Kosovo March/February 17th: Pogrom with Prize

It is nearly five years since the outburst of ethnic Albanian violence in Kosovo on March 17, 2004, when 19 people killed and 954 wounded and when 35 Orthodox holy sites were ruined in two days. This pogrom got its prize a year ago on February 17th when Kosovo Albanians unilaterally – but orchestrated by western powers – declared independence of this province.  The events showed way to all separatist movements on the globe that violence is accepted method to attain political goal.  They also uncovered the EU’s nonexistent skills with crisis management and designing anything else than already dead road maps for conflict resolution.

Those two dates are well remembered in all ethnic groups in Serbia and its separatist province, although from different perspectives. Also international community, especially EU should remember them as they have lost their perspective in West Balkans long time ago.

March 17th 2004  

Almost 4,000 Serbs were expelled from their homes, six town and nine villages were ethnically cleansed, 935 houses belonging to Serbs and 10 public institutions (schools, health centres, post offices…) were ruined or torched in addition to 35 Orthodox churches (total 150 since bombings 1999) . March 17th violence was sequel to the ethnic Albanian terror and war in Kosovo as a result more than 200.000 refugees or better say internally displaced persons (IDPs) from province.

March 17th showed the total failure of international community in Kosovo. Fabricated, biased or optimistic reports were singing the praises of conflict management and progress, intelligence – lacking touch with local community – didn’t know anything about planned terror. The response of peacekeepers and police was also delayed. The commanders were unreachable, drunk or had hangover due the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations after buckets of Irish whiskey and Guinness.

March 17th finalized IDP problem

After 72 days illegal bombing campaign 1999 international community started wide housing program for refugees and IDPs and with Albanians it was a success while Kosovo accommodated nearly half million more Albanians than before bombing (don’t ask from where those extras came).  Serbs instead were afraid to move back – like it was situation also with refugees from Croatia – so today Serbia is suffering one of the biggest (326,853 refugees and IDPs) refugee/IDP problems in the whole Europe (More in my article “Refugees and IDPs in Western Balkans” )

According to statistics from the UNHCR there are about 206,000 IDPs from Kosovo living in Serbia. This fact has mostly ignored in western mainstream media. Their attitude is understandable since this media from the very beginning had fixed their one-sided picture about good and bad guys so Serbs somehow deserved their fate. The outcome is that Serb Refugees and IDPs from Kosovo are one of the forgotten and forsaken victim groups in the former Yugoslavia.

After pogrom 2004 new housing program was planned but it is questionable if more people from non-Albanian ethnic groups moved in or out because lack of security. March 17th guaranteed that Serbs are not considering to come back to their earlier homes and those who still live in enclave ghettos are planning to move anytime.

Dream of “European” standards and forgetting them

After reverse ethnic cleansing during Summer 1999 UN started to administer its protectorate. Autumn 2002 UN started to plan and later launched a “standards before status” –policy, 8 milestones to achieve before starting status talks. The first independent review about these “European” standards came public October 2005 in Karl Eide’s report to UN .  Latest then it was clear that Kosovo will not reach European standards in foreseeable future. However growing frustration among Kosovo Albanians made international community to fear that March 17th pogrom could repeat again so status talks started regardless of standards.

On the behalf of UN Martti Ahtisaari – unofficial lackey of U.S.State Department and Nato – held ten rounds of pseudo talks with Pristina and Belgrade during 2006.  Ahtisaari published his biased report which soon found itself in garbage bin and UN started new negotiation round. This time facilitators were better balanced in sc. Troika including representatives of U.S., Russia and EU. This time real alternatives for future status were on table such as Åland and Hong Kong models, partition, confederation, new autonomy model.  Albanian side did not see necessary to negotiate anything because U.S. had already promised independence for them so also this round lead to stalemate. (More about negotiation events here)

February 17th 2008

In December 2007 NATO and EU started to implement coordinated declaration of Kosovo’s independence. Its elements were e.g. following:

  • the US and the EU would take leading roles in “coordinating and managing” Kosovo’s process towards independence
  • a “creative interpretation” of UN SC Resolution 1244 would allow for NATO to stay in Kosovo “no matter its status” and for the EU to send its ESDP mission without Security Council authorization
  • Pristina would be asked to “coordinate” their moves and not proclaim unilateral independence without prior signals from Washington and Brussels
  • Serbia would be sent a “sweetener” in the form of a promise of accelerated candidate status in exchange for “constructive disagreement”.

