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.

Simultaneous withdrawal of Serb police and  military from the region (with the exception of what is  needed for self-defence along the borders) and  disarmament of the Kosovo Liberation Army. This  should be combined with a “Weapons-Buy-Back” program:  citizens and paramilitary units are remunerated for handing  in their weapons to collection points controlled by the  UN.

• Monitoring of this process by UN Civil Affairs  and Civil Police (200 or so are enough).

Positive incentives. Make it known to the  parties that international organisations will help them with  things they need if they refrain from violence now and  engage in talks. As a vital element in the conflict is  underdevelopment, poverty and deepening economic crisis,  there is considerable space for economic “carrots.”

Show respect. Tell the parties that any  solution they reach voluntarily will be accepted by the  international community. This means not treating them as  helpless, clients or inferiors.

Get Yugoslavia back into the OSCE. Lift the  suspension of Yugoslavia in the OSCE, it was unwise from the  beginning to exclude Yugoslavia which then, naturally, did  not want to continue hosting the OSCE missions on its  territory.

UN Civil Police mission. Get perhaps 200  United Nations Civil Police on the ground to prevent  incidents like those we have seen from exploding into  something nobody can control.

Independent government initiatives. Don’t  wait for the European Union to find a common policy on this  issue. The Scandinavian countries and Switzerland could play  a particularly active role in this conflict.

• Arrange seminars where a lot of imaginative  longterm solutions can be suggested, analysed and  debated in a non-binding manner, almost like a brainstorm – such as:

– various types of autonomy,

– international presence,

– protectorate or other types of transitional  administration,

– demilitarisation,

– normalisation of everyday life before an overall solution  is reached,

– conditions and modalities for remaining in  Serbia/Yugoslavia

– humanitarian presence and human rights monitoring,

– economic development, e.g. creation of a Kosovo  Co-Prosperity Region or Economic Free Zone,

– UN or OSCE peacekeeping,

– trusteeship,

– condominium (shared control of one government by two or  more states),

– “cantonisation” or a division of Kosovo,

– federalisation (i.e. Yugoslavia consisting of not only  Serbia and Montenegro but also of Kosovo)

– combinations of these ideas that the parties, citizens’  groups and others would accept.

– In summary, develop a multitude of options, don’t narrow  it all down to “Our way, or war.”

• Acknowledge that violence begins when people  see no ideas or ways out or when they are afraid of  losing face. Violence-prevention means helping parties overcoming that feeling.

Focus on interests, not positions. There  could be governmental and nongovernmental dialogues on  specific, concrete needs and interests – education, health,  finance, culture, etc. – with the common understanding that  the longterm status of the region will be more easily solved  if the parties have found solutions to pressing issues for  the millions of citizens involved, particularly youth.

Establish a truth commission. The situation  is already infected with prejudice, racism, hate, propaganda  and media blackouts. The majority of foreign media cover the  violence, not the underlying conflict; they often side with  the party they sympathise with but seldom analyse the  problems that must be solved.

Establish a reconciliation commission with  impartial international organisations and highly respected  international figures. Reconciliation is not needed only  after wars: it is much easier to heal psychological  wounds when 20 rather than 200 000 have been killed and no  material damage has happened.

An OSCE-like process for the Balkans. There  are more than enough problems in this whole region – and in  its relations with the rest of Europe, the EU, NATO etc. There is poverty, animosity, misery, human rights  violations. Serbia has more than 600 000 refugees, the  largest number in Europe. There are international “national interests” in all the Balkans. It is time to develop a  compre-hensive approach through a series of conferences and  dialogues. If the OSCE, the UN, small governments and NGOs  cannot take such an initiative, who can? When is the  time, if not now?

“It is not the task of outsiders to dictate  anything. Only the parties themselves can find an  acceptable and sustainable solution. What we foreigners can  do now is to help the parties take the necessary steps back  from the abyss and prevent a tragedy that could cost  hundreds of thousands of innocent lives and spread to  Macedonia,” says Dr. Jan Oberg.

“This is why TFF facilitated a dialogue in writing  between Belgrade and Prishtina authorities between 1992 and  1996.

Our proposal emphasises the process and does not  say a word about the end result. To break the deadlock, the  best option is a combination of a new kind of UN presence  combined with non-governmental mediation. The UN is the  least biased and most conflict-resolution competent  organization we have. A UN presence should be new, limited  and entirely non-military. We call it a United Nations Temporary Authority for a Negotiated Settlement,  UNTANS.

It aims to facilitate, in a context of order, safety and  respect for human rights, a peaceful and longterm negotiated  settlement of all conflict issues between the parties. It’s  difficult, but not impossible. To summarise, there are so  many ways to approach conflicts such as that in Kosovo.  Violence is the result of fear and lack of good ideas. The  best help governments and NGOs can bring just that – new  ideas and therefore no threats or force,” concludes TFF’s  director.



A United Nations Temporary Authority for a Negotiated Settlement

Executive Summary: Kosovo 

As part of its conflict-mitigation efforts in former Yugoslavia, the Transnational Foundation proposes the establishment of a United Nations — or other international — Temporary Authority for a Negotiated Settlement, UNTANS.

It aims to facilitate, in a context of order, safety and respect for human rights, a peaceful and longterm negotiated settlement of all conflict issues between Serbia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia on the one hand and the Albanian population in the region of Kosovo on the other.

