Thursday, March 27, 2008
by Nebojsa Malic
On March 20, 2003, American forces began their invasion of Iraq. According to the Emperor himself, the purpose of the war was to "disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, to end Saddam Hussein's support for terrorism, and to free the Iraqi people."
Five years later, U.S. troops are still occupying Iraq. Four thousand of them have died, and tens of thousands have been injured, many seriously. The Iraqi death toll runs in the hundreds of thousands (the Empire refuses to "keep score"), and the number of displaced Iraqis is over a million.
The path to that war was "paved with false assumptions and lies," in the words of Rep. Ron Paul. There were no weapons of mass destruction. Terrorism in Iraq and elsewhere had nothing to do with Hussein. And the only things people of Iraq have been "liberated" from were their lives, property, and dignity. By every reasonable standard, and a few unreasonable ones, the Iraqi adventure has been a complete and utter fiasco.
In today's America, it is a popular belief among those against the Iraq war that Bush the Lesser is to blame, and that things will turn around after he is replaced. That is a dangerous folly. The road to damnation did not begin in March 2003 – or in September 2001, for that matter – but in March 1999. Iraq was not the first instance of an illegal, aggressive war launched from Washington. That dubious honor goes to the 1999 attack on then-Yugoslavia, in support of the terrorist Kosovo Liberation Army. The Kosovo war provided as precedent for Iraq, a "pattern of aggression," as British historian Kate Hudson famously noted in August 2003.
Bombs Over Belgrade
Operation Allied Force (incorrectly known in Serbia as "Merciful Angel") was launched on March 23, 1999, without UN approval or even a pretext. Even though the press today claims that NATO's air war was launched to stop or prevent "repression" of Albanian rebels by Yugoslav and Serbian forces, the actual justification invoked as the attack began was that Serbia had to be bombed into signing the "Rambouillet agreement" – a disgraceful ultimatum demanding NATO occupation of Kosovo and a free hand in the rest of Serbia. Even Empire's war planners quickly recognized the abject absurdity of "bombs for peace" and directed the media to change the official line in a "humanitarian" direction. The war thus became about "saving the Kosovars" (sic). Tales of alleged Serbian atrocities abounded, routinely compared to those of the Nazis: mass deportations, mass executions, mass graves, mass rapes.
They proved as real as the "Iraqi WMDs."
Even though Allied Force was officially a NATO operation, the vast majority of sorties were flown by American warplanes. As in Iraq, the assumption of the U.S. leadership was that the war would be short and victorious. It was neither; instead of capitulating within a week, the government of Slobodan Milosevic fought on for 78 days, agreeing to let NATO occupy Kosovo only after receiving explicit guarantees of Serbian sovereignty. When Yugoslav troops retreated from Kosovo, they did so nearly unharmed and in perfect order, showing that the bombing was primarily directed against civilian targets and intended to terrorize.
Kosovo was a Rubicon that the Empire needed to cross: a demonstration that it could attack anyone, anywhere, for any reason.
As in Iraq, the occupation turned out to be worse than the actual war. The UN took over administration of the NATO-occupied province, but in practice that meant turning it over to the terrorist KLA. As a result, hundreds of thousands of Serbs, Roma, Turks, and other non-Albanians were ethnically cleansed. Over 150 churches and monasteries, cemeteries and chapels were destroyed and desecrated. Non-Albanians were beaten, murdered, and even allegedly harvested for organs. Entire villages were razed during a pogrom in March 2004. Eventually, those who launched the 1999 invasion sought to legitimize it by supporting the Albanians' declaration of independence in February this year.
In Kosovo and Iraq alike, the occupiers set up puppet governments, organized elections, and even promulgated constitutions. None of it changed the savage reality. Iraq continues to be divided between mutually hostile communities that all resent the occupation, while Kosovo continues to be dominated by a terrorist organization transformed into an organized crime syndicate, oppressing non-Albanians but brutalizing other Albanians as well.
Belief and Reality
Much as the Imperial policymakers believe that their beliefs can shape reality itself, the world today is a much different place than the world of 1999, or 2003. China never forgot the attack on its embassy in Belgrade. Nor did Russia forget the humiliation of having a U.S. lackey in the Kremlin stand helplessly by as NATO savaged Serbia.
NATO did not claim a victory in Kosovo until the U.S.-funded and organized opposition managed to depose Milosevic in an October 2000 coup. Even though Serbia has since been ruled by various combinations of pro-Imperial politicians, who have demonstrated an almost limitless capacity for groveling and sycophancy over the intervening years, there is still some defiance left in her.
The Empire does not care much; convinced its will has triumphed in Kosovo, Washington believes that the upcoming Serbian elections in May will finally bring to power a servile, pliant leadership that will sign on the dotted line and follow along. It also believes that Iraq will become a peaceful parliamentary democracy. The "reality-based" community, however, begs to differ.
Twilight of America
The upcoming presidential elections in the U.S. offer a slate of candidates who at best disagree on the flavor of Imperial aggression. John McCain was a hawk on Kosovo as much as he is on Iraq. Policymakers advising Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama alike believe that Kosovo was a triumph of liberal, "humanitarian" interventionism. In truth, it has been a triumph only for aggression and terror.
Sen. Joseph Lieberman once infamously claimed that supporting the terrorist KLA was "fighting for human rights and American values." What became of the America whose founders hoped would not go abroad "in search of monsters to destroy" and nurture "peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations"? It is now a global Empire, invading, occupying, and supporting terrorism even while claiming to oppose it.
What happened in March 2003 – and in March 1999 – was a defeat; of the American republic, international law, and perhaps even of peace at the end of a century that has seen precious little of it. On these solemn anniversaries, one can only hope that these defeats were temporary and transient. Otherwise, the future looks less like utopia, and more like Kosovo.
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Copyright 2008 Antiwar.com
By Cliff Kincaid
March 27, 2008
If the media are on the lookout for gaffes by the presidential campaigns, they missed a big one on Wednesday, when Cindy McCain met with Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci in Kosovo's capital Pristina, while her husband was giving a major foreign policy speech calling for "new foundations for a stable and enduring peace." Kosovo's declaration of independence, which McCain accepts and was implicitly recognized by Cindy McCain's visit to Pristina, is a major threat to global peace and security. It could spark a U.S. war with Russia.
It may be asking too much, however, for the media to cover a gaffe like this. The Kosovo policy is a bipartisan blunder. For the liberal media, Iraq, where McCain differs with Hillary and Obama about the length of stay of the U.S. military, seems to be the only foreign policy issue worth talking about. But the U.S. faces other major problems.
We need to recall that the war against the former Yugoslavia was depicted by the liberal media as a worthwhile humanitarian intervention. But it was waged on the basis of Clinton Administration lies of a "genocide" being waged against Albanian Muslims in Kosovo, a province of Serbia. In fact, the Clinton Administration's NATO war against Yugoslavia probably cost more lives than were lost in the civil war in Kosovo. Serbian troops were forced to withdraw in exchange for an international guarantee that Serbia would retain sovereignty over Kosovo but the province would get substantial autonomy. The U.S. agreed to that, but that agreement was violated when the Bush Administration, with backing from McCain and Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, recently recognized Kosovo's declaration of independence from Serbia.
Sending his wife to Kosovo confirms that McCain accepts Clinton's fraudulent version of what happened there and that he agrees with Bush's "solution," which can only make the situation worse.
Conservatives should contemplate what is happening here. McCain, who says he wants to wage a vigorous war against Islamic radicals worldwide, is prepared to let Muslim extremists come to power in Kosovo and even have their own sovereign state. This is itself a major gaffe. But McCain compounded it when he gave a speech urging the building of "international structures for a durable peace," including strengthening NATO. This sounds good, except that McCain has to know that recognizing Kosovo's independence has split Western nations and even NATO itself. It is a major foreign policy blunder that the next administration, Democrat or Republican, may never recover from. It represents a direct threat to the international order of nation-states. That is why many nations have not recognized this new state of Kosovo. They realize that Kosovo's independence could spark other groups to wage wars against established regimes around the world.
This is not to say that some territories under the control of internationally recognized regimes do not deserve their independence. Tibet, under Chinese Communist occupation, deserves its freedom and sovereignty. And Taiwan should become an independent state as well. China's communist rulers, who opposed Kosovo's independence because they fear it could serve as a precedent for Tibet and Taiwan, are the illegitimate ones. The regime in Beijing should be undermined. But China, which supplies so many of our products and invests so much in our economy, is too big an adversary to pick a fight with. This shows the fallacy of claims of the U.S. being a "superpower." We are at the mercy of China, and the presidential candidates of both major political parties know it. Only a commentator like Lou Dobbs of CNN dares to address the controversy on a regular basis.
Atrocities occurred on all sides as the former Yugoslavia went through disintegration. But Serbia was involved in trying to hold the former Yugoslavia together when outside powers, including various Arab and Muslim states, were trying to carve the nation up. Kosovo's Muslims, who are a majority, may not be as radical as those in other Arab states. But wait until the radical Mosques that are being established around the territory, with the financial assistance of Saudi Arabia, begin to exert their influence on the next generation. They won't be waving American flags out of gratitude for NATO waging war on Serbia. Meanwhile, many Christian churches In Kosovo have been destroyed, and many Serbs, who are Christians, have fled the province. No wonder Serbian demonstrators recently burned the U.S. embassy there. And yet McCain says he wants to repair America's bad image in the rest of the world. Start with reversing the disastrous Kosovo policy, Senator McCain.
Conservatives should be concerned about the Kosovo policy for another reason. In his Wednesday speech to the World Affairs Council, McCain talked about the security of the state of Israel. He doesn't seem to realize that recognition of Kosovo is a precedent for the creation of another Muslim state, Palestine, in the heart of the Middle East, which could end up being just as much of a threat to the Jewish state as a nuclear Iran. Israeli analysts have recognized this threat. They know that Kosovo is to Serbia what Jerusalem is to Israel. Bush, of course, is the first U.S. president to campaign for the creation of an Arab/Muslim Palestinian state. He encouraged the elections that brought the terrorist group Hamas to power in the Palestinian territories. Does McCain favor this suicidal approach for the state of Israel? Or does Israel's security lie in asserting its own sovereignty and building a border fence? McCain, of course, seems to have an aversion to border fences, at least when they are on the U.S. southern border.
