September 17th 2011 05:17:36 AM
Russian Ambassador Konuzin to Neutered Serbs: “ARE THERE SERBS IN THIS ROOM?”
Konuzin angrily left the Forum (Sept. 16)
Russian Ambassador Alexander Konuzin sharply criticized the Belgrade Security Forum participants from Serbia for not defending the interests of their country in relation to Kosovo.
The UN Security Council debate on Kosovo today at the meeting convened at the request of Serbia and Russia. Russia’s Permanent Representative to the UN Vitaly Churkin said on the eve of the meeting that the plans of government of Kosovo Albanians in northern Kosovo is very dangerous and “far from democratic.”
BELGRADE, Sept 15 (Reuters) - The Russian ambassador in Belgrade told Serbia on Friday… “NATO and the European Union will be against your national interests and it appears you could not care less,” Konuzin said…
If you’re just tuning in and are confused about the violence that may be taking place this weekend, here’s what’s going on, with more in-depth background to come.
Kosovo Set to Take 2 Key Border Posts (Matthew Brunwasser, Sept. 15)
BELGRADE — The [Disputed] Republic of Kosovo is preparing to take control Friday over the last two posts along its border with Serbia that are beyond its authority, an event that threatens to reignite tensions between the two adversaries.
While the two countries have recently made significant progress during talks on issues like property registry and trade, the planned takeover Friday is seen in Serbia, and by the Serbs who dominate in the northern part of Kosovo as a repeat of the events of July 25, when Kosovo sent police forces to take control over the border posts…
“The people there will not accept it — Serbia cannot accept it,” Borko Stefanovic, Serbia’s lead negotiator in talks with Kosovo, said… “We have a crisis coming up.”
“It can cripple the dialogue and have disastrous influence on the stability of the region,” he added.
Officials in Pristina, the capital of the mainly ethnic Albanian Kosovo government, are seeking to extend the nation’s authority over all Kosovo territory 12 years after a NATO bombing campaign drove Serbian forces from the province, and three years after declaring independence. Kosovo became an international protectorate after the war, and taking control over the border posts — now run by the European Union’s Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo, known as Eulex — is seen as an important step toward becoming a normal [criminal] country.
But Kosovo north of the Ibar River remains de facto Serbian territory, populated mainly by Serbs who still live under the laws and institutions of [internationally long-recognized] Serbia. Local Serbs and the government of Serbia remain committed to thwarting Kosovo’s attempts to extend its influence there.
In anticipation of the change of border guards, local news media have reported that groups of angry local Serbs in the north had already started setting up roadblocks on Tuesday night and dumped four truckloads of gravel on the Mitrovica bridge Wednesday night, enough to stop traffic between the southern and northern parts of the divided city.
The two posts at issue are the most sensitive of Kosovo’s crossings, controlling the trade with Serbia on which Kosovo Serbs live.
The Republic of Kosovo is recognized by all its neighbors except for Serbia — Macedonia, Montenegro and Albania — and 81 countries worldwide, including 22 of 27 European Union member states. [That’s 81 countries out of 193. Do the math — it’s less than half.]
Leaders on both sides have also expressed optimism about the talks between Pristina and Belgrade, which have led to agreements on civil registry, property registry, freedom of movement and most recently customs stamps.
This week, Western officials called on the Serbian government to do more to calm tensions in northern Kosovo. [For a parallel, see: Western officials call on Israeli government to do more about ‘those damned settlers.’ (Though unlike the Israeli settlers and their strong case, Serbs have been in Kosovo for centuries.)]
“We think it’s entirely within Kosovo’s interest, authority and right to govern its entire country [sic],” the American ambassador to Serbia, Mary Warlick, said in an interview at the American Embassy in Belgrade on Tuesday. “This step should not become a flash point in relations between Serbia and Kosovo.” [i.e. Grin and bear it.]
