Kosovo – What  Can Still Be Done?

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 35 – March 6, 1998


“Violence closes doors and minds. Good  conflict-resolution opens them. A principled, impartial and  innovative approach is now the only way to prevent a new  tragedy in the Balkans. A limited United Nations presence  could be one element in violence prevention, says TFF  director Jan Oberg. Below you find some examples, developed  by us during our work with the Kosovo conflict since 1991.  We’d be happy to have your comments and your suggestions.”

 “Many things can still be done – but only as long as  there is no, or limited, violence. When violence is stepped  up, opportunities for genuine solutions diminish. Governments and citizen around the world can take impartial  goodwill initiatives, for instance:

A hearing in the United Nations General  Assembly. We need to get the facts on the table,  presented by impartial experts as well as by the parties  themselves; listen actively to them for they have  interesting arguments and question their positions, activities and policies.

Meetings all over Europe with various  groups of Serbs and Albanians to discuss their problems.  Governments and NGOs can provide the funds, the venues and  the facilitators.

Send a high-level international delegation of  “citizens diplomats” to Belgrade and Kosovo and have it  listen and make proposals on the establishment of a permanent dialogue or negotiation process but not on what  the solution should be.

A Non-Violence Pact. Pressure must be  brought to bear on all parties to sign a document in which  they solemnly declare that they will unconditionally refrain  from the use of every kind of violence against human beings  and property as part of their policies. [Read more…]

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Kosovo: Why it is serious and what not to do

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 34 – March 5, 1998

“The statements and threats by European Union commissioner van den Broek and foreign secretary Robin Cook are imprudent: they focus on the actors, not on the problems. When Benjamin Gilman, chairman of the US House International Relations Committee talks about sanctions, sending “NATO and UN troops” to the region and supports “independent Kosova,” there is even more reason for concern.

They speak the language of power and violence, not of understanding and dialogue. And it is likely to harm the Kosovo-Albanians.

“The tragic truth is that since 1990, neither the United States, the OSCE nor the EU and its members have developed any policies to help the Serbs and Albanians avoid the predictable showdown we now witness in Kosovo.

There is much talk about conflict prevention, early warning, preventive diplomacy and non-military security. The second tragic truth is that there has been very little intellectual innovation since the so-called end of the Cold War. No new organisations have been created, geared to handle the new conflicts. Governments still seem unaware that their diplomats must be trained in conflict understanding and management – as anyone dealing with legal issues must be trained in law. And global media still focus on violence, not on underlying conflicts or possible solutions,” says Dr. Oberg who, during the last six years, has been personally engaged with a TFF team of experts in conflict-mitigation between Serbs and Albanians at government as well as NGO level.

Regrettably recent events in the Kosovo province of Yugoslavia confirm the early warnings by many independent voices, including the TFF since 1992 and, latest, our PressInfo from August 1997:

“The Serbs and Albanians have proved that they themselves are unable to start and sustain a dialogue process towards conflict-resolution and reconciliation. International attempts, lacking analysis as well as strategy, have failed, too. The overall situation has deteriorated and violence is escalating, slowly but surely. It simply cannot go on like that in the future, and go well. New thinking should be applied sooner rather than later.”

Following is Dr. Oberg’s assessment of why the Kosovo situation is dangerous: [Read more…]