TurkStream Converts to South Stream Lite

February 14, 2021

TurkStream (Russian: Турецкий поток; former name: Turkish Stream) is a natural gas pipeline running from Russia to Turkey. Russia–Turkey intergovernmental agreement for TurkStream was signed in October 2016. Construction started in May 2017 and gas from the two-line pipeline began to flow to Turkey in November 2019 and further to Bulgaria on 1. January, 2020. Bulgaria and Serbia have made new investments and renewed their pipeline networks to utilize Russian gas coming through TurkStream. Now already six countries – Bulgaria, Greece, North Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina – in addition to Turkey use TurkStream in their gas imports and Hungary will join the club as early as this autumn. Thus, the Russian South Stream gas pipeline project, which was halted by the EU in 2014, seems to be coming true with TurkStream’s follow-up projects.

 

Nord Stream 2 is more related to conflict between the US and Germany as it is about Russian gas coming to Europe, during President Trump’s term in office, relations between Washington and Berlin deteriorated:  Instead of importing energy from Russia,  US would much preferred  that Germany imported from the US.  As US made efforts to stop Nord Stream 2, the TurkStream – with extensions in Balkans – attracted hardly any attention from US Congress or those within the EU.

Compared with the controversial Nord Stream 2 from Russia to Germany, Gazprom’s TurkStream natural gas pipeline to Turkey and Southeast Europe has drawn less opposition.  TurkStream avoided the fate of Nord Stream 2 probably  because it was completed one month before the U.S. sanctions against both pipelines came into effect.

TurkStream starts from Russkaya compressor station near Anapa in Russia’s Krasnodar Region, crossing the Black Sea to the receiving terminal at Kıyıköy.  TurkStream  has two lines with a total capacity of 31.5 billion m3/a (1.11 trillion cu ft/a) of natural gas. The first line supplies Turkey and the second line transport natural gas further to South East and Central Europe. The costs of the pipeline are estimated to be  €11.4 billion. 

 

TurkStream 2 (South Stream Lite)

Gazprom began shipping gas via TurkStream to Bulgaria on 1. January, 2020, replacing supplies via the Trans-Balkan pipeline through Ukraine and Romania.

Now one year later Gazprom has begun supplying gas to Serbia, as well as to Bosnia and Herzegovina, via a new route across Turkey and Bulgaria. Gas from Russia is transmitted by the TurkStream offshore gas pipeline and further across Turkey. It is then brought via Bulgaria’s national gas transmission system to Serbia, where it is distributed among consumers in Serbia and in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Deliveries along this route were made possible through the expansion of existing gas transmission capacities and commissioning of new ones by Bulgartransgaz EAD in Bulgaria and GASTRANS d.o.o. Novi Sad in Serbia.

The new Russian pipeline through the Black Sea to western Turkey was inaugurated on  8. January 2020 in Istanbul, in the presence of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić, and Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov. Credit: kremlin.ru

 

According to data from S&P Global Platts Analytics, in 2019, Bulgaria received 2.4 billion cubic meters of Russian gas via the Ukraine-Moldova-Romania Trans-Balkan route and transited 4 billion cubic meters more onto Turkey. A year later the volume received via that route fell to almost zero, with TurkStream instead supplying the Bulgarian market. Greece’s take of TurkStream gas in 2020 was up 18% on the 2.41 billion cubic meters of Russian gas it bought the year before delivered by the Trans-Balkan line, while North Macedonia’s imports were also up from the 0.3 billion cubic meters purchased in 2019, S&P Global Platts said on February 8th 2021.

On the 1st of January 2021, Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vučić opened the Serbian section of the European leg of the Turkish Stream in the town of Gospodjinci near Novy Sad. The pipe is 403 km long and its capacity will be almost 14 bcm a year.  Serbia now receives most of its gas via the onshore extension of TurkStream at the newly created Kireevo/Zaychar interconnection point on the border with Bulgaria. In January, supplies into Serbia via TurkStream averaged 8 million cu m/d, with flows through the traditional entry point via Hungary down to just 1.5 million cu m/d. Previously, Serbia imported around 10 million cu m/d of Russian gas via Ukraine and Hungary.

As Bulgaria is an EU member, unlike Serbia,  Sofia completed its gas investments (TurkStream 2)  quietly. In Bulgaria the main contractor was a Saudi company Arkad, which is run by Russians who bought pipes produced in Russia from Russian companies.

 

TurkStream nominally becomes “Balkan Stream” when it enters Bulgarian / EU territory, from where it is off to Serbia and Hungary. Map: Bulgaria Analytica

Forwards to EU markets 

In 2019, Turkey received an average of 11 million cu m/d of Russian gas via the Trans-Balkan pipeline — or a total of 4 Bcm, according to data from S&P Global Platts Analytics. But from the start of 2020, all Russian gas flows to Turkey are carried either by the existing 16 Bcm/year Blue Stream line under the Black Sea or the 15.75 Bcm/year Turkish string of TurkStream.

TurkStream reliably transports Russian gas across the Black Sea to consumers in Turkey and already six European countries: Bulgaria, Greece, North Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina.  It managed to bypass Ukraine as a transit state: the Trans-Balkan pipeline from Ukraine to Moldova and Romania has effectively become redundant and will be used in reverse for Russian gas deliveries from TurkStream to the Balkans.  And in addition Hungary  would like to import up to 6 Bcm/year of gas via TurkStream and its associated onshore infrastructure once a new link up on the border with Serbia is complete, expected in October 2021.

The further extension of the pipeline in South-East and Central European countries are responsibilities of involved countries. For the gas transport both—existing infrastructure and construction of new pipelines—will be used. For Gazprom the preferable option is to export gas from the second line to Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, Slovakia, and Austria.  For example there is a follow-on project called as  the Tesla pipeline, to run from Greece to North Macedonia, Serbia and Hungary, ending at the Baumgarten gas hub in Austria. 

An older map showing both Nord Stream and the former South Stream gas transit pipeline project, gives Moscow’s basic idea to go around both Belarus and Ukraine. TurkStream 2 could be described as South Stream Lite. Map: Gazprom

Bottom line

During 2014 Ukraine crisis, gas supplies from Russia lifted again energy issues to the top of the European agenda and led to the creation of the EU Energy Union.  As EU developed its energy security strategy, Russia also developed its own strategy, primarily aimed at maintaining its share in the European gas market in the future. In addition Russia has been diverting all its gas transit to Europe away from Ukraine by 2020.

In mid-term – next two decades – EU gas consumption will rise as EU tries to get rid of coal powered and nuclear plants.  New sources of gas will came, such as liquified natural gas (LNG) and the Southern Gas Corridor pipeline so Russias’s market share will probably drop;  however as need for gas in Europe will rise so the volume of gas from Russia will be the same or rise also. For example Southern Gas Corridor, bringing Azeri gas to southern Europe, has an annual capacity of 18 bcm with half that taken by Turkey and less than 10 bcm available for Europe. In January alone, Gazprom exported 19.4 bcm to Europe, so the extra gas exported in January is almost equal to the annual capacity of the Southern Gas Corridor pipeline.  The fact is that Russia has the world’s biggest gas resources and is next door and also that Russia never tried to use gas as a threat – even at the height of the Cold war.  For Russia, selling gas to as many customers as possible is both good politics and good economics.

With TurkStream Gazprom skilfully bypassed the EU third energy package, and even better the EU states actually paid for it. Gazprom can now use the most important border points of Bulgarian transit pipelines, without having to pay billions of euros for their construction and without owning the pipes, as Gazprom did not formally engage in the construction of the Turkish Stream’s extensions (South Stream Lite) in Europe. Bulgaria and Serbia made the investments themselves as an expansion of their internal transit network and not publicly as a transit gas pipeline.

TurkStream has now changed the direction in which the Russian gas reaches southeast Europe, and with TurkStream’s onshore expansion, the picture is shifting once again how the Russian gas goes to EU’s market.

Sources i.a: NewEurope , S&PGlobal

 


Peace Process by Economic Approach

September 19, 2020

The road to Arab-Israeli peace no longer runs through Ramallah.” (Avi Mayer)

The US-brokered Israel-UAE normalization agreement in August 2020 was swiftly followed by a similar agreement between Serbia and Kosovo, as well as an Israel-Bahrain agreement. The Israel vs. Arab perception is rapidly changing to an Israel-Arab vs. Iran perception. White House announced the Serbia-Kosovo normalization agreement only 22 days after it announced the groundbreaking Israel-UAE normalization agreement, and an Israel-Bahrain normalization agreement was announced shortly after the Serbia-Kosovo news.

Kosovo’s normalization with Israel makes it the fifth Muslim country to normalize or sign a peace agreement with Israel following the peace agreements with Egypt in 1977, Jordan in 1994, Lebanon in 1983 after the Israeli invasion the previous year, and the UAE in 2020—and since the announcement they have been joined by a sixth, the Gulf State of Bahrain.

Critics accuse Trump of seeking a quick foreign policy success to tout ahead of his bid for re-election in November 2020. This might be true. However in my opinion the recent MidEast (peace) process is moving fast forward. Previous peace process implemented last two decades has been moderate at most; the goal Utopian or delusional and the roadmap towards aim has been dead for years. The new partly implemented – out of the box – approach is from my perspective based facts on the ground, the progress is made by economic side first instead of political and the approach is more regional one than bilateral especially related to Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Widening anti-Iranian coalition

And, you know, if you want to have peace in the region, you have to create peace with Israel. This is the first step. This is the strong message.” (Tri Ali Rashid al Nuaimi/UAE)

The decision by the United Arab Emirates to sign an agreement toward normalization with Israel was hailed by Egypt, Oman, Bahrain, Sudan and Mauritania. It was severely criticized, however, by Islamist forces and the Palestinian Authority. For many years, and particularly over the last decade, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has striven to disseminate a religious-political doctrine that defines peace as an Islamic value and a fundamental element of national identity. It poses this stance as an ideological alternative to the radical concepts of political Islam advocated by the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafi-jihadist forces in the region. Those who formulated it named it the Abraham Accord, in honor of the father of the three monotheistic religions.

UAE-Israel deal is very significant also to Iran. The Iranian investments in the Emirates are estimated to total in about 300 billion dollars. The Emirates are home to a large community of hundreds of thousands of Iranians. According to various estimates, 454,000 Iranians lived in the Emirates in 2018 (about five percent of the UAE’s population), most of them in Dubai (Iran Migration Outlook, 2020). In addition, about 8,000 Iranian traders operate in the UAE, along with thousands of Iranian-run businesses. There is also a social-cultural Iranian club in Dubai, Iranian schools and an Iranian hospital. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, airlines operated about 200 flights on a weekly basis from various cities in Iran to the UAE, which brought in about 100,000 Iranian tourists into the country on an annual basis.

Serbia/Kosovo

On September 4th, 2020, President Donald Trump hosted Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo PM Avdullah Hoti at the White House to sign an economic normalization agreement that will i.a lead to the establishment of air, rail, and motorway links between Serbia’s capital, Belgrade, and Kosovo’s capital, Pristina. However on the economic front, Serbia and Kosovo are also at odds over the Trepca lead and zinc mining complex, energy supplies, the Gazivode/Ujmani reservoir and trade barriers.

Kosovo broke away from Serbia in 1999 when NATO bombed for 11 weeks Serbia. It declared independence in 2008 with the backing of the major Western powers and over the fierce objections of Serbia and e.g. its big-power ally Russia. The EU, with the backing of the US, has spent years trying to prod the two sides towards what diplomats call a ‘normalization of relations’.

As part of normalization deal Belgrade and Pristina have both vowed to establish relationships with Israel. They plan to open embassies in Jerusalem by 2021, which will make them the first European countries to do so. Significantly, Pristina’s will be the first embassy of a Muslim-majority state in Israel.

