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.

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Montenegro – A state is born

By Håkan Wiberg and Jan Oberg

Originally published here

The 192nd member has recently been admitted to the United Nations. Montenegro with its 600,000 inhabitants recently had a referendum, where 86.6 per cent of those enfranchised voted. Out of these, 55.5 per cent voted for independence, and 44.5 against. Another way of presenting the same data is that 48.1 per cent voted for, 38.5 against and 13.4 not at all.



There are reasons to dig deeper into what happened. What is the internal and external background to this event? Does it increase or decrease the stability of the region? Could this decision cause trouble at some point in the future? Could it have an impact on the question of independence for Kosovo? Indeed, is the Montenegrin drive for independence mainly a result of external – at the time, anti-Milosevic – pressures by the West and, thus, an unintended result of short-sighted policies years ago? And what about the fact that there live about as many Montenegrins in Serbia as in Montenegro, but the former could not vote?

 
A few historical notes



Two Balkan states managed to preserve their independence throughout the Ottoman period. Republica Ragusa (Dubrovnik) did so by being rich and having a vast navy, very thick walls and a very complex diplomacy, cautiously balancing among all the surrounding powers, that earned it the nickname “Cittá delle sette bandiere” – the city of seven flags. Montenegro also had an impressive international diplomacy, but otherwise its security basis was just the opposite of Ragusa: it was very poor, had mountains instead of walls and could mobilise most of the male population within days. A small army entering it would quickly face defeat, a big one would slowly starve to death. [Read more…]

Kosovo: Many options but independence

By Jan Oberg & Aleksandar Mitic

TFF PressInfo 228 – October 27, 2005

Originally published here.

 

The Serbian province of Kosovo, largely populated by the Albanian separatist-minded majority, has failed to meet basic human rights and political standards set as prerequisites by the international community, but it should nevertheless enter in the months to come talks on its future status.

This basic conclusion of the long-awaited report by UN special envoy Kai Eide was approved by the UN secretary general Kofi Annan and fully supported by the EU and the US, but it fails to demystify the paradox.

Only two a half years ago, the international community had charged that talks on status could not start before a set of basic human rights standards was achieved.

Since then, however, as it became clearer that the Kosovo Albanian majority was unwilling to meet the criteria and the UN unable to enforce them, there was a permanent watering down of prerequisites, until the proclaimed policy of “standards before status” was finally buried with Mr. Eide’s report.

Why has it failed? Is it because of the fear of the Kosovo Albanian threat of inciting violence if talks on status did not start soon, or was this policy a bluff from the start?

What kind of signal does it offer for the fairness of the upcoming talks? Will threats of ethnic violence in case “the only option for Kosovo Albanians – independence” – is not achieved again play a role? Or will the international community overcome its fear and offer both Pristina and Belgrade reasons to believe that the solution would negotiated and long-lasting rather than imposed, one-sided and conflict-prone?

Advocates of Kosovo’s independence such as the International Crisis Group, Wesley Clark, Richard Holbrooke and various US members of Congress argue “independence is the only solution.” The U.S. has more urgent problems elsewhere. But full independence cannot be negotiated, it can only be imposed. “Independent Kosova” implies that the Kosovo-Albanians achieve their maximalist goal with military means while Belgrade and the Kosovo Serbs and Roma would not even get their minimum — a recipe for future troubles. [Read more…]

Former Yugoslavia in 1990: Why it had a bad prognosis

By Håkan Wiberg

Originally published here

Former Yugoslavia entered a process of dissolution many years ago, which may be far from completed yet. It took violent forms from 1991; events in 2004 in Macedonia and Kosovo indicate that we did hardly see the end here either. Was the dissolution unavoidable? Was war an inescapable consequence?

I shall attempt to translate these issues into manageable research questions, trying to make various postdictions concerning FY around 1990. There are no natural laws in social science, so the questions will deal with probabilities, asking what were the prognoses with highest likelihood at that time point. No empirical facts are drawn on that were not available at that time; confirmed general propositions are used even if they have only found empirical support later than 1990.

 

WAS A DISSOLUTION INESCAPABLE?

The first question is then: how probable was a dissolution, given the characteristics of FY and the circumstances prevailing some fifteen years ago. There is little quantitative research on when and how states dissolve. One relevant classical finding is Richardson’s (1960: 190f.) that the longer two groups lived under common government, the less likely is a civil war. This does not say anything about peaceful dissolutions; but these are historically quite rare, so this finding actually covers the great majority of cases.

