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Serbia: Ahtisaari and the Future of Kosovo & Metohia

Categories: Eastern & Central Europe, Serbia, Ethnicity & Race, Freedom of Speech, Governance, History, Human Rights, Humanitarian Response, International Relations, Politics, Refugees, War & Conflict

Serbian forum dwellers are confused and terrified by the statements made by the UN representative Martti Ahtisaari [1], who is authorized to tackle international negotiations to determine the final status of Kosovo and Metohia [2] (K&M in further text). During the set of negotiations held in Vienna on August 8, Ahtisaari announced that Serbs would have to pay for Milosevic's politics implemented in the province of K&M during his rule.

At SerbianCafe.com forum (SRP), Magare refers [3] to a previous set of negotiations that put an end to NATO's bombing of Serbia [4] in 1999. Ahtisaari's mediation then led to an agreement signed in the Macedonian border town of Kumanovo, which resulted in Serbian forces withdrawing from K&M and hundreds of thousands of Serbian refugees fleeing the territory. It came as a surprise to see such a biased diplomat involved again:

Is Martti Ahtisaari the same person who showed Milosevic a table panel and told him – if you don't sign the Kumanovo agreement, Belgrade will be flat as this table?! […]

It's like this: say, I am negotiating with someone intending to rob my house. Since I am outnumbered, as I live with my wife and granddaughter only and there are at least thirty criminals waiting outside by my door, it comes down to calling the balancing person Martti Ahtisaari to level things out, as he should be fair and square. […]

T_I adds:

[…] He is completely unaware of the fact that our nation paid that price a long time ago by losing a huge chunk of the Serbian motherland and having it ethnically cleansed of Serbs. It resulted in more than one million people moving away from the land inhabited by their ancestors for ages. I think evildoers like Ahtisaari have the aim of encouraging antagonism and uncertain relations between both Albanian and Serbian people. […] What Serbs need is the implementation of UN resolution 1244. I am talking about the part of it which approves of the return of Serbian security forces to occupied parts of the country. If that is not possible, the government should make an official announcement of occupation. […]

After a spree of criticism on the account of the person appointed by the UN to help resolve the conflict, bloggers argue about possible solutions for the K&M status problem.

Croatian bloggers at index.hr, analyze [5] (HRV) letters of the late Serbian prime minister Zoran Djindjic to Vladimir Putin, Tony Blair and George W. Bush, in which he was addressing the issue of K&M. Just before he was assassinated in 2002, Djindjic warned that the province was gliding towards independence. He was pleading for talks on the problems that the province was facing to start as soon as possible. He proposed that Kosovo needed to be divided in two parts. Here's an excerpt [6] (SRP) from these letters:

I assume that the moment has come after three years of KFOR presence to think thoroughly about a long-term solution to this problem.

De facto, [K&M] will not become formally independent. Pressure towards Belgrade and Pristina is expected to form some kind of confederation. This may look like an elegant solution, but it is actually like a bomb awaiting explosion.

First, the fact that Serbia does not currently have formal influence in its province will be perceived as defeat by the Serbian public, and therefore defeat of its democratic, reform-oriented government.

Second, keeping that kind of fictive union of [K&M] with Serbia will keep our country from achieving further integration with Europe because our efforts to join the EU will depend on market harmonization with the southern province, which would be impossible. These two scenarios will bust extremism and weaken Europe-oriented elements with a long-spree of negative consequences in Serbia and the whole region. This may even lead to possible events which may follow in Bosnia & Herzegovina and Macedonia.

Backstreet agrees with the late Zoran Djindjic, noting that K&M has always been an undeveloped region:

K&M is a Serbian hole without a bottom in financial as well as any other aspect. Our future is much lighter without two million Albanians inhabiting part of our territory. It is true that Serbian myth-mania has significant influence in the issue dating as far back as the great battle against the Ottoman empire in 1389. On the other hand, nobody can achieve independence easily. If Albanians really want their own state, they would have to pay Serbia. So far, justice is on our side, as China and Russia announced that they would veto eventual independence of K&M in the UN Security Council if both Pristina and Belgrade don’t agree.

Agron from Croatia doubts Russia would react in case K&M sovereignty is forced:

I read some articles online stating that Serbia is ready to give away K&M for a few billion dollars. In my opinion, I believe your politicians will gamble on that account. Russia is a great ally of Serbia? As I recall, Moscow didn’t halt the NATO bombing of your country. Russia has its burning troubles with a hundred different minorities, which means they may not be powerful enough to take care of the Serbian well-being.

Vlastimir warns about the rights Albanian population would get if K&M remains part of Serbia, meaning that Albanian high birth rate would be financed by Serbs:

The greatest degree of autonomy would include Albanian members of parliament and government ministers, as well as free flow of people and capital. For example, think of Albanians buying property in the south Morava region or, say, a peasant from Banat paying taxes to finance “sixth-child allowance” for an Albanian woman from Djakovica.

Shogun79 compares Serbian matters with the situation in Spain and, contrary to Vlastimir, favors the greatest degree of autonomy:

Is Catalonia, a county with its majority non-Spanish population, a main architect of progress in the modern Spanish nation today? Yes it is! I have spent a year there and that is my impression. The problem is pretty similar to the one in K&M. If Serbia offers the greatest degree of autonomy for K&M, it would become a fruitful base of return for over three hundred thousand Serbian refugees forced to run away in 1999, as well as other expatriates of the last sixty years or so. By the way, I would not mind seeing Albanians sitting in the Serbian parliament, as long as they all recognize Serbia as their own country. Of course, they would have all the rights as any citizen would, but they would also have to abide by the law.

Back at SerbianCafe.com forum (SRP), concerned members of the internet community write about what might happen if Kosovo gets sovereignty [7].

Serbianac gets emotional as he writes:

Don't leave us Europe, America and Russia, as we are part of the same civilization and democratic world. We are on the verge of having our soul and body amputated, K&M taken from us!

Bezier continues:

We need patience to resolve this complex issue. Of course, it is important not to put a signature on any document. Even if some crazy politician does sign anything like K&M independence, the Serbian parliament has to ignore it!

Rudnicki Soko thinks Albanians came out just:

Why don't you face the reality? K&M has been a graveyard for our nation for centuries now. Since I have known about it, Serbs were selling their estates and fleeing out of the land. To be honest, Albanians did pay all of them with a fair amount of convertible currency.

Revolted by Rudnicki Soko’s opinion, Olja states:

You say that Serbs sold their property in K&M. You may be right. What would you do if there is daily fret about your child possibly being killed, raped or burned alive? For example, my late father did not sell any piece of his property. But then, someone came to his estate robbing and destroying my home. So who do we turn to? The government, America or the European Union?

Another related topic opens up [8] with new information coming in apparently from a journalist nicknamed TOSHIBA:

During an event held in Kragujevac, Ljubinko Todorovic, deputy ombudsman for K&M, said that Serbs in the province couldn’t get to see a doctor, let alone meet with the ombudsman. What kind of “good neighbor relations” and human rights are we talking about then?

I got another interesting avowal miraculously refused to be published by any Serbian media I work for.

Marko Novicki, former K&M ombudsman, stated that the number of incidents in the county significantly increased after Ahtisaari’s statement.