Kosovo – is the United States inciting violence in the North?

Tacit and explicit US support for Pristina’s unilateral approach to the north of Kosovo has fueled an already volatile situation, contributing to an increase in tensions and acts of provocation that threaten further violent confrontations similar to that of July 2nd.

By Gerard Gallucci

Recent statements by senior US officials concerning north Kosovo and Albanian efforts to subdue the northern Serbs suggest a willingness by Washington to accept a violent outcome. The Obama Administration – while seeking UN consensus on other important foreign policy issues – seems to be following with Kosovo the unilateral approach more characteristic of President Bush.

The recent violence in Mitrovica shows the situation there remains volatile. The northern Serbs remain opposed to Kosovo independence and the imposition of any institutions of the Pristina administration in the north. Despite pressures upon them from Belgrade to accept the presence of the EU in the north and to refrain from provocative actions – and despite vigorous partisan differences among them – few northern Serbs see the EU and its police as anything other than the leading edge of an Albanian occupation. Even fewer are ready to accept any link to the Pristina institutions which they see as part of a strategy to eventually force them from their homes. The July 2nd demonstration against Pristina’s planned opening of an office of its Interior and Local Government ministries in north Mitrovica brought around 2,000 local Serbs to the street. The fatal grenade attack and subsequent incidents have increased tensions along what is already a fault line that could still shake the whole region.

A few days before the July 2nd attack, the US Ambassador to Pristina went to Mitrovica and apparently made a quite surprising suggestion, that the most likely source of any terrorist threat in Kosovo was from the northern Serb-majority area. (If the Albanian-language press reporting these comments got them wrong, the US Embassy has not sought to correct the record.) Such comments coming from a senior US official could only be heard along the Ibar River as either a provocative challenge to the Serbs or as implicit encouragement to anyone wishing to strike at Serb “terrorists.” Did the Ambassador’s comments play a role in setting up a more volatile confrontation on July 2?

During the July 6th session of the UN Security Council, the US comments appear to make clear that the American government is indeed quite willing to see a “resolution” of the Kosovo issue through a collapse of the peacekeeping effort and any chance for a negotiated compromise agreement. The Deputy US Permanent Representative began by denigrating Serbia’s call for a special session. He suggested the attack was a simple criminal matter and said the decision by the Kosovo government to open its office in the north was “the right one and one that is within its prerogative as an independent and sovereign state.” He added that the opening was “part of a larger strategy endorsed by all of Kosovo’s communities and by members of the international community to extend the benefits of good, accountable, legitimate government to all of Kosovo’s citizens – including its citizens in the north.” He concluded by condemning “any violence and provocative actions by demonstrators” and by repeating the standard US and EU call to resolve the situation in the north by “strengthen[ing] the rule of law and protections for all communities there.”

The US statements may not appear problematic on the surface; who could be against good government services, law and order and peace? But in the context of the continuing fundamental differences over which government and legal system is the legitimate one in Kosovo, they can only encourage the Albanians to continue provoking the Serbs. Indeed, the Kosovo Interior Minister followed these comments by reportedly adding to his list of coming actions for taking Pristina’s “rule of law” into the north, measures to be taken against Kosovo Serb police officers (KPS) who may still receive “salaries and orders” from Belgrade. Unilateral actions from the Pristina side, especially as encouraged or supported by its international backers, threaten further violence and further partitioning of the north from the south. Trying to impose complete Pristina control on the northern KPS would be such a step.

Why does the US support a dangerous unilateral approach in Kosovo while working to develop international consensus on issues such as Iran and North Korea? Probably for a mixed bag of reasons:

  • To avoid having to take on a leadership role in another troublesome conflict area, it is easier to simply be a “cheerleader” for the EU effort to manage the crisis. That the EU effort itself seems to have not resolved anything still leaves the EU on the hook and not the US.
  • The Kosovo Albanians have the potential to produce a great many problems – mostly for Europe but also for the US – including becoming a haven for Moslem fundamentalists and for international organized crime and for destabilizing the region in the quest for a “Greater Albania.” Easier to try to appease them by giving them support for grabbing the north.
  • The quicker the Kosovo problem is “resolved” – even at the cost of Kosovo Serbs – the sooner the US military commitment to the Kosovo NATO force can be scaled back and even ended.
  • The people in the European Bureau of the State Department (EUR) are the same people that sought to pre-empt a negotiated settlement in 2008 and are vested in making their unilateral approach work.

