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Liberating Kosovo

Liberating Kosovo: Coercive Diplomacy and U. S. Intervention

David L. Phillips
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: MIT Press
Pages: 256
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    Liberating Kosovo
    Book Description:

    Kosovo, after its incorporation into the Serbian Republic of Yugoslavia, became increasingly restive during the 1990s as Yugoslavia plunged into internal war and Kosovo's ethnic Albanian residents (Kosovars) sought autonomy. In March 1999, NATO forces began airstrikes against targets in Kosovo and Serbia in an effort to protect Kosovars against persecution. The bombing campaign ended in June 1999, and Kosovo was placed under transitional UN administration while negotiations on its status ensued. Kosovo eventually declared independence in 2008. Despite internal political tension and economic problems, the new nation has been recognized by many other countries and most of its inhabitants welcome its separation from Serbia. In Liberating Kosovo, David Phillips offers a compelling account of the negotiations and military actions that culminated in Kosovo's independence. Drawing on his own participation in the diplomatic process and interviews with leading participants, Phillips chronicles Slobodan Milosevic's rise to power, the sufferings of the Kosovars, and the events that led to the disintegration of Yugoslavia. He analyzes how NATO, the United Nations, and the United States employed diplomacy, aerial bombing, and peacekeeping forces to set in motion the process that led to independence for Kosovo. He also offers important insights into a critical issue in contemporary international politics: how and when the United States, other nations, and NGOs should act to prevent ethnic cleansing and severe human-rights abuses.

    eISBN: 978-0-262-30604-1
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. ix-xii)
    Nicholas Burns

    The Balkan Wars resulting from the violent disintegration of Yugoslavia were the dominant international crises of the 1990s. The bitter, cruel, and bloody Bosnian war tore the region apart and saw the most terrible war crimes in Europe since the Nazis. The sheer brutality of that war and the complicated and tortuous negotiations that led to a final peace agreement in Dayton, Ohio have been well chronicled. The equally horrific war in Kosovo and the Kosovars’ subsequent nine-year struggle for freedom is less well known but no less important. David Phillips’ thoughtful and incisive narrative of the war and the...

  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. xv-xviii)

    Nato launched air strikes against the Yugoslav National Army and Serbian police forces in Kosovo on March 24, 1999. General Wesley Clark, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander, declared, “We are going to systematically attack, disrupt, degrade, devastate, and, unless President Milosevic complies with the demands of the international community, we are going to destroy his forces with their facilities.”¹ After 78 days of NATO bombing, Slobodan Milosevic finally capitulated. Kosovo Albanians rejoiced in their liberation.

    The Balkans were the top foreign policy priority of the United States in the 1990s. The Yugoslav crisis started with Milosevic’s declaration of martial law in...

  6. Chapter 1 Culture and History
    (pp. 1-12)

    Kosovo is a mountainous land-locked territory about the size of Connecticut. In the south, the Sharr Mountains rise 8,000 feet, separating Kosovo from Albania and Macedonia. The Accursed Mountains to the west mark Kosovo’s border with Montenegro. The Kopaonik range is made up of low-altitude slopes flowing downward to Serbia. Kosovo’s rivers run to the Adriatic, Aegean, and Black Seas. Kosovo was an important historic trade route connecting the southern port city of Shkoder in Albania with cities to the north on the Adriatic. Kosovo also served as a link to the east, connecting the coast with Tetovo and Debar...

  7. Chapter 2 Yugoslavia’s Collapse
    (pp. 13-30)

    Kosovo Albanians launched a grass-roots protest movement when Serbia declared martial law in 1989. Intellectuals formed the nucleus of Kosovo’s political opposition; workers played an important role in galvanizing the movement.

    Kosovo’s construction workers went on strike in November 1989. Every day they would show up in their dirty work clothes and caps to protest, and every day they were beaten by Serbian police. Veton Surroi, a human rights activist who would found the ORA Party and become a leading political figure among Kosovars, proposed that the construction workers repudiate the Kosovo Communist Party’s trade union and establish an independent...

  8. Chapter 3 Diaspora Politics
    (pp. 31-46)

    Albanian émigrés have always played a critical role in Albanian politics. Istanbul was the center of activity in the nineteenth century. Abdyl Frasheri, a community leader, sent a memorandum making the case for Albanian autonomy to the Ottoman Parliament in 1877. He appealed for consolidating all ethnic Albanian territories into a single “vilayet,” the administrative unit for governance in the Ottoman Empire. The memo also proposed employing Albanians in official positions, using the Albanian language for education, and limiting the military service of Albanians to ethnically Albanian districts.¹

    Diaspora intellectuals gathered in Milan to establish the Italian-Albanian Committee for the...

  9. Chapter 4 International Advocacy
    (pp. 47-64)

    Raising awareness about Kosovo in Washington, D.C. was part of a broader strategy to internationalize the issue by appealing to various governments, parliaments, and international bodies. When Kosovo’s autonomy was revoked in 1989, the Democratic League of Kosova (LDK) focused on gaining republic status and building institutions for self-rule. The LDK agreed on a three-step process. First, it would enumerate human rights standards in international law as they applied to the situation in Kosovo. Second, it would document specific violations by the Belgrade regime. Third, it would emphasize international advocacy to put pressure on Belgrade.

