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…]

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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…]

Peacemaking in Kosovo coming to an end – for predictable reasons

With a critique of the International Crisis Group

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 197 – April 29, 2004

Originally published here.

See PressInfo 195 as a background to this PressInfo

This PressInfo in Swedish
This PressInfo in Danish

There is a long-term background and some root causes behind the emerging peace-keeping failure in Kosovo. Media and politicians tend to forget them because they were ignored during the 1990s and do not fit the standardised image of the conflict. In this analysis, TFF’s director who has been engaged in Kosovo since 1991 discusses some of the most important among those causes.

In passing, he also points out how an allegedly “prestigious” NGO such as the International Crisis Group serves as a biased NEGO, a NEar-Governmental Organisation, and continues to offer perspectives and proposals that will make things worse in the Balkans.

It’s the beginning of the end

Slowly but surely – and sadly – the efforts of the international community to create peace in Kosovo/a are coming to an end in spring 2004. The reasons are simple: mediation and conflict-resolution in complex conflicts can not 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 now 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.

The truth is simple and wants to get out: the international community hasn’t got the faintest idea about what to do with Kosovo. There are no solutions anymore that will be fair in the eyes of the parties. Any 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 the conflict was about. They blamed the Serbs in general and Slobodan Milosevic in particular for the Kosovo conflict. They 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.)

Some root causes of the failed peace-making effort in Kosovo

1. Not understanding that the former Yugoslavia fell apart – also – because of a series of structural changes such as the oil crisis of the 1970s, European immigration policies and the end of the Cold War with lost neutrality between two blocks. Furthermore, multinational corporations’ exploitation of low-wage labour in South-East Asia which destroyed Yugoslavia’s industrial base and brought huge unemployment – followed by IMF structural adjustment programmes that further devastated the economy and welfare. The international community itself was a co-producer of the Yugoslav crisis and provided the outer conditions that made ethnic scapegoating possible.

2. Not understanding that the autonomy of Kosovo and Voivodina presupposed the existence of Yugoslavia; Serbia proper could be overruled by the two provinces in its own parliament if and when the other Yugoslav republics had left the balancing act. Thus, the Western policy of advocating and promoting the partition of Yugoslavia could not but create terrible problems, in Kosovo and elsewhere.

3. Turning a blind eye to the strong Kosovo-Albanian nationalism and exclusivity; they profited politically from having an arrogant strongman in Belgrade who repressed their basic human rights – for which reason they never supported the opposition in Serbia. When the international community talked about human rights, Kosovo-Albanian leaders meant independence. Ask yourself why what happened in Kosovo did not happen in Voivodina, the other autonomous province.

4.The short-sightedness of teasing Milosevic by supporting an independent Kosovo – like supporting the independence of Montenegro – and dropping that policy as soon as Milosevic left the stage. Go to Podgorica today and you will be overwhelmed by the disappointment with the EU and the Americans; the Montenegrin too have realised how they were treated as pawns.
 
5. The policy of treating equally repressed minorities differently depending on their nationality; the Serb minority in Croatia never got any serious attention from the West; politically the EU and militarily the U.S. helped Tudjman drive a quarter of a million Croatian Serbs out in 1995. With few exceptions, they are still refugees in Serbia.

6. Instead of providing real support to the pragmatic non-violent policies of Dr. Rugova – the only one of its kind in former Yugoslavia – Western countries, Germany and the US in particular, armed Kosovo-Albanian extremists from 1993 and created the Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA, of about 20,000 well-equipped soldiers. This was what, in 1998, turned the Kosovo situation into a real war. For a short while the US had formally defined KLA as a terror organisation but later used it as NATO’s ally on the ground during the bombing. Thus a conflict that could have been mediated years before with diplomatic means, became militarised.5. The policy of treating equally repressed minorities differently depending on their nationality; the Serb minority in Croatia never got any serious attention from the West; politically the EU and militarily the U.S. helped Tudjman drive a quarter of a million Croatian Serbs out in 1995. With few exceptions, they are still refugees in Serbia.

7. In spite of all warnings in the 1990s, the international community never even suggested a serious, comprehensive negotiation process for Kosovo. The Rambouillet “negotiations” were a fraud; the Serbs and Albanians never met face-to-face there. The introduction of the military appendix that would have allowed NATO free access to every corner of Serbia was a Maffia-like “offer” any responsible European statesman would have to refuse.

8. The international community got various missions into Kosovo. The latest, negotiated between Milosevic and Richard Holbrooke, was the OSCE ‘Verification’ Mission of 2000 people. Unfortunately, Western governments were neither able nor willing to get enough qualified people on the ground in time, so 70% of them mysteriously had military backgrounds and about 100 were allegedly CIA – not so surprising given that the head of mission was William Walker. Since OSCE failed in that mission, the usual fallback argument had to be used: it was all Milosevic’ fault. Truth is that he let them into the province (at the same time as he was accused of intending to drive out every Albanian) and kept his side of the agreement.

9. By the bombing and the diplomacy surrounding it, the Albanians could not but get the impression that the international community, Washington in particular, were granting them their independent state (without consulting Belgrade the loser). Today five years later, they have very good reasons to feel cheated. This of course does not explain Albanian ethnic cleansing or make it acceptable – as argued by the “prestigious” International Crisis Group which functions as an NEGO, NEar-Governmental Organisation*. The author met Americans and others in Kosovo right after the de facto occupation who did not know (or no longer perceived) Kosovo was a part of Serbia and repeatedly called it “this county” with a wry smile.

