14 February 2007

Government of Kosovo accused for supporting of paramilitary groups

KiM Info Newsletter 08-12-06 Comment by Fr. Sava Janjic

KIM Info-Service, December 8, 2006

Twice in several days Kosovo's Government is brought by K-Albanians themselves into connection with extremist activities the goal of which is most likely to raise tensions and blackmail the international community prior to the finalization of Ahtisaari's proposal for the future status of the restive Serbian Province.

On November 28, the day of celebration of pan-Albanian celebration of the Flag Day demonstrations led by a radical organization Self-Determination turned into riots in which 40.000 Euro damage was made on the UN Mission building and other locations in Pristina. The leading Kosovo daily Koha Ditore published in a special report a day after the riots that the stones and paint used by rioters were transported by vehicles belonging to Kosovo's Ministry of Labor, headed by one of the closest associates of ICTY indicted former Kosovo's Premier Ramush Haradinaj. The proofs offered by Koha Ditore have not been denied.

After the most recent armed clash of a group of armed and masked paramilitaries in Western Kosovo with the UN established Kosovo Police was another element rising tensions in the Province. The paramilitaries were not only armed with light weapons but also by rocket propelled launchers and sophisticated night warfare equipment. Two days after Kosovo opposition accused the Government of being behind the paramilitary group which has already been identified in Kosovo Albanian press as - Albanian National Army, a formation proclaimed a terrorist organization by one of former chiefs of UNMIK after an unsuccessful attempt to blow up a railway bridge in the Serb majority part of Kosovo.

These events are not unconnected and one can clearly see that extremist and pro-independence Kosovo political circles are again, according to the March 17 riots scenario, using violence and display of weapons in order to blackmail international community and additionally encourage Kosovo Serbs to leave their homes. The most of Western media in a chorus jumped into a hasty conclusion that the violence in Pristina streets and in Western Kosovo are consequences of unresolved Kosovo status as if in independent Kosovo terrorist organizations which struggle for pan-Albanian cause together with radical political organizations organizing protests against protection of minorities would turn overnight into doves of peace, lay their weapons and embrace their Serb neighbors. The status of Kosovo is only one of keys to the problem but definitely not a magic wand to turn the restive Province into a modern state. In fact the status, whatever it may be, would bring no good to anyone until extremist and criminal structures are in power and as long as they may use the status a smokescreen for continuing their activities.

These events have shown us rather the following:

- Terrorist organizations like ANA still freely operate in Kosovo despite 17.000 NATO led troops, establishing illegal checkpoints and even fighting at UN established Kosovo Police. Dozens if not hundreds of thousands of people in Kosovo are still armed despite 7 years of international presence. The KLA although officially disbanded still operates through a network of radical and right-wing organizations the agenda of which goes much beyond independent Kosovo.
- Kosovo Government which on one hand claims to be a guarantor of stability in independent Kosovo seems to be directly or indirectly involved in paramilitary and criminal activities according to accusations of Kosovo Albanians themselves (not to mention organized crime which has already been confirmed in many international and local reports).
- Crowd of at least 5000 rioters made damage to official buildings in Pristina and not one rioter has been arrested and brought to justice. In fact Kosovo and UN police did not go after rioters but only focused on protecting internationals. KFOR troops did not appear in Pristina at all leaving crowd to continue their rampage through the streets. Besides, these days a rumor goes through Pristina that Albanian extremists are making target lists of pro-Serb internationals. In a same fashion former KLA extremists (some of which turned into political leaders) organized a campaign of systematic liquidation of hundreds of Serbs and dissenting Albanians after the war.

Therefore, one cannot help asking a few quite legitimate questions.
How in the world Kosovo Serbs and other discriminated non-Albanian communities in Kosovo be encouraged to live in an independent Kosovo in such a dire security, political and economic situation?.... An independent Kosovo in opinion of large majority of Kosovo Serbs would become an ethnically clean Albanian state and the policy of ethnic cleansing would be rewarded by an unilateral solution. There are very few if any Serbs who believe that independent Kosovo led by present Kosovo leaders would be able to remain their home.

Is the policy of blackmailing with violence and threats to be rewarded by the status and how it would effect other disputed regions in the world? This would be the same like granting extremist groups in the world all their requests in order to make them more constructive members of society, a policy definitely not followed by Western democracies in their countries.

How reasonable is to rush into the status final settlement when minimum of standards has not been achieved (not to mention already well known economic unsustainability). Kosovo cities are ethnically cleansed, the return process has stalled, non-Albanians if not directly attacked are generally discriminated and unable to find their normal place in society and economy of Kosovo.

After these thoughts it is not easy to remain convinced that the hasty status resolution would bring much stability as some in the West believe. In fact it may only open another chapter of prolonged violence and chronic instability for the region. In any case, it appears, the international community would finally have to face more responsibly the situation which threatens not only to become a cancer of the Balkans but a ticking bomb for entire Europe.