    Ibrahim Rugova was a true...

  10. Chapter 5 The Kosova Liberation Army
    (pp. 65-88)

    A delegation of the Council on Foreign Relations met with Milosevic on December 7, 1995.¹ Milosevic made his case:

    “Kosovo is the heart of Serbia. For every Serb, Kosovo is a holy thing. The chair of our Patriarch is in Kosovo.”

    “Separatists are killing people, raping children, burning monasteries, digging up graves. There is no retaliation. We recognize these are acts of extremists.”

    There is a “distorted picture.” It is “not as tough” as some say. The international community has an impression that there is “no freedom” in Kosovo.

    They say the “police are everywhere.” This is “not true at...

  11. Chapter 6 Last-Ditch Diplomacy
    (pp. 89-114)

    Slobodan Milosevic launched a brutal counteroffensive in the spring of 1998. The campaign was also motivated by domestic political considerations. Milosevic hoped to undermine the Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DoS) by rallying support for his crackdown on Albanian “separatists and terrorists.” Richard Holbrooke often told me that Milosevic deals with a problem by making a bigger one.

    Conditions on the ground were rapidly deteriorating in May 1998. The combined Yugoslav Army (VJ) and Interior Ministry (MUP) operation included indiscriminate shelling of Albanian villages in the Drenica Valley, which drove 30,000 Albanians from their homes. Serbian forces also established a 5-mile...

  12. Chapter 7 The United Nations Mission in Kosovo
    (pp. 115-134)

    United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 1244 was adopted on June 10, 1999. It ended the war and established the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) as the executive, judicial, and legislative authority for Kosovo. As specified in the resolution, UNMIK’s responsibilities included “establishing a secure environment in which refugees and displaced persons can return home in safety, the international civil presence can operate, a transitional administration can be established, and humanitarian aid can be delivered.”¹ To this end, it authorized “Member States and relevant international organizations to establish the international security presence in Kosovo.”² UNMIK was also...

  13. Chapter 8 Spring Riots
    (pp. 135-156)

    While the George W. Bush administration wanted to disengage from the Balkans, the premature withdrawal of U.S. forces risked emboldening extremism, fueling anti-Westernism, and jeopardizing democratic development in the region. Sure enough, Kosovo’s peace was threatened when hostilities broke out between Macedonian Slavs and ethnic Albanians in February 2001. With the Bush administration focused on an exit strategy, ethnic Albanians in Macedonia seized the moment to assert their demands for greater rights and lay the ground for a “Greater Albania” encompassing all territories in the former Yugoslavia where Albanians reside.

    Tensions in Macedonia had been simmering since Yugoslavia started to...

  14. Chapter 9 Martti Ahtisaari
    (pp. 157-170)

    In 2005, the Contact Group decided to assess Kosovo’s progress in meeting standards. It recommended that UN Secretary General Kofi Annan name an independent expert to conduct the assessment. Though Soren Jessen-Petersen was best suited for the task, he was the UN Representative in Kosovo. The Secretary General needed someone with no perceived bias. There were two sides to the story—Kosovo’s side and Belgrade’s. For the process to be credible, both required objective consideration.

    On June 6, 2005, Norwegian Ambassador to NATO Kai Eide was appointed to assess whether Kosovo was ready for final status negotiations. Annan thought that...

  15. Chapter 10 The Home Stretch
    (pp. 171-186)

    The Pocantico Kosovo Forum was convened by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF) at its facility in upstate New York on April 12–14, 2007.¹ It was co-chaired by RBF board member Frank Wisner and Wolfgang Petritsch, the former Austrian diplomat who was the EU negotiator at Rambouillet. The meeting was an opportunity for Kosovo Albanians to build confidence, pledge unity, and develop a strategy for managing Kosovo’s independence during the first 120 days. Stephen Heintz, president of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, was the driving force behind the meeting.

    RBF’s focus evolved as political conditions changed in the Balkans. As Heintz...

  16. Chapter 11 Lessons of Intervention
    (pp. 187-210)

    President Bill Clinton visited Kosovo in November 2009. It was his first trip since independence. He was there for the unveiling of a three-meter statue of himself on a boulevard that also bears his name. Bundled against Kosovo’s cold winter chill, Clinton climbed atop a podium reading “Kosova Honors a Hero.” The crowd was chanting “USA” and waving U.S., Albanian, and Kosovo flags. A red cover was removed, revealing the golden image of Clinton with his left hand raised in salute. Clinton bit his lip and was visibly moved. He said, “I never expected that anywhere, someone would make such...

  17. Epilogue
    (pp. 211-216)

    Kosovo faces many of the same problems that have confronted other post-communist and post-conflict countries, including ineffective governance, a weak judiciary, and widespread corruption. Kosovo has a 47 percent unemployment rate, with 17 percent of the population living in extreme poverty.¹ It is the poorest country in Europe, with an average annual per capita income of only $2,500. Despite remittances and public spending, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is in decline. Uncertainties include the level, duration, and degree of financial assistance from donor countries. Balance of trade problems persist. External debt is rising, fueled by energy costs and Kosovo’s assumption of...

  18. List of Acronyms
    (pp. 217-218)
  19. About the Author
    (pp. 219-220)
  20. Index
    (pp. 221-232)
  21. Back Matter
    (pp. 233-238)