Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Do You Remember Yugoslavia?

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The Weight of Chains | Težina lanaca (2010)  
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Boris Malagurski's award-winning Canadian film "The Weight of Chains", dealing with the breakup of Yugoslavia from a different angle - finally, exclusively, on YouTube! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=waEYQ46gH08
Watch the film that has stirred controversy around the world, screened at cinemas across Australia, Canada and the US, as well as at film festivals in London (Raindance), Belgrade (Beldocs), Havana, Ann Arbor, Toronto, and many others.
If you thought you knew why Yugoslavia broke up, get ready for 2 hours of shocking facts that will shed a different light on Western intervention in the Balkans. Nicknamed the "Serbian Michael Moore" by the oldest daily newspaper in the Balkans, Malagurski will expose the root causes of the Yugoslav wars and explain that the goal was for the West to create economic and geopolitical colonies in that part of the world.
Who's in the film? Everyone from former "Economic Hitman" John Perkins, Retired Major General of the UN Army Lewis Mackenzie, Canadian economist Michel Chossudovsky, Canadian journalist Scott Taylor, former Canadian Ambassador to Yugoslavia James Bissett, humanitarian Vlade Divac and the list goes on!
This film was funded exclusively through donations, so please support the project by buying a DVD of the film through the film's website:
"The Weight of Chains" is a Canadian documentary film that takes a critical look at the role that the US, NATO and the EU played in the tragic breakup of a once peaceful and prosperous European state - Yugoslavia. The film, bursting with rare stock footage never before seen by Western audiences, is a creative first-hand look at why the West intervened in the Yugoslav conflict, with an impressive roster of interviews with academics, diplomats, media personalities and ordinary citizens of the former Yugoslav republics.
The film began with production in late 2009 in several cities throughout Canada including Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto, continued in early 2010 in the United States - Columbus, Dayton, New York and Washington, and was finalized in the Summer of 2010 in Slovenia - Ljubljana; Croatia - Vukovar, Djakovo, Jasenovac, Zagreb, Gospic, Knin; Bosnia-Herzegovina - Sarajevo, Trebinje; Serbia - Belgrade, Subotica, Kosovska Mitrovica, Trepca, Pristina, Orahovac, Prizren and Strpce. "The Weight Of Chains" was completed in October 2010.
The director of this film, Boris Malagurski, has made several films to date, the last one being “Kosovo | Can You Imagine?”, a controversial documentary exposing how remaining Serbs in Kosovo have little or no basic human rights, which won several awards on film festivals around the world and was broadcasted as well. “The Weight Of Chains” presents a Canadian perspective on Western involvement in the division of the ethnic groups within Yugoslavia and show that the war was forced from outside – regular people wanted peace. However, extreme fractions on all sides, fuelled by their foreign mentors, outvoiced the moderates and even ten years after the last conflict – the hatred remains and people continue spreading myths of what really happened in the 1990s. Why did all this happen?
This film will also present positive stories from the war – people helping each other regardless of their ethnic background, stories of bravery and self-sacrifice. The aim is to come up with a powerful weapon that people who are against war and hatred can use as a collection of good arguments in their favor. The disunity among peoples populating the Balkans have marked the last couple of centuries. Let’s start a new page, today, in the 21st century.
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Kosovo: Can You Imagine? | Boris Malagurski (2009)  
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Russia’s actions in Crimea ‘completely understandable’ – German ex-chancellor
Russian Television
March 26, 2014


Former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt (AFP Photo / Pool / Michael Sohn)
Moscow’s actions in the Crimea are comprehensible, former German chancellor, Helmut Schmidt said, criticizing the Western reaction to the peninsula’s reunification with Russia.
President Vladimir Putin’s approach to the Crimean issue is "completely understandable," Schmidt wrote in Die Zeit newspaper where he’s employed as an editor.
While the sanctions, which target individual Russian politicians and businessmen, employed by the EU and the US against Russia are "a stupid idea," he added.
The current restrictive measures are of symbolic nature, but if more serious economic sanctions are introduced "they’ll hit the West as hard as Russia," Schmidt warned.
He also believes that the refusal of the Western countries to cooperate with Russia in the framework of the G8 is a wrong decision.
"It would’ve been ideal to get together now. It would certainly do a lot more to promotion of peace than the threats of sanctions," the ex-chancellor explained.
But the G8 itself isn’t that as important as the G20, in which Russia remains a member, he added.
According to Schmidt, the situation in Ukraine is "dangerous because the West is terribly upset" and it’s "agitation" leads to "corresponding agitation among Russian public opinion and political circles.
The ex-chancellor refused to speculate of the possibility of Russian troop deployment to eastern parts of Ukraine, but added that the West "shouldn’t fuel Russia’s appetites."
Schmidt executed the duties of chancellor of West Germany in 1974-82, also working as the country’s finance, economy and defense minister.
Crimea and the city of Sevastopol were officially accepted into the Russian Federation on March 21, with president Putin signing a relevant decree.
The peninsula’s withdrawal from Ukraine was triggered by an armed ultra-nationalist coup in Kiev, which saw country’s president Viktor Yanukovich ousted.
After the law allowing regions to give Russian and other minority languages the status of a second official language was revoked by the new parliament, Crimea – home to an ethnic Russian majority – has held a referendum on its future as part of Ukraine. On March 16, over 96 percent of Crimean voters decided to cut ties with Kiev and rejoin Russia.
The US and its EU allies were outraged by the move and replied with individual sanctions against Russia’s top politicians and businessmen. The blacklisted Russian citizens are banned from travelling to US and EU, with their American and European assets frozen.

 
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"Global Peace vs. Global Interventionism and Imperialism"
Final Document. Belgrade Conference, 23 March 2014
Global Research, March 24, 2014
The Belgrade Forum for a World of Equals
The Belgrade Forum for a World of Equals, the Serbian Host Society, the Club of Generals and Admirals of Serbia and Veterans Association of Serbia (SUBNOR), in coordination with the World Peace Council, on 22 and 23 March 2014 held the International Conference "Global Peace vs. Global Interventionism and Imperialism".
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The Conference was held on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of NATO's armed aggression against Serbia and Montenegro (the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia). The motto of the Conference was "Not to Forget".
More than 500 scientists, experts and public persons from the areas of the international relations and security, from 50 countries of Europe and the world took part in the work of the Conference.
Participants of the Conference paid tribute to victims of the 78-day bombardment and laid wreaths on memorials. They honored all the victims of the illegal NATO aggression against Serbia and Montenegro and expressed their
deep respect for former Yugoslav Popular Army, Federal Government, President Slobodan Milosevic and all heroic resistant fighters. We also must remember the victims of the NATO aggression subsequent to 1999, ongoing persecution of those political and military leaders who defended the country and who were sent to illegal Hague Tribunal including president Milosevic and others, who died there. Considering this Tribunal as illegal as a tool of NATO propaganda and political blackmailing, the participants demand its dissolution.
The debate unfolded in a constructive and tolerant dialogue regarding most important aspects and problems concerning the international peace and security. The presentations mainly focused on how to preserve global peace and find the ways to stop global interventionism, destabilization of certain countries and provoking the crises all over the world, which undermine the international legal and political world order and pushes the world to the edge of a major confrontation.
The participants analyzed the causes and consequences of NATO aggression in 1999, not only for Serbia and the Balkans but also its global consequences for peace and security in Europe and the world. Further to this, participants of the Conference have agreed as follows:
- NATO aggression against Serbia and Montenegro (the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) of March 1999 was a war imposed against an independent, sovereign European state, in gross violation of the fundamental principles of the international law, most notably, the UN Charter and the Helsinki Final Act. This was the aggression committed without consent the UN Security Council. Hence it is a crime against peace and humanity, and the turning point towards the global interventionism, the practice of gross violation of the international legal order, and the negation of role of the UN. Subsequently it has been used as the model of interventionism in a number of other cases such as in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Mali and others.
- The leading Western powers, the USA, the UK, France, Germany, followed by the rest of NATO Members, 19 in all, devised a whole new arsenal of euphemisms in a bid to attribute any possible shred of legitimacy to this crime against peace and humanity. So-called "humanitarian intervention" was a cover for indiscriminate killings of civilians in Serbia including children, disabled and senior citizens, for the destruction of the economy, infrastructure, including schools, hospitals, passenger trains and houses. Use of missiles with depleted uranium has contaminated natural environment thus triggering grave and far-reaching consequences for the health of current and future generations.
- Since this is a crime against peace and humanity and a gross violation of the basic provisions of the international law, NATO Member States bear full legal responsibility for the aggression, including liability for the inflicted damage on the order of more than USD 100 billion, as well as responsibility for the use of weapons with depleted uranium and other illicit ordnances of mass destruction. Serbia has the right to initiate the proceedings before the competent international forums against NATO Alliance and all of its member states participating in the aggression, for the purpose of exercising the right to war damage compensation to Serbia and Montenegro as well as to individuals who suffered from aggression.
- Armed aggression has continued by employing other, non-military means. This was reflected in the violent change of power in the October 5, 2000 coup, which was initiated, funded and supported by NATO Member States; in all kind of blackmails and threats aimed at making Serbia denounce its state sovereignty in Kosovo and Metohija as its historical, cultural and civilization heartland; in ignoring UN Security Council Resolution 1244 guaranteeing sovereignty and territorial integrity of Serbia. Eventually, this led to unlawful and unconstitutional unilateral separation of Kosovo and Metohija in 2008 which was followed by formal recognition by most NATO member countries. The 1999 US NATO aggression grossly violated the UN Charter, 1970 Declaration on principles of International law, Helsinki Final Act, Paris Charter for a New Europe, five Security Council resolutions in 1998-2008, including resolutions 1244 and 1785.