Hillary Clinton was accused of lying about her visit to Bosnia when she was First Lady. The more important controversy is why the U.S. was militarily involved in Bosnia in the first place. The record shows that her husband approved the shipment of Iranian arms to the Bosnia Muslims so they could fight the Christian Serbs. Clinton then expanded that policy to helping the Muslims in Kosovo. So the Iranian influence that McCain warned about in his World Affairs Council speech has already been brought into the Balkans by the Clintons, in a policy that he supported all along.
If you have noticed the evidence that the Arab/Muslim bloc of nations benefited from the Clinton policy in the former Yugoslavia, then you have grasped an essential truth about what has led to the current precarious state of affairs. It should be noted that Osama bin Laden, who was accused of supporting the Muslim extremists in Bosnia and Kosovo, would go on to order an attack on the U.S. on 9/11, killing nearly 3,000 of our fellow citizens. So he is clearly not grateful for the U.S. helping his Muslim brothers.
The lesson, which McCain says he recognizes in Iraq, is that the terrorists cannot be appeased. But he wants to appease the Muslim extremists, backed by bin Laden, in Kosovo.
The mystery is why President Bush, who authorized our soldiers to fight Muslim extremists in Iraq, embarked on this policy to accommodate them in Kosovo, and why McCain backs this wrong-headed approach. Some may see a conspiracy in this, but I prefer the stupidity theory of history. I don't think our foreign policy elites, and the politicians they control, are that smart about what constitutes the national security interest of the U.S. Bush may be under the manipulation of career bureaucrats in the State Department. They seem to have an inordinate influence on McCain as well.
Since the Democrats won't quarrel with McCain or Bush on this unfolding catastrophe, it is up to what used to be called an "adversary press" to raise this uncomfortable foreign policy problem. It is an emergency because another war could be on the horizon. This "adversary press" now includes, more than ever, conservative commentators and bloggers. But some of those blogs seem to be running more and more "McCain for President" advertisements. This is a bad sign.
McCain, in his Wednesday speech, seemed to go out of his way to offend the Russian government, making it clear that he doesn't regard the regime there as a democracy. He even wants to exclude Russia from the G-8 group. Russia, McCain said, does not qualify as a member of what he proposes as a global "League of Democracies." But how can democracies survive if their countries face dismemberment by groups of nations and alliances acting outside of established and acceptable modes of conduct? How does it benefit the U.S. to increase the membership of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) by adding states such as Bosnia and Kosovo?
Russia, which is promising to go to the aid of the Serbs remaining in Kosovo, has recognized the danger to its own territorial integrity. It doesn't want to see Chechnya, another potential member of the OIC, inspired to more violence in order to attract recognition as an independent Muslim state like Kosovo. A war with NATO forces in Kosovo cannot be ruled out.
Then the situation may get some serious media attention.
If foreign policy is McCain's strong suit, we are in serious trouble. His policy is the same as that of Democrats Hillary and Obama. And yet McCain says that Russia has a deficit of democracy.
Cliff Kincaid is the Editor of Accuracy in Media, and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monday, March 24, 2008
Danas se navršava tačno devet godina od kada je tadašnji generalni sekretar NATO Havijer Solana, mimo Saveta bezbednosti UN, doneo odluku o napadu na SR Jugoslaviju. Već sutradan je NATO alijansa, sa 19 članica, u kojima živi preko 700 miliona ljudi, napala malu Srbiju sa svega 10 miliona stanovnika. Alijansa je od 24. marta do 10. juna 1999. godine - primenjujući sve postojeće tipove oružja i, što je najgore, municiju sa radioaktivnim primesama - ubila oko 2.500 civila, među kojima 89 dece, rušeći i paleći njihove kuće, crkve i kulturne spomenike, bolnice i škole, fabrike i mostove. Na kraju je i 250.000 Srba bilo proterano sa Kosova i Metohije, nakon čega je stvoren prostor da se u srpskoj istorijskoj kolevci albanskoj manjini omogući stvaranje kvazidržavne tvorevine koja je, danas je to svima jasno, i bila krajnji cilj bombaškog pogroma pod ciničnim nazivom „Milosrdni anđeo“!
Braneći otadžbinu, život su izgubila 1.002 pripadnika Vojske i policije Srbije, a oko deset hiljada ljudi je ranjeno i povređeno. Materijalna šteta naneta maloj Srbiji procenjena je na stotinu milijardi dolara.
Kao posledica upotrebe raketa sa osiromašenim uranijumom - koji je, inače, najstrože zabranjen u ratnim dejstvima - umrlo je tokom proteklih devet godina, koliko se zna, mnogo ljudi, i Srba i Albanaca, ali i vojnika NATO, pre svega Italijana i Nemaca, koji su bili u zoni gde je pao najveći broj bombi sa radioaktivnim primesama. Pod pritiskom, NATO je tek nedavno priznao da je upotrebljavao nedozvoljeno oružje, otkrivajući 112 lokacija! Ali, ovo je tek vrh „ledenog brega“. Postoji opravdana sumnja da je južno od 44. paralele posejano još raketa od kojih će generacije i generacije u budućnosti umirati.
Međunarodna javnost gluva
Imajući u vidu činjenicu da je NATO koristio municiju sa osiromašenim uranijumom pri ranijim dejstvima u Zalivskom ratu tokom 1991. godine i Bosni i Hercegovini tokom 1995. godine, nadležni organi Savezne Republike Jugoslavije su, još pre bombardovanja, upozoravali međunarodnu javnost da postoji opasnost da tako bude i na prostoru SRJ. Samo sedam dana posle početka agresije, 30. marta, srpska vojska je dokazala da je NATO upotrebio municiju sa radioaktivnim primesama. Posle 10. juna, kada je urađen redovni ekološki monitoring, to je nepobitno ustanovljeno.
Nalaze jugoslovenskih stručnjaka da je na Pljačkovici iznad Vranja i kod Preševa korišćena municija sa osiromašenim uranijumom potvrdili su najpre ruski stručnjaci koji su boravili u okviru međunarodne misije FOKUS - organizacije koju su osnovali Švajcarska, Rusija i Grčka, kojima se kasnije pridružila i Austrija. Eksperti Programa Ujedinjenih nacija za životnu sredinu - UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme), odmah nakon NATO bombardovanja SR Jugoslavije, u avgustu 1999. godine, obavili su misiju za procenu ugroženosti životne sredine usled agresije, ali se njihov izveštaj objavljen u novembru iste godine - kako se i moglo očekivati - više odnosio na hronologiju bombardovanja i političke ocene nego na stručnu ocenu stanja životne sredine.
- Problem korišćenja municije sa osiromašenim uranijumom sveo se uglavnom na preporuke pripadnicima međunarodnih snaga na Kosovu i Metohiji kako da se ponašaju ukoliko borave u potencijalno ugroženim područjima - kaže naš vrhunski toksikolog, primarijus Radomir Kovačević, načelnik Centra za radiološku zaštitu - Kliničkog centra Srbije. - Uznemirenost međunarodne javnosti zbog pojave takozvanog „balkanskog sindroma“ u leto 2000. godine primorala je predstavnike UNEP-a da se ponovo pozabave posledicama korišćenja municije sa osiromašenim uranijumom po životnu sredinu - dodao je Kovačević.
Zabrinjava činjenica da nema potrebnih sredstava za stalni monitoring
ugroženosti zdravlja barem rizičnih grupa stanovništva, kao ni za
monitoring podzemnih voda i monitoring ugroženosti biljnog i
životinjskog sveta. Unošenje osiromašenog uranijuma u lanac ishrane je
realna opasnost. Takođe, nema sredstava ni za adekvatno skladištenje
kontaminiranog zemljišta i prikupljenu neeksplodiranu municiju.
Praćenje ugroženosti životne sredine (vazduh, vode, zemljište, biljni i
životinjski svet) hemijskim i radioaktivnim dejstvom osiromašenog
uranijuma do sada je obavljano nesistematski i od slučaja do slučaja.
Primarijus Kovačević ističe da je u svim izveštajima UNEP-a umanjivana ugroženost životne sredine, ali je, ipak, evidentirano korišćenje municije sa osiromašenim uranijumom, a u nekim uzorcima pronađen je čak i plutonijum! Stoga je i upozoreno da svetska javnost mora ozbiljno da se pozabavi stepenom ugroženosti životne sredine u lokalitetima u kojima je korišćena takva municija.
Ćutanje o humanitarnoj katastrofi
Međunarodna zajednica, ali i pojedini srpski političari, međutim, uporno ćute o nespornom ratnom zločinu koji je učinjen prilikom agresije na Jugoslaviju, iako je savršeno jasno da je NATO, koristeći municiju sa osiromašenim uranijumom i stavljajući nuklearni otpad u jeftinu bojevu municiju umesto u preskupe betonske sarkofage, napravio pravu humanitarnu katastrofu.
Da li je podatak da u Prizrenu i okolini ima mnogo sahrana Šiptara (a ponajviše njihove dece) koji su umrli od malignih bolesti kao posledica dejstva osiromašenog uranijuma zapravo potvrda one teze po kojoj cilj agresije na Jugoslaviju i nije bila navodna zaštita Šiptara i proterivanje Srba sa njihovog vekovnog ognjišta - već ispitivanje „in vivo“ najnovijih čuda savremene vojne tehnologije, kao i stvaranje najveće vojne baze u ovom delu sveta?
- Bombardovati municijom sa osiromašenim uranijumom, plutonijumom i mnogim drugim supstancama bio je besplatan način da se Amerika oslobodi radioaktivnog otpada koji niko neće da preuzme - kaže primarijus Radomir Kovačević.
