Featured image: Depleted uranium ammunition, fired in FR Yugoslavia in 1999. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
More than a decade and a half after the US-NATO- under international law illegal – war aggression against Yugoslavia using highly toxic and radioactive uranium projectiles, the enormity of this war crime becomes clear: In Serbia, aggressive cancer among young and old has reached epidemic proportions.
The suffering of the people cries out to heaven. Particularly affected is the south of Serbia and Kosovo. According to the Serbian Ministry of Health, every day a child suffers from cancer. The entire country is contaminated. By harming the genetic material (DNA) generation after generation, malformed children will be born. Knowingly and willfully, a genocide was committed. Until recently, with the help of the media, politicians have withheld the truth from unsettled citizens under pressure from the perpetrators of the genocide. Brave and responsible physicians, former military officials, ex-politicians and scientists have now succeeded in breaking this wall of silence for the benefit of the Serbian people and the many other peoples of the world who share their fate.
Depleted Uranium weapons are weapons of mass destruction
When the US used the defoliant agent “Agent Orange” and napalm in Vietnam, the world was appalled. This was no longer war, it was slaughter of the civilian population and sustainable destruction of nature. 50 years later, generation after generation comes to this world severely handicapped (disabled)- born to die. However the arms industry, including the nuclear weapons industry, has been developing its business rapidly since Vietnam. All wars are, according to the legal norms of the Nuremberg Tribunal, illegal wars of aggression and they are becoming increasingly murderous, sneaky, more widespread, (and) more genocidal. So also the first war of the US-NATO on European soil against Yugoslavia 1999. Here, under tacit tolerance of NATO allies – including Germany – the US Army used a weapon of mass destruction which they have already tested in the second Gulf War in 1991 and in Bosnia-Herzegovina 1994/95: highly toxic and radioactive uranium weapons. NATO itself has admitted firing 30,000 missiles with Depleted Uranium (DU), while the Serbian military speaks of 50,000. That corresponds to 10 to 15 tons of uranium.
Since already extensive scientific literature and film footage (“deadly dust”) of this war crime are available in German, English and Serbian (1), here just a few comments. Due to the long degradation process of radioactivity and toxicity, waste from the uranium and nuclear industries – mainly DU from isotope 238 – are stored in secure landfills for a very long time. To reduce the high cost, DU is therefore gladly given free of charge to interested parties such as the military. DU has characteristics that are particularly attractive for the defense industry: The DU projectiles- developed according to German technology (Siegwart-Horst Günther) – have a high penetrating power because of the high density of the metallic uranium (1.7 times larger than that of lead) and are particularly suitable for breaking steel armor and underground concrete bunkers. DU is also a flammable material that ignites spontaneously when penetrating an armor plate and at 3000 degrees Celsius burns to uranium oxide dust while releasing highly toxic and radioactive substances (uranium oxide).
This uranium oxide aerosol with particle sizes in the Nano scale reaches the human body through the air, water and, in the long term, through the food chain.
Sites in Kosovo and southern Central Serbia where NATO used munitions with depleted uranium (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
In the lungs, the DU dust particles are also attached to the red and white blood cells and thus reach all organs of the body, including the brain, the kidney and the testes, so that in many organs cancer is produced and the genetic material (DNA) irreversibly damaged. The strong carcinogenicity of DU is due to the synergistic effects of chemo- and radio toxicity. (2) Through the placenta, the DU can also reach an unborn child and cause serious harm to it. Potential long-term damage includes genetic defects in infants, childhood leukemia, cancer and kidney damage. Since the uranium oxide particles have- due to the heat of combustion- assumed the characteristics of ceramics, they are insoluble in water,they are firmly attached to the body and can develop their radioactive effect for years to come.
