October 13, 2008

Resisting the United Nations

In Front of the Gate Vetevendosje.jpg

There is no love for the United Nations in Kosovo.

Kosovo is the fourth country I've visited where the UN has or has had a key role, and in only one of them

Posted by Michael J. Totten at October 13, 2008 11:44 PM
Freedom babes!
Posted by: gus3 at October 14, 2008 9:18 am
I would suggest a dozen or so trebuchets. They can be placed hundreds of yards from the UN compound and with a little practice can probably deliver bundles of last week's pizza and diapers accurately.
Posted by: Pat Patterson at October 14, 2008 4:14 pm
I have mixed feelings on this:
On one hand an UMNIK was needed (think of million+ refugees returning and seeing their entire lives destroyed, many with guns as well).
On the other hand, it has been there for too long. Tens of billions have been spent paying UN salaries and funding studies when $5 billion invested (not handouts) would have made a great difference. I wish an EU based organization had taken over sooner, but what's done, it's done.
I don't know if throwing garbage is the right way to protest, but it's good that Kurti is protesting, it keeps their feet to the fire a little bit. It seems that EULEX will be coming in line soon and EU realizes that some investments need to be made. Kosovo has the youngest population on Europe and salaries are much cheaper anywhere so someone should make them a mini-China at least for a while.
One thing that is scary, and Kurti got it right: Apart from a few dozen Serb officials, no one has been jailed or reprimanded for what they have done. The people who really did they stuff are walking freely in Serbia. In fact, many Serbs have convinced themselves that they are the real victims (yet again! See this: http://www.iwpr.net/?p=bcr&s=f&o=252185&apc_state=henibcr1999 ), whereas the "ustase Croats," 'Jihadist Bosniaks' and "Drug dealing terrorist Albanians" are the real criminals. What Serbs 'allegedly' did 'happens in every war,' Serbs were provoked, and 'others did bad things too.' It's amazing what you read on some Serb and Orthodox forums.
Just last week, Tadic said that reconciliation should start but that Croatia should apologize to Serbia. The ideology that unleashed the wars, the rapes and mass graves is still there, and so are almost all of the people that supported it. EU would make a huge mistake to open EU's door to Serbia unless they come to grips with what they have done and apologize sincerely. The process is usually called de[insert name] deNazification, de-Baathification etc. There is no way around it.
Posted by: nameless-fool at October 14, 2008 6:11 pm
Fascinating as always, Michael, and all too missing from the NYT, etc.
Posted by: rob at October 14, 2008 7:22 pm
I think East Timor appreciated the UN? Although that might be more a matter of Australia's involvement than anything particularly wonderful about the UN's role.
And yes I know you were speaking only to those countries you've visited where there is or has been a significant UN presence. Just trying to find something positive to say about the UN, an organization only as successful as its member states wish it to be, which is to say pretty much not at all.
Great pictures.
Posted by: Bennett at October 14, 2008 9:24 pm
Michael why do you keep giving extensive unchallenged coverage to people like Albin Kurti, a radical and extremist?
I got as far as this open lie from him and stopped reading:
"Serbian police and army forces killed around 200,000 non-Serbs".
This is pure and utter nonsense, and since he really ought to know better, I suspect a calculated lie.
He knows it, you know it and I know it, but you are the one propagating it here to an unsuspecting audience who accept it uncritically.
Did you do your homework at all on this guy and his movement?
Vetevendosje are a radical group, Michael. They are the Albanian version of the Serb Radical Party ("No negotiation - Self-determination!").
They are loathed by Kosovan moderates.
Even the Macedonian Albanians would have nothing to do with them when they tried to take their radicalism there.
Let me quote you a little piece from Nick McNulty back in 2007:
Vetevendosje is the movement led by radical Albin Kurti, and it's goal is nothing short of an all-Albanian Kosovo.
He is Kosovo's answer to Slobodan Milosevic, no less arch-nationalist, though motivated more by ethnic martyrdom than consolidating an empire as Slobo was.
His movement's position is that the Ahtisaari proposal grants too much freedom to Kosovo Serbs, using Bosnia as a point of reference.
In modern Bosnia, there is an autonomous region known as Republika Sprski, the Serb Republic, that is a de facto Serb nation(the Bosnian war amounted to a land grab between Croatia and Serbia, with Bosniaks caught in the middle).
The Serbians brought this about by declaring regions of Bosnia to be Serbian nations unto themselves, such as in Knin. Kurti uses this as a reference for what is to come for Kosovo, and thus decries any powers granted to Serbs in Kosovo, and apparently, the removal from Kosovo of all Serbs - an international non-starter for obvious reasons - is the only acceptable outcome for the budding nation-state.
This is what the protest in Prishtine was about, and it had a hostile edge to it from inception. To add to this, the UN in Kosovo is viewed with general distrust here, much as us Americans are viewed as well respected saviors. So, when the UNMIK (UN Mission in Kosovo) Police were part of the riot response, along with Kosovo Police Force officers, things boiled over. 2 people were killed during the riots, still pending autopsies. Initial reports were from rubber bullets, and the UNMIK police commissioner has since been sacked.
Sentiment on the Albanian street is that it is a tragedy for young Albanians to die like this, but most of the people here bear a bit of resentment towards the Vetevendosje movement, as these incidents jeopardize a peaceful transition to democratic independence for Kosovo.

