Confirmation and Contradiction: the Claims of Professor Jahja Kokaj about the U.S. Lobbying and Public Relations Effort on Behalf of the Serbian National Council of Kosovo and Metohija

Published on August 10, 2006

Category: News from the American Council for Kosovo

In his recent commentary recently published on the website www.alb-shkenca.org, Professor Jahja Kokaj takes strong issue with the lobbying and public relations effort in the United States on behalf of the Serbian National Council (SNV) of Kosovo and Metohiha, under the spiritual guidance of Bishop Artemije of Rashka and Prizren. While attesting to what he regards as the dangers posed by the considerable impact of the SNV effort to fulfillment of aspirations of an independent Muslim Albanian state in Kosovo, Professor Kokaj suggests it is built on false claims regarding the presence of a jihad terrorist movement in Kosovo, the criminal and terrorist character of the Muslim Albanian leaders in Kosovo, and the continuing attacks on Christian Serbs and their holy sites.

Contrary to Professor Kokaj's assertions, these claims -- which indeed do form the core of the lobbying and PR effort -- are entirely accurate. Supporting evidence can be found on the website of the American Council for Kosovo (www.savekosovo.org > ), an activity of the lobbying and public relations effort by Venable law firm and Global Strategic Communications Group on behalf of the SNV. Among the most important items disproving Professor Kokaj's claims (by category):

1. Attacks on Christian Serbs and their holy places

"Blind Eyes over Kosovo" by American commentator Doug Bandow [American Spectator, July 20, 2006]. Mr. Bandow recently visited Kosovo and describes the growing Islamization of the province and the climate of terror for the remaining Christian Serbs. Writing in one of America's premier conservative publications, he suggests that U.S. policy must seek a genuine compromise between the Serbs and Albanians, not a diktat in favor of the latter. Bandow wrote: Although Serbs disappeared from much of Kosovo -- roughly 40,000 in the capital of Pristina turned into about 120 mostly terrified elderly residents today -- around 100,000 remain, with many concentrated in the north, around the town of Mitrovica. In March 2004 a series of coordinated riots and assaults broke out, killing 19 people, injuring about 1,000 more, displacing 4,000 Serbs, destroying 36 churches and monasteries, torching numerous homes and farms, and despoiling cemeteries. (All told, about 150 churches, monasteries, and seminaries have been destroyed since 1999. "They destroy them, we rebuild them," commented one determined Church member.)

“Kosovo’s Not Ready for Independence” by Institute of Religion and Public Policy President Joseph Grieboski [The Wall Street Journal, August 3, 2006]. In his letter-to-the-editor, in response to an op-ed which correctly recognized the failures of Kosovo’s provisional institutions, Mr. Grieboski states that religious freedom in Kosovo has deteriorated to “utterly intolerable condition[s].” Mr. Grieboski’s points in his letter echoed his recent testimony before the United States Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, primarily Kosovo’s lack of democratic infrastructure which would prevent violence and the gross mistreatment of religious "minorities."

“Kosovo risks ‘ethnic cleansing’ again-rights group” [Reuters, August 7, 2006]. Reuters reported on the risks Christian Serbs face, according to a report by London-based Minority Rights Group International. As reported by Reuters, Minority Rights Group International finds that non-Albanian persecution in Kosovo is the worst “minority” focused violence in Europe and that the United Nations and international community are failing to protect non-Albanians in Kosovo. Reuters reported: Half the pre-war Serb population fled a wave of revenge attacks after the 1998-99 war. Hundreds more fled Albanian mob riots in March 2004 that killed 19 people.

“Christians Under Siege in Kosovo by Cliff Kincaid [Accuracy in Media, June 1, 2006]. Conservative commentator and Accuracy in Media Report editor Cliff Kincaid reports on the disturbing course the United States is taking by allowing radical Muslims to take power in Kosovo, while fighting similar Islamists in Iraq and Afghanistan. Kincaid states this is a “foreign policy disaster in the making.”

“Kosovo: Criminal Justice System Fails Victims” [Human Rights Watch press release, May 30, 2005]. Human Rights Watch, the largest human rights organization based in the United States, issued a report condemning Kosovo’s criminal justice system for failing its victims, especially those impacted by the March 2004 Muslim Albanian pogrom against Christian Serbs. In the report, Human Rights Watch finds that accountability for crimes committed by Muslim Albanians against non-Albanians “isn’t on the agenda for Kosovo.” Human Rights Watch found: Progress on prosecutions related to the March riots has been limited, despite being given priority in the justice system. More than two years later, only 426 individuals have been charged in connection with the violence, mostly for minor offenses such as theft, with just over half resulting in final decisions.

