July 26, 2001

Rambouillet Repeated?

In February of 1999, after the staged "massacre" of 45 KLA bandits at Racak, Madeleine Albright summoned the Yugoslav leadership to a castle in Rambouillet, France, where they were to sign a NATO ultimatum providing for their unconditional surrender. KLA's warlord Hashim Thaci, sitting right across from the legitimate representatives of the Yugoslav and Serbian government, refused to sign the ultimatum himself until the very last moment – thus making it appear as if the KLA was not too thrilled with it either, while giving Albright and her warlord Wesley Clark an official excuse to bomb Yugoslavia. Belgrade, aware of the ultimatum's provisions, refused to submit. Rambouillet would have become a synonym for outrage in international affairs, had it not been overshadowed by NATO's subsequent terror-bombing.

Yet here it is, nearly three years hence, and a Rambouillet-style capitulation is being demanded of another country, Yugoslavia's weakened southern neighbor, which has been, until recently, an obedient vassal of the NATO Empire.


Images that were beamed to TV screens across the world on Monday and Tuesday were eerily reminiscent of Sarajevo in 1992, another city marked with urban battles and quarter-to-quarter shelling, with devastating effects. Two days of heavy fighting caused mounting casualties and streams of refugees. Contrary to ominous predictions in the world media, this was not full-scale civil war, at least not yet. If anything, the fighting in Tetovo was intended as a warning, a foretaste of what was to come if the Macedonian government were to continue refusing the so-called "peace" proposal brokered by EU/NATO/U.S.

Macedonians fled Tetovo in droves, joining their compatriots expelled at gunpoint from villages above the city, now under UCK control. A large group of them rioted in Skopje Tuesday night, attacking the US Embassy, British Airways office, OSCE offices and a McDonalds.

UCK bandits had almost reached the town center of Tetovo before a new cease-fire was called Tuesday. Additionally, member of the bandit "General Staff" Nazmi Beqiri told Reuters the UCK had two brigades operating around the town of Gostivar in the southwest.

The fighting came in the wake of collapsing "peace talks" – sessions in which Imperial legates James Pardew and Francois Leotard attempted to impose the ready-made "agreement" on local participants. Macedonian representatives refused to sign them last weekend, supposedly over the issues of Albanian language and local policing.


That is not what the Macedonian representatives said, denouncing the plan as "serious interference in internal Macedonian affairs."

Said Prime Minister Georgievski, "Now the masks are off and it is clear that the terrorist organisations in Macedonia enjoy serious backing and logistical support from Western democracies." (AFP)

His government, however, has no clue what to do next. It is far easier to oppose the West verbally than in practice, especially since the horrid lesson of Serbia drove home the possible consequences of such an act. Furthermore, Macedonia's leaders see their future in becoming part of the EU, perhaps hoping that this would guarantee their country's sovereignty and security. This is a false hope at best, a dangerous delusion at worst.

A chorus of voices from the West is denouncing the Macedonians for refusing to cave in, and at the same time denying doing so. Pardew and Leotard also reject accusations that they blamed Macedonians for the recent fighting. But a Reuters report clearly mentions a Western diplomat saying that "the fighting played into the hands of hard-liners on the Macedonian side who want to scupper talks on a peace deal.... Blame today's events on those factions on one side who don't want peace." [Emphasis added.]

Not surprisingly, pro-establishment media in the West are leading the way, with all news agencies repeating phrases such as "hard-line elite" among the "Macedonian Slavs" that "stokes nationalist fervor" through the Prime Minister's "tirades."

Having agreed to open the supposedly inviolate constitutional principles to discussion with his Albanian "partners" in government, Georgievski severed the branch he was sitting on and tumbled down the slope of negotiating away his