The EU would build a “unified” position by creating a framework which would allow for Kosovo’s independence, but decisions on recognition would be subject to national decisions, procedures and frameworks, meaning that EU members would not be obliged to recognize it.

This scenario was implemented and February 17th 2008 Kosovo declared its independence regardless international law and UN.  The first recognitions came from Afghanistan,  U.S. and other its lackeys followed.

Everything didn’t go like planned in Washington and its Brussels allies.  Bribing of Serbs wasn’t successful;  Russia with other rising BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) countries had their say in UN, recognitions stopped.

When Albanian majority declared Independence Feb. 2008 the idea was to transfer international administration from UN to EU.  However the only internationally accepted UN Security Council resolution 1244 – which says that Kosovo is part of Serbia – stayed valid. So that about independence which in mistake has accepted through some 50 countries.

The UN General Assembly was backing Serbia’s draft to request an advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) about the legality of the unilaterally declared independence of Kosovo.  October 8th UNGA, by a recorded vote of 77 in favour to 6 against (Albania, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, United States), with 74 abstentions, adopted a resolution drafted by Serbia and now the case is in Haague.

Today the actual situation on the ground is big mess without any clear exit strategy.  EU is administrating in Kosovo under UN umbrella.  Albanian dominated southern part is continuing its life under EU supervision while Serb dominated northern part will formally continue to be an UN protectorate de facto integrated to Serbia.  However a wider framework is international law and UNSC resolution 1244 are valid before new resolution will replace the existing one.

International situation escalated immediately by Kosovo’s Unilateral Declaration of Independence – some 5.000 ethnic groups had waited this signal that with violence one can achieve political goals despite international law.  Kosovo was already good excuse for separatist movements during last Summer and Autumn in Caucasia and South America.

From frozen conflict to frozen independence

After agreement with Serbia EU’s rule of law mission (EULEX) finally started end of 2008 after half an year delay.  This filling of power vacuum came in right moment before Kosovo would slide 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.

In an interesting interview of John Bolton in Interfax  , former US Undersecretary of State and Ambassador to the United Nations made e.g. following remarks:

  • US recognition of severed Kosovo province was a serious mistake, leading to an escalation of tensions, instead of calming down the situation in the Balkans.
  • “support to the independence of Kosovo is an atavism that might have made sense 15 years ago, but makes no sense today.”
  • “consensus boils down to the fact that nobody knows where Kosovo is”

Normally I have doubts with thoughts of U.S. neocons but this time Mr. Bolton hit the nail on the head – I can only agree.


It’s easy to blame the today’s situation in Kosovo on U.S foreign policy.  After implementing its failed attempt to please Muslim countries, after increasing the profits of its military-industry-complex and after creating one of its biggest military complex in Europe U.S. is covering its track record and leaving the whole mess to its lapdogs in EU. As a result of EU’s short-sighted post-conflict management policy they must again throw away few billions of EU taxpayer money to keep flag in international protectorate and safe haven of drug cartels – in artificial unsustainable creature with no realistic visions nor exit strategy.

March 17th 2004 in Kosovo is an example for international community general and for EU missions especial about fatal failure of crisis management when they are short of right situation analysis, when practice is contrary to their ideals and when interests of local stakeholders and internationals differ. The outcome of EU’s nearly nine years efforts for capacity building to create economically sustainable multiethnic society with democratic values could be joke – unfortunately this never-ending story continued February 17th 2008 and is still continuing to unforeseeable future and it is not fiction.

More over Kosovo case in my +30 articles here!

17 Responses to Kosovo March/February 17th: Pogrom with Prize

  1. Noel says:

    The article is so biased and propagandistic, thus it does not deserve commenting on. However, for the sake of objectivity I would like to remind the author that neither of the maps used portrays correctly the Serbian population in Kosovo. Kosovo never was populated by more than 200 000 Serbs even at its peak 1995-1999 when between 50 – 100000 Serb refugees from Croatia and Bosnia were settled in Kosovo.

