Kosovo: A New Chapter Begins

July 10, 2008
Celebration of Kosovo's Constitution

About the Author: Henrietta H. Fore is Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development and Director of Foreign Assistance for the U.S. Department of State.

When future historians look back on our era, they will be as dismayed as the rest of us by the ethnic conflict and violence that tore apart the former Yugoslavia after the collapse of communism. After all, the future was supposed to be about peace, not war. But history was not yet done as war came to the Balkans, and Kosovo was caught in the middle.

For more than a decade, the violence continued, until the UN and NATO intervened to help Kosovo back on its feet. Today, with the help of the international community, the people of Kosovo have begun writing a new chapter in their history, and it is, at long last, an encouraging one. Kosovo has become an independent nation recognized by more than 40 countries, including the United States and over two-thirds of European Union member states. It has a new constitution, a democratically-elected, multi-ethnic government, and a new set of laws to protect minority rights and Kosovo's unique cultural and religious heritage.

By almost every measure, the people of Kosovo have come a long way. But what they need now is our support and on July 11, an international donors' conference, chaired by the European Commission, will be held in Brussels to help Kosovo continue its recovery. Despite the progress it has made, Kosovo still needs our help building national institutions, consolidating its young democracy, and laying the groundwork for future investment and development to help forge sustainable economic opportunity for its people.

So, you may ask: Is Kosovo a good investment? Absolutely and here is why.

First, international assistance is really making a difference on the ground. I saw firsthand on a recent trip as donor aid has helped build roads and schools, strengthened the financial sector, and provided electricity and clean water for citizens throughout this tiny nation. For example, in the divided northern town of Mitrovica, internationally-funded projects have brought high school students from ethnic Serb and Albanian backgrounds together and helped them gain job experience. Other projects have supported the rule of law by providing technical assistance, training and equipment for Kosovo's police force and judiciary and helped municipal governments expand their services to citizens while also increasing their revenues. By operating in both Serb majority and Albanian majority towns, these projects have increased the citizens' confidence in the government as well as in their own future inside a sovereign Kosovo. I was also impressed by the energy and entrepreneurial spirit I encountered from business owners and entrepreneurs eager to sell everything from vegetable seedlings to furniture.

Secondly, Kosovo has also taken important steps to bring together its ethnically divided society. The government has passed new laws on decentralization and minority rights that will support the plan by UN Special Envoy Martti Ahtisaari to help Kosovo become a stable and functional state, oriented toward Europe.

Thirdly, the United States has already spent over $1.1 billion for Kosovo's development, and we will pledge more on July 11. Our commitment is for the long-term but we recognize many challenges still remain. They cannot be tackled without additional international assistance. Kosovo needs help to prepare for the debt it will inherit from Serbia. It needs to create and maintain strong rule of law institutions such as independent courts and police so they can provide the foundation for a safe and secure society. And there is more work to do to support private enterprise, create jobs, improve the energy and transportation infrastructure, and develop a professional security force as Kosovo moves away from international administration. All of these projects will take time, money and commitment.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, most of the citizens of Kosovo are more than ready for reconciliation. When the U.S. Agency for International Development sponsored a week of cultural and sports activities last month that attracted more than 1,500 people in five Kosovo Serb communities, one young participant summed up the feelings of many: "Finally," he said with a smile, "there is something happening in our community, and it is not politics." Indeed, Kosovo has become an engine of hope for a region plagued by a history of conflict.

I will be in Brussels this week as head of the U.S. delegation, and I look forward to seeing my counterparts from Europe and other regions. Our presence underscores our belief that Kosovo's success as an independent nation is vital not only to regional stability but also to a larger Europe that is whole, free, and at peace.

The people of Kosovo are still writing their history, they have turned to a new chapter and they need our help.

Comments

Comments

joni
|
Kosovo
July 12, 2008

Joni in Kosovo writes:

I just want to say that Kosovo and Albanians in Kosovo will always be grateful for the help that you Americans gave us here in Kosovo. You helped us from the genocide and crimes from the Serbians and we will never ever forget that... We might be a tiny country but we have a big heart and for Americans we are ready to do anything that is in our hands... Once more, thank you U.S.A. for always helping Kosovo we will always be grateful for this help... God bless America. God bless Americans. God bless Kosovo/Kosovars... Thank you U.S.A.!