10. Completely ignoring the human dimension of conflicts. Billions of dollars have poured into Kosovo since 1999; hundreds of government and non-governmental organisations have promoted courses in media, human rights, empowerment and other civil society measures. The only things nobody dared touch were history, hatred, cultural differences, reconciliation, forgiveness, truth commissions and that sort of thing. The naive belief was that if the international community simply put up history’s largest international peace-making mission in a tiny province, the locals will greet them with flowers and those who didn’t would soon be convinced about the inherent goodness of the international mission. They made the same mistake four years later in Iraq.

11. After the bombing the international community monitored – but did nothing to prevent – the reverse ethnic cleansing of non-Albanians, some 200,000 who are still in Serbia and Macedonia, including the always ignored Romas. They were not helped to get back as were the Albanians fleeing the 13-months of war in Kosovo and the NATO’s bombs (the war and the bombings were much more important as causes for fleeing than was the manufactured nonsense about Milosevic already implementing an so-called “Horseshoe Plan” aiming to get rid of no less than all 1,5 million Albanians living in Kosovo).

This happened under the very eyes of 43,000 NATO soldiers and thousands of OSCE, UN and EU staff as well as Western NGOs in Kosovo. The world was told – also by the International Crisis Group – that it should be seen as a psychological reaction to the earlier repression of their side. So, Western endorsed ethnic cleansing continued over the years; the latest but hardly last round we saw in March 2004. This time it was “explained” by two arguments; a story that went through the world’s media about Serbs chasing Albanian kids into a river so they drowned; no retraction were printed when the story turned out to be untrue. The other argument was that the Albanian “criminals” and “mobs” (it wasn’t political!) were “frustrated” over the status issue and the socio-economic situation in the province.

12. The Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA, was officially disarmed and closed down, being replaced by the Kosovo Protection Corps that would, we were told, have only civilian tasks. It leader was Agim Ceku, an Albanian general central in developing the KLA from 1993 while also serving under Croatian president Tudjman and being instrumental in driving out Serbs from Croatia in Operations Storm and Flash. This was yet another fraud by factors in the international community. The Serb forces did leave, but the Kosovo-Albanian army was, for all practical purposes, preserved. Only the naive could believe that the Americans, who are able to bomb Afghanistan to rubble and occupy Iraq, together with other NATO-KFOR forces were unable to prevent KLA from ravaging the region?

Some should wonder today how it was possible for KLA to destabilise and conduct war outside Kosovo, first in Southern Serbia and then in Macedonia? Isn’t it strange also how a disarmed people had weapons to kill Serbs and internationals as well as moderate Albanians and cause very serious destruction of homes and quite solid Orthodox churches throughout Kosovo in March 2004?

13. Like in Iraq, the occupying powers dismissed virtually every competent person who knew how to operate and repair the infrastructure, water, electricity, the health sector, schools, even if they had not taken part in Milosevic’ repressive policies. In consequence, nothing worked at a time when the Kosovo-Albanians had good reasons to believe that things would finally begin to work properly in their republic that had been liberated with a little help from their friends.

14. For about a decade everybody thought that sanctions was a great tool to put pressure on Milosevic but it only impoverished the people and trading partners such as Macedonia and, worse, created or boosted a Mafia economy everywhere. That Mafia is very influential in today’s Serbia and no less in today’s Kosovo. Sanctions and the black economy, combined with imposed privatization policies, created a class society with enormous poverty among ordinary citizens. The International Crisis Group, of course, does not see the absurdity of its own argument that we must – again – understand that the Kosovo Albanians do bad things because their economic situation is so poor. It never justifies Serb politics in those terms and conveniently leaves unmentioned the Albanian trafficking and prostitution, the cigarette smuggling, Kosovo’s several hundred money-laundering petrol stations, the drug trade from Afghanistan (where Western policies have brought back opium production) and Kosovo’s relation to the European underworld. Lack of money would be about the last thing that could explain why Albanian extremists commit ethnic cleansing!

15. The handover problem. The international missions in Kosovo are in the same dilemma as the US-led occupation in Baghdad. They want to hand over everything as quickly as possible to the locals – but also secure that they do what we want them to. The buzz word in Iraq is “sovereignty,” in Kosovo “independence” before which we heard all the other hollow marketing words: liberation, democracy, human rights – hollow because the occupiers do not show even the simplest respect for the locals or for their own Western “standards.” It is not far fetched, therefore, to predict that there will soon be a resistance movement in Kosovo too.

16. Oil, gas and military bases. Realpolitik is more about material matters and strategic positioning. This is where the huge American bases in Kosovo, Bulgaria and Romania as well as the 14 bases in Iraq enter the picture. See details in PressInfo 195. This is where the larger strategic game emerges: the triangle between the Balkans, the Middle East and Central Asia with its resources, transport corridors, gas and oil pipelines – and long-term strategic battle between the over-militarised, but crumbling West and the rest of the world. The Albanians are waking up to the reality that the West, the US in particular, did not come to Kosovo for the sake of their human rights or their independence unless, that is, it suits larger strategic plans.