So here you are giving exposure and full voice to Kosovo's most ardent ethnic nationalist bigot, and you expect people like me to believe you have even a scintilla of balance when it comes to the Balkans?
I am sorry, you are busted for me. Not just an open apologist for Kosovars, but for radical Kosovars.
For those who might want to have a more balanced and frankly honest assessment of what is going on in Kosovo, one that takes into account the Serbian view which we have yet to hear about here, take a look at Ian Bancroft's column in the Guardian (just google him).
I also track Kosovo matters occasional on my Belgrade Foreign Visitors Club blog and Limbicnutrition.
On a lighter note there is something delightful and deeply symbolic about Albanian ingrates throwing rubbish at their UN sponsors. Kind of like when you hear about those Red-on-Red contacts in Iraq...
Posted by: Jonathan Davis at October 15, 2008 9:39 am
If you think Kurti is a racist bigot, prove it by quoting something he said that was racist or bigoted. I didn't hear him say anything of the sort, nor have I seen him quoted saying anything of the sort.
He did, however, say this:
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 15, 2008 9:54 am
I found this to be an informative and interesting piece on a movement within Kosovo that I have long heard about, but tends to get limited coverage in the English language press.
But I must challenge a huge straw man argument made with regards to Kosovo Serbs. "To get a handle on how strange this is, imagine if American citizens of Mexican descent in the formerly Mexican Southwestern United States voted for candidates to represent them in Mexico City."
Kosovo's Serbs have little to no reason to support a state which is formed on the basis of Albanian ethnicity. Sure, we have the 6 stars representing the "6 ethnicties of Kosovo." Keep in mind one of those ethnicites is Roma, a community targeted by Albanians in Kosovo. Another of those is the Gora, a Muslim slavic group who just had a school destroyed this past week by Albanian authorities. Another is the Turkish minority, which seems reasonably satisifed, but has complained about historic Albanification, which could accelerate. Then we have the Bosniaks, who have complained of marginalization in the new Kosovo, although they do have a party in the ruling coalition. So, this "6 ethnicities of Kosovo" seems to be something resembling wishful thinking of EU and not a reality. Multi ethnic Kosovo seems to be something similar to the multi ethnic Cyprus promised by Makarios.
I accept the idea that Kosovo has a strong case for self-determination, but the idea that its borders must be sacrosanct is an arbitrary proposition. Many countries have not yet accepted Kosovo as independent, although I believe it's a fait accompli. For Serbia not to try to offer some representation to its marginalized people in Kosovo would be criminal. The Mexico example only works if you consider Mexico just like Serbia has part of its land detached by force. Any other comparisons are illegitimate.
Posted by: JP_Fener at October 15, 2008 12:29 pm
> Vetevendosje are a radical group, Michael. They are the Albanian version of the Serb Radical Party ("No negotiation - Self-determination!").
Serbian Radicals cheered on by the Radical Serbian Church called openly for killing the 'shiptars,' Croats and the 'Turks' (Bosniaks, who ironically have a lot more indigenous blood than Serbs.) Kurti is protesting, and wants true independence that's all. Show me a group of Albanians who still want to be under Serbian rule, or 'moderates' as you called them. You wont find many, so that is not for negotiation, since we had autonomy once.
> They are loathed by Kosovan moderates.
Maybe because it may seem as ungrateful but not because of what you're trying to point say. The ones wanting to independence aren't the radicals, they are 99% of the people, but nice try, trying to make the Albanian who want independence radicals.
> Even the Macedonian Albanians would have nothing to do with them when they tried to take their radicalism there.
Really? You know that they grabbed arms against FYROM right until they got equal rights? They were much better armed than KLA and FYROM almost collapsed even with Ukrainian mercenaries so I don't see how Kurti is more radical. What you are trying to do is smear the other side to make yourself look better. An old Serbian tactic. Being called a radical by the Serbs is a compliment, a 'good shiptar' or 'Croat' will just roll over for the 'chosen people.' Limpic, next time the term 'Serbophobia' to put the others in a more defensive position, it really works, and of course it exists.
>> Kosovo's Serbs have little to no reason to support a state which is formed on the basis of Albanian ethnicity. Sure, we have the 6 stars representing the "6 ethnicties of Kosovo." Keep in mind one of those ethnicites is Roma, a community targeted by Albanians in Kosovo. Another of those is the Gora, a Muslim slavic group who just had a school destroyed this past week by Albanian authorities. Another is the Turkish minority, which seems reasonably satisifed, but has complained about historic Albanification, which could accelerate. Then we have the Bosniaks, who have complained of marginalization in the new Kosovo, although they do have a party in the ruling coalition. So, this "6 ethnicities of Kosovo" seems to be something resembling wishful thinking of EU and not a reality. Multi ethnic Kosovo seems to be something similar to the multi ethnic Cyprus promised by Makarios.

