Kosovo – the West’s predictable fiasco

Baffling Kosovo mass exodus exposes domestic hardships – Al Jazeera
5% of the people have left, 100,000 this year.

Funny how in the 1990s the only problems were Serbs and Belgrade. NATO bombed and forced Kosovo out of Yugoslavia.
Billions of dollars have poured in from the world; EU, NATO etc. helped build the country.

As you will see from other articles here about our work in Kosovo, when TFF was there as mediators (1991-2001), we always said: Discuss first what kind of Kosovo you want, then decide its status vis-a-vis Serbia. Nobody listened: Independence was everything, no one bothered about the day after. There was no expertise on economy,  production, society’s development and how to run a complex society as an independent state; there were traders and people of culture – ad then the West threw out, literally, all Serbs who operated the infrastructure, the energy system and managed the institutions. (The method was repeated in Iraq…)

Today we see the predictable results when you make quick military fixes, let war criminals run a new, deeply corrupt state and all sides run on obsessive nationalism.

It’s feels very tragic to be proven right.

Advertisements

Equal right to self-determination – A dialogue

By Johan Galtung

March 2010

Conflict Worker: What is it you really want? What are the goals?

Slovene: We are a nation with the same right as any other nation, through self-determination for the first time to have our own state. We want to be ruled neither from Vienna nor from Belgrade, but from Ljubljana and, in a broader European context, from Brussels. Our small minorities are safe in a democracy with human rights.

Croat: We are a nation with the same right as any other nation, through self-determination, again to have our own state. We want to be ruled neither from Vienna nor from Belgrade, but from Zagreb and, in a broader European context, from Brussels. Our minorities can feel safe in a democracy with human rights.

Serb in Croatia:  The Croats can have their own state, but they have no right to take the Serbs in Croatia with them. We do not want to be ruled from Zagreb that killed us during the war, in an alliance with Nazi Germany.

Bosniak:  We are a nation with the same right as any other nation, through self-determination, once again to have our own state. We want to be governed neither from Istanbul, Vienna nor Belgrade, but from Sarajevo, and, in a broader European context, from Brussels. Our minorities can feel safe in a democracy with human rights. [Read more…]

Serbia – Past and future

By Johan Galtung

February 15, 2010

In Belgrade: The NATO attack May-June 1999 left scars still not healed, like the bombed out Ministry of the Interior (Israelis want to invest in a hotel at that site).  But the place is as vibrant with culture and restaurants-cafes and intellectualisms of all kinds as ever.  An enviable resilience.  Orthodox optimism?

Processing the past is not easy.  This authors’s summary of Serbian history adds up to three words: defeat, retreat, return.  There is the Abrahamic idea of Chosen People with a Promised Land from Genesis, focused on today’s Kosovo-Kosova. Hypothesis: whatever else happens, there will be some kind of return.  To put this author’s cards on the table I see only one relatively stable equilibrium not maintained by violence and the threat thereof (1):

• an independent Kosova in the name of self-determination,
• with a Swiss type constitution and a flexible number of cantons,
• maybe three Serbian cantons in the North and close to Pristina,
• each canton governed in that nation’s idiom as a federation,
• with open borders to the key motherlands Serbia and Albania, and
• those three countries woven together in a confederation.

The present “independence” – using a Finn as an instrument for US-Western goals and based on three points is of course not sustainable: [Read more…]

Peace by peaceful means (Book launch)

By Johan Galtung

December 2009 – Foreword to Serbian edition of Peace By Peaceful Means.

Let me first express my deep gratitude to Professor Radmila Nakarada and her colleagues for this Serbian edition of my book Peace By Peaceful Means.  And let me then try to say something about the message of the book for the conflict over Yugoslavia, a country I still love, well knowing its sustainability was limited.  And that will be done from the four angles of the four parts of the book: peace, conflict, development and civilization.