    Further, half of the UN nations were created in the last century, hence the Westphalian argument of territorial integrity is irrelevant in the current international system.

    Kosovo gained independence because of:

    First it was the constitutional part of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, a state which no longer exists.

    Second, Serbian military and paramilitary forces killed between 12000 – 15000 Kosovan Albanians, mainly elderly men, women and children.

    Third, Serbia forcefully expelled up to 1 000 000 Albanians out of their country, and destroyed their identity documents hoping they will be unable to return.

    Fourth Serbian Criminal forces, burned or otherwise destroyed 250 000 Albanian Houses between 1998-1999.

    Fifthly, Kosovo was put under UN protectorate for nearly eight years,

    I could further go on and on but I would suggest you read the report prepared by your fellow citizen Mr Ahtisaari, which you might have already read but unfortunately, you seem to be in denial.


    • arirusila says:

      To Noel:

      Sorry that you were upset by my article that’s common when conflicting arguments are disturbing well organized picture of the world. As many times earlier I have never claimed to be unbiased, I try highlight other side of story so that reader could have more comprehensive and multi-sided idea of the topic.

      You were calling objectivity so lets compare some arguments:

      Kosovo never was populated by more than 200 000 Serbs even at its peak 1995-1999 when between 50 – 100000 Serb refugees from Croatia and Bosnia were settled in Kosovo.

      Here some Census Data:
      Nationality: year 1961/1971/1981/1991
      * Albanians 646.805 / 916.168 / 1.226.736 / 1.607.690
      * Serbs 227.016 / 228.264 / 209.498 / 195.301
      * Montenegrins 37.588 / 31.555 / 27.028 / 20.045
      * Gypsies 3.202 / 14.593 / 34.126 / 42.806

      To clarify figures about people who fled the violence of Kosovo Albanian’s. The were not all Serbs, also Montegerins were Gypsies targets of Albanian mob.

      Further, half of the UN nations were created in the last century, hence the Westphalian argument of territorial integrity is irrelevant in the current international system.

      I see Westphalian argument still valid because it describes principle, which later has adopted in UN Chater, Helsinki Final Act etc. New states are coming whole the time but the idea is that local stakeholders/authorities agree about them. So it was case e.g. when Serbia and Montenegro separated couple of years ago.

      Kosovo gained independence because of:

      First it was the constitutional part of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, a state which no longer exists.
      Second, Serbian military and paramilitary forces killed between 12000 – 15000 Kosovan Albanians, mainly elderly men, women and children.
      Third, Serbia forcefully expelled up to 1 000 000 Albanians out of their country, and destroyed their identity documents hoping they’ll be unable to return.
      Fourth Serbian Criminal forces, burned or otherwise destroyed 250 000 Albanian Houses between 1998-1999.
      Fifthly, Kosovo was put under UN protectorate for nearly eight years,

      1) Kosovo was autonomy not republic like other parts of Yugoslavia which separated.
      2) The number game with death tolls has always been popular in recent Balkan Wars. The figures vary quite a lot and here some of them: In June 2000 the Red Cross reported that 3,368 civilians (2,500 Albanians, 400 Serbs, and 100 Roma) were still missing, nearly one year after the conflict. In August 2000 the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) announced that it had exhumed 2,788 bodies in Kosovo, but declined to say how many were thought to be victims of war crimes. Earlier however, KFOR sources told Agence France Presse that of the 2,150 bodies that had been discovered up until July 1999, about 850 were thought to be victims of war crimes. According to a Serbian government report, from January 1, 1998 to June 10, 1999 the KLA killed 988 people and kidnapped 287; in the period from June 10, 1999, to November 11, 2001, when NATO had been in control in Kosovo, 847 people were reported to have been killed and 1,154 kidnapped.
      3) Before Nato bombings some 250.000 Kosovo Albanians was displaced, after bombing started UN estimated that 850.000 mostly Kosovo Albanians had left their home (BTW some Albanian convoys were destroyed by Nato with lot of civil casualties) .
      4) I don’t have better figures how many Houses was destroyed by fighters or by Nat bombs. When the bombing ended June 1999 so by November 1999, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, 808,913 out of 848,100 Kosovo Albanian refugees had returned.
      5) Kosovo still is UN protectorate and according UNSC Resolution 1244 part of Serbia

