K O S O V O - What Can Be Done Now?
- By TFF
"Violence closes doors and minds. Good
conflict-resolution opens them. A principled, impartial and
innovative approach is now the only way to prevent a new tragedy
in the Balkans. A limited United Nations presence could be one
element in violence prevention," says TFF director Jan
Oberg. "Below you find some examples, developed by us during
our work with the Kosovo conflict since 1991. We'd be happy to
have your comments and your suggestions."
"Many things can still be done - but only
as long as there is no, or limited, violence. When violence is
stepped up, opportunities for genuine solutions diminish.
Governments and citizen around the world can take impartial
goodwill initiatives, for instance:
- A HEARING IN THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL
ASSEMBLY. We need to get the facts on the table,
presented by impartial experts as well as by the parties
themselves; listen actively to them for they have
interesting arguments and question their positions,
activities and policies.
- MEETINGS all over Europe with various
groups of Serbs and Albanians to discuss their problems.
Governments and NGOs can provide the funds, the venues
and the facilitators.
- SEND A HIGH-LEVEL INTERNATIONAL DELEGATION
OF "CITIZEN DIPLOMATS" to Belgrade and Kosovo
and have it listen and make proposals on the
establishment of a permanent dialogue or negotiation
process but NOT on what the solution should be.
- A NON-VIOLENCE PACT. Pressure must be
brought to bear on all parties to sign a document in
which they solemnly declare that they will
unconditionally refrain from the use of every kind of
violence against human beings and property as part of
- SIMULTANEOUS WITHDRAWAL of Serb police and
military from the region (with the exception of what is
needed for self-defence along the borders) and
disarmament of the Kosovo Liberation Army. This should be
combined with a "WEAPONS-BUY-BACK" PROGRAM:
citizens and paramilitary units are remunerated for
handing in their weapons to collection points controlled
by the UN.
- Monitoring of this process by UN CIVIL
AFFAIRS AND CIVIL POLICE (200 or so are enough).
- POSITIVE INCENTIVES. Make it known to the
parties that international organisations will help them
with things they need if they refrain from violence now
and engage in talks. As a vital element in the conflict
is underdevelopment, poverty and deepening economic
crisis, there is considerable space for economic
- SHOW RESPECT. Tell the parties that any
solution they reach voluntarily will be accepted by the
international community. This means not treating them as
helpless, clients or inferiors.
- GET YUGOSLAVIA BACK INTO THE OSCE. Lift
the suspension of Yugoslavia in the OSCE, it was unwise
from the beginning to exclude Yugoslavia which then,
naturally, did not want to continue hosting the OSCE
missions on its territory.
- UN CIVIL POLICE MISSION. Get perhaps 200
United Nations Civil Police on the ground to prevent
incidents like those we have seen from exploding into
something nobody can control.
- INDEPENDENT GOVERNMENT INITIATIVES. Don't
wait for the European Union to find a common policy on
this issue. The Scandinavian countries and Switzerland
could play a particularly active role in this conflict.
- ARRANGE SEMINARS where a lot of
IMAGINATIVE LONGTERM SOLUTIONS can be suggested, analysed
and debated in a non-binding manner, almost like a
brainstorm - such as:
- various types of autonomy,
- international presence,
- protectorate or other types of transitional
- normalisation of everyday life before an overall
solution is reached,
- conditions and modalities for remaining in
- humanitarian presence and human rights monitoring,
- economic development, e.g. creation of a Kosovo
Co-Prosperity Region or Economic Free Zone,
- UN or OSCE peacekeeping,
- condominium (shared control of one government by two or
- "cantonisation" or a division of Kosovo,
- federalisation (i.e. Yugoslavia consisting of not only
Serbia and Montenegro but also of Kosovo)
- combinations of these ideas that the parties, citizens'
groups and others would accept.
- In summary, develop a multitude of options, don't
narrow it all down to "Our way, or war."
- ACKNOWLEDGE THAT VIOLENCE BEGINS WHEN
PEOPLE SEE NO IDEAS OR WAYS OUT or when they are afraid
of losing face. Violence-prevention means helping parties
overcoming that feeling.
- FOCUS ON INTERESTS, NOT POSITIONS. There
could be governmental and nongovernmental dialogues on
specific, concrete needs and interests - education,
health, finance, culture, etc. - with the common
understanding that the longterm status of the region will
be more easily solved if the parties have found solutions
to pressing issues for the millions of citizens involved,
- ESTABLISH A TRUTH COMMISSION. The
situation is already infected with prejudice, racism,
hate, propaganda and media blackouts. The majority of
foreign media cover the violence, not the underlying
conflict; they often side with the party they sympathise
with but seldom analyse the problems that must be solved.
- ESTABLISH A RECONCILIATION COMMITTE with
impartial international organisations and highly
respected international figures. Reconciliation is not
needed only after wars: it is much easier to heal
psychological wounds when 20 rather than 200 000 have
been killed and no material damage has happened.
- AN OSCE-LIKE PROCESS FOR THE BALKANS.
There are more than enough problems in this whole region
- and in its relations with the rest of Europe, the EU,
NATO etc. There is poverty, animosity, misery, human
rights violations. Serbia has more than 600 000 refugees,
the largest number in Europe. There are international
"national interests" in all the Balkans. It is
time to develop a compre-hensive approach through a
series of conferences and dialogues. If the OSCE, the UN,
small governments and NGOs cannot take such an
initiative, who can? When is the time, if not now?
"It is not the task of outsiders to
dictate anything. Only the parties themselves can find an
acceptable and sustainable solution. What we foreigners can do
now is to HELP THE PARTIES take the necessary steps back from the
abyss and prevent a tragedy that could cost hundreds of thousands
of innocent lives and spread to Macedonia," says Dr. Jan
"THIS IS WHY TFF FACILITATED A DIALOGUE IN
WRITING between Belgrade and Prishtina authorities between 1992
Our proposal emphasises the process and does
not say a word about the end result. To break the deadlock, THE
BEST OPTION NOW is a combination of a new kind of UN presence
combined with non-governmental mediation. The UN is the least
biased and most conflict-resolution competent organization we
have. A UN presence should be new, limited and entirely
non-military. We call it a United Nations Temporary Authority for
a Negotiated Settlement, UNTANS.
It aims to facilitate, in a context of order,
safety and respect for human rights, a peaceful and longterm
negotiated settlement of all conflict issues between the parties.
It's difficult, but not impossible. To summarise, there are so
many ways to approach conflicts such as that in Kosovo. Violence
is the result of fear and lack of good ideas. The best help
governments and NGOs can bring just that - new ideas and
therefore no threats or force," concludes TFF's director.
We can mail PressInfo 24 about UNTANS to you,
just ask us. You may also read it or order the full mediation
report at http://www.transnational.org.
There you will find all the relevant links to Yugoslavia and the
Kosovo province, too.
TRANSNATIONAL FOUNDATION FOR PEACE AND FUTURE RESEARCH
Vegagatan 25, S - 224 57 Lund, Sweden
Phone + 46 - 46 - 145909 (9:00-10:00 and 14:00-16:00)
Fax + 46 - 46 -144512 (24 h)
If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this
item, please retain this credit and disclaimer. Quotations or
extracts should include attribution to the original source.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * ** * *
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Dr. Jan Oberg
Director, head of the TFF Conflict-Mitigation team to the Balkans
T F F
Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research
Vegagatan 25, S - 224 57 Lund, Sweden
Phone +46-46-145909 (0900-1100)
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * * *