Thanks to the efforts of police general Sreten Lukic, the Serbian Ministry of Internal Affairs also began active investigation of crimes committed by individual members of the Serbian police force and the Yugoslav Army, significantly contributing to the discovery of the fates of missing Albanians. However, months passed and Hague tribunal and UNMIK representatives continued to claim that they lacked valid evidence regarding the crimes of Albanian extremists whose campaign of ethnic terror continues with unreduced fervor, claiming its blood tithe, "paid" by the children of Gorazdevac and the members of the massacred Stolic family of Obilic, among many other victims.
The new change in relations between UNMIK and Belgrade with respect to committed crimes was probably the result of an article published in the Belgrade daily Vecernje Novosti, which included photographs of KLA members holding the severed heads of abducted Serbs. At first UNMIK representatives were at a loss as to how to comment on the article; however, soon it emerged that the investigation of this case had been initiated as early as August 2003 after the photographs were discovered in an abandoned Albanian house in the village of Prilep near Decani. Some UNMIK representatives believe that it is easier to keep the Albanians under control if their leaders know that indictments against them can be activated as soon as they stop behaving cooperatively. However, events on the ground show that these same leaders have interpreted UNMIK's strategy as a sign of weakness and a guarantee of their immunity; therefore, they continued to coordinate extremist attacks, not hesitating to openly threaten the most senior UNMIK officials, turning the situation to their own advantage. It is as a result of threats coming from former KLA structures that one of the former heads of UNMIK, Hans Haekkerup, was forced to suddenly depart from Kosovo, having incensed Albanian circles - by his close cooperation with Belgrade and a change in the pro-Albanian course of his predecessor, Bernard Kouchner.
Since then, the situation has nevertheless changed drastically. The Russians are no longer the enemies of the West, and Osama and his "freedom fighters" have become enemy number one of the USA and the Western world, especially after the tragedy on September 11, 2001. Milosevic is no longer the bogeyman of the Balkans and Serbia is drawing increasingly nearer to Euro-Atlantic integration along with the other former Yugoslav republics. Perhaps the only dinosaurs remaining from that area are in Kosovo, where Albanian leaders cannot comprehend that they are prisoners of their own anachronistic nationalist ideas, which are no longer necessary in the West.
However, the problem in Kosovo is that the West really no longer has much of a choice. A new political elite capable of giving Kosovo a European image was not created in time. Honestly, the former leaders of the KLA who grabbed power after the war do not appear prepared to turn power over to others and lose control over illegal transactions and drug smuggling that bring them millions of Euros. Kosovo is at a dead end once again and Europe would prefer to sweep the problem under the rug if it were not so close to Western European countries where the Albanian mafia is already entrenched.
Unfortunately, the same story repeats itself. Former friends of "Western values" such as Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein have been transformed into the greatest enemies of Western civilization and the bellwethers of the "Axis of Evil", according to U.S. president George W. Bush, Jr. When we recall the events of 1998-99, the only real reason that led NATO to accept the KLA as its ally was their common goal to free themselves of the Milosevic regime by inflicting a defeat in Kosovo, long considered one of the most powerful strongholds of his political might and personal political charisma. Depicting the secessionism of the Kosovo Albanians as a human rights struggle, the West created a completely legitimate excuse to launch a massive media, diplomatic and military campaign designed to bring Milosevic to his knees.
Of course, there are still those who believe that the military intervention was necessary but it would be difficult for any impartial observer to deny that the true humanitarian catastrophe in Kosovo and Metohija began at the same time that the first NATO bombs began to fall of the cities of Serbia. Even if the Devil himself had said he was anti-Milosevic, he probably would have been welcomed as an ally, armed and sent to war. At the same time, Kosovo Albanians who openly welcomed the NATO bombs certainly could not have expected a favorable reaction on the part of their Serbian neighbors. Of course, it would be a serious mistake to claim that the situation in Kosovo before the bombing was good; on the other hand, it is a fact that the first bombs created such a degree of animosity that it was realistic to expect a tragic unfolding of events.
It could even be said that this course of events was openly provoked in order to justify military intervention against a sovereign European country with a relatively low intensity conflict with rebel secessionist forces on its territory before the Western community. The fact that the UN never officially approved the intervention was another reason for war planners to find an urgent and sufficiently plausible reason to convince the public to support the continuation of bombing.
Reports detailing hundreds of thousands of expelled and murdered Albanians, destroyed cities and concentration camps fanned the conviction of the Western World that Serbs were the only culprits, while the members of the KLA were honorable fighters for the freedom of their people. Events that soon followed showed matters in a truer light.
