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NO 103-104

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Helsinki Charter No. 103-104

January - February 2007




By Sonja Biserko

Resolution of Kosovo issue has entered its final stage. Ahttisaari's proposal is on the table of both Albanians and Serbs. As regards the foregoing it is noticeable that Belgrade is evidently unaware of the fact that Kosovo issue is one of the high-priority international issues, for that issue, like those recent issues in Bosnia and Croatia, defines new rules and principles. Moreover those issues rely on the existing principles of the UN Charter, Final Helsinki Act, and other international documents. However the current international constellation, that is, disappearance of the bipolar world, opens quite a new realm for enforcement of international law. Yugoslav crisis was a unique opportunity for profiling the international law without the cold war burden. However actions of the international community in the past fifteen years were still under a major impact of balance of power created in the past half a century. Hence many inconsistencies in application of principles and sporadically its yielding in the face of reality, as was the case of the Dayton Accord.

Despite everything the international community since the 90's toed the appeasement policy towards Serbia, has always yielded to its blackmails, and accepted the fait accompli situations. Ahttisaari's offer is reminiscent of the Z-4 plan, that is the offer to the Croat Serbs, rejected by Belgrade. Like the Z-4 plan, which was in principle against Croatia, so the latest offer is against Kosovo. Namely Ahttisaari's plan puts Kosovo Serbs lastingly into the position of Belgrade's instrument, and leaves Albanians in a constant frustration. Kosovo is too a small territory for such a territorial engineering which hampers development of the whole region. Moreover in all that lamenting over Kosovo, no-one remembered to make a comparison with Vojvodina. Vojvodina has never been a Serb territory, but in the course of the 20th century, thanks to constant ethnic engineering, it became part of Serbia (by settling of Serbs from the whole former Yugoslavia).

A lapsed period of ten years sufficed to enable a full perception of shortcomings of the Dayton Accord, whose primary goal was to stop the war in Bosnia. Enforcement of the ethnic principle as the basis of solution proved self-defeating and for Bosnia, even a lethal solution. Hence the Contact Group decision to preclude the possibility of division of Kosovo, which is in fact the only tack taken by Belgrade on resolution of Kosovo status. In the past 8 years, division of Kosovo was the starting point of Belgrade's strategy, and that entailed blockade of integration of Serbs into the Kosovo institutions, perpetual demonization of Albanians and undermining of all international efforts. Exclusion of division as a possibility surprised Belgrade, and affected its strategy, which is devoid of any content, barring the phrase "more then autonomy-less than independence."

The above tack in fact indicates immaturity of the political elite in Serbia, that is, its non-pondering at any time of any compromise solution. Used to the international community's yielding to its pressure, and to its constant "creating of the new reality on the ground", the Serb elite manifested both its ignorance of the international context, and its refusal to recognize Albanians as equal interlocutors. Genuine racism and belittlement of Albanians were manifested in various occasions by all Serb protagonists involved in the negotiating process.

Serb elite denies Albanian nation, for, according to Smilja Avramov "difficulties in resolution of the Albanian problem stem from the fact, that in contrast to European countries, which were first nations and then states, Albania became a state before its people became a nation." She also asserts that "ethnic genesis of Albanians, or to put it precisely, of some tribes, is shrouded by darkness, and has to yet to be scientifically clarified, in view of the lack of written sources and reliable cultural heritage"(1). Svetozar Stojanovic takes that point further by stating "it is not probable that the US would counter the Russian will in order to satisfy Albanians by one-sided and arbitrary recognition of the secession of Kosmet from Serbia, nor it is likely that the foregoing is more important for the US than its co-operation with Russia in settlement of difficult conflicts with North Korea and Iran."(2). It is implied that Russia would pinpoint the importance of the Serb position and accordingly, to the Serb side is attached "importance in disproportion with its power."(3)

