Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Malcolm: Kosovo IS NOT Serbia

Is Kosovo Serbia? We ask a historian

Noel Malcolm
The Guardian,
Tuesday February 26 2008

"Kosovo is Serbia", "Ask any historian" read the unlikely placards, waved by angry Serb demonstrators in Brussels on Sunday. This is rather flattering for historians: we don't often get asked to adjudicate. It does not, however, follow that any historian would agree, not least because historians do not use this sort of eternal present tense.

History, for the Serbs, started in the early 7th century, when they settled in the Balkans. Their power base was outside Kosovo, which they fully conquered in the early 13th, so the claim that Kosovo was the "cradle" of the Serbs is untrue.

What is true is that they ruled Kosovo for about 250 years, until the final Ottoman takeover in the mid-15th century. Churches and monasteries remain from that period, but there is no more continuity between the medieval Serbian state and today's Serbia than there is between the Byzantine Empire and Greece.

Kosovo remained Ottoman territory until it was conquered by Serbian forces in 1912. Serbs would say "liberated"; but even their own estimates put the Orthodox Serb population at less than 25%. The majority population was Albanian, and did not welcome Serb rule, so "conquered" seems the right word.

But legally, Kosovo was not incorporated into the Serbian kingdom in 1912; it remained occupied territory until some time after 1918. Then, finally, it was incorporated, not into a Serbian state, but into a Yugoslav one. And with one big interruption (the second world war) it remained part of some sort of Yugoslav state until June 2006.

Until the destruction of the old federal Yugoslavia by Milosevic, Kosovo had a dual status. It was called a part of Serbia; but it was also called a unit of the federation. In all practical ways, the latter sense prevailed: Kosovo had its own parliament and government, and was directly represented at the federal level, alongside Serbia. It was, in fact, one of the eight units of the federal system.

Almost all the other units have now become independent states. Historically, the independence of Kosovo just completes that process. Therefore, Kosovo has become an ex-Yugoslav state, as any historian could tell you.

· Noel Malcolm is a senior research fellow at All Souls College, Oxford. He is the author of Kosovo: A Short History

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Serbs in Podgorica Protest Against Kosova's Sovereignty


23 February 2008 Podgorica, Montenegro: More than 10,000 people attended a rally in Montenegro Friday backing Serbia's opposition to Kosovo's independence.

Montenegro's government was issued with a stark warning not recognise Kosovo's declaration of independence at the protest.

The rally was held in front of the country's parliament, with the backing of the Serbian List Party, other small pro-Serbian parties, along with the Socialist People's Party, which claims it represents 32 per cent of Montenegro's population who are ethnic Serbs.

"We are all together here to send a message that nobody in Montenegro should dare to recognise the so-called creation of Kosovo," said Andrija Mandic, leader of the Serbian List.

The leader of the Socialist Peoples Party, Srdjan Milic emphasised that "it is in the biggest interest of every free minded citizen of Montenegro to refuse to acknowledge state which does not exist," and to "reject the policy of diktats which have abducted the cradle of a nation.

"The biggest applause was received by the delegation of Kosovo Serbs headed by Milan Ivanovic.Hundreds of Serbian flags, together with one Montenegrin flag, and flags of countries that have so far spoken out against Kosovo's independence namely those of Russia, Spain and Greece, could be seen at the rally.

Priests from the Serbian Orthodox Church maintained a visible presence at the protest, and security forces surrounded the buildings of parliament and the government. However, the rally passed off without incident.

In contrast, the 7 per cent of Montenegro's population who are ethnic Albanians celebrated Kosovo independence's in their homes and at the local Albanian political party's headquarters. They did so after warnings from their political leaders and the government to avoid big celebrations that could upset the Serbian minority.

Ruling coalition leader Milo Djukanovic hinted in January that Montenegro will recognize Kosovo independence."We will follow the European Union’s position, but we will not hurry", Djukanovic said.The pro-Serbian opposition parties, that hold about 15 per cent of seatsin parliament, demanded a extraordinary parliamentary session to discuss whether to recognise Kosovo or not.

"I'm wondering what Montenegro gains from Kosovo's recognition? I will do all I can to prevent something which could endanger Montenegro's reputation in our history," said Milic.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Sunday, February 17, 2008



PRISHTINA, Kosova -- A decade after Serbia crushed a rebellion, Kosova's ethnic Albanian leadership convened a special session of parliament Sunday to declare independence _ a historic bid for statehood in defiance of the Serbian government and Russia.