War on uranium weapons is knowingly and willfully brought about genocide
For the biochemist Albrecht Schott, DU is an example of interventions in the creation that endanger them existentially and not a weapon against states, but a weapon against the planet. (3) The well-known German journalist and filmmaker Frieder Wagner (“Todesstaub”/ “Deadly Dust”) referred to uranium weapons as an “extermination weapon” and the victims of these murderous weapons as “the dead of the silent dying”. (4) Uranium weapons are the “perfect weapon” to kill masses of people, that is, to commit genocide.Since the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of genocide from 1948, is genocide a criminal offense in international criminal law that does not become time- barred. It is characterized by the specific intention of destroying in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group as such. Therefore, the genocide is also referred to as a “unique crime”, as a “crime of crimes” or as “the worst crime in international criminal law”. (5)
The Australian doctor, nuclear weapons specialist and peace activist Helen Caldicott writes in her book “The New Nuclear Danger” (2002):
“It is clear that the Pentagon knew about the health risks long before Operation Desert Storm (2nd Gulf War 1991, author) emanating from uranium-containing ammunition. Numerous military reports have acknowledged that uranium-238 can cause kidney damage, lung and bone cancer, (non-malignant) lung disease, skin diseases, neurocognitive disorders, chromosome damage and birth defects.”(6)
For this reason, wars involving highly toxic and radioactive uranium weapons are both war crimes and knowingly and deliberately inflicted genocide – including the war against Yugoslavia in 1999. According to the UN Convention against Genocide, the contracting Parties commit to punish genocide or those who commit genocide, whether they are governing persons, public officials or private Individuals. A large team of lawyers and scientists from Serbia, Germany, France, Italy, Russia, China, England and Turkey are suing NATO for dropping bombs on depleted uranium during the 1999 war against Yugoslavia. This lawsuit will also help the peoples sharing the fate of Serbia. (7)
Aggressive cancers in Serbia reach epidemic proportions
The bombing of Serbia lasted 78 days. 1031 soldiers were killed, 5173 soldiers and police were wounded, 2,500 civilians were killed – including 78 children – and over 6,000 civilians were wounded. In addition to the DU projectiles, which also showed traces of highly toxic plutonium, other explosive combinations and rocket fuels with certain chemical compounds have been used, which are very toxic in explosions and cause cancer. The rate of these cancers grew from year to year. Also, the number of newborns with deformities and the number of aggressive leukemia cases in children increased. (8) Over a year ago, estimates by the Serbian Association for the Prevention of Cancer were announced: Studies have shown that the use of uranium weapons have caused 15,000 cancers and 10,000 deaths between 2001 and 2010, according to the head of the association and oncologist Prof. Slobodan Cikaric. In total, there were 330,000 cancers in Serbia during this period. The death rate has increased annually since 1999 by 2.5 percent. (9)
Already in 2013, Prof. Cikaric said in the newspaper “Blic” that Serbia expected 14 years after the bombing with DU an explosion of cancers of all kinds. (10) He should be right. Transmitted are breakdowns of the immune system with increasing infectious diseases, severe dysfunction of kidney and liver, aggressive leukemia and other cancers (including multiple cancers), disorders in the bone marrow, genetic defects and deformities as well as abortions and premature births in pregnant women like after the Chernobyl disaster. If one reads a Serbian newspaper today or walks over a Serbian cemetery, one notices in the page-long obituaries or grave inscriptions the short lifetime of many dead people. It should read: “Died from the consequences of DU poisoning and radiation.”
Many citizens of Serbia have been severely mentally disturbed by years of compassion for sick relatives and anxious waiting to see if and when they may be caught by one of the most terrible and mostly fatal diseases. Even though most of them suspected the cause of the serious illnesses, there remained a great deal of uncertainty that triggered lasting feelings of stress. From the political point of view,in Serbia as well as in the other DU-infested countries in the Near and Middle East and in the NATO countries themselves one has deliberately not informed the population.They wanted to evade, among other things recourse claims and continue the murderous craft undisturbed. Stress, anxiety as well as depression additionally weaken the already burdened immune system and lead to a higher susceptibility to infections. This is shown by research results of the interdisciplinary Research area of psycho-neuro-immunology (PNI). (11)
The people have the right to truth
In order to make one’s own life and that of the family satisfying and prepare for the future, or to decide as a couple, whether or not you want to put children into the world, every citizen must be able to realistically assess the economic, social and political conditions in his country. But he cannot do that if he is deprived of the truth about incidents that can severely affect his life. Therefore, it is a moral obligation of all those who have dealt with the problem of contamination of the country – doctors, scientists, journalists, contaminated military and civilians – to enlighten and assist their fellow citizens.