Well, 90% is Albanian, what do you expect them to do, invent a new Yugoslav identity or give everyone a veto? Serbs right now are torn between being traitors and cooperating or staying still, a pawn in the game. The Serbian government wants them to stay that way so the propaganda machine can point out the "concentration camps" where Serbs leave, and the animosity.
Relations aren't as good as they should be, but they aren't as bad as Serbs make them either:
top-channel.tv/new/video.php?id=612 (Serbs and Albanians trying to make a living in the market, no one cares)
From http://www.b92.net/eng/news/society-article.php?yyyy=2008&mm=10&dd=13&nav_id=54203
Posted by: nameless-fool at October 15, 2008 5:05 pm
Please, forgive my ignorance. When you say Roma who do you mean, Romanians, Gypsies or somebody else? Just curious.
Thank you.
Posted by: leo at October 15, 2008 5:44 pm
Roma is Gypsies in today's politically correct atmosphere, but if you go on youtube, every other Balkan person calls the other nation 'gypsies.' :)
Limpic, you must have missed Nick's other post:
"Slobodan earned Kosovo's independence"
Posted by: nameless-fool at October 15, 2008 6:15 pm
Several points to nameless-fool
1) "de nazification" of Serbia is an extremely partisan position to take considering the various degrees of ultra nationalism on all sides of the conflict. Serbia was not a "victim" as its nationalists claim, but neither does "Greater Serbia" explain everything about the conflict. The idea that some people still link Milosevic to Karadzic and Mladic is evidence of this partisanship, given how much the didn't get along. Milosevic was a pathetic thug who did everything to stay in power, concerned with power and not a true ultra-nationalist. Karadzic and Mladic were ultra-nationalists.
2) Per Kosovo, this clock did not begin in 1999. The emigration of Kosovo Serbs during the period of autonomous rule shows that tension existed well before Milosevic. And no, I am not arguing "genocide" like some Serb ultra-nationalists do. But I am not going to dismiss all testimony of Serbs who left during this time that they were pressured.
3) Many English language Turkish sources have run stories talking about Albanian nationalists denying Turkish identity in Kosovo and Macedonia. While it seems better now, we can't just pretend Albanian nationalism doesn't have its own dark history. I don't personally know about the school in Gora, but it seems that as Slavs they are under pressure. Michael is right, this is not about religion. I regret that Serbian lobbyists play the "jihad" card, it's false. But, similarly I find it difficult to believe that groups like Goranci, Bosniaks, and Turks will not face some discrimination by Albanian nationalists. BIRN has run stories on Bosniaks attacked for speaking their language for instance. Yes, Roma face discrimination everywhere, but their plight in "pluralist" Kosovo has been so acute that having them as one of the ethnicities on the flag is a really a farcical joke at best. Or is nationalism only deplorable when Serbs are its propagators? Much western analysis is fraught with a "hierarchy of nationalism" paradigm, in which some forms of ultra-nationalism were acceptable (ie.. Tudjman, and Izetbegovic's treatment of Adil Zulfikarpa
Posted by: JP_Fener at October 16, 2008 4:33 am
Thank you
Posted by: leo at October 16, 2008 8:39 pm
The problem is not one person or two or three, it's the ideology that exists in Serbia. You can back to Njegos and Serbian ideology that claims everything Serbia: Dubrovnik ('built on Serbian rock,') Croats are Catholic Serbs, Bosnia is a fake country, Kosovo is Serbian for eternity because Lazar chose the heavenly Kingdom for Serbs (when in fact he surrendered to save his life, although it didn't work) and the sense of superiority based on lies. Imagine what claims Serbs would make if they were like the Albanians, indigenous, instead of having come as part of the Slavic hordes in the 7th century?
Slobodan found the fertile ground setup by the Serbian 'Church,' Dobrica Cosic, and SANU (Serbian Academy of Arts; Serbia's brightest minds) and he exploited for his own power and Serbs loved him, until he brought misery to them when the Serbian plan backfired. As you know, your 'Church' supported Karadzic and Mladic over Slobodan, Slobodan was too nice for their taste:
"...not a single important decision was made without the Church...our clergy is present in all of our deliberations" (Karadzic, Google it on G Books)

Can you point a retraction of made by the Church or SANU post 1999, other than sorrows that it didn't work--this time? Nope! I can point out where Serbian Bishops called for a new war, Karadzic was praised a hero and Albanians were called 'occupiers' by Dacic, Serbia's current Interior Minister, and 'criminals, illegal aliens' etc by everyone else.
Today, Serbia's acting Patriarch:
"Amid such injustice [supposedly Serbs in Kosovo are being mistreated], there cannot be peace," Amfilohije said in an interview late on Thursday at his headquarters in the Monastery of Cetinje in Montenegro. "It will be the root of future conflict, that is as clear as the day." (google a sentence)

Hong Kong Model
This, of course, explains why the "Hong Kong Model" does not work. It merely sets up the Albanians for another massacre and eventual expulsion, as Serbs will have the troops in Kosovo
under that model and Albanians will have no army or guns the next time Serbs see an opening...like the did in 1999 and when they removed the autonomy. It's clear Serbs don't see Albanians as their citizens, they just want the land without the people. The land belongs to the people that live in it, and since Albanians are also autochtones they have double claims in it. As a state Kosovo can make defense agreements with Albania and maybe Croatia, have an army and plenty of weapons, just in case. Let the Serbs try it again.
As far as Serbs being pressured. We can back as far as you want but eventually we will see that Serbs came to the Balkans, not the other way around. When Russia sought to make the Balkans a new Russia in 1700's, problems truly started. You can read it all here gutenberg.org:80/files/19669/19669.txt (chapter 9 and up) or any history book will tell you the struggle between the world powers that sought to limit Russia from making the entire region Slave. Russia, after securing Serbia's autonomy and independence, armed, financed and gave the Serbs carte blanche to expel /kill the Albanian from Nis (100% populated by Albanians) in 1878. By then, Albanians knew that this was a war, so they were armed and fought against the Turks, Serbs and Bulgars.)
You can read it here albanianhistory.net/en/texts20_1/AH1913_1.html the Serbian massacres of 1912 -1918 as reported by the newspapers:

"the Frankfurter Zeitung writes: In the case in question, it seems to have been regular Serbian troops who committed the massacre. But there is no doubt whatsoever that even the heinous massacres committed by irregulars were carried out with the tacit approval and in full compliance with the will of the Serbian authorities." At the beginning of the war we ourselves were told quite openly by a Serbian official: "We are going to wipe out the Albanians." Despite European protests, this systematic policy of extermination is continuing unhindered. As a result, we regard it as our duty to expose the intentions of the Serbian rulers. The gentlemen in Belgrade will then indignantly deny everything, knowing full well that journalistic propriety prevents us from mentioning names. "

They are many more such stories, very similar to 1999 at that URL address. This paper written by a US philosopher, titled "Who Deserves Kosovo? An Argument from Social Contract Theory" href="http://www.seep.ceu.hu/archives/issue61/herbert.pdf gives a summary of Serbian crimes from 1912 till 1999 (including the brutal colonization in 1920's, expulsions to Turkey, Rankovic etc) as well and explains why Kosovo has to be independent, as that is the only way for the Albanians to have be able to live like human beings.
Legally speaking, the Kosovo (actually Albanians but they make 92% so it's 'Kosovo') have declared independence, and have asked the world for recognitions. So far 51 countries have said so. The process is continuing. At the end of WWII there were 50 or so states, now we have 192, so this is nothing new. You cannot kill, rapes, try to expel and than still hope rule the same people, it doesn't work that way. There are laws and Serbia got caught. Russia. China and African countries might get away with it, as Serbia did for 100 years, but it still not right. The fact that Serbs have not shown any remorse for 1998-99, but instead engaged in a propaganda war to demonize the victims, only makes it clear they have not changed.
On minorities in Kosovo:
They "might face discrimination isn't enough," I am sorry. Albanians in Presevo (still in Serbia) have 70% unemployment due to purposeful state neglect and Serbia even stopped recognizing Albanian language diplomas. If Serbia doesn't consider them citizens then they should be able to join Kosovo. What Turkish papers say it doesn't matter, i can point several Hungarian diaspora sites that say the same about Hungarians in Vojvodina. Either way, no one appointed Serbia a guardian on non-Serbs anywhere. if there is a problem, they can take it up with the EULEX or UN.
Serb officials are notorious liars and propagandists, one only needs to see how they lied about the 'genocide against Serbs' to provide an excuse for a police state and autonomy revocation of Kosovo (please everyone read how the entire country was up in arms based on lies http://books.google.com/books?um=1&q=sanu+serbia+kosovo
"Albanians are raping our women"
'Albanians are ...'
when in truth crime (including rape) was lower in Kosovo than ALL other regions, and out of 5 inter-ethnic murders, three were done by Serbs.

These new allegations [Serbia's Church said that NATO is bombing Serbian Orthodox monasteries] against NATO are ominously similar to Serb nationalists' charges in 1986 that Kosovar Albanians were destroying the monasteries. This charge was combined with other inflammatory allegations that Kosovar Albanians were illegal immigrants who should be expelled; that Albanians were using their high birth rate as a tool to commit" demographic genocide" against Kosova's Serb minority; and that they were carrying out widespread rapes of Serb women. In 1986, Serbian Orthodox bishops repeated these allegations and charged that genocide was being carried out against Serbs in Kosova. The same charges were repeated in the famous "Memorandum" written by Serbian intellectuals attacking the Yugoslav constitution and the autonomy of Kosova. In this inflamed environment, Slobodan Milosevic made his leap to power by promising he would protect the Serb people and their shrines against their enemies.
What was the truth of these frightening allegations? There were genuine grievances by both Serbs and Albanians in Kosova, and both groups felt threatened. But Serb independent journalists and human rights workers found the more inflammatory charges to be total fabrications. A study of police records in Kosova showed only one rape of an ethnic Serb by an Albanian in an entire year. Similarly, the alleged destruction of Serb shrines turned out to involve isolated cases of vandalism, graffiti, and cutting of trees on church property -- hate crimes, perhaps, but surely not the organized, genocidal annihilation that was claimed.
Yet the charge that Albanians were out to destroy Serb sacral heritage had a life independent of any evidence to the contrary. The charge fed into a mythologized history that presented the Ottoman Turks and native Balkan Muslims as obsessed with eradicating Serbs and Serbian sacred sites. Serb nationalists make this charge repeatedly -- despite the survival of this magnificent heritage through five centuries of Ottoman rule amidst Albanian neighbors and despite the Ottoman record of supporting the Serbian Orthodox patriarchate and authorizing the building and repair of Serbian churches.

