Kosovo Commission IV
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Kosovo Commission II
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Kosovo Commission V


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avgust 20, 2008


















The Commission clear deprives even a new democratic government in Belgrade a right to participate in the process towards a solution (p. 271): "The essential reality that the international community must face is that, because of the FRY's systematic violation of Kosovar rights, substantial autonomy and self-government for Kosovo have become incompatible with continued Yugoslav sovereignty of the province, and will remain so even if Yugoslavia eventually makes a transition to democratic rule. The simple truth is that no Kosovar will accept to live under Serb rule however notional, ever again."

Whether intentional or not, this statement closes the doors to a compromise, now as well as in the future. The Commission uses "Kosovars" as synonymous with "Albanians" and, thus, in linguistic terms excludes non-Albanian people in Kosovo. Will it also accept that the non-Albanians in Kosovo get an independent state inside that province if - as is manifestly clear - they have been/are repressed by the present Albanian leadership under Hacim Thaci and will simply not live in an independent Kosova?

Conditional independence will be realised by a number of provisions. A referendum shall be held; but with about 100,000 non-Albanians left and perhaps 1,5 million Albanians, the outcome is given. Next, "Negotiations would then have to ensue between the elected representatives of both majority and minority communities and the UN administration to determine a constitutional regime that would protect minority rights, guarantee some continuing international military and administrative oversight of these rights, while also transferring the effective administration of Kosovo into the hands of a national parliament…" (p 272). Other provisions are that everybody shall accept human rights, free travel, recognition of borders, non-interference etc - as well as minority rights. It is stipulated that the Kosovo-Albanians will take over control over Kosovo in proportion to the degree to which they accept and comply with international norms and contribute to regional stability.

"While the current regime [i.e. Milosevic, JO] remains in power in Belgrade, no negotiations along these lines are possible. But a change of regime, and a change of heart among the Serbian political elite, might make it possible to negotiate the terms of a lasting peace." (p, 276). Compare with the statement above and ask yourself whether this can be understood to mean anything else but this: a leadership which gives up all legitimate, non-violent, political goals and interests of FRY - a nation of 10 million people - will be invited to sign a treaty of 'lasting peace' that has been negotiated by the minority and the UN/KFOR?

This borders on the absurd. If you want to change people's hearts, treat them equally and with respect. If the Commission uses as its argument that no Albanian will live as part of Serbia, it would be interesting to know whether it has met any, even strongly oppositional, Serbs who would accept a) FRY to be treated this way and b) would endorse and work for the Commission's proposal.

The Commission comes close to an answer: "The Commission believes that it would be desirable to negotiate Kosovo's conditional independence with Serbian authorities, since peaceful recognition of each other's borders and integrity would constitute the critical guarantee of peace in the region. But neither the existing Serbian regime, nor any other regime that can be imagined is likely to negotiate the cession of Yugoslav sovereignty over Kosovo" (p.275).

This a boomerang argument. Had the Commission consulted with all, done a fair conflict analysis and then developed a series of possible future peace models, instead of settling for one proposal, there is no doubt that it could have engaged various Serb groups in dialogue - after which a negotiation could be held over the implementation of the model that suited all to the highest degree.

One of the first, wise, things the new Yugoslav president Vojeslav Kostunica did was to appeal for reconciliation and invite Kosovo-Albanians for dialogue. This already undermines the Commission's philosophy. But one must frankly ask: with this report in their hands, will Kosovo-Albanians feel more or less inclined to engage in serious dialogue, then talks, and finally negotiations to find a mutually acceptable solution?

My answer is unfortunately: less. After 10 years without preventive diplomacy followed by NATO's Balkan Bombing Blunder everything has become more difficult. The Commission's proposal and the way it want to see it implemented certainly will not make things easier. Why?

One reason is that the Commission also states that UN Security Council Resolution 1244 is unsustainable and based on fiction. Stating that it knows that its principles are not "securely established in international law" (p, 277) it argues: "It would effectively commit the international community to the proposition that national minorities have a right of secession when they have been subjected to a systematic abuse of their human rights, together with a systematic denial of their right to self-government." (p. 277).

So, the Kosovo conflict is used to spearhead a new era in world affairs. Instead of learning to clash as civilised creatures, instead of appealing to co-existence, fairness, reconciliation and negotiated solutions, the Commission tells that minorities all over the world have a right to be assisted in achieving independence given the conditions it mentions. But it does not even deal with the question: what may repressed minorities do to deserve such a right and do to lose such a right? Not saying a word about that in this particular case, implicitly amounts to rewarding UCK/KLA for its militant policies.

There is reason to fear that NATO and the coming EU military intervention forces would be quite busy for years to come. And since this principle has never been argued before the case of Kosovo, the Commission can be interpreted to mean that the repression of the Kosovo-Albanians was unique in the world and, thus, justifies this new norm.

I personally believe such a norm could be an important innovation in international law and politics. The world would be a better place if we could find universally accepted limits to repression and deny actors, with as little violence as possible, the right to exercise sovereignty over areas where they overstep that limit. However, compared with other conflicts around the world, the choice of Kosovo as the example to promote such a new norm is unfortunate, perhaps even contra-productive, because of the behaviour of hard-liners on both sides in the region and the way the international chose to handle it.