Moving Macedonia toward peace

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 123 – June 2001

Originally published here.

 

The following proposals are presented exclusively out of a deep concern over the deteriorating situation in Macedonia/FYROM. It’s an act of goodwill from TFF.

We want to help everyone in Macedonia strengthen their belief in peace and work for it with hope and persistence. The aim of this PressInfo is to stimulate concerned citizen and political leaders in Macedonia, in the region and elsewhere around the world to produce ideas that can help turn Macedonia away from the abyss.

You may find some of the ideas and proposals “unrealistic.” But please look deeply into the problem; then you will also recognise that the idea of war and killing to solve social and psychological problems and bring about peace is even more unrealistic.

Those who insist on solving conflict predominantly, or exclusively, by peaceful means are at one with the Charter of the United Nations. Conflicts simply happen and are legitimate parts of any human group in development. But we must begin to recognise that violence is just an added problem, not the solution. It is easy to abstain from violence when we are at peace and in harmony. The test of civilisation, of whether we have learnt to clash as civilised creatures or not, stands exactly when we are most prone to pull a trigger.

The peoples in the Balkans and the so-called international community have pulled enough triggers. Macedonia’s problems are more dangerous than most we have seen as they could spill over, for the first time, to countries which are not part of former Yugoslavia. Handling the complex conflicts in today’s Macedonia therefore requires new thinking and courageous initiatives.

To put it bluntly, it won’t be enough to have single diplomats come visiting a few hours wringing their empty hands Solana style. The sounds of war drown their press conference mantras about “progress” and “understanding” and “stopping violence.”

The numbers below do not indicate priorities. Some of the things can be done by some actors, while others do other things. That is precisely what peace is about: a plurality of mutually supporting initiatives rather than a linear process.

 

1. Establish a National Truth and Co-Existence Commission

Most wars are made possible by propaganda, lies, stereotyping, rumours, threats and deception. They are fuelled by untruth. [Read more…]

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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…]

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…]

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…]

The Yugoslav nonviolent revolution

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 99 – October 9, 2000

Originally published here.

 

Milosevic certainly did not even think the thought. The opposition had hoped for it but hardly foreseen it would happened just like that. Western leaders and commentators had predicted about everything else but this: that nonviolence by the many would sweep away the authoritarian power presided over and solidified by Slobodan Milosevic over 13 years.

It was a miracle unfolding, minute by minute, in front of our eyes. Unarmed citizens were stronger, finally, than Milosevic’ force.

They also achieved in about 24 hours what NATO violence could not achieve in 78 days. It’s yet another remarkable victory for non-violence. But do we see it like that?

 

  

The power of nonviolence

The Shah of Iran lost power mainly due to nonviolent struggle. The Marcos regime in the Philippines did too. Solidarnosc in Poland would not had won had it used violence. The Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia is yet another. The East-West bloc confrontation – the “hardest” conflict of modern times, imbued with nuclearism and militarism on both sides – dissolved, not in a nuclear war, as war statistics might have made us expect, but by the remarkable combination of nonviolent forces: the peace and women’s movements in the West and the dissident, human rights and church movements in the East and, of course, the towering figure of Michael Gorbachev who did what no other leader has dared, namely to work his way up to the top of a power system and then declare that it has to be thoroughly changed and that change has to begin here with ourselves, not with “the other.”

These fundamentally important events in contemporary history, like hundreds of smaller changes brought about by non-violence and civil disobedience around the world, have seldom been covered by the media or referred to in history books as victories of nonviolence the way military victories are seen as the result of violence. Nonviolent revolutions like that in Yugoslavia ought to be analyzed as a manifestation of alternative power, not just as a lucky chance.

On Sepember 25, 1999 I participated in the walking demonstrations against the government, arranged by the Alliance for Change in the streets of Belgrade. There were more than 10.000 people, one evening after the other. But it was not enough, it was not broad enough; at the time workers were not actively opposing the Milosevic regime. Opposition politicians were fighting each other while the people marched. But no one present could possibly miss the strength and the determination or the fearless, unrestrained hilarity. [Read more…]

The West and conflicts in and around Yugoslavia: Some axioms

By Johan Galtung

Presumably written in 2000

[1]  Europe is divided since 1054 (forerunner 395) and 1095 into three parts: Roman-Germanic/Catholic-Protestant (+USA = the West); Slavic-Orthodox and Turko-Muslim.  Romania, Greece: ambiguous.

