Protesters Attack U.S. Embassy in Belgrade - January, 2008

Protesters Attack U.S. Embassy in Belgrade

Hundreds of thousands to demonstrate in Belgrade (Russia Today video):

February, 2008

Demonstrators attacked the United States Embassy and set part of it ablaze on Thursday as tens of thousands of angry Serbs took to the streets of Belgrade to protest Kosovo’s declaration of independence. The United States has been a strong advocate of Kosovo’s independence from Serbia and was among the first countries to recognize the new state, stoking deep resentment. Rian Harris, an embassy spokeswoman, said that a body had been found inside the building, but that all embassy staff members were accounted for.

Witnesses said that at least 100 people broke into the embassy, which was closed, and burned some of its rooms. One protester ripped the American flag from the facade of the building. An estimated 1,000 demonstrators cheered as the vandals, some wearing masks, jumped onto the building’s balcony waving a Serbian flag and chanting “Serbia, Serbia!” the witnesses said. A police convoy firing tear gas dispersed the crowd. The Associated Press reported that the small fires at the embassy were quickly extinguished. Serbian television reported that the Croatian Embassy had also been attacked, and the state news agency said that the Bosnian and Turkish Embassies were also targets. The police said at least 140 people had been injured in the incidents, 32 of them police officers. Security sources estimated that 150,000 people joined the protests. Groups also broke into a McDonald’s in central Belgrade and destroyed its interior. Witnesses said vandals were attacking foreign-owned shops, including a Nike store, and were seen carrying off shoes and other goods as the Serbian police looked on. The United States Embassy had been closed since Sunday after it was stoned.

R. Nicholas Burns, the under secretary of state for political affairs, telephoned Serbian officials to formally complain about the breaching of the embassy, said a State Department spokesman, Sean McCormack. Mr. McCormack told reporters on Thursday that “we would hold the Serbian government personally responsible for the safety and well-being of our embassy employees.” He added that the security that had been provided was completely inadequate. The United Nations Security Council issued a unanimous statement of the 15 members saying they “condemn in the strongest terms the mob attacks against embassies in Belgrade which have resulted in damage to embassy premises and have endangered diplomatic personnel.” The action was taken at the urging of Zalmay Khalilzad, the American ambassador.

The violence fueled fears in Washington and Brussels that Serbia was turning to the virulent nationalism of the past. But Serbian analysts predicted the country would ultimately embrace the West as it came to terms with losing its medieval heartland. In recent days, Western leaders have watched with growing alarm as Serbia’s hard-line prime minister, Vojislav Kostunica, who helped lead the revolution that overthrew Slobodan Milosevic in 2000, has replicated the nationalist talk of the late dictator, who used Serbs’ outrage that their ancestral heartland was dominated by Muslim Albanians to come to power in Serbia. “As long as we live, Kosovo is Serbia,” Mr. Kostunica told the crowd in Belgrade. “We’re not alone in our fight. President Putin is with us,” he said of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia. In a sign of the divisions within Serbia’s government, the pro-Western president, Boris Tadic, was absent from the rally, on a state visit to Romania.

Western diplomats said their hope for a moderate Serbia had been buttressed by the recent re-election of Mr. Tadic, who campaigned on the argument that holding on to Kosovo did not justify sacrificing Serbia’s future in Europe. Their optimism, however, was tempered by the strong election showing for Mr. Tadic’s opponent, Tomislav Nikolic, a far-right nationalist who has exploited Serbs’ discontent over Kosovo by arguing that Serbia should reject Europe and look to Moscow and China instead. But while Moscow has gained in popularity in Serbia by blocking Kosovo’s integration into the international community, leading Serbian intellectuals said most Serbs realized that the Kremlin’s willingness to fight for their cause was limited. “Russia wasn’t there to help Serbs during the disintegration of the former Yugoslavia, it wasn’t there to help Serbs in 1999 during the NATO bombing, and most people realize it will not go that far now,” said Zoran Dogramadziev, a leading Serbian writer.

In the short term, analysts said an anti-European Union backlash would gain force after the West’s support for an independent Kosovo. But Marko Blagojevic, an analyst with the Center for Democracy and Free Elections in Belgrade and a pollster, stressed that recent polls showed that 65 percent of Serbs saw their future in the European Union. Mr. Blagojevic said he did not believe this had drastically changed. He noted that only about 10 percent of Serbs supported going to war over Kosovo. Serbian analysts said that rather than reflecting a resurgence of dangerous nationalism, the protests over Kosovo reflected disenchantment by the “losers of the transition” — those Serbs who have not benefited from the country’s democratic transformation during the eight years since Mr. Milosevic fell. Unemployment hovers at about 21 percent, while the country’s annual per capita gross domestic product of about $7,400 has made Serbia one of Europe’s poorest countries.

