May 1999:

A Win-Win Path to Peace in

Kosovo and Yugoslavia

A Carrot for Kosovo

by David Hartsough

PEACEWORKERS 721 Shrader St., San Francisco. CA 94117 USA peaceworkers@igc.org

 

 

The Stick did not work. Let´s try the carrot.

Certainly we can achieve what former President Michael Gorbachev called the "Europeanization of the Balkans rather than the Balkanization of Europe"?

Massive bombing has neither brought Milosevic to the negotiating table nor stopped the violence against the Kosovar civilian population. Rather is has all but destroyed the one force that could have accomplished both: the democratic opposition to Milosevic inside Serbia.

The rain of bombs has dramatically intensified the violence against Albanians in Kosovo. Over one million Kosovars have been terrorized and forced from their homes. Many have been murdered. In addition, NATO violence from the outside is predictably driving millions of Serbs including those who opposed Milosevic´s dictatorial and nationalistic policies, to rally behind their flag and government.

In Montenegro, one of Yugoslavia´s two republics, the democratically elected government attempts to distance itself from President Milosevic and forge a more democratic and peaceful future for its people. But that government is in danger of falling if the war continues much longer.

What would a differente aproach look like? How could we craft a win-win solution? What would help build the foundation for a lasting peace? Consider this. Behind the killing that destroys our himanity and hardens our hearts, the overwhelming majority in Yugoslavia and in Kosovo want somethingelse, not war or oppression.

In Serbia, Kosovo, and Montenegro they want: The opportunity to join Europe, live with dignity, and raise their children without fear of ciolence - not bombs, economic sanctions, restrictions on travel and trade, or dictatorship.

So what is the carrot to transform this obsolete culture of war that insult the world´s intelligence and creativity?

Yugoslavia, for its part, can grant Kosovo independence. This includes international safeguards for all the sacred sites in Kosovo, including the monasteries and revered battlefield of Kosovo Polje (where the Serbs were defeated by the Turks in 1389), and human rights guarantees for all peoples in the province. At the same time, Yugoslavia would be invited into the European community.

In response to withdrawing all Yugoslavian military, police and paramilitary personnel and equipment from Kosovo, Kosovo would agree to be a demilitarized state with no military presence - neither armed Kosovo Liberation Army nor NATO nor Yugoslav troops, police, or paramilitaries.

Instead, thousand of international civilian UN or OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) peace monitors, trained in peacemaking, civilian relationship-building, and community development, would monitor agreements and assure that refugees can return safely. These peace monitors would be resources for building a civil society with institutions based on the rights and needs of all, regardless of ethnicity, in an independent Kosovo.

We and the international community would end all sanctions against Yugoslavia and renew full diplomatic relations, while opening diplomatic relations with Kosovo.

The West would begin a new ´Marshall Plan´ to help rebuild Yugoslavia and Kosovo, focused on renewing the infrastructure of these societies. The cost? A lot less than war. And international Peace Corps Volunteers could plan an important role in this rebuilding.

The world can also support the Yugoslav and Kosovar people to strenghten non-governmental institutions and an independent media as important building blocks for a democratic society.

In the matter of war crimes against humanity, the International Court in The Hague could try the accused regardless of rank or nationality. Yet another mechanism could be far more effective at healing the aching wound and building a stable peace: national ´truth and reconciliation´ commissions for each region, in the model already successful in South Africa and Guatemala.

Non-governmental organizations skilld in postwar reconciliation can be supportive in both regions. Some are already proving themselves in other parts of former-Yugoslavia, emphasizing interregional healing and working with young people to build their common future.

Naturally a period of time may be needed for an international protectorate under the United Nations, while civilian observers and peacemakers help facilitate renewed communities. An international peacekeeping force - not NATO - can verify an end to hostilities, the return of refugees, and human rights.

The carrot will be an attraction and beacon, if not to President Milosevic, then to the people of Yugoslavia and of Kosovo. Instead of driving Yugoslavians by the thousands into the arms of Milosevic, this positive policy will help the people seize a living alternative to war.

The 1.5 million Serbs who demonstrated against Milosevic in the winter of 1996 and 1997 could again raise their voices in their longing for a future that works for the good of all.

The carrot approach requires communication and education, including international radio and rtelevision support; state-controlled Yugoslav media cooperation is unlikely. Consider dropping millions of educational leaflets from the air instead of bombs.

When Kosovo and Yugoslavia join Europe, boundaries will make increasingly less difference. There will be freer travel, trade, and cultural interaction between Kosovo and Yugoslavia, and thoughout the continent.

I have been in Kosovo. Today, negotiations with United Nations and Russian participation should begin immediately to move the peace process forward.

Tomorrow, I know that carrots are what´s needed, to inspire people to build their common future where everyone wins.

David Hartsough is Executive Director of PEACEWORKERS, based in San Francisco. He has worked in Kosovo and Yugoslavia for three years. In March, 1998 David accompanied Albanians in their nonviolent demonstrations in Kosvo. He was arrested, jailed, and later expelled from the country by the Yugoslav authorities.

 

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