How Frozen is Your Conflict?

At their meeting in Sochi — planned home of the 2014 Winter Olympics and just a hop, skip and APC ride from Abkhazia — Russia’s president Dmitri Medvedev warned Moldova’s president not to repeat the “Georgian mistake.”

Moldova, of course, claims Transnistria as part of its internationally recognized territory, but has never exercised actual control since the collapse of the Soviet Union. A Soviet Army, the 14th iirc, commanded at the time by Alexander Lebed, helped the Transnistrians enforce their counter-secession from Moldova. Since then, it’s continued its odd trajectory, something of a black hole in international legal term, reputed to be a haven for all manner of criminality and, not incidentally, an irritant to both Moldova and Ukraine.

“After the Georgian leadership lost their marbles, as they say, all the problems got worse and a military conflict erupted,” Medvedev told Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin.

“This is a serious warning, a warning to all,” he added. “And I believe we should handle other existing conflicts in this context.”

Which context? Issuing Russian passports to anyone who asks and then claiming the right to intervene to protect “Russian citizens”?

Message received:

“Frozen conflicts are a real volcano which can blow up anytime,” Voronin added. “That is why taking into account what had happened elsewhere it would be useful if we exercised again such wisdom not to allow such things to repeat in our country.”

The ripples from Georgia are just starting to spread.

18 thoughts on “How Frozen is Your Conflict?

  1. Serghei Lavrov declared today that Russia and Moldova are ready to return to the 2003 Kozak Memorandum.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kozak_memorandum
    This would mean Transnistria would have a blocking minority and would practically control Moldova’s decisions.

    Russia is gaining ground, the West is losing ground.

  2. These are the ripples of Kosovo.

    Georgia is Sui Generis from other frozen conflicts.

  3. Mm, no.

    Russia was fiddling around in Georgia (among other places) long before either the NATO intervention in Kosovo or its independence nearly a decade later.

    If Milosevic had succeeded in pushing the Albanians out of Kosovo, Russia would still be fiddling around in Georgia and other places.

  4. Sergey Lavrov declared today that Russia and Moldova are ready to return to the 2003 Kozak Memorandum. That would mean that Transnistria would be able to veto Moldova’s decisions and would thus control Moldova’s foreign policy. Moscow will be very happy with that.
    Russia is gaining ground, the West is loosing ground in Moldova.

    Today I argued the whole day (well almost) on another site about why Kosovo is different from S Ossetia. I’m too tired to do it again. It is different; study the conflicts and you will see.

    (I posted a similar comment some hours ago but because of the wikipedia link to the Kozak Memorandum the comment did not appear. Are links not permitted in the comment section?)

  5. Yeah Kosovo is different from South Ossetia and the Philipines and Thailand and Abkhazia, and the Basque area, and …….and they’re all different from each other.

    It’s not real earthshaking that there are differences. South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Kosovo are all independent because they subverted negotiation and the UN because a superpower supported them militarily and monetarily. The West paved the road they’re travelling. So, argue until your finger tips bleed about what Rice, Bush, Bildt, Blair, and Merkle say. Cite it like it is biblical. It isn’t. They’re travelling the EU paved road to illegal secession, or at least it was illegal until Kosovo ceded with EU support.

    Kosovo started it. EU/NATO ignored sovereignty and now others are following suit. The EU has no moral high ground on this issue. They support Kosovo despite the over 200,000 (Roma are people too) displaced minority refugees caused by EU/NATO’s supported Kosovo independence.

    Milosevic fought an EU-supported (German-trained) guerilla force that displaced people. Serbia is still multiethnic, including a sizeable Abanian population. NATO caused the massive refugee crisis in Albania and Northern Macedonia. To refute this is to saying that the EU/NATO suethnically cleansed Kosovo of 200,000 minorities for the past nine years in their Kosovo campaign the US has cleansed over 4 million Iraqis. People flee war.

    Russia did keep the peace in South Ossetia and Abkhazia before Kosovo. However, it took 18 years before they declared it independent. They declared it after the EU created Kosovo out of Serbia’s sovereign land.

  6. So the Serbs were the good guys and the EU the bad guys. Guess that facts such as Kosovo’s autonomy being canceled, more than 100.000 Albanians being thrown out of their jobs, the closing of Albanians schools, newspapers, television, massacres such as Racak and many other violations of human rights committed by the Serbs don’t count for Albanians wanting and deserving independence.
    I would also trust a country that canceled the powers of my regional representatives and many of my rights, threw me out of university, fired my mom and dad from their jobs, arrested me for listening news from radio Tirana and with this occasion also gave me a good beating. I would definitely trust them, at least they didn’t kill me as they did with my cousin.
    (no I’m not Albanian and that was not my life. I was lucky to live somewhere else)

  7. To: Paul

    Well, I do blame Milošević for various stupid actions.

