A note from Bharat Bhushan with an article by George Monbiot written in 2001. Wondered why the Foreign Secretary was looking so smug today when he welcomed Kosovan independence, as did surprise surprise George W. Russia and China are about to reject it (along with Spain) so watch out!
Re: Kosovo’s independence from Serbia
just a brief article written in 2001 by George Monbiot exposing the link between Trans Balkan pipeline from Caspian Sea via central asian countries to Bulgarian Black Sea port of Burgas and then passing through Bulgaria and Macedonia to Albanian port of Vlore and the Albanian interest in the separation of ethnic Albanian dominated Kosovo from Serbia.
Published on Thursday, February 15, 2001 in the Guardian of London
A Discreet Deal in the Pipeline
Nato Mocked Those Who Claimed There was a Plan for Caspian Oil
by George Monbiot
Gordon Brown knows precisely what he should do about BP. The company’s £10bn profits are crying out for a windfall tax. Royalties and petroleum revenue tax, both lifted when the oil price was low, are in urgent need of reinstatement. These measures would be popular and fair. But, as all political leaders are aware, you don’t mess with Big Oil.
During the 1999 Balkans war, some of the critics of Nato’s intervention alleged that the western powers were seeking to secure a passage for oil from the Caspian sea. This claim was widely mocked. The foreign secretary Robin Cook observed that “there is no oil in Kosovo”. This was, of course, true but irrelevant. An eminent commentator for this paper clinched his argument by recording that the Caspian sea is “half a continent away, lodged between Iran and Turkmenistan”.
For the past few weeks, a freelance researcher called Keith Fisher has been doggedly documenting a project which has, as far as I can discover, has been little-reported in any British, European or American newspaper. It is called the Trans-Balkan pipeline, and it’s due for approval at the end of next month. Its purpose is to secure a passage for oil from the Caspian sea.
The line will run from the Black sea port of Burgas to the Adriatic at Vlore, passing through Bulgaria, Macedonia and Albania. It is likely to become the main route to the west for the oil and gas now being extracted in central Asia. It will carry 750,000 barrels a day: a throughput, at current prices, of some $600m a month.
The project is necessary, according to a paper published by the US Trade and Development Agency last May, because the oil coming from the Caspian sea “will quickly surpass the safe capacity of the Bosphorus as a shipping lane”. The scheme, the agency notes, will “provide a consistent source of crude oil to American refineries”, “provide American companies with a key role in developing the vital east-west corridor”, “advance the privatisation aspirations of the US government in the region” and “facilitate rapid integration” of the Balkans “with western Europe”.
In November 1998, Bill Richardson, then US energy secretary, spelt out his policy on the extraction and transport of Caspian oil. “This is about America’s energy security,” he explained. “It’s also about preventing strategic inroads by those who don’t share our values. We’re trying to move these newly independent countries toward the west.
“We would like to see them reliant on western commercial and political interests rather than going another way. We’ve made a substantial political investment in the Caspian, and it’s very important to us that both the pipeline map and the politics come out right.”
The project has been discussed for years. The US trade agency notes that the Trans-Balkan pipeline “will become a part of the region’s critical east-west Corridor 8 infrastructure … This transportation corridor was approved by the transport ministers of the European Union in April 1994”. The pipeline itself, the agency says, has also been formally supported “since 1994”. The first feasibility study, backed by the US, was conducted in 1996.
The pipeline does not pass through the former Yugoslavia, but there’s no question that it featured prominently in Balkan war politics. On December 9 1998, the Albanian president attended a meeting about the scheme in Sofia, and linked it inextricably to Kosovo. “It is my personal opinion,” he noted, “that no solution confined within Serbian borders will bring lasting peace.” The message could scarcely have been blunter: if you want Albanian consent for the Trans-Balkan pipeline, you had better wrest Kosovo out of the hands of the Serbs.
In July 1993, a few months before the corridor project was first formally approved, the US sent peacekeeping troops to the Balkans. They were stationed not in the conflict zones in which civilians were being rounded up and killed, but on the northern borders of Macedonia. There were several good reasons for seeking to contain Serb expansionism, but we would be foolish to imagine that a putative $600m-a-month commercial operation did not number among them. The pipeline would have been impossible to finance while the Balkans were in turmoil.
