Kosovo, EU clash over war crimes case against former ethnic Albanian rebels Nebi Qena The Associated Press 26 November 2012
Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci clashed Monday with the European Union rule of law mission in the country over the arrest of a former rebel commander on war crimes charges.
Thaci said the weekend arrest of Fatmir Limaj, a lawmaker from his party, was "unjust and shameful."
"This is not justice, this is persecution," Thaci said. "This is the biggest and gravest insult made to us. We are the sovereign in this country. We have our laws and our constitution." (read more)
UN chief commends "constructive steps" in Kosovo dialogue B62 13 November 2012
NEW YORK -- UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the constructive steps in the continuation of the Belgrade-Priština dialogue in his regular quarterly report.
He also "expressed the hope that it would gradually lead to a normalization in relations" and setting up lasting peace in the region.
Ban noted that some progress was made in the dialogue with the EU as the mediator in the period from July 16 to October 15. He welcomed the assurances of Belgrade and Priština as regards their willingness and commitment to continuation of strong involvement in the dialogue so as to resolve conflicting issues by peaceful means, with a view to maintaining their joint European perspective, the report on the UN mission in Kosovo states, as released on the UN website. (read more)
US, EU Presses Kosovo to Integrate Ethnic Serb Population Scott Stearns Voice of America 31 October 2012
U.S., European, and Kosovo officials are working to better integrate ethnic Serbs in northern Kosovo, an area where the Serbian government operates separate security and judicial systems. Improving conditions for ethnic Serbs is central to European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton's ongoing dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina.
"It is about normalizing life so that the people who live in the north can go about their daily lives feeling part of a community, feeling part in their lives of a society," Ashton said on Wednesday during a trip to Pristina, where she and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton held talks with Kosovar Prime Minister Hashim Thaci.
Clinton said the United States is working closely with the European Union to address the concerns of Kosovar Serbs through this political dialogue. (read more)
Serbia Vows Kosovo Solution as Clinton Urges Peace Push By Gordana Filipovic Businessweek 31 October 2012
Serb Premier Ivica Dacic vowed to seek peace with Kosovo as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged Balkan leaders to improve relations two decades after they were engulfed by ethnic warfare.
Dacic, who met Clinton and European Union Foreign Policy Commissioner Catherine Ashton yesterday in Belgrade, said his willingness to seek a compromise by the end of his term is part of a commitment to securing the start of talks to become the third former Yugoslav republic to join the EU.
Making an agreement with the breakaway province is a key step in Serbia‟s goal of joining the 27-nation EU, which it needs to help tie its economy deeper to the rest of Europe after the bloody civil wars of the 1990s stunted the region‟s transformation from communism. EU President Herman Van Rompuy said Sept. 4 the country needs to improve its ties with Kosovo, while the European Commission said on Oct. 10 that Serbia hasn‟t made enough progress to start entry talks. (read more)
Country Profile: Kosovo By Genocide Watch 19 April 2012
In the aftermath of the Balkan wars that were fought in the 1990s, Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in 2008. However, this independence is contested by Serbia and tensions between the Albanian majority and Serb minority in the country remain extremely high.
After the death of the President Tito of Yugoslavia in 1980, pressure for independence of the Kosovo province was growing within the Kosovar Albanian population, who felt that the Serb authorities discriminated against them. Serbia did not permit Kosovar Albanian to be taught in the schools, and there was no Kosovar Albanian representation in the Serb parliament. Kosovo’s independence movement was violently suppressed by Serb troops under Slobodan Milosovic, the leader of Serb nationalism, who advocated creation of a “Greater Serbia,” that would include part of Bosnia and Croatia, as well as Kosovo.
When a passive resistance movement in the 1990s failed to secure independence, a rebel movement, the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) left the path of non-violent resistance and started to attack Serb targets in the mid-nineties. Meanwhile, the Serbian forces started an “ethnic cleansing” (forced displacement) campaign against the Kosovar Albanians.They used genocidal massacres of entire villages as a terror tactic to drive over 800,000 Kosovars into Albania.
In 1999, NATO decided to intervene and NATO bombings of Serbia began. After the Serb Army was driven out of Kosovo, NATO and the UN took over the administration of Kosovo. Justice for the atrocities during the war came through The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, which charged Milosevic with genocide and other crimes against humanity. However, in March 2006 after a four-year trial, Milosevic was found dead in his cell from a heart attack. Other trials for crimes against humanity and war crimes have been heard in international courts established in Kosovo.
In 2008, Kosovo Albanians declared their country independent from Serbia, but Serbia refuses to recognize this independence. Kosovo is still deeply polarized between the Albanian majority and the Serb minority, which mainly lives in the northern corner of the country. While the Serbs hate the Kosovo Albanians because they have taken part of what they consider Serbia, the Albanians won’t forget, nor forgive the atrocities committed by Serbs during Milosevic’s rule.
In their latest report, the International Crisis Group examined the on-going instability in the North of Kosovo (see report). In July 2011 tensions rose again in northern Kosovo, when Pristina’s police and local Serbs got into conflict about custom gates along the border with Serbia. Serbia’s refusal to recognize Kosovo’s sovereignty, especially in northern Kosovo where Serbs are a majority, is “halting Kosovo’s and Serbia’s fragile dialogue and threatens Kosovo’s internal stability and Serbia’s EU candidacy process”, says the International Crisis Group, a key member of the International Alliance to End Genocide.
Because of Kosovo’s history of ethnic tensions and the current risk for further conflict, Genocide Watch considers Kosovo to be at stage 5: Polarization.