    Sometime in late 1980’s, Albanians decided they do not want to be part of Serbia anymore (actually, it has long history, but those were turning years) and started boycotting all Serbian institutions. Stupid MiloÅ¡ević fell into trap and did various things to alienate Albanians further.

    In beginning of 1990’s, many elections took part in Serbia — 99% of Albanians decided not to participate. If they did participate, they would have over 20% members of Serbian assembly and not single Serbian government would be able to form without them (see Macedonia for example).

    However, peculiar status of Kosovo in socialistic Yugoslavia (it was part of Serbia, but at same time subject of federation, so Serbia couldn’t influence anything happening at province level, but provinces had say in central Serbian government) drove both sides towards more radical stance: Serbs were resenting the fact that Serbia couldn’t govern at territory nominally belonging to it, resented the fact that Albanians were in absolute power in province. In 1970’s and 1980’s, many Serbian peasants were driven out of Kosovo (if they didn’t want to sell the property, they would be harassed daily until they would cave in).

    On the other hand, Albanians in Kosovo saw division of Yugoslavia as opportunity for independence. When nobody was actually interested in recognizing Kosovo as independent, they decided to remove themselves from Serbian public life, which stupid nationalists in power in Serbia welcomed openly. However, there were no single politician among Albanians who would be willing to acknowledge Serbia as a state and negotiate with Serbia regarding autonomy, way before even KLA was formed and before any fighting took place.

    Then, more radical faction of Albanians were not satisfied with status quo and formed KLA. With initial funding with dubious sources (many are quick to point to drug trade as a source, but I believe that significant portion of initial funds came from Albanians abroad), they formed armed resistance and started attacking Serbian police, with intent to provoke armed reaction (which Milošević was more than happy to provide).

    Initially, western countries classified KLA as terrorist organization. However, some so called “pragmatists” in US administration recognized potential of KLA as tool for pressure on MiloÅ¡ević and started sending support and equipment to it. Very soon, KLA was recognized by US as legitimate voice of Albanians and Serbia was under huge pressure to start negotiations with it as violence was spiraling out of control.

    Serbian side agreed to international talks in Rambouiet. However, Albanian side came to talks with promise that they will get independence. US encouraged them to reject any degree of autonomy and to keep their stance. So, negotiations were not going anywhere and only Serbia was offered a stick: Serbia had to agree to whatever Kosovo Albanians request, otherwise it will be bombed. Kosovo Albanians didn’t face any consequences for failure to negotiate. All this was happening in autumn of 1998, six months before actual NATO action.

    During NATO war against Serbia, they bombed score of civilian targets, such as bridges throughout whole Serbia, TV towers, buildings, hotels, airports, electro distribution network, etc. They systematically destroyed almost every freeway and railway bridge in Serbia with main intent to psychologically damage Serbian general population. Even then, after 78 days of bombing, they did agree on resolution 1422, which explicitly calls out final act from Helsinki to affirm external Yugoslav (later inherited by Serbia) borders.

    All in all, I just scrapped top of history of Serbian-Albanian conflict and I do not like when somebody attempts to simplify it to cartoonish black-and-white picture. I am sick of hearing people talking about Serbs as bad boys as it is some God-given fact. Serbs are not angels, but nobody is. There is fair share of blame for everybody involved and attempting to paint the conflict as good boys vs. evil boys is deplorable.

    That’s why I should refrain from commenting on Georgia conflict. I never been there and I have no enough facts to make informed comments.

    Some will dismiss my comments as Serb propaganda and stop their thinking there. How are so sure that you are not subject of Albanian propaganda? At least I used to have close relatives in Kosovo before war of 1999 (some were killed by Albanians, most of them fled their ancestral homes), so at least I can talk about experiences first hand.

  8. Tit for tat doesn’t warrant a violation of sovereignty through unilateral declaration of independence.

    How can the EU expect the remaining minorities in Kosovo to live under an Albanian government that doesn’t treat them in their hospitals, killed thousands, has not provided for the return of over 200,000 minorities, excludes refugees from voting, and keeps them at a 70% jobless rate. I suppose you support UDI for them too. Right? According the the EU double standard in Georgia and Kosovo, I think you don’t support that. It’s double standards, Sui Generis, and intolerable.

    The EU/NATO paved the road to Georgian crisis. These are the ripples of Kosovo that we are seeing in Georgia. They will be to blame for the rest that follow too. But not only them, those that carry their propaganda and twisted logic as though it’s a biblical truth or otherwise the word of an Almighty.

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  10. Srbin wasn’t the Albanians the ones that signed the Rambouillet Accords and thus accepted the status of an autonomous province of Serbia and the Serbs the ones that refused to sign?

  11. @ Paul

    It is true that the Albanians signed the ultimatum to Serbia at Rambolliet and that Serbia refused foreign occupation of their entire country, including unrestricted access to the country’s defense sites. This is something that no country would accept. The EU and NATO knew that. It was very much an imperial-style ploy (similar to what Austria did in WWI) to provide a reason to attack and occupy a sovereign nation. That is, the agreement at Rabolliet was an ultimatum that they knew Serbia couldn’t accept.

