Zum Krieg der Nato gegen Jugoslawien habe es keine Alternative gegeben, so die offizielle Position und der Glaube vieler Menschen. Jahrelang habe man alles versucht, eine friedliche, politische Lösung zu erreichen, aber alle Bemühungen seien an Slobodan Milosevic gescheitert. Eine Betrachtung der anderen Art
Für die meisten PolitikerInnen in nationalen und internationalen Gremien begann der Konflikt im Kosovo im Frühling 1998, als der Krieg ausbrach. Weiter reichen das Wissen und das Gedächtnis selten. Und verdrängt werden die zahlreichen verpassten Chancen zur politischen und zivilen Konfliktbearbeitung.
Die Krise Anfang der 80er-Jahre
In den 80er-Jahren schlitterte Jugoslawien in eine tiefe wirtschaftliche und politische Krise. Die Verschuldung explodierte, und mit dem Tod Titos 1980 verlor das Land seine Integrationsfigur. Notwendige Reformen scheiterten an der Unfähigkeit der politischen Füh-rung, die sich an den Status Quo – das „Erbe Titos” – klammerte. Statt das Land zu reformieren, verlor sich die Führung in Machtkämpfen um Privilegien. Die grossen Autonomie-Kundgebungen im Kosovo vom Frühjahr 1981 wurden nicht zum Anlass genommen, politische Lösungen zu erarbeiten, sondern mit Polizeigewalt brutal niedergeschlagen. Über hundert Menschen wurden dabei getötet und der Ausnahmezustand über die Region verhängt. Tausende kosovo-albanischer Aktivisten wurden zu langjährigen Gefängnisstrafen für „konterrevolutionäre Aktivitäten” und „Separatismus” verurteilt.
Was tat die internationale Gemeinschaft? Rein gar nichts! Man nahm nicht einmal wahr, dass Jugoslawien in einer Krise steckte, die sich laufend vertiefte.
Was hätte getan werden müssen? Beispielsweise hätte das Angebot für eine EG-Mitgliedschaft erneuert werden können, um dem Land konkrete wirtschaftliche und politische Perspektiven und die Möglichkeit zur Umlagerung seiner Aussenschulden zu bieten. Ein paar Jahre zuvor hatte Tito das erste Angebot noch abgelehnt, weil die geforderten Reformen die Stellung der Führung untergraben hätten. Trotz seiner Probleme war Jugoslawien damals aber kein schlechterer Beitrittskandidat als Spanien oder Portugal.
Von der Krise zum Nationalismus…
Das Land war Mitte der 80er-Jahre wirtschaftlich und politisch so tief gesunken, dass ExpertInnen im Land von einer „tiefen Strukturkrise” sprachen. In serbischen und slowenischen Intellektuellenkreisen tauchten die ersten nationalen – in Wahrheit nationalistischen – Programme auf. Warnrufe demokratischer Kreise wurden nicht gehört und versanken im Kreuzfeuer des immer lauter werdenden nationalistischen Gebrülls.
Was tat der Westen? Noch einmal: gar nichts. Was wäre nötig und möglich gewesen? Internationale Seminare und Konferenzen hätten dazu beigetragen, die Probleme wahrzunehmen, zu verstehen und zu bearbeiten. Jugoslawien hätte in die europäische Diskussion einbezogen werden müssen, statt sich selber und seinen nationalistischen Politikern überlassen zu bleiben.
Die nationalistischen Programme wurden zur herrschenden Ideologie und Politik, zuerst 1987 in Serbien, dann 1989 auch in Slowenien und Kroatien. 1987 bis 1990 schüttelten täglich Grossdemonstrationen das Land durch: Milosevics Massenmobilisierungen und Medienmanipulationen im Rahmen einer „antibürokratische Revolution” stürzten das Land ins Chaos und führten zur Ausschaltung der Autonomie der Vojvodina und des Kosovo. Die bisherigen politischen Führungen wurden weggesäubert und durch Gefolgsleute von Milosevic ersetzt. 1989 kam Montenegro an die Reihe, 1990 die serbisch besiedelten Gebiete Kroatiens.
Die jugoslawischen politischen Gremien zerfielen im Schnellzugstempo. Gemeinsame Politik wurde unmöglich und die Führungen der Teilrepubliken kämpften immer stärker mit nationalistischen Parolen und Programmen um ihre eigene Macht.
Die Proteste im Kosovo gegen die Aufhebung der Autonomie wurden mit brutaler Polizeigewalt niedergeschlagen, kosovo-albanische Angestellte entlassen, albanisch als Schulsprache verboten, Kindern und StudentInnen der Zugang zu Schulen sowie Universitäten verwehrt und Zeitungen in albanischer Sprache verboten. Die Zahl der Menschenrechtsverletzungen bis hin zu Folter und Ermordung politischer Gefangener nahm unglaubliche Ausmasse an. Die Kosovo-AlbanerInnen reagierten darauf mit der Ausrufung der „Republik Kosova” und dem Aufbau gesellschaftlicher Parallelstrukturen vorbei am serbischen Staatsapparat.
Händedruck und Schulterklopfen
Gleichzeitig wurde die Geschichte umgeschrieben, um die SerbInnen als „himmlisches Volk” zu inthronisieren: Die Vorbereitungen zur 600-Jahr-Feier der Schlacht auf dem Amselfeld (serbokroatisch Kosovo Polje) wurde zur Kulthandlung, bei der die Knochen des mittelalterlichen serbischen Königs Lazar durch das ganze Land getragen wurden. Im Kosovo stieg die Temperatur, als serbische Gruppen die Diskriminierung und Unterdrückung ihrer Nation durch die albanische Mehrheit zum Thema ihrer Propaganda machten. Milosevic stellte sich hinter sie und erklärte sich zu ihrem Beschützer. Der Konflikt war Wasser auf seine Mühlen.
In diese Zeit fällt aber auch die Suche nach politischen und wirtschaftlichen Alternativen. Der 1989 gewählte Premierminister Jugoslawiens, Ante Markovic, hatte ein ganzes Paket wirtschaftlicher Massnahmen erlassen, um das Land aus der Krise zu reissen. In kurzer Zeit zeigten die Reformen erste Erfolge und die Popularität von Markovic stieg schnell. Anfang 1989 bildete sich die „Vereinigung für eine jugoslawische demokratische Alternative” UJDI, die über einen starken Zweig auch im Kosovo verfügte. Mit Vorschlägen für Verfassungsänderungen und einem Entwurf für ein Gesetz über politische Rechte und Organisationen suchte sie den Weg zur Demokratisierung. Eine spezielle Arbeitsgruppe zum Kosovo erarbeitete politische Vorschläge zur Lösung des Konflikts. Eine Vielzahl von öffentlichen Veranstaltungen wurde organisiert, um von den Erfahrungen der Länder Osteuropas mit „runden Tischen” zu lernen. Parteienpluralismus für demokratische Wahlen stand im Vordergrund der Bemühungen, die aber sowohl von der herrschenden Partei als auch von den grössten Oppositionsparteien in den verschiedenen Republiken ignoriert wurden. Abgeschlossen wurde diese Phase 1990 durch die ersten freien Wahlen, die in allen Republiken von nationalistisch gesinnten Parteien gewonnen wurden. Der Geruch des Krieges lag in der Luft.
Und wie reagierte der Westen? Premierminister Ante Markovic bettelte rund um die Welt für Unterstützung und eine Umschuldung und präsentierte Reformprojekte. UJDI wurde bei allen Botschaften vorstellig und legte Analysen und Projekte vor. Man erhielt überall warmen Händedruck und Schulterklopfen, ein paar Versprechungen und Vertröstungen. Man sprach von 10 bis 15 Milliarden Dollar Wirtschaftshilfe, hielt Zahlungen aber unter immer neuen Vorwänden zurück, bis die Regierung Markovic völlig diskreditiert war und 1991 der Krieg ausbrach.
