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!