Despite normalization agreement I still think that Kosovo’s secession from Serbia, as well as its hasty recognition as an independent state, was a mistake – in my view Kosovo is failed state or even captured state by organized crime clans –Albanian mafia. Links between drug trafficking and the supply of arms to the KLA Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA aka UÇK) were established mid-90s during war in Bosnia. In West KLA was described as terrorist organization but when US selected them as their ally it transformed organization officially to “freedom” fighters. After bombing Serbia 1999 KLA leaders again changed their crime clans officially to political parties. This public image however can not hide the origins of money and power, old channels and connections are still in place in conservative tribe society. (More e.g in Kosovo President Hashim Thaçi Indicted for War Crimes )

 

Bahrain

Bahrain agreed to establish formal relations with Israel in advance of Tuesday’s [15th Sep. 2020] anticipated historic signing in Washington of an accord to normalize ties between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. It is likely that a second accord could be signed Tuesday between Israel and Bahrain.

Israel is now “working toward the opening of an Israeli embassy in Bahrain,” according to a Foreign Ministry official. Already on Saturday [12th Sep. 2020] Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi spoke with his Bahrain counterpart Abdullatif bin Rashid al Zayani. “I look forward to deepening and strengthening the relations between our two countries. Together we will work towards peace and stability in the Middle East,” Ashkenazi tweeted.

On Friday [11th Sep. 2020] Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that more agreements with Arab states would follow the Bahrain agreement, and the one arrived at with the UAE in August. To underscore the speed with which events are unfolding, Netanyahu noted on Friday that it took 26 years, from the signing of a peace deal between Israel and Jordan in 1994, for there to be an existing deal, such as the one with the UAE. After that, he said, it was only another 29 days to make a fourth deal. “This is a new era of peace,” Netanyahu said in a video message, in which he underscored that what is occurring now is “peace for peace” and “economy for economy.”

After Trump’s announcement, the US, along with Israel and Bahrain issued a joint statement.

This is a historic breakthrough to further peace in the Middle East. Opening direct dialog and ties between these two dynamic societies and advanced economies will continue the positive transformation of the Middle East and increase stability, security and prosperity in the region,” it said.

Israel’s ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan had a conversation with Bahrain’s ambassador to the UN, Jamal Fares Alrowaiei. Israel’s Mission to the UN called the conversation “warm” and said that the two congratulated each other. The two reportedly “also agreed to meet to discuss cooperation in the UN on issues of innovation and economic development for the benefit of the two countries.

Expanding the circle of peace in the Middle East can lead to a change at the UN as well,” Erdan said. “We are entering a new era in which we can publicly work together on security issues and the economic prosperity of Israel and the Arab countries. Together, we will face the challenges that threaten stability in the Middle East.”

 

Qatar

According to London-based Asharq Al-Awsat, Maj.-Gen. Herzl “Herzi” Halevi, IDF’s Southern Command chief, flew to Doha/ Qatar late August along with other officials from the IDF, Shin Bet, Mossad, and National Security Council to reduce tensions with the Gaza Strip and restore a sense of quiet to the South and to prevent a military escalation.While Egypt has been playing the main role in mediating the crises, the report said the IDF wants to see Qatar play a larger role in mediating, and not just send financial aid to the group. Halevi made a similar visit in February with Mossad Chief Yossi Cohen.

Qatar is the main financial provider to Gaza, periodically sending millions of dollars to Hamas every month for the past two years with Israel’s approval to pay for fuel for the Strip’s power plant, as well as to pay the salaries of the group’s civil servants and provide aid to tens of thousands of families. Doha first began sending $5 million per month, later increasing it to $10m. and then to $20m. This year it started sending $30m. According to reports, Hamas is demanding another increase, $40m. every month in cash on a regular basis, to extend to a “pre-determined long-term period of time.”

 

Splitting Arab League

the triumph of money over dignity” (Senior PA official Hussein al-Sheikh)

In blow to Palestinians, Arab League refuses [9th Sep. 2020] to condemn normalization deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, proposed by the Palestinian Authority. Senior official says foreign ministers were not in agreement on Palestinian issue, after PA foreign minister criticizes body for failure to show unity in backing its cause. Palestinian politicians condemned the deal as soon as it was announced in mid-August by US President Donald Trump, with many calling it “a stab in the back” by an Arab ally. Palestinian Liberation Organization chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said that if Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit could not condemn the treaty, he ought to resign.

https://youtu.be/18NtyF-ZEWA

Furthermore, the Arab League wasn’t in any rush to discuss the issue. Palestinian officials had originally called for an emergency meeting of the pan-Arab body against the deal when it was announced, but said they were told to wait nearly a month, when a regular meeting had already been scheduled. The event also exposes the profound schism in the current Arab and Muslim world between the pragmatic axis, centered in Egypt, Jordan, UAE, and Saudi Arabia, and the radical axes, led by Turkey and Iran.

From historical background it might be worth to mention that on May 15, 1948, the seven founding member states of the Arab League launched what the body’s then-secretary general, Azzam Pasha, called a “war of extermination and a momentous massacre” against Israel, which had been established the previous day. Following Israel’s resounding victory in the 1967 Six-Day War, the League gathered in Khartoum and issued its notorious “three ‘no’s”: “no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it.”

 

Incapable EU and Delusional Palestinians

I call on the Palestinian leadership to understand the reality, to be responsible, to play a leadership role — as the UAE and Bahrain have done — and to return to the negotiating table,” ( Gabi Ashkenazi. FM/Israel)

The Serbia-Kosovo deal surprised the European Union, which has been leading complex talks between Serbia and its former territory of Kosovo on improving their long-strained relations.The European Union has warned Serbia and Kosovo that they could weaken their chances of gaining membership in the bloc by opening up respective embassies in Jerusalem. Brussels has long maintained that Jerusalem’s final status should be determined through Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, although there is no longer a consensus due to Israel having made diplomatic inroads with numerous European countries, primarily those located in the eastern part of the continent.

Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi was recently the host of his German counterpart, Heiko Maas, whose countries currently assumes the EU presidency. The discussions between FM’s were related to the new situation after UAE-Israel agreement and freezing of Israel’s plan to extend its sovereignty over parts of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) as part of the accord. Several EU foreign ministers have reportedly called for the renewal of the EU-Association Council which has not held a formal meeting since 2012. Now in the framework of the recent US-brokered agreements there might be time for normalization also Israel-EU relations.

El Al Flight 971 to the UAE awaits departure from Ben-Gurion Airport, August 31 | Photo: Menahem Kahana/Pool via AP

In another setback for those hoping that the Palestinians be given veto power over Israel’s relations with other countries, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain have agreed to make their airspace available to flights flying eastwards out of the Jewish state. The development, will drastically reduce flight times between Israel and the Far East. That knocks down a barrier that’s been up for 72 years.

One can easy understand Palestinian and Iranian concern about the impact of the agreements on the balance of power in the region as a whole and the Persian Gulf in particular. I hope that White House ceremony (signing for peace agreements) could serve as a wake-up call to Palestinians who have long been led to believe that Arab leaders will sacrifice their own national interests on the altar of Palestinian rejectionism. That is clearly no longer the case. Avi Mayer hits the nail on the head concluding that the road to Arab-Israeli peace no longer runs through Ramallah.”

 

My conclusion

An improved economic situation was]“a necessary precondition to resolving what was previously an unsolvable political situation,” (Jared Kushner)

Foreign policy has not figured prominently in the election campaign, but President Trump is eager to present himself as a peacemaker, his pro-Israel moves have been seen as an effort to bolster his appeal to evangelical Christian voters, an important segment of his political base. Elections might be the cause for timing of these deals but in my opinion they are implementing parts of ”Deal of Century” (DoC) aka ”Trump peace plan” – a long waited Mideast peace plan by the White House – officially known as ”Peace to Prosperity: A Vision to Improve the Lives of the Palestinian and Israeli People, which is a proposal to resolve the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.

DoC is “out of the box” plan made by by the Trump administration is a reaction to political realities in MidEast, instead of previous UN’s, EU’s etc high flown statements and utopias. DoC is the United States’ redefinition of the parameters for definitively resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as an updated version to sc ”Clinton parameters” – created during Oslo process – which were the framework some two decades for negotiations between Israel and Palestinian authority.

And this plan seems to be working on the ground. Today many leaders in the MidEast recognize that the approach that’s been taken in the past hasn’t worked and they realize that there are people who want to see a more vibrant and exciting future.  In my opinion the recent MidEast (peace) process is moving fast forward. Previous peace process implemented last two decades has been moderate at most; the goal Utopian or delusional and the roadmap towards aim has been dead for years. The new partly implemented – out of the box – approach is from my perspective based facts on the ground, the progress is made by economic side first instead of political and the approach is more regional one than bilateral especially related to Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Main sources: AP , JerusalemPost , EuropeanJewishPress , TimesofIsrael , IsraelHayom , JerusalemPost , BESA .

“The shameful agreement between the Emirates and the phony Zionist government is the greatest betrayal of Jerusalem’s hopes” (Tasnim, August 15, 2020)


This article first appeared in Conflicts by Ari Rusila blog


Doc: Ethnic cleansing after the arrival of NATO troops in Kosovo

August 11, 2020

All of us Westerners went to Kosovo Pro Albanian. We’d all read in the press how the Serbs were were ethnically cleansing the Albanians from Kosovo so we all went there very Pro Albanian but as one American soldier told me later he said we all came out here to defend the Albanians but I think we backed the wrong side that the Albanians who are committing genocide against their minorities…”   (Paul Polansky)

‘Just a Witness’ (2016) – Documentary film by independent journalist and reporter Milenko Srećković. The movie deals with ethnic cleansing committed after the arrival of NATO troops in Kosovo. The interviewee Paul Polansky speaks about his experiences as the UNHCR Advisor on the issue of Roma people.

More reading:  In addition I would recommend


Srebrenica: Greatest triumph of propaganda at the end of the twentieth century

July 30, 2020

This month, July 11th to be exact, was the 25th anniversary of Srebrenica. To different people that means different things. To defenders of the narrative that began to crystallize in the late 1990s, in particular after the Hague Tribunal began issuing its judgments, Srebrenica is a synonym for “genocide.” It refers to the killing of “8,000 men and boys” and signifies the greatest massacre committed in Europe after World War II. Srebrenica subsequently morphed into the rationale for the Right to Protect doctrine, which in practice served the imperialist powers to systematically and ruthlessly violate international law by invading and pillaging “disobedient” countries, on the specious pretext of protecting their threatened populations.

To critical minds, such as the late Prof. Edward Hermann, Srebrenica symbolizes the “greatest triumph of propaganda at the end of the twentieth century.” It is a synonym for callous exploitation of both Serbs and Muslims for cynical propaganda purposes. And it is a largely fraudulent construct, unsupported by compelling evidence in the form in which it is dished out to the global public. It is also designed to induce a permanent rift between the two largest religious communities in Bosnia, making foreign domination “to keep the peace” necessary, and to tar Serbs as a nation with the commission of the heinous crime of genocide.

Marko Gasic is a Serb community leader and spokesperson in the United Kingdom who is thoroughly familiar with the intricacies of the Srebrenica Question. In this brilliant interview he reviews a quarter century of Srebrenica disinformation and sets the record straight on key issues. 

You may view the interview here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BXeYupbIYYc&feature=youtu.be

 

Source and more: http://srebrenica-project.org

 

My previous articles:

Biased ICTY Sentenced Karadzig 40 Years Based On Srebrenica [Hoax]

Srebrenica – The guide for the perplexed

Srebrenica: A Town Betrayed” – Finally a Critical Documentary about Srebrenica Tragedy

Media War of Yugoslav Secession continues

NIOD Report on Srebrenica

Srebrenica again – Hoax or Massacre?

 

And here is a small selection of articles, documents and analysis, which are also telling the other side of story:

Media War: The Use and Mis-Use of the Visual Image in News Coverage and Propaganda . A study of the visual media war against the Serbs.

