Tuesday, September 16, 2008
The "Kosova Hackers Group" told visitors to the parliament website that it had also attacked other official sites on Wednesday, including the Serbian army's.
The site looked normal on Thursday and parliament had no comment on the incident.
Serbia does not recognise the independence of its former province of Kosovo and objects to the use of its symbols at international gatherings.
"Those hackers are using programmes that are freely accessible on the Internet and can be downloaded free of charge," Slobodan Markovic, an advisor in the Serbian telecommunications ministry, told Radio B92.
Markovic said Serbian government sites do not have a unique security system but that each ministry decides how to protect the data.
The Daily Press said several other official Internet sites were also under "Kosovo Hackers" attack on the same day, including the Defence Ministry, Commercial Court and Serbian Business Registers Agency.
Aleksandar Konuzin, Russia’s ambassador to Serbia, told the Belgrade Ekonomist magazine that pressure would mount as a consequence of Moscow’s own recognition of the two Georgian breakaway regions, South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
Russia has been a staunch ally of Serbia's in opposition to the independence of Kosovo, declared in February, and has pledged to continue its backing despite Belgrade’s refusal to follow Moscow’s call for international recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
"Serbs can rest assured that Russia is ready to join forces with them in the fight against double standards... and in preserving Serbia’s territorial wholeness and sovereignty," he said. The diplomat said it was a "wrong approach to present Serbia’s ties with Europe as an alternative to its friendship with Russia".
The diplomat argued that the "price Belgrade is asked to pay" for integration into Europe was a separate issue, adding that Serbia "will benefit from [EU] membership equally as have other Eastern European countries".
Konuzin continued: “Russia looks at the Kosovo issue as an attempt to forcibly divide Serbia against the people’s will, by violating international law, including the UN Charter and the UN Security Council decision".
On Wednesday, the US former envoy to the Balkans, Richard Holbrooke, said "Russia's aggressive campaign" was to blame for the fact that only 46 countries have so far recognised the independence of Kosovo.
Employees of the White Plains, N.Y., contractor will help protect members of Task Force Falcon stationed at Camp Bondsteel in southeast Kosovo and the overall security of the installation. The contract could be worth as much as $39 million over a three-year period.
Under the contract, ITT will provide services that include physical and electronic security, quality assurance and supply management, company officials said in an announcement. The force protection assistance will enable warfighters involved in Task Force Falcon to focus on mission-critical tasks, they said.
Task Force Falcon is the U.S. component of NATO’s Kosovo Force. The U.S. troops assist with peacekeeping operations, humanitarian assistance and related aid so that Kosovo’s civilian government can firmly establish itself. ITT has provided support at the facility since 2003.
ITT, a provider of high-technology engineering and manufacturing services, ranks No. 14 on Washington Technology’s 2008 Top 100 list of the largest federal government prime contractors.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
"If Kosovo agrees to recognize our own (Abkhazia) independence, we will certainly recognize them as well", said Basma.
The desire for recognition is there, though Basma added he very much doubt such thing will happen because "authorities in Pristina are very much depended on NATO and US in their decision making process".
Macedonia has bound the recognition with border demarcation issue, but the Zeri claims “this was settled in the recent days, mainly in the sensitive region of Debalde,” the radio says.
The daily writes also that “with a view to the internal political situation in Montenegro it is not quite certain whether Podgorica will immediately follow” Macedonia’s steps in recognizing Kosovo’s independence.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
To understand its nature it is better to train our binoculars on the last 10 years - not to seek out villains, but to piece together a series of interlinked decisions. Most of these were understandable at the time but have cumulatively produced a dangerous gulf of incomprehension between Washington and Moscow.
From the invasion of Kosovo in 1999 to the invasion of Georgia in 2008, a series of misunderstandings and a refusal to sufficiently respect each others' national interest has led to a political divide, fed by a polarized presentation in each country's media.
After the fall of the Berlin Wall, there was virtual unanimity in Moscow and Washington that everything possible should be done to avoid changing historic national boundaries in Europe.