I can’t tell you that the war in the former Yugoslavia was fought solely in order to secure access to oil from new and biddable states in central Asia. But in the light of these findings, can anyone now claim that it was not?
© Guardian Newspapers Limited 2001
Famous last words. “There’s no oil in Kosovo” Robin Cook when Foreign Secretary.
More on Kosovo from Ian Johnson of the SLP.
After the illegal intervention of 1999 in Yugoslavia, Nato occupied the Serbian province of Kosovo and created a United Nations protectorate, serving until such time as a final status for the province could be determined. That, at any rate, was the official story. However the decision was taken long ago to declare an ‘independent’ Kosovo, thus ripping the province from its legally recognised homeland as part of Serbia and handing it to the criminals of the KLA, an organisation that acted as Nato’s ground troops during the 1999 aggression and an organisation that is amply documented to be deeply involved in drugs and arms smuggling, child prostitution and people trafficking.
The task in the meantime however, was to create the impression that the Nato intervention in Kosovo was a success, a claim Tony Blair never tires of making.
Despite the cooperation of a spineless British media in peddling this lie it has become apparent that the intervention in Kosovo was an unmitigated disaster, and that Kosovo today is, as described by one observer, ‘the most dangerous place on earth.’
The reality is that since NATO’s entry into Kosovo, the province has been ethnically cleansed of Serbs and other minorities despite, or perhaps because of, the watchful eyes of NATO and UNMIK(United Nations Mission in Kosovo). Coincidence or not but since the province fell under UN control violence by the KLA, under various names, has escalated alarmingly.
In a report to the U.N. Security Council on April 13th, 2004, U.N. Peacekeeping Operations Director
Jean-Marie Guehenno described Kosovo, five years after the end of civil war, as a simmering cauldron of ethnic suspicions. Mr. Guehenno stated: “The onslaught led by Albanian extremists against Kosovo’s Serb, Roma and Ashkali communities was an organized, widespread and targeted campaign.”
The following is an extract from a letter sent to the UN from the Roma Rights Center last year, its contents are self-explanatory:
The European Roma Rights Center (ERRC), an international public interest law organisation which monitors the situation of Roma in Europe, is writing to express deep concern at the grave human rights violations against Roma and Ashkaelia in Kosovo committed on and after March 17, 2004 and currently ongoing.
The situation of Roma, Ashkaelia, Egyptians and others regarded as “Gypsies” in Kosovo is now extremely precarious. In March 2004, Roma, Ashkaelia and others have again been targeted for extreme violence as part of a campaign begun in 1999 by ethnic Albanians to expel minorities from the province, to seize their property and to do them serious physical harm. In the close to five years since an international administration was established in Kosovo, rudimentary security has never been durably established in Kosovo and minorities have been daily unable to enjoy basic freedom from fear of physical attack. A number of communities have lived for close to half a decade without effective freedom of movement.
In their article ‘Aftermath of “Humanitarian” Intervention in Kosovo’ authors Carol Bloom, Eani Rifati and Sunil Sharma, state the following:
‘While the international civil presence is mandated to maintain civil law and order, protect and promote human rights and assure the safe and unimpeded return of all refugees and displaced persons to their homes, reports by the UN ombudsperson office, UNHCR, OSCE, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and others state that KFOR and UNMIK have failed to fulfil these obligations. If the Albanians succeed in creating an independent Kosovo, it would seem that, in the end, they are to be rewarded for their massive ethnic cleansing campaign.
Is this a picture of democracy in action? Is this what the US and NATO are touting as a “success story”? Is another Diaspora, with no right to settle and no hope of return, what the Roma of Kosovo can look forward to in the 21st Century?’
Kosovo today is a province run by gangsters, it has an unemployment rate of 57% according to Associated Press, it distributes 70% of the world’s heroin trade, it is the largest supplier of child prostitutes in Europe, yet Blair insists this is a ‘success story’. To any decent person the above facts would constitute a vision of hell so why would Blair argue otherwise?
The answer is very simple, if somewhat unpalatable to Blair’s dwindling number of supporters.
His only concern is to represent his backers, the financial elite. It is his job to open up countries and areas to exploitation, and open their economies to privatisation, the fate of the ordinary people of these regions is of no relevance to him. It is on this ruthless basis that he sees Kosovo as a ‘success story’.