The US is the “800 pound gorilla” on the Albanian side of the dispute over Kosovo status. If the US cynically supports Pristina’s effort to pre-empt the upcoming decision of the International Court of Justice through actions provoking conflict and violence in the north, the Albanians will not listen to or be constrained by anyone else. The US has supported every move the Pristina authorities have made to bully the southern Kosovo Serbs into accepting their place in the new order, including electricity and telephone cutoffs and outright intimidation. They seem to be now ready to do the same with the north. But this remains a case of playing with fire. Maybe the Americans don’t really care as long as this time it is not them that gets burned? But that would be mere wishful thinking on their part.

Gerard M. Gallucci is a retired US diplomat and UN peacekeeper. He worked as part of US efforts to resolve the conflicts in Angola, South Africa and Sudan and as Director for Inter-American Affairs at the National Security Council. He served as UN Regional Representative in Mitrovica, Kosovo from July 2005 until October 2008. The views expressed in this piece are his own and do not represent the position of any organization. You can read more of Mr. Gallucci’s analysis of current developments in Kosovo and elsewhere by clicking here.

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Kosovo – da li Sjedinjene Države podstiču nasilje na severu?

Prećutna i otvorena podrška Sjedinjenih država jednostranom pristupu pitanju severa Kosova od strane Prištine, podjarila je ionako nestabilnu situaciju, doprinoseći rastu tenzija i provokacijama koje prete izbijanjem budućih nasilnih konfrontacija sličnih demonstracijama 2. jula.

Autor Džerard Galuči

Nedavne izjave visokih američkih zvaničnika u vezi sa severom Kosova i naporima Albanaca da ukrote Srbe sa severa, ukazuju na spremnost Vašingtona da prihvati čak i nasilan ishod. Dok Obamina administracija traga za konzenzusom Ujedinjenih nacija u vezi sa drugim značajnim spoljnopolitičkim pitanjima, čini se da po pitanju Kosova slede jednostran pristup koji je više karakterističan za predsednika Buša.

Skorašnje izbijanje nasilja u Mitrovici potvrda je da je situacija tamo i dalje nestabilna. Srbi sa severa su istrajni u protivljenju nezavisnosti Kosova i nametanju bilo kakvih institucija na severu Kosova od strane administracije u Prištini. Uprkos pritiscima na njih od strane Beograda da prihvate prisustvo EU na severu, te da se uzdrže od provokativnih akcija – i bez obzira na izražene razlike među njima – tek mali broj Srba na severu smatra da su EU i njene policijske snage nešto drugo do predvodnik albanske okupacije. Još manje njih je spremno da prihvati bilo kakvu vezu sa prištinskim institucijama koje oni vide kao deo strategije koja će ih naposletku primorati da napuste svoje domove. Demonstracije organizovane 2. jula u znak protesta na otvaranje kancelarije Ministarstava unutrašnjih poslova i lokalne uprave od strane Prištine u severnoj Mitrovici, okupile su oko 2.000 lokalnih Srba na ulicama ovog grada. Fatalni bombaški napad i incidenti koji su usledili, samo su pojačali tenzije duž ‘seizmičkog’ rascepa zbog kojeg bi još uvek mogao da se protrese ceo region.

Svega nekoliko dana pre napada 2. jula, Ambasador SAD-a u Prištini je obišao Mitrovicu, gde je navodno izneo poprilično iznenađujući komentar da najverovatniji izvor bilo koje terorističke pretnje na Kosovu preti sa severa naseljenog većinskim srpskim stanovništvom. (Ako su medijski izveštaji na albanskom jeziku pogrešno protumačili ovaj komentar, Ambasada SAD-a se nije oglasila sa zahtevom za ispravljanjem izveštaja). Takvi komentari od strane visokog zvaničnika Sjedinjenih Država mogu se čuti u okolini reke Ibar ili kao provokativno izazivanje za Srbe ili implicitno ohrabrenje svima onima koji žele da udare na srpske “teroriste”. Da li je Ambasadorov komentar odigrao ulogu u izazivanju ovog sukoba 2. jula?

Tokom sednice Saveta bezbednosti UN-a, 6. jula, činilo se sasvim jasnim iz komentara Sjedinjenih država da je američka vlada je zaista veoma voljna da vidi “rešenje” kosovskog pitanja kroz slom mirovnih napora i bilo kakve šanse za kompromisni sporazum ostvaren pregovorima. Zamenik Stalnog predstavnika SAD-a je otpočeo svoje izlaganje kritikovanjem poziva Srbije za sazivanjem posebne sednice. On je izneo da je ovaj napad naprosto krivično delo i rekao da je odluka Vlade Kosova da otvori kancelariju na severu “ispravna, i odluka na koju Priština ima isključivo pravo kao nezavisna i suverena država”. Dodao je da je otvaranje kancelarije “deo šire strategije usvojene od strane svih zajednica na Kosovu, kao i od strane pripadnika međunarodne zajednice s ciljem širenja pozitivnih strana dobre, odgovorne, legitimne vlasti na sve građane Kosova – uključujući i one na severu”. Izlaganje je zaključio osudom “svakog nasilja i provokativnih akcija od strane demonstranata”, i ponavljanjem standardnih poziva SAD-a i EU za rešavanjem situacije na severu “jačanjem vladavine prava i zaštitom svih zajednica koje tu žive.”

