Friday, September 23, 2005

Securing Kosovo's Future by Boris Tadic - The Wall Street Journal Europe

Since my election more than 15 months ago, I have devoted considerable resources reforging a strategic partnership based on common democratic and market principles and interests among Serbia, the United States and Europe.

Yet the months ahead will test the strength of our combined efforts, as we enter talks on the future status of Serbia's southern province of Kosovo and Metohija, under U.N. administration since June 1999. Success will cement the region's democratic revolutions; failure could plunge southeastern Europe back into the violence and instability of the recent past.

As president, it is my duty to defend the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Serbia, which the international community unambiguously recognizes as encompassing Kosovo and Metohija. What is equally certain is that the process can move forward successfully only when states begin to coordinate among themselves to find ways of accommodating one another's interests.

The challenge of finding a negotiated, mutually acceptable solution must be seen in its proper context. Indeed, during the lost decade of the 1990s, the violent ultranationalism of opportunistic postcommunist strongmen brought great misery to millions of people.

Southeastern Europe today presents a different picture. There is widespread recognition that our joint future lies in full European and trans-Atlantic integration -- a guarantor of democratic prosperity to all who have reaped the benefits of membership. For the first time since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the region looks to a hopeful, reconciled, secure and prosperous future. Certainly, obstacles remain, but the road ahead lies clearly before us.

But all this tangible progress could be derailed if we do not properly handle the talks on the future status of Kosovo, slated to begin in the months ahead. It is imperative that stakeholders in its future come together to build a principled peace with justice by doing the things that a lasting settlement requires.

Regrettably, for some the temptation is either to resolve things by foreign fiat or to succumb to the blackmail of those who argue that violence will follow if their demands are not met.

Yet the unmistakable key to securing the region's liberty is to rid it of the nightmare nationalist ideologies of the past where ethnic cleansing, organized church burnings and drive-by shootings are accepted tools of politics. Instead we must embark on a journey that leads to a strategic solution, not an expedient one that takes up the cause of special interests. Thus it would be unreasonable to allow the process to gallop toward a premature solution based on abstract promises, ignoring concrete results already achieved on the ground.

In this light, I see Serbia's proactive role in Kosovo's future status talks as an opportunity, not a liability, precisely because the stakes are so high: the future of our democracy, and the future of the region as a whole.

We must all act responsibly in this time of opportunity, and this means that all of us must together formulate the rules that define the approach to a solution. And should Serbia's strategic partners fail to take seriously my country's legitimate interests, such a path would in the end secure no one's liberty.

For our part, we have already acknowledged that the future status of Kosovo will not resemble that of the 1990s. And in the near future, we intend to put forward concrete proposals on such issues as moving the process of decentralization forward and demilitarizing Kosovo; fighting ethnic- and religious-based terrorism; the sustainable return of the more than 200,000 cleansed Serbs, Roma, Turks and others to Kosovo; genuine promotion of democracy; protection of human rights; and safeguarding of religious freedom.

The demands of diplomacy in regions with consolidating democracies such as my own require moving forward honestly. First and foremost, Serbs and Albanians must speak honestly among themselves and directly with each other.

Perhaps more importantly, the dictates of honesty make demands of Serbia's strategic partners as well. Double standards may work in dictatorships, but they are fundamentally inappropriate in democracies. Diplomacy must adapt to the democratic requirements and not the expedients to which one had become accustomed when tyrants prevailed in southeastern Europe.

The United States and Europe must come to terms with the fact the situation in Kosovo is much worse than any of us would like it to be. The worst sort of tyranny of the majority reigns over this land. Kosovo's Serbs, Roma, Turks and other non-Albanians live in conditions worse than those in which Kosovo's Albanians lived during the era of Slobodan Milosevic. In fact, they live in the most abysmal conditions of anyone in Europe.

To gloss over this tragic reality as we approach Kosovo's future status talks is to enter into the process recklessly. This would be of great detriment to the success of our common endeavor, and would blind us to the historic opportunity before us to bring prosperous, democratic stability to the entire region for good.