Demonizing the Serbs by Marjaleena Repo June 15, 1999 in Counterpunch

One view about issue in video Bosnia and Media Manipulation

Srebrenica: The Star Witness by Prof Edward S. Herman

The Star Witness by Germinal Civikov (translated from German by John Lauchland),Belgrade 2010,

Srebrenica: Deconstruction of a Virtual Genocide” by Stephen Karganovic and Ljubica Simic (Belgrade 2010)

Analysis of Muslim Column Losses Due to Minefields and Combat Activity” by Stephen Karganovic: .Proceedings of the International Symposium on ICTY and Srebrenica (Belgrade-Moscow 2010)

Was Srebrenica a Hoax? Eye-Witness Account of a Former United Nations Military Observer in Bosnia by Carlos Martins Branco

Media Disinformation Frenzy on Srebrenica: The Lynching of Ratko Mladic by Nebojsa Malic

Media Fabrications: The “Srebrenica Massacre” is a Western Myth

What Happened at Srebrenica? Examination of the Forensic Evidence  by Stephen Karganovic

Using War as an Excuse for More War: Srebrenica Revisited by Diana Johnstone

The Srebrenica Massacre: Evidence, Context, Politics by Edward S. Herman and Phillip Corwin

NIOD (Netherlands Institute for War Documentation)/Srebrenica investigationreport

INTELWIRE.com has published over 2.000 pages of of declassified U.S. State Dept. Cables about Srebrenica

UN Report:The Fall of Srebrenica


Kosovo President Hashim Thaçi Indicted for War Crimes

June 25, 2020

Kosovo President Hashim Thaçi and nine other former militants were indicted for war crimes by the Office of the Special Prosecutor in the Hague. The prosecutors said the charges were laid in April before being publicly unveiled on 24th June 2020 according reports by Deutsche Welle as well also AFP, AP, Reuters…

They are “responsible for nearly 100 murders,” according to the prosecutors at the EU-backed Kosovo Specialist Chamber. The victims included Kosovar Albanians, Serb and Roma people, with political opponents also targeted, according to the officials. The group also faces charges of torture, persecution, and enforced disappearance. The officials described the indictment as “the result of a lengthy investigation” adding that the effort reflected the SPO’s “determination that it can prove all of the charges beyond a reasonable doubt.”

KOSOVO2004The 52-year-old Thaçi is one of the most powerful and most experienced Kosovo politicians and like many other present-day Kosovo politicians, or better say clan leaders of organized crime, played a prominent role in the resistance movement that pitted ethnic Albanians against Serbs in what was then a Serbian province. One could note that less than a year ago, Kosovo’s Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj resigned after he was summoned by the same court on suspicion of war crimes.

DW’s correspondent from the Serb-dominated northern Kosovo, Milica Andric Rakic, described the announcement as “probably the single most shocking event since Kosovo unilaterally declared independence” in 2008. “Thaçi will use any last power lever at his disposal to stop the Court, like he tried to do in December 2015 with the attempt at abolishing the Law on the Specialist Chamber,” she said. She warned that the move might also spark protests by former militants that could escalate into “ethnic violence.”

Despite operating for years and summoning hundreds of witnesses, this is the first indictment ever issued by the Chamber’s prosecutor. The office also accused Thaci and another suspect, former parliamentary speaker Kadri Veseli, of trying to “obstruct and undermine” the tribunal’s work. “Thaci and Veseli are believed to have carried out a secret campaign to overturn the law creating the Court and otherwise obstruct the work of the Court in an attempt to ensure that they do not face justice,” the statement said according DeutscheWelle .

After Balkan wars Balkan war crimes were prosecuted before the now-defunct International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague. The court has now been replaced by the Kosovo Specialist Chamber, an EU-backed body set up in 2015 and also based in The Hague. The Chamber is ruled by Kosovo law, but funded by the EU and staffed by international judges and prosecutors.

 

Background

In my earlier article Quadruple Helix – Capturing Kosovo I described how (Kosovo) Albanian organized crime organizations gained remarkable role in Europe. It is estimated that they are the chief perpetrator of drug and people smuggling, trafficking, organ sales etc. Past estimates suggested that ethnic Albanian traffickers controlled 70% or more of the heroin entering a number of key destination markets, and they have been described as a “threat to the EU” by the Council of Europe at least as recently as 2005. Kosovo is serving as a junction for heroin trafficking from Afghanistan to West Europe through famous Balkan route. Recently Columbian drug dealers are setting up cocaine supply bases in Albania and Balkans to penetrate into Europe. Already earlier ethnic Albanians organized the transportation of cocaine from the Netherlands and Belgium towards Italy.

Radical Islamists and OC groups had/have a common interest in Kosovo

Links between drug trafficking and the supply of arms to the KLA Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA aka UÇK) were established mid-90s during war in Bosnia. In West KLA was described as terrorist organization but when US selected them as their ally it transformed organization officially to “freedom” fighters. After bombing Serbia 1999 KLA leaders again changed their crime clans officially to political parties. This public image however can not hide the origins of money and power, old channels and connections are still in place in conservative tribe society.

Wahhabists, al-Qaeda etc arrived first to Bosnia to help Muslim brigades in their fight against Serbian army and Serb and Croatian civilians

Thaçi and other members of his inner circle were “commonly identified, and cited in secret intelligence reports” . For example the German secret state agency, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), describes Thaçi’s Drenica group “as the most dangerous of the KLA’s ‘criminal bosses’.” Trading on American protection to consolidate political power, thus maintaining control over key narcotics smuggling corridors, having succeeded in eliminating, or intimidating into silence, the majority of the potential and actual witnesses against them (both enemies and erstwhile allies), using violence, threats, blackmail, and protection rackets,” Thaçi’s Drenica Group have “exploit[ed] their position in order to accrue personal wealth totally out of proportion with their declared activities.” Indeed, multiple reports prepared by the U.S. DEA, FBI, the BND, Italy’s SISMI, Britain’s MI6 and the Greek EYP intelligence service have stated that Drenica Group members “are consistently named as ‘key players’ in intelligence reports on Kosovo’s mafia-like structures of organised crime.”

Kosovo – ruled by clans

 

Whitewashing: From international protectorate to (captured) state

After bombing Serbia 1999 KLA (Kosovo Liberation Army) leaders changed their organized crime clans officially to political parties. This public image however can not hide the origins of money and power, old channels and connections are still in place in conservative tribe society. Last ten years now political leaders have whitewashed their drugs- and other OC-money by establishing façade-firms as well real enterprises, by success in donor funded investment projects and through privatisation process.

The insignificant economic base was easy to see when creation of the state of Kosovo was ongoing. Official statistics from year 2008 showed that export from Kosovo amounted about 200 million Euro while import increased to 2 billion Euro, which makes trade balance almost 1,800 million Euro minus. If export is covering some 10 percent of import so from where is money coming to this consumption. The estimate is that when export brings mentioned 71 million Euro the organised crime (mainly drug trafficking) brings 1 billion Euro, diaspora gives 500 million Euro and international community 200 million Euro.

Kosovo has a small domestic market and limited industrial production, and its imports remain still higher than exports. According to Kosovo Agency of Statistics, Kosovo’s trade deficit continued to widen in 2018 to EUR 2.97 billion, from EUR 2.45 billion a year earlier, with imports rising to EUR 3.34 billion, from EUR 3.05 billion, whereas exports fell to EUR 367 million, from EUR 596 million a year earlier. IMF estimates that the 2018 balance of payments (net trade in goods and services) to be USD -2.2 billion. According to the World Bank, Kosovo’s overall trade deficit, which includes trade in both goods and commercial services, stood at an estimated 29.1% of GDP in 2018. (Source: Societe Generale )

 

My view

I agree with those who claim that it is clear that Kosovo’s secession from Serbia, as well as its hasty recognition as an independent state, was a mistake.

The real power in Kosovo lays with 15 to 20 family clans who control “almost all substantial key social positions” and are closely linked to prominent political decision makers. German intelligence services (BND) have concluded for example that Prime Minister Thaçi is a key figure in a Kosovar-Albanian mafia network.

While I was working in Kosovo after bombings as EU expert for local administration it was clear how Kosovo Albanian ”freedom fighters” started to transform themselves to political leaders of this then international protectorate. International community – via UN/UNMIK, NATO/KFOR, EU/TAFKO/EAR and affiliates – which were administrating Kosovo, was well aware of the direct links between organized crime clans and political leaders (See Appendix below).

The original or better to say official 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 the Western powers. For international community I don’t see any success story with this backward progress.

The reason why this whitewashing was supported by international community might be the need to sustain some kind of stability in Kosovo Albanian part of province. The second reason might be that US and EU could not admit that they selected wrong side already mid-90’s by blaming Serbs about all negative events in e-Yugoslavia. The third aspect might be some economical interests of Washington, Paris and Berlin related to West Balkans. The forth reason might be the opportunity to break Yugoslavia and increase Western influence in this region as Russia was then too weak to support their Serbian friends;   the Pentagon goal already in late 1998 was to take control of Kosovo in order to secure a military base to control the entire southeast European region down to the Middle East oil lands, Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo is now reality.

International community could not admit that it was fooled to support the separatist movements in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo. This bias was clear during my work in field level, for example the aid and development programs were made to benefit Kosovo Albanian part more than match the needs of Kosovo Serbian part. This bias was clear for everyone and even admitted privately in higher levels but changing policy – decided in Washington and Bruxelles – was impossible to keep the old facade. Now after two decades the real roles of different players in ”operational theatre” are coming more clear for wider public and so far the the indictment of President Thaçi is good step to right direction 

The truth might be as Canadian Major General Lewis MacKenzie, former UN Protection Force commander in Bosnia, cited the admission in an April 2008  statement  to the Lord Byron Foundation:

This anti-Serb bias and sympathy for their “victims” was exploited by the Kosovo Liberation Army, (KLA), an internationally recognized terrorist organization at the time when it commenced killing Serbian security personnel in the late 90s. The KLA hired the same North American PR firms employed by the Bosnian government and successfully won the PR war in spite of the fact their organization initiated the armed conflict.

The current Prime Minister Hashim Thaci was the leader of the KLA. He has admitted that the KLA orchestrated the infamous Racak “massacre” dressing their KLA dead in civilian clothes, machine gunning them and dumping them in a ditch and claiming it was a Serbian slaughter of civilians. NATO bought into the ruse and on its 50th birthday looking for a role in the post cold war world the alliance became the KLA’s air force and bombed a sovereign nation from the safety of 10,000 ft.

 

Kosovo

 

More reading:

My articles: Kosovo: Two years of Pseudo-state , Balkan route-Business as usual and Captured Pseudo-State Kosovo .

About possible solutions e.g. my articles Dividing Kosovo – a pragmatic solution to frozen conflict and Cantonisation – a middle course for separatist movements

More about link between organized crime and Kosovo political leaders one can find e.g. from “leaked” German Intelligence report BND report 2005 .

The report, Inhuman treatment of people and illicit trafficking in human organs in Kosovo”, prepared by Swiss prosecutor-turned-politician Dick Marty. Investigations conducted by the Swiss diplomat, Dick Marty on behalf of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) have revealed the true picture of Kosovo’s prime minister Hashim Thaci. In his report to the PACE’s Commission, Thaci is presented as the leader of a criminal gang engaged in the smuggling of weapons, the distribution of illegal drugs throughout Europe and the selling of human organs for unlawful transplantation. The Swiss senator conducted a two-year inquiry into organised crime in Kosovo after the Council of Europe mandated him to investigate claims of organ harvesting by the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) after the war with Serbia ended in 1999.

A good article by F. William Engdahl: Washington’s Bizarre Kosovo Strategy could Destroy NATO  .

 

 

Appendix:

Organized Crime in Kosovo, resume by NATO/KFOR

 

 


Western Balkans: Road to EU or U-turn?

October 24, 2019

The European Council held a regular autumn meeting in Brussels on 17th and 18th October 2019. Besides Brexit, Turkey, clima change etc the plan was to determine when to start of negotiations with Republic North Macedonia and Republic Albania for their EU membership. As predicted by many analysts in recent weeks, neither Albania nor North Macedonia received a date at the EU Summit to launch negotiations for their EU accession. EU – again – could not decide the date when to start these negotiations.

In addition to the issue of stability in the Western Balkans region, it also concerns the credibility of European leaders. Namely, at the EU summit in June 2018, they decided that they would assign in 2019 a date for the start of negotiations to North Macedonia and Albania, if they meet conditions for the start of negotiations. For both countries, and especially for North Macedonia, this has been clearly achieved.