The Authority shall take over parts of the administration of the Territory, Serbian as well as Albanian, for a period of up to three years and provide a Professional Negotiation Facility composed of persons experts and with practical experience in conflict and dispute mitigation.

All military and para-military forces not deemed necessary for self-defence shall be replaced with Civil Police and monitors in the territory. Skilled multi-ethnic and multi-cultural civilian Civil Affairs Officers are deployed together with qualified civilian volunteers from nongovernmental organizations to monitor the UNTANS’s support among the inhabitants, serve as neutral ”Third Party” mediators and instil trust. Peacebuilding, such as the teaching conflict understanding, negotiations and settlement, is an integral part of the Authority.

This new type of international conflict management is not a protectorate. By refraining from stipulating what the final settlement should look like, it respects the rights of conflicting parties to search for their own solutions. It seeks to facilitate such a process by non-military means. Thus, it is violence-prevention and principled, professional negotiation in one.

The proposal has been developed through the Transnational Foundation’s analyses and informal mitigation efforts during 7 missions to both sides since 1991. It presents an indirect dialogue between the highest authorities on both sides.

The UNTANS concept is generally applicable to other conflicts, as an alternative to military or otherwise externally-imposed solutions.

It is made public now after the Dayton Agreement to stimulate relevant, impartial actors in the international society to act creatively and in time. We are convinced that the parties do not want an escalation of uncontrolled violence but that it could anyhow happen.

The UNTANS proposal is based on the belief that only through negotiations can the parties and the international society hope to avoid the worst and aspire to achieve the best.


The Conflict Mitigation Initiative 1991 – 1994

This draft Memorandum of Understanding by the Transnational Foundation seeks to create a dialogue and to mitigate the conflict between ethnic Serbs and Albanians in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY).

It is the third, revised version to be presented to the parties after having obtained their views (see Part Three) on an earlier draft.

It is a mitigation proposal in the sense that it focuses on the process through which the parties are enabled to find a lasting settlement without forcing or threatening each other.

Outsiders can mitigate a conflict, but only the conflicting parties can solve it. Thus, the TFF holds no view as to whether Kosovo shall remain an integral part of Serbia and the FRY or not.

Discussing the proposal will, in and of itself, help the parties identify their interests and clarify their views and, in particular, help them think constructively of the future and how to get out of the present stalemate.

The TFF proposes that a United Nations Temporary Authority for a Negotiated Settlement, UNTANS, be established in Kosovo.

It must be emphasized from the outset that this does not mean that the parties should say yes or no to the Memorandum below. The function of the proposal is to have the parties reflect on and discuss the issues, one by one, and thereby start working with constructive conflict-resolution.

If, for instance, they can agree on some other party than the UN assisted by NGOs as the Authority this is fine. If they think the proposal is too comprehensive, they should try to develop a more simple model that suits them.

Thus, the Untans Memorandum will help the parties to ask: OK, we don’t like this element in the proposal; instead we suggest this. How do you feel and what would you prefer?

We are convinced that the present tense situation is not sustainable. Neither Serbs nor Albanians find it desirable or optimal. The majority of Serbs and Albanians we have met desire improved relations in the future.

Each side — as well as the international community — is now faced with very difficult dilemmas. There are no easy or perfect solutions, but there are solutions that will permit peaceful co-existence and mutual respect.

If each side takes one step back from the present path, they may become able to take two steps forward in a new direction.

The Memorandum is based on seven missions to Belgrade and Prishtina and the TFF monitored closely the developments since autumn 1991. Our initiative is based on hundreds of conversations with Serbs and Albanians of all walks of life.

During a consultative process earlier this year, the memorandum was presented to the two main parties. It was discussed with FRY minister of human and minority rights, Margit Savovic (who also responded in writing) and with then minister of foreign affairs Vladislav Jovanovic. Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic, during a conversation in June 1994, encouraged the TFF to continue its efforts in establishing face-to-face communication.

In Prishtina it was responded to in writing by President of the Republic of Kosova Ibrahim Rugova after elaborate consultation among the leadership of the Democratic League of Kosova (LDK).

We deal with their reactions, criticism and proposals in the section that follows the proposal itself. In this manner an indirect dialogue is already taking place.

The TFF  is an independent scholarly based foundation devoted to unbiased conflict-mitigation. Our activity here and in other parts of former Yugoslavia is an independent goodwill mission with no political or military power. We see conflicts as problems in need of a solution, not as opportunities to allocate blame.

Our initiative comes at a moment when there are no permanent, structured dialogue and when the overall situation in ex-Yugoslavia is still far from normalized and peace not guaranteed. That is a risky state of affairs. In the Kosovo conflict the parties and the world are in a comparatively good situation since no large-scale human and physical destruction has taken place. The doors to peaceful co-existence, one way or the other, are still open.

This draft Memorandum of Understanding is an appeal to you, but it is also a tool. It is an example of impartial analysis and ”citizens diplomacy.” You do not have to agree with it to discuss its issues.

As you will see from the section following the text of the Memorandum, the parties did not think that the Draft solved all problems or met all their interests.

Neither did any of them turn it down. That offers some hope. Thus this Third Draft.



December 1994

April 1996

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