Erneut zeichnete sich die internationale Politik also vor allem durch Nicht-Handeln aus. Man war mit dem Zerfall der Sowjetunion zu beschäftigt und sah vielleicht auch vor lauter Triumph über den Zerfall des Kommunismus keinen Bedarf zum Handeln mehr. Jedenfalls explodierte Jugoslawien unter aktivem Abseitsstehen des Westens, mit seinen wärmsten Wünschen und Empfehlungen. Was aber wären die Alternativen gewesen?
Finanzielle Unterstützung für die anstehenden Wirtschaftsreformen wäre erste Priorität gewesen, um die Reformregierung und damit politische Stabilität am Leben zu halten. Mladjan Dinkic, einer der führenden Wirtschaftswissenschaftler Jugoslawiens, berechnete, dass schon mit vier Milliarden Dollar ein Programm zur wirtschaftlichen und sozialen Stabilisierung realisierbar gewesen wäre. Politisch hätten die Initiativen von UJDI gegen die nationalistischen Kräfte gestützt werden müssen, um eine Reform der jugoslawischen Verfassung und der Gesetze zu erreichen. Technisch wäre internationale Unterstützung für das jugoslawische Fernsehen YUTEL und unabhängige Medienprojekte zentral gewesen, um der nationalistischen Propaganda aller Republiken eine Gegenöffentlichkeit zur Seite zu stellen. Internationale Konferenzen und Seminare hätten sich der Situation der Menschen- und Minderheitenrechte – speziell für den Kosovo – annehmen müssen. Internationale Unterstützung für ihre Anliegen hätte die Kosovo-AlbanerInnen zu einer Teilnahme an den Wahlen vom Herbst 1990 bewegen können. Ivan Djuric, Präsidentschaftskandidat von UJDI und von Markovics Reformpartei, erzielte hinter Milosevic und Vuk Draskovic als Dritter 300’000 Stimmen, vor allem von ethnischen Minderheiten. Mit Unterstützung der Stimmen aus dem Kosovo hätte er zwar nicht die Wahlen gewonnen, aber die Kräfteverhältnisse verändert.
Im Angesicht des Krieges
Im Januar 1991 tauchten in Serbien, Kroatien und kurz darauf auch in Bosnien-Herzegowina paramilitärische Einheiten auf. Es kam in Kroatien zu ersten bewaffneten Auseinandersetzungen. Im Februar beschlossen die Parlamente Kroatiens und Sloweniens, die jugoslawischen Gesetze nicht mehr anzuwenden, sondern sich selbständig zu machen. Auch Mazedonien erklärte seine Selbständigkeit und die SerbInnen in Kroatien riefen die Krajina als autonome Region aus. Im März demonstrierten mehr als 100’000 Menschen in den Strassen Belgrads gegen Milosevics Regime und die Propaganda des serbischen Staatsfernsehens RTS. Die Kundgebung wurde von Panzern der Armee niedergeschlagen. Während die politischen Strukturen der Regierung immer weiter zerfielen, entstanden zivile Initiativen und Nicht-Regierungs-Organisationen (NGOs) wie Frauen- und Friedensgruppen. Im Juni vollzog Slowenien seine Unabhängigkeit, und die Panzer der Jugoslawischen Volksarmee rollten. Der Krieg hatte offiziell begonnen.
Was tat der Westen? Man stürzte sich in hektische dringliche Treffen, und die Diplomaten reichten sich die Klinke in Belgrad. Man rief zur Einheit auf und versprach Geld für Reformen. Auf Titos Ferieninsel Brioni wurde unter internationaler Aufsicht eine Konferenz abgehalten, die zur „Brioni-Erklärung” führte: Slowenien legte seine Unabhängigkeit auf Eis und die jugoslawische Armee zog sich aus Slowenien zurück – nach Kroatien. Trotz einer Vielzahl von warnenden Stimmen beschränkte man sich beim „Trouble shooting” auf den konkreten Einzelfall Slowenien und wollte nicht wahrhaben, dass damit das Problem nur geografisch verschoben wurde. Es fehlte eine durchdachte, einheitliche politische Strategie zur Konfliktbearbeitung. Die westlichen Staaten verloren sich in ihren Eigeninteressen und diplomatischen Ränkespielen.
Welche anderen Möglichkeiten gab es damals? Zentral wäre jetzt eine kohärente Politik bezüglich Wirtschafts- und Sozialpolitik, politischer Krise und regionaler Nationalismen für die ganze Region gewesen. Dazu hätten die mehr als dreissig Parteien in allen Republiken, die zivile, nicht-nationalistische Projekte und Programme vertraten, sowie die VertreterInnen der Vielzahl ziviler Gruppen einbezogen werden müssen. Sie bildeten die gesellschaftlichen Brücken über die ethnischen Gräben hinweg und stellten das gesellschaftliche Potenzial dar, Jugoslawien zu demokratisieren und politisch zu stabilisieren. Ohne internationale Unterstützung konnte dies nicht gelingen.
Von Slowenien nach Kroatien…
Die Armee verschob sich – verstärkt durch die aus Slowenien abgezogenen Truppen – nach Kroatien, um dort den nächsten, viel längeren und blutigeren Krieg zu beginnen. Während der Krieg an Brutalität immer mehr zunahm, entwickelten sich auch die Antikriegs-Aktivitäten. Täglich kam es zu Kundgebungen, Veranstaltungen, offenen Briefen und Aufrufen, aber auch konkreten Friedenseinsätzen im ganzen Land. Während die Antikriegsbewegung mit äusserst beschränkten Ressourcen versuchte, Unmögliches zu leisten, zeichnete sich die Internationale Gemeinschaft durch Handlungsunfähigkeit aus. Während einige Staaten die Einheit Jugoslawiens beschworen, anerkannten andere die alten Republiken als neue Staaten. Während die Friedenskräfte marginalisiert wurden, sass die internationale Diplomatie laufend an Konferenzen mit Kriegstreibern zusammen. Statt einem internationalen Konsens bestimmten die nationalen Eigeninteressen die Politik.
Was wurde unterlassen? Es gab keine Anerkennung und Unterstützung für all diejenigen Kräfte, die bereit waren, an einer politischen Lösung der Probleme mitzuarbeiten. Bei der grossen Politik fehlte der Wille, bei den NGOs das Geld, um solche Ansätze effektiv zu stärken. Es gab kaum seriöse Analysen, kaum auf Verständnis statt Vereinfachung angelegte Medienarbeit, kaum Plattformen und Treffpunkte für den zivilen Widerstand.
Statt den Krieg in Kroatien mit Frieden zu beenden, wurde er Anfang 1992 mit einem Waffenstillstand angehalten… und die Karawane der Jugoslawischen Volksarmee zog weiter nach Bosnien. Die Folge davon war offensichtlich, doch die Internationale Gemeinschaft glänzte durch unglaubliche Lernunfähigkeit.
… und weiter nach Bosnien
Der Krieg verlagerte sich von Kroatien nach Bosnien. Die Internationale Gemeinschaft beschloss Sanktionen gegen die Bundesrepublik Jugoslawien und begann Verhandlungen. Man diskutierte über Frieden mit Leuten wie Karadzic, die den Konflikt zum Krieg geschürt hatten und inzwischen der Kriegsverbrechen angeklagt waren. Alternative Konferenzen litten an Geld- und Zeitnot. Wo sie trotzdem stattfanden, erarbeiteten sie konkrete Vorschläge und Projekte, die von der offiziellen Politik kaum wahr- und schon gar nicht ernst genommen wurden.
