UN adopts 6-point plan for Kosovo – bye bye independence experiment

November 28, 2008

A week ago I wrote here an article “UN deciding over plan for Kosovo – which plan to select?”. On the table was a 6-point plan negotiated between UN and Serbia, and a 4-point plan, a declaration by Kosovo’s separatist government. Now we know the answer – 6-point plan was selected unanimously in UNSC. Next question would be the consequences of decision.

The Decision

The UN Security Council on Wednesday 26th Nov. 2008 in New York unanimously adopted the UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon’s report on the reorganization of the civil mission in Kosovo. Ban’s spokesman Brenden Varma told B92 earlier today that the secretary-general’s report welcomes the positive outcome of the talks on the six points of the UNMIK reorganization and Belgrade’s decision to accept the agreement.

Serbia’s Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremić welcomed Ban’s Kosovo report, saying

“The explicit language of the report confirms the status neutrality of EULEX’s engagement, which is a guarantee that no part of its mandate can be devoted to the implementation of the Ahtisaari Plan for Kosovo’s independence-rejected by the Republic of Serbia, and ‘never endorsed by the Security Council,’ in the words of the report that is before us today.” (Source B92)

“EULEX will fully respect Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999) and operate under the overall authority and within the status-neutral framework of the United Nations,” Ban Ki-moon said in the report to the UN Security Council. By working within the framework of the resolution, the mission in Kosovo will not imply any recognition of the territory’s independence. (AFP) 

The consequences  

Analysts in Priština have noted, that accepting the 6-point-plan for would mean that the Kosovo officials would formally lose their sovereignty over North Kosovo, though this sovereignty does not exist essentially. One could think that latest UNSC decision does not change anything. My opinion is that some change will come and that decision opens also new possibilities for future status arrangements. The follow-up could include following aspects:

  • The immediate impact will be that finally EULEX rule of law mission can be deployed throughout Kosovo. This means that some 2.000 experts is coming to secure his sector in Kosovo and hopefully also to make develop local capacities.
  • International administration today in protectorate is a big mess – International Community Office, Eulex, EU Kosovo delegation and Kfor are twisting arms who is doing what and where, in addition there is a group of other powerful actors such as OSCE and liaison offices of foreign countries. The decision streamlines international administration and chain of command at least partially.
  • The local administration will coordinate with internationals in Albanian majority regions and with Serbia in Serb dominated regions. However if the local stakeholders want administer more themselves without international supervision now they have possibility to negotiate future status between Pristina and Belgrade and without artificial time limits.
  • If Pristina and Belgrade want Kosovo to be more than UN protectorate forever they can now adopt some of countless amount of different territorial autonomy models, develop a totally new one between themselves or agree some partition of Kosovo. One could predict that what ever compromise or outcome will mutually be agreed it will also be accepted in UN and other international bodies.

From frozen conflict to frozen independence 

UN decision clarifies situation which escalated by Kosovo’s Unilateral Declaration of Independence. This came in right moment before Kosovo would developed to next “failed or captured state”. Probably also local population in Kosovo has noticed during short independence experiment that for state more is needed than only flag and anthem. Now – when e.g. EU still is pumping money to province – is time to build own administrative capacity, hopefully democratic practices and sustainable economy. As UN protectorate – even formally still as one province of Serbia – and by backing of EU funds the population in Kosovo has leverage peacefully, without time limits and predicted outcome to develop its autonomy and next future status.

 





War crime selected – organ harvesting from Serbs by KLA

November 27, 2008

One of the most macabre recent war crime is harvesting organs from captured Serbs by Kosovo Albanian guerrillas during Kosovo conflict 1998-99.  The story was kept undercover by western mainstream media until last April 2008 before former UN war crimes prosecutor Carla del Ponte opened her mouth.    New reportages was made e.g. by German Der Spiegel magazine and justice departments from Albania and Serbia have started high level cooperation for case.  Council of Europe has decided to re-examine the case, which maybe has also link to illegal organ transplant clinic raided in Pristina, Kosovo, early November 2008.