Without European Union membership, Serbs do not enjoy the open borders of their neighbors. Many Serbs say they feel isolated and closed in. Yet many of the younger generation say they would happily trade poor, landlocked Kosovo for better jobs and economic security. “For my generation, the opportunity to have a good life is far more important than this piece of land,” said Aleksandar Obradovic, a 23-year-old political scientist from Belgrade who did not protest on Thursday and, like many Serbs, has never been to Kosovo. Ljubica Gojgic, a leading Serbian commentator, noted that Mr. Milosevic had been overthrown by the Serbian people, who had recently put their faith in a newly elected moderate president, backed by the West. “If Tadic is good enough for the E.U. and Washington, why is he not acceptable to the Albanians in Kosovo?” she asked. “Milosevic is dead.”


Angry Serbs Burn Border Posts in Kosovo

Rioting breaks out on Kosovo-Serbia border:

Serbs set fire to two United Nations border posts in the north of Kosovo on Tuesday, forcing NATO troops to intervene and fanning fears that the Serbian-dominated north could boil over into violence and lead to the partition of the newborn country. In Jarnije and Banja, some 18 miles north of Mitrovica, the police said several hundred Serbian men, some of them wearing ski masks, had used plastic explosives and bulldozers to attack the two border checkpoints. They vandalized and set fire to passport control booths, the police said. No one was injured. The police said that they were stopping buses in Kosovo and that weapons had been confiscated. “This seems to have been an organized operation,” said Capt. Veton Elshani, a spokesman for the Kosovo police. “This is an expected aftershock after independence.”

Serbs in the area said the attacks appeared to have been set off by rumors that Kosovo’s new flag was about to be raised at the posts. NATO troops later closed roads leading to the checkpoints, cutting off the only link between northern Kosovo and Serbia. The police said 700 to 1,000 Serbs had traveled from Serbia to Mitrovica in northern Kosovo on Tuesday, and NATO troops had closed the roads to prevent more militants from entering and taking up arms. Fears were growing Tuesday night that Serbia could send police officers to the north of Kosovo and seek a partition of the territory. In a sign that Serbia was seeking to entrench its authority in the north of Kosovo, the Serbian government minister for Kosovo, Slobodan Samardzic, said the attacks were “in accordance with the general government policies,” The Associated Press reported.

“Belgrade has the intention to take over the customs in northern Kosovo,” Mr. Samardzic told the private television station B92. He said the customs points had been intended to become part of Kosovo’s state border, “and we are not going to let that happen.” The Serb-dominated northern part of Kosovo already has parallel institutional structures, and a majority of Serbs there do not recognize the authority of the Kosovo government. Thousands of Serbs chanting “Kosovo is Serbia” marched to a bridge dividing them from ethnic Albanians in Mitrovica, long a flash point for violence here. The ability of NATO’s 16,000 peacekeepers to maintain peace could help determine whether Kosovo will break apart. The violence — the worst since Kosovo’s independence was declared Sunday — occurred as Javier Solana, the European Union foreign affairs chief, arrived in Pristina, Kosovo’s capital. Mr. Solana made the trip to congratulate Kosovo’s ethnic-Albanian leaders on independence and to assure them that the planned European Union police and judicial mission was on track.

Serbia, backed by Moscow, has vehemently refused to recognize the mission, arguing that it was an infringement on its territorial sovereignty. The Russian foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, spoke by telephone on Monday with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the ministry said in a statement. During the call, Mr. Lavrov warned of “dangerous consequences” that “could destroy the principles of world order and the international stability that have been established for decades,” the statement said. Serbia was equally emphatic that it would never recognize Kosovo. “History will judge those who have chosen to trample the bedrock of the international system and on the principles upon which security and cooperation in Europe have been established,” said Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic.


In related news:

Karabakh Ponders Kosovo's Independence

"What is Kosovo, and what do you eat it with?" quipped Yuan Go, a Chinese cook living in Nagorno-Karabakh. Yuan, who speaks the Karabakh dialect of the Armenian language fluently and goes by the Armenian name of Gurgen, moved to this de facto independent republic more than a year ago. He and two other Chinese cooks work at a hotel restaurant. Yuan, 25, cracked the joke when asked what Kosovo's declaration of independence Sunday meant for Nagorno-Karabakh. He and many other residents seem to have little idea what to expect, but they are hoping that life stays calm in the enclave, which Azerbaijan insists is part of its territory even though its Armenian majority declared independence more than 16 years ago.

