DEAR TRUMP: DO NOT ALLOW THE FRAGMENTATION OF KOSOVO
The Honorable Donald J. Trump, US President
DO NOT ALLOW THE FRAGMENTATION OF KOSOVO
The Honorable Donald J. Trump
President of the United States The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.Washington, DC 20500CC,
Michael R. Pence, Vice President of the United States,
Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State Members of the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Members of the United States Senate Committee on Armed Services Members of the United States House Committee on Foreign Affairs Members of the United States House Committee on Armed Services Members of the Albanian American Issues Caucus
Philip S. Kosnett, US Ambassador to the Republic of Kosovo,
Yuri Kim, US Ambassador to the Republic of Albania,
From: Coalition of Albanian American Organizations and Organizations of Albanian-American Community Association
Telephone: (917) 679-9300, Email: email@example.com
May 18, 2020
Dear Mr. President, We, the undersigned, Albanian Americancivic, religious, cultural and humanitarian organizations, with a constituencyexceeding one million nationally, mostconcentrated in electoraldistricts throughout NY, NJ, CT, MA, MI, IL, TX, FL, PA, WIand AZ, are writingtoaffirm our appreciation ofthe United States (US) direct involvementin the Balkans, most recentlyto resolve the Republicof Kosovo’s (also referred to as “Kosova” inthis document) normalization processwith Serbia.
We are also writing to express our serious concerns over the direction of US foreign policyrelatedto Kosova Serbia relations.
As you are undoubtedly aware, the liberationand state-building in the Balkanshas been a very successful US bipartisanendeavorwith a considerable US, EU and NATO investment overthe past 20 years.
However, these achievementsmay be sullieddue to short sighted diplomacy goals of certain officials in Kosova, Serbia and perhaps the United States–all inyour name. Kosovars are fearful that Serbian lobbying may have impaired the US moral compass and that the US may look away as Kosova is potentially furtherchopped up to suitSerbia’s nationalist ambitions.
While the US formally denies pushing for a particular outcome, the fact is that the US is putting its weight behind certainfigures in the hopes of extracting a deal, whenthereis very little popular or diaspora support for such initiatives at this time.
Furthermore, since Albanians reside throughout the Balkan peninsula, we are gravely concerned that any concomitant border changes will reignite conflictand once again destabilize the whole region.
Thus, we protest in the strongest possible terms,the recent actions of certain US representativeswhich havefueledSerbia’s obstinance in these talks and createdan unnecessarypolitical crisisin Kosovaby seemingly siding with political figures that support potentially destabilizing policy pursuits for Kosova and Serbia, with far reaching affects beyond these two sovereign countries.
To be clear,we wish for success in talks between bothcountriesatthe right time andunder the right conditions. Regrettably, recent US tacticsin the Balkans have not aided in creatingthese necessary conditions, but instead resorted tobullying the victimsof the recent conflictsin the hope of appeasing Serbia (and by extension Russia’sinterests) while endeavoring to extractan “expedient deal”.
All this, despite Serbia ignoringthe terms of 33 pastbilateral Agreements between the two countriesand showingno sign of reciprocity in its dealings with Kosova, let alonerecognizingKosova’s sovereignty.
US foreign policy in the region must bealtered immediately to prioritize and promote lasting peace and justicein this troubled region.
We have taken the liberty to summarize and attachto this letter our “Recommendations for Addressing the Normalization of Relations with Serbia”thatshould serve as the critical pillars to thesenegotiations.
Let’s recall that Serbia turned loose its military and police apparatus,killed more than 12,000, raped over 20,000 women andmen, and displaced more than onemillion innocent Kosovars and destroyed much of their economy and personal property.
It is alsoimportant to mention that around 280 objects of cultural heritage have been destroyed bySerbianforces during 1998-1999 and arenow completelynon-existent.
In addition, over 7,000 movable cultural heritage objects wereremoved from the National Museum of Kosovo and were takento Serbia. Lastly, there are six massacre sites in Serbia filled with the corpses of Albanian civilians, one of themjust16 miles outside of Belgrade.
Around 700 corpses of Albanian civilians, including children,were excavated from that site alone, while 1,460 people are still missing.
Serbia also hasnumerousprominent intellectuals, human rights activists, lawyers and civil societymembers who have similarly expressed their concerns over the Serb government’s continuing bloody nationalist policies.