The Guardian article

A new article by Paul Lewis appeared in the Guardian on Nov. 25th 2008 giving a quite complementary picture of events.  His story includes also a video clip over trip of Mr. Lewis to “slaughterhouse” a country house in northern Albania’s mountain region near town Burrel.

Here a comprehensive quote about background:

Of all the many atrocities that human rights groups want investigated from the 1998-99 Kosovo conflict, the alleged harvesting of organs from Serbian soldiers by ethnic Albanians is one of the most gruesome. Hundreds of Serbian families have for a decade been demanding what happened to those who disappeared during and after the war. In April, Carla Del Ponte the former UN war crimes prosecutor, gave greater credence to suggestions of a macabre operation, in which as many as 300 Serbs were allegedly abducted and transported to Albania to have their organs removed. In a memoir, she wrote: “Victims deprived of only their first kidney were sewn up and confined again inside the shack until they were killed for their vital organs.”

UN examination 2004

After Mrs. Del Ponte’s sensational disclosure started a work to verify her statements.  For example UN had made some checking based ICTY testimonials. However, the UN examination, commissioned by Del Ponte, was previously believed to be missing.   Now the Guardian has obtained the report of a UN forensic examination,  by a UN expert, José Pablo Baraybar of the Katuci house – aka “yellow house” aka “Burrel house” aka “slaughterhouse” – and it can be found from here.

Baraybar, the former director of the UN’s missing persons and forensics unit in Kosovo, said his team found “highly indicative evidence” that pointed to organ removal at the Burrel house, and prosecutors received testimony from eight witnesses. They comprised “foot soldiers” who claimed to be present during the surgery, he said, and a driver who claimed he brought small groups of Serb soldiers to the house from across the Kosovo border. The driver then described taking conspicuous packages to Tirana airport, bound for flights to Turkey. The surgeon conducting the operations was identified as a Kosovan doctor from Pec, Baraybar said.

Re-examination and a new link

The Council of Europe has decided to re-examine the organ case.  A special investigator Dick Marty and his team are starting their work by gathering data from Belgrade, Pristina and Tirana.

Marty’s investigation could gain additional impetus from the recent discovery of an illegal organ transplant clinic in neighbouring Kosovo. Police there raided a clinic in the suburbs of Pristina three weeks ago, arresting two doctors and the country’s acting permanent secretary at the ministry of health, Ilir Rexhaj. Interpol is helping to search for a third doctor, Yusuf Ercin Sonmez, a notorious Turkish surgeon who they believe was behind the operation. (Source the Guardian article).

Selected war crimes – Why?

Why these events are coming public now after ten years?  My claim is that only selected war crimes go forward.  Some reasons for this from my point of view are following:

  • The Anglo-American mainstream media selected its side in Balkan wars already middle 90s .  The partly fabricated reports about brutalities of Serbs were published almost real-time;  same time and later too the media was silent about the opposite reports of investigations or brutalities made by other sides.
  • Politically it was not reasonable to change this created one-side picture about the Serbs as “bad guys” too soon to secure ground for further development of western interests in Balkans.
  • The “good guys” were allies of western powers and gained local political leadership e.g. in Kosovo so of course Misters Thaci, Ceku and Haradinaj could not be guilty for some war crimes – they were representing poor Albanian victims (before side selection – middle 0s – US was treating their organisation as terrorist and criminal one).
  • The witness protection in Balkans is too weak in pressure of tribe society and criminal – now political  clans to get any sentence like it as case in Hague with Mr Oric (leader of Mujahedeen brigade in Bosnia) and with Mr. Haradianj (KLA leader and later PM of Kosovo).

Now the one-sided picture is slowly starting to crack, more comprehensive picture e.g. over Srebrenica case will came public when both prosecutor and defence of Karadzic have made their case.  The today’s criminal activities of freedom fighters are coming public and their earlier war crimes will get new light.  The big players – e.g. USA with its use of depleted uranium in Kosovo and probably other places also – will of course escape again due the immunity granted in international courts.




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The two Images of Transdnistria

November 26, 2008

When I sometimes in my blogs wrote about Transdnistria (officially Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic – PMR) the most common feedback has been following:

Transnistria is a refuge for the criminal organizations being engaged in the illegal sale of weapons, in the contraband and in the money laundering, its also a rogue state.

