Tuesday, April 18, 2006

US envoy says Kosovo status talks have Not failed, asks parties to be flexible

Text of report by Gazmend Syla entitled "'Negotiations have not failed, I am optimistic,' says Wisner" published by the Kosovo Albanian newspaper Koha Ditore on 15 April

Prishtina [Pristina], 14 April: Frank Wisner [US envoy on Kosovo status] does not believe that the talks held in Vienna [between the representatives of Pristina and Belgrade] have failed up to now. Nor does he think that the three rounds of talks in the Austrian capital have failed to make any progress. He said he has not come to the region to accelerate or fix anything after the three rounds of talks, which the media have described as unsuccessful. He argues that this is only a beginning, and that the future will be better when both parties are more flexible. He is very optimistic.

"The negotiations have only started - there were three rounds of discussions on one issue. I can say it is very immature to say that the negotiations are facing a difficulty," Wisner said during a meeting with some print media editors in Prishtina on Friday afternoon [14 April].

"We cannot prejudge the failure before the results. I am optimistic, and I suggest that people think in this way," he said.

Wisner noted that there are some things both parties need to fulfil for the negotiations to be successful. "First, each party should place its cards on the table, and say what they can do for a different future for the people living in Kosova [Kosovo], and what is required for building sustainable trust and for creating prosperity," he said.

"Before they insist on their stances with grudges and play a game of words, the parties must be fully involved in the game. This is my message, and I do not see that the negotiations are facing difficulties, they have just started," he added.

The US envoy on Kosova status declined to comment if the negotiations on status should start as the talks on technical issues have not progressed adequately.

"The structure of negotiations and the schedule addressing the issues are [UN envoy] Martti Ahtisaari's job. So, it is not up to me to offer timeframes about issues that should be addressed, except that they need to move more quickly," he said.

Wisner noted that there are two other issues that have not been addressed yet - the cultural and religious heritage and minority rights. The US official announced that President Ahtisaari's team would come here to resume the talks on decentralization. He said he would like to see an agreement on decentralization in place as well as its implementation.

"I would like to see the parties agree on concrete issues, and this makes sense, so that the political decisions are translated into laws, and the laws are adopted by an elected parliament. This would give a different signal for the future of the communities in Kosova. Yes, I believe that decisions can be reached and implemented, and it is a fact that their implementation builds trust among the communities before the status," Wisner said.

During the conversation with Kosovar journalists, Wisner explained that there were three reasons that had made him come to Prishtina, the region and the EU for a second time. The first is to meet the European Commission in Brussels and make it clear there that the United States and the European Commission are on the same wavelength, and that all the steps that these two mechanisms take to achieve progress in the negotiations process are coordinated, and that both parties should confirm that this process should be completed by the end of 2006.

"This suggests huge efforts, and both parties should be prepared to support the result, and on this I wanted to make it clear that our plans are synchronized," he said.

The second reason is that he wanted to meet the leaders of the region. He said he had met the Macedonian government, Kosovars and Serbs, and he was also going to meet the governments of Albania and Greece.

"I am doing so because I and my government believe that the countries in the region are direct partners in what is going to happen in the future. We have to hear their views, and they need to understand our need for the urgency on principles on which we agree."

Wisner said that the third reason for his visit was directly linked to the negotiation process. "We want to see the course of negotiations being as intensive as possible, and we want to deal with other issues of the final status," he said.

However, Wisner did not say if he had a specific message for Prishtina and Belgrade. He said his message is a general one, and that Martti Ahtisaari has been leading the negotiations and that the United States supports them. However, he said he had encouraged "our friends here, that is, the authorities in Kosova, to continue to actively participate in the negotiations and to present ideas on the table, because the final status will not work until the partners involved express themselves in a full, friendly and flexible way".

"I deeply believe that the climate of trust among the communities has to be enhanced, because this is an excellent opportunity to send out signals that the future will be different from the past. The sending of signals is important to both parties, Albanians and the Serbs in Kosova, as the international community and the United States want to see a result where the people can live in peace and seek prosperity together, and the door is open to international economic cooperation, be it public or private," he said.

Wisner said that when he goes to Belgrade he would encourage the government there "to stick to negotiations, to present the differences on the table, and to find a solution to them and see if we can find ways to manage the needs of all."

