Kosovo: A Saga of Injustice and Hypocrisy


Richard Moore


February 15, 2008
A Saga of Injustice and Hypocrisy
The Absurdity of "Independent" Kosovo

With their unfailing passion for the inconsequential and their knack for doing 
the wrong thing at the wrong time, NATO leaders appear determined to carve the 
province of Kosovo out of Serbia and grant it "independence." That they lack the
physical, legal and moral power to bestow independent statehood to a part of a 
state that is neither a member of the E.U. nor NATO appears only to have 
emboldened them to use this issue to demonstrate Western resolve. Just as in the
1990s, and just as erroneously, a self-righteous West has seized on the Balkans 
as an opportunity to parade before the world in the unfamiliar guise of champion
of democracy and national self-determination, and protector of Muslims.

Much as it did before the invasion of Iraq, the United States has said it will 
do whatever it wants to do -- namely, recognize independent Kosovo -- with or 
without U.N. sanction. Unlike Iraq, this time the Europeans intend to take an 
active part in the Easter egg hunt and are as determined to ignore the United 
Nations as the Americans. Confident that the new state of Kosovo will prove to 
be a reliable NATO/E.U. satellite, key European countries, and especially the 
ever-compliant British, promise to recognize Kosovo's unilateral declaration of 
independence on the very day it happens.

The line from Brussels and Washington is that the status quo in Kosovo is 
unsustainable and that the status of Kosovo needs to be settled once and for 
all. Final status means "independence" and only "independence." The Serbs have 
been told to forget about Kosovo and all the talk of historic patrimony and to 
focus instead on "Europe" (the grand name the European Union has arrogated to 
itself). Curiously, the Kosovo Albanians are not told forget about their 
national aspirations and focus on Europe. Yet their claim to statehood is 
particularly dubious since an Albanian state already exists in Europe. There 
doesn't seem to be any reason to have two Albanian states.

Kosovo's status is governed by U.N. Security Council Resolution 1244, which 
envisages only self-government for Kosovo, and acknowledges the "sovereignty and
territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia." Kosovo's status 
can't be changed without a new resolution.

To be sure, the status quo is unsustainable. But this status quo is one entirely
of NATO's making. Eager to demonstrate that it had relevance even though the 
Cold War had long ended, NATO pulverized Yugoslavia with cluster bombs, depleted
uranium and cruise missiles for 11 weeks, in the name of its newly proclaimed 
mission of humanitarian intervention. As the adoring media told and, in 
subsequent years, retold the story, the United States and its supposedly supine 
European allies were knights in shining armor, selflessly killing and destroying
in order to rescue the oppressed Kosovo Albanians from the bloodthirsty Serbs. 
NATO forces marched into Kosovo, stood by passively as more than 250,000 Serbs 
fled or were driven out of the province and then cowered in the safety of their 
barracks in March 2004 as the Kosovo Albanians went on a bloody anti-Serb 

Meanwhile, making use of the engineering skills of Halliburton subsidiary, Brown
& Root Services Corp., the United States built a giant military base, Camp 
Bondsteel, covering some 955 acres or 360,000 square meters. The camp also 
includes a prison. According to Alvaro Gil Robles, Human Rights Commissioner for
the Council of Europe, who visited the prison in 2005,

"What I saw there, the prisoners' situation, was one which you would absolutely 
recognize from the photographs of Guantanamo. The prisoners were housed in 
little wooden huts, some alone, others in pairs or threes. Each hut was 
surrounded with barbed wire, and guards were patrolling between them. Around all
of this was a high wall with watchtowers. Because these people had been arrested
directly by the army, they had not had any recourse to the judicial system. They
had no lawyers. There was no appeals process. There weren't even exact orders 
about how long they were to be kept prisoner."