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
July 13, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Joni in Kosovo -- Living well is the best revenge Joni. Good luck with it.

It's in your hands now.

Zharkov
|
United States
July 14, 2008

Zharkov in U.S.A. writes:

A casual reading of Serb and Russian blogs reveals that Serbia's citizens will never be grateful for the bombing of Serbia and loss of territory.

We saved only one side from mutual genocide, not Serbians, and they will never ever forget that. Serbs say Kosovo Liberation Army units are still be burning Serb churches while UN peacekeepers try to avoid noticing the smoke.

Serbs will not thank Albanians for armed insurrection against the Serb government, burning Serb churches, murder of Serb citizens, and America stepping into a civil war on the wrong side. Serbs think Milosevic was murdered during trial. There are two sides to this story but it seems only one side received media coverage.

John
|
Greece
July 14, 2008

John in Greece writes:

EX-YUGOSLAVIA HAS NEVER BEEN AN ONE-NATION COUNTRY.

It was always a religious and cultural mosaic full of differences between people that were forced to live together without their will. Moreover, it was a blood tank that communists used for decades in order to paint in red their "nightmare flags".

Zharkov, as always, you have a very strange relationship with history, but you love political forecasting. However, you do it in your own way: a strange anti-American perspective you have adopted. Sometimes, you forget history, but you love predictions.

The only time N. Balkans were stable and promising is NOW. And this is due to the American "presence", the American diplomatic efforts and the American "thirst" for Democracy around the Globe.

Z, I see that this time your problem is "the bombing of Serbia and loss of territory".

Ok! You are welcome!

Why don't you say that Josip -- your ex-comrade -- never had a real country in his hands, but a "butcher shop" full of injured everyday people that wanted a different future?

Why don't you say that Tito killed more than 7 MILLION PEOPLE?

If Serbs can still survive with the historical memory of a 7MILLION PEOPLE blood tank, I'm sure we have a good chance that they will justify the bombings in the near future.

P.S. According to my opinion, Eric in New Mexico wrote something that is among the highlights ever written in this Blog:
"Living well is the best revenge Joni. Good luck with it. It's in your hands now".

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
July 15, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ John in Greece --

Works for me...(grin).

Zharkov
|
United States
July 15, 2008

Zharkov in U.S.A. writes:

John in Greece wants the US to bomb and occupy every nation that is not peaceful. Yes, that might work. The problem is that it is illegal to do that both under international law and under our own constitution. Serbia is a country that did not attack America.

Sorry, John, that our constitution is such a barrier to world domination. We elect a president for the executive branch, not president for the world.

We attack a country only after a Declaration of War has been voted upon by Congress. For the past 50 years, our Congress has breached its duty in that regard, and this is why most of our wars are so unpopular.

The next time a bar fight breaks out in a Greek tavern, do you want US Army Rangers parachuting into your town to break up the fight and occupy Greece? Maybe you would like to think longer about what you are asking us to do.

John
|
Greece
July 16, 2008

John in Greece writes:

@ Z, You can call me "Hitler", but then I can call you "Zanta Clause" - the Russian way you like. However, Christmas is in December and there is no Santa Clause, except if we are babies. I still love and believe in Santa Clause, but when the going gets tough, we must stand up as grown up guys... Mr. Zanta.

(I hate Hitler and I am against wars. I love U.S.A. though, Period.)

I see you cannot talk about ex-Yugoslavia, Tito and the more than 7 MILLION PEOPLE that lost their lives, his mentor Stalin and another 6-7 MILLION PEOPLE that lost their lives, and it goes?

Ok! You are the nice guy, I'm the bad one. However, your "friends" killed and "started the fire". Not US!

Anyway, can you comment on something? Can you comment on Vladimir's (ex-now? president? we are confused) statement that Russia will take military action in case Czechs proceed with their WILL, concerning their defense?

By the way, "how is the weather" in Caucasus?

Note: In case you do not know, there is no war in ex-Yugoslavia that U.S. is involved right now. This is old history. Ancient.

N. Balkans are living the FUTURE!

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
July 17, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Zharkov in U.S.A. -- Gee Zharkov, that was a little "over the top" even by your standards.