Peace has direct, structural and cultural conditions, and Yugoslavia had many components. There was a terrible history of direct violence related to the German-Italian attacks and some cooperation with the attackers, particularly in Croatia, BiH and Kosovo. There was never any real conciliation, hoping that time will mend the wounds, that they were “quits”.  Instead they were reopened, and new wounds added.  Direct peace was not achieved. [Read more…]

What’s in a name ?

By Håkan Wiberg

Originally published here.

There are many cases of conflicts where one party (sometimes both) makes demands that appear absurd to an outsider, not least because they will obviously be unacceptable to the other party. The eight points in the Greek position on the name issue of Macedonia looks like a good example.

Sovereign and internally recognized states sometimes change names. “The kingdom of…” becomes “The (people’s democratic, Arab, or whatever) republic of….”. In recent decades, several states changed their names entirely to become Benin, Myanmar, etc.; Cote d´Ivoire even notified the UN that its name was now the same in English, rather than Ivory Coast. When recognition is an issue, one state may refuse to use the name the other state has taken, such as German Democratic Republic (Soviet occupation zone), Republic of China (Taiwan), Israel (the Zionist entity).

Greece, however, seems to be only state that has demanded that an internationally recognised state change its name and makes a vast issue out of it. I can imagine the mixture of outrage and laughter that would result from Great Britain demanding that Ireland change its name to “Southern Ireland” or China asking for Mongolia to become “Northern Mongolia”. [Read more…]

Ohållbart om Kosovo

Av Johan Galtung, Håkan Wiberg och Jan Öberg

Aftonbladets Debatt – March 5, 2007

Ahtisaaris plan är orättvis och kommer att leda till ökat våld

Västvärlden har en fri press, och i en fri press kan man finna många synpunkter.
Hur kommer det sig då att historien om Kosovo har varit så likriktad de senaste femton åren?
Och varför är Martti Ahtisaaris så kallade medling om Kosovo och presstäckningen av denna så partisk och så lite objektiv?

Det är sant och visst att kosovoalbanerna blev brutalt förtryckta i det Serbien Milosevic regerade. Den andra sidan av saken är deras extrema tendenser till nationalism och utbrytning alltsedan kollaborationen med Mussolini.

År 1974 gav Tito dem vad som troligen var den mest långtgående autonomi en minoritet har åtnjutit. Internationella samfundet visade aldrig engagemang för den lika förtryckta serbiska civilbefolkningen i Kroatien, Bosnien och Kosovo.

Det är obestridligt att Serbien hade en massa makt i form av militär och polis. Men det nämns aldrig att Tyskland och USA 1993 inledde en hemlig beväpning av kosovoalbanska extremister och skapade KLA (Kosovos Befrielsearmé) bakom ryggen på ickevåldsledaren Dr Ibrahim Rugova. [Read more…]

Economic sanctions – social and economic effects

By Johan Galtung

Written 1993 and edited 2006

The following six points are based on observations and dialogues in the conflict area:

[1]  The Security Council has succeeded where the Milosevic regime might have failed: in unifying the population and thereby prolonging the war.  The Democratic Opposition, very much at odds with the regime and especially over issues of violence, shares the basic view of the government: the sanctions are unjust, based on a misreading of the situation (that Belgrade is behind everything Serbs do), possibly against international law (the conflict is more a civil than an inter-state war although there are aspects of both).  Since the sanctions are an important part of everyday life, more important than the war itself in non-war zones, attitudes toward sanctions may overshadow other attitudes, and unify.

[2]  The Security Council and foreign governments are seen as responsible for the economic predicament, not the government.  The idea that the sanctions are due to government policy stretches the causal chain. The immediate cause, the Security Council resolution, will more easily be held responsible.  But the major reason is deeper: a feeling that the aim is to bring down the government which, right or wrong, then becomes “our government”.  The sanctions are seen as illegitimate intervention in internal affairs, going beyond what the government has done: “they are out to get us, not just trying to change some policy.”