- Političari zemalja koje su nas bombardovale i deo naših koji su očigledno protivnici srpskih interesa zataškavaju istinu. Bačeno je najmanje deset tona obogaćenog uranijuma, koji daje radijaciju kao 437 atomskih bombi bačenih na Hirošimu (zbog čega je u Srbiji 2004. godine zabeleženo 40 odsto više novih slučajeva raka nego 1999). Podaci se friziraju i sakrivaju. Na primer, Zavod za statistiku je do pre deset godina objavljivao podatke o zdravstvenom stanju građana na desetine stranica, a od 2002-2003. svega na dve cele stranice! Ministarstvo zdravlja je upoznato sa svim našim rezultatima i projektima i svesno je rizika, ali nam nikada nije dalo zeleno svetlo i sredstva da zaista praktično nešto i uradimo - kaže Kovačević.
- Za razliku od političara, mi, naučnici, širom sveta nemamo dilemu o katastrofalnim posledicama osiromašenog uranijuma. Čak lepo sarađujemo i sa američkim kolegama. U njihovim stručnim časopisima objavljuju se radovi našeg tima o posledicama NATO bombardovanja, a kod nas ne samo u političkom već i u stručnom delu kao da žele da umanje katastrofu s kojom se Srbija suočila kao jedina zemlja u Evropi. Posledice su nesagledive - istakao je primarijus.
- Otvoreno pitam vladu, Ministarstvo odbrane, Ministarstvo zdravlja i sve ostale relevantne institucije, zašto ne tuže NATO za ratni zločin i traže odštetu sa kojom bi se moglo sprečiti veće zlo, a mogu se sanirati ozračena područja i preventivno reagovati kako bi se sprečio dalji, upozoravam, pomor stanovništva usled posledica ozračenosti. Osim toga, potrebno je organizovati preventivne zdravstvene preglede svih pripadnika snaga bezbednosti koji su bili 1999. godine na Kosmetu, mada je, nažalost, veliki broj već umro i oboleo od malignih oboljenja - kaže dr Kovačević.
AMERIKANCI BACAJU SVOJE ĐUBRE
I američka naučnica dr Helen Kaldikot opisala je medicinske posledice osiromašenog uranijuma još 2001. godine i ukazala na težinu problema. - OU je u stvari uranijum 238, ono što ostane pošto se fisioni element uranijum 235 izvuče iz rude i koristi kao gorivo za oružje i nuklearne reaktore. 700.000 tona ovog odbačenog radioaktivnog materijala je akumulirano za prošlih 60 godina širom Sjedinjenih Država dok američka vojska nije otkrila da je vredan. Gotovo dvaput veće gustine od olova, prolazi kroz oklop tenkova kao vruć nož kroz buter. Pošto je bio besplatan i u velikim količinama, meci i granate od osiromašenog uranijuma bili su jeftini za proizvodnju i dobar način da se Amerika oslobodi balasta radioaktivnog otpada koji niko neće da primi - rekla je Kaldikotova.
ZATROVANE TERITORIJE I - BUDUĆNOST
Uranijum 238 ima poluživot od 4,5 milijardi godina, dok neptunijum 237 i plutonijum 239, koji su mnogostruko karcinogeniji od uranijuma, imaju poluživote od nekoliko stotina do nekoliko hiljada godina. Znači, Irak, Kuvajt, Bosna i Kosovo su kontaminirani karcinogenim radioaktivnim elementima zauvek. I zato što je latentni period karcinogeneze - vreme inkubacije malignosti - od pet do 50 godina, skoro je sigurno da su malignosti koje su prijavljene u NATO trupama i mirotvorcima koji su služili na Balkanu i kod američkih vojnika i njihovih saveznika koji su služili u Zalivu, kao i civila koji žive u tim zemljama, tek uvod u katastrofu koja sledi - rekao je Kovačević.
Proučavanjem veterana iz Zalivskog rata pronađeno je da izlučuju uranijum 238 u svom urinu i semenoj tečnosti. Procenjeno je da je oko 300.000 američkih veterana bilo izloženo inhaliranom osiromašenom uranijumu.
Kovačević kaže da je Berluskonijeva vlada pala upravo zbog afere koja je nastala kada se doznalo da je pedesetak italijanskih vojnika koji su bili u Bosni i na Kosovu umrlo i da ih je još oko dve stotine teško bolesno, uglavnom od raka.
Izveštaji kažu da je jedan broj dece vojnika koji su duži period proveli na Balkanu rođen sa telesnim nedostacima. Slične izveštaje podnela su udruženja vojnika u Belgiji, Španiji, Portugaliji i Holandiji. I Sjedinjene Države i Velika Britanija potvrdile su da prah osiromašenog uranijuma može da bude opasan ukoliko se udiše, ali insistiraju na tome da je takva opasnost kratkotrajna i ograničenog dejstva.
Za decu u Iraku - gde je preko 300 tona OU u upotrebljenim granatama i aerosolizovanom prahu ostalo iza saveznika - javljeno je da imaju veći procenat malignosti i urođene nakaznosti nego što je normalno. Slični izveštaji dolaze i iz bolnica iz Bosne i sa Kosmeta, dok neka proučavanja dece američkih veterana izgleda pokazuju veći nego normalan procenat urođenih mana. Fotografije te dece sve govore.
PLJAČKOVICA - 113. LOKACIJA
Iako je NATO potvrdio korišćenje municije sa osiromašenim uranijumom na 112 lokaliteta, tačan broj i precizne mikrolokacije još nisu utvrđeni, posebno na Kosovu i Metohiji. Naši timovi koji su radili na proučavanju otkrili su, međutim, i 113. lokaciju, koju NATO nije potvrdio, a to je bombardovani repetitor na Pljačkovici. Otkrili smo ga tako što su neki radnici RTS-a, koji su radili na saniranju repetitora, osetili izvesne zdravstvene probleme, kaže za naš list primarijus Kovačević.
Prema podacima NATO, na području južno od 44. paralele ispaljeno je oko 31.000 projektila. Prema procenama Vojske Jugoslavije bilo ih je oko 50.000, dok ruski stručnjaci smatraju da ih je bilo i preko 90.000.
Sunday, March 23, 2008
By Jim Tankersley
9:58 PM CDT, March 21, 2008
Even in a rhetorically charged political season, House candidate Steve Greenberg stands out: He's all but accusing Rep. Melissa Bean (D-Ill.) of disloyalty to the United States.
At issue is Bean's support for Serbia, the country her grandparents left for America, and Serbian-Americans' financial support for her re-election campaign. Greenberg, a Republican, said in a press release this week that Bean was "flagrantly working on behalf of foreign interests against the interests of the United States"—and that the Serbian government was repaying her by illegally steering contributors her way. He's also charged Bean with supporting "Serbian criminals" and "anti-American fundamentalists," referring to the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade
Bean's spokesman and her supporters rejected Greenberg's comments, which have touched off a surge of donations from across the Chicago area, home to the largest ethnic Serb population in the U.S.
Ryan Rudominer, a spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said Greenberg "has resorted to saying anything to get attention—regardless of how shameful and desperate." Bean's spokesman Jonathan Lipman said the congresswoman "doesn't respond to ethnically and religiously divisive attacks, even when they go so far as to demonize an entire ethnic community and question their patriotism."
Greenberg campaign spokesman Brad Goodman responded: "It's very typical of Washington politicians, like Ms Bean, when caught under ethical clouds, the first thing they do is blame someone else."
Nearly a year ago, Bean sponsored a House resolution opposing Kosovo's efforts to secede from Serbia, a measure also supported by freshman Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.), a Greenberg backer. Greenberg criticized Bean for the resolution late last month, after Kosovo declared independence and the Bush administration recognized it diplomatically. Roskam's spokesman declined to comment for this story. No vote was taken on the resolution.
Greenberg's press release slammed Bean for taking money from a pro-Serbian group in Washington. It repeatedly called the congresswoman "Melissa Luburich Bean," invoking her Serbian maiden name. Critics likened it to opponents calling the Democratic presidential candidate from Illinois "Barack Hussein Obama."
This week, after Bean scheduled a fundraiser at the home of an American supporter who is married to Serbia's consul general in Chicago, Greenberg called for the FBI and the Federal Election Commission to investigate whether foreign nationals were illegally helping Bean's campaign. Greenberg's campaign said the main attraction of the event was access to the consul general, Desko Nikitovic. It offered no proof of any donations to Bean by non-U.S. citizens, which federal law prohibits, but called the event an "unethical, illegal … quid pro quo."
Nikitovic's wife, Ryann Whalen, said her husband had no involvement with the fundraiser and no plans to attend it. His name is not listed on the invitation, though Whalen is identified as "Ryann Whalen Nikitovic."
After Greenberg publicized the event, Whalen asked organizers to relocate it to a Serbian restaurant on Chicago's Northwest Side, citing safety concerns. "In my opinion," said Whalen, president of the Serbian Bar Association of America, "this brings negative campaigning to an entirely different level."
The chairman of the American Conservative Union, David Keene, criticized Greenberg this week in an online column for The Hill newspaper for "suggesting that Bean should neither take money from nor associate with Serbian-Americans because they, like Bean, are not to be trusted or treated as loyal Americans.
"This is, of course, both silly and dangerous," Keene continued, before concluding that Bean is vulnerable on other issues such as a pro-union vote.
A National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman, Ken Spain, did not directly address the Serbian issues in a statement on Bean's fundraiser and Greenberg's reaction. "There is a clear difference between taking a public stand on an issue and attempting to parlay legislative activity into campaign cash," Spain said. "At the very least, Melissa Bean's fundraising practices certainly warrant some questioning."
The flap is reminiscent of the 2002 Democratic primary for the open House seat eventually won by Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.). A prominent Polish-American supporter of Emanuel's opponent, Nancy Kaszak, incorrectly accused Emanuel of holding Israeli citizenship and serving in its military. The supporter, Edward Moskal, said Israel "defiles the Polish homeland and continues to hurl insults at the Polish people."
Kaszak severed her relationship with Moskal and called on him to apologize.
Copyright © 2008, Chicago Tribune
BELGRADE, Serbia: Milorad Cavic, suspended from the European swimming championships for wearing a T-shirt proclaiming "Kosovo is Serbia," was given a rousing reception Saturday upon his return to his homeland.
Cavic was greeted by hundreds of fans and met with Serbian nationalist Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica, who called the swimmer a "hero."
The 23-year-old Cavic was expelled from the championships in Eindhoven, Netherlands, for wearing the T-shirt as he collected his gold medal for winning the 50-meter butterfly on Wednesday.
The European swimming league ruled it a political slogan a reference to Kosovo's controversial declaration of independence from Serbia on Feb. 17 and ejected the American-born swimmer.
"I had no political intentions," Cavic said Saturday in a news conference broadcast live on state TV. "I had to help my people knowing it could be a big risk for my swimming career. I'm proud of what I did."
After the incident, Cavic became an inspiration among Serbs who object to losing Kosovo, an ethnic Albanian-dominated territory which many Serbs consider the historic cradle of their nation.
Kosovo's independence has been recognized by the United States and most European Union nations.
Cavic, who was born in Anaheim, California, to Serb parents and trains in Florida, said he was just trying to send "positive energy" to the country he represents.
He said he made up his mind to wear the T-shirt with the text in Cyrillic two weeks before the event.
"I had to do it to help the (Kosovo Serbs), knowing how hard it is for them there," Cavic said.
Because of the expulsion, Cavic missed Saturday's 100 butterfly, in which he was one of the favorites.
"I'm really sorry I missed that race. I trained very hard for it," Cavic said.
You may well ask: what in the world am I talking about here? “Petrified Church”, indeed!
Recently, I was reading about a little-known lecture delivered during Great Lent 1916 in England – in the middle of the Great War – by an Orthodox prelate who was examining the written commentary of a German professor who had described the Orthodox Church of the East as a “petrified” church.
As the Archbishop pointed out nearly 100 years ago, our church knew then (as we know today) what this German scientist was sarcastically referring to. The Venerable Archbishop’s insightful words strike a dramatic chord with us today and we can easily detect the parallels between his time of crisis, violence and tragedy – and the conflicts that we face in 2008. His commentary simply resonates!
“Comparing the unchangeable image of Christ, fixed in the East once for all, with the confusing thousand opinions of Christ in Protestant Germany, he was quite justified in calling our Church by a striking name, so differentiating her from his own. I am glad he invented the name ‘petrified’”. (!)
Later he says that, “if ‘petrified’ means intact, or whole, or undestroyed or living in the same dress, but still living, then the famous professor may be right. Yet this ‘petrified church’ has always come victorious out of any test to which she has been put.”
The term “petrified church” could well apply to 2008 and the crises that challenge our world and our Holy Orthodox faith. To my way of thinking, “petrified church” could have at least two relevant meanings today:
The first meaning refers to the long and glorious history and legacy of Orthodox Christianity – which is the same today as it was in 1916. Our Holy Church has not changed with the tides and trends that have afflicted other religions; we are the same church with the same faith and the same culture today that we were more than 2000 years ago! We have truly stayed the course, and this amplifies what St. Nicolai Velimirovic said in 1916.
The second meaning – and somewhat different from the first – could well refer to the apprehension and concern of all Eastern Orthodox Christians around the world with respect to the conditions in Serbia and Kosovo. We are correct in feeling petrified or afraid about the growing humanitarian crisis that currently confronts our brothers and sisters in both Serbia and Kosovo.
Sanity requires that we be petrified; our Holy Orthodox Faith requires that we continue to do something about it!
These are times for all of us, as pious and Orthodox Christians being the period of Great Lent to pray for our struggling and suffering brothers and sisters in Christ our Lord in the region of Kosovo/Metohija.
Recently many kind loving souls and good hearts offered their donations towards the Decani Monastery Relief Fund and more then fifteen thousand dollars were raised to help ameliorate the difficult situation faced by our brothers and sisters in Kosovo.
The matter is going to get worse day by day and we will have an unbelievable humanitarian crisis very soon.
Kindly send your tax deductible donations to the following address:
Decani Monastery Relief Fund
C/O Very Rev. Archimandrite Nektarios Serfes
2618 West Bannock Street
Boise, ID 83702
Thank you and may our Lord God always bless you!
21 March 2008
Video sam vam, medjutim, i mane, mane koje su seuzasno iskazale posle rata. Neke vase mane ce, akoih ne otklonite, biti pogubne po vasu naciju. Nebih vam bio prijatelj ako ne bih povikao"cuvajte se" i ako vam ne bih, uz vrline, koje suistinske i lepe, ukazao, kao u ogledalu, na vaselose strane.
Vasa nacija je imala veoma lepu proslost, poslekoje su usledili dugi nesrecni vekovi. Postoste osnovali veliko carstvo, koje je, sudeci poonome sto je od njega ostalo, mnogo obecavalo iu svoje doba bilo napredno poput zapadnih carevinai kraljevina, pali ste pod prevlast Turaka, zatimi u njihovo ropstvo.
Ipak, uprkos svim tim nevoljama, veoma je malovasih voljenih pokusalo da izbegne taj groznipolozaj prihvatanjem muslimanske vere. Velikavecina vasih predaka je, i pored dugotrajnihpatnji, ostala odana staroj veri i nije htela dapovije vrat pred okrutnim tudjinom.
Narod vam je hrabar i njegova hrabrost cesto sezedo junastva. Mogu to s pravom da kazem, jer samgledao vase vojnike, a oni su bili nista drugo dosam narod, u skoro svim bitkama velikogoslobodilackog rata.
Narod vam je rodoljubiv. Ne znam ni za jedan narodu kojem legendarni nacionalni junaci toliko zive unarodnoj dusi kao kod vas.
Pretvorili ste svoju religiju u narodnu crkvu, boljereci u narodnu tradiciju. Medjutim, vi nistereligiozni. Niste mogli da prihvatite Boga kakav jeu Bibliji, pretvorili ste ga u vecnog i svemocnogglavara svog naroda. Ako bih mogao da u ovoj oblasti upotrebim trivijalan izraz, rado bih rekao da vas"bog" nosi oklop i bradu Kraljevica Marka, sajkacu vaseg ratnika sa Cera i Jadra, Kajmakcalana i Dobrog polja.
Vas narod je gostoljubiv.
Narod vam je demokratican, i to zaista demokratican,a ne na nacin politicara. Medju vasim ljudima covekse ceni onoliko koliko je covek, a ne po onome stosu od njega ucinili odelo i titule. Vas narod znaza samilost i ponekad je takav u trenucima kada secovek ne nada da ce kod njega naci tu lepu ljudsku osobinu.
Narod vam je ponosan, ali ne i ohol. Najzad, vi stebistar narod, jedan od najbistrijih koje sam zazivota video.
Pogledajmo sada mane vaseg naroda.
Niste veliki radnici. Cesto odlazete za sutra, cak iza prekosutra, ono sto biste mogli da ucinite danas.Posledica je da se to, cesto, nikada i ne uradi.Koliko ste samo licnih i, jos gore, koliko stegubitaka po svoju zemlju podneli zbog tog olakogdangubljenja! Treba, ipak, reci da se kod vas tajnedostatak radne energije objasnjava na dva nacina.Najpre, pod turskom vlascu vam je i najtezi rad malokoristio. Od njega se bogatio samo vas ugnjetac.Tokom vekova navikli ste se da radite samo onolikokoliko je neophodno. Zatim, zemlja vam je tolikoplodna. Uz veoma malo rada imate sto vam je potrebnoza zivot.
Jedna od vrlina koja je kod mnogih medju vamaiscezla jeste zahvalnost.
Postali ste strasno nezahvalni. Mnogi medju vamasu veoma bogati i nemilice trose da bi se istaklii iz zabave, ali kada valja pokazati zahvalnostprema onima koji su se zrtvovali, nista ne daju,ama bas nista. Vase vodje nisu jos, za ovih desetgodina koliko je proslo od zavrsetka rata,svecano obelezile ni jedan od onih velikihdogadjaja kojima dugujete slobodu i velicinuzemlje. Jasno je, takve svecanosti bi bilenezgodne vecini vasih sadasnjih vodja zato stooni, dok vam je zemlja bila u smrtnoj opasnostii kad se trebalo zrtvovati, nista nisu uciniliza nju, vec su se samo brinuli kako da sklonena sigurno svoju dragocenu licnost, cak su nekiiskoristili nesrecu otadzbine da bi se obogatili.
Sta ste ucinili za svoje ratne invalide? Od svihzemalja koje su ucestvovale u ratu vasa senajgore odnosi prema njima. Dok nekoliko stotinavasih bivsih ministara, samozivih politickihprofesionalaca, koji, u vecini slucajeva, nistanisu ucinili za otadzbinu, vec obilato napunilidzepove, sredjuje sebi isplacivanje "penzija"koje vas kostaju nebrojenih miliona, invalidivam mogu umirati od gladi.
Vas covek iz naroda, seljak, neiskvaren uticajemprofesionalnih politicara, nije podmitljiv."Inteligencija" vam to jeste, i to od najsitnijegcinovnika sa ili bez diplome, do ministra."Inteligencija" Srbije skoro nista nije ucinilaza svoju zemlju i jedina joj je briga bila dasvoje dragocene clanove skloni na sigurno.
Vrativsi se u otadzbinu posle pobede, u kojojnisu ucestvovali, vasi intelektualci su tezilida upravljaju svim poslovima. Seljaci,(les seljaks), njima nisu nista znacili iako sucinili ogromnu vecinu u Srbiji, a vojnici, tvorcipobede, za njih su bili "prostaci", dobri da mlateneprijatelja i ginu, i ni za sta drugo.
Kao i sva nemoralna bica, i inteligencija se divisili, cak i kada se najvise zloupotrebljava. To juje navelo da se, posle rata, skoro odmah pomiri sanajgorim neprijateljima svoje zemlje, sa Nemcima.
Umesto da deluje pozitivno vasa inteligencija jedelovala negativno. Umesto da gradi, ona jerazgradjivala. Ona je zariste trulezi iiskvarenosti, od cega toliko trpite. Ako jojdopustite da nastavi, zemlja vam je izgubljena.
Vas narod je veliki ljubitelj politickih ilibolje receno, stranackih vodja.