      You proposed Mr Ahtisaari’s report for me to read. Why? My opinion about him should be clear in article and if not I can recommend two of my earlier articles about him (“Do you hear Mr Nobel rolling in his Grave” and “500.000 Bodies or Sign“. And I have read his both his report and plan related to Kosovo.

      Related to expertise I have mentioned in my profile to be development project expert. If I look Kosovo case as a project of “humanitarian intervention” or “capacity building of civil society” or “marketing European values” I must say that mistakes have been made with every aspect of normal “Project Cycle Management” method. If I look the from point of view of Kosovo Albanian druglords I must admit, that they have implemented their project successfully.


  2. thanks

    very good


  3. Noel says:

    The fact that you were based in Leposavic for a short while does not surprise me that you have chosen to spread Serbian propaganda, who, unfortunately cannot get over the fact that the times when 5% of population ruled the other 95% are over. That will never happen again, the sooner the Serbs and their advocates get used to it the better.

    Again, as I said Serbs did not exceed the 200000 figure in 1999, your date support my estimate.

    1. Kosovo had the same constitutional powers as other Yugoslav Republics, the veto power, the rotation of leadership, in 1986 Kosovan representative was the head of the Yugoslavian State.
    2. The 12000 – 15000 figure was reported by prestigious International Organisations, any data coming from the ‘Serbian government’ is biased, hence invalid.
    3. Subsequent to NATO bombing the Kosovo Albanians had not ‘left their homes’ but were violently expelled, and tortured by Serb military and paramilitary criminals. A visit to The Hague Tribunal could enlighten you a bit.
    4. Kosovo is a UN protectorate to only those who are still daydreaming, the fact of the matter is that Kosovo is an independent state recognised by 55 States covering more than 60% of worlds GDP. The resolution 1244 is nothing more than a peace of paper soon to become part of the UN archive.
    5. One must be pretty naïve to suggest that it is the ‘Albanian druglords’ who implemented the project, when it is clear that The Independence was declared in coordination with the International Community. Further any attempt to portray the Kosovoan Leaders as ‘druglords’ is nothing more than pure propaganda – you come across to webb’s such as this and ‘Serbianna’ in particular when one considers that the internal/external Kosovan Security is run by KFOR-NATO and previously UNMIK now EULEX Police. Hence if there are any such ‘druglords’ – which I doubt there are – they cannot be more than in Finland or any other EU country.

    • arirusila says:

      To Noel:
      In Balkans I learned never to say never – the local historical perspective is so long that s.c. final solutions/status etc. will probably change sooner or later - and sooner when local stakeholders have not made agreement between themselves.

      Few notes:
      1) You wrote that there was never over 200.000 Serbs in Kosovo, my figures falsified your estimate.
      2) Kosovo was not republic, its powers as Serbian province were similar like Voivodina had/has.
      3) As I said figures vary depending source, maybe you could send link to your "prestigious International Organizations" data.
      4) Most of Kosovo Albanians started to move after Nato bombings - some did not want to be between fighting KLA and Serb troops,some escaped bombs, some were forced to move to avoid fighting, reasons vary.
      5) If flag and anthem is enough for independence so be happy. Normally some statehood needs some sovereignty, executive power in own region e.g. something more. Both civil and military power are hands of foreign authorities and also according international law.
      6) For your information some 80% Afghan heroin to Europe is going via "Balkan route", the estimated value of drug trafficking in Kosovo is 2 bn US$ per year - if the total "legal" export of Kosovo's is some 50 million € per year you see the difference. Interpol , Europol, DEA and BND reports can help you find some facts to replace your illusons.

  4. Noel says:


    As far as the Balkan’s mentality is concerned – suffice to say – I have lived and worked in the Balkans for several decades.

