By GERRY FOLEY
“It seems that an international trap is being laid for Kosovo,” the editors of Zeri i Kosoves wrote in the Feb. 25 on-line issue of the exile Albanian weekly supporting the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA).
“Today, the old trick of international diplomacy is being applied with all possible means and force against the Albanians. … They exclude any promise that the transitional phase will lead to a self-determination referendum.
“In these circumstances, it is pure hypocrisy to talk about a ‘transitional phase.’ Who is this transitional phase intended for, when there has been no decision in favor of the Albanians’ right of self-determination?”
The “peace plan” presented by the Western powers calls for the withdrawal of Serbian forces from most of Kosovo, although it would allow the Serbo-Yugoslav army to maintain 2500 troops along the border with Albania and another 1500 on Serbia’s border with Kosovo. But it also calls for not only for disarming but disbanding the KLA.
The Western press accused the Kosovar delegation of keeping NATO from rescuing the Kosovar people from mass slaughter at the hands of the Serbian military and paramilitary forces because it was unwilling to sign the peace treaty without a guarantee of the right to vote on independence in a referendum after three years.
The message was that in these circumstances, the KLA itself would be responsible for continuation of the Serbian neo-Stalinist regime’s genocide against the Kosovo people.
This line was projected by the Western press as the Rambouillet talks were suspended until March 15 without any agreement, and as the Serbian military appeared to be launching another major ethnic-cleansing operation in Kosovo.
The Western press has been arguing that it is the Kosovars, including the KLA, who are pleading for NATO troops. But obviously, if the KLA were disbanded, the only protection the Kosovar people would have would be the NATO forces.
Even then, depending on NATO is not a very attractive prospect for the politically aware Kosovars. For example, Zeri i Kosoves keeps referring to the example of Srbrenica in Bosnia, where UN forces failed to prevent the slaughter of thousands of Bosnian Muslims.
For the Kosovars, occupation by forces from the NATO powers, which explicitly reject independence for Kosovo and have referred to the KLA as “terrorist,” has a clear political implication-abandonment of the goal of independence. But this is the basic program of the KLA, to which tens of thousands of young Kosovars have rallied and prepared to sacrifice their lives if necessary.
The editors of Zeri i Kosoves noted in their Feb. 25 issue that the peace agreement “begins with a recognition of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Yugoslav federation.”
In these circumstances, the Kosovar delegates were just trying to save a scrap of principle by demanding that the agreement include the right to vote on independence in three years.
Actually, the commitment in principle to a referendum on independence would be worthless after the KLA was disbanded. But the regime of the Serbian neo-Stalinist strongman Slobodan Milosevic would not even allow them that.
The problem for the Western imperialist powers is that the regime in Belgrade, which is based on Serbian chauvinism and is in a formal alliance with neofascist forces, cannot accept any recognition of the right of the Kosovars to self-determination.
Nor is Belgrade in a position to accept the Western offer to eliminate the KLA-which it cannot do by its own strength-because that would mean allowing a foreign force to occupy what it maintains is an integral part of its national territory.
Even the Russian government, a defender of the Serbians, has apparently recognized NATO is offering Milosevic a way out of his dilemma, since it has agreed to provide troops for the interventionist force.
However, the Serbians, for the time being at least, are caught in their own trap-and that situation is offering the Kosovar liberation forces some maneuvering room. But there is no doubt that the Western powers will continue to bring the maximum pressure to bear on the Kosovar delegation to get them to accept terms that will meet Milosevic’s political conditions.
When the Rambouillet talks resume and the new Serbian offensive gathers steam, the imperialist pressures on the Kosovars will certainly increase.
It is vital for socialists and progressive international public opinion in general to see through the tactics of the imperialist powers and to defend the right of self-determination.