Though Russia disliked the Clinton administration's decision to extend NATO membership to some of the newly independent states, the policy worked in part because the West respected Russia's sensitivity to NATO membership for Ukraine and Georgia.
Russia also cooperated extensively with NATO in the dismantling of the former Yugoslavia. It was only in 1998, as the situation in Kosovo deteriorated, that a real difference began to develop between Russia and NATO in the Balkans.
In a sense, this was inevitable as Slobodan Milosevic had no intention of restoring the autonomy that he had removed from Kosovo in 1989. As the American line hardened, Russia could see that NATO was likely to intervene and that Kosovo would secede from Serbia, so it distanced itself from the West's policies.
Despite this history of cooperation and mutual respect, President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney all along wanted to offer Georgia early NATO membership, not calculating the practical reality that NATO would be obliged to come to Georgia's defense under the NATO Charter.
It was always on the cards that the Georgian president, Mikheil Saakashvili, would decide - as he did - to "restore constitutional order" to the separatist province of South Ossetia. Had Georgia been a member of NATO on Aug. 7, when Georgia launched missiles and tanks against South Ossetia, NATO would have suffered a devastating blow had it not responded to Russia's counterattack.
President Nicolas Sarkozy was right not to commit either NATO or the EU to restoring the territorial integrity of Georgia as part of the EU cease-fire initiative.
In the Western democracies, our politicians and press now talk only of the Russian invasion and ignore the Georgian military attack. To liken South Ossetia to the Soviet Union's military action in Hungary in 1956 or Czechoslovakia in 1968 is neither serious history nor realistic politics.
There are sound reasons why NATO membership cannot be handed out to any country that asks. A would-be member's democracy first has to be proven, and its foreign policy must be stable and aligned with that of the other member states. And wherever possible, the national boundaries of a new member should be accepted by its neighbors.
For some years it has been clear that the wise course has been to put EU membership for Georgia and Ukraine ahead of their membership in NATO. The first lesson from the fighting in Georgia is to speed up EU membership for both, and not to advance NATO membership so long as boundary disputes remain.
The other key lesson is to make EU membership for Turkey a priority. Turkey is the one country which can help the EU seriously diversify its gas and oil supply. Turkey, along its entire length, can and should have a gas and oil pipeline to supply Europe - not just from the Caspian Sea and the countries surrounding it, but eventually from Iraq and Iran as well.
Turkey must be a partner in this EU energy enterprise and it will be far more committed to the project when it sees that objections to its EU entry from France and to a lesser extent Germany have been put to rest and that there is a reliable timetable for entry into the Union.
This is not an anti-Russian proposal. Diversity of energy is a national interest for Russia as well as European nations - a diversity of customers for Russia, a diversity of suppliers for Europe.
Russia is building an oil pipeline to the Far East, with very substantial financial funding from Japan. A gas pipeline will eventually follow. Russia is also pledged to build an oil pipeline into China and it is moving into shipping liquefied natural gas.
There is much hard diplomacy ahead for Moscow, Washington and Brussels over South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which will probably have to await a new U.S. president. It will have to be based on realpolitik - Washington and Moscow will have to halt mutual recriminations and accept that exceptional, though different, circumstances in Serbia and Georgia have led both countries to invade others without UN sanction.
A settlement of these issues will not be asy, but it is an international interest that it be achieved in 2009.
David Owen, chancellor of the University of Liverpool, was Britain's foreign secretary in 1977-79 and a European Union peace negotiator in the former Yugoslavia 1992-95. This article was adapted from Lord Owen's address to the M100 Sanssouci Colloquium in Potsdam, Germany.
An EU diplomat who insisted on being identified as such because not authorized to be quoted in his own name told Inner City Press that EU consultations are still ongoing. Some, he said, are urging EU support for the resolution as a way to support Serbia's pro-EU government by helping them "park" this burning domestic issue in the Hague. The downside, he said, is that the pendency of such a case would slow down if not halt other countries' recognition of Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence.