The first problem concerning FY is to define its age: from 1918 or from 1945? In the first case, YU of 1990 was older than two thirds of all states; in the second case, it still belonged to the older half. Its prognosis on the basis of this indicator only was therefore about average, meaning that it was definitely less likely to dissolve than to remain. If we use qualitative analyses instead, the first problem is disagreement: some conclude that it was doomed for a number of reasons, others that it was fully viable. How convincing the pro and con arguments are is a subjective matter, or at least contains large subjective elements.

There had indeed been attempts at dissolving it, temporarily successful in 1941-45. Small armed Croatian groups from abroad failed to get much support in 1968 and were quickly suppressed. The Croatian Spring in 1971 had much more support, initially also in the party leadership, which, however, withdrew when public demands rapidly escalated from cultural autonomy to economic autonomy and from there to secession (eventually claiming large parts of Bosnia-Herzegovina); as a bid for dissolution it failed. [Read more…]

The continued reverse ethnic cleansing in Kosovo

Too embarrassing for the international community

 

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 195 – March 29, 2004

Originally published here.

 

Time to give Reality Show politics a reality check

Back to Square One. A few days before the 5th Anniversary of the war against what was then called Yugoslavia, ethnic cleansing again reared its ugly head in the Balkans. Carl Bildt, most knowledgeable and clear-sighted former diplomat in the region, said that we saw five years of international policy go up in flames. Bildt is right in substance but his time perspective is too short; it is 15 years of Western conflict (mis)management policies that has gone up in flames.

And indeed, some have reasons to try to play down this catastrophe and its consequences: the international so-called community and its allies, the Albanian leadership in Kosovo.

When Milosevic and extremists on the Serb side committed crimes there in the 1990s, they were pointed out as the perpetrators, often before anyone had checked the events and circumstances. Whenever extremists on the Albanian side have committed crimes since 1999, it goes virtually unnoticed and unpunished and is described as “inter-ethnic” or “ethnically-motivated” violence that must – for the sake of appearances – be condemned.

The UN’s chief of mission, Harri Holkeri, called it mob violence and criminal activity in an misguided attempt to de-politicise the events. Then follows the mantras and the “shoulds” – the local parties should work for a multi-ethnic Kosovo, work closely with KFOR and UNMIK, respect Resolution 1244, work to realise (European) Standards before Status and should see to it that such bad things don’t happen again.

This is the remarkably inept and evasive political response of the UN Security Council President of March 18, the EU’s European Council of March 26, the US and of the governments in Europe. There are reasons to believe that the situation is much worse and ominous than we are told, both inside Kosovo and for the international community that has taken responsibility for the province.

In fairness, NATO commander Admiral Gregory Johnson called the spade a spade. He stated that the bloody clashes was “ethnic cleansing,” that it was “orchestrated” and added, most appropriately, that he knew that “Kosovars are better than this.”

 

From honeymoon to divorce

It seems that the international community is now facing a situation quite similar to the one Milosevic was facing: being seen by hardline Kosovo-Albanians (i.e. not by everyone) as an occupier that must be forced out to permit the emergence of the independent state of Kosova. The international community has no better solution when violence flares up but to send more troops, as did Milosevic. [Read more…]

Statement at press conference, Tanjug, Belgrade 2002

By Johan Galtung
June 21, 2002

Wilfried Graf from the Austrian Center for Peace Studies and I, both from the TRANSCEND network for conflict mediation, have just completed dialogues with the President and Vice-President of the Slovenian Parliament, the Deputy Foreign Minister of Croatia, the President and Vice-President of Republika Srpska, the President and Foreign Minister of Yugoslavia, distinguished representatives of the civil society; with a visit to Jasenovac and a consultation with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. I will not quote anyone, only present our reflections. [Read more…]

Macedonia 2002 – 2003: Assessing the risk of violence

By Jan Oberg

Written in 2001

 

1. Introduction

This report offers a framework and some tools for analysing the conflicts in Macedonia and the larger conflict formation of which it is a part. The purpose of the analysis is to assess the risks of violence and war in the country in the near future and the long-term.

 

1.1 Early warning and preventive initiatives

Early warning studies are meaningful only if combined with early listening and early action. Numerous organisations, among them Amnesty International and the Transnational Foundation, have repeatedly pointed out from the early 1990s that there would be war in Kosovo if no actors in the international community undertook mitigating, mediating and negotiating efforts. In Kosovo, there was minimal early listening and no early action to deal with the conflicts and their resolution. The conflict grew more serious and became militarised; due to the absence of early listening and action, NATO’s bombing in 1999 was promoted as the only solution, in spite of the fact that it caused even more human suffering and did not lead to a sustainable peace in the region a good three years later.