So let us take up the challenge and do what needs to be done to conquer the past and build a better future for southeastern Europe: a future with no winners or losers, a future of cooperation and integration, a future free of fear, suspicion and mistrust.

---

Mr. Tadic is the president of Serbia.

15 comments:

UA said...

What a load of crap. Are these idiots in any touch with reality. VIRTUALLY all Albanians want complete separation. THEY will NEVER submit to any Serb rule! Is that so hard to understand?

arianit said...

Serb bs comes to light again, although Tadic actually holds himself as a democract different from Seselj and Kostunica as you can see in the opinion piece.

*Religion is brought into picture again, just to spice things up a notch. It can't hurt in today's geo-political environment, can it?
*You get the sense that it's Kosova's minorities against Albanians, which is completely untrue. Turks, Bosniaks and most of the Romas have TV programming in their languages, attend school in their languages, vote along Albanian parties in parliament and otherwise don't identify with the isolated Serbs whatsover.
*He says that you can't threaten with violence if you don't achieve your political means (only Belgrade can do so, of course) but at the same time threatens the West that ultranationalists will come to power in Serbia (like they are not already) if they support independence :) He also brings up the issue of investments in Serbia (WSJ is read by businessmen and he's hitting mainly on those from Italy and Greece here, who own a lot in Serbia), which will turn upside down if Seselj enters government, although his Radical Party already singularly owns the biggest share in parliament with over 30%.
*And then there is this oxymoron where he calls "Serbia's strategic partners" for "honesty". Can the same country be a strategic partner and dishonest on the issue of national integrity at the same time? Me wonders!
*And then there is his wish to reset the clock becuase Serbia is now a democracy and thus Serbia shouldn't be punished anymore. Nice try gospodin Tadic, but try apologizing for the massacres of the dictatorship you claim you have overtaken and let's see if the Serb public can handle it.

So yeah President Tadic, before we rush to building the future, let's do a totally uncreative and bland thing (I apologize for my dullness here): bury our dead first. Give the dead and their families some respect and some blessing; and the only way to do this would be be capturing the criminals roaming freely Serbia's institutions today so that they tell us where the mass graves are.
I promise you that if you get killed in the process, Kosova will honor you by putting your name on a street.

Teuta said...

Tadic did a very good job in his address. It was clear and mature. Much more so than anything the internationazl community is hearing from albanians.

arianit said...

Zorica, did you just create your account with a random Albanian female name so you can spam the comments? But I won't say anything coz I don't want to be accused of sexism by you.
Btw, Tadic didn't address - he wrote a letter to some newspaper threatenning international community with turmoil and loss of investments in Serbia if independence is granted. But America is smart, there will be a conditional indepedence, one through the back door, which has been happenning all along and will soften the shock on Serbia. First police, then courts, and finally the military and border protection.

Dardan said...

Actually, Kosova has been de-facto outside of Serbia's borders since June of 1999. That is when the violence stopped. Let's keep it that way, separate from Serbia.

Whatever 'compromise' Tadic is talking about is some sort of hope that Kosova would be placed within Serbia's borders... That will not happen. Even according to Resolution 1244, Kosova is not defined a part of Serbia.

It is the opposite of what Mr. Tadic is saying, forceful inclusion of Kosova in any kind of union with Serbia that would cause bloodshed.

As far as Teuta, since it looks like you have been touched by Tadic's interview, why don't you spend a few minutes drafting a response and send it to The Wall Street Journal?

During 1998-89, when the villages of Kosova were burning, LDK officials in Prishtina were drinking in cafes and talking about the events. An american politician in Kosova noticed that and asked "what are these guys waiting for, a Superman to come and bring them independence?" Why can't they go and help the villagers that are being killed by Serbia.

Teuta, you remind me of those LDK folks. If you have the creativity and the skills, do it, don't wait for the superman.

dave said...