If Serbia had treated Albanians better, and if they had invested in Kosovo like in the rest of Yugo (it was a socialist state, yet factories were everywhere but Kosovo; they only took minerals) Serbs would have found jobs and stayed. Kosovo's per capita was several times lower and many more Albanians left Kosovo than Serbs, even percentage wise.
Almost all Albanian immigrants in Europe and USA until 1990's were from Kosovo, as Albania was closed. Why would you stay in Kosovo if you had the option to make 3 times as much in Vojvodina, or Germany? People leave NJ or CA for North Carolina based on a few % in taxes all the time.
And don't blame the diaspora. It's hard to make a good argument for wanting to kill and expel 2 million people, so they saw terrorism in the news and "Albanians are Terrorists," they saw that people hate illegal immigration and called Albanians illegal immigrants as well. Too bad they failed on all counts and now are branded as liars, no matter how much they twist their lies. As liars, they did pretty good, too bad only fools believed them.
Posted by: nameless-fool at October 17, 2008 11:20 am
Oh dear.. your starting point seems to be that nationalism and historical myth making was the sole preserve of the Serbs.
The Croatian nationalists indulged in the very same idea (including the idea that Bosnian Muslims were Islamized Croats). My very point is that almost no one has come clean on World War II. Draza is venerated and the crimes of the Chetniks are ignored. Bosnian Muslims refuse to talk about their role in allying with Nazis and expelling Serbs and Sarajevo's Jews. Croatians still dont want to come clean on Jasenovac, and have modern day rock bands like Thompson that are every bit as fascistic as some of the Serbian turbo folk. Albanians tend to forget their role in expelling and killing Kosovo Serbs in that time period during their dalliance with the SS. Serbian nationalism is not uniquely delusional nor unique in the way in manifested itself in after Yugoslavia fell apart.
"As you know, your 'Church' supported Karadzic and Mladic"
My church? I am not Serbian. If you bothered to research my handle, you would realize Fener is a Turkish word, although I am not Turkish either. But I do feel that Serbs and Turks have been unfairly portrayed in the west for different issues. If you assumption is that anyone who challenges jacobin narratives that try to apportion all blame for everything entirely on Serbia must be a Serb, then I can see how deep your bias is.
First off.. you leave out the fact that Milosevic was athiest, of course the Serbian Orthodox Church didn't support him. That the Serbian Orthodox Church played a role in national fervor is indisputable. Of course it also had its positive members, such as its Kosovo branches shielding Albanians from JNA attacks. So, the black and white narrative crumbles. It is also not unique, when you consider the role Bosnian Muslim clerics played inflaming their people and the Catholic church played in Croatian nationalism.
The current Serbian government is not Milosevic regime. There will be no more 1999 style attacks. Yet how it is any better that many KLA people are allowed with impunity into the Kosovo Police force, when many of their crimes are unaccounted for? I sense a hierarchy of victims attitude in your overall approach.
I agree with you on Presevo, Serbia must treat it fairly or risk losing the loyality of its civilians. I agree also that the 1999 regime had reason to be despised by Albanians. But similarly after all the failures to secure safety for Serbs, Roma, Gora and others in post 1999 Kosovo, these minorities (Serbs being the most statistically relevent) have equal reason to despise the Pristina regime.
Frankly I wish Kosovo Serbs were smarter and saw the writing on the wall. They should demand a bi-communal federation, something similar to what Turkish Cypriots will demand for reunification of Cyprus. Of course demographically they have fewer numbers than Turkish Cypriots, but this is largely due to the emigration post 99 and lack of chance to return safely.
I agree with you on Belgrade's failure to make any attempt to win hearts and minds of Albanians in Kosovo. Although in Rankovic's day, it was more due to desire for "centralization" than any nationalist ideals. Misha Glenny argues this in his book, and Glenny is no Serb sympathizer.
Lastly.. re Macedonia. Is it really so simple? Do Albanian equal rights include the right to purge Slavs from areas like Tetovo or to deny that Turks are Turks, but really Albanians? There were legitimate grievances for sure, but Ali Ahmeti and Arben Xhaferi were not noble freedom fighters. The western media indulged in a pro-Albanian line during that time period, because NATO clients will always get favored media coverage. I've only seen a few independent journalists write about that war during that time period, Christopher Deliso (his dispatches from Tetovo showing how wealthy the mafia backed NLA people were at that time period was eye opening) being the most prominent among them. For all its flaws though, it seems Ohrid has worked and has stemmed seperatist actions for the time being.
What frustrates me about all this is the self-congratultory jacobinism of the big media that led us into the Kosovo war. The "herd of independent minds" (to quote Chomsky) is seemingly intolerant of any dissent that 1999 was a black and white narrative. It very clearly wasn't. If we were just to say that Kosovo should be independent because we need to satisfy the long neglected Albanian demands for exclusive domain of the state, I'd respect that. It would be an honest statement. The demographics are in Albanians favor, hey they were even 70% atleast back in 1912. But this claptrap that Kosovo's leadership is dedicated to a multiethnic society or that non-Albanians will feature in some rich Kosovan tapestry is nonsense.
The main question is North Kosovo. Perhaps autonomy for it would make sense, although I see the need for this to be tied to concessions in Presevo.
Fair enough?
Posted by: JP_Fener at October 17, 2008 9:55 pm
>> The current Serbian government is not Milosevic regime. There will be no more 1999 style attacks.