Unlike Kosovo, the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic enjoys no strong support from the European Union or the United States in its bid for independence. But Karabakh Armenians, who, with the support of Armenia, won a bloody war against the Azeris in the 1990s, are seeing parallels with Kosovo and the long struggle of its Albanian majority. For Karabakh's leaders, international recognition of Kosovo's independence would set an important precedent. "We are confident that the recognition of Kosovo by the international community or by individual countries will strengthen our position in negotiations to resolve the conflict with Azerbaijan," Georgy Petrosyan, the foreign minister of the unrecognized republic, said in an interview. Azerbaijan has offered Nagorno-Karabakh broad autonomy within the country during ongoing talks mediated by the Organization for Cooperation and Security in Europe. But Nagorno-Karabakh's population has insisted on independence. The enclave has a population of 137,737, 99.7 percent of whom are Armenian, according to the most recent census, taken in 2005.

"It is important that Kosovo might become an example of a country's independence being recognized against the will" of the country from which it is seceding, Petrosyan said. He said he believed that the solution for Kosovo in its conflict with Serbia should also work for Karabakh in its conflict with Azerbaijan. "A denial of this thesis would amount to a denial of the nature of the precedent and its role in contemporary international relations," he said. Ashot Gulyan, speaker of Karabakh's parliament, agreed. "The situation around Kosovo cannot be perceived as a one-off case," he added. The leaders do not seem discouraged by the fact that Russia, Armenia's closest ally, has avoided mentioning Karabakh when listing other self-styled republics in the former Soviet Union that might be affected by Kosovo's independence bid. During his annual news conference last week, President Vladimir Putin once again accused the West of adopting double standards in insisting that Kosovo's case was unique. He listed Georgia's republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia and Moldova's Transdnestr as territories that might seek to follow Kosovo's lead. Putin, who has been trying to forge closer ties with oil-rich Azerbaijan, did not name Karabakh.

Petrosyan said the omission might be an indication that Russia, which is participating in the OSCE negotiations, "is avoiding statements that would put its impartiality as a mediator in doubt." Russia, however, has also been involved in similar talks between Georgia and South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The Karabakh war erupted after the parliaments of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh held a joint session on Dec. 1, 1989, to declare the unification of their territories. Azeri deputies from the Nagorno-Karabakh parliament did not participate in the vote. The first clashes along the Armenian-Azeri border broke out the next year, and full-scale fighting started in 1991. On Dec. 10, 1991, Nagorno-Karabakh's Armenian majority overwhelmingly backed a referendum in support of independence for their homeland. The enclave's newly elected parliament established the independent Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh on Jan. 6, 1992.

The war ended in 1994, with Armenian forces driving Azeris out of the enclave and seizing control of several neighboring Azeri districts, forcing their population to flee. Armenian forces still control these districts, while Azeris control the northern tip of Nagorno-Karabakh, from which the Armenian population has fled. A conflict-resolution proposal suggested by OSCE mediators calls for Karabakh to return the districts to Azerbaijan in exchange for the right to hold a new referendum on the enclave's status. Many Karabakh residents do not appear hopeful that international recognition of Kosovo's independence might mean a change for their homeland. "Such issues are resolved the way that world powers want them resolved, even though our cause for independence is more just than Kosovo's," said Juleyetta Arustamyan, a 44-year-old singer who lives in the enclave's main city, Stepanakert. Nune Khachatryan, the 35-year-old owner of a fashion store in Stepanakert, said she is happy for Kosovo's Albanians but not interested in politics. "Honestly speaking, I don't care whether others recognize us or not," she said. "With or without recognition, we will continue to live happily on our own land."


Ariel Cohen: Kosovo’s independence may push Moscow toward Armenia in supporting Nagorno-Karabakh

Ariel Cohen, Ph.D., Senior Research Fellow at the Heritage Foundation, commented on the recognition of Kosovo’s independence and its influence on Nagorno Karabakh conflict to APA’s US bureau. “Russia has made Kosovo a major issue in its relations with the West. President Vladimir Putin and other Russia policy makers, anxious to find points of confrontation with Europe and US, have demanded that the Kosovo issue would be decided in the UN Security Council, where Russia (and China) has a veto power. Russia may retaliate by recognizing independence of Abkhazia, which is part of Georgia, and of South Ossetia. It may also tilt toward Armenia in supporting Nagorno-Karabakh. If that will be the case, the tension between Azerbaijan and Armenia may drastically rise. The West should clarify to the authorities of Russia, Armenia, South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Karabakh, that declarations of independence will remain unrecognized, and that steps to the contrary will meet with counter- actions. For example, countries which recognize these enclaves may have their diplomatic representations reduced and economic aid reviewed. Russia’s position has three roots.

