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…]

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Kosovo – What  Can Still Be Done?

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 35 – March 6, 1998


“Violence closes doors and minds. Good  conflict-resolution opens them. A principled, impartial and  innovative approach is now the only way to prevent a new  tragedy in the Balkans. A limited United Nations presence  could be one element in violence prevention, says TFF  director Jan Oberg. Below you find some examples, developed  by us during our work with the Kosovo conflict since 1991.  We’d be happy to have your comments and your suggestions.”

 “Many things can still be done – but only as long as  there is no, or limited, violence. When violence is stepped  up, opportunities for genuine solutions diminish. Governments and citizen around the world can take impartial  goodwill initiatives, for instance:

A hearing in the United Nations General  Assembly. We need to get the facts on the table,  presented by impartial experts as well as by the parties  themselves; listen actively to them for they have  interesting arguments and question their positions, activities and policies.

Meetings all over Europe with various  groups of Serbs and Albanians to discuss their problems.  Governments and NGOs can provide the funds, the venues and  the facilitators.

Send a high-level international delegation of  “citizens diplomats” to Belgrade and Kosovo and have it  listen and make proposals on the establishment of a permanent dialogue or negotiation process but not on what  the solution should be.

A Non-Violence Pact. Pressure must be  brought to bear on all parties to sign a document in which  they solemnly declare that they will unconditionally refrain  from the use of every kind of violence against human beings  and property as part of their policies. [Read more…]

Kosovo: Why it is serious and what not to do

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 34 – March 5, 1998

“The statements and threats by European Union commissioner van den Broek and foreign secretary Robin Cook are imprudent: they focus on the actors, not on the problems. When Benjamin Gilman, chairman of the US House International Relations Committee talks about sanctions, sending “NATO and UN troops” to the region and supports “independent Kosova,” there is even more reason for concern.

They speak the language of power and violence, not of understanding and dialogue. And it is likely to harm the Kosovo-Albanians.

“The tragic truth is that since 1990, neither the United States, the OSCE nor the EU and its members have developed any policies to help the Serbs and Albanians avoid the predictable showdown we now witness in Kosovo.

There is much talk about conflict prevention, early warning, preventive diplomacy and non-military security. The second tragic truth is that there has been very little intellectual innovation since the so-called end of the Cold War. No new organisations have been created, geared to handle the new conflicts. Governments still seem unaware that their diplomats must be trained in conflict understanding and management – as anyone dealing with legal issues must be trained in law. And global media still focus on violence, not on underlying conflicts or possible solutions,” says Dr. Oberg who, during the last six years, has been personally engaged with a TFF team of experts in conflict-mitigation between Serbs and Albanians at government as well as NGO level.

Regrettably recent events in the Kosovo province of Yugoslavia confirm the early warnings by many independent voices, including the TFF since 1992 and, latest, our PressInfo from August 1997:

“The Serbs and Albanians have proved that they themselves are unable to start and sustain a dialogue process towards conflict-resolution and reconciliation. International attempts, lacking analysis as well as strategy, have failed, too. The overall situation has deteriorated and violence is escalating, slowly but surely. It simply cannot go on like that in the future, and go well. New thinking should be applied sooner rather than later.”

Following is Dr. Oberg’s assessment of why the Kosovo situation is dangerous: [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…]