October 10, 2003

ERP KIM Newsletter 10-10-03

KOSOVO ALBANIANS STILL RELUCTANT BEFORE VIENNA TALKS

CONTENTS:

UN REPORT SAYS SECURITY WORSENING IN KOSOVO
The security situation in Kosovo has worsened in the past few months, according to a new report to the UN Security Council on Wednesday.

KOSOVO ASSEMBLY DEALS BLOW TO BELGRADE -PRISTINA TALKS
Kosovo lawmakers on Thursday failed to give their backing to a proposed meeting with Serbian officials next week, dealing a blow to the United Nations' plans for historic dialogue.

ILLEGAL PRIVATIZATION IN KOSOVO STOPS
The Serbian Ministry of Economy and Privatisation today hailed the decision of UNMIK administration to halt illegal privatisation of socially-owned companies in the province. This came as the results of the Serbian government's warnings in the previous two years sent to heads of the world's relevant institutions, including the United Nations, the World Bank, the World Trade Organisation and the International Monetary Fund.

IS KOSOVO READY FOR FINAL STATUS, by Damjan de Krnjevic-Miskovic

PERPETRATORS OF GORAZDEVAC MASSACRE STILL NOT ARRESTED - DAY 57...
According to all available infomation investigation of this case as well as other major ethnically motivated attacks against Kosovo Serbs are in a deadlock

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UN REPORT SAYS SECURITY WORSENING IN KOSOVO
The security situation in Kosovo has worsened in the past few months, according to a new report to the UN Security Council on Wednesday.

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AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
Wednesday, 08-Oct-2003 10:10AM

UNITED NATIONS, Oct 8 (AFP) - The security situation in Kosovo has worsened in the past few months, according to a new report to the UN Security Council on Wednesday.

The report comes ahead of the next week's talks between Serbian and ethnic Albanian delegations in Vienna, the first such discussions since the end of the war in 1999.

The report said that the southern Serbian province was stable but "less secure" since the middle of the year due to "a large number of shootings and grenade/bomb attacks."

It also cited a high level of organised crime, including groups it said "oppose the strengthening of any state institutions dealing with law and order. "

Next week's talks will not touch on Kosovo's eventual status, the province's most politically and emotionally sensitive issue.

Although Kosovo remains part of Serbia, its ethnic Albanian majority has been calling for independence. The United Nations has been effectively running Kosovo since the war's end.

On Thursday, Kosovo's multi-ethnic assembly postponed a vote on its possible delegation for the talks, rebuffing a request from Prime Minister Bajram Rexhepi to approve the meeting.

The talks, set to begin October 14, will focus on transport, energy, missing people and the return of those displaced by the conflict, when Serb forces clashed with ethnic Albanian separatist guerrillas.

More than 22,000 international peacekeepers are currently in the province.

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KOSOVO ASSEMBLY DEALS BLOW TO PRISTINA-BELGRADE TALKS
Kosovo lawmakers on Thursday failed to give their backing to a proposed meeting with Serbian officials next week, dealing a blow to the United Nations' plans for historic dialogue.

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AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
Thursday, 09-Oct-2003 5:00AM

PRISTINA, Serbia-Montenegro, Oct 9 (AFP) - Kosovo lawmakers on Thursday failed to give their backing to a proposed meeting with Serbian officials next week, dealing a blow to the United Nations' plans for historic dialogue.

The 120-member parliament was expected to debate the pros and cons of the October 14 talks scheduled for Vienna, but MPs voted not to include the issue on the agenda of Thursday's session.

It was not immediately clear whether this meant the Kosovo delegation would attend the talks, which would be the first high-level meeting of its kind since the 1998-99 war in the southern Serbian province.

The head of the UN mission in Kosovo, former Finnish prime minister Harri Holkeri, was due to hold a press conference later Thursday.

Holkeri plans to lead the Kosovo delegation as the most powerful official in the province under Security Council Resolution 1244, which established Kosovo as a UN protectorate at the end of the war.

Kosovo Prime Minister Bajram Rexhepi, who asked the assembly to approve the proposed meeting, has said he would not attend without parliamentary backing.

