Kosovo: Divided We Stand, United We Fall?

This is the title of a post from Seb Bytyci on his South East Europe Online blog. I reproduce the entire post below the fold.

So the UN seems set to adopt a plan which would allow Kosovo to make a giant step on the road to independence. This is hardly surprising, and frankly I see no other realistic way forward. But obviously not everyone is happy. And some of those who seem not to be happy have considerable ability to make mischief, and not the least among these, the Putin regime in Moscow.

Doug Muir and I have been blogging this week about the Serbian elections (here and here) and perhaps the biggest issue which arises from those elections is just which way Kostunica will fall. A lot depends on this decision, and this UN proposal, coming at precisely this time, may well serve to give him a sharp push in the wrong direction. Call it the law of the inopportune moment. Offering a share of power to the Radicals would constitute a major problem for Serbia, and in the medium term for the whole EU. But rising nationalist feelings, especially when they come on the back of desperation, are often hard to contain.

I would say that the biggest strategic danger is that the Serbs allow themselves to become a proxy for the ambitions, and mischief-making abilities, of Russian nationalism in the region.

This week a lot of people are gathered in Davos, and on the agenda somewhere is the topic of demography. Amongst those participating is demographer Nicholas Eberstadt who has repeatedly drawn our attention to the real and present danger constituted by a Russia which, on the back of low birth rates and reduced life expectancy, faces imminent demographic meltdown.

Only this week the Eastern Europe correspondent at The Economist Edward Lucas had this to say (in the Economist latest Europe.View column.

‘Forget, for a moment, the headline stories from central and eastern Europe―the pipeline politics, the corruption scandals, the treasonous tycoons. The big story in the ex-communist world is people. Too few are being born. Too many are dying. And tens of millions have changed country.’

This is the new reality of Eastern Europe, and it is one we would do well not to lose from sight, for if we do we may find ourselves getting bogged down in the detail of things whilst missing the big picture which is unfolding before our very eyes. (Claus Vistesen has an in-depth review of the world bank report to which Edward Lucas refers here).

Seb is reasonably optimistic, and understandably so given all that the Kosovars have gone through, but we should never forget the darker side of things, which lies out there in wait of us, if it can catch us unawares. In the context of what is happening right now in Russia and Serbia I would say that vigilance was the watchword.

Divided We Stand, United We Fall?

by Seb Bytyci

It is now obvious that Kosovo will get some from of independence. Be it “Conditional independence,” “supervised independence,” “independence lite” or any other name you want to call it – Kosovo will split its ties with Serbia. It would be pointless to call for independence at this time, however I will try to pen some ideas regarding why I think Kosovo’s independence will be beneficial for both Kosovo and Serbia.

First and foremost, the benefits of a defined status will be seen immediately among the Kosovars. When I was in Kosovo last summer, the air was stiffling; people were desperate. Besides the lack jobs and money, the psychological barrier of the status quo was so big that it stiffled any type of creativity. Hopefully, as an independent country Kosovo will attract investment and the living standard will improve.

Second, after Kosovo’s sovereignty is recognized internationally, Serbia will be able to remove a huge burden off its back. Nonetheless, that will happen only if Serbia chooses to do so. True, ultranationalists won most of the votes in the last election; however that does not mean Serbia is not going to recognize the fact that it doesn’t have to deal with the issue of Kosovo anymore. Polls show that most Serbs are ready to accept and do expect that Kosovo will become indepedent.

Third, the closure of the issue, and ideally mutual recognition between Kosovo and Serbia, would enable genuine reconciliation to take place between Serbs and Albanians. This is very important for the future of the Balkans.

Last, but by no means least, Kosovo’s independence would mean the end of an unstable period in the Balkans. Not only do Kosovars suffer from the status quo,but the whole region does. Hopefully, when I check the news on the Balkans in the future headlines will include words like growth and free trade, instead of war crimes,and ethnic tensions.Furthermore, if Kosovo is forced back into Serbian rule, only more human suffering will ensue.

Ah-Tito-saari?

However, there is a risk that Serbia will refuse to wake up to the reality. And that may be encouraged by Mr. Ahtisaari’s proposal. If the wording of the resolution on Kosovo is too vague, and it doesn’t guarantee that Kosovo will be a compact functional state, Serbia may be led to believe that it can one day reconquer Kosovo. Ahtisaari may risk earning the nickname Ah-Tito-saari. Former Yugoslav dictator Tito did give Kosovo that status of an equal federal unit, however Kosovo didn’t get the name Republic. This led to the occupation of Kosovo by Serbia in 1989.

In any case, we are going to have to update our maps very soon. Either through a UN resolution, or unilateral recognition, Kosovo is going to be recognized as an independent state. Almost certainly, Serbia will not recognize the new state immediately. Nevertheless, Serbia will recognize the independent Kosovo, either indirectly (through multilateral agreements) or directly, in the medium term. It is also quite likely that Serbia will have to change its constitution if it wants to join the EU.

The immediate aftermath of independence is hard to guess. Some Kosovar Albanians may be unhappy with the settlement and decide to protest in the street. Some Kosovar Serbs might try to cut ties completely with the Kosovo government and join Serbia. Which is highly unlikely to happen, for many reasons, the not least of which is the NATO military presence in all Kosovo areas. Some Serbians might go into the streets to protest the settlement, too. Most Kosovars – including me – will be consuming large amounts of alcohol as part of the celebration of the hard earned freedom.