Well, that settles it then. Oh wait, what about the one that was elected early this year, or the one that might be elected next year? What party was the most popular early this year in Serbia? If their economy wasn't in need of EU money they would still be in power. Their leader, currently in Hague, has called to infect the Albanians with the AIDS virus and expel all the 'illegal Albanians' who don't have a certain document that proves their Serbian citizenship. Through it's modern history Serbia has gone through many governments...same results, same behavior. Taking a chance may mean another 10,000 dead, rapes, and every other houses burned. No thanks.
KLA was everyone who had a gun by the end of the war, not the 'organized Islamic Marxists drug dealing terrorist organization butchering Serbs for organs,' so the fact that many members were as police doesn't mean anything. 90% of the population (almost 100% of Albanians) supported them so unless you import police they are going to be "anti-Serbian."
>> but this is largely due to the emigration post 99 and lack of chance to return safely.
NOPE. Only 70,000 non-Albanians have left for good. Of them, many are immigrants and Switzerland for one will return them this year since they no longer can claim 'discrimination'. They are several reasons while they left and why some may never return:
Many have committed horrible crimes against their Albanian neighbors and are smart enough not to return. There is no statue of limitation for rape or murder, and I am not talking about the state.
(It should also be noted that many that left have already returned and most by far, left with the Serbian Army, before the Albanians returned.)
Others have settled for good elsewhere as the status was in limbo and didn't want to take any chances given the history and possibility of a new war. Also any Serb, Roma, and Albanian that could leave for Europe left post 1999. The place was (and relatively speaking still is) a mess. Plenty of Albanians are post 1999 immigrants as well in US, Norway, Germany etc, but good demographics have made up for them. Albanians are dying for visas.
Serbs gambled trying to clear the area of Albanians and lost. All Serbs that were in Kosovo know what happened, and they could predict the reaction when the Albanians got back. Is it right? Not really, but then when you lost your house, livestock, family member, or when your wife /daughter has been raped you aren't rational. The best is not to start the chain reaction, and not to keep threatening a new war (massacre in this case).
Also the Serbian demographics suck, badly so the percentages will keep changing. They are losing 5 per 1000 each year, Albanians are gaining. There is no "too high" birth rate, to each his own, but we know that losing population is not normal. Maybe in 10-20 years Albanians will have that problem, but now they don't.
>> Lastly.. re Macedonia. Is it really so simple? Do Albanian equal rights include the right to purge Slavs from areas like Tetovo or to deny that Turks are Turks, but really Albanians?
No it isn't but you cannot find one example and discount everything or make them seem equal.
Serbs kill 10,000...Albanians kill 100 so people imply that all sides are equal, without seeing who started it, why, was it the state or an individual, severity etc etc. Just because no side is a certified saint, doesn't mean that everyone is equal.
I don't know that much about the Turkish situation, I know they are some, but not in large numbers. Probably Turkey does the same to Kurds and other non-Turks. As we know, not everyone is 'Turkish' in Turkey, yet...
>>But this claptrap that Kosovo's leadership is dedicated to a multiethnic society or that non-Albanians will feature in some rich Kosovan tapestry is nonsense.
They are probably more dedicated than every other Balkan country. Let's be honest about it. Not because they are more 'European', but they are
under the microscope. It's that simple.
Albanians deserve their state because all other alternatives fail to provide them safety and security. Autonomy can easily be taken away, as it was under false pretenses, and if Serbs control the border and army (as any state does, no matter how federal) Albanians in Kosovo are sitting ducks. History has shown more than once what Serbs can do, and if they see a chance they will do it again (guns are their kryptonite). The new Serbian government has different faces and it's not as explicit, but no government since 1999 has made any sincere overtures at all, and Serbia's Church is already preparing for a new war.
On rearranging:
You cannot have Serbia rule a village 100 miles inside Kosovo or have 200 different villages each with a different set of laws, police and government. Serbs right now don't pay any taxes, get pensions from Serbia, do not want to work for the state (they resigned) and they are still complaining.
Having Albanians as second class citizens might appeal to them again, but it's a non-starter. Serbs and everyone else should have the same exact rights as Albanians and others have in Serbia. That's the fairest solution. If Serbia has a problem, they can file a complaint with EU's Human Right Commission.
As you may have read, for the most part only Serbian settlers were targeted during WWII. By 1920,s Albanian land was confiscated and given to Serb and Montenegrin settlers to change the demographics.
They were thrown out, brutally they say, Albanians got their land back, and Tito didn't let them back in as a compromise. Enver Hoxha said that Tito reneged on the promise for self-determination for Kosovo, and Kosovars were promised that when they joined the Partisans. They had no real beef with neither the Germans nor the Partisans, they were illiterate peasants hoping to get rid of Serbian rule. K-Albanians joined the partisans once Tito promised freedom, but refused to obey Tito to either fight the Chetniks or chase the Germans outside of Kosovo fearing an attack inside Kosovo.
Google Shaban Polluzha in Google books. Also Google "The Expulsion of Albanians" written by a Serb minister that explains the settler period (and why it failed, thus the title)
You might also want to Google 'Serbian Volunteer Corps,' Pecanac, ZBOR, and Nedic. Even Draza collaborated as early as 1941 with the Nazis. They love to rewrite history, but they were very successful in helping the Nazis even before they came to Serbia.
What Croatians /Bosniaks /Chetniks /XXX did in WWII or 100 years ago doesn't mean anything, unless they are really trying to --and can--do it again.