In a debate last week the assembly demanded that the UN administration, which takes most decisions in the province, first transfer more authority to fledgling local institutions.

Ethnic Albanian politicians have also said they need more time to prepare for the talks, which are to focus on technical issues such as transport, energy and missing people.

But analysts have said the proposed dialogue is a political hot-potato for ethnic Albanians, with no party willing to be seen as cooperating with Belgrade or compromising on their ultimate goal of independence.

Kosovo is still technically a province of Serbia and its final status is not on the agenda for the planned dialogue.

UN officials have said the Vienna meeting would be largely symbolic with concrete progress expected as subsequent meetings in Belgrade or Pristina.

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ILLEGAL PRIVATIZATION IN KOSOVO STOPS

The Serbian Ministry of Economy and Privatisation today hailed the decision of UNMIK administration to halt illegal privatisation of socially-owned companies in the province. This came as the results of the Serbian government's warnings in the previous two years sent to heads of the world's relevant institutions, including the United Nations, the World Bank, the World Trade Organisation and the International Monetary Fund.
 

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http://www.serbia.sr.gov.yu/news/2003-10/08/331356.html

SERBIAN GOVERNMENT

Belgrade, Oct 8, 2003 - The Serbian Ministry of Economy and Privatisation today hailed the decision of UNMIK administration to halt illegal privatisation of socially-owned companies in the province. This came as the results of the Serbian government's warnings in the previous two years sent to heads of the world's relevant institutions, including the United Nations, the World Bank, the World Trade Organisation and the International Monetary Fund.

The statement issued from the Ministry of Economy and Privatisation further reads that this decision is the only rightful one as the privatisation process in Kosovo-Metohija was against the basic principle of market economy, that is, inalienable right of property.

In many talks with UNMIK authorities, the Serbian government and this ministry suggested that the privatisation model applied in Serbia be also applied in Kosovo-Metohija as this model was described as transparent and the best one in the Eastern Europe.

The Ministry is still open for cooperation with the international community so that the best model for privatisation in the province is be found.

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IS KOSOVO READY FOR FINAL STATUS?

And so we understand, over 140 cultural sites have been destroyed or vandalized since the spring of 1999. And we cannot take the risk that more, including the most precious ones, will not suffer the same fate if responsibility for their security is transferred from NATO soldiers to Albanians, to the KPC, instead of to Serb forces. It would be like allowing the PLO to safeguard the Wailing Wall.

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Damjan de Krnjevic-Miskovic

Remarks as Written to be to the Western Policy Center's conference
Serbia Transformed? Western Integration and Trans-Atlantic Security,
St. Regis Hotel, Washington, DC
7 October 2003


I am neither a believer in a league of all the nations of Islam, nor even in a league of Turkish peoples. Each of us here has the right to hold his ideas, but the government must be stable with a fixed policy, grounded in facts, and with one view and one alone-to safeguard the life and independence of the nation and within its frontiers. Neither sentiment nor illusion must influence our policy. Away with dreams and shadows! They have cost us dear in the past.
-Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, as quoted in Hugh Poulton, Top Hat, Grey Wolf and Crescent (NYU Press, 1997), p. 93



Your Royal Highnesses, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, the remarks to follow will consider whether UNMIK's Kosovo is ready for final status.

Belgrade's position is that it is not, and I will begin from there not because I am a Serb but because I find the arguments persuasive. And of course this is the position of the Bush Administration, happily. The White House recognizes that continuing American support for doing things slowly in the Balkans means that the West will only have to do them once. In the example of the Djindjic assassination, to recall a recent ugly event in the history of Europe, we see what happens when the West pressures those who are most like them in parts of the world unlike theirs to act quickly without granting much in return. Indeed, the absence of war should not provoke the international community into declaring Kosovo a nation-building success: the pull of Potemkin's sleigh of hand remains strong for those who think that getting out is the answer to stability.

But this is going too far too quickly. Let me begin anew, with my understanding of Belgrade's position. And let us be mindful of the broader strategic context, which is to say, of the current state of U.S.-Serbian relations.

