Conflict in and around Kosovo – and some resolution proposals

By Johan Galtung

Written 2001

The present illegal NATO war on Serbia is not conducive to any lasting solution. The only road passes through negotiation, not diktat and, pending that, immediate cessation of the hostilities and atrocities, and agreement on a massive UN peacekeeping operation.

For a political solution consider the points made by former UN Secretary General Pérez de Cuéllar in his correspondence with former German Minister of Foreign Affairs Hans Dietrich Genscher December 1991:

“Do not favor any party, develop a plan for all of ex-Yugoslavia, make sure that plans are acceptable to minorities”.

In this spirit TRANSCEND suggests:

[1] The United Nations, which has to learn from its previous failures, should replace NATO and assume a peacekeeping role in Former Yugoslavia, including Kosovo/a, with contingents from nonNATO countries. The United Nations will have to mobilize all its agencies, UNHCR, UNHCHR, UNICEF, WHO, etc. to rebuild Kosovo/a, and before that, to provide the minimum needs of the people and the safe return of the refugees.

[2] If the Security Council is paralyzed by a US or Russian veto, this gives the General Assembly and the UN Secretary General legitimacy to play an active role in negotiating an end to the hostilities.  The Secretary General could be supported in that role by a group of eminent world leaders such as Nelson Mandela, former German President Richard von Weizsäcker, and Jimmy Carter.  Pressure from world public opinion is necessary.

[3] A Conference on Security and Cooperation in Southeast Europe, CSCSEE, should be organized, and sponsored by the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.  The UN Security Council is too remote, the EU and NATO too partial.  All concerned parties (also substate, superstate and non-state) should be invited, with all relevant themes on the agenda.  It could possibly last 35 years.

[4] The negotiations should aim to establish a Kosovo/a Zone of Peace Protectorate, KZOPP, under direct United Nations Trusteeship, or if political circumstances preclude this, under an OSCE mandate. It would consist of an Administrative Office; a Negotiation Task Force consisting mainly of retired personnel with experience in diplomacy, nonviolent conflict resolution, and international negotiations; a Legal Advisory Unit to provide legal opinions on various issues to assist in negotiations; Reconciliation Teams, consisting of various NGOs and religious organizations, deployed throughout the region to promote reconciliation among conflicting parties, human rights, and peace education; and a Security Group of police and peacekeeping forces to train police forces and maintain security.

A first step in a multi-year process would include the development of principles and goals to which the parties can agree, the promotion of Confidence and Security Building Measures, setting standards regarding selfdetermination in the zone, peace education, training local police forces in human security and deploying reconciliation teams.  Later phases could include permanent institution-building.

[5] For a more lasting solution, the similarity between the Serb position in Krajina-Slavonija and the Kosovars in Kosovo/a is useful:

– Both ethnic groups form clear majorities in those areas, but are minorities in Croatia and in Serbia as a whole, and have “mother countries” (Serbia, Albania) nearby.
– Refugees–most of them forced to leave–are brought back, and the Kosovars are accorded the same status within Serbia as the Serbs in Krajina-Slavonija.  If that same status is unitary state, do be it. If federation, so be it. If confederation, so be it. If independence, so be it. But equal treatment, not Kosovars worthy/Serbs unworthy.
– To draw exact borders, each community can join the side its voters prefer, the process used in 1920 to define the Danish-German border.
– The possibility of Kosovo/a as a third republic in Serbia, with guarantees against seeking independence for a period of perhaps 20 years, and the same for Krajina-Slavonija in Croatia, should not be excluded (nor Vojvodina as a fourth republic).
– The parallel is not with Bosnia-Herzegovina, which was never a part of Serbia,  but with the Serb situation in Croatia.

[6] For the Southern Balkan, a Balkan Community might be considered, including Albania, Yugoslavia, Romania, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey (maybe only the “European part”).

It would allow the Southern Balkan peoples to decide their own fate–economically and politically–supported economically by the European Union, but without meddling by outside big powers.

