Albanian Platform for
Resolution of the Southern Serbia Crisis

"Divisions Against the Will of the People"
Danas, March 5, 2001 (via Beta news agency)
Translated by Nebojsa Malic for Antiwar.com
3/6/01

Editorial Note: If anyone had any doubt that we are in for another round of action in the Balkans, then the release of the following document by the Albanian secessionists who have invaded Serbia's Presevo Valley should put all such illusions to rest. This "platform" is not just a list of grievances, or even demands – it is a declaration of war. These terrorists – unleashed by NATO – have their eyes not only on the Presevo Valley, but also on neighboring Macedonia. Fighting is breaking out on both fronts, simultaneously – with US troops stuck in the middle. Meanwhile, George W. Bush is going back on his campaign promise to get us out of this quagmire, at precisely the moment when the whole region is about to go up in flames. This is the legacy of the Kosovo war: militant Albanians on the rampage. Read their "platform" – and weep.

Presevo (Beta) The Chairman of the Party of Democratic Action (PDD) of southern Serbian Albanians, Riza Halimi, presented here yesterday the platform of military and political representatives of the Albanian in Presevo, Medvedja and Bujanovac counties, intended to resolve the crisis in the area. This is the integral text of the "Platform for stopping the armed conflict and resolution of the crisis in Presevo, Medvedja and Bujanovac region":

  1. All disputes can and must be resolved politically and through negotiations.
  2. Negotiations should commence as soon as possible, and unconditionally. The Albanian negotiating team shall include representatives of the Liberation Army of Presevo, Bujanovac and Medvedja (UCPBM) as the leaders of the group, and the representatives of political structures.
  3. Negotiations should be held in another country, with the mediation of international institutions (United States or the UN).
  4. All military actions from both sides should cease on the day negotiations begin.
  5. Implementation of the agreement should be guaranteed by an internationally credible organization NATO or the UN.
  6. The solution cannot be sought within the concept of status quo ante. The political solution and the constitutional position of Albanians in the Presevo Valley cannot be reached within the existing constitutional and institutional framework of Serbia.
  7. Negotiations should proceed on the basis of non-exclusion of any proposed solution, and on the basis of well-known international principles.
  8. The purpose of negotiations is to protect the individual and collective rights of citizens, preserve their ethnic territory, and reach a political solution that would solve the crisis in a just and permanent way.

PREAMBLE

The current crisis and tension in the region of Presevo, Medvedja and Bujanovac counties, are a consequence of political segregation, repression and violence that the Serbian authorities have imposed on the Albanian population for decades:

  • The long-term institutional discrimination and centralization of power in Serbia, military and police repression, murders and massacres of Albanian civilians, torching of settlements and destruction of private homes in wartime, which all influenced the exodus of Albanians from the Karadak of Presevo;
  • Distancing of Albanians from work places in state and educational institutions;
  • Conversion of schools and enterprises into military barracks and police stations;
  • Neglect of Albanian participation in local government and exclusion of cultural, historical and ethnic values of from educational curricula and schoolbooks;
  • Systematic and premeditated neglect of economic development of the region. Complete media blackout.

These are just some of the elements that have directly influenced the position of Albanians in Presevo Valley.

Having in mind the evident tendencies of Serbia to ethnically cleanse this region, the Liberation Army of Presevo, Medvedja and Bujanovac (UCPMB) was formed from Albanian citizens from this region, as a response to military and police repression and for the purpose of self-defense and preservation of biological and physical existence of Albanians in this region, protected by no one.

Our starting point is that individual and collective human rights have a higher priority than state sovereignty. Our goal, in order to resolve the Albanian Question in this region through political means, is to prevent open armed conflict between Albanians organized in self-defense (UCPMB) and Serbian army and police, which could have unpredictable consequences.

We are convinced that only the political solution would produce acceptable and desired results on all sides, having as their basic interest the prevention of an armed conflict and the creation of prerequisites for a just and acceptable political solution for both sides.

Basic freedoms, individual and collective rights of Albanians, shall be secured and guaranteed on the basis of the following relevant international documents:

  1. The United Nations Charter
  2. Universal Declaration on Human Rights
  3. International treaty on economic, social and cultural rights
  4. International treaty on civil and political rights.