[Box] US has not changed stance on negotiations

Wisner ruled out any possibility that the United States would change its stance on Kosova's status at some later phase of the negotiations.

"I think that the United States administration's stance has been articulated as part of a consensus agreement articulated in London, and I refer to it," he said.

He declined to comment on the US undersecretary of state statement's that "the negotiations are moving towards independence". "I have seen that (statement). What Burns said. I know what my mission is, and the instruction I have is to negotiate a final status, and to encourage and move the negotiations forward," he said.

Source: Koha Ditore, Pristina, in Albanian 15 Apr 06 pp 1, 4


NYoutlawyer said...

The War on Terror suffered a major blow three years before it was ever announced. It happened when the people of this democracy (US) were misled into attacking the sovereign, emerging post-Communist democracy of Yugoslavia, over rumors of genocide and ethnic cleansing that proved false. In so doing, we delivered the Balkans to al Qaeda.

Today we are being asked to seal that historical blunder, the repercussions of which are still escalating seven years later. The people we "rescued" have turned their weapons against United Nations and NATO forces.

While NATO spends most of its time rooting out terror cells in Kosovo and Bosnia, which served as the planning bases for the London and Madrid bombings, the 2006 deadline to complete our eagerly forgotten debacle and determine the province's final status is fast approaching.

To persuade the international community that only one final status will be acceptable, our Albanian "rescuees" have been stepping up the violence. This is a message to the West that it has only one possible exit strategy: grant unconditional independence -- without border compromises with Serbia and without protection guarantees for what's left of the non-Albanian minorities.

If we allow this to happen, the peacekeepers will have to leave, and with them so will our eyes and ears in this terror haven and thruway. Still, congressional, U.S. State Department and U.N. sentiment seem to be tilting toward self-determination and the logic that if you've dug yourself into a hole, keep digging.

Here is the size of that hole so far: In November, 2001, what should have been an explosive article appeared in the European edition of the Wall St. Journal. Headlined "Al Qaeda's Balkan Links," it read: "For the past 10 years ... Ayman al-Zawahiri (bin Laden's second in command) has operated terrorist training camps [and] weapons of mass destruction factories throughout Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Turkey and Bosnia ... Though the Clinton administration had been briefed extensively by the State Department in 1993 on the growing Islamist threat in former Yugoslavia, little was done to follow through ..."

A December 2003 article in Britain's Sunday Mirror also registered barely a blip: "Posing as members of the Real IRA, we ... made our deal in Kosovo, a breeding ground for fanatics with al-Qaeda links. Our contact was the deputy commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army Niam Behljulji ... [who allegedly supplied] terrorists across Europe and has been accused of massacring Serbian women and children during the war. He even posed grinning for a photograph, holding the severed head of one of his victims."

Even the high-minded among us may soon become nostalgic for the days when ethnic profiling was even possible. Because while the world wept for Bosnia, bin Laden and Iran were recruiting thousands of blonde, blue-eyed Bosnian Muslims for suicide missions -- "White al Qaeda," according to Yossef Bodansky, security expert and author of "Bin Laden: The Man Who Declared War on America."

But to perpetuate the version of events we were sold from the beginning, all these connections have gone purposefully unmade by our nation's "journalists," who were gung-ho supporters of our 1999 offensive against a historical ally.

How many Americans know that the terrorists who carried out a spate of suicide attacks in Iraq in August 2004 were trained in Bosnia, or that al Qaeda's top Balkans operative -- al-Zawahiri's brother Mohammed -- had a high position with our terrorist KLA "allies"?

And who wants to bring up what former Canadian ambassador to Yugoslavia James Bissett has, that in Bosnia we fought alongside at least two of the 9/11 hijackers. We won't learn the details of how Bosnia has become the European "one-stop shop" for all the terrorism needs -- weapons, money, shelter, documents -- of Chechen and Afghan fighters passing through Europe before heading to Iraq.

We will lack information about an al Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan, where U.S. forces recovered one Albanian Kosovar's application, reading: "I have Kosovo Liberation Army combat experience against Serb and American forces. ... I recommend operations against parks like Disney."

