Open letter to Mr. Geremek, OSCE Chairman-in-Office, on Kosovo


To: MINELRES list submissions <minelres-l@riga.lv>
Date: Fri, 13 Feb 1998 10:21:02 -0800
From: MINELRES moderator <minelres@mailbox.riga.lv>
Subject: Open letter to Mr. Geremek, OSCE Chairman-in-Office, on Kosovo

From: MINELRES moderator  <minelres@mailbox.riga.lv>

Original sender: International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights <office@ihf-hr.org>

Press-Release: Open letter to Mr. Geremek, OSCE Chairman-in-Office, on Kosovo


PRESS RELEASE

Topic: Open letter to Mr. Geremek, OSCE Chairman-in-Office, on Kosovo

We distribute the latest release of four Helsinki organizations

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OPEN LETTER

Bronislav Geremek
OSCE Chairman-in-Office
Polish Foreign Ministry

12 February 1998

Dear Mr. Geremek,

Many in our organization have greeted your term as Chairman-in-Office
of the OSCE with hope and expectation, based on our respect for your
wisdom and integrity.

We are writing to convey our serious concerns about the politically
very dangerous situation in Kosovo.

The long lasting status quo of peaceful and civil resistance of
Albanians in Kosovo has ended. The situation seems to be sliding out
of control and heading toward large-scale violence between Albanians
and Serb police units. Every day, there are reports of more violent
assaults and increased repression over Albanians in the form of
Serbian reprisal expeditions. In addition, there are also increasing
numbers of armed assaults against Serbian police and other
repression-related targets, assumed to be carried out by the so-called
Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). Having recently visited regions
reportedly under the control of Albanian armed resistance movements,
the IHF believes the policy of passive resistance will come to an end
if Serbian repression and reprisal campaigns do not stop and if the
fundamental rights and dignity of the Albanians in Kosovo are not
restored.

No political solution in Kosovo can be reached without an
international mediation for negotiation between Serbs and Albanians
and strong outside pressure and assistance. Such an international
mediation should take the form of a Dayton-like international
conference on Kosovo.

To call for "dialogue" is not enough. Dialogue cannot take place
between two manifestly unequal parties, in a situation in which one
party is violently and systematically oppressing the other.

Suggestions about various partitioning scenarios of Kosovo, which
would likely lead to ethnic cleansing and further large scale
suffering for Albanians, seem to have become acceptable solutions from
official Serb viewpoint.

The initiatives of the OSCE, the UN, the Council of Europe, the
Contact Group, and individual states (Germany, France, US) have an
acute and strong need for much more clarity and coordination. As
during the Bosnian war, conflicting interests prevent Europe, Russia
and the US from making a decisive and timely contribution to the
resolution of the conflict. The main beneficiaries seem to be
President Milosevic and Serbian nationalists.

Strong and concerted pressure must be brought to bear on President
Milosevic to agree to a process of international mediation aimed at
ending Serbian oppression in Kosovo and at negotiating a just and
stable future political status for Kosovo.  This is why the IHF is
calling for a "Dayton-like" conference. A political solution requires
a strong, internationally legitimate framework, negotiated on the
basis of international standards.

In fact, under the Dayton process itself, Kosovo ought to be the
subject of a Peace Implementation Council ministerial meeting.

The OSCE, as an inclusive security-framework, ought to be the context
in which a plan for action is developed and given moral priority.  The
OSCE also provides a platform from which to mobilize political energy.
We would respectfully suggest that you, as Chairman-in-Office of the
OSCE, publicly and forcefully insist on a new initiative to end what
is arguably the worst human rights situation in the entire region,
which threatens to degenerate into large-scale violence.

Of course, we pledge our cooperation should there be any way in which
our organizations might be of assistance.

Sonja Biserko
Chair, Serbian Helsinki Committee

Gazmend Pula
Chair, Kosova Helsinki Committee

Slobodan Franovic
Chair, Montenegrin Helsinki Committee

Aaron Rhodes
Executive Director, International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights

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International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights
Rummelhardtgasse 2/18
1090 VIENNA, AUSTRIA
Tel. +43-1-402 73 87 or +43-1-408 88 22
Fax  +43-1-408 74 44 E-mail: office@ihf-hr.org
Internet: http://www.ihf-hr.org

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