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About Edward Hugh

Edward 'the bonobo is a Catalan economist of British extraction. After being born, brought-up and educated in the United Kingdom, Edward subsequently settled in Barcelona where he has now lived for over 15 years. As a consequence Edward considers himself to be "Catalan by adoption". He has also to some extent been "adopted by Catalonia", since throughout the current economic crisis he has been a constant voice on TV, radio and in the press arguing in favor of the need for some kind of internal devaluation if Spain wants to stay inside the Euro. By inclination he is a macro economist, but his obsession with trying to understand the economic impact of demographic changes has often taken him far from home, off and away from the more tranquil and placid pastures of the dismal science, into the bracken and thicket of demography, anthropology, biology, sociology and systems theory. All of which has lead him to ask himself whether Thomas Wolfe was not in fact right when he asserted that the fact of the matter is "you can never go home again".

27 thoughts on “Kosovo: Divided We Stand, United We Fall?

  1. Frankly it is insulting for people to tell Serbia to simply accept independence and get on with things. How many other countries would simply accept a diktat from outside to relinquish territory, no matter how logical it might seem or how little attachment people have to it? In Britain there would be absolute fury if this were to happen with N. Ireland, for instance.

    Independence is not the problem. The problem is that Serbia has been treated appallingly badly in this whole process. I know that this will bring about howls of protest from those who will point to how the Serbs treated the Albanians in the past. But this is not the issue. The Serbs got rid of Milosevic and are now being punished for his wrongdoings in a way that is not happening elsewhere. For example, no one is arguing that the TRNC should have independence because of what the Greek Cypriots did to the Turkish Cypriots in the past. Similarly, people aren’t arguing that Iraq should fragment because the Kurds cannot be expected to live alongside Sunnis. In this sense punishing Serbia for the sins of the past is a complete non-argument. Worse still, if Kosovo is granted independence on this basis it will completely negate the principle of reconciliation in the management of ethnic conflict. Managing ethnic conflict necessarily requires an acceptance and forgiveness of past sins.

    In any case, the fact is that the fairest and most logical solution would be partition. Serbia agrees to independence of 15 per cent of its territory if Pristina agrees to allow the 15 per cent of Kosovo that is mainly inhabited by Serbs go their own way. Although it has been strongly opposed by the international community, it seems as if Ahtisaari has laid the plans for this in his new proposals. Give it time and this has all the makings of a real compromise that everyone is searching for.

  2. Kosovo was not made an equal federal unit by Tito. It was always an autonomous province within Serbia and the Albanians there never had the status of nation with the right of self-determination, unlike Serbs, Croats, Slovenes and “Muslims”.

    I know that Badinter and all the other all-powerful Western rulers and “deciders” trashed these things when they carved up Yugoslavia, breaking international law in the process, but this is a truth that cannot be ignored when discussing this issue.

    For instance, the Bosnian constitution gave each of its three constitutent nations, Serbs, Croats and Muslims, the right of veto over any constitutional change. This of course was ignored when the Serb veto was disregarded. In Croatia, the two constituent nations of that republic were Serbs and Croats, each of whom had similar rights. Thus, Serbs had a veto right that also was disregarded.

    This of course also violated the Helsinki treaty as European countries and other signatories such as the US pledged not to carve up member states.

    Recognising an independent Kosovo would also be highly illegal and its claim to independence has less justification than that of the Pridnestrovskaya Respublika which of course is being subject to acts of war by the Euro-Atlantic powers.

  3. Diplomats and just plain dips see nothing but a Kosovo that is “90% Albanian province that was put under the UN after NATO forced Milosevic to withdraw his troops.” In addition, the other common perception is that Kosovo is somehow stagnant due to “its current status.”

    Kosovo has the fifth largest coal reserve in the world and constitutes 15% of the land area Serbia. What the UN and, most of all, NATO countries propose is a change on international borders and a large mineral resource grab for the country where those resources exist. One must keep in mind that NATO countries instigated the bombing at Ramboulet and aided and abetted the guerilla insurgency coming from Albania proper (even having operatives working for the UN). So the drum beat goes on… the issue on the table is saving the “Kosovars” from Serbia. All the while, other real issues and facts are ignored. Facts like:

    1. Kosovo was always a part of Serbia, even under Tito and therefore, nothing like Bosnia, Croatia or the other lesser states;
    2. An insurgency supported by greater powers through acts or war is now being given a country by the same powers that separated it through war (smacks or WWII map making);
    3. A country’s greatest mineral wealth is being given to that country’s minority population solely because or their birth rate demographic and population concentration;
    4. NATO’s action and the UN have overseen an exodus and creation of about 250,000 refugees (all minorities). These people have been largely neglected and ignored in the UN administration and the “settlement process”;
    5. In the Yugoslavian budget, Kosovo received massive infusions of money to make it economically viable, only to be absorbed by the Albanian-run province with little prosperity. Nobody has addressed this issue.

    So, the questions that must be asked are:

    1. How much and for how long is Europe willing to subsidize the economic black hole known as Kosovo?

    2. Why is it that Kosovo is deemed undividable based on ethnic lines when the same principal is not held for UN States like Serbia or, dare I mention, Bosnia? This precedent is great for the Basque, Kurds, South Thai Malaysians, and numerous other “repressed minorities.”

    3. What is the plan for the 250,000 minorities cleansed from Kosovo and the coming 100,000 after Kosovo is handed to the KLA leadership? NATO countries should be willing to aid and subsidize these refugees for the coming decades. After all, this is the result of mandating ethnic partition of Serbia and Yugoslavia.

    4. Since this is a resource grab, will the EU mandate that the mining done to extract the resource be performed at expensive EU environmental and safety standards?

