Published on December 5, 2006

Category: News from the American Council for Kosovo

VIOLENCE ERUPTS IN PRISTINA AS ENRAGED MUSLIM ALBANIANS DEMAND APPEASEMENT ON KOSOVO FUTURE STATUS; Russian Duma Deputy: “Future of Kosovo Can Only Be Decided Through Negotiation”; EU Nations (Greece, Romania, Spain) Oppose Kosovo Independence; France, Germany and Italy “Wavering” Over Imposed Settlement; Sweden Calls for Compromise Solution; Violence Against Non-Albanians and Desecration of Orthodox Churches Continue

Editorial comment from the American Council for Kosovo: As expected and feared, violence has erupted in Kosovo following the November announcement delaying a future status for the Serbian province, as Muslim Albanians demanded the international community appease their demands regarding Kosovo's future status. Following recent prognostications in western media op-eds published in The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and Financial Times warning of such violence should the original end-of-2006 artificial deadline for an imposed solution on Serbia not be met, thousands of enraged Muslim Albanians attacked U.N. headquarters in Pristina. The American Council for Kosovo has warned for months that Kosovo’s Muslim Albanian population uses violence and intimidation in its push for independence. Reuters correspondent Matt Robinson reported on November 28: U.N. police in Kosovo fired teargas on Tuesday to disperse ethnic Albanians who smashed the windows of parliament and stoned U.N. headquarters, angry at a delay to their demand for independence from Serbia. Thousands of protesters converged on the main symbols of authority in the capital, Pristina, throwing red paint on the buildings of the U.N. mission and Kosovo's interim government. They dispersed after U.N. police fired teargas from inside the U.N. compound, a fortified square on the site of a former Serb military headquarters. It was the first sign of a violent backlash since Western powers and Russia this month decided to delay a U.N. decision on the Albanian majority's demand for independence until next year. Associated Press that Balkan expert Tim Judah stated: "There is a real potential for renewed violence in Kosovo. If there is a delay or if the resolution is unclear, (Kosovo) Albanian hard-liners will start to lose patience." Since the United Nations and NATO began the international administration of Kosovo in 1999, similar Muslim Albanian violence has resulted in the displacement of hundreds of thousands of non-Albanians, the destruction and desecration of hundreds of Serbian Orthodox churches and the deaths of thousands of non-Albanians. columnist Christopher Deliso also reported on the rise of jihad terrorism in the Serbian province and the international community’s failure to prevent it, writing: Indeed, as one disenchanted UNMIK official put it, "These high UN staffers don't want to endanger their next international posting by taking on the criminals and terrorists, and above all they can't admit that the mission has been a huge failure and created a new base for Islamic terrorists. The outside world is not told of what they are bringing on here."

An increasing number of European nations have voiced reservation in imposing a solution on Serbia which would result in Kosovo independence. On November 10, Financial Times correspondents Neil MacDonald, Daniel Dombey and Stefan Wagstyl reported: [contact group nations] France, Germany and Italy are also wavering over an imposed settlement, say some diplomats. In addition, Greece, Romania, and Spain have clearly stated their opposition to Kosovo independence. FOCUS news agency reported on November 13: Spain opposed to the EU against the UN suggested independence of the Serbian province of Kosovo, the Spanish information agency EFE reports. Tanjug news agency also reported on Spain’s opposition to Kosovo independence on November 14, writing: The position of Spain is very interesting for Serbia, since Spanish State Secretary for the European Union Alberto Navarro stated clearly that Spain cannot support any form of Kosovo independence because in doing so it would violate international law, especially the Helsinki Final Act. Tanjug also reported on Greece’s and Romania’s opposition to independence: This opinion was supported by Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and Romanian Foreign Minister Mihai Razvan Ungureanu. There are also more EU countries that have a negative attitude on the possible independence of Kosovo. According to a November 26 B92 news report: “Romania favors broad autonomy for Kosovo, agreed on through a direct dialogue of Priština and Belgrade. In case of an unprecedented decision to grant Kosovo independence, other separatist regions throughout Europe would see this as encouragement to continue with their demands“, ambassador Ion Macovei said today in Bor, where he attended a meeting of the Vlach Democratic Party of Serbia. Sweden also has called for a compromise solution, according to a November 16 Associated Press report: Sweden's foreign minister said Thursday that a solution for Kosovo needs to be "stable and sustainable" and he urged Serbia's leadership to seek a compromise in international talks on the future of the separatist region… "A stable and sustainable solution must be found, otherwise a lack (of solution) can drag down both Serbia and Kosovo," Bildt said after the meetings.