Shamelessly, but not at all surprisingly, the U.S. political establishment, 
particularly its Clintonian wing (the bunch that did so much to destroy 
Yugoslavia), seized on the March 2004 anti-Serb pogrom as evidence that the 
Kosovo Albanians deserved independent statehood immediately. On March 28, 2004, 
columnist Georgie Anne Geyer quoted Richard Holbrooke as saying " 'The 
recognition of an independent Kosovo and eventual membership in the European 
Union would be the best way to bring permanent peace and stability to the 
Balkans.' The leadership in Belgrade 'should finally come to terms with the new 
reality and choose either Kosovo or the E.U.but if Serbia chooses Kosovo over 
the E.U., it will end up with neither."

Holbrooke, permanent secretary of state in waiting, notoriously negotiated an 
agreement with President Slobodan Milosevic in October 1998. In return for the 
United States agreeing to put off the bombing of Yugoslavia for a few months, 
Milosevic agreed to withdraw Serbian security forces from Kosovo and permitted 
the arrival of an OSCE mission-the so-called Kosovo Verification Mission. The 
agreement wasn't binding on the terrorist Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), whose 
members armed themselves and committed terrorist attacks, the purpose of which 
was to provoke the Serbian forces to retaliate and thereby to provide a pretext 
for the bombing the Clinton administration was itching to launch. Milosevic, 
well aware of the trap that was being laid for him, went out of his way to avoid
being provoked. The Kosovo Verification Mission did not remain passive in all of
this. Led by William Walker, U.S. ambassador to El Salvador during the 1980s, 
the KVM actively colluded with the KLA, going so far as to fake the Racak 
incident in January 1999 that served to trigger the NATO onslaught. It isn't 
surprising, therefore, that Holbrooke, who played such a crucial role in that 
earlier charade, should play an equally crucial role in today's Kosovo charade.

Another establishment ticket-puncher, this time a member of its Republican 
branch, also weighed in early demanding independence for Kosovo. Frank Carlucci,
a former secretary of defense and national security adviser in the Reagan 
administration and a former chairman of the Carlyle Group, global private equity
firm for ex-government officials, wrote in the New York Times on Feb. 22, 2005,

The only solution that makes long-term sense is full independence for Kosovo, 
and the only question that remains is how to get there. The best approach would 
be for Washington and its five partners in the so-called Contact Group-Britain, 
France, Germany, Italy and Russia-to initiate a process for a final settlement, 
or Kosovo Accord. First the powers would have to establish a timeline and some 
ground rules. The goal would have to be independence for the entire province, 
and all other options -- partition, or union with Albania or slivers of other 
neighboring states where ethnic Albanians live -- would be off the table from 
the outset. Given the events of last March, the Kosovo Albanians would be 
informed that that the pace of their progress toward independence will be set by
their treatment of Serbs and other minorities.

So progress toward independence should depend on how the Albanians treat 
Kosovo's minorities. Holbrooke had no time for this. He ridiculed the notion 
that independence should in any way be connected to the Albanians' treatment of 
the Serbs. "Standards before status," he sneered in the Washington Post on April
20, was merely a delaying policy that "disguised bureaucratic inaction inside 
diplomatic mumbo-jumbo. As a result, there have been no serious discussions on 
the future of Kosovo."

Standards before status or status before standards, it really didn't matter too 
much. The United States pushed U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan to launch a 
fraudulent process that would -- so it was it believed -- result in an 
independent Kosovo. In June 2005, Annan appointed Norway's ambassador to NATO, 
Kai Aide, to determine if Kosovo has made sufficient progress in meeting 
accepted standards on democracy and minority rights to merit a decision on its 
final status. In October 2005, Aide duly reported to Annan that, yes, Kosovo had
made splendid progress and that any further delay on resolving its final status 
would lead to catastrophe. Actually, the report said that the "Kosovo Serbs fear
that they will become a decoration to any central-level political institution 
with little ability to yield tangible results. The Kosovo Albanians have done 
little to dispel it." The report concluded that "with regard to the foundation 
for a multi-ethnic society, the situation is grim." Nonetheless, there wasn't a 
moment to be lost. "What's important," Annan said, "is that talks begin soon."