    Rewriting wire feeds is what journalism has become. It’s unfortunate for journalism and the world. The end of the world clock advanced a couple minutes this year – no thanks to the ignorance of U.S. and the European foreign policy in the past decades The worlds “think tanks” like the International Crisis Group (ICG)that Ahtisaari and other bureacrats is stuffed are also a great source for the media. Except unlike honey, which is bee vomit, the reprint of wire feed and IGC material is just vomit. The aftermath still needing more work and no pleasure.

  4. Yeahhhh keep on day dreaming with your Serbian prapaganda, thank God no one buys your prapagandas anymore..cheerss

    I am celebrating already lol

    Mendo

  5. Another catastrophe in the making if Kosovo becomes an independent entity. Kosovo should remain a province within a framework of Serbian hegemony. Albanians who live in Kosovo can return to their own nation – Albania – if they are not satisfied.

  6. The Helsinki agreements ban the carving up of states in Europe. Yugoslavia had a constitution that was disregarded when it came to promoting the secessions of Croatia and Bosnia, a constitution that gave Serbs a veto over these secessions. Kosovo has no right to secession under the constitution, though those who want to separate Kosovo always cite the fiction that this constitution made it an equal federal unit. Sure, the 1974 consitution provided for that province of Serbia to have a seat on the presidency, but that is all. At any rate, why do they always cite this constitution as some kind of Gospel when at the same time supported ignoring it when it came to Serbian rights under that constitution.

    Those who are celebrating Kosovo independence are most likely Serb haters, unless they really are Albanian nationalists in Kosovo. There’s a lot of Serb-hatred out there practiced by those who claim to be against race hatred. Albanians in Kosovo were not treated one hundredth as bad as Palestinians are under Israeli rule.

    One more point; people out there who assume that the Radicals won’t be in the next government should understand what Kostunica was trying to do when he weighed in on the side of those that are considered traitors in Serbia. He did this because he and his supporters had this idea that Serbia’s sin was not cozying up to the West, not carrying out Reforms, not officially repudiating Communism and its legacy, not having Velvet Revolution. His belief was that if Serbia did these things, tried to make alliance with NATO, etc, the Western powers would judge Serbia to be of greater value geopolitically than Albania or Croatia and consequently rule for Serbia in its disputes with the separatists in Montenegro, with the separatists in Kosovo, as well as show more fairness towards Republika Srpska.

    When despite this, Kostunica saw the obvious way in which the West continued to back Kosovo independence and particularly Montenegro independence, harping on Mladic at the worst time, this caused a change in his open approach. He realised that his plan was a total failure. The only way forward is a multivectored foreign policy. He cannot have this if he lets the Democratic Party run the government, which is what he would do if he rules out a government with the Radicals. Remember that no one expected Fico in Slovakia to do what he did.

    Wasn’t Fico kicked out of Socialist International for what he did, the same Socialist International that includes feudal warlords like Jalal Talabani and Walid Jumblatt, not to mention the war criminal Shimon Peres.

  7. Oops. I forgot one positive about an independent Kosovo. Western Europe and the U.S. won’t accept anymore Albanians “fleeing oppression.”

    On the other hand, they’ll just be travelling out illegally into Western Europe with bags of dope and guns in their pockets.

    The new country’s government will just shrug and say they don’t have a budget to stop it or, otherwise, they will blame it on Europe because that is where the black market for that stuff is located.

    Visa denied. lol

  8. an original solution for kosovo: convert it as an euro-region directly rule by EU laws ( including euro and passeport) in order to give them complete autonomy, avoid National-state symbolism ( for the serbian), and accelerating the integration of all the area

    here is ther article in le Temps ( geneve). In french.

    Décréter le Kosovo région européenne serait une solution originale et innovante

    A l’heure où les discussions concernant le statut du Kosovo entrent dans une phase cruciale, une solution novatrice, basée sur une approche régionale de l’intégration européenne et balkanique, pourrait inspirer la diplomatie suisse.

    Christophe Solioz, Directeur exécutif du Center for European Integration Strategies à Genève
    Mardi 10 octobre 2006

    Retour en arrière. Après l’échec des pourparlers de Rambouillet sur le Kosovo et une ultime tentative de négociation entre l’émissaire américain Richard Holbrooke et Slobodan Milosevic, les frappes aériennes de l’OTAN commencent le 24 mars 1999 pour prendre fin le 10 juin 1999. Plus que la démonstration de force et la puissance de feu de l’OTAN – dont l’objectif n’était pas la souveraineté du Kosovo – l’impasse stratégique amène finalement les militaires serbes à signer un accord de cessez-le-feu le 9 juin 1999 et à procéder au retrait du Kosovo de toutes leurs forces militaires, paramilitaires et de police. Le 10 juin 1999, le Conseil de sécurité de l’ONU mandate la Mission d’administration intérimaire des Nations unies au Kosovo (MINUK) afin d’établir et «assurer une administration intérimaire dans le cadre de laquelle la population du Kosovo pourra jouir d’une autonomie substantielle au sein de la République fédérale de Yougoslavie» (résolution 1244).

    Depuis sept ans, et autant d’envoyés spéciaux du secrétaire général de l’ONU, la MINUK Å“uvre certes au développement de «la démocratie, la prospérité économique, la stabilité et la coopération régionale», mais avec quels résultats? Mission d’autant plus ardue qu’il est aussi de sa responsabilité, «à un stade final, de superviser le transfert des pouvoirs des institutions provisoires du Kosovo aux institutions qui auront été établies dans le cadre d’un règlement politique». La formule est d’autant plus vague que la résolution affirme certes l’intégrité territoriale de la République fédérale de Yougoslavie, mais réintroduit aussi, par la référence faite aux Accords de Rambouillet, une possible indépendance du Kosovo.

