Kosovo non-independence

February 4, 2007 by  
Filed under News

For years now Kosovo has been essentially an independent nation, but administered by the United Nations to ensure they don’t actually try to claim independence. Their status as either a Serbian province or nation in their own right has been in limbo while the international community has tried to avoid giving either Serbia or Kosovar Albanians what they want.

The UN finally delivered their recommendations on Kosovo’s future status a few days ago.

While the UN special envoy Martti Ahtisaari has said Kosovo should split from Serbia, it’s independence in theory, but not reality. While Kosovo will legally have national symbols separate from Serbia, and be allowed to apply for membership to organisations like the UN, they will still not be able to claim outright independence.

NATO and EU forces would remain, and it pretty much looks like things would stay as they are now. I’m not really sure how this resolves Kosovo’s status.

Kosovo’s decisive step to statehood
Serbia rejects Kosovo breakaway

Serbia and Fundamentalism

October 7, 2006 by  
Filed under Media

As with the post on Israel and Fundamentalism a few days ago, now it’s evangelicals supporting Serbia over Kosovo. Read more at B92, where they say “Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson have joined forces with the Serbian Orthodox Church in the campaign against Kosovo independence” because it “would create a base for an extremist Islamic Jihad”.

The B92 story was based on this (much more comprehensive) Financial Times article. It seems reasonable to expect that Kosovo would be much more violent if they don’t get independence…

Going the distance

August 1, 2006 by  
Filed under News

It seems Serbia is prepared to forgo EU membership to keep control over Kosovo.

Serbian PM, Vojislav Kostunica has a good argument, that Kosovo is legally part of Serbia and EU conditions have never included territorial concessions. But if he’s prepared to shun EU membership over it, there’s not much else anyone can do to persuade them to change course.

Martti Ahtisaari, UN special envoy for Kosovo, says in the article that “Serbia was willing to give everything but independence, while the majority ethnic Albanians in Kosovo wanted nothing but independence”.

Where do you go from there?

Kosovo, Milosevic and Israel

July 28, 2006 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

Blonde at Heart asked me some more questions in a comment. Since it was such a long answer, it’s almost post-worthy. At least link-worthy.

These were the questions:

I started reading about the war in Kosovo, and since you seem keen on teh subject, I have five questions you may answer or point me to useful sources:

  1. How come Milosovic gained so much power?
  2. Why Roguva did not participated in the talks on March 5 (after the atrocities)?
  3. What is the role of the KLA in this mess?
  4. Where the Jihadists come in?
  5. What is essentially the difference between the NATO air campaign and Israel’s? (Because it can be said NATO did it on behalf of the Albanians, not?)

These are my answers.

Kosovo all over

June 30, 2006 by  
Filed under News

Unbelievable. Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica has declared

There is no better place to repeat what all Serbs should know – that Kosovo always was and always will be part of Serbia.

He did this in Kosovo, at a ceremony marking the anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo Polje.

Read more about Kosovo Polje in this post to understand the significance. Very, very basically, it was a speech by Slobodan Milosevic there in 1989, on the 600th anniversary of that battle, which cemented his power in Serbia and started the descent into the Yugoslav wars of the early ’90s.

Montenegro

May 23, 2006 by  
Filed under News

Since the former Yugoslavia broke up, Serbia has maintained several of its provinces and territories. The official name of the state has itself been Serbia and Montenegro. That’s about to change. Montenegro has held a referendum on independence and initial results showed a majority vote for independence from Serbia. The BBC reports final vote counting confirms Montenegro’s independence with 55.5% in approval. Serbia and Montenegro is no more. It wasn’t a state as such for long anyway, but all that is left is for Serbia to lost its remaining territories – Vojvodina and Kosovo – for the complete breakup of the former Yugoslavia to be complete.

The most well-known part of Serbia seeking independence is of course Kosovo. Essentially a UN protectorate for the last five years, it is widely considered to be only a matter of time before Kosovo is officially recognised as an independent state.

Lesser known is Vojvodina. They may not be agitating for independence from Serbia yet, but they have, and continue to demand virtual autonomy from Serbia.

