers who have seen the archives and further secret personnel files say they address Serbia’s control and direction even more directly, revealing in new and vivid detail how Belgrade financed and supplied the war in Bosnia, and how the Bosnian Serb army, though officially separate after 1992, remained virtually an extension of the Yugoslav Army. They said the archives showed in verbatim records and summaries of meetings that Serbian forces, including secret police, played a role in the takeover of Srebrenica and in the preparation of the massacre there.

The lawyers spoke on condition of anonymity, saying they could be held in contempt of court.
The story of the blacked-out documents, pieced together from more than 20 interviews with lawyers and court officials and from public records, offers rare insight into proceedings in The Hague, where hearings can turn into closed sessions and deals often happen behind closed doors.
It took the tribunal prosecutors of Mr. Milosevic two years of talks, court orders and diplomatic pressure for Belgrade to hand over the documents — the much coveted minutes of the Supreme Defense Council. The council was created in 1992 when Serb-dominated Yugoslavia was fighting for more land for Serbs in Croatia and Bosnia.

When the documents were handed over, the lawyers said, a team from Belgrade made it clear in letters to the tribunal and in meetings with prosecutors and judges that it wanted the documents expurgated to keep them from harming Serbia’s case at the International Court of Justice. The Serbs made no secret of that even as they argued their case for “national security,” said one of the lawyers, adding, “The senior people here knew about this.”

Confidentiality rules to protect “national security interests” have often been invoked at the tribunal, including by the United States, which has privately provided intelligence like intercepts and satellite images to assist prosecutors.

When Belgrade’s lawyers met with tribunal judges to request secrecy for their archives, they produced a letter of support from Carla Del Ponte, the tribunal’s chief prosecutor.
In a recent interview, Mrs. Del Ponte confirmed that she had sent a letter in May 2003 to the former Serbian foreign minister, Goran Svilanovic, saying she would accept the sealing of “reasonable” portions of the records. “It was a long fight to get the documents, and in the end because of time constraints we agreed,” she said. “They were extremely valuable for the conviction of Slobodan Milosevic.” Mr. Milosevic died before his trial was over.

After the tribunal judges approved Belgrade’s request to keep sections of the military archives secret, Vladimir Djeric, a member of the Serbian team, told lawyers there that “we could not believe our luck.” Mr. Djeric, now a private lawyer in Belgrade, said by telephone that he could not discuss his former duties.

Tantalizing glimpses of the secrets of the Supreme Defense Council — whose agenda included the military budget, promotions and retirement of generals — can be gleaned elsewhere. Uncensored parts of the archives obtained by The New York Times include minutes of sessions between 1993 and 1995, when the war in Bosnia was in full swing.

Those meetings in Belgrade were attended by the presidents of then Yugoslavia, its constituent states of Serbia and Montenegro, and the top military command, including Gen. Ratko Mladic, the Bosnian Serb military leader twice indicted by the tribunal on charges that include genocide. He remains a fugitive.

A recent book, “Unspoken Defense,” by Momir Bulatovic, a former president of Montenegro who attended many sessions of the Defense Council, said that in 1994, when more than 4,000 men on Serbia’s payroll were fighting in Bosnia, the council discussed abolishing the 30th personnel center because its discovery might cause political problems.

Lawyers and human rights groups have searched with special interest for council records from the summer of 1995, when Srebrenica was overrun by soldiers and police officers, many of them, tribunal records show, in the pay of Serbia. After the massacre there, the council met three times, with General Mladic attending at least one session. Verbatim transcripts of those days are missing even from the secret archives, lawyers said.

Bosnia’s team at the International Court of Justice, also known as the World Court, was convinced that the archives and the military personnel files were central to their case. Before hearings opened in 2006, Bosnia asked the court to request that Serbia provide an uncensored version of the documents. The court refused, saying that “extensive evidence” was available at the war crimes tribunal. When Bosnia pressed during hearings, the court ignored the request.

In an interview, Rosalyn Higgins, the president of the World Court, declined to say why the uncensored archives were not subpoenaed. She said it was the court’s practice not to discuss its findings. “The ruling speaks for itself,” she said.

