Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Ukrainian gas: US revenge for Georgia?

Russia has accused the US of orchestrating the Ukrainian actions in the gas price dispute.

I have had for some time similar suspicions. The consistent lying by the Ukrainian authorities and the conflicting statements of its officials give me the feeling that some game is played. For example most recently the Ukraine is accusing Russia of routing the gas in such a way that some Ukrainian regions would be cut off from gas. This sounds rather strange: I can't imagine that there is no technical solution for that. In addition you have some Ukrainian officials claiming that Russia isn't sending gas yet.

The US has been extremely successful hiding its role in the Georgian War. Even the most obvious question hasn't been asked. Before the war OSCE observers made a report in which they warned about Georgian war preparations. However, OSCE headquarters decided not to publish it. The big question is who blocked it. Most probably the US. Giving the US success in hiding even such blatant moves they may have become overconfident.

I hope it is not true. But the facts don't look auspicious.


Stories said...

A hard line Serbian nationalist is fan of Wim. Read ui your self(under). Jovan, one of the most extreme comment poster at B92 has praised your letter to WSJ.

You see, you are being percieved by hard line nationalists as pro-Serb. Then you must be pro-Serb. That's the fact.

By the way, give some statistics that show Serbs are leaving Kosovo after independence. I don't think you have but it was a nice propaganda try


in yesterday´s wallstreet journal, Wim Roffel ( I certainly do not have to tell you who that is ) told the Albanians to stop whining, something I am constantly writing here in my comments, but what is also constantly being censored.

furthermore he writes that the Americans should rather stay neutral instead of supporting the Albanians.


so, I´d say that only a blind Albanian can believe that the western world is REALLY behind them.
(Jovan, 15 January 2009 21:41)

pierre said...

stories said

"You see, you are being percieved by hard line nationalists as pro-Serb. Then you must be pro-Serb. That's the fact."

I don't see how anyone could argue with that logic...

Wim, Congratulations on the publication of your letter.

Wim Roffel said...

Thank you, Pierre. I was glad they wanted to publish it.

Stories, I wrote my comment in reaction to a piece by Abramowitz and Serwer in which they tried to create the impression that it is the trouble with the Serbs in the North that is holding Kosovo back from becoming a normal "country". Maybe you didn't like my rethorics of "whining" but I hope that you do agree with me that the Kosovo government can do a lot more for its citizens and that those recalcitrant Serbs in the north don't need to be more than a light nuisance.

As for statistics - you know there aren't any statistics. It is also hard to make them as departures often go gradually: first one member of a family leaves - for example for study, then another, and then they keep the house only for the weekends, etc. Instead I rely on reports from people who have visited the enclaves.

Wim Roffel said...

Stories, I found some numbers for you. According to a HRW report (page 410) "The number of voluntary returns to Kosovo, including from Serbia, continues to
decline, with only 229 (including 80 Serbs) registered during the first eight months of the year."

Stories said...

you found something?...hehe...the report talks about returnees and not those leaving...I hope you see the difference...

Wim Roffel said...

Both reflect a hostile climate.

Stories said...

The HRW report on Serbia does too descirbe a hostile attitude towards Albanians in Serbia. You read the news piece from B92 some weeks ago, or didn't you?

Much of the hostilities are created by polticians making cowboy-styled statments but fortunately the over all relation ship is improving.

I know that you can't speak/read Serbian but B92 in Serbian had last week an article about Brezovica ski resort where all the locals are Serbs and 90 % of the guests are Albanians. All Serbs that spoke to the B92 journalist said they did not have any problems with the Albanians.

Some of those who came with apocalyptic statements like all the Serbs would leave Kosovo after the decl. of indep. and Albanians will attack the Serbs the day after, are begening to get some explanation problems. None of the things happened. They lost some credibility maybe.

Here you have a video from B92 TV about Brezovica

Wim Roffel said...

Stories, you are right I can't read Serb. But I have read several articles about it before.

The Zupa Valley is the region with the best inter-ethnic relations in Kosovo, although it has seen some burnt houses and murders too in the past decade. It probably helps that it is a remote mountain region were people know each other.

