Sunday, February 19, 2006

Kosovo revolutionary seeks action, not words

By Matthew Robinson

PRISTINA, Serbia and Montenegro (Reuters) - Albin Kurti is an unlikely threat to national security. The boyish face, black-rimmed glasses and knee-length overcoat ring more of a mature Harry Potter than the terrorist Serbia labeled him in the late 1990s.

In the past eight years, the now 30-year old Kosovo Albanian has evolved from student activist to rebel to relentless gadfly for the U.N. mission running Kosovo since 1999.

As the disputed province opens direct negotiations with Serbia on Monday to seal its fate, Kurti is not afraid to again swim against the tide.

"There's many things we should talk about with Belgrade, but only when Belgrade quits with its aspirations to regain Kosovo," he said this week in the chaotic Pristina office of "Self Determination" -- his latest vehicle of political subversion.

Like a hippie commune, scruffy co-conspirators lounge on chairs, hanging on his every fluent English word.

"When Belgrade accepts the will of the people, then we can negotiate. But under the present situation, when there's no regret for the past and no justice for the victims ... there can be no negotiations and no compromise."

Such sentiments are common among the 90-percent ethnic Albanian majority, for whom Serbia remains the enemy banished by homegrown guerrillas and NATO bombs in 1999.

By tapping into this widespread sense of mistrust, Kurti and his 7,000-strong political movement want to torpedo the talks and pursue the right to a referendum on independence.

"We want to ready ourselves for big demonstrations. The people taking part should be able to protest long term. Days, weeks, months. Not 50,000 people for two hours who then go home and watch themselves on TV," Kurti said."

Negotiations, so his argument goes, can only lead to compromise, which means Kosovo settling for less than the independence it demands.


Kurti's influence is limited, but growing.

U.N. officials and foreign diplomats watch the so-called "Kurti Factor" closely. They fear the protests he promises could trigger another bout of violence and scupper the U.N.-led process of mediation, launched late last year.

Kurti's youthful appearance belies his experience.

As leader of the politically vocal student union, he was behind several mass protests against Serb rule in the late 1990s. In 1998 he became right-hand-man to Adem Demaci, the political representative of the Kosovo Liberation Army that was waging a guerrilla war against Serb forces.

Then in 1999, as NATO bombs drove out Serb forces accused of killing and expelling ethnic Albanians, he was arrested on terrorism charges and spent almost three years in Serbian jails.

Since his release in 2001, Kurti has been railing against U.N. "colonialists" who put the people's future on ice while preaching tolerance to the jobless and disaffected.

Town hall meetings and satirical stunts have brought him into living rooms across Kosovo. Flyers and graffiti -- "No negotiations, self-determination" -- litter the province.

The evening news often carries shots of Kurti and his cohorts being bundled into police vans after letting down U.N. car tyres or hurling eggs at visiting Serb officials.

The message: The compromise demanded by the international community means Albanians acquiescing in the division of Kosovo into ethnic areas, as happened in Bosnia after the 1992-95 war.

With Belgrade and Pristina so far apart, talks can only fail, he says. "And when there's no agreement there will be war. That's why we want to stop negotiations as soon as possible."

Kurti graduated in computer sciences, but his real education is in political theory and civil disobedience.

"Like Gandhi said: first they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. They're still not fighting us."


Anonymous said...

we don't need protests to achieve independence! We need stability and united front. Things are not going to be resolved on the streets anymore. We have our democratic institutions and this movemend is welcomed to take part in the new elections. Ballot boxes and not streets!

fauna said...

you obviously don't get his message

learn about it and reconsider

Anonymous said...

I do get his message mr. fauna. Independence is not going to be won by "revolutionaries" and street protests. We have legitimate institutions like Presidence, Parliament, and a Governmet. All democratic institutions elected with the free vote. They are the ones to demand our legitimate rights and not "The Street". Mr Kurti should crate a political party and run for election, that's how he can change the system!
Jane bo bajat revolucionaret e e protestat e rruges.

Anonymous said...

I do get his message mr. fauna. Independence is not going to be won by "revolutionaries" and street protests. We have legitimate institutions like Presidence, Parliament, and a Governmet. All democratic institutions elected with the free vote. They are the ones to demand our legitimate rights and not "The Street". Mr Kurti should crate a political party and run for election, that's how he can change the system!
Jane bo bajat revolucionaret e e protestat e rruges.

arianit said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
arianit said...

