Skopje. Democratic Union for Integration (DUI), which is part of the ruling coalition of Macedonia, backed the petition against the report of Dick Marty about trade in human organs in Kosovo, Macedonian Vreme daily writes today.
Ministers, MPs, mayors and representatives of the veterans from the Army of National Liberation (ANL) signed the petition against the Council of Europe Rapporteur Dick Marty.
Kosovo is paying a price for its unhealthy cult of the KLA’s armed struggle, which leaves it looking vulnerable when the myth of the KLA’s moral purity is scrutinised.
By Florian Bieber
Dick Marty’s report is a peculiar document. It lacks the dry and sober style that one would expect from a Council of Europe report, and instead includes frequent expression of indignation and moral outrage, which won’t help it being perceived as neutral. Furthermore, Marty’s well-publicized opposition to Kosovo’s independence inevitably fuels suspicions that his report is shaped by his personal views on Kosovo’s independence. Whether this is true or not may be secondary, but problematic references in the report about Kosovo Albanian society as “still very much clan-orientated” and about “the absence of a true civil society” lend it a stereotypical and simplistic flavour. Finally, the report seems obsessed with trying to challenge what the author perceives to be an imbalance in the perception of the Kosovo conflict as featuring “on one side, the Serbs, who were seen as the evil oppressors, and on the other side the Kosovar Albanians, who were seen as the innocent victims.” This is distorted interpretation of how the conflict is actually viewed and few scholars or careful observers would subscribe to such a picture. This again undermines the report. A report should be less concerned with overturning alleged perceptions than contributing to our understanding of what happened. The interpretation of how this may impact on perceptions of the conflict is best left to others. As Marty notes himself, the evidence for the allegations is thin or at least cannot be publicly scrutinized, because the report draws on unpublished and secret documents. While these factors all weaken the report and diminish its weight, this does not mean that the report is irrelevant. Prime Minister Hashim Thaci’s response, in which he said he was insulted as “Prime Minister of the Republic of Kosovo, but first and foremost, as a citizen and as a parent”, indicates that the report hit a nerve. Thaci particularly rejects the idea that the KLA could have committed crimes, stating that “the whole world knows who was the aggressor and who was the victim in Kosovo.” This statement is of course bogus, as there is almost never such a thing as absolute victims and absolute aggressors. This argument has been made in every country of former Yugoslavia. But the claim that if you are on the side of the victims, no crimes could have occurred, is absurd. This line of absolute victimhood has been a key founding myths in all countries of the region. In Kosovo in particular, this myth has not been sufficiently challenged. As the recent renaming of Pristina airport after ex-KLA fighter Adem Jashari suggests, the uncritical cult of the KLA is leading Kosovo into a trap. Instead of having a more diverse “founding myth”, drawing also more on the peaceful resistance tactics of the 1990s, the state and its leadership has linked itself too strongly to the KLA, which then leaves it vulnerable if the KLA is implicated in the kind of crimes that the Marty report alleges. Building nation states is often a joint criminal enterprise, involving the expulsion of minorities, war against neighbours and acts of violence. This does not set Kosovo apart from many other countries. Kosovo’s problem is its reputation. Unfairly or not, Kosovo is often associated with organized crime and witness intimidation and flat denial are not good strategies when it comes to changing this perception. Instead of denying that crimes were committed, the way to ensure Kosovo’s acceptance as a legitimate state is to take a hard and critical view of the legacy of the KLA and not to allow “patriotism” to become an excuse for failure to investigate crimes. Prime Minister Thaci might have overseen the independence of Kosovo, but his response to the report and his vague suggestions about a Serbian conspiracy will certainly not help improve Kosovo’s reputation and thus its international legitimacy.
Dr Florian Bieber is Professor for Southeast European Studies at the University of Graz.