Convergence in Kosovo

The "Unfinished War" Rages On

Neither the ongoing trouble in Iraq, threats to Syria, North Korea’s nuclear weapons, nor the increasing belligerence toward Russia sufficed to divert the advocates of "independence" for the occupied Serbian province of Kosovo, who resumed their diplomatic and media offensive launched in late January with another set of high-profile editorials.

With the Serbian president having just finished the first official visit to the province, and the UN and EU officials debating the prospects for some sort of solution, the Imperial groupies’ shrill screams hope to drown out any opposition to the cause of Greater Albania. Unfortunately, there isn’t much of an opposition, anyway.

Attack of the Killer Pundits

Never mind the current wars or ones about to start, Kosovo is "the war we haven’t finished," pontificated Frank Carlucci of the notorious Carlyle Group in the Tuesday New York Times. Naturally, the solution is independence for the Albanians, now. He was echoed by Chris Patten, in Wednesday’s Financial Times, who tried to peddle the January report of the International Crisis Group as a way for Emperor George to find joint cause with the EU. Better known as the last gauleiter of Hong Kong and later an EU commissar, Patten also happens to be a co-chairman of the ICG. Now isn’t that convenient!?

While Carlucci’s tone is that of arrogant bluster and Patten slithers about like a typical Eurocrat, the "meat" of both editorials is the same set of ICG talking points presented last month: Albanians were victims of a genocidal war; they will never accept anything but independence; if they don’t get what they want, there will be violence, and it will be the Serbs’ fault (of course); Serbia will object, but no one should care; Russia will object, but don’t they always give in eventually? Independence now, independence tomorrow, independence forever!

While Patten’s efforts on behalf of his organization are predictable, the involvement of Carlucci, and the Carlyle Group by implication, is a bit more disturbing. It suggests that the "Kosovo cabal" has expanded far beyond the already known circle of ICG, IWPR, NED, CFR, and other institutions dominated by the architects of the 1999 war.

Lies and Loathing on East River

The cabal’s ongoing and sustained agitprop campaign, already of unprecedented proportions, probably draws encouragement from the official policy on the occupied province, which has been shifting their way ever since the March 2004 pogrom.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s report on the current state of UNMIK, delivered to the Security Council on Feb. 14, complained of insufficient Serb collaboration with the occupying authorities, and generally sought to blame the Serbs for all the failures of the UN mission. Criticism of Albanians was muted and empty. The combination suggests that Annan’s report was in fact "ghostwritten" by viceroy Jessen-Petersen, whose praise of "Prime Minister" Ramush Haradinaj the ICG termed "ecstatic," and whose insistence on Serb participation in the occupation government has come to border on obsessive.

Interestingly enough, the wire services’ coverage of Annan’s report gave more prominence to his muted criticism of Albanians, and took some edge off his Serb-bashing. Thus AFP declared, "UN says not enough Kosovo progress for final-status decision," even while citing Annan’s most salient criticism of Serbs. The AP, on the other hand, emphasized the secretary-general’s remarks about Serbs "living in fear," without noting that Annan implied this fear to be mostly "perceived" (i.e., imaginary).

The viceroy’s own report on the situation in Kosovo, given four days earlier, was an exercise in wishful thinking and deliberate deception:

"Suffice it to say that the Kosovo society we are helping to build, not the least through Standard implementation, is a place with internal peace, with space for all communities and at peace with its neighbours as a stable, tolerant, multi-ethnic democracy."

Not surprisingly, ICG’s point man in Kosovo, Alex Anderson, loved Petersen’s assessment: "We won’t see the international community move as fast as we want to, but we are beginning to see the putting together of a policy and some sort of consensus which is working toward building a timeline, maybe rather longer than we would want but certainly not a million miles away from what we’re suggesting," he told Radio Free Europe on Monday.

Meanwhile, PM Haradinaj "thanked" the viceroy by snubbing his invitation to attend the Security Council session; he cited an "eventful schedule" but let slip his displeasure with not being allowed to address the UN body. The way Jessen-Petersen has been treating Our Man Ramush, he will likely praise him for this display of "commitment to Kosovo and exceptional work ethic," or some such.