General archetype: Slavic/Orthodox, and Turko/Muslim, are evil.

[2]  Faultlines intersect in Sarajevo/BiH; cut Pristina/Skopje.

[3]  Parties are nations with claims on land with dualism of discourses as bondage versus independence.  Living together only under foreign rule (Habsburg/Ottoman; Nazi; Tito; NATO).  [Read more…]

A bouquet of peace ideas to Macedonia … and Kosovo

By Jan Oberg and many others

TFF PressInfo 80 – November 22, 1999

Originally published here.

 

”With e-mail and Internet it has become so much more easy to generate and share ideas instantly. Below you find 53 different ideas about peace in Macedonia from people around the world who responded to our call in the preceding PressInfo. It’s a free gift to anyone who cares to listen and take inspiration – many could also be implemented in Kosovo,” says TFF director Jan Oberg.

“Our respondents are not a representative sample but, among other things, this exciting experiment shows that:

1) there are so many ideas out there and an amazing willingness to contribute constructively;

2) people who have not been to Macedonia can share ideas and initiatives that have worked in other conflicts, a general body of knowledge and experiences are developing;

3) they focus much more on the human dimensions of conflict-resolution than governments do;

4) they by and large reject military means in peacebuilding, and

5) they focus on local forces and bottom-up approaches rather than top-down, foreign imposed peace – indeed, quite a few tell us right away that the West in general and NATO in particular should stay away. This is a very moving appeal. People obviously must be given a chance to find their own solutions.

We have chosen not to list the ideas theme-wise. Enjoy them as a bouquet. We just edited and shortened what we got – in some cases actually whole articles.

TFF does not endorse every idea, but we convey them all for your inspiration,” says Oberg.

 

Develop a true image of the place

It’s a great problem that, regarding the Balkans, East Timor, Colombia, Haiti, Ecuador, Cuba, North Korea and many places in Africa, we may not have a broad enough image of what it is all about. Modern media should show us peacebuilding efforts, accompaniment, non-violent direct-action and cover it live. That would give people hope that something can be done. So, peace news and not only war news, please.

 

NATO is not for peace

It is disastrous for Macedonia and others to accept NATO as the “international community”; NATO is a military alliance of countries whose goals are the realisation of the policies and interests of the transnational corporations and the economic neo-liberal agenda of the wealthy countries. And each country with its specific problems should not expect NATO to solve them by means of its standard military package.

 

Go for the European Union, in spite of all

The far-from-perfect European Union points to the economic advantages of cooperation and the increased political clout of the whole region. It is a feasible model of a union of sovereign states, particularly if they pursue a course of people-oriented social and economic policies. [Read more…]

Your ideas for peace in Macedonia wanted

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 79

Originally published here.

 

“Read the farewell interview with Macedonian President Kirov Gligorov and the analysis by TFF’s Macedonian Associate, Dr. Biljana Vankovska on our site and you will understand how fragile Macedonia’s stability and peace is.

Why not try a citizens’ ‘early warning’? We invite you to send us your ideas on how we can help Macedonia avoid violence and move towards peace in spite of all the obstacles,” says director Jan Oberg.

“After the Kosovo war, all citizens of Macedonia go through very difficult times; presidential elections take place on October 31. If there is one lesson from Kosovo, it is this: the earlier we deal with the problems, the more options there are, and the easier it is to solve conflicts without resorting to violence.

It is a safe prediction that, unless various types of violence-preventive measures are taken and taken in time, Macedonia is likely to slide into chaos. If citizens around the world apply their experience from violence-prevention and peacebuilding and their creativity, we could produce a series of proposals for early action.

You can participate even if you do not have detailed knowledge about Macedonia. Lots of generally violence-preventive steps can be taken to prevent violence and solidify peace anywhere. Below we provide some ideas – just a beginning. Readers, their friends and colleagues, are invited to brainstorm and send us more and better proposals which we would be happy to publish in future PressInfo(s). And we would very much like to receive proposals from our readers and subscribers in Macedonia!

 

• Watch the Kosovo-Macedonia connection.
It is important that the international community does not make any final decision now about the future status of Kosovo. At this juncture, any final settlement will impact negatively on the fears, hopes and political strategies of both Macedonians and Albanians in Macedonia. [Read more…]

Post-Milosevic dilemmas – and an imagined way out

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 103 – October 25, 2000

Originally published here.