    Choisissant non sans raison de parer au plus pressé, la communauté internationale a privilégié l’établissement d’institutions démocratiques ainsi qu’une approche qualitative – préfigurant le principe «des standards avant le statut» formulé par l’envoyé spécial Michael Steiner en avril 2002. L’ouverture de négociations sur la question du statut était ainsi renvoyée à plus tard et conditionnée par l’application de standards concernent huit domaines d’actions prioritaires. Soit respectivement: le fonctionnement des institutions démocratiques, l’état de droit, la liberté de mouvement, les retours et droits des communautés, l’économie, les droits de propriété, le dialogue direct avec Belgrade et le corps de protection du Kosovo chargé de la sécurité civile (KPC).

    En l’absence de résultats probants dans l’application des standards, il fallut opter pour un repositionnement plus réaliste: «des standards et le statut»; espérant régler ainsi à la fois la question de l’application des standards et celle du statut. Las, les rapports de l’émissaire spécial de l’ONU pour le Kosovo, le diplomate norvégien Kai Eide, sont sans concession. Le rapport publié le 14 février 2005 souligne qu’«aucune des huit normes n’a été entièrement appliquée». Celui du 7 octobre 2005 ne se prive pas de reconnaître l’existence d’une mafia puissante et d’une corruption généralisée appuyée sur les réseaux claniques; il précise en outre qu’il serait à ce stade prématuré d’envisager le transfert de compétences de la MUNIK aux autorités locales. Malgré un état des lieux globalement négatif, le rapport conclut néanmoins à l’ouverture de négociations sur le statut final de la province. Les mots de Kofi Annan seront choisis: «Même si l’application des normes pour le Kosovo a été inégale, il est temps de passer à la prochaine phase du processus politique.» C’est donc à reculons que les négociations sont décidées, tant est que, selon Kai Eide, «il n’y aura pas de moment privilégié pour aborder la question du statut futur du Kosovo».

    Fin 2005, le secrétaire général de l’ONU, soutenu par le Groupe de contact (USA, Grande-Bretagne, France, Allemagne, Italie et Russie), confie le mandat d’aborder cette question au Finlandais Martti Ahtisaari. Sous son autorité, des délégations albanaises et serbes se rencontrent régulièrement à Vienne depuis les 20 et 21 février 2006, sans pour autant parvenir à un accord. Les positions semblent en effet irrémédiablement inconciliables: les Albanais du Kosovo veulent l’indépendance et rien d’autre; les Serbes seraient – en apparence – disposés à envisager presque tout, mais en aucun cas l’indépendance. C’était donc couru d’avance: les négociations directes, engagées le 24 juillet à Vienne, n’ont pas abouti. Il ne reste désormais plus que quelques mois à Martti Ahtisaari pour sortir de l’impasse avant que le Conseil de sécurité statue, fin 2006, d’une solution. Selon plusieurs sources gouvernementales, il semble que la question ne soit plus celle de l’indépendance du Kosovo, mais de sa modalité: on parle ainsi de «souveraineté progressive» et d’«indépendance conditionnelle».

    On peut cependant douter que les Albanais du Kosovo se satisfassent d’une indépendance limitée. Peu intéressés par une conception postmoderne de la souveraineté, ils veulent – après sept années de protectorat onusien – un Etat bien à eux: soit un drapeau, un hymne, un siège à l’ONU, etc. Peu leur importe que le droit à l’autodétermination n’implique en rien le droit à la sécession et qu’un génocide ne soit pas un motif suffisant pour définitivement quitter une fédération qui, aujourd’hui, n’est plus. Quant aux Serbes, on peut douter qu’ils envisagent sérieusement de réintégrer la province du Kosovo avec un statut d’autonomie substantielle. En effet, comment imaginer des ministres albanais siégeant à Belgrade? Comment la Serbie, elle-même en proie à d’énormes difficultés financières, pourrait-elle assumer le coût colossal de la reconstruction et démocratisation du Kosovo… frais assumés aujourd’hui par la communauté internationale?

    Plus que par le passé, il semble difficile de trancher le nÅ“ud gordien du Kosovo. Le Conseil de sécurité pourrait être tenté par la «solution d’Alexandre» et imposer une souveraineté contrôlée et, dans un premier temps, limitée. A charge de l’Union européenne d’alléger les conditionnalités liées à l’intégration européenne de la Serbie afin de tempérer les humeurs belgradoises. Ce scénario présuppose également la présence d’une autorité internationale contrôlant l’application des mesures décidées ainsi que la poursuite de la présence civile et militaire au Kosovo. Ceci à un moment où les chancelleries occidentales souhaitent soit rapatrier, soit réaffecter leurs diplomates, experts ainsi que militaires dans d’autres zones en crise – à commencer par le Liban. Cette option créerait également un fâcheux précédent pour d’autres territoires tentés par la souveraineté et qui bénéficient de l’appui de Moscou (l’Abkhazie, l’Ossétie du Sud, la Transnistrie et le Nargono-Karakakh).

    Si le statu quo est donc impensable et l’indépendance un pari risqué, le moment est venu de chercher une solution originale et innovante: décréter le Kosovo région européenne. Une telle entité – basée sur la législation de l’Union européenne (UE), bénéficiant d’un statut de partenaire du Conseil de l’Europe et de l’UE – serait en droit de délivrer ses propres passeports, d’adopter l’euro comme monnaie, d’avoir un drapeau et un hymne. Une telle approche constituerait un réel compromis: les aspirations des Kosovars seraient globalement prises en compte et le découplage des notions d’Etat, de souveraineté et de nation ménagerait quelque peu les susceptibilités belgradoises. Un nationalisme fleurant bon le XIXe ferait place à une approche régionale dynamique qui prendrait place dans un processus d’intégration européenne à confirmer. Avec Jean-Arnault Dérens (Courrier des Balkans) et Michele Nardelli (Osservatorio sui Balcani), nous pensons depuis plusieurs années que seule une approche régionale est à même de résoudre la «question albanaise» et de donner un nouvel élan à un «espace yougoslave» intégré à l’Union européenne.

