A decade too late – Kosovo talks begin

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 192 – October 14, 2003

Originally published here.

 

On October 14, 2003, in Vienna, high-level Kosovo-Albanians and Serbs from Belgrade met face-to-face. It was a historical meeting in more than one sense. It provides an opportunity for anyone concerned about conflict-management and peace-building to reflect on its philosophy, methods and politics. Did the international so-called community do the right thing? Is there adequate institutional learning? Are there parallels between Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq that we should discuss self-critically rather than simply blame the parties?

 

Dialogue is fine but the 1999 bombing hardened everybody

It is the first time since NATO’s war on Yugoslavia in 1999 that Serbs and Albanians meet this way. Indeed, with a few exceptions, it’s the first attempt at real negotiations since it all began in the late 1980s. Like in Iraq, the main parties were prevented from meeting. As time has passed hard-liners have taken over the scene and now they won’t really talk.

Being the clear victims of Milosevic’ repressive policies, the Albanians rightly felt that they had the support of the West and would be rewarded by sticking to a maximalist position; thus no compromise about the goal of complete independence.

Being the largest people whose minorities in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo never really felt any solidarity from the Western conflict-managers, the Serbs felt misunderstood, treated without fairness and they were humiliated by the bombings. Why should they not fight adamantly for the Kosovo province that they consider their cradle? In addition, the Serbs as a people – and the Kosovo Serbs in particular – have lost more than any other due to the policies of their own leadership. [Read more…]

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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…]

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…]