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Kosovo - failed international
conflict management
With links to must-read analyses



Jan Oberg

Nagoya, Japan, November 22, 2007


The soon-to-come tragedy called Kosovo - caused more by international than local factors

News media cover violence rather than underlying conflicts. That's why you hear so little about the soon-to-be-again tragedy called Kosovo. There is growing risk that, in a few weeks, we shall witness another round of violence, repression and other human misery. And then the media will be there.

Since 1991 TFF has analysed and predicted developments in former Yugoslavia. Thirteen years ago we began publishing ideas, models and plans for a peaceful solution to the Kosovo+ conflicts.

If the above prediction comes true, it will neither be the fault of the Serbs nor the Albanians. It will be caused by the international so-called community (IC). It did nothing to prevent violence or negotiate peace when both were possible, i.e. in the early 1990s. See TFF's books and reports about former Yugoslavia, including "Preventing War in Kosovo" from 1992 here.

TFF and Amnesty International were the only ones constantly warning of an explosion there. Today there are no good solutions left.

The international community (IC) did not understand that Kosovo is only the stage on which a much larger drama is played out. It ignored the immense complexities of the Yugoslav conflicts as well as the unique potentials for a nonviolent solution to this conflict. It used violence in a fake "humanitarian intervention" the consequences of which now threatens to blow up the region once again.

And it put the UN on one of the saddest mission thinkable - UNMIK in Kosovo.

In 1998 the war between the Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA, and Serb forces broke out because the US, Germany and others had equipped, trained and armed KLA over several years. NATO bombed Kosovo and Serbia in 1999 based on a diagnosis so deficient and false that, had it been a doctor before surgery, the patient would have died.

Few listened - and those who did, including top-level UN diplomats in New York, could do nothing - the member states were engaged elsewhere or pursuing their own narrow national interests in the tragedy of the Balkans - including oil and gas pipelines through the region, selling arms and building basis to "contain" Russia. The Clinton administration - with Al Gore, the Nobel Committee's bizarre choice this year as Vice-President - was behind most of it, the EU being as split as ever.

Few media writing about the region today have journalists on the ground or anyone with over 15 years of experience. And what should we judge the present against if not the last few years of history? No wonder the simplifications, bias and repetitions of various distortions that characterise much of today's coverage.


Why did the recent elections in Kosovo not cause massive concerns?

Although aspiring to independence in a few weeks, only about 45% voted and the Serbs boycotted the recent elections. It bodes ill for democracy and human rights. Even worse, its victor Hachim Thaci is a former KLA warlord, likely to replace the present warlord prime minister and KLA architect Agim Ceku, who also was a leading general in the Croatian Army when it ethnically cleansed 250 000 Croatian Serbs out of Croatia in 1995 with the substantial support of the US and European governments. In short, he is our warlord and, thus, OK.

In addition, Kosovo is a place with extremely little production and the more (black economy) trade and a crime structure reaching from Afghanistan deeply into Switzerland, Brussels and major cities in the US. Unemployment is about 70 % and the place is a series of segregated communities, minority Serbs and others living in ghettos.

Kosovo's Albanian leadership has by no means satisfied the criteria long ago set up by the IC or secured the return of the 150 000 or so Kosovo-Serbs who saw it best to leave when KLA's political and military leaders did reverse ethnic cleansing in autumn 1999 under the very eyes of tens of thousands of NATO, EU, OSCE and UN staff - the largest ever peace mission per square kilometre.

In summary, when the Kosovo-Albanian leadership will declare independence in December or early spring 2008, presumably supported by Washington, it is for all practical purposes a segregated community, a predominantly black economy, a state run by Western-supported, non-convicted war criminals - in short, failed state before declared a state. In spite of the billions of dollars poured into it since 1999.

Independence? Perhaps but not in this manner

Does this mean that Kosovo should not become an independent state?