    Utopie? peut-être, mais utopie concrète. En effet, l’UE envisage déjà dans le cadre de sa politique européenne de voisinage (ENP), un statut autre que celui de membre à part entière pour les pays d’Europe de l’Est. Par ailleurs, le Conseil de l’Europe et l’UE ont chacun une chambre régionale: respectivement le Congrès des pouvoirs locaux et régionaux (CPLRE) et le Comité des régions. A l’heure où les régions montent en puissance au sein même de l’UE, cette solution aurait le mérite d’être cohérente et de s’inscrire dans la ligne du Sommet de Thessalonique (juin 2003) – lors duquel l’UE promettait un avenir européen aux Balkans!

    Un Albanais du Kosovo confiait l’an dernier à Kai Eide que la communauté internationale avait «apporté au Kosovo la paix, mais pas d’avenir». L’approche régionale pourrait constituer une solution d’avenir et inspirer la diplomatie suisse plus qu’un alignement sur des positions d’un nationalisme dépassé.

  9. To Mr. Thompson:

    Serbia won Kosova (and Macedonia) in the war 1912-1913. A Serb professor, Popov, said in the Hague court: “the *Albanians who were by that time the demographic majority* did not wish to accept Serbian authority.” (Popov was a witness for Milosevic’s defense.) http://www.un.org/icty/transe54/041216IT.htm

    Before Serbia took Kosova it was under Turkish Ottoman rule for 500 years. Before that Kosova was part of a Serbian kingdom during a quite short time (historically speaking), like Macedonia and parts of Greece and present day Albania. If history gives Serbia the right to Kosova, it gives it the right to Albania, Macedonia and parts of Greece, too. Quite a few governments and their peoples have to feel a bit worried, I think.

    Before the year 600 there was nothing like a Serb in the Balkans, they came from northeast.

    Which means these parts of Europe were empty??

    No it does not. The ancestors of the Albanians were the Illyrians, with several small kingdoms (or the Illyrians disappeared without a trace, an idea which might please you, Mr. Thompson).

    All this gives you something to explain: why doesn’t Ankara have more right to the land and the mines in Kosova, than Belgrade? 500 years of Ottoman rule is more than double the time it belonged to the Serb kingdom, isn’t?

    The idea that Kosova Albanians all came from Albania proper in the forties is very popular among Serb chauvinist. It fails, in the first place because there were simply not enough people in Albania to fill Kosova (unless it would have emptied itself).

    During the 85 years that Belgrade ruled Kosova Serb politicians never succeeded to make it Serbian. In spite of murders in the 1912-13 war and the Cubrilovic designed ethnic cleansing during the Yugoslav kingdom and in spite of the forced exile of Kosovar “muslims” (=Albanians) to Turkey during Tito, and the Serbian efforts (in part inspired by the same old Cubrilovic to colonize Kosova by paying Serbs to move there, the Albanian people, culture, language and resistance survived.

    (Cubrilovic was one of the guys who conspired with Gavrilo Princip to kill the Austrian archduke and his wife and thus ignited the first world war. Cubrilovic got caught but saved is life because he was not old enough to be sentenced to death. He had some influence in Tito’s Yugoslavia, too. 1978 he was presicent of the Serbian Academy of Science and Art – http://www.rastko.org.yu/arheologija/vinca/vinca_eng.html )

    The governments handling of Kosovar Albanians resistance (for instance, shooting unarmed demonstrators in 1981 and even more so in 1989)only made it grow.

    Finally the pacifist Rugova lost the support of the majority. Belgrade could have come to terms with Rugova, by returning to the constitution of 1974, but it didn’t want to.
    That’s the background, Mr. Thompson.

    To me mediaeval history isn’t the decisive factor – any historically based claim is equal to giving the dead the voting right. Instead the living and the unborn should vote.

    Since Belgrade didn’t ever solve the Albanian “problem” in Kosova, it’s time for another kind of solution. All Serbs who fled can come back – if they are capable to look their Albanian neighbours in the eye after supporting Milosevic, Arkan, Seselj, Draskovic and their state and private armies.

    Serbia had it’s chance and spoiled it. What it won by war, was lost by war.

    Just have a look at Serbian election figures, how many voters supported a peaceful solution since the one-party state was abolished. About 5 percent. 95 percent voted for violence and war, but of course not in their Serbia, but in Kosova. By the way – the last elections gave the same percentage to the only parliamentary party that doesn’t cling to nationalist or chauvinist myths.

    Kindest regards,
    L-E Morin

  10. Nothing like the topic of Kosovo to get the juices flowing and I dont think a Serb or Kosovo Albanian has even posted yet!

    These historical arguments to my mind are a pretty tedious affair. I like real solutions, not arguments, opinions and interpretations of this and that.

    I tend then to look at it in terms of human rights and when you do its not difficult to see through the sentiment.

    Morin ‘Serbs who fled can come back – if they are capable to look their Albanian neighbours in the eye after supporting Milosevic’

    That is very gracious of you but why would they come back to a part of Europe where human rights for minorities are worse than anywhere else? Would you go back? (Doesnt sound like you have ever tried identifying with Serb refugees – try it, trust me I have identified with Kosovo Albanians and it influenced my views).