Sa sve nadmocnijim stupanjem na vlastinteligencije, pojavljuju se ljudi koji shvatajukakva se licna korist moze izvuci iz vasesklonosti za stranacku politiku. Oni stvarajuzanimanje od iskoriscavanja vase sklonosti zastranacku politiku, pa sada imate profesionalnepoliticare koji na tome zaradjuju za zivot. Ma,sta govorim - oni zgrcu bogatstvo.
Tako su vam politicari iskvarili zemlju.
Obicaji profesionalnih politicara prvoiskorenjuju vrline srpskog tla. A, na nesrecu,politicari su vam svemocni. Politika se mesa usve i svuda upravlja. Ukaze li se neko mesto uvlasti, bilo ono vazno ili osrednje, svejedno,o izboru ne odlucuju zasluge kandidata, vecpoliticke veze. Moze on biti i najvecaneznalica, najnecasniji covek, ako je "sticenik"politicara-strancara stranke na vlasti, pobedicei coveka najkvalifikovanijeg i u strucnom i umoralnom pogledu.
Funkcioneri su vam, po pravilu, najgoregkvaliteta. Cesto nisu ni sposobni da obavljajuposao koji se trazi od mesta koje zauzimaju.
Posebno dobro poznajem vasu policiju jer sam,na svoju nesrecu, neko vreme saradjivao sanjom. U policiju su vam politicari postavililjude kaznjivane zbog kradje i drugih zlodela.Vasi policajci su, posebno u juznoj Srbiji,krali od naroda i otimali novac. Prijavio samto vasim vlastima, ali ti policajci-zlocinci,koji su istovremeno bili i strancari, nisu bilikaznjeni, a mene su toliko izvredjali da sambio prinudjen da podnesem ostavku.
Kada stignu do ministarskog polozaja, vasipoliticari postaju toliko oholi da je to skoro smesno.
Opasan vetar vam zahvata omladinu i gasi onajprociscavajuci rodoljubivi plamen. Za vecinuvase sadasnje omladine rodoljublje se sastojiod neke vrste zavisti pune mrznje. Zavidezemljama koje su bogatije ili mocnije odnjihove i tom ponizavajucem osecanjunakaradno daju ono lepo ime rodoljublje.
Savremeni mladic smatra da nije njegovo daobezbedjuje zivot drzavi, nego da je drzavaduzna da njemu pribavi sve kako bi on mogaoda vodi sto je moguce prijatniji zivot. Otudai ona jurnjava mladih za funkcijama. Svi bida budu cinovnici, i mladici i devojke. Vidite,mladi oba pola jako dobro znaju da sada u vasojzemlji nije potrebno nikakvo znanje ilisposobnost da bi neko postao cinovnik, potrebnoje samo da ga pogura neki poslanik, ministar,ili uticajni politicar-strancar.
Danasnja omladina ce vam odlucno reci da nipostone zeli da gine, jer joj to nista ne donosi.Zna ona iz iskustva, gledala je to svojim ocima,i kako oni koji su se zrtvovali, kod vas, uvasoj modernoj Srbiji, dobijaju samo nogom pozadi.
Nemojte dozvoliti da vasa lepa dusa propadne utom djubretu koje se na njoj natalozilo narocitoposle rata. Nacija koja je, poput vase, odolelavekovnom ropstvu, koja se povukla preko Albanijei koja je, izgnana iz svoje zemlje, ali ne iporazena, uspela da se vrati na svoja ognjistakao pobednik - ne dopusta da je podjarmi sakasebicnih i podmitljivih politicara, gnusnihsicardzija, prezira dostojnih zabusanata izlocinskih profitera i zelenasa.
Saturday, March 22, 2008
by Michael Freedman, Newsweek
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
After years of violence and diplomatic wrangling, Kosovo, on Feb. 17, declared its independence, and within a day the world's most powerful nation, the United States, congratulated and recognized the newborn state. Britain also immediately recognized the war-torn nation, and in the days and weeks to come other big and wealthy nations would do likewise: France, Germany, Italy and Australia and two dozen others have all recognized Kosovo's sovereignty, representing, by one count, just more than half the world's GDP, and a majority of the members of NATO and the European Union.
But those figures obscure a central fact: while Kosovo has largely won its battle for recognition in Europe, Serbia is winning over the rest of the world. The vast majority of the United Nations' 192 members have withheld recognition, either by silence or explicit rejection. Brazil, China and India have all thus far refused to recognize the nascent nation, and Russia has not only rejected Kosovo's independence, but has become Serbia's proxy at the U.N. Security Council, vowing to veto any resolutions that would help clarify its status or grant Kosovo the ultimate symbol of sovereignty: a seat at the United Nations itself. Even some stalwart U.S. allies have rejected or remained silent on the Kosovo question, including Israel and Canada, as well as members of the European Union and NATO such as Spain, Cyprus and Slovakia.
Now, in a move that is virtually unprecedented in diplomatic history, Serbia is trying to reverse Kosovo's declaration of independence. At home, its leaders are threatening to retake Kosovo, stoking violence against the West with fiery rhetoric that echoes the former Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic. Abroad, Serbian officials are recalling ambassadors from nations that recognize Kosovo and lobbying to stop further recognitions by insisting Kosovo's actions are an illegal and dangerous precedent. Last week, in a speech at the U.N. Security Council, Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic urged nations that have already recognized Kosovo to "reconsider," and called upon those that have not "to stay the course."
So far, Serbia has been remarkably successful. While there's no magic number after which a country is considered truly sovereign, diplomats from the United States and Europe say Kosovo will acquire a critical mass after receiving recognition from somewhere between 50 and 100 countries. But as of mid-March, only 32 nations have recognized Kosovo, and though more may be forthcoming, the Serbian government expects a total of just 50 to sign on in the near future.
Countries have been slow to recognize for all sorts of reasons, including as a result of their own internal legal bureaucracies. Brazil, and to a certain extent India, are waiting for a critical mass of nations to form before going ahead themselves. Both countries want a seat at the U.N. Security Council but fear that getting too far ahead of the world on the Kosovo issue will antagonize Russia and China, both Security Council members with veto power. Islamic countries, noticeably slow to recognize a new Muslim nation, appear to be waiting for the nod from Saudi Arabia, which has thus far made no official statement on the matter.
But the numbers suggest countries the world over are also rejecting U.S. ideals of human rights, self-determination and what U.S. Sen. Joe Biden has called the "sacred trust between government and its people." For the United States, which declared its own independence after the people lost trust in King George, Kosovo's independence "upholds the ideal that people are entitled to govern themselves" when those people are minorities mistreated by their rulers, says Daniel Serwer, a former diplomat now at the United States Institute of Peace, a think tank.
To many nations, that American ideal looks self-defeating in a world of multiplying separatist movements. Spain, Cyprus and many others say they fear accepting Kosovo's sovereignty would establish a precedent for separatists in their own countries. Canadians have voiced similar concerns, though Canada has stopped short of rejecting Kosovo altogether. Vaclav Klaus, president of the Czech Republic, argued recently that Kosovo's independence would be a "very good example for other parts of countries that are not happy with what is going on around them."
Kosovo argues that it has on its side the countries that truly matter-the United States and the biggest EU nations. But Vladimir Petrovic, temporary chargé d'affaires at the Serbian Embassy to the United States, points out that Kosovo is missing virtually all of Africa and Latin America. After all, he says, "there's not a single country in Africa that doesn't have some kind of minorities of different ethnic groups." Also in Serbia's camp is China, navigating its issues with Taiwan's longstanding quest for independence, and its belief that Kosovo is a European issue, with few links to Chinese economic or security interests.
Then there is Russia. Linked to Serbia by cultural and ethnic ties, an independent Kosovo poses a danger to its expansionist goals. Diplomats say Russia is trying to divide the United States from Europe, and regain the influence it lost in the Balkans during the 1990s, when Russian geopolitical power was at a low point. Russia has also used its support for Serbia's position on Kosovo as leverage to get a better deal from Belgrade on a natural-gas pipeline that Russian energy giant Gazprom wants to run from Russia through Serbia to the rest of Europe. Last month, Dmitry Medvedev, Russia's president-elect, was in Belgrade with the head of Gazprom to work out details of the pipeline deal, and to blast Kosovo's "illegal" declaration of independence.
Russian support gives Serbia a proxy vote in the U.N. Security Council, which prevents Kosovo from taking a seat at the United Nations. Yet this may be something of a Pyrrhic victory. While Serbia is tied to Russia, increasingly a pariah state, little will change for Kosovo. It can join the ranks of Taiwan and others with a quasi-official diplomatic status, backed and protected by the 32 (or possibly more) countries that ultimately recognize it. More crucially, this poor nation can have access to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. And notwithstanding the concerns of Spain and some other EU members, it will retain the support of NATO and the European Union in their ongoing mission there.
Much depends on how Serbia resolves its internal confusion. For most Serbs, the idea of giving up Kosovo is a nonstarter. Yet polls show that 70 percent of Serbs want to move closer to Europe, not to Russia or the big Asian powers. For now, however, that is the way the Serbs are moving: farther from the West, closer to the rest of the world.
by Alan Jaksic
Kosovo's Albanian leaders have declared independence from Serbia. But what has happened since?
Albanians in the province-turned-self-declared-state celebrated it, along with fellow ethnics in Europe and America. Serbs in Kosovo, on the other hand, have demonstrated against it, along with their fellow ethnics in Serbia, Bosnia and elsewhere. Both reactions were to be expected, just not some of the actions we've seen, such as the burning of other countries' embassies in Belgrade.
Many countries in Europe - read, in the European Union (EU) - were keen to recognise Kosovo's independence from Serbia, convinced that it is the best solution for the province, as does America. (The EU, of course, has recently sent in EULEX to help form a new legislative infrastructure in Kosovo.) Russia opposes it, convinced that it could set a dangerous precedent for the rest of the world, and Spain within the EU opposes it, along with a few other EU countries, due to internal problems with separatists of their own.
Serbia doesn't want to recognise the self-declared republic of Kosovo; a large body of Serbs don't want to recognise it. And you know what? They don't have to. It's their right not to recognise it, just like it is the right of other countries like Albania and other private individuals around the world to do the opposite.