- Immediately after the end of the aggression, a large USA military base has been established in Kosovo and Metohija, "Camp Bondsteel", the first and crucial ring in the chain of the new USA bases in Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, the Czech Republic, and other Easter European countries. NATO aggression against Yugoslavia actually accelerated the arms race and militarization of Europe and implementation of US/NATO/EU strategy of "Eastern expansion".
- Aggression against Serbia and Montenegro (FRY) launched in March 1999 has been serving as a blueprint for global USA/NATO/EU interventionism. In practice, this translates the USA, NATO and the West discretion to intervene militarily or otherwise, as they choose to suite their economic or strategic interests. Toppling legally elected governments and replacing them by hand-picked, pawn regimes, has become part and parcel of so called "democratization process".
- NATO has always operated as an aggressive military alliance, serving expansion and of imperialistic and neo-colonial objectives of the leading Western powers. The entire experience so far indicates that NATO strategy of global interventionism leaves behind a chaos in international relations, gigantic human casualties, divisions, and long-lasting misery and anguish in all countries and regions which have become immediate victims of such policy.
- NATO is responsible for devastation of the international legal order, for the degradation of the UN, instigating a new arms race, militarization of Europe, destabilization and inducing crises in individual countries and regions all over the world. Therefore, NATO strategy goes against the goals of peace and security, contravenes the democratic and civilization values, and violates the fundamental human rights. Such an Alliance is not a place for peaceful countries who see their interests in compliance of the international law and the UN system. This is why participants of the Conference pleaded for the dissolution of NATO as a relic of the Cold War, for disengaging in policy of free interventionism, and for the respect of freedom, independence and equality of all countries and nations.
- Exporting democracy and dictating cultural and civilization patterns has
become a common approach of all Western powers, primarily of the USA, in their aspiring to govern the world pursuant to their own standards and in line with their self-serving interests. The imposition of such cultural and civilization patterns is an act of violence against reality that almost invariably results in conflicts, internal disorders, and deeper fragmentations and divisions; over time, this is prone to undermine the peace in the world, and presents a perfect excuse for external military interference. This model has created the so-called "colored revolutions" in Georgia, Venezuela and Ukraine and high jacked "Arab Spring revolution", which managed to devastate and turn the clock back for several decades, such as: Libya, Egypt and Syria.
- The strategy of interventionism involves several motives and purposes. These include the control over natural and developmental resources, reallocation of resources, and geopolitical reconfiguration of the world, against and at the expense of the predetermined key geopolitical adversary. This is how the USA/NATO/EU staged the crisis in Ukraine, whose end is still nowhere in sight. One can say that the Ukrainian crisis is the single most dangerous threat to the peace since the end of the Cold War. Instead of acknowledging Ukraine as a natural connection between Russia and Europe, the West chose to interfere, by artificially dislocating it from its natural cultural, civilization, and geopolitical environment and drawing it westwards. In doing so, the West paid no attention at all that the action could lead to internal conflict within Ukraine and that it would put at risk Russia’s vital interests.
This dangerous geopolitical game played by America, NATO and the EU against Russia, as a proxy war at the expense of Ukraine under a "fine" but fake excuse of being waged for the benefit of the Ukrainians and their democratic social structure, has completely disregarded the effects of such policy against the interests of Ukraine, its people, the peace, and security in Europe and the world. Participants of the Conference advocated for a peaceful political solution free of interference and external pressures, that is, a solution that will guarantee its peoples will, and respect its role of a bridge between the East and the West. Such solution implies abandonment of the pernicious "Eastern expansion" which has already produced destabilization in Europe. Participants expressed satisfaction that the people of Crimea have used their right of self-determination which resulted in reunification with Russia.
- Participants of the Conference expressed their full support to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Serbia, including the resolution of the issue of Kosovo and Metohija in line with UN Security Council Resolution 1244. They supported the following requests: free, safe and dignified return of 250,000 expelled Serbs and other non-Albanians to their homes in Kosovo and Metohija; restitution of
the usurped private, church, state and socially-owned property; reconstruction of 150 destroyed churches and monasteries of the Serbian Orthodox Church, of hundreds of desecrated and obliterated Serbian graveyards and thousands of burnt Serbian homes; conducting effective investigation of trafficking in human organs; determining the fate of all abducted and missing Serbs from Kosovo and Metohija; and identifying and bringing to justice the perpetrators of all other crimes committed against the Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija for which, so far, nobody has been found responsible, let alone convicted.
- Participants of the Conference welcomed worthy initiative of the UN General Assembly which proclaimed 2014 to be the international year of solidarity with the people of Palestine. Finding that this initiative deserves strong support of the peaceful forces in the world, the Conference sent requests for an immediate withdrawal of Israeli occupation forces from all Palestinian territories, for the establishment of independent state of Palestine, within the borders of July 1967 with East Jerusalem as its capital, for the right for the return for the Palestine refugees, based on UN Resolution 194 and the release of all Palestinian prisoners from jail. Fulfillment of these requests is of vital interest for the Palestinian people and for the introduction of a just and durable peace in the Middle East.
- Participants have expressed solidarity with peoples of Latin America in their endeavors to safeguard freedom, independence and sovereignty from aggressive imperial USA strategy. They demanding closing of Guantanamo base and abolishing blockade against Cuba, as well as the release of the five Cuban political prisoners from American jails.
- By dismissing the policies and actions that endanger the peace and security, participants of the Conference denounced plans and actions aimed at destabilizing the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Coordinated violent actions in Caracas and other parts of Venezuela are parts of the strategy employed by the local oligarchs and external actors, intended to disable the functioning of the legitimately elected government and impose political changes of their choice but against the interests of the Venezuelan people, by sabotage, violent provocations and blackmails. In condemning those attempts, participants of the Conference expressed their solidarity with the Venezuelan people and the support for its courageous efforts to preserve the freedom, pride, and sovereignty of Venezuela, and to decide their own future.
- Participants have expressed concern over systematic organized revision of European history of the 20th century, particularly revision of outcome of the First and the Second World War. This may serve imperialist objectives for redrawing international borders causing unforeseen consequences. We condemn the western promoted rehabilitation of fascism and attempts to equate communism with Nazism.
- Participants of the Conference dedicated significant attention to the global economic capitalist crisis which has led not only to an unprecedented social stratification and impoverishment of the global population, but also to an artificially imposed debt crises in a number of formerly economically very prosperous countries, such as Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy and Cyprus. The global crisis emerged predominantly in countries which had declared themselves to be the centers of global civilization and the most advanced social order, one that will see no need for serous social conflicts and clashes. The key indicators of this crisis include mass-scale unemployment, especially within the youth, high indebtedness of countries, decline in economic activities, etc. We support the genuine popular protests against the above.
- It is obvious that on Europe and the majority of the world were imposed the neo-liberal cultural, political and economical pattern, which does not function. In
the search for the way out of this universal deadlock, the most powerful countries are trying to shift the burden of the crisis onto other countries and nations, ones they pejoratively call "the global periphery", while in the meantime struggling to win the battle for the global prestige, and in the process stepping down onto the old civilizations and forcibly toppling the unsympathetic ruling regimes. All the above only add to the conflicting feature of the international arena, and makes it exceptionally prone to outbreaks of all types of conflicts, from internal and regional, to the global ones.
- Participants at the Conference noted with concern that there are still US forward-based infrastructures in Europe like missile defense, tactical nuclear weapons and conventional forces, that destabilize the regional and the global atmosphere.
- The global economic crisis cannot be resolved by the printing of ever new trillions of dollars and the makeshift mends of the existing system. This can be done by abandoning the neo-liberal concept and by developing a new, humane society of social justice, equality and the better life for all people and nations in the planet. The focus of the new system of social relations must be on people and their economic, social, cultural, and humanitarian needs, instead of the profits and self-serving interests of the so-called economical and political elites.
- A part this International Conference was the Youth Forum, which concluded that the global crisis, and globalization and interventionism primarily threaten the rights and perspectives of the young generations. In numerous countries, in Europe and the world, young people below 30 make up some 60% of the total number of unemployed. The youth requests urgent changes in the social relations and internationally, which will ensure active engagement of the young people into economic, political and societal trends, their assuming responsibility for their own future, at the national and international levels. The youth advocates the socially just society and universal human rights, such as the right to employment, free education, social security and health care. Young people advocate the democratization of international relations, the respect for the international law, and denounce the arms race, militarization and neocolonialism.
- Only a world free of dominance of imperialism and militarism will stand a chance to avoid a war cataclysm. The global economic crises and its consequences on popular strata underline the necessity to overcome the system which causes exploitation, wars and the misery. It is absolutely unacceptable and contrary to the international law to have the regional center of power, such as NATO and the European Union be established as a substitute to the United
Nations Security Council.
- The only true international community is the United Nations, rather than any self-proclaimed members of any regional groups. We must struggle to ensure the universal character of the international law and to have it equally oblige big and small countries, developed and developing ones. We have to fight even more resolutely to preserve the civilization heritage such as the freedom, ethics and dignity, while determinedly rejecting all surrogates of the corporative capitalism and imperialism, planted by the military-industrial and finance capital.
Participants of the Conference emphasized that the accomplishment of these objectives required active engagement in mobilizing all peace-loving stakeholders, in order to counter and reject any military and conquest ambitions against any given country regardless of its leaders. In parallel, it is necessary to mobilize all forces in developing democratic international relations, based on the principles of the United Nations Charter, the provisions of the international law, and the strict observance of the inviolability and independence of all states and their territorial integrity, and the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs. Such a world would be measured by a human scale, and this grand utopia should be believed in, and persistently fighting for, and this is the key message from the Conference.
Participant in the Conference expressed sincere gratitude to the Serbian side for the excellent performance of the International Conference and for hospitality extended to all participants.