Despite the media's blackout on the subject of Balkans terror, more and more Americans have been scratching their heads, wondering why we forcibly precluded what the Serbs were doing in their own backyard, and continue to mischaracterize it, even as we've gone halfway around the globe to do the same thing.

For the past four years The Hague's International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia has been finding what multiple international forensics teams have found, that claims of Serb "atrocities" were exaggerated and often invented. It turns out we confused an attempt to create an Islamic "Greater Albania" with one to create a "Greater Serbia." But Milosevic's sudden death this week spares us from the worldwide riots that would have ensued had the tribunal mustered the courage to issue a verdict based on the evidence.

"If you break it, you fix it." We've heard much of that refrain throughout our Iraq debates, including from the self-same architects of the Kosovo offensive, Bill Clinton, Madeleine Albright, Hillary Clinton and Wesley Clark.

Their prescription for fixing what they broke? Bury it. Clark warned that "a violent collision may occur by year-end" if we don't do what the Albanians want, and this four-star general advocated doing just that. After all, "unrest" in the region shines an unwelcome spotlight on his "successful war." Clark even suggested pummeling the Serbs again if Belgrade got in the way; it's easier than fighting his terrorist Albanian campaign donors.

As U.N. human rights observer Jiri Dienstbier notes, "If NATO and the U.N. can't defeat terrorism in an area the size of one-eighth of the Czech Republic, how do they expect to confront global terrorism?"

Balkans author Vojin Joksimovich seconds the question: "Although the intelligence community is fully aware of the threat, political leaders are denying it and the media are silent. Given this cover-up, it's fair to ask whether we are able to prevent yet another major terrorist act."

Indeed, can you fight terror with one hand while abetting it with the other?

It's long past time to set the record straight on what we "achieved" in the Balkans, and change course. If a commission was set up to determine whether a presidential administration did all it could to prevent kamikaze attacks on 9/11, good God, what of an administration that committed the might of the U.S. Air Force to bomb Europe for a legacy beyond sexual harassment, and lied about genocide to achieve it?

Testifying at the Milosevic trial in September 2004, former Senate Republican Policy Committee analyst James Jatras quoted the 9/11 Commission's finding that it was in 1990s Bosnia that the "groundwork for a true terrorist network was being laid." That network is known as al Qaeda.

The Balkans were the early, key prize that Iran and Osama bin Laden sought as a terror corridor into the West. We delivered it to them. Why?

As the world closes in on the Serbs again this year, handing bin Laden an unequivocal victory by severing Kosovo -- Serbia's version of Jerusalem -- and officially establishing a terror state in Europe, we can know from Madrid and London that we'll pay for it with our own blood.

Indeed, we already have.

Anonymous said...

Read how serbia deals with gypsies.

Balkan Insight
Belgrade Roma Rot In Cardboard City

Few Serbian Roma put much faith in official promises to tackle their poor conditions.

By Zelimir Bojovic in Belgrade (Balkan Insight, 12 Apr 06)
In the so-called Cardboard City, crammed beneath the Gazela, one of the busiest bridges in Belgrade, hundreds of Roma families live in what looks like a landfill site.

Most Roma here make a precarious living from collecting and selling cardboard, or from whatever they find in rubbish containers. Walls made of cardboard, wooden planks and nylon offer no protection against rain and snow, so their hovels are soaked through in winter.

Afrodita Saitovic, 18 years old and eight months pregnant, has lived in Cardboard City with her husband and two children for seven years.

Her family fled Kosovo in 1999, after NATO air strikes drove out the Serbian authorities. Kosovo's Roma bore the brunt of local Albanian rage for siding with the Serbs - but Serbia has been far from welcoming. Saitovic's family has been without running water or sewage since they got to Belgrade, though the city has now supplied them with electric power.

Despite the fact that she was suffering excruciating pains in her stomach, doctors at Belgrade 's Narodni Front hospital refused to examine her as she did not have a healthcare card.

"They said I should pay 1,800 dinars [about 20 euro], but I don't have enough money for food, let alone a medical examination," she said.

Saitovic said she may have to give birth in her cardboard room at home.

This family's problems are common to Roma all over Serbia. Living in unauthorised settlements, they cannot register as residents and obtain the documents they need to get access to healthcare, education and the job market.

