Sunday, November 12, 2006

BIRN Update

BIRN has come out with a new issue: Issue 58

They also re-did the website design scheme and layout, I like the new changes.


Bg anon said...

Shaina I'd be interested in your opinion on what Holbrooke said in that interview.

I'm continually disapointed by his views to be honest he is entirely unpersuasive on Kosovo.

As I understand it the only argument he puts forward on Kosovo is that a majority of its citizens desire independence. That on its own appears to be enough for him. There is no mention of human or minority rights comittments, its about recognising the reality on the ground.

And yet he would be the first to oppose any similar argument concerning Republika Sprkska - that the majority has the right to decide. He would then talk about recent history - the concerns he would have about the rights of a Bosniak minority in such a state etc.

Then he talks about how no leader in Serbia would recognise Kosovo when Cedomir Jovanovic would.

Then he starts harping on about 1912. What in the hell is that about? That kind of argument might do well in a large hall packed full of Kosovo Albanian Americans but it is no argument at all in this context. Still, I suppose at least the scoudrelous historical argument (that nationalists of all colours use) is better than no argument at all.

Kosovo Albanian revenge is condoned - justified or at least forgiven in the context of Serbian crimes. Perhaps we should have pardoned Serbian crimes in the context of the second world war too :(

And then we have that tired argument about Serbia having to choose between Europe and Kosovo that he repeats as if we are still back in 1999. My own view is that Europeans will decide about that and the evidence shows that this is a false choice and not one shared by most Europeans.

Shaina, you asked me about Serbia with regard to the election result in the US. Most people in Serbia will never read this interview (perhaps just as well) but when the views of this man are hard to swallow (or plain ignorant) by the likes of somebody as rational as I am, you can be sure that such an interview would be used as evidence of Democratic anti Serbianism.

I hope that Holbrooke never has the chance to take part in the decision making process on the former Yugoslavia ever again.

Shaina said...

Thanks for your comments.

First of all, I don't see Holbrooke justifying Kosovo Albanian vengence in this article, either explicitly or inplicitly.
In the article, he mentions how the desire for vengence is great in that part of the world, but that people cannot give in.
Now, perhaps he should have at leaast made mention of the fact that some Serb civilians were the victims of the KLA, but no where do I see him justifying vengence by anyone.

Second, I'm not that well versed in the Kosovo-Serbia debate over Kosovo independence; so I have not really thought about the naunces of the debate or the points and counter points made by each side.

While I certainly do understand the argument made that if Kosovo gains independence, than that will give the RS the right to seek independence, I'm not sure if such a analogy is always apt.

First of all, there is a difference between Kosovo and RS.
The state of Bosnia is a legitimate state, just as Croatia and Serbia are legitimate states.
However, in my opinion, the RS and the Muslim-Croat Federation are artificial creations designed to end the war. They have no basis in history.

Second, even if Kosovo gains statehood, and even if the majority of the population of the RS wants to break away and gain complete autonomy; I don't see that actually happening.
The Dayton Accords are very clear with regard to Bosnian state territorial integrity, and on the creation of the two entitees.
(Although, I realize there are probably documents out there as well after the war which also preserve Kosovo's position as an autonomous section of the state of Serbia).
But, in general I don't see Kosovo as being the equvilalent to the RS.

I do however hope that in all of these sections be they state, autonmous provinces, entities, etc. do all they can to protect the rights of minorities. Including, having signs in both Latin and Cyrillic in the RS, and not just in Cyrillic; and in Kosovo doing all they can to protect the rights of the Serbian and Roma minority population. Including, protecting their right to their own schools, language, religious institutions, and other sectors as well.
Of course, I realize that that is a lot easier said than done, and while it is always good to talk about minority rights, they also must be in the law books and in practice as well.
And I do hope that if Kosovo does get statehood, that the process would be one done very deliberately; protecting the legal rights of minorities.

Shaina said...

BTW: going slightly off topic:

thanks for your insights into the possible Serbian reaction to the American political scene.

I remember talking to someone raised in Russia about the 2004 presidential elections; and she mentioned how shocked she was how in American politics how much the candidate's personal lives are part of the campaign.
She was flabergasted at how many times the candidate's family plays an intregral part in the campaign, and how the candidate's personal attributes are given more attention than the policies they propose.
I thought it was interesting observation, and I do agree with her that sometimes in politics, although I'm not sure if it is just an American phenomenon; style does overshadow substance.

Bg anon said...

Shaina this is what I'm talking about:

"I know the Serbs did not treat them well and I know the desire for revenge is very great in that part of the world,”

There was no full stop perhaps its my interpretation but this seems to be showing understanding of what he believes to be Kosovo Albanian revenge. I say what he believes to be because its an unfortunate fact that some of that Albanian dislike of Serbs far predates 1999.

I understand your first point on a unitary Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia, but you didnt finish that point with how Kosovo fits in.

My beef with the situation isnt to sneakily try to either 'liberate' Republika Srpska or to desperately (in some nasty nationalistic fashion) try to hold on to Kosovo. My beef is that we dont have consistent goalposts in this game of international relations. In other words the rules keep changing according to the agendas of those making the decisions. I simply want a bit of order and consistency in the outcome but failing that at least in the argumentation.

I dont see Kosovo as the equivalent to RS either and also doubt the sincerity of some of those who are linking the two. However, that doesnt mean that the type of points I'm trying to make should be ignored.

Above all, above everything, one should be thinking about human rights. That must supercede the creation of nation states, the desires of any majority. Frankly those that earn their right to a state, in my eyes at least, should be rewarded - whether history is on their side or not. In Kosovo's case I truly have more confidence in Serbia protecting the rights of its minorities (including Albanians) than I have concerning Kosovo Albanian treatment of Serbs in a reverse position.

Similarly if the Bosnian government can prove its worth in that department and Republika Srpska can not that is a very powerful argument, in my view, for ending the hopes of Rep Srpska's statehood for once and for all.

We have to get these nation states / regions competing with one another on the important issues dangling the carrot of recognition of true statehood.

Instead we have officials using a mixture of history (which as I say is so subjective) and the current situation on the ground. The latter argument by the way is realpolitik respected above all by ethnic cleansers who are the ones most rewarded by the recognition of a current situation on the ground.

Why dont people like Holbrooke talk about human rights? Is it because they dont actually care about human rights? Is it because they are more keen put the icing on the cake of their foreign policy legacy? He's a politician after all and worse still he doesnt strike me as a prinipled one.