Kosovo update

August 6, 2009

This summer came 10 years since Nato stopped bombing Serbia. Agreement was made that Serb forces leave Kosovo and the province will be administrated de facto international protectorate by UN being however under sovereignty of Serbia (UNSC resolution 1244). So ten years has gone, the province declared independence and EU is now implementing its agenda after UN’s modest try – or better say failure. As my picture about Kosovo is much more negative than high flown UN/EU reports a small update about Kosovo case is justified.


From administrative point of view Kosovo is total mess-up. EU started its huge rule & law mission late 2008 under UN umbrella. Besides UN/UNMIK and EU/EULEX there is also other players twisting arms who is leading the international protectorate. There is European Union High Representative who simultaneously leads International Community Office wondering his role, same time Nato-troops (KFOR) tries to keep ethnic tensions moderate, OSCE do not know its role nor length of its mission’s mandate in Kosovo, EU delegation office, few influential foreign liaison representatives and of course sc. Kosovo government based to local tribes. It shows amazing creativity to establish this kind organizational nightmare in one tiny province and more amazing is that after nearly nine years of international administration and capacity building and squandered billions of Euros both the administration and the situation on the ground are beneath all criticism.

Multi-ethnic idea is far away despite EU’s billions. After bombing almost all Albanian refugees have returned while only tiny fraction of Serb refugees – or officially internally displaced persons – have returned to Kosovo. The remaining Serbs in Kosovo are barricaded into enclaves keeping their lives mainly with help of international KFOR troops or in de facto separated Serb majority region in North Kosovo. This has changed former multi-ethnic province more mono-ethnic one.

According the new report – -made by Minority Rights Group International (MRG) gives a bare picture about worsening situation of minority rights in today’s Kosovo. Instead to return to their homes after ethnic cleansing implemented by Kosovo Albanians after Nato intervention 1999 and again 2004 minorities are beginning to leave Kosovo, because they face exclusion and discrimination. More about this in my article “...Pogrom with Prize” –

The core problem in Kosovo from my point of view is organized crime. This keeps Kosovo still as tribe society where political parties are only one side of clan activities. As hub of famous Balkan route Kosovo Albanian mafia is distributing majority of heroin sold in western and centre Europe and is now also testing cooperation with Columbian cartels to start distribution more cocaine as well. Earlier (Kosovo) Albanian mafia based its logistics to help of al-Qaida because the heroin is coming from Afghanistan. It is estimated that the value of organized crime for Kosovo is some US 2 bn which btw is up to nearly 40 times bigger than the value of official export from province.

The aim of international community was to build “standards before status”, on 2005 the task was seen impossible so the slogan changed to “standards and status”. Even this was unrealistic so Feb. 2008 “European”standards were thrown away to garbage and “status without standards” precipitately accepted by western powers. For international community I don’t see any success story with this backward progress.

The outcome today is a quasi-state with good change to become next “failed” or “captured” state if international community does not firm its grip in province. Today’s Kosovo is already safe-heaven for war criminals, drug traffickers, international money laundry and radical Wahhabists – unfortunately all are also allies of western powers.

Now Europeans realize they were hoodwinked into recognizing Kosovo’s independence on the pretence it would resolve problems and bring peace. Kosovo case was not unique, like it was introduced into playgrounds of international politics, it was a precedent to numerous separatist movement on globe that violence is the right mean to achieve political aims instead of international law.


It’s said that The Balkans are a graveyard for foreign ambitions. This could be the “lessons learned” to both USA and EU. Some more sustainable solutions could also be implemented in Western Balkans. Withdrawal of Kosovo recognition can open real negotiations between local stakeholders with unpredicted but possible compromise can end one frozen conflict.

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Moldova Elections – 2nd attempt

August 1, 2009

The 29 July early parliamentary elections in Moldova swept Europe’s last ruling Communist party from power by pro-EU opposition parties. With 98.3 percent of votes counted, the Communist Party won 48 seats in the 101-seat Moldovan parliament and the four opposition parties collected 53 seats. The former Soviet republic has been experiencing a political crisis since the April elections that turned into a week of violent demonstrations by young pro-opposition activists in the capital Chisinau, dubbed the “Twitter revolution” (More in my article “Twitter Revolution – Case Moldova” )

Wednesday’s election is a repeat of the vote on April, however forced not by the protests, but the Communists’ failure to muster the 61 votes needed to elect a president. The result then left the Communists one vote short and parliamentary deputies failed twice to elect a new head of state. After several months of deadlock, Moldova’s long-time Communist leader Vladimir Vorinin was forced to dissolve parliament and hold fresh elections. After eight years as president, Voronin is now expected to leave power.

More about April elections can be found from my article “Election in Moldova – Nato perspective blocked”.

