Kosovo – whose reality?

Though Kosovo Serbs have been called upon to accept the ‘reality’ of an independent Kosovo, it is the reality of past and present experience that continues to motivate their peaceful resistance.

By Milos Subotic

On February 17th 2008, the Kosovo’s provisional institutions of self-government under UN Security Council Resolution 1244 unilaterally declared independence on the basis of the notion of self-determination. Whilst Kosovo Albanians on the streets of the capital, Pristina, and in other cities celebrated, a crowd of Kosovo Serbs from the divided city of Kosovska Mitrovica gathered on the north side of the main bridge on the River Ibar to peacefully protest against the declaration, plus the mistreatment suffered by all non-ethnic Albanians residing in Kosovo.

As a result of ethnic cleansing in 1999 and March 17th 2004, approximately 200,000 Serbs were expelled from their homes. Every year, roughly 350 displaced persons return; meaning that at the present rate, it will take the next 572 years for the process to be complete. The failure to uphold Serb rights in this regard is one of the international community’s most pertinent shortcomings.

Nor are steps being taken to ensure the conditions for return exist. On October 20th, three Serbs were shot in the village of Dobruša near the town of Peć; one was killed and two others wounded. They were visiting land they owned, but which had been usurped by a Kosovo Albanian. According to one of the victims, “after a short conversation, the Albanian said he had to do something and would be back soon. He went to his vehicle, took out a rifle, and started to shoot”.

Though the case will be taken over by EULEX, their record is extremely disappointing. There are several other higher-profile cases of ethnically-motivated violence towards the Serb community – including the massacre of 14 Serbian farmers in Staro Gracko during harvest time, plus the terrorist attack on the Nis Expres bus near Podujevo which killed 12 and wounded 40 – for which no one has ever been prosecuted.

After the long honeymoon since declaring independence, Kosovo Albanians must now contend with the reality that Kosovo remains one of the poorest places in Europe; with 45% living below the poverty line of €43 a month, some 18% in extreme poverty and extremely high unemployment of 47.5% according to a UNDP report. Its health and social welfare systems are limited and poorly maintained, whilst corruption is widespread and organized crime endemic. Kosovo’s prime minister, Hashim Thaci, has been accused of involvement in human organ trafficking by the Council of Europe’s special rapporteur, Dick Marty, whilst many members of the government are under investigation by EULEX.

In spite of all this, the international community continues to call on Belgrade and Kosovo Serbs to accept the reality of an independent Kosovo. As the examples outlined above emphasize, however, this is a reality that no-body should be forced to accept. In dropping the insistence of ‘standards before status’, the international community sent a clear message to Pristina that it did not have to uphold international human rights standards.

Nonetheless, in the last few months, EULEX and KFOR have clearly and regularly violated the mandate granted to them by UN Security Council Resolution 1244 in attempting to impose this ‘reality’ on the north of Kosovo. By using teargas on peaceful protestors and jamming communications, KFOR is denying the right of Kosovo Serbs to democratically express their opposition.

The Kosovo ‘reality’ as experienced by Serbs, however, provides a strong motivation for further peaceful resistance. Whilst Kosovo Albanians were granted the right to self-determination, it is hard to understand why Kosovo Serbs – as their supposed equals – can not enjoy the same rights.

Milos Subotic is an international relations officer at the University of Pristina in Kosovska Mitrovica. He served two terms as chairman of the Democratic Youth of Kosovska Mitrovica, the youth wing of the Democratic Party. He is a former member of the local parliament and has worked for many international organizations in Kosovo, including the OSCE, the Council of Europe and the international NGO ‘Spark’. Milos is also an expert in the field of higher education policy.

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  1. Pingback : Kosovo – whose reality? – TransConflict | Angola news

  2. Ате

    ….in the last few months, EULEX and KFOR have clearly and regularly violated the mandate granted to them by UN Security Council Resolution 1244….

    Who is the UN again?
    Did the same UN stand by when Japan attacked China in WW2?

    Did the UN approve of atrocities in Africa just a few months ago?

    Don’t the USA, UK and France hold a “veto vote” with the Security Council? (The same US, UK and France that attacked Libya and executed Qaddafi, just yesterday)? And attacked Iraq under the false pretense of weapons of mass destruction? And occupied Afghanistan and killed more than a million Afghans to date?! And will attack (and hate) Iran just because it will not play along?!

    Is that the UN.

    Well then – SCREW THAT UN!

  3. Pingback : Kosovo – whose reality? « Miroslav Antić

  4. B.S.

    Your article is not only completely one sided but also shows how Serbians have a twisted version of reality! Funny how you fail to mention all the crimes Serbs have committed in Kosovo and only mention them as peaceful protesters! HA! Just a couple of weeks ago an Albanian police officer was shot dead by “peaceful” serbians. If you truly wanted a peaceful future for Kosovo you would recognize history, apologize where it is needed, give both sides of the story, and be open for real discussion on the future of Kosovo instead of this US vs THEM ideology and extreme propaganda which both sides have developed after the war! This will never end violence, and if that was truly your goal you wouldn’t have
    written such a biased article to demonize all Kosovo albanians! It is people like you that stand in the way of progress!

