Security Council Resolution 1244 – everyone’s favorite crutch

Kosovo has been an abject failure of Western policy, especially in Washington where successive administrations have been content to pontificate, but have been unwilling to provide creative, just and fair leadership.

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By Steven E. Meyer

In the context of the ongoing Kosovo imbroglio, Security Council Resolution 1244 has become a sort of “bumper sticker;” perhaps better said – a “crutch” used by all sides to justify and even sanctify their arguments. In many conferences, articles and pronouncements, it has assumed the quality of a self-satisfying “coup de grace” that puts an end to an opponent’s “totally unjustified” position. With a shake of the rhetorical fist or the sly smile of knowing self-assurance, nothing is supposed to undercut an opponent so completely as assuring him or her that his or her position is “illegal under 1244.” And yet, 1244 is more often cited and referenced than it is read and understood for exactly what it is – and is not.

It is important to understand that 1244 has to be understood in terms of time and place, that is, in the context of the events that were taking place in the late spring-early summer of 1999 – i.e., in the context of that time and that place. First of all, 1244 did not end hostilities as has been posited in several newspaper articles over the years; hostilities were ended by the Kumanovo Agreement that was signed between Yugoslav and Western military officials on 9 June 1999, which was agreed to only when Belgrade became convinced that Moscow was not going to back the Serb cause. Resolution 1244, which had been prepared during the later stages of the 78-day bombing campaign of Serbia, was passed by the Security Council the next day and took effect immediately. Interestingly, in a failure of Serb intelligence neither the BIA (State Security Service) nor Military Intelligence ever informed Milosevic that a U.S.-British agreement to use ground troop was just days away – the deployment of ground troops would have dramatically changed the dynamic.

Resolution 1244 is a broadly-based, highly repetitive document, lending itself to various interpretations and misinterpretations. It lays out overlapping requirements both in the body of the resolution and in the two annexes. It had three short to medium-term goals: to make sure that hostilities would not be reignited, that humanitarian relief would be available and that refugees and displaced persons would be able to return. In fact, this meant the return mostly from Albania and Macedonia of Kosovar Albanians who had been inhumanely and foolishly “cleansed” from Kosovo by Serb forces. But, it has not led to the return of Kosovar Serbs in any significant number since they rightly see the Pristina authorities as hostile to their interests and their welfare. In an effort to attain these three goals, the Resolution refers in several places to “demilitarization,” the withdrawal of “all military, police and paramilitary forces.” While this requirement was aimed primarily at Serb military forces, it also intended to eliminate the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). Ironically, demilitarization has effectively removed the Serb military presence, but the KLA essentially has been reborn in the guise of the Kosovo Protection Force (KPF), the putative military arm of the Pristina regime. An international “security” force was authorized by 1244 to enforce the peace and to ensure that humanitarian relief refugee return would be ensured. Both Kosovar Albanians and Kosovar Serbs have argued – with considerable justification that NATO security forces have been unsuccessful, at best, in securing these goals.

Over the longer term, Resolution 1244 is concerned with three broad, critical areas: security; economic development; and, political solutions. Although security in Kosovo has been a concern and a goal from the very beginning, several places in the document also refer to the long term necessity of security – in order to create a peaceful, stable environment to allow for the return of refugees and displaced persons, wider humanitarian concerns, functioning of the interim civilian authorities and the development of economic and political institutions.

The Resolution refers to security many times, but the heart of the security requirements are found in paragraph 9 (sections a-h) in the body of the document. Over the past 14 years, the NATO-led security force at best has had a spotty record in securing Kosovo. There have been ongoing attacks, by both Serbs and Kosovar Albanians against the other side that have manifested themselves in violent demonstrations and bombings. Although most incidents have been low-key, a major Kosovar Albanian attack on Serbs in March 2004 and more recent increasingly brutal border incidents have laid bare NATO’s inability to guarantee “a peaceful, stable environment.” Serb security rights are preserved in Annex II, paragraph 6 of the Resolution where “an agreed number of Yugoslav and Serbian personnel” will be allowed to return to Kosovo to act as liaison forces, to guard Serbian patrimonial sites, maintain a presence at border crossings and clear minefields. There is no formal indication in the Resolution saying who must agree to the number of Serb (police, military and paramilitary forces – point 8, paragraph a); presumably it is the decision of the interim authorities and Belgrade. But, no Serbia government since 1999 has had the courage to take full advantage of these provisions. It has become clear that the West’s goal of building a “secure environment” has been constructed on the faulty assumption of ethnic integration and the flawed premise late 20th century Western cosmopolitanism.