    1. Again, my estimate was mainly related to the 1999s and was proven to be entirely within the margins.
    2. Kosovo was not a republic but had the same constitutional powers as other Yugoslav Republics, read the 1974 Constitution of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
    3. For an anylyses of date see ‘Political killings in Kosova/Kosovo – Statistical analysis of the data’ http://shr.aaas.org/kosovo/pk/p1_2.html , I agree that figures vary, but the 12 000 estimate is a real possibility.
    4. Your suggestions that ‘most of Kosovo Albanians started to move after Nato bombings – some did not want to be between fighting KLA and Serb troops’ is a pure speculation. I was at the time in Kosovo and have seen it with my own eyes how the Serbian military and paramilitary forces including armed local Serbs robed, raped killed Kosovo Albanian en rute to Albania, Montenegro and Macedonia. Again, The Hague Tribunal is full of evidence.
    5. ‘If flag and anthem is enough for independence so be happy’. For Kosovo Albanians any sort of independence from Serbia for now is acceptable, call it supervised – litte. Not many states have had the luxury of being recognised by 55 UN states including your country for such a short period. Look at Croatia as an example.
    6. For your information I provide a quote ‘verbatim’from INTERPOL regarding the ‘Balkan Route’ you reffering to – Kosovo is not mentioned- hence any attempt to label Kosovo as the main source of ‘drug dealing’ is pure Serbian propaganda ‘in particular when one considers that the internal/external Kosovan Security is run by KFOR-NATO and previously UNMIK now EULEX Police’.

    ‘Two primary routes are used to smuggle heroin: the Balkan Route, which runs through southeastern Europe, and the Silk Route, which runs through Central Asia. The anchor point for the Balkan Route is Turkey, which remains a major staging area and transportation route for heroin destined for European markets. The Balkan Route is divided into three sub-routes: the southern route runs through Turkey, Greece, Albania and Italy; the central route runs through Turkey, Bulgaria, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia, and into either Italy or Austria; and the northern route runs from Turkey, Bulgaria and Romania to Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland or Germany. Large quantities of heroin are destined for either the Netherlands or the United Kingdom.

    Although the Balkan Route is considered the primary supply line for Western Europe Afghan and Central Asian traffickers smuggle heroin along the Silk Route into Russia, the Baltic States, Poland, Ukraine, the Czech Republic and other parts of Europe. Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, K azakhstan, and Turkmenistan are vital transit countries, with an estimated 24% of Afghan heroin smuggled along this route.’ http://www.interpol.int/public/Drugs/heroin/default.asp


    • arirusila says:

      Noel, few notes:

      1) Kosovo as part of Serbia had same powers like Voivodina, republics had a bit more
      2) Even in statistical analysis figures vary a lot. One point is who killed e.g. Kosovo Albanians? Serbs sure made their share, but some were killed by Nato bombs (e.g. one K-Albanian convoy) or by KLA.
      3) I think that UNCHR statistis show that main part of population started to move when bombings started. One part as forced to move by Serb forces to avoid civil victims (collateral damage when civils are middle of KLA troops).
      4) Independence is the self-government of a nation, country, or state by its residents and population, or some portion thereof, generally exercising sovereignty. A state is a political association with effective sovereignty over a geographic area and representing a population. A state usually includes the set of institutions that claim the authority to make the rules that govern the people of the society in that territory.
      If “flag and anthem” independence is enough so that kind of state we have e.g. Åland islands in Finland, we call it self-governance.
      5) “Ethnic Albanian Criminal Groups” are the only national group discussed in the 2006 Europol publication TheThreat from Organised Crime: Ethnic Albanian organised crime groups have established themselves in many European Union Member States and beyond… ethnic Albanian crime groups are found to extend their role from facilitators to achieving full control in certain crime areas. They adapt withoutdifficulties to local or changing situations. More detailed information about drug trafficking and Albanians role there one may find from last report of UN Office on drugs and Crime: Crime and its Impact on the Balkans (March 2009).