As America agonizes about securing a permanent peace in Iraq, and the naysayers begin to talk about quagmire and Vietnam redux, a quick look at this remarkable success story in the Balkans can bring some perspective to those who equate democracy's understandable birth pangs with long-term democratic failure.

Serbia today is an emerging democracy with a bright future. Since the fall of Milosevic, it has reformed its military and security sector, privatized its economy, established the rule of law, and strongly cooperated with the Hague war crimes tribunal. All in all, Serbia is well on its way to full integration with the key institutions of the West, despite the corruption scandals that seem to grow each day.

Washington's warm reception of Prime Minister Zoran Zivkovic and Foreign Minister Goran Svilanovic in late July confirms further the Bush Administration's recognition that a strong, prosperous Serbia is the lynchpin of America's security strategy in the Balkans. The recent announcement that Serbia will send at least 1000 soldiers to the Khadahar region of Afghanistan in support of the U.S.-led War on Terror is not only truly welcome news, but another indication that relations between the two countries are getting much better.

As the Wall Street Journal editorialized yesterday, "Who'd have thought that the Serbs would turn out to be better friends of America than the French?" And the Journal quoted a U.S. embassy official in Belgrade describing current U.S.-Serbia relations as "the best certainly since 1991, maybe even since WWII." And just four years ago Serbia was America's enemy in war. The Washington-Belgrade relationship has never been set on firmer ground, because both sides have begun to trust each other's intentions.

The importance of this new relationship for both sides should not be underestimated. The burgeoning America-Serbia friendship is allowing Belgrade to consolidate its democratic victory over the past and maintain its freedom. And in Serbia, America now has an example of a people to which it has helped deliver responsible liberty even without the presence of vital interests in the calculus of U.S. policymaking.

Much of the Administration has recognized that to give Serbia's new birth of freedom a real opportunity to succeed, a change of tactics by Western powers is in order. The way to affect Serbia's political culture is though rewards and benefits, not penalties and threats. Those who would use sticks rather than carrots mistake today's Serbia for the Serbia of yesterday, mistake the Serbia yearning to join the core-institutions of the West such as the EU and NATO for the Serbia that fought a war against both. Even some traditional opponents of full normalization in the Defense Department are running out of arguments, and things look very good indeed. Today, America has become the single largest foreign investor in Serbia and Montenegro.

And this brings us to Kosovo. First, and I don't want to spend much time on this, we have the Vienna talks, which are to begin in a few weeks. Kosovo's new SRSG [Special Representative of the Secretary General], the former prime minister of Finland, Harri Holkeri, has repeatedly indicated that the Belgrade-Pristina talks are not negotiations, or pre-negotiations, on the question of final status, but are rather talks that are to cover practical issues such as energy, security, traffic, telecommunications and missing persons. Also, I have been told, Belgrade will have much to say concerning the question of property rights and the question of the state's debt. But nothing to do with a change in the legal status of the entity, which remains an integral part of Serbia.

The document that reaffirms Serbian sovereignty over Kosovo-Metohija is UN Security Council Resolution 1244, the same document that establishes the only legal mechanism to change this fact of sovereignty. UNMIK has made it as clear as possible that final status will not be considered until the benchmarks have been met. Thus, it is in the interest of Pristina to accept as a matter of law Belgrade's factual claims, for recognition is the only way to alter that which is recognized: Pristina must recognize that it is bound to Belgrade before it can present an argument for why it should become unbound. I don't think one could say that Kosovo is ready for final status until that happens.

In late August, the Serbian parliament unanimously adopted a Declaration on Kosovo-Metohija. The document declares that no debate on Kosovo's final status may be launched until the provisions of Resolution 1244 are implemented. This is the doctrine of "standards before status."

