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At the death of President

Dr. Ibrahim Rugova in Kosovo



Jan Oberg, TFF director


January 21, 2006

It's with deep sorrow I have learned tonight that Dr. Rugova, the President of Kosova (Kosmet i Metohija/Kosovo) has died. TFF Associates Sommelius, Weston, Cullberg, Schultz and Schierup and I myself have known him for almost 15 years. Together with then President Kiro Gligorov of Macedonia, Rugova was the only political leader in former Yugoslavia who embrased non-violence, albeit pragmatically.
In the early 1990s, it was with Rugova and his LDK party officials TFF's team worked out the modalities of an independent Kosova - a Kosova with open borders, non-aligned, non-military and neutral. Dr. Rugova was our partner - together with three government leaders in Belgrade - in TFF's conflict-mitigating endeavour to develop a comprehensive international treaty that would secure a negotiated solution with a civilian UN presence there (
UNTANS, 1996).
Regrettably, hardline Kosovo-Albanians, with the support of the German intelligence service, CIA and others created the Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA, behind his back. Predictably, a war followed and in 1999 NATO's bombing which - as can be seen today - effectively prevented the development of the peaceful nonviolent Kosova that he and his colleagues creatively envisioned 15 years ago.
At the end of each and every meeting we said, jokingly but concerned, to this chain-smoking man that he would need to live long to see his dream of an independent Kosova come true. He said with a smile that he knew - and lit another cigarette.
I am convinced that had his nonviolent policy won the determined support of the international community in the early 1990s, many lives could have been saved and much suffering avoided. And the Kosovo province would have a much brighter future than today's Kosovo is likely to have. And in that lies all his patience and his political and moral greatness.
No one can fill the vacuum his passing away has created. Today's overall situation is less stable and even less promising than yesterday's.

Jan Oberg, Bujumbura, Burundi, January 21, 2006

Dr Rugova and Jan Oberg in Rugova's home in 2004.


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