Eine internationale Konferenz unter Einbezug aller zivilen und auf politische Lösungen orientierten Kräfte hätte eine umfassende Strategie definieren können, die auch die Durchsetzung eines Protektorats ermöglichen würde. Statt nur Sanktionen zu beschliessen, hätten Anreize als positive Sanktionen definiert und angeboten werden müssen, die einen Weg nach vorne und aus dem Schlamassel aufzeigen könnten. Zudem hätte die grosse Politik besser mehr auf die Sachkenntnis der internationalen NGOs gehört, denn sie waren es, die über all die Jahre am konsequentesten die Geschehnisse verfolgten, analysierten und Alternativen entwickelten.
Auch nach dem Waffenstillstand von Dayton (Ende 1995) gingen die Unterlassungssünden weiter. Weshalb wurde ein Abkommen nur für Bosnien-Herzegowina geschlossen, während der Konflikt um Kosovo ausgeklammert wurde? Milosevic konnte sich so zum „Garanten für den Frieden” erklären und in Kosovo seine Unterdrückungspolitik fortsetzen. Statt eines regionalen Marshall-Planes hatte erneut die Unlogik des lokalen „Trouble shooting” gewonnen. Weshalb dauerte es nur wenige Monate, bis der militärische Teil des Dayton-Abkommens umgesetzt war, während die zivilen Teile heute noch darauf warten, endlich ernst genommen zu werden? Hatte der Westen immer noch nicht gelernt, dass ethnischer Nationalismus nur durch gesellschaftliche Lernprozesse und Demokratisierung überwunden werden kann und dass dies wirtschaftliche Entwicklung und soziale Sicherheit und vor allem den Einbezug und die konsequente Unterstützung entsprechender lokaler Kräfte erfordert?
Vom Waffenstillstand zum Nato-Bombardement
Die über Jugoslawien verhängten Sanktionen zeigten inzwischen katastrophale Auswirkungen auf Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft. Während der Familienclan von Milosevic und andere Kriegsgewinnler sich masslos bereichern und ihre Macht ausbauen konnten, wurden die demokratischen, pro-westlichen Kräfte vom Regime als „Feinde”, „Spione”, und „fünfte Kolonne” diffamiert und von der internationalen Politik marginalisiert und ignoriert. Zwar kennen alle die Namen von mehr oder weniger oppositionellen Politikern wie Vuk Draskovic oder Zoran Djindjic, aber wer weiss hier schon von der Bürgerallianz oder von den zivilen Mehrparteien-Koalitionen in der Vojvodina, in Sumadija oder im Sandzak? Wer weiss von den Massenkundgebungen mit 150’000 Menschen gegen den Krieg in Bosnien im Frühjahr 1992, von den StudentInnenprotesten 1993 gegen den Krieg und für den Rücktritt von Milosevic? Dutzende von Büchern wurden geschrieben, Hunderte von Veranstaltungen und Protestaktionen durchgeführt, Tausende von Unterschriften unter Aufrufe gesetzt ñ aber der Westen sah über dieses „andere Serbien” hinweg.
Selbst die Zusammenarbeit von Organisationen aus Serbien und dem Kosovo wurde kaum zur Kenntnis genommen. Man ignorierte alle Treffen und die dabei erarbeiteten Vorschläge für ein internationales Protektorat, für ein Autonomiestatut gemäss Südtiroler Modell, für verfassungsmässige Schritte zum Republikstatus des Kosovo. Der Westen war in Bosnien absorbiert. Der Kosovo ging verloren und vergessen, schlimmer: wurde verdrängt. Die verantwortlichen internationalen Politiker begrüssten den gewaltfreien Widerstand im Kosovo mit warmen Worten, um ihn gleichzeitig mit Nichtbeachtung zu bestrafen und ihn dem serbischen Regime und seiner brutalen Repressionsmaschine auszuliefern. Wer nahm die Hilferufe der grossen StudentInnenproteste in Pristina Ende 1997 zur Kenntnis, als um internationalen Beistand gefleht wurde? Ihre gewaltsame Niederschlagung durch die serbische Polizei markierte das Ende und den Untergang des gewaltfreien Widerstandes von Ibrahim Rugovas Demokratischer Liga LDK und den Beginn der Ära der bewaffneten Gewalt und ihrer militärischen Struktur, der Kosova-Befreiungsarmee U«K.
Die internationale Gemeinschaft, stolz und zufrieden mit sich selber über den in Bosnien erreichten „Frieden”, schreckte aus dem Tiefschlaf. Die Eskalation erwischte die internationale Politik einmal mehr auf dem falschen Fuss: unvorbereitet, konzeptlos, ohne Konsens über Ziele und Massnahmen.
Freude herrscht, Probleme bleiben
Zuschauen oder zuschlagen, in dieses vermeintliche Dilemma hatte sich die internationale Politik selber gebracht, weil sie untätig zuschaute, bis kaum noch politisches Handeln möglich war. Die Hektik der US-amerikanischen Shuttle-Diplomatie konnte dies nicht überspielen. Es dauerte ab Oktober 1998 Monate, bis auch nur die Hälfte der geplanten OSZE-BeobacherInnen im Kosovo ankamen ñ ohne klares Mandat, in sich ständig verändernden Strukturen und Vorgaben. Dann plötzlich sollte im Frühjahr 1999 in einer Woche alles gelöst werden, was sich an Konflikten über Jahrzehnte angebahnt hatte: Man lud nach Rambouillet zur Konferenz. Unter Bombendrohungen wurden den Verhandlungsdelegationen immer wieder neue Papiere vorgelegt, die zudem noch geheime Anhänge beinhalteten. Zu gemeinsamen Verhandlungen darüber kam es nie. Das einzige Treffen zwischen der serbischen und der kosovo-albanischen Delegation in Rambouillet war der Fototermin beim Apéro mit US-Aussenministerin Albright. Eine Chance hatten diese Verhandlungen eigentlich nie, und es ist zweifelhaft, ob die internationale Gemeinschaft überhaupt ein Abkommen anstrebte. „Drag and drop” über den Verhandlungstisch ziehen und aufs Land Bomben fallen lassen, das „Konfliktmanagement” der PolitikerInnen wurde zur Fortsetzung der Computerspiele mit anderen Mitteln.
Und heute? Freude herrscht. Nach mehr als zwei Bombenmonaten und der Zerstörung des Landes ist Milosevic bereit, einen „Friedensplan” der internationalen Gemeinschaft zu unterschreiben. Einmal mehr bringt aber das internationale „Trouble shooting” bestenfalls einen Waffenstillstand, sicher aber keinen Frieden. Ohne Einbezug der demokratischen Kräfte hat der Westen mit Milosevic einen Deal ausgehandelt, der sich geografisch auf den Kosovo und inhaltlich auf die militärischen Aspekte konzentriert, und selbst dies ohne wirkliches Konzept. Milosevic muss die Armee, die Sonderpolizei und die paramilitärischen Einheiten aus dem Kosovo abziehen. Und wohin? Nach Montenegro? In den Sandzak? In die Vojvodina? Wo wird er sie für seinen nächsten Krieg einsetzen können? Kein Wort in diesem „Friedensplan” über die Demokratisierung Serbiens, über die Aufhebung des Kriegsrechts, über die Durchsetzung der Medienfreiheit, über den Schutz der Rechte aller Menschen und Minderheiten, über die strafrechtliche Verfolgung begangener Kriegsverbrechen, über die Perspektiven für Montenegro, über konkrete Massnahmen zum vage in Punkt 8 erwähnten „Marshall-Plan” für den Balkan. Im Gegenteil: Man droht Serbien, für den Wiederaufbau solange keinen müden Franken aufzuwerfen, als Milosevic an der Macht ist. Der freut sich darüber. Das Land bleibt unter seiner Fuchtel in klaustrophober Isolation. Die internationale Politik verpasst es einmal mehr, zusammen mit den vorhandenen politischen Kräften im Land die Massnahmen durchzusetzen, die längerfristig Stabilität und Sicherheit für die ganze Region schaffen könnten.
Einmal mehr ein Abkommen also, das kein Problem löst und das einzig die Frage stellt: Wann und wo beginnt der nächste Krieg?
