Thursday, March 11, 2010

Kosovo Takes Two Steps Forward, One Back

For those keeping score out there, Europe's new sort-of midget state Kosovo has made some progress in the realm of legitimacy over the past few days.  Of course, with a state allegedly run by underworld figures there will be bumps along the way.  One of those bumps is the Kosovo Security Force, which was created to supposedly do away with all traces of the once feared, or feted -- depending if you are a Serb or Albania -- Kosovo Liberation Army.  But as recent events show, the KSF sometimes forgets the charade, revealing the KLA lurking beneath.

For ethnic Albanians, March 5, was an important anniversary. 

Twelve years ago on that day, Adem Jashari, a leading light of the KLA, long listed by the US State Department as a terrorist organization, was killed along with 40 members of his family at their home in Prekaz, in central Kosovo, at the hands of Serbian security forces. 

To mark the anniversary, some of the KSF's 2,500 members, paraded through Pristina

However, they made a mistake, forgot they weren't mainly old KLA fighters, and were packing heat. 

And that is a no-no.

For you see, to blur the line between the KLA and the KSF, EU bureaucrats have kept the new and improved, and friendly force on a short leash, strictly defining when they can carry guns and what their mission is. 

The KSF’s mandate is to conduct crisis response operations in Kosovo and abroad, civil protection operations within Kosovo and to assist in dealing with natural disasters.

As Balkaninsight notes that is the plan. 

It is supposed to be a multiethnic force, although few ethnic minorities have so far signed up, and is governed by strict rules under the Ahtisaari package, the plan under which Kosovo declared independence in February 2008. The plan is named after the UN Special Envoy to Kosovo and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Martti Ahtisaari.

According to the package: “The KSF shall be lightly armed and possess no heavy weapons, such as tanks, heavy artillery or offensive air capability. The KSF is to consist of no more than 2,500 active members and 800 reserve members.”

Many see the KSF as the future Kosovo army as NATO draws down its troop levels. In January KFOR reduced troop numbers from 14,000 to 10,000, and further cuts are expected in the coming years.

To deal with the public relations embarrassment, NATO suspended training Kosovo security troops for a few days, and then restarted them again.

Minister of KSF Fehmi Mujota said it was all a "misunderstanding" and wouldn't happen again.

The curtain on the KSF had been pulled back for a moment and then quickly closed. 

On other fronts, Kosovo Albanians leaders said all the right things.

Kosovo's Prime Minister Hashim Thaci told Reuters northern Kosovo, inhabited mainly by Serbs, would not be forced into the mainly ethnic Albanian statelet.

Thaci said investment and other "incentives" would do the trick. 

How will Thaci lure investment to northern Kosovo when the entire breakaway Serb republic is a junkie jacked up on foreign assistance?   

Since the end of the war with Belgrade in 1999, Kosovo has devoured some four billion euros in aid.

Donor aid accounts for 15 percent of GDP!

And they need more.

Finance Minister Ahmet Shala has said Kosovo will ask donors for more aid to plug up this year's budget gap.

Speaking to Reuters, Deputy Prime Minister Hajredin Kuci that Kosovo will need foreign donors for another three to five years.

Stating the obvious, Marko Prelec, of the Brussels-based think-tank International Crisis Group, "Kosovo is in danger of turning into a persistently impoverished country and this can go on for decades."

Given the fact it has little or no revenue, it is not surprising on of the first "international agreements" Kosovo secured was a $20 million loan from the World Bank. 

The World Bank and International Monetary Fund are the two organizations Kosovo has been admitted to.

Kosovo got a bit of a recognition boost, when it said it got an invite to an EU-Balkans summit later this month in Slovenia as a full-fledged state. 

Serbia usually boycotts conferences if Kosovo officials attend unless they are tagged as coming from UNMIK Kosovo, after the UN mission in Kosovo. 

Will Serb President Boris Tadic skip the March 20 conference at Brdo pri Kranju, or go along with the charade?  He is under heavy EU bureaucratic and Western press pressure to give up Kosovo. 

Occasionally, a reporter or two bust the illusionist bubble that all is orderly and well in Kosovo.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner blew a gasket when a reporter from Voice of America from all places asked him about alleged organ trafficking in Kosovo. 

The Informant has looked into these charges and the background here.

So serious are the charges, the Council of Europe has sicced super-sleuth Dick Marty -- who probed the CIA black sites and rendition flights in Europe case -- to sniff out the clues.

So, these allegations are not merely the twisted conspiracies of Serb hardliners. 

But Kouchner at least judging by his public comments, thinks they are. 

He called the VOA reporter insane for having the temerity to ask whether Kouchner had heard of the human trafficking rumor when he was the UN's administrator in Kosovo between 1999 and 2001. 

"But you are sick, aren't you? Do I look like someone who would traffic organs? You are insane to believe all kinds of nonsense like that," Kouchner responded. "Sir, you should consult (a doctor) ... people who talk about things like that are bastards and murderers."

The South East European Media Organization slammed Kouchner for his near postal moment.
"As a politician and a member of the French government, he should communicate professionally and responsibly with journalists."  
The human trafficking allegations were in the headlines a bit longer when Albanian Foreign Minister Ilir Meta said his country will assist any international inquiry into the allegations. 
Meta's cheery, cooperative remarks fly in the face of what an independent UN expert stated, accusing Albania of stalling an international probe into the claims because none of the efforts to investigate had received meaningful cooperation from Albania.
Again the world of reality and rhetoric rarely meet.

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