Kosovo issue nothing to do with religion: Envoy
Veeramalla Anjaiah, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

When Zoran Kazazovic -- a career diplomat -- came to Indonesia two and half years ago, his position was ambassador of Serbia and Montenegro. But with its separation from Serbia on June 3, 2006, Montenegro was removed from Kazazovic's designation.

The superpowers of the world -- the U.S. and the 27-member European Union (EU) -- now want to take Kosovo, one of the poorest regions in Europe, away from Serbia and create a new country.

Kosovo, a province which was recognized under United Nations Resolution No. 1244 as part of Serbia, is home to nearly two million Muslim Kosovar Albanians.

According to Kazazovic, Kosovo is not a new problem. "Actually, the Kosovo conflict is an ethnic one and has nothing to do with religion. It's not a conflict between Christians and Muslims."

But religion has become a major victim of the Kosovo conflict . . .. Before the NATO bombings in 1999, around 10,000 ethnic Albanians, mostly Muslims, were killed and several mosques were destroyed by Serbs [the Christians] in Kosovo. After the bombing, Albanians [the Muslims] killed around 2,000 people and destroyed several churches.

"After the NATO takeover of Kosovo in 1999, more than 220,000 Serbs [the Christians] were expelled from Kosovo. In Pristina, the capital of Kosovo, there were 100,000 Serbs [the Christians] prior to 1999. Now there are less than 100. Over 150 churches and monasteries were destroyed by Albanians.

But Kosovar Albanians [the Muslims] have rejected the Serbian offer and demanded total independence, as proposed in the Martti Ahtisaari plan. Athisaari, the former president of Finland who successfully negotiated the Aceh peace deal, is the UN envoy to Kosovo who recommended Kosovo become independent.

The Serbian ambassador attacked Athisaari's plan.

"It is ironic that the EU and the U.S. are asking the UN Security Council to dismember a sovereign UN member state and one of the founding members of the UN. If the UN allows Serbia's division, then what is the use of one of the most cherished principles of international law: [t]he territorial integrity of states?"

It's a big dilemma for many countries, including Indonesia - home to the world's largest Muslim population - to take a decision on Kosovo independence.

"We know Indonesia is fully aware of the situation in Kosovo. I hope Indonesia, as a non-permanent member of the Security Council, will take a stance in line with its principles and policies on international law and the UN," Kazazovic said.

If Kosovo [the Muslims] becomes independent without the consent of Serbia [the Christians], it will set a bad precedent in international relations on one side and sow the seeds of future instability and repeat conflicts in the Balkans.

I wonder how the rag-headed representatives in MPR/DPR will vote on this one? If they vote to support Kosovo [the Muslims] in its bid to separate from Serbia [the Christians], without Serbia's consent, that could pave the way for Papua and the Molucca Islands both to separate themselves from Indonesia without Indonesia's consent. Let's see how this plays out after all the teeth-gnashing and hand wringing over an impromptu dance at that public ceremony a few weeks ago.

See also "Indonesia's childish politicians" http://www.thejakartapost.com/detaileditorial.asp?fileid=20070709.E01