Talks did indeed begin. Annan appointed former Finnish President Marti Ahtisaari
as his special envoy to lead the negotiations on Kosovo's final status. Talk 
about rewarding terrorism! The Kosovo Albanians rioted for several days in March
2004, and here they were, some 18 months later, about to be made a gift of 
independence. Ahtisaari was as likely to act the honest broker as Holbrooke. One
of the posts he holds is chairman emeritus of the International Crisis Group 
(ICG), one of those George Soros-funded organizations staffed by out-of-office 
international worthies who invariably advocate for NATO expansion/intervention 
and unhindered U.S.-E.U. foreign investment. The ICG has for a long time been a 
fervent propagandist for an independent Kosovo. On its board sit such veteran 
bomb-the-Serbs alumni as Wesley Clark, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Joschka Fischer, 
Morton Abramowitz and Samantha Power.

The negotiations under Ahtisaari's aegis inevitably went nowhere, as they were 
meant to. Given that key NATO/E.U. officials had already declared that 
independence was inevitable, the Kosovo Albanians knew they only had to sit 
tight, reject any option other than independence and prepare to collect their 
reward within a few months.

In March 2007, Ahtisaari reported to the new U.N. secretary general, Ban 
Ki-moon, that "the negotiations' potential to produce any mutually agreeable 
outcome on Kosovo's status is exhausted. No amount of additional talks, whatever
the format, will overcome this impasse." Therefore, he announced,

"I have come to the conclusion that the only viable option for Kosovo is 
independence, to be supervised for an initial period by the international 
community. My Comprehensive Proposal for the Kosovo Status Settlement, which 
sets forth these international supervisory structures, provides the foundations 
for a future independent Kosovo that is viable, sustainable and stable, and in 
which all communities and their members can live a peaceful and dignified 

Washington, London, Brussels and other capitals immediately embraced Ahtisaari's
proposal and his noble, but entirely vacuous, sentiments. Since a massive NATO 
military presence had not sufficed to ensure that Kosovo's "communities and 
their members" lived an even minimally "peaceful and dignified existence" (as 
even Kofi Annan's envoy Kai Aide had admitted), the idea that in an independent 
Kosovo the province's minorities would be flourishing was laughable. Kosovo's 
Serbs -- the few that remain -- live behind barbed wire and need armed escort 
whenever they step outside their enclaves. According to a recent European 
Commission report, "only 1 per cent of judges belong to a minority group and 
less than 0.5 per cent belong to the Serbian minority. Only six of the 88 
prosecutors belong to minority groups." Overall, the report concluded, "little 
progress has been made in the promotion and enforcement of human rights."

None of this really matters. The United States, the European Union and Ahtisaari
himself are as serious about protecting Kosovo's minorities as they are about 
creating an independent state there. In fact, the last thing one would call the 
state that Ahtisaari envisages is "independent."

To be sure, land would be taken away from Serbia, and the Kosovo's Serbs, Turks,
Roma and other minorities would be booted out, even as NATO/EU officials will 
doubtless go on avowing their commitment to a multicultural, multiethnic, 
multi-whatever Kosovo. To be sure, Brussels will probably succeed in bribing a 
few Serbs to come back to -- or even make a home in -- Kosovo. These "returnees"
will then be touted as evidence that Kosovo is embracing "European values."

However, there is no plan to permit Kosovo's Albanians to run their own affairs.
First of all, as in Bosnia, ultimate power will reside with an 
internationally-appointed bureaucrat. This position of colonial viceroy known as
the International Civilian Representative (ICR), will be held by one of the 
West's innumerable, interchangeable has-been politicians moving from one 
sinecure to another. The ICR will, for example, have the authority to "[t]ake 
corrective measures to remedy, as necessary, any actions taken by the Kosovo 
authorities that the ICR deems to be a breach of this Settlement." Such 
corrective measures would include "annulment of laws or decisions adopted by 
Kosovo authorities," "sanction or remov[al] from office [of] any public official
or take other measures, as necessary, to ensure full respect for this Settlement
and its implementation," final say over the appointment of the "Director-General
of the Customs Service, the Director of Tax Administration, the Director of the 
Treasury, and the Managing Director of the Central Banking Authority of Kosovo."
There's democracy for you.