Although only France openly opposed EU negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania few more EU members quietly agreed this position. Given that the EU has 27 members (excluding the UK), there is always the possibility of different conditions and blockades. According IFIMES  the EU hesitance can have strategic consequences in the Western Balkans and it is due to uncertainty about EU membership and pressures from the domestic public, that certain countries could change their geopolitical orientation.

EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn, who openly supported North Macedonia and was obviously disappointed, told Reuters that “It’s becoming harder and harder to provide a proper explanation (for the delay). If we agreed with our partners on the steps to take, and our partners are delivering, it is then our turn to deliver.”

Indeed! The EU Commission concluded following in its latest [Council conclusions on enlargement and stabilisation and association process – June 2019] report  related to Albania:

Reaffirming its conclusions of 26 June 2018, the Council takes good note of the Commission’s recommendation to open accession negotiations with Albania based on its positive evaluation of the progress made and of the fulfillment of the conditions identified by the Council. In light of the limited time available and the importance of the matter, the Council will revert to the issue with a view to reaching a clear and substantive decision as soon as possible and no later than October 2019.

And related to Norh Macedonia [same report ] as follows:

Reaffirming its conclusions of 26 June 2018, the Council strongly welcomes the historic and unprecedented Prespa Agreement, as well as the Treaty on Good Neighbourly Relations with Bulgaria, and takes good note of the Commission’s recommendation to open accession negotiations with the Republic of North Macedonia based on its positive evaluation of the progress made and of the fulfillment of the conditions identified by the Council. In light of the limited time available and the importance of the matter, the Council will revert to the issue with a view to reaching a clear and substantive decision as soon as possible and no later than October 2019.

EU Credibility?

As a decision on issuing a date to begin enlargement talks has already been delayed on two previous occasions Throughout this period, European Commission officials have argued that it is important to send the right message to the nations of the Western Balkans that have carried out reforms demanded by Brussels. They also assert North Macedonia should be rewarded for settling its long-running name dispute with Greece via the June 2018 Prespes Agreement. To give a date to Albania and North Macedonia about starting entry negotiations to the EU is not a big deal. Once given, negotiations to conclude the 35 chapters of the acquis, if ever concluded, could well require a decade. Therefore, for the bloc to grant a date, is irrelevant.

Practically the Eastern EU enlargement for the moment is stopped. Croatia’s membership was exemption and mistake, Turkey’s EU bid is dead as continent simply has no intention of ever incorporating 70 million Muslims and the rest – such as Serbia and other Western Balkans – are still more or less in association process.

According IFIMES  some experts have been pointing out that 15 EU member countries would not be able to fully meet the membership criteria now, which are required from the Western Balkans countries. They also note that Bulgaria and Romania were admitted to the EU membership, as well as Croatia recently, without imposing so strict requirements of the membership.

One example about (Non)functioning of the EU was the dialogue between official Belgrade and Pristina which was led by the EU as a mediator. The dialogue was a fiasco. No significant progress has been made in the last ten years since the Western Balkans region was left to the care of the EU. The justified questions are, is the EU a reliable partner? Same time many Western Balkan countries and other big actors than EU have been active developers.

 

Croatia as typical example

Croatia is typical example of new European behaviour. Actually, Croatia does not respect the decisions of international arbitration court regarding the cross-border dispute with Slovenia. At the same time, Republic of Croatia does not respect the decision of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Courts for the crimes perpetrated in the former Yugoslavia (MICT), by which certain highly positioned officials of Croatia and Croatian Democratic Party (HDZ) are sentenced by absolute decision for participation in the associated crime against Bosnia and Herzegovina. HDZ is a political party against which the process is ongoing at the district court in Zagreb.

It should be added that the position of Serbian community in Croatia suddenly deteriorated after Croatia became full member of the EU. Serbian community was cooperative and important factor, which contributed that Croatia became the EU member. The audit of events from the Word War II is ongoing in Croatia where the attempts are made to rehabilitate fascist and collaboration armies and present them as anti-fascist. Of enormous importance is the position of Jewish community, which still did not resolve the issue of returning its property taken from them. Audit of history contributed that the Jewish community and other anti-fascist associations independently and in fact separately celebrate anniversary of liberation from the concentration camp Jasenovac that was held by the Ustasha regime. Representatives of the Croatian state do not take place at those commemorations. Pro fascist appearances and speeches of the president of the Republic of Croatia Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović (HDZ) and her open involvement in internal affairs in the nearby Bosnia and Herzegovina are evident.  Recently – 2018 – the Croatian government document allows that “Ustasha” (Croatian Nazi brand from WWII) salute “Za dom spremni” (equivalent to Hitler’ “Seig Heil”) can be used publicly.

Croatia – Past and present

Croatia as the EU and NATO member did not resolve open border issues with any of the neighbours except for Hungary, since it inherited that border from former Yugoslavia. Indeed in the Western Balkans it is in conflict with almost all states. The analysts find worrying the fact that the EU and NATO institutions did not react to the behaviour of Croatia when it comes to Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia, because it is evident Croatia misuses its EU and NATO membership. Many war criminals find their shelter in Croatia.

 

Development without EU functioning

The Western Balkans leaders are aware of the need to take strong steps towards mutual cooperation, which will be aimed at creating better living conditions for citizens and, especially important, stopping the trend of mass displacement of population from the region. Analysts believe that the countries of the Western Balkans must establish strong political, economic, cultural and any other form of cooperation and act jointly towards the EU, as a group of states with clearly defined requirements. Regional cooperation does not mean that the countries of the region have given up their European path and the EU membership, it is important with EU perspective or without it.

One example could be the cooperation within the so-called Višegrad group of countries (Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia) which was formed to make it easier and faster for these countries to join the EU and NATO. Therefore, it could be vise for the countries of the region to act jointly towards the EU and / or other foreign policy initiatives.

While (Non)functioning of the EU is obvious the good thing is that many countries in Western Balkans – except Croatia – have been active with their own development work and cooperation. Besides improving their societies e.g. according EU chapters of the acquis they have developed their bilateral and regional cooperation.

Few examples of this:

  • In Novi Sad on October 10, 2019 trilateral meeting between president of Serbia Aleksandar Vučić (SNS) and prime ministers of North Macedonia and Albania, Zoran Zaev (SDSM) and Edi Rama (PS) was held. Declaration of measures for establishment of „small Schengen“ was signed between the three countries. This declaration should help the entire Western Balkans region to start functioning in four key EU freedoms – freedom of movement of capital, goods, services and people.
  • Joint declaration foresees elimination of state border controls and other obstacles to simpler movement in the region until 2021, and also to enable citizens to travel in the region with personal ID card only as well as to find employments anywhere if they have the certificate of their qualifications.Declaration also foresees recognition of diplomas in the region as well as better cooperation in combatting organised crime and support in cases of natural disasters.
  • President of Serbia Aleksandar Vučić invited all so-called members of the Balkans six to accept the document about “small Schengen”, regardless of their differences referring to the recognition of Kosovo.
  • The prime minister of North Macedonia Zoran Zaev said that the initiative for economic networking of the countries in the region should be joined by all six Western Balkans countries (Serbia, North Macedonia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Kosovo).
  • Also late October 2019 the president of Serbia Vučić held in Belgrade trilateral meeting Serbia-Turkey-Bosnia and Herzegovina and the joint basis for commencement of works on highway Belgrade – Sarajevo was laid, which is one of the important infrastructure projects.

 

Other players

Today still the EU is overwhelmingly dominant as an external partner, as on average 60% of exports from the six Western Balkan countries go to the EU.  However some other players are active in Western Balkans and this activity could be more attractive in future when enlargement process is blocked or at least frozen.  Few examples:

Turkey has been very active in Balkans during recent years; its trade with the Balkan countries increased to $17.7 billion in 2008 from about $3 billion in 2000. Turkey’s banks provided 85 percent of loans for building a highway through Serbia for Turkish transit of goods to the EU. In 2008, Turkish Airlines bought a 49 percent stake of Bosnia’s national carrier, BH Airlines, and other Turkish companies are keen to invest in shops, supermarket chains and hotels. In addition Serbian exporters have been selling their products in Turkey free of customs duties.

Serbia and Israel have signed an Agreement on bilateral trade and economic cooperation. Israeli investors have so far invested over $500 million in Serbia. The major Israeli investments in Serbia are construction of the Usce business centre and Airport City Belgrade business complex in New Belgrade. Some good background for cooperation is that Serbia was the second country in Europe to recognize Israel in 1948 and Israel refused to support the 1999 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, leading to admonishment from the United States. Ariel Sharon criticised NATO’s bombing as an act of “brutal interventionism”. Also Israel does not recognise Kosovo’s independence as a sovereign state.

Related to Russia, according NEWEUROPE , the TurkStream pipeline will surface on the shore of the European part of Turkey near Kıyıköy with gas delivery point at Lüleburgaz for the Turkish customers, and a border crossing between Turkey and Greece in İpsala serving as delivery point for the European customers. Gazprom said on 11 October that TurkStream gas pipeline is going to be brought into operation before the end of 2019. “Construction of the receiving terminal on the Black Sea coast near the Kiyikoy settlement is nearing completion. The landfall section in Russia and the Russkaya CS are ready for operation,” Gazprom said.

Also China has found an opportunity to use the Balkans as an entry point into the lucrative European market. The most notable is the Belt and Road Initiative, the ambitious project to build land and maritime networks that will link Asia with Africa and Europe. Chinese companies have also snapped up critical industries e.g. in Serbia such as a copper mine, a steelmaker and a thermal power plant, along with high-speed rail lines, roads and ports.

Last year 3.6 billion euros were invested in Serbia from abroad and that in 2019 there will be even more.In the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, UNCTAD report for 2018, it was noted that inflows in Serbia grew by 44 per cent to $4.1 billion and that Serbia became the second-largest recipient of foreign direct investment among transition economies.

 

My view

If the Balkans find that too many obstacles are strewn about the road to Brussels, they may well be tempted to set out on the shorter road to Istanbul” (Misha Glenny, Balkan political analyst)

The EU was made as peace project after the end of the World War II and it enabled to ensure permanent peace in Europe and long-term stability. In recent past, in the Western Balkans though, several wars were going on. If EU wants peace project to be continued, it needs to be implemented also in the Western Balkans countries. European leaders have often confirmed their support to the Western Balkans and its Euro Atlantic road, however the real actions are missing. One can estimate that with this inability EU will lose its credibility as partner at least in Western Balkans and the countries might find more attractive possibilities elsewhere e.g. from Russia, China and Turkey.

Many – still non-member – Balkan countries, Turkey and one disputed region (Kosovo) have some vision about EU association. While considering this in my opinion three aspects should be highlighted:

  • Why to join? Due the needs of people or due the needs of Brussels or elite?
  • When related to time-line? Association process is long and circumstances are changing, after EU/Eurozone crisis who know what kind of EU if any still exists, same time other regional and global power-centers are rising and options should be open.
  • Where? Now it is open question if country is joining in future to strict federation with martial law, to some sub-category of loose federation, confederation, open discussion forum or free trade zone only.
  • After this the forth question – how – is the easy one.

The best scenario from my point of view could be some kind of EU Lite version. A bit of similar ”privileged partnership” agreement than planned earlier with Turkey. EU Lite should be build simply to EU’s early basics as economical cooperation area including a customs union, the EU tariff band, competition etc linked to idea of the Common Market. EU Lite could also apply a structure of Confederation. Also some kind of fiscal confederation can be shaped. EU Lite could be described also as a political union and there could be some forum for national parliamentarians and party leaders. Federalist intentions, the EU puppet parliament and the most of EU bureaucracy should from my point of view put in litter basket together with high-flown statements and other nonsense.

More background and sources:

IFIMES/ Research – Western Balkans 2019: Does the EU push the Western Balkans countries to the Russian “hug”? 

