Kosovo E. Albanian organization slams EU mission plan

09 January 2008

Tags : news - Kosovo, EU

Prishtina, dtt-net.com - A youth organization of Ethnic Albanians argues in an open letter addressed to the European governments that the EU civilian and police mission expected to be deployed in Kosovo soon will be based on the UN Security Council Resolution 1244 which doesn’t support the independence but autonomy under Serbia.

Below is the letter of Vetevendosja (Self-determination) led by Albin Kurti addressed to the foreign ministers of the EU member nations:

                Open letter to EU foreign Ministers

     We are writing to you with regard to the new EU mission that will shortly be established officially in Kosova under the authority of the existing UN Security Council Resolution 1244, according to news reports.

This new EU mission has been described as a ‘state-building’ mission and one which will lay the groundwork for an independent Kosova. But in reality, it will be fundamentally non-democratic. Furthermore, it will be based upon a Resolution which expressly states in Article 10, that the international mission has as its goal the restoration of ‘substantial autonomy’ for Kosova within Serbia.

We firmly believe that the objective of the European Union, and the values which its peoples and their sovereign states espouse, are those of democracy and justice. We demand the right to enjoy the same rights as your own peoples and we question how the European Union can justify to its citizens the imposition of a non-democratic regime in our country.

First, the establishment of this new EU mission has been agreed without consulting the people of Kosova. Its existence is based on the (Martti) Ahtisaari Settlement which has not been accepted officially as part of any ‘status’ agreement for Kosova. This Settlement was negotiated by politicians who were elected by approximately 49% of the people of Kosova in 2004, and less than 40% in November 2007. They have no mandate to make deals over our freedom, and nor do international powers have any right to make decisions about how we want to live our lives, and who we want to govern us. This is a decision that can only be made by all the people of Kosova, voting in a referendum as an expression of our right to self-determination guaranteed by international conventions to which all of your member states subscribe.

If 600,000 people in Montenegro can have the right to vote in a referendum to determine their political future, why should we be denied the same right?

Second, this new EU mission is doomed to fail because although it proclaims that it is coming to help build democracy in Kosova, it will be undemocratic. The International Civilian Office (ICO) will hold executive power in Kosova, ensuring that the political pluralism we enjoy remains simply a façade, hiding the fact that the representatives for whom the people vote have no real power to implement the policies on which they campaign. Political pluralism without sovereignty simply helps to divide us amongst ourselves and to make easier our rule by others.

Furthermore, there are no mechanisms within this ICO to provide for accountability, leaving us at the mercy of their interpretation of justice. Once again the people of Kosova will be taught the lesson of democracy from a foreign regime which is not elected by and not accountable to the people whom it governs.

Finally, the International Civilian Representative (ICR) will have the power (without any system of redress) to sack from office any official or elected politician who opposes the mission of the Ahtisaari Plan, thus ensuring that the voice of dissent, critical to the functioning of democracy, will be repressed.

We want the EU to be in Kosova helping us to build our institutions and monitoring minority rights, but we do not need to be governed by the EU. Democracy cannot be established through a system which is undemocratic. It can only be slowly destroyed. The turnout in the last election is evidence enough to prove this point.

Third, the EU mission will by its very presence here deny us the sovereignty and independence we demand. There is no such thing as ‘supervised’ freedom. You are either free or you are not free.

If the mission comes under the auspices of Resolution 1244, then it will be a mission preparing Kosova for ‘substantial autonomy’. If it is established under a new Resolution, it will be our jailor because its mission is to implement the Ahtisaari Settlement. This settlement does not state that Kosova will become independent and sovereign. It promises us the continuance of non-democratic and foreign rule.

Fifty years after the Civil Rights Movement won their battle to end segregation in the USA, and nearly twenty years after people pulled down the Berlin Wall physically and psychologically, Ahtisaari is proposing to divide Kosova along ethnic and religious lines.