    EU and NATO Policy towards breaking apart sovereign nations: Start a crisis by fostering a guerilla insurgency, start a PR campaign for it, and deliver an ultimatum. Then, break the nation apart without consulting the UN.

    Russia can use that in Ukraine and the EU and NATO should be fine with it. China should also be able to use it with EU/NATO being fine with it. The African nations can use it there too.

    I hope the EU and NATO countries are prepared to accept all the refugees their policy will cause in the future. They should be stepping up to take Georgians right now. Kosovo’s ripples will continue for years into the future.

  12. Well, look up Rambouillet Agreement on Wikipedia (I tend to believe Wikipedia articles, particularly after event they describe is long gone):

    the statement by the co-chairmen on the 23 February 1999 [said] that the negotiations have led to a consensus on substantial autonomy for Kosovo, including on mechanisms for free and fair elections to democratic institutions, for the governance of Kosovo, for the protection of human rights and the rights of members of national communities; and for the establishment of a fair judicial system. They went on to say that a political framework is now in place leaving the further work of finalizing the implementation Chapters of the Agreement, including the modalities of the invited international civilian and military presence in Kosovo.

    ex-secretary of State Henry Kissinger declared that
    The Rambouillet text, which called on Serbia to admit NATO troops throughout Yugoslavia, was a provocation, an excuse to start bombing. Rambouillet is not a document that an angelic Serb could have accepted. It was a terrible diplomatic document that should never have been presented in that form.
    —Henry Kissinger on Daily Telegraph, June 28th 1999

    On March 23, the Serbian assembly accepted the principle of autonomy for Kosovo [1] and non-military part of the agreement. But the Serbian side had objections to the military part of the Rambouillet agreement, appendix B in particular [2], which it characterized as “NATO occupation”. The full document was described “fraudulent” because the military part of the agreement was offered only at the very end of the talks without much possibility for negotiation, and because the other side, condemned in harshest terms as a “separatist–terrorist delegation”, completely refused to meet delegation of FRY and negotiate directly during the Rambouillet talks at all.

    Sources are available in Wikipedia article. Also, all humanitarian crisis which is today used as basis for Kosovo independence happened after NATO started bombing Serbia. If NATO was more willing to negotiate and retract some dubious appendixes, showing goodwill to address Serbian points. Did they really need unhindered access to whole territory of Serbia, with complete immunity? Immunity which extends to even simple crimes. In Macedonia, NATO (Norway) soldier was driving in wrong direction on divided freeway and killed Macedonian minister Radovan Stojkovski, his wife and daughter. Later, Norwegian court released the driver, with all charges dropped. This is not atypical for NATO and US in general. In Macedonia, six people were killed in accidents caused by NATO drivers and typically perpetrators are given very light sentences or acquitted of all charges in their home countries.

  13. Bosnia, Kosovo, South Ossetia, Abhkazhia, Nagorno Karabahk, Basque region, Moldova, etc. are all different or the same. It all depends on your point of view and, shall I say, political bias!

    What is not different is the Realpolitik. And two more principles: (1) the territorial integrity (whatever that means) and (2) the right of self-determination. Sometimes they are in conflict. So, whoever is mightier usually wins. Very simple.

    Kosovo – the US and the NATO carved out a new map from an existing territory (the purists would argue about Milosevic or Serbia’s history and cradle and this and that. Go right ahead) because of geopolitical and security interests.

    South Ossetia + Abhkazia – Russia carved out a new map from an existing territory (again Saahkasvhili is a saint and Medvedev/Putin are the twin devils, etc.) Oddly enough the map was arbitrarily drawn by Josef Stalin – the worst tyrant and human monster.

    But here the NATO and the US are hypocritical when they talk about “international law” and “territorial sovereignty” then dismember Serbia, and now they oppose Russia dismembering Georgia.

  14. Well, it seems to me that world is sliding slowly to 19th century geopolitics — you can do whatever you want if you can.

  15. Reading this blog for quite some time, but posting for the first time.

    I talked with a friend who lives in Tbilisi. The majority of people that surround him feel better after US fleet entered the Black Sea.

    It’s quite sad that they fail to realize that the only one who benefits from this conflict is still the US. Neither Russia, nor Georgia will “win” in this situation.

  16. “At their meeting in Sochi — planned home of the 2014 Winter Olympics and just a hop, skip and APC ride from Abkhazia — Russia’s president Dmitri Medvedev warned Moldova’s president”

    I want to add to this that Medvedev also met in Sochi with Pridnestrovie’s (Transnistrian) President Igor Smirnov.

    http://www.nr2.ru/pmr/193065.html

    But I don’t know what was the outcome of this important meeting.
    Ron.

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