Perfect timing. A friend of mine who subscribes to the WSJournal and who doesn't know much about the Balkans forwarded me this article yesterday. I returned the article with the necessary corrections and editorial comments.
See here:
**Corrections in parentheses ()

Securing Kosovo's Future
By BORIS TADIC
September 23, 2005
Since my election more than 15 months ago, I have devoted considerable resources reforging a strategic partnership based on common democratic and market principles and interests among Serbia, the U.S. and Europe.
Yet the months ahead will test the strength of our combined efforts, as we enter talks on the future status of Serbia's (Yugoslavia's – which no longer exists) southern province of Kosovo and Metohija, under U.N. administration since June 1999 (because Serbia first took the jobs and education system from the majority Albanian population, before taking their villages and lives). Success will cement the region's democratic revolutions; failure could plunge southeastern Europe back into the violence and instability of the recent past (sounds like a threat of violence, which he of course doesn't promote).
As president, it is my duty to defend the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Serbia, which the international community unambiguously recognizes(ed) as encompassing Kosovo and Metohija. What is equally certain is that the process can move forward successfully only when states begin to coordinate among themselves to find ways of accommodating one another's interests, (which could possibly start with Serbia fulfilling their responsibility (as demanded by the United States, the EU and the UN) of capturing and prosecuting those responsible for acts of genocide and crimes against humanity).
The challenge of finding a negotiated, mutually acceptable solution must be seen in its proper context. Indeed, during the lost decade of the 1990s, the violent ultranationalism of opportunistic postcommunist strongmen brought great misery to millions of people. (Unfortunately, the 2000's have thus far seen the extended careers of ultranational politicians and ideology as well as widespread support of ultranationalist political parties in Serbia).
Southeastern Europe today presents a different picture. There is widespread recognition that our joint future lies in full European and trans-Atlantic integration -- a guarantor of democratic prosperity to all who have reaped the benefits of membership. For the first time since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the region looks to a hopeful, reconciled, secure and prosperous future. Certainly, obstacles remain, but the road ahead lies clearly before us.
But all this tangible progress could be derailed if we do not properly handle the talks on the future status of Kosovo, slated to begin in the months ahead. It is imperative that stakeholders in its future come together to build a principled peace with justice by doing the things that a lasting settlement requires.
Regrettably, for some the temptation is either to resolve things by foreign fiat or to succumb to the blackmail of those who argue that violence will follow if their demands are not met (which of course, President Tadic does not promote himself at home by threatening that Serb military could enter Kosovo via Preshevo valley and take Kosovo by force, if necessary).
Yet the unmistakable key to securing the region's liberty is to rid it of the nightmare nationalist ideologies of the past where ethnic cleansing, organized church burnings and drive-by shootings are accepted tools of politics. Instead we must embark on a journey that leads to a strategic solution, not an expedient one that takes up the cause of special interests. Thus it would be unreasonable to allow the process to gallop toward a premature solution based on abstract promises, ignoring concrete results already achieved on the ground.
In this light, I see Serbia's proactive role in Kosovo's future status talks as an opportunity, not a liability, precisely because the stakes are so high: the future of our democracy, and the future of the region as a whole.
We must all act responsibly in this time of opportunity, and this means that all of us must together formulate the rules that define the approach to a solution. And should Serbia's strategic partners fail to take seriously my country's legitimate interests, such a path would in the end secure no one's liberty.
For our part, we have already acknowledged that the future status of Kosovo will not resemble that of the 1990s. And in the near future, we intend to put forward concrete proposals on such issues as moving the process of decentralization forward and demilitarizing Kosovo; fighting ethnic- and religious-based terrorism (which basically has not occurred in Kosova since the days of the Ottoman empire. unfortunately, ethnic cleansing has though.) ; the sustainable return of the more than 200,000 cleansed Serbs, Roma, Turks and others to Kosovo (as well as the approximately 5,000 missing Albanian (corpses) buried in hidden graves throughout Serbia, which they have acknowledged but still refuse to return); genuine promotion of democracy; protection of human rights; and safeguarding of religious freedom. (all of this is already underway in joint-programs initiated by UNMIK and the Kosova authorities)
The demands of diplomacy in regions with consolidating democracies such as my own require moving forward honestly. First and foremost, Serbs and Albanians must speak honestly among themselves and directly with each other.
Perhaps more importantly, the dictates of honesty make demands of Serbia's strategic partners as well. Double standards may work in dictatorships, but they are fundamentally inappropriate in democracies. Diplomacy must adapt to the democratic requirements and not the expedients to which one had become accustomed when tyrants prevailed in southeastern Europe.
The U.S. and Europe must come to terms with the fact the situation in Kosovo is much worse than any of us would like it to be. The worst sort of tyranny of the majority reigns over this land. Kosovo's Serbs, Roma, Turks and other non-Albanians live in conditions worse than those in which Kosovo's Albanians lived during the era of Slobodan Milosevic. (MINUS the mass murder of entire families and villages, constant deterioration of rights to employment, education and freedom of movement + plus the government-sponsored efforts and investments to rebuild the minority communities and exhausting effort to convince these minorities to participate in the government). In fact, they live in the most abysmal conditions of anyone in Europe. (except for the Serbian and Roma refugees from Kosova living in sub-Serb-standard slums on the outskirts of Belgrade.)
To gloss over this tragic reality as we approach Kosovo's future status talks is to enter into the process recklessly. (exactly true) This would be of great detriment to the success of our common endeavor, and would blind us to the historic opportunity before us to bring prosperous, democratic stability to the entire region for good (which has already started happening with three successful elections in the last 6 years, but is still hindered by lack of support from the local Serb community and inability of the UN to make a decision about Kosova's status).
So let us take up the challenge and do what needs to be done to conquer the past and build a better future for southeastern Europe: a future with no winners or losers, a future of cooperation and integration, a future free of fear, suspicion and mistrust, which will unfortunately require a purging of the nationalist gangsters within the Serbian parliament who are still holding democracy and justice in that country hostage.
Mr. Tadic is the president of Serbia.

