November 22, 2005


Holbrooke says Bosnia peace agreement flawed, but successful (Associated Press, 121/18/05)

Richard Holbrooke, who brokered the 1995 Bosnian peace agreement that ended the 3 1/2-year-long war, said the peace accords had flaws but achieved what they set out to do despite predictions by many that they would fail.

Holbrooke said the flaws included creation of separate armies in Bosnia and the retention of the country's ethnically controlled political parties.

"The underlying point was the goal of ending the war, and by God we did it with your help in Dayton," Holbrooke said Thursday night as he accepted the Dayton Peace Prize on the 10th anniversary of the peace accords.

It's been hilarious to listen to Richard Holbrooke's victory lap on the 10th Anniversary of the Dayton Accords. On NPR last night they talked to Nicholas Burns who said that Bosnia has 14 different department of education, one for each religious and ethnic group to go with its three presidents. Yet the same folks insist that federalism in Iraq or a separate state of Kurdistan is a disaster?

In Kosovo, Two Peoples Look Across Bitter Divide: Talks Address Future Of U.N.-Run Region (Daniel Williams, November 22, 2005, Washington Post)

Six years after the end of warfare here, fear and suspicion still enforce a strict separation of Serbs and Albanians in Kosovo, but for the first time both sides are beginning to picture a future in which they might -- just might -- live together.

Talks began Monday in Pristina on the future legal status of an area that has been under the administration of the United Nations since U.S.-led bombing forced out Serbian forces in 1999. Anti-Serb riots in March 2004 stoked fear here and in foreign capitals of new violence between the two populations, and possibly even between Serbia and Kosovo, prompting the U.S. and European governments to endorse the talks.

"This is about ending a dispute of more than a century," said Avni Arifi, an adviser to Kosovo Prime Minister Bajram Kosumi. "The only way to move forward is to talk. Otherwise anything can happen, mostly bad." [...]

The talks represent a dramatic shift in course for the outside powers. After 1999, they told the Albanians that talks on final status would begin only if they improved the rule of law and the protection of Serbs in Kosovo. But after the riots of 2004, in which Albanian mobs torched close to a thousand Serb houses, foreign officials concluded that the current framework was untenable. They authorized talks while continuing to pressure the Albanians to rein in lawlessness.

A visit to Kosovo shows how stagnant and yet volatile the situation is. The majority population of 2 million Albanians and the minority Serbs, now numbering about 100,000, live in separate, mutually hostile worlds. A bridge over a river that separates Serb and Albanian parts of the northern city of Kosovska Mitrovica carries little traffic. Sharp-eyed men on both sides warily look over anyone who crosses.

The Serb population of Pristina is down to 120 from about 40,000 in 1999. Serbs' homes have been occupied by Albanians. The few Serbs who dare come into town complain of harassment.

In the countryside, a few Serb enclaves remain, surrounded by Albanian villages and subject to the whims of illegal Albanian militias. Few refugees have returned. Recently, a shadowy armed group called the Army for the Independence of Kosovo ordered Kosovo politicians to declare independence or face a "difficult situation," which people here took to mean death. Another group opposes talks altogether and has spray-painted the slogan "No negotiations. Self-determination" all across Pristina.

Still, the decision to talk has forced contemplation among Serbs and Albanians about what a new Kosovo would be like.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 22, 2005 6:29 AM


Change "Albanian" to Muslim and "Serb" to Christian and the situation will become a lot clearer. It was the Christians who suffered at the hands of the Muslims for a thousand plus years.

It took the UN, Holbrooke and Clinton to change that reality to a perception that it is the Muslims who are the victims of Serbian genocide.

If only.

Posted by: erp at November 22, 2005 9:06 AM

"The Serb population of Pristina is down to 120 from about 40,000 in 1999."

Boy, it sure is a good thing that we stopped the "ethnic cleansing" that was going on...

Posted by: b at November 22, 2005 12:47 PM