In addition, the European Union is to establish a European Security and Defense 
Policy (ESDP) Mission. This mission "shall assist Kosovo authorities in their 
progress towards sustainability and accountability and in further developing and
strengthening an independent judiciary, police and customs service, ensuring 
that these institutions are free from political interferenceand shall provide 
mentoring, monitoring and advice in the area of the rule of law generally, while
retaining certain powers, in particular, with respect to the judiciary, police, 
customs and correctional services."

The ESDP mission will have "[a]uthority to ensure that cases of war crimes, 
terrorism, organised crime, corruption, inter-ethnic crimes, financial/economic 
crimes, and other serious crimes are properly investigated according to the law,
including, where appropriate, by international investigators acting with Kosovo 
authorities or independently." The mission will have the authority to ensure 
crimes are "properly prosecuted including, where appropriate, by international 
prosecutors acting jointly with Kosovo prosecutors or independently. Case 
selection for international prosecutors shall be based upon objective criteria 
and procedural safeguards, as determined by the Head of the ESDP Mission." The 
mission will have the "authority to reverse or annul operational decisions taken
by the competent Kosovo authorities, as necessary, to ensure the maintenance and
promotion of the rule of law, public order and security." The mission will have 
"[a]uthority to monitor, mentor and advise on all areas related to the rule of 
law. The Kosovo authorities shall facilitate such efforts and grant immediate 
and complete access to any site, person, activity, proceeding, document, or 
other item or event in Kosovo."

There is also to be an International Military Presence (IMP) established by 
NATO; it is to "operate under the authority, and be subject to the direction and
political control of the North Atlantic Council through the NATO chain of 
command. NATO's military presence in Kosovo does not preclude a possible future 
follow-on military mission by another international security organization, 
subject to a revised mandate." Furthermore, the IMP is to "have overall 
responsibility for the development and training of the Kosovo Security Force, 
and NATO shall have overall responsibility for the development and establishment
of a civilian-led organization of the Government to exercise civilian control 
over this Force, without prejudice to the responsibilities of the ICR." The IMP 
will be "responsible for: Assisting and advising with respect to the process of 
integration in Euro-Atlantic structures" and advising on "the involvement of 
elements from the security force in internationally mandated missions."

So, Kosovo will have no say on taxation, on foreign and security policy, on 
customs, on law enforcement. The only thing independent about "independent" 
Kosovo is that it will be independent of Serbia. In fact, there is not the 
slightest pretense that duly elected Kosovo authorities will have any say about 
anything other than perhaps refuse collection, though, doubtless even here, the 
authorities will have to follow E.U. guidelines or pay a penalty.

Not that this talk of "mentoring," "monitoring," "training," "assisting," 
"advising" and "investigating" should be taken too seriously. After all, the 
United Nations hasn't taken it too seriously during the past 8_ years; why 
should the European Union? Given the E.U.'s contempt for international law, its 
pride over its member-countries' participation in the 1999 bombing of 
Yugoslavia, its dismissive attitude toward Serbia's concerns about the loss of 
its sovereign territory and its jurisdiction over its nationals, the idea that 
the E.U. is now ready to draw its sword and to come to the aid of Kosovo's 
minorities is laughable. The soaring rhetoric over Kosovo's supposed 
extraordinary progress, under U.N. auspices, contrasts starkly with the reality.
According to Amnesty International's recent report on U.N.-style justice in 

[H]undreds of cases of war crimes, enforced disappearances and interethnic 
crimes remain unresolved (often with little or no investigation having been 
carried out); hundreds of cases have been closed, for the want of evidence which
was neither promptly nor effectively gathered. Relatives of missing and 
'disappeared' persons report that they have been interviewed too many times by 
international police and prosecutors new to their case, yet no progress is ever 
made.In terms of recruitment, it appears that at no stage were serious efforts 
made to identify and recruit the most highly qualified, experienced and 
appropriate candidates in the world for the job.A significant concern regarding 
the fairness of the trials conducted by international judges and prosecutors is 
the lack of attention that has been given to the rights of the defense.Many of 
the trial proceedingsare conducted in a language not understood by the accused 
or their counsel. They are not simultaneously translated in full, but simply 
summarized. In some cases, translated transcripts of trial proceedings are not 
available until long after the time for an appeal has passed.It is disturbing 
that of the war crimes cases conducted only onehas involved a non-Albanian 
victim. In that case one of the 26 victims was Serb.