It is perhaps a slap in the face to Serbia, when the other former Yugoslav republics congratulate Montenegro on gaining independence.

Home a good place to start

May 7, 2006 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

The following was the leading story on my daily B92 news email the other day, and the catalyst for this post.

Mladic to be arrested by Sunday?

BELGRADE — Serbian police are searching a number of locations in Belgrade for Ratko Mladic, including his home

For a long time Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic have been wanted by the United Nations war crimes tribunal. They are considered by pretty much anyone outside Serbia as guilty of committing war crimes. In Serbia itself opinion is divided, but the majority of people there see them as heroes. For Serbia, their capture has been an ongoing requirement to any discussions about entry into the European Union.

Obviously then it’s a highly political issue. Popular opinion, and the powerful friends and supporters of Mladic and Karadzic, make it advantageous for the government of Serbia not to arrest and hand them over but, at the same time, talks have been continuing with the EU about possible future integration.

All of that said, the EU has called off all further talks with Serbia until Mladic is arrested and transferred to the Hague. This is significant. Until now Serbia has been able to walk that political tightrope by promising results to the rest of Europe, while doing essentially nothing to make the arrests. The EU decision has finally forced Serbia’s hand, and it looks like they might actually make an attempt to arrest at least Mladic. So why did that first story I mentioned make me decide I had to do this post?

If – when you decide it’s really time to try and find someone – the first place you look is their home, it paints a not very flattering picture. One that suggests you were never really trying in the first place.

Read some stories from B92 about the Hague and Serbia’s dealings with it here.

Milosevic

March 13, 2006 by  
Filed under News

This was unexpected. The outcome in Serbia will be interesting to follow. Slobodan Milosevic found dead in his cell.

Kosovo

February 1, 2006 by  
Filed under News

Thanks to my sister for this link to a Foreign and Commonwealth Office press release – Statement by the Contact Group on the future of Kosovo.
The article I linked to by William Montgomery asked the question, who would represent Kosovar Albanians at upcoming negotiations on the future status of Kosovo? This press release doesn’t answer that question, but seems a friendly reminder to both sides – Pristina (Kosovar Albanians) and Belgrade (Serbs) – that they would do well to keep to agreements reached in previous talks and continue working towards an acceptable solution to Kosovo’s status:

UNSCR 1244 (direct link to 8pg PDF, if it doesn’t work go here and scroll down) remains the framework for the ongoing status process, with the Security Council and Contact Group continuing to play key roles.
[...]
The Contact Group Guiding Principles of November 2005 make clear that there should be: no return of Kosovo to the pre-1999 situation, no partition of Kosovo, and no union of Kosovo with any or part of another country.

Not sure how they’ll ever reach an acceptable solution with Serbia as they seem particularly adamant that Kosovo can never be independent of Serbia.
The pre-1999 situation saw Kosovo as essentially a province of Serbia, having gone a decade without the relative autonomy they operated under before Milosevic in 1989.
Partitioning of Kosovo has been discussed by Serbia as a solution to the issue of not only Kosovar Serbs, but also of Serbian religious and other historical sites within Kosovo. Basically it would mean Serbia assuming control of parts of northern and eastern Kosovo and simply making a geographical ethnic divide between Serbs and Albanians in Kosovo. There are ways this would not work that include dividing up land, cutting off families and other such things, but the main reason the Contact Group doesn’t want it to happen is because it would be an admission that Serbs and Albanians simply can’t live together in Kosovo and shouldn’t mix.
The ‘no union of Kosovo with any or part of another country’ refers to Albania. The majority of Kosovars are ethnic Albanian (about 75-90%), and so it would not be that surprising if Kosovo were to ally itself with Albania. I don’t say that simply because of the ethnicity link, but Albania has long been a supporter of Kosovar Albanian independence through money, weaponry, and routes through Albania to get those things into Kosovo.

Mashup

February 1, 2006 by  
Filed under News

Some bloggers I read regularly haven’t updated in a looong time. Today they have, and I thought it worth a mention and a link.