[3]  The sanctions confirm rather than counteract Serbian images of the outside world and strengthen their resolve.
The Serbs have a richly developed and well internalized CGT-complex (a sense of being chosen, with glories and trauma).  The sanctions have been nicely integrated into the long litanies about suffering imposed from the outside. But at the same time strength is derived from the Orthodox faith that Justice and Truth will prevail, with Redemption; Orthodoxy being the most optimistic of the three Christianities.  One day the world will understand how unjustly the Serbs have been treated, the sanctions will be lifted, and Serbs will live in their homeland.  The injustice that has fallen on the Serbs is what one can expect from the outside world (except Orthodox countries); but even so injustice will run up against its limits.

In other words, the sanctions are interpreted in a historical and symbolic context; probably incomprehensible to people with economic material cost-benefit analysis driving out any sense of history and symbolism. [Read more…]

The disasters of December 15-16, 1991 and April 6, 1992 and its consequences

By Johan Galtung

Germany, meaning here the former foreign minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher (and behind him the chancellor, Helmut Kohl, and Alois Mock of Austria) were the key responsible for the recognition of Croatia and Slovenia 15 January 1992, actually agreed upon 16 December 1991, and of Bosnia-Herzegovina 6 April 1992.

There were enough clear warnings, however. Lord Peter Carrington, then the EC negotiator, wrote in a letter of 2 December 1991 to Hans van den Broek, foreign minister of the Netherlands, then President of the EU (then still EC) Council of Ministers:

“There is also a real danger, perhaps even a probability, that Bosnia-Herzegovina would also ask for independence and recognition, which would be wholly unacceptable to the Serbs in that republic in which there are something like 100,000 JNA troops, some of whom have withdrawn there from Croatia.  Milosevic has hinted that military action would take place there if Croatia and Slovenia were recognized.  This might well be the spark that sets Bosnia-Herzegovina alight”.

And from Javier Pérez de Cuéllar, then Secretary General of the United Nations, in a letter to him of 10 December 1991:

“In his report to me today, Mr Vance has described widely expressed apprehensions about the possibility of premature recognition of the independence of some of the Yugoslav republics and the effect that such a move might have on the remaining republics.  Leaders of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Macedonia were among the many political and military figures who last week underscored to Mr. Vance their own strong fears in this regard.  More than one of his high-level interlocutors described the possibly explosive consequences of such a development as being a “potential time bomb”. [Read more…]

Mapping the Yugoslav conflicts

By Johan Galtung

Written around 1992, edited in 2006

This blog favors the conflict/peace more than the threat/security perspective.  And standard conflict analysis demands a comprehensive listing of the key actors, of their goals, and of the clashes among those goals.  A point of departure is a list of standard fault-lines often separating individuals and groups, assuming that the conflict is not only among states and republics because only they have arms.

Conflict analysis – it was a bit more complex than assumed by most

And that is a first and major point to be made: the conflict in and over Yugoslavia went far beyond nations only.  Here are ten conflicts, all within Yugoslavia, certainly not only one:

I.    Nature: military destruction vs the eco-balance of nature, particularly through the use of depleted uranium
II.   Gender: macho attitude-behavior, including large scale rape, probably also as a backlash against socialist gender parity
III.  Generation: passing hatred, revanchism through generations, from the past via the present way into the future, at the national, local and family levels, not processed through reconciliation
IV.   Race: by and large irrelevant, except for some UN troops
V.    Class: we have to distinguish between four kinds:

– political: a revolt against Beograd as the Titoist center of decision-making, also among Serbs as a perpetuation of the Tito-Mihajlovich, partizan-chetnik conflict from the Second world war;
– military: a revolt against the Titoist near monopoly on military violence through the largely Serbian controlled JNA, the Yugoslav National Army;
– economic: the under-class revolt against the technocrats; and the revolt of the less well-to-do against the more well-to-do;
– cultural: a revolt against any perceived cultural dominance, linguistically, religiously, ideologically – within and without.

VI:   Nation: shallow in terms of religion; deeper for language, and in terms of sacred times (dates) and sacred spaces (sites) for the nations.  Also “Yugoslavs” vs. “constituent nations”.