  5. Adonis

    “…KFOR is denying the right of Kosovo Serbs to democratically express their opposition.” Come on this is denying Serb rights?!?!? This has been going on since July. How about the Albanian student protests in the mid to late 1980s, where paramilitians cracked down on them within a matter of hours and using lethal force. What their rights were not being denied?!?!? Kosovo is Kosovo and that’s it, and it has the right to take action and inforce laws…

  6. Adamnyc

    Slobodan Milosovic is Dead. He Failed. The reality is that todays republic of serbia will never be able to negotiate a theft, where force and violence have already failed.

    The Serbs of Kosovo have feigned helplessness as slobo wreaked his havoc, and disavow themselves of any and all responsiblity… yet still cling to every single one of his dreams. They remained silent as slobo stripped kosovo of its powers… powers that were just as much serb as albanian. They were happy little conspirators who quite enjoyed being on top the new apartheid foodchain they found themselves in.

    It is time these ungrateful people take advantage and enjoy everyone of the rights, representation and powers gifted to them …. the same rights representation and powers that they used terror and murder to forcefully strip from albanians.

    No, serbs of kosovo do NOT have the “same” right to “self determination” they are failed perpetrators, equality is not a punishment… apartheid will never be restored. Kosovo is free.

    “peacefull resistance” does not entail using pipe bombs and murder. It is time we stop coddling criminals and the violence they depend on.

    sidenote: the University of Pristina is IN Pristina. the foreign serb backed institution the “author” belongs to is the University of Mitrovica.

  7. PEN

    The hysterical tone of the comments on this forum, I presume from indignant and usually abusive Albanian posters, neglects to explain why the Serbs of kosovo have no intention of sharing anything with those who would gladly kill and expel them at the first available opportunity. The Albanian agenda is exclusivist and overtly rascist, and always has been. At the time of Tito’s Yugoslavia the Albanians of Kosovo had everything, from their own university to radio and TV stations. Financially as now, it was a black hole where vast amounts of money simply disappeared. But, as is the case now with their foreign patrons, it was never enough. And yet strangely even today when Albanian Kosovo has its ‘independence’ from the hated Serb, it’s still an unmitigated disaster. If their US and EU sponsors walked out tomorrow, the whole rotten edifice would collapse. It is bankrupt with unsustainably high unemployment. The State such as it is, produces and exports virtually nothing of value. The criminal elite in charge are accused of trafficking in the human organs of murdered Serb prisoners. The Serbian population south of the river Ibar hide behind barbed wire and foreign soldiers for dear life. Yet amazingly the ‘lawless’ north is the main problem for them. Can you blame the people of northern Kosovo for not wanting anything to do with Pristina?

  8. The Citizen of Serbia

    It is appalling to read Albanian comments on this forum. No Albanian mentioned March of 2004 when more then 200 Serbian churches were torched in just 24 hours. Albanian “reality” is poisoned by their mononational, “great albania” direction. Serbs from Kosovo only suit the PR spins, for CNN cameras and similar media orgies. Serbs in Kosovo deserve the right for their freedom and self-determination, no more and no less then Albanians. The criminal gang in pristina obviously didn’t get this yet.

  9. B.S.

    And it is obvious to see who the Serb commentators are! The ones who will quit at nothing to make albanians look evil and this has been their agenda for a long time only to justify trying to grab land which does not belong to them. Albania has never ever tried to occupy other’s lands or take over other countries, you are confusing us with yourselves Serb! You overstepped your boundaries and started war in the balkans killing innocent people in your thirst for power! All Albanians in Kosovo ever wanted was to live in peace in the lands they inherited from generations and generations ago! To bring the crimes that some stupid gypsies all over the Balkans do and blame it on the Albanians is completely misleading and intended to be so. Get over it Kosovo was never yours nor will it ever be! And to try to frighten others with kosovo’s economy is just plain childish! Whenever a new government or new country is formed it takes time to establish a good economy! Guess what it took the US many many years, when the US first gained independence it was what you might consider “a black hole” as well PEN! if a country is left alone in peace it can thrive and grow. So do Kosovo a favor and if you really care for the well being of northern kosovo stop spreading your old miloshevic propoganda! Montenegro is not yours, Bosnia is not yours, Croatia is not yours, and Kosovo is not yours! They want nothing to do with the greatest black whole in the Balkans: SERBIA! Leave Kosovo alone to grow into the country that it should be!

  10. M.S.

    Having read all the comments referring to this article I discovered that there is a certain aggressivness in the “pro-kosovo” comments. Can you tell me why that is?

    I think it’s just a horrible thing to say that the Serbs in the Kosovo have no right for independence.

    And in the end we really don’t have to discuss who was mistreated, gone after and dispelled from the kosovo. Of course the Serbs. Anyone who’s telling something else is just a liar. Feel free to search the internet for old statistics about population structure in Yugoslavia especially Kosovo before the 80’s and today. If someone can explain how it could happen that 200’000 Serbs were expelled from the territory in this period? The went back to Serbia by choice right?

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