In addition, the identity of a people is based on the citizens’ right to truth and the knowledge of their history. Historians and representatives of other sciences have for that an important contribution to make. The dispute may not be left to them alone. The search for the truth and the enlightenment of the people is also a political task, which is to be solved by political responsibility bearers and under no circumstances can be suppressed by them. Government and Parliament have to position themselves. How can citizens trust a government or people’s delegation who deprive them of the truth about a problem that affects them all existentially
Dr. Rudolph Hänsel is a renowned author and psychologist based in Lindau, Germany.
(1) Jovanovic, V., Petkovic, S., Cikaric, S. (2012). CRIME IN WAR – GENOCIDE IN PEACE. The consequences of NATO bombing of Serbia in 1999, Sluzbeniglasnik Beograd; Caldicott, H. (2003). Atomgefahr USA. Kreuzlingen/München; Wagner, F. (2007). „Deadly Dust – Todesstaub “, https://www.youtube.com/watsch?v=GTRaf23TCUi sowie Artikel in NRhZ online und „Geopolitika“, Mai 2014; Bertell, R. (2013). Radioaktivität und die Auslöschung des Lebens – Sind wir die letzten Generationen? NRhZ online Nr. 436 v. 11.12.2013; Deutsche Sektion der Internationalen Ärzte für die Verhütung des Atomkrieges/Ärzte in sozialer Verantwortung e.V.: ippnw report (2012). Die gesundheitlichen Folgen von Uranmunition. Berlin.
(2) S. a.a.O.
(3) Schott, A. (World Depleted Uranium Centre e.V., WODUC e.V.) (2003). Fluch und Tragödie des Uranmissbrauchs. Berlin.
(4) Wagner, F. (2010). Uranbomben – Die verheimlichte Massenvernichtungswaffe. Berlin.
The agreement reached today between the Government of Kosovo and Contour Global Company will block Kosovo for the next 40 years in lignite-based energy production. The only benefit from this project will be the smoke and dust produced, as well as the degradation of the environment and public health.
The Kosovo Civil Society Consortium for Sustainable Development (KOSID) has consistently opposed the construction of the ‘New Kosova’ power plant because this project will not secure energy supply independence and will undermine the country’s road to integration processes. Solving problems in the energy sector would only be done by addressing the problems by priorities such as technical and commercial losses, efficiency measures, diversification of energy sources and the liberalization of the functioning of the liberalized market.
This agreement is being done in the most non-transparent way possible, without any public consultation and without the assessment of environmental and social impact, which is a prerequisite by international financial institutions for such projects. Further, the signing of this agreement introduces Kosovo into contractual relations that in case of failure Kosovo will be damaged financially.
On this occasion, we would like to inform the public that with the signing of the commercial agreement, there is no end to the procedure for starting the construction of the power plant, but only deepens the problem and makes the process even more complex.
KOSID called on the Government of Kosovo to make public the signed commercial agreement for the Kosovo New Power plant. More specifically, we are asking for clear details on how: Will the price of energy produced by this power plant be? Are there arrangements for purchasing power from this power plant? How long is the return on investment and who will be billed for this burden? Will this project be sponsored by the Kosovo budget? What is Kosovo’s obligation after the deal, if this agreement fails?
We estimate that with a non-transparent and secret process, the only thing that can be guaranteed is the deepening of energy poverty, isolation and further degradation of the environment and public health, and the poverty of the family budget of Kosovo’s citizens.
The EU asks every country that aims to become its member to ‘decarbonize’ their energy sector. Kosovo is doing the opposite, whereas other countries are materializing their plans so that by 2030, they will produce all of their energy from renewable sources, such as through solar power, wind, rain, tidal energy, wave power, and geothermal energy. It is understood that this goal will be difficult to reach in Europe, and even after 2030, electricity will still be produced by coal, but the trend seems clear: keep away from coal in the name of environmental protection and the protection of natural resources.
It may be a coincidence, or not, that Serbia, which also produces a great deal of its electricity via coal, said that they received an 80 million euro loan from KfW, the German State Bank, in order to finance a wind energy park. After the Kostolac energy park is built, it will have a starting capacity of 66 MegaWatts, and within a year it is expected to reach more than 135 Gigawatts of electricity.
“KfW supports Serbia in its path to use the wind’s potential to produce electrical energy. This is an important step in energy production that is harmony with the environment and the climate,” said Joachim Nagel, the KfW board member. After the wind park becomes operational, Serbia is expected to offset 120 tons of carbon dioxide annually.