STARTING POINTS

The starting points for considering the position of Albanians in the region of Presevo, Medvedja and Bujanovac, relevant to the negotiations, are:

  1. The Presevo Valley region is a natural part of the Albanian ethnic, linguistic, cultural and territorial continuum, the division of which was imposed against the will of the people;
  2. Albanians in the Presevo Valley live in their own ethnic territory, and make up a majority population;
  3. The administrative division of this region from Kosovo through the Serbian constitutions of 1947, 1963 and 1974 ahs caused a tendency of assimilating the Albanian population;
  4. The systematic repression of Serbian state against Albanians in the Presevo Valley has significantly increased after the dissolution of Yugoslav federation by Serbia in 1990, and especially through the 1992 Constitution of FR Yugoslavia, and systematic laws based on it, which have institutionalized discrimination and pressure against Albanians to the point where their political, social, economic, cultural, educational, media and other rights were denied.;
  5. The position of Albanians in the Presevo Valley region has deteriorated to its ultimate extent with the repression during the 1998-99 Kosovo war. After the withdrawal of Serbian troops from Kosovo, which included individuals and units that have been indicted by the Hague Tribunal for massacres of civilians in Kosovo, most of those units were deployed in the Presevo Valley region, producing pressure and [population] movements which clearly manifested the tendency to ethnically cleanse this territory. Experiences of repeated actions by Serbian authorities against the Albanian population in this region throughout the 20th century, and above all the genocidal behavior of these forces towards the Presevo Valley Albanians have caused the natural response of self-organization and self-defense;
  6. The political changes in FRY and Serbia after October 5, 200, have not improved the situation in this region.

FRAMEWORK

In order for any solution to be acceptable, and a permanent peace established in these three counties, the Albanian negotiating team proposes the following framework:

  1. The region shall be placed under international control, encompassing the entire territory of all three counties (Presevo, Medvedja and Bujanovac) and treating them as a territorial and political entity;
  2. The region of Presevo, Medvedja and Bujanovac shall be demilitarized by withdrawing the Serb forces and putting UCPMB under international control;
  3. The International factor shall undertake the establishment of order and security for all citizens, regardless of their ethnicity;
  4. The international factor shall establish a legal order and institutions of state in this region, including the police, government and judiciary;
  5. The international administration shall continue until the definite solution is reached;
  6. The issue of definite status of the region shall only be reached after the establishment of democratic society, enabling the population of the region to decide its own fate.

The Albanian delegation considers the following measures as prerequisites for reaching the long-term, stable and acceptable solution for both sides:

  1. Creation of local law enforcement forces, based on ethnic composition of the population, which would be internationally aided and monitored and trained by international police;
  2. Demilitarization of the region, to be implemented and supervised by an international armed force;
  3. The return of refugees and exiled citizens to their homes, with full security and without time constraints, under the supervision of international humanitarian organizations and the payment of reparations for the destruction of their private property by the state;

ADDITIONAL RIGHTS

    In addition to universal rights, Albanians shall enjoy the following legitimate rights. These legitimate rights are part of international law, and cannot be changed even by a majority vote in the Parliament:

Education and Culture rights

  • to be educated in native language, in schools with profiles and degree levels determined by Albanians;
  • to create curricula and school books, and the right for them to include content related to [Albanian] national history, language, culture and heritage;
  • to cooperate with the mother country in regard to culture and education; in that regard, there shall be a right to establish cultural and educational institutions and appropriate associations, and a right to recognize degrees obtained from various universities;
Language rights

  • to have official and equal usage of Albanian language and script in public and official communication in the region, at all levels of government, in judicial proceedings, official documents, in names of geographic locations, and institutions;
  • all official documents shall be written in Albanian;
  • Albanian names shall be written according to Albanian language spelling and grammar rules ;
  • to have the right to be informed in Albanian through public media;
Administration and Judiciary rights

  • the regional administration shall have a proportionally higher percentage of Albanians than the percentage of actual population;
  • the law enforcement and security agencies shall have a proportionally higher percentage of Albanians than the percentage of actual population;
  • the judiciary system shall have a proportionally higher percentage of Albanians than the percentage of actual population;
  • the right to use [Albanian] national symbols and freely celebrate [Albanian] national holidays

Mother-country rights

  • Presevo Valley Albanians shall have full rights to communicate with Kosovo;
  • Kosovo institutions shall aid the Presevo Albanians to preserve and develop their ethnic and cultural identity through:
    • a joint curricular council for Albanian schools in Presevo Valley, and
    • a joint council for preservation and development of Albanian cultural and religious buildings;
Religious rights

  • Albanian religious and cultural monuments shall be protected by state and international institutions;
  • The custody over religious monuments shall be given to the Kosovo Islamic Community;
Financial rights

  • redistribution of income on county and regional level shall not be biased against Albanians and their interests;
Rights to Economic and Trade Development and Free Trade

  • to declare the region of Presevo, Medvedja and Bujanovac a free trade and customs zone;
  • to use natural resources of the region;
  • to organize an international donor conference for economic revitalization of the region;
    • Establishment of a permanent EU Monitoring Mission;
    • Establishment of an Ombudsman to oversee these rights.

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