The USA and the Kosovo question (2): State Department in the dock

Dragan Bisenić
Source: Kosovo Online

Writing for Kosovo Online: Dragan Bisenic, journalist

On November 7, 1987, the State Department responded that it "has serious reservations about the proposed resolution, which presents an unbalanced picture of the position of the Albanians and other ethnic groups in the multinational Yugoslav state." The opposition to this resolution is based on the belief that "the adoption of this resolution would harm our friendly relations with Yugoslavia and would inevitably lead to inflaming inter-ethnic unrest in the country." Such a development could lead to instability in Yugoslavia and act directly against long-term US interests in the region, the response stated.

Explaining this position, it was pointed out that there was no "reliable evidence that would support the conclusions of the resolution that the Yugoslav Government failed to protect the political and economic rights of the Albanians, nor that there is reliable evidence that the Yugoslav Government implements a policy of discrimination against any ethnic group. What is true is that local officials in the Yugoslav province of Kosovo imprisoned several hundred Albanian nationalists for expressing nonviolent opinions after riots hit the province in 1981. Those measures, which were partially introduced to prevent a repeat of the riots of 1981, are a violation of human rights,” it was written in the answer, but the argument that "several hundred Albanians were killed in the riots" was rejected. That number is "exaggerated and tendentious and factually incorrect", the State Department responded, stating that according to "unofficial sources", "fewer than 20 people died in the riots". The claim that the arrests were carried out by the federal government was also rejected, but that most of them were arrested by a group of local Kosovo officials, who are "mostly Albanians".

Allegations of preventing Albanians from achieving economic rights were also dismissed, with allegations that Kosovo was not the poorest province due to the absence of aid to the province because Kosovo received about 60 percent of funds from the Fund for the Development of Underdeveloped Areas, which in 1987 amounted to almost one billion dollars. Claims referring to Amnesty International's reports on the torture and killing of the Albanians in exile by the Yugoslav secret police were also rejected. A review of all Amnesty International reports since 1975 had found only two mentions of it, the State Department report said.

It was concluded that such a resolution would "seriously damage our friendly relations with Yugoslavia" and that Yugoslavia would strongly react to the "frivolous and unbalanced assessment of the situation in Kosovo" and that "it would not be adequate for the US Government to take sides in ethnic conflicts until taking into consideration the human rights of all Yugoslavs".

"We are concerned about the impact of growing ethnic conflicts in Yugoslavia on long-term and well-defined US security interests in the region. The United States has constantly advocated for the preservation of the country's independence, unity, and territorial integrity. Informed observers of the scene in Yugoslavia have long recognized that ethnic unrest in a multi-ethnic country represents the greatest threat to the country's stability. According to the State Department's judgment, the adoption of this unilateral resolution can only increase that danger," the opinion of the State Department stated.

DioGuardi did not forget this to the State Department. Since then, he has repeatedly targeted it. Looking back to that time, in his speech at a congressional hearing on the future of Kosovo in 2003, DioGuardi blamed the State Department for its continued policy of "maintaining Yugoslavia in one form or another" and based his views broadly on anti-Yugoslavism and anti-Slavism. To illustrate the State Department's policy, he cited a letter addressed to Senator Dante Fascell against the adoption of the proposed resolution on Yugoslavia. The hearing was still held in October 1987, when they were informed a lot about the "desperate conditions of the Albanians in Yugoslavia". “If keeping a part of Yugoslavia together isn't bad enough considering what we've seen from Serbian and other Slavic leaders for the past thirty years, it seems that the State Department is inclined to follow the views of "old Europe" who want to preserve some truncated Slavic regime, again on account of the Albanians. Our diplomats in the State Department, in particular, seem to be listening to our dubious friends in France, Russia, Serbia, and Greece, and seem to support the incarnation of Yugoslavia called Serbia and Montenegro," DioGuardi said. It is especially strange that there seems to be hope that the Albanians from Kosovo will agree to be a part of it and he wondered "why anyone thinks that the Kosovo Albanians, who have been under the violence of Serbs and Montenegrins for generations, will be willing to be a part of Serbia again when even their Slavic countrymen want to leave them?”

