Monday, July 03, 2006

Russia delays West's date for Kosovo independence

PRISTINA, Serbia, July 3 (Reuters) - Russia is frustrating the West's plan for Kosovo independence this year, resisting U.S. pressure and raising a risk of fresh Albanian violence in the breakaway Serbian province, senior Western officials say.

Seven years after NATO bombing drove out Serb forces and the United Nations took control, the United States and the European Union say a decision on Kosovo's "final status" is overdue and should be made in the next six months.

Ethnic Albanians who form 90 percent of Kosovo's 2 million people want independence. Dipomats expect they will get it, in a form limited for a time by EU supervision and secured by NATO, to continue protecting minority Serbs from possible attacks. But Moscow -- partner of Britain, France, Germany, Italy and the U.S. in the Contact Group on Kosovo -- is in no hurry. Its view reflects concern in some EU capitals that a sudden amputation of Kosovo, on top of other recent Serb humiliations, could put Serb ultra-nationalists back in power in Belgrade.

Differences came sharply into focus in the past few days.

U.S. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns, in Brussels on Friday as envoys met, said Washington was "confirmed in our judgment that 2006 must be the year of decision for Kosovo ... the final status talks must conclude this year".

But a senior Russian official told Reuters on Sunday that Moscow saw no need for an "artificial timeframe". Russia stood by the Contact Group's Jan. 30 statement which made clear that "all efforts" should be made for a 2006 settlement, but it "does not say that by all means this has to be over", he said.

"We need to find solution to many so-called technical issues related to the position of minorities in Kosovo," the Russian said. If talks produce "mutually acceptable and sustainable results" a timetable can be set, but now is "too early to prejudge" whether the process will be completed this year.

"The Russians' focus now is on timing," said a senior Western official in Kosovo. "This is where the Contact Group will find things could become difficult."

SHOCK WAVES

Others say delay is too risky. Even if independence heads off a risk of renewed Albanian unrest, the U.N. has contingency plans in case of an exodus of half the remaining 100,000 Serbs, and NATO is braced for a Serb bid to partition the province.

While Serbia officially opposes independence, diplomats say it knows the West has made up its mind. Yet there is no sign of the "mutually acceptable" deal that Moscow wants to see.

A political source in Belgrade says Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica wants a delay to April 2007 and a face-saving formula giving Kosovo wide autonomy, years before sovereignty.

If not, ultanationalists already riding high in the polls could come to power, arguing that if Kosovo gets independence then so should the Serbs of Bosnia. A Serb secession from Bosnia would have dramatic consequences in the still turbulent Balkans.

The Albanians expect U.N. special envoy Martti Ahtisaari to make his recommendation to the Security Council by November and to give them the green light for independence. But it is the Council, where Russia has a veto, that must finally decide.

The Russian official said Serbia has a lot on its plate, citing its recent split with longtime sister republic Montenegro which chose independence, and the freeze on its EU membership bid over its failure to net top war crimes suspect Ratko Mladic.

Asked about fears of violence by Albanian extremists if they sense any delay in independence, the Russian said: "We don't like to be blackmailed. If any party resorts to violence it will be very detrimental to that party in negotiations."

One Western official who now predicts a delay says any stalling longer than three or four months means trouble.

Albanians impatient over life in limbo rioted in March 2004, killing 19 people and driving out 2,000 Serbs. Belgrade said it proved Kosovo was nowhere near stability or democracy, and it would redouble the argument if violence erupted again.

Meanwhile, Serbs in north Kosovo threaten to secede in the case of independence, a move that could reignite conflict next door with the Albanians of southern Serbia and Macedonia.

After Serbia lost control of Kosovo in 1999, when NATO bombed for 11 weeks to halt the killing of Albanians in a two-year guerrilla war, it was only with EU diplomacy that a smaller insurgency was smothered in south Serbia, while Macedonia got Western help in 2001 to stifle ethnic war.

There is concern that ethnic tensions are being kept in check only by the prospect of independence for Kosovo.

"If the light goes out ... by February or March, this will be an impossible mission to manage," said the Western official.

28 comments:

1defender said...

So, what you're saying is that the situation is under control? It is normal to cut of people's water and electricity? This is what the Albanians are doing to the Serbs at this moment in order to drive them out. The West won't see this ethnic cleansing, they'll see this as "an exodus"!!!!! Pretty unbelieveable double standards.

Dardania 2006 said...

Everyone who does not pay the utilities looses them. Serbs are systematicaly avoiding paying for these services as are quite a few Albanians.

When you talk about electricity and water there is no difference in ethnicity, please be just and speak of the Albanians without water and electricity equaly.

