Friday, November 25, 2005

Kosovo: Guantanamo II - Other developments

/ internationalizing / guantanamo /

A. Camp Bondsteel, a new Guantanamo?
The US military ran a Guantanamo Bay-type detention centre in Kosovo, a top Council of Europe official said.

The Council of Europe's Human rights commissioner Alvaro Gil-Robles said he had been 'shocked' by conditions at the barbed wire-rimmed centre inside a US military base, which he witnessed in 2002.

The same report in this Reuters report, in case the Forbes link expires. The story originated in Le Monde [no link (?)]. Zaman adds that:
The Council of Europe official added that Marcel Valentin, Commander of the multinational forces for Kosovo (KFOR) and Lieutenant-General, was also with him, and he was as equally shocked by the treatment prisoners were exposed to.

The story was hinted at, by a Spiegel article on US clandestine prisons in Eastern Europe

The Americans are also active in other parts of the Balkans. Not far from Macedonia, in the heart of Kosovo, the US government even operates a Gitmo-style camp with its own prison and landing strip around 30 kilometers east of Pristina. Originally used to house members of the Albanian independence group the UCK, Camp Bondsteel -- like Guantanamo -- is an overseas US enclave existing in legal limbo.

Also tied to this is Mark Almond's (no, not formerly of Soft Cell - the Oxford historian), report of a raid in Djakova, Kosovo, back in 2002, published in the New Statesman, but in another form in the BHHRG site (an organization with which Almond is affiliated, and which I'm not terribly impressed by in general).

B. The future of Kosovo: Tadic officially proposed splitting the province, yesterday:
Serb President Boris Tadic offered his proposal to the Serb government Thursday, saying Kosovo should be divided along ethnic lines to give Albanians virtual independence while keeping the province within Serbia's borders.

Government officials said Thursday the proposal will be a part of Serbia's negotiating package.

The proposal, which was first unveiled by Tadic during his recent visit to Russia, has been rejected by ethnic Albanian leaders who are seeking nothing but full independence for the whole province.

It also drew angry reactions from Serb ultranationalists who demanded that Tadic be impeached by the parliament for ceding part of "sovereign Serbian territory" to the Kosovo Albanians.

The division of Kosovo, or its return to the direct Belgrade administration, has been rejected by the United States - which wields veto power as a permanent Security Council member - and the European Union. But Russia and China -— who also have veto power in the council -— oppose Kosovo's independence.

This, apparently is contrary to the UN's plans. Yet Kosovo's Roma are all against independence, claiming that they have been the victims of large scale ethnic cleansing by the UCK and suggesting that such a development would be rewarding the perpetrators of these crimes:

"...Europe and the international community have been informed that at first the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), and then UCCK besides crimes over the Roma, committed several radical "ethnic cleansings"” of members of that national minority. Of the some 260,000 Roma living there before 1999, only 29,656 remain. Out of 193 Roma settlements, there are now only 26...
...An independent Kosovo, in whatever form, would mean a recognition and reward to those who committed crimes against the Roma, crimes unrecorded up to now in the annals of European history after Auschwitz, a symbol of the Holocaust of Jews and the Roma. On the other hand, in the year that the UN has declared as the year for marking the 60th anniversary of the victory over fascism, neglecting the Roma victims of Kosovo and depriving children's right to a future would signify the international communityÂ’s silent agreement with a regime that has committed misdeeds against those people and ruthlessly trampled their national, civil and human rights. Rights which are guaranteed by the UN, its bodies and other major European institutions"

I'm not sure about the 260.000 number - I remember seeing statistics claiming half of that number for the Roma population in Kosovo. Perhaps a large number were unregistered? And another question, to any of my readers might know the answer: who is the recipient of money from exploration licenses in Kosovo? Am I paranoid in thinking that this deal will be lining somebody's pockets?

Finally on the utter mess of the situation in Kosovo, I still think that my Berlin v 2.0 idea is the only one that might minimize the possibility of serious (short or long-term) trouble.

The Greek government is to play an "important role" I hear, but, interestingly, Foreign Minister Molyviatis has recently suggested (albeit implicitly) that Greece might not prepared to back simply full independence:

On the issue of Kosovo, Mr. Molyviatis stated that Greece's position is that the price for stability in Kosovo cannot be the destabilization of the wider region.

