Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Serbs In N Kosovo Should Be Offered Autonomy -International Crisis Group

PRISTINA (AP)--Western powers and the U.N. should offer autonomy to Serbs living in northern Kosovo to avoid the partition of this disputed province along ethnic lines, a report said Tuesday.

The International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based think tank, cautioned that partition of Kosovo could force more people in Kosovo to leave their homes and provoke instability elsewhere in the Balkans, especially in neighboring Macedonia.

Instead the international overseers of this disputed province should delegate more powers to the dwindling minority in the North, turning it into "the hub of an effort to provide services for all Kosovo's Serbs," the ICG said.

"The Serb north should be offered the substance of autonomy, including devolved powers for municipalities, freedom for municipalities to associate on a voluntary basis, and the coordination and resource role made possible through the proposed Serb units of Kosovo's government ministries," said the report.

The report focuses primarily on the northern town of Kosovska Mitrovica that is divided between a Serb-dominated north and an ethnic Albanian south and where one-third of the province's remaining Serbs are believed to live.

The town, 45 kilometers north of Pristina and bisected by the river Ibar, has been the scene of violent clashes in the past and has come to epitomize the prevailing ethnic divide between its communities.

Earlier this year a group of senior international envoys laid out three guidelines that should be adhered to when the province enters talks on its future later this year. They ruled out a return to the situation before 1999, when it was under direct Serb rule.

They also ruled out the province being partitioned along ethnic Albanian and Serbian lines and the creation of any new union between predominantly ethnic Albanian Kosovo and other countries in the region, such as Albania.

But ICG said that the "no-partition dictum is, unfortunately, not self- executing."

"(This) declaration has not been followed by sufficient action," the group warned.

Kosovo has been under U.N. administration and patrolled by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization since the alliance's 1999 air war that stopped a Serb crackdown on independence-seeking ethnic Albanians. The province's ethnic Albanian majority wants independence, while its Serb minority wants it to remain part of Serbia-Montenegro, the union that replaced Yugoslavia.

Tens of thousands of Serbs and other minorities fled Kosovo following revenge attacks by ethnic Albanian extremists after the 1999 conflict and others remain living in NATO-patrolled enclaves scattered around the province.

Talks to determine the province's status are likely to start by the end the year.


Anonymous said...

...here it comes, the devolution of the Kosovo freedom trail. This is rather humorous. Isn't the ICG a big cheerleader of the albaniacs in Kosovo? Hey, you guys gonna slit their throats too?

Anonymous said...

Kosovar Albanians have no problem with Kosovar Serbs running their own affairs. They can run their own hospitals, schools and so on, and they should fund their own municipalities. I will be a win-win situation: Kosovar Serbs get to run their own affairs (as long as their are not against the national interests of Kosova), whereas Kosovar Albanians will no longer have to pay for Serb hospitals, schools etc. (also Kosovar Serbs will have to pay the electricity and water they spent). Above all, Kosova will remain as one entity, as an independent state.

Anonymous said...

They have to offer those poor Serbs something. Nobody wants them, not Serbia, not Republika Srpska, not Croatia, not Bosnia.
In fact they are called Shiptars when in Serbia ( as a supposedly derogatory term). What a deranged state of being. They will soon see that their future lies in Kosovo, whether autonomously or not.

Anonymous said...

Good solution, autonomy but no partition, in other words, contribute to your own future but make Kosova go forward. This will also help Albanians with their relations with S Serbs, K Serbs are Kosovar...

I see independence coming soon to a Kosova near you...

Anonymous said...

Great solution, I wonder if the K Serbs will control of the northern border with Serbia. It looks like partion to me!

Anonymous said...

now cry and complain how wikipedia is a bad source. Is it cause it is the #1 online dictionary in the world or is it because the truth hurts? PROVE ANYTHING HERE WRONG.