Teuta said...

1988-99 are long gone. The March 17th pogrom, the shooting of children swimming and driving in their cars is more recent. YOur desire to cleans Kosovo of Serbs will not work for you. It will disappoint you greatly.

Anonymous said...

Here is a good reaction to Tadic's "opinion piece":
Reaction to “Securing Kosovo's Future”
Point by point “debunking” of Tadic’s arguments.
Read it!

Anonymous said...

Here is a good reaction to Tadic's "opinion piece":
Reaction to “Securing Kosovo's Future”
Point by point “debunking” of Tadic’s arguments.
Read it!

5:39 blogger. Yes, I have read it...and ?? Its written by an albanian !
In my opinion, an independent Kosovo is as likely as the moon will fall down = impossible. It matters not a single bit what you and I think. Its the reality of the world. It will sertainly be interesting to see when the people of Kosovo realizes that Kosovo was never even close to be an own state. How I can be so sure ? Wait and see.

Anonymous said...

As an American following world politics and know the global war on terror. I also believe it will be tough for the prodominatly muslim albanians to convince the world that they should have independence.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Dave!

Teuta, you just blew your cover...

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
As an American following world politics and know the global war on terror. I also believe it will be tough for the prodominatly muslim albanians to convince the world that they should have independence.
______________________

I know it's tough, is that why we're taking the sovereignity of muslim countries one by one? Just kidding.

Regardless, from the beginning of this conflict (way before Al-Qaeda and 9-11) Serbs were trying to portray this conflict as a religious one. I am sure you have heard of the "green line" theories about the Balkans. However, even though Serbia succeeded to obtain some support on that ticket, the world soon realized that it was a Serb vs. Non-Serb conflict, regardless of the religion. Unfortunately, this was realized after hundreds of thousands of Bosnians were killed. Victims were Muslims in Bosnia and Kosova and Catholics in Croatia and Kosova alike.

So if you can show the world that it is easier to keep 2 million human beings in a GTMO-like collective prison vs. having another democratic country in the balkans (and Kosovars have proven that they are a democratic society since their first elections in early 90's), I am sure that Kosova will never get it's statehood.

Anonymous said...

If it makes the United States safer than I say cage those humans

Anonymous said...

A democratic society isn't proven by the abililty to vote or an election. Freedom of movement demonstraits more of a democratic society than an election. Look at the 2000 United States Elections for crying out loud. These people have voted their whole life and they still have problems voting.

Anonymous said...

I also doubt very much that Kosovo will achieve statehood.

Jeff Tan
USA