There are many problems with the unilateral declaration of independence, however peaceful and dignified the ceremony in Priština was. However, I want to share other reasons that I have never heard specifically mentioned by any one else. Maybe alluded to by others, but not explicitly and not with great focus.
But first of all, let me tell you what I think isn't the problem, or isn't just the problem. It's:
1. NOT Koštunica, and I have to say this, because there are people who are actually blaming him for the way Serbs in Kosovo and Belgrade have reacted to the declaration! At the recent rally in Belgrade, he gave a very patriotic, even nationalistic, speech against Kosovo's independence and separation from Serbia. But I can't take such an accusation seriously. You see, what these people are forgetting is that Vojislav Koštunica represents what many Serbs already think and feel about Kosovo and other issues without him having to mention anything openly. Those young men who attacked the embassies in Belgrade might have felt encouraged to do so by the rally, which was attended by hundreds of thousands of people, if not a million, and many famous people from Serbia and neighbouring countries spoke there - not just Koštunica. But Vojislav himself can't be held personally responsible for such vandalism. (By the way, I don't agree with many of Dr. Vojislav Koštunica's views; some of them are just not impractical and thus, not helpful/beneficial for Serbia.) Also it's
2. NOT JUST Milošević, who, as we know, caused a lot of the modern-day problems that the people of Kosovo face, both Serbian and Albanian though in different ways and for the other minorities. And of course,
3. it's NOT about "Greater Albania", even if some Albanians want it! (Actually, Kosovo Albanians prefer the independent state option and no doubt Albanians in Albania do as well, presumeably seeing such a state as a "natural ally" in the region.)
This issue is, of course, a statist issue: specifically, a region within a state has declared independence from the mother state, which in turn doesn't recognise its declaration nor its new-found existence. Being an anarchist, I don't believe in the concept of states. In fact, because of what is happening with Kosovo, my belief in the anti-state principles of Anarchism is that much justified.
For me, the problems in Kosovo between Serbs and Albanians, which I hardly hear anyone mention are these three things:
1. Lack of TRUST;
2. Lack of INTER-ETHNIC DIALOGUE. And hence,
3. Lack of INTER-COMMUNAL UNDERSTANDING.
Kosovo Albanians have wanted independence for a long time, and no doubt with even greater determination since the Kosovo war that ended almost ten years ago in 1999. Because of the recent events in history, and also before, they don't want to be part of Serbia any more. Kosovo Albanians don't trust Serbia, which is, considering the history, understandable. But what doesn't seem to occur to many of them and even other people (!) - or at least I haven't seen that it substantially has - is that Kosovo Serbs don't trust them, i.e. Kosovo Albanians and Kosovo governmental institutions.
The distrust that Kosovo Serbs have for Kosovo Albanians has existed for a very long time. Even during Tito's Yugoslavia, there was, let's just say, nowhere near as much social cohesion - read, "Brotherhood & Unity" (Bratstvo i Jedinstvo) - between them as there was between Serbs, Croats and Muslims in Bosnia, where there were plenty of mixed marriages.
And just to set the record staright, it wasn't Milošević who created this distrust that Kosovo Serbs feel for Kosovo Albanians; he infamously utilised it! (Remember "Niko ne sme da vas bije" and the revocation of Kosovo's autonomy? There you go.) And neither did Koštunica create it; he just doesn't have either the ability or the will or both of which to remedy such sentiment.
And so, Kosovo Albanians have declared independence for Kosovo without truly and meaningfully securing the trust of Kosovo Serbs. That is really amazing. I don't know whether they know how to encourage Kosovo Serbs to trust them or whether they even want to. But it's amazing how even now that Kosovo Albanians have declared independence, Kosovo Serbs still look to Belgrade. And although it is true that Dr. Vojislav Koštunica and others have discouraged Serbs in the region from participating in Kosovo institutions lest they tacitly recognise its independence and separation from Serbia, I repeat that he is NOT to blame for the distrust that Kosovo Serbs feel and have felt for a very long time for Kosovo Albanians and institutions run by them. Period.
And this is where the second problem I mentioned above has prolonged this problem.
A major problem that no-one seems to have considered (!) is the utter lack of inter-ethnic dialogue between Serbs and Albanians. Sure, Kosovo Albanian leaders and Serbian leaders from Belgrade have done many rounds of negotiation regarding the future status of Kosovo over the past few years. It's good that there was even that kind of dialogue! But what about dialogue between ordinary Kosovo Serbs and Albanians, the civilian populaton? Hmm?
Even in Israel/Palestine, further southeast of the Balkans, there is some form of interethnic relations between Jews and Arabs in the heart of the Middle East, while virtually nothing - NOTHING - of the sort can be said for Serbs and Albanians in southern Europe! Indeed, for many Serbs and Albanians, Serbo-Albanian relations don't even exist.
And so I ask myself, are Serbs and Albanians not ashamed of themselves? Israelis and Palestinians who live on the centuries disputed Holy Land have better relations with one another than Serbs and Albanians who live in the heart of southeastern Europe! Israelis and Palestinians get on much better with one another than Serbs and Albanians!!!
Many Serbs view the Albanians of Kosovo as a completely "alien" group of people, no better than "interlopers", even though the overwhelming majority of them have ancestors who lived in the region going back hundreds of years. On the other hand, Albanians look at Serbs from Kosovo as somehow eternally "influenced by Belgrade", even when they are expressing deeply rooted fears that they have felt throughout their lives living there.
(Oh, it's easy to blame Serbian leaders from Belgrade for such sentiments Kosovo Serbs harbor! But actually, dear readers, such attitude is highly short-sighted and grossly ignorant.)
As you've seen on the news, Kosovo Serbs wave Serbian flags, proclaiming "Kosovo is Serbia!", and most importantly, they wholeheartedly reject the independence of Kosovo that other countries perhaps blindly recognise, and make it clear that Kosovo is still territorially part of Serbia and that they recognise no separation from Serbia. Kosovo Albanians wave Albanian flags and flags of other countries, proudly proclaiming "Kosova is free!", and no longer consider their towns and villages to be part of Serbia (of course, they haven't done so for a long time).
I saw the rally in Belgrade, Serbia, attended by hundreds of thousands of Serbs, maybe even a million, voicing loudly their great opposition to Kosovo independence. In Priština, Albanians were dancing and singing on the streets and scribbling on the newly erected "New Born" sculpture.
These two people just don't talk to one another! And when they do, they're just rude and abusive to one another, and such dialogue can never be described as "civilised". Serbs relate the things they know, heard of, believe and feel about Kosovo, and are bewildered by what Albanians recount to them; and Albanians are likewise bewildered at what Serbs tell them, and share with them what they know, heard of, believe and feel. Rudeness, abuse, inconsideration and ignorance abound, and they are seen on and come from both sides. There is therefore a lack of basic understanding between the two, or like I mentioned above, lack of inter-communal understanding.
Kosovo Serbs don't understand why Kosovo Albanians don't feel safe under Belgrade and Serbia; while Kosovo Albanians, and perhaps other countries, don't understand why Kosovo Serbs feel that only under Serbian sovereignty and Belgrade can they feel safe.
And yet, should you try to explain to the other side what they other side thinks, there is sheer dismissal from both sides; the other side is either deluded or just tells lies. No compassion and no understanding. Appalling.
So along with distrust, there is a lot of contempt as well: Albanians have a lot of contempt for Serbs, based on their own historical experience; and likewise, Serbs have contempt for Albanians, but not based on the same historical experience.
I'm not going to beat around the bush. I have never supported Kosovo independence before, and now that its Albanian leaders have declared it, not to mention unilaterally (which means without either the consent of or based on any agreement with Belgrade), I can truly see how it is in no way the solution to the above-mentioned problems.
In my opinion, only one country can give the self-declared republic any legitimacy, and that's Serbia. Not America or the EU, and certainly not Albania or the Turkish Republic of Cyprus! It's Serbia's inherent right as a state to either accept or reject the secession of a region within its sovereign territory, without being pressured either way.
The only true solution to the Kosovo issue is not for Priština or Brussels to force Kosovo Serbs and Belgrade to accept the self-declared independence, or God forbid another war, but inter-ethnic dialogue between the Serbian and Albanian people, through which the two people can raise their concerns to one another in a civilised and non-abusive manner. Everything that could be helpful and prove beneficial for both peoples, will come from that.
Of course, it would be better if there were NO states on the planet and hence no borders. But even I acknowledge that we don't live in such a world.
We are dealing with people's emotions here, you know. I have seen so many times how national pride is something so strongly linked - inextricably so - to one's own sense of personal dignity. So let us bear that in mind when dealing with Kosovo and other issues throughout the war-torn Western Balkans, the former Yugoslavia.
by Ed Alexander
Political protests at sporting events are nothing new, and moreover they should in general be welcome so long as they are made in good faith. They help to show the very importance of sport, namely that it is more than just sport. One does not have to necessarily agree with the message being made, but one must respect the bravery and awareness of those individuals who make them. In a world in which we regularly hear about overpaid athletes living in bubbles of luxury it is encouraging to see that some still remember that they have the potential to speak for their people.
This was the case when Serbian swimmer Milorad Cavic took to the rostrum to celebrate his victory in the 50m butterfly-stroke at the European Championships in Eindhoven. Draped in a Serbian flag and wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with the slogan “Kosvo is Serbia”, Cavic will no doubt have angered both Albanian ultra-nationalists and grey-suited officials from FINA, the sport’s governing body. Many of us who firmly support Kosovo’s independence will have paradoxically supported Cavic’s protest though, seeing in it an expression of the democratic right of the individual to speak his mind. When so many athletes concern themselves solely with wearing branded sportswear advertising their latest commercial endorsement, Cavic has shown that some athletes are still proud to represent their people and that sport, along with other mediums such as theatre and art, remains one of the most vital bastions of the defense of public interest when we become disillusioned with politics. Cavic has been banned for the remainder of the European Championships, meaning that he will miss out on the 100m Butterfly-stroke event, a decision which surely reflects poorly on FINA since the winner will never know whether he was the best or whether Cavic would have beaten him.Whilst avoiding cliché, it seems that now is the time to bring up Voltaire’s much used soundbite: I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it!