And these "standards" are recognizable to all in this room as necessary for success in the international arena, and reinforce the language and intent of Resolution 1244. These provisions or standards include the founding of effective, representative and functioning institutions of government authority, the promotion of civil society structures and human rights (including women's rights), and institutional transparency and accountability. The standards call for the rule of law and judicial impartiality. They insist on the unrestricted freedom of movement for all residents of Kosovo and on securing the conditions for the safe and sustainable return of refugees. They affirm the necessity of establishing the institutional and legal basis for the respect of property rights, a market economy and a regulatory framework for investment. They insist on the necessity of a dialogue with Belgrade on common issues and the transformation of the Kosovo Protection Corps (to which many former KLA-types gravitated after the war) into little more than a multiethnic civil emergency response unit.

Failure to abide by the "standards before status" approach is tantamount to refusing to respect the will of the international community and may even constitute a material breach of Resolution 1244 by precisely those whom it is supposed to benefit the most, Kosovo's Albanians.

And even now, a few days before the commencement of the Vienna talks, Pristina is stalling. The parliament delays granting authority to senior Albanian officials to attend the talks. They and others besides quibble about procedure and obfuscate every step along the way, giving the distinct impression they don't want to talk to Belgrade, perhaps because the streets of Kosovo and the KLA thugs that rule them still see this as betrayal. This is childish nonsense and it has got to stop.


And there's another, prudential reason for not violating 1244. Initiating talks on final status before the standards are met guarantees that any progress in the direction of an education to responsible liberty will cease. As Janet Bogue, then the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South Central Europe, put it in her testimony before the House International Relations Committee in late May, the "benchmarks will not be achieved in the midst of a discussion of final status. That subject brings to a halt discussion of anything else."

To return to the Covic declaration. It insists, additionally, that the Kumanovo Military-Technical Agreement and the Joint Document on cooperation between Serbia and Montenegro and UNMIK must also be honored. Among other things, this would put Serbian forces in positions where they can guard against the credible threat of vandalism or terrorism against religious and cultural shrines, and also calls on UNESCO to establish protective zones around Serbian monasteries and churches.

The Declaration argues that decentralisation must occur in line with Council of Europe recommendations. If Albanians don't see the prudence in this, then how can they expect Serbs to entertain the proposition that Albanians should rule themselves?

On this last point, and on others besides, you really have universal agreement across the Serbian political spectrum. Miroljub Labus, a former vice-president and now head of G17PLUS, Serbia's second-strongest political party, has called for decentralization in Kosovo as the only way to protect the rights of the Serbian minority, noting that UNMIK has failed to provide "a satisfactory level of security." [Vienna Standard, 30 Sept 03]

The Declaration also emphasizes Serbia's obligation to cooperate with the Hague Tribunal in prosecuting all those suspected of war crimes in Kosovo. All who committed ethnically-motivated crimes, whether before, during or after the bombing, should be punished. One cannot build for the future by protecting those who bloodied the past. And it is Belgrade's position that Pristina has not done its part.

The parliamentary Declaration establishes a clear timeline, one that is firmly in line with 1244. Only once the standards have been met, that is, only once 1244 is fully implemented, will Covic's Coordination Center be given authority to contribute to the drafting of a platform for substantial autonomy for the province within Serbia and the federal state.

Now, substantial autonomy is not independence, of course. But the legal and political burden falls on Pristina to convince Belgrade and the international community that an independent Kosovo can be a viable state. So far, I see little evidence to support such a contention. In its parliamentary Declaration and elsewhere, Belgrade, on the other hand, argues that the most effective mechanism for resolving the problem of Kosovo is full European and Euro-Atlantic integration, along with the continuing implementation of Resolution 1244.

So, we have a document from Belgrade which says that the time for final status negotiations is not yet ripe, and it employs UNMIK's own criteria. And I am pleased that statesmen from across America's political spectrum are saying the same thing. Examples here are helpful.

