Unfair and peace-preventing
February this article has circulated quite a few dailies but been printed
only in Swedish Aftonbladet and Danish Jyllands-Posten.
It has been submitted - one at a time - to the following who either
did not reply - the majority - or declined: The Guardian (Comment
Is Free and Features), The Wall Street Journal (as response
to a pro-independence letter), The Sunday Telegraph, The
Washington Post, New York Times, International Herald
Tribune, Politiken and Berlingske Tidende (Denmark),
Dagens Nyheter (Sweden).
What do you think could be the reasons that none of these distinguished
free media showed the slightest interest in it?
A) It's badly written.
B) The authors don't really know what they talk about.
C) The authors think there are other solutions than the one suggested
by powerful Western governments, including those that bombed Serbia
and Kosovo in 1999.
D) The newspaper editors don't believe that the Kosovo issue is or will
E) The article is critical of the media coverage of this conflict.
F) Editors are overburdened and read only some of all submitted articles,
often going for well-known, powerful people's views.
G) If this type of views began to spread, people might begin to question
whether NATO's bombing was the right thing to do.
H ) Everybody knows that Kosovo is a unique case in world politics.
There are no alternatives to making it independent and, thus, really
nothing that merits a discussion.
I) Nothing is said here that has not already been stated in thousands
of articles about Kosovo.
J ) Other reasons?
We welcome your views, not only about the article but also on how you
think the free media handle conflict, war and peace - here.
May 11, 2007
The western world has a free press, and a
free press can have many perspectives. Why, then, has the story of Kosovo
been so uniform the last 15 years? And why is Martti Ahtisaari’s
so-called mediation of Kosovo’s future status – and the media
coverage of it – so partial and non-objective?
Fair reporting would include perspectives of the Serbs, Romas, and other
minorities in Kosovo, not only the majority Albanians.
It is indeed true that Serbia under Milosevic ruthlessly repressed the
Kosovo-Albanians. The other side of the coin is that they were extremely
inclined toward nationalism and secession since their collaboration with
Mussolini. When, in 1974, Tito gave them probably the highest autonomy
any minority has enjoyed, it was seen by many Serbs as anti-Serb, rewarding
their rebellion the same year. Further, it is indeed noble to care for
minority rights but the international community never cared equally about
equally repressed Serb civilians in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo.
It is indeed true that Serbia had much military and police power. But
reports consistently omit that the quite successful non-violent struggle
of the Kosovo-Albanians was destroyed by the US and Germany when, from
1993, they clandestinely began arming Kosovo-Albanian extremists and created
KLA, the Kosovo Liberation Army, behind the back of the non-violent leader,
Dr. Ibrahim Rugova.
It is indeed reasonable that leading Serbs should be tried as possible
war criminals. But reports consistently omit that Kosovo’s present
Prime Minister, Agim Ceku, was Croatian Army commander in the Medak Pocket
in 1993 where every human being and animal was killed; that as such he
participated when some 200 000 Serbs citizens of Croatia were driven out
Ceku was a KLA leader and NATO did not disarm
KLA. The world turned the blind eye when 200 000 Kosovo-Serbs were forced
out; then KLA instigated violence in Southern Serbia and the war in Macedonia.
It is indeed true that some 800 000 Kosovo’s Albanians fled Kosovo
in 1999. They did so because a) war raged between Serb troops and KLA
with it 20 000 well-armed fighters, b) armed Serbs chased them out, and
c) NATO bombs fell for 78 days. Evidence in support of President Clinton’s
argument for the bombing – that Milosevic had a Hitler-like plan
to expel 1,5 million Albanians - has never been produced. Most media amplified
this psycho-warfare manipulation.
Kosovo’s Albanians returned; the Serbs did not. Thus, Europe’s
largest refugee problem is in Serbia. It’s a Himalayan fiasco and
moral defeat for the UN, the EU, NATO and the OSCE – the governors
of Kosovo - that they have failed to create conditions conducive to the
rightful return of Serbs, Roma and other minorities.
It is indeed true that Albanians in Kosovo have suffered. But to argue
that this suffering means a) that Serbia has lost its sovereignty over
the province forever (a sovereignty emphasized in UN Security Council
resolution 1244) and b) that Kosovo must therefore become the second independent
Albanian state in Europe is dangerous exceptionalism. What, then, about
the suffering in Tibet, Chechenya, Kurdistan, Palestine, Abkhazia, South
Ossetia, Tamil Eelam, the Basque Province, Northern Ireland, Northern
Cyprus, Republika Srpska, etc.?
Shall they all become independent by NATO
bombs followed by Ahtisaarian “mediation” magic?
It is particularly bizarre in the case of Serbia. In 2000 the citizens
of multi-ethnic Serbia non-violently deposed Milosevic, their wartime
leader. Croats, Muslims and Albanians still celebrate theirs. Kosovo’s
present leaders were wartime leaders, and we must be absolutely sure they
are neither war criminals nor mafia before rewarding them with an independent
Mr Ahtisaari’s proposal is commissioned power politics, devoid of
professional mediation and conflict-resolution. It’s the long-term
result of a few facts: that the international community never understood
Yugoslavia’s complexities, that it didn’t facilitate a negotiated
solution in the early 1990s when a solution was possible, that is never
used the same principles to solve the same problems and that it believed
peace would emerge from disregarding one party, bombing a disputed territory
out of a state and occupying it.
Advocates of independent Kosovo should have used creativity and empathy.
Imagine Ahtisaari had offered Serbia things
such as economic compensation for the bombing and the sanctions, payment
for taking Kosovo property out of Serbia, rent for the gigantic American
Bondsteel military base, and common Serb-Albanian border patrol.
Imagine he had suggested negotiations about
autonomy within Kosovo for the northern Serb-dominated parts and opened
an expressway for Serbia and Kosovo to the EU.
Imagine that he had denied the wartime leaders
in Kosovo the huge new army they want; it will destabilise the region
and threaten Serbia and other neighbours.
Before blaming Serbs and Serbia for protesting the Ahtisaari plan and
Western policies, find a sovereign state whose peacetime leaders would
not protest such arrogance. Mr. Ahtisaari’s plan is un-fair, un-intellectual,
and un-viable. As a tool for Western political short-sighted interests,
it will create instability, human misery and, most likely, violence.
The authors are Associates
of the Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research, TFF, in
Sweden – www.transnational.org. Each have followed developments
and worked periodically with the conflicts in ex-Yugoslavia for more than
© TFF & the author 1997 till today. All rights reserved.
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