The campaign

Moldova has been in political paralysis since April 5 parliamentary elections sparked violent protests, with the opposition claiming the ballot was faked. According OSCE’s preliminary observation report the Political parties frequently used these events in their campaigns to blame each other for the eruption of violence. The campaign atmosphere was highly polarized, and there was severe antagonism between the opposition and the ruling party. As in previous elections, voting did not take place on the territory that since 1992 is under the de facto control of the Transdniestrian authorities. In Corjova, a disputed commune on the eastern bank, voting was prevented by seemingly organized groups. The place is also president Voronin’s native village. (More about Transdnistria/Moldova dispute’s background may be found from my article “Transdnistrian number game”)

Elections were contested by eight political parties whose lists of candidates were registered by the CEC in an inclusive process. Registration of two independent candidates was refused due to incomplete documentation. Two political parties, the National Liberal Party (PNL) and the European Action Movement (MAE), as well as one independent candidate, withdrew from the race. The campaign atmosphere remained strained mostly due to mutual accusations between the governing party and the opposition regarding the eruption of violence during the April demonstrations. At campaign events throughout the country, the PCRM showed a film “Attack on Moldova” portraying opposition parties, with some foreign involvement, as organizers of the 7 April events. Likewise, during their campaign events, the PLDM, AMN and PL used footage depicting the events as instigated by the PCRM. The only party that openly called for an end to these disputes was the PDM under its newly elected chairman who was a prominent PCRM figure and who had left the PCRM in June 2009. (Source – OSCE report mentioned earlier).

The results

According OSCE observation report this time parliamentary elections in Moldova overall were well administered, allowing for competition of political parties representing a plurality of views. Many of the OSCE and Council of Europe commitments were met.

The results are described in following table where I have added also the April 5th voting results for comparison:

Election

///

Party

Election June 29th 2009

Election April 5th 2009

Turnout 58,8 %

Turnout 54 %

%

Seats

%

Seats

Communist Party

45,07

48

49,48

60

Liberal Party

14,36

15

13,13

15

Liberal Democratic Party

16,40

17

13,43

15

Democratic Party

12,61

13

Our Moldova Alliance

7,37

8

9,77

11

Short characterization:

  • The Communist Party came to power in 2001; leader Vladimir Voronin will step down after serving two four-year terms as president.
  • Liberal Democratic Party is Pro-European, pro-NATO; considered a party of technocrats.
  • Liberal Party is Pro-European, pro-NATO; wants closer relationship with Romania.
  • The big winner Democratic Party supports Moldova’s eventual membership in the European Union — a long-term goal. Party now led by Marian Lupu, who quit senior position in Communist Party in June.
  • Our Moldova Alliance is Pro-European, pro-NATO and favors closer ties with Romania.

Outside reactions

Romanian President Traian Basescu said Thursday 30th that “opposition and democratic forces” had won the snap parliamentary elections in neighbouring Moldova. Elections in Moldova are followed closely in neighbouring Romania. Most of Moldova was part of Romania until its annexation by the Soviet Union in 1940. Moldova won independence in 1991. Relations between the neighbouring countries have deteriorated since Moldova’s outgoing Communist government blamed the riots on neighbouring EU member Romania, kicking out Romania’s ambassador. (Source BalkanInsight)

More about Romania/Moldova dispute’s background in my article “Twitter revolution – no coup d’etat but big drama anyway” .

In the wake of the disputed April vote, President Voronin had accused Romania, an EU and NATO member, of engineering a coup d’etat. Turning toward Moscow, he won a $500 million loan pledge from Russia and a $1 billion pledge from China. That money may not materialize if the opposition forms a government, but at this time that kind of outcome is pure speculation.

Changes?

As follow-up at least the government and president of Moldova will change in near future. It seems probable that the new government was likely to adopt a pro-EU “tilt”, and enact important market reforms, but without alienating Russia.

The leader of the Liberal Democratic Party, Vlad Filat, said the election was a victory for truth and that it would definitely seek to form a coalition with other opposition parties – the Liberal Party, the Democratic Party and Our Moldova Alliance. He told Reuters: “There will definitely be a coalition, a wide coalition in the interests of the people. We will find the necessary compromise and find agreement so that Moldova finally gets democratic rule.” (Sources The Guardian and BBC )

Analysts say there is also the possibility that the Democratic Party, which won 12.5% of the vote or 13 seats, might forge a governing coalition with the Communists that would have a combined total of 61 seats. However, the leader of the Democrats, Marian Lupu, a former parliamentary speaker who defected from the Communists, was dismissive of such a deal on Thursday morning. (Sources The Guardian and BBC )

The opposition parties do not have enough votes on their own to elect the president, and will be forced to horse-trade with the Communists. Moldova’s most likely new president is Marian Lupu – the former Communist party speaker now leader of the opposition Democratic party. Lupu is the most likely candidate to attract the support of some Communist deputies, analysts believe. Some analysts expect the Communist party to seek to remain in power through making a deal to split the opposition front in which Democratic Party leader, Marian Lupu, who left the Communists only last month, agrees to support his former party in return for the ouster of President Vladimir Voronin.(Sources The Guardian and BBC )

Russia keeps troops in Moldova’s separatist Transdniestria region and supplies over 90% of the nation’s energy. It has promised $500m in loans to help Moldova through the global economic crisis. China offered $1bn.


Bottom line

Moldova is one of the frontlines of “battlefield” of interest spheres between EU and Russia, between U.S. and Russia and between future energy political deals. It is also a test for international law, conflict management and territorial sovereignty.

The power swift from Communist Party to opposition will probably not be very significant as the opposition’s win was guaranteed by new Democratic Party leaded by Communist Party’s ex top official.

In terms of foreign policy will continue the tightrope walking between the EU and Russia. There maybe will be more cooperation with the EU avoiding however same time conflict with Russia. Relations with Romania will be normalized and Transdnistria will continue its life as de facto independent state.


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