Some of the problems Amnesty mentioned: Trials are conducted "in absentia"; 
there's "use of anonymous witnesses"; "reconstructions of the crime" take place 
"without the accused and defense counsel being present"; "poor translation and 
interpretation and use of summaries by interpreters instead of verbatim 
interpretation"; "poorly reasoned, unclear and 'incomprehensible' decisions; 
"judgments based on eyewitness testimony contradicted by forensic evidence or 
the prior testimony of the witnesses"; "discrepancies between the evidence and 
the verdict or insufficient evidence to support the verdict"; and "significant 
differences between the oral judgment and the written judgment." Otherwise, the 
judiciary is in great shape, and likely to get even better under E.U. guidance.

No report about Kosovo's dismal human rights record or its economic and 
political failure as a ward of international busybodies, no invocation by Serbia
and Russia of international law, the Helsinki Final Act or U.N. Resolution 1244 
makes any difference: Washington says it will do what it before the invasion of 
Iraq -- ignore the United Nations and recognize independent Kosovo. Brussels 
says it will do likewise. Unlike 2003, however, the Russians this time have a 
card up their sleeves. If Kosovo is to be permitted to secede, the Russians have
argued, then why not other nationalities or ethnic groups living as minorities 
within someone else's state? As examples, President Vladimir Putin pointed to 
South Ossetia, Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh and Transnistria. But he could have 
mentioned innumerable others: the Hungarians in Slovakia and Rumania, the 
Basques and Catalans in Spain, Corsicans in France, the Flemish in Belgium, 
Russians in Estonia and Latvia, the Turkish Cypriots.

The West responded with fury to the Russians' argument. "Russia's position is 
cynical. It has no power to regain Kosovo for Serbia and the Kremlin plays its 
own secessionist games in Georgia and Moldova. President Vladimir Putin has 
simply been using Kosovo as a handy stick to beat the West and to remind the 
world that Russia still wields a Security Council veto," the New York Times 
thundered in an editorial on Dec. 6, 2007. Holbrooke accused Putin of seeking 
"to reassert Russia's role as a regional hegemon." The suggestion that Kosovo 
has any bearing on any other territorial dispute was "spurious," he declared. 
Kosovo "is a unique case and sets no precedent for separatist movements 
elsewhere." Why? "[B]ecause in 1999, with Russian support, the United Nations 
was given authority to decide the future of Kosovo." This is a typically 
shameless Holbrooke lie. The U.N. was authorized to set up an interim 
administration "under which the people of Kosovo can enjoy substantial autonomy 
within the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia."

Moreover, given the utter failure of the U.N. administration to fulfill most of 
the provisions of 1244, invoking this resolution as authorizing the U.N. to do 
something is particularly egregious. According to 1244, among the 
responsibilities of the interim administration was "Demilitarizing the Kosovo 
Liberation Army," "Establishing a secure environment in which refugees and 
displaced persons can return home in safety" and ensuring that "an agreed number
of Yugoslav and Serbian personnel will be permitted to return to perform the 
following functions: Liaison with the international civil mission and the 
international security presence.Maintaining a presence at Serb patrimonial 
sites; Maintaining a presence at key border crossings." Needless to say, none of
this ever took place. In any case, even if the U.N. was given the authority to 
decide Kosovo's future, then that's precisely what Russia, as permanent 
veto-wielding member of the Security Council, is insisting on by rejecting 
unilateral secession.