But the dissents from Judge Khasawneh and another judge criticized the court on that count. The second dissent, by Ahmed Mahiou of Algeria, said that judges had several reasons — “none of them sufficiently convincing” — including a fear of creating the impression that the court was taking sides, that it might intrude on the sovereignty of a state, or that it might be embarrassed if Serbia refused.

Phon van den Biesen, a lawyer on the Bosnian team, said the full documents would probably have demonstrated that the Bosnian Serb forces were agents of Serbia, controlled by Belgrade.
“This would have made Serbia liable for the Srebrenica genocide,” Mr. van den Biesen said. “We believe all this can be found in the documents. The cuts are made whenever the agenda turns to financing and to personnel matters. That’s why Serbia went to such lengths to hide them from us.”

William Schabas, a professor of international law at the University of Ireland in Galway, said the court might have wanted to avoid a diplomatic showdown with Serbia and that, as a civil rather than a criminal court, it was more used to relying on materials put before it than aggressively pursuing evidence.

Natasha Kandic, director of the Humanitarian Law Center in Belgrade, said she was shocked at the court’s inaction, in part because it blocked the Serbian public from understanding the reality of the war.

After the verdict, she said, she met with a leading member of the Serbian team. “He was very pleased,” she said, “but I confronted him. I said, ‘You did not tell the truth.’ ” The man, a scholar she said she could not name, replied: “It’s normal, every country will do everything possible to protect the state. Bosnia wanted a lot of money for damages.”
Ms. Kandic added: “I said that one day the truth will come out. And my friend said: ‘But that’s the future. Now it’s important to protect the state.’ ” Fair use.

Jail for Serb video death squad

From BBC News:

Serbia's war crimes court has jailed four Serb paramilitaries who were filmed as they shot dead six captured young Bosnian Muslims.

Judge Gordana Bozilovic Petrovic said the murder was a war crime against a civilian population.
A fifth man was cleared of the murder which took place during the Srebrenica massacre in Bosnia in July 1995.

This was the first trial in Serbia to deal with the massacre of nearly 8,000 Muslim men and boys around Srebrenica. It was also the biggest war crimes trial of Serbs by Serbs to date.

Slobodan Medic ordered the three defendants and two others to execute the prisoners, take them away from the site and make it seem as if they had been killed in conflict.

Judge's ruling
Prosecutors said the five suspects were members of a paramilitary unit called the Scorpions.
On the video, paramilitaries are heard taunting the youths about their virginity before shooting them in the back as they lay in a ditch.

The tape was played at the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague (ICTY) in June 2005 at the trial of the late Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic.

SENTENCES
Slobodan Medic, 20 years
Branislav Medic, 20 years
Pera Petrasevic, 13 years
Aleksandar Medic, five years
Aleksandar Vukov, acquitted

Confession
Correspondents say the video shook the popular belief in Serbia that any war crimes their side had committed were done in the heat of battle.

The former commander of the Scorpions unit, Slobodan Medic, and his main accomplice, Branislav Medic, were each given 20 years in jail.
Pera Petrasevic, the only defendant to have confessed to the crime, was given 13 years. The fourth defendant, Aleksandar Medic, was given five years while a fifth man, Aleksandar Vukov, was acquitted
"Slobodan Medic ordered the three defendants and two others to execute the prisoners, take them away from the site and make it seem as if they had been killed in conflict," the judge said.
The case was heard at a special war crimes court in Serbia, which was established in 2003 to deal with lesser crimes referred to Belgrade by the ICTY. Fair use from BBC.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Kosovo's Bosniak lawmaker a lonely naysayer to UN plan

Amid thunderous applause and a standing ovation, Numan Balic was conspicuously alone. The frustrated representative of the Bosniak minority in Kosovo, holding a bunch of papers, stood in front of the speaker of the parliament demanding to speak against a U.N. plan that recommends independence for the disputed province.

He was a lone dissenting voice amid 100 lawmakers Thursday endorsing a resolution backing the proposal drafted by U.N. special envoy Martti Ahtisaari, the former Finnish president who mediated yearlong negotiations between ethnic Albanian and Serbian leaders. And he was not allowed to speak because lawmakers had agreed in advance that there would be no debate.

Balic insists his grievances had nothing to do with Kosovo's independence. In fact, the 48 year-old lawmaker, says he was defending that aim when he said "no."

"I am completely convinced that Kosovo should be independent, I support that cause with no reservations," Balic told the Associated Press by telephone. "But I won't support the plan because it damages it.He said he was surprised "how naive" his colleagues were, and told media after the vote that the ethnic Albanian deputies were pressured "from outside" to approve the plan.

"Ahtisaari's plan is only a proposal, it's not the end of the process," said Balic, warning that if the plan fails to be approved by the U.N. Security Council — which has the final say over the province's fate — violent riots will break out in Kosovo.

Ahtisaari's proposal calls for the province's independence from Serbia, initially supervised by the international community, and offers broad rights to the province's Serb minority to run their daily affairs and preserve their identity and culture.

Ethnic Albanian leaders, who demand independence, have supported the plan and Serbia — which insists the province remains within its borders — has vehemently rejected it.

Kosovo's Serbs, who do not vote in parliament because they have boycotted the province's public institutions, have warned of secession of the Serb-dominated north if Kosovo gains independence.

Balic, one of the representatives of the some 35,000 members of the Bosniak community estimated to live in Kosovo, said the plan gives "exclusive rights to the Serbs" who account for 5 percent of the province's 2 million and makes them equals to Kosovo's Albanian majority, which make up 90 percent of the population.

"The rights of other communities are ignored and that's unacceptable," he said.

Ethnic Albanian lawmaker Ylber Hysa snubbed Balic's claims.

"It's not the first time that he has done things that are surprising and weird, but this does not surprise or astonish anyone anymore," said Hysa, who was part of the negotiations with Serbian officials.

The plan has been protested by several thousands ethnic Albanian hard-liners, who say it offers too many concessions to the Serb minority living in Kosovo and risks dividing the province along ethnic lines. Many others have grudgingly accepted it.

But, Sadik Idriz, Kosovo's health minister and a representative of a larger Bosniak Muslim party in Kosovo's assembly, said Ahtisaari's proposal — despite some shortcomings — was acceptable.

Balic "is a conflictual man who tries to get attention to show that he's alive," Idriz said. "100 Albanian lawmakers vote for it and he votes against?"
Fair use from The Associated Press.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The truth about Kosovo: Arguments and facts in support of independence


By: Esat Stavileci-Authors and Law Professor at the University of Pristina

The attention of world diplomacy is focusing on Kosovo ever more. We have now in the hands of UN Security Council a proposal addressed by former Finish President Martti Ahtisari which is attached to the document that sets the framework for a possible future status of Kosovo, has summarized the guarantees for the position of minorities, and in particular the Serbian minority has described the modalities for the relatively emphasized international presence in Kosovo, with executive authority as well as authority to interpret its mandate, even after the decision for the new status, which limits Kosovo’s eventual sovereignty.Now it is on the members of the Security Council to reach a decision on Kosovo’s future.

We are aware that Serbia has undertaken a diplomatic offensive to influence the members of the Security Council of UN in order to unable the adoption of a new resolution, with the justification that Ahtisari’s proposal recommends “annexation of Serbia’s territory” and “removal of Serbia’s sovereignty over Kosovo” and that all of this, according to Belgrade officials, “is in contradiction with international law”.

This is the reason why, in an effort to inform your readers and the members of the Security Council I, as a member of Kosovo Academy of Science and Arts and as a professor of law with an extensive political and legal bibliography, will highlight in broad lines a number of historic, political and legal arguments and facts that convincingly speak that Kosovo was occupied by Serbia in an unlawful manner, which is why Albanians, as a majority population in Kosovo, should enjoy the right to self-determination, whether that is as a majority population in an individualized territory or as their national right. By proving this truth, this article aims to, at the same time, prove that Serbia’s projects for the creation of two entities in Kosovo or its partition are unacceptable.

Firstly, given that Kosovo was annexed by Serbia in an unlawful manner Kosovo’s independence will in no way be in contradiction with international law. On the contrary, Kosovo independence even before being qualified as a “classic case of secession from a sovereign state”, as Serbs argue, should be considered as “annulment of an unlawful annexation. In fact it was Serbia that acted in contradiction with international law in 1912 when it annexed Kosovo through military occupation after its aggression against the Ottoman Empire, “even though Kosovo had its historic and ethnic identity, accompanied by its right to liberation, whether that was from the Ottoman occupation (1912) or Fascist occupation (1944), and in spite of its geographical demographic and cultural integrity”.

