Kosovo: Albanian paradise or Serbian hell?

On November 17, the election to the Assembly (Yugoslavian parliament) took place in Kosovo. According to Department of Information and Press of the Russian Foreign Ministry, the voting was carried out without fraud thanks to the extraordinary security measures taken by international structures because of the still remaining level of interethnic conflicts.

According to the preliminary results, moderate Albanian leader Ibragim Rugova and his party won a victory in the election to the Kocovar legislative assembly. OSCE reports that second place belongs to the Democratic Party of Kosovo headed by Hashim Tachi: 22.5 percent of the electorate voted for him. Ramush Haradinai’s Alliance for the Future of Kosovo received 7.8 percent of the votes. Eleven percent of the voters gave their votes to the only coalition of Kosovar Serbs, “Return," which received only 20 places in the 120-seat parliament. It is not known how these 20 people will assert the rights of Serbs. The legislative assembly must choose the president and form the governmen. At the moment, Kosovo is being governed by a UN international administration. The United States called for the Albanian parties that won not to neglect the rights of national minorities and to avoid immediately changing the province’s status. The Yugoslavian events of 1999 made a deep impression on the people’s souls, both of the Serbs and Albanians. Milosevic’s policy caused many troubles for Kosovar Serbs. Many of them lost their homes and have no hope of return. In June of 1999, columns of tanks of the Yugoslav Army, moving from Kosovo to Serbia, were followed by tractors, lorries, and passenger cars with Slavic citizens who were escaping the Albanians. Later, Albanian extremists continued to oust the Serbs from Kosovo by burning their houses, killing people, and sending anonymous threats. Simultaneously, another process was going on: thousands of Albanians were leaving poor Albania for the economically more developed Yugoslavian province of Kosovo. Therefore, the province became multiethnic: about two million Albanians, and 300,000 Serbs, Turks, and Gypsies. Appeals of the US and of other countries for saving the security of the Serb population brought. The surge of refugees grew more and more. Militants from the Kosovar Liberation Army (as if disarmed by the peace-keepers) turned out to have kept their arms. These arms are now being used in Macedonia and Afghanistan. In fact, Western peace-keepers showed their incapability to reconcile the Serbs with the Albanians, so they took the Albanians’ side. For them, it was better to support one fraction than not to support any. At least nobody is shooting at your back. This position seems not to be most clever, especially taking into account the 11 September events.

The passage of "democratic” election in Kosovo appears to be very interesting. The Belgrade government has many times asked the Western community to guarantee the security of the non-Albanian population and to help the return of Serb refugees, and only then to open voting districts. While the West, feeling ashamed of the failure of the anti-Yugoslavian air-operation, tried to make an illusion of democratic power institutions in Kosovo. “The election was evidence of Kosovar democratic forces’ ripeness,” – Dan Everts, head of OSCE mission to Kosovo reported.

The election was carried out, and the West acknowledged it as legal. Russian Foreign Ministry admitted this fact, while adding some features. Therefore, it looks like Russia was not able to help its Slavic brothers, though it could speak about it aloud. The Serb population actively took part in the election, both Serbs who stood in the province and those who left after the ethnic cleansing carried out by Albanian extremists. By coming to the voting districts, the Serbs demonstrated their readiness to actively participate in political life of Kosovo and to obtain with legal means the restoration of the multinational character of the land and its truly democratic development as a part of Yugoslavia.

The non-Albanian population of Kosovo is deeply concerned with issues of security; of the return of refugees; and the availability of education, health, culture, and information, which still have not been solved in spite of the 2.5-year international control over Kosovo.

Namely, international structures, first of all, the UN mission, are responsible for further advance of the regulation process in Kosovo. The UN mission must meet its engagements according to 1244th resolution of UN Security Council. This should be furthered by the newly elected institutions of the province.

However, the Serbs future does not promise to be joyful. Albanian politicians dream about a “greater Albania," so their appetites will only grow. This was confirmed by recent events in Macedonia. The new constitution awarded local Albanians with unprecedented rights, though the war does not end. They seem not the be satisfied with it.

Dmitry Litvinovich PRAVDA.Ru

Read the original in Russian: http://www.pravda.ru/main/2001/11/20/34019.html