Equal right to self-determination – A dialogue

By Johan Galtung

March 2010

Conflict Worker: What is it you really want? What are the goals?

Slovene: We are a nation with the same right as any other nation, through self-determination for the first time to have our own state. We want to be ruled neither from Vienna nor from Belgrade, but from Ljubljana and, in a broader European context, from Brussels. Our small minorities are safe in a democracy with human rights.

Croat: We are a nation with the same right as any other nation, through self-determination, again to have our own state. We want to be ruled neither from Vienna nor from Belgrade, but from Zagreb and, in a broader European context, from Brussels. Our minorities can feel safe in a democracy with human rights.

Serb in Croatia:  The Croats can have their own state, but they have no right to take the Serbs in Croatia with them. We do not want to be ruled from Zagreb that killed us during the war, in an alliance with Nazi Germany.

Bosniak:  We are a nation with the same right as any other nation, through self-determination, once again to have our own state. We want to be governed neither from Istanbul, Vienna nor Belgrade, but from Sarajevo, and, in a broader European context, from Brussels. Our minorities can feel safe in a democracy with human rights. [Read more…]

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The Kosovo Solution series

Broad framework, many roads

By Jan Oberg & Aleksandar Mitic

Published March 2005

 

Table of content

# 1   Why the solution in Kosovo matters to the world

Executive summary

# 2   The media – strategic considerations

# 3   The main preconditions for a sustainable solution of the Kosovo conflicts

# 4   The situation as seen from Serbia

# 5   The arguments for quick and total independence  are not credible

# 6   What must be Belgrade’s minimum conditions and its media strategy

# 7   Nations and states, sovereignty and self-determination

# 8   Positive scenarios: Turn to the future, look at the broader perspectives

# 9   Many models for Kosovo

# 10  Summary: From “Only one solution” towards democracy and peace

About the authors

[Read more…]

NATO’s war and the ethnic cleansing – Is there a way out?

By Johan Galtung

TFF PressInfo 70 – June 10, 1999

Originally published here.

Serbo-Croatian version here.

 

“Where do I stand: very simply, I am against the NATO bombing, I am against ethnic cleansing, whether by Serbs or anybody else – for instance by the immigrants to North America who in the period 1600-1900 cleansed away about 10,000,000 American Indians. I find nothing original in my position. The only original position would be to be in favor of both, a view probably only entertained by arms dealers.

There are those who try to make us believe that you have to make a choice between NATO and Milosevic; if you are against one for sure you are in favor of the other. Nonsense. Early on in this horrible decade many of the same people tried to make us believe that you had to make a choice between the Gulf war and Saddam Hussein; again, perfectly possible to be against both.

Then, the second example of this terrible dualism, the terror of the false dichotomy as we academics say: there was no alternative, if you do not accept the NATO bombing it means that you are co-responsible for ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. Nonsense.

There was an alternative and even a very good one: step of the number of observers in the OSCE Kosovo Verification Mission (KVM) from 1,200 to, say, 6,000, 12,000. Handies and binoculars, living in the villages, bringing in volunteers. But at the same time there was a civil war going on from February 1998, and one US ambassador had done what the US did in connection with the Gulf war: He (Gelbard) told Belgrade that the USA was of the view that KLA were terrorists – certainly also the Belgrade position.

The alternative would have been to close the border by extending the UN mandate on the Macedonian-Kosovo border, step up OSCE, and then call a major conference on South East Europe.

Nothing like this happened; as we know the war was decided early last fall; only a question of preparing the public through the media, and presenting Milosevic with an ultimatum he could not accept. The Rambouillet charade was about this. People started getting suspicious when they discovered that the media did not bring the text; it had to be dug out from obscure sites on the Internet.

I asked some journalists to make an inquiry in one of these 19 democracies, my own, Norway: no parliamentarian had read the text. Democracy is about informed participation.

The Serbs knew: loss of sovereignty and territorial integrity, unlimited NATO access to Serbia. No state signs itself into occupation and dismemberment. The Kosovars also knew: this was not the independence they wanted; it looked more like a protectorate under NATO. So they voted no. [Read more…]

Bombings – incompatible with humanitarian concerns

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 60 – March 24, 1999

Originally published here.

Serbo-Croatian version here.

 

“NATO’s unwise, counterproductive and non-legal bombing of sovereign Yugoslavia is justified by President Bill Clinton, EU and other Western leaders and media with reference to humanitarian concerns. Supposedly air strikes serve to stop ethnic cleansing, future massacres, refugee flows, and prevent innocent children and women from being killed. Diplomatically expressed, this comes from the marketing department. Bombings will produce what it purports to prevent,” says Dr. Jan Oberg, TFF’s director, right after the bombing campaign has started. According to Oberg, this argument lacks credibility for the following reasons:

 

NO VIOLENCE-PREVENTION

Why did the West do absolutely nothing before this crisis became violent? There were many opportunities for a negotiated solutions. TFF, for instance, has suggested a variety of options since 1992 that could have prevented violence and the killing we’ve seen the last year. In no other conflict has there been so many early warnings and so little preventive diplomacy. Kosovo’s catastrophe was among the most predictable of all. It is intellectual nonsense that ‘everything else has been tried and NATO bombings was the only option left.’