Ahtisaari’s Settlement will accentuate the ‘ethnic’ nature of the Kosova conflict, rather than resolving its political causes. It prescribes decentralization along ethnic lines which will create a Serb entity inside Kosova, like Republika Srpska in Bosnia. Six new Serb majority municipalities will be created, containing most of the key mineral and water resources of Kosova, for example, the reservoir of Gazivodë which supplies 60% of Kosova’s water. These municipalities will be linked territorially and administratively, and have the right to be funded by Belgrade. The parallel structures which have functioned in these areas, without obstruction by UNMIK since 1999, will be legalized and all the Serbs who work in these structures will still receive their salaries from Belgrade. Thus, Serbia’s influence in Kosova will be strengthened by this plan, not weakened. Once more, Serbs in Kosova will be instrumentalized by Serbia, which has consistently refused to allow them to integrate.

Decentralization is not being implemented in order to bring government closer to the people. It is being used as a tool for apartheid.

The plan will also lay the groundwork to transform the political conflict into a religious conflict by recognizing all Orthodox monuments, churches and monasteries in Kosova as the sole property of the Serbian Orthodox Church. By claiming the Orthodox cultural heritage of Kosova as Serb this legitimizes Serbia’s claim to Kosova as its ‘Jerusalem’ and the cradle of its nation. It also denies this heritage to all the people of Kosova. Many Albanian families have an Orthodox heritage. Many of their ancestors worshipped in Orthodox churches until the 18th century when the majority of conversions took place under the Ottoman Empire.

They protected these buildings, built them and worshipped in them before people thought of themselves in terms of ‘nations’.

The Ahtisaari Plan establishes the absurd logic that should an Albanian want to convert to Orthodoxism, he will also have to become a ‘Serb’. To exacerbate this religious division, the plan envisages the creation of special zones around selected monasteries, further isolating them from the community and including hundreds of hectares of socially owned and private property. In the zone surrounding the Monastery of Deçan, villagers have only been allowed the right to cut hay on their land, nothing more.

When the villagers oppose the creation of these zones, their resistance will be interpreted as religious and ethnic, rather than the defense of their property rights.

The plan will undermine the potential development of our economy because an internally divided territory automatically means a divided market.

The economic relations of the decentralized municipalities will be much closer with Serbia than the rest of Kosova.

Therefore, what will be known as Kosova’s single market will be much smaller than it is today (and today it is very small). A small market is not attractive to investors. Moreover, the internal division will cause severe difficulties to Kosova’s unified taxing system, while the lack of control of our borders will increase the possibility of goods smuggling. All this paints a bleak picture for Kosova’s future economy. Kosova needs a unified market and an integrated economy. To develop our economy for ourselves, and not for others, we need to be able to control our resources and to have political control over our economic affairs. The EU stands for integration. Yet it is planning a mission for Kosova’s segregation!

In sum, the Ahtisaari Settlement denies us ability to create a sovereign state with a functional central government. It proposes the division of Kosova into two ethnic entities, one Serb and one Albanian. The Serb entity will be de-facto controlled by Belgrade and the Albanian will be controlled by the EU and held hostage to Belgrade by mechanisms such as a double majority voting system for the Serb minority, which gives them the right to veto changes to the constitution and to a number of domestic laws. Belgrade will be guaranteed the ability to destabilize Kosova’s government at will. The plan denies Kosova the right to form and train an army capable of defending its borders, despite Serbia’s constant threats to our security. It denies us a sovereign and democratic future. It denies us freedom.

We want the right to decide about our political future ourselves. There are archives in London, Paris, Vienna and Berlin overflowing with records of international conferences in which foreign diplomats have drawn lines on maps and made decisions about the lives of other peoples. We hoped that this was from times past. But it seems that nothing has changed. Still sovereignty, democracy and freedom are the privilege of the few. Still Europe is ready to justify and explain why we do not deserve the right to be free.

• We call on you to recognize our right to self-determination and to allow us to democratically decide our political future through a referendum of all the people of Kosova.
• We call on you to recognize our fundamental right to be free and independent and to govern ourselves so that we can build a country that protects the rights and freedoms of all its citizens, and offers them a future.
• We call on you not to become the next in a long line of foreign occupiers of our home. By doing this, you will be betraying the principles on which your country and the EU are based, and you will be betraying the people of Kosova. We do not want to view you as an enemy, but as a friend.

www.vetevendosje.org , Prishtina, Kosova



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