    Secondly from your statement it sounds as if you almost think that returning Serbs deserve what they get (being attacked, verbally abused etc) for supporting Milosevic and company. That has nothing to do with human rights at all. Its the view of somebody who enjoys revenge. The type of view that many members of the private armies you mentioned carried inside them – that detatched them from the idea that it is real people we are talking about.

    At the very least you could have made the (usual) statement concerning returnees may return as long as they are not war criminals. After all I presume you are a supporter of democracy – people have a right to support Milosevic or Seselj stupid though they may be.

    I would though agree that there is no doubt that Belgrade failed to come up with a solution to the Kosovo issue for generations. However, that doesnt mean that only Belgrade was to blame for what happened in Kosovo or that Belgrade doesnt have a right to participate in negotiations.

    This riduculous argumentaiton gets on my nerves concerning moral rights ‘Belgrade lost the moral right in 98’… Did ‘Kosovo Albanians lose the moral right’ after 1999? No, of course not.

    And what is your definition of a ‘peaceful solution’ anyway? Oh you mean solution as in one side agreeing to all the other sides demands – full independence?

    People like you evidently dont have a clue. I was one of those who you claim ‘voted for violence and war’. Right! When I casted my vote Kosovo was not on my mind. Perhaps I should have thought of the minorities of Kosovo but like most normal people thorughout the world I voted on a variety of issues in a general election.

    I find it extremely insulting that you group thousands, tens, nay hundreds of thousands of Serbian citizens in with that 95 percent figure of thouse you claim that love war and violence.

  11. One note.

    In the Yugoslavian budget, Kosovo received massive infusions of money to make it economically viable, only to be absorbed by the Albanian-run province with little prosperity. Nobody has addressed this issue.

    Yes. In the Yugoslavian federal budget, broadly speaking, the “have” units–Slovenia, Croatia, Vojvodina–subsidized the “have-not” units, i.e. the remainder of the country.

    Does this mean that inner Serbia should be run from Novi Sad?

  12. bganon:

    “I would though agree that there is no doubt that Belgrade failed to come up with a solution to the Kosovo issue for generations. However, that doesnt mean that only Belgrade was to blame for what happened in Kosovo or that Belgrade doesnt have a right to participate in negotiations.”

    With all due respect, if the Canadian government responded to a Québec vote on secession by burning down half of Montreal and trying to deport three or four million Québécois to France (“The French belong there, don’t they?”), my government would have lost the moral authority to determine Québec’s future. It should, at any rate, especially if the population in the rest-of-Canada resented their economy’s devastation and demanded that Québec stay in Canada after that.

  13. While the details of the Ahtisaari plan remain private, I don’t think I too much misrepresent what has been made public by saying that it would transition Kosovo from a de facto UN protectorate, to a de jure protectorate of parties yet to be named.

    Furthermore, it creates some flavor of recognition that parts of northern Kosovo are different from the rest of Kosovo, and creates channels for Belgrade to have some kind role in these areas.

    All in all, I don’t think I mischaracterize the plan to say that it appears to make Kosovo into a kind of mini-Bosnia.

  14. L-E Morin: Good rebuttal but the fact remains that Albanians didn’t live in the Valleys that compose much of Kosovo and moved down only after the Serbs settled in the area. Iyllians and Neanderthals did live the area before Serbs and Albanians came. I think that no link has been established to either of those groups with the Albanians, although some argue it for territorial claims. The Turkish argument undermines your critique. They clearly acknowledged peoples that they conquered – Serbs in Kosovo.

    Alex: Good question. However, the fact is that most “third world” countries with massive levels of poverty are “rich” in resources. The use of those resources by counties with more advanced economic engines is often referred to as “imperialism.” Miners make “good” salaries and can support families but are still way down on the economic ladder. Now, oil resource economics is much different.

    Randy: Thanks, but I apparently didn’t make my point clear enough. It is this: An independent country should be an economically viable entity of the long term. Kosovo clearly fails that test. Slovenia (above average per capita), Croatia (above average per capita), and Serbia (average per capita) (with Vojvodina [(above average per capita]) clearly pass (from non-war year data). Of course, Croatia and Slovenia both ceded, in part, because they hated subsidizing under-performing states (money wasted in their view), especially the Serbian autonomous province of Kosovo.

    Thanks to all!

    Best Wishes.

  15. Mr. Bganon,

    You say that Serbs should be welcome back in Kosova as long as they are not war criminals. That’s very close to what I meant. The criminals can come too, but they will face the risk of being prosecuted.

    I just wonder how many really want to go back to their neighbours after supporting the chauvinist ideas, including helping paramilitaries or the army to burn the Albanian neighbour’s house.

    I don’t think democracy automatically means that you have the right to vote for just about any wild idea that might pop up. The combination Milosevic and human rights was impossible from the start. If you don’t see that, after what he did, you have to start thinking all over.

    There are 100.000 Serbs in Kosova, why isn’t there 200.000 or 300.000? They don’t want to go back because Milosevic can’t give them the privileges he gave them in ’89?

    I have friends in Belgrade (Serbs) who feel the same way as I do. I have worked with all kinds of Yugoslav immigrants in my country. Two of my neighbours and fellow-workers were killed right at the start of the war, a Serb-Croatian married couple spending their vacation in a “peaceful” part of Croatia. One of my in-laws was born in a small town outside Belgrade. A couple of years ago I met Oliver Jovanovic in Mitrovica and listened to his arguments. So this is not the first time I discuss Yugoslavia’s problems. I can feel sorry for any Serb, but I can’t say they were not responsible. If the guilt of the German people can be discussed, so can the guilt of the Serb people.