Resolution 1244 also calls for steps to encourage economic and political reform but it is remarkably vague in directing just how this should be accomplished or what institutions should be established. Not only would it have been premature in the summer of 1999 to engage in such specificity, it would have been politically impossible to do so since the Security Council then – as now – is not of one mind about the structures and functions of a Kosovar political resolution. The Resolution does specify that the interim authorities should implement “a Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe,” which was directed to promote democracy, economic prosperity and regional cooperation.” The Stability Pact program was established in 1999, partly in response to the Kosovo war. It was disbanded in 2008 in favor of the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) ostensibly because the RCC afforded local authorities more direct control over the development process. In reality, the Stability Pact ended because Europe and Washington needed a convenient way to wash their hands of the seemingly intractable spider web on Balkan reality. Although the recession and financial crisis that began in 2008 have had significant impact on Balkan economic development, the Stability Pact and the RCC have produced relatively little positive results for the economies of Southeastern Europe. This is especially true in Kosovo where economic numbers are the worst in the region and there is little prospect for improvement anytime soon.

Political issues are discussed at several places in Resolution 1244, but primarily in Annexes I and II, which are literally statements of the G-8 Foreign Ministers (authorized by the Security Council). But most political questions are never discussed in any detail and there are no requirements of what a final political settlement must look like – the Resolution merely provides a general outline for future accommodations and refers several times to an “interim administration” that will help guide Kosovo to a political future. Ironically, the most concrete political stipulation refers “autonomy” or “substantial autonomy” or “substantial self- government” of Kosovo within “the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (i.e. Serbia).

Moreover, Resolution 1244 says that an interim political settlement needs to take “full account of the Rambouillet accords (Annex II) and the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia” (i.e. Serbia). The Rambouillet Accords, which are much more detailed than Resolution 1244, are of dubious legal validity because they were accepted by the U.S., Britain and the Kosovar Albanians, but were rejected by the Serbs and Russians (in March 1999 the Serbian Parliament accepted the non-military parts of the Accords). As with Resolution 1244, the Rambouillet Accords called for autonomy for Kosovo within Yugoslavia, which the Serbs could accept. But, the Accords also required deployment of NATO troops throughout Yugoslavia, which the Serbs could not accept. The U.S., Britain and other “allies” were well aware that Belgrade could not accept the deployment of foreign troops throughout the entire country – even Henry Kissinger condemned this aspect of the Accords as an abomination. Just as in 1914, when Austria made unacceptable demands on Serbia as an excuse for war, so too were the Rambouillet Accords and excuse for attacking Serbia.

Resolution 1244 also reaffirms “the commitment of all Member States to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the other States of the Region, as set out in the Helsinki Final Act” of 1975. Although several Articles of the Helsinki Final Act apply to the Kosovo situation, three Articles (I, III, and VI) apply directly to the questions of sovereignty, territorial integrity and the nonintervention in the internal affairs of a sovereign state. Although this Cold War document was constructed initially to reduce tensions between East and West, it’s inclusion in Resolution 1244 signals a strong reaffirmation of the original intent to sanctify the inviolability of the state system and state sovereignty. The reference to the Helsinki Final Act strongly underscores the admonition mentioned several times in Resolution 1244 the Kosovo should enjoy (substantial) autonomy within the boundaries of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

What then, can we conclude from Resolution 1244? First of all, the language of the Resolution is specific on very few issues. But, it is determinant as an interim document in a few areas, specifically on Serbian rights to maintain military and police forces in Kosovo and on the question of Serbian sovereignty and Kosovar autonomy. Consequently, the Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) by Kosovo in 2008 is clearly inconsistent with the words and intent of Resolution 1244. This does not mean that follow up agreements are prohibited from declaring independence from Serbia, simply that it is a violation of 1244. Likewise, recognition of Kosovo’s independence by a variety of states also is a violation of 1244 – and the intent of the Security Council. This means that the U.S., in recognizing Kosovo as an independent country, has contradicted its own support for 1244 – as has every country that was a party to the Resolution and has recognized Kosovo’s independence. Likewise, Resolution 1244 neither endorses noir condemns the so-called “parallel institutions” in northern Kosovo. The argument that they violate 1244 is pure invention.

