Ibrahim Rugova’s decade-long leadership in Kosovo

By Jan Oberg

TFF Pressinfo 140 – December 14, 2001

Originally published here.

 

Ten years ago it was not impossible to see…

Ten years ago, TFF’s conflict-mitigation team started working with Dr. Ibrahim Rugova and LDK people in the belief that a) they were the best dialogue partners Belgrade could hope to get, and b) they were the only political leadership in ex-Yugoslavia that advocated non-violence, albeit pragmatic. I have no evidence that they have ever read a line by, say, Gandhi.

We participated in formulating characteristics of the independent Kosova they aimed at: it should be a region with no military, open border to all sides and politically neutral. We helped devise negotiation strategies and facilitated the only written dialogue between them and governments in Belgrade between 1992 and 1996. The foundation produced a concrete plan for a negotiated solution. See Preventing war in Kosovo (1992) and UNTANS (1996).

Our team quickly learned to respect the complexity and difficulties of the Kosovo conflict. We were privileged to repeatedly listen to the deep-held views and animosities among various Albanians, Serbs and other ethnic groups in Kosovo as well as to many and different parties in Belgrade. We knew that the international community played with fire by not attending to this conflict and tried to alert it.

This shaped the basis for our later scepticism about the faked ‘negotiations’ in Rambouillet and NATO’s bombing of Yugoslavia including Kosovo. A committed, impartial and competent international civil-political intervention could have mitigated the conflict in the early 1990s. And even if this opportunity was missed, bombings would not produce peace, trust, tolerance, reconciliation or a willingness to live and work together.

 

The West chose Kosovo’s militants as allies instead

Already ten years ago, Dr. Rugova was the undisputed leader of the Kosovo-Albanians. He received a lot of lip-service during missions to Western capitals. Reality was that Western governments in typical ‘covert operations’ from 1992-93 helped create, equip and train hard-liners behind his back, who became the later Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA or UCK. Dr. Rugova was marginalised and the U.S. in particular played with the KLA, which at the time was officially categorised by U.S. diplomats as “a terrorist organisation.” Later on, NATO performed the role of KLA’s airforce and the civilian UN mission (UNMIK) and the military KFOR-NATO missions were set up.

These missions officially declared UCK disbanded and illegal but let it continue operating partly as UCK/KLA and partly as the civilian Kosovo Protection Corps, KPC. The internationals consistently kept on allying themselves more with the leaders of the KLA, (Hacim Thaci, for instance) and KPC (Agim Ceku,for instance) whilst de facto accepting the illegal violence and mafia-based power structure established by them immediately after the war throughout the province.

In other words, Rugova and LDK were marginalised during the period when a negotiated solution could have been found, then during the Rambouillet process, then after the bombing and, finally, after the municipal elections when LDK won a landslide victory but did not get proportional backing by the international administration. As the standard response runs among the internationals: “we want to control and democratise the hardliners and keep them in the process, therefore we cannot also antagonise them.” Dr. Kouchner, the former head of the UN mission (UNMIK) was instrumental in institutionalising this cosy Western relationship with warlords and mafia leaders.

Since July 1999, this policy has yielded absolutely no results, except ethnic cleansing, destruction of democratic potentials, more mafia economy and criminality, and two KLA incursions, one into Southern Serbia and one into Macedonia.

 

UNMIK must now stop its vain courting of warlords

In this perspective, Ibrahim Rugova is an extraordinary figure in Balkan politics. [Read more…]

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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…]

Misleading UN report on Kosovo (A)

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 77 – October 3, 1999

Originally published here

 

“Those who wrote the Report of the UN Secretary-General on the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) must have had other aims than accurate reporting. The report is biased, embellished, slanted. It omits important aspects which point toward the fact that this mission ignores Security Council Resolution 1244 on which it is based and is a failure in-the-making on its own criteria,” says TFF director Jan Oberg upon his return from TFF’s 37th mission to the region and his visit to Pristina, Skopje and Belgrade.

“The report (S/1999/987 of September 16) covers the period in which at least 150.000 legitimate non-Albanian (Serbs, Roma,etc) citizens were driven out of the province. Normally this would be called ethnic cleansing. It has happened under the very eyes of 45.000 NATO soldiers, 1.100 UN civilian police and thousands of other internationals, including the OSCE and EU.

The report does not state that this is a fatal blow to both NATO and the UN. Res. 1244 states that the mission is to ‘ensure conditions for a peaceful and normal life for all inhabitants of Kosovo’ as well as, among many other things, maintain law and order, protect and promote human rights and ensure public safety. The report states that ‘KFOR deserves great credit for its efforts…’

I do not think it does,” says Oberg. “The international community condemned Yugoslavia for having, at the height of the war and bombing, about 40.000 soldiers and police in the province to maintain law and order and – as they saw it – to protect the Serb and other minorities. Now the total international presence is almost twice as big and it has not been able to fulfil the centre-piece of the UN mandate: to preserve a multiethnic Kosovo in safety for everybody.

For all practical purposes, Kosovo has been ethnically cleansed by the KLA and other Albanians after the international community arrived. This is neither regretted nor condemned in the report. Rather, the report states [Read more…]