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August 17, 1998

P r e s s I n f o 4 2



"Look at what happens in Kosovo and you would like to believe that all good

powers worked for PREVENTION of this tragedy but that, unfortunately,

tragedies happen. Governments, inter-governmental and non-governmental

organisations are already overloaded with ongoing conflicts and

catastrophes; budgets are tight etc. Admittedly these are very complex

problems; and like all diseases cannot be prevented, we can't expect all

wars to be prevented.

According to this theory, if things go wrong it is the parties' fault and

if they go well it is thanks to the international community and a few

shuttling envoys or diplomats. World media naively corroborate this theory:

We watch how diplomats, envoys, and delegations fly around, hold press

conferences, meet their kin in palaces or make solemn declarations if they

don't issue threats. In short, do all they can to stop wars and force

people to negotiation tables, don't they?

Well, no outbreak of violence on earth was more predictable than the one in

Kosovo. There has been more early warnings about this conflict than about

any other, but there was no early listening and no early action. There was

neither the required conflict-management competence nor political will to

prevent it.

We live in an increasingly interdependent world; we are told that hardly

anything belongs to the internal affairs of states. The other side of that

coin is that Kosovo was and is our problem. If we believe in this theory we

must ask: when will honest people, including politicians, begin to openly

and self-critically discuss why they fail again and again to avert even the

most predictable wars? Is it human folly, institutional immaturity, are

diplomats just not appropriately trained in violence prevention and

conflict-resolution, or what?

I am afraid there is another more accurate but less pleasant explanation,"

says TFF director Jan Oberg after his recent mission to Belgrade, Prishtina

and Skopje where he had more than 50 conversations with heads of states,

party leaders, intellectuals, media people and NGOs.

"This other explanation it is less apologetic, more cynical. It simply

assumes that things like Kosovo happens because it is in the INTEREST of

powerful actors that it happens. Preventive measures is merely a cover-up

for such less noble interests. I can't avoid the feeling that in the case

of Kosovo many central actors had an interests in this war.

The Yugoslav government has insisted for years that Kosovo-Albanians are

not only separatists but also terrorists, that Dr. Rugova's leadership

based on pragmatic non-violence was just a facade. It reminds us of periods

in the 1970s, 1980s and now 1990s to prove it's point. And now there is an

Albanian Army and its spokesman repeatedly talk about total independence

and unification towards a Greater Albania. "There you see," Yugoslav

president Milosevic can argue, "we were right and you people in the

international community were fooled by the Albanians. We now just preserve

the integrity and sovereignty of Yugoslavia like you would if you had a

similar movement on your territory."

The Yugoslav/Serbian opposition which - like the government - has

absolutely no idea about what to do with Kosovo can blame Milosevic: "There

you see, Milosevic took no initiatives to start negotiations, he just won

time. Now he has proved that he could not solve it as an internal affair,

so now we have more foreign diplomats running around here than ever! He

will be even more powerful by winning the war in Kosovo and no one dare

start reforms or demonstrate in the streets of Belgrade while this happens.

Our economy will be even worse but that's what everybody expect anyhow; the

people are in apathy of all these years of economic deprivation and

isolation from the international community. In the shadow of Kosovo, the

regime now also tramples on the freedom and independence of the judiciary,

the universities and media. Milosevic knows the international community

won't support secession through violence, and he needs crisis to keep

himself in power. And the international community needs him for Dayton and

to keep separatism elsewhere at bay."

President Rugova of the self-proclaimed independent state of Kosova who

favours nonviolence, might tell you this: "There you see, since 1989 we

have warned the international community that we could not keep the

population behind the nonviolent line if we did not get some help to

achieve some results, either by NATO presence or bombings or by forcing

Belgrade to negotiate with us. But no one really did anything to help us to

achieve our human rights not to get out of this police state."

The Albanian opposition may see it this way: "There you see, Rugova never

listened to us. He didn't allow the assembly of our elected parliament, he

increasingly marginalised all other leaders and controlled the press.

Presumably he has always been in collusion with Milosevic. He is not a

dictator but his strategy yielded nothing; he promised an independent

Kosova but where is it? We in the opposition knew that it had to end in

violence, the only thing Belgrade understands."