Key EU documents of enlargement [2019]:


This article first appeared in Conflicts by Ari Rusila blog


Kosovars Desperately Try to Escape from their Captured OC State

October 6, 2019

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 … consensus boils down to the fact that nobody knows where Kosovo is” (John Bolton)

In my previous articles I have portrayed Kosovo as quasi-independent pseudo-state which has good change to become next “failed” or “captured” organized crime (OC) State. This individual biased view can be challenged in the forthcoming Kosovo’s early parliamentary election scheduled for 6 October 2019 as this might be the most important election since the country proclaimed its independence on 17 February 2008.

The International Institute for Middle-East and Balkan Studies (IFIMES) in Ljubljana, Slovenia, regularly analyses events in the Middle East and the Balkans. IFIMES has now prepared an analysis of the current political situation in Kosovo. The most relevant and interesting sections from the comprehensive analysis entitled “Kosovo 2019 early parliamentary election: the citizens want political changes” from this LINK: https://www.ifimes.org/en/9701

IFIMES believes that the forthcoming early parliamentary election will be the most uncertain parliamentary election since the Republic of Kosovo proclaimed independence. According IFIMES the main task of the new government will be to stop the negative trends in almost every segment of the Kosovo society. The incumbent coalition government (PDK-AAK-AKR-Nisma) has proven to be incapable of resolving the challenges that Kosovo is facing. After 19 years in power they are now characterised by crime, corruption and nepotism. Two billion euros of EU taxpayers’ money have disappeared or been inappropriately wasted in Kosovo… Kosovo urgently needs to carry out decriminalisation of politics.

 

The Kosovo Assembly

The Kosovo Assembly (parliament) has 120 members, of which 20 seats are reserved for representatives of minority communities as follows: 10 seats for the Serbian community, 3 for the Bosniak community, 2 for the Turkish community, 4 for the Roma (RAE – Romani, Ashkali and Egyptians) and 1 for the Gorans. There are 1,060 candidates competing for the 120 seats in the Assembly. 46,917 voters have been removed from the electoral roll, either because they are deceased or they have renounced Kosovo citizenship since the 2017 local election.

In the Kosovo Central Election Commission’s (CIK) electoral roll for the forthcoming early parliamentary election there are 1,937,869 voters in 38 municipalities with altogether 1,780,021 inhabitants. Kosovo citizens in the diaspora have the right to vote. So from electoral roll one can find out that there are more voters than inhabitants in the country. There will be 20 political parties, four coalitions and one independent candidate from the Bosniak community competing at the election.

The Kosovo election law is not promiting democracy either; it prevents the formation of coalitions after elections while it enables pre-election coalitions. For example the Constitutional Court of Kosovo stated that the formation of post-election coalitions was unconstitutional, while in Albania it is unconstitutional to form pre-election coalitions. In any developed – Western – democracy this practices are quite unique.

 

Election 2019

According analysis by IFIMES the main race at the upcoming parliamentary election in Kosovo will take place between the three main political rivals: Isa Mustafa’s Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), Albin Kurti’s “Vetëvendosje” Self-Determination Movement (LVV) and Kadri Veseli’s Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK). Besides those main three rivals, Ramush Haradinaj with his Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) is trying to enter the race as the fourth competitor.

The public opinion polls carried out in Kosovo have shown a strong downwards trend in PDK’s popularity and the party is now competing for the third place with AAK. Very small differences between LDK and LVV shown in pre-election surveys mean that the winner will be decided in the final part of the campaign. Especially the young generation has recognised refreshment in the political scene through political parties that have not yet participated in the government of Kosovo, such as LVV and its leader Albin Kurti. If LVV and LDK can get mayority in Kosovo Assembly it could be possible to form LVV/LDK coalition – theoritically, as the problem is that one part of LDK’s officials are in close connection with criminal structures in PDK and AAK and want to form coalition with them.

According analysis by IFIMES most undecided voters share the opinion that the incumbent coalition government (PDK-AAK-AKR-Nisma) should be punished for their unprincipled coalition and their connections with crime, corruption, nepotism, intimidation, threats, war crimes, liquidations and extortions. The incumbent government has left nothing but many empty promises and the damage to be paid by future generations of Kosovars.”

Analysts believe that the rule of law in Kosovo is not functioning and that there are no justice, no penalties and no efficient courts. Kosovo citizens live in fear as hostages to the political-criminal structures and (para)military and (para)intelligence units that are symbolised by Kadri Veseli (PDK).

 

The roots of crime in Kosovo

After Kosovo war – during my work there – the [Western] international community aimed to development of the state, promised to build strong institutions inner and regional stability and peace as outcome, thus contributing to stability and peace in the region. They totally failed which is not a surprize as nowhere in the world have political-criminal structures built strong institutions.

UN, EU and Western powers haven’t been successful in fighting corruption and organised crime as the with this fight they should first have to deal with crime and corruption among their own war-time Kosovo Albanian allies.

When the US State Department listed the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) as a terrorist organization in 1998, the reason wasn’t radical Islam but its links to the heroin trade. By 1999, Western intelligence agencies estimated that over $250m of narcotics money had found its way into KLA coffers. After the NATO bombing of 1999, KLA-linked heroin traffickers again began using Kosovo as a major supply route; in 2000, an estimated 80% of Europe’s heroin supply was controlled by Kosovar Albanians.

Western intelligence agencies warned that Hashim Thaci ran an organised crime network in the late 1990s, they knew the KLA were criminals running the drug, slave, and weapons rackets throughout Europe, they knew the KLA was supported by Osama bin Laden (with whom Thaci met personally in Tirana in 1998 to plan the jihad in Kosovo. Despite this Western political leaders backed his Kosovo Liberation Army and its members were transformed as “freedom fighters”.

The main source of organised crime are the former commanders of Kosovo Liberation Army (UÇK) and (para)intelligence services (ShIK) in cooperation with political structures. For example ShIK was not dissolved in 2008 as planned. Also former commanders raised during war huge amounts of money through various sources such as drug smuggling and these funds are still controlled by leading tribe- now political leaders of the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) and by the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK).

Kosovo ex-President and PM Hashim Thaçi (PDK) has tried nearly two decades whitewash these funds with help of one his brothers who has been de facto leading of Kosovo Insurance Bureau (BKS) and controlled the complete financial system through the Central Bank of Kosovo (BQK). After war Thaçi tribe was involved to many privatisation cases threats, intimidation and pressure as their tools. From perspective of State of Kosovo the privatisation has failed completely, being used as a tool for achieving personal profit. The political elites have divided their interest spheres between themselves and operate according to an informal agreement of not working against each other.

Many countries have seen through this whitewashing of crime-money and this has e.g. stopped international recognitions for the past five years. According WikiPedia as of 27 July 2019, the Republic of Kosovo has received 115 diplomatic recognitions as an independent state, of which 12 have since been withdrawn. As of 17 August 2019, 100 out of 193 (52%) United Nations (UN) member states, 23 out of 28 (82%) European Union (EU) member states, 25 out of 29 (86%) NATO member states, and 34 out of 57 (60%) Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) member states have recognized Kosovo.

Mafia Clans/KFOR sectors -map made by Laura Canali

Quadruple Helix Model

In my earlier article Quadruple Helix – Capturing Kosovo I described how (Kosovo) Albanian organized crime organizations gained remarkable role in Europe. It is estimated that they are the chief perpetrator of drug and people smuggling, trafficking, organ sales etc. Past estimates suggested that ethnic Albanian traffickers controlled 70% or more of the heroin entering a number of key destination markets, and they have been described as a “threat to the EU” by the Council of Europe at least as recently as 2005. In fact, ethnic Albanian heroin trafficking is arguably the single most prominent organized crime problem in Europe today. Kosovo is serving as a junction for heroin trafficking from Afghanistan to West Europe through famous Balkan route. Now Columbian drug dealers are setting up cocaine supply bases in Albania and Balkans to penetrate into Europe. Already earlier ethnic Albanians organized the transportation of cocaine from the Netherlands and Belgium towards Italy.

Links between drug trafficking and the supply of arms to the KLA (Kosovo Liberation Army) were established mid-90s. In West KLA was described as terrorist organization but when US selected them as their ally it transformed organization officially to “freedom” fighters. After bombing Serbia 1999 KLA leaders again changed their crime clans officially to political parties. This public image however can not hide the origins of money and power, old channels and connections are still in place in conservative tribe society.

Already 2005 Europol stated that the Albanian organized crime is related to the Islamic terrorism e.g. where the Brussells based “Bureau also cooperated in other operations, investigating the dismantling of OC (Organized Crime)  groups that are known for suspicious financial transactions, Albanian organised crime, producing synthetic drugs and related to Islamic terrorism.” (Report here and more e.g. in Balkan route-Business as usual.)

Today’s trend with economical development policy and projects is called a “Triple Helix Model or Approach”. A triple helix regime typically begins as university, industry and government enter into a reciprocal relationship in which each attempts to enhance the performance of the other. It seems that in Kosovo triple helix model has applied and further developed to “Quadruple or Fourfold Helix Model” where government, underworld, Wahhabbi schools and international terrorism have win-win symbiosis.

quadruple helix model by Ari Rusila

Bottom line

The recognition of Kosovo was premature and conditioned by great pressure from the former American administration”… “Today, we can see that two-thirds of the international community does not recognize Kosovo … this shows that we are talking about a grave mistake” (Gerhard Schröder)

After Kosovo War international community – UN, EU, etc – tried to re-build some kind of functional society, public services and state in Albanian part of Kosovo, and totally failed to achieve its idea ”standards before status”. In north Kosovo – where most Serbs live – international community also failed but seems that despite this failure the Serbian part has had more positive development. Related to situation in late 1999 – when Western powers helped to ”liberate and save” main parts of Kosovo from Serbs – its seems absurd that now Serbia has become the epicentre of activities in the region and the key factor of peace and stability.

In this early parliamentary election Kosovars desperately try to transform their crime State towards some kind of democracy – to liberate themselves from today’s captured State. I have my doubts about outcome but wish luck for try anyway.

 

 

More reading:

IFIMES research: Link (ENG): https://www.ifimes.org/en/9701 (Research – Kosovo 2019 early parliamentary election: the citizens want political changes)

Link (BSH) https://www.ifimes.org/ba/9700 (Analiza – Prevremeni parlamentarni izbori na Kosovu 2019: Građani žele političke promene)

My articles: Kosovo: Two years of Pseudo-state , Balkan route-Business as usual and Captured Pseudo-State Kosovo .

More about link between organized crime and Kosovo political leaders one can find e.g. from Albanian Terrorism and Oraganized Crime in Kosovo and Metohija (K&M) , which also can be found from my document library. Related background information can be found also from “leaked” German Intelligence report BND report 2005  which can be found from my document library under Kosovo headline.

The report, Inhuman treatment of people and illicit trafficking in human organs in Kosovo, prepared by Swiss prosecutor-turned-politician Dick Marty. Investigations conducted by the Swiss diplomat, Dick Marty on behalf of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) have revealed the true picture of Kosovo’s prime minister Hashim Thaci. In his report to the PACE’s Commission, Thaci is presented as the leader of a criminal gang engaged in the smuggling of weapons, the distribution of illegal drugs throughout Europe and the selling of human organs for unlawful transplantation. The Swiss senator conducted a two-year inquiry into organised crime in Kosovo after the Council of Europe mandated him to investigate claims of organ harvesting by the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) after the war with Serbia ended in 1999.

An exellent article in New York Times – How Kosovo Was Turned Into Fertile Ground for ISIS by Carlotta Gall – gives in deep background info about Kosovo’s transformation from liberal Islam to ground of Islamic extremism

Testimony on the Genesis of Evil – White Book on Albanian terrorism in Kosovo .The book addresses the continuity of terrorist activities by Albanian extremists, beginning with the constituting of the parallel system of Albanian government in Kosovo and Metohija and the pretensions of the so-called Government of the Republic of Kosovo headed by Bujar Bukoshi, covering the founding of FARK and the armed forces of “the Republic of Kosovo”, which united separation-oriented former officers of the former Yugoslav People’s Army, to the founding of the “Kosovo Liberation Army” /KLA/, which at the time of the NATO bombing had more than 20,000 armed members, and the KLA’s transformation and engagement of the former terrorists in the Kosovo Protection Corps.