 

Based on the analysis in PressInfo 102, here follow some examples of the cul-de-sac created by the Milosevic/West symbiosis:

 

Kosovo options

1. Declare it an integral part of Serbia/Yugoslavia.

If so, it can’t be excluded that hardline Albanians would begin to attack KFOR, UN, OSCE, and NGO staff. The risk of losing lives would scare the West, the US in particular. The Albanians are perfectly right in interpreting US and other Western actions the last years as a policy of strong support to their struggle for Kosova as an independent state. The KPC could quickly become KLA again. And if Serbs and other chased-out people came back to Kosovo we would see much more violence.

 

2. Declare Kosovo an independent state.

That is incompatible with UN SC resolution 1244. More important, no democratic government can be elected in Belgrade on “let’s give Kosovo away forever.” If a democratic government actually did so after having been elected, the people, the Army, the police, paramilitaries – or whoever – would likely attempt to turn over that government and we would be back to a Milosevic-like situation, a stalemate. Neither could attempts to militarily re-take Kosovo be excluded. People knew that Kosovo was lost to a large extent because of Milosevic’ arrogant policies, but it does NOT mean that they think it should be permanently lost under a democratic government. Furthermore, Albanians in Montenegro and Macedonia would ask: if Kosovo-Albanians can achieve independence, why not us?

 

3. Declare Kosovo a protectorate for decades ahead or just make no decision concerning its future status.

Would also go against SC resolution 1244. No government is willing to pay for the international presence in Kosovo the next 10-20 years which is what would be required; the UN and others are already strapped for funds. Donor conference promises have never materialized – money never being a problem for war, but certainly always for peace. A protectorate would also sour relations and make cooperation impossible with Belgrade and, thus, be an impediment to Balkan stability as well as to the promotion of Western economic and strategic long-term interests. [Read more…]

Read the civilian Rambouillet Kosovo agreement !

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 57, March 17, 1999

Originally published here

Serbo-Croatian version

“Read the so-called Kosovo Peace Agreement being discussed these very hours in Paris and you are in for a few surprises,” says TFF director Dr. Jan Oberg. “I do not think that any recognised, sovereign state would accept all the CIVILIAN provisions and the MILITARY implementation on its territory of a plan like this. No state likes to receive “sign or be bombed” ultimatums – particularly not when the said plan implies the de facto end of its status as a sovereign state with territorial integrity.

The standard story with CNN, BBC, and leading papers conveys the impression that the Serbs are just stubborn and stall the peace negotiations, whereas the Albanian side is co-operative, as evidenced by a letter from their delegation leader of March 15. Yugoslavia deserves punishment while Albanians are praised for their “courage to compromise for peace.” That’s virtual reality and virtual truth. Real reality is way more complicated,” says Oberg.

“You must have noticed that no one has raised the simple question: Could there be some reasons why Serbs say no and Albanians indicate that they will say yes? Ask yourself why media and diplomats discuss the game and the blame, not the substance. Did you know,” asks Jan Oberg, “that the document on the table, among other things, decides that: [Read more…]

Rambouillet: A process analysis

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 54 – February 21, 1999

Originally published here.

 

“The Plan being discussed at Rambouillet is a formalistic, legal document. Its provisions may be needed, but it doesn’t contain any ideas on how to make peace among the citizens who are to live with it when implemented. Their voice is not heard, their needs are not dealt with in the Plan. Most of the delegates in Rambouillet are not representative of the citizens. The “mediators” have no professional education as mediators. The idea that Kosovo’s problems can be solved in two weeks is absurd. Rambouillet militates against all we know about human psychology and trust-building.

So, once again politics fool media and media fool world public opinion. And people in Kosovo will have to wait for peace as long as the vagabonds in Beckett’s drama wait for Godot…” says Dr. Jan Oberg upon returning from TFF’s 34th mission to ex-Yugoslavia, this time to Skopje, Belgrade and the troubled Kosovo province.