Belgrade, 23 March 2014
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Ukraine: An Important Transit Country for Natural Gas and Petroleum
LNG, natural gas, oil, pipelines, Russia, Ukraine
By Institute for Energy Research
Monday, March 24, 2014
http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/61967?utm_source=CFP+Mailout&utm_campaign=93b74270e1-Call_to_Champions&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_d8f503f036-93b74270e1-291118033
The Ukraine produces some oil, natural gas, and coal that it uses for domestic consumption, but it must also import these fuels in order to meet demand. The Ukraine’s major importance, however, is as a natural gas and petroleum transit country due to its geographic position and proximity to Russia. In 2013, about 3.0 trillion cubic feet of natural gas flowed through the Ukraine to countries in Eastern and Western Europe, providing 16 percent of Europe’s natural gas consumption. Three major pipeline systems move natural gas from Russia through the Ukraine to Europe and another pipeline moves petroleum.
Ukraine’s Energy Supply and Demand
Most of the Ukraine’s primary energy consumption is fueled by natural gas (40 percent), coal (28 percent), and nuclear (18 percent). In 2012, the Ukraine consumed 1.8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, producing 37 percent domestically and importing the rest from Russia. A relatively small portion of the country’s total energy consumption is supplied by petroleum and renewable energy sources. In 2012, the Ukraine consumed 319,000 barrels per day of liquid fuels, producing 25 percent domestically and importing the remainder primarily from Russia with some deliveries coming from Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan. The Ukraine obtains almost half of its electricity from its 15 nuclear reactors and most of the remainder comes from fossil fuels (46 percent) and hydroelectric power (6 percent). It generates some electricity from wind power (less than 1 percent). The country consumed 78.5 million short tons of coal in 2012, with 90 percent produced domestically.
Payment issues between Russia and the Ukraine have caused Russia to stop deliveries of natural gas and crude oil to the Ukraine in the past with the most recent stoppage over oil deliveries occurring in January 2014 and over natural gas deliveries in 2009.
The Ukraine has an estimated 128 trillion cubic feet of technically recoverable shale gas that could provide the country with a means to diversify its natural gas supplies away from Russia if developed. In January 2013, Shell agreed to explore an area that the government estimates holds about 4 trillion cubic feet of shale natural gas. The Ukraine is planning to develop its shale gas resources by 2020.
Pipelines Transecting the Ukraine
The Bratstvo ("Brotherhood") and Soyuz ("Union") pipelines move natural gas from Russia to Western Europe. The Bratstvo pipeline, Russia’s largest natural gas pipeline to Europe, crosses from Ukraine to Slovakia and then splits into two, supplying northern and southern European countries. The Soyuz pipeline links Russian pipelines to natural gas networks in Central Asia and provides natural gas to central and northern Europe. A third major pipeline delivers natural gas from Russia through the Ukraine to the Balkan countries and Turkey.
Source: Energy Information Administration
In 2013, Russia supplied 30 percent of Europe’s natural gas consumption totaling 18.7 trillion cubic feet. That includes the natural gas consumption of all of the members of the European Union and Turkey, Norway, Switzerland, and the Balkan states. Based on data reported by Gazprom and Eastern Bloc Energy, EIA estimates that 16 percent of the total natural gas consumed in Europe passed through the Ukraine’s pipeline network. Natural gas shipments vary by season, ranging from almost 12 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day in the winter compared to 6 billion cubic feet per day in the summer.
In the past, as much as 80 percent of Russian natural gas exports to Europe transited the Ukraine. That was changed in 2011 when the Nord Stream pipeline that directly links Russia with Germany under the Baltic Sea came on line, reducing that number to 50 to 60 percent.
The southern leg of the Druzhba oil pipeline moves Russian crude oil through the Ukraine, supplying most of the oil consumed by Slovakia, Hungary, Czech Republic, and Bosnia. In 2013, about 300,000 barrels per day of oil transited the pipeline, about 75 percent of its capacity. Crude oil and petroleum products from Russia are also shipped by rail through the Ukraine for export out of the country’s ports.
Can U.S. Abundant Energy Help?
Policy makers are calling on the United States to help with the developing energy crisis in the Ukraine and potentially Europe. Some of the recent remarks include:
Sen. John Hoeven wants the United States to put together a broad strategy to help the Ukraine become more energy secure and reduce its dependence on Russian natural gas.
Sen. Chris Murphy was speculative about the imposed sanctions, "I mean there’s no doubt that if you cut off Russian gas to Europe, it will hurt. There’s no doubt that if you freeze Russian assets in places like Germany and Great Britain, it will hurt them."
Senator Richard Lugar, formerly head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, indicated that exporting LNG and building the Keystone XL oil pipeline are strong signals the United States is still invested in fossil fuels. While the politics of both are tumultuous, and any gas exports will "have to strike a balance" with businesses that rely on cheap natural gas in their production processes, "American interests diplomatically and strategically are clearly to get more permits. The fact is we do have the ability and that could make a huge difference because we can send this gas strategically in various directions, and a lot of it."
In 2012, Russia exported $160 billion worth of crude, fuels and gas-based

industrial feedstocks to Europe and the United States. These exports are a major part of the Russian economy, but as can be seen above, European countries are very dependent on their imports of these fuels from Russia. According to Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel, Germany is willing to take the pain that Russian retaliation to sanctions would bring. But that may not be the case for other European countries, who together imported 32 percent of their raw crude oil, fuels and gas-based chemical feedstocks from Russia in 2012. But, this crisis is making the European Union more eager to secure access to U.S. oil and natural gas supplies, which means lifting the ban on oil exports and approving more liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminals.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has approved 6 applications for LNG export terminals and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has approved a permit for one of those facilities that should beginning operating by the end of 2015. The other 5 may not begin operating until 2017 or 2018. Another 22 applications are awaiting DOE approval. Thus, none of these facilities will be able to help the current crisis with Russia and the Ukraine. Further, most of the early LNG imports are expected to go to Asian buyers under long-term contracts where LNG prices have been about 50 percent higher than in Europe.
It is also not clear that the companies wishing to build these terminals at this time will find it beneficial once the approvals are complete. It is very expensive to build LNG export terminals and those upfront costs will have to be recouped in the price of the LNG. Also, while U.S. natural gas prices are low at this time due to hydraulic fracturing, it is not clear if U.S. natural gas prices will remain at their current $3 or $4 per million Btu level into the future when the companies of these export terminals will still need to recoup their upfront costs. EIA is forecasting that U.S. natural gas prices at the Henry Hub will increase at a rate of 3.7 percent per year between 2012 and 2040.
Conclusion
European countries, including the Ukraine, are dependent on Russia for natural gas and petroleum, and the Ukraine is a major transit country for pipelines and other transshipment of these fuels from Russia. The current crisis in the Ukraine is indicative of the importance of diversity of energy supply and the sources of that supply. For example, the fact that the Ukraine gets almost half of its electricity from nuclear power and mines most of its own coal is beneficial given its dependence on Russian oil and natural gas.
While the United States is a major producer of natural gas, oil, and coal, it is difficult for it to be responsive to current European natural gas needs when the only approved LNG export terminal will not be operating before the end of 2015. But, what the United States can do is formulate an energy strategy for the future for meeting both U.S. needs and those of our allies, as well as exporting the policies and technologies that created the hydraulic fracturing revolution and attendant oil and natural gas boom in the United States. Ensuring a diverse energy portfolio that includes nuclear and coal should also be at the forefront of that strategy.
The Institute for Energy Research (IER) is a not-for-profit organization that conducts intensive research and analysis on the functions, operations, and government regulation of global energy markets. IER maintains that freely-functioning energy markets provide the most efficient and effective solutions to today’s global energy and environmental challenges and, as such, are critical to the well-being of individuals and society.

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Destruction of a Prosperous Nation State: The Fall of Yugoslavia and the US-NATO Led War
Thirteen Years Ago this Month, the First ‘Color Revolution’
Global Research, October 20, 2013
For years, the dismantling of Yugoslavia was no more than a half-completed job in the eyes of Western leaders. The United States and Western European nations lavished financial, diplomatic, political and military support on secession-minded forces until only two republics remained in the federation. To the annoyance of Western leaders, Serbia and Montenegro stubbornly clung to the Yugoslav ideal and a predominantly socialist-oriented economy. Although the 1999 NATO war succeeded in carving yet another piece off Yugoslavia, the province of Kosovo, the Yugoslav government remained intact.
Driving a Wedge between Serbia and Montenegro
If Montenegro could be separated from Serbia the Yugoslav federation would cease to exist, and Serbia would be furthered weakened. U.S. leaders recognized that Montenegro offered prospects for success, and sustained Western contacts with Montenegrin President Milo Djukanović began to pay dividends. Soon he transformed himself from a socialist ally of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milošević into his neoliberal opponent. Djukanović steadily distanced his republic from Serbia, implemented a series of free market economic measures, and began openly advocating secession from Yugoslavia, a goal he was to eventually to achieve in 2006.
During the NATO bombing of his country, Djukanović was in daily contact with NATO officials, behavior which many justifiably regarded as treasonous. Just one month after the end of the NATO war, Djukanović met President Clinton in Slovenia. Djukanović emphasized to Clinton "the importance of providing more substantial economic support to Montenegro to develop infrastructure and accelerate economic activity, particularly economic activity linked to continued privatization." Pleased with such rhetoric, Clinton promised to encourage "U.S. corporations and banks to invest capital in Montenegro."
November 1999 saw the introduction of the German mark as an official currency in Montenegro and the passage of legislation eliminating socially-owned property. The following month, several state-owned firms were put up for sale, including the Electric Power Company, the 13th July Agricultural Complex, and the Hotel-Tourist firm Boka.
