Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Battle for Kosovo is a battle for Serbia’s freedom

Belgrade, Dec 26, 2007 – Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica stressed today in address to MPs that the battle for Kosovo is the battle for Serbia’s freedom as neither as people or state are we free if Kosovo is not the province within Serbia as written in the Constitution.

The Serbian government’s official website brings the Prime Minister’s speech in full.

"Honourable parliament members,

You have before you today the report of the state negotiating team so that you could fully get introduced with all relevant facts on the negotiations so far. Before you is also the proposal of the resolution envisioning further work and committing state institutions to protect sovereignty and territorial integrity of Serbia.

I think that the UN Security Council session in which the report of the mediating troika was considered deserves special attention. It is my duty to inform you that in this session held on December 19, the will of the US and a few European countries stopped the Russian initiative to continue the negotiating process and thus blocked the work of the Security Council in finding a compromised solution to the future status of the Serbian province of Kosovo-Metohija.

The Western countries led by the US stated that following the presidential elections in Serbia they would recognise an unilateral independence of the province based on the rejected Ahtisaari’s plan.

So, we are in a situation where the US decided that no further negotiations are possible, with an explanation that no compromise can be reached for the Kosovo issue. Furthermore, America decided to resolve one problem that was initially addressed in the Security Council with its resolution and to solve it outside the Security Council by violating Resolution 1244, UN Charter and Helsinki Final Act. When all this is considered, the question arises why America decided to openly violate international law and the UN system.

I believe that it has not crossed anyone’s mind that the US is doing so to protect the interest of the Albanian national minority in Kosovo-Metohija. That was best seen in the UN Security Council session in which representative of Kosovo Albanians did not even participate. The idea on unilateral independence of Kosovo was advocated and defended by US and British ambassadors, with authentic militancy and zeal that one uses only to defend own interests.

Undoubtedly, America is hampering the valid UN Security Council Resolution 1244 above all because of executing its military and security interests. The US is conscientiously sacrificing Serbia’s state and national interests as well as life interests of Kosovo Albanians just to make a quasi-state in which NATO would be the final authority body in an independent Kosovo, as written in Annex 11 of Ahtisaari’s plan.

To better understand this policy of force, we can set things like this: if we are to compare who has greater force, we accept that the force is on the side of America. But we also bear in mind the other side of the medal that America, which at one point seemed as symbol of freedom to the rest of the world, is embodying through the example of Kosovo everything that is more and more becoming the symbol of policy of force. Serbia cannot be happy for this policy has turned against us, but we can be calm as our force is based on respect of law and as we defend the simple truth that Kosovo is Serbia.

We can also accept that there is such situation in the world today in which for many countries law, truth, justice and dignity of state and people mean almost nothing. Maybe the violation of Resolution 1244 already marked a new epoch in which true values are force, violence, injustice, humiliation of the weaker and trade with national goods and state interests. Serbia has not joined or seized the benefits of this policy of force and we draw our strength from people’s will that established the Constitution of Serbia and the position of Kosovo within Serbia. The grounds also lies in the decision of parliament that entrusted us with the task to defend Kosovo and Serbia by respecting law and justice. Therefore, if we admit that the force is on the side of America, we can be sure that when it comes to law, the things are completely in Serbia’s favour.

And here, in parliament, we can support this with firm evidence already presented to the whole world, namely: it was America and not Serbia that said negotiations should stop, while Serbia supports the continuation of negotiations; it was America and not Serbia that said no compromise is possible, while Serbia is advocating reaching a compromise; it was America and not Serbia that said it will use unilateral solutions, while Serbia is explicitly against unilateral acts; it was America and not Serbia that said it will act disobeying the decisions of the Security Council, while Serbia is advocating that all decisions must be brought by the Security Council; it was America and not Serbia that threatened to violate the valid Resolution 1244 and UN Charter illegally recognising the unilateral independence while Serbia requires strict respect of the Resolution and the UN Charter.