Consequently, instead of admitting its unlawful act, which she committed while violating international law in a bold manner, Serbia is now using an argument which is scientifically and historically unsustainable, namely to “preserve its sovereignty over Kosovo”, which, as proved by facts, she held in an unlawful manner for a long period of time without ever asking the majority population of Kosovo or having their consent.

Kosovo was occupied during Balkan wars (1912-1913) in contradiction with the aspiration of the Albanians, expressed during their national liberation movement 1878-1912. In this manner Serbia, in spite of getting the “international legitimacy” for the occupation of Kosovo, in no way was able to justify the legitimacy of its act.In addition to this, Serbian possessive attitudes towards Kosovo which refer to history are unfounded.

Firstly they are unfounded in its methodological qualification of the national character of a territory because if history is to be taken as a criteria, in light of contemporary national-territorial realities, Hungary has the right to the Panonic part of Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and Hungary would argue about their rights over Belgrade, Greece would claim a right over Istanbul, Albania over Janina, Mexico over Florida and California, Sweden over Finland and Norway, Germany over Shlezi and Sudet regions, Denmark over Shlezivik, Iraq over Kuwait etc.

Secondly, Serbia’s possessive attitudes towards Kosovo are unfounded in the aspect of material truth, since Kosovo, in spite of allegations of such nature “in neither a cradle of Serbian nation, nor of Serbian state”.

Finally, imperialistic ambitions with “historic rights” could not be defended by England, France, Spain, Portugal, Netherlands, which, as it is known “with centuries held many nations under their occupation.Therefore “with the destruction of colonial empires over 120 new states were created.

Serbia was “under the occupation of Ottoman Empire for over five centuries (1389-1878). Spain “had conquered all Latin America in the beginning of XVI century. Neither do “Russians ever mention their historic rights over Ukraine”. Historic arguments speak very clearly that “Serbs were placed in Kosovo with their expansion under the rule of Nemanjics’”. As a result of occupations during the Ottoman Empire, many ethnic minorities, such as Serbs, Turks and Roma, were placed in the ethnic Albanian territories.

The Serbian minority was greatly expanded with the violent colonization that occurred between two world wars; nevertheless their percentage never exceeded 10% of the overall population. On the basis of these facts the conclusion is very clear: it was in deed the Serbian aggression, occupation and annexation of Kosovo that violated the international law and not otherwise, namely that Kosovo independence would violate international law.

History is a witness of denationalization policies; of gross crimes against Albanians during 1912-1918; for genocidal Serbian plans for the extermination of Albanians; for the deportation of Albanians in Turkey and for confiscation the lands of the population and its colonization with Serbs and Montenegrins.The time period between February 1998 and June 10, 1999 only exceeded these special cases and took the gravity of a general genocide of the Serbian regime against Albanians.

Secondly, the decision for Kosovo’s future cannot ignore the constitutional position of Kosovo in former Yugoslavia although Kosovo did not enjoy the status of a republic.However, most importantly, Kosovo was a constitute part of former Yugoslavia with a defined territory and borders, which could not be changed without its consent. Kosovo was directly represented in the former Yugoslav federation same as the other republics, not through Serbia because we would create a paradox as in that case Serbia would have three votes in the Federation, while the other units would have only one vote. With its political-territorial identities, its constitution, Kosovo was a federally constitute unit of the multinational federation of Yugoslavia.

That Kosovo was not part of Serbia can be proven by the following historical and political facts: Kosovo was not part of the independent sovereign state of Serbia with its international personality recognized in the Berlin Congress (1878); Kosovo was not part of Serbia in the Second AVNOJ Congress (1943); Kosovo was not part of Serbia during its establishment as a federal unit in the Anti-Fascist Popular Liberation Council (1944); Kosovo was not part of Serbia in the structure of Constitutional Assembly of Yugoslavia when the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was founded (1945). Kosovo was not included in the sovereign Serbia, except in federal Serbia within federal Yugoslavia, during the military occupation of Kosovo (1945).