As was suggested earlier, Resolution 1244 does not provide the answers for a permanent solution to the Kosovo issue – it was never intended to do that. This Resolution was intended to be a sort of “place holder” that was designed to stabilize the situation in 1999 and then be followed by a serious effort to provide a “just” and “fair” solution to this problem. The fact that 15 years have gone by with no substantial action demonstrates bad faith by the main parties to the action, especially the West. Kosovo has been an abject failure of Western policy, especially in Washington where successive administrations have been content to pontificate, but have been unwilling to provide creative, just and fair leadership. At the same time, Serbian governments since 1999 have floundered, swimming in their own cowardice and ineffectiveness. Although the current government’s most recent Kosovo “platform” almost certainly will lead nowhere, negotiations between Belgrade and Pristina – without the interference of Washington, Brussels or Moscow, is the only way to arrive at a fair, just and permanent solution.

Steven E. Meyer is a partner in the firm TSM Global Consultants and a Fellow at the Center for Public Justice in Washington, D.C. Before that he worked for many years at the Central Intelligence Agency, where his last position was as a Deputy Chief of the U.S. Government’s Interagency Balkan Task Force during the wars of the 1990s. After leaving the CIA, Dr. Meyer taught national security studies, American foreign policy and comparative politics at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C. Earlier in his career, he taught at the University of Glasgow and the Free University of Amsterdam. He received bachelor’s degrees from the University of Wisconsin, an M.S. degree from Fordham University in New York and a PhD from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., both in comparative politics. He has published in several journals and is working on a book on the changing structure of the international system.

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25 Responses

  1. Fadil

    Mr Meyer,

    Your analysis of provisions of UN SC resolution 1244 contradicts totally in what was clearly explained by judges of International Court of Justice who said that independence of Kosovo is NOT in violation of UN SC Resolution 1244.

    First of all you somehow “forget” that so called Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) was illegal entity state based on Yugoslav Constitution of year 1974. Authors of this illegal creature based this creature on Yugoslav Constitution of 1974 which recognized VETO power of Kosovo as one of eight constituents entities of Yugoslav federation. As we all known even though Kosovo had VETO power, it never gave CONSENT for such illegal creature such as FRY. Such illegal entity FRY was NOT recognized as a state up to year 2000 (after Resolution 1244 was adopted) and it became UN member on November 2000. Authors of ILLEGAL creature FRY changed even the name of Kosovo into “Kosovo and Metohia”, which is NEVER recognized by international community. Even in the Resolution 1244 there is no such entity “Kosovo and Metohia” but its legal name KOSOVO.

    Secondly, by resolution 777 of UN SC, the so called FRY is DENIED to continuing membership at UN hence it was NOT UN member and not fully recognized state.

    Thirdly, the principle of territorial integrity applies to “relations between states” and it was CLEARLY stated by ICJ in its opinion in regard to declaration of independence of Kosovo. So it has nothing to do with Kosovo status.

    As for Kosovo autonomy, based on provisions of Resolution 1244, “within so called FRY”, in the beginning of paragraph 11, section a), it says that UN civil presence (known as UNMIK) must establish substantial autonomy for Kosovo, based on Ramboiullet Accords and Annex 2 of resolution, PENDING final settlement. I think you “forgot” very important wording “PENDING”. So there is NO direct call for so called FRY but indirectly by Annex 2. But as I already mentioned wording PENDING tells us that such situation was UP TO final settlement since IN FINAL stage there is NO mentioning AT ALL of territorial integrity of so called FRY.
    In section b), UNMIK then performs administrative functions in Kosovo (not FRY or Serbia).
    In section c), UNMIK organizes and oversees provisional institutions of Kosovo including holding of elections (not FRY or Serbia).
    In section d), UNMIK TRANSFERS its administrative tasks TO KOSOVO Institutions (NOT to that of Serbia).
    In section e), UNMIK facilitates political process to determine Kosovo’s future status, taking into account the Rambouillet accords. As we can see here NO territorial integrity or sovereignty over Kosovo of so called FRY nor Serbia but JUST Rambouillet accords as BASIS for Kosovo status.

    Just to remind that DECISIONS of UN SC are BINDING based on article 25 of UN Charter, regardless of acceptance of any party. In this regard its not important whether Serbia signed Rambouillet accords or not. The so called FRY or Serbia MUST accept BINDING decision of UN Security Council, which stated Ramboiullet accords as BASIS for Kosovo status IN FINAL STAGE.