 

HUMANITARIAN WORK MADE IMPOSSIBLE BY NATO THREATS

The immediate consequence of the threats of NATO air strikes is that OSCE’s Verification mission had to be withdrawn and that almost all humanitarian organizations withdrew to protect their staff. More refugees are now running over the border to Macedonia. With fewer ears and eyes on the ground, its free for all sides – NATO included – to step up the killing.

 

THIS WILL MAKE SERBS AND ALBANIANS HATE EACH OTHER (MORE)

NATO bombings will be perceived as a punishment of Serbs and a clear support to Albanian hardliners. [Read more…]

Support free media and education in Serbia now

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 51 – November 23, 1998

Originally published here.

 

“The law on information, on the universities and the prepared law on NGOs should be strongly opposed by all international organisations, governments and NGOs.”

Jiri Dienstbier, Special Rapporteur of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights

 

“Serbian authorities commit gross human rights violations through new draconian laws that will further undermine free media, education and civil society in Serbia. Given its seriousness, we have heard deplorably few and low-voiced protests from top diplomats, politicians, fellow intellectuals and media people in the Europe and the US. Dienstbier’s is an important exception” says TFF’s director Jan Oberg.

The situation is appalling. After media and education, NGOs will probably be targeted. People in Serbia are in a double cage – that constructed by their own authorities and that constructed by the international community since 1991. Just look at how the Kosovo conflict is now “managed” through the Milosevic-Holbrooke agreement and you’ll see how the two cages reinforce each other. The losers? Ordinary citizens – like in Bosnia under Dayton.

All citizens of Serbia – including the 650.000 forgotten refugees from Bosnia and Croatia – have suffered enough inside these cages since 1991. Shuttle diplomats, NATO, OSCE, EU and the US display a profound and disastrous lack of any strategy for civil society support. Much more must therefore be done by European peoples’ organisations everywhere to show solidarity with and assist independent media, education and movements in Serbia – and urgently,” says Dr. Oberg.

This is the background. In May this year, the Government of Serbia passed a new university law without consulting universities, teachers or students. It effectively reduces academic independence, the autonomy of academia. The government now controls the appointment and firing of professors, deans and university governing boards and may close faculties. The law further limits [Read more…]

Human rights in Kosovo/a – Not so simple

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 45 – August 27, 1998

Originally published here.

“To understand a conflict – and, thus, help solve it – we need to know something about at least three things: Attitudes, Behaviour and the root Causes of the conflict. That’s the ABC. Most media simply report on behaviour and ignore the two other dimensions. This is why people in general feel that they don’t understand much of it all, in spite of watching and listening carefully to news reports. And when media cover conflict behaviour, many seem to use the KISS principle – Keep It Simple, Stupid. What you have heard about human rights in Kosovo/a is a good example of KISS journalism,” says Jan Oberg, head of TFF’s Conflict-Mitigation team upon returning from yet another mission to Belgrade, Prishtina and Skopje.

“I want to make it clear that I consider the Serb government guilty of extremely serious and systematic human rights violations in the Kosovo province. Over the years, the Serb leadership has pursued an absolutely immoral and self-defeating policy of repression. Having listened to hundreds of personal accounts of human rights violations, I know that. Numerous human rights organisations offer overwhelming documentation.

During our missions, TFF’s team has been stopped repeatedly on the roads, interrogated at police stations for hours, and deprived of written Albanian materials. I have seen the blood on the sidewalk after a young Albanian shot dead close to the Grand Hotel one morning in peacetime Prishtina. And, undoubtedly, when a people is this strong and this united in its desire for freedom, repression of its fundamental rights must be a basic explanation – however not the only one.

This, however, can not explain” – continues Dr. Oberg – “why so many human rights advocates, columnists, experts and diplomats ignore the fact that the rights of all, also the Serbs, are violated in this province. [Read more…]

After Yugoslavia – What?

By Marta Henricson-Cullberg
Carl Ulrik Schierup
Sören Sommelius
Jan Oberg

TFF Report October 1991 that marked the beginning of this project

Some passengers and crew have been asked to leave, some are leaving on their own. Others are not permitted or cannot leave for a variety of reasons.
There is chaos and shouting on board; the old captain having disappeared many are peddling for his job.
There are those who want to continue with a new captain
and repair the ship as best they can. Some want to set a new course – but how in this situation?
Others say so, but have just changed their uniforms.
Some tear open the weapons-filled cargo and arm themselves before dawn.
In the first class restaurant the guests enjoy the delicious food and wine – unaware, it seems, that storm is rising.
Passengers who used to enjoy the sun on deck seek protection in their cabins.
Mutilated and dead bodies are mysteriously found in the mornings. Not even friends and families aboard trust each other anymore.
The good old ship “Yugoslavia” is going down, slowly but surely.
Those around it are so perplexed that their rescue attempts could well
make the situation worse.
Indeed, something must be done…

We dedicate this report to
the peoples of Yugoslavia –
past, present and future
and to those who,
unnecessarily, we believe,
have already died.

Guide

Dear Reader

This is the report of a TFF conflict-mitigation mission to Croatia, Slovenia and Serbia in September 1991. Based on an analysis of numerous interviews with very different people, we present some answers to the questions: What must be done now? How can the first steps be taken towards building confidence and peace? [Read more…]