Montenegro’s economic program for 2000 called for privatization of most state-owned industries and the passage of measures to "protect domestic and foreign investors." To support that program the United States granted Montenegro $62 million, primarily via the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), which announced that the aid would "support economic reform and restructuring the economy….to advance Montenegro toward a free market economy." James
Dobbins, U.S. policy advisor on the Balkans, said the U.S. viewed the "market-oriented reforms of the Djukanović regime as a model and stimulus for similar reforms throughout the former Yugoslavia." The European Union provided an additional $36 million to Montenegro. "From the first day," remarked Montenegrin President Milo Djukanović, "we have had British and European consultants."
In a July 2000 phone call to Djukanović, U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright promised to give an additional $16.5 million. That same week, Djukanović claimed that Montenegro "is no longer part of Yugoslavia," and made the astonishing claim that he considered it a "priority" for Montenegro to join NATO, the organization that had bombed his nation only the year before. In August, Albright revealed that she and Djukanović "try and talk to each other and meet on a regular basis."
In anticipation of a rift with Serbia, Djukanović built up a private army of more than 20,000 Special Police, armed with anti-tank weapons and mortars. Sources in Montenegro disclosed that Western Special Forces were actively training this private army. In 2000, Djukanović asked NATO to establish an "air shield over Montenegro." A member of Montenegro’s Special Police confirmed that the British SAS provided training. "If there is a situation where weapons will decide the outcome, we are ready," he said. "We are training for that." In August 2000, two armored vehicles bound for Montenegro were discovered in the port of Ancona, Italy. One of the vehicles was fitted with a turret suitable for mounting a machine gun or anti-tank weapon. Italian customs officials, the Italian news service ANSA reported, were "convinced" that trafficking in arms to Montenegro was "of far greater magnitude than this single episode might lead one to believe." Reveling at the prospect of armed conflict, Djukanović boasted, "Many will tuck their tails between their legs and will soon have to flee Montenegro."
The United States recognized that Montenegro offered a potential pretext for military intervention. As early as October 1999, U.S. General Wesley Clark drew up plans for a NATO invasion of Montenegro. The plan envisioned an amphibious assault by more than 2,000 Marines, who would storm the port of Bar and secure it as a beachhead for pushing inland. Troops ferried by helicopters would seize the airport at Podgorica, while NATO warplanes bombed and strafed resisting Yugoslav forces. American officials revealed that other Western nations had developed plans of their own for invasion.
Sending a message to the Yugoslav government that it should not defend itself, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Richard Holbrooke cautioned, "We are in constant touch with the leadership of Montenegro," and any conflict in Montenegro "would be directly affecting NATO’s vital interest." NATO General Secretary George Robertson was even more explicit. "I say to Milošević: watch out, look what happened the last time you miscalculated."
Subverting Yugoslavia
Since the early 1990’s, the United States and Great Britain furnished funding and equipment to opposition media and maintained contacts with political parties opposed to Slobodan Milošević. In the months before the NATO war, the level of aid sharply increased.
In a series of meetings held toward the end of 1998, U.S. President Bill Clinton and administration officials decided to overthrow the government of Yugoslavia. The aim, sources said, would be "the end of Milošević as the obvious solution."
One way to achieve the "end" of Milošević was to kill him. During the NATO war at around 3:00 AM one morning, the U.S. fired cruise missiles into Milošević’s home, including one that targeted his bedroom. The attempt failed, as Milošević and his wife had taken the precaution of sleeping in a bunker. They were a difficult target, changing their sleeping quarters on a frequent basis throughout the duration of the war. Less blunt methods would have to be used to eliminate Milošević.
Just weeks after the end of the NATO war, opposition leaders were called to
Montenegro, where U.S. envoy Robert Gelbard urged them to engage in violence. Vuk Drašković, leader of the Serbian Renewal Movement, was less than enamored with the proposal and refused to go along. The plan called for his party to "do the dirty work" and "start the bloodshed," while the other opposition leaders would leave Serbia. "They would wait abroad for NATO troops to bring the peace here. Then they would return after the civil war, riding on NATO tanks," he complained.
Not to be deterred, one month later President Clinton ordered the CIA to conduct a covert operation to topple the government of Yugoslavia. The plan called for the agency to provide financial backing to the opposition and for the U.S. Information Agency to broadcast Western news reports into Serbia. U.S. sources revealed that American military and intelligence officials planned to encourage Yugoslav military officers to oppose their government or attempt a coup d’état, an approach that had previously borne fruit in Chile in 1973.
Kicking off the effort, Madeleine Albright met with Western European foreign ministers to coordinate contacts with the opposition.
The crucial component of the plan entailed the recruitment of Yugoslav government officials to betray their country. Hundreds of prominent Yugoslav citizens were on the U.S. and European Union sanctions list, forbidden to travel abroad, and their assets in foreign banks having been seized. U.S. intelligence agents paid personal visits to many of the sanctioned individuals, implying that their names would be removed if they agreed to cooperate in the Western campaign to overthrow the government of Yugoslavia. In some cases, American agents even hinted that uncooperative individuals would face trumped-up war crimes charges and be spirited away and placed on trial before the criminal tribunal at The Hague.
Some Yugoslav officials were disaffected and thus easy prey for Western agents. Others succumbed to bribery. "The difficult bit was the calculation of when to offer, the moment to try," recalled an MI6 officer. According to a Yugoslav Military Intelligence source, "When the outside was looking for people, they looked for those they could either blackmail, pay, or who simply had enough common sense to know that time was running out."
In some cases fear proved to be a powerful motivator. A number of prominent government officials were murdered over the course of many months; to this day it is not known who was responsible. A Serbian industrialist who had intelligence contacts observed, "A lot of people started thinking ‘Well, if the Americans can get the Defense Minister then they can easily get me.’ It followed on that people began to look for a way off the sinking ship."
Periodic demonstrations by the opposition fizzled out with consistently disappointing turnouts. Exasperated over the ineptness of the opposition and its failure to unite, Western officials scheduled a meeting with opposition leaders in Berlin on December 17, 1999. "We read the riot act to the opposition and told them to get their act together," said one Western diplomat.
In a meeting held in Banja Luka with Bosnian Serb officials, Albright expressed impatience, saying that U.S. officials had expected that Western sanctions against Yugoslavia would cause people to "blame Milošević for this suffering." She could not understand "what was stopping the people from taking to the streets." In a comment that revealed the U.S. was looking for a pretext to intervene, Albright snapped, "Something needs to happen in Serbia that the West can support."
The announcement that national elections would be held in Yugoslavia provided Western leaders with the opportunity they sought. The first order of business was to get the opposition parties to unite in a coordinated effort. This was a less easy task than it would appear, given their history of internal squabbling and the evident dislike many opposition leaders had for one another.
The National Democratic Institute (NDI) hired an U.S. firm to conduct eleven public opinion polls, the results of which American officials used to persuade the opposition to unite behind a single candidate. The candidate who could garner the most support, an official of the polling firm told opposition leaders, was Vojislav Koštunica, the leader of a small party. Getting the parties to accept the candidate the U.S. had selected took some time, but in the end opposition leaders came around to the U.S. view. They had no choice if they wanted to continue receiving aid.
Through U.S. efforts, the opposition parties coalesced into a coalition, the Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS). NDI designed the coalition’s campaign structure and gave it an election platform. It also trained thousands of activists in electoral organizing tactics.
The United States essentially ran the DOS electoral campaign, and a coalition marketing official said that DOS discussed "every word" of its short political messages beforehand with U.S. consultants.
Parliamentary candidates and tens of thousands of local candidates received training. The International Republican Institute organized a training session in Budapest for members of the antigovernment student organization Otpor, where the principal speaker was retired U.S. Colonel Robert Helvey. The campaign involved several U.S. organizations, and the U.S. Agency for International Development paid for the printing of millions of stickers with the anti-Milošević slogan "He’s finished," which Otpor pasted everywhere.
Helvey led multiple training sessions for Otpor in Budapest and Montenegro, instructing them in techniques for undermining the government. Each time Otpor members returned to Serbia laden with cash and equipment. Otpor was also the recipient of a substantial quantity of computers and cell phones.
According to Slobodan Homen, one of the founding members of Otpor, "We had a lot of financial help from Western non-governmental organizations and also some Western governmental organizations." Otpor also received significant covert aid, the scale of which has never been reported. No ordinary student organization was this; it received millions of dollars in funding from the Unites States. American officials expected something in return for their largesse. At a meeting in Berlin, Madeleine Albright exhorted her Otpor audience to take action. "We want to see Milošević out of power, out of Serbia and in The Hague [criminal tribunal]."
In the year leading up to the election, the United States poured $35 million into the coffers of opposition parties and the European Union added a further $6 million to opposition media. Germany gave nearly $9 million. This was no new development. "Bags of money had been brought in for years," reported a journalist who enjoyed close contacts with Western intelligence agencies. However, the scale of Western intervention in the Yugoslav political scene had now grown so much that it had become pervasive. American officials assured opposition media "not to worry about how much they’re spending now" because more money was on the way. Soon not only cash, but computers, broadcast equipment and printing presses were flowing to media organizations.
British intelligence established contacts with Yugoslav Army commanders who were wavering under pressure. The British wanted to confirm that the military would not stand in the way of the coup that Western officials and DOS were
planning.
The United States and its allies waged a secret war on many fronts. They constructed a series of radio towers in surrounding countries, from which they broadcast anti-government programs from the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, the BBC, Deutsche Welle, USA Radio, and other stations into Yugoslavia. Many of these transmissions used the same frequencies as state-owned stations, thereby usurping them. As early as August, 1999, U.S. aircraft, ships, and transmitters in neighboring countries began jamming state-owned Yugoslav radio and television frequencies, with the aim of eliminating any counterweight to Opposition and Western media broadcasts. The act was a blatant violation of international law governing telecommunications.
The Americans were also listening. U.S. radio centers were set up in Bosnia to monitor Yugoslav communications, and Bulgaria operated its own radio-listening center, passing on intelligence to the United States.
Centers were established in neighboring countries from which the United States managed the campaign to bring down the Yugoslav government. Opposition leaders were frequent visitors, and often given suitcases full of money to take home with them. The main center was in Budapest, where more than thirty intelligence and propaganda agents were stationed.
The United States was not only supplying cash, equipment and training. Western intelligence agents infiltrated Serbia using diplomatic passports. One Yugoslav with British intelligence contacts described these men as "technicians in seizing power," and said they "lobbied with the establishment, they helped set up the network."
Just days before the election, the European Union issued a "message to the Serbian people," in which it announced that sanctions would be lifted if opposition candidate Vojislav Koštunica was voted into office. This was a powerful inducement for a population desperate for relief from the misery induced by the sanctions regime. The Western Europeans and the Americans had a curious concept of democracy, in which they picked the opposition candidate, funded his campaign, and meted out punishment to the people of Yugoslavia through sanctions, promising to stop only if people would vote for the Western-backed candidate.
CIA Director George Tenet visited Bulgaria for three days in mid-August 2000, where he held talks with the Bulgarian president and administration officials, as well as Bulgarian intelligence and military officials. According to an unnamed Bulgarian source, the split of Montenegro from Serbia was at the top of the agenda, and Tenet wished to establish a logistics center in Sofia for managing the split and dealing with any conflict that might result. Tenet also demanded that Bulgaria agree to allow a CIA center to be set up in Sofia for supporting the Yugoslav opposition. Two weeks later, the center in Sofia was fully operational and conducting a ten day training course for Otpor activists while another center in Bucharest was doing the same. The overthrow of the Milošević government was one of Tenet’s prime agenda items, and the Bulgarian newspaper Monitor reported that the "CIA coup machine" was in motion. "A strike against Belgrade is imminent" and Bulgaria was to serve as one of its bases.
U.S. meddling in the internal affairs of Yugoslavia was unrelenting, as U.S. State Department official William Montgomery observed. "Seldom has so much fire, energy, enthusiasm, money – everything – gone into anything as into Serbia in the months before Milošević went."
If, despite all efforts, the U.S. failed to bring down the Milošević government through electoral means or by coup d’état it reserved the option of resorting to military force. During the period of September 4-26, NATO military forces conducted a training exercise at an airbase near Constanta, Romania. Some 700 military personnel and 40 planes war-gamed the scenario of a "fictional" country where opposition demonstrators clashed with the police, escalating into a civil war and leading to NATO intervention. Simultaneous NATO war games took place in Bulgaria and northwestern Romania.
Disputed Election
The long-awaited day arrived on September 24, 2000. As soon as voting got underway, U.S. officials were charging without evidence that fraud and irregularities marred the voting process and that Milošević wanted to "steal" the election. Persistent American accusations planted the perception among the Western public and Serbian opposition supporters that fraud had taken place, even though official early returns showed Koštunica with a commanding lead.
Charges made by the United States, which had no electoral observers on the ground, were reported as fact by the Western media, while the experiences of international observers from 54 countries who witnessed the electoral process were entirely ignored.
The Canadian election observer team noted that all parties were freely able to campaign and advertise. Russian parliamentarians visited 150 polling stations, and observed that the opposition was given "every opportunity to monitor the process." Konstantin Kosachev of the Russian State Duma explained, "All ballot papers were numbered, ballot boxes sealed, verification slips signed by all members of the electoral commissions." In the view of Kosachev’s team, "no large-scale falsification of the election in Yugoslavia was possible."
Almost immediately, the Koštunica campaign claimed victory, even though many votes remained to be counted and the returns were showing that Koštunica would probably fall short of the 50 percent necessary for outright
victory.
The Democratic Opposition of Serbia issued its own figures, which the Western media uncritically accepted as accurate and reliable. No one appeared to notice that DOS’s statistics were internally inconsistent. According to figures given by DOS Electoral Staff spokesman Čedomir Jovanović on September 26, Koštunica held the lead with 54.66 percent of the vote, based on 97.5 percent of the ballots processed. The next day, DOS announced that Koštunica was in the lead with 52.54 percent, and the total vote count that DOS reported rose by less than 64,000. If Koštunica lost every one of those additional votes his percentage would have dropped to 52.75 percent, higher than the announced 52.54 figure. The numbers did not add up.
DOS disposed of this awkwardness by issuing significantly different vote totals. On September 26, Jovanović said that Koštunica led with 2,783,870 votes, yet on the next day he claimed that when all votes were counted, "Koštunica will have 2,649,000 votes." A neat trick that, when addition results in subtraction. Four days later, Jovanović claimed 2,424,187 votes for Koštunica, and then on October 2 opposition spokesman Zoran Šami lowered the total still further to 2,414,876, for a percentage of 51.34. In the end, the final figures presented by DOS claimed 2,377,440 votes and a percentage of 50.35 for Koštunica.
Exactly which votes had yet to be counted also seemed to shift in DOS’s imaginary world. On September 26, it said 130,000 votes "and the votes from Kosovo and Montenegro" had yet to be processed by DOS. The next day, it was unprocessed ballots from soldiers and mail-in ballots that were said to have remained uncounted.
The final figures offered by DOS differed from the official government totals only in that DOS intentionally excluded from the count votes cast in Kosovo and by refugees from Kosovo, precisely the constituencies that heavily favored Milošević. It was only through such trickery that DOS could claim a first round victory for Koštunica.
Western media dismissed the official election results and proclaimed the opposition figures to be based on precise and meticulous tallying of ballots. Loud and repeated accusations of fraud were leveled against the Yugoslav government. Clearly, there had been fraud, but it was DOS that was perpetrating it, not the government.
Despite persistent claims by Western reporters that the government was withholding figures, the official vote count was publicized widely in Yugoslavia. Vojislav Koštunica won 48.96 percent of the vote, while President Milošević trailed with 38.62 percent. There would have to be a runoff, as neither candidate garnered more than half of the vote. As prescribed by law, a runoff election for the top two candidates was scheduled for October 8.
Emboldened by Western officials, DOS announced that it was refusing to participate in the second round, and claimed that Koštunica had already won a majority in the first round. DOS filed a complaint first with the Federal Election Commission and then with the Constitutional Court. DOS demanded the annulment of votes by refugees from Kosovo and by voters in Kosovo itself, where President Milošević led by a wide margin. The Constitutional Court upheld a proposal by Milovan Živković of the Federal Election Commission for returns from all voting districts to be reexamined so as to dispel doubts. It was a reasonable decision meant to bring order to an increasingly chaotic situation, and it was the threat of a recount that motivated the almost daily reduction in the number and percentage of votes claimed by DOS for its candidate. The offer was not accepted.
The Western powers made a show of military force, sending a signal to the Yugoslav government that it risked being attacked if it defended itself from the coup that was forming. The British sent 15 ships to the Mediterranean, including the aircraft carrier HMS Invincible. "Let’s give Milošević a clear message while
he is trying to decide who won," blustered British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook. Meanwhile, the U.S. conducted a joint amphibious landing and live fire training with Croatian forces during the five day period following the election. Then Cook issued another threat, reminding Milošević that if he tried to stay in power, the Western powers had a "very substantial capacity in the region."
Coup d’état
U.S. hopes were not misplaced, and bogus accusations of electoral fraud proved to be the catalyst for regime change. At the end of September, demonstrations broke out in cities and towns throughout Serbia. By October 2nd, DOS demonstrators were blockading roads in Belgrade and forcing a halt to bus and streetcar traffic in many parts of the city. Meanwhile DOS activists applied pressure on schools to close their doors. As the demonstrations grew in scope and size, paralyzing the country, Koštunica announced that the demonstrations would continue until Milošević conceded defeat in the first round.
October 5th was the date that the Americans and British had chosen for DOS to seize power in a coup d’état. The night before, Yugoslav Military Intelligence officials whom the West had managed to turn met with MI6 and CIA officials in a Bosnian village. The message the Yugoslavs gave their Western contacts was that the Army would not obey any order to mobilize in response to the coup. This was the message the Western intelligence officials were hoping to hear, and they duly passed that information to opposition leaders.
Demonstrations were not the spontaneous affair they were made out to be.
Plans had been made months before. DOS activists infiltrated the police and knew in advance of their plans. Columns of opposition supporters advanced on Belgrade from all sides. Mayor Velimir Ilić of Čačak organized a convoy of 230 trucks laden with weapons and rocks intended to be used as projectiles, and his column of 20,000 demonstrators headed toward the capital on October 5. Along the route, DOS activists threatened police at roadblocks by telling them that they knew where their families lived and hinting at violence if they failed to stand aside. Meanwhile, DOS supporters smashed through two police barricades and demolished police trucks, using crowbars, hammers and stones. Police vans were pushed into a ditch.
According to opposition sources, around 10,000 of the activists who swarmed into Belgrade were armed and ready to do battle if necessary. A one thousand-strong unit of paramilitaries, armed with automatic rifles and anti-tank weapons, was also organized to support the coup.
The coup headquarters was established at a factory in an outlying district of Belgrade, under the control of former Belgrade mayor Nebojša Čović. "There were thousands of weapons at the factory and at least 2,000 trained and armed men there," a Yugoslav Military Intelligence source reports. "There was a plan to split up and support the crowds in various places and to seize all of the government ministries."
Otpor founder Slobodan Homen visited U.S. diplomat William Montgomery in Budapest, informing him that this was "the decisive day, and we’re ready to occupy the Federal Parliament and the Serbian TV building." Homen requested U.S. military intervention if police resisted. Montgomery declined, knowing that outside military intervention at this moment would rally people around the government, but he "made it clear that pressure" by DOS on the government "had to be maintained, could not stop."