Let's try to play nice with other children in this sandbox shall we?

What ever happened to your "golden rule" premis...you forget that it applies as well to you, or something?

Zharkov
|
United States
July 16, 2008

Zharkov in U.S.A. writes:

@ John in Greece, and others who think the same, like the idea of America being the policeman of the world, and collectively they amount to nothing less than a fifth column intent on involving 300 million Americans in other peoples' religious wars, making them pay and bleed to protect nations in which the United States has no genuine national security interest at stake.

I think most of our voters have rejected the world policeman role - a big reason why Obama is now a serious candidate for president despite his questionable qualifications and lack of wisdom, experience, knowledge, and mental clarity necessary for the job.

If you love America, you will not want to see it die. Today, America is very ill, with confiscatory tax rates, indifferent Congress, destruction of the middle class, poor military decisions, loss of factories and high-paying jobs, devaluation of our currency resulting in impoverishment of our elderly retired workers, and incredible as it seems, a government that borrows money in order to give it away in foreign countries.

Regarding communist thugs like Tito - he is dead, communism is dead, the people they killed are dead, and the point of debating it is also dead. If Russia wants to dig up Tito and place his corpse on trial for violation of human rights and murder, that is fine with me, but I doubt they will ever admit he did anything wrong. There are plenty of other countries to remind them of what they did, such as, Estonia and Latvia.

From what I've read, Russian people generally reject splitting Kosovo from Serbia and pretending it is a separate nation after it was invaded by Albanian immigrants, just as American people reject the "reconquista" of California by Mexican immigrants and their national organizations, like La Raza (The Race). The precedent set in Kosovo will come to haunt America as California becomes a majority Hispanic state.

As I wrote, there is another side to the story in Kosovo, the Serbian view, which nobody cares about at the State Department, but which most of Europe sees differently from us.

Kirk
|
Kentucky, USA
July 17, 2008

Kirk in Kentucky writes:

@ Zharkov in U.S.A. -- It seems you have a firm grasp of the issues at hand. I admire your keen insight and clear and precise writing style. Now I ask you this, if you had your druthers, what would you like to see happen in Kosovo?

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
July 17, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

In early 2002 the DOE published a very long letter in an Environmental Assesment for a BioSafety level 3 facility at LANL. It covered a lot of bases regarding the war on terror, and issues involved in the winning of it.

Here is a brief excerpt of what I said then, because it remains relevent to "the now", and places Zharkov's assesment in proper perspective.

---

"We've been accused of playing world cop, as a nation. If you ask any officer on any street in the U.S. what his/her least favorite call to get is and they'll more than likely say, "Domestic disputes". This is the only politically correct way I can think to describe the current world situation. If we must play that role, folks need to understand that there's a new sheriff in town, determined to prevent domestic violence. This goes as well for the Mideast, the Korean, and other long standing conflicts.

To "protect and serve" humanity, and ensure the preservation of civilization, of all cultures, and ways of tradition that an individual or nation has the inalienable right to choose for themselves as they see fit, so long as it harms no other individual's, or nation's ability to do so.

With this as our philosophy, as policy, the "undiscovered country" may become reality. This is not a role that should be played unilaterally, as it is essentially all nation's task."

---

It's interesting to see the coming together of nations to resolve problems...sometimes effectively...other times not so. In all of it, I think that one can accurately assess US foreign policy as being incredibly consistant with the premis stated in my letter over the years since it was published.

Personally I don't know what you are complaining about Zharkov, We do what we do because "to whom much is given, much is required", and I agree with Mr. Bush on this.

We may be the only one's that can in certain circumstance. But the world is just starting to grasp that it is their task as much as ours to create conditions for lasting peace on this planet.

Some days will be better than others.

Zharkov
|
United States
July 17, 2008

Zharkov in U.S.A. writes:

@ Kirk in Kentucky -- Kirk of Kentucky asked what I would do with Kosovo.

I believe that democratic nations are created by consent of the people, and public consent is necessary to split a region away from the homeland.

Our Declaration of Independence states explicitly that all people have the natural right, or fundamental right, to abolish their government and form a new one, so they also have the right to form a new nation for themselves. This right is inherent - a birthright - and not a mere privilege to be granted or withheld by governments or groups of governments. Governments are not our masters; we are not their slaves. Serb people do not belong to the U.N. as if they were property to be bought, sold, or given away.