---

On another note, good luck delaying Statehood past 2006. Kosova is becoming a country this year with or without Russia.

dave said...

This article is aggrevating but reflects the complicated nature of international political bodies.

The problem with political entities like this is that decisions are ultimately made based on each party's own political gain. It's unfortunate that the Russians can't clearly see the situation for what it is. Namely, that Albanians have proven more patient than nearly any oppressed group throughout recent history.

If any territory in the US, Caucus, Spain, South America, wherever were under "international suppervision" without clear prospects for the future (i.e. when will the over 60% unemployed finally have the chance at working for companies investing in the province), than there would be hell to pay. Normal citizens would become radicalized (imagine all the gun fanatics in the US) and start taking action on their own. And yet, this has not yet happened in Kosovo (with the exception of March 2004, which could be seen as a minor tremor before a major earth quake building up from the friction of misunderstanding). I think the Albanian community in Kosovo deserves a high degree respect that few have shown (with the exception of Peterson's fairwell speech). There is obviously room for improvement, but considering the recent history and the limited resources (both physical, monetary and academic), I believe that Kosovo is showing great promise for a young, independent nation.

Kosovo needs a solution NOW regardless what your own personal ethnic/political alliances are.

And the statement about the Kosovar government cutting off utilities to the Kosovar Serbs is one of the finest specimen of modern-day propaganda. History books will love that example. Fact is that general utility sevices in Kosovo suck no matter who you are. Even more so if you don't pay your bills (which many Albanians, Turks, Bosniaks AND Serbs are unable to do).

The UN and the Balkans can not wait any longer to resolve Kosovo's independence. It's time to move on, to let the region heal and to eventually prosper as an integral part of Europe.

ivan said...

In every civilized country, those that are unemployed, or are unable to work, do get benefits for the basic living needs. Serbs are not able to get out of their own village without being attacked, they cant even think to go to a major city to get employed, because while they are commuting to work most likely they will be killed on the way. How do you expect these people to pay for the utility bills, when you dont even give them a chance to earn the money in order to pay for these utilities.

If you were a civilized society, you would have recognized this situation, that the reason they cant pay those utilities is mainly the albanian fault.


"Kosova is becoming a country this year with or without Russia. "

Russia has the veto power in the Security Council. So without Russia, you are not even close to an independent coutry :)

Dardania 2006 said...

And we can veto your independence too...

...things are not what they seem Ivan.

ivan said...

"And we can veto your independence too..."

whose independance? Serbias independance?

the things are like this, UK and US are pushing for your independance, but Russia is stalling it, because if Kosovo gets independance, then they will steer more conflicts, based on the rule "the right of self determination".

How will you explain to all other regions that are fighting for their right for self determination among them Kosovo Serbs and Republika Srpska, that albanians are privileged and they are not.

betabe said...

First of all, in every civilized country people must recognise and accept the government in order to receive social assistance. If serbs in Kosova would do that, then they wouldn't have to pay electricity at all.
However, Ivan what you're saying might be true if serbs in Kosova wouldn't pay electricity to EPS.
I personally blame KEK for not being more serious against nonpayers despite their ethinicity.

Konaction said...

Ivan, in the building that I work there are at least 50 Serbs working and they come to work without a problem. And some of them are trying to become K Serbs since they're from Nis or something. I see them in Taxis, I see them in town, everywhere. They're free and walking in the city of Prishtina. Leave your propagandas aside and start thinking of those people that work here everyday, it's easy for you from abroad spread all those lies about K Serbs.
The life moves pretty fast you know! All of us deserve to live in peace and harmony.
Think Peace !!! :)

1defender said...

gone are the good old times for the Albanians of Kosovo when all the other peoples of Yugoslavia had to give up one month's salary a year so that they could live in peace. I had to do it from my small pay packet so don't even think to question it. How humane of the Kosovo Albanians today to cut off water and electricity ONLY in Serb villages during the last winter when the temperatures fell well below freezing. Yes, the Russians are making a stand but I am sure that the West has finally seen that their troops will not be safe in Kosovo because as soon as all the other minorities are dealt with by the "peace loving" Albanians it will be the IC turn. Time to wake up and smell the coffee passed some time ago!

ivan said...

Konaction,

if that is the case, how come Serbs are constantly under attack in Kosovo and Metohija?

Need I to remind you that a Kosovo Serb who actually returned to Kosovo was killed just few weeks ago. Or the fact that Kosovo Serbs living in enclaves around Prishtina go to North of Mitrovica to buy basic supplies, and not to Prishtina. Why is that? OR why is their convoy constantly stoned when it passes through albanian villages?