Here are extracts from two media reports on the sell-off of Kosovo’s assets:
‘A nickel plant in Kosovo went up for sale Wednesday as the U.N. mission in Kosovo agreed to give a mining license to the most successful bidder, the United Nations said.
Companies have been asked to table bids for Feronikeli plant in central Kosovo, which was badly damaged during NATO bombing of Serb forces in this disputed province in 1999 and is one of the major plants in the economically depressed province.
The United Nations, which administers the province, also agreed to provide potential buyers with the license for exploitation and exploration of the mines, said Mechtild Henneke, a U.N. spokeswoman.
Kosovo is the poorest region in the Western Balkans with an annual gross domestic product per capita of around euro1,000 (US$1,300) and a jobless rate of at least 50 percent, according to EU figures despite the fact that it is rich in mines and minerals.
The privatisation of Feronikeli would be the most important sell-off of socially owned enterprises, a term used for enterprises owned by the workers and managers under a system set up under communist-era Yugoslavia’. (Business Week Associated Press April 27, 2005).
15 Kosovo Companies Up For Privatization –Officials PRISTINA (AP)–Officials in Kosovo put 15 companies up for sale Tuesday, the fifth batch of firms to be privatized in the economically depressed province, a statement said.
The businesses include a former producer of plastic moldings, a pharmaceutical wholesale trading company, an old rubber products factory, an electrical mill, a brick factory, warehouses, a clothing producer and a mineral water bottling plant.
Most of the companies will be sold to the highest bidder, while two will go to buyers that have submitted investment plans and negotiated workers’ conditions with the Kosovo Trust Agency, a U.N.-run office charged with selling hundreds of enterprises.
The agency advertised the 15 companies for sale on its Web site, saying bids would be accepted from mid-July.
The U.N. mission that is running Kosovo recently set new rules for the privatization process, pledging a faster sell-off of the province’s companies.
KOSOVA (sic) REPORT Tuesday, May 10, 2005.
As one astute observer correctly stated; ‘This is the rape of Kosovo. All these companies were state owned so UNMIK is privatising what does not belong to them. This is pretty much the Wild West!’
If a person breaks into someone’s home, steals their possessions and then sells them on, he would be prosecuted accordingly, if his break-in was with the use of a weapon, if he was armed, his sentence would reflect the charge of armed robbery. For such an offence he would certainly go to prison. What is the difference therefore, if, instead of robbing just one house, you rob an entire country, indeed many countries, you steal their assets by armed force and subsequently sell them on at a bargain price to your business friends?
Kosovo today is not only a dangerous place to live, it is a morally sick province. While the victory over Fascism was recently celebrated throughout the world the current Kosovo authorities, those same authorities supported by Blair, decided to erect a memorial complex to Nazi collaborators and members of the notorious Skenderbeg SS Division from the Second World War.
A media report on this announcement states:
‘The decision foresees the building of a memorial park on a surface of some 1.5 hectares and a monument in the location where Yugoslav officials at that time and Partisan forces executed fascist collaborators, the members of the Second League of Prizren.
This organization was founded in 1943 in Prizren upon the initiative of the Gestapo.
Recorded in the chronicle of acts of terror by Albanians from Kosovo and Metohija are crimes in Babuska municipality, forcible expulsion in Urosevac, executions in Velika Hoca, forcible detention (of the population) from Prizren and Grbol, murders in the village of Vitomirica…. Two hundred Serbs were killed just in the district of Djakovica and 5,000 Serbs were taken away to fascist camps in Albania. The participation of the Prizren League through its military formations in the extermination of Kosovo Jews is one of the most shameful episodes in the history of Kosovo. Out of 281 Jews arrested by the military formations of the Second League of Prizren, more than 200 were killed in the Belsen Nazi death camp. The entire Jewish population of Kosovo was destroyed and never recovered to its pre-war numbers.
Hence it comes as no surprise that the Municipality of Pristina is not planning any sort of commemoration of the sixtieth anniversary of the victory against fascism. The memorial tomb dedicated to the heroes and victims of Nazism during World War II in Pristina has been destroyed. The plates bearing the names of fallen fighters (Serbs, Albanians, Turks and Jews) have been removed and destroyed, and the monument is today covered with graffiti celebrating the Kosovo Liberation Army.’
This is the Kosovo that the West want to illegally rip from Serbia and create as an ‘independent’ country, however such a ‘mini-state’ could only ever be a mere vassal of the Western powers.