17. The counterproductive treatment of Serbia. After Milosevic’s delivery to the Hague, the West never got its act together; conveniently, therefore, it blames Serbia for not getting its act together. If you put yourself into the situation in Serbia, it’s been one long political harassment ever since. The list is indeed long if you want to see it: totally inadequate assistance for reconstruction after the devastating bombing and psycho-political humiliation; extreme conditionality on aid and loans; broken promises of aid if delivering Milosevic; only negative views on one of the few political leaders with clean hands, Mr. Kostunica; no willingness to help set up the Truth and Reconciliation Commission proposed by him; continuously harping on the co-operation with ICTY in the Hague in ways not required of politicians in Sarajevo, Zagreb or Pristina; ignoring the fact that Serbia has Europe’s largest refugee problem of about 500,000 to 600,000 Serbs from Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo; blatant interference in the country’s internal affairs; no understanding that Serbia feels deprived of Kosovo and collectively punished because of one leader’s brutality and stupidity.

In addition, the country has all the problems of the East European societies in transition and is required to fulfil extremely demanding requirements on the way to a EU membership that may become true a decade or more into the future.

And then there are those who act surprised that right-wing, populist parties such as Seselj’s Radical Party gains are gaining increased support! The International Crisis Group of course proposes more of this type of misguided policy in its March 2004 report on Serbia. Thus, the West is missing a great opportunity to achieve reconciliation and co-operation with one of the most important countries in that part of the world that wants to orient itself towards the West but is constantly rebuffed and humiliated.

Truth is that Serbia is losing Kosovo and knows it. If the West misses the opportunity to offer Serbia an attractive political and economic deal concerning Kosovo and the future of Serbia proper, it stands to lose both Serbia and Kosovo – and the people in both places will lose even more. In the worst of cases it could lead to renewed fighting and breakdown, also in Bosnia.

18. The naive belief that Kosovo-Albanians are seriously interested in EU integration and in joining the globalising market economy. They are not. They are interested in an independent Kosova and in the fate of Albanians in Montenegro, Macedonia and perhaps in developing not a greater Albania but a greater Kosova. And why not? Kosovo-Albanian leaders tend to see themselves as the historical, philosophical and intellectual centre of the Albanian nation. Anything less than an independent Kosova is unacceptable; and let’s not forget that their leaders have told the young generation the last fifteen years that Kosova was already independent. The importance of the difference between de jure and de facto was lost upon themselves in the heat of the struggle and certainly among those between, say, 5 and 20 years of age.

Time is running out for the old political elites, the new ones are impatient, and fifteen years of self-deceptive policies by EU countries and the US are, predictably, finally catching up. There are limits to how many games you can play simultaneously, how often you can change policies, how much unprincipled politics you can amass in one place and how much you can fool the locals in the world’s conflicts, be it in Iraq or Kosovo. There will be a boomerang effect one day.

It may be painful to recognise the conflict mismanagement and the peace-making failure given all the prestige and resources devoted to Kosovo. But it will be more painful to more people if it all breaks down. Early warning does not apply to upcoming conflicts only; it should also apply to failed peace-making. But early warning and violence prevention remains a dream in this world. What we see in Kosovo now could have been avoided if dealt with in civil, political terms some 10-15 years ago by honest brokers. That, it seems to me, is the ultimate tragedy of the Balkans in general and Kosovo in particular.

* Throught this PressInfo we are criticising ICG, the International Crisis Group.

It’s simply time that the media look into the background of organisations that, sailing under the flag of convenience of prestigious independent NGO, actually play a semi-governmental, Western/US-biased role. Go to ICG’s website and you will see who is behind it. Among the ICG board members we find:

Morton Abramowitz
Abramowitz helped Zbigniew Brzezinski open intelligence co-operation with China, helped deliver Stinger missiles to the Afghan mujahedin, became president of the Carnegie Endowment for Peace and helped formulate the new world order with the US as its only superpower and was the eminence grise for Madeleine Albright and acted as adviser to the Kosovo Albanians in Rambouillet.
Various about him here:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A6539-2004Mar18.html
http://www.tcf.org/4L/4LMain.asp?SubjectID=1&TopicID=0&ArticleID=469
http://www.roadtosurfdom.com/surfdomarchives/002125.php
http://nsarchive.chadwyck.com/ch_essay.htm

Kenneth Adelman
Well-known security policy hawk, affiliated with the Project for a New American Century, PNAC, and believed that huge stores of WMD would be found in Iraq. More about him here:
http://rightweb.irc-online.org/ind/adelman_k/adelman_k.php

Richard Allen
Formerly associated with Nixon and Reagan; a Hoover fellow since 1983, he is currently a member of the U.S. Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee. More:
http://www-hoover.stanford.edu/bios/allen.html

Louise Arbour
Former chief prosecutor of ICTY, she indicted Milosevic, by no political coincidence, while the bombing of Yugoslavia happened; newly appointed head of the UNHCHR.
http://www.un.org/icty/pressreal/p404-e.htm
http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/arbour/

Wesley Clark
Here is how he explains on his website that he saved 1,5 million Kosovo-Albanians: “From 1997 through May of 2000, General Clark was NATO Supreme Allied Commander and Commander in Chief of the United States European Command. In this position, General Clark commanded Operation Allied Force, NATO’s first major combat action, which saved 1,5 million Albanians from ethnic cleansing in Kosovo.” Tried to become the next president of the United States
http://www.draftwesleyclark.com/Biography.htm

William Shawcross
Writer and broadcaster, wrote “In all, some 200,000 people died in the Balkans on Europe’s watch. It was America that stopped that. In 2001, it was only America that could have liberated Afghanistan from the Taliban. The results in Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan are not perfect. But all those areas are better off than they were, and only the U.S. could have made those changes. Tony Blair understands that; many other European leaders do not.” More here:
http://www.williamshawcross.com/first_page.html

Stephen Solarz
Former U.S. congressman, hard-line views on how to solve the Balkan problems and isolate Serbia further; like Adelman affiliated with PNAC. More about him here:
http://www.refugeesinternational.org/cgi-bin/ri/article?arc=00033
http://www.newamericancentury.org/kosovomilosevicsep98.htm
http://www.apcoworldwide.com/content/bios/solarz.cfm

Among other security hard-liners on the ICG board could be mentioned Zbigniew Brzezinski and George Soros.