* Nena Skopljanac ist Politik-Wissenschaftlerin. Sie lebt in Zürich und engagiert sich bei der Medienhilfe Ex-Jugoslawien. Der hier vorliegende Artikel ist eine stark überarbeitete Version des viel umfangreicheren englischen Originaltextes (55kB). Die Bearbeitung besorgte Roland Brunner.
What could be but was not done?
Catalogue of missed chances to apply political and civic measures in order to resolve the Kosovo and other conflict in the former Yugoslavia
One of the presently major opinions largely spread in the Swiss public and often promoted by prominent political representatives, experts and public persons is: The NATO intervention in FR Yugoslavia was necessary, through numerous attempts everything was tried to bring some peaceful political solution but it always failed due to Milosevic’s refusals, finally no other mean left. Is this thesis true? Was really everything done?
It is worth mentioning some basic knowledge and principles within conflict theory and peace studies. First conflict is a normal component of functioning from individual through group and micro-social till the macro society level. Second it has different phases of its development, which, if no successful attempts for its solution occur, lead to an expression of an open violence. Third the sooner one starts solving it, the easier and with less costs it will be accomplished. Fourth in order to develop measures which could lead towards solution, one has to have quite a knowledge about the conflict in order to avoid that an outcome is a conflict’s further sharpening instead of settlement
Also, the key point to start questioning the omnipresent thesis is: what moment in the Kosovo conflict’s development is taken by those who stand for it as a starting point. So far brought concrete arguments are efforts of various special envoys (Hill, Petrich, Holbrooke, etc.) and international bodies (Contact Group, OSCE, etc.) performed within the recent past it is obvious that for a large majority (if not all) of them, the starting point is spring 1998, i.e. when the Kosovo conflict escalated into its last phase the war. Only then Kosovo issue started being put on agendas of political parties, state and inter-state bodies, as well as the most of non-government organisation. Only then some larger circle of experts in different fields started thinking about and analysing it. Obviously only as a consequence of the fact that it came, and since then stayed, as the breaking news and in headlines of major mainstream media.
But, the Kosovo conflict existed since long time, and not only since last spring. Therefore, it is needed to give a brief overview of the Kosovo crisis (in the beginning as a part of the all-Yugoslav crisis), focusing on some moments when clear symptoms that the serious conflict has existed were possible to be detected. Parallel the attempts aimed to contribute to its solution, both from local and international acteurs, will be listed. Finally, it will also be just marked (without deeper elaboration) what was possible to be done from international players, but was missing.
First serious signs beginning of 80’s
Yugoslavia entered the period of serious economic difficulties (paying back enormous sums for credits previously used and not invested according to economic but rather political criteria and thus did not bring profit, higher employment, NBP, standard, etc.). Type of a state and a society which would enable stabilisation and further development market economy, political pluralism, parliamentary democracy did not exist. Accordingly, the problems could be resolved through deep state and social reforms.
This coincided with Tito’s death (1980). The structure in which decisions and plans were developed remained without its decisive point. And one of the main cohesive factors too. The party leadership that remained was too ignorant to develop reforms. The beneficial formula shared by all was to keep on with the heritage of “camarade Tito’s work”. In other words status quo, no needed reforms. Further more, struggles for as better personal position as possible within the leadership opened process of divisions.
In spring 1981, He mass demonstrations in Kosovo with the demand for Kosva Republic took place. The Federal leadership reacted with the violent police repression (estimated over 100 killed) and imposing of the state of emergency (military or quasi martial law). Thousands of Albanians were sentenced to long imprisonment for “contra-revolutionary activism” and “separatism”. Instead of calming it, such “measures” just induced nationalistic affiliations among Albanian population.
What did the “international community” do? The answer: absolutely nothing. No one at all realised that Yugoslavia stepped onto a dangerous path.
What it could do?
* For example: to renew offer for joining European Union. The concrete development proposals, with projections of the country’s perspectives, together with large benefits for paying off the depts, could be offered to disoriented leadership as an alternative. Even with serious difficulties former Yugoslavia was not worse candidate than Spain or Portugal at that time.
Nationalism introduced into the game mid of 80’s
The county was in deep economic, social and political crisis. The term “deep structural crisis” started to be used in more and more research and analysis from the wide scope of experts: economist, law experts, political scientists, philosophers, sociologists, psychologists. Numerous symposiums, conferences and seminars were held in order to detect the situation and try to work out proposals for its solution.
At the time, the first national (in effect nationalistic) programmes were formulated and made public. At the time, both only within certain intellectual circles. One of them was to wider public well known document Memorandum of the Serbian Academy of the Science and Arts (1986). Almost at the same time, but without connections to each other, the national programme occurred in Slovenia and was published in Nova Revija (New Review). They influenced stormy public discussion, involving a large-scale of various participants from political bodies on different levels to the (prevailing liberally, pro-democratic oriented) intellectual circles. While the first stayed on condemnations with etiquetting and labelling, the others performed serials of serious discussions elaborating the main aspects of their dangerous potential and trying to formulate alternatives. Why such an alarm? The projects contained two completely contradictory strategies for resolving the crisis. It was obvious that, if one of them or even both were intended to be transferred into the politics (i.e. if they were taken from the political leaderships of the respective republics and implemented through real policies), the opened conflict was inevitable. Exactly that happened. First in Serbia (1987), and afterwards in Slovenia as well (1989). The alarming rational voices from pro-democratic circles were marginalised and cross-fire of nationalists started increasing.
What were the reactions from outside? Again no reactions at all.
And what could be done?
* International symposiums, conferences or similar forms of meetings with international experts in different fields in order to facilitate rational approaches, reduce (if not resolve) conflicts and jointly workout new prospectives and proposals.
* International conference with political representatives from all republics and autonomous regions.
* Again, offer for the country’s joining EU, which would open processes of changes directed to fulfilment of democratic values and standards and thus prevent further nationalist-based developments.
Preparation of the war (1987-1990)
The nationalistic projects started getting political legitimisation. The domino effect was initiated in Serbia (1987), then involved Slovenia and Croatia (1989), and a year later Bosnia-Herzegovina. All went through extremely turbulent developments.
In 1988, mass well organised (but presented as spontaneous) street demonstrations were organised on a daily basis from city to city throughout central Serbia and Vojvodina. Parallel, Milosevic gains control over major media and all events had strong coverage. The events were proclaimed as “anti-bureaucratic revolution”. The consequence: successful elimination of complete Vojvodina’s political leadership, cleansing within political bodies on republic level and on local level in all municipalities of central Serbia (“political differentiation”). Vox populi spoken and embodied in Milosevic and his followers was promoted as A and O of political life. When the job was done in Serbia, the demonstrations were exported into Montenegro (1989), also with full efficiency: new leadership, submissive to Milosevic, was installed. In 1990 followed Croatia, i.e. Krajina region where Serb population made majority. On the pre-text of new changes in the Croatian Constitution by which the Serbs were reduced to the national minority, the rebellion of Serbs in Krajina was enforced and afterwards the referendum on secession and inclusion to “other parts of Yugoslavia who wanted to stay within the same state” proclaimed. The export attempts into Slovenia were prevented with forbiddance from the authorities of this republic. Which was used as cause for launching “anti-Slovene” campaign in Serbia. The relations with Slovenia were cut off: boycott of products from Slovenia, cancelling of production co-operation etc.
This “happening of people” was accompanied with preparations for the celebration of 600 of the battle on Kosov@ field (Amsfeld). The bones of the king Lazar (leader of the middle age battle) were carried out through the country, accompanied with religious rituals. The cult of Serbs as “heavenly people” was created. But not only rooted in far away past. The mass graves from the World War II started being dug up and reburied. Nationalists on other sides (in particular Croatian and among Bosnian Muslims/Bosniaks) did the same. Ghosts of the past, impregnated with myths were used to build up new identities exclusively ethnically defined and turned one against other which were than manipulated in a “defence of national interests”.