Costa Rica's Ambassador Jorge Urbina said that his country, even though it has already recognized Kosovo's declaration of independence, will be voting in favor of getting ICJ review. Ambassador Urbina rhetorically asked Inner City Press, how can we oppose a member state which has lost a province getting a court ruling?
Inner City Press asked U.S. Deputy Permanent Representative Alejandro Wolff how the U.S. will vote on the resolution. We haven't reached a decision on that yet, Ambassador Wolff replied.
Inner City Press asked Serbia's Ambassador Pavle Jevremovic if he thinks his country's resolution will pass. He nodded, and said, "We're trying to keep things uncontroversial." Some cynics even speculate that Serbia's current government might want to lose the case, or at least wouldn't mind losing it, because then the Serbian public could be told, "We tried everything possible, now let's get on with the business of business." Among the evidence presented for this theory is Serbia's foreign minister's statement that if the ICJ rules against his position, Serbia will have to respect it. Meanwhile, even if Serbia won, the ruling would only be advisory. The theory goes, why would anyone start a court case they could lose, but couldn't meaningfully win, unless they want to lose?
Another diplomat not authorized to be quoted by name said it will be difficult for his African country not to support the resolution, and he wonders how the United States could justify not supporting it. We'll see.
Footnote: Meanwhile the UN Mission in Kosovo's position becomes more and more untenable. Without any Security Council authorization, it is passing buildings and cars to the EU's EULEX. The former chief legal officer of UNMIK, Alexander Borg-Olivier, is getting paid by the EU, through the UN Development Program, to advise the Kosovo government, despite legal ethics and UN "post employment" rules. (Inner City Press has formally asked the UN to explain why these rules wouldn't apply to Borg-Olivier, who was involved in UN procurement).
Ban Ki-moon's political advisor Nicholas Haysom, just back from Pristina, was brooding his colleagues in the UN's basement cafe on September 4. Perhaps they can explain how l'affaire Borg-Olivier is consistent with the UN's claims to be status neutral on Kosovo.
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Western political leaders have reacted with outrage attoward the Russian incursion into Georgia. But there is another way of looking at the situation, especially if we compare Western policies toward Kosovo and Russian actions in Georgia.
From the Russian point of view, Europe and the United States first militarily attacked Russia's ally Serbia on behalf of breakaway Kosovo, and then helped the Kosovars obtain their current state of independence. ButAnd yet, when Russia intervenes in South Ossetia to establish that breakaway region's independence from Western oriented Georgia, the United States and Europe react with shock and anger. In Russian eyes, the position of the United States seems to be that intervention is OK when we do it, but not when you do it.
The tensions surrounding these events are greatly increased by America's recent agreements with the Czech Republic and Poland to place missile monitoring radars in those countries. Despite protestations by the United States that its intentions are purely defensive, one only needs to consider what any American government's reaction would be to the placement of Russian radars in Mexico to defend against a rogue Latin American state in order to grasp why the installations make the Russians nervous.
During the decade after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States did not take Russia seriously. Even today, we continue to chastise the Russians for human rights abuses, for "misusing" their oil and gas resources for political purposes and for obstructing our wishes in various international venues.
What did we expect? That a great country with an educated work force just starting to feel its economic oats would be content to play second fiddle forever? It was just a matter of time before the Russians reappeared as a strong state on the international scene. They have now arrived, and it is in everyone's interest if we begin to deal with them like the great power they are.
Indeed, European stability demands a stable relationship between Russia and the West. Punishing Russia for its incursion into South Ossetia by dropping it from G-8, for example, would only undermine stability.
There is a reasonable solution to the situation, however. Both Ossetians and Abkhazians, just like Kosovars, see no other solution to their political desires than independence, as they have shown in repeated (if flawed) referenda and elections. Ossetians constitute about two-thirds of the population of that region, with most of the rest being Russians. Abkhazians make up about the same proportion of Abkhazia, with most of the rest being Georgians. In other words, if the ethnic principle works in Kosovo (as it seems to have worked in France, Germany, Poland, Slovakia, etc.) why not in these regions?