We agree with them that not recognizing the atrocities committed in Kosovo during 1998-1999 is preventing a true democracy to ensue.
Similarly, Serbian state diplomacy has very actively and publicly been pushing a series of negative campaigns aimed at achievingde-recognition of Kosovo’s statehood, very much against the US held policy positionrecognizing Kosova’s independence. These hostile and deliberate interferencesseriously contribute todestabilizing factorsintheregion.
Kosova has no greater ally thanthe UnitedStates and supports strong American leadership in the world. Furthermore, while Serbia maintains that European Union (EU)membership remains its foreign policy aim, itisconcerningthat Russia, China and perhaps now even the US, wittingly or not, are fueling the notion that redefiningbordersis sound 21st century foreign policy in the Balkans despitehistory repeatedly demonstratingto the contrary.It’s also hard to appreciate the logic of theUS aligning with a leader like Serbia’s President Vucic, who has made many inflammatory remarks against the United States, including a recent incident where he told US lawmakers that American servicemen and women shouldbe extradited to Serbia to face prosecutionfor NATO’s intervention.
The US diplomatic pursuit ofa pyrrhic “victory”is unfair and departs from American values,especiallyconsideringthatSerbia orchestrateda campaign reminiscent of a modern-day Holocaustin Southeastern Europe.We couldnot have imagined US representatives today being complicit with short-sightedpolicies, which do not serve the interests of the people of Kosovaand risk tainting your legacyof engagementin this region asthe situation continues to devolve.
As Americans and as representatives of the broader Albanian American community, we urgebroader participation and transparency with a direct expression of the will of the people of Kosovain these talks.
The Albanian-American community is very supportive of an ongoing normalization processpremised on reciprocal andfriendly relationsbetween neighboring countries, with the oversight and participation ofEuro-Atlantic structuresbut not without the highest priority being placed on justiceforKosova, which suffered greatlyfrom Serbian aggression.
Albanians are among the most steadfast allies of the US in the world, and wehavealways supportedthe United States foreign policy priorities in theBalkans and beyond. We,as Albanian-Americans,represent all that is best about America asproud US military members,business owners and executives, and citizenseager tofulfill ourcivic duties.
Animprovement in communication channels and cooperative efforts between the U.S. Government and the Albanian-American communityis desirable,as our community standsreadyto offer its expertise, knowledge, experience, andcontacts in orderto achievea sustainable peace andstability in the Balkans.
Finally, we are for a strong, mutually beneficial, and ever-lasting partnership between the Republic ofKosova and theUnited States of America, between the Republic of Albania and the United States of America, and ethnic Albanians everywhere wholook to the U.S. as a beacon of freedom, democracy, and hope.
True friendship,such as the one the Albanians offerto America,must not be neglected or forgotten. Let us use the most recent unfortunate experiences as a learning opportunityand a steppingstone toward the establishment of atrue partnership for the advancement of the mutualU.S.,Albanianand other democratic intereststhroughout the Balkans. Thank you kindly for yourconsiderationand attention to our concerns.
Respectfully submitted by,Albanian American Association -Ana e Malit–NY/N
CTAlbanian American Association“GjonBuzuku”–Chicago,
LAlbanian American Association “Prespa”–Chicago,
Albanian-American Association “Uskana”–Chicago,
Albanian American Association“Valet e Liqenit”–Chicago,
Albanian American Community AssociationAlbanianAmerican Community of Illinois
Albanian American Cultural Center of Texas
Albanian American Cultural Center–Phoenix,
Albanian American Cultural Center–Los Angeles,
Albanian American Cultural Foundation
Albanian American Cultural and Islamic Center, Inc.–Waterbury,
Albanian-American Islamic Center of Queens,
NYAlbanian American Moslem Society of Detroit,
Albanian American Muslim Community Islamic Center-Waterbury,
Albanian American National Organization
Albanian American War Veterans
Albanian American Womens’Organization –“Motrat Qiriazi”
Albanian Community Television –Detroit, Michigan
Albanian Diaspora Business AssociationAlbanian Media Group
Albanian American Yellow Pages
Albanian Orthodox Archdioceseof America
Albanian Professionals and Entrepreneurs Network
Albanian Youth Center of Greenwich,
Albdreams Television Bytyqi Brothers Foundation
Don Simon Filipaj Foundation
First Albanian Teqe Bektashiane Monestary–Taylor, Michigan
Foundation UNË E DU KOSOVËN
Global Albanians Foundation
Great Malsia Association–Michiganand NY
Harry Bajraktari House Kosova Association of Michigan
Kosova Society of Boston
Kraja Patriotic Association / Shoqata Kraja
Kuvendi MagazineLeague of Albanian Diaspora from Macedonia–Chicago,
LLukaj Foundation Massachusetts
Albanian American Society “Shoqata Besa”–Boston,
Our Lady Of The Albanians Catholic Church-MichiganPatriotic Association of Dibra
Plave and Guci FoundationRugova Association
Shoqata RugovaUlqini Albanian American Association
Shoqata Ulqini-Chicago, IL
Recommendations for Addressing the Normalization of Relations with SerbiaWhile the historic friendshipbetweenKosova (and more broadly,allAlbanians) and the United States is indisputable,itishardto understand how a US representativecouldjustify upending Kosova’s institutionsin the early stages of progress against nearly 20 years of tolerated institutional corruption.