The second position of the Serb elite is its evocation of the Kosovo myth and its influence on the Serb people mind-set. It is maintained that "the basis of the Kosovo myth reflects a lofty philosophy built by the people on the basis of a genuine historic event, the philosophy which represents a moral principle, that is, to make a sacrifice when at issue are principles of justice."(4). That assertion is then used to draw the following conclusion: "at play is not only seizing of part of territory, but also of an essential content of our mind-set.\\\"(5) The foregoing is also put into a broader picture, that is, connected to the importance of the Kosovo myth for the Serb culture. Essentially, the whole idea is based on tragic understanding of one's own destiny, oft exploited by writer Dobrica Cosic in his novels. In other words, it is asserted that "the Kosovo myth is built into the culture conscience of the Serb men, from which it radiates into all spheres of life and creation."(6)

The third, and it could be said, the most authentic position of the Serb side on Kosovo problem, is that its gist "lies in the Albanian secessionism, in its striving to forcibly isolate the territory which has been the nucleus of the Serb state and cradle of the Serb culture."(7) Thesis of the Muslim terrorism was launched long time ago, and it relied on the Belgrade's strategy of severance of so-called green transversal connecting Turkey- Kosovo - Sandžak- Sarajevo. That was the key thesis in masterminding the genocide against the Muslim population in Bosnia and Kosovo. After the terrorist attack on the US on 11 September 2001, the Serb nationalists tried to impose the interpretation that Serbia in fact spearheaded the combat against the Islamic fundamentalism.

And finally the basic Serb frustration, which reflects the Serb racism towards Albanians and the Balkans Muslims, is NATO's, that is the international community's siding with the Albanians, and before that, with the Bosniaks. Such an US and EU policy has been reduced in the Serb awareness to the thesis of "the American imperialism which hides behind benign expressions like 'globalization' and 'the new world order'(8).

Such positions of the Serb elite were reflected on the content of the new Serb constitution and on the first session of the new parliament. The latter rejected Maarti Ahttisaaris's proposal and adopted a new resolution, for Serbia shall not "bow to the pressure of superior power and sign what is required of us."(9) That position stems from the assessment that the proposal violates the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Serbia as an internationally recognized state. Resolution then underscores that "Ahttisaari's proposal calls into question the possibility for reaching a compromise, mutual solution, as the primary objective of negotiations on the future status of Kosovo." Resolution was adopted by 225 yes votes. 15 MPs voted against it and 3 abstained from voting.

Prime Minister Vojislav Koštunica stressed that the resolution was a common fruit, since it had been elaborated by all parliamentary parties representatives, while President Boris Tadic indicated that \\\"Ahttisaari's proposal was in fact a plan paving the way for independence of Kosovo, which would violate the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our country, the fact unmentioned by Ahttisaari.\\\" He added: "acceptance of that proposal would have an anti-constitutional character, as clearly indicated by the draft resolution."(10)

It is interesting to note the perception of the Serb politicians of Serbia as a civilized state, which from such, self-styled, high moral ground considers itself superior to Kosovo Albanians. Even the incumbent, so-called democratic authorities were not ready to condemn the ideological blueprint of Milosevic's regime and its criminal practice. That indicates a genuine manipulation of the recent past and interpretation thereof by the Serb elite. In fact that elite has engineered a process of pacification of the past and normalization of crime-ridden policy. In fact the current political prime movers have not reached even the minimum compromise with respect to the criminal past and ways of overcoming it. Hence the following stance of President Tadic: \\\"We are offering to Albanians everything they are entitled to within the framework of a civilized, democratically arranged state- a genuine autonomy which shall enable them to independently decide on all issues of their everyday life, along with resumption of economic ties with Central Serbia and our readiness to assist in economic recovery of the province \\\" sounds cynical and amoral.(11)