And in all fairness there are also non-hawks such as Oscar Arias Sanchez, Emma Bonino, Marika Fahlen, Mohamed Sahnoun, Salim A. Salim, Thorvald Stoltenberg, Shirley Williams as well as Martti Ahtisaari (chairman) and Gareth Evans, (President and CEO).
But they don’t seem to have any balancing influence on the reports of the ICG.

Finally, go here and see how ICG is funded – and draw your own conclusions about its independence given that 19 Western governments and their allies and some ten major US foundations plus mainly US citizens fund its work.

It’s time to prepare reconciliation between Albanians and Serbs in Kosovo

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 141 – December 21, 2001

Originally published here.

 

This time of the year provides us all with an opportunity to reflect. Reconciliation and forgiveness, peace of mind and compassion come to our minds. We send season’s greetings to each other and express hopes for a better new year.

The latest PressInfos and this one circle around these issues in a concrete manner, applied to a concrete case. That is important in itself. But by focusing on the Balkans we also want to make the point that there are other problems than the September 11 terror that merit attention. That is, if we embrace all of humanity in our compassionate thoughts and deeds and not just the few.
It has gone unnoticed that non-violence proved stronger than police repression and authoritarian rule in Serbia and stronger than extremist violence by the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA/UCK) in Kosovo.

Milosevic went the militant, repressive way. He finally lost when citizens and police stopped supporting and obeying him in last year’s “October Revolution.” Extremist KLA/UCK chose weapons to “liberate” Kosovo, but since they entered politics they have failed to gain the support of the majority of citizens ever since.

The international community, comprised of a few European countries, NATO and the U.S., decided to use violence after having lost a decade of mitigation and negotiation opportunities. It has used diplomatic isolation, caused suffering among millions due to economic sanctions (mass violence), it bombed Yugoslavia and made it even more difficult for the opposition to topple Milosevic.

The U.S., in particular, destabilised Macedonia by formal and under cover introduction of violence into the domestic conflict of that country; Macedonia is now further from peaceful co-existence between Macedonians and Albanians than at any time since its independence. [Read more…]

NATO’s number nonsense

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 125 – August 29, 2001

Originally published here.

 

Macedonia in NATO – NATO in Macedonia

Successive Macedonian governments officially argue that the country must become a member of NATO. Macedonia is heading for NATO membership. However, since Macedonia is not yet “mature” enough to be in NATO, NATO will be in Macedonia.

Macedonia has not had, or been allowed to have, an independent national security commission that could investigate various future options for the country. NATO membership is the only idea in Skopje. If there are sceptical security experts and defence intellectuals, they do not seem to speak out. The local NGOs vary in their enthusiasm; however, peace groups, women’s groups, etc who are not only sceptical but downright opposed to it have little influence. What NATO membership will cost, in money terms, in the next, say, twenty years is not analysed and there is no talk of a referendum &endash; but, of course, a lot of talk about democracy.

As they say nowadays in the emerging “democracies” in Eastern Europe: What is there to discuss? It is already in the air, we have no choice! We are told that if we don’t come along, other doors will be closed too!

So NATO membership for Macedonia is a Godfather’s offer you can’t refuse. The same goes, of course, for the deployment these days of NATO’s arms collectors. It’s a great spectacle but NATO will not disarm KLA/UCK/ONA/ANA or whatever acronym we use for the militarist, nationalist Albanians fighting allegedly and mistakenly with weapons to get some more rights.

 

NATO/KFOR’s utter failure as a disarmer in Kosovo

When I was in Macedonia a few weeks ago, I obtained a copy of something called the President’s Plan – officially “Plan and Program for Overcoming the Crisis in the Republic of Macedonia.” The first goal mentioned on page 1 is “to fully disarm and disband the terrorists”(the word used about the Albanians in KLA/NLA).

So this was “disarmament” and not, as it is now stated, “collection” of weapons. There is a world of difference.

We just have to wait a little while for the NATO/KFOR “disarmament” show to be repeated in Macedonia. The 30 days are already serialised by international media, press conferences held, “NATO is pleased and optimistic” with the Albanian deliveries. It’s pure public propaganda! [Read more…]

If the Western press covered this from Macedonia…

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 128 – August 28, 2001

Originally published here.

 

Few citizens can go to conflict regions to develop an understanding and form an opinion. Most of us rely on the dailies, the radio and television. So, the media stand between the events and each of us. What we obtain is not necessarily reality but an image of it, a part of it, some aspects and angles rather than others. In principle, it can hardly be otherwise.

But what if the coverage is systematically biased and what if there is a tendency in what is not covered?

Once again there is a Balkan crisis and once again some of us who have been on the ground for about ten years ask: do we have a free press on which those at home can safely rely?