Sport is adored by the masses worldwide. One need only look back to great sporting statements, such as Jesse Owen’s success in the Nazi Olympics of 1936 or the black power salutes made by John Carlos and Tommie Smith at the 1968 Olympics, to see that sport is not, and never should be, viewed outside the context of politics. If an individual feels that he can make an influence, or at least show solidarity to his people, then it is in many respects his responsibility to do so. A good deal of rational and sane Serbs do not wish for Kosovo to be separated from Serbia, and it is for these people that Cavic speaks, not for the violent and thuggish protesters who harm their own cause through their ignorance.
In a global context, the responsibility of athletes to make a political stand is all the more relevant as the Beijing Olympics approaches. The deaths of protesters has not gone unnoticed but now it is time for World Class Olympians to show their solidarity with the people of Tibet. Chinese officials will not be impressed, and it is likely that the national sporting federations of the athletes might not back them either, but now is not the time to listen to bureaucrats, now is time for sport to speak to the people.
Balkan Baby blog
Friday, March 21, 2008
European Union - the betrayal of elites: A Political trap where the EU has fallen: Challenges, Errors and Solutions
Thursday, 13 March 2008
One must be honest. By letting Kosovo go ahead with its declaration of independence, the European Union has fallen into a major political trap which will weigh on its internal and external policies for many years. This trap is documented for years. It was obvious to most observers. Nevertheless, our EU elites, once again, acted in a way which betrayed the EU's common interest, in order to satisfy either their short term national interests or their foreign masters’ (in that case, essentially Washington).
Until an EU political leadership is able to project a crystal-clear vision for the accession of all the Balkan countries still out of the EU, the Europeans will be trapped into both the internal consequences of the Kosovo's declaration of independence (strengthening the move towards independence on the part of several regions within the EU member states, growing financial and diplomatic costs of peace operations in an increasingly unstable region, speeding up organized-crime development throughout the EU using the Balkan as a privileged hub…); and its external consequences (USA and Russia's permanent interferences, Turkey and other Muslim countries meddling with the region’s affairs…).
And these factors will make it even more complicated for the EU to develop any consistent policy regarding the integration of the whole Balkans into the EU. Just to underline how inconsistent the EU is on this issue, one can contemplate two facts:. for Bosnia, the EU says that it is important to compell several cultural groups to live together into a single state. for Kosovo, the EU says that it is legitimate for a cultural group to make secession from an existing state.
If it was not so dramatic, such an arbitrary behaviour disguised under the appearance of international law, would be laughable.
In short, EU elites have once again chosen a path which leads to more problems for the future and to a weaker EU. Once again, our current so-called 'leaders' are shelving problems to be solved by the next generation of EU leaders.
Well, we are this 'next generation' and we really are fed up by such a level of incompetence, lack of will and irrelevance of today's EU elites.
Therefore, in order to give a flavour of what tomorrow will bring once we take in charge the EU affairs, let's put a few things straight:
1. Kosovo's independence is an illusion which will not go through the next decade. The political and historic trends which are at play in the region will end up in the breakdown of Kosovo as well as Bosnia into several regional entities which will be attached to Serbia, Albania and Croatia, with a wide-ranging autonomous status. The only key reason why Kosovo is able to claim its independence today is the USA. In the coming 10 years, the USA will no longer be in a position to play any significant political role within the EU territory. So, without its « creator's force » to support the existence of an independent Kosovo, Kosovars will have to follow the path to EU integration.
2. Kosovo, Bosnia, and all these issues are directly related to the EU integration process. The so-called 'forces for independence' of what used to be mere provinces (not even republics) of former Yugoslavia are essentially a grouping of non European interests (American, Russian, Turk, ... interests) and of local and international mafia groups. One of the key common interests of these players is to keep the region as fragmented as possible, out of the EU’s legal framework and preveting the younger generations of the region to pave a way towards democracy and European integration.
3. When Newropeans will be in the European Parliament in 2009, we will push forward the « Balkans 2014 Agenda : Closing a Century of European Civil Wars », calling for a crystal-clear accession process for the region. As previously presented in this magazine, it will focus the process on a major celebration, in July 2014, in Sarajevo, called « Closing a Century of European Civil Wars », which should also mark the crucial moment for the accession of the Balkans to the EU. Some countries will join already in 2014, others will only start officially their accession negotiations then, but in any case, all countries in the region will be embarked in the EU process on that date. A trans-European referendum on the Balkans accession will be organized the same year within the EU.
4. A special focus should now be given to Albania which is being currently transformed into a mix of a US army aircraft carrier and a major mafia hub on European soil. The EU should put an emphasis on Albania with the objective to have it ready to embark on an accession process in 2014 while being ready to integrate the autonomous region of Kosovo at the same time. Albanian infrastructures, education, justice, ... have to be upgraded to the average level of the whole region by 2014. It is time for the EU to acknowledge the fact that Albania will be part of the EU in the next decade and that it holds a major key of the region's stabilization. So that it has to become an EU priority in the region, and not a 'left-over' as it has now been for more than a decade.
5. A slow but efficient process of reshaping the Serb-, Albanian- and Croatian-speaking regions of Bosnia, Montenegro, Macedonia and Kosovo should be started by the end of this decade. By using only a fraction of the vast amount of money which this region costs to the EU and member states’ budgets every year, a 'relocation fund' will be created in order to generously sponsor the relocation of families in order to create more homogeneous political entities : 100,000 euros per family accepting to relocate in the first year of the 5 years relocation scheme, 75,000 euros per family if they wait for the second year, 50,000 euros only if they move in the third year, 10,000 Euros afterwards.
If such a policy sounds too bold, too politically incorrect to you, then, don't vote for Newropeans in June 2009. But if on the contrary, you think that it is more than time that a real leadership emerges on the EU level, capable of tackling complex challenges such as these ones in an innovative way, with a truly common European vision and a bottom-line taking in consideration people's interests instead of the various mafias and non EU-vested interests, then Newropeans is the right political choice for you.
President of Newropeans
Cannes - France (03/03/2008)
 In this very magazine, for instance, which is widely read among political circles, we have been explaining for years why the independence of Kosovo was neither in the interest of the EU nor in the interest of the Balkan's populations (Kosovars included). >> Read: Kosovo - The "Balkanic Road to the EU"
 As they already did with the refusal to hold referenda on the new EU treaty or with the refusal to put clearly Turkey in front of a decent offer of 'strategic partnership' rather than the illusory future accession. By the way, it is more than amazing to see that many EU leaders claim to be willing to listen at the 'Kosovo's people voice' when they refuse to listen at their own people's voice when it comes to EU treaty's ratification.
 This policy proposal will be discussed in details and proposed for adoption by Newropeans members by Spring 2008.
"This is the latest and 'utterly wrong' U.S. move that came after illegal recognition of Kosovo’s unilaterally declared independence,” Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica said in an interview with the Vecernje Novosti daily.
In a presidential statement posted on the White House’s official Web site late Wednesday, Bush said Kosovo was eligible “to receive defence articles and defence services under the Foreign Assistance Act and the Arms Export Control Act.”
In his decree, Bush said military assistance to Kosovo "will strengthen the security of the United States and promote world peace."
Although its constitution envisions so, Kosovo does not yet have a standing army. The Kosovo Protection Corps, a civilian defence organization that emerged from the now-defunct Kosovo Liberation Army, should serve as an embryo for the future military, according to the blueprint for Kosovo's 'supervised independence' devised by UN Special envoy, Martti Ahtisaari. The territory maintains its police force which is under United Nations control.
In excerpts from the interview that will be published on Friday, Kostunica said that “there are too many weapons in Kosovo.”
Kostunica, a conservative politician is bitterly opposed to the U.S. policy of recognising and aiding Kosovo after it declared independence on February 17.
With the backing of key ally Russia, Serbia, which considers Kosovo as the heartland of its Orthodox Christian civilisation is trying to block territory’s access to the United Nations and other international organizations.
Ljubodrag Stojadinovic, a columnist with Belgrade's Politika daily and former military spokesman said "such a move indicates that Washington is ready to throw all of its weight" behind Kosovo.
"Americans are more concrete in backing their Kosovo Albanian allies than Russians who are supporting Serbia only verbally," he said.
A total of 33 countries, including leading Western powers have recognised Kosovo’s independence so far, prompting Serbia to protest and to pull out ambassadors from respective capitals for consultations.
The recognition of Kosovo by the U.S. and the West angered Serbs and many embassies were attacked in the February 21 riots in Belgrade.
“Instead of arming (Kosovo) Albanians, the U.S. should revert to adherence of the international law and the UN charter. Kosovo does not need new weapons but new negotiations” over its status, Kostunica said.
Serbia’s outgoing premier whose Cabinet collapsed on March 13 over disagreements about European integration with pro-Western coalition partners loyal to President Boris Tadic said “the American decision is only confirming implementation of a dangerous plan of creating a NATO puppet state in the world.”
"American authorities must know that the Serbian people are dismayed over the policy of force the U.S. is pursuing in its relations with Serbia. Our duty is to fight for the right and justice that belong to Serbia and to win either today or tomorrow,” Kostunica said.
In 1999 the U.S. administration under President Bill Clinton, led the NATO bombing of the now defunct two-republic Yugoslavia in an attempt to oust Serbian troops from Kosovo, then Serbia’s southern province and end their crackdown on ethnic Albanian rebels.
The U.S. currently maintains a 1456-strong military presence in Kosovo and the Bondsteel military base, as part of NATO’s KFOR peacekeeping contingent.
20 March 2008 Belgrade _ Serbia has evidence that UN intervention against Serbs in north Mitrovica this week, was aimed at sparking a wider conflict, a top-ranking Serbian official has alleged.
“We have evidence so an investigation that must follow, we have TV footage, bullets extracted from wounded people, casings from sniper rifles that were targeting Serbs,” Slobodan Samardzic, Serbia’s Minister for Kosovo, said in an interview with the Vecernje Novosti daily published on Thursday.
Samardzic, a key ally of conservative Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica sought to defend Serbs from Mitrovica saying they were provoked by “the brutality of United Nations police troops.”
“We have evidence that someone wanted to provoke conflict and introduce martial law in Kosovo,” he said.