Criticisms of foreign policy

Attack on Yugoslavia
Some critics have accused Clinton of leading the United States to war with Kosovo under the false pretense of genocide [9]. Others have accused him, and his administration, of inflating the number of Kosovar Albanians killed by Serbians[10]. Clinton's Secretary of Defense William Cohen, giving a speech, said, "The appalling accounts of mass killing in Kosovo and the pictures of refugees fleeing Serb oppression for their lives makes it clear that this is a fight for justice over genocide [11]." On CBS' Face the Nation Cohen claimed, "We've now seen about 100,000 military-aged men missing...They may have been murdered[12]." Clinton, citing the same figure, spoke of "at least 100,000 (Kosovar Albanians) missing[13]". Later, talking about Serbian elections, Clinton said, "they're going to have to come to grips with what Mr. Milošević ordered in Kosovo...They're going to have to decide whether they support his leadership or not; whether they think it's OK that all those tens of thousands of people were killed...[14]". Clinton also claimed, in the same press conference, that "NATO stopped deliberate, systematic efforts at ethnic cleansing and genocide[15]." Clinton even compared the events of Kosovo to the Holocaust. CNN reported, "Accusing Serbia of 'ethnic cleansing' in Kosovo similar to the genocide of Jews in World War II, an impassioned President Clinton sought Tuesday to rally public support for his decision to send U.S. forces into combat against Yugoslavia, a prospect that seemed increasingly likely with the breakdown of a diplomatic peace effort[16]." Clinton's State Department also claimed Serbian troops had committed genocide. The New York Times reported, "the Administration said evidence of 'genocide' by Serbian forces was growing to include 'abhorrent and criminal action' on a vast scale. The language was the State Department's strongest yet in denouncing Yugoslav President Slobodan Milošević[17]." The State Department also gave the highest estimate of dead Albanians. The New York Times reported, "On April 19, the State Department said that up to 500,000 Kosovar Albanians were missing and feared dead[18]."

However, the numbers given by Clinton and his administration have been proven false. The official NATO body count of the events in Kosovo was 2,788 (not all of them were war crimes victims)[19], with Slobodan Milošević charged with the "murders of about 600 individually identified ethnic Albanians[20]". Critics have noted that these numbers can not be considered genocide. The headline of The Wall Street Journal, which had launched an investigation into whether genocide had occurred in Kosovo, on December 31, 1999 was "War in Kosovo Was Cruel, Bitter, Savage; Genocide It Wasn't"[21]. The Wall Street Journal wrote, "the U.N.'s International War Criminal tribunal has checked the largest reported sites first, and found most to contain no more than five bodies, suggesting intimate acts of barbarity rather than mass murder... Kosovo would be easier to investigate if it had the huge killing fields some investigators were led to expect. Instead, the pattern is of scattered killings[22]."

In addition, a United Nations Court had previously ruled that Serbian troops did not commit genocide against Albanians. The court wrote "the exactions committed by Milošević's regime cannot be qualified as criminal acts of genocide, since their purpose was not the destruction of the Albanian ethnic group[23]". According to BBC, "the decision was based on the 1948 Geneva convention which defines genocide as the intent 'to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group as such'[24]". Milošević was not charged with genocide in Kosovo by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) but the more broader "crimes against humanity"[25]. Spanish forensic surgeon Emilio Perez Pujol, who led the Spanish forensic team in Kosovo, gave an interview to the British paper The Sunday Times. The paper wrote, "In an outspoken interview, Pujol complained he had been sent to head a large investigation team attached to the ICTY, consisting of pathologists and police specialists, to work in the north of the country. But he found that what was publicised as a search for mass graves was 'a semantic pirouette by the war propaganda machines, because we did not find one—not one—mass grave.'[26]".

Anonymous said...

yes, give them autonomy so that if a unilateral declaration of independence is made by albaniacs, the Serbs of Northern Mitrovica will declare themselves a part of Serbia Montenegro. Very neat and clean act.

Anonymous said...

Dream on you Serb arsehole,

They ain't getting anything before our independence is recognised internationally!

Part of Serbia an Montenegro my as$!

Anonymous said...

Extract from Of War: Letters to Friends / Von den Kriegen: Briefe an Freunde, published by S. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main (2004)

Kosovo, 1999

Dear friends,

I have been back for two weeks.

I do not know how to answer the questions about my time in Albania and Kosovo. The experiences are present; the images, the smell, the sound – everything is clear and yet it is impossible to transform it into an adequate and intelligible narrative of horror.