Christopher Allbritton of Back to Iraq, a reporter for Time magazine in Iraq, and Salam Pax, an Iraqi blogger. Neither has posted in months, so this is a somewhat momentous occassion to see them back online.

In other news, Hamas says the possibility of EU and US aid being cut if they don’t say something about not trying to kill Israelis is ‘unfair’.
“I mean, come on guys, that’s what we do!”
Interestingly, the EU contributes about $600million and the US $400 million per year in aid to the Palestinians according to that story. And Israel? Well they don’t say explicitly, but if you take half a second to work out $50 million per month they give to the Palestinian Authority – let’s just say Israel’s $600 million per year is looking more than generous.

I realise this is quickly becoming an I-really-can’t-be-bothered-so-it’s-all-going-in-one-post … post.

William Montgomery (whoever he is), has written a short piece about Rugova’s death. It’s up at the B92 (Serbian TV/Radio/Music) site and might be of interest to anyone who read my Rugova post and can bring themselves to read any more.

And lastly, the Brisbane City Council Homelessness survey, of which I am one of the 956 respondents. The survey says it closed 1 October, 2003, but I’m sure they have the year wrong.
A majority (59%) of people think the homeless aren’t well looked after by either the government or welfare groups, and 72% think more support programs are needed to help the homeless. Almost everyone (87%) agrees that homeless people are at a great risk of being victims of violence

While showing some concern, the actual impact of homelessness on our local neighbourhoods, according to respondents, seems to revolve around people who are not homeless and the fact they would rather forget it. I’m one of those people. It’s not how I would have responded on the survey. It’s not how I would talk to you if we discussed homelessness, but it’s how I feel. I would rather forget it. Not because I don’t care, but because I feel defeated. I’m dragged down by the thought of, “Seriously, what will one person do?”
61% of people think it’s not okay for a homeless person to sleep in public spaces, and that’s because we don’t want to be confronted by the problem. We need to be confronted by what makes us uncomfortable if we’re going to force a change, either in ourselves or what we’ve been watching happen around us.

And yes, this is my bleeding heart liberal, unrealistic optimism speaking.

Rugova

January 25, 2006 by  
Filed under News

A word of warning – this is long, so I will employ the ‘More’ feature. I recommend using the second link.

I haven’t really been keeping up to date with what’s happening in Kosovo. I’m writing this offline and, having just gone through my downloaded headlines, I’ve seen from CNN – Kosovo mourns for President Rugova and from the BBC – Kosovo mourns leader’s death. Once I get online to follow and read those links, I’m sure they’ll be much more useful for your reading than what follows. At least I know the BBC has a lot of links to very good background information about Kosovo.

When I was more involved in the international relations aspect of my degree (haven’t done any IR for two semesters) I had started to focus on the Balkans, particularly the rocky relationship between Serbia and Kosovo since 1999. I managed to work the topic into a couple of assignments, including a journalism subject where I analysed, and I use the term lightly, the relationship between Serbian media and the state during the Balkan wars that split the former Yugoslavia in the early 90s. As such I like to think I should attempt to make sense of the meaning of Ibrahim Rugova’s death to Kosovo, no matter how shallow, ill-informed or trite my thoughts turn out to be.
Read more

Brief

July 29, 2005 by  
Filed under News, Pictures

Dusk in Basswood Reserve
I have no clue what is generally given as a sentence for arson, but those handed down in Nis, Serbia, for the ‘burning of mosques’ in March last year seem particularly light. They were prison terms of five months for one defendant and three months for seven others. Like the majority of Serbia failing to see a problem with men wanted for attempted genocide being upheld as heroes for the most part, sentences like this probably don’t go a long way to reducing the likelihood of continuing religious and ethnic animosity.

Scorpions – Srebrenica video

June 13, 2005 by  
Filed under News

If you haven’t heard about the video, I will explain very briefly. A video taken by members of a Serb paramilitary unit, the Scorpions, was shown recently to the ICTY in The Hague as evidence against former president of Yugoslavia, Slobodan Milosevic. The video showed the execution of 17 Muslim civilians in Srebrenica. Despite up to 8000 civilians being massacred in Srebrenica, a recent survey in Serbia showed half of Serbs don’t believe the event even took place.