The opposite is expected to happen in Kosovo. And, the poisoning of the environment is sold as a contribution towards ‘friendship with America.’ Yet no investor can make a government poison its own citizens — governments do this on their own, if they manage to find a populace who are patient and uninformed in regards to the issues of environmental protection.
While only in 2016 Serbia exported goods with a value of almost 14 billion euros, Kosovo in 2017 decided to go ahead and increase the ‘production’ of carbon. Kosovo Civil Society Consortium for Sustainable Development, KOSID, warned that the decision for Kosova e Re stands “against constitutional principles of a democratic state that promotes environmental protection, against the principles of environmental protection, against the law on energy and the promotion of an free and integrated market in the region and beyond. Sidelining these constitutional and legal regulations is unacceptable and as such this decision should be revoked.”
Chances that such a thing will happen with the current government are slim. This is because the governmental structure of the ‘commanders’ has only one vision for Kosovo: the plundering of its resources.
Who could currently stop such a thing? Kosovo has an inefficient administration that is entirely corrupt. Kosovo barely has any production capacities and remains a place dependent on imports. The trade balance is immensely negative. Public investments are focused mainly on building extremely expensive roads (‘highways’) with contracts that are not transparent. Foreign investments are negligible. The salaries are among the lowest in Europe, yet the cost of everyday goods is similar to the countries of the EU.
To face these challenges, Kosovo needs a government that liberates the country from party-interest groups, oligarchy clans, mafia clans, and nepotism. Whoever thinks that this government is capable of such a thing, they should definitely check in for a psychological evaluation.
Kosovo should adopt an offensive rather than defensive diplomatic strategy and apply to as many international organizations as it can. Even if these endeavors fail, Kosovo has nothing to lose.
Kosovo recently pulled out from two attempts to gain further international legitimation. One is its planned application to INTERPOL, which Kosovo withdrew with the advice of the United States.
Second is the re-application to UNESCO, which Kosovo planned to do but preemptively aborted on the grounds that the “pragmatic postponement” is based on “full and close coordination with the US and other Quint countries.”
Apart from the dubious official statements, Kosovo’s defensive, skeptical, and hesitant diplomatic policy towards gaining membership in international organizations remains inexplicable.
Kosovo should adopt a more offensive diplomatic policy regarding its international legitimation. Kosovo should apply to as many international organizations as it can, regardless of the propensity to gain membership. The main principle of this approach should be that being refused membership by other sovereign nations is much better than refusing yourself the sovereign right to apply for membership. In any application that is submitted, there always remains some (even if a slight) chance of success. With any application that is withdrawn, there remains nothing but sure failure to gain membership. Understanding that this is not as simple as it sounds here, especially when taking into account that Kosovo may be advised by its key western partners not to apply, I will consider some possible scenarios, and the possible remedies.
Let us discuss a recent examples by asking, what if Kosovo actually pursued its applications to INTERPOL, UNESCO, or even the UN for a non-member observer status this fall? Given the advice by one or more of the Quint states, and the lack of votes that would most probably have followed, the most predictable answer is that Kosovo would not have gained membership in any of these organizations. Now the question is: so, what?
Kosovo’s foreign policy circles and the general public should not be dramatic about lack of votes from sponsors (i.e. the Quint). Kosovo should learn to accept and respect every nation’s sovereign right to decide on Kosovo’s admission or non-admission inside the family of states, be that in the UN or other international organizations and agencies. Every nation, including Kosovo’s sponsors, have their own (public or private) interests to serve, and these interests do not, and will not, always coincide with Kosovo’s interests. For instance, in an attempt to halt Palestine’s membership in INTERPOL, the US asked Kosovo not to apply in the same agency, so that the US can be successful in preventing Palestine’s membership. Other Quint states may have similar or other reasons to advocate against Kosovo now or in the future.
By suggesting Kosovo to withdraw its applications, the US or other Quint states may have tried to be nice to Kosovo, by preventing any appearance that even Kosovo’s own sponsors are not supporting the new state’s membership in international organizations. I suggest that this does not necessarily have to be viewed as such either by Quint states or Kosovo. The Quint’s explicit no-vote can in fact be tactically utilized in covering some of Kosovo’s diplomatic gaps.