We wish to believe that we are able to defuse threats by giving them a name. Rumplestiltskin loses his power when we guess his name. But sometimes Rumplestiltskin rages even when we know what he is called. Sometimes words cannot banish feelings, and their failure only increases our sorrow.

Maybe I simply don’t know where to start.

There: in the refugee camps where the deportees were stuck, the men silently sitting on the field, smoking, covered under coloured woollen blankets; the women bent over plastic buckets, washing the only clothes they had, there: on the fields where the corpses were decaying in the sun, in the hospitals with this inimitable smell of disinfection and death, there: on the overflowing marketplaces, in the devastated mosques – there we all had the same horizon of experience. We were all stuck in this world of pain and destruction. Within this context, all these horrifying scenes made “sense.” Of course, it all seemed unreal, and yet it was simultaneously too real for us to permanently call it into question. Our conversations and gestures were embedded in this context. It was a life within the same radius of violence.

Only now, back in Berlin, now when I am about to talk about that time, does its absurdity strike me. The experiences there are somehow separated from reality here, and it feels a bit like when I was a child at my grandmother’s and we would make biscuits, cutting out shapes in the dough. Maybe that is why journalists are considered disturbed cynics: because the reality that they describe is so disturbed.

That is the burden of the witness: to remain with a feeling of failure, of emptiness because even the most accurate account does not grasp the bleakness of war.

The task

We were in Tirana when the peace agreement was signed: the Serbian delegation agreed to pull out within 48 hours after the settlement from Kosovo and to withdraw to what was left of the Yugoslav republic. The air bombardment of the NATO alliance had lasted 78 days during which they flew attacks against government buildings in Belgrade, against positions of the Serbian army in Kosovo – but also against civilian targets: bridges, factories, power stations, the television station of Belgrade and various refugee treks, “collateral damage” as the propaganda unit in Brussels would call it.

At the end of the war, we travelled with the ground troops that had been inactive so far and the thousands of Kosovo Albanian refugees returning to Kosovo.

Our team in Kosovo included our Albanian driver Kuijtim Bilali, his nephew and our translator Noni Hoxha, Joanne Mariner from the organization Human Rights Watch from New York, whom we had met in the refugee camps in Albania, the photographer Sebastian Bolesch and myself.

We remained two more weeks in the war torn Kosovo and then travelled throughout the entire region. We saw how the young men – who had been hiding in fear of the Serbian militia – returned from the mountains. We saw the famished Kosovo Albanian prisoners with sunken eyes tied together on a truck. They were supposed to be hostages from kidnappings in Serbia, but now they had been forgotten. We saw how the Kosovo Albanians celebrated the end of the repression. We saw everywhere how the Serbian units had raged: burnt down farmhouses, demolished minarets of the village mosques. We saw the mutilated corpses where the Serbian myrmidons hadn’t had time to erase the traces of their deeds and to bury their victims. We saw the Serbian troops on their withdrawal, drunk from stolen booze. But we also saw Serbian civilians fleeing out of fear of revenge. We also saw the neighbourhoods of the Roma standing in flames.

Death and destruction

Since my return people ask me: “How do you cope with what you witnessed? How do you digest all the experiences?”

The answer is: you don’t.

There are certain impressions you cannot “digest.”

The sight of a seventeen year-old girl in the hospital of Prizren in Kosovo. She had been shot by a sniper the day before the allied forces entered Kosovo. She had a brain injury and urgently needed to be transferred to the hospital in Prishtina. Since that night she had been staying in a room with five badly injured men: Serbs, KLA-fighters and Albanians, the enemies of the war united in one overheated room.

You could hear her breathe.

She would probably die within the next five hours because the hospital could not transfer her to Prishtina – the Serbian troops had stolen the only ambulance for their flight at the end of the war.

The sight of a charred back of a dead catholic Albanian between hundreds of books in his house in Koronica. The muscles in the shrunk body were still recognizable – it looked like one of those charts from biology class where all muscles of the human body are schematically displayed. Except: the man in Koronica was brown-black, his burned flesh was porous and looked hairy like scratchy fur. Arms and legs were missing. Maybe they had been cut off, maybe they were burned completely, maybe it had been the dogs...