VII:  Country: only Slovenija was uni-national, the other republics were all multi-national with problematic borders

VIII: State/Capital: the socialism/capitalism controversy

IX:   Capital/Civil Society: inter-nation exploitation issues

X:    State/Civil Society: human rights infractions, killed and wounded, peace movements inside/outside Yugoslavia; NGOs.

Almost everyone of these is important.  But “nation” has to be spelt out. [Read more…]

The security versus the peace approach

By Johan Galtung

Written presumably 2006

Yugoslavia caught international attention through acts of violence late June 1990 when Slovenian border guards close to Gorizia shot at their Serbian counterparts.  And Yugoslavia retained its grip on international attention ever since, according to the rule of bad journalism: violence up, attention up; violence down, attention down.  The “Balkans”, that southeastern corner of Europe on which the West, the “international community”, projects its own somber shadow of centuries of ethnic cleansing and other cruelties, meets the bill.  Everybody sufficiently violent, from the smallest fringe to that very “international community”, can get their instant prime time/front page media fame. Years of patient NGO and UN work for peace will certainly not rival them.

For in the beginning was not the word, but two ways of thinking, competing for our attention: the security discourse and the peace discourse.  [Read more…]

Kosovo: Conflict-mismanagement in-the-making

By Jan Oberg

August 10, 2005

By spring 2004 it became obvious that slowly, surely and sadly the efforts of the international community to create peace in Kosovo/a would come to an end rather soon. The reasons are simple: mediation and conflict-resolution in complex conflicts cannot be done the way it was between 1989 and 1999. And you won’t succeed with peace-making the way it was done by the bombings in 1999 and the efforts since then.

Had anyone in the EU and the U.S. had the intellectual will and the political courage to draw conflict-management lessons from the Balkans, we would hardly have experienced the succeeding quagmires called Afghanistan and Iraq where the opportunities for peace and reconciliation are also decaying by the day.

The community’s self-appointed conflict-managers and mediators probably hope that their “condemnations” of the most recent bout of ethnic cleansing in Kosovo in March 2004 will do the trick, prevent Albanian extremists from further attacks and keep the Kosovo calamity away from the headlines. If so, there is a high probability that they are in for nasty surprises 2005-2006.

The international community doesn’t seem to have any solid and realistic idea about what to do with Kosovo. There are no solutions anymore that will be fair in the eyes of the parties, the Albanians, the Serbs, the Romas and other, smaller group. Any imaginable future status will create serious problems in the region and possibly for the international community. To put it crudely – if the international conflict-managers are doctors, their patient is dying because of a bad diagnosis and a seriously failed surgery.

Embarrassing as they are, the reasons are quite simple but remain virtually untold:  they would require an ounce of self-criticism in a series of European ministries of foreign affairs, in Washington and Brussels. For the decade 1989-1999 the international community operated on a standardised, one-truth, black-and-white explanation of what this conflict was about. They blamed the Serbs in general and Slobodan Milosevic in particular for the Kosovo conflict. They conveniently ignored the complex framework in space and time of which Kosovo was a part: the dissolution mechanisms of former Yugoslavia, the wider context of the Balkans and the restructuring of the world order as well as the  transition from the Cold War paradigm to something  different.

Like we see in today’s Iraq, there were no limits to the political hubris-cum-ignorance. Both Albanian and Serb citizens were treated as pawns in much larger games and they are realising it now.

Below follows a list of some of the conflict mismanagement and long-term root causes that explain the unfolding dissolution of the peace-making efforts in Kosovo that we are now witnessing. (Numbers do not indicate priority or relative importance.) [Read more…]

Srebrenica Muslims remembered – the rest silenced

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 222 – July 11, 2005

Originally published here.

 

There is every reason to commemorate the massacre by Serb soldiers on innocent Muslim civilians in Srebrenica ten years ago today. But unless it is considered acceptable to quantify crimes and politically misuse human suffering, there is no plausible reason to forget or silence other cases of massacres, ethnic cleansing and terror bombings in which other innocent people lost their lives.

 

Other crimes silenced

In September 2003, mainstream media around the world forgot to commemorate the 10th Anniversary of the Croatian Army’s killing of civilian Serbs in the Medak Pocket in Croatia.