US foreign policy should not be siding with the self-interestof both Serbian and Kosovar politicians (some of whom may well be facing criminal prosecution)in order to exploitsuch compromised individuals tosupport Kosova’s partition andultimately an inexplicably baddealfor Kosova, the US and perhaps even Serbia.We believe,as Albanian-Americans, that we have the right todemandthat theWhite House, US Dept. of State (DOS)and the U.S. Embassy in Prishtina serve as instruments for the furtherance of democratic principles and economic development in Kosova, ratherthan facilitatingcompromisedinterests andagendas.
Thus, we implore you to consider our specific recommendations for the ongoing dialogues, below: We must not rush!We plead withevery party involved from US and EU circles that this process betreated seriously and affordedtheproper time to affordappropriatedeliberations and real reciprocity in the exchanges.We must appropriately address the recent attemptedhijacking of theKosovargovernmentbefore proceeding any further with Serbia negotiations.
There has been a huge public outcry against whatrecently occurredwith the no-confidence voteinParliament and this mustnowbe addressed with new elections so that anyfurther steps have the legitimacy and express the will of the peopleinthe negotiations.Anything short ofthis is simply an illegitimateimpositionandreflects US abandonment of thegreat friendshipit has enjoyed with the people of Kosova.
Numerous former DOSrepresentatives with over 30 years of involvement in the region, serving in both Republican and Democratic administrations,haveimplored with you and your office to interject,knowing very wellwhat has transpired in recent decadesin theregion, most markedlythe crimes againsthumanitythat have beenexecuted by Serbia,includingthose committed by manyof the same leaders leading thatcountry today.
Historyalso tellsus thata comfortable peace does not come from injustice and illegitimate procedures, but ratherfrom justiceand revelation of truth.Nodeal should involve territorial exchangeandno areas of special status.
Kosova has evidenced its maturity and affordsextraordinary treatment under its constitutionfor all its variousethnic minoritiesand people of all faiths.
Serbs are disproportionatelyrepresented in the governmentas a form of affirmativeaction volunteered by Kosova’s Constitutionandare afforded a variety of “super-citizen”attributesby Kosova statutes.
Initiatives to divide and add further disfunction have no popular support and threaten toadd instability to a fragileregion and perhapsthrust the region back to bloodshed when coolerheads,with proper shepherding,can deliver a true peace betweenneighborspremisedon mutual respect, reparationsand justice.Kosovars obviouslyseekto avoid the perils of Bosnia, whichstill suffersfrom beingcarved up and essentially left in unresolved limbo for a generation. Kosova is ready to move on from the nightmare ofits past entanglements with Serbiaand advancing to builda constructive future.
Lastly, the international community should demand that treatment of Albanians in Serbia should receivethe same rightsSerbs enjoy in Kosova.Economic reparations must becomepart of any peaceprocess. Serbia shouldrelinquish claimsto all the funds held intrustfrom recent privatizations as adown payment forthe harm it imposedon the citizens of Kosova.
Theseprivatizationsalso depleted much needed liquidity from theKosova economy,which has further stagnated theireconomic growth. Releasingthese funds can be of greatrelief and provide a small sense ofjustice. Other material remainingassets, like the Trepca mines, must also be operated for the economyof Kosovaand, if privatized, must have all proceeds go towards furtherreparationsfor Kosova.