The leaders of the Kosova Liberation Army (KLA/UCK), we may imagine, will

reason somewhat along the same lines but add: "Many of us were political

prisoners and when we came out nobody listened to us. We are now risking

our lives for the liberation of our Kosovan Motherland and we simply don't

listen to politicians anymore, least of all Rugova. Power grows out of our

guns so you better see UCK as the real present and future political power

here in Kosova."

Well, but did the international community not do a lot to prevent war in

Kosovo? I don't think so," continues Jan Oberg.

"The Kosovo issue was never high on the agendas in Hague, in London or in

Geneva; it was not included in Dayton and no other initiatives were taken.

Yugoslavia was recognised as a sovereign state with the Kosovo province

inside but with no modalities. No systematic negotiation effort was ever

tried and is not being tried even now. The best time to have found a

tolerable solution was in 1992-93 when Milan Panic was prime minister; he

had honest, energetic ministers for justice, human rights and education who

did more than any other government before or after to solve this problem -

but they got no support from the West. The Kosovars said 'no thanks' to

dialogue with Panic because their strategy of mobilisation of international

support and intervention stood a better chance with a "bad guy" like

Milosevic in Belgrade than with a "nice guy" there like Panic.

Didn't the international community know that war was brewing in Kosovo? Of

course it did! Look - in and around Kosovo, in Albania, Belgrade and

Macedonia the international community has, for years, had NATO, US troops,

the UN and OSCE missions in Macedonia, a US government office in the centre

of Prishtina, EU monitors, embassies, shuttle diplomats, it has had

intelligence officers from numerous countries and satellites in space which

can monitor movements and see number plates on cars. Are we really to

believe that the build-up of the Kosova Liberation Army, the training of

soldiers and civilians, the acquisition of hundreds of thousands of arms

and tons of ammunition that has gone on - according to Albanian sources -

since 1992-93 was unknown and that the outbreak of war in the region came

as a surprise? None of the diplomats I met who have served in the region

for quite some time denied that all this was well-known. But their

governments back home turned the blind eye to and prevented none of it.

The international community has decided that its interventions and missions

in Macedonia and Albania are successful, albeit not perfect. Period! That

one-time friend of the West, Sali Berisha now runs the uncontrollable

Northern Albania which is the de facto base for KLA/UCK proves it may not

have been such a success. Macedonia is stable and democratic, we've been

told for years irrespective of the fact that all the old problems remain

basically unresolved. UNPREDEP is a marvellous mission but it was stationed

in Macedonia for the wrong reasons - to prevent a completely unlikely

aggression by Serbia into Macedonia.

The international community did not get a mission into Kosovo where it

would have been relevant. Instead, in 1991 it foolishly suspended

Rest-Yugslavia's perfectly legitimate membership of the OSCE after which

Rest-Yugoslavia discontinued OSCE's three missions in Kosovo, Voivodina and

Sandzak. Had they been around until today, the war had hardly happened. So,

whatever the international community would have done recently to "prevent"

the Kosovo war, it would implicitly have recognised that earlier actions

were not such big successes. Or outright failures.

At least some powerful actors saw it to be in their interest NOT to prevent

the present war in Kosovo.

I see quite a few such interests," says TFF's director who has worked with

the Kosovo conflict on both sides since 1992.

First, you make contradictory commitments that satisfies conflicting

governments in the EU/ Contact group and the US. Thus, for years you

support the idea of sovereignty and integrity and reminds everyone that

borders cannot be changed by force. But while you do that you also want to

punish Serbia for its behaviour in Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia, so you

receive Dr. Rugova in all possible capitals and parliaments and listen to

his maximalist policy of independence for Kosova and support his minimalist

strategy of nonviolence. Since 1991 you do three things that encourage all

Albanians: a) you never dissociate your government from the Kosovo-Albanian

press claims that they have the international community's support for an

independent state (while what you told them was that you supported their

struggle for human rights); b) you never invite a Yugoslav diplomat or

minister to your office to listen to that side of the story, and c) you let

American presidents make various hints that the West will come to rescue

Kosova should Serbia misbehave."