 

1.2 Theory and empirical work – diagnosis, prognosis and therapy

 Nothing is as practical as a good theory. Without thinking about it, we use theories and make assumptions when we drive a car or cook a meal. This report includes bits and pieces of general theory and some concepts to help readers understand this conflict as well as other conflicts. If the analysis increases the understanding of complex conflicts in general and those pertaining to Macedonia in particular, it will have served two of its major purposes. Without comprehensive ‘diagnosis’, we can neither produce a reasonable ‘prognosis’ nor hope to provide adequate ‘treatment’ or ‘therapy.’

A doctor uses knowledge of medicine and theories about the causes and symptoms of diseases and combines that with theories and concepts when examining a patient. In this report, we do much the same; we diagnose a ‘patient’ as suffering from serious conflicts and violence and explore the possibility that the disease may not have been completely cured and may reoccur. We also look into what is required for the patient to recover completely.

Only on the basis of both theory and empirical analysis can we hope to assess the risk of violence and war in complex systems. And only by adding constructive thinking can we hope to prevent violence and help people and societies move towards peace.

 

1.3 Causes of war and causes of peace

One particularly important, underlying assumption throughout this report is [Read more…]

What will happen in Macedonia?

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 126 – September 7, 2001

Originally published here.

 

NATO will not leave Macedonia

NATO people emphasise that Operation Essential Harvest in Macedonia is a very limited mission; it will only be in Macedonia for one month and only to collect 3,300 weapons. It is not monitoring, it is not peace-keeping and it is not peace-enforcement. And, as we have shown in PressInfo 125 it is not a disarmament mission. It’s a “collect-not-too-many weapons” mission.

When NATO’s mission approaches its termination, there is likely to be an intensive media effort to emphasise that the KLA/NLA kept its promise and handed in 3,300 weapons. It will be heralded by NATO and the EU as a major step in the direction of peace by that side. However, following the logic of this whole affair it is a quite reasonable hypothesis that both parties will spend the time productively to acquire new weapons. Because:

a) The Macedonians and the government have no reason whatsoever to trust that NATO will help it against future KLA/NLA military activity. Western countries have threatened sanctions against Macedonia in case it defended itself too strongly and they have prevented others, e.g. Ukraine, from delivering weapons. They have supplied KLA/NLA with weapons and trained it since 1993. In addition, Western agencies and mercenary companies work with them and both in Kosovo and in Macedonia the international community has sided politically with the KLA/NLA, no matter that its spin doctors would like us to believe otherwise .

b) If 3,300 is all or most of the weapons held by the Albanian militarists, why should they disarm themselves voluntarily only to wave good-bye to the only force that they feel could protect them in the event of continued military activity by Macedonian army and police and even paramilitaries? Beyond doubt, the government sees it as its right and duty to get back the 10-15% of the country’s territories effectively controlled by KLA/NLA – one way or another.

c) Things usually do not go according to plan. The architects behind the Dayton Agreement talked about one year for IFOR as the time it would take to solve the major problems of Bosnia-Hercegovina. In Croatia, there are still enough problems and animosity to prevent nine-tenths of those chased out since 1991 from returning.

 

A massacre? The government side castigated

As a nuclear alliance, NATO upholds the capability to kill millions of non-NATO people – that is, if it can be done by sophisticated long-range technology. Not so when it comes to peace-keeping and risking the lives of NATO soldiers. Undoubtedly, there are NATO supporters, as well as good-hearted people in NATO-countries, who hope everything will go fine in Macedonia and NATO will withdraw on time. However, that is the least likely scenario of all. [Read more…]

Several U.S. policies for Macedonia make up onede-stabilisation policy: A prelude to military intervention?

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 122 – June 10, 2001

Originally published here.

 

These days I am reminded of my conversation in the early 1990s with the first representative of the United States to independent Macedonia. Two things came out clearly: no matter the question I asked him he said that the policies of the United States aimed at stability; second, if he had any knowledge about the Balkans in general and Macedonia in particular he kept it to himself. Today, we should not be surprised if stability, the post-Cold War buzz-word, in reality means instability or de-stabilisation.

 

Various U.S. policies: we both support and condemn the Albanians!

On June 4, in Washington Post, retired Ambassador William G. Walker, condemned the Macedonian government for treating the Albanians as second-class citizens and, when it comes to its military response to fighting the Albanian National Liberation Army (NLA), compares it with Milosevic. He advocates a stronger high-level U.S. involvement by hosting a Dayton-like conference (not a word about the EU) and insists that NLA shall participate as it is a legitimate actor with popular support.