 

1. The preparation

When wars are fought thousands of trained soldiers are mobilised, highly trained experts and sophisticated technologies activated. When peace is to be created, the world lets one man – in the case of Kosovo, US ambassador Christopher Hill with a few assistants – shuttle back and forth between some of the parties. When Yugoslavia insisted on Kosovo being an integral part of its territory and the Albanians insisted that it is their independent state, ambassador Hill drew a line – not a circle or a ball – and explained to them, not unlike a father to two quarrelling children: “The compromise I allow you is ‘self-government.’ He thought that was fair, that this would be in the interests of the parties. Thus, he and the Contact Group set up the framework for the future of Kosovo’s 1,5 million or so inhabitants and the rest of Yugoslavia, around 10 million people. Nobody ask them how they would like the future to be.

 

2. The process

Perhaps it is all too complex but there are not only the Serbian and Yugoslav governments in Belgrade and the Albanians in Kosovo. Presumably, 15-20% of the people in Kosovo are NOT Albanians. The Kosovo Serbs have not been given an opportunity to voice their independent opinion. Cynically speaking, of course, that doesn’t matter much because nobody, least of all the ‘conflict managers’ in Rambouillet, expect them to stay in areas of Kosovo under ‘self-governing’ Albanian majority rule. No Serbs live in areas now controlled by KLA.

The fatal mistake was to believe that negotiations will create trust. They won’t. It works the other way: some trust-building must happen BEFORE people meet at the negotiation table.

 

3. The threats

All this – predictably – did not work. The Contact group then issued ultimatums and put NATO’s prestige at stake: Come to Rambouillet, sign our document, or face air-strikes. Air-strikes! ? [Read more…]

Rambouillet: Imperialism in disguise

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 55 – February 16, 1999

Originally published here.

“What happens now in Rambouillet has little to do with creating peace for the suffering citizens in the Yugoslav province of Kosovo/a. Disguised as “negotiations” about a “peace” plan, the international so-called community promotes less noble values and long-term goals in the region and use the Serbs and Albanians as supernumeraries in its drama. It’s time we ask what the self-proclaimed “conflict managers” are actually up to. If peace in Kosovo or the wider Balkans had been the real aim, we would have witnessed a completely different approach leading up to Rambouillet. We come closer to the truth about Rambouillet if we use words such as globalisation, strategic expansion, Caspian oil, Greater NATO, containment policy and imperialism disguised as conflict-management and peace-making,” says Dr. Jan Oberg upon returning from the 34th TFF mission to the region since 1992, this time to Skopje, Belgrade and Kosovo.

“If peace was their profession, the governments of the international community would – around 1992 – have put enough diplomatic and other civilian pressure on the parties to begin a dialogue, not negotiations. It would have provided 5-10 different secluded meeting places for Albanians, Serbs and other peoples – NGOs, teachers, intellectuals, journalists, doctors etc. – to explore their problems and possible solutions. In short, an international brainstorm to produce creative ideas for later elaboration at a complex negotiation process that would take at least a year.

Today, instead, we are left with only one – legalistic and formal – plan developed by U.S. ambassador Christopher Hill. It is not the result of neutral mediation, contains no creative ideas and is so unattractive to the parties that it has to be imposed as a fait accompli by bombing threats and by arrogant talking down to the delegations (“they must be brought to understand their own best..”) [Read more…]

Why these ‘peace’ efforts can’t bring peace to Kosovo

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 54 – January 7, 1999

Originally published here.

In a large interview with the leading Kosovo-Albanian weekly “ZËRI” on December 22, TFF director Jan Oberg challenges the international community’s whole approach to conflict-resolution and peace. He also believes that the policy of positioning and the focus on formal status pursued by the parties is counterproductive.

It’s time, he maintains, to listen to the needs of citizens, to address real issues of daily life and to introduce some new ideas and actors.

Governments have failed on all sides. Their diplomats may be great lawyers but they lack professional knowledge and training in conflict analysis, conflict psychology, social issues and mediation techniques. This is simply not the way to proceed if you want to help people to live in peace.”

 

Read the interview in its entirety.

Here follow excerpts:

“Modern history is full of conflicts at least as bad as that in Kosovo that have been overcome by nonviolence.”

“What I have said here applies also to the international community’s “conflict managers”. Neither the US nor the EU did anything systematic, based on analysis, about the Kosovo conflict. They waited for a decade until the “only way” was to threaten NATO bombings…”

“Some of you may think that the US/NATO would do something here to support you – forget it.”