Brezovica has of course a long history of mostly Serb hotels serving mostly Albanian guests without problems. But that doesn't mean there aren't problems: the departure of many internationals means less rich customers and according to one article I read Albanians have a preference for the few Albanian-run hotels. There are also complaints about Albanian "immigration" that would make this problem worse. And then there is the prospect of privatization - an euphemism for giving Brezovica to some well-connected Albanian.

You never saw me making "apocalyptic statements". My expectation is that because of harassing - specially economically - the Serbs in Kosovo will gradually leave and die out.

Stories said...

I really hope that Serbs do not leave and die out since we would get a less diverse Kosovo (sooner or later people wil learn to appriciate the ethnic diversity and consider it an advantage rather than a problem) but it is a fact that Serbs living in southern Serbia are experiencing demographic problems. Many Serb villages around Vranje and other southern towns in Serbia are dominated by old people and men who in avarage are 40 year old. The girls have moved to Belgrade, Novi Sad and other major cities to study but they married there and never returned. Some proposed to import Asian women but during the past 5 years Serbs are marring Albanian women from Albania and this is contributing to soften a bit this crisis but in the long term people as in other Western European cities will move to urban areas where it is possible to get work, access to universities, cultural life etc.

If Serbs would say yes to integration in Kosovo it would be better for them and the Albanians. They together with Albanians could have created a common society where they both felt they are a part of it and could identify with it. They have simply after order from Belgrade refused and wanted to set up a separate society ignoring completely that they are to small to achive anything sustainable. As you say some Serbs realize that the Serb society in Kosovo is too small, no cultural life, no good universities, no good jobs...

Had the authorities in Belgrade cared about the people and not the land, they would have encouraged the Serbs in Kosovo to take part in the national building of Kosovo and in the end we would have had a country that none of the etnic gruops could have claimed as their own.

Wim Roffel said...

"Many Serb villages around Vranje and other southern towns in Serbia are dominated by old people and men who in avarage are 40 year old."
Stories, you are trying to suggest that the departure of Kosovo's Serbs is mainly a demographic event. That is not true. Departure from the remote countryside happens in all richer countries. But most people go to nearby cities. The problem in Kosovo is that that has become impossible as the urban Serb population has been nearly totally expelled. The only exception is Northern Mitrovica and Albanian racists are eager to finish their job by driving out the Serbs there too. Another extra reason for departures in Kosovo is the usurpation of properties (lands) and the theft of agricultural tools.

"If Serbs would say yes to integration in Kosovo it would be better for them and the Albanians."
The main reason for not "integrating" is a lack of safety. Unfortunately most Albanians mean "surrender to Albanian separatism" when they talk about "integrating" Serbs.

"They have simply after order from Belgrade"
Did you ever look at how the Serbs in Kosovo vote? The Serbs in Kosovo are more radical than the government in Belgrade. Belgrade is coordinating their resistance, not causing it.

The Serbs in Kosovo are simply holding out for a better control over their life. The fact that Kosovo is punishing them for what is their democratic right says much about how undemocratic Kosovo still is when it comes to minority rights.

Stories said...

Usually you are quit good in hiding that you write biased articles and comments but in the last comment you reveal once again a pro-Serb bias

For the first the only reason why Serbs are not integrated in Kosovo institutions is that they believe/ believed Kosovo would get independence faster if they integrated. The thought: We sabotage the Kosovo institutions and can use this as an arguments why Kosovo should not have independence. But you have thousands of foreigners in Kosovo that know the reality and the only thing Serbs achieved was to delay independence. The self imposed isolation that they thought could be used against the international community has been fruitless and now former hard line nationalists like Rada Trajkovic openly are critisizing Belgrade for abusing with the Serbs in Kosovo.

Like it or not Serbia and the Serbs have during the last decades been plagued by the Slavic-syndrom, most Slavic nations in Europe and Serbia specially are having demographic problems, simply Serb women are giving birth to very few babies. I have not suggested that the departure of Serbs is mainly a demographic event. In 1999 some 60 000 Serbs left Kosovo, some were driven and many others left together with the Serbian army, some of them afraid and some of them with blood in their hands. The departure of Serbs after year 2000 is a mainly demographic event and is not connected to any direct pressure from the authorities. Many Serbs like Albanians have after year 2000, after being told by their country men, left for Western Europe where they are having it better materially.

