Saturday, December 1, 2012

Serbs Call Hague Tribunal an Anti-Serb Kangaroo Court (and It Sure Does Look That Way Sometimes): Kosovo Update, 25 November–1 December 2012

From Radio Free Europe, an image of a Serb nationalist protest of Ramush Haradinaj’s acquittal
Serb nationalists—and even Serbs that are not all that terribly nationalist—have long suspected that the United Nations judicial tribunal in the Hague, in the Netherlands, known as the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (I.C.T.Y.) is more or less rigged to prosecute Serbs and no one else in its pursuit of war-crimes convictions for the separatist wars in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Kosovo during the 1990s.  There was certainly plenty to support that view this week, as the I.C.T.Y. cleared three co-defendants, including Ramush Haradinaj, the former head of the Kosovo Liberation Army (K.L.A.) and Kosovo’s prime minister for three months in 2004-2005, of all war-crimes charges in a retrial.  The three were charged with torturing and killing SerbRoma, and even ethnic-Albanian (“collaborator”) civilians in illegal detention camps during the Kosovo War.  Haradinaj was greeted as a hero by jubilant crowds and congratulated by Kosovo’s current prime ministerHashim Thaçi, and said he planned to return to politics.  The governments of Russia and Serbia reacted vitriolically to the decision, which they—quite reasonably understandably—claim indicates an anti-Serbian bias in international courts’ decisions.

The ruling seemed especially egregious following, as it did, close on the heels of the November 16th overturning of war-crimes and crimes-against-humanity convictions of two Croat generals, Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markač, who had been convicted in 2011 of murdering Serb civilians during an invasion of the Serb-dominated and at that time de facto independent Republic of Serbian Krajina (now part of the Republic of Croatia) in 1995.  They were already serving decades-long prison terms, and Gotovina, when he was first arrested, had to be retrieved from the Canary Islands, where he was in hiding.  Even most Croats realize these two guys are as guilty as all get-out, though Croat nationalists still danced in the streets in a very unseemly fashion.

Croats celebrating the acquittal of two Croatian war criminals
The I.C.T.Y. has yet to demonstrate that they truly believe it is a crime to kill a Serb.

In other news from the former Yugoslavia ...

At Skopje Rally, Albanian, Kosovar Premiers Envision “Greater Albania” within E.U.  The prime minister of the Republic of AlbaniaSali Berisha, and his counterpart from the partially recognized, ethnic-Albanian-dominated Republic of KosovoHashim Thaçispoke of a united “greater Albania” in SkopjeMacedonia, on November 25th for the centennial celebration of Albania’s independence from the Ottoman Empire on the eve of the First World War.  Berisha told a crowd of 10,000 chanting, “Greater Albania!” and waving Albanian flags, “Through the European Union, we are going to realize the project of our national unity.”  He and Thaçi also made references to Albanian minorities in Macedonia and in Serbia proper.  Refugees from the Kosovo War in 1998-99 helped swell the Albanian minority in Macedonia to a quarter of the population, and they enjoy a power-sharing agreement which guarantees them government representation, but there are strains between Albanians and Macedonia’s Slav majority.  Albanians declared a brief-lived Republic of Illyrida in western Macedonia in 1990.  Fears of a “greater Albania”—and designs on chunks of Serbia proper—are among the primary rationales of the Republic of Serbia’s opposition to the independence of Kosovo, which it still claims.

“Greater Albania!  Greater Albania!”
Kosovo War Vets Disrupt Highway Opening in Protest over Limaj Retrial.  Two days after the pan-Albanian celebrations in Skopje, Macedonia (see above article), the Republic of Albania’s prime minister, Sali Berishawas forced to cancel plans to attend an opening ceremony in for a new highway between Tirana, the Albanian capital, and Pristina, the capital of the Republic of Kosovo, because of mass protests by hundreds of Kosovo War veterans.  The veterans, mostly from the Kosovo Liberation Army (K.L.A.), took control of the stage at the ceremonies, which were in Gjurgjica, Kosovo, and demanded the release of Fatmir Limaj, a former K.L.A. commander and deputy chairman of Kosovo’s current ruling party, who was charged anew last week (as reported in this blog) on charges of war crimes.  Kosovo’s prime minister, Hashim Thaçi, cancelled his planned attendance as well.  Thaçi’s retrial was welcomed, however, in the Republic of Serbia, where the government’s Office for Kosovo and Metohija released a statement November 26th, noting “that over 1,000 Serbs and other non-Albanians killed since 1999 to date are still waiting for justice to be served.”

Kosovo War veterans spoiled the party
Shooting, Explosion, Vandalism Mar Quiet in Disputed Kosovo Border Area.  An explosion was reported on November 27th at or near a border crossing between Serbia and Kosovo, alerting authorities on both sides, but its cause was yet to be determined.  There was also, around the same time, an as yet unexplained shooting in the north end of Kosovska Mitrovica, the de facto capital of the Serb-administered North Kosovo enclave within the partially recognized Republic of Kosovo.  Also on the 27th, stones were thrown at a house belonging to a Serb in the village of Suvi Do, in North Kosovo.

[Also, for those who are wondering, yes, this blog is tied in with a forthcoming book, a sort of encyclopedic atlas to be published by Auslander and Fox under the title Let’s Split! A Complete Guide to Separatist Movements, Independence Struggles, Breakaway Republics, Rebel Provinces, Pseudostates, Puppet States, Tribal Fiefdoms, Micronations, and Do-It-Yourself Countries, from Chiapas to Chechnya and Tibet to Texas.  Look for it in spring 2013.  I will be keeping readers posted of further publication news.]

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