The Forgotten Peace at the end of the centuryAlbanian Economic Tribune - Dec 30, 1999
PRISHTINA - As this century approaches its end the world hears less and less about reconciliation in this hell on Earth called Kosovo.
Last month, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe released a 900-page report which obliterates any notion that the world is a more civil place at the end of the century than it was 100 years ago.
The OSCE report is in two parts: first, the last months of Serb domination - October 1998 to June 1999 - is examined in detail, followed by the time of post-Serbian control, from June 14 to October 31 this year.
The first part is sobering enough, confirming the stories of atrocities that haunted the refugee camps in Macedonia and Albania. Children decapitated in front of their parents, rape and other forms of sexual violence used as weapons of war, mass slaughter used to terrorise a whole population, groups suffocating in crammed refugee trains... it is a chronicle of horror on a par with anything the world has seen.
However, the second half of the report is a damning indictment of the West, which has again failed to bring safety and security to the people of Kosovo. Krajina, Sarajevo, Srebrenica, Banja Luka and now the whole Kosovo... how many failures can the West allow to blacken and poison the well of humanity in the Balkans?
The OSCE takes 135 pages to outline, in chilling detail, the day-by-day human rights abuses that have occurred in Kosovo since the Serbs left and the 800,000 Kosovar Albanian refugees returned from camps in neighbouring countries. Acknowledging that "no society emerges from a traumatic, violent conflict without scars," the OSCE says it is understandable that reconciliation will only come about with great effort and over time.
"Yet, the call must be made to end the violence, to make a beginning with peaceful co-existence and to enforce the rule of law," says the report. "Time is pressing."
Kosovo Serbs, Roma, Muslim Slavs and others have been targeted for human rights violations listed as: "executions, abductions, torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, arbitrary arrests and attempts to restrict freedom of expression."
The OSCE points the finger at people either associated with the Kosovo Liberation Army or serving members of that group, including "criminal elements" who have exploited the role of the KLA as cover for violent lawlessness. According to the OSCE, the terror and intimidation has been successful with significant numbers of Serbs and Roma people fleeing in the past six months.
The Red Cross has confirmed this, listing 234,000 refugees in Serbian and Montenegrin camps by the end of October. The report highlights what are called two iniquitous trends, the targeting of the elderly and the participation of juveniles in human rights violations. Central to the failure of Kosovo has been that no effective rule of law or judicial administration has been established since the Serbs were driven out in June.
"The OSCE calls for thorough investigations into the allegations documented and for an infusion of more international police and international judicial experts to help break the cycle of impunity in Kosovo," concludes the report.
It must be said - as this report makes clear - that the human rights abuses since June cannot have an equivalence with what occurred under Serbian rule.
"The sheer scale and the involvement of the state make the former (Serb terror) of a structurally different order than the latter," says the report.
The West took a courageous stand against the genocidal terror of Slobodan Milosevic and his generals. But the responsibility and obligation that went with intervention must be honoured or else the Serbs will have had a "moral" victory over the international community, giving succour to the Orthodox religionist sympathisers in Greece and Russia.
But the great tragedy is that there has been no response to the OSCE report from the politicians who led the Kosovo war, and violence in the war-torn province continuous unabated.
If we are not to condemn the Balkans to another century of mindless murder and revenge, action must be taken now. History tells us, however, that we should not hold our breath.
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