    Now we read what Rambouillet accords says IN FINAL STAGE, I quote:” MECHANISM FOR FINAL SETTLEMENT

    Three years after entry into force of the Accords, an international meeting will be convened to determine a mechanism for a final settlement for Kosovo, on the basis of the will of the people, opinions of relevant authorities, each party’s efforts regarding the implementation of the Accords, and the Helsinki Final Act.”, end quote.

    Here WE DON’T see any territorial integrity or sovereignty of an illegal entity of so called FRY but we see WILL OF THE PEOPLE as BASIS for FINAL settlement for Kosovo as well as OPINIONS of relevant parties (no mentioning who are those “relevant parties”).

    We know THE WILL of the people of Kosovo (independence) as we know OPINIONS of other parties (NOT BINDING ONES).

    As for ILLEGAL structures of Serbia in Kosovo, as it was already mentioned, based on Paragraph 11, section c), UNMIK holds elections in Kosovo and NOT Serbia hence organizing of elections within Kosovo of any other entity is CLEARLY VIOLATION of Resolution 1244. Next section d), CLEARLY says that UNMIK TRANSFERS its administrative tasks to Kosovo institutions and NOT to that of Serbia hence ONLY UNMIK or entities to which UNMIK TRANSFERS authority (i.e Kosovo institutions) can hold elections in Kosovo and establish institutions.

    That was CLEARLY stated from UN chief in Kosovo (known as SRSG) when Serbia held its local elections last time. The SRSG (Special Representative of Secretary General) said CLEARLY that holding of local elections of Serbia in Kosovo is VIOLATION of UN SC resolution 1244 hence ALL “institutions” based on such “elections” of Serbia in Kosovo are ILLEGAL.

    Serbia, in other side, by holding elections in Kosovo (in particular local ones) SEVERELY VIOLATED Resolution 1244 hence the so called Serbian “institutions” in Kosovo are finally ILLEGAL ones. Of course not to mention Kosovo Constitution.

    1. Troll Hunter

      Fadil, once again you are frothing at the mouth. Your errors are too numerous to correct all. But the chief one is this, the ICJ did not find Kosovo’s UDI “legal” or NOT in violation of UNSCR 1244 but instead found that it took place OUTSIDE international law and the ambit of UNMIK. I.E., Kosova still exists only in the mind of the beholder.

      1. Fadil

        @Troll,

        You apparently did no read advisory opinion of International Court of Justice. Let me help you. Here is the summary of ICJ’s opinion in regard to declaration of independence of Kosovo on February 2008: http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/files/141/16010.pdf

        On page 8 you can read: “For the reasons already given, the Court considers that general international law contains no applicable prohibition of declarations of independence. Accordingly, it concludes that the declaration of independence of 17 February 2008 did not violate general international law.”

        So this is CLEAR statement of ICJ that Kosovo DID NOT violate general international Law.

        Secondly, as for UN SC Resolution 1244, the Court concludes “The Court accordingly finds that Security Council resolution 1244 (1999) did not bar the authors of the declaration of 17 February 2008 from issuing a declaration of independence from the
        Republic of Serbia. Hence, the declaration of independence did not violate Security Council resolution 1244 (1999).”

        As we can see CLEARLY, Kosovo DID NOT violate UN SC Resolution 1244.

        So my friend, its absolutely NOT TRUE that ICJ did not find whether or not declaration of independence is in violation of UN SC Resolution 1244 BECAUSE IT DID, saying that such Declaration WAS NOT in violation of UN SC Resolution 1244.

  2. Fadil

    Kosovo had VETO power within Yugoslav federation in such way so even Serbia could not change its own Constitution without consent of Kosovo. Ratko Markovic, Serbian professor of law from Belgrade University (by the way Milosevic’s man), writing for Constitutional position of Kosovo by Constitution of Yugoslavia, Constitution of Serbia and Constitution of Kosovo of year 1974 (last one prior to collapse of Yugoslavia) says: in original “Najveći apsurd ovakvog položaja Kosova je što Srbija nije mogla promeniti svoj vlastiti ustav bez saglasnosti Kosova (njegove skupštine)”

    English translation: “The biggest absurdity of such position of Kosovo is that Serbia COULD NOT CHANGE ITS OWN CONSTITUTION WITHOUT CONSENT of Kosovo (its Assembly).

