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Unfiled May 18, 2007
Snapping Up Kosovo For A Song
By Kirill Pankratov Browse author

Last weekend the Eurovision song contest was unexpectedly won by a Serbian entrant, a butchy, heavyset brunette girl. You thought American Idol was a silly and comical affair? It's a grim Methodist sermon compared to the freakshow that is Eurovision, which has been increasingly dominated by ever more ridiculous Eastern European bands, degenerating into something of a drunken gypsy carnival. This year it was over-the-top even by its own surreal standards. Second place went to a popular Ukrainian transvestite, "Verka Serdyuchka," dressed in layers of foil, a sort of clownish parody of 70s glam-rock. The Russian entryyet another trio of cute girls, a ridiculously overused format in the ex-USSR pop scenecame in third.

One can only wonder why this circus, a playground of little Eastern European principalities, where votes are largely decided by a country's neighborhood and its ethnic diasporas, remains popular throughout all of Europe, as well as much of the Middle East. And yet the victory of the Serbian crooner has a certain symbolic significance more serious than this show. Many Russians like to see yet another conspiracy here in line with the 2004 victory by the Ukrainian singer Ruslana, which preceded the "Orange Revolution" that brought to power politicians largely hostile to Russia. This year the Serbian victory is viewed by some as a sweetener for the bitter pill of Kosovo's impending independence, which could be decided in the next couple of months. The Eurovision-2007 took place in Finland, another coincidence, considering that it was Finnish diplomat Martti Ahtisaari who played the most prominent role in managing (or mismanaging) the Kosovo crisis since the war of 1999. I don't usually buy conspiracy theories, and the outcome of Eurovision is often so chaotic and silly that orchestrating the results is hardly possible. But still...

After spending most of the last few years on the backburner, Serbia is again in the news. This week the UN Security Council starts debating the future of Kosovo, a separatist enclave that most western powers want to be independent, while Serbia itself, and so far Russiaits historical allyfirmly oppose independence.

Kosovo got its current status as a semi-independent Albanian-dominated territory, administered by the UN, after the spring 1999 NATO bombing campaign. Most Serb civilians have since been expelled from Kosovo. What remains are small isolated enclaves, protected by the international forces. Although much of the war damage was restored, Kosovo remains an economically depressed region, with high unemployment, gang violence, and trafficking of drugs and flesh.

The Eurovision Song contest is now responsible for 57% of all nightmares in the Eurozone.

That war was no less based on lies and false pretense than the Iraq war. There is a columnist in the excellent online magazine "Asia Times" who, writing under the name of Spengler, recently drew attention to American and EU nastiness in this whole affair, in an article called "Inconvenient Serbs." He dresses the conflict in the wider context of the "Clash of Civilizations" which is certainly relevant here:

If Serbia and Russia draw a line in the sand over the independence of Kosovo, we may observe the second occasion in history when a Muslim advance on Europe halted on Serbian soil. The first occurred in 1456, three years after the fall of Constantinople, when Sultan Mehmed II was thrown back from the walls of Belgrade, 'The White City,' by Hungarian and Serb defenders. The Siege of Belgrade 'decided the fate of Christendom,' wrote the then Pope Calixtus III. Not for nothing did J.R.R Tolkien name his fictional stronghold of Minas Tirith 'The White City'...

Clinton, then Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and UN ambassador Richard Holbrooke deluded themselves that they could cash in the chips earned in Kosovo at the negotiating table in the Middle East. The neo-conservatives cheered the Clinton bombing campaign, believing perhaps that any American show of force was better than no show of force.

Kosovo Albanians were also in the news last week, and for the reason many U.S. politicians would rather forget. On May 7, six Kosovo Albanian nationals (euphemistically said to be from "the Former Yugoslavia" by most American media outlets) were arrested in New Jersey in connection with a plot to penetrate Fort Dix and kill as many American soldiers as possible. Just as hypocritically, most of the media failed to mention the reason for which Fort Dix was chosen. It was there, at Fort Dix, that most of the Kosovo Albanian refugees were brought in during the campaign of the 1999. The Clinton administration (indeed, Hillary Clinton herself) on several occasion bragged about "generous American hand" helping poor Kosovars, oppressed by the Serbian savages. Some of the "Fort Dix Six" plotters were once those very same refugees. At least one of them was a fighter in the KLAthe ethnic Albanian guerilla army, firt considered a terrorist organization by the US State Department right up to the eve of the Kosovo war.