The Tadic Drop-In

Haradinaj’s symbolic slap-around of the UN viceroy came after the visit of Serbian president Boris Tadic to the occupied province. Tadic’s trip on Feb. 14-15 got a lot of media attention in Serbia, but very little or none in the world. What media coverage it did receive was usually focused on the Albanian hostility to this "newest Serbian provocation" and exhibited a lot of hostility of its own.

Apparently no longer the sniveling sycophant who once eagerly did Empire’s bidding by calling on Kosovo Serbs to collaborate, Tadic dared to say that Kosovo was a part of Serbia, that Serbs there were living in deplorable conditions, and that their treatment was a mockery of European values.

Predictably, this ruffled the feathers of not just viceroy Jessen-Petersen and the Kosovo Albanians, but also of Albania proper (!). Tirana’s defense minister, Pandeli Majko, remarked last week that "Kosovo is a lost case for Serbia. Now Kosovo’s fate is determined in Pristina."

Talk about provocations…

Rumblings in Brussels

Meanwhile, the Supreme Soviet – er, the foreign ministers – of the European Union met with Viceroy Jessen-Petersen this Monday and proclaimed that "there would be no return to the situation before 1999" (AP, Feb. 21). According to Danish foreign minister Per Stig Moeller,

"We say … that there is no return to the situation before 1999, which means a status solution for Kosovo has to be found which does not set the region alight and does not anger the Kosovo Albanians or the Serbs." [emphasis added]

Moeller’s dangerously close regurgitation of the ICG line – about the Albanians getting angry if they don’t get their way – retained enough diplomatic sense to tack on an afterthought about Serbs. In all honesty, however, that was an afterthought for a reason. No one cares much about angering the Serbs; when Serbs get mad, they talk about "human rights" and "European integrations." When Albanians get mad, people die.

Another voice in the Eurocrat chorus opposing the status quo ante bellum is Slovenian FM Dimitrij Rupel, formerly (?) a fiery Belgrade-hating secessionist and now chairman of the OSCE. Rupel told the German agency DPA that "there was no way to turn back the clock in Kosovo," and that "something between autonomy and independence should be worked out." What that "something" might be, he doesn’t say.

The Kosovo Cabal

March 2004 marked a watershed in the Imperial occupation of Kosovo; that much is clear. But while those honestly disgusted with such an outpouring of hatred and violence hoped it would change the nature of the occupation and prompt some soul-searching, they were to be cruelly disappointed. Into the shocked vacuum stepped a skilled spin machine, unleashing a barrage of deception that soon set the Imperial policy back on track, more vicious than ever.

The same people who in the spring of 2004 deliberately misrepresented the murderous rage of Kosovo Albanians as a legitimate outburst of noble frustration are now at work again, endeavoring ceaselessly to pervert the truth about what is arguably Europe’s darkest corner.

Members of this cabal aren’t Albanian agents. Rather, they seek to make Albanians the agents of the Empire in the Balkans, much as the Ottoman Turks once did. That is what drove their advocacy and support of the illegal, immoral 1999 war and the subsequent occupation. It is what drives their efforts today.

They are not quite the movers and shakers they imagine themselves to be; much of their reputation is a result of shameless self-promotion and bluster. They do, however, stand out in Imperial policy circles for their very passion for the "Kosovo cause." In a climate where most policymakers are at best ambivalent, they are a force that accomplishes much simply because it encounters little or no opposition. That officialdom, from the UN to the EU, is increasingly echoing their propaganda is downright alarming.

Their "arguments" are easy to demolish, their "logic" simple to disprove. But Belgrade, paralyzed from within, doesn’t seem to have the skill (or worse yet, the will) to do so. The cabal may be a mendacious mob of hypocrites, but they believe in their deplorable cause. Against a Serbia that increasingly believes in nothing at all, even they can win.

Will they?

Author: Nebojsa Malic

Nebojsa Malic left his home in Bosnia after the Dayton Accords and currently resides in the United States. During the Bosnian War he had exposure to diplomatic and media affairs in Sarajevo. As a historian who specializes in international relations and the Balkans, Malic has written numerous essays on the Kosovo War, Bosnia, and Serbian politics. His exclusive column for debuted in November 2000.