Richard Holbrooke, on Sunday, said in Pristina that there could be no talk of progress in the province while there was no security for the Serb community.
President Clinton, on 19 September, said, also in Pristina, on the occasion of him receiving a doctorate honori causa from the university there: "I want to see you move towards self-government, economic prosperity, a civilized and lawful society, [and] religious and ethnic freedom", adding that it was Kosovo's Albanians who were in the "driver's seat" and so success or failure was their responsibility, their choice. But take note of the language: "I want to see you" achieve this and that, which suggests that we are not there yet. Kosovo has not achieved "a civilized and lawful society, [and] religious and ethnic freedom", as he says. And according to the UNMIK criteria and the Covic document, this means that final status time is not yet upon us, and, I would add, that it is not coming anytime soon.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, in a recent op-ed (WP, 25 Sept), inferred strongly that the experiment in nation-building in Kosovo has so far been a failure, or, as he put it, the exercise in nation-building in Kosovo has had "unintended adverse side effects."

This bipartisan turn away from the morality of intentions to the morality of results is welcome news to those who have followed the direction of Washington's past policies in the Balkans, for it makes it more likely that American power will be put at the service of securing stability and prosperity, not righting the apparent wrongs of history.


And let's put Rumsfeld's statement together with the State Department's reaction to the strange offer by Ibrahim Rugova, the president of Kosovo, this February (and repeated last week by Nexhat Daci, the parliament's speaker), to send KPC-Kosovo Protection Corps-troops, many of them former KLA terrorists, on peacekeeping missions. As I put it in a Washington Post piece in late March, "yesterday's KLA troops have become today's [policemen,] underworld bosses and political leaders." Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Elizabeth Jones reportedly replied to Rugova's offer thusly: that "the best thing he [Rugova] could do to contribute to the campaign against terrorism was to build a stable democratic Kosovo" [NYT, 6 Oct 03].

Finally, in the context of expressing Kosovo Albanian solidarity with the goal of regime change in Iraq, Bajram Rexhepi, Kosovo's prime minister, wrote in the Washington Post prior to the Iraq War that "wherever men are denied freedom, there is a threat to peace." That may be, but peace is impossible without justice for all. And justice-the rule of law and the principles of equality and individual rights-is far from the harsh realities we see on the streets of Kosovo. And we're a long way from stability, with ethnic-based violence-these are called hate crimes over on this side of the Atlantic-that is to say, violence against Serbs by Albanians, a huge issue. Crimes are almost never resolved, despite the presence of eye-witnesses. Recent barbaric shootings, from the murder of children near Pec to the torture and execution of a family in Obilic, do not send the right signal to Serb IDPs.

I am not saying that the Albanians don't see that their record on issues of fundamental importance to the international community needs to improve. They get it, one could argue. For example, the joint declaration of 2 July (signed by men such as Daci, Haradinaj, Rexhepi, Rugova and Thaqi) that called for the victims of the reverse ethnic cleansing to leave behind the past and return to Kosovo-Metohija, is a step in the right direction, despite the fact that it was written by the U.S. Mission.

At least these men recognized, in speech if not yet in deed, that something was profoundly wrong with Kosovo, and that a fruitful future necessitates constructively taking the political initiative. But without the Albanian street understanding the necessity of holding their leaders to account, political responsibility will remain an alien concept. As such, symbolism will continue to rule in the political arena, and Serbs will not return to their lands in sufficient numbers to constitute a critical mass.

Certainly, the position of Kosovo's Serbs improves with every organized return-a policy the State Department is pushing so much that it has increased the amount of assistance it will provide to the various return programs which work toward that end. State and UNMIK have outlined specific programs of return that focus on areas where secure returns are feasible.

The idea is to legitimize ethnic difference in the eyes of the locals, with so far negligible success: of the approximately 200,000 Serbs who have been ethnically cleansed from Kosovo since NATO took over from Serbian security troops, only about 1000 have returned this year. Pristina used to be populated by at least 40,000 Serbs. Despite a tripling, a quadrupling of its total population since the war, less than 200 Serbs remain.

That said, the U.S. Mission in Pristina along with UNMIK and the other Western institutions present in Kosovo are attempting to establish a fertile climate for return, emphasizing, rightly, that so-called "spontaneous returns" will not be effective. Over time, as the Albanians realize that their sometimes violent resistance to right the wrongs of ethnic cleansing is futile and counterproductive, the hope is that the process will become irreversible. But the road ahead will be tough, for the Albanians have little tradition of tolerance. That is why the end of the year interviews with Rugova quote him as being against the return of Serbs, noting that such a return would provoke instability in the province. Apparently, some of Kosovo's citizens are more equal than others.