Here follow some 20 examples of what could have featured prominently in the headlines about Macedonia the last few months. Most citizens are likely not to have heard much about them in the mainstream media and may, therefore, not have thought of these events and their implications:

– the story of Americans working with KLA/NLA and investigate why NATO, in contravention of its mandate in Macedonia, evacuated KLA/NLA soldiers with American advisers and equipment out of Aracinovo…

– why NATO/KFOR and the UN in Kosovo turned a blind eye to KLA/NLA operations in the American sector and the demilitarised zone…

– which governments, agencies, mercenary companies and arms dealers have supplied KLA/NLA with weapons since 1993…

– what kind of misinformation and propaganda campaigns the press itself is the object of by NATO and others, e.g. why it suddenly begins to call Macedonians “Slavs” or “Slav Macedonians,” something they have never been called before. Or why Macedonians are frequently called “nationalists” while you never hear that word about Albanians with guns in their hands…

– the suffering and socio-economic deprivation of Macedonians and not only the Albanians…

– the question of whether EU foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, the S-G of NATO at the time when it bombed Yugoslavia, and NATO S-G Lord Robertson, then British secretary of defence, are personally responsible for the de-stabilisation of Macedonia…

– why we get no conflict journalism but only war reporting and whether there was any ethnic hatred in Macedonia that could have sparked off a war had Western countries not meddled in the affairs of Macedonia…

– the story of why one of the best missions in the history of the United Nations, UNPREDEP, was forced out of Macedonia in 1999 to allow NATO to (mis)use the country for its own “peaceful” aims…

– why the UN’s Mr. Haekkerup in Pristina, the highest authority in Kosovo, has not been asked why 46,000 NATO/KFOR soldiers in Kosovo did not actually disarm the KLA in spite of the fact that it was stated officially in autumn 1999 that it was disarmed and declared illegal… [Read more…]

Macedonia and the Western press

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 121 – May 21, 2001

Originally published here.

 

PressInfo 118 offers an independent analysis of 11 reasons why Macedonia is at the brink of war. Number 119 deals with the way the United Nations was forced out of Macedonia and not employed in Kosovo at the time when it could have made a difference. In short, there was a hidden agenda. PressInfo 120 deals with how Macedonia is also responsible, and not only a victim, in the process towards its fatal crisis now.

This one deals with insufficient, or deceptive, media coverage, and with Western democracies.

 

Where is the free press?

We have explained that the 43,000 NATO/KFOR “peace”-keepers can not control or seal off the border around the territory it has occupied and is tasked with stabilising and controlling. Has it turned the blind eye to Albanian military activity all the time? This mission is much larger than the UN ever was in former Yugoslav territories and much more heavily armed.

Very few journalists have investigated the good story: how is it possible for KLA which was officially dissolved in September 1999 to keep on fighting (or be the root of fighting) inside both Serbia and Macedonia. Who helped them to do that?

If a UN mission had failed to the same extent, hundreds of journalists, experts and commentators would have renewed the anti-UN chorus of the 1990s: the UN is incompetent, bureaucratic, too expensive and inefficient, it’s too weak. There is no peace to keep! We need more muscle!

Now it is NATO, private American mercenaries, CIA in bed with more or less criminal, hardline elements in the Balkans and no similar (anti-NATO) chorus is heard. One may wonder: who controls the free press?

Will future historians – – like Chalmers Johnson today in “Blowback” – – reveal to us that journalists, NGOs, clergy and Peace Corps volunteers have functioned as cover for CIA and possibly other intelligence agencies and their cloak-and-dagger covert operations, that citizens around the world are targets of psychological warfare?

If you think this is to carry it too far, this is what a former CIA analyst, Melvin Goodman, says [Read more…]

Macedonia – Victom of Western conflict-mismanagement

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 118 – May 10, 2001

Originally published here.

 

For the umptieth time, the politico-military-media complex tells us that local conflicts are caused solely by locals. The international “community” has no part in it but the noble one of trying to persuade the parties to sit at a negotiation table instead.

This time the stage is Macedonia and the complex has learnt nothing since Croatia.

This PressInfo and PressInfo 119 tell you how this intellectual rubbish covers hidden political agendas instead of expressing the truth. They also reveal why the UN was forced out of Macedonia and that it was prevented from having a common mission in Kosovo and Macedonia which was the only thing that would have made sense in the late 1990s. It is based on my own investigations at the time and published here for the first time.

 

The international “community” – the main cause of war.

Since few seem to be burdened with a political memory stretching just two years back, let’s recapitulate why Macedonia, the land described by that selfsame complex as an “oasis of peace” and a success for “preventive” diplomacy, is now at the brink of war:

 

The potential of the OSCE was never fully utilised

The OSCE Mission in the country has done an impressive job in promoting tolerance and a democratic and tolerant political culture. But it was never given enough resources to really have an impact, and OSCE is now completely marginalised in the new world “order”.

 

Macedonia was forced to side with the West against Yugoslavia.

The Milosevic-Holbrooke agreement to set up an OSCE Verifiers’ Mission in Kosovo (autumn 1998) lead to the deployment of an “Extraction Force” in Macedonia, a force that was seen by Belgrade as a clear breach of the agreement and a threat to Kosovo and Serbia. This forced Macedonia to play an anti-Yugoslavia role that served everybody else but herself. Belgrade from now on saw Macedonia as a target for retaliation if need be.

 

Its territorial integrity and sovereignty was violated.