Mr. Stefanovic said that Serbia seeks to resolve problems between the two “entities,” while vowing never to recognize Kosovo statehood…
The visit of Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel, to Belgrade three weeks ago dashed Serbian hopes that Kosovo could be partitioned between the north and south. Ms. Merkel went further by saying that Serbia would not join the European Union until it “dismantles the parallel structures” it maintains among Serb communities in the north. [Always the next demand: “Not until you get Karadzic…Not until you give us Mladic…Not until you cough up Hadzic…Not until you give up Kosovo…No, all of Kosovo…”]
In Pristina, the international shifts are seen as a gift to the political fortunes of the beleaguered Kosovo prime minister, Hashim Thaci, after the failed attempt to take the border posts in July. [Backgrounder on that incident — and take it from longtime Albanian supporter CFRnik David Phillips: “Kosovo Albanians have a track record of using violence to advance their political goals. Thaci’s bid to seize Kosovo’s border crossings with Serbia fits the pattern: create a crisis, get the international community involved, and enlist foreign mediators in service of Kosovo’s agenda…to end the de-facto partition of Kosovo.]
More about Friday: Peacekeepers Take Serbia-Kosovo Border Posts (Brunwasser, Sept. 16)
RASKA, SERBIA — On the day Kosovo promised that it would take full control of its borders for the first time since its declaration of independence in 2008, an international force instead took over the final two border posts Friday morning, seeking to prevent violence and calm the highly tense atmosphere in the Serb-dominated north of Kosovo.
…Eulex flew in by helicopter new international teams of police and customs officers to the two disputed border crossings on the Serbia-Kosovo border, flying past roads blocked by protesting Serbs…There were no serious incidents as of Friday. Protests remained peaceful.
The multilateral operation…seeks to prevent a repeat of the violence in July, when angry Serbs burned the border post in Jarinje after Kosovo unilaterally tried to take control of the two crossings. One Kosovo police officer was killed in the violence.
No border operations had yet gone into effect on Friday, as the border crossings remained closed…
A Serbian government spokesman, Milivoje Mihajlovioc, told Reuters: “I am hoping Kosovo Serbs will preserve wisdom and avoid almost certain provocations. Any violent response will aid the Pristina government and its intentions.”
Nicholas Hawton, a spokesman for Eulex, said all the operational work at both crossings would be carried out by Eulex.
Teams of three officers have been deployed at each crossing — two members of the Kosovo police force and one Kosovo customs officer. The ethnicity of each team is mixed between Albanians and Serbs.
“They are there in a symbolic way rather than in an executive function,” Mr. Hawton said.
[Kosovo Interior Minister Bajram] Rexhepi said he was satisfied with the agreement between the Kosovo government and international actors to leave control of the border in the hands of Eulex.
“It is for an interim period of six months,” he said. “After that we will probably take over completely.”
Mr. Rexhepi said that the border crossings should open by the weekend if the situation becomes calm.
NATO calming tensions:
Dimitar Dilkoff, AFP/Getty Images
Our “humanitarian mission” continues:
Take note of these signs in case you have any plans on resisting when they come for your country’s land.
Coming soon to coveted land near you. It’ll be your own soldiers against you. (See also Gaza withdrawal.)
These young German soldiers may not know it, but this all started out as payback for WWII. First on the agenda of a newly reunified Germany was the breakup of Yugoslavia. It’s been ongoing for 20 years and here it is at its most current, literal stage.
Kosovo and EU police and customs officers…took over from NATO peacekeepers in the latest move by Pristina to assert control over northern Kosovo….
Friday’s developments came two months after clashes that left one dead when Pristina dispatched special police to take over the Jarinje and Brnjak posts to enforce a ban on imports from Serbia.
Serbia’s Minister for Kosovo Goran Bogdanovic, who visited the protesters, called for calm, insisting that Friday “is not a D-day for us.”
“We can defend our interests only peacefully…Difficult days and a backbreaking fight is ahead of us, because Pristina and those supporting it know that they can satisfy their goals only by exhausting our people here,” Serbia’s Tanjug news agency quoted Bogdanovic as saying.
“We have neither arms, nor the army and the police, but only people who are ready to defend their homes and families,” Bogdanovic said.
Shortly after 8.30 am (0630 GMT) reporters saw EULEX helicopters landing near both crossings, with teams of police and customs officials heading to the posts. […]
Violence looms in Kosovo - UNSC buries head in the sand (Russia Today, Sept. 16)
NATO-backed forces will overstep their mandate amid Kosovo border tension, and the UN will ignore this. That’s according to top Russian diplomats furious that the US and EU paralysed a UNSC meeting on Kosovo.
After debating for hours behind closed doors, the Council came out with only a rather timid call for “restraint” by all parties.