There is no treaty authorizing outsiders such as NATO, the E.U., or the U.N., to create new nations or even to order a region to secede from its homeland. These things are for people of Serbia to decide. Illegal nation-building by military force does not reflect well on the participants. Unfortunately, it is too late to reverse the situation - Kosovo is independent for now but maybe not forever.

Personally, I like American-style democracy. Americanism would keep Kosovo part of Serbia until a public vote for all of Serbia could be held on the question of whether Kosovo should be a separate nation. A new nation needs a new constitution. So what does this new Kosovo Constitution say? Is there one? If not, when will there be one?

Sovereignty resides in the people and all power to govern is derived solely from the people, so the citizens should have decided by majority vote whether to form a new nation. Public debate or town hall meetings across Serbia and Kosovo could have allowed Serb citizens to discuss what they want to be done with Kosovo to secure a lasting peace with two alternatives, retention or separation, and then allowed a vote on their choice. The nice aspect of a public vote is that it is acceptable to most nations, which is why we held one in Iraq.

The people of Serbia and Kosovo will decide their own future because a lasting peace must be their own decision and not ours. Some say that bullets are a form of voting, but certainly not a democratic one. If the U.N. held a national referendum on what to do with Kosovo, and respected the vote outcome, there would be less grumbling in Russia and Serbia about it and there would be no complaint that a sham nation was created by illegal means.

If civil wars do not result in victory, they never end. NATO and the U.N. supplied an artificial victory for one side only. How long this will last depends on how long Kosovo is occupied by foreign troops. Perhaps some day Serbs will forget about Kosovo and murders of their relatives, but I doubt it will happen in less than 3 generations. If troops leave before then, Kosovo independence would probably last less than a week.

Joe
|
Tennessee, USA
July 17, 2008

Joe in Tennessee writes:

Just some points:

1. Accept the fact that this is a game of power. Like it or not.

2. Given that: Allies and new acquisition are the game pieces.

3. Support mechanisms must be stable to continue play; which is where we are hurting now. How does placing a nuclear missile on a boarder help security? In actuality, if it has to be used, it will not matter to anyone in either country. We can reach anywhere in the world from here, or our present bases in less than an hour -- what is the sense of purpose? A physical presence would be better mandated it seems. This was our problem with South Korea at one time and they are still upset. Nuclear determent is a last resort, not a priority. Last resort power is for bullies and usually initiated from a weak stance. That is not what the USA represents, is it?

4. It took well over 100 years to bring some degree of cultural and legal equality to citizens who fought for this country and from whom the land was stolen from as well as enslaved by, yet we walk into other countries and ask them to alter their differences in less than a decade? We have not done it with the BEST Democracy on Earth so how can some of you want to use HISTORY as a lever on other cultures? It is only about today and tomorrow, no more, no less.

5. The creation of any Democracy needs support today for tomorrow. Any use of dialogue which precludes a walk forward is irrelevant and non productive.

Good for Kosovo, good for world democracy and independence.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
July 21, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

"Reality has a way of being...real."
-John Matel-PRTe team leader and Dipnote blogger

It's not a game Joe. So I don't accept your premis of (1) and (2).

(3) In Europe, matching the Soviet threat with medium range missiles helped bring the end of the cold war.

Not many at the time figured it would have that effect.

(4) Arn't we glad we do what we do Joe? Because I sure know folks in Europe are, because like Russia, a lot of them owe their very existance today because of what we do and the things we stand for.

You think Russia would exist had Lend-lease not been policy in WW2?

That Stalin bit the hands that fed his people, and gave them the means to defeat Hitler and take their nation back, is history.

As far as I'm concerned, the Russians still owe the world an appology for the results of the cold war. Not just us.

(5) I agree in principal with this.

Ronald
|
New York, USA
July 22, 2008

Ronald in New York writes:

Time to Invest in Kosovo?