It is no secret that Serbia has been fighting hard to utilize the “colonial-puppet” argument, in which Serbia positions the US as a colonial power in the Balkans and Kosovo as its puppet, when lobbying against Kosovo’s independence. Serbia has done so quite successfully in its relations with many members of the Yugoslav-era nonaligned movement, including anti-colonial regimes throughout much of Latin America and Africa that are wary of United States’ hegemony.
It is not a surprise, therefore, that Kosovo’s international legitimation lags behind especially among these nations. Labelling an entity as a puppet is not only an offensive word in international relations. In fact, it is also a descriptive purposeful label that has worked throughout history to prevent entities from being recognized as legitimate and sovereign. From France’s northern Italian republics (during Napoleon), Germany’s regimes in Slovakia, Croatia, and parts of Albania (during Hitler), to Japan’s Manchuria (during Hirohito), all were widely recognized as puppet regimes of empirical powers and none were able to gain substantive recognitions and international legitimation.
The no-vote threat by the US or other Quint states against Kosovo’s membership to INTERPOL or any other organization in the future should not be used as a signal to shift policy, and certainly should not be taken hysterically by opposition parties, journalists, and civil society.
While respecting its sponsors’ sovereign right to vote sometimes for and sometimes against, Kosovo should nonetheless move on with its applications. Any future possible no vote by the US or other Quint states should be strategically used as a prime example against Serbia’s argument that Kosovo is a puppet of the US or other western powers in the Balkans. By always following the Quint’s advice, the perception of colonial-puppet argument will only continue to strengthen among Kosovo’s non-recognizing states in Latin America and Africa. It goes without saying that Kosovo’s applications to international organizations should not be perceived as hostile acts against its sponsors; rather it should be perceived as Kosovo’s maturity to understand and respect its sponsors’ sovereign right to (sometimes) not support Kosovo for whatever reason or interests they may have.
Kosovo, therefore, should waste no time and apply for memberships whenever it can. If and when refused, Kosovo can learn which states will vote against its admission and perhaps even why. This way it can channel more efficiently its future diplomatic lobbying efforts. Without applying, Kosovo can only assume, but never know, where to channel its efforts, and thus remain in abyss.
Despite having no chance whatsoever to be admitted to the UN, Taiwan nonetheless has been submitting applications to the UN every year since 1993. Taiwan has lost nothing from being refused for more than twenty times now; it may have only learned something. Furthermore, taking a defensive and hesitant diplomatic approach, as Kosovo has done until now, can only serve Serbia’s diplomatic efforts against Kosovo’s legitimation. More offensive efforts with its applications whenever and wherever it can, within the realm of its resources, which should certainly expand, will only make Serbia’s counter-lobbying efforts more difficult, while maintaining some chance of success for itself. As such, a shift from a defensive to an offensive diplomatic policy can only improve Kosovo’s diplomatic balance sheet, and build more honest relations with its current sponsors.
Shpend Kursani is a PhD researcher in the Department of Social and Political Sciences at the European University Institute, where he researches post-1945 cases of contested states.
Serbia, like most Orthodox Christian states of southern Europe, has a long history of animosity towards Turkey. It was Ottoman Turkey which initially crushed the sovereignty of Orthodox Europe, leading to a centuries long occupation that only started to end in 1804, when Serbia declared its independence, an independence that was ultimately fully achieved in 1878, after Serbia’s traditional ally and Turkey’s traditional foe, Russia, fought and won a war with the Ottoman Empire.
Because of this long and acrimonious history, many have found it surprising that Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been enjoying a productive visit to Belgrade. Among other economic cooperation proposals discussed was a Turkish proposal to extend the so-called Turk Stream Pipeline to Serbia.
While conventional wisdom would answer this question with a firm “no”, geo-political real ties across the globe are challenging long held conceptions of which states are traditional allies and enemies. First there was Turkey’s rapprochement with Russia which is quickly blossoming into a very real economic partnership. This was followed by a perhaps even more meaningful warming of relations between Turkey and Iran.
In a further challenge to the convention wisdom on traditional geo-political friends and foes, Saudi Arabia’s King has just visited Moscow for a meeting that could be the first small step in a long term Saudi pivot to Eurasia.
Old adversaries versus current threats
And thus one must turn not to Serbia’s old enemy of Turkey, but to the state which most directly threatens the sovereignty and security of Serbia: Albania.