    If you voted for Milosevic or his likes without thinking of Kosova, it’s your problem. Are you too young to know that it was the 600th anniversary of the battle of Kosove Polje/Fushë-Kosova that made him a leader, from being a shadow?

    Then he started his so-called “anti-bureaucratic campaign”. In any normal society this would mean a campaign to get the administration working (still very much needed in Serbia). Is that what you voted for? But Milosevic’s campaign was directed towards everybody who wanted autonomy for his republic or province. If Milosevic (and other Serb chauvinists) had not started this, Yugoslavia probably would have survived as a federation.

    To Mr. Thompson,

    You didn’t explain where the Illyrians went. Up in smoke?

    Did you read the Roman historians who wrote about Illyria and which ground it covered? If you did, you should forget the myth of “coming down from the mountains”.

    But you don’t have to read them, as far as I am concerned. All the historical “rights”, on both sides, mean that dead people will vote.

    Mr. R,

    It seems you’re a believer in the myth that Kosova was not a republic but a province in the Yugoslav constitutions because Albanians could not be a “constituent nation”. This myth also says that there can only be one state for one people. Then how come Austria exists alongside with Germany? (The guy who said they had to join committed suicide in 1945. His first name was Adolf.) And what about England and USA, Canada, Australia? What about Spain, Portugal and Latin America? How come there can be a Croatia and a Serbia, when the origin is common? The word srb is just another pronunciation of the word hrv(at).

    The real reason for making Kosova just a province, was that the republics all had the right to secession, since the second Yugoslavia was said to be composed of republics that joined the federation by their own free will (an idea that Tito got from the constitution of the Soviet Union, I think, because this was before Tito broke with Stalin). Also the federation Serbia-Montenegro was built on the free will, that’s why it could easily be undone.

    To all,

    Serbia believed that “international law” would protect it, and that Kosova could be treated as an “internal problem”. It could not, since Serb chauvinists claimed (and still claim) that “the Albanians have to return to where they came from”. That is making internal problems international.

    A seven year old child understands that you can’t send two million people abroad, into a country that’s already one of the poorest in Europe. But Serb voters are not a seven year old child, and still most of them voted for the chauvinists.

    In 1989, Milosevic’s decisions created a massive exodus of Kosovar Albanians into Western Europe, since they were kicked out from work and trade unions. This was his big mistake, because now Western Europe got first hand contact with the Kosovars and had to listen to them. So, instead of being an internal Yugoslav or Serbian problem, it became a big international problem.

    It was a big mistake by Serbs *and* Albanians to accept the Great Powers as their representatives and mediators. The Albanians are beginning to learn this now, Serbs still hope for Russia’s help. But there has been a whole series of international conferences over Balkan right from the beginning of the Ottoman Empire’s collapse, and they all failed to solve the Balkan problems. This one will fail, too.

    Since Kosova and Serbia cannot move away from the place where fate has placed them, they have to find a common solution. First thing is to ask the foreign mediators to stay away.

    Kindest regards,
    L-E

  16. Le Morin

    I made a statement concerning about the usually parrotted view that attempts to disguise the true aim – to prevent Serbs from returning.

    ‘they are welcome if they are not war criminals’ is simply code used by those who dont want returnees.

    After all the onus is not on those whose human rights are surpressed the onus is on those who are surpressing them. In no uncertain terms the message from a human rights prospective is to tell those infringing those rights to stop. It isnt prospective returnees that are infringing the rights of minorities in Kosovo.

    ‘I just wonder how many really want to go back to their neighbours’ ???
    When return home from work or after being absent do you ‘return to your neighbours’? You mean ‘return to their homes’, where they live right? Provided those homes have not been looted or illegally occupied that is.

    ‘democracy automatically means that you have the right to vote for…’ Hold it… thats exactly what democracy means. One has a right to vote for whichever party one chooses. Its not for you or me to decide which parties others will vote for.

    ‘Milosevic and human rights was impossible from the start’. Of course, I never thought otherwise and just because Milosevic didnt care about human rights doesnt mean that forget them too.

    ‘There are 100.000 Serbs in Kosova, why isn’t there 200.000 or 300.000? They don’t want to go back because Milosevic can’t give them the privileges he gave them in ’89?’

    Rubbish they dont go back because of the appaling human rights situation. If you dont believe me then check out the reports of various human rights groups such as human rights watch, amnesty international or even the pro Kosovo independence ICG. You obviously have not been to Kosovo recently.

    ‘I can’t say they were not responsible. If the guilt of the German people can be discussed, so can the guilt of the Serb people’.

    Well thats where you and I differ, I dont believe in tripe about collective responsibility, that somehow one is guilty by membership of ethnic group. One is no more responsible for members of ones ethnic group than one is for aliens from the planet mars. We make our own decisions – I believe in individual responsibility.

    You dont have to feel sorry for any Serb – simply support the concept of human rights. You owe this to yourself, not to any Serb (or Albanian for that matter). Feeling sorry for people is a pretty good way of ending up with a biased viewpoint. Principles should come first – HUMAN RIGHTS.

    ‘If you voted for Milosevic or his likes without thinking of Kosova’…

    Newsflash, Milosevic is dead! I didnt vote for Milosevic at the election a week or so ago as he didnt stand nor have I ever voted for him (not that its your business) but you excluded the entire country except the five percent that voted for LDP as warmongers. That was completely wrong and you should take that statement back.

    Thanks for the short history lesson too. I’m afraid I know it all by heart. But no, your conclusion is incorrect or havent you noticed that the trend for independence of nation states is a world issue, not just a Balkan one. And you might want to look at the subject of economy for reasons for Yugoslav break-up. Putting the blame only on one individual (rather than a scientific explanation) is not only highly unlikely but lazy too. In my opinion Yugoslavia would not have remained as a joint country Milosevic or not.