He said that the solution should be European, should respect international law and be compatible with the EU principles and values, while the EU should have a meaningful role in forming the final status.

The solution, he stressed, must be the result of meaningful negotiations without pressing timetables and should not be an imposed one.

Foreign Minister Molyviatis stated that the goal is a safe, multiethnic and multicultural Kosovo and a special attention is given to the security conditions for the return of the non Albanian refugees and the protection of the Orthodox monuments.

Molyviatis has written article about Kosovo, published in the Washington Times, which is appropriately open to diverging interpretations.

I'm not seeing any light at the end of this tunnel, to tell you the truth - and I'm scared of a "settlement" that won't settle much.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

[skipping the prison stuff, which deserves a post of its own]

Kudos to Tadic for taking this step. Now it's time to see if the international community will be willing to meet him half way. Partition is the least-bad option, but it's going to drive a lot of people on both sides mad with outrage.

Serb ultranationalists: not really. Hanging on to Kosovo is, unfortunately, still the mainstream of Serbian public opinion. And when a party consistently polls 35% - 40%, as the Radicals do, I don't know if you can call its positions "ultra". I'm very fond of the Serbs, but they still have some demons to exorcise.

Kosovo Roma: agreed, 260,000 is very unlikely. Half that many still seems high. But yeah, however many there are, they're pretty screwed. The Serbs used them as allies and agents... an arrangement the Roma were willing to accept, because it lifted them a step or two above the normal miserable position of Roma in this part of the world. But it caused the Albanians to hate them bitterly; and when the Albanians took over, the ugly combination of traditional anti-Roma prejudice with this more recent grudge meant that most of them were expelled within days after the end of the war.

Now they're stuck in Serbia, where the Serbs have no use for them. Even the local Roma community resents them as outsiders and rivals. Yeah, it's pretty bad.

Exploration licenses: they go into a trust fund which is administered by KTA, the Kosovo Trust Authority. The money is supposed to go into safe investments (i.e., bonds and things, outside Kosovo) and accrue until there's an agreement on how to divide Kosovo's state-owned assets. Which there isn't, and won't be for a while, because both Belgrade and the Kosovar government claim total ownership of all state-owned assets in the province. But when and if they finally agree, the KTA will release the money, divided appropriately.

This doesn't mean that pockets won't be lined, of course. Business in Kosovo is pretty crooked at the best of times. And big state contracts and procurements tend to be spectacularly corrupt. To give just a single example, the monopoly provider of mobile phone services is a French company, and the service it provides is truly horrible. Mobile tariffs are by far the most expensive in the region, coverage is patchy, reception is bad, calls often cut off suddenly, and there's no roaming. (I remember my shock when I arrived in Pristina and my mobile phone stopped working. I have Orange! Orange works in Timbuktu, in Samarkand, and north of the Arctic Circle. But not in Kosovo.)

It's an open secret that the French company paid millions to various persons in Kosovo Telecom to get that monopoly (with, some say, the connivance of the French government). Attempts to amend the contract, or bring in a second provider to compete, have so far been stonewalled.

On-the-other-hand, exploration licenses are pretty key. Agriculture and mines are all Kosovo has, and the mining industry hasn't seen any new exploration -- never mind development -- for nearly 20 years. Slobo's first act was to fire all the miners, including mining engineers and geologists, and they've been unemployed since. The old mines are in horrible shape. So, it's probably a good idea to explore a little.

An important role for Greece: Given the Greek statee's track record in the Former Yugoslavia, this sounds like a really bad idea. Molyviatis says Greece "is viewed by all of the immediately interested parties as a reliable, consistent and effective interlocutor". Well, no; that's just not true. The Albanians view Greece as a hostile neutral, at best. Memories of Greek support for Milosevic are conflated with continuing resentment at the treatment of Albanians in Greece. They don't like you guys, and they have some good reasons for that.

I note in passing that while Molyviatis is clear on what he doesn't want (partition, joining Kosovo to another country), he has nothing to say about what /should/ happen... other than to say that Greece should be involved. Hmm.

Serb interests are already protected by Russia and China; I don't really see what's gained by bringing Greece in.

BTW, I've been posting about Kosovo lately over on the home blog... FYI, if you're interested.

Doug M.

P.S. I've been away for a while... what's with the moderation? Trolls? Spam?