Ethnic Albanians who are well known to have a direct line to the regime in Tirana, are currently occupying the Serbian Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija. In 2008, when Turkey joined its NATO colleagues in recognising the Albanian/NATO occupation of Kosovo and Metohija as a “state”, the world was very different for Turkey. At that time, Ankara wanted to join the EU and the idea of Turkey as a partner with Russia, Iran and others in Eurasia was considered inconsequential. Even 2013, when Erdogan made an embarrassingly anti-Serb speech in Kosovo and Metohija, seems like the distant past in terms of Turkey’s geo-political position then versus its positions now.
Times have changed in this respect and while Turkey can scarcely undo the recent, let alone centuries old past, present conditions could mandate a pivot in policy.
Unlike in Bosnia where Erdogan is seen as the leader of a kind of pseudo-political cult of personality, the other majority Sunni Muslim country of the Balkans, Albania, is currently experiencing an ebb in relations with Ankara.
Gulenists in Albania versus Erdogan
Albania is known to shelter members of the hated Fethullah Gulen terrorist organisation. Erdogan recently slammed Albania for sheltering members of the group, although his plea fell on notably deaf ears in Tirana. Erdogan friendly media outlets in Turkey were quick to latch onto Albania’s apparently perfidious behaviour.
Furthermore, in addition to housing Gulenists, Albania is also the de-facto global base for the People’s Mujahedin of Iran, a terrorist group widely proscribed by Turkey’s partners in Tehran.
Furthermore, while Serbia remains stable and safe from terrorism, Albania is being destabilised by a heavy presence of ISIS fighters, drug lords and arms dealers, including those who have sold weapons to Kurdish groups in the Middle East in the past.
At present, Turkey’s economic foot firmly is in the door of Russia and China. Russia for its part is happy to see Turkey facilitate the safe movement of Russian gas to the Balkans and likewise, China has its eye on the Balkans as an important transport corridor of the One Belt–One Road initiative.
Because of this, the great powers of the wider so-called global east need a safe space in the western Balkans to do commerce. That place is increasingly Serbia.
Additionally, with Turkey now coming out fully in favour of the territorial unity of Syria and Iraq due to the fear of radial Kurdish movements, Turkey’s sympathies may naturally evolve, making Ankara side with a state like Serbia, whose territorial unity has been threatened by a NATO alliance that Turkey is fast becoming a stranger in.
Turkey has already come out in opposition to the Greater Albania project and this was before Turkey’s row with Israel whose own Yinon Plan (aka Greater Israel Project) formally linked up with Kurds in Iraq, so far as Ankara is concerned.
Serbia’s objective attraction to Eurasia and beyond
As a non-EU member, Serbia is well placed to skirt the sanctions of Brussels and as a non-NATO country that is far more stable and secure than Albania, it makes increasingly good economic sense to invest in Serbia. Furthermore, unlike Greece, Serbia does not have any territorial disputes with Turkey, nor does the issue of Cyprus factor into matters with Serbia the way they inevitably would with Greece. Even if Serbia does eventually join the EU, much of this attraction remains. If as some have suggested, Serbia instead opts for a partnership with the EU as well as one with the Eurasian Economic Union, things would become even more enticing for the powers of Eurasian, including Turkey.
While some in Ankara might still want to play up Albania’s Sunni heritage as a common denominator in relations, the fact is that Albania’s corrupt political culture means that it has and will almost certainly continue to shelter any terrorist group which is willing to either pay up or make an ‘offer’ that Tirana cannot or is not willing to refuse. In this sense, contemporary Albania is something like post-1996 Afghanistan in respect of al-Qaeda, only with money alone, as opposed to money plus ideology being a guiding factor in various decision making processes. This is not to say that the political culture of Albania is similar to 1990s Afghanistan, but its relationship to international terrorism is becoming eerily similar.
The Gulenist factor however, may be a decisive point in a Turkey pivot to Serbia. In this sense, just as Russia lured Turkey with the genuine promise of economic enrichment, at the same time that the US and EU pushed Turkey away, so too could Serbia’s stability and business like attitude stand out in the Balkans, all the while Serbia’s primary adversary pushes Turkey away.
It is clear that Turkey is not willing to placate any power with ties to Gulen’s terrorist organisation and this increasingly includes the United States. If Turkey will not stand for Gulenism among American state bodies, there is little realistic prospect that Albania will stand a chance in Turkey’s overall calculations on the matter.