The Homeric heroes in the Iliad have less fear of death than the thought of being left unburied – outside the city walls – at the mercy of stray dogs. It always seemed rather strange to me that a living person would have to worry about his corpse being ravaged by dogs. I could not imagine a world in which dogs would run around with human limbs in their mouths.

It was the brother of the dead who brought us to this package of withered flesh. He walked from one room to the other, in a destroyed house, and talked as if it was still intact, and as if that bundle on the floor still had anything in common with the human being he grew up with.

And one does not digest: the sight of corpses without heads, cut off body parts, contorted bodies that had been pulled behind a truck for miles (also like a quote from Homer); the sight of bloated or burned corpses, some two months old, one week, one day.

And there is this one image I cannot forget: the foot of a male body that we found in a ravine on a field near Meja. I still remember those five centimetres between the black leather shoe on his right foot and the blue cotton trouser, a peasant uniform as I would get to see in the following weeks so often when looking at dead civilians. The corpse had been lying there apparently since 27 April.

In the meantime it had rained, and it had been hot as it can be in a Yugoslav summer. And there is one particular part of the image that haunts me, a small detail: those five centimetres between the tied shoe and the seam of the trouser. Without the clothes that proved that this had once been a man, there was only five centimetres of dead, living flesh. Nothing else.

And there was this sound, very quiet, first unnoticed, and then so penetrating in its repulsiveness that no taboo, no shame could repress my hearing it: a number of parasites was eating the rest of a human being.

And I cannot forget the ten year-old girl in Gjakova who stood in front of the burned out ruins of her former house and could not say two complete, intelligible sentences. She spoke without pausing, as if her speech was making sense. She did not stutter or hesitate, she formed one incoherent sentence after the other.

Finally we understood that in this house her father, her brother, her aunt and two cousins had been killed. Her uncle and her two other brothers had been arrested by Serbian units and deported the day before the arrival of NATO troops.

She told us, her father had fallen off the roof when celebrating the long-awaited NATO intervention. He had broken his leg and could not move when the Serbian soldiers arrived at their house. They had told the girl and her mother to leave the house – and killed everyone else in it.

I cannot forget how she stood there in her pink shirt, in front of her former living room wall, slightly oblique because the floor was no longer flat. And I cannot forget that she could not speak properly, and that she occasionally only stared at us and then continued to speak. And that she did not seem upset at all.

She was quiet and calm, and only every now and then did she seem irritated – when she realised that she did not know that trick anymore, the trick that someone had taught her, years ago, in another time: how to form sentences and makes sense to others. Then she paused and suddenly felt like a stranger to herself, and then she seemed to tell herself that these words that came out of her mouth were unintelligible.

Many journalists only arrived in Albania or Macedonia when the peace agreement was signed. But we had already been acquainted with the terrible events. We had been writing since April on the refugees and their fate, we had been listening to them: how their sons and husbands had been killed, what they had done before the crises began, where they used to live, how they were expelled, how many hours they had walked till they had reached the border, when they had last seen their brother, where they were standing when a Serbian officer pulled a woman out of the refugee trek, how they had been hiding in a barn.

At the end of the war, when we entered Kosovo, we knew exactly where to go and what to expect there. We had a map of killing in our minds – even before we arrived at the places of the massacres.

But that meant that we could not relate to those tormented bodies as neutral bystanders towards anonymous corpses. But after weeks of interviewing survivors in the camps in Albania, photographer Sebastian Bolesch and I knew the story of many of the dead, we knew whether their wives or children had survived on the other side of the border.

It also meant that we could imagine the corpses before us as fathers and brothers, as peasants or writers. We could imagine their previous lives, and sometimes we knew the relatives in Albania.

Impossible to gain distance.

But it was also conciliatory: to remember the real person, the living father or brother or cousin or neighbour; to ask for their story and narrate it; to recreate in writing a world that was supposed to be destroyed; to give each of these stinking, faceless bones a name again and not to turn one’s back.


Anonymous said...