No amnestyfor those whohave committed unthinkable crimes.No person on either side of the conflictshould be free from prosecution and punishmentif they committed crimes before,during or after war time, either within their respective countries orin the Hague (under special prosecution).
In this instance, we mustalso mention that there must be justice for the murder of three Albanian American brothers. Agron (23), Mehmet (21) and Ylli (25) Bytyqi were American citizens of Kosovo Albanian origin, born near Chicago, Illinoisand living in New York City.
They were murdered in cold blood after the war in Kosova duringa humanitarian mission and their murderers have yet to be brought to justice.President Vucic has promised US officials and the American public that he wouldseethe case resolved, but thusfar has only shielded those responsible.
Amnesty is not a panaceaand will not allow for healing in the area. We firmly believethat only restorative justiceafter prolonged conflict allowsfor a lasting peace.In short, we cannotwhitewash the recent past and press for a reconciliation between the countries without the perpetratorsa cknowledging their crimes and accounting for the people they harmed and for those still missing.
FreeTrade and freedom of movement.With evidence of respect, reciprocity in its dealings and upholding the laws derived from thefinal peace treaty between Serbia and Kosova, there can be free trade andfreedom of movement and proper tradebetweenthe countries.
All parallel Serbian institutions,acting with impunity inKosova since the war,must be declared illegal by both parties and prosecuted if they donotcease and desistfrom their activities.
Border crossings must also demonstratethe professionalismof other Europeancountries with clarity, proper language skills and respect for guestscoming and leavingof any ethnicity. Increased US and NATO militarypresence in the regionis welcomed.
The US has historicallybeen the most reliablevoice for peacein the region andKosova would avail necessaryaccessfor enhanced presence in the region. We applaud the Trump administrationfor green lighting the Kosova SecurityForce, but the US shouldalsonever again use thethreat of removingpeacekeeping troopsto deepen political divisions within Kosova at a time when national unity is most needed to deal properly (with efficacy) on normalization matterswith Serbia.
Kosova’s water supply must not be interrupted.There was somerecent discussion of Kosova losing sole control of itsmost critical water supply as partof land and economic swapsbetweenthe parties. This must not beallowed to happen as it leavesthe country so perilouslyvulnerablewithoutits own self sustenancewith water.
These areas are also sources of energy from Hydropower, which Kosova requires desperately.Given the harmcaused by Serbia’s damage to Kosova’s core infrastructure, much more dependencynow relies onKosova having accessto these facilities to be a normal functioning state.The religious institutionsinside Kosova of all faiths mustflow all incoming funds through transparent and reported accounts.
This willeliminateany nefarious extraterritorialambitions from outside forces and appropriately treatthese organizations as charities and not allow agents for instabilityto masquerade as faith-based organizations.
Albanians are a multi-faithed society, respectful of all religions,or even someone’s choice not to believe,but must be allowed to protect itself from forces seekingtouse religion to bringhateful division and further harmto the region.Kosovaand Serbia should adopta considerableplanfor US investment and long-term economic engagement.
The US shouldwork with the EU and other donor countries/organizations to support a common economic developmentagenda between the two countries that mostnotably fostersredevelopment of war-torn areas. These investments maybenecessary to lean Serbia towards peaceand to help Kosova more fully recover.
These proceeds shouldbe proportional to areas most damaged bythewar, with particular attention toKosova’s power sector and other critical infrastructure.American businessinterests are welcomed by the people of Kosovaas part of these initiatives and will contribute to enhancingbusiness practices and formalizingthe legal infrastructurein the country.Kosova and Serbia shouldbe afforded integration into the EU bodyif they both abideby the terms of a proper treaty between them and shouldenter simultaneously.
In theinterim, Serbia must stopall efforts to thwart Kosova’s independencerecognitionand ascendancy into international organizations, like the United Nations etc. Until EUintegration,citizens of both countries shouldhave their educations, pensions, insurances etc. respected inboth countriesreciprocally.
Serbia (and Kosova if ithassimilar cases) shall also be required to removedenigrating materialsfrom their education materials to addressthebrainwashing and discrimination stillbeing taught in Serbia to wards Albanians.
Anypeace treaty must be recognizedand guaranteed by the UN Security Council, EU, US and NATO, but only after theagreement garnerswidespread support within each country.
Albanian-American Community Association
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