While it is early days yet and while Turkey is a particular case study which proves that a zero sum mentality to geo-politics can never accurately apply, Serbia may be on the verge of developing an unlikely partnership with Anakara, one almost as unlikely as that which has developed between Ankara and Moscow as well as Ankara and Tehran.
The Kosovo government will forcibly expropriate several properties in the Shipitulla village, facilitating the expansion of the Kosovo Energy Corporation’s coal mining operations.
The Kosovo government decided last week prepare to forcibly expropriate properties in the village of Shipitulla, on the frontlines of the Kosovo Energy Corporation, KEK, coal mining zone. The decision rejects the Resettlement Policy Framework, which was adapted from the World Bank’s rules and procedures around the resettlement, and requires residents’ cooperation and consent with institutional proposals for expropriation and compensation.
Without being able to achieve such an agreement, the government has decided to resettle inhabitants through the Law on Expropriation of Property, which outlines avenues for KEK, or the government as a shareholder of KEK, to forcibly resettle residents without their consent.
In late July, local and international media reported that Kosovo was on the verge of an energy crisis, with the country’s coal reserves down to just two weeks.
But the country was not running out of coal–it was, rather, inaccessible, beneath private properties around Obilic.
For ten years, residents of Hade, another Obilic-area village, have been waiting for expropriation in order to make space for coal extraction by KEK. Residents have protested for just resettlement and against demolitions and environmental degradation.
Recently, KEK has focused its mining efforts on expanding in the direction of the Shipitulla village, reported Kosovo 2.0.
After the alarm was raised regarding the energy crisis, KEK reached an agreement with six owners from the 17 properties planned for evaluation and expropriation.
Now the government will take action to forcibly expropriate the remaining 11 properties affected by the project for expansion of the coal mining zone.
Steps for the expropriation of these properties began during the first five days of August, after KEK warned about the depletion of coal reserves.
Minister Ferat Shala claimed that the Ministry of Environmental and Spatial Planning held a public hearing on August 10th before making a preliminary decision on August 11th to pursue forced expropriation.
However, Shipitulla inhabitants insist that no such public hearing was held.
Ardian Mjeku, one of the owners of the properties that will be expropriated according to the government’s decision, said that the homeowners had not been informed about the decision, and insisted that there was not a public hearing held on the 10th.
“The public discussion has not been held. The Ministry of Finance, the Commission for Evaluation of Properties, has not entered our homes, but has made the evaluation from the roads close to the houses, and said that the living conditions are not adequate here,” said Mjeku.
Mjeku said that the inhabitants will not leave their homes, but will instead wait for government action, whatever that may be.
“We intend to stay here until they violently displace us, and if they remove us violently we have no place to go,” said Mjeku.
While KEK and the respective ministries had earlier talks with residents concerning expropriation, the lives of some families in Shipitulla have become difficult and even endangered.
On the evening of August 17th, KEK excavators mined towards Shipitulla, drastically intruding upon the security zone, 250 meters away from inhabited houses.
Fatmir Gerguri, chief inspector of mines of the Independent Commission for Mining and Minerals, KPMM, demanded that the inhabitants let the excavators work through the night while the KPMM worked to come to a speedy decision on whether the excavators can go past the security zone.
Although the KPMM called for excavators to respect the security zone, according to Mjeku, this decision has not been respected, and now the excavators have reached a distance of 50 meters from the homes, risking erosion of the land on which they are situated.
Inhabitants have the right to file complaints to the Ministry of Environment, but the decision to expropriate cannot be halted by citizen complaints.
Apart from the 11 properties planned for forced expropriation, Minister Ferhat Shala also plans to apply the same strategy to the remaining cadastral zone of Shipitulla.
At a meeting on August 30th, the government in charge approved a proposal to conduct a property assessment for expropriation of the remaining properties in Shipitulla.
The inhabitants of these properties share the same opinion as their neighbours on this issue.
Saim Krasniqi, an owner of several properties in the area, is angry with the government’s decision but said that it was to be expected.
“The Kosovo government has taken the wrong decision a hundred times, always in favour of KEK. No one from the government or the ministries has taken the initiative to meet the inhabitants or regard us as an equal party to KEK,” he said.
