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Ahtisaari's Kosovo proposal:
Unfair and peace-preventing


Since February this article has circulated quite a few dailies but been printed only in Swedish Aftonbladet and Danish Jyllands-Posten.
It has been submitted - one at a time - to the following who either did not reply - the majority - or declined: The Guardian (Comment Is Free and Features), The Wall Street Journal (as response to a pro-independence letter), The Sunday Telegraph, The Washington Post, New York Times, International Herald Tribune, Politiken and Berlingske Tidende (Denmark), Dagens Nyheter (Sweden).

What do you think could be the reasons that none of these distinguished free media showed the slightest interest in it?
A) It's badly written.
B) The authors don't really know what they talk about.
C) The authors think there are other solutions than the one suggested by powerful Western governments, including those that bombed Serbia and Kosovo in 1999.
D) The newspaper editors don't believe that the Kosovo issue is or will become important.
E) The article is critical of the media coverage of this conflict.
F) Editors are overburdened and read only some of all submitted articles, often going for well-known, powerful people's views.
G) If this type of views began to spread, people might begin to question whether NATO's bombing was the right thing to do.
H ) Everybody knows that Kosovo is a unique case in world politics. There are no alternatives to making it independent and, thus, really nothing that merits a discussion.
I) Nothing is said here that has not already been stated in thousands of articles about Kosovo.
J ) Other reasons?
We welcome your views, not only about the article but also on how you think the free media handle conflict, war and peace - here.

May 11, 2007

The western world has a free press, and a free press can have many perspectives. Why, then, has the story of Kosovo been so uniform the last 15 years? And why is Martti Ahtisaari’s so-called mediation of Kosovo’s future status – and the media coverage of it – so partial and non-objective?

Fair reporting would include perspectives of the Serbs, Romas, and other minorities in Kosovo, not only the majority Albanians.

It is indeed true that Serbia under Milosevic ruthlessly repressed the Kosovo-Albanians. The other side of the coin is that they were extremely inclined toward nationalism and secession since their collaboration with Mussolini. When, in 1974, Tito gave them probably the highest autonomy any minority has enjoyed, it was seen by many Serbs as anti-Serb, rewarding their rebellion the same year. Further, it is indeed noble to care for minority rights but the international community never cared equally about equally repressed Serb civilians in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo.

It is indeed true that Serbia had much military and police power. But reports consistently omit that the quite successful non-violent struggle of the Kosovo-Albanians was destroyed by the US and Germany when, from 1993, they clandestinely began arming Kosovo-Albanian extremists and created KLA, the Kosovo Liberation Army, behind the back of the non-violent leader, Dr. Ibrahim Rugova.

It is indeed reasonable that leading Serbs should be tried as possible war criminals. But reports consistently omit that Kosovo’s present Prime Minister, Agim Ceku, was Croatian Army commander in the Medak Pocket in 1993 where every human being and animal was killed; that as such he participated when some 200 000 Serbs citizens of Croatia were driven out in 1995.

Ceku was a KLA leader and NATO did not disarm KLA. The world turned the blind eye when 200 000 Kosovo-Serbs were forced out; then KLA instigated violence in Southern Serbia and the war in Macedonia.

It is indeed true that some 800 000 Kosovo’s Albanians fled Kosovo in 1999. They did so because a) war raged between Serb troops and KLA with it 20 000 well-armed fighters, b) armed Serbs chased them out, and c) NATO bombs fell for 78 days. Evidence in support of President Clinton’s argument for the bombing – that Milosevic had a Hitler-like plan to expel 1,5 million Albanians - has never been produced. Most media amplified this psycho-warfare manipulation.

Kosovo’s Albanians returned; the Serbs did not. Thus, Europe’s largest refugee problem is in Serbia. It’s a Himalayan fiasco and moral defeat for the UN, the EU, NATO and the OSCE – the governors of Kosovo - that they have failed to create conditions conducive to the rightful return of Serbs, Roma and other minorities.

It is indeed true that Albanians in Kosovo have suffered. But to argue that this suffering means a) that Serbia has lost its sovereignty over the province forever (a sovereignty emphasized in UN Security Council resolution 1244) and b) that Kosovo must therefore become the second independent Albanian state in Europe is dangerous exceptionalism. What, then, about the suffering in Tibet, Chechenya, Kurdistan, Palestine, Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Tamil Eelam, the Basque Province, Northern Ireland, Northern Cyprus, Republika Srpska, etc.?

Shall they all become independent by NATO bombs followed by Ahtisaarian “mediation” magic?

It is particularly bizarre in the case of Serbia. In 2000 the citizens of multi-ethnic Serbia non-violently deposed Milosevic, their wartime leader. Croats, Muslims and Albanians still celebrate theirs. Kosovo’s present leaders were wartime leaders, and we must be absolutely sure they are neither war criminals nor mafia before rewarding them with an independent state.

Mr Ahtisaari’s proposal is commissioned power politics, devoid of professional mediation and conflict-resolution. It’s the long-term result of a few facts: that the international community never understood Yugoslavia’s complexities, that it didn’t facilitate a negotiated solution in the early 1990s when a solution was possible, that is never used the same principles to solve the same problems and that it believed peace would emerge from disregarding one party, bombing a disputed territory out of a state and occupying it.

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Advocates of independent Kosovo should have used creativity and empathy.

Imagine Ahtisaari had offered Serbia things such as economic compensation for the bombing and the sanctions, payment for taking Kosovo property out of Serbia, rent for the gigantic American Bondsteel military base, and common Serb-Albanian border patrol.

Imagine he had suggested negotiations about autonomy within Kosovo for the northern Serb-dominated parts and opened an expressway for Serbia and Kosovo to the EU.

Imagine that he had denied the wartime leaders in Kosovo the huge new army they want; it will destabilise the region and threaten Serbia and other neighbours.

Before blaming Serbs and Serbia for protesting the Ahtisaari plan and Western policies, find a sovereign state whose peacetime leaders would not protest such arrogance. Mr. Ahtisaari’s plan is un-fair, un-intellectual, and un-viable. As a tool for Western political short-sighted interests, it will create instability, human misery and, most likely, violence.

The authors are Associates of the Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research, TFF, in Sweden – Each have followed developments and worked periodically with the conflicts in ex-Yugoslavia for more than 30 years.



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