US and British officials told us that at least 100,000 were murdered in Kosovo. A year later, fewer than 3,000 bodies have been found - False figues from the Kosovo Liberation Army promulgated as fact - Brief Article
New Statesman, Sept 4, 2000 by JOHN Pilger

Save a personal copy of this article and quickly find it again with Furl.net. It's free! Save it.
After more than a year, the silence of those who wrote and broadcast the propaganda for Nato's "humanitarian war" over Kosovo remains unbroken: they who answered the Prime Minister's call to join "a great moral crusade" against a regime that was "set on a Hitler-style genocide equivalent to the extermination of the Jews during World War Two".

Something had to be done, they insisted. After all, by March last year, 500,000 Kosovar Albanians were missing, feared dead, according to the US State Department. In mid-May, the US defence secretary, William Cohen, said: "We've now seen about 100,000 military-aged men missing... They may have been murdered." Two weeks later, David Scheffer, the US ambassador at large for war crimes, increased the 100,000 figure to as many as "225,000 ethnic Albanian men aged between 14 and 59". The British press took their cue. "Flight from genocide," said the Daily Mail. "Echoes of the Holocaust," chorused the Sun and the Mirror.

As the bombing dragged on, the facade began to crack; British television viewers were shown the ruins of trains and refugee convoys attacked by Nato aircraft, and their victims. "We have a public relations meltdown," said someone at Downing Street. On cue, the then Foreign Office minister, Geoffrey Hoon, announced that, "in more than 100 massacres", about 10,000 ethnic Albanians had been killed, adding that "the final toll may be much worse". Although inexplicably reduced from the original claims of 500,000 and 100,000, this was a substantial and utterly unsubstantiated figure.

By mid-June, with the bombardment over, international forensic teams began subjecting the province to minute examination. The American FBI arrived to investigate what was called the "largest crime scene in the FBI's forensic history". Several weeks later, having found bodies but not a single mass grave, the FBI went home. The Spanish forensic team also returned home, its leader complaining angrily that he and his colleagues had become part of "a semantic pirouette by the war propaganda machines, because we did not find one -- not one -- mass grave".

Continue article

At grave site after grave site, the story was similar. Reports in the western media, sourced to local people but often traced back to the Kosovo Liberation Army (as with the figures quoted above), became unbelievable. One explanation was that the Serbs had come in the night and taken the bodies away. "Where," wrote Michael Parenti in his review of the investigation, "was the evidence of mass grave sites having been disinterred? Where were the new grave sites now presumably chock-full of bodies?"

Perhaps the most significant disclosure, confirmed by the International Criminal Tribunal last October, was that the Trepca lead and zinc mines contained no bodies. Trepca was central to the drama of the "genocide" investigation: the corpses of more than 1,000 murdered Albanians were presumed hidden there, many of them disposed of in vats of hydrochloric acid, according to Nato and American officials. According to the Mirror, there was evidence of the "mass dumping of executed corpses" and "Auschwitz-style furnaces". Not a single body was found: no teeth, no remains.

Last November, the Wall Street Journal published the results of its own investigation and dismissed "the mass-grave obsession". Instead of "the huge killing fields some investigators were led to expect ... the pattern is of scattered killings [mostly] in areas where the separatist Kosovo Liberation Army had been active". The Journal concluded that "Nato stepped up its claims about Serb 'killing fields"' when it "saw a fatigued press corps drifting toward the contrarian story: civilians killed by Nato's bombs". This propaganda, said the newspaper, could be traced back to the KLA; many of the most lurid and prominently published atrocity reports attributed to refugees and other sources were untrue. "The war in Kosovo was cruel, bitter, savage," said the paper. "Genocide it wasn't." Such honesty was rare.

Nato bombed, according to George Robertson, the then defence secretary, "to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe" of mass expulsion and killing. In December, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, whose monitors were in Kosovo until just before the bombing, released its report on the war. This received almost no publicity in Britain. It confirmed that most of the crimes against the Albanian population had taken place after the bombing began: that is, they were not a cause but a consequence of the Nato campaign.

Western gravediggers have found a total of 2,788 bodies, and not all of them war crimes victims. On 7 June this year, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) published a list of 3,368 missing persons whose names had been given to it by families from all communities in Kosovo, spanning January 1998 to mid-May this year. The ICRC says that a substantial number could be alive, among refugees scattered throughout Europe.