Surging crowds of DOS supporters overwhelmed a police guard and swarmed into the Parliament, where they smashed furniture and computers, looting anything of value and setting the building ablaze. At Radio Television Serbia, a bulldozer smashed an opening, allowing crowds to seize the building and drive out and beat the station’s employees. Ambulances throughout the city were taking wounded policemen to the hospital, only to be stopped by drunken DOS demonstrators who demanded that the injured policemen be turned over to them. DOS supporters roamed the city, waving weapons and setting police cars afire.
In preparing the coup, DOS established prior contacts with police and soldiers, some of whom joined their ranks in attacking government buildings on October 5. "I was constantly in touch by telephone with an army general and sections of the interior ministry hierarchy" that had switched sides, Velimir Ilić revealed.  DOS also recruited the police guarding Radio Television Serbia. This police unit, Ilić said, were "completely on our side," and "supported us fully."
As drunken mobs surged throughout Belgrade, Koštunica told a crowd of supporters, "Democracy has happened in Serbia." In a demonstration of their commitment to democracy, DOS supporters demolished the headquarters of the Socialist Party of Serbia and that of the New Communist Party of Yugoslavia. In Leskovac, demonstrators torched the home of the local head of the Socialist Party, before proceeding to wreck the local headquarters of the Socialist Party and the Yugoslav United Left.
Socialist directors of state-owned firms were driven from their positions or forced to resign, often at gunpoint. Throughout Serbia, offices of the Socialist Party and other Left parties were under attack. In Kragujevac, DOS supporters tied up and abused Socialist Party officials for ten hours. Then the socialists were released into a crowd, where they were spat at, cursed, kicked and beaten. In Niš, Dragiša Vučić of the Socialist Party was so badly beaten that she became hospitalized. Throughout Serbia, the homes of local Socialist Party officials were attacked.
Shortly after the election, DOS filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission, asking that the ballots of voters in Kosovo and refugees from Kosovo be tossed out. When its complaint was rejected, DOS appealed to the Constitutional Court, which upheld the decision by the Federal Election Commission. The political landscape was altered by the coup, and to oppose the demands of DOS became a risky proposition. The Constitutional Court backtracked and rescinded its own earlier verdict, issuing a new decision in which the Court annulled all of the votes cast in Kosovo. The Court based its decision on the dubious grounds that because polls closed in Kosovo at 4:00 PM for safety reasons, whereas they were open until four hours later elsewhere in Yugoslavia, this somehow invalidated every vote that had been cast. This act granted Koštunica legal authority for his claim that he had won the election in the first round, even if the rights of voters in Kosovo got trampled in the process.
Given the commanding lead Koštunica held in the first electoral round a victory in the October 8 runoff was a near certainty, yet DOS preferred to bring down the government by force. The election of Koštunica alone would not have been enough to dismantle the socialist-oriented economy. Wider control of the reins of government would be needed, and the October election left Milošević’s governing coalition with a solid majority in the Assembly, with 78 out of 137 seats in the Chamber of Citizens and 28 out of 40 seats in the Chamber of Republics. The Left-led coalition also held a commanding majority in the Parliament, where members had been elected in 1998 to four-year terms. By seizing power, Koštunica was able to dissolve Parliament and call an early election. With DOS holding a complete monopoly on both state-owned and private media, the parties that had governed under Milošević were shut out, and in an atmosphere of intimidation it was no surprise that the snap election gave DOS the substantial majority of seats it needed in order to transform the economy.
The Coup Bears Fruit
Just days before the coup, in words that would prove prescient, President Milošević addressed the nation, warning that DOS was an instrument in the Western campaign to impose neocolonial control over Yugoslavia. Those nations that came under the sway of the Western powers, he pointed out, "have speedily become impoverished in a manner destroying all hope for more just and human social relations." In Eastern Europe, there was a "great division into a poor majority and a rich minority," and under DOS "that picture would also include us," where "public and social property would quickly be transformed into private property" owned predominately by foreigners.
The United States and Western European powers expected something in return for all of the support they have given DOS, and it was time for the new Yugoslav government to deliver.
Koštunica moved quickly in dismantling state-owned and socially-owned property. Privatization minister Aleksandar Vlahović announced a plan to sell 7,000 state-owned firms. Vlahović later elaborated on the plan in more detail, admitting, "We do not expect that all 7,000 firms will be privatized, and at least one half will go bankrupt, with predictable results." It was recognized that Western investors would be the chief beneficiaries. "Our goal," said Vlahović "is to maximize the inflow of foreign capital and foreign direct investment through privatization." Hundreds of thousands of workers were thrown out of work. Responding to criticism from workers made redundant by the privatization process, Vlahović retorted, "If we want a market economy it’s time we realized there are no secure jobs." Many of the first firms offered were intentionally assigned a book value of one third of their true value, "in order to attract potential foreign investors." Sharply reduced tax rates were offered as further inducement for foreign investors.
On July 21, 2001, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation signed an agreement with Yugoslavia on increasing U.S. investment and encouraging further privatization. After the signing, OPIC CEO and President Peter Watson announced, "Today’s agreement not only signals the green light for the U.S. investors but indeed is a signal to the international investment community that Yugoslavia is open for business."
Serbia-Montenegro, having dropped the name ‘Yugoslavia’ at Western insistence, was obligated by the IMF in 2005 to implement a number of measures. Among these included the "reform" of the pension system through cutting benefits, implementing deep cuts in public spending, and the layoff of several hundred thousand workers. The IMF also demanded the selloff of major industries such as the oil refineries in Novi Sad and Pančevo.
Companies privatized in accordance with the 2001 privatization law showed a decrease of 45 percent in employment over the first two years of private ownership. Those privatized under the privatization law of two years later saw a decrease of 15 percent, the lower figure due only to the law’s requirement for staff to be slashed prior to sale in order to attract investors. In either case, it was the workers who paid the price.
Unemployment in Serbia steadily grew after the coup, quickly reaching 32 percent within four years. By 2012 it stood at 24 percent. The apparent improvement was illusory, having to do mainly with the adoption of the modern American model for calculating unemployment. Under this method, workers who are not regularly and actively seeking jobs are counted as "discouraged," "out of the job market," and therefore not belonging to the ranks of the unemployed. If one adds back in the number of workers who are classified as "inactive" but who profess both the ability and the desire to work, then the real unemployment rate was 34 percent.
To put this in perspective, at its peak in 1933, unemployment during the Great Depression in the United States reached 25 percent, a figure that was then not calculated to exclude a significant portion of workers. Today Serbian workers are enduring their own Great Depression, but one that subordination to Western corporate interests has imposed on them. For those who lose their livelihoods, there is little hope. Nearly 80 percent of the non-discouraged unemployed have been without work for a year or longer, and 44 percent have been looking for a job for four years or longer. They are society’s discards.
Even when one has a job, survival is a struggle. "Pay is often barely enough for basic needs including food and bills," points out one analyst. "There is absolutely no way for them to get a mortgage from a bank to buy a car, let alone affording a flat." At an unemployment center, a woman remarks, "Of course I could not get employment." Seeing little hope, she was applying for a reduced early
pension. "I am a 50-year old engineer holding a university degree and the only place I can find a job is at a fast-food restaurant. Think how humiliated I would feel after 30 years of work at the office to start flipping burgers at some local shop." A British resident of Belgrade relates that the "Serbian people are crying out to be able to get mortgages and loans that will allow them to move out of their parents’ houses before they turn 40, and by that same token they are crying out for the kind of financial responsibility that will see them become voluntary slaves to their companies; living in fear of losing their jobs." The free market had come to Serbia, with all of the advantages that it bestows.
Western intervention did not end with the overthrow of the Milošević government. Indeed, it increased. The coup opened the door for a vast expansion of Western meddling in the affairs of Serbia and Montenegro.
Representing the views of the U.S. corporate world, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) implemented a number of programs in Serbia designed to promote those interests. Among other things, USAID said, its efforts helped "deepen structural reforms." One of the agency’s programs designed to advance that objective was the Bankruptcy and Enforcement Strengthening (BES), which helped the Serbian Privatization Agency Bankruptcy Unit "privatize state and socially-owned enterprises through bankruptcy, reorganization and/or liquidation in a more efficient and effective manner." Not coincidentally, the purchase price of these enterprises thereby became cheaper for the Western investor.
Another component of the agency’s efforts in Serbia was the Municipal Economic Growth Activity (MEGA), which saw its role as "facilitating private sector growth" through a variety of means, including advocating policies and supporting legislative action. That "support" went so far as to include direct participation in the drafting of Serbian legislation.
MEGA’s most important accomplishment was the establishment of the National Alliance for Local Economic Development (NALED), "through which leaders from both business and local governments gather together around issues of common interest." Interests, it went without saying, that were inimical to those of the working population. NALED initiated what it termed the Business Friendly Certification, which it awarded to those local governments that proved sufficiently subservient to USAID’s demands.
In 2009, Mayor Igor Pavličić of Novi Sad declared, "Since we joined USAID’s Municipal Economic Growth Activity program, many expert analyses have been developed on how to rationalize the city’s budget expenditures. Program experts have advised us on how to use the budget funds for the capital investments in infrastructure. From now on, public utilities will have to take care of their budgets and to move on to a more market oriented approach." One wonders who ran the city, the mayor or USAID?
In Niš, the city assembly passed a decision to offer land for industrial construction. MEGA personnel wrote the draft legislation, which the city dutifully passed with the backing of the mayor. Eager to please, the mayor announced that the city would be "offering a number of incentives to new investors."
Another organization actively involved in Serbia was the American Chamber of Commerce, which sought to promote U.S. business interests. Its "support" of the reform process involved actively writing Serbian legislation and having proposed legislation submitted for its review and approval.