About possible solutions e.g. my articles Dividing Kosovo – a pragmatic solution to frozen conflict and Cantonisation – a middle course for separatist movements


This article first appeared in Conflicts by Ari Rusila blog


Bosnia Moving from Failed State Towards Dissolution

October 9, 2018

 

Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH) is an artificial administrative creature made by foreign powers in Dayton agreement on 1995. It has two political semi-independent entities (federal units) – Serb dominated Republika Srpska (RS) and Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH) inhabited mainly by Croats and Bosniacs.  The outcome has been some kind of confederal arrangement set up in Dayton, which provides for an extremely limited central government and broad and virtually unfettered self-government for the RS as well for the FBiH.

General elections were held in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) on 7 October 2018.  The general election was seen as an indicator of Bosnia’s future direction: moving toward integration in the European Union and NATO or driven by entrenched rivalries and friction. Pro-Russia Serb leader Milorad Dodik won a race to fill the Serb seat in Bosnia’s three-member presidency, deepening ethnic divisions in the country that faced a brutal war some 25 years ago. Earlier Dodik has prevented Bosnia-Herzegovina from recognizing Kosovo, and opposes joining NATO.  After elections Dodik said, that“The will of the people leaves no doubt what they want,”  adding that voters “punished” his opponent for his “servile policies toward the West.” Ivanic conceded defeat.

The country – Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) – consists of a Serb-run Republika Srpska (RS) entity and a Muslim-Croat entity Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH) with joint institutions in a central government. Voters cast ballots for the three-person Bosnian presidency, the Serb president, and the two entities’ parliaments and cantonal authorities.

Voters elected the national Presidency and House of Representatives, as well as the Presidents and legislatures of the two entities – Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina(FBiH) and Republika Srpska (RS) – and the legislatures of the ten cantons of the federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The 10 cantons of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina serve as the second-level units of local autonomy and federal units of the of FBiH while the other political entity of BiH, the Republika Srpska (RS), has a centralized government and is divided directly into 63 municipalities. In addition the ethnically diverse Brčko District is a division of its own under the direct jurisdiction of BiH.

A total of 3,352,933 voters were eligible to vote at 5,794 polling stations at home and abroad for some 53 parties, 36 coalitions, and 34 independent candidates that have been confirmed as eligible to run by Bosnia’s Central Election Commission. A total of 3,352,933 citizens were registered to vote: 2,092,336 in the FBiH and 1,260,597 in the RS . Turn out at the level of BiH was 53.36%; FBiH 51.25%; RS 57.30%.

As concerns the BiH Presidency, the preliminary results from 43.42% polling stations indicate that Šefik Džaferović (SDA) won 37.97%, Željko Komšić (DF) won 49.47% and Milorad Dodik (SNSD) won 55.15 % for the Bosniak, Croat and Serb seats in the BiH Presidency respectively. (Source: Wikipedia)

Old Bridge, Mostar, BiH

The outcome

Despite international community’s state building efforts in Bosnia the country is splitting parts; the aim for this artificial creature designed in Dayton agreement was a multi-ethnic state with EU perspective.  Bosnia is now even more divided, with less national identity, 20 percent of population living under the poverty line, with a nightmare triple administration plus international supervising making the country one of the worst place in Europe to do business, even as it seeks to join the European Union. The EU has demanded that if Bosnia wishes to join to EU, it must create a stronger central government. Negotiations – led by EU and U.S over constitutional changes to strengthen the central government have been long and unsuccessful.  

According Stephen Karganovic during the electoral process some Western political manipulation took place to influence its outcome as credible claims have been made that Republic of Srpska’s main opposition coalition alliance is being funded by the US and UK.. USAID and other outfits tied to the US and British governments were injecting funds into the Republic of Srpska, particularly the media and political groups friendly to their agenda, in order to detach the Republic of Srpska from “malign Russian influence.” As a result, the Republic of Srpska is in the throes of the second round of the color revolution which was originally attempted and failed four years ago at the time of the previous general elections in 2014.

Western minions are being funded and covertly supported because they have agreed to revise the 1995 Dayton agreement and to accept the concept of a unitary Bosnian state that would eliminate or eviscerate the Republic of Srpska. They have also agreed to drop Srpska’s veto to NATO membership for Bosnia. Dodik’s rule has been undermined significantly by the corruption and incompetence of his government. These shortcomings have given the pro-NATO and anti-Russian opposition legitimate issues on which to focus and draw votes that they would otherwise not get based on the flawed fundamental policies that they are hired to advocate. (Source and more about this in article Targeted in the Balkans: Russia’s Tiny Ally Republic of Srpska By Stephen Karganovic)

Bottom line

Dodik’s win in elections 2018 will probably mean the restoration of the loose confederal arrangement originally envisaged and agreed upon in Dayton would be regarded by Serbs as satisfactory. Such a system would leave them with an ample degree of self-government in their own virtually independent state. As they could largely ignore the unpalatable government in Sarajevo, and that government would have little effective control over them. For Western powers, NATO and EU the outcome of elections 2018 probably will be there will be a delay of color revolution in the RS. For Bosnia the outcome might be moving from failed state towards dissolution of BiH.

Some earlier articles:

The ‘Bosnian Spring’ Between Chances

Rethinking needed after Bosnian elections

Bosnia on the road to the EU, sorry to Dissolution

Bosnia collapsing?

Srebrenica again – Hoax or Massacre?


Appendix: Some background

Bosnian flag with explanation

The three points of the triangle represent the nation’s three ethnic groups: Bosniaks, Croats, and Serbs. The triangle itself represents the geographic shape of the nation itself. The colors represent neutrality and peace, whereas the stars represent Europe.


Srebrenica: «War in the Balkans» – the Memoirs of a Portugese Peacekeeper I&II By Stephen Karganovic

July 16, 2017

 

The the tragic events in Srebrenica in July of 1995 are actual and in headlines today and probably during coming years too. The cause from my perspective may be related to four aspects

1st the ICTY process is focusing now to main political figures – Karadzig and Mladic – of Bosnian War and evidences from sides of prosecutor and defence are the core content of trial

2nd every year Srebrenica will be remaind as theatrical funerals of Bosnian Muslims – presumable victims – are taking place.

3rd Bosnia-Herzegovina as an artifical creature is searching some national identity, however ethnic tensions are rather increasing than opposite and politics is more going towards dissolution than unity.

4th Srebrenica is an example of intervention, or R2P context as well modern media war used more or less successfully in conflicts around the world during last decades.

Below is in-depth two-part review of a recently published book on the Balkan conflict by Portuguese General Carlos Martins Branco.  The review is created by Stephen Karganovic, the President of the Srebrenica Historical Project.  According Karganovic General Martins Branco is a major actor in the Srebrenica story, but thus far has been rather less familiar to the general public than he deserves to be. The general’s belated but frank memoirs and reflections on Srebrenica remove all doubt about his integrity, but we are all human after all. It is a well known phenomenon that many officials have felt more comfortable speaking out openly only after their retirement.

Karganovic concludes following:

Suffice it to say that as Deputy Head of the UN Observer Mission in the Balkans, General Martins Branco was ideally positioned to see many things that were hidden from public view and, more importantly, to receive field intelligence of a confidential nature on the most delicate matters. His extensive out-of-the-box analysis of Srebrenica is the result and it is also testimony to his personal integrity.

 

Srebrenica Historical Project

( http://www.srebrenica-project.com/ )

An excerpt from project’s mission statement:

Our broad purpose is to collect information on Srebrenica during the last conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina, defined not as July 1995, but more broadly as 1992 to 1995. That means that we shall be creating a comprehensive and contextual, as opposed to a selective, record of the violence between the communities in that area during the conflict. We shall focus also on crimes committed against the Serb civilians not because we favor them but because so far they have been ignored. We wish to redress that balance, but we will not work under any ideological limitations. A corollary goal will be to launch something along the lines of the South African Truth and Reconciliation commission, with emphasis on truth as logically coming before and as a precondition to reconciliation. That is another reason we wish to do a great deal of empirical work on the neglected crimes against the Serbian population. We shall then proceed to explore reconciliations strategies. The fundamental objective of our project is to rise above politics and propaganda and to create a contextual record of the Srebrenica tragedy of July 1995 which can serve as a corrective to the distortions of the last decade and a half and as a genuine contribution to future peace.

Stephen Karganovic is the President of the Srebrenica Historical Project


«War in the Balkans» – the Memoirs of a Portugese Peacekeeper (I) by Stephen Karganovic

General Carlos Martins Branco is one of the most fascinating (and until quite recently also inaccessible) actors in the Srebrenica controversy. From his Zagreb vantage point as deputy head of the U.N. Protection Force (UNPROFOR) between 1994 and 1996, during the latter phase of the 1990s Yugoslav conflict as it unfolded in Croatia and Bosnian and Herzegovina, this Portuguese officer had privileged access to significant information. Confidential reports about the goings on in the field were crossing his desk. With first-hand information and further enlightened by discrete conversations with colleagues from various intelligence structures, Martins Branco was positioned ideally to learn facts which many officials would have preferred to cover up, and the media frequently ignored.

With a typically Latin emotional flair, refusing to remain silent as the «Srebrenica genocide narrative» was taking shape in the second half of the 1990s, Martins Branco published in 1998 an article provocatively entitled «Was Srebrenica a Hoax? Eyewitness Account of a Former UN Military Observer in Bosnia» In that early plunge into the toxic Srebrenica debate, Martins Branco ventured a number of critical questions concerning the notorious events in July 1995:

«One may agree or disagree with my political analysis, but one really ought to read the account of how Srebrenica fell, who are the victims whose bodies have been found so far, and why the author believes that the Serbs wanted to conquer Srebrenica and make the Bosnian Muslims flee, rather than having any intentions of butchering them. The comparison Srebrenica vs. Krajina, as well as the related media reaction by the ‘free press’ in the West, is also rather instructive».

Shortly after that expression of skepticism about the nature of the disputed events in Srebrenica, Martins Branco practically disappeared from view. Not physically, of course. He spent several years in Florence teaching at the European University Institute and preparing his doctoral dissertation. After that, in 2007 and 2008 he was attached by his government to NATO forces in Afghanistan in the capacity of media spokesperson for the Commander. From 2008 until recently, when he retired, General Martins Branco served as deputy director of the National Defense Institute of the Portuguese armed forces.

This impressive background, to which we may add the duty of head of the Intelligence Affairs Section of EUROFOR for Bosnia, Albania, and Kosovo from 1996 to 1999, bespeaks an elite and highly trained staff officer, with first-class intelligence capabilities and powers of observation.

Intrigued by Martins Branco’s out-of-the-box analysis of Srebrenica events, shortly after the founding of our NGO «Srebrenica Historical Project» we attempted to establish communication with him to see if he would share with us some of his exceptional information and insights. Our efforts were fruitless and correspondence with the general over the years came down mostly to an exchange of non-committal courtesies. Defense teams at the ICTY in the Hague, which endeavored to obtain him as a witness on their clients’ behalf, had no better luck. However, not very long ago General Martins Branco wrote to us seeking answers to some questions concerning Srebrenica. He mentioned that in November 2016 his memoirs were published in Portugal. That volume, which he kindly made available to us, encompassed the period of his service in the Balkans. It was entitled «A Guerra nos Balcãs, jihadismo, geopolítica e desinformação» [War in the Balkans, Jihadism, Geopolitics, and Disinformation], published by Edições Colibri in Lisbon.

As already seen numerous times with high-level officials, in this case as well open expression of intimate views and public disclosure of facts regarded of a delicate nature had to wait for retirement. In General Martins  Branco’s case, the wait was worthwhile. These fascinating recollections from the Balkan war theater consist of the insights of a Portuguese officer attached to UN forces into such episodes as the merciless expulsion, accompanied by mass killing, of the Serbian population of Krajina by Croatian forces. These outrages were orchestrated with the discrete backing of the NATO alliance, for which the author indirectly happened to be working at the time. Events surrounding Srebrenica in July 0f 1995 encompass another portion of his recollections. For the moment, we will focus on the latter and Martins Branco’s perception of the background and impact of the Srebrenica situation.