What is now beyond doubt is that the figures used by London and Washington, and by much of the media, were ludicrous inventions. The killings in Kosovo were despicable and tragic, but to equate them with genocide and the Holocaust is to mock the truth with profanity. With the exception of the Guardian, almost none of this has been reported in Britain. The Red Cross report was virtually ignored in this country. This is understandable; among the journalists who swallowed Nato's and their government's lies were the truly committed and triumphant, who wrote that "when the mass graves are opened, the opponents of this humanitarian war should apologise".

The defenceless population upon whom Nato's bombs rained down night after night, the 400 to 600 who died, blown up in crowded passenger trains and buses, in factories, television stations, libraries, old people's homes, schools and 18 hospitals, many cut to pieces by the RAF's thousands of "unaccounted for" cluster bombs which fragment into shrapnel, require an apology from the propagandists; because, as Nato's planners never tired of saying at their post-bombing seminars, without journalists "on board", they could never have pulled it off.

Robert Fisk, Britain's greatest war reporter, has called them sheep, gulled by professional manipulators. Take the bombing of the Belgrade TV headquarters and the murder of staff such as make-up ladies. Amnesty International, in a rare departure, called this "a deliberate attack on a civilian object, and as such constitutes a war crime". Shortly before the bombing, the Nato mouthpiece Jamie Shea had given a written assurance that the TV building would not be attacked.

With the media on board, Nato could go forth. At one "private preliminary review by Nato experts" of the bombing (reported in the Daily Telegraph), it was agreed that "any future operation by Nato is likelier to involve heavier, more ruthless attacks on civilian targets ..."

Having taken sides in what was a bitter but low-level civil war on the scale of Ireland in the 1970s, and having deliberately blocked a peaceful solution at the phoney Rambouillet "talks", Nato was able to finish off the west's "strategic concept" of destroying Yugoslavia - without recourse to the United Nations or international law. It was all based on a marriage of lies, thanks largely to those journalists who acted as the handmaidens of great and murderous power.

Kosovo is today, more than ever, a terror state, run by Mafia-style criminals with links to the KLA: the people who last year could call Robin Cook directly on their mobile phones.

More than 200,000 Serbs and Roma have since been driven out, with few headlines here. The Americans have built one of their biggest military bases in the world, Camp Bondsteel, which achieves a long-held strategic aim of Washington to straddle the Balkan transit routes. Stand by for their next humanitarian adventure.

COPYRIGHT 2000 New Statesman, Ltd.
COPYRIGHT 2000 Gale Group

Anonymous said...

"now cry and complain how wikipedia is a bad source. Is it cause it is the #1 online dictionary in the world or is it because the truth hurts?"

Dear Martyr le Serb, Wikipedia is not a dictionary but an open encyclopedia where 14 year olds like you can write their own versions of history.

ali_pashai said...

a report from who? who wrote this report? please no more hear and say?
what is this autonomy? autonomy from who? kosova?! kosova does not have it's own status. who came up with this idea. the future of kosovars is kosova. that goes for serbs that live in kosova as well. does every minority in a country get autonomy? no it does not because it goes against the laws of the country, protecting its sovereignity. i have confidence that kosovar serbs can live together with kosovar albanians for the only reason that we know how it feels to be underappriciated, not represented, and not schooled. it is understandable that the begining will be hard since the wounds that the serbian army caused are still fresh but the integration of this particular minority in everyday life in kosova means sooner independence and therefore the main goal will triumph.

ali_pashai said...

oh yeah it figures. think-tank came up with idea.

Anonymous said...

I agree the think tank ideas are stupid. Funny that same think tank advocates independence for kosovo. Your right these think tanks are completely baseless.

Anonymous said...

Ali, that is exactly why Milosevic stripped the Autonomy from Kosovo and Vojvodina. They go against the laws and sovereignty of a nation. Maybe the Macedonians should remove the autonomy they just gave to their ethnic albanian minority as well. We finally found something that we agree on!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Ali you and the rest of the ethnic albanians are such hypocrites. You demand autonmy or independence where you are in the minority and as soon as another ethnic group demands the same from you are against it. Grow Up!!!