First, repatriate the private lands, properties and businesses of Kosovars who lost everything to corrupt officials and organized crime groups, including UN interim government officials, and others who are laundering millions in international aid. This is not ancient history; but tomorrow's headlines. Drugs,arms,human trafficking, and all other manner of crimes are still being committed, and will continue under the cover of "the kosovo good news collusion programme" now taking hold in Washington, Turtle Bay, and the New Kosovo Administrations. All is not good in Kosovo. many have been deprived of their land, livlihoods, and loved ones. Homes are being flamed with innocents inside. No authority is stepping up to the plate for Human Rights. All entities are bound together in a Global Negatice Contract.

Zharkov
|
United States
July 23, 2008

Zharkov in U.S.A. writes:

No one understands why it is our policy to reward muslim terrorism with new bases in Bosnia and Kosovo while we are still fighting them in Afghanistan? Could this only be a game?

On Srebrenica, Karadzic said, "Srebrenica has never been a safe zone. If you don't trust me, ask former UN Secretary General, Boutros Ghali. He admitted on several occasions that Srebrenica is a Muslim military stronghold and that Serb villages around Srebrenica had continuously been attacked from the enclave. During the last month of the existence of the enclave, every day at least one Serb died in Muslim attacks. All together, 1260 Serbs were killed. UN knows about that. The commander of Dutch peacekeeping troops in Srebrenica also knows that.""Nine thousand Muslim soldiers left the enclave and tried to break through our lines towards Tuzla. Three weeks later, they were still fighting around Srebrenica! Nine thousand soldiers is a lot of troops. They pushed towards their lines and our troops followed. They had to break through our fortified lines. The fighting was horrible. At one place 50 our soldiers were killed although they were in trenches. You can guess yourself how many Muslim soldiers died while attacking.""They finally managed to break through to Tuzla, but the fighting was horrible. Their officers simply sacrificed their soldiers. A proof is that we didn't manage to capture any higher and middle ranking officers. On the other hand, the soldiers attacked like ants. In any case, until the fall of the enclave on July 11, 1995, Srebrenica was a military base from which Muslims raided Serb villages, burned and slaughtered the population."

Jeton
|
Kosovo
July 23, 2008

Jeton in Kosovo writes:

Orginized crime is spread all over the Balkans and Europe and one should not identify Kosovo as the only country in the region to have these problems. Guys like Ronald try to do this hoping that the foreign investments don't come to Kosovo, make Kosovo look bad etc.

I am not going to compare between Kosovo, Serbia or another country, but the orginised crime is not so deeply rooted in our society as some try to present it.

Governmnet has pledged to fight it, and will be held accountable by the people.

If you question the Independence of Kosovo than you don't understand the histroy and reality of Kosovo so I am not going to comment because it is pure math. 90% of its citizens would never accept to live, obey or otherwise have any links other than good neighbourhoud relations with Serbia.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
July 23, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Jeton in Kosovo,

If folks in my country had listened to all the negative rhetoric going on during our struggle for independance, and doubted the premis which we fought for, and succumed to the fear of failure....we'd still be under British rule.

So thanks for telling it like it is, because I have no doubt you'll make a success of it.

Jim
|
Texas, USA
July 28, 2008

Jim in Texas writes:

I am a principal in a small but growing Software development company in Houston. I would appreciate information on how we might be able to help.

jackie
|
Kosovo
July 29, 2008

Jackie in Kosovo writes:

I read all comments and i understand that serbian nationality are still under their stupied fancy, please people, serbia people we are in a way to europe, not to teorrizam and we are moderm muslim do not comperen us with Irak, Afganistan, Iran, they are differet from us we do not have nothing common...

We belive to American goverment and Europe, I adore Bush, GOD bless George BUSH and his family.

Luke F.
|
District Of Columbia, USA
July 29, 2008

DipNote Blogger Luke Forgerson writes:

@ Jim in Texas --

Thanks for your comment. We'll send you additional information. In the meantime, you might find it interesting to read an overview of USAID's assistance to Kosovo as well as the State Department's webpage on U.S.-Kosovo relations.

Kristina L.
|
Kosovo
August 8, 2008

Kristina writes:

I am a american born Albanian, Kosova has intriqued me since I was a little girl. Now I'm willing to go to Kosova to help in any way I can. I woild love to move there and make a life out of a place that has touched my heart for many years. I hope my american ways could be of benefit to the people of Kosova. Please let me know if I could work there and help. i'm willing to do whatever it takes.

.

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