Saturday, March 15, 2008

Integrating the Serbs

A phrase that I keep hearing nowadays from Kosovo Albanians is "integrating the Serbs". It gives me the creeps. It is always mentioned in the context of one of the present Serb protests against the independence and as such it sounds like beating the Serbs into obedience.

Integrating always seems to concern the Serbs north of the Ibar. This is rather illogical. It is the Serbs south of the Ibar who will be most eager to integrate - when offered the opportunity. They live surrounded by Albanians and have little choice but to make the best of it. If they could be seduced to work closer with their Albanian neighbours the Serbs north of the Ibar would get more relaxed about living in Kosovo (allthough I keep believing that partition is the better option).

Integrating could also be done by removing the obstacles to their full participation in daily life in Kosovo. But I haven't seen any gesture since 17 februari. It would have been easy for Kosovo's government to make a real gesture. They might appoint some extra judges to handle the Serb property claims that stay forever in court. Or they might lay the first stone for the rebuilding of some destroyed Serb church. But we haven't seen any such gesture; only empty rethorics, threats and even the occasional nasty gesture.


stories from the other side said...

you said: might appoint some extra judges to handle the Serb property claims that stay forever in court.

Your Balkan knowledge seems to be limited since you don't know that we have a special court/institution for this kind of cases administrated by Norwegians and is independent from all other institutions in Kosova. The sad thing about this court is that they have been successful only in the southern parts of Kosova while in the North, dominated by Serbs they have been forced by UNMIK of fear to upset the Serbs, to only let them continue occupy Albanian owned apartments without paying anything.

I also wonder if you have had the chance to read the constitution of The Republic of Kosova that is due to be approved in few weeks. You will be positively surprised. We will have the most democratic constitution in the world where Serbs will be positively discriminated in every aspect, same-sex marriages will be allowed, we won't have death penalty etc etc. Here you have the link:

I am still waiting you congratulating me with independence… I say thank VERY MUCH you to the Netherlands

pierre said...

Personally, I don't care what is in the "constitution" of Kosovo. Albanians do not have a good track record when it comes to respecting the law - just see comment about the destroyed churches and the displacement of Serbs.

The "constitution" is just there for public relations purposes. We'll see how much effect it will have...

stories from the other side said...

Pierre you are wrong... it is absolutely ridiculous to link the attacks on churches with the rule of law since these attacks were carried out by youths without any order from any political party, unlike what we saw in Belgrade in the aftermath of Kosova's independence. In addition the Kosova juridical system have indicted 266 people for the March riots in 2004 and this says a lot about our commitment for building a country that will be model for the quassi democracies surrounding us. It is sad that people who pretend to be intellectuals can fall to such a low level where they generalize and use highly disputable sterotypical presentations of Albanians.

Not a single rational Albanian would agree that the attacks on churches were in our interest. They have caused much harm to our project for an independent Kosova but hopefully the Western leaders with access to intelligence information saying Serbia had a role in the March riots, continued to support us in our way towards independence which we achieved on February 17th.

We are human beings and not beasts. We want a constitution that guarantees our rights since in addition to other political problems related to the status have internal problems that need to be solved by approving the necessary laws such as the rights of workers, the rights of the poor people, the regulation of some markets(public enterprises) that due to UN right now are very liberal...It is high time Europeans understand that from know on the things we do are not only for PR-purposes but also to improve our way of life.

We need a constitution that will bring order to the chaos UN has created by establishing several institutions that are independent from each other (and UNMIK) and can do what ever they want without fearing to be accounable.

pierre said...

The "chaos by the UN" that you mentioned IS IN THE ALBANIANS BEST INTEREST. It has allowed Albanians to expel all the Serbs from the province.

Oh, and lest I forget, the Soviet Union had a "constitution". China has a "constitution". We'll see what kinds of "rights" the illegally separated Kosovo gives. The people in power broke the law (Serbian and International), now you expect them to enact and respect a law?

I expect the usual "you don't know Balkan history in your response."

Wim Roffel said...

I finally found time to look up the figures for property claims: this New York Times article gives a nice overview:
Since 2001, the Kosovo Property Agency and its predecessor, the United Nations Housing and Property Directorate, have fielded 29,000 residential property claims, about 90 percent of them filed by Serbs whose homes are being illegally occupied by ethnic Albanians.

Of those, 17,500 properties have been restored to their rightful owners, said Lars Olsen, a Norwegian and spokesman for the property agency. He said 2,500 cases had been dismissed.

The property agency, whose mandate will continue under European Union auspices, expects to settle 40,000 more cases by 2010.

That means that nearly 9 years after the war the majority of the claims have not been processed. In that light the 2010 limit seems a bit optimistic. As for the north: the article indicates that 90% of the original claims came from Serbs. It doesn't mention the later claims but at this moment I don't see a reason to expect it to be very different.