    Its very clear that Serbia did abolish Kosovo autonomy by force on 1990, violating even its own Constitution hence Serbia did illegal act.

    Source: http://www.srpskapolitika.com/Tekstovi/Analize/2006/021.html

  3. PEN

    Lucid analysis Mr Meyer. I would venture that former employees of the American State are apt to see the bigger picture once released from the constraints of their job. I sense that from your colleagues who also regularly contribute on this forum. If you were honest with yourself you would probably admit that altruistic motives (if that’s indeed what they were) have come to nothing, and in fact have been usurped by a state of affairs far from acceptable to any right thinking person. The Kosovo enterprise has seen the destruction of multi ethnic society in a province that for all its previous faults did not witness in peacetime the determined eradication of one group of people. No matter how dire the Albanians felt their existence was under the rule of Belgrade, they never experienced the desecration of their cemeteries, the burning of their religious sites, the expulsion and terrorising of their people. Would you not agree with this observation?

    1. Fadil

      The real follower of Cosic believes that all memory of human kind in planet Earth is erased!!! Nobody knows for Vukovar, Dubrovnik, Zagreb, Sarajevo, Srebrenica and genocide there and finally nobody knows for more than 10,000 civilian Albanians massacred, thousands of raped Albanian women, more than 200,000 Albanian houses destroyed and burnt and finally more than 800,000 Albanians expelled to Albania and Macedonia!!!!
      All of this done from criminals of Serbian military, police and paramilitary groups.

      The father of Serbian nation Dobrica Cosoc said: “We lie to deceive ourselves, to console others, we lie for mercy, we lie to fight fear, to encourage ourselves, to hide our and somebody else’s misery. We lie for love and honesty. We lie because of freedom. Lying is a trait of our patriotism and the proof of our innate intelligence. We lie creatively, imaginatively and inventively.” “Deobe”(Divisions) 1961. Volume I, page 135.

  4. PEN

    @Troll Hunter

    Good point. A large swath of ‘Kosova’ maybe beyond the remit of the government of Belgrade as Dacic quite rightly points out, but what I find hilarious and ironic is how ‘prime minister’ thaci a former terrorist guerrilla rants about the borders of Kosovo as somehow sacrosanct. This from a man who led a secessionist insurrection resulting in the violent detachment of a sizeable chunk of sovereign Serbian territory. LOL. There’s absolutely nothing independent about Kosovo apart from its criminal franchise.

  5. Steven Meyer

    Friends: First of all, thankl you for reading my piece and for responding with such spirited comments. Let me respond to just a few of your comments. I am well aware of the Court’s ruling that UDI was not illegal with respect to 1244 and international law. But, this mystifies many of us, including some international lawyers, since 1244 is most clear that Kosovo must be considered paret of Yugoslavia (Serbia). In fact, 1244 is clearer on this point than virtually any other. Nonetheless, as I said in the article, 1244 needs to be understood in terms of a specific time and place (i.e. 1999). So,this does means that an eventual resolution of the problem can lead to independence or partition–which I have supported ever since 1999. Yes, being retired from the U.S. government does free one up to speak one’s mind more openly, forcefully and clearly. But, those of us who write for TransConflict and used to work for the U.S. government were very open with our views when we DID work for the government. Many of us spoke clearly and often to very high level officials about our views that U.S. policy was and is a disaster in the Balkans. Finally, one thing that never ends in the Balkans is the fascinating partisanship. My Serbian friends constantly point out the borrors perpetrated by Albanians and my Albanian friends constantly point out the horrors perpetrated by Serbs. I think we can all agree that ALL sides committed terrible horrors over the years–going back at least to Jasenovac. The goal should be to make sure there are now horrors in the futrure. Steven

    1. Fadil

      @Steven,

      I wish you read Resolution 1251 (about Cyprus), adopted by UN SC just 19 day after Resolution 1244 and see how Security Council safeguards territorial integrity and sovereignty of one state. Resolution 1251 is terribly different from Resolution 1244. Resolution 1251 safeguards territorial integrity and sovereignty of Cyprus in VERY clear terms i.e it says: “11.Security Council reaffirms its position that a Cyprus settlement must be based on a State of Cyprus with a single sovereignty and international personality and a single citizenship, with its independence and territorial integrity safeguarded, and comprising two politically equal communities as described in the relevant Security Council resolutions, in a bi-communal and bi-zonal federation, and that such a settlement must exclude union in whole or in part with any other country or any form of partition or secession;”

      Nothing from that can be found in Resolution 1244 but “commitment of member state into territorial integrity and sovereignty of FRY”. So resolution 1244 asked commitment from UN member states and not from Kosovo since Kosovo was not UN member. Even ICJ, in its advisory opinion said that “the scope of the principle of territorial integrity is confined to the sphere of relations between States”.