In May 2005, they forgot to commemorate the 10th Anniversary of Operation Flash in Croatia and in August this year they are likely to remain silent about Operation Storm in Croatia. Here is what Amnesty International has to say about the fate of civilian Serbs in Croatia in the years 1991-95 during which 300.000 Croatian Serbs were forced to leave and/or actively driven out with violence from their country. Today’s Croatian leaders are proud of this – and of course present at the Srebrenica ceremony together with diplomats from the United States that, at the time, assisted the Croatian Army in its crimes.

On March 24 this year the international community passed over the 6th Anniversary of NATO’s bombings of Serbia and Kosovo in silence. These bombs killed more people propotionately than the terror attacks on the U.S. on September 11, 2001. There has been no coverage of the innocents who suffered there, no silent minutes and no speeches of solidarity – neither has there for the suffering in Afghanistan and Iraq. [Read more…]

The Kosovo Solution series

Broad framework, many roads

By Jan Oberg & Aleksandar Mitic

Published March 2005

 

Table of content

# 1   Why the solution in Kosovo matters to the world

Executive summary

# 2   The media – strategic considerations

# 3   The main preconditions for a sustainable solution of the Kosovo conflicts

# 4   The situation as seen from Serbia

# 5   The arguments for quick and total independence  are not credible

# 6   What must be Belgrade’s minimum conditions and its media strategy

# 7   Nations and states, sovereignty and self-determination

# 8   Positive scenarios: Turn to the future, look at the broader perspectives

# 9   Many models for Kosovo

# 10  Summary: From “Only one solution” towards democracy and peace

About the authors

[Read more…]

The UN in Kosovo praises potential war criminal – why?

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 208 – March 10, 2005

Originally published here.

Danish diplomat, Søren Jessen-Petersen is the highest authority in Kosovo and SRSG, Special Representative of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, there. In spite of that, his unconditional embrace of Mr. Ramush Haradinaj, a former leader of the illegal Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) and former prime minister in the non-independent Kosovo and now indicted for war crimes by the Hague Tribunal seems to raise no eyebrows in any capital, media or at the UN in New York.

All relevant links here. See also the TFF Kosovo Solution Series beginning here.

 

Mr. Søren Jessen-Petersen’s embrace of Haradinaj

In a statement on Haradinaj’s resignation Jessen-Petersen praises him for his “dynamic leadership, strong commitment and vision” and says that thanks to that “Kosovo is today closer than ever before to achieving its aspirations in settling its future status.” He calls him his “close partner and friend.” In spite of the fact that the Prime Minister had no choice but to voluntarily go to the Hague, Kofi Annan’s representative praises him for the “dignity and maturity” he has shown in deciding to do so. He also expresses his understanding of the “shock and anger” the people of Kosovo must feel at this development, “people” meaning of course only the Albanians and hardly the Serbs, Romas and other minorities living there.

Søren Jessen-Petersen continues [Read more…]

Peace-prevention: Western conflict management as the continuation of power politics by other means

The Violent Dissolution and Its Underlying Conflicts

By Jan Oberg
June 2004

The breakdown of former Yugoslavia has been explained in dozens of books the last five years with reference to ethnic war, aggression, traumas, nationalism, the dissolution of Communist ideology and the Soviet Union, the impossibility of non-alignment when the blocs disappeared, by expansionist national myths (Greater Serbia) etc. In short, black and white images, reduction to two parties — one good and one bad — in conflict and a need for ”third” parties to intervene to judge and set things right.

My first observation is that there may well be an element of truth in each but that they are surface appearances or instrumental features of the war through which deeper lying, essentially political-economic root causes of the conflict were played out.

My second, perhaps to some provocative, argument is that the international so-called community (1) is fundamentally incapable of perceiving and diagnosing conflicts as conflicts but see events such as Croatia, Bosnia, Iraq, Rwanda, Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq in the perspective of foreign policy, security, alliance-building, world domination, national interests, or in the light of the division of labour among international organisations. [Read more…]