First, it Russia views itself as a historic ally of Serbia. After all, it was because of this relationship the czarist Russia has declared war on Austro-Hungarian Empire in World War I, and ended up in collapse. Secondly, Russia would like to be an "indispensable power" in deciding major issues in Europe and in the world. Therefore, any solution that does not meet with Moscow’s approval is to be opposed. Thirdly, there is the issue of international law. Moscow claims that only the UN Security Council should be allowed to recognize new states, as the UN Charter claims.

Moreover, Russia, which is the host country to a number of secessionist and separatist movements, predominantly Muslim, does not want to see this successful precedent on its doorstep. Moscow does not want the criteria applied to Kosovo, to be applied to Chechnya and other Islamic lands in North Caucasus. Russia is suspicious that Kosovo independence is recognized based on intimidation and armed struggle of the Kosovars and on Europe’s fears that it must capitulate to their threats. Dozens of separatist movements in the world, from the Abkhaz to the Kurds, from Karen in Burma to Uyghurs in China, would be encouraged by the example of Kosovars. Albanians, Russia points out, already have one state which is a UN member. Now they will have two, and with the future success of Albanians in Macedonia, they may end up with three. Finally, both Belgrade and Moscow say that the West should support a democratic Serbia, not criminalized and militaristic Kosovars. Repercussions over the Kosovo conflict will surely poison relations between Russia and the West for years to come,” Ariel Cohen said.


South Ossetia's leader says recognition may come "this year"

The leader of the de facto independent breakaway Georgian republic of South Ossetia said on Wednesday that some countries may recognize the republic's sovereignty later this year. Eduard Kokoity also said that a number of countries would also recognize Abkhazia, another breakaway Georgian republic, before the end of the year. "Some countries will recognize our republics [South Ossetia and Abkhazia]. I cannot rule out that some of them may do so later this year. Russia, however, will not necessarily be the first to recognize our independence," Kokoity told the press after a meeting with Konstantin Kosachyov, head of the International Affairs Committee at the State Duma, Russia's lower house of parliament. The announcement came just days after Kosovo declared unilateral independence from Serbia, leading to a rift between global powers. Despite claims by the West that Kosovo was a unique case and should not set a precedent, Russia has warned the U.S. that the move to acknowledge Pristina's sovereignty was 'undermining international law," and would lead to a "chain reaction" of similar announcements by secessionist-minded republics and territories.

The U.S., Australia, and several leading European countries, including Britain, France, Italy and Germany have so far recognized Kosovo, while Russia, China and Spain have condemned the move. However, Kosachyov warned on Tuesday that the recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent republics could trigger a serious crisis in the CIS, an association of former Soviet republics. "We should understand that by recognizing the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia we could trigger a serious crisis in the CIS," he said, adding that over half of all ex-Soviet states "have their own Kosovo and Abkhazia." Both Abkhazia and South Ossetia, another Georgian breakaway republic, declared their independence from Georgia in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Bloody conflicts ensued and many were killed and made homeless. Georgia's current leadership has been seeking to recover its influence in the separatist regions and secure international support on the issue.

The South Ossetian leader maintained that his republic and Abkhazia possessed more political, legal and historical grounds for claiming sovereignty than Kosovo. However, he said their independence should be proclaimed in a civilized manner. "At first we should obtain independence legislatively and then become integrated into Russia as much as possible," Kokoity said, adding that 95% of South Ossetia's residents were Russians "at heart, if not by passport." Moscow had earlier hinted that it would recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia if the West acknowledged Pristina's declaration of independence from Serbia. Following Sundays' events, the Russian parliament released a joint statement by both houses of parliament that read: "Now that the situation in Kosovo has become an international precedent, Russia should take into account the Kosovo scenario...when considering ongoing territorial conflicts."