Prime Minister Hashim Thaci began reading the declaration proclaiming the Republic of Kosova as "an independent, sovereign and democratic state." Parliament will then vote on the declaration. The move was carefully orchestrated with the backing of U.S. and key European powers, and Kosova was counting on swift international recognition as the world's newest nation.

"From today onwards, Kosova is proud, independent and free," Thaci said. "We never lost faith in the dream that one day we would stand among the free nations of the world, and today we do."

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Independence Agenda for February 17, 2008

Agenda for February 17th, 2008

10:00 Prime Ministers leads off from Government to Parliament- hands over the request for extraordinary Parliament Session

11:00 Prime Minister makes public the request for extraordinary session of the Parliament

12:00 Assembly Presidency Meeting

13:30 Meeting of the Parliamentary Groups

15:00 Plenary Session of Kosova Assembly

18:00 Statement by three leaders at Hotel Grand MEDIA CENTER

18:30 Hoist of Independence Obelisk in front of the Youth Palace in Prishtina

19:00 Kosova Philharmonic Concert Hall 1 October

20:00 Concert in Prishtina Square

22:50 President and Prime Minister address the masses

23:00 Fireworks displayed at four different parts of Prishtina

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Countdown to INDEPENDENCE!

The countdown to Kosova's long awaited sovereignty has begun, especially now that Serbia's president has been determined.

With most EU nations positioned to support her independence, members of parliament, including PM Hashim Thaci are making final prepatations for a declaration that is expected before 17 February.

Recently from Athens: Greece is ready to recognize the independence of Kosova, the Greek daily "Ta Nea" announced. Greece is steadily walking towards recognizing the independence of the region, since it is expected that the EU-member states will take this step.

In today's International Herald Tribune, Thaci reiterated his plans for the new state: http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/02/05/opinion/edthachi.php

The countdown has begun ... WHERE WILL YOU BE?

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Tadic re-elected as Serbia's president

Serbia’s pro-west president wins election

By Neil MacDonald and Stefan Wagstyl in Belgrade
February 3 2008 22:56

Boris Tadic, Serbia’s pro-western president, on Sunday defeated Tomislav Nikolic, his nationalist rival, in a bitterly-contested election fought under the shadow of the imminent loss of the disputed territory of Kosovo.

His victory signals that Serbs are ready to put integration with the European Union ahead of their anger with the west over the ethnic Albanian-dominated province, due very soon to declare independence.

“I can announce that we won in these presidential elections. I congratulate all the citizens on our being a European democracy. We have shown to many EU member countries the democratic potential of this country.”

According to the Centre for Free Elections and Democracy, an independent monitoring organisation, Mr Tadic won 50.3 per cent against 48.1 per cent for Mr Nikolic with more than 90 per cent of the vote counted.

Mr Nikolic conceded defeat late on Sunday night and called for calm. However, some of his supporters were bitter.

Analysts pointed out that Mr Tadic owed victory to the backing of ethnic Hungarians and other minorities while, among ethnic Serbs, Mr Nikolic had won.

Mr Tadic’s win will come as a relief to the US and leading EU states which are preparing to back Kosovo’s independence declaration. Mr Tadic has consistently opposed Kosovo’s independence but a Nikolic win might have encouraged Serbs to turn their backs on the west and possibly prompted extremists to resort to violence.

Mr Tadic’s officials said they were now looking forward to an acceleration of integration talks with the EU, starting this Thursday with the signing of a political agreement on a pre-accession pact.

Bozidar Djelic, the deputy prime minister and a leading member of Mr Tadic’s Democratic Party, said Serbia deserved recognition for voting for democracy and European integration even though “political tensions” were at their peak with people angry over Kosovo and the low standard of living.

After a first round setback last month, Mr Tadic ran an aggressive campaign before Sunday’s run-off, warning voters of the dangers of a return to the isolation of the 1990s.

Mr Nikolic, candidate for the hard-line nationalist Serb Radical party, also won the first round four years ago before then losing the run-off. This time he picked up more votes on the back of widespread resentment about uneven wealth distribution.

The result will raise questions over the stability of the government coalition headed by Vojislav Kostunica, the nationalist-leaning prime minister who rules jointly with the Democrats. Mr Kostunica refused to endorse Mr Tadic before Sunday’s vote.