It might be capable of accommodating some of the Orthodox/Muslim tensions, working towards such features found in the Nordic and European communities of the 1980s as a common market, free flow of goods and services, capital and labor, and coordination of foreign policies.

It might also come up with original and better solutions than the European Union.

[7] A dense network of municipal solidarity with all parts of exYugoslavia, for refugee/ work, relief work and reconstruction can be developed.  Similar groups in Germany (“Gemeinde gemeinsam”) and France (“Cause commune”) have been highly successful.  The Council of Europe could provide help and advice.

[8] Let 1,000 local peace conferences blossom, support local groups with communication hardware, elicit and collect people’s ideas and present them to the governments.

[9] Intensify ecumenical peace work, building on peace traditions in Catholic and Orthodox Christianity, and Islam.  Challenge hard line, sectarian religious institutions in the whole region, not only in Yugoslavia.

[10] In the spirit of future reconciliation,
– drop the sanctions,
– have inside and outside specialists search for understanding of what went wrong,
– have inside and outside specialists search for positive past and present experiences that can inspire a common future, such as
– a federation of more and smaller parts, somewhat similar to the Swiss cantons, with a high degree of internal autonomy, which have long helped a linguistically and religiously diverse people live in peace.
– and rather than criminal courts initiate massive reconciliation processes.

A federation for Kosovo – A peace and conflict perspective

The 1999 war ended with military victory for USA-NATO-UCK and defeat for JNA, occupation of Kosovo/a and a major US military base, Camp Bondsteel, in Urosevac, 20 kms from Pristina, obviously with military tasks far beyond the limits of Kosovo/a.

A military victory is not the same as conflict resolution and may imply conflict aggravation, adding one more trauma, this time on the Serbian side, to the problems.

The major problem, although other groups are also involved, is the co-existence of Albanians and the Serbs within a limited area.  The Albanians have the democratic legitimacy of a clear majority, and the Serbs share historical legitimacy with the Albanians.

There is a Chinese boxes-matrushka problem in the sense of the Serbs being a majority in Serbia with Kosovo/a, the Albanians a majority in Kosovo/a and the Serbs a majority in Northern Kosovo/a with Mitrovica (and in a smaller area closer to Pristina).

A mediation workshop organized by OSCE in Pristina 11-13 September 2000 with about 70 Albanians and 30 Serbs – from Kosovo/a and Northern Kosovo/a – explored this problem in detail.  After initial presentation by some Albanians of the atrocities committed by Serbs during the centuries, a presentation by some Serbs of atrocities committed by the Albanian during the centuries, and a listing by the mediator of cooperation during the centuries (inter-marriage, trade and other exchanges in the economy, etc.) the attention turned to possible solutions.

A general consensus emerged around self-determination as the guiding principle regardless of other provisions of and in international law relating to how the present situation came about.  Oppression by Belgrade, nonviolent resistance and close to self-rule by Albanians unsupported by the international community, a war based on false premisses like the “Racak massacre”, and “Operation Horseshoe” to drive out the Albanians, the massive escape of the Albanians due to propaganda and NATO bombing, the violent UCK invasion, are incidental, not crucial to the reality of the Albanian majority in Kosova and Serbian majority, and deep historical attachment, in Northern Kosovo.

These two basic facts point to a simple solution: An independent Kosova, and inside that independent Kosova very high autonomy for the Serbs in Northern Kosovo by devolution of power to that part, or by means of a federal constitution for Kosova with one, possibly two, Serbian cantons.

Following the Swiss model, the Serbian cantons would be run by, for and of the Serbs in Serbian idiom linguistically and culturally, like in Albanian idiom for most of the rest of the country.  In addition to this there would have to be executive power-sharing for Kosovo/a as a whole with proportionality as guiding principle and use of two or more languages for money bills, street and place names, etc.

A confederation with Serbia and Albania, and also with a federated Macedonia (where the two nations are more equal), might be a future possibility, both to reduce tensions in the area and to make Kosovo/a more viable. For those very reasons a division of Kosovo/a would be counterproductive.

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