Army launched the trial against a group of journalists in Slovenia accused for espionage. The whole Slovene public stood in defence. But not only of accused. Through nationalist optics, it was transferred into a defence of the Slovene nation. Anti-army (understood as Yugoslav), anti-Yugoslav, and anti-Serb feelings grew.
The Kosovo conflict gets new dimensions as well. Parts of Serb population launched public protests saying Serbs in Kosovo were discriminated and deprived of their rights. Albanians, naturally, reacted with fears, concerns, silence. Milosevic supports them and gains status as their defender. But, actually, misuses the conflict, permanently intensifying it, manipulating with its players all for a sake of establishing his totalitarian rule.
This phase of the development reaches its peak in 1989. In Serbia, the state nationalism was enthroned. The autonomy status of the both autonomous regions Kosovo and Vojvodina was stripped off. While the regime was in Belgrade performing celebration and inauguration of the new Constitution, the Albanian population in Kosov@ was carrying out mass public protests. Police crushed them brutally. Killed, wounded, beaten-up, arrested. The Albanians in the province’s leadership who opposed to Milosevic’s politics were removed as being proclaimed for leaders of “contra-revolution” and “separatist movement”. Miners launched the protests, staying for days in mines till their demands (to free the arrested leaders) would be fulfilled… The Federal Presidency decided to deploy army and introduce state of emergency. Serials of political trials took place.
The economy was collapsing (as nothing was offered as solution for problems that occurred in the beginning of the decade), standard drastically dropped, unemployment rate was among the highest in Europe, social givings were cut off, percentage of population living under minimally guaranteed level of incomes largely increases… The legitimacy ground of the rule (rule of a working class and self-management) was no more efficient. Thirsty only for power but ignorant to initiate real changes, the power-holders invented salvation formula. The economic and social changes were simulated through processes of throning the nationalism as a new legitimacy base of the rule.
The whole country was shaking from the roots. At the same time two bright spots.
In the beginning of 1989, the Association for Yugoslav Democratic Initiative (UJDI) was established. It designed a few documents important for starting state and social reforms, among which two had crucial importance: amendments on the Yugoslav Constitution, which would enable elections for the Constitutional Parliament (i.e. to resolve disputes on how to re-compose federation through democratic procedure in the parliament), and proposal of Law on Political Organising as a first step in legalisation of political pluralism. The special work-group was formed to analyse Kosovo conflict and propose adequate measures to be taken for its resolving. The results were published and served as a basis for discussions on the several round tables organised in 1989 and 1990. Numerous public debates and round tables were organised in order to warn on the consequences that continuation of the nationalistic politics would lead to. Based on experiences from countries in Central and East Europe after the break-down of the communist system, UJDI initiated several round tables between authorities and opposition. The intended result was reaching of compromise around a few basic issues: establishing of party pluralism, agreeing on election rules, carrying out democratic elections. All the initiatives were largely ignored by the ruling parties in all former republics, as well as by the biggest opposition parties (all of them with nationalistic programmes).
The same year (1989) the new Federal Prime Minister Ante Markovic was appointed. The whole package of systematic measures was adopted and started being implemented: new regulations of property (private property got legalised); programmes for transformation of big companies (transformation from social into private property, adaptation of production towards market economy criteria, etc.); funding of private companies; projects of bank system’s reform; democratic legal regulation in many fields (political organising and media as the most important). The implementation of well-funded economic and social policy measures started giving the first positive results within a few months. Numerous private companies were established. Fresh private capital and taxes paid started filling up exhausted funds. Unemployed started getting jobs. Salaries increased (average level for the whole country was 1,500 DEM). Social givings got higher and more regular. The Prime Minister’s popularity grew.
In the beginning of 1990, the Congress of Communist League of Yugoslavia (CLY) was held. A few days of verbal war between the delegates from Serbia and Montenegro on one side and Slovenia on the other side took place. The key issue: Yugoslavia as federation or confederation of its republics, i.e. form of re-allocation of power and not the substance (reforms and democratisation) Finish: The Slovene delegation left the Congress room, accompanied with the applause of the Serb and Montenegrin delegations. The CLY which was the key institution within the process of decision making on the federal level actually did not exist any longer. The process of dissolving of the state institutions on the federal level was opened.
The struggles among republic power-holders, with a large assistance of new-established nationalist-oriented parties, went on. The republic broadcasters (radio and TV stations of the republics) stopped co-operation. Everybody had its own nation to address and to lead, its own means of rule (republic funds, administration, media,…), and its own nationalist goals. They fought against each other, at the same time united in one thing to fight against the Federal Government. The alternative its programme was offering suited none of them. It was too pro-Yugoslav (for those who opted for independence) and too democratic and reformist (for those who strove keeping privileges gained within the existing system). The TV station established from the federal Government YUTEL was no longer allowed to use time and transmitters of the most of the republic stations (exceptions were Bosnia-Herzegovina and Macedonia). The rating of the Prime Minister and his Government started rapidly being ruined.
Media war with nationalist propaganda was waged (especially in the state-controlled media in Serbia and Croatia). “Other” defined on ethnic basis was demonised and dehumanised. In the same time feelings of insecurity, endangerness and fear from “other” were produced and widely spread. Protection of “us” was defined as outmost task and even extermination of “other” was justified.
In Kosovo, oppression of “other” i.e. Albanians went on a much wider scale. Thousands of employees were expelled from their jobs and thus hundreds of thousands of people were left without sources to survive. Education in Albanian was abolished, curricula changed (especially those who should refer to national history, tradition, cultural heritage, etc.), and soon afterwards pupils and students were, together with professors, expelled from school and university buildings. Journalists and editors Albanians working at Radio and TV Pristina were fired, and all the newspapers in Albanian language were forbidden. Even cultural and sport facilities were not accessible to Albanians any more. The police state was introduced and the mass-scale of a permanent violation of human rights including the most horrible ones, like physical abuses, tortures of political prisoners or killings began and have been lasting throughout the coming decade. The Albanians responded with proclamation of the “Kosova Republic” and building up of the parallel institution of society (health, education, afterwards also media), as well as state structures (Parliament, Government and President). The two separated and parallel-existed worlds the one of Albanians and the other of the Serbs exist since then in Kosovo.
This phase of the Yugoslav conflict, and many particular conflicts within it, finishes with the first multi-party elections in all republics in 1990. The parties which offered nationalist programmes won. The smell of the war was felt in the air.
How did the international community respond to these four-years-lasting turbulent conflicts? In fact, the Prime Minister Markovic and the Federal Government were those to approach to the international community asking for a support, most of all reprogramming of depths. This was used to elaborate the conflict situation in the country and to present the reform programmes that were developed as solution.
The UJDI made contacts to all embassies, providing them with analysis and appealing for their acting.
The UJDI’s initiatives were met only with verbal approval by various diplomatic representatives. The Government was promised re-programming of depts, support for bank transform, and re-structuration of economy. Different sums were mentioned, varying from 10 to 15 billion $. But, the fulfilment of the promises was postponed, which was leaving space to national propagandists to discredit the Government and the Prime Minister as unserious, unreliable, liars. Again and again, till finally in 1991 the war broke out.
In spite of so many obvious dramatic and tragic developments and in spite of warnings coming from those who tired to prevent the worst the “international community” did almost nothing. Was it too busy with re-thinking the international relations in post-cold-war era and plans for a transplantation of Western democratic patterns into former communist societies? Or the triumphalism because of the collapse of communism was perhaps so huge, that no one wanted to spoil it? Whatever reasons, the “acting” consisted of several debates (IMF, World Bank and EU) that finished with promises to financially support the Federal Government’s reform package and with statements and proclamations to preserve the country as a whole. But, was it enough for the country which was so obviously on the edge to explode into a bloody war? Could something more be done?
