Sunday, April 16, 2006

Scant Gains Raise Chance of Imposed Solution in Kosovo

By NICHOLAS WOOD - NYT
PRISTINA, Kosovo, April 9 — Nearly two months after talks began in Vienna in February on this province's future, both sides appear to be maneuvering to change the facts on the ground to help decide whether Kosovo will become an independent state or remain a province within Serbia.

The issue has been regarded as the most intractable in the Balkans since NATO bombers forced Yugoslav security forces to withdraw from Kosovo in 1999, halting what international war crimes prosecutors say was a brutal campaign to force ethnic Albanians to flee.

Ethnic Albanians make up more than 90 percent of Kosovo's population, estimated at more than two million, and want total independence. Serbs, in and out of Kosovo, want a return to rule from Belgrade. With little progress in the initial phase of talks, the possibility of an eventual solution imposed by the international community — in the Albanians' favor — grows more likely.

The United Nations has been administering Kosovo since the Yugoslav withdrawal, and as a result has been paying the salaries of many local officials. Meanwhile, Serbia has continued to finance many services in Serbian enclaves across the province, including paying those local officials a second salary. In early April, Serbia ordered all Serbian government employees in Kosovo to resign from any responsibilities with the United Nations or lose their Serbian paychecks.

Diplomats say that if Serbia were to find and arrest the leading war crimes suspect and former commander of the Bosnian Serb Army, Ratko Mladic, its negotiating hand might be strengthened.

At the same time, Kosovo's ethnic Albanian leadership is trying to make the case that an independent Kosovo would protect and nurture its minorities. Kosovo's new prime minister, Agim Ceku, took office in March, after his predecessor, Bajram Kosumi, was forced to step down under pressure from international officials who considered his efforts at reconciliation with Kosovo's Serbs ineffectual.

Mr. Ceku made his inaugural address to Kosovo's Albanian-dominated assembly partly in Serbian, to the astonishment of several members of Parliament.

"I want to be seen as the prime minister of all Kosovo's citizens, Serb and Albanian," he said in an interview on April 7. His primary challenge, he said, is to persuade Kosovo's Albanian leaders and government officials to make changes that benefit the Serbs, rather than just pay lip service to foreign demands for multiethnicity.

Mr. Ceku, a former Croatian general, was a wartime commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army, the ethnic Albanian guerrilla group. Serbian government officials refuse to meet with him, but Western officials say he is one of the few ethnic Albanian leaders with the standing to convince local Kosovar authorities that they need to provide services to Serbian communities. He helped calm ethnic tensions at several critical junctures in the last six years, including during widespread rioting in March 2004 when 19 people were killed.

The negotiating teams — a Kosovar panel of ethnic Albanians, and a Serbian group drawn from Belgrade and Kosovo — are to return to the table in Vienna on May 4, when they will debate proposals to give more powers to local authorities. That measure would allow Kosovo Serbs a greater say in running their affairs. The next week discussions should start on the protection of religious and historic sites, in particular the Serbian Orthodox churches and monasteries that dot Kosovo.

But the negotiating teams have shown little room for compromise even on these issues, and diplomats expect that they will have to be dealt with in the final phase of negotiations. And comments from representatives of the United States, Britain, France, Russia, Italy and Germany, who together make up the Contact Group overseeing Kosovo's negotiation process, indicate there is little alternative to granting the majority population its wish for an independent state.

A statement issued by the group after meetings with Serbian leaders in Belgrade on April 6 called on Serbia to be "realistic" in its proposals and to find a solution "acceptable to the people of Kosovo."

The leader of the United Nations mission here, Soren Jessen-Petersen, said he expected Martti Ahtisaari, the Finnish statesman and veteran negotiator, to conclude the initial negotiations by midsummer, enabling talks on sovereignty to begin.

Whatever course is taken on political authority, officials here expect the international community to retain significant governing powers. The European Union is expected to take a major role, while NATO will continue to keep the peace. It has 17,000 troops in Kosovo.

2 comments:

NYoutlawyer said...

All the Rhetoric is lovely, and the albanians are now claiming they can live with Serbians side-by-side in peaceful harmony, BULLSHIT!!!