This wasn't the first time in recent American history that gratitude was repaid in such a manner. Osama bin Laden was to a large extent the CIA invention for the purpose of fighting Russians in Afghanistan. This pattern persists: again and again the American establishment sought the support of various Islamist factions against Russians or Serbs, their fellow Orthodox Christians. There isn't a single case of the Western establishment ever supporting the Russian point of view in disputes with other post-Soviet nations, and during the Yugoslav wars of the 90sexceedingly brutal on all sidesonly Serbs were vilified.

And yet neither Russians nor Serbs have attacked America. There was never a case of "Slavic terrorism" in the U.S., either in the Soviet or the post-Soviet times. Hollywood produces innumerable action flicks about "Russian Mafia" with nuclear bombs, as well as a crazy Serb in the Peacemaker, but it in reality nothing like this ever happened.

Now Western governments demand independence for Kosovo, and are pushing Russia not to veto Kosovo's independence in the UN Security Council. There is absolutely no reason why Russia should give in to these demands. The U.S. and EU want to appease the "Muslim street" (in light of their own misadventures in the Middle East) at the expense of the Orthodox Christians like Serbians and Russians? Thanks, but no thanks; what's in it for us? It is up to Russia to explain to them in no uncertain terms that this won't fly.

Full statehood for Kosovo will be clearly the justification of the further violence and ethnic cleansing. The European and American media want you to believe that somehow, if Albanians won't get immediate independence, then the "hopes of the poor long-suffering Kosovo Albanians will be betrayed," and the whole region will again explode in violence, which they obviously view as somewhat justified at least. These are the same people who have a shit-fit over Russia's support for separatists in Abkhazia or Transdniester, as well as several other similar territories which also are demanding independence. The hypocrisy is staggering. Only those peoples sympathetic to Russia don't deserve independence and are considered dangerous separatists, despite the fact that there has been relative peace in their statelets for years now.

Today more than a hundred thousand ethnic Albanians live inside Serbia proper, for the most part peacefully and without being brutally harassed. The same goes for Transdniester, where many ethnic Moldavians live. Despite a short nasty war in early 90s relations today are fairly amicable: there is a lot of intermarriage between Moldovans and Russians or Ukrainians, and economic contacts and trade between Transdniester and Moldova are growing. Transdniester in fact agreed to downgrade their independence demands to accepting broad autonomy within the Moldovan state, according to a plan brokered by Russia in 2003. Eventually the Moldovan government rejected even that, under pressure from the EU. In contrast, Kosovo Albanians petulantly reject anything short of total independence, yet somehow the Western governments are in complete sympathy with them.

Occasionally Kosovo explodes into renewed violence, such as in March 2004, when almost 40 people were killed. Albanians attacked several dwindling Serb settlements, burned ancient churches, looted stores and supplies provided by the NATO-led peacekeeping force. If not for the presence of these peacekeepers, the number of victims would have been much higher.

In contrast to that, for example, ethnic Russians living in the Baltic republics were incomparably more peaceful in spite of suffering serious discrimination. The first large-scale disturbances in post-Soviet times occurred in Tallinn two weeks ago, and only after the police broke up a peaceful demonstration of Russians defending the memorial to the war time dead, which the Estonian government viewed as a "symbol of occupation." And that was enough for the Western media like the vile Economist, to squeal about a "Kremlin-orchestrated plot" that needs to be decisively defeated.

There is no point in Russia legitimizing this nonsense. Relations with the U.S. and Europe are clearly deteriorating, as the West has no clue how to deal with a stronger Russia that can stand up for itself and say "No! And the Western governments have only themselves to blame for that.

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