WASHINGTON, DC -- Regarding the forthcoming unofficial visit to Moscow of so-called “Prime Minister” of the Serbian province of Kosovo, Agim Ceku, the American Council for Kosovo submits for the consideration of the Russian government and people, and of international opinion generally, the following:
1. Mr. Ceku’s visit to Moscow is not an official one, as confirmed by the Russian Ambassador in Belgrade, nor is his visit on the initiative of Russian authorities. To the contrary, his visit was agreed to by Moscow only after repeated requests from Mr. Ceku himself and, according to press reports, following consultation with Belgrade.
2. Accordingly, Mr. Ceku’s visit to Moscow should not be taken as a sign of a shift of Russia’s position in favor of Kosovo Albanian demands for the illegal and forcible detachment of Kosovo from Serbia. To the contrary, as stated by State Duma Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Konstantin Kosachyov, the Russian decision finally to agree to Mr. Ceku’s request is aimed at “bolstering Serbia’s territorial integrity and preventing [an imposed] decision on Kosovo's status.”
3. The fact that Russian authorities are even willing to meet at all with a person of Mr. Ceku’s odious record is a testament to the extent to which Moscow is determined to consult with all sides of the Kosovo conflict in an effort to reach a just settlement. Mr. Ceku, formerly military commander of the so-called “Kosovo Liberation Army” (KLA), is a terrorist and a war criminal, no better than the late Shamil Basayev and Khattab in Chechnya. According to the 2002 Serbian indictment for genocide and other grievous offenses, Mr. Ceku bears command responsibility for the murders by KLA terrorists of 669 Serbs and 18 members of other ethnic groups, 518 counts of inflicting serious bodily harm (including torture) and wounding, and 584 counts of abduction, many of the victims of which are presumed dead. Mr. Ceku was named military commander of the KLA in May 1999. The following month, after the end of hostilities between Serbia and NATO forces, KLA terrorists under Mr. Ceku’s command intensified their attacks on civilian Christian Serbs, driving two-thirds of them from the province, as well as against Roma (Gypsies), Croats, Jews, Ashkalis, Gorani, and other non-Muslim or non-Albanians in Kosovo. Over 150 Orthodox Christian churches and monasteries have been demolished or desecrated. Prior to his affiliation with the terrorist KLA, Mr. Ceku was responsible for numerous atrocities in other parts of the former Yugoslavia. (Further background about Mr. Ceku’s record and his unfitness to claim leadership of an independent state is available from the American Council for Kosovo, specifically the Council’s statement of June 19, 2006). http://www.savekosovo.org/default.asp?p=9&leader=0&sp=73
4. Mr. Ceku’s visit to Moscow comes as Kosovo Albanians and their supporters have launched a desperate diplomatic and public relations blitz in an effort to regain lost momentum in light of the postponement of any decision on Kosovo’s final status, once said to be “inevitable” by the end of 2006. Despite claims that independence will be announced soon after Serbia’s January 2007 elections, there is no credible expectation that an illegal solution to the Kosovo problem, imposed under threat of terrorist violence from Mr. Ceku and his associates, will be any more viable than it is now.
5. The American Council for Kosovo appeals to the Russian government and people to ensure that Mr. Ceku’s Moscow visit is used as an opportunity for a firm and conclusive restatement of Russia’s principled position: that no solution may be imposed on Serbia without Serbia’s agreement or in violation of the United Nations Charter http://www.savekosovo.org/default.asp?p=10&leader=0&sp=174. The unmistakable reality is that Kosovo independence is off the table.
6. The prospective failure of Mr. Ceku to secure Russian support for his cause should be seen as an opportunity for the international community to shift decisively to an effort to find a real and lasting solution for Kosovo within a democratic, European state: Serbia. Such a “European solution” for Kosovo, in accordance with the U.N. Charter and the Helsinki Final Act, would address the legitimate needs of all of Kosovo’s residents regardless of ethnicity or religion, and would be the product of genuine negotiations – which have yet to begin. It’s now time for responsible representatives of Kosovo’s Albanian community to step forward to work with Belgrade for such a solution.
The American Council for Kosovo (www.savekosovo.org) is a U.S. nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting a better American understanding of the Serbian province of Kosovo and Metohija and of the critical American stake in the province’s future. The Council’s mission is to make accurate information and analysis about Kosovo available to officials of the Executive and Legislative branches of the U.S. Government; to think tanks, media, NGOs, religious and advocacy organizations; and to the general public. In particular, the Council’s educational activities will generate a heightened American awareness that an independent Kosovo – forcibly and illegally detached from Serbia, as is now being contemplated by the international community – would be harmful to U.S. national interests and to European and global security. The American Council for Kosovo is an activity of Venable LLP and Global Strategic Communications Group, which are registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act as agents for the Serbian National Council of Kosovo and Metohija. Additional information with respect to this matter is on file with the Foreign Agents Registration Unit of the Department of Justice in Washington, DC.