      As i already said, Resolution 1251 was adopted just 19 days after 1244, from the same body, same members and same people. If one wanted to see Kosovo within so called FRY why then is so huge difference???

      Why one can’t see in Resolution 1244 something similar as at 1251 i.e. “Security Council reaffirms its position that a Kosovo settlement must be based on a State of Federal Republic of Yugoslavia with a single sovereignty and international personality and a single citizenship, with its independence and territorial integrity safeguarded”????

      So Steven, we are speaking for very specific time and place, which is absolutely the SAME, with just 19 days difference, which is nothing relevant.

      Secondly, you treat the so called FRY as normal state. This is far from true. I gave you very strong evidence that so called FRY was in fact illegal entity since it changed constitutional position of Kosovo by force and violating even its OWN Constitution. The so called FRY was even not recognized country. It was disputable territory.

      Thirdly, by your logic even Slovenia, Croatia and other Yugoslav entities got independent illegally. If one reads Yugoslav Constitution of 1974, in its preamble would see that it recognizes “right of peoples in self-determination up to secession” (not binding one) while in its operational part (binding part), article 5 of Yugoslav Constitution says that “for changing of borders of Yugoslavia, CONSENT of republics and autonomous provinces WAS REQUIRED”. As we all know Slovenia and Croatia and other republics declared independence without consent of Yugoslav constituents but but did it unilaterally. Absolutely the same thing happened with Kosovo so why one should consider secession of Kosovo as illegal??? Particularly knowing that Slovenia, Croatia and other Republics declared independence form UN member Yugoslavia. In other side Kosovo did not declare independence from Serbia since it was not under control of Serbia.

      In the end there is a question: who gave the right to Serbia to be successor of so called FRY if such entity included Kosovo?? Did Kosovo gave consent on such claim from Serbia?? Not at all.

      Having in mind what Serbia did in the last century (not just on 1990s) its very strange saying that “U.S. policy was and is a disaster in the Balkans”.

      I urge you reading how Serbia started crimes, 100 years ago since last events are very known for you. http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=F2061FFB355E13738DDDA80B94DA415B828DF1D3

      Even then (on 1912), New York Times knew what Serbia did to Kosovo and Albanians.

      All of this was evidenced by International Commission on the Balkan Wars, which said: “Houses and whole villages reduced to ashes, unarmed and innocent populations massacred en masse, incredible acts of violence, pillage and brutality of every kind — such were the means which were employed and are still being employed by the Serbo-Montenegrin soldiery, with a view to the entire transformation of the ethnic character of regions inhabited exclusively by Albanians”.

  6. Lt Rinas

    Steven, your firm attitude is that independence or partition of Kosovo and Metohia would get Balkans and especially, Serbian-Albanian relations to long lasting stability and peace. My opinion is that the war would be back immediately after this region lose “international attention”, depending on relative power of afore mentioned. Partition or independence may be a short term solution, but, speaking in terms of turning Balkans to NORDCAPS type of cooperation would be impossible. For me is very unclear why nobody is trying to conduct a process to improve K&M issue to become a link between Serbs and Albanians (not states, nations), but insisting only on one-sided solutions. The process which will include elements which were already applied in many conflicts, like finding the truth, accepting the truth, reconciliation…etc.

  7. PEN

    @Steven E Meyer and Lt Rinas;

    ‘Many of us spoke clearly and often to very high level officials about our views that US policy was and is a disaster in the Balkans.’
    This is a powerful statement and clearly demonstrates that there were those who felt deep unease about what the Americans were doing in former Yugoslavia, but were unable for whatever reason to influence events (possibly because they simply weren’t high enough in the food chain). I am fascinated by what the primary drivers were for US policy and what determined their almost pathological need to punish the Serbs. The Germans I can understand. The Serbs have contributed to their defeat twice. British foreign policy is also familiar. The French haven’t dubbed them perfidious Albion for nothing. But the Americans. Where in God’s name did they find people like Albright, Clark, and Holbrooke. I can only surmise that crushing the Serbs was perceived as a way of hurting the Russians by proxy.
    This is directed at Lt Rinas who strikes me as someone who is familiar with Kosovo. I would like your views on the way forward. Is the Association of Serbian Municipalities a viable option. Given that we know only too well what we’re dealing with in Pristina, what hope do you think the Serbs have.