Here is the REAL threat to an independent muslim kosovo:

Terrorists use Balkan corridor
The Associated Press

TUESDAY, APRIL 18, 2006
SARAJEVO Islamic militants with ties to Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations have been crisscrossing the Balkans for more than 15 years, according to an intelligence report focusing on their activities in Bosnia.

The 252-page analysis, compiled by U.S. and Croatian intelligence, said extremists, financed in part with cash from narcotics smuggling operations, were trying to infiltrate Western Europe from Afghanistan and points farther east via a corridor through Turkey, Kosovo and Albania.

The report offers new evidence to support what the authorities long have suspected: that terrorists have taken advantage of the Balkans' porous borders and relatively lax security to meet, train and possibly plot attacks elsewhere in Europe.

Thousands of Islamic fighters came to Bosnia to fight on the Muslim side during the country's 1992-95 war, but militants were active in the region even before it dissolved into ethnic conflict, the report says.

They included Kamr Ad Din Khirbani, a member of the Armed Islamic Group of Algeria, who moved to Croatia in 1991 to set up a humanitarian aid organization at the direct request of Al Qaeda's leader, Osama bin Laden, the report says.


SARAJEVO Islamic militants with ties to Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations have been crisscrossing the Balkans for more than 15 years, according to an intelligence report focusing on their activities in Bosnia.

The 252-page analysis, compiled by U.S. and Croatian intelligence, said extremists, financed in part with cash from narcotics smuggling operations, were trying to infiltrate Western Europe from Afghanistan and points farther east via a corridor through Turkey, Kosovo and Albania.

The report offers new evidence to support what the authorities long have suspected: that terrorists have taken advantage of the Balkans' porous borders and relatively lax security to meet, train and possibly plot attacks elsewhere in Europe.

Thousands of Islamic fighters came to Bosnia to fight on the Muslim side during the country's 1992-95 war, but militants were active in the region even before it dissolved into ethnic conflict, the report says.

They included Kamr Ad Din Khirbani, a member of the Armed Islamic Group of Algeria, who moved to Croatia in 1991 to set up a humanitarian aid organization at the direct request of Al Qaeda's leader, Osama bin Laden, the report says.


SARAJEVO Islamic militants with ties to Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations have been crisscrossing the Balkans for more than 15 years, according to an intelligence report focusing on their activities in Bosnia.

The 252-page analysis, compiled by U.S. and Croatian intelligence, said extremists, financed in part with cash from narcotics smuggling operations, were trying to infiltrate Western Europe from Afghanistan and points farther east via a corridor through Turkey, Kosovo and Albania.

The report offers new evidence to support what the authorities long have suspected: that terrorists have taken advantage of the Balkans' porous borders and relatively lax security to meet, train and possibly plot attacks elsewhere in Europe.

Thousands of Islamic fighters came to Bosnia to fight on the Muslim side during the country's 1992-95 war, but militants were active in the region even before it dissolved into ethnic conflict, the report says.

They included Kamr Ad Din Khirbani, a member of the Armed Islamic Group of Algeria, who moved to Croatia in 1991 to set up a humanitarian aid organization at the direct request of Al Qaeda's leader, Osama bin Laden, the report says

Anonymous said...

In Belgrade, the capital of nearby Serbia, the local Mafia emailed us to offer a cache of anti-tank missiles, Kalashnikovs, a mortar and illegal landmines for Ł50,000.

And in neighbouring Montenegro, on the Adriatic coast's version of the Costa Del Crime, another war criminal was selling death on an industrial scale.

The man, known as Vesko - a former bodyguard of Serbian warlord Arkan - offered to supply us with 20 rocket-propelled grenades, 20 shoulder-fired missiles and 20 Spider machine guns used by the SAS.

To return to Britain, our investigators followed the route used by gun-runners out of the Balkans. We drove the short distance into Montenegro then sailed by car ferry from Bar to the Italian port of Ancona, blending in with holiday makers.

Once there they flew home - but could have easily taken a coach through Italy and France to Calais or hidden among thousands of asylum seekers hitching rides on fruit lorries and train carriages.

Last night a spokesman for Scotland Yard said: "Britain is on a high state of alert, only one below the highest level.

"That means we know the terrorists are planning to attack targets in the UK."