One could conclude that for western public has quite a bad if any image of Transdnistria.  Having criticised earlier western mainstream media picture about Balkan events I wanted to check if the tradition is repeating itself same way in case Transdnistria.


Nato

Nato Parliamentary Assembly’s sub-committee on east-west economic co-operation and convergence published 7th October 2007 its report over Moldova and stated:

Transnistria remains a haven for organised criminal groups, which are engaged in illegal arms sales, smuggling, and money laundering. It hosts the largest post-Soviet army depot in Kolbasna, the Russian (formerly Soviet) 14th Army and several Soviet era armament factories.

Reading this kind of statements makes me really wonder the level of intelligence and analysis of Nato.  The least I could hope would be, that the decisions are based to more comprehensive material.

The views of UNDP, EUBAM and OSCE are different

A) UNDP

The 2006 United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) report (SALW Survey of Moldova, SEESAC/UNDP 2006-07-01, note: SALW = Small Arms and Light Weapons) states that there is currently a degree of transparency and good levels of co-operation with Pridnestrovie in the field of weapons control. It also says that the

Evidence for the illicit production and trafficking of weapons into and from Transdniestria has in the past been exaggerated. While trafficking of SALW from the territory controlled by the Transdniestrian authorities is likely to have occurred prior to 2001, there is no reliable evidence that this still occurs. The same holds true for the production of SALW, which is likely to have been carried out in the 1990s primarily to equip the Transdniestrian security forces.

B) OSCE

The OSCE and European Union officials state that there is no evidence that Transnistria has ever, at any time in the past, trafficked arms or nuclear material.  The OSCE mission spokesman Claus Neukirch spoke about this situation: “There is often talk about sale of armaments from Transnistria, but there is no convincing evidence.”

C) EUBAM

Since EUBAM began its work in 2005, it has been unable to document any of Moldova’s charges against Pridnestrovie over alleged arms trafficking. Before the arrival of European Union monitors on Pridnestrovie’s border, Moldovan government officials routinely claimed that Pridnestrovie (or Transnistria, as the state is referred to in Moldova) was “a black hole” in which numerous criminal acts took place. The work of the EUBAM mission since 2005 has been able to disprove these claims as mere anti-Pridnestrovie propaganda.

From EUBAM PressPack following quote:

The Mission is aware that there have been rumours related to arms-trafficking from the Transdniestrian region of Moldova. Obviously we are not in a position to speak about the period of time before the opening of the Mission but we have made clear on several occasions that the EUBAM is not aware of any significant arms find since the operation of the Mission.

The bottom line

It seems that earlier maybe fabricated image still holds when opposite evidence meets the silence in western media.  If one likes conspiracy theories s one could be, that the motive of disinformation is to cover other operations. Few years ago USA made pressure to Moldovan authorities to accept use of Moldova’s air space for arms trafficking from Bosnia to Iraq with V.Butt’s company (an arm dealer in trial now in Thailand).  Moldova has also served as logistical base for many arm trafficking operations to Africa to different sides which maybe have not been noted while the view has been focused to Transdnistria.

More my views over Caucasus one may find form my Archives:Blog

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Depleted Uranium from Nato bombs killing people in Balkans

November 24, 2008

I was just reading an article “Nato Still killing People in Kosovo” related to an issue of use depleted uranium during Nato bombings against Serbia. This topic was discussed years ago when e.g. I was working in Kosovo, however any proof then did not came to my hands.  I also do not know if depleted uranium is used other conflicts in Balkans or elsewhere.  Anyway if this is not a war crime so what is?  Now we can have more information and I was so upset about that article published in Croatian “Javno” News portal that I quote it as such here without more comments:

Nato Still killing People in Kosovo

Back in 1999 NATO carried out a 78-day shelling of Serbia and Kosovo. They allegedly used depleted uranium which continues to kill people.

Nine years after NATO’s bombing of Serbia, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation is still taking lives in Kosovo, Serbia’s Pressonline reported. The NATO allegedly used shells with depleted uranium which are still today causing an increase in the number of cancer patients.Prior to 1999, the number of Serbs who suffered from malignant tumours was three times lesser, according to the statistics of Serb hospitals. In Kosovo’s Kosovska Mitrovica in 2005 there were 38 percent more cancer patients than in 2004.In those two years, a total of 3,500 cancer cases in Kosovo Albanians were diagnosed.Globally, six people out of a thousand suffer from malignant tumours on average. In the Kosovska Mitrovica hospital, there are 200 cancer patients to 1,000 people.

NATO used weapons banned by international conventions?

After 2000, groups of experts in atomic energy tested water, food, air, plants and animals to establish the damage caused by radiation from NATO shells. Beta and Gamma radiation was higher than the permissible level and radiation was discovered in the soil, water, plants and animals. After it gets into the soil, it takes some 250 years for depleted uranium to degrade.

The conclusions of the studies were that the environment on 100 locations in Kosovo was not safe for animals or people, but no bans or moving of the population was carried out.

European peace troops stationed in Kosovo knew there was great danger of radiation in these areas. Italian military experts concluded in 2005 that 34 soldiers had died from leukaemia and various malignant tumours. Since then 150 soldiers from Kosovo were sent home.

In mid-2000 NATO published a map with 112 marked locations that had been shelled with depleted uranium. Over the 78 days of NATO bombing, a total of 31,000 shells with depleted uranium, weapons banned by international treaties, were dropped in Kosovo.

Objavljeno: 17.11.2008. u 12:04h





Global Trends 2025

November 22, 2008

I just took a glance at very interesting new report published on 21st November 2008 by the United States National Intelligence Council – Washington’s main intelligence body.  The report, Global Trends 2025: A World Transformed, is published every four years to give U.S. leaders insight into looming problems and opportunities. This agency of agencies, formed in 1979, brings together analysis from each of America’s multiple intelligence organizations to develop mid- to long-term strategic thinking for the country’s security community.

Highlights

Here only few highlights of this 120 pages analysis:

  • The whole international system—as constructed following WWII—will be revolutionized. Not only will new players—Brazil, Russia, India and China— have a seat at the international high table, they will bring new stakes and rules of the game.
  • “Europe by 2025 will have made slow progress toward achieving the vision of current leaders and elites: a cohesive, integrated, and influential global actor,” but not be a major military player. The European Union will be a “hobbled giant” crippled by internal bickering and a eurosceptic citizenry.
  • “Europe will remain heavily dependent on Russia for energy in 2025, despite efforts to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy and lower greenhouse gas emissions.”
  • “Crime could be the gravest threat inside Europe as Eurasian transnational organisations – flush from involvement in energy and mineral concerns – become more powerful and broaden their scope.”
  • By 2025 “One or more governments in eastern or central Europe could fall prey to their domination,” the authors believe about Eastern European organised crime.

(The full report can be downloaded from http://www.dni.gov/nic/PDF_2025/2025_Global_Trends_Final_Report.pdf)

My view

Intelligence Services do not have very high respect in my mind, but this report anyway has some noteworthy observations or views for further consideration.

The future of EU can very well be like forecasted in report – big economic and weak military player on globe suffering same time from gap between EU (eurosceptic) citizens and EU bureaucracy. I personally think that EU structure will develop in circles. First there is a core around old big players France-Germany, second circle will be the rest EU member states who have strong national interests or exceptions to core’s politics, third circle would be EU’s cooperation neighbours under Northern or Mediterranean dimension (including e.g. Turkey which EU probably can not absorb as member state) and forth circle will be the rest of he world with different cooperation schemes (Partnership agreement with Russia, transatlantic cooperation with USA etc).

The picture of EU’s energy dependency on Russia is surprisingly realistic having in mind EU’s ambitious “Supergrid” plan published mid-November 2008 and US’s and EU’s recent marketing for “southern energy corridor” – Nabucco-line.(More in my article “Powergame in EU-Russia summit” on 14.11.2008 in my Archives:Blog).

Organized crime indeed can be also big thread and my bet is, that Kosovo – if regarded as a state – has good change be first “captured” state; the local government already is leaded by drug lords and crime tribes in the centre of Balkan route.