Among other things, for example the following:
* To financially support the reform programme of the Federal Government, to give it credibility, to give the population clear sign that it was the partner that “international community” really counted on. In recently published article, the leading economist and co-ordinator if the Group 17, Mladjan Dinkic, stated that even 4 billions $ credits would be enough to ensure successful economic and social reforms. Wouldn’t that be much cheaper in comparison to tens of billions needed for sanation of the wars’ consequences?
* To support UJDI’s initiatives. Conflicts on the country’s re-composition could be carried out through proposed parliamentary procedures and jointly agreed rules, instead through populist/nationalist movements and fighting among republic power-holders.
* To give technical support to YUTEL (transmitters which would cover territories of those republics who refused to re-broadcast its programme). In that way, audiences could have professional reporting as alternative to the nationalist propagandas’ mouthpieces. The same could also be done in regard to independent media that started to emerge at that time. (The European Union did something in the field. But, only in 1993. The project was named Radio Ship the radio programme made and broadcast from the ship in Adriatic, with god local professionals working in it, but transmitted from the ship, so that the waves due to mountain configuration could reach insignificant part of the targeted territory. Good program, lot of finances, but comparatively slim results.)
* To organise international conference on which the instruments for protection of human and minority rights, as well as processes of democratisation, would be developed. This would especially be important for Kosov@
* To facilitate that Kosovo Albanians took place in the presidential and parliamentary elections in Serbia in autumn 1990. Namely, a number of small but civic-oriented parties existed at a time. Some kind of common platform fulfilling minimum of jointly acceptable interests could be designed and issues to be jointly worked in the parliament defined. Further, one of the candidates for the post of the Serbia’s President was Dr. Ivan Djuric, outstanding intellectual of a civic orientation, who was joint candidate by UJDI and Reformist Party He was third ranking candidate in the first round (after Milosevic and Vuk Draskovic), with significant part of votes given by citizens belonging to ethnic minorities (e.g. number of votes in Sandzak and Vojvodina). With votes from Albanians, he could be placed after Milosevic and would go to the second round in which much wider range of opposition parties went into a coalition. It would be naive to think that he could win, but such developments could strengthen position of civic-oriented political parties in Serbia. There were some political groupings also among Albanians lobbying for the option not to boycott the elections, but were too weak to influence a final decision.
On the eve of the war (first half of 1991)
In January 1991, the broader public for the first time got information that paramilitary groups started being established. Mostly in Serbia and Croatia, but in Bosnia-Herzegovina as well. The Federal Presidency (the country’s supreme commander) could not find agreement on how to efficiently react. The first armed clashes occurred in Croatia.
In February, the Slovene and Croatian parliaments decided to suspend federal laws and to declare independence. Macedonia declared the independence as well. While the Serbs in Croatia adopted Declaration on Sovereignty of the Autonomous Region.
In March, more than 100,000 people gather on the anti-regime demonstrations against the propaganda placed by Radio Television of Serbia (RTS), but also aimed at ousting Milosevic. Milosevic urged army intervention. The Federal Presidency met his needs (strengthening of “other” nationalism also strengthens the “own” one) and the tanks went out into the Belgrade streets.
Also in March, the work of the Federal Presidency was completely blocked and soon afterwards seized to exist as a body containing of representatives from all federal units.
Worried about the situation and being aware of the coming, citizens started organising themselves in order to try to stop the war. The first grassroots civic initiatives and organisations emerged Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly, peace groups, anti-war campaigns and centres and launched serial of particular and network activities.
In June, Slovenia declared independence. Its authorities took over the control of the state boarder. The Yugoslav People’s Army (YPA) intervened. The war officially started.
What was coming as reaction from the “international community”? Urgent meetings of executive bodies of the EU and EC were held. International politicians were arriving to visits only trying to facilitate overcoming of particular problems, most of all de-blocking of the Federal presidency. Numerous verbal statements in support to preserving Yugoslavia as a whole and, again, promises to financially support reforms of the Federal Government were repeated. But no clear and comprehensive platforms for the conflicts’ solution were designed. Consensus among key international players and efficient strategy of competencies of different international bodies with clear goals and tasks were obviously missing. And no urging efforts to reach them were visible. Everybody behaved like years, and not weeks, were time budget on a disposal.
Only when the war in Slovenia broke out, did the first more serious acting come. The conference on the island Brioni (once famous Tito’s holiday place) was held. Federal and Slovene political representatives and those of YPA participated, with the mediation of internationals. Outcome was “Brioni Declaration”: Slovenia was to freeze its decisions for independence, the federal authorities to take control of the state boarders (custom and boarder police), and the YPA to withdraw into Croatia.
Fatal mistake was made. Despite numerous warnings from local experts, analysts, intellectuals and civic activists, the “international community” did not realise importance of implementing an approach aimed at solving all existing conflicts. It opted for the strategy to solve one by one conflict, not realising that by doing so only the conflict potential would be pushed from one part of the country to the other one. All warnings of possible consequences were ignored. This pattern maintained in all the years to come.
What were alternatives?
* At this point an international conference to develop framework for a global solution (for the whole area of former Yugoslavia) was urgent and outmost task. Only in such approach it was possible to realise causality among various particular problems and conflicts and thus to think what various sets of measures could parallely be employed. Although standing for nationalist programmes (i.e. being part of the problem and not of a solution), local political representatives who got legitimacy on the elections could not be avoid as participants. As well as the Federal Government as the only remaining federal political body. But, it was important to include civic oriented political parties (more than 30 all over the country), experts and analysts, and, unavoidable representatives of various civic groupings (peace and anti-war groups, non-nationalist intellectuals, independent media, etc.). On one side, they were the only one ready to work together no matter what ethnic group they belong and from what republic or region they were living in. On the other side, they needed support for their work and proposals from international decision-making political bodies.
War moves into Croatia (second half of 1991)
“Refreshed” with new units and armament withdrawn from Slovenia, YPA’s forces in Croatia were ready to wage the next war. This time a longer and much bloodier one with tremendous-scale destructions and brutal war crimes.
While in summer 1991 the war was getting on intensity, the anti-war actions also increased. Protests of mothers demanding their sons be released from a military service.
Almost on a daily basis numerous public discussions on specific topics, anti-war protests, peace walks and marches, open letters and appeals, etc. were organised by peace groups throughout the country. (Two public protests and a few discussions held in Belgrade were particularly devoted to Kosov@ issue.) Peace activists were even going to war zones, trying to calm down population in panic, to assist those who suffered consequences, and to try to persuade people not to join fighting against their neighbours.
Appeals for support to many international political bodies, as well as NGOs, were issued by a growing network of peace and civic groups. Even a letter to Peres de Quelliar, Secretary general of the UN was sent.
On the initiative by UJDI’s the round tables of the authorities and opposition (actually only civic-oriented parties and organisations participated) were organised every month issuing documents, proposals for compromise solutions and peace treaties.
While all those in the country who were anti-war oriented desperately tried within extremely limited resources to do everything they could to stop the bloodshed, and while the large majority of population was horrified by the flood of ongoing tragedy the “international community” was reacting almost as a situation would be ordinary, normal one. Still the global strategy was lacking and only single measures were taken. E.g. embargo on armament import, but without efficient mechanisms to really implement it. Some states were still opting for an unity of Yugoslavia, but some started opting for recognition of its republics as sovereign states. Instead of speedy and serious work on build consensus, particular state interests were more and more prevailing. Expert commission (Badinter Commission), established to analyse and evaluate the situation in the country and all its republics and propose criteria for eventual recognition of the republics as sovereign states, was finally completely discredited (it proposed not to recognise Croatia and it was favoured for recognition, it proposed to recognise Macedonia and it was not favoured for recognition). Lack of common strategy among the international players, as well as the fact that some of them were supporting particular local war-players, actually strengthened and opened space for acting of conflicted parties. On the other hand, civic-oriented local players were largely ignored. Only a few European peace movements/organisations expressed concrete solidarity and organised peace caravan through the country. With a help of international NGOs, a few conferences with anti-war and civic groups were organised (one of them in Geneva), but the outcomes were also ignored by those in position to influence decision-making processes, both in European countries and within inter-state bodies.