In fact, one of the primary threads of European history since 1850 has been the redrawing of state borders along ethnic lines. Georgia's position on the matter is much like Serbia's on Kosovo — Georgians do not want to live in these areas, which are not particularly viable economically, but the government of Georgia cannot conceive of "giving up" territory, despite its inability to exercise its rule there. But just as stability will come to the Balkans as the Kosovo settlement becomes increasingly integrated into European structures, so the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia would help with the stabilization process in the Caucasus.
Such an outcome would not end ethnic strife there. Azeris and Armenians have been talking lately under Russian auspices, but relations remain fraught. And there is always the question of Chechnya. But agreement on South Ossetia and Abkhazia would be a step in the right direction.
What are the outlines of a solution? However it might be presented in diplomatic language, it is basically this: the West accepts the independence of the two regions including Russian "peacekeepers"; and the Russians accept the independence of Kosovo, including a NATO and EULEX (European Rule of Law Mission) presence. The two entities enter the United Nations and Russia stops vetoing the Kosovo solution in the Security Council.
The beneficiaries? Improved US/EU-Russian relations, increased stability in the Balkans and the Caucasus, and a resolution that the majority populations of Abkhazia and South Ossetia appear to want.
Perhaps one could mention some of the salient differences.
1) Russia had never expressed any interest in Ossetian or Abkhazian micronationalisms, while Georgia was an integral part of the Soviet Union. It is impossible to avoid the suspicion that these small peoples are being used as "strategic minorities" to negate the independence of the larger Georgian republic and to warn all those with pro-Russian populations on their soil of what may befall them. This is like Turkish imperialism in Cyprus, Thrace and Iraq, where local minorities can be turned on and off like a faucet, according to the needs of the local superpower.
2) Kosovo was never manipulated as part of the partition or intervention plan of another country and, for a lengthy period, pursued its majority-rule claims by passive resistance and other non-violent means. NATO intervention occurred only when Serbian forces had resorted to mass deportation and full-dress ethnic cleansing. Whatever may be said of Georgia's incautious policy toward secessionism within its own internationally recognized borders, it does not deserve comparison with the criminal behaviour of the Slobodan Milosevic regime.
3) Does anybody remember the speeches in which the Russian ambassador to the United Nations asked the General Assembly or Security Council to endorse his country's plan to send forces deep into the territory and waters of a former colony that is now a UN member state? I thought not. I look at the newspaper editorials every day, waiting to see who will be the first to use the word "unilateral" in the same sentence as "Russia." Nothing so far. Yet UN Resolution 1441, warning Saddam Hussein of serious consequences, was the fruit of years of thwarted diplomacy and passed without a dissenting vote.
4) The six former constituent republics of Yugoslavia, which all exercised their constitutional right to secede from rule by Belgrade, are seated as members of the UN, as is Georgia. Twenty out of 27 states of the European Union have also recognized the government of Kosovo as an entity de jure as well as de facto. The Kosovar population is estimated at 2.1 million. Does anyone seriously imagine that Russia ever even remotely intends to sponsor statehood claims for the tiny local populations of Ossetia and Abkhazia? On the contrary, these peoples will be re-assimilated into the Russian empire. Any comparison with Kosovo would have to be to its potential absorption and annexation by Albania. Nobody has even proposed this, let alone countenanced the unilateral stationing of Albanian armed forces on Kosovar soil.
5) The emphasis of Western policy in the Balkans has been on de-emphasizing ethnic divisions; subsidizing cities and communities that practise reconciliation; and encouraging Serbs and Albanians to co-operate in Kosovo. This policy would stand up to any comparison with Russian behaviour in the Caucasus (and indeed the Balkans), which is explicitly based on an outright appeal to sectarianism, nationalism and confessionalism.