Already in his introduction to the chapters of his memoirs that deal with Srebrenica, Martins Branco questions the coherence of the prevalent view that it constituted genocide:

«General Ratko Mladic had made it known that he was leaving open a corridor for withdrawal toward Tuzla. With Mladic’s approval, about 6.000 persons took advantage of that opportunity. In a report by the Dutch Foreign Ministry it is noted that, according to UN sources, by August 4 a total of 35.632 displaced persons had made it to Tuzla, of whom between 800 and 1.000 were members of Bosnia and Herzegovina armed forces. Out of that total, 17.500 had been evacuated by bus». (Page 195)

The Portuguese general then continues:

«Srebrenica was portrayed – and continues to be – as a premeditated massacre of innocent Muslim civilians. As a genocide! But was it really so? A more careful and informed assessment of those events leads me to doubt it». (Page 196)

Martins Branco goes on to raise some pointed questions, and he does so purely in the capacity of a professional soldier:

«There are various estimates of the relative strength of forces involved in the Srebrenica battle. On the Serbian side, at most 3.000 fighters could have taken part. The number of armored vehicles is more difficult to determine, as stated at the beginning of this chapter. According to field reports, however, not more than six such vehicles were in motion at any given time. Though we lack reliable information about troop strength on the Muslim side, it is entirely probable that they numbered a minimum of 4.000 armed men, counting together Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina soldiers and members of the paramilitaries. According to some sources, they numbered up to 6.000. But for the purposes of this analysis, we will consider the 4.000 figure as credible». (Page 196)

The general then goes on:

«The topographical features of the terrain around Srebrenica, and Eastern Bosnia as a whole, are extremely rugged and hilly.  Crags, thickly forested areas, and deep ravines impede the movement of military vehicles while facilitating infantry operations. In relation to ground features, which beyond any doubt favor defenders, the numerical relationship of forces on the opposing sides suggests that Bosnian army troops had at their disposal more than sufficient manpower to put up a defense. They, however, failed to do that. Taking into account the numerical ratio of attackers to defenders, as we were taught at the military academy, for the attack to have any chance of success the number of attackers would have to exceed that of the defenders by a factor of at least three. In the case at hand, that ratio was more than advantageous to the defenders (4.000 defenders versus 3.000 attackers). In addition, the defenders had the additional benefit of knowing the landscape». (Page 196)

Martins Branco than asks one of the key Srebrenica questions:

«Given that military advantage favored the defense, why did the Bosnian army fail to put up any resistance to Serbian forces? Why did the command of the 28th Division of the Bosnian army – acting apparently contrary to its interest – fail to establish a defense line, as at other times it knew well how to do, as for instance during the April 1993 crisis? Why did Muslim forces in the enclave fail to act to regain control over their heavy weapons, which had been deposited in a local warehouse under UN’s lock and key? Was it no more than an oversight?» (Page 197)

As a supplement to these well-formulated questions, we may note that already on July 6, as the Serbian attack was commencing, the Dutch battalion command in Srebrenica let it be known to the 28th Division that it was free to retrieve its warehoused heavy armaments, if it so wished. That fact was revealed in the Dutch battalion «Debriefing», which came out in October of 1995. However, Muslim forces in Srebrenica inexplicably ignored this invitation, thus reinforcing the impression that – for political or other reasons – they lacked the purpose of militarily resisting the Serbian attack.

Which leads the author to the following reflections:

«Twenty years later, we still lack satisfactory answers to questions that seem crucial, assuming that we are seeking to find out what exactly happened. The passivity and absence of a military reaction on the part of Muslim forces in the enclave is in stark contrast to their offensive behavior during the preceding two years, which was manifested in the form of systematic slaughter of Serbian civilians in the villages surrounding Srebrenica». (Page 197)

The author then discloses an intriguing detail that was previously unknown even to this reviewer:

«Ramiz Becirevic [in command of the 28th Division in Naser Oric’s absence] initially issued an order for the heavy weapons to be collected. However, he cancelled it shortly thereafter, explaining that he had received a countermanding order. Who was the source of that order, and for what reason was it given? For the record, let it be noted that in the morning of July 6, as the Serbian attack was starting, acting on his own responsibility, the Dutchbat commander informed the leadership of the Bosnian army that the Serbs had ‘trespassed’ the enclave’s boundaries and that the UN would not be object should they come to retrieve their heavy weaponry that had been deposited in a local warehouse». (Page 197)

Pressing further his point about the enigmatic dissipation within the Srebrenica enclave of the will to resist, Martins Branco points out that Naser Oric, «the charismaticleader who very likely would have acted differently», was withdrawn from the enclave in April of 1995, never to return. He therefore goes on to ask some common sense questions:

«Was [Oric’s] return prevented by the Second Corps of the Bosnian army, of which 28th Division was part? What could have been the reasons for that? We still lack convincing answers to these questions». (Page 198)

«On the other hand», the Portuguese author continues with his detailed analysis of the suspicious train of events, «officials of the local SDA, the Party of Democratic Action that was in charge in Sarajevo, not only refused, citing strange reasons, to assist UN forces in evacuating Srebrenica, which is to say their own population and refugees from the surrounding villages who had taken shelter in the town, but they went even further by preventing them from fleeing in the direction of Potocari. Instead, they submitted to the commander of B Company [of the Dutchbat] a long list of demands, the fullment of which was insisted upon as the condition for their cooperation. The nature of these demands suggested the existence of a carefully elaborated advance plan which, however, did not mesh with the conditions that actually prevailed on the ground at that particular moment. At that point, there were only two issues which were of significance to the municipal president: one, the demand to the Military Observers on July 10 to disseminate to the outside world a report alleging the use of chemical weapons by Serbian forces, although that was not true; secondly, to publicly accuse the international media of spreading misinformation that Muslim forces were offering armed resistance, with an additional demand to the UN to also issue an official denial to that effect. According to him, Bosnian soldiers neither used heavy weapons, nor were they prepared to ever do so. At the same time, he complained about the lack of foodstuffs and the dismal humanitarian situation. The outline of an official narrative was becoming perceptible and it consisted of two messages: the absence of any military resistance and lack of food». (Page 198)

To put it in plain English, this elite NATO officer with excellent powers of observation and acumen for critical analysis «smelled a rat,» and he did so right from the beginning of the game. He does not say it outright in his memoirs, but it is strongly suggested that these doubts about the authenticity of the official Srebrenica narrative were proliferating in his mind in real time, as field reports accumulated on his desk in Zagreb.

Martins Branco then pops the logical question or, rather, he points his finger at one of the key incoherencies of the official account of Srebrenica events:

«A question mark could also be put over the complete absence of a military response of any kind by the Second Corps of the Bosnian army, whose zone of responsibility encompassed northeastern Bosnia, including Tuzla (where its headquarters was located), as well as Doboj, Bijeljina, Srebrenica, Zepa, and Zvornik. Bosnian army intelligence agencies, whose ear was constantly fixed on Serbian signal communications, were perfectly aware of the impending offensive operation. In spite of not at all being in the dark concerning the Serbs’ intention to attack, the Second Corps of the Bosnian army did not make the slightest move to weaken the Serbs’ pressure upon the enclave. It was a known fact that the Drina Corps, the Serbian army unit in whose zone of responsibility Srebrenica was located, was exhausted and that the attack on Srebrenica was made feasible only by scraping together forces withdrawn from other segments of the front, which naturally left in its wake many vulnerable points. Why didn’t the Second Corps undertake an attack along the entire front line with the Drina Corps, not merely in order to relieve the pressure on Srebrenica but also to exploit the Serbian forces’ temporary vulnerabilities in order to seize territory in areas that were left unprotected? Following the passage of twenty years, we still do not have the answer to this more than coherent and reasonable question». (Pages 198-199)

These are just some of the more important reasons leading a professional soldier to be skeptical of the general framework of the accepted Srebrenica narrative. As we will see in the next installment of this review, his more detailed analysis raises even more troubling questions.

«War in the Balkans» – the Memoirs of a Portugese Peacekeeper (II) by Stephen Karganovic

See Part I

In his memoir, «War in the Balkans», (1) retired Portuguese general Carlos Martins Branco, who was during the conflict in the Former Yugoslavia in the strategically important post of Deputy Head of Mission of UN Military Observers in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina (1994-1996), recounts his knowledge of events that took place around Srebrenica in July of 1995.

In contrast to the fanciful tales of a bevy of dubious «experts», false witnesses, and outright propagandists, General Martins Branco reports facts as they were observed or collected by intelligence and other sources in the field. That information made its way through official channels to his desk in Zagreb, where the headquarters of the UN Observer Mission was located. Martins Branco’s facts and conclusions are hardly susceptible to off-hand dismissal. Excerpts cited below are on pages 201 – 206 of his memoir.

We will begin with the general’s conclusion challenging the received wisdom that Srebrenica was genocide and then work our way back from there:

«Had they entertained the specific intent to commit genocide, the Serbs would have blocked the enclave from all sides so that nobody could have managed to escape. Instead, they attacked from two directions, southeast and east, where they concentrated their assault forces, leaving open corridors for withdrawal toward the north and west (…) nor would they have planned the transportation of seventeen thousand women, children, and elderly, as occurred on July 12 and 13, which made it possible for about half the displaced persons to reach Federation territory. A great number of Srebrenica residents, who did manage to flee, found refuge in Serbia where they spent several years without being bothered by anyone. For the assertion of genocide to hold, it was necessary to conceal some inconvenient facts which were liable to compromise it».

Martins Branco does not deny that «the attack on Srebrenica resulted in many deaths». He notes, however, that «even after twenty years no one has managed to determine their number». (Actually, the Hague Tribunal has been attempting to make that determination but as a result of its lackadaisical efforts we now have, in various verdicts, five drastically varying figures the highest and the lowest separated by a gap of 4.000, all presumably reflecting the judicially ascertained number of executed victims.)

As «Srebrenica Historical Project» has been arguing for years, Martins Branco points out also a very important fact, namely the heterogeneity of the causes of death among the exhumed Srebrenica-related human remains. The author describes the forensic situation in the following terms:

«The causes of the deaths which occurred during and after military operations were various: combat between the two armies facing each other; combat between the Serbian forces and militants taking flight, who were joined by civilians; internecine warfare among fighters of the Bosnian army; and lastly executions of war prisoners».

As for the antecedents of the «magic figure of 8.000 missing (that was an initial Red Cross estimate) which ultimately morphed into an unchallengeable truth», the author says that at a certain point it became a «fact which it was forbidden to question, even before any proof was forthcoming». And he continues: «Woe unto him who would dare to challenge that incontrovertible truth. He will immediately be excommunicated and labeled a ‘genocide denier.’ The fact that 3.000 persons who had been declared missing found their way onto the voting rolls in the September 1996 elections had no impact whatsoever on the incessant repetition of the narrative about 8.000 dead. The media never expressed the slightest curiosity in the face of this and a number of other obvious incoherencies. It was easier to keep relentlessly repeating the genocide theory, which the mass media eagerly promoted. But regardless of the stubborn reassertion of that ‘truth’ it is worth recalling that between a media sound bite and a historical fact there continues to be a huge gap».

«How many prisoners were shot, and how many were killed in battle?», General Martins Branco raises one of the key questions. «We are quite far from having the answers, and I would say that we will have a difficult time ever finding them. It is much easier – and simpler – to talk about genocide».

The Portuguese officer nevertheless ventures to make some estimates of the possible number of war crime victims in Srebrenica in July of 1995:

«The execution by Serbian forces in Srebrenica and the environs of a considerable number of Muslim males – well informed sources cite the figure of 2.000 – among whom the majority were soldiers, was undoubtedly a war crime».