Much more could and should be done. For example:
* A conference already proposed for the previous conflict stage.
* More international NGOs should have been involved in solidarity with local colleagues. The whole set of actions could be jointly realised in order to pass them know-how for more efficient grassroots civic acting. They could use a number of already elaborated analysis to contribute with their knowledge and experience in joint designing of proposals for the conflicts’ solutions They could do the lobbying in their respective public, political organisations and institutions. They could (try to) build up as wider as possible alert network action. Not only one peace caravan but much more of such kind of actions could take place. And not only through former Yugoslavia, but also in as many as possible European countries. Not only a few public discussions and conferences, but a whole serials of them should have been organised and mass media animated to give them appropriated coverage. In this way those working on peaceful solution would be given more frequently chance to meet and work together, as all communication means in the country itself were broken. Finally, those people needed to be quickly equipped (offices, computers, communication equipment, etc.) and financially supported (jingles and advertisements in media, posters flyers and other anti-war materials, publishing activities, etc.) so that they could more efficiently work and not be left to even work in private apartments and hold meetings in restaurants. Instead, the war in Croatia was stopped and not finished in the beginning of 1992, with a cease-fire and not a peace. And the YPA moved into Bosnia-Herzegovina.
The same kind of a decision as in regard to Slovenia. Like no one was aware that the same acting could not produce other (i.e.) positive) impacts. Everybody in the country knew what was to happen. And everybody outside except some NGOs and experts who were already involved in the issue and had co-operation with local NGOs either was ignorant, or not able to learn from own mistakes, or without inventive capacities to work on some clever platforms and strategies, or with no interest/motivation and resources to engage, or not seeing importance to do something.
War comes to Bosnia-Herzegovina (1992)
The first three months of 1992 were totally absorbed on allocating UN peace-keeping troops in Croatia and defining international civic support. Decisions on recognising Yugoslav republics as sovereign states were reduced only on Slovenia and Croatia. Clear sign that the “international community” still did not have a slightest idea what to do with the rest of the county. It was still reacting only when provoked by developments instead of thinking how to prevent them.
The sovereignty of Bosnia-Herzegovina was internationally recognised almost at the same time as the war broke out. The recognition was rejected by Bosnian Serb ruling party. The full-scale war was carried out with a large support and direct involvement of YPA and paramilitary groups from Serbia. This was a reason to impose UN Security Council’s sanctions against FRY.
While the war was going on, many different, often incoherent and even counter-productive decision were brought. For all conflicted sides but also for the “international community” acceptable composition of the state was tested: from regional, through cantonal, to entity. Appropriate mandate of a peace-keeping forces was searched for from UNPROFOR, over IFOR to SFOR.
It is important to mention that the partners with whom it was tried to negotiate the solution were all in varying proportions the same one who created the conflict. Not to mention that some were accused for war crimes and still were treated as “legitimate representatives” of the respective conflicted ethnic groups. No serious attempts to involve partners of another kind in for-peace-searching processes existed. Already significantly enlarged civic groupings were also meeting (e.g. Verona Forum, various international conferences and seminars, IFJ Round Tables, etc.). The financial and organisational support was insufficient to allow more often (and not 3-4 times per year for a couple of days) and even permanent serials of sessions, which would be much more productive. However, the documents jointly elaborated have never been even seriously reviewed, and not to speak of eventual taking them into consideration for implementation, by international bodies to take relevant decisions. Proposals for the international protectorate in Bosnia-Herzegovina from 1992, and later on the one for the protectorate over the whole former Yugoslavia were largely ignored.
Instead, preferable choice was to wait 3,5 years to deliver the agreement which was, like the one in Croatia, bringing only a cease-fire, but not creating predispositions for a stable peace. Still nothing (or at least not enough) learnt?
* What were some possible options? First, in order to prevent further war/s.
* Again an international conference immediately after stopping the war in Croatia. But, the conference that would necessarily deal with an entire former Yugoslavia. Some variant of a protectorate proposed from civic groupings could be a basis to develop comprehensive strategies.
* Eventually an international conference to deal only with Bosnia-Herzegovina. Also existing proposal for protectorate could be useful.
* In both cases, the list of criteria for awarding measures (credits, investments, joining European integrations, etc.) to those who were ready to accept internationally practised democratic values and standards should have been agreed and consequently implemented.
* The whole set of support measures to civic society in all part of the former Yugoslavia should be created and given substantial financial backing. Those striving for democratic values and human rights respect should not have been let down.
* International non-governmental think-thank organisations should have been more substantially consulted as quite some of them have been permanently analysing the developments in the area and developing various strategies for a solution.
Also after stopping the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina, other approaches to a solution were possible.
* Why did the Dayton Accord refer only to Bosnia-Herzegovina? Some politicians publicly stated that it was a mistake not to include Kosovo in Dayton Accord. Of course it was. And many local and international experts and analysts warned on that. But, the question was and still is why those who were deciding on the agreement’s framework did not do it? Today they say that they feared Milosevic would refuse to negotiate over Bosnia-Herzegovina in that case. Was it a presumption, or decion based on some concrete attempts in the dayton’s preparation? Was it tried to broaden agenda by giving to Milosevic some concrete positive measures. E.g. full lifting of the sanctions, access to international financial resources, joining European integrations (EC, OSCE), and strict guarantees for FRY’s integrity? It would certainly strengthen his position, but on a shorter run, as it would also initiate so essentially needed democratic processes within Serbia. And it would also create basic conditions to solve Kosovo conflict by political means. Instead Milosevic was promoted as a “peace guarantor”, Kosov@ conflict was left to further escalation, and Serbia remained as closed (although less than previously) society.
* All actual stories about the European conference for stability in the Balkans and Marshal Plan were badly needed already then and could be carried out with much less financial support than today.
* Why the military part of the Dayton Accord needed just a few months to be set up to function and for the modes of appropriate civic component is still to be searched for? Why were the funds for a civic implementation so far insufficient and slowly approved in comparison to the military one? Wasn’t it still after two wars one of which literally shocked the world by its brutality clear that nationalist ideology and xenophobia could be overcome and multi-cultural and democratic society could be re-created only in prosperous economic and social conditions?
Serbia and Kosovo from Dayton till NATO bombing
Meanwhile, the sanctions left catastrophic consequences on FRY’s economy and society. They also largely contributed to strengthening Milosevic’s position of totalitarian ruler. His family, political clan around him, and the war profiteers like Arkan were those to gain wealth through the sanctions time (black market, grey economy, breaking of sanctions etc.). The West was blamed and demonised as trying to “destroy the Serbian nation”. Pro-democratic forces were labelled as “fifth column”, “spies” and “mercenaries” of that West. The society was closed to outside influences and exchanges that could enforce exactly those who stood for democratic values.
Political opposition of civic orientation has been permanently completely ignored. Everyone knows for Draskovic (national romanticism), Seselj (racist-fascist) and Djindjic (pragmatic shifting from nationalism to pro-democracy orientation depending on what is winning formula on next elections). A few heard of Vesna Pesic (former president of Civic Alliance). But no one heard of a number of small civic oriented parties and coalitions: e.g. Sandzak coalition, Vojvodina coalition, Reformist Party, Social-democrat League, Social Democracy, Social-democratic Union, Democratic Alternative, Sumadija coalition are some of them.