More my views over Balkans and Caucasus one may find from my Archives:Blog





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UN deciding over plan for Kosovo – which plan to select?

November 21, 2008

Some 5.000 to 10.000 Kosovo Albanians protested on Wednesday in Pristina against the UN plan on the reconfiguration of Unmik. Last week, the United Nations put forward an amended 6-point plan for the deployment of the EU’s EULEX mission. The United Nations’ six-point plan, negotiated between the UN Secretary General, Serbia and the European Union has been rejected by Kosovo leaders who argue it compromises Pristina’s sovereignty. On 18th Nov.2008 Kosovo’s separatist government offered own 4-point plan, saying final “no” on 6-points.

Background

Straight after Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence EU launched its rule and law mission EULEX. The idea was to deploy a new civilian mission in Kosovo to replace the UN administration. However UNSC did not replace resolution 1244 – which was adopted in 1999 when the international administration and peacekeepers enter the province and confirms Serbia’s sovereignty over the province – so new mission’s legal base was in doubt.

Six-point-plan

To deploy EULEX the Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon of UN proposed on July 2008 technical negotiations between UN and Belgrade and Pristina authorities over six issues – police, customs, judicial system, traffic-infrastructure, borderline and Serbian cultural heritage.

Serbia outlined three conditions under which it would accept deployment – that

  • Eulex secure UN security council approval,
  • be neutral with respect to Kosovo’s status and
  • not implement the Ahtisaari Plan, which also lacks security council authorisation.

Few weeks ago agreement with Belgrade was reached. The amended six-point plan of the UN secretary-general, which Serbia declared it would support, also envisages an autonomous police force for Serb-majority areas, which would receive directives from the UN’s mission in Kosovo (Unmik); with Eulex responsible for policing structures in majority-Albanian areas.

Four-point- plan

Analysts in Priština have noted, that accepting the 6-point-plan for would mean that the Kosovo officials would formally lose their sovereignty over North Kosovo, though this sovereignty does not exist essentially. This view Kosovo’s separatist government shares.

The rival plan unveiled by President Fatmir Sejdiu is argued by Pristina to be in accordance with Kosovo’s constitution and the UN plan for Kosovo’s independence drafted by ex-UN envoy for Kosovo’s final status, Martti Ahtisaari. “First – We back the very swift deployment of EULEX in Kosovo according to the mandate foreseen in the declaration of independence, Ahtisaari’s Plan and the Constitution of the Kosovo Republic.” “Now Kosovo has its own four point plan which is a blueprint for EULEX’s extension all over the territory of the Republic of Kosovo,” added Kosovo’s head of government. (BalkanInsight 18/11/2008)

The proposed plan includes four points (Source New Kosova Report 18/11/2008):

  • the Government of the Republic of Kosovo support the quick deployment of EULEX in Kosovo in based on Independence Declaration, Ahtisaari document and Kosovo Constitution;
  • institutions of the Republic of Kosovo reject entirely the Six-Point Plan;
  • institutions of the Republic of Kosovo will closely cooperate with EULEX in the entire territory of Kosovo; and
  • institutions of the Republic of Kosovo will cooperate as always with the United States of America, the European Union and NATO.

From my point of view word plan is exaggerated in this case, declaration or statement could describe beter the content.

USA decides …what?

Kosovo leaders continued 18th Nov. 2008 talks with the US State Undersecretary for Eurasia Daniel Fried and EU officials on finding a solution for the deployment of EULEX on the whole territory of Kosovo. After talks Kosovo leaders informed that USA is backing their 4-point plan.

However on 20th Nov. 2008 US Ambassador to Serbia Cameron Munter says Kosovo officials have been informed of Washington’s support for the UN six-point plan, and Pristina is also urged to back the plan. The ambassador said Pristina was told that it should take into consideration that an agreement with Belgrade has been reached over the (6-point) plan and that Washington, which has been instrumental in supporting Kosovo’s efforts to gain independence from Serbia, deems the plan acceptable as well.  (Source: BalkanInsight 20/11/2008)

Prima facie the 6-point and 4-point seems to be mutually exclusive, but hey are not when understanding 4-point to valid south of Ibar river and 6-point north of that.