Posted by: nameless-fool at October 17, 2008 11:23 pm
Your starting point is tainted with such vicious bias that impedes any form of objective analysis. The fact that you simply assume that another Milosevic style confrontation with Albanians is inevitable merely because Serbs are Serbs (and guns are their kryptonite-- I think I go it-- they lose to use them but it backfires) is a totally hollywood style belief system.
This is why you failed to analyze the autonomy models Serbia put forward, assuming dismantling on aribtrary grounds. I accept your point that Serbian nationalism still has a loud voice, but they are quickly disintegrating as witnessed by the current feud in the odious Serbian Radical Party.
You ignore KLA attacks on Serbs prior to the 1999 events, and KLA attacks on Albanians as well. You want me to believe that only Serbs committed crimes prior to 1999, this is laughable given KLA's activity in 3 years prior. Maybe you believe that the KLA shared the vision of our founding fathers in the US, but I never bought into that Joe Lieberman sponsored propaganda. I understand the Balkans, and understand the competing nationalist goals. Kosovo Albanians won the day with the nature of demographics (and I consider this legitimate-- not arguing the bogus "illegal immigration" angle here). I am glad when you said Albanians deserve their state, let's not pretend it's anything else. It's NOT a Muslim a state, and Muslims who aren't Albanians (Bosnians, Turks, Gora) will likely suffer marginalization from their Muslim brothers. The Adyghes in Kosovo (Muslims) already suffered expulsion, I fully agree co-religious beliefs does not prevent racism in the new Kosovo. An Albanian state for Albanian people does not have much room for non-Albanian who happen to be Muslim, except for window dressing when the "international microscope" (NGO's and Press) comes around. This is a state that satisfies the legacy of the league of Prizren and the overwhelming demographic nature of the province. I can understand why KLA formed, I can understand why PKK formed, that doesn't mean I give them a free pass for violence. That also doesn't mean I excuse excesses of the state in either case. This is a balanced approach.
Serbs have been influenced to believe this region was more important than it was in their political history. Religious history makes it more important, but we both know that this goes way back. In particular I reject the Serbian notion of Jerusalem, because as Noel Malcom points out, Orthodoxy has no history of consolidated religious importance like Jerusalem. Serbia's efforts I believe to be mostly symbolic in importance, but they were necessary because immediate capitulation to February demands would have been humiliating.
At the same time Serbia will go back to being by far the most ethnically diverse country in the Balkans, despite the bullshit of the Radical Party. It will continue to have Rasim Ljajic as a government minister, Omer Hadziomerovic as an important district court judge, Emir Kustirica (okay, he did convert) as a prominent and respected film maker, Miralem Sulejmani as a rising football star. Kosova/Kosovo will be a mono-ethnic state, while representing the will of its people, it will be glamorously portrayed in the west as pluralist despite having little ethnic diversity to write home about.
Presevo and North Kosovo remain issues, but both those populations have little to no reason to be loyal to their states. Serbia has not taken the attention of the microscope on it to elevate its Albanian minority since 1999, and Kosova/Kosovo government did not care to prevent ethnic attacks on Serbs in 2004 despite NATO being there.
You missed my point on WW II, all sides use their religion to justify ethnic violence. The idea that Serbian Church is uniquely involved in this is nonsense. The worst excesses occured in Bosnia as you know, sponsored by a regime that was closer to Zoran Djindic than to Slobodan Milosevic for some time. Milosevic has enough crimes to be condemned for at home (and should have been tried by a Serbian court for murdering his own people) than to be tried for crimes with which there is little to no evidence that he knew about (Srebrenica). This doesn't fit into a tight narrative for hollywood movies or 2 minute soundbites, so the mainstream media will ignore it.
Re.. Macedonia-- do you not agree that Macedonian nationalism was only part of the equation? Did attacks on Macedonian Orthodox monuments, churches, and on Macedonian ethnic citizens not take place? You still seem to think it was solely about equal rights and not about power politics. I place Ljube Boskovski as being the same as Ali Ahmeti, it is only western "liberals" and "humanitarians" who say that some warlords are better than others if they meet the script.
The "Serbs are Nazis" narrative made alot of careers, sold a lot of book, and even made a few movies. That doesn't make it a nuanced or coherent narrative. Kosovo can deserve independence as it is, I think a case can be made while stopping short of the nonsense of so-called "operation horseshoe." There WERE many human rights abuses in Kosovo, and a narrative can be built that acknowledges the ethnic nationalism of both sides but the suppression of Albanian language and cultura rights and overwhelming demographic superiority of Albanians. This case can be made, just as Abkhazians can make a case due to Georgification decades ago or Karabakh Armenians can make a a claim. The fact that many in the west reject that and want to go straight to the Milosevic=Hitler narrative, shows just how rigid and intellectually closed their minds are.
Posted by: JP_Fener at October 19, 2008 1:09 am
Above post is to Nameless-Fool alone, not to owner of this outstanding and nuanced blog. Probably this is self-apparent due to the thread, but I should clarify.
Posted by: JP_Fener at October 19, 2008 1:11 am
>> The fact that you simply assume that another Milosevic style confrontation with Albanians is inevitable merely because Serbs are Serbs
First, your (and no, I don't beleive for a moment that you're a Turk despite the good ruse) church leader said just that, 3 days ago. The preparations for the 1990's started when Pavle (the old Patriarch) reburied the Jasenovac victims and paraded Lazar's bones. People aren't that stupid.