    1. Fadil

      The only wrong thing from Americans, in regard to Balkans, is that they did not prevent on time “heavenly people” or “nebeski narod” in orginial, as some Serbs often call themselves, doing so much crimes against the others.

      Americans should have told to this people that they are just ordinary people as the others and should behave as such.

      Based on the reaction of some nervous Serbs, seems like some of them will need many decades to realize that crucial thing – they are just ordinary people and will be punished every time they commit crimes against the others as Serbian state did in last century. .

  8. Lt Rinas

    Pen, honestly speaking, I’m not directly familiar with K&M, as I didn’t spend too much time there. I am familiar in sense of being citizen of Serbia, whose part K&M is. Unfortunately, K&M issue is used very often in daily and election policy for short term political goals. This political establishment, as I may see, was installed to finish the dirty job, i.e. to bring Serbia one small step before recognition of K&M as independent state. This community of municipalities in the north represents nucleus of future comeback of Serbian state, as it will have territory, population and legal system. Even better, nobody can deny that right to Serbs, as Serbia didn’t deny that right to Albanians for 45 years, till rebellion. In that sense, Serbs got a good lesson which they are going to apply in the future. From the other side, Albanians are still not happy as there are some claims up to the City of Nis, not to mention Presevo valley “issue”. Beside that there are some attempts to proclaim the obvious heritage of Serbian state as nonexisting “Kosovar” heritage. I believe that many of experts would agree that the dialogue about K&M issue solution was supposed to be between Serbia (as Serbs’ national state) and Albania (as Albanians’ national state). Each conflict is an opportunity to achieve new quality which may “justify” conflict victims. I believe that this was a chance for Albanians and Serbs, but, unfortunately, it’s gone as now Albania is the part of NATO and has the illusion of its own supremacy over Serbia. Serbia will wait wor its chance to get K&M back…and Balkan wheel is turning again. In total, my son Djordje will have a chance to kill or to be killed by Djerdj, and there is only two letter difeerence between them.

  9. PEN

    @Lt Rinas

    Thanks for your honest views on the matter. I’m not sure whether the Serbian government are sell outs and stooges of the West as some would have us believe. They are up against overwhelming force and there isn’t much wriggle room. They realise that the only way to prosperity and a decent standard of living for the Serb people is by aligning themselves with Western institutions. I know that sounds unpalatable given what the criminals did to you in 1999. But I can assure you there are many ordinary people in the West who despise what their government’s did in our name. Sure you can get help and investments from Russia and China, but enlightenment and democracy doesn’t lie in that direction. The Albanians think they have won but they haven’t. They are by and large a poor backward people who have learnt nothing from the past. They behave in the same manner today as they did throughout the twentieth century and before, hostile and utterly intolerant of anyone other than their own kind. The Serbs I feel have moved on. You are right about one thing though. The Serbian municipalities must secure executive powers in Kosovo with their own police, healthcare and judiciary. Thus the Serbian State will maintain a legal presence in her own province. And you are wrong about your son. He’ll never have to go to war. I’m sure of that.

    1. Fadil

      Just for the record so other readers could not be cheated from chauvinistic Serbian propaganda. Kosovo leaders, who are constantly blamed from Serbian extremists, offered for Kosovo northern Serbs (40k of them) a generous and very high level of autonomy although because of their behavior (expelling more than 10K of Albanians from the north and killing many of them) such group did not deserve such offer at all.

      More than 100K of Albanians in southern Serbia don’t have a single offer from Serbia.

      Now, honored readers can see who is “hostile and utterly intolerant of anyone other than their own kind.”

      Serbian extremists and chauvinists always forget in which century we do live and spread their lies although they know that will be caught very easily. They want to take back Kosovo by fighting for it, forgetting that majority of Kosovo people have much more motivation to defend their families than some occupiers from Belgrade who see Kosovo only on TV.