Russia’s representative at the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, told journalists after the meeting that Russia proposed a brief, to-the-point statement that basically called on “Belgrade, Pristina and all other sides involved to resolve all outstanding problems through dialogue.” To Churkin’s surprise, Security Council members could not even agree on that.
In July 2011, Kosovar officials attempted to send police to border posts in the north to enforce a ban on imports from Serbia…NATO peacekeepers were deployed to prevent further violence.
Despite the incident, officials in Pristina took the decision to take over two border crossing points on September 16. The Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations urged both sides to use dialogue instead of force – and most importantly, to stay away from unilateral action.
“We are very concerned that the implementation of the announced plans could lead to a hardening of positions on the ground, threaten stability and lead to another outbreak of violence,” said Edmond Mullet.
[Churkin] told RT that Russia is concerned with the fact that international peacekeeping forces in the region appear to be siding with the Albanian authorities. [Understatement of the century.] “…[T]his sudden departure from the path of dialogue at the moment when it was beginning to show some promise, in our view, is completely unjustified, unwarranted and very dangerous.”
Serbs in the North of Kosovo are acutely aware that they are in a life or death situation, stresses Boris Malagurski, a Serbian film maker who has made several documentaries on Kosovo….international forces in the region are simply pushing their own polices under the banner of promoting peace and stability.
Malagurski told RT that “Thaci is merely fulfilling his task and it is very naïve to think that his mentors will stop him.”
The current Serbian establishment is striving to gain entry to the EU and would not jeopardize that aspiration, “even if that means giving up 100,000-plus Serbs left to fend for themselves in breakaway Kosovo.”
But today, Northern Kosovo is in turn breaking away from Albanian-run Kosovo[, he said.] […]
[Rexhepi] stated for Tanjug on Friday that members of Kosovo police and customs and EULEX officers took over the crossings in northern Kosovo as of this morning.
He stressed that the operation was conducted without any problems.
The members of the German contingent of KFOR, who are deployed at the Jarinje crossing, said that only the members of EULEX customs and police, and not the members of Kosovo customs and border police, arrived at the crossing.
The crossing will not open until the citizens who spent the night on the nearby barricade disperse.
KFOR members are securing the crossing in full combat gear, and a warning notice was placed on the barbed wire saying ‘Stop, I will shoot’ in two languages.
The UN Security Council confirmed late Thursday that any operation carried out by Pristina with the goal of taking over crossings in northern Kosovo cannot be based on the agreement reached in Brussels on September 2, because there was no agreement on the deployment of customs officials at the Jarinje and Brnjak crossings.
…Churkin cautioned that the Kosovo Albanian authorities’ announcements about their readiness to use force show that they know what they are doing and that it could lead to conflicts and a crisis in the region.
The Kosovo Albanian authorities announced their intention to seize north Kosovo by force, Churkin said, adding that Pristina claims its decision is based on the talks with Belgrade about customs issues, but at the same time voices readiness to use force to carry out its plan on the deployment of Kosovo customs officers at the administrative line.
Churkin qualified as disturbing the fact that all forces, which were stationed there to support peace, are now backing the dangerous plan of Kosovo Albanians.
Official Moscow voiced major concern over the information about Pristina’s intentions to take unilateral violent actions against Serbs in the north of Kosovo…We are of the opinion that [KFOR] which are responsible for security in the province, should resolutely prevent the provocations, the release adds.
All issues relating to the stability and security in Kosovo should be discussed based on fundamental principles of international law and UN decisions, particularly UN SC Resolution 1244, as well as within the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, Moscow stated.
“Unilateral moves in Kosovo dangerous for whole world” (Sept. 15)
President Boris Tadić says that in the era of globalization, legitimizing Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence would destabilize the entire world.
Tadić stated in his opening address that Kosovo could become a positive precedent only if the international community insisted on a dialogue and compromise between Belgrade and Priština.
“I must here express my grave concern: Unilateral action announced to happen tomorrow concerning an attempt of Priština with EULEX to impose customs control at the administrative line in north Kosovo would seriously endanger peace and stability of the whole region. This solution has not been agreed between Belgrade and Priština and therefore it must be prevented,” Tadić stated.
The Serbian president recalled that the international system is predicated on a set of rules that apply to everyone without exception, and that its binding principles include the sovereign equality of states, the respect for the territorial integrity and the inviolability of internationally recognized borders. However, Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence fundamentally violates these basic norms of global governance, he noted.