Fellow Peacekeeper said...

....the clock runs down, and now it is soon time to dance.

Decisions delayed for five years, because the decision made then in the 90's were dubious and thinking wishfull, while temporary solutions have remained temporary and resolution no closer now than then.
Without Russia no deal, and Russia - well - remember their dash to Pristina airport from Bosnia? Only five years ago? The only thing predictible is that they are playing their own game, where the actual situation in Kosovo is not really relevant. The people who make the decisions DO NOT CARE what is actually happening in Kosovo, or who wins or loses. They could vote against, just because America will vote for. Or vice versa. Or because of situation politics in Kazahstan. Or the Kuriles or ..... Or maybe not. Only the bear knows, dice with him at ones own peril.

1defender said...

Hey Dave, where do you get your information from? Mine is from the people living through it.

And the statement about the Kosovar government cutting off utilities to the Kosovar Serbs is one of the finest specimen of modern-day propaganda. History books will love that example. Fact is that general utility sevices in Kosovo suck no matter who you are. Even more so if you don't pay your bills (which many Albanians, Turks, Bosniaks AND Serbs are unable to do).

I guess you could then answer the question why after seven years general utilities in Kosovo "suck". Can't blame it on anyone but the people in charge. It must be scary to even think of the amount of money poured into Kosovo. Compared to what was given to the Albanians under Tito it must be an absolutely enormous amount of money. So, where is it? Judging by the amount they should have a very high living standard. One of the best in Europe. Everything must be repaired from the NATO bombing by now. So WHAT'S THE PROBLEM!

betabe said...

How come that Kosova was builded with the money from other parts of ex-Yugoslavia, those who say that are either ignorants or fools. How do you expect from someone who had greatest natural resources in all that federal state to receive money from other parts. In contrary other parts were receiving money and gold and lead and lignite and every thing from Kosova, while Kosova's level of development remained the lowest in ex-Yugoslavia. Those resources are main reason why some serbs call it why Serbs call it Serbian Jerusalem. Those times are gone, Kosova will use its resourses for its own purpose, for its own people, for Kosovars.

ivan said...

defender,

UN has poured more than 2 bilion dollars into Kosovo after their arrival. I really dont get it where this money went?

Dardania 2006 said...

That money went into the following:

Creating a military base that can serve as a deterent to Serbian State terrorism.

Reviving the institutions that were destroyed and closed down by the Serbian terror state

Reviving a whole nation and thus making it possible that:

A people (Kosovars) that were subjected to terrorism, genocide, rape, murder...that live in a country with 50% unemployment, no final status, constant threat of force from Serbia...realize and are human enough not to go about killing everything (unlike our neighbours in the north) and are matured enough to simply want freedom and be part of Europe (again something Serbian State Terrorists do not want).

Cvijus011 said...

terrorism, genocide, rape, murder...

is that the modern Albanian mantra
?

NYoutlawyer said...

You fucking shifters have become quite good at propoganda. You present yourselves as such innocent, peace loving little souls, while you're not stoning vehicles suspected of carrying Serbs. Why don't one of you tell the truth, you would love to see Kosovo independent and free of Serbian minorities. I hope you never see that day.

ivan said...

Good,

I thought you will say that Serbs stole that money from the poor albanian mafia :)

I like this comment the best :

"Reviving the institutions that were destroyed and closed down by the Serbian terror state"

2 bilion dollars invested and you atill can not provide electricity and water. WOW :)

Cvijus011 said...

dardania,

Sometimes I really don't understand your way of thinking

"Creating a military base that can serve as a deterent to Serbian State terrorism."

Creating a military base to prevent Serbian terrorism, but it couldn't prevent Albanian terrorism on Serbian civilians especially in March '04, which leads to the conclusion that this base was a waste of money.

It seems that for all of your problems you will blame the Serbs, no matter what the problem really is. It wouldn't suprise me when you say that it is the fault of the Serbs for high oil prices, it is much easier to blame others for your own problems. Besides, you have built a state apparatus and claim to be democratic, but fail to meet the demands of your citzens. In winter you didn't gave Serbs water and electricity even though you know that they are the most vulnarable group in Kosovo without the possibility of earning money, and you know why is that. And instead of trying to help as a good democratic society the vulnarable group (a short-term act) and educating the majority of the population on democratic virtues (long-term act) you just do nothing. So if you can'T take care of the Serbs, then we are ready to release you from that burden, but this means that northern Kosovo remains in Serbia.

NYoutlawyer said...

How in the world could you grant these gangsters independence? Is it possible to erase stealing from their genetic code?.