The police require at least a house number in order to grant a residence permit, the gateway into the Serbian legal system. For people in Cardboard City, this is impossible.

The Minority Rights Centre, CPM, a Belgrade-based non-governmental organisation, is trying to help people like Afrodita Saitovic obtain residence permits.

"If the city of Belgrade changes the law and grants addresses to these settlements, a great number of people could gain access to healthcare, the jobs market and send their children to school," said Petar Antic, CPM's executive director.

The health issue is probably the most serious problem facing Roma in the cardboard slums, where unhygienic conditions are a fertile breeding ground for viruses and ailments of all kinds.

Osman Balic, head of the YUROM Centre, a Roma non-governmental organisation based in Nis, said poor healthcare cuts the average lifespan of the community very significantly.

"Only one per cent of all Roma in Serbia live to the age of 60," he said.

Dragoljub Ackovic, vice-president of the World Roma Parliament, a Roma lobby group, agreed. He said the average lifespan of Roma in Serbia was only 47, which is 20 years less than the rest of the population.

Belatedly, Serbia's ministry of health says it is taking steps to address the problem.

Djordje Stojiljkovic, the deputy health minister, said the government had launched a 60,000,000 dinar (700,000 euro) project together with the World Bank and other international organisations. The move is timed to coincide with the Decade of Roma Inclusion, an international effort to raise the economic and social status of Roma.

Some Roma activists doubt whether the Serbian government project will get far, given the small amount of money involved.

"Those funds are just a drop in the ocean of our needs," complained Ackovic.

He said the health ministry was not truly interested in tackling the poor health of the Roma. "All they want to do is to implement some projects so that they can say they are working on something," he said.

One of the many problems with addressing the Roma community's plight is the lack of hard information.

No one knows exactly how many Roma live in dire poverty. The most recent government survey, in 2002-03, suggested only that more than 80 per cent of Roma in Serbia lived in impoverished areas, most of them concentrated in some 600 unauthorised settlements.

Zarko Sunderic, from the deputy prime minister's team on poverty reduction, said, "Around 35 per cent of Roma have no access to a water supply, 65 per cent have no sewage systems, 45 per cent have no proper streets in their settlements and about one tenth of Roma live without electricity."

Sunderic added that few Roma children were vaccinated against diseases. "Tuberculosis, skin and venereal diseases, as well as asthma, are common among both grown-ups and children," he said.

Unofficial estimates suggest about 30,000 of the 100,000 Roma in Belgrade live in unsanitary settlements like Cardboard City. One of them is Halid Hasani, 32, who lives there with his wife and two daughters.

Since the last rainfall, the family have been unable to use one of their rooms, fearing that the ceiling might fall in as they sleep. But the biggest problem is the lack of water and sanitation, Hasani said.

"We used to go for water to the nearby gravel pit, but now the security guards there often refuse to give us water," he added.

Elizabeta Maloku, 24, also from Cardboard City, said her biggest problem was the rats that swarmed all around the place, keeping her awake at night.

Her daughter is already an invalid at only four years old, after being born with a lump on her neck. As is typically the case, doctors would not treat her without a healthcare card.

Antic said such people are living in a kind of limbo, with their children growing up illiterate and wholly unequipped for life in the wider society.

"If they don't get the help, the consequences could be alarming", he said, pointing to the obvious danger of these children falling into lives of crime.

Ackovic fears that the Roma cannot rely on the goodwill of Serbian officials, but should put their faith in international pressure instead.

"If Serbia wants to adopt European standards and join the European Union, then it must look after the Roma people and their health," he said.

In the meantime, the residents of Cardboard City rely on their own resources, as they have always done.

"If you have the money, you can get medical treatment," Ajeti Ilfan, 43, said. "If you can't, you might as well drop dead."

Zelimir Bojovic is a Deutsche Welle correspondent in Belgrade. Balkan Insight is BIRN's online publication. This article was published with support from Freedom House.

Anonymous said...

Interesting the serbs dont bother with putting from whom or from what source they got the article.

Anonymous said...

He forgets that internet is available to everyone. The article was written by Julia Gorin a rabid shit for brains.