This video has, however, shocked a lot of people. It’s amazing what some visual stimuli can do. The tape showing the execution was aired on Serbian TV a day or two after being presented as evidence against Milosevic.

I get a few daily emails from the Media Center in Belgrade, one of which is “Press clipping on media coverage of other media,” a daily roundup of news about the media. This post was inspired by what I saw in the ‘Media on Media’ email a few days ago.

Broadcasting of War Crimes
Source: (Nin, page 15 / June 10, 2005)

Nin (newspaper) published an article about broadcast of the tape showing execution of Muslim civilians from Srebrenica. Nin wrote that TV B92 aired 8 minutes out of 26 minutes of the original tape, whereas RTS (Radio Television Serbia) aired 20 seconds of the footage. Aleksandar Tijanic, RTS General Manager argued that according to the international journalism Code of Conduct, broadcasting of the very act of murder was not acceptable. Miroljub Radojkovic, Professor of Belgrade Faculty of Political Science contended that there was no general rule regarding the broadcasting of murder scenes, except for the warning for the audience.

Exactly. The “act of murder” and the murder scene are two very different things. Many nightly news reports, perhaps not on commercial news but definitely on SBS, are preceded by warnings about graphic images where necessary. The act of murder isn’t shown, but dead bodies or injured people may be. Sometimes it needs to be to wake people up to the fact that these things are really – really – happening. In a country where people don’t believe something like this happened its shock value needs to be employed. When you have government and military officials who make it their priority to continue to misinform their populace about the truth behind abhorrent actions you need a free media willing to buck that trend. Unfortunately in Serbia many media outlets continue to contribute to the misinformation not out of ignorance of the truth but through the willful obfuscation of it. This from the video article first linked to above:

Few Serbian broadcasters made much of the report and the print media did not put the gruesome images on their front pages.

Svetlana Lukic, a journalist from B92 journalist [sic], told IWPR, “The media is predominantly nationalist and wants to play down and minimise this horrible event as much as possible.”

To show only 20 seconds of footage allows not only the news reader, but also the uncomfortable viewer, to move to a new topic on screen and in thought. Eight minutes of footage of an event like that forces the viewer to watch what is taking place in shock and horror. Another article tells how B92 withheld some of the additional footage that showed torture of the victim because it was “too disturbing”.

Is it ethical then to force viewers to watch for eight minutes? There is no compulsion involved. If a warning has been given every viewer has the opportunity, if they can shake themselves out of stupefaction, to simply change the channel. I would like to think, however, that any viewer with a conscience would realise what they were seeing was simply the smallest exposition of the lies they had been fed. Questions begin to be asked. Free thoughts begin to form. Dialogue begins. B92 should be proud.

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Update on Milosevic

March 17, 2005 by  
Filed under News

Slobodan Milosevic’s trial at the International Criminal Court of Justic in The Hague continues indefinitely, but with a quote worth mentioning today.

In a story from B92 News (Serbian) Milosevic has said war crimes were committed by Serb forces in Kosovo. This is a fairly significant statement. That he would say it at all is surprising. Unfortunately I think he will still maintain they were isolated incidents and he holds no personal responsibility for the genocide taking place in Kosovo in 1999.

Brit spies out in the cold

September 27, 2004 by  
Filed under Media, News

MI6 spies exposed by Balkan rivals, Croatia and Serbia.

Not even so much rivals, but disgruntled members of the intelligence agencies they were supposed to be working with, outed them to local media.

In the case of Mr Monckton, his photograph was published on the cover of Serbian magazine Nedelnji Telegraf, with a copy of his business card.

The week after that, Nacional magazine in Zagreb published a story…including a cover that featured a mock-up of Mr Sanader…in a tuxedo posing as James Bond.

In Sarajevo, the exposure of British intelligence officers was carried out using the pages of Slobodna Bosna magazine

That’s pretty low.

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