Second, wars like this are in the interest of those who profiteer from the

trade in arms, drugs, prostitutes, looted war property, cigarettes, oil

etc., the smugglers, the mafia, the security services, mercenary companies,

private consultancy firms and paramilitary formations - which do the dirty

job for democratic government. They are promoted and protected by

politicians who have come to power through a) Western-endorsed free and

fair, democratic elections, b) privatisation of the social(ist) property

created up till 1989 by employees everywhere, and c) simple

war-profiteering. Thus the Eastern European as well as the Caucasian

environment now breeds one politico-economic-military-bureaucratic-criminal

- PEMBC - complex after the other. They have the real power while many with

formal titles are either powerless or incompetent as politicians.

Third, you deliberately wait to intervene until violence and chaos reign.

Then you can present Mr. Holbrooke, Christopher Hill - or some other

presumed miracle-maker - the EU, the Contact Group or NATO as saviours and

peacemakers and argue: "There you see, you proved you could not manage your

own problems, we have to manage them for you." When that role is

established, you can much more easily dictate the terms of a negotiation as

well as an outcome that fits your longterm strategic, political and

economic interests in the region. All, of course, is done in the name of

peace, democratisation, privatisation, marketisation and human rights. So,

the more the international community "fails" to prevent violence in

non-vital countries, the more it can control and gain in them later.

Four, you use the opportunity to present NATO as the eminent new

'peacekeeper' - and keep the UN in the shadow. There are threats of NATO

bombings or intervention, there are exercises and statements about who

could be taught a lesson, if...So, it looks like "we do something, we won't

accept a new Bosnia" - and similar nonsense. This serves to hide earlier

conflict-management fiascoes to citizens in Europe and the US. These

threats, in clear support for the Albanians and UCK/KLA comes three years

after the same countries helped Croatia to ethnically cleanse its territory

of 250 000 perfectly legitimate Serbs citizens of that republic. Not very

credible or moral, but who remembers?

True, it costs a little more with all these troops, missions, military aid,

exercises, training programs, humanitarian aid and economic aid for

reconstruction, but it establishes the international community - the US in

particular - as masters for long enough to bring these "failed states"

under the control that is essential to transforming them into submissive

allies in the larger process of globalisation and world order

transformation. And they are expected to be grateful to the West.

Concretely in Kosovo: this way of handling the conflict serves to

strengthen Milosevic in the short run and weaken him in the long run. Iraq

seems increasingly to be State Department's model in Serbia, and the EU has

no ideas and no common policy for the region. Some kind of partition of

Kosovo will create even more internal conflicts among Albanians in Kosovo,

Albania and Macedonia - thus easier to control by the West in decades to

come. Germany will advance diplomatically, economically and little by

little also militarily; the whole region is already a DM zone and Germany

has replaced Serbia as Macedonia's largest trading partner. The US will

provide the overall framework a la Dayton and then the strategic,

NATO-oriented impetus, the training of police, security and military of

these "failed" but resurrected states as it has done from Croatia down

through half of Bosnia to Albania and Macedonia. No wonder that US

diplomats head almost all international missions in the region now.

In short, Kosovo or rather Serbia/Yugoslavia is now the centre of the

globalisation and world order restructuring. The modes of operation differ

but it is part of the same transformation that we have seen in Mexico,

South Korea, Indonesia, Somalia, the Great Lakes, Croatia, Bosnia and Iraq.

It is implies a power struggle between the US/NATO and a Balkanized,

loud-shouting but paralysed EU.

Who pays the price? Innocent citizens-turned-refugees and 90% of the other

ordinary citizens in these lands, many of whom lack the education or

political consciousness to see through the games played over an above their

heads. Next, civil society, co-existence and human community. And, third,

moral values and the ideas of democracy, trust and - peace.

You may find my view cynical but I am convinced that only by being cynical

in the analysis can we be truly humane and work to help those who suffer

from all these double standards and power games," concludes Jan Oberg.

>>>If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this item, please retain this

credit and disclaimer.

Quotations or extracts should include attribution to the original source.

<<<>>>Look for other PressInfos on Kosovo/a on TFF's website.

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Dr. Jan Oberg

Director, head of the TFF Conflict-Mitigation team to the Balkans and Georgia


Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research

Vegagatan 25, S - 224 57 Lund, Sweden

Phone +46-46-145909 (0900-1100)

Fax +46-46-144512




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