Eleven years ago, TFF published a blueprint for a negotiated settlement - still the only document at the time given wide publicity on both sides based on hundreds of hours of conversations in Kosovo and Belgrade. More here.

Much indeed speaks in favour of independence. I for one would not be against it and have never been - because: The basic concept of independence for Kosovo was developed in 1991-1994 by intellectuals and politicians around Dr. Ibrahim Rugova in consultation with teams of TFF experts. The idea was a democratic, lawful state, with open borders, no army, no future integration with Albania and good relations to all sides - brought about through negotiations. (Italics because there are still people who believe that the present author and TFF is anti-Albanian and pro-Serb - which has never been true - and thereby avoid a serious discussion about mediation and conflict-resolution options. That was also politically convenient to 95% of the world's media).

But, and here comes the huge BUT: NO state should become independent today through NATO bombing, ethnic cleansing, crime-based politics, propaganda and refusal to compromise in the slightest with the relevant parties.

Today's Serbia has made up the account with its war-time leadership. Today's Serbia refuses total independence for Kosovo but proposes uniquely high autonomy and points to models such as Hongkong and the Åland Islands. It is time to reward Serbia's new maturity and lawful approach by at least giving it a fair media coverage and a fair hearing. But who dares to break with the old black-and-white media image of the Balkans?

For instance, did it ever occur to you that Serbs were consistently called "nationalists" while others who worked for only their own nation and independent states insisted to get it by violent means and were treated as friends of Western democracy? (Pro-Serb again, right? No! It is a matter of politics and media distortion - naturally, none of those responsible for it at the time willing to admit it).


Alternative peace plans and other resources

There are many possible solutions to the Kosovo problem. TFF presented them two years ago in "The Kosovo Solution Series" - 12 articles here.

TFF Associates have criticised the Ahtisaari Plan for conditional independence here.

There is Serb TFF Associate Aleksandar Mitic' "The Making of a Compromise. Kosovo 2006".

- as well as the best homepage with daily articles and materials on the background and the future with all the relevant questions media and diplomacy ought to seek answers to: "Kosovo Compromise 2007".

And there are several hundred analytical and debate articles here about former Yugoslavia by TFF Associates over the years.

- and the best selection of other materials about the Balkans.

[Thousands of media and individual journalists and editors receive TFF emails, of which this is one. They know perfectly well what we have published over the years and that our experts' predictions have come true. With more than 20 years of experience in the business, we know why TFF's analyses are ignored and politically correct, near-governmental views of, say, the International Crisis Group will get the headlines. With deficient diagnosis, the violence will go on and the 'free' media contribute in their own ways. TFF will continue to do exactly what we have always done in spite of all that].

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Conclusion - it's the 11th hour to prevent a new tragedy

If in contrast to spin and propaganda, knowledge still matters, this e-mail/homepage articles can be your guidance to a more comprehensive understanding of the very dangerous developments in Kosovo - and Bosnia - in the wake of the thoroughly failed peace-making of the international community.

There is no way things can go well in the region the next few months, and you may want to know why when the IC will blame either the Serbs or the Albanians but never themselves.

The future requires one thing before anything else: A recognition by the international community itself that it is co-responsible for the terrible situation in Kosovo and Bosnia and that it has basically put itself in a political prison there. A new beginning based on a series of open, honest lessons learned is an imperative. I fear it will not come...

If the highest goal of the European Union is peace, it is the 11th hour to show it. But how could it with "foreign minister" Javier Solana being personally so responsible for the destruction of the region? In 1999 he was NATO S-G and the highest civilian responsible for NATO's bombing. After this moral, legal, intellectual scandal he was rewarded by his peers and kicked upwards to the top level of the EU. It is conveniently forgotten today that peace-making EU is lead by a non-convicted war criminal...

And this in a world that desparately needs an alternative to reckless divide-and-rule and occupation/independence US policies.

The tragedy of our international times ather like dark clouds over Kosovo.

Will anybody be able to change course and prevent utter chaos?



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