Only in 2014, KEDS company secured a clean profit of about EUR 30 million, while Turkish company “Calik-Limak” had privatized the electricity distribution for 26.3 million euros a year earlier.
The sale of electricity distribution at such a price years ago was followed by numerous accusations, as it was estimated that the value of public company assets was several times higher and at the same time the Turkish company had invested in a safe and fair business Exclusive retail of electricity to customers.
The newspaper “Zëri” has managed to secure the documentation of the winning profits provided by the KEDS and KESCO companies, the latter being established in 2015 and dealing with power supply.
According to this “Son” documentation, in 2015 these companies have earned 31 million euros, despite the investments made, while in 2016 the profits of these two companies have reached about 25 million euros.
Astronomical gains are being secured by businesses in Kosovo as citizens and manufacturing businesses continue to complain about the increase in electricity and at the same time for its lack. According to some reports, electricity bills over the last few years have risen to more than 30 percent.
KEDS does not provide data on profits
The newsletter “Zëri” via email has asked KEDS for more information about the profits they have provided over the next three years, but the latter have refused to answer.
“KEDS Revenue is Public. However, we would like to emphasize, however, that no share dividend has been distributed so far. In short, investors have not received any profits from KEDS operations so far, but net profit is invested in the network and other assets to make sure that we are providing better services to our customers, “he said. Said KEDS spokesman Victor Buzhala.
On the other hand, ERO officials have provided information about the allowed revenues of these two companies, but neither have provided information about the net profit of the company.
“The maximum allowed revenue allocation process for each licensee is done through public consultation based on pricing rules and this information is available on the ERO website. Regarding company profits, this information can be obtained from audited financial statements by KEDS and KESCO or through Tax Administration or any other relevant institution. ERO as the body responsible for the economic regulation of the sector is obliged to ensure that the revenues approved by ERO are in line with the services provided, “said ERO spokeswoman Adelina Murtezaj.
Ibrahim Rexhepi, familiar with the country’s economic circumstances, says the privatization of KEK’s distribution has been completely out of the eyes of the public, so are Auditor’s reports that indicate that here the Energy Regulatory Office has plenty of room for corrections
“ERO has to reduce revenues, less profit from investors, but on the other hand it is assisted by families with severe social conditions,” he said.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has reacted after yesterday’s opposition positions within the Assembly, as well as the clash with words during the debate on the resignation of the prime minister.
“These images do not honor anyone. Kosovo has suffered very historically, and today it is the moment for it to make a big turn. Kosovo needs a democratic government, not an autocratic and a police. There are no good days for a country that fights its citizens for why they protest, “Ms. Merkel told Deutsche Welle.
Further, Merkel has also spoken of the recent agreements between Kosovo and Serbia, saying that Serbia is showing itself irresponsible after every round of negotiations. Therefore, according to her, the agreements should be reconsidered and there can be no agreement outside the will of the people.
“It is up to the government to find a solution, but not to discriminate and exclude the opposition. Kosovo let’s learn from our state how to handle the opposition despite the differences, “Chancellor Merkel concluded.
Acknowledging the truth about war crimes in Kosovo is the only way that both societies can move forward.
President Jahjaga was not able to read her speech in Belgrade, therefore I want to read a part of it here:
“The stories presented in the book are not only stories of torture and abuse. They are stories of the cruelest form of torture. These are stories of rape-rape used as a tool of war. These are stories of a truth that has been attempted to be concealed, hidden and buried. Over the years, I have met hundreds of survivors of sexual violence during the war, in different parts of my country.
Carefully and patiently, I have listened to their stories; I have cried for those who needed me to cry with them, and I have stayed strong for those who needed me to be strong. I have heard a story of a woman from the Drenica region who was gang-raped continuously by Serbian paramilitaries for over six months. I have spoken to a woman in Gjakova whose body was mutilated while she was raped.
Just recently, I met the child of a war rape victim who died without receiving the justice she hoped for, for so many years; I truly hope that you read this book, share it with your friends and family, ask your government to punish the perpetrators and call for reconciliation with your neighbours. We shall not let anybody keep us hostages of the past.
The victims of these crimes will never be able to find peace unless the perpetrators of these crimes are brought to justice. This is a precondition for long lasting peace, good neighbourly relations and a stable future for the next generations. The future of our countries lies in our hands. Let it be a future of reconciliation and peace”