Let me now turn in the final few minutes of my remarks to Belgrade's views on final status. The Covic Declaration does not consider as legitimate the possibility of an independent Kosovo. On the other hand, we have heard proposals in the past from Belgrade-from Djindjic before he was murdered, for example-that would grant independence to the Kosovo Albanians in exchange for the retention of extraterritorial sovereignty over Serbian holy places in the entity as well as over majority-Serb areas (which may have included mutually-beneficial population transfers).

And so we understand, over 140 cultural sites have been destroyed or vandalized since the spring of 1999. And we cannot take the risk that more, including the most precious ones, will not suffer the same fate if responsibility for their security is transferred from NATO soldiers to Albanians, to the KPC, instead of to Serb forces. It would be like allowing the PLO to safeguard the Wailing Wall.

Just to be clear: it is not in Serbia's interest to retain sovereignty over Kosovo as its present borders define it. And it is also not in the interest of Kosovo's Albanian majority to continue to hassle the Serbs. Either grant them the equality, justice and liberty they deserve, or accept that the administrative borders will change. But the international community will not grant independence to an entity that legitimizes ethnic cleansing.

So when one looks to final status for Kosovo, one must approach the matter with caution, and strongly guard against the temptation to push aside the moderating insubordination of the ways of the world. Rightly so, for to downplay the particularities of history is to precipitate its repetition.

To that end, I wrote on the subject of Serbia's national interests and foreign policy objectives in the Belgrade daily Politika (25 Feb 2003). About Kosovo I said something like the following:

While it is clear that Belgrade's future relationship with Pristina will be unlike anything in the last 90 years (for moral, political and economic reasons), Serbia retains two vital interests in that entity: the promotion of the full rights of the population loyal to the state (i.e. Kosovo's Serbs) and the maintenance of sovereignty over Serbian ecclesiastical and cultural patrimony. The furtherance of these interests requires Serbia to realize that UNMIK is an ally, not an adversary, because there is a congruence of viewpoints.

Specifically, the doctrine of "standards before status" is of great advantage to the Serbian position, since it insists on the return of Kosovo's Serbs, on the establishment of the rule of law and on the necessity of dialogue with Belgrade, among other things.

Serbs must embrace the standards and reign-in those among them who fear participating in Kosovo's interim institutions. Finally, in support of the continuation of sovereignty over Serbia's patrimonial heritage, the Serbian Orthodox Church should consider returning its patriarchal seat to Pec. When the time for final status negotiations comes, Serbia will have put itself in the best possible bargaining position.

Today, in Washington, New York, and Brussels, we have begun to see a turn away from the view that all have legitimate security and political interests in the Balkans save for Serbia. Southeastern Europe's metropolitan power is back, and things look good for the region as a whole. As an old teacher of mine in college used to say about how too many local Balkan politicians make choices, "the train is leaving the station. You either get on the train or you blow up the train." And I think we can all agree: the era of uncompromise and violence is over. Europe beckons, and America encourages. Otherwise, there is a real prospect of being left behind by the future because we are unable to conquer our past.

Thank you for your attention.

Damjan de Krnjevic-Miskovic, Senior Fellow at the Institute on Religion and Public Policy, is Assistant Managing Editor at The National Interest, a leading foreign policy magazine. Formerly a columnist for the Russian daily Izvestia and a professor of political science at Assumption College, his academic training has combined political science, history, and philosophy. As a policy analyst, his area of expertise includes South-Eastern European politics, American foreign policy and U.S.-European relations. His essays have appeared in the Journal of Democracy, National Review, the Weekly Standard, the Review of Metaphysics and the Journal of Ecumenical Studies, among others, the French journal Commentaire, and all the major Belgrade papers, including Politika and Danas. He is at work on a book length study of Bush's rhetoric of freedom and another entitled The Recovery of Being, Philosophy, and Ordinary Experience. He serves on the International Relations Committee of G17PLUS, a Serbian political party.
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