Earlier Macedonia had been forced to accept NATO violation of its airspace when Wesley Clark wanted to conduct a bombing simulation high enough over Macedonia to be seen by FRY radars and thus signalling potential war. Then President Kiro Gligorov told me that the first time he heard about this simulation was from the evening news! The West did not exactly respect the sovereignty of the newly independent – and fragile – Macedonia. [Read more…]

Kosovo/a independent? Perhaps, but what matters is how

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 106 – December 4, 2000

Originally published here.

 

The main proposal in the independent international Kosovo Commission’s report is that Kosovo should be given conditional independence. This PressInfo deals with this proposal and a few other aspects of the report.

 

THE FIRST PARAGRAPH

The very first paragraph of the report’s executive statement states: “The origins of the crisis have to be understood in terms of a new wave of nationalism that led to the rise of Milosevic and the official adoption of an extreme Serbian nationalist agenda. The revocation of Kosovo’s autonomy in 1989 was followed by a Belgrade policy aimed at changing the ethnic composition of Kosovo and creating an apartheid-like society.”

Here are some simple counter arguments: a) nationalism alone certainly can not explain the conflicts in the region; b) not only the Serbs used nationalism, so did Bosnian Muslim, Croats, Macedonians, Slovenes and Albanians at the time; c) it indicates a poor understanding of Milosevic to say that he was a nationalist; he sold out Serbs and the Serbian ’cause’ repeatedly in order to remain in or increase his personal power; d) there was no official adoption of nationalism; e) Kosovo’s autonomy was not revoked, it was sharply reduced and, for sure, it was done in an offending, authoritarian way; f) there is no evidence that there was an official policy in Belgrade with the aim of changing the ethnic composition of the Kosovo province, but there was a worry over the fact that over the preceding 30 years the Serb proportion of the province’s population had fallen from about 30% to 9%.

 

APARTHEID – REALLY?

The reference to apartheid is misleading. According to Encyclopædia Britannica, apartheid is “(Afrikaans: ‘apartness’) name given by the Afrikaner National Party, in office in Africa since 1948, to the policies that govern relations between the country’s 3,800.000 white inhabitants and its 17,700,000 non-white, mainly black African, inhabitants. It is also used to describe the long-term objective of the territorial separation that is advocated by Afrikaner church and intellectual circles.” Other characteristics of apartheid are mentioned: complete domination of the white minority over the black majority; black Africans were allowed to own land only within the 13 per cent of the territory which were designated native reserves; sexual and marriage relations between blacks and whites illegal; nonwhites were denied the right to vote; and all black Africans were required to obtain a permission before they could enter and remain in urban areas. (15th edition, Vol 1, p 439).

There was nothing even “apartheid-like” in Kosovo. Indeed, its status as autonomous since 1974 speaks against this. It has not been a question of race relations or based on colour, it was not a minority dominating a majority as Kosovo was part of Serbia and of former Yugoslavia in both of which Serbs were the largest nation; Kosovo-Albanians could vote (but boycotted elections), and they were not forced to seek permission to leave reserves. What is true, however, is that Albanian radicals would use the term “apartheid” in conversations with foreign visitors, either as part of their liberation vocabulary or in perfectly understandable despair over their situation. But for the Commission &endash; chaired by South African judge, Richard Goldstone – to make the above statement its basic framework gives reason for concern.

 

THE HISTORY OF INDEPENDENCE

And now to the issue of independent Kosova. [Read more…]

Background on Kosovo – and the management of it*

By Jan Oberg

Manuscript about Kosovo for the World Bank 

26 June 2000

 

A word about diagnosing conflict

A conflict is a problem that arises out of two or more actors’ incompatible expectations, needs or values. The sine qua non of effective conflict-mitigation (or -transformation) is comprehensive quality analysis of the root causes (diagnosis) of that problem. Without it, interventions to ‘manage’ or help solve somebody else’s conflict and prevent/stop violence will invariable fail – as will surgery on a patient whose disease is unknown to the doctor. You may add that violence is usually not the root cause of a conflict but, rather, a consequence of maltreated, ignored or otherwise non-resolved conflicts.

There is a tendency in Western culture to locate conflict (and violence, but the two are not idenical) in certain actors only. Thus, conflict is often defined as a good guy being attacked or quarelling with an evil guy about one object such as land, rights, resources, etc. Many therefore believe that conflict-resolution is about punishing the designated bad guy, rewarding his counterpart and then things will be fine.

Making “evil” the root cause is much too imprecise to serve as a diagnosis (as it would be to say that a disease is caused by demons in the body). In addition, it begs the philosophical question: What drives humans to do inhuman – evil – things to each other?

This approach is indicative of ‘conflict illiteracy’ – a recipe for failure: Conflicts are not only rooted in individuals (although, of course acted out by and through them) but also in structures in time and space, in circumstances and trends – in the “Karma.” This approach also overlooks that there are never only two parties and that most actors behave as more or less grey, rather than black and white.

 

The case of Kosovo

So, what’s is the conflict – the problems that lead to the violence – in Kosovo all about?

Having worked there over the 9 years, I would say: it is not predominantly about human rights violations or ethnic cleansing, they are symptoms of deeper lying problems, but – most unfortunately – the only aspects the so-called international community has focussed on hitherto.

As in so many other conflicts there is a history going decades, if not centuries, back in time. There is constitutional matters, general political and specific Yugo-structural features. There is a series of regional dimensions involving neighbouring countries.