Finally it is worth mentioning that the abolishment of Kosovo’s autonomy with the amendments in the Constitution of Serbia, an act, which occurred on March 28 1989, was done in an unlawful manner. Even if we didn’t have the essential deficiencies regarding the declaration in the Kosovo Assembly, deficiencies that are proven, “lack of free will”, as a result of extraordinary political pressures, makes the declaration for constitutional amendments unconstitutional.

Thirdly, the future of Kosovo cannot be compared with secessions in some other parts of the world. The states that remain reserved towards Kosovo independence should be mindful of this fact. They should instead look and find the “common ground” between Kosovo and certain other countries of the world, which have agreed to the removal of sovereignty over other territories.

In this regard, the relations between Kosovo and Serbia are comparable with the relations of Indonesia and East Timor. As it is well known, East Timor was occupied and annexed by Indonesia in 1975, contrary to the will of Portugal as the external sovereign, a fact which makes the annexation of Indonesia unlawful. In 1988 Indonesian government recognized the right to self-determination to the East Timor people. Singapore is another example that should be taken under consideration. This country was partitioned from Malaysia in 1965. The example of Eritrea is also meaningful for Kosovo. It was the Ethiopian government that recognized the right to self-determination to Eritrea in 1991. The case of Kosovo is also similar to the case of Namibia. Partition of Namibia from South Africa and its independence occurred in 1991.

Therefore Kosovo’s independence should not be compared with secession of territories that were not annexed in a unilateral manner (against the will of the people of the original sovereigns), which joined existing states but that they are operating in territories that were part of these states at the time when they were established. In this way even the separatist movements in Transdnjestrovle (Moldavia), in Southern Osetia and Abkazia (Georgia) that do not have the ethnic basis that Kosovo has and which didn’t have an autonomous or federal status at the time of dissolution of former Soviet Union as Kosovo had at the time of dissolution of former Yugoslavia. Finally, Kosovo Albanians are not comparable with Catalonians, Scots, Wellsians, Basks or Corsicans… because they did not face a massive deportation from the states, which controlled them.

Fourthly, the existence of Albania as an Albanian state cannot hinder the independence and sovereignty for Kosovo, because as we can recall from history neither did the status of Romania hinder the independence of Moldavia nor did the existence of France hindered the establishment of the canton-state of Switzerland. Finally, even if Kosovo was constituted as an Albanian state in the Balkans, this would be a handicap rather than an advantage of Albanian population in the Balkans. Consequently Kosovo fulfills all the criteria for being an independent and sovereign state. If it is about the size of the territory, 34 states with smaller territory are members of the UN. If it is about the population, 58 states with a smaller number of population are members of the UN. If it is for the acceptance or not of new states in the UN, it should be noted that between 1990 and 2002, UN has accepted 34 new member states. The proverb that “wherever we have facts, words become unnecessary” is not meaningless.

On the basis of these arguments and facts emphasized, in broad lines, the new political legal and international status of Kosovo should be the equivalent, without any doubt, with independence and sovereignty with internationally recognized personality in all of its territory, in the manner to ensure the consistent enforcement of law, including the northern part of Kosovo and the so-called municipalities with Serbian majority, which in the proposal of Ambassador Martti Ahtisari have gained significant competencies in the name of an asymmetric territorial and ethnic based decentralization, which in spite of its well intentions threatens the future of Kosovo.

Serbian claims for the creation of two entities or for partitioning of Kosovo are unacceptable for Kosovo. These claims ignore the fact of expressively different demographic and national quantum and proportions. In the end we would like to emphasize the fact that Kosovo is not an ethnically diversifiable territory of an enclave character. Therefore the violent surrounding of one part of Kosovo’s territory, in spite of painful compromises that Kosovo delegation agreed to with decentralization, protective zones around Serbian heritage sites and favorable legislative procedures for minorities would directly contradict the derivative political entity of that territory and would not be in accordance with it.

It is about time that Kosovo gets out from the “closed circle” in which it was for so many years. Kosovo is awaiting a new resolution from the Security Council of UN, which should be characterized from: Firstly, political, legal and international clarity regarding the status of Kosovo, which would prevent ambiguity in regard to it. Secondly, full international personality which would enable Kosovo to seek membership in international mechanisms, including UN. Thirdly, territorial integrity, which would ensure the extension of Kosovo governing institutions and consistent enforcement of the law in its entire territory. Fourthly, functional state of Kosovo, which would prevent its possible invalidation.