Pristina, July 2, 2006 - Based on a survey conducted by UNDP there was a significant decrease of the satisfaction with the performance of the Kosovo institutions Express reports. A considerable decrease of satisfaction with the work of the Kosovo Assembly was observed.

Another finding of the survey was that most Kosovo Albanians are pro independence, while most of the Serbs are for a partition of Kosovo. These results were presented during a UNDP Press Conference held on Wednesday. The poll conducted in the first half of June together with other sources of information will be used for the production of the Early Warning Report number 13.

According to the survey, the economic and political pessimism has increased during the last month. Also Kosovars are much more prone to protest due to the economic situation than due to the political situation.

The corruption problem has been tackled by this poll as well. The outcome was that KEK, KTA and health services are the most corrupted institutions. Already 50% of Kosovars are not satisfied with the privatisation process.

ivan said...

"The corruption problem has been tackled by this poll as well. The outcome was that KEK, KTA and health services are the most corrupted institutions. Already 50% of Kosovars are not satisfied with the privatisation process. "

that explains the problem as to where the 2 bilion dollars went. Thanks NYoutlwayer.

Serbs In Kosovo are in Danger said...

I can't believe people can come here and say that Serbs should work with the government of Kosovo. You are talking about the KLA controlled government whose leader is KLA general Agim Ceku who has led many ethnic cleansing and murder campaigns against Serbs. The Serbs will not deal with a KLA government. The UN should forbid any KLA person from being in government. The KLA should not be rewarded for threatening war if Kosovo does not become independent. The KLA's goals are clear-no Serbs or any minorities in Kosovo, Kosovo is for Albanians only.

Thank god for Russia!

ivan said...

I have an interesting article for the moderator. This sais a lot about the Kosovo albanians:

Air Traffic Revolt Rebounds on Kosovo
Walkout by controllers at Pristina Airport seen as emblematic of Kosovo's anarchic atmosphere.

By Krenar Gashi in Pristina (Balkan Insight, 30 June 06)

Kosovo's Civil Aviation Regulatory Office has opened an investigation into air traffic safety after an incident last week which left the territory’s airspace uncontrolled for several minutes.

The incident happened on June 21, when all but one of the traffic controllers at Pristina Airport walked out in a dispute over salaries. As there was no control of traffic in Kosovo’s airspace, all incoming aircraft had to be diverted from Pristina to neighbouring airports.

Many believe the action by air traffic control staff will reinforce the image of Kosovo as an insecure, anarchic environment.

Pristina Airport, a publicly owned enterprise which reports to the United Nations mission UNMIK, is a joint civilian and military facility, and the only civil aviation airport in Kosovo.

A report in March 2006 by the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services said "fraud and mismanagement were rife" at the airport and that it suffered from "systematic corruption".

From 1999 to 2004, air traffic in Kosovo was in the hands of international controllers, and the function was handed over to locals on April 1, 2004. The airport spent about 100,000 euro on training each of the new local controllers.

The latest incident came just after Airports Council International, the industry’s main trade association, named Pristina "Best Airport 2006" in the under-one-million- passengers category.

The industrial dispute started when the airport’s management and the Kosovo Air Traffic Controllers' Association, KATCA, failed to agree on pay structures after four months of negotiations. KATCA demanded, among other things, that controllers be placed at the top of the wage scale, equal to top managers, and that they should be given contracts for life and have 24 days leave a year instead of 18 as now.

The airport's managing director, James Johnson, said KATCA was effectively asking for a pay hierarchy in which "the lowest paid controller would be equal to the highest paid manager".

"We could not afford that," said Johnson, adding that management had offered controllers five-year contracts and salaries of 1,900 euro per month - many times higher than the average salary in Kosovo.

Armend Mustafa, head of KATCA, said controllers would only accept this offer if the salaries of top management - now about 2,700 euro a month - were also lowered to 1,900 euro.

Johnson said he was "shocked by their [controllers'] actions" in leaving the control tower unattended without prior notice, as "they put the security of air traffic in serious danger".

But Besian Hysaj, one of the controllers, defended their action. "We were not able to fulfil our duties, as the management's denial of our requests stressed us out," he said.

Afrim Aziri, the airport's air traffic control service manager, accused staff of aiming to intimidate management by trying to "completely close down the airport".

"The controllers do not understand that people should be rewarded on the basis of how profitable the business is, not what they want and how much they think they are worth," he said.

Avni Zogiani of Cohu, a non-government organisation that monitors corruption and recently published a report on the airport, said the incident highlighted "the fragility of Kosovo institutions".

Many believe that it will now be difficult to restore trust in the air traffic control staff, while the incident has also reflected badly on Kosovo's overall image.