Honourable parliament members, let us imagine that the roles are changed so that Serbia now supports the stances on the Kosovo issue, which we have listed here and which are advocated by countries of the old western democracy. There is no doubt that all international media would immediately tie Serbia to the pillar of shame and even crueler methods would not be neglected. When you think about one such change of roles, you can see better that Serbia is in the right and it becomes even clearer that it is fighting for what is its own right. Great Serbian Patriarch Pavle has left a legacy to his people in the form of a commandment never to commit injustice, not even when our own heads are at stake. These are the words that the Serbian Patriarch is sending to the entire world today.

Therefore we must show more self-consciousness and self-respect for the fight which the entire Serbian people is leading in order to defend Kosovo-Metohija. Kosovo has never been betrayed by any generation of the Serbian people and it was always defended within the limits of its possibilities. This is why we have to do what we can and must, what our duty and conscience command. Future and better generations may do even more if they can.

I believe that we all, or at least almost all, share the joint devotion to the stance that once and for all, Serbia rejects any kind of the province’s independence and that this is Serbia’s first and final statement. In this hour, our last line of defence from violence and unilateral independence must be a strong resolution which Serbian parliament will adopt today.

This is at the same time a message to Serbs in Kosovo that they have their government and their parliament in Belgrade, that they must know they have absolutely equal rights with all citizens of Serbia, and that they should fully ignore the illegal document on unilateral independence and treat it as non-existent.

We all know very well that Russia has been Serbia’s strong and faithful ally, that it defended international law and Serbia’s right to its territory in a principled manner. President Putin did not allow the Security Council to humiliate Serbia and make it the first state since the UN were founded to have its territory taken away. Had it not been for Russia, our struggle, in the eyes of the international pubic, would have been reduced from the supreme defence of our rights to a mere regional conflict in which two sides are fighting to achieve their particular interests. Creators of Kosovo independence had devised to mark Serbia with a stigma of being the only state allowed to be dismembered and to call that, as they say, a unique and unrepeatable case, which would not be a precedent, because it concerns Serbia. All proposals of new resolutions, which were based on Ahtisaari’s plan and envisaged sending an EU mission to implement monitored independence, were prevented from adoption at the Security Council thanks to Russia and Serbia’s joint policy. This is why we are immensely grateful to Russia.

Honourable parliament, the struggle for Kosovo is the struggle for Serbia’s freedom. It would be best to reach an agreement with Kosovo Albanians to live peacefully, freely and together because Kosovo is big enough for all of us to realise our essential interests. This is, of course, in line with the values of multiethnicity with which the entire democratic world vows. The problem is that apart from Serbian and Albanian essential interests, it is obviously impossible to satisfy American interests, which is why the US is preventing Kosovo Albanians from moving towards an agreement. Serbia will not give up the search for agreement, let alone from Kosovo because we as a people cannot be free if Kosovo is not free, if it is not a province within Serbia, as it says in the Constitution.

Honourable parliament, could Serbia give away a portion of its territory, could it give Kosovo, in exchange for any other goal or interest? Whoever thinks so must first get the approval of the people to change the Constitution before trying to fulfill such an intention. Until then, the Constitution orders us to see the preservation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity as the first and highest constitutional obligation of all Serbian state institutions.

The future of our country cannot be a crippled Serbia, our future must be a whole Serbia. Just like any other people, we must fight for our future and for the preservation of Serbia’s unity. If some countries think they have crippled us through unilateral independence, Serbia must show them in the upcoming years that for us, unilateral independence is but a puppet creation which should disappear.

We must fight for and attain Serbia’s future, because there is no other road for us. Otherwise, someone might just get the idea to keep dismembering the already maimed Serbia, as they feel like it.

The future of Serbia and the fate of Kosovo are permanently linked and it is therefore clear to us what we must do. As for Serbian parliament and all state institutions, in line with the Serbian Constitutions, Kosovo-Metohija will remain an integral and unalienable part of Serbia. This is our duty which we must fulfill. Therefore, I call upon you, honourable parliament members, to vote for the proposed resolution for the sake of the preservation of Kosovo, for the sake of Serbia’s future and its freedom”, said Kostunica.