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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11 Responses

  1. nishville

    Citing the reasons for unconditional US support for Kosovo Albanians, author somehow omitted the crucial one: US Army base Bondstill built in Kosovo, one of the largest US Army bases in the world. Protecting Kosovo interests for USA means protecting the territory they de facto expropriated from Serbia to build a very important military base on.

    If the Kosovo Albanians think they finally got Kosovo for themselves, they should think again. Kosovo is property of Pentagon now.

  2. Besnik

    You are a nobody. You have been one that northern Kosovo remained in tension today. Do you remember what did Serb criminals in the north in beginning of July? They threw a bomb and killed the innocent man just to say that makes the Albanians. The serb criminals injured a Miletic because hi is part of the Republic of Kosovo institutions. Gallucci, a question please, how many are you paid by Belgrade to tell these lies …

  3. Miri

    Mr. Galluci

    The Kosovars knows about your UNMIK managing in Mitrovica. The Kosovars knows what you did in Mitrovica. The Kosovars knows that you are more than a serb.
    So mr Galluci do your Job and let Kosova to go forward. I am so sorry that Musolini has left some people like him.

    I hope, in future I do not see your name in any media.

  4. George

    One day hopefully the truth will come out…and it always does eventually. The Kosovars will get what they deserve and that is NOTHING. They cannot even govern themselves, because they are a quazi-state ruled by the US and ruthless thughs in suits. You will pay the price for what you did to all those unfortunate souls, who fled their homes fearing for their lifes….and also how many lifes of teenagers across the Europe and the world you ruined with heroin export…what is pretty much the only other money flow you have besides the US cash that you receive…poor souls God sees everything…

  5. Miri

    George,
    The Kosovars will get what they deserve even more. The Kosovars will get also many things that thay lost during serbia brutality. The Kosovars will get the free shengen zone, will get the EU, will get the Albania nationality. And than fortunatiliy kosovars are in same politics as the EU and USA are. These centries, the time is working for albanians. And the difference is that past centries the time worked for serbs. And the diference is that the time worked for serbians was past time and the time that is working for albanians is future and modern time. The modern time does not have place for states that has animal politics.

  6. Gerard Gallucci

    For the record, no one pays me anything for what I think and write. And for the 3 1/2 years I served in Mitrovica, my team in UNMIK North did all we could on both sides to help keep the peace. Not everyone values peace as much as UN peacekeepers do (and, yes, get paid to do). Unfortunately, there are those on each side who believe that if the peacekeepers do not support them, then they must support the other side. This is the Balkans curse, he who is not my loyal supporter must be the enemy.

    My piece is not so much an indictment of US policy but an appeal to my own government to condemn and discourage provocative actions no matter where they come from.

  7. George Arvanitis Bouas

    “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”

    Mr Gallucci – they already have and that is because the USA and the “West” gave them everything, including acting as their airforce to bomb Christian Serbs into accepting a narco-terrorist state in their southern province.

    The “Kosovo” state is an illegal entity not recognised by international law, the UN, the majority of the world’s population and nations – it never will be.

    The five EU nations that have not recognised and never will – Greece in particular which is especially concerned about the “Greater Albania” project which last resurrected an Albanian Kosovo “state” under the Nazis in WW 2.

    The heroic Serb people have been treated abysmally by the Western Powers – over the last 2 decades. The recent violent attacks on the Serbs in the north of Kosovo is the latest example of this.

    It is somewhat ironic that while westerners die in Afganistan at the hands of jihadists, in the Balkans the westerners put the Serbs to death at the hands of the jihadists.

  8. Nick Thompson

    The write asked, “Why does the US support a dangerous unilateral approach in Kosovo…”? But not in Iran or N. Korea? I think the answer is quite simple. Serbia has no international power or influence. Attacking Iran or N. Korea would trigger dire military consequences. Supporting Albanian extremist attacks against Kosovo’s tiny Serb minority will not cost America anything.

    American racism ensures that no one, especially the Amercian media, will care about Serbian victims. As the Nazis did in World War II against the Jews, they were first dehumanized and made sub-human. Then they could be killed off.

    The American media and US propaganda have been wildly successful in dehumanizing Serbs to such an extent that today in Kosovo, they are little more than an irritation that the US would happily love to see eradicated.

    In some places, the complete and total eradication of a centuries old culture and its people is called genocide. In Washington, its realpolitics.

  9. George

    Albania…modern? :) we both know how thing are and how it will be. Too bad you could have had schengen visa already with the Serbian passport, but honestly I think it would be limited to Serbs and other minorities…except the Albanians. Because TRUST me E.U does not want little Tachis and Hardinajs runnin around freely distributing heroin and explosives. I think Avganistan will get schengen before YOU do. And for start install showers and bathrooms in national stadium in Tirana, so at least FIFA will allow you to compete with the rest of the world….modern times remember?

  10. George

    Serbian brutality like Rachak massacre? The Broadway play, with William Walker in the lead role? You killed your own people to stage that…..let me remind you in case you forgot or probably dont know…The military operation was planned and organized by the Serbian Special Police commander Goran Radosavljevic “Guri” (meaning “rock” in Albanian), who later received NATO Security Medal for successful anti-terrorist activity in this operation, which became part of NATO anti-terrorist textbook.

  11. Pingback : Status neutrality is crucial for a stable Kosovo | Ian Bancroft | Europe News

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