Officials at the ministry of transport, however, argue that the incident reinforces the need to hand more power to locally-accountable authorities.

At the moment, overall responsibility for air traffic control resides with the so-called Pillar IV of UNMIK.

"If we had [more] competences, we would never let this happen," said Ali Aliu, a departmental head in the transport ministry. "Our local managers would deal with the situation much better."

But Zogiani disagreed, saying this was just an attempt to duck out of responsibility.

The latest incident, he added, would affect overall progress. "Such incidents reflect badly on Kosovo, putting off potential private investors, which Kosovo crucially needs in this stage," he said.

NYoutlawyer said...

What's next? Will albanian doctors leave right in the middle of surgeries to protest their salaries?

It will take 100 years for this society to get to the 21st century, and they want independence. LOL

Dardania 2006 said...

You all answered why Kosova will be separate and free from people with such mindset.

(to Ivan, the only who had a reasonable response)

Regarding utilities, electricity and water, the people are not paying them. I realize there are a lot of free riders there, especialy among the Albanians, and the whole water/electricity issue is not ethnic but practical. KEK is pushing to consolidate its market, while people here and there are not paying for what they use.

Of course the interest goes up for unpayed bills but you can't arrest people so they just shut down the utilities.

(to the rest)

Keep making racist jokes :) it fills me with joy to know that Kosova will put a nice defendable border between the normal world and the asylum that is Serbia.

Just grow up (those Serbs that have a terrorist mindset, not the rationl ones of course)

(regarding the airport)
This is appaling. I wonder how easily it is to replace these poeple. I would fire them and replace them. A job as critical as air traffic controll is no joke.

Alas we still have a lot to learn :(

Wim Roffel said...

The West's policy for the last few years has been: we will give Kosovo independence and there is nothing that Serbia can do against it - so they better accept it as we dictate.

It seems that the Russians have found a weak spot in this strategy. Now the diplomats at the State Department will have to relearn that old primitive art of negotiation. Poor guys!

dave said...

@ 1defender...

"Hey Dave, where do you get your information from? Mine is from the people living through it."

- I get my information from the several weeks per year that I spend travelling through Kosovo and meeting and talking with Kosovans of all ethnic background. So I guess my answer is the same as yours, but probably much broader as I speak with more than just K-Serbs.
And to backup what Konaction said, I have also seen Serbs moving freely in Kosovo. Mitrovica is not a safe place anyways. But much of the fear generated by Serbian propaganda does NOTHING except to increase the fear and therefore also the danger.


"I guess you could then answer the question why after seven years general utilities in Kosovo "suck". Can't blame it on anyone but the people in charge. It must be scary to even think of the amount of money poured into Kosovo. "

- Actually once you account for the money that was stollen by the very international officials that are meant to be helping Kosovo get back on its feet (Google "Joe Trutschler"), and once you account for the average rate of corruption all across the Balkans and the actual costs of rebuilding a dillipidated infrastructure then I think the picture starts becoming a bit less racist. Surviving from international donations is no way to solve the problem. State funds (from an Kosovo OR even Serbian govt) could not even handle this. The answer is private investment. That is the only way to get utilities running properly without listening to distant citizens from Berlin to Washington bitch about their poorly-directed donations. Kosovo needs independence and foreign investment yesterday. Stop blaming Prishtina for everything. Power cuts are not ethnically motivated. I don't know how to be more clear in English.


...and then NYoutlawyer says so intelligently "You fucking shifters have become quite good at propoganda."

- Well put outlaw. Thank you for your eloquence. Funny however that I mentioned the level of propaganda oozing out of Mitrovica and Belgrade just one day BEFORE this quote from Kai Vittrup...

"The interesting thing is that after the Serb priest was shot at, it was immediately said that Albanian terrorists did this. We have investigated the case and we have found the suspect, who was a Serb. But we read nothing about this in the newspapers from the north."

If local papers in Mitrovica can't get there facts right about local crime, how do you expect the politcally-charged media in Belgrade to convey correct information to Serbs (and therefore, to you)? Once again, all the bickering is a waste of time. Kosovo must be indepenent ASAP. It is the only solution that will lead to everyone eventually having jobs, freedom of movement and living like normal Europeans.

So now what do you say about Serb propaganda? Still doesn't exist? Every single act of crime in Kosovo is still ethnically motivated and therefore "proves" why Kosovo cannot be an independent state? Seriously?

NYoutlawyer said...

Thank God for the Russians, they will not be pussy whipped by the greedy EU.

I will go out this weekend and find a big ol' fat Rusky woman to sex up, in honor of my Russian brothers.

Zivela Srbija, Zivela Rusija!