The things were not better in regard to civic society groups. Many for the first time realised that there was some democratic potential in Serbia only with the civic protests in winter 1996/97. But just a few know about a serial of protests against the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina in spring 1992, ranging from 100,000-150,000 participants, and about student protests in 1993 demanding stopping of the war and Milosevic’s resignation. Dozens of books referring to various aspects of the Serbian responsibility for the wars, many public discussions and seminars on the conflict’s resolution, projects to promote peace culture, understanding, tolerance and dialogue, engaged cultural performances… have almost never met some reaction outside the country.
Even not those who were carried out in joint efforts with civic groups of Kosovo Albanians. Among others, various proposals jointly elaborated and discussed in order to solve the Kosovo conflict international protectorate, trustee system, autonomy according to various models (e.g. South Tirol), third republic within re-defined FRY, republic within broader Balkan (con)federation, etc. have never been considered from both local and international political decision-makers. Accept a few organisations abroad who supported this work (e.g. Bertelsman Stiftung as one of them), large majority of civic groups Europe-wide never heard of them either.
While in Bosnia-Herzegovina the number of involved international organisations was amounting to hundreds, in FRY, also in Kosovo, only few were present. Calls for help coming from Albanian students in the end of 1997 “Europe, where are you?” were not heard. And they, as well as youth organisations and other civic groups, desperately need to exchange of experience strategies and techniques of peaceful resistance, to get wide-range skills on non-violent conflict resolution. They needed solidarity and readiness to work together to avoid the war. Did anyone hear them? Or did something about it?
Large majority of Kosovo Albanians had expected that the Kosovo issue would be on the agenda in Dayton. Unfulfilled hopes and expectations brought an enormous feeling of a frustration, being abandoned and in a way betrayed from the international community. Kosovo Albanians found themselves in a crevice of two things. One was the knowledge that their non-violent means of struggle were verbally warmly welcome from world power-holders, who, in the end, had a decisive role in reaching a solution, but that their action in solving the conflict was completely missing. On the other hand, one decade lasting brutality that the Serbian regime have applied in a large-scale and mass violation of their human rights became unbearable.
The policy of non-violent resistance, in a form that it was designed and carried out by the leading political party Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) and its leader Dr. Ibrahim Rugova, started being questioned and, afterwards, more and more criticised as being too passive, not well-thought, and thus not fruitful and even counter-productive for the goals it was aimed at. The critics were getting in their sharpness and their carriers were broadening with the time: from some intellectual circles and groupings on the alternative scene, over all relevant opposition political parties (most of all, the largest Parliamentary Party after Adem Demaqi came for its leader), till the student movement. Dominant alternatives that were offered still were in a line with non-violent approach, but were arguing for bringing in some components of openly practised mass-scale social and political activism and citizens disobedience. Accordingly, mass non-violent student protests took place in the end of 1997 and were met with the police crack-down.
In the end of November, Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK), openly came to the public stage. Although it appeared a few years before and in the statements sent to some media took first responsibilities for killings (mostly of police personnel and Albanians whom they considered as being “loyal” to or “collaborating” with the Serbian regime) already in 1996, in this period it started changing its strategy: both in a way that their armed operations were carried out and in a manner it addressed to the public. Individual killings were replaced with direct fights with smaller police units. During the next few months, till Drenica events (march 1998), UCK did not grow into some more decisive factor on Kosovo Albanian scene, but still had maintained continuity in occasional low-scale armed clashes with the police.
Already in the end of 1997 local analysts were explicitly warning that the conflict might in spring escalate into the open war. Which exactly happened. With a pretext that “each sovereign state has a legal right to fight against terrorism”, the Serbian police and late Yugoslav army started the war against entire Albanian population, with massacres against civilians and horrible ethnic cleansing.
Let us see how the “international community” after achieving “peace” in Bosnia-Herzegovina used two years (till the breakout of the war) in regard to attempts to solve the Kosov@ conflict. No, conference/s held. Even no statements that something like that exists as an idea or topic that was discussed. No diplomacy activities to in order to try to persuade official political representatives (Milosevic and Rugova) to start discussing the issue. No work on developing clever strategies to bring Kosovo conflict from the status of “internal affair of Serbia” into an “international issue”. No attempts to encourage and recognise as relevant existing processes of building up coalition of the pro-democratic political forces on the federal level Montenegrin President Djukanovic and the ruling coalition in Montenegro with the coalition initiated by Milan Panic, as well as coalition in Vojvodina and Sandzak that started occurring after the results of the elections in the end of 1996, and especially after citizens’ protests were terminated. No persistence in implementing the OSCE mandate of Felipe Gonzales. Finally, no knowledge about what impacts it might have to bring to the table such possible coalition and representatives of Kosov@ Albanians in order to open space for the conflict’s political solution. Milosevic might not any longer be the only credible partner. Albanian political representatives who have through a decade stood for political means to solve the conflict would be given concrete chance to make a significant step forward. The opposition in Serbia which was ready to discuss Kosov@ issues based on democratic principles (although rejecting independence as solution) would be put in position to actively search for compromise and develop clear platforms and programmes.
Instead, the time was completely lost and the war as it happened already with the previous wars caught the “international community” completely unprepared, without consensus and strategies how to deal with it. Numerous statements that a joint Kosovo Albanian negotiating team should be created, but achieving to have it only after 10 months shortly before the negotiations in Rambouillet took place. Whom to recognise as a legitimate representative Rugova and his LDK or UCK, both, in which combination of shared competencies was a question which also remained without answer and thus urging the Albanian political and military representatives was fruitless. The strategy towards Milosevic was also confusing, especially in the first months of the war. Verbally condemning his policy, it practically allowed him to perform a big offensive in summer, which was not only cracking-down UCK but mostly had as a consequence more than 300,000 displaced or refugees. Shuttle diplomacy was introduced only after a few months. When introduced, it was incredibly slow and inefficient and thus did not manage to make breakthrough at all. The OSCE’s Kosovo Verification mission was also far too slow implemented. Still after two months a bit more than a half of its staff was in the field. Besides, the competencies, structure and organisation was permanently defined and adapted. The whole winter passed with these slow, inefficient and incoherent decisions and steps. The spring and renewal of war operations was approaching and the time for political solution run out. The conference in Rambouillet was scheduled with rather strange rules. First, decades old conflict was supposed to be resolved within one week! Second, the proposal given to the negotiating sides was to be accepted without possibility to make substantial changes! Third, the negotiating parties “negotiated” not even seeing each other (accept once on a cocktail organised by Madelaeine Aulbreight), and not to mention directly exchanging views and arguments! It was insisted that the agreement’s two parts political agreement on the Kosov@’s status and the implementation agreement be exclusively treated as a package. Couldn’t it be different? Why not first more strict agreement on a cease-fire (to be monitored by KVM) while the negotiations take place? A time budged would be less problem then and the negotiating sides would be able really to negotiate. Was it crucial what finally would be agreed or whether the whole package would be decided at once or one by one? Could involvement of the NATO troops already in the agreement be offered within UN mandate, or as joined NATO-Russian action? Why consultations with Russia on the issue were missing?
Milosevic’s acceptance of the G8 plan was widely met with satisfaction. The main concerns raised were whether he would this time stick to agreed or not. But, is should not be overseen that this plan again! suffers serious defects. It does not treat the whole conflict area. No democratisation of Serbia is foreseen. It failed to include preventive strategies to disable Milosevic to produce further wars out of other existing conflicts (Montengro, Sandzak, Vojvodina). It is absolutely not clear what withdrawal of army, police and paramilitary forces exactly mean demobilisation of the reserve units? What part will be withdrawn e.g. into Montenegro? Or Sandzak? No word about efficient measures and means to guarantee that human rights of returnees into Kosovo. Nothing about bringing all perpetrators and responsible for committed war crimes to the justice. There is no stable peace if these questions are not given appropriate answers.
From some Western politicians lately presented ideas which have been since long in various versions advocated by grassroots organisations on an international conference on stability for the whole region and a Marshal Plan for the Balkans are pushed on margins. If the “international community” will now give up this ideas it is only a matter of time when a new war in the area will occur.