Further, he believes that a recent agreement brokered by American Ambassador Robert Frowick, the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office for the situation in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, between the two main Albanian parties and the NLA should be welcomed. (Incidentally it was signed outside Macedonia, close to Prizren in Kosovo, and behind the back of the Macedonian political leadership and, thus, Frowick was considered persona non grata). The EU’s reaction to it indicates a deep rift with the U.S.

So, who is William Walker? A former persona non grata in Yugoslavia where he headed OSCE’s Kosovo Verifiers’ Mission, KVM, negotiated in October 1998 between U.S. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke and President Milosevic. It is public knowledge that his mission had a substantial CIA component and that his verdict on the spot in Racak that Milosevic was behind that massacre lacked every evidence at the time. Today he is an honorary board member of National Albanian American Council’s “Hands of Hope Campaign.” [Read more…]

Macedonia – not innocent

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 120 – May 17, 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. This one deals mainly with the obvious question:

 

Is Macedonia and its various groups totally innocent?

Of course not! In some respects there is more repression of the Albanians in Macedonia than in Kosovo. Thus, for instance, Pristina University was the centre of learning for Albanians while for almost a decade the issue of higher education for Albanians have been controversial and, since 1997, the Tetovo University considered illegal by the majority. Albanians do not play a role commensurate to the proportion they make up of the population (25 – 40 pct depending on sources); whether this is a relevant criteria is another matter. If you go to the National Museum in Skopje you will not see a trace of Albanian culture. The constitution is ethnic-oriented rather than citizens-oriented.

In spite of all this, it is important to emphasise that the situation in no way justifies armed struggle or the extremist claims on both sides that ‘the others’ understand only weapons. True, it is not a perfect world, but the de facto presence of Albanians in politics, trade, schools and media in today’s Macedonia make the claim that “we are so repressed and nothing else will help so we must take to weapons” one that borders on hysteria or propaganda.

Those in Macedonia who had it in their power to do so never really sustained an honest inter-ethnic dialogue throughout society or at a government level. Informal segregation is practised by both sides in schools, media, clubs, restaurants and residential areas: “We don’t mix with ‘them’ – “we can’t live together but perhaps as neighbours” – “I would never have a boyfriend among them” – are statements visitors have heard repeated year after year. [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…]

Intellectually the Kosovo Commission Report is a turkey and it won’t fly

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 105 – November 23, 2000

Originally published here.

 

We expect soldiers we send to the front to have some military education and training. As patients we hope the doctor has studied medicine. And who would write a constitution for a new state if not professionally educated lawyers?

But not so when it comes to conflict-analysis, mediation or peace-making. In this field it seems that neither specific education, practical experience nor knowledge about the conflicting parties and their cultures is of any importance. The important thing is that you want to do good.

Last year, Prime Minister Goran Persson of Sweden took the initiative to establish an independent international commission tasked with analysing the equally enigmatic and tragic Kosovo conflict and NATO’s bombing as well as outline the lessons to be learnt. He appointed Richard Goldstone, the well-respected South African judge and former chief prosecutor of the Hague Tribunal to chair it together with former Swedish education minister, Carl Tham, as his deputy.

The Swedish government allocated about 1 million dollar for the one-year work of the commission, which also obtained support from the Carnegie Corporation, George Soros, Ford Foundation and the U.S. Institute of Peace. Among its members are Mary Kaldor, Michael Ignatieff, Richard Falk (TFF associate) who represent themselves and not their countries – of which anyhow six are NATO members.

No doubt, it was a noble initiative, with all wishing to do good – although even Sweden never expressed a critical word about the West’s handling of the crisis or of what, at the time, I called NATO’s Balkan bombing blunder. To identify what we must learn from this conflict and the international attempts to handle it is, beyond doubt, one of the most important intellectual, political and moral tasks – for Sweden itself, for the EU, for NATO and for the United States. The problems that caused the violence in the Balkans are far from solved – if at all addressed – and the place with most rapid and positive change today is Serbia whose people took matters in their own hand and put an end to the Milosevic era. Around the world, conflicts similar to that in Kosovo are queuing up, waiting to be diagnosed and treated well or turn into tragedies.

My TFF colleagues and I have, since 1991, worked in Kosovo and Belgrade, with the political leaders on all sides and with civil society organisations. After some 40 missions and 3000+ interviews, we know a bit about the place, the personalities and the problems as well as about the rest of former Yugoslavia with which the Kosovo issue was and remains fundamentally intertwined.