And there is economic mal-development. If the GNP of Kosovo is set at 100, Slovenia (1984) had 766, Serbia without Voivodina  and Kosovo 375, Macedonia 249 – and the income gap between the richer and poorer republics and peoples in Tito’s Yugoslavia began to increase rapidly in the 1980s. Structurally more advantaged republics such as Croatia and Slovenia paid considerable parts of their profits to the federal redistribution mechanism, but much of it ended up in corrupted pockets, showplace extravagant public buildings and in land purchases in Macedonia – little left for productive investments in Kosovo.

Depending on the definition, at least 55 per cent of those seeking work were unemployed; illiteracy passed 20 per cent and perhaps as many as 400,000 kids were out of the regular schools; over 40 per cent of the people had no access to tap water, only 28 per cent lived in areas with a sewage system.

Kosovo had the highest birth rate and the highest infant mortality rate in Europe; more than 50 per cent of the citizens were below 20, the average age being 24 years of age. Albanians made up 67 per cent of the population in the province in 1961 (they also lived elsewhere in former Yugoslavia, some sources say 100.000 in Belgrade alone), they appear to have risen to about 90 per cent in the 1990s.  [Read more…]

Prevent violence in Montenegro

By Jan Oberg and Soren Sommelius

TFF PressInfo 91 – April 7, 2000

Originally published here.

 

“A fifth war in the Balkans can still be prevented. But whereas the isolated leadership in Belgrade has plenty of time, Montenegro does not, and the international community is so bogged down in Bosnia and in Kosovo that it has little capacity to shape an effective violence-prevention strategy for this tiny republic of 635.000 inhabitants.

What we just heard during our fact-finding mission to Podgorica,” say Soren Sommelius and Jan Oberg of the TFF conflict-mitigation team, “was frighteningly similar to what people told us in Croatia in 1991 – in spite of all the differences between the two cases.”

Picture series from Montenegro

“It was a bit surprising to listen to the level of verbal aggression in Podgorica not only against Milosevic, but also against the Serb people and the opposition and even the federal constitution that the Republic signed as late as 1992 when a) it was fully aware of who Slobodan Milosevic was, and b) had participated in the wars elsewhere as part of the JNA, the Federal Yugoslav Army. It could hardly be argued that people in Montenegro did not know who or what they federalized with.

Violence-preventive diplomacy by everyone is dearly needed now. Patience and longterm policy for the Balkans as a whole, and implemented with utmost caution, will be essential. Unfortunately, the international community’s policy in the region up till now is not exactly helpful to Montenegro, whichever way it chooses,” state Sommelius and Oberg.

 

THE BACKGROUND AND THE GAME

In contrast to other Balkan conflicts, this one can not be acted out through ethnicity or religion. A ‘real’ Serb has Montenegrin roots and there are probably more people of Montenegrin origin in Serbia than Montenegrins in Montenegro where 62 % are Montenegrins, 9 % are Serbs, 14 % are Muslims and 7% are Albanians (1991 census). [Read more…]

Lift the sanctions and bring more aid to people in Yugoslavia

By Jan Oberg & Soren Sommelius

TFF PressInfo 90 – April 5, 2000

Originally published here.

 

 “Lift the sanctions and help people in Yugoslavia – or stop talking about humanitarian politics and intervention,” say TFF conflict-mitigation team members Soren Sommelius and Jan Oberg upon returning from a fact-finding mission to Serbia and Montenegro.

“If journalists would provide people all over Europe and the rest of the world an opportunity to see what we have seen, only the heartless would continue the present policies. The sanctions contribute to widespread social misery, they hit those who are already poor, and demolish the middle class.

In addition, the opposition which the West officially supports also wants the sanctions lifted, knowing that they undermine the socio-economic basis for any democratization process.

The international community’s commitment to protect, help and repatriate the Albanian refugees and displaced persons is as noble as it is shameful to not do the same when other – equally innocent – ethnic groups in the same conflict region are in obvious need of humanitarian aid. There is only one word for it: obscene. Sanctions are a mass-destructive weapon,” say Sommelius and Oberg who support the campaign, recently launched in Sweden, to get the sanctions lifted.

 

THE SITUATION

Here are some facts from UNHCR – and if you have not heard about them numerous times already, you may ask what free media and democratic policies are for:

Today’s Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) – Serbia and Montenegro – hosts more than 500.000 refugees from the wars in Croatia (250.000 from Krajina and some 50.000 from Eastern Slavonia) and Bosnia (some 200.000). In addition, there are 250.000 who have recently been forced to leave the Kosovo province. Some of those from Croatia have been refugees since 1991-92 when the war raged in ex-Yugoslavia. This total of 750.000 to 800.000 creates Europe’s largest refugee problem. Most are Serbs but there are also Muslims, Albanians, Romas and others among them. Only 40.000 of all these are in collective centres, the rest live with relatives or friends. About 50.000 of all the refugees and displaced persons presently live in Montenegro, the population of which is estimated at 650,000, while Serbia’s population is 9-10 million.

Since 1995 only about 40.000 have been able to return to Croatia. UNHCR believes that local integration is the lasting solution for the majority of refugees currently in FRY. [Read more…]

TFF on CNN – 3rd time on Kosovo

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 84, 2000 – January 27, 2000

Originally published here.

 

[Unfortunately, 15 years on, the links can’t be found on CNN – Editor].

Yet another evidence of TFF’s rapidly increasing international prestige is its opinion piece on CNN’s new “In Depth Special on Kosovo” –

See http://europe.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2000/kosovo/stories/present/kfor/.