  5. Viking Harald says:

    Synkkiä Kosovon ennustuksia ja päätelmiä sinulla. Itse seisoin 1999 keväällä Albanian rajalla poliisitehtävissä ja katsoin kun etninen puhdistus noin 0.8 miljoonaa ihmistä ajettiin entisen Jugoslavian toimesta terrorilla ja väkivallalla pois asuinsijoiltaan.
    Noin 12000 menetti henkensä edelleen kateissa ehkä tuhkattuna on noin 3000 Albania.
    Tämän operaation nimi oli “Hevosenkenkä”. Tällä hetkellä Haagissa on syytteessä yksi sen operation Serbi johtajista.
    Itse niitä, “kenen kädet ovat veressä” ei tuskin koskaan saada vastuuseen.
    Tämä käsittääkseni antoi täällä Balkkanin osalla noin 800 vuoden väkivaltakierteeseen oikeuden liittoutumalla puuttua. Balkanilla oli Jugoslavian aikana ihmisoikeudet sillä, joka oli ” Zastavan tehtailla” tehdyn rynnäkkökiväärin perän puolella. Tämä kaikki noin 3 lentotunnin päästä Helsingistä.
    En silloin 1999 käsittänyt mitenkä nämä ihmiset saadaan pois ennen syksyn1999 kylmiä ja sateita takaisin ihmisarvoiseen paikkaan eli kotiinsa…no se nähtiin, heti kun sopimus Naton kanssa oli tehty pommitusten loputtua…ihmiset palasivat takaisin.
    Vuosisatainen koston kierre jatkui ikävä kyllä.

    Toivon menestystä Kosovolle ja Ahtisaarelle.

    Tässä on yhdenlainen tosi lyhyt näkemys Balkkanin ja Kosovon tulevaisuuteen.
    Väkivallan kierre pitäisi katkaista ja lähihistorian syylliset saada ainakin Euroopassa vastuuseen.
    Sodan ensimmäinen uhri on yleensä aina “totuus”.

  6. […] Kosovo March/February 17th – Pogrom with Prize […]

  7. […] So when EU and international have not implemented during last 10 years UN resolution the residents in international protectorate must suffer. From the bright side now the majority of former Kosovo Serbs can have visa-free travel abroad as they are residing in Serbia because they could not return to their homes in Kosovo after ethnic cleansing made by Kosovo Albanians on 1999 and 2004. (More about this topic e.g. in my article “Kosovo March/February 17th: Pogrom with Prize”) […]

  8. […] leave Kosovo, because they face exclusion and discrimination. More about this in my article “…Pogrom with Prize” […]

  9. […] leave Kosovo, because they face exclusion and discrimination. More about this in my article “…Pogrom with Prize” […]

  10. […] Since classical times, it has been noted that peace has sometimes been achieved by the victor over the vanquished by the imposition of ruthless measures. Events in Balkans give a good example. After bloody war in Bosnia Dayton agreement brought peace. It was possible because before Dayton the war (1992-95) had almost finished ethnic cleansing/transfer of populations so drawing new administrative boundaries according ethnic groups was not big deal. One can show from statistics that also in Kosovo prevails peace. Why, not because there is multi-ethnic and tolerant society, but because other than Albanian ethnic groups were kicked out to enclaves, north Kosovo or totally out from province. (More e.g. In my article “…Pogrom with Prize”) […]

  11. Bokica says:

    So , Balkan heroin route going over :
    Bosnia and Herzegovina,
    Czech Rep.
    and Poland…BUT NOT KOSOVO ?!!!!

    Noel , you are an AUTHENTIC IDIOT .

  12. Aparently Noel, as well as many other, do not have any clue what have been the Albanians doing during the World War 2, and previous.
    THey were colonized by the Ottomans in 1840 AD to kill and terrorize the Christian population of the Balkan part of the Ottoman Empire.
    They were killing over 200,000 Serbs and Macedonians during the Second World War.
    First come live here, in an Albanian district – I know you will totally disagree that Serbs are bad.

  13. “Love Albanians, but live in a Serbian or Macedonian neighborhood” – This was the first advice for the internationals in Kosovo and Macedonia. Advice from their older international colleagues. 🙂
    After they learned the real situation they were replaced by less experienced and naive replacements.

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