Ahtisaari Plan Faces Likely Veto at Security Council; Decani Monastery Hit with Rocket as Terrorism in Support of Muslim Albanian Demands Steps Up; Wahhabist Influence Grows in Areas Near Kosovo
Washington, April 4, 2007
Editorial comment from the American Council for Kosovo:
The United Nations Security Council has begun consideration of the proposal of the U.N. mediator for Kosovo, former Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari. While avoiding the term independence, the Ahtisaari proposal clearly would strip the province of Kosovo and Metohija from Serbia, a democratic European state with a predominantly Christian population, and carve out a Muslim Albanian statelet. As such, the Ahtisaari plan can hardly be called a compromise but rather a capitulation to Albanian threats of violence in support of their separatist demands.
Serbia has rejected categorically the Ahtisaari plan, which would detach 15 percent of that countrys national territory in violation of the U.N. Charter, Security Council Resolution 1244 (which recognizes Kosovo as part of Serbia), the Helsinki Final Act, and Serbias own constitution. In a speech to the Security Council on April 3, Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica endorsed Russias call for a fact-finding mission to assess the UNs performance or more properly, mismanagement in Kosovo since its mandate began in 1999, and for renewed negotiations, with direct talks and a new mediator to replace the thoroughly discredited Mr. Ahtisaari.
In particular, the Prime Minister underlined the fatal damage adoption of the Ahtisaari plan would inflict on the international legal system: To this date nobody has ever attempted to challenge the validity of the fundamental principle of respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of internationally recognized states, or to question the principle of inviolability of their internationally recognized borders. I stress that this has never happened before, that is not until the UN Secretary Generals Special Envoy Mr. Martti Ahtisaari presented his proposal on the Kosovo status settlement. In this respect, your Excellencies, we are indeed confronted with a potentially very dangerous precedent. . . . Serbia is taking this opportunity to point out once again that the SC Resolution 1244 is binding on the Governments of all UN member states. No state may violate this Resolution, or take a unilateral position on the future status of the Province. Any unilateral recognition of Kosovos independence would constitute flagrant and - I stress - double violation of UN norms. Both the UN Charter and Resolution 1244 would be violated, and any state that decides to act in such an unlawful manner would directly call into question the authority of the UN.
At the present time, the Ahtisaari plan faces an almost certain veto from Russia, which has stated as a matter of principle that state borders cannot be changed by illegal and unilateral imposition. China, also a veto-wielding permanent member of the Security Council, is likely to take the same position. Several non-permanent members of the Council are known to have similar concerns, notably Slovakia and Indonesia. A vote is not expected soon as efforts to draft a resolution that has a chance at passage however unlikely will take some weeks.
Incredibly, both the U.S. Government and the United Kingdom strongly support the Ahtisaari plan and Kosovos detachment from Serbia. The European Union has taken a similar position, with efforts now underway to rein in dissenting members, which besides Slovakia, include Spain, Greece, Cyprus, and Romania. Other countries, notably Germany and Italy, are known to be privately concerned about the specter of renewed violence, which will become Europes problem when, as planned, the EU take over the UNs current supervisory role.
And what from the Albanian Muslim side? Predictably the answer to the looming standoff is what it has been all along: violence and threat of violence. Stepped-up terrorist violence from the Albanian side has already begun directed first of all, as usual, at Christian holy places, such as Decani Monastery, which in recent days was hit by a rocket grenade. Bombs elsewhere in Kosovo have killed one person, and a Molotov cocktail was thrown at a court vehicle with U.N. plates. Intermittent reports continue of masked men setting up checkpoints, which in the late 1990s was the first indication of the launch of the so-called Kosovo Liberation Armys terrorist campaign. In particularly ominous developments for potential regional destabilization, one recent attack against Serbs took place in southern Serbia east of Kosovo, and Serbian police broke up a Wahhabist cell in Sandzak, north of Kosovo. Since 1999, two-thirds of Kosovo's Christian Serbs have been terrorized from the province, and some 150 churches and monasteries destroyed or desecrated and replaced with hundreds of new mosques propagating the extremist Wahhabist version of Islam. Organized crime rackets, connected to the Albanian mafia's operations throughout Europe, and implicating the highest levels of the UN-supervised Albanian administration, traffic in drugs, weapons, and slaves women and even children.
Perhaps most disturbingly, the threat of violence which should end any possible consideration of an independent Kosovo has been cited by former and even current U.S. officials as reason to press ahead for approval of the Ahtisaari plan! For example, writing recently in the Washington Post, former American ambassador to the UN Richard Holbrooke warned of renewed bloodshed if the Albanian Muslim terrorists are not appeased: If the Russians delay or dilute or veto it [the Ahtisaari plan], then Im afraid the long pent-up desire of the Albanians in Kosovo for a rapid move toward independence will explode into violence. Even harder to believe, one current State Department official responsible for Kosovo policy reportedly stated, according to an official release from the UN authority in Kosovo, that if the Ahtisaari plan failed, Kosovo will burn and Serbs will die. Translation: give them what they want or else.
Such counterproductive comments which, whether intended or not, serve to justify if not incite further Albanian violence and intolerance belie the growing realization that the Ahtisaari plan indeed will collapse, along with a policy predicated on appeasing terrorism. Coming from precisely those elements most responsible for the impasse the international community now finds itself in, such comments can be seen as a futile effort to affix blame elsewhere, not to help find a constructive and sustainable solution that protects the rights of all of Kosovo's communities regardless of religion or ethnicity.
The issue now is not whether but when and how American policy on Kosovo will be reexamined. One alternative resting essentially on inertia of the past eight years is to press ahead to force a vote in the Security Council, and only to look for other options when that path is blocked. The other alternative the one that takes note of realities on the ground in Kosovo and the consequences an illegal solution would have for global stability would be to start looking for other, better options now. In his speech to the Security Council, Prime Minister Kostunica laid out in cold clarity the choices. The question now is: who in Washington is listening?