“The Milosevic-Holbrooke agreement is a ‘deal’ about power and, like in Dayton, nobody will ask the people living in the region whether they like it or not. Nobody who works professionally with conflict-resolution, mediation and peace would call this anything but a deal.”

“Whatever political solution will one day be found – the citizens of Kosovo/a will need help to recover, reconciliate, build trust. In the best of cases, peace can be built from the ground-up.”

“So far in this ‘peace’ process, there is no negotiation institution, only an American ambassador from Skopje who cannot be neutral because [Read more…]

Civil society in war and peace – New TFF report

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 53 – December 23, 1998

Originally published here.

“This is yet another publication from TFF – ‘Violence, Postwar Reconstruction and Civil Society – Theory and Yugoslavia.’ It’s main focus is civil society in war and peace. It relates this concept to the economic globalisation, to international conflict-management and to the case of Yugoslavia and the Dayton agreement,” says Jan Oberg, TFF director and author of the study.

It reflects the fact that everything TFF does is based on triple-thinking: We have three types of activities – academic analyses, field work and advocacy. We do three things in conflict regions – conflict analysis/early warning, conflict-mitigation and peace and reconciliation education. We offer three perspectives – analyses, criticism and constructive alternatives. We believe that conflicts deserve three steps – diagnosis, prognosis and treatment. And we work with three conflict regions – former Yugoslavia, Georgia in the Caucasus and one more conflict,” says Oberg.

The first chapter deals with civil society and violence-prevention; the second discusses various concepts of ‘civil society’ and relates it to various types of power. [Read more…]

Interview With Jan Oberg in Kosovo-Albanian “ZËRI” in Pristina by Blerim Shala

By Jan Oberg
December 22, 1998

1. DR. OBERG, HOW DO YOU EVALUATE THE PRESENT SITUATION IN KOSOVA, ESPECIALLY REGARDING THE OSCE OBSERVER MISSION WHICH IS SUPPOSED TO BE ESTABLISHED IN THE NEXT FEW WEEKS?

Compared with one or five years ago, the present situation is worse for all parties. Innocent civilians – about 10% of the Kosovo-Albanians and 10% of the Kosovo-Serbs – have lost their home, belongings, human rights and safety. No politician ever asked them and I am sure they did not want this to achieve any political goal. Second, Serbia/FRY has lost important parts of its control and sovereignty and it has more international interference than ever – what all Serbia was directed out to vote against just a few months ago.

And the Albanians in Kosovo are worse off too – they no longer obtain the sympathy, solidarity and admiration for their nonviolent policies from the world community. Some may value that as irrelevant anyhow, I don’t. With blood on their hands, the political goals and the vision of a independent, peaceful and democratic Kosova is gone. You can’t obtain a good thing by bad means: killing, maiming and terrorising those who disagree with you, also on your own side. No election or referendum was ever held that, directly or indirectly, gave KLA/UCK a mandate to militarize the issue.

Some here will say: “But we had two!” I understand this psychological mechanism, given the politically unwise and untalented policy of repression by Belgrade. But here I want to point out what, in all humility, I consider the “Himalayan mistake” of some Kosovo-Albanians: they believed that the alternative to Dr. Rugova’s somewhat passive and practical policy of nonviolence was armed struggle, killing and all that. The real alternative would have been active and principled nonviolence and training the whole people in this different way of thinking and struggling.

In short: it would have been good if someone in power on either side had read and understood the deep messages of Mohandas K. Gandhi, Martin Luther King, or Dalai Lama – if someone among all your good intellectuals had learned from the nonviolent victories of the European peace movements and Soviet dissidents who, together with Mikhail Gorbachev, dismantled the whole Cold War structure; or had learnt from the Solidarnosc movement in Poland and the Velvet Revolution in Chechoslovakia, from the resistance movement against the Shah of Iran, from the Catholic nuns who lay down in from of Marcos’ tanks in the Philippines etc.

Modern history is full of conflicts at least as bad as that in Kosovo that have been overcome by nonviolence. But – all these issues were never studied, people never educated and trained in nonviolent politics, ethics and methods of struggle. Your alternative schools never trained pupils in thinking this way. So, the shortsighted militarists took the lead. That’s why pragmatic nonviolence of Rugova/LDK was never enough – and was tainted by wishig all the time that the US/NATO should come and do the dirty job for them. [Read more…]