2. Islamic Terror in Kosovo

“As Bush stands firm in the Middle East, he capitulates in Europe” by Julia Gorin [Jewish World Review, August 8, 2006]. Ms. Gorin, a conservative commentator whose op-eds have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Christian Science Monitor, and Washington Post, writes that while the Bush administration is defeating Islamic jihad terror in the Middle East, in Europe it is continuing Clinton administration policy and embracing defeat by supporting terrorist elements in the Balkans, especially Kosovo, which are part of the worldwide movement for restoration of the Caliphate. “Al Qaeda’s Balkan Links” by Marcia Christoff Kurop [The Wall Street Journal Europe, January 11, 2001]. Kurop reports that the Balkans became a major training and recruiting center for al Qaeda. According to Kurop, in Kosovo, as well as in Bosnia, al Qaeda and Iran’s Revolutionary Guards recruited terrorists due to impoverished conditions in the region. Kurop wrote: For the past 10 years, the most senior leaders of al Qaeda have visited the Balkans, including bin Laden himself on three occasions between 1994 and 1996. The Egyptian surgeon turned terrorist leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri has operated terrorist training camps, weapons of mass destruction factories and money-laundering and drug-trading networks throughout Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Turkey and Bosnia. This has gone on for a decade.

3. Organized Crime in Kosovo

“Kosovo consternation” by Admiral James “Ace” Lyons, Jr. [The Washington Times, May 9, 2006]. Retired Admiral Lyons, former commander-in-chief of the Pacific Fleet, argues that a linkage exists between terrorist organizations and organized crime in Kosovo -- including the trafficking of humans, narcotics, and weapons. As a former U.S. military representative to the United Nations, Admiral Lyons is qualified to recognize the failure of international institutions delegated to combat organized crime and why Kosovo independence is bound to fail. Lyons cited a report by the NATO Parliamentary assembly stating: …the principal supplier countries [i.e., for trafficked women] today are Moldova (up to 80 percent: many Moldovan villages do not have any more women), Bulgaria, Romania and Ukraine. The networks used various routes, including the route that passes through Kosovo, Albania, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (see the village of Veledze, the regional centre of prostitution) and Montenegro, then through Italy. The Albanian mafia has set up a real cartel on prostitution. It handles more than 65 percent of the trafficking in women in the Balkans.

“Corrupt Kosovo cannot be independent state” [United Press International, April 14, 2006]. UPI reported on comments made by UN negotiator Albert Rohan who stated "Corruption endangers the independence of Kosovo." As reported by UPI, Rohan also stated that Kosovo independence cannot occur unless corruption is contained.

4. Meet the Muslim Albanian Leaders

“Balkan Realties” by James Bissett [The Washington Times, July 20, 2006]. Bissett, a former Canadian ambassador to Yugoslavia, responds to an editorial “[condemning] Serbian determination to maintain Kosovo as an integral part of its territory.” In his letter-to-the-editor, Ambassador Bissett illustrates how Kosovo’s so-called “prime minister” Agim Ceku has yet to face justice for war crimes committed while he commanded Croatian forces in 1993 and the Kosovo Liberation Army in 1998. Ambassador Bissett wrote: In 2002, Mr. Ceku was indicted by Serbia for responsibility as a Kosovo Liberation Army commander for the murders of 669 Serbians and other non-Albanians during the fighting that broke out in Kosovo in 1998. The indictment includes murder, abduction, torture and ethnic cleansing of the non-Albanian population from Kosovo.

“U.S. Anti-Terrorism Policy in Disarray” by Cliff Kincaid [Accuracy in Media, July 11, 2006]. Kincaid reported on the recent meeting between so-called Kosovo “prime minister” Agim Ceku and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, stating that the Bush administration’s foreign policy is “running out of gas” due to meetings such as this and other recent decisions. Kincaid wrote: Ceku, who was indicted by Serbia in 2002 for war crimes, is accused of responsibility for the murders by KLA terrorists of 669 Serbs and 18 members of other ethnic groups, 518 counts of inflicting serious bodily harm (including torture) and wounding, and 584 counts of abduction, many of the victims of which are presumed dead. Even after the end of hostilities between Serb forces and NATO, Ceku was accused of continuing attacks on Serbs, driving two-thirds of them from the province of Kosovo.


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