That Kosovo was "unique" has been the Western officials' mantra for months. On 
Dec. 19, Zalmay Khalilzad, permanent U.S. representative to the U.N., told the 
U.N. Security Council that "Kosovo is a unique situation -- it is a land that 
used to be part of a country that no longer exists and that has been 
administered for eight years by the United Nations with the ultimate objective 
of definitely resolving Kosovo's status.The policies of ethnic cleansing that 
the Milosevic government pursued against the Kosovar people forever ensured that
Kosovo would never again return to rule by Belgrade. This is an unavoidable fact
and the direct consequence of those barbaric policies."

On Dec. 21, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs 
Daniel Fried said "Kosovo is obviously a unique case because there's no other 
place in the world where the UN has been administering a territory pursuant to a
Security Council resolution. So there's nothing else like it, so it clearly 
isn't a precedent. It is our view that Kosovo is not a precedent, not for any 
place. Not for south Ossetia, not for Abkhazia, not for Transnistria, not for 
Corsica, not for Texas. For nothing. Nothing." On Nov. 28, Under Secretary for 
Political Affairs Nicholas Burns declared "It's a unique situation. Milosevic 
tried to annihilate over one million Kosovar Albanian Muslims. He was denied 
that by NATO. We fought a war over it. And the United Nations and NATO and the 
EU have kept the peace there for eight-and-a-half years. And now, fully 94 or 95
per cent of the people that live there are Kosovar Albanian Muslims."

The sheer absurdity of Burns' hysterical statement illustrates the lengths to 
which Western officials will go to justify what obviously can't be justified. 
Milosevic tried to annihilate over one million Kosovar Albanian Muslims? The 
Foundation for Humanitarian Law led by Nata_a Kandi_, much beloved and much 
bankrolled by Western governments and non-governmental organizations, runs a 
project seeking to establish the number of dead and missing in Kosovo. According
to an article in the Croatian magazine, Globus, "The project has documented 
9,702 people dead or missing during the war in Kosovo from 1998 to 2000. Of this
number, as things stand now, 4,903 killed and missing are Albanians and 2,322 
are Serbs, with the rest either belonging to other nationalities or their ethnic
identity remaining uncertain." One should add also that these numbers say 
nothing about how people were killed, whether in combat or otherwise, and by 
whom. And there's no clarification as to how many were killed by NATO bombs. 
What these numbers do reveal is that it was the Serbs, not the Albanians, who 
suffered disproportionately in Kosovo. If Burns is right and "fully 94 or 95 per
cent of the people that live there are Kosovar Albanian Muslims," that means 
that there are 19 times as many Albanians as there are Serbs in Kosovo. Yet, 
according to these numbers, the Albanians' casualty numbers are only slightly 
more than twice the size of the Serb casualty numbers.

The war between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh resulted in far 
worse casualty numbers. The U.S. State Department itself admits, "More than 
30,000 people were killed in the fighting from 1992 to 1994."According to the 
CIA, "over 800,000 mostly ethnic Azerbaijanis were driven from the occupied 
lands and Armenia; about 230,000 ethnic Armenians were driven from their homes 
in Azerbaijan into Armenia."

In any case, if bad treatment of the local population were to disqualify a state
from exercising sovereignty over part of its territory, then an awful lot of 
countries would be eligible for enforced amputation: Turkey would have to be 
stripped of Turkish Kurdistan; Israel would long ago have been given the boot 
from the West Bank and other occupied territories; Indonesia would be denied 
Aceh and Papua; Pakistan would lose Waziristan.