It’s the third time TFF’s expertise is called upon by CNN; first during NATO’s bombing of Yugoslavia and then before New Year, a longer conversation about the international community’s peacebuilding failure in today’s Kosovo/a. And now with this website feature “Misguided motives led to the chaos in Kosovo” under CNN*s heading “Missed Opportunities.”

In the article TFF director Jan Oberg summarizes the Kosovo crisis through the 1990s and the foundation’s experience with conflict-mitigation there begnning 1991. In a few points, he outlines why NATO’s KFOR mission, the United Nations’ UNMIK mission and the OSCE are unlikely to succeed with building genuine peace in the Balkans.

Writes Oberg: “The international community — a euphemism for a handful of top leaders — has historically been an integral party to the conflicts, not an impartial mediator. A policy of disinterested conflict analysis, mediation and conflict resolution would require different analyses, means and institutions (with just a minimum of training).”

“It was a Western “civilizing” mission. Nations must accept free markets, NATO’s doctrine, EU militarization, selective human rights for the chosen people, and democracy in the form of “free” elections. We must accept NATO, not the U.N. or OSCE, as the only peacemaker under the only superpower.

We are supposed to believe there is no alternative to all this and to bombing. In the long run, this sort of intellectual poverty threatens to make us look like the “ugly West” in the eyes of all other cultures.”

Read this concise and critical piece to understand why “the absence of self-criticism in the West is ominous.”

CNN’s “Kosovo In-Depth Special. Prospects for Peace” which offers a wealth of interesting materials on the region, the past, the future, Balkan Notebook, chat, message board and links can be found on http://europe.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2000/kosovo.

Questions to Bill Clinton in Kosovo

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 81 – November 22, 1999

Originally published here.

 

“Given that democratic countries have free and independent media, President Clinton’s visit to Kosovo on November 23, would be a golden opportunity to take stock of the US-lead Western policies to bring peace to the region.

Here is a selection of questions with some media advisory. In other words, if I imagine I was a journalist and had been granted an interview this is what I would focus on,” says TFF director Jan Oberg.

 

(1) Mr. President, US warplanes bombed Yugoslavia and the Kosovo province with you as the Chief Commander of US forces. Does it worry you that the whole campaign was justified and conducted on the basis of what has turned out to be grossly mistaken or falsified information about a genocide planned by Belgrade?

[During the campaign, President Clinton, Secretary Cohen, and Secretary Albright are on record with figures of between 10.000 and 100.000 missing and probably killed in consequence of the alleged plan by Milosevic, Operation Horseshoe. However, the Hague Tribunal has recently revealed that, so far, 2.108 bodies have been identified – of more than one ethnicity and dead from different causes; in short, not all Albanians massacred by Serbs. From a human point, of course, this is a great relief. But it raises serious issues as to of the information and intelligence basis on which decisions with far-reaching consequences are made. And it begs the question: what is world public opinion informed about and what not, and who produces information for what purposes].

 

(2) What are your thoughts by the fact that NATO, with your country in the lead, killed at least 2.000 innocent civilians in Serbia due to stray missiles and bombs? You have apologised to the Chinese people for bombing their embassy. Did you consider the possibility personally to apologise to the relatives or, for instance, pay a compensation of some kind? And how do you feel about the indictment of you, your Secretaries and all other NATO leaders to the Hague War Crimes Tribunal?

[Click here for the  indictment of NATO leaders. Click here for the indictment of Slobodan Milosevic and four other leaders for, among other things, being responsible for the death of 340 people during the Kosovo war] .

 

(3) Mr. President, the American Camp Bondsteel here at which you celebrate Thanksgiving Day with your soldiers, [Read more…]

NATO’s psychological projection

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 75 – July 30, 1999

Originally published here.

Serbo-Croatian version here.

 

“I believe there were overlooked or suppressed dimensions such as collective psychology, deep cultural codes and domain Western expansionist/missionary values at work in the West’s handling of Kosovo, and I think we do wise to discuss them.

For instance, does the US-led West in fact hide a latent, deep-seated authoritarian ideology that seeks world dominance while pretending to create global democracy, partnership and multiculturalism? And does it in its own manner – like Milosevic and Hitler in their different manners – thrive on somebody else’s crisis while pretending to help them?

It is fascinating to see how quickly the public, the politico-diplomatic discourse and the media have managed to relegate the crisis, this turning point in contemporary history, to the past. But what has happened in, and to, the West itself during the Balkan wars and during Kosovo in particular deserves a bit of introspection – and perhaps we won’t like what we see if we try,” says TFF director Jan Oberg.

“Norwegian-Swedish philosopher Harald Ofstad 30 years ago analysed the ideology of Nazism. He maintains that Nazism builds on and is an extreme version of Western values, of its ‘Weltanschauung.’ Its main feature is ‘our contempt for weakness’ and a celebration of strength, power and heroism. The Strong SHALL rule over the Weaker. The good/stronger has a right, or God-given authority, to control or eradicate the evil/weaker who only deserves our contempt. The stronger takes upon him a burden of civilisation, sacrifices and acts heroically in the name of a higher principle or ‘law’, of Good.

Thus he is never made responsible for his deeds; he has a higher mandate and is above common law. Those carrying out the leader’s orders are conveniently also relieved from responsibility, no matter how criminal they may be – since they too aim to drive out Evil and (re)install Good. Anti-semitism is not essential to the authoritarianism of the Nazi worldview, rather just a flawed, perverted element in it. [Read more…]