8:15, unfortunately, Albin has a point. You're letting your guard down too early. There is a lot to be talked about still and Albin wants to make sure that there are no deals on the back of the citizens of Kosova just so Serbia is satisfied.
"Independence" is won, but diplomacy is a bitch. Bosnia too is independent but with deep problems 10 years later. We lost too many years in limbo and we need a strong state to move on after independence. If we end up with enclaves and blocking powers from Belgrade politicians, who have a track record of interfering here for their petty politics, such independence will be useless to us and damaging to Serbia itself.

Albin is not a politician.

Anonymous said...

Questions such as how much power to give to the Serbian minority of Kosova will be answered by our "negotiation team". Albin was against the decentralisation and still is even though without it we can't have the Independence! Therefore they (vete-vendosja) went against the wishes of our allies! We can't have anti-pragmatic policy towards the Contact Group. Sometimes i feel like us to, Kosovar, have been infected by the Serbian desiase, of going against the grain, just for the heck of it,instead of accepting the reality!
That's why we need pragmatic leaders and not romantic revolutionaries. Personally, i wish he became a politician, the only thing that bothers me is the populist rethoric and the influence of people who failed in the political process and are trying to "get in" through a "revolution".
I just strongly believe in our young democracy and the institutional way of life. People in it have to take on responsabilities and represent the constituencies and not cheer from the sideways!

arianit said...

I understand your fears. They are similar to those of mine during Demaci's (Albin's inspiration and mentor) "entrance" in Rambuillet.

Vetevendosje! is against an unmikistan Kosova. They are very organized and although spray-paint, they are completely peaceful. The only regret I have is that they should have started earlier so that March 2004 wouldn't have to happen.
People's fate will be joggled around during the negotiations and they have not been consulted. Albin has visited and talked to more of these concerned Kosovars than the whole K-government combined. He may not be able to achieve much on his own, but his alternative is healthy to the system.

Being out of the establishment is much better for him and Kosova. His support can not be gauged, he can't be pressured by internationals, and he doesn't have to get involved in petty politics. His is a movement.

Me fjale tjera duhet nje gogol.

Visit Prishtina said...

Jam i mendimit qe faktori Albin Kurti eshte nje faktor pozitiv drejt zhvillimit demokratik te shoqerise dhe institucioneve te Kosoves.

Postuesi i pare gabon kur mendon qe problemete e nje shoqerie mund te zgjidhen vetem permes politikaneve dhe votes se lire.

Nje shoqeri e shendosh duhet te mendoj "out of the political box" dhe mendoj qe organizatat e tilla, sic eshte Vetevendosja! jane shume te mireseardhura.

Se fundi, gabohen te gjitha ata qe mendojne qe Albin Kurti eshte "revolucionar". Vetevendosja! nuk ka asnje lidhje me termin revolucion.

Besoj qe Albin Kurti dhe Vetevendosja! jane nje shenje e mire qe shoqeria kosovare po zhvillohet, po mendon per problemete me te cilar perballet, dhe nuk eshte nje shoqeri pasive.

Postuesit te pare i them qe bagon nese mendon qe i ka kryer "obligimet" e veta qytetare me nje votim te lire e demokratik.

It takes a lot more to build a healthy, democratic and free society.

Per keto arsye une e perkrahi Albin Kurtin, Vetevendosja! dhe te gjitha ata qe punojne jashte institucioneve politike per ndertimin dhe perparimin e shoqerise kosovare.

fauna said...

"Jane bo bajat revolucionaret e e protestat e rruges."

Keto politiqarve ju bohen bajat, jo qytetarve.

Sa problemet jane ne Kosove, po cuditna qysh nuk ka me shume protesta.

Anonymous said...

Gents, I had a lot of hope in "vetevendosja". The only thing is that it has a dose of anarchic elements in it. I know that our democratic system is not perfect but by changing it would mean going back to a "political directorate" and a different system. The rules of the game are set in a electoral democracy. I would ask you to read some of Albin and Konjufca's letters in the website. Thjey are very pesimistic and usually they cite philosophers with socialist or anti-capitalist stands. First i think it's not policaly correct to cite Che Gueevara's words. He was aganist the new world order, a romatic revolutionary and a US enemy. Since when do we need Guevara's words to achieve our inspirations!! Also the whole notion about anti-colonial resistance is full of Marxism.