Tadić warned that legitimizing the Kosovo precedent would be followed by numerous conflicts across the world. […]
Getting back to what I opened this post with. A source tells me the Serbian public overwhelmingly supports Konuzin, and hates the traitorous Euro-desperate Serbs he was addressing, as the title of this Vesti article implies: “Except for the government, in Serbia no one is happy about Kosovo”
In the video, Konuzin makes reference to a UN Security Council decision of November 2008. This refers to the transfer of authority from UN to EULEX, basically giving EULEX a mandate under the provisions of the 1999 UNSCR 1244. (A slippery deal, since EULEX was set up to support the Ahtisaari Plan for Kosovo independence, which was never approved by the UNSC and was in contravention of 1244.) So this week EULEX is again violating its mandate and its “officially” status-neutral position. A dynamic that was explained by Gerard Gallucci, the American former UN regional rep in Mitrovica, who has a pretty good idea about what’s legal and what isn’t.
In a dispatch from the region by Iseult Henry, the Irish author of Hiding Genocide in Kosovo: A Crime Against God and Humanity, she writes:
Kosovo is a very dirty word in certain circles in Belgrade, when I try and carry out research to tell the truth about the genocide of Serbs in Kosovo. I am told I am working against state interests of Serbia, and threatened by people close to the president and foreign minister, so I sympathise with the Russian ambassador trying to find Serbs to defend Serbia, especially in such a forum. They would all have been handpicked if [President] Tadic was there — and would have to have been pro-NATO and of the belief that all Kosovo Serbs are war criminals. I was told this by a Belgrader recently — that all KiM [Kosovo-Metohija] Serbs were such. Can you believe that? … And also by UN staff in Beirut, in May, by people who had worked in KiM for years. Worrying thing is that some Serbs believe this. People who have never set foot in KiM. And God help anyone who tries to defend Kosovo Serbs! They will be admonished. Yours in a very depressed state…[Iseult]
Closing with some quotes:
“Not a shining moment for anyone but the northerners trying to peacefully make their rejection of independent Kosovo clear. The EU response to that was more or less, take down your barricades or starve.” — Gerard Gallucci
“KFOR helicopters are flying around as if NATO was tracking down the Taliban.” — Gallucci
“This is anti-peacekeeping.” — Gallucci
“You may be willing to give in to Albanian blackmail, but we are not.” — Vitaly Churkin to his Western counterparts in December 2006
“[Kosovo] is our greatest shame.” — John Ranz, Holocaust survivor
Yet doggedly do we pursue it.
Keep in mind that this aggressive enforcement of Albanian demands happens amid several investigations involving the top echelons of Kosovo’s leadership, and despite the fact that fewer than half the world’s nations have recognized the breakaway “state,” — and therefore, as Konuzin said, IN VIOLATION OF THE UN SECURITY COUNCIL REJECTION OF UNILATERAL INDEPENDENCE.
The daily Albanian terror aside, in 2007 four of their fine specimens in America were indicted for wanting to kill “as many American soldiers as possible” at Ft. Dix (three convicted and one on a lesser gun-procuring charge). That didn’t hurt them in keeping our backing of their unilateral statehood the following year. In 2010, the world got a glimmer of the ghouls we handed Kosovo to when the murder-for-organs scandal came to light, but that has deterred us not at all in 2011 in securing the last piece of land they demand.
At what point will Americans finally ask: What is driving this un-American U.S. policy?
If there are NATO casualties in Serbian Mitrovica — the last place where a non-Albanian can take a step without risking dismemberment — understand that subjugation always meets with at least a little resistance. (Futile and suicidal as it may be. The Serbs have been here before.)
Before Americans judge the Serb reaction, they should keep in mind that the same fate awaits them. We’ve always had a crystal ball at our disposal, which we’ve aggressively ignored. It’s called the Balkans.
Note that the Russian Konuzin spoke to the Serbs, and the Serbs spoke to Konuzin — in English. Not Russian. Not Arabic. Not German. Not Chinese. Because sights were once set Westward, and despite our rejection of our Slavic fellow Christians, they saw themselves as having something in common with us and were hoping to communicate with us. But somewhere, America went terribly wrong. And wrote its future and all its “common values” rhetoric in Arabic.