6) The fans of moral equivalence may or may not have noticed this, but the obviously long-meditated and co-ordinated military intervention in Georgia comes in the same month as threats to the sovereignty of Poland and Ukraine, and hard on the heels of a Russian obstruction of UN action in the case of Zimbabwe. Those who like to describe Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev as reacting to an "encirclement" of Russia may wish to explain how Kosovo forms part of this menacing ring of steel, or how the repression of the people of Zimbabwe can assist in Moscow's breakout strategy from it.
I agree with the critics who say the Bush administration garnered the worst of both worlds by giving the Georgians the impression of U.S. support and then defaulting at the push-comes-to-shove moment. The Clintonoids made that mistake with Serbian aggression, giving the Bosnians hope and then letting them be slaughtered until the position became untenable -- and then repeating the same dithering errors in Kosovo.
This argues quite convincingly that there was no deliberate imperial design involved. Will anyone say the same about Putin's undisguised plan for the forcible restoration of Russian hegemony around his empire's periphery?
It would be nice to think there was a consistent response from Washington, but I would not bet on the idea, which is what President George W. Bush has given the strong impression of doing in the last two weeks.
Christopher Hitchens is an author and columnist for Vanity Fair and Slate Magazine (www.slate.com), where this column originally appeared.
Hyseni, in an official visit to the Czech Republic where he met Deputy Prime Minister Aleksander Vondra and Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, stated that his visit comes at an opportune contextual movement for Kosovo, and for t he relations between the two countries.
He explained that he has agreed with his Czech homologue to have a epresentative of Kosovo government present at the Czech Ministry of oreign Affairs. Czech Republic will take the leadership of the uropean Union on 1 January 2009.
"We have agreed that during the Czech presidency, we will place a liaison officer from the Foreign Ministry of Republic of Kosovo at the Czech Foreign Ministry, to serve as daily, systematic link between our two ministries," said Hyseni.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Minister Vuk Jeremic was quoted by the Vecernje Novosti daily on Thursday as saying the recognition of Kosovo's independence on Feb. 17 by the United States and its NATO allies has "destabilized" other parts of the world.
"We have pointed out to the international community from the very start that the unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo could present a dangerous precedent," Vuk Jeremic was quoted as saying. "Unfortunately, this has proven to be true much sooner than anyone expected." Jeremic was not immediately available for comment, but his spokeswoman confirmed the authenticity of the newspaper interview.
Serbia lost control over Kosovo in 1999 after it launched a military campaign in the province against Kosovo's ethnic Albanian separatists. Then-President Slobodan Milosevic was forced to pull out of Kosovo after Serbia was bombed by NATO for 78 days in retaliation for its brutality against civilians in Kosovo.
Serbia's new, pro-Western leadership that came after Milosevic was ousted in 2000 has refrained from using force in Kosovo but has refused to give up its claim on the territory.
Earlier this month, Jeremic sought support in the United Nations for Serbia's request that the Netherlands-based International Court of Justice rule on weather Kosovo's declaration of independence was legal under international law.
If approved at the upcoming U.N. General Assembly session, the Serbian request would present an important diplomatic victory for the Balkan country, although the court's ruling would be nonbinding.
Serbia has refused to acknowledge the secession of predominantly ethnic Albanian region. It has sought to block Kosovo's membership in the United Nations and other international organizations.
Russia has supported Serbia while the United States and its EU allies have stood by Kosovo.
In Georgia, fighting broke out Aug. 7 when Georgia moved to take control of its separatist South Ossetia region. This triggered a massive intervention by Russia, which recaptured South Ossetia and then moved deep into other parts of Georgia.
Political analysts in Serbia say the Georgian move was prompted by the likelihood that South Ossetia and Abkhazia were preparing to follow Kosovo's example and declare independence.
Moscow has suggested it would support such a bid, while U.S. President George W. Bush said South Ossetia and another breakaway region of Abkhazia "are part of Georgia."
Jeremic said Serbia condemns the use of force in Georgia, and urged countries to find a "peaceful way through the United Nations, with respect to international agreements and international law."