During a number of years I personally functioned as unpaid, goodwill adviser to Dr. Ibrahim Rugova. Under his wise leadership the Kosovo-Albanians was the only people in ex-Yugoslavia who had decided – in contrast to everybody else – to try to achieve their dream about an independent state by means of a) a non-violent struggle, b) the building of a parallel society and c) intensive international diplomatic and media activity. It was a dream, of course, as nationalistic or and exclusionist as any other and was greatly assisted by the bullish arrogance of Milosevic and the repressive forces in the region.

But a simple conflict is about the only thing it was not. So the Commission has ploughed through hundreds of human rights documents and other types of materials and consulted hundreds of experts, politicians and military people involved in the matter – although, however, surprisingly few among those who were close to issue, on the ground. Goldstone and Tham want to do good, for sure, but none of them are conflict analysts or Balkan experts. That could, with a different mandate and more creativity, actually have brought in new aspects or have lead to the creation of more innovative proposals. But it doesn’t. This turkey won’t fly.

One the positive side, [Read more…]

Why Milosevic won’t get to the Hague

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 100 – October 11, 2000

Originally published here.

 

Western politicians insist that Slobodan Milosevic must be brought to the Hague Tribunal and stand trial as a war criminal. Media and commentators raise the issue time and again. But there are reasons to believe that this is make-believe.

The indictment of Milosevic leaves much to be explained – for instance, why he is indicted only for crimes committed in 1999 but not before – and certain Western countries would hardly want him to be on record in the Hague with a few things that he may know about them.

The West would, therefore, do wise to drop this issue now and let Yugoslavia deal with Milosevic.

It seems that few have bothered to read the text of the indictment of Milosevic and four other high-level government officials of Thursday May 27, 1999. Among other things it states:

“As pointed out by Justice Arbour in her application to Judge Hunt, “this indictment is the first in the history of this Tribunal to charge a Head of State during an on-going armed conflict with the commission of serious violations of international humanitarian law”.

The indictment alleges that, between 1 January and late May 1999, forces under the control of the five accused persecuted the Kosovo Albanian civilian population on political, racial or religious grounds. By the date of the indictment, approximately 740,000 Kosovo Albanians, about one-third of the entire Kosovo Albanian population, had been expelled from Kosovo. Thousands more are believed to be internally displaced. An unknown number of Kosovo Albanians have been killed in the operations by forces of the FRY and Serbia. Specifically, the five indictees are charged with the murder of over 340 persons identified by name in an annex to the indictment.

Each of the accused is charged with three counts of crimes against humanity and one count of violations of the laws or customs of war.”

 

Limited indictment and dubious facts

As will be seen, Milosevic is indicted for activities limited to the period January 1 and late May 1999, i.e. during the local war between Kosovo-Albanian forces (KLA/UCK) and various Serb/Yugoslav forces and for activities during NATO’s bombings which started on March 24 and went on for 78 days.

At the time the Tribunal could not know any precise facts or numbers. What we do know today from public, reliable sources is that a considerable part of the information about killings and ethnic cleansing was exaggerated or false.

At the time of the indictment, facts could not be verified by independent sources [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…]

Misguided motives led to the chaos in Kosovo

By Jan Oberg

April 5, 2000 – on CNN Interactive

(CNN) — The conflicts that led to war and dissolution of the former Yugoslavia took shape in the 1970s and early 1980s, and their origins are much older. The paradox is that the international community’s self-appointed “conflict managers” have not treated the Balkan conflicts as conflicts.

Instead, they have wielded power and practiced Realpolitik disguised as peacemaking and humanitarianism.

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).

The leaders of the republics of the former Yugoslavia all did their best to destroy the federation from within. Today’s situation, however, is equally the result of the international community’s failed conflict management in four cases – Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia and Kosovo.

None of the peace agreements work as expected. The regions are more polarized and ethnically cleansed than before. Democracy is formal and imposed, not genuine. The countries are not armed simply for defense, they are militarized.

War criminals are still at large. Refugees have not returned in any significant numbers (except to Kosovo). The deeply human dimensions of tolerance, forgiveness, reconciliation and societal regeneration have hardly begun. No commissions on truth or history have been established.

Money – always plentiful for military purposes – is conspicuously lacking for the prevention of civilian violence and for postwar development. Integration into the EU may not take place for a long time yet.

Finally, and fatally, the U.N. missions to these countries have been thrown out, substituted with more expensive and heavy-handed missions, or discontinued prematurely.  [Read more…]