Površno posmatrano, izjave Sjedinjenih država ne moraju izgledati kao problematične, jer zašto bi neko imao bilo šta protiv efikasne uprave, zakona i reda, i mira? Međutim, u kontekstu trajnih fundamentalnih razlika o tome koja vlast i pravni sistem su legitimni na Kosovu, takve izjave mogu samo da podstaknu Albance da nastave sa daljim provokacijama Srba. Uistinu, kosovski Ministar unutrašnjih poslova je nakon ovih izjava navodno dodao na svoj spisak nastupajućih akcija sprovođenja “vladavine prava” od strane Prištine na severu navodno dodao i preduzimanje mera protiv srpskih policijaca na Kosovu, koji još uvek dobijaju “plate i uputstva” iz Beograda. Jednostrane akcije Prištine, posebno zbog toga što imaju podsticaj ili podršku međunarodnih sponzora, prete daljim nasiljem i daljim odvajanjem severa od juga. Pokušaj nametanja potpune kontrole Prištine nad policijskim snagama Srba sa severa bio bi jedan takav korak.

Zašto Sjedinjene države podržavaju opasan jednostrani pristup na Kosovu, dok istovremeno rade na razvijanju međunarodnog konsenzusa o pitanjima kao što su Iran i Severna Koreja? Verovatno iz mnogo različitih razloga:

  • Da bi se izbeglo preuzimanje vodeće uloge u drugom problematičnom konfliktnom području, lakše je jednostavno biti “cheerleader” napora EU da upravljaju krizom. A to što izgleda da samim naporom EU nije ništa rešeno i dalje ostavlja EU, a ne SAD, da visi na udici.
  • Kosovski Albanci imaju potencijal da stvore mnogo problema – uglavnom za Evropu, ali i za SAD – uključujući i mogućnost da postanu utočište za muslimanske fundamentaliste i međunarodni organizovani kriminal, kao i za destabilizaciju regiona u potrazi za “Velikom Albanijom”. Lakše je pokušati ih umiriti dajući im podršku za otimanje severa.
  • Što pre kosovski problem bude “rešen” – čak i nauštrb kosovskih Srba – tim pre će vojni doprinos Sjedinjenih država NATO snagama na Kosovu biti reduciran, pa čak i okončan.
  • Zaposleni u Evropskom birou Stejt departmenta (EUR) su isti oni koji su nastojali da preduprede sporazumno rešenje 2008. godine i opunomoćeni su da učine da njihov jednostran pristup bude delotvoran.

Sjedinjene države su “300 kilograma težak gorila” na albanskoj strani spora oko statusa Kosova. Ako SAD cinično podrže pokušaj Prištine da predupredi predstojeću odluku Međunarodnog suda pravde izazivanjem sukoba i nasilja na severu, Albanci više neće slušati nikoga drugoga, niti će ih neko drugi moći ograničiti. SAD podržavaju svaki potez koji su vlasti u Prištini napravile kako bi primorale kosovske Srbe sa juga da prihvate svoje mesto u novom poretku, uključujući isključivanja struje i telefonskih veza i direktne vidove zastrašivanja. Čini se da su sada spremni da učine to isto i sa severom. Međutim, u ovome slučaju to je igranje sa vatrom. Možda Amerikance zapravo i nije briga, jer ovoga puta oni nisu ti koji će se opeći? Ali, to bi moglo biti samo puko priželjkivanje sa njihove strane.

Džerard M. Galuči je bivši američki diplomata i predstavnik mirovnih snaga UN-a. Delovao je kao deo američkih napora za rešavanjem sukoba u Angoli, Južnoj Africi i Sudanu, te kao direktor Inter-američkih poslova Nacionalnog saveta za bezbednost. Služio je kao Regionalni predstavnik UN-a u Mitrovici, na Kosovu, od jula 2005. do oktobra 2008. Viđenja iskazana u ovom tekstu su u potpunosti lična i ne predstavljaju stav bilo koje organizacije. Analize gospodina Galučija o aktuelnim dešavanjima možete pročitati na http://outsidewalls.blogspot.com

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