  10. PEN

    Just to reiterate, a lucid and proficient piece Mr Meyer and like your colleague Mr Gallucci always a pleasure to read your views. I may not agree with some of them, but I respect your insight. Look forward to more. Keep writing!

  11. Lt Rinas

    Pen, there is a joke question and answer: What is a difference between optimist and pesimist? None, pesimist is, actually, well informed optimist. This is Balkan, not Scandinavia. You are perfectly right about some values which has to be shaped like European model, especially state administration and respect of laws and rules. But, I have to mention that Serbia (as well as other SFRY states) had quite efficient and firm system of respecting values such as treatment of national minorities and K&M is exact example. Erosion, or better to say collapse of those values was at the beginning of 90’s, caused by our politicians/criminals. Albanians reached quite high level of “emancipation” or incorporation in ex-Yugoslav society, till the moment they didn’t ask for K&M to become a republic in SFRY (BTW, the reason to become a republic was exactly to gain right to secede, which K&M didn’t have, despite some claims here in this forum). I wouldn’t say that they are backward or xenophobic, even some people here are successfully trying to prove your statement. Actually, for Albanians, K&M was never an issue of human rights, it was always matter of territory.
    SCR 1244 was definitely in accordance with international law (which is really unnecessary to say), but the proclamation of independence of K&M has something in common with international law in the same way as proclamation of Friday Night Party of some volunteer firefighters society. It is, at the moment, the only legal document which may be a foundation to deal with K&M issue.

  12. PEN

    @Lt Rinas;

    Agreed. The Kosovo invasion was nothing more than a naked land grab. The ridiculously large US base camp bondsteel testifies to that aim. It serves absolutely no purpose other than as a strategic eavesdropping facility for the American military in the Balkans for the near East and Russia. A splendid piece of prime real estate free of charge. 1244 clearly stipulates Kosovo is a part of Serbia. No ambiguity there whatsoever, no matter how some try to twist it. What has transpired subsequent to that is as a result of diplomatic cajoling, bullying, and brute force. But it doesn’t alter the instrinsic meaning of 1244. And yes you’re correct when you say that under the old system before the war, the Albanians enjoyed all the minority rights of a modern State. There’s absolutely no doubt about that.

    1. Fadil

      @PEN,

      Just simple question for you: where, in which paragraph of UN SC Resolution 1244 you did see “1244 clearly stipulates Kosovo is a part of Serbia.”!!!

      To the best of my knowledge, Serbia is not mentioned at all. To be precisely, just once but only in regard to withdrawal of security forces of Serbia from Kosovo and clear inability and clear DENYING of return of such forces (thanks God) to return in Kosovo.

      As for “enjoying minority rights” all the world knows how Albanians “enjoyed” i.e harassment, torturing, killing of more than 1 million of Albanians up to the beginning of war on 1997 then more than 10,000 civilian Albanians killed, thousands of Albanian raped women, more than 200,000 of houses burnt to the ground, more than 800,000 of Albanians expelled to Albania and Macedonia and their identity documents confiscated from criminal Serbian military and police. Indeed it was a “joy” living under Serbian rule!!

  13. Lt Rinas

    PEN, regarding use of territory free of charge, when we come to the property and privatisation issues in K&M, many retired officials from western countries will feel quite unconfortable. You mentioned before some characteristics of Albanian people to which I haven’t agree enirely. But, certainly, there are some cultural characteristics, as for any nation in the world. I will recall the words regarding K&M Albanians’ cultural characteristics from ppt presentation (predeployment training) of an CIMIC officer from western country who was engaged in KFOR in certain period:
    “denying the obvious (e.g. for a family member having an epilepsy attack, head of family claimed that he was “resting”)…it seems that it was the case also with the interpretation of some crucial legal documents which regulate the position of K&M.

  14. PEN

    @Lt Rinas;

    You couldn’t possibly be referring to Madeleine Albright and Wesley Clark? Considering most of the arable land and forests were originally in Serbian ownership as well as state municipal property, (all stolen from their rightful owners) I guess the above individuals will feel uncomfortable.
    My previous comments about backwardness referred more to high levels of domestic abuse, women’s rights, clan based vendettas, the ready resort to violence as a way of settling disputes and corruption and criminality. I’m sure there are individuals on the other hand who are perfectly decent people.

  15. Pingback : Kosovo: What's in a name(plate)? | UN Tribune

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