Ne jemi pjese e botes perendimore dhe i kemi pranuar vlerat te cilat jane edhe tonat.Per nje kohe te gjate kemi pase lidere te cilet pa zgjedhja na kane treguar se cka eshte mire per ne. T'ju paramendoj se shume here partite qe humbin zgjedhjet e denegrojne voten e Kosovarit. Ju kujtohen fjalet
" Prishtine zemra ime, haram gjaku im- zgjedhjet 2000 turp", poashtu nje akademik i cili pat thene se ka votuar "plehu i Kosoves". Pra ka elemente te cilat ende mendojne se ata dine se cka na nevojitet neve, mirpo ne zgjedhje nuk mund te fitojne vota te mjaftueshme". E mandej nga margjinat mundohen ta dirigjojne procesin.

I still hope that levizja can change and adopt a more pro-european and pol.correct policy where they should urge citizens to pay the electricity bills, worry about our environment, thinnk about joinning the pol. system and push us towords the UE. Standing on the isles and crying foul with a slightly marxist doctrine is not what we will need.

Anonymous said...

Trriki i decantrilizimit nuk është ferr, siç po shohim idea e unmk-it është qe të mbledhin çdo komun serbe e ti krijon enkllave me lidhje drejt me Serbin. Kjo ide kurr nuk mund të ket përkrahjen e Kosovarve sepse aty ku krijon komuna të reja nga decentralizim, aty krijon shqiptartë si minoritet.

Për kët une e mirëardhuroj Albin Kurtin si i vetmi mbrojtje kundër deplomacisë të Perendimit.

~Vllavi Yt

Anonymous said...

Vllau jem, sot ne PR " vetvendosja" ka ngjit pamfleta DEAD OR ALIVE me fotot e komplet lidershipit Kosovar :)..... paramendo!!

Atsihari, Wisner, dhe Britania vetem thojne se pavarsia nuk ka alternative dhe cka duhet bere eshte t'ju japim te drejta lokale minoritareve.

A e shihni sa "out of the touch" jane keta te levizjes!! Si referendumi i shkijeve kunder Rambujes apo vota e tyre kunder Rambujes. Aleatet tane na perkrahin dhe ne do ta fitojme suverenitetin e plote. Kjo eshte pakez edhe sikur ata vellezerit tane qe ishin kunder Rambujes edhe pse vetem pasi e nenshkruam u bombardua Serbia. Pra stratregjikisht ishin kunder interesave tona shteterore! Duhet me qene "realpolitik" dhe me punu me fuqite qe i kemi e je mo ato te cilat "we wish" ti kemi.

Anonymous said...

Mjeshter, nuk e kam ndjek levizjen gjate krejt kohes dhe nuk i di te gjitha prononcimet e tyre qe nga fillimi. Mirepo pasja e nje kahu ekstremist si alternative e mundshme eshte dobiprurese.
Me sa kam lexu une diplomatet nuk e kane denu levizjen. Kjo ju hyn n'pune edhe atyre pasi ju mundeson argumentin qe shqiptaret e bejne hatan nqs nuk ju ipet pavaresia. Ne fakt, GNK jep shkaqe te tilla per paravaresi.

Vrasja e nje Serbi tash eshte me demtuese per ne se levizja. Te pakten kjo ju mundeson njerezve (per nje vrasje vetem nje person duhet) t'i kanalizojne pasigurite qe i kane nepermjet nje levizje paqesore.

Anonymous said...

Edhe dicka, n'diplomaci mundohesh me i shit leshimet tuaja si sakrifica shume te dhimbshme, prandaj edhe kurre nuk fillon me poziten ku shpreson me perfundu. Serbet kete loje po e luajne shume me mire se ne.

Anonymous said...

S'di por sa here mundohem me imitu Serbet na "ngulem". Sikur rasti kur Albright kerrkonte nenshkrimin tone ne Rambuje e ne kerrkonim edhe 2 jave me e "konsultu" popullin?! Fantomat ishin "locked and loaded", sign and we bomb the bastards, e nga ljubljana Baci jone, emertojke Sulltanin si Cheif of Staff e minonte bisedimet.
We can't make mistakes this time.....jena aq afer, duhet ne menyre klinike me operu, bashk me aleate me e marre ma Suverenitetin, ulese ne UN se shkijet Gracanicen nuk mujne me e cu ne Beograd, toke e Kosoves eshte edhe ajo.

Anonymous said...