When you mention Albanian separatism you sound like always angry Jovan. You are charachterizing as separatists all the Albanians in Kosovo and the Republic of Kosovo, recognised as an independent country by most of Europe. Integration means to give and take and not to surrender.

Wim Roffel said...

"in the last comment you reveal once again a pro-Serb bias"
Stories, didn't they teach you at school the meaning of quotes? What is between quotes is not my opinion but that of others.

"The departure of Serbs after year 2000 [..] is not connected to any direct pressure from the authorities"
That depends on how you define "direct pressure". The refusal to introduce streamlined legislation to give back properties, the endless insisting on Albanian returns to Northern Mitrovica while they know that there live many refugees from Kosovo who have no place to go except Serbia proper, the duplicitous attitude during the 2004 riots, the bureaucratic troubles for Serb language schools, etc. don't show a friendly attitude. And everybody knows that it would have been worse if the internationals hadn't blocked the most extreme proposals. Many Serbs are leaving because it is in the present climate impossible for them to make a living in Kosovo. And that has a lot to do with discrimination and lack of security.

"the only reason why Serbs are not integrated in Kosovo institutions is that they believe/ believed Kosovo would get independence faster if they integrated. The thought: We sabotage"
What is this for a stupid way of thinking? They don't want a few years delay: they want better terms: more autonomy, maybe some border changes, maybe not complete independence so that Belgrade can protect them a bit.

And "sabotage" is the kind of incendiary talk that fascists use. Those Serbs are just using their democratic rights. The Albanians are trying to create accomplished facts and the Serbs are taking care that these are not completely "accomplished". You can't blame them for that: it is the choice of the Albanians not to solve the conflict by negotiations.

Stories said...

When you discuss with someone once the word "fascists" has been used then one must stop and celebrate winning the discussion.

People that do not have arguments left use words like "fascist", Hitler etc. This kind of words kill the debate and show that those discussing with you have a bad case.

Wim Roffel said...

Sorry if you feel insulted about the word. I didn't want to insult you. I just wanted to express my disgust with your "sabotage" accusation.

Enjoy your victory. Take a couple of drinks to celebrate it. It will help you forget all the arguments you left unanswered.

pierre said...

Wim, your exchange with "stories" is just a microcosm of the whole Balkan affair. One side commits all sorts of crimes hoping to provoke the other side, and when you respond using the same tactics as him (though his behaviour is 100x worse) he declares victory by claiming he is taking the moral high road.

pierre said...

Oh, I almost forgot Wim. You must now prepare yourself to be bombed by foreign forces acting in the name of humanitarian intervention. And if you survive, hire a good lawyer for your trial, and try not to die in your prison cell before a verdict is reached (assuming the court WANTS to reach one).

Wim Roffel said...

I don't participate in this kind of discussions with the illusion that you can convince the other side. The effect is more that I learn more about Stories' and the Albanian point of view and I hope he learns a bit about mine.

He shocked me a bit with his "sabotage" theory. I think that when you think that way a repeat of march 2004 is the logical conclusion.

I don't see the Yugoslav conflicts as one side provoking and the other answering. I rather think each side did what he thought he could get away with internationally. As the internation view was rather anti-Serb the others were allowed more. But the greater power of the Serbs caused that when they misbehaved it has worse effects as when the others did.

As for a "good lawyer": I think that is advisable in any high-profile court case. I think that the Serbs with their cultural preference for big gestures have neglected this rather boring aspect.

Anonymous said...

"I don't see the Yugoslav conflicts as one side provoking and the other answering."

The reality was actually quite one-sided. Serbia's troops poured into and trashed Bosnia, Kosovo, and Croatia. These countries did not invade Serbia. There was really only one provateur; one aggressor.

Anonymous said...

"The reality was actually quite one-sided. Serbia's troops poured into and trashed Bosnia, Kosovo, and Croatia. These countries did not invade Serbia. There was really only one provateur; one aggressor."

Oh the delusions just keep living on...One thing is certain, you certainly got your money's worth from the public relations firms. Yes, Serbia being outnumbered and completely surrounded by all those people you mentioned went and provoked each and every one of them to get into a war.
Keep living in your fantasy world that's devoid of all reality. When the US realizes you're no longer in their best interests or when the US can no longer afford to be there, the truth will come out...