Kosovo's claim to independent statehood is based on one fact only: The Albanians
are the overwhelming majority in Kosovo. They are Muslims in a Christian state 
to which they don't want to belong. Yet this argument is convincing only to the 
willfully ignorant. First, the majority of Kosovo may be Muslim; but the Kosovo 
Albanians are only a small minority within Serbia as a whole. Kosovo would vote 
overwhelmingly for independence; Serbia would vote overwhelmingly against. 
Serbia is a legal entity; Kosovo is not. A Serbian vote trumps a Kosovo one. 
Second, there is nothing unusual about an overwhelmingly-Muslim inhabited 
province existing within a state that is overwhelmingly non-Muslim. There are 
the Muslim Moros who inhabit Mindanao in the Philippines. There is the Xinjiang 
province in China. There is Kashmir, overwhelmingly Muslim, many of whom live 
under Indian rule. Russia is replete with provinces in which the population is 
overwhelmingly Muslim -- Tatarstan, Bashkiristan, Dagestan, Chechnya. Northern 
Cyprus is overwhelmingly Muslim -- yet, except for Turkey, no country in the 
world recognizes it as an independent state. Muslim Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala
provinces in Thailand are waging an insurgency to free themselves from Bangkok's
Buddhist rule. And of course, there is the West Bank, yet another Muslim 
population, subjected to the rule of non-Muslims. In all of these cases, there 
has been an Islamic insurgency, a war seeking to liberate Muslims from the rule 
of non-Muslims, and considerable government repression. Yet, Western leaders do 
not splutter about unsustainable status quos, they do not demand immediate U.N. 
Security Council action, they do not insist that independence must be granted 
immediately and they do not threaten to ignore the United Nations and embrace a 
seceding state.

Moreover, Kosovo has hardly made an even remotely plausible case for its having 
earned independence. First, for all the talk of "Kosovars" and "Kosovans," the 
residents of Kosovo identify themselves as either Serb or as Albanian; the 
languages they speak is either Serbian or Albanian. Creating a second Albanian 
state in Europe makes no sense whatsoever. It doesn't govern itself. It is a 
ward of various international bodies. Economically, it is a basket case, and 
lives off vast handouts. Kosovo is an example of an ethnic minority grabbing a 
piece of territory, permitting unrestricted immigration by its co-nationals from
a neighboring state, ethnically cleansing the territory of all other groups and 
thereby creating an artificial overwhelming ethnic majority, and then demanding 
that these actions be rewarded by the bestowal of independent statehood.

By comparison, the provinces whose demand for recognition the West rejects have 
been self-governing entities for years. A newly-independent Kosovo would have 
poor relations with Serbia and would be subjected to an economic blockade. Its 
electric grid is integrated within Serbia's electric grid. Its debt has been 
taken care of by Serbia.

Compare Kosovo with Transnistria. Transnistria declared itself independent of 
Moldova in 1990. Transnistria functions as a presidential republic, with its own
government and parliament. Its authorities have adopted a constitution, flag, a 
national anthem and a coat of arms. It has its own currency and its own military
and police force. Yet the U.S.-E.U. position is that Transnistria has no right 
to independence, and that Moldova's territorial integirty must be respected. In 
2003, the U.S. and E.U. announced a visa boycott against the 17 members of the 
leadership of Transnistria, accusing them of "continued obstructionism." In 
2006, Ukraine introduced new customs regulations on its border with 
Transnistria, declaring it would only import goods from Transnistria with 
documents processed by Moldovan customs offices. The U.S., E.U. and OSCE 
applauded Ukraine's action, even though it was effectively imposing a blockade. 
In 2006, Transnistria held a referendum in which 97.2 percent of voters voted 
for independence. The OSCE refused to send observers, and the E.U. immediately 
announced that it wouldn't recognize the referendum results. This is the same 
OSCE, E.U. and U.S. that, a few months earlier, had leapt to recognize the 
results of Montenegro's independence referendum, despite the fact that the vote 
in favor of independence was a bare majority, rather than the two-thirds 
normally required for a constitutional change, and that Montenegrins living in 
Serbia were denied the right to vote in the referendum.