    Incidently I’d be interested in when you formed your view that Kosovo should be independent?

  17. Mr. Thompson, two points:

    “Good rebuttal but the fact remains that Albanians didn’t live in the Valleys that compose much of Kosovo and moved down only after the Serbs settled in the area.”

    Does that mean that populations worldwide should be shifted back to their “historical homelands”? Shall the Cajuns be compelled to return to eastern Canada, Soviet Germans to their former homeland by the Volga, third-generation descendants of Maghrebin immigrants to North Africa?

    Tailoring current-day realities to match once-upon-a-time historical scenarios is, besides being dangerous, rather silly. Where does one stop? Too often, the answer is “when I’m happy with the outcome.” This brings too much grief.

    “It is this: An independent country should be an economically viable entity of the long term.”

    Have a history of economic viability? One could argue that by that measure, Serbia shouldn’t be an independent state, between its SFRY-era dependence on transfer payments from richer federal units and foreign loans, the Milosevic-era hyperinflation and war isolation and general penury, and Serbia’s current economically depressed state.

  18. Europe wants to give an ethnic group someone elses land , what a joke , the ethic albainians didnt know what toilet paper was till a few years ago, they used there hand lol
    europe will see in a few years time when the muslims begin a holy war in the eu , whats going to happen to eastern united states in a few decades time , they already have 20percent of the population which are mexicans ,see if they will give up california ,

  19. You really want to claim that the Albanians are recent immigrants? It doesn’t make any sense.

  20. I cannot believe that Serbs are preaching to others about respecting human rights. Now I’ve heard it all!!!

  21. Randy:

    You can twist the pint all you want. I don’t care. If you can’t follow it, too bad.

    If you think Serbia was a subsidized state in Yugoslavia, it shows what little research you’ve done. Too bad.

    Bye Bye.

  22. I’ve noted that you haven’t responded to my point regarding the danger with talk of “historical homelands.” Now, to the matter of the economy.

    “If you think Serbia was a subsidized state in Yugoslavia, it shows what little research you’ve done. Too bad.”

    From the Library of Congress Yugoslavia Country study, Chapter 4’s passage “Regional Disparities”:

    “The three northern republics, Slovenia, Croatia, and most of Serbia, emphasized high technology in building production capacity and attracting foreign investment. By contrast, the less developed southern regions, especially Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and southern Serbia, stressed traditional, laborintensive , low-paying economic activity such as textile manufacture, agriculture, and handicrafts. This contrast produced sharp differences in employment, investment, income potential, and social services among the eight political units of the federation. For example, in the late 1980s average personal income per social sector worker in Macedonia was half that of a similar worker in Slovenia. Especially in Kosovo and Macedonia, poor economic and social conditions exacerbated longstanding ethnic animosities and periodically ignited uprisings that threatened civil war.”

    Going to the table in this press release http://www.wiiw.ac.at/pdf/RR296_press.pdf reveals not only the depth of the crash in the Serbian economy, but the extent to which even before the great divergence of the 1990s GDP per capita was substantially lower than Croatia and above Macedonia’s by only a small margin.

    Indeed, in ÄŒaslav Ocić’s 1998 _Acta Slavica Iaponica_ paper “The Regional Problem and the Break-Up of the State: The Case of Yugoslavia,” central Serbia was grouped with Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, and Montenegro.

    http://src-h.slav.hokudai.ac.jp/publictn/acta/16/caslav/caslav-1.html

    “The stable configuration of republics and provinces according to their levels of economic development over the last twenty five years of the existence of former Yugoslavia suggests a need to define four distinct groups of regions. The name of the group should specify the most important typical features of republics and provinces included. Since many of these features are structural and since only the level of economic development is discussed here the following names were chosen: the most developed, developed, underdeveloped and the least developed groups. During the 1965-1990 period the four groups of regions included the following republics and provinces: (1) the most developed regions: Slovenia; (2) developed regions: Croatia and Vojvodina; (3) underdeveloped regions: central Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia; and (4) the least developed regions: Kosovo-Metohia.”

    The amount of subsidies that Serbia–or, at least, Serbia without the two autonomous provinces–received is open to question, since central Serbia was better off than the other have-not regions of Yugoslavia. It was still have-not, though.

    Kosova fails the test. By your measures, so does Serbia. This suggests that the test is, at best, only weakly relevant to the question of statehood.

  23. ‘I cannot believe that Serbs are preaching to others about respecting human rights. Now I’ve heard it all!!!’

    A primative view. Which nationality or ethnic group has the right to talk about human rights?

    The holocaust creators, the country that invented concentration camps, citizens of imperialist country that committed numerous war crimes in Vietnam and continues to do so in Iraq? Perhaps a country that vanquishes or imprisons its political opponents? Or the country that likes to talk about egalite and so on whilst butchering Algerians perhaps?

    Oh according to your dumb theory that means we should therefore forget about human rights altogether.

    Jeez when will people stop behaving like dumb members of this and that community. WE ARE INDIVIDUALS PEOPLE!

  24. This article is disgusting to say the least. There is no real analitical point, it is biased and full of prejudices and bad information.

    @Randy McDonald
    I don’t know if u have ever been to former Yugoslavia when u think u know so much about it.You really did ur research bad as someone said.Serbia was over 50% of entire then prosperous Yugoslav economy and only Belgrade was bigger economy than Slovenia as a whole.It is hardly to imagine one Croatia or Slovenia to support Serbia economicaly….totally rediculous!
    As far as Albanians are concerned they became majority in Kosovo province in the beggining of last century, but real domination was achieved only after the WW2 with help od communist regime.

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