After the withdrawal of Yugoslav forces without a single incident, KFOR forces headed by NATO deployed in Kosovo and Metohija. With them came KLA gangs from the Republic of Albania and from the forests of Kosovo, which immediately assumed power in Kosovo cities and began their campaign of terror: arrests, murders, torture of civilians in camps and other crimes reported in detail by horrified Western journalists, who expected to find Serbian paramilitary forces in Kosovo and Metohija murdering Albanian returnees.
In the majority of cases KFOR did nothing to prevent the mass departure of the Serb population from entire cities and villages. Several documentaries filmed at the time by Albanians and Turks even show KFOR troops helping Serbs to flee from their homes, as if their mandate was not to provide security for all communities but to transform Kosovo into an ethnically cleansed Albanian province. Hundreds of Serbian villages were looted and torched, and thousands of apartments and houses in larger settlements were usurped by Albanians despite the presence of international forces. Thus recent invitations extended to Serbs to return to their destroyed or illegally occupied homes can only be interpreted as bitter irony.
Bernard Kouchner immediately announced the beginning of a new era in democracy, despite daily news of murders, church destructions, abductions and looting of Serb-owned property. The security vacuum that ensued as a result of KFOR's inadequate strategy and the almost complete absence or lack of training on the part of UNMIK police was quickly filled by the "new liberators", who in fact never won a single battle against the Yugoslav Army. The cutting edge of their victors' euphoria was best felt by the remaining Serbs, Roma, Bosniaks, Croats and moderate Kosovo Albanians, who were immediately branded as enemies of the new regime headed by Thaci, Haradinaj and Cheku. It immediately became clear that the KLA's vision of the future of Kosovo was at odds with what the West wanted and UN Security Council Resolution 1244 mandated. Nevertheless, the "mischief" caused by the allies continued to be tolerated because Milosevic was still in Belgrade and all problems could ultimately still be blamed on his regime and on the Serbs in general.
Only several months after the arrival of UNMIK and KFOR did it become clear that the Yugoslav Army did not intend to return to Kosovo and Metohija and that the rules of engagement for peacekeeping forces needed to be seriously reexamined. However, it was already too late for any sort of serious change for the better. KLA bands had already ethnically cleansed most of the Province. Borders toward Macedonia and Albania remained wide open and by the beginning of 2001, Macedonian Albanians supported by the Kosovo compatriots launched their own war of secession under the guise of a battle for greater rights for the Albanian community.
At the same time, tons of weapons continued to pour into Albania through the gorges of the Prokletije mountain range since no one was protecting the borders. Some representatives of the KFOR and UNMIK understood that the real problems were no longer in Belgrade but in their own backyard, even though the majority kept up their old prejudices and continued to view Kosovo Albanians as the only victims, turning a blind eye to their extremism and organized crime.
Therefore, it was necessary to create a balance of crime, and the Serb part of Kosovska Mitrovica was regularly depicted in the press and in UNMIK reports as the stronghold of "the most dangerous Serb extremists" when this "extremism" actually consisted solely in the fact that they refused to allow themselves to go the same way as other, ethnically cleansed Kosovo cities and spontaneously organized resistance to the Albanian takeover of the north of the Province, predominantly populated by Serbs.
Although no one can deny the existence of radically disposed elements in the Kosovo enclaves, Northern Mitrovica has paradoxically remained far more multiethnic in character than any other city in the Province dominated by Kosovo Albanians. However, the Mission had to find justification at any price, not only for the continued military presence in Kosovo and Metohija but also because of the increasingly greater engagement of Western armed forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. The failure of peacekeeping missions in Bosnia and Kosovo would jeopardize other enterprises, as well as undermine the general idea of "humanitarian intervention", which in the Near East has become an excuse for a new "oil imperialism". For all these reasons, it has become imperative to hide the truth regarding the real situation in Kosovo and Metohija far from the public eye. Currently almost the entire leadership of the former Milosevic regime is in The Hague; at the same time, the initiators and key figures of the Kosovo campaign of ethnic terror are wearing the laurels of the victors. Occasionally Western diplomats flatter them by insisting that they are the ones who must lead Kosovo in the direction of Europe. A former chief of the U.S. Mission in Kosovo, Reno Harnish, compared them even with the fathers of American democracy. We can only hope that this injustice and lack of impartiality toward the Kosovo problem will not last long and that all criminals, regardless of their ethnicity, will be brought to justice. It is the least that can be done for the thousands of innocent people who lost their lives during and after the Kosovo conflict just because they refused to accept national chauvinism and hatred as the purpose of their lives.