Added to that in order to become valid, President Tadic's offer must rely on the "constructive policy" of so-called democratic authorities in power since the year 2000 and their clear distancing from Milosevic's policy. However because of Belgrade's failure to pursue such a constructive policy, all its proposals sound hollow not only to the Albanian ears, but also to those of citizens of Serbia. Tadic formulates his proposal "as a compromise solution to be reached by negotiations," for only a compromise "has a lasting character" leading to "a regional stability of vital interests for all countries of the Western Balkans and constitutes a prerequisite for their faster latching on to the EU \\\".(12)

During a parliamentary debate the most cynical and morally unacceptable positions were voiced by Radicals and Socialists. In their Program Declaration from the 90's Radicals in detail laid down the plan of repression against Albanians and basically announced what would happen to Albanians in the late 90's.(13) That plan of Radicals was then foiled by President Bush's 1992 Christmas Warning of intervention, in case of Milosevic renewal of campaign of terror in the province. And Socialists signed the Kumanovo agreement in 1999 which together with the UN Resolution 1244, introduced an international protectorate over Kosovo. So-called democratic authorities never assumed responsibility for the Kosovo tragedy, not even in the face of most obvious examples of that tragedy, notably the discovery of mass graves of Albanians Serbia-wide. To discuss the Kosovo issue in an adequate way, the Serb elite would better take into consideration the chronology of events, in order to start equally respecting the Albanian and Serb victims and accordingly to assume responsibility for Kosovo developments in 1998 and 1999, and it goes without saying, also for the earlier period.

Outgoing Prime Minister Vojislav Koštunica is responsible for continuity and preservation of Milosevic era policy and for the comeback of Radicals and Socialists, which, thanks to his tack, have never been publicly held accountable for their role in that policy. His "legalistic" strategy enabled the survival of the former regime in institutions of the system and obstruction of all parliamentary attempts to introduce major reforms. It is also most responsible for the protection of war criminals, notably Ratko Mladic.

Tomislav Nikolic, President of the Serb Radical Party, without an ounce of sensitivity and morality, from the position of the strongest parliamentary party, stated in the Serb parliament that the authorities in Serbia would have their support if they wanted to defend Kosovo and Metohija, because "if we do not accept independence and if all representatives of the Serb state it clearly: Kosovo shall not be independent.\\\" Ivica Dacic, new President of the Socialist Party of Serbia, reiterated his war-mongering offer, when stating "I back any activity which leads to defense of Kosovo and Metohija".

Numerous analysts, experts, aides, and negotiators, have unanimously qualified the Resolution on Kosovo as instructions for the future positions of the Serb negotiating team on any point of Ahttisaari's proposal. That means that Serbia shall reiterate its stands in Vienna, and in fact refuse the proposal, acting as an unconcerned side. Added to that some counselors, notably Aleksandar Simic, an aide to the Serb Prime Minister Kostunica, tried to get across the following message: "Serbia shall take adequate and measured steps towards the countries which recognize sovereignty of Kosovo," "Serbia does not expect anything from Russia and the US\\\", for, \\\"America intends to effect a \\\'blitz krieg \\\' in Kosovo and to swiftly test the strength and resolve of Serbia to defend itself from the ultimatum with which it is faced."

Vladeta Jankovic, also a close aide to Prime Minister Kostunica, stated that "Serbia shall not trade off Kosovo for the EU or NATO membership, nor for billions in written off loans." He also announced that "Serbia could possibly downscale political, economic and cultural ties with countries which recognize Kosovo, for such move of theirs would be in a flagrant violation of basic international norms.\\\".(14) Desimir Tošic, member of the Political Council of Democratic Party, is one of the rare voices whose stands are firmly grounded in reality. He said that :"We cannot but give Kosovo. we can only beg them not to give us Kosovo. Kosovo is in the hands of the United Nations." Tosic added: "Kosovo shall never again be in the position in which it had been in 1999, 1945 or 1918. That is the truth which any normal and conscious Serbs should know. Today there exists no single territory in the world ruled by a 3% minority.\\\" According to Tosic, Serbia must negotiate with the international community on Kosovo, instead of pursuing an anti-US or anti-negotiations campaign. In his mind "various platforms and resolution on Kosovo coming from Serbia are nothing but childish games.\\\"(15)

The only crystal clear statement was made by Cedomir Jovanovic, President of the Liberal Democratic Party: \\\"We don't accept the resolution and shall vote against it, but in parallel we are expressing our readiness for the change of political course and our support to the parliament, government and Prime Minister if they are willing to effect it. \\\". What does such a statement by 15 of 250 MPs signify for Serbia? In a situation when a society slides into barbarity, as it happened to the Serb society in the late 90's, a moral majority may very much impact the start of the process of transition and notably the one of the transition justice. One should also bear in mind the strength of truth which that minority represents, and which may have a liberating effect on the Serb society. But that process shall be a very slow, complex and painful one. Coalition led by the LDP opened a new political space necessary for such a process.

Hence the discontent of the Serb nationalists with the newcomer to the Serb Parliament, Cedomir Jovanovic, that is dissonant voices of his coalition members, notably in view of the fact that "though a minority, they are very vocal, and echo of their voices is resonating in all the power centers in the world."(16) However for the Serb elite an even greater nightmare is the following questions: is Russia really staging its comeback on the world scene (by exploiting the new energy reality) and whether in that context it would veto the decision of the Security Council on independence of Kosovo. Many analysts rather doubt such a U turn ("return of the Cold War policy like when the SFRY was able to play a balancing game between the two super powers"(17)). Moreover as of late it is noticeable that the Serb media are trying to prime the general public for a non-feasibility of such a U turn. Added to that Serbia should start pondering a key question where does she belong. For playing the Russian card presupposes "Serbia's not entry into NATO and EU, and becoming an exponent of the Russian policy."(18) Some Serb strategists covet such a turn of events, and in fact they are the ones who are construing a thesis of neutral Serbia. However, it seems that such speculations are closer to attempts at escapism or shunning of responsibility for the wars and crimes, and most close to inability tocoming to terms with reality.



1. Smilja Avramov, International-legal aspect of Kosovo and Metohija crisis, page 15, Serbs in Kosovo, Serb Academy of Arts and Sciences, Belgrade 2006

2. Svetozar Stojanovic, Historic Anomaly, Politika, 11 December 2006

3. Svetozar Stojanovic, Quest for Settlement, Politika, 13 December 2006

4. Zoran Konstatinovic, Kosovo Cult in the Contemporary Serb Mind-Set, Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija, Serb Academy of Arts and Sciences, page 40, Belgrade 2006

5. Idem

6. Zoran Avramovic, Characteristic Features of Culture of Kosovo and Metohija Serbs, Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija, page 95, Serb Academy of Arts and Sciences, Belgrade 2006

7. Mihajlo Markovic, Evolution of Kosovo Problem and Possibilities for Its Settlement, Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija, page, 214, Serb Academy of Arts and Sciences, Belgrade 2006

8. Idem

9. Idem

10. 15 February 2007

11. Boris Tadic, 15 February 2007

12. Idem

13. That is why foreign actors, notably the British Ambassador to Belgrade, Steven Wordsworth, view Radicals, as a problem, for, as he has put it, "until Vojislav Šešelj changes his opinion, or members of his country fail to find a new leaders, we shall view it as a dangerous and hostile plan for EU. The British position is that the party at which helm is such a leader, is not a party with which the EU states should deal at all. But if developments take that course, then, in my opinion, Serbia shall be very isolated. ". Danas, 17-18 February 2007

14. 15 February 2007

15. Idem

16. Slobodan Ikonic, Vocal Minority , NIN, 15 February 2007

17. Miroslav Jovanovic, Veto Has Lost Its Power, NIN, 15 February 2007

18. Idem


Sonja Biserko


NO 103-104

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