DioGuardi assessed this as a demonstration of "the State Department's pro-Yugoslav position and anti-Albanian policy". When in July 1987 Slobodan Milosevic was elected President of the Central Committee of Serbia, DioGuardi called him an "ordinary nationalist" who, unlike his predecessor, President Tito (?!), openly challenged the Albanians in Yugoslavia, calling for their suppression and complete control as an "enemy of the people". "He also tried to promote his goals in Washington, with the support of his former colleagues former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, former Ambassador to Belgrade Larry Eagleburger, National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft, and former Ambassador to Belgrade John Scanlon. Along with them, he hired a notorious Serbian nationalist, Congresswoman Helen Delich Bentley, supported by the Greek lobby, including Senator Paul Sarbanes and Congressman Jim Moody, who openly works and supports the Serbs in Congress," DioGuardi said.

Describing later, in his appearance in Congress on May 21, 2003, at a hearing on the future of Kosovo, the profiles of those he is fighting against, who have a foothold in the State Department, DioGuardi repeated his accusations and added that "the State Department is ready to be misled by such brutal Serbian dictators as Rankovic and Milosevic and now, Vojislav Kostunica and Nebojsa Covic." He calls them masters of fraud who, like their predecessors, "used the controlled press for fifty years to their advantage to rewrite the history and image of the Albanians", and for others, they are new "masters of fraud" who used monetary compensation for Western diplomats such as Henry Kissinger and Lawrence Eagleburger, who worked with him as bankers, sat on the boards of state-owned companies as paid outside directors and received huge salaries and remained undisclosed as we recently saw in the case of Henry Kissinger who resigned as chairman of the national commission for terrorism when he found himself having to disclose his finances, which many believe would shed light on many past conflicts of interest including government contracts signed by his patrons.

Lawrence Eagleburger, the former US Ambassador to Belgrade and Kissinger's partner played a major role in Global Motors, the company that then produced the Yugo cars, was on at least one board with Milosevic, and became secretary of state in 1992 after an indifferent rejection of questions from Senator Jesse Helms about his dealings in the past with Yugoslavia and Slobodan Milosevic. It is no wonder that there was a Serbian trend in the policy of our State Department at the beginning of 1990, when Secretary of State Baker announced that we had to preserve Yugoslavia at all costs and that we did not have "our dog in this fight", thus giving the green light to Milosevic to continue his wars and the brutal occupation of Kosovo. The Serbian traces showed again when Richard Holbrooke reinvigorated Slobodan Milosevic in 1995 by not allowing Albanian leaders to get a seat at the table at the Dayton negotiations, even though Albanians represent the third largest ethnic group in the Balkans, after Serbs and Croats, and thus giving Milosevic a new green light to continue his brutalities. The final insult was made by the Special Envoy for the Balkans, Ambassador Robert Gelbard, who deliberately called the Albanian Citizen Army, known as the Kosovo Liberation Army, a "terrorist group" who were then trying to protect their families from murderous Serbian paramilitary formations, many of whom were criminals released from prison and dressed in uniform for the occasion.

This gave Milosevic exactly what he needed to march into Drenica at the beginning of 1998 and liquidate many innocent people, women, and children as terrorists or for "hiding and supporting terrorists". This brief history shows the racist hatred of the Slavs towards the Kosovar Albanians and the incredibly poor judgment of our State Department in favor of the Serbs until it is almost too late; how can anyone expect the Kosovar Albanians who number two million of whom are 95 percent Albanians, should have anything to do with Serbia, as long as it is not cooperation of independent states working together for mutual benefit that leads to European integration," DioGuardi said.

Tomorrow: Face-off between Adem Demaci and Draza Mihailovic