In 1989, on the 600th anniversary of Lazar's death, his coffin toured Serbia, eliciting throngs of shrieking mourners in many villages. For Serbs, Prince Lazar is a symbol of defeat and intended revenge.

...and of course the recreation of the Empire Serbs are entitled to rule.
and from 191x from Edith Durham:

A fundamental doctrine of the Great Serb Idea is a refusal to
recognize that history existed before the creation of the Serb
Empire, or even to admit that Balkan lands had owners before the
arrival of the Serbs. Nothing infuriates a "Great Serbian" more
than to suggest that if he insists on appealing to history another
race has a prior claim to the land, and that in any case the Great
Serbia of Stefan Dushan lasted but twenty years.

In pursuance of this theory that the greater part of the Balkan Peninsula
is the birthright of the Serbs (who only began coming into these lands
at the earliest in the fourth century A.D.) the Serbs behaved with hideous brutality to
the inhabitants of the lands they annexed in 1878, and swarms of starving and destitute
persons were hunted out, a large proportion of whom perished of want and

Makes sense how Albanians became 'illegals who are living in Serbian lands, so they should be thankful' no?
Despite attempts to sugarcoat and highlight the 'modern and democratic Serbia' by some, the same propaganda organs, ideology and thinking that made them do it half a dozen times since 1878 is still alive and well, something I mentioned and you ignored it. Those that had their family members killed (~10,000) , raped (~20,000) and everything destroyed just 9 years ago are unlikely to fall for your "it might not happen again because they elected a different person thanks to EU promises."
Do not mistake "We will not start another war and throw the 'shiptars' out" with "we can't because we're surrounded by mortal enemies, we're broke, NATO is there and the Albanians are armed to the teeth." People know history and you can't foll them forever.
It will take a couple of generations after Serbs rewrite the history books to reflect the truth, and after their Church has had a reformation. Until then, it's all hidden underneath and ready to explode again.
Believe it or not the Kosovo government didn't have anything to do with March 2004, and they paid a huge price for it (the Kosovo people too by extension). Just as the Serbian government couldn't control the Serbian crowds that attacked several non-Serbian areas in retaliation for Kosovo's 2004, KFOR /Kosovo police couldn't control the crowds either.
>> At the same time Serbia will go back to being by far the most ethnically diverse country in the Balkans, despite the bullshit of the Radical Party.
Diverse because...thanks to Russia they took quite a bit of lands inhabited by non-Serbs. Serbia grew quite a bit in a very short time. As long as the Serbian government sees them as no threat (e.g don't live in concentrated and border areas like Kosovo) they have no problem with them, meaning they will not try to kill or throw them out now (many Hungarians were displaced and replaced by Krajian refugees in Vojvodina.)
Emir Kusturica, Suleimani, Rasim...etc are all probably Serbs by blood, but Muslim. Kosovo has plenty of Catholic lawmakers and government officials and Mother Teresa and Gjergj Kastrioti are revered and barely anyone gives it a thought or cares. Ohhhh, you didn't mean that? The truth is that any non-Serb (Orthodox is a true Serb) is a [Insert religion] Serb, and a suspect. They have to constantly prove their 'Serbness,' which might explain why Kusturica is such a Serb nationalist. If they change to the best religion on earth then they are real Serbs, search for Christoslavism. (the Christo part does not include Catholicism, Protestantism and other Non-orthodox of course in Serbia).
You predictions on Kosovo's mono-ethnic-state future ring hollow, as you don't know how it will be in 5-10-50 years. If Serbs boycott the government, than of course Serbs will not be represented, and there isn't much Albanians can do. But the idea that if it went back under Serbian rule it will be any better is laughable. Serbs in Kosovo would love it of course, and they would probably get 80% of the state jobs as well.
>> KLA targeting 'Albanians and as well as Serbs'
The great Serbian propaganda tool that KLA was horrible and Serbs were there to protect "everybody," and since the 'bad KLA' started it the movement is morally wrong. They did target Serbian police that enforced the apartheid, but under the law, Serbia was within it's right to arrest or kill them--the people with the guns, not kill indiscriminately and use and every tool in the book to make the people leave within 2 hours. So no cookie for this either. Any Albanians that were targeted were collaborators, so count them as Serb police.
Anyway, have a great day. If you have any more questions or comments, re-read my posts.
Posted by: nameless-fool at October 19, 2008 1:18 pm
No ruse here, in fact if you bothered reading what I said, I wrote "I am not Turkish either." Although it was my time as an American exchange student in Turkey that made me realize that many of the same western "liberal" elements that demonize Turkey about the disputed events of 1915 and the Armenian question and side with Armenian/Greek lobbies (plus the so called pontian and assyrian genocides) also have chosen to demonize Serbia and create one sided narratives.
What does Pavle have to do with 1999? We've conceded Milosevic was an atheist. His regime was a classic brutish regime, they didn't crack down on KLA in hopes of fulfilling some holy dream of the patriarchate. In fact the priests in Kosovo were not involved in politics, and shielded some Albanians from Serb paramilitary attacks. Black/white narrative this is not.
Re.. KLA, I am speaking of attacks on Albanian security guards, were they part of the collaborators and thus worthy to be murdered? I credit KLA for not attacking Serbia proper, and they were certainly more humane than PKK, comparitively anyway.
All you have is bogus straw man argumentation. I admit I made my point about Muslim Slavs inarticultately. My point was that in this state of Serbia, that must allegedly be "de baathified" you can find non-Orthodox doing well in judiciary, in politics (didn't even mention Oliver Dulic-- a catholic), as sporting heroes, and in the arts scene. Even in Vojvodina it is Nenad Canak-- a serb by ethnicity-- and not Josef Kasza who sabre rattles about independence.
Vuk Jeremic had made some very persuasive arguments for trying to find creative models of autonomy. It's a shame they weren't ever addressed. I agree much of the monstrous Serbian military appartus that committed crimes is still there, as is the real fascists-- the Radical Party (of course whether all their electorate if fascist is another question-- and I align very much with the thinking of the Mark Almonds, Norman Stones, John Laughlands and Chad Nagles of this world on that one). So I understand the mistrust, but the lack of a real negotiation was disturbing Well, we both know that's impossible now. Kosovo is a fait accompli. Serbia has shown that she does not want to use force, Tadic/Cvetkovic/Jeremic, et al are not such kinds of people. So I reject your arguments there as being unduly biased.
Honestly, seeing that Albanians in Kosovo have achieved most of their goals, I don't see why maximalist rhetoric needs to be used. I sort of understand why the Armenians continue to use it (even if I disagree strongly with their claims), as they are lost in the past. Albanians of Kosovo have a strong future because of their patronage from the west. Unlike Serbia, they now to win diplomatic support.
P.S.-- in your opinion did Ohrid solve Macedonian Albanians grievances or can only a border shift do so?
Posted by: JP_Fener at October 20, 2008 12:22 am
To be fair I will say agree much of Serbian nationalism is also lost in the past, since I am saying the same about the Armenians in the above post.
Posted by: JP_Fener at October 20, 2008 12:25 am
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