'Kosovo's freedom is worth clash with Russia'

Confrontation with Russia is a price worth paying for Kosovo's independence, Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence on Sunday has sparked major diplomatic divisions around the world, and sporadic violence in the Balkans. Serb nationalists destroyed two checkpoints on Kosovo's new border with Serbia yesterday, causing Nato troops to intervene for the first time since the split from Belgrade. But a senior diplomatic source in Pristina said that "Europe has stood up and been counted" by backing Kosovo's independence. It had done so despite "Russian muscle flexing" as Moscow sought to maintain influence in the Balkans and support its key ally in the region, Serbia. The Western official said: "We wanted to do it [work towards Kosovo's independence] with Russian co-operation. But the Russians chose not to. But it is worth sorting out Kosovo even so."

He said the risk of renewed, widespread violence in the Balkans would "indisputably" have been higher had Kosovo's status remained in limbo. While Serbia and Kosovo could both join the European Union, he said Serbia was "adopting positions that make it difficult for them to head down that road". He said they were "digging a hole", referring to punitive measures Serbia was taking against its former province, including charging Kosovo's leaders with treason. Those indicted include Kosovo's prime minister, Hashim Thaci, who yesterday welcomed the EU foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, on an impromptu visit to Kosovo. Mr Solana said Kosovo and the EU were "good friends" despite five EU states, including Spain, opposing Kosovo's independence. He encouraged the nation to work to improve its feeble economy and battered infrastructure. "The joy that has been shown on the streets of Pristina and all over Kosovo has now to be converted into constructive and positive energy, to move towards the development of society," he said.

However, Nato troops yesterday had to rush to the United Nations-controlled border posts at Banja and Jarinje on Kosovo's northern border with Serbia after Serb mobs set fire to offices and vehicles. UN police at the posts - all ethnic Serbs themselves - were moved to safety by a police unit as the crowds moved in. "About 1,000 Serbs arrived from Kosovo and another 150 from Serbia greeted each other and broke out into huge violence," said one police officer. Nato troops restored order after 45 minutes and there were no injuries. For a second day, thousands of Serbs marched to a bridge that separates them from Albanian communities in Kosovo's divided town of Mitrovica, chanting slogans against the new state. Mr Thaci described the violence as "isolated incidents". "They will not undermine the dignified celebrations of independence," he said.


1 comment:

  1. Kosovo is Serbia and forever will be! Fuck the USA and UK! From a Bulgarian.


Dear reader,

Arevordi will be taking a sabbatical to tend to personal matters. New blog commentaries will henceforth be posted on an irregular basis. The comments board however will continue to be moderated on a regular basis.

The last 20 years or so has also helped me see Russia as the last front against scourges of Westernization, Globalism, American expansionism, Zionism, Islamic extremism and pan-Turkism. I have also come to see Russia as the last hope humanity has for the preservation of classical western civilization, Apostolic Christianity and the traditional nation-state. This realization compelled me to create this blog in 2010. Immediately, this blog became one of the very few voices in the vastness of cyberia that dared to preach about the dangers of Globalism and the Anglo-American-Jewish alliance, and the only voice preaching the strategic importance of Armenia remaining within Russia's orbit. From about 2010 to 2015 I did monthly, at times weekly, commentaries about Russian-Armenian relations and Eurasian geopolitics in general. It was very difficult as I had no assistance in this endeavor. The time I put into this blog therefore came at the expense of work and family. But a powerful feeling inside me urged me to keep going; and I did.

When Armenia finally joined the EEU and integrated its armed forces into Russia's military structures a couple of years ago, I finally felt a deep sense of satisfaction and relaxation, as if a very heavy burden was lifted off my shoulders. I finally felt that my personal mission was accomplished. I therefore felt I could take a step back, as I really needed the rest. Simply put: I have lived to see the institutionalization of Russian-Armenian alliance. Also, I feel more confident now that Armenians are collectively recognizing the strategic importance of Armenia's ties with Russia. Moreover, I feel satisfied knowing that, at least on a subatomic level, I had a hand in the outcome. As a result, I feel a strong sense of mission accomplished. I therefore no longer have the urge to continue as in the past. In other words, the motivational force that had propelled me in previous years has been gradually dissipating because I feel that this blog has lived to see the realization of its stated goal. Going forward, I do not want to write merely for the sake of writing. Also, I do not want to say something if I have nothing important to say. I feel like I have said everything I needed to say. Henceforth, I will post seasonal commentaries about topics I find important. I will however continue moderating the blog's comments section on a regular basis; ultimately because I'm interested in what my readers have to say and also because it's through readers here that I am at times made aware of interesting developments.

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