The number mentioned by Martins Branco is significant for a number of independent reasons. Firstly, because the same number of execution victims – 2.000 – is cited by another, no less respectable intelligence source, John Schindler, a high-ranking US intelligence officer who was stationed in Sarajevo contemporaneously with the Srebrenica events. Schindler’s assessment, made from his Sarajevo vantage point, is completely congruent with Martins Branco’s coming out of Zagreb. It was articulated in Ole Flyum’s documentary «Srebrenica: A Town Betrayed». (2) Both assessments match available forensic data to a T. And it should be borne in mind that when things happen to be rather muddled, as they are with Srebrenica, a synthesis of intelligence data deriving from various trustworthy sources should always be paid close attention. It often presents an overall picture that is far more reliable than the reports of isolated individuals, whose field of vision is often limited and who frequently are not even objective.

Finally, the figure jointly suggested by Martins Branco and Schindler, which the available material evidence fully supports, is of interest also for an additional reason. Within the various intelligence communities a rumor has persistently been making rounds alleging the existence of a document – a mysterious letter sent by Alija Izetbegovic to Naser Oric in the Spring of 1995, not long before the commencement of the Srebrenica operation – where it is supposedly reaffirmed that the offer of foreign intervention still stood, as well as the condition that the Bosnian Serb takeover of Srebrenica ought to be accompanied by mass slaughter. The key point in that alleged letter is that the number of victims that would satisfy the interventionist criterion of the interested foreign party would be the already familiar figure of – 2.000.

«However», our author continues, «that was not an act of genocide, as is asserted in many places, mainly by the Tribunal at The Hague, in the form of a political argument». As a civilized person he, of course, entirely agrees that «taking justice into one’s own hands, which is culturally characteristic not just of Serbs but of other communities of the Former Yugoslavia as well, does not justify or mitigate the gravity of the committed act. That was, beyond doubt, a violation of the Geneva Convention».

His main point, nevertheless, would seem to be that things definitively ought to be called by their proper name:

«Terrible war crimes must be punished. Yet these criminal acts cannot and should not be confused with genocide. When war crimes, such as the execution of hundreds of military age males, are conflated with genocide, where it is necessary to establish the intent to systematically eradicate members of an ethnic community, that sends a very frivolous signal. That is particularly evident if we bear in mind the fact that the party committing the crime had made available the means to transport seventeen thousand displaced persons, which is about fifty percent of the entire displaced population».

Martins Branco then turns his attention to another notable «incoherence» in the Srebrenica affair, which is that the «Tribunal has so far condemned but a single direct perpetrator» (in a footnote he clarifies that the reference is to Drazen Erdemovic, a perpetrator defendant-turned-prosecution-witness who was initially rewarded with a laughably insignificant three year sentence for signing a plea bargain agreement, followed by numerous benefits in return for his mechanically repeated and highly disputed testimony).  (3) The Portuguese author stresses that «no one else was ever put in the dock for executing prisoners of war but, rather, based on ‘command responsibility’ or participation in a Joint Criminal Enterprise, which is the Tribunal’s favored doctrine but the application of which in such a conflict situation is highly dubious. How is it possible to claim genocide if, after twenty years, the Tribunal is incapable of determining the number of victims, the cause of death, and who killed them?»

All eminently logical questions. Martins Branco should perhaps also be given credit for this equally astute observation:

«The Tribunal has forgotten to concern itself with crimes committed around Srebrenica between 1992 and 1995 where the victims were Serbs, resulting in the murder of almost two thousand persons (males, females, children, and elderly), in some cases after acts of torture and other atrocities. For the most part this has been carefully documented, and the identity of the perpetrators is known (…) As Richard Holbrooke admitted in his book, ‘the Tribunal had always been a valuable political instrument of US policy». (4) Quite so, indeed.

And when talking about genocide, Martins Branco is not shy to draw a sharp contrast between the situation in Srebrenica in July of 1995 and what transpired in relatively close proximity barely a month later, in August, as Croatian armed forces went into attack mode:

«What happened in Srebrenica cannot and should not be equated to what happened a month later in the Krajina, where the Croatian army conducted an operation of systematic murder of the Serbian population which did not manage to find any shelter, sparing no one. Men, women, children, the elderly – all without distinction were subjected to the same atrocities, and things even worse. That operation was planned down to the last detail and was amply documented. The orders were issued by Tudjman to his generals, at a meeting in Brioni on July 31, 1995, on the eve of Operation Storm. The Tribunal never considered the events in Krajina as a possible genocide. Western media kept a careful distance from those events. Their silence was complicit and deafening».

Concluding his reminiscences, Martins Branco seems to harbor no doubt that Srebrenica was the perfidious fruit of long-term planning and parallel activity of various interested parties. In support of that, he cites evidence from Ibran Mustafic’s book «Planned Chaos», statements of local politician Zlatko Dukic, and revelations by Srebrenica enclave police chief during the conflict, Hakija Meholjic. The author singles out  in particular the intriguing claim of the then chief of staff of the Bosnian army, Sefer Halilovic, that in fact Izetbegovic had made the decision to «discard» Srebrenica rather early in the game but was determined «to extract from it maximum political profit».

Incidentally, while considering what Meholjic and Halilovic had to say on the subject and the evidence that the event may have been conceived some time in advance, it is worth recalling Meholjic’s famous claim of Izetbegovic’s offer to allow the slaughter of Srebrenica’s residents in return for foreign intervention, Srebrenica later to be traded with the Serbs for the Sarajevo suburb of Vogosca. The episode, be it recalled, is alleged to have taken place in the Fall of 1993, when a Bosniak National Congress was being convened in Sarajevo. However, in his book «The Cunning Strategy» (5) Sefer Halilovic set forth some additional information on the subject that may be of possible significance. He claims that the idea of staging a Srebrenica massacre, in return for harvesting its political dividends, was most likely entertained in the minds of Alija Izetbegovic and the Bosnian leadership even before the Congress. It so happens that at the time of the book’s publication Halilovic was politically on the outs with Izetbegovic so perhaps his assertions should for that reason be taken with a grain of salt. The fact remains, however, for all it is worth, that according to Halilovic (who is alive and may be questioned concerning his statements) Izetbegovic had mentioned to him in the Spring of 1993 the supposed offer which several months later, towards the end of the year, was to shock Meholjic and the other members of the Srebrenica delegation in attendance at the Bosniak meeting.

General Carlos Martins Branco’s reflections about Srebrenica are a valuable piece of the mosaic, supplementing and improving our understanding of events. His book is not simply the notes of a strategically positioned foreign observer, but much more than that. It is, in a certain sense, a coming to terms with the politically obscured reality of the matter by institutions which the author – willingly and consciously, or not – nevertheless personifies. In considerable measure, it furnishes answers to such important questions as «what did they know and when did they find out». The clear subtext of Martins Branco’s memoir is that the author and the instances above and below him had the capability of following events in real time, that they pretty much knew who was doing what and to whom, and that on a deeper analytical level they have no illusions – not to speak of dilemmas – about the real nature and background of Srebrenica. After reading «War in the Balkans – Jihadism, Geopolitics, and Disinformation», it is difficult to imagine that the proverbial «powers that be» were in the dark about the cynical political agenda which Srebrenica has come to serve.

(1) A Guerra nos Balcãs, jihadismo, geopolítica e desinformação [War in the Balkans, Jihadism, Geopolitics, and Disinformation]  Edições Colibri 2016.
(2) «Srebrenica: A Town Betrayed», 50:50 to 51:10 minutes
(3) Erdemovic’s account was meticulously picked apart by Bulgarian journalist Zerminal Civikov in «Srebrenica. Der Kronzeuge», Edition Brennpunkt, Osteuropa, 2009.
(4) Holbrooke, Richard. To End a War, p. 190.
(5) Halilovic, Sefer: «The Cunning Strategy» (Lukava strategija), Sarajevo 1997, pp. 130-132.

«War in the Balkans» – the Memoirs of a Portugese Peacekeeper (I)

«War in the Balkans» – the Memoirs of a Portugese Peacekeeper (II)


Sources and further reading:

My previous articles:

Biased ICTY Sentenced Karadzig 40 Years Based On Srebrenica [Hoax]

Srebrenica – The guide for the perplexed

Srebrenica: A Town Betrayed” – Finally a Critical Documentary about Srebrenica Tragedy

Media War of Yugoslav Secession continues

NIOD Report on Srebrenica

Srebrenica again – Hoax or Massacre?

And here is a small selection of articles, documents and analysis, which are also telling the other side of story:

Media War: The Use and Mis-Use of the Visual Image in News Coverage and Propaganda . A study of the visual media war against the Serbs.

Demonizing the Serbs by Marjaleena Repo June 15, 1999 in Counterpunch

One view about issue in video Bosnia and Media Manipulation

Srebrenica: The Star Witness by Prof Edward S. Herman

The Star Witness by Germinal Civikov (translated from German by John Lauchland),Belgrade 2010,

Srebrenica: Deconstruction of a Virtual Genocide” by Stephen Karganovic and Ljubica Simic (Belgrade 2010)

 Analysis of Muslim Column Losses Due to Minefields and Combat Activity” by Stephen Karganovic: .Proceedings of the International Symposium on ICTY and Srebrenica (Belgrade-Moscow 2010)

 Was Srebrenica a Hoax? Eye-Witness Account of a Former United Nations Military Observer in Bosnia by Carlos Martins Branco

Media Disinformation Frenzy on Srebrenica: The Lynching of Ratko Mladic by Nebojsa Malic

Media Fabrications: The “Srebrenica Massacre” is a Western Myth

What Happened at Srebrenica? Examination of the Forensic Evidence by Stephen Karganovic

Using War as an Excuse for More War: Srebrenica Revisited by Diana Johnstone

The Srebrenica Massacre: Evidence, Context, Politics by Edward S. Herman and Phillip Corwin

NIOD (Netherlands Institute for War Documentation)/Srebrenica investigationreport

INTELWIRE.com has published over 2.000 pages of of declassified U.S. State Dept. Cables about Srebrenica

UN Report:The Fall of Srebrenica


Serbia Towards EU – Why?

June 29, 2017

Ana Brnabic, Serbia’s prime minister designate, says her future government’s goal is membership in the EU along with modernization of the troubled Balkan country. Brnabic told Serbian lawmakers on Wednesday [28th Jun.2017] that the government will lead a “balanced” foreign policy, seeking good relations with Russia, China and the US. Serbia’s parliament is expected to vote her government into office later this week.

 Yesterday I gave an interview to Sputnik UK radionews about this Serbia topic and here are my core comments:

 

Serbia’s EU process?

To join EU is a long process. There is over 30 chapters to negotiate and some 80 000 pages EU regulations should be applied Serbia’s legislation. However I think that it is good idea to continue EU process but not only to fill EU’s needs but especially Serbia’s internal needs for example how EU could help Serbia’s modernization activities.

 

Balanced foreign policy?

Balanced foreign policy from my perspective is an ambivalent expression – it can be only short term goal while EU membership is long term aim/utopia. Even during membership process there might be needs to take [biased] positions. And if one is EU memberstate so you are EU’s side. For example Greece, Hungary and Finland have traditionel good relations with Russia but all are implementing sanctionpolicy against Russia probably due common pressure from EU. So in my opinion Serbia’s balanced foreign policy does not live long during membership process.

 

According to a poll carried out by the Serbian European Integration Office at the end of last year, only 47% were in favour of EU membership, how much public appetite is there for joining the EU?

In my opinion this apetite will go more down in future. People might think that ok, we recognize Kosovo, door to EU opens and there will be free trade and movement etc soon. As I mentioned chapters and regulations so that’s heavy and long job which can take decade(s). Many Serbs might start think if joining to EU is worth of time, money and bureaucrazy it demands. Besides there is also other alternatives like for example ”third way”.

 

Third way?

In my opinion the main benefits of EU membership can be achieved without being EU member. With ”third way” I mean

  • Non-aligned foreign policy
  • Free trade agreements with EU and others
  • Being part of customs union with EU but outside the framework of the EU treaties and institutes

So my recommendation in short: Serbia should join EU economically but not politically.

Serbias options, EU, EAU, 3rd way