The Foreign Investors Council (FIC) represented the interests of Western corporations in Serbia. Its purpose was "to assist Serbia in fully accepting and nurturing market economy and introducing a system of European values and standards." In order to "improve the investment and business development climate in Serbia," the Foreign Investors Council made "concrete reform proposals." In plain language, it meddled in the Serbian regulatory and legislative process just as the American Chamber of Commerce did.
The World Bank, while acknowledging the cuts that Serbia had already made in public services, felt that more could be done. The government of Serbia should consider additional methods of "reducing [pension] benefits on a permanent basis," it advised. Pension benefits are "too high," the bank complained. "The pension due to a new retiree in Serbia is equal to nearly 60 percent of the net average wage." Something would have to be done about such a state of affairs. After all, a person might survive on such a sum. The goal of pension reform, the World Bank stated, would be to turn the pension system "into a surplus-generating system which pays very low benefits."
No measure is likely to dislodge the chokehold that Western power has on Serbia in the foreseeable future. The powers arrayed against workers are too powerful, and Serbia occupies too important a geographical position in the Balkans, one that Western corporations will not readily relinquish. Centrally located in the Balkans, and along the Danube, the country has the region’s major road, rail and river navigation routes. The nation’s location is essential in integrating the entire Balkans under the neoliberal model and the shipment of goods from this low-wage region to the West.
Western sponsorship of the coup in 2000 was an investment, from which multinational companies have profited handsomely in the years that followed. Serbia and Montenegro, now separated, have lost their independence and been compelled to grant a substantial degree of control over their economies to U.S. and Western European interests. Every means was used to crush Yugoslavia, which became a laboratory in which techniques of subversion were perfected. The 2000 coup served as a template for the "color" revolutions that installed pliant governments in Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan, and many of the techniques have been used on a smaller scale against such targets as Venezuela and Zimbabwe.
The tragedy of the Yugoslav coup was not only that it plunged the population into immiseration. The wider tragedy is that the coup’s very success has encouraged an increased reliance on subversion as one of the primary tools of Western policy, and people across the globe are paying the price for that success.
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The (Really) Moderate Muslims of Kosovo
Michael J. Totten
The world’s newest country is a model of Islamic tolerance.
(Left: Not a burka in sight)
On February 17, 2008, Kosovo declared independence from Serbia, becoming the newest country in the world—and one of the most unusual. Most of its citizens are Muslim, an oddity in Europe; further, unlike most Muslim-majority nations, Kosovo is overwhelmingly pro-American, and its relations with Israel are excellent as well. No Arab countries have recognized the new nation’s existence yet, and only Saudi Arabia has said that it will. Perhaps this isn’t surprising, since Kosovars differ more radically from their brothers in the Arab world than any other Islamic people on earth.
Most of this difference is probably news to distant observers. Kosovo lies in the former Yugoslavia on Europe’s Balkan peninsula, a distant corner of southeastern Europe where relatively few travelers venture. The fog of war never really lifted after the combatants’ guns fell silent in 1999. The grievances that animated the warring parties seemed inscrutable to many Westerners, who often didn’t understand why Western powers got involved in the first place. Yet despite their obscurity, Kosovars today stand as a rebuttal to the notion that Muslims will be forever shackled to authoritarian rule and wedded to war with the modern, pluralistic "Other."
About 90 percent of Kosovo’s 2 million inhabitants are ethnic Albanians; 7 percent are Serbs. Of the Albanians, about 3 percent are Catholic, and all the rest are at least nominal Muslims; the Serbs, meanwhile, are all Orthodox Christians. Against this backdrop, many observers interpreted the Balkan wars that tore Yugoslavia to pieces during the 1990s as an inevitable resurgence of ancient hatreds in a post-Communist ideological vacuum.
But the truth was that Serbian nationalists, led by Yugoslavian dictator Slobodan Milošević, had deliberately crafted their own ethnic nationalism as an ideology to replace Communism, seeking to retain power and seize as much territory as possible as the Yugoslav federation unraveled. On June 29, 1989, just a few months before the Berlin Wall fell, Milošević delivered a thunderous speech to throngs of budding Serbian nationalists in the Kosovar village of Kosovo Polje. Exactly 600 years earlier, on the nearby Field of Blackbirds, the Turks had defeated Serbian ruler Tsar Lazar in an epic battle, ending the sovereignty of Serbia’s medieval kingdom and beginning its absorption into the Ottoman Empire. "No one will ever beat you again," Milošević promised his audience.
Ethnic conflict was relatively new to the area. "There have been many battles and wars in Kosovo over the centuries," historian Noel Malcolm writes in Kosovo: A Short History, "but until the last 100 years or so none of them had the character of an ‘ethnic’ conflict between Albanians and Serbs. Members of those two populations fought together as allies at the battle of Kosovo in 1389—indeed, they probably fought as allies on both sides of that battle.
Nevertheless, Milošević used the ancient grievance, along with others both real and imagined, to kindle Serbian nationalism—"a totalitarian ideology," as Serbian writer Filip David calls it. Three months after his speech at Kosovo Polje, Milošević revoked Kosovo’s political autonomy and imposed an apartheid-like system on its ethnic Albanian majority. There followed three wars in the breakaway republics of Slovenia, Bosnia, and Croatia, and then a fourth of ethnic cleansing in Kosovo at a time when the United States and NATO were in no mood to tolerate any more violent destabilization in Europe. NATO bombarded Yugoslav targets for two and a half months in 1999 until Milošević capitulated and relinquished control of Kosovo to NATO and Russia.
Though Albanian nationalism is less ideological than Serbian nationalism, it, too, can express itself through ugly outbursts of violence. After ethnic Albanian refugees returned to Kosovo under NATO protection in 1999, some lashed out at Serb civilians, houses, and Orthodox churches. Another wave of anti-Serb violence broke out in 2004, following rumors that Albanian children had drowned in the Ibar River after being chased off by Serbs.
But this violence, like the 1999 war, rose out of ethnic tensions, not religious ones. These were fights not between Muslims and Christians but between Albanians and Serbs—and though, again, most Albanians are Muslim and all Serbs are Orthodox Christian, the distinction is crucial. Kosovo’s Albanian Muslims and Albanian Catholics get along perfectly well with one another; in fact, during the war, they fought side by side. And in the later attacks, ethnic Albanian mobs burned Orthodox churches because they were Serb, not because they were Christian. Catholic churches weren’t touched—because their congregations were Albanian. (This isn’t a matter of anti-Orthodox sentiment among Muslims, either. Though no Albanian Orthodox Christians live in Kosovo, 20 percent of the population in Albania itself is Albanian Orthodox, and relations between them and the Albanian Muslim majority are perfectly fine.)
Some observers, especially in Serbia, have blamed the violence in 1999 and 2004 on Islamist jihadists. Those who live and work in Kosovo, and who are charged with keeping the peace, dismiss the allegation. "We’ve been here for so long and not seen any evidence of it that we’ve reached the assumption that it is not a viable threat," says Zachary Gore, a U.S. Army sergeant stationed in eastern Kosovo.
Kosovo’s brand of Islam may be the most liberal in the world. I saw no more women there wearing conservative Islamic clothing—one or two per day at most—than I’ve seen in Manhattan. There is no gender apartheid even in Kosovo’s villages. Alcohol flows freely in restaurants, cafés, and bars, where you’ll see as many young women in sexy outfits as you’d find in any Western European country. Aside from the minarets on the skyline, there is no visible evidence that Kosovo is a Muslim-majority country at all.
"Here people are Muslims, but they think like Europeans," says Xhabir Hamiti, a professor in the Islamic studies department at the University of Pristina in Kosovo’s capital. "Muslims here identify themselves as Muslim Lite," an American police officer tells me. As Afrim Kostrati, a young bartender, puts it: "We are Muslims, but not really." And Luan Berisha, an entrepreneur, agrees: "We were never practicing Muslims like they are in the Middle East. . . . First of all, we are Albanians. Religion comes second."
Religion in Kosovo is a private matter, not a public one. "We never talk about it," Berisha says. "I just found out, one year ago, that a very good friend of mine is Catholic, and we have been friends for the last ten years." One Muslim woman tells me how startled she was when she attended a conference in Britain about young people who change the world. "I was shocked to find that the representative of the U.S.A. was a covered lady, originally from Iraq," she says. "And the representative from Canada was another, originally from Afghanistan." She herself was wearing shorts.
The reason for Kosovo’s relaxed attitude toward religion lies in its history. Albanians, including those in Kosovo, are the descendants of ancient pagan Greeks and Illyrians; more recently, they were Christian before the majority converted to Islam under Turkish Ottoman rule. Their religion may be Eastern, but Albanians have been culturally European for all of recorded history. "The Greeks hardly regard them as Christians, or the Turks as Moslems, and in fact they are a mixture of both, and sometimes neither," Lord Byron wrote of them almost 200 years ago. "We Albanians," writes Catholic priest Dom Lush Gjergji, "descendants of the Illyrians, are Christians from the time of the Apostles. . . . Without Christianity there would be no Albanian people, language, culture, or traditions . . . Albanians consider Christianity their patrimony, their spiritual and cultural inheritance."
Kosovar Muslims talk the same way. In fact, the feeling is reflected in the Albanian national flag, which flies all over Kosovo, despite minimal support for a "greater Albania." Its black double-headed eagle is the seal of Gjergj Kastrioti Skanderbeg, who led the resistance against the Ottoman Empire in the fifteenth century. This national hero of a Muslim-majority country was Catholic.
Indeed, another sign of Kosovo’s complex religious identity involves the "crypto-Catholics," those who just went through the motions of converting to Islam under the Ottomans. Kosovo’s cemeteries hold many tombstones engraved with Muslim names yet bearing the Catholic cross. Even now, the crypto-Catholics’ descendants are still "christened," so to speak, with Muslim names, and then baptized into the church.