One Ukrainian policeman serving with the UN in Kosovo died in riots Monday which erupted after international troops raided a local court in northern part of Mitrovica taken over by local Serbs last week.
Two civilians remained hospitalised and in serious condition, while at least 150 people, civilians, UN police and NATO peacekeepers were injured.
UN authorities in Kosovo launched an investigation into the incident. They also accused Serbia of having a covert presence of its police in Mitrovica court, something denied by the government in Belgrade.
Serbia has also demanded a separate probe by the UN Security Council over alleged excessive use of force by international troops.
Samardzic’s remarks came amid election campaign for the May 11 general elections which will pit conservatives loyal to Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica and nationalists of the Serbian Radical Party against a pro-Western bloc led by the Democratic Party of the country’s President Boris Tadic.
Samardzic dismissed Tadic's repeated claims that Serbia can only defend Kosovo as its constituent part only if it joins the European Union as “a post-modern fairy tale and a lullaby for the people.”
“It is fiction. Even without Kosovo (as an ongoing crisis) … we could not become a (European Union) member within a decade,” he said.
Earlier this week, Tadic’s loyalists lashed out at Samardzic accusing him of having a role in instigating violence in Kosovo’s north.
20 March 2008 Skopje _ Almost half of the people in Macedonia oppose the recognition of their northern neighbour Kosovo,an opinion poll by a local non-governmental organisation shows.
Of the people surveyed, 45% answered negatively while 36% approved when asked whether Macedonia should recognize Kosovo’s independence, the Centre for Research and Policy Making, CRPM said.
The other 19% answered either that they are indifferent or that they do not have an opinion.
Macedonian Albanians represent around one quarter of the overall population and had a much stronger opinion regarding recognition with 95% of ethnic Albanians surveyed saying they want to see Kosovo recognised by Skopje.
However 60% of ethnic Macedonians are against recognition.
A slight majority of people, 55%, think that the mutual border should be marked first if Macedonia is to recognise the newly declared state.
Skopje’s border with Kosovo has been left unmarked for years due to an earlier dispute between Pristina and Belgrade over who has jurisdiction over Kosovo's boundaries.
The CRPM poll also shows divided opinion over regional security with nearly 28% believing that security will be increased with Kosovo’s recognition while 25% say it will worsen. The rest of those surveyed answered either that it will remain the same or that they do not know.
The poll was made by telephone on a sample of 1100 people, CRPM said.
Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in mid February. Macedonia has not yet recognized the newly emerged state in part due to fear of retribution by Belgrade since its economy is closely linked to the country.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Both President Fatmir Sejdiu and Prime Minister, Hashim Thaci said the U.S. military assistance is an important milestone in the new history of Kosovo but refrained from explaining what weapons Kosovo will have.
“The cooperation between the U.S. and Kosovo has not ended with independence,” Sejdiu told media, adding “it will continue in the future”.
Thaci, also greeted the U.S. decision but did not specify from when the military aid will arrive in Kosovo.
Under the blueprint devised by Martti Ahtisaari, the former United Nations special envoy who drew up the plans for Kosovo's 'supervised independence,' the current Kosovo Protection Corp is to be transformed into a new army-like Security Force for Kosovo.
The Kosovo Protection Corp is a civilian defence organization that emerged from the now-defunct Kosovo Liberation Army, which fought against Serb forces in the 1998-1999 conflict. The Corps is now a multi-ethnic entity and only acts as a civil force in cases of natural disasters or similar.
The new security force will be regulated by Kosovo's new constitution which is expected to be passed by the beginning of April.
Late on Wednesday, U.S. President George Bush authorised military assistance to the government in Pristina in a move that cemented the determination of the United States to back newly-independent Kosovo.
In a presidential statement posted on the White House’s official Web site, Bush said Kosovo was eligible “to receive defence articles and defence services under the Foreign Assistance Act and the Arms Export Control Act.”
In his decree, Bush said military assistance to Kosovo "will strengthen the security of the United States and promote world peace."
The United States was among the first countries to recognise Kosovo after its February 17 declaration of independence. A total of 33 countries worldwide, including top Western powers and Serbia’s neighbours, Hungary and Croatia have also recognised the government in Pristina.
The U.S. currently maintains a 1456-strong military presence in Kosovo and the Bondsteel military base, as part of NATO’s KFOR peacekeeping contingent.
Bulgaria, Croatia and Hungary have formerly recognised newly independent Kosovo in a joint move that has infuriated Serbia, which responded by recalling its ambassadors to Zagreb and Budapest.
In a joint statement, the three regional neighbours -- which all have borders with Serbia -- declared that their decision to recognise Kosovo as a sovereign nation was "based on thorough consideration".
It brought to 32 the number of countries worldwide that recognise Kosovo's independence -- unilaterally declared on February 17 by the parliament of the predominantly ethnic Albanian territory that had been a province of Serbia.
But it also dealt a blow to Serbia's firm opposition to Kosovo's independence, and in addition put strains on relations with Croatia, which like Serbia had been part of the former Yugoslavia.
Making good on its warning that relations would suffer, Belgrade swiftly recalled its ambassadors to Zagreb and Budapest for consultations.
In a statement in Belgrade, Serbian foreign ministry said the ambassadors -- Radivoj Cveticanin in Croatia and Predrag Cudic in Hungary -- should leave their host countries in the next 48 hours.
It added that a protest note had also been fired off to Monaco, the latest country to recognise Kosovo.
Unrest in Mitrovica
Wednesday's developments came just two days after the worst violence in Kosovo since independence, in which a UN police officer was killed and more than 150 people hurt in clashes in the divided Kosovo city of Mitrovica.
Many Serbs regard Kosovo as the cradle of their Orthodox faith, culture and identity, but how to respond to independence has triggered a political crisis in Belgrade, prompting elections to be called for May 11.
Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, speaking on Wednesday to Croatian television, welcomed the nod from Sofia, Zagred and Budapest, saying: "We are very satisfied that we have been finally recognised by ... our friends."
In a statement, the Croatian government said it "accepted" Kosovo's independence -- prompting deputy prime minister Slobodan Uzelac, who represents the country's Serb minority, to tender his resignation in protest.
Croatia went on to underline its "readiness to continue developing universal and intensive relations with Serbia".
"Ties between the countries in the region are of special importance and their lasting stability remains an irreplaceable factor of peace and security in Europe," it said.
Slovenia was the first former Yugoslav republic to recognise Kosovo, but Croatia's move is more sensitive, as it threatened to harm delicate post-war ties between the two neighbours.
Serbian President Boris Tadic had already stated that recognising Kosovo would have an "immediate impact on our bilateral ties".
In its statement, Hungary called on Belgrade to ensure the safety of 350,000 ethnic Hungarians living in Vojvodina, a Serbian province where the minority group has been targeted in the past by Serb nationalists.
BBC News, Kosovo
The recognition of Kosovo by Croatia, Hungary and Bulgaria comes at a crucial moment.
Serbian diplomats and their Russian allies have tirelessly argued that the independence of Kosovo undermines the stability of the Balkans.
Those who back independence, led by the United States, Britain, Germany and France, argue that it serves stability; that the last loose piece of the Balkan jigsaw has now been pushed into place.
As Serbia's neighbours, Croatia, Hungary and Bulgaria have shown that they accept the latter argument.
"Ties between the countries in the region are of special importance and their lasting stability remains an irreplaceable factor of peace and security in Europe," the Croatian government said in a statement on Wednesday.
Hungary's recognition of Kosovo was taken with a heavy heart
The first country to leave the old Yugoslavia, Slovenia, which will hold the presidency of the EU until July, was among the first countries to recognise independence.
Croatia, at war with Serbia in 1991-92 and again in 1995, has worked hard to repair ties with Serbia.
Trade has grown rapidly, and reached $1bn in 2007. But Zagreb preferred to risk Serbia's ire, than live comfortably and ignore Kosovo.
SERBIA AND ITS NEIGHBOURS
Another important factor which may have influenced Croatia's step is the forthcoming Nato summit in Bucharest in April.
Croatia, along with Albania and Macedonia, is hoping to receive an invitation in the Romanian capital to join the military alliance.
The US, as Kosovo's most powerful backer, has been urging all countries to recognise Kosovo. Anyone who wants to please the US today must follow that line.
Fears in Budapest
Hungary's recognition of Kosovo was taken with a heavy heart. Some 280,000 ethnic Hungarians live in the northern Serbian province of Vojvodina.
They have been the target of isolated but persistent attacks over the years: mostly physical assault and abuse by young Serbs, displaced from their homes in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo by the conflicts of the 1990s.
And fears have been expressed in the past weeks in the Hungarian media that recognition of Kosovo by Budapest could spark more attacks.
With the influx of Serb refugees in Vojvodina has come a growing strength for the ultranationalist Serbian Radical Party.
One Radical Party deputy suggested in recent days that ethnic Hungarians in Vojvodina might again be targeted.
His comments were angrily rounded on by ethnic Hungarian leaders. But the real test for the Hungarian minority in Serbia has already passed.
In March 1999 Hungary joined Nato. Ten days later, Nato began bombing Serbia, using Hungarian facilities and airspace.
As ethnic Hungarians queued to enter air-raid shelters in Novi Sad and other Serbian cities, their Serb neighbours asked why they didn't "go home".
The ethnic Hungarians insisted that their first loyalty was to Serbia. Some 50 young ethnic Hungarian conscripts died in Yugoslav army uniforms, fighting for Belgrade on the battlefronts in Croatia and Kosovo.
Bulgaria's decision to recognise Kosovo is painful for Serbia in a different way. As a predominantly Christian Orthodox country, it has a long history of friendship with Belgrade.
The two countries are also co-operating with Russia, with new gas pipelines across their territories, which will help Russia consolidate its increasingly important role in energy supplies to the whole of Europe.
Apart from pleasing the US, Bulgaria's leaders may also have decided that Russian influence in the Balkans is growing alarmingly.
And as a Nato member, Sofia wants to show where its own, first loyalties lie.
There is a rather 19th Century feeling in the Balkans today - small countries, choosing allies carefully, in a strategic battle between the Great Powers.