Compare Kosovo with South Ossetia. Ossetians have their own language. South 
Ossetia had been an autonomous oblast within the Soviet Socialist Republic of 
Georgia. In 1990, the Georgian Supreme Soviet revoked its autonomy. The OSCE 
declared its "firm commitment to support the sovereignty and territorial 
integrity of Georgia." In November 2006, 99 percent of South Ossetians voted for
independence from Georgia. The usual gaggle of international bodies howled with 
indignation. The European Union, OSCE, NATO and the USA condemned the 
referendum. The Council of Europe called the referendum "unnecessary, unhelpful 
and unfair.[T]he vote did nothing to bring forward the search for a peaceful 
political solution." The OSCE declared South Ossetia's "intention to hold a 
referendum counterproductive. It will not be recognized by the international 
community and it will not be recognized by the OSCE and it will impede the peace
process." NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said "On behalf of NATO, 
I join other international leaders in rejecting the so-called 'referendum'.Such 
actions serve no purpose other than to exacerbate tensions in the South Caucasus

Nagorno-Karabakh can also make a vastly stronger case than Kosovo for 
independence. Since 1923, the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast had been part 
of the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic, even though about 94 percent of its
population was Armenian. In November 1991, the parliament of the Azerbaijan SSR 
abolished the autonomous status of the oblast. In response, in December 1991, 
Nagorno-Karabakh held a referendum, which overwhelmingly approved the creation 
of an independent state. Yet the E.U., the OSCE and the United States took the 
line that Nagorno-Karabakh must remain a part of Azerbaijan, irrespective of the
fact that almost 100 per cent of the populace wants out. Interestingly, in 
declaring itself independent in 1991, Azerbaijan claimed to be the successor 
state to the Azerbaijan republic that existed from 1918 to 1920. The League of 
Nations, however, did not recognize Azerbaijan's inclusion of Nagorno-Karabakh 
as part of Azerbaijan's claimed territory. This makes Nagorno-Karabakh's 
inclusion within Azerbaijan even more questionable. If the states that seceded 
from the Soviet Union are to be regarded as independent states, it's hard to see
on what basis parts of those states are to be denied the right to independence.

In 2002, Nagorno-Karabakh held a presidential election; in response, the 
European Union presidency declared "The European Union confirms its support for 
the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, and recalls that it does not recognise 
the independence of Nagorno Karabakh.The European Union cannot consider 
legitimate the 'presidential elections.'...The European Union does not believe 
that these elections should have an impact on the peace process."

In December 2006, Nagorno-Karabakh held another referendum on independence: 
Something like 98 per cent favored independence. The European Union immediately 
announced it wouldn't recognize the results of the referendum and said "that 
only a negotiated settlement between Azerbaijan and ethnic Armenians who control
the region can bring a lasting solution.The E.U. recalls that it does not 
recognize the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh. It recognizes neither the 
'referendum' nor its outcome." The E.U. added that holding the referendum 
pre-empts the outcome of negotiations and that it "did not contribute to 
constructive efforts at peaceful conflict resolution." The E.U.'s attitude here 
is strikingly different from its attitude on Kosovo. On Kosovo, the E.U. holds 
Serbia's refusal to relinquish its sovereign territory as the reason for the 
failure of negotiations, which supposedly is the justification for Kosovo's 
declaration of independence.

The West's entire approach to Kosovo has been marked by sordid dishonesty and 
bad faith, supporting national self-determination and the right to secession in 
one place and territorial integrity in another, cheering on ethnic cleansing by 
one ethnic group and demanding war crimes trials for another, trumpeting the 
virtues of majority rule when it's convenient to do so and threatening to impose
sanctions and penalties on majorities when that's convenient. For the Americans,
Kosovo is nothing more than the hinterland of a giant military base, a key 
presence in the eastern Mediterranean should Greece or Turkey prove unreliable. 
As for the duly grateful Albanians, they are expected to repay their benefactors
by agreeing to be cannon fodder in future imperial wars. For the Europeans, 
Kosovo is an opportunity to show the world that Europe counts for something and 
to conduct various pointless social experiments in multiculturalism and 
multiconfessionalism -- particularly pointless since Kosovo will be one of the 
most ethnically homogeneous places in Europe.

George Szamuely lives in New York and can be reached at •••@••.•••

newslog archives: 

How We the People can change the world

Escaping the Matrix: http://escapingthematrix.org/

The Phoenix Project

The Post-Bush Regime: A Prognosis

Community Democracy Framework: 

cyberjournal: http://cyberjournal.org

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