Russia continues its principled stand opposing Kosovo independence, despite Kosovo so-called “prime minister” Agim Ceku’s desperate lobbying efforts in Moscow. Russian Duma Deputy Sergei Shishkarev responded to a Washington Post op-ed, which warned of Muslim Albanian violence should further delays regarding Kosovo independence occur, writing: It is ironic that The Post accuses the Putin administration of a policy based on threats and violence, when it is in fact precisely threats and violence that underlie the demand for Kosovo independence. (Or as it is euphemistically phrased in the editorial, "Putting off Kosovo's independence would only enrage the province's 2 million Albanians and trigger the Balkan meltdown that the West hopes to avoid.") It is just that kind of violent rage that has driven from Kosovo two-thirds of the province's pre-war Serbian population (and many people in other ethnic groups) and destroyed some 150 Orthodox Christian churches and monasteries. Rewarding such behavior with an imposed solution would only encourage more of the same and lead to a meltdown all parties hope to avoid. The Russian government properly insists that the future of Kosovo can only be decided through negotiation and adopted in a manner consistent with the U.N. Charter and the Helsinki Final Act. This is not a cynical ploy, as The Post supposes, but the principled position of a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council. Following Agim Ceku’s November 30 lobbying campaign in Moscow, RIA Novosti reported: A senior Russian lawmaker on Thursday cautioned Serbia's predominantly Albanian province of Kosovo against unilaterally declaring its independence. Konstantin Kosachev, the head of the international affairs committee in Russia's lower house of parliament, said, "The determination of Kosovo's status, as long as the province does not commit itself to human rights standards and is seeking sovereignty unilaterally rather than through negotiations, creates a highly dangerous precedent and runs counter to Europe's postwar order." Speaking after a meeting with Kosovo Prime Minister Agim Ceku in Moscow, the Russian MP said the underlying principle of the European order established after WWII is the inadmissibility of changing state borders unless all involved parties give their consent. Mosnews reported: Kosachyov said after the meeting that Russian MPs had told Ceku that the issue of Kosovo’s status should be solved through talks between Belgrade and Pristina… “We are again calling on Pristina to talk with Belgrade. As far as we know, Serbia is ready to grant the broadest possible status to Kosovo, given Serbia’s territorial integrity is maintained,” the agency quoted the Russian official as saying.

Meanwhile, Muslim Albanian violence against non-Albanians continues undeterred. Tanjug news agency reported on November 20: A group of ethnic Albanians on Monday stoned a schoolbus with Serb and Roma children in central Obilic that was on its way to Plemetina, Obilic coordinator Mirce Jakovljevic has told Tanjug… "After today's developments, the schoolchildren decided not to attend classes anymore until the police provide an escort. This incident is proof more that the basic standards have not been realized in Kosovo and Metohija, despite attempts by the ethnic Albanians to convince the international community to the contrary," Jakovljevic set out. Targeting Serbian children for violence continued, following a Grenade attack on a Serbian school according to a November 21 Associated Press report: An explosion shook an elementary school in the breakaway province of Kosovo early Tuesday, minutes after the classroom was cleared of children, an official said. No one was reported injured in the blast, which police believe was caused by a hand grenade being put in a stove. The Kosovo Serb school, in the village of Ropotovo, in eastern Kosovo, was damaged, police said. On November 9, B92 reported: In the village of Letnica, near Kosovska Vitina (in Kosovo), at about 8 a.m. this morning, unknown attackers have wounded Milorad Sopic (a Serb) by shooting him in the head. Sopic was wounded while preparing food for his cattle in his backyard, reports KIM radio. He was taken to the Vrbnica ambulance, and then to the hospital in Vranje (southern Serbia). He was conscious. One of the bullets is thought to be inside his head. He stated that he heard 3 shotgun shots, of which one hit him. He is one of 4 Serbs who live in Letnica. In addition to continued violence against non-Albanians, Muslim Albanians continue targeting Serbian Orthodox churches with zeal, according to a November 14 Tanjug report: Unknown perpetrators have demolished the Church of St. Paraskeva in the village of Gojbulja, municipality Vucitrn in northern Kosovo, archpriest Bogomir Stevic told Tanjug on Tuesday… Regional UNMIK police spokesman Larry Miller said on Tueday that the Serbian Orthodox Church of St Paraskeva in the village of Gojbulja near Vucitrn had been desecrated.

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