Many Kosovars are starting to convert "back" to Christianity. Café owner Gazi
Berlajolli ascribes the trend partly to American influence. "Most of these people were atheists and agnostics, but they don’t want to be seen as atheist Muslims," Berlajolli adds. "So they needed to convert to something else. They want to be able to put ‘Christian’ on their pages on Facebook."
There is, however, a small group of radicals inside Kosovo who would like to transform moderate Balkan Islam into the much sterner Wahhabi variety practiced in Saudi Arabia. Several well-funded Saudis and other Gulf Arabs moved to Kosovo after the 1999 war to rebuild destroyed mosques and to impose Wahhabism on the decadent locals. Most ethnic Albanians across the political and religious spectrum in Kosovo resent these intrusions, partly because ornate Ottoman-style mosques destroyed by the Serbian military are being replaced with severe Wahhabi-style monstrosities, but also because hardly any Albanians seek guidance from the backward and authoritarian Arab world. "We don’t call them Wahhabis here," a well-connected Albanian woman tells me. "We call them Binladensa, the people of bin Laden." In Kosovo, that isn’t a compliment.
"We never had them before," a young Albanian journalist says. "We hear these rumors that they are paying people"—to visit mosques and cover their hair, that is. I can’t confirm the rumor, but it’s widely believed, and I heard it from almost a dozen people. If true, it means that even the tiny minority who are willing to adopt the outward trappings of conservative Islam will do so only if they’re paid. If false, the fact that so many believe it reveals a broad contempt for rigid Arabic Islam and a belief that Albanian culture will not bend naturally to it. "You should see how the general public receives these people," says a Kosovo human rights official. "They certainly are not liked. I don’t think they will succeed."
Wahhabis are encountering resistance from Kosovo’s religious community as well as from its atheists and agnostics. "We are working very hard to stop these kinds of movements," says Hamiti. "These kinds of movements are dangerous for all nations, for the faiths, for all religions. The traditional Islam that has been cultivated in these areas is the best guarantee for the future. If we allow foreigners to come here and to push us to war with their ideas, then the situation will be out of our control."
Tellingly, Kosovo’s only Islamist party got just 1.7 percent of the vote in the last election. Not even during the 1999 war, when ethnic Albanians were desperate for help, were Islamists welcome in Kosovo. Contrast this with Bosnia, which did accept help from mujahideen: after the European community imposed an arms embargo on all warring sides in Yugoslavia, leaving the barely armed Bosnians to twist in the wind, about 1,000 veterans of the anti-Soviet insurgency in Afghanistan streamed into the country. "In Kosovo," Berisha says, "they came to support us and we rejected them. . . . This is not jihad. We are not fighting for religion here. We are fighting for our freedom, for ourselves, and for our families."
It certainly helped that NATO stopped the fighting in Kosovo long before it could
fester as it did in Bosnia. Still, the secular nature of the old Kosovo Liberation Army is worth noting. "In the two years that I covered the conflict in Kosovo, never once did I see the mujahideen fighters I saw in Bosnia, or hear KLA soldiers even allude to any kind of commitment to Islam," Stacy Sullivan wrote in Newsweek. "Most said they were offended by such allegations, bragged about how they were Catholic before the Ottomans came and converted them, and said their only religion was Albanianism."
Even so, the KLA was a murky organization with alleged links to organized crime and political gangsterism, and it was dissolved in September 1999, almost immediately after NATO’s intervention. Many of its former commanders ran for office in Kosovo’s first postwar election and lost overwhelmingly to the Democratic League of Kosovo, led by the pacifist Ibrahim Rugova. Kosovo is almost unique in history for rejecting its militant would-be liberators after earning de facto independence. Perhaps this pacifism was exactly what Kosovo needed after the fires of war died down. Foreign soldiers were on hand to provide security. Militant ethnic nationalism or, worse, militant religious sectarianism could easily have turned Kosovo into the Iraq of Europe.
A big reason for Kosovars’ antipathy to radical Islamism is, in a word, America, which has been the political North Star for Albanians inside and outside Kosovo ever since NATO’s intervention in 1999. In 2004, a Gallup survey measured popular opinion of U.S. foreign policy around the world. Only ten countries rated American foreign policy favorably, and among those, Kosovo scored highest, registering 88 percent approval. When one ethnic Albanian I met happened to make the uncontroversial statement that Kosovo was a European country, another broke in. "We aren’t European," she corrected. "We’re American."
Repeatedly, I heard that Kosovars were America’s most reliable allies in the world. American flags fly just about everywhere outside the Serbian enclaves—some even in front of official buildings—and are sold at kiosks on the street, along with T-shirts that say thank you usa. The Hotel Victory has erected the world’s second-largest replica of the Statue of Liberty on its roof, and I found another replica in the southeastern town of Vitina. Kosovars are fans of George W. Bush, both because he recognized Kosovo’s independence and simply because he’s the president. Graffiti in one Kosovar village proclaims thanks usa and bush. "You should have seen President Bush’s face when he came to Albania," says a Kosovar Albanian who works with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). "All over Western Europe he was met by protests, but the entire country of Albania turned out to welcome him."
And Bill Clinton, who ordered the 1999 military intervention, is lionized. Izeir
Mustafa is sculpting a statue of the former president that will soon be erected on a major traffic artery—renamed Bill Clinton Boulevard—leading from the airport into downtown Pristina. Many businesses are named after Clinton. I even found a patisserie and disco bar named "Hillary," decorated with pictures of the ex-president and his wife.
"Americans are our best friends in the world," a waiter said to me at one of Pristina’s finest restaurants. "The U.K. is second."
"Thank you," I said. "We appreciate that. Some people don’t like us."
"Bad people," he said.
Kosovar Albanians also strongly support, of all countries, Israel. "Kosovars used to identify with the Palestinians because we Albanians are Muslims and Christians and we saw Serbia and Israel both as usurpers of land," a prominent Kosovar told journalist Stephen Schwartz. "Then we looked at a map and woke up. Israelis have a population of 6 million, their backs to the sea, and 300 million Arab enemies. Albanians have a total population of 8 million, our backs to the sea, and 200 million Slav enemies. So why should we identify with the Arabs?"
Berisha echoes the sentiment. "We have very much in common with Israel," he says. "I would never side with the Muslim side to wipe Israel off the face of the world. Ninety percent of Kosovo feels this way." Though that number sounds high, I didn’t meet anyone who said he felt otherwise. And Shachar Caspi, a Jewish Israeli restaurateur who moved from Tel Aviv to Kosovo, agreed. "Nobody has given me any problems or been against Israel," he said. "Nobody here is radical. On the contrary, people are very warm, they are very nice, they have taken Islam to a beautiful place, not to a violent place. When they hear I am Israeli, they react very warmly."
"Nobody cares?" I asked. Considering the vicious anti-Semitism that infects so much of the Muslim world, it was hard to believe. "On the contrary, people like it," he said. "They come to speak to us. They want to be in contact. They tell me that in the Holocaust, they used to keep the survivors inside of shelters. And vice versa, in 1999 the first plane that landed in Pristina for [humanitarian] support was an Israeli plane."
Few outside Albania and Kosovo know about the area’s heroism during the Holocaust, but the ethnic Albanians I met brought it up several times. "We sympathize a lot with the people who have suffered the same fate as us," Berisha says. "We were Muslims even in the Second World War, stronger Muslims than now, but even then we protected [the Jews] with our lives." And Hamiti says, "Albanians everywhere are aware that Jews want to help them in this conflict. And Jews are aware and thankful to Albanians for saving their lives during the Second World War."
After concluding my Kosovo trip, I attended a conference in Tirana, Albania, called "Albania, the Albanians, and the Holocaust." Among those in attendance were Albania’s prime minister and president. Dan Michman, chief historian at Jerusalem’s Holocaust museum, Yad Vashem, was one of the speakers. "Is it really true that Jews had a 100 percent survival rate here during the Nazi occupation?" I asked him.
"Yes," he said. "Actually, if you look inside the borders of ‘Little Albania’—excluding Kosovo and the Albanian regions of Montenegro and Macedonia—there were three times as many Jews living here at the end of the Holocaust as there were before the war started." Albanians, Christian and Muslim alike, refused to surrender Jews to the Nazi authorities, and Jews were safer among Albanians than they were anywhere else in Nazi-controlled Europe.
At the conference, Albanian prime minister Sali Berisha delivered a thundering
condemnation of Islamist radicals that you’d be unlikely to hear from a head of state anywhere else in Europe. "Israel will accept an independent Palestinian state," he said. "But Israel cannot accept the fundamentalists amongst Palestinians because their ideology is identical to that of the Nazis."
There is a difference between Islam and the culture," Hamiti says. "Islam is not the culture." I’ve seen no more convincing evidence that he’s right than the politics and culture of Kosovo, which offer the hope that Muslims need not be enemies of Christians, Jews, and the West, and that Muslim societies are not inherently opposed to religious pluralism and democracy. True, Kosovo’s Muslims are very different from their Middle Eastern coreligionists. They often call themselves "culturally Christian"—because they’re immersed in a Christian-majority region and because they used to be Christians themselves—and one might with even more accuracy call them "culturally European."
But they are Muslims nevertheless. And while the jihadist movements in the Middle East may appear to be an inevitable product of Islam, in many ways they are simply a religiously themed manifestation of the Arab world’s political backwardness. Perhaps Kosovo’s ethnic Albanians can even—as Mordechai Arbell, chairman of the World Jewish Congress Institute, said at the Tirana conference—"teach the world how people can live in harmony between religions and nations and how they can save each other."
Michael J. Totten is an independent foreign correspondent based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and elsewhere. He also publishes at www.michaeltotten.com.
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