To be continued

The session of the UN SC on Kosovo at which the Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon is expected to submit his report might be held on coming week. Until then, Belgrade has interrupted all further talks waiting for the Ban Ki-Moon’s report. If conditions set by Belgrade are precisely defined in that report (status neutrality of the EULEX deployed in Kosovo under the UN umbrella and not implementing Martti Ahtisaari’s plan), Serbia shall give the green light for deployment of the EULEX in the whole territory of Kosovo.

Accepting 6-point-plan does not change the actual situation on the ground. Southern part will continue its life under EU supervision implementing Ahtisaari plan, northern part will formally continue to be an UN protectorate de facto integrated to Serbia.





Croatia’s and Serbia’s ‘Genocide’ Case To Proceed

November 19, 2008

Last century was marked deep ethnic tensions between Croats and Serbs. These tensions erupted most violent way during WWII and Yugoslavia’s breakup wars early 1990s. Now this brutal past is going on tables of international courtrooms while Croatian lawsuit against Serbia and Serbia’s countersuit will be heard in Haague.

ICJ

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled on Tuesday 18th Nov. 2008 that it can hear a Croatian lawsuit filed against Serbia for genocide during the war in the early 1990s. The verdict of the 17-member trial chamber at the United Nations’ highest court was delivered by Court President Rosalyn Higgins at a public session. The trial chamber officials voted 10 to seven in favour of Croatia.

Earlier Belgrade claimed that the International Court of Justice has no authority in the case. However the court ruled that Belgrade recognised the jurisdiction of the ICJ during the 1990s by responding to suits filed against it by Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia, and by filing charges against the NATO alliance for its bombing of Serbia in the spring of 1999.

Since an out-of-court settlement is highly unlikely, the next expected step is the confirmation of the suit being filed by Croatia, after which the Serbian legal team would be given at least a year to prepare both its defence and the countersuit announced by its legal representatives for the alleged genocide committed by Croatia against ethnic Serbs during the war. (Source BalkanInsght).

Croatia’s case

Croatia filed the suit in 1999, claiming that Belgrade participated in the ethnic cleansing of Croats, through its command over the armed forces, information agencies and paramilitary units that perpetrated war crimes in Croatia. Serbs in Croatia set up their own entity in 1991 in response to Croatia’s declaration of independence from Yugoslavia, forcing thousands of Croats out of the area referred to as the Republic of Serb Krajina.

However, the breakaway state was defeated in 1995 in a Croatian military offensive known as “Operation Storm,” pushing thousands of ethnic Serbs out of Croatian and forcing them to seek refuge in Serbia.

Serbia

Serbia will file a lawsuit against Croatia for ethnic cleansing and war crimes committed during the so-called Op Storm, FM Vuk Jeremić said late on Tuesday 18th. “Croatia did not appropriately respond to the hand of reconciliation which Serbia repeatedly offered, with a desire to leave the past behind and turn to our common future in Europe. A lawsuit will now be filed against Croatia in order for the truth finally to be found out,” the minister told the state television RTS.

Jeremić said that Croatia had refused to face the fact that 250,000 ethnic Serbs had been ethnically cleansed from the territory of Croatia in 1995. “We will do all in our power to have our case appropriately presented to the court. We will review all developments in the 20th century, World War II and Independent State of Croatia. We will turn to history to find out the truth for the sake of our common future,” the foreign minister stressed.

My point

It is quite clear that both sides have made brutalities, ethnic cleansings, war crimes etc to each other. On the one hand these events also include a part of myths or one-sided propaganda for political purposes, on the other hand the full picture or true story is still waiting for its paragon. While the process in ICJ will take at least some two years I am in doubts if this is the right way to complement the history. I think that a better way could be a “Truth Commission” like implemented in South Africa after apartheid. Due the lack of verdicts this kind of forum can go deeper to issues on the ground, it can also make base for mutual understanding better than some technical court procedure far away.

About Croatian/Serbian conflicts I have published few articles earlier, such as “Operation Storm” 5/8/2008 and 22/9/2008, “Nazi’s Funeral shadows Croatia’s past” on 1/8/2008, which can be found from my Archives:Blog.


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