"Mirepo pasja e nje kahu ekstremist si alternative e mundshme eshte dobiprurese. "

Pajtohem,plotsisht duhet te jemi vigjilent dhe persistent.
Por, mangesite qe i kemi duhet ti plotsojme. Ne Beirut, 1 milion qytetare kerrkuar largimin e trupave Siriane mbas vrasjes ne PM Hariri. Poashtu nje levizje si kjo i jona i filloj te gjithat. Por ata muarren nje hap strategjik dhe shtypen mbi 500.000 flamuj te Lebanonit e cila i beri te jene uniform dhe para botes me nje simbol kerrkonin sovranitetin e tyre. lebanoni dihet ka 3-4 grupe etnike me simbole te veta, por ate dite ata ishin nje.
Ne Prizren mbi kalane "vetevendosja" vendosi flamurin tone kombetare. Pytja eshte, KU eshte Flamuri i Kosoves? !
Nese neser mbajme protestan masive ku kerrkojme Pavarsi ne dore nuk do te kemi flamurin e shtetit tone Kosoves! Pra kerrkojme Sovranitet me flamur i cili ne syte e botes eshte flamur i shtetit Shqiptare. Ne e dime mire se qfare dmth ka per ne por bota nuk e dine dhe mendon se jemi te pasinqerte!
Levizja, pra, eshte dashur te kerrkoje simbolin e shtetit tone qe na ende se kemi!!
Keto jane qeshtjet qe kisha pase deshire keta djeme vajza te mirren e jo t'na citojne Gandin.

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Anonymous said...

The tragedy of Croatia, Bosnia and Kosova, clearly indicates that many post World War I mistakes must be rectified. In order for all of Europe's peoples to live in peace and harmony, the political, social and economic structures must be addressed. The recognition of Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro, and Kosova as independent states is a step in that direction. Recent events in these countries further serve to demonstrate, that, in the final analysis, neither hostile political agendas, military action, economic pressures nor lack of Western support can prevent people from exercising their right to self-determination. It has become equally obvious that the solution to the region's minority problem is a sine qua, non for achieving lasting stability and peace. And yet, while the approximately half a million Hungarians of ex-Yugoslavia face discrimination, persecution, violence and even genocide, their plight receives little attention from those who claim to have an outstanding human rights records. In the interest of peace, the international community must insist that minority rights be respected everywhere, including Serbia, Vojvodina and Preshevo Valley, and not only in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo, where the question was regarded as a prerequisite to being recognized as an independent State. The horror for these people started since 1912, when Sanjak Novi Pazar, abruptly was separated from Kosova Vilyaet and handed over to Serbia and Montenegro by the great powers.
At the end of the Balkan wars, and the First World War, the Illyrians, people who speak a language that Albanian understand, were divided between a number of different states: Albania, Greece and the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (which became the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1929). Only 800000 of them were given 28000 square km to live, the so-called Albania. On 1918 Kosova was brutally invaded by Franco-Serbian troops, occupied and later was allocated to Yugoslavia. In the inter-war period the Yugoslav government operated a policy of Serb and Montenegrin immigration into Kosova, which was resisted not only by the majority Dardanian population, but also by many of the indigenous Slav inhabitants. On 1999 Serb Troops and later Franko- Serbian forces expelled most of Kosovars from North Kosova, and replaced them with Serb Colons. This situation, morally, legally, politically is unacceptable, and jeopardizes the Existence of New Born, Republic of Kosova.
In fact, the Mitrovica Serbs have repeatedly failed to demonstrate the ability to cope with the fundamental ideas and concepts of our times. All that represents a Value for the international community is utterly meaningless to them; Humanism, Human Rights, the right of a nation to self-determination, national independence, freedom, democracy, equity, equality among the citizens of a country, and among the various nations, justice and fair treatment of the minorities, ethnic and religious groups, and last but not least, religious tolerance, are all unknown to them. Even worse, their political leaders give long speeches to disapprove of all these globally accepted values.
The Serbian chauvinism and irredentism must not be tolerated, and for a certain period Serbia and the Serbs in Kosova, Bosnia and Croatia should be placed under international tutelage that will set among them the foundations of a new tolerant Serbian approach to the adjacent nations and religions. Today´s Serbs should be viewed as 1945 Germans for having tolerated an unspeakably racist regime, and they must be dealt with accordingly. Courts of Justice may certainly contribute to world peace greatly, but in the end, Peace presupposes a Culture for Peace.

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