Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Ten years since Serb bombing

Two ‘Comment is Free’ pieces today reflect on the tenth anniversary of NATO’s bombardment of Serbia and the legacy which it bequeathed the region. The immediate aftermath of bombing, when a humanitarian crisis was precipitated by military action which had the purported aim of halting just such a catastrophe, which was said to be ongoing in Kosovo, has been well documented. Ian Bancroft finds, a decade later, that diplomacy and international law have been two of the chief casualties of NATO’s action whilst Simon Tisdall believes the universal declaration of independence by the Albanian regime in Kosovo has not had a stabilising influence on the west Balkans.


“Pre-intervention portrayals of the conflict in Kosovo were not, however, a failure of intelligence, but an act of willing deceit; designed to reduce the conflict to terms that betrayed the complexity of a situation involving a previously designated terrorist organisation, the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), and a heavy-handed state security infrastructure which had been for decades contending with ethnically-motivated crimes in Kosovo. Detailed reports by Amnesty International suggesting that the death toll was in the hundreds did little to deter talk of an on-going genocide. The media and NGOs, meanwhile, did little to challenge Tony Blair's portrayal of the war as "a battle between good and evil; between civilisation and barbarity; between democracy and dictatorship". This tendency to portray conflicts in terms of such dichotomies serves only to inhibit both the conception and voicing of alternative solutions to inherently complicated issues, whose roots run much deeper into history than is often acknowledged.”


“Under the terms of security council resolution 1244 of 1999, the territory remains under international administration. Europe also is divided. Five of the EU's 27 members do not recognise Kosovo, regarding its unsanctioned secession as a dangerous precedent. Worldwide, only 56 states have opened ties. Undeterred, Kosovo's leaders are increasingly kicking out against their "protectorate" status, though not against the EU aid and security assistance that helps keep them in business. "The Kosovo authorities... have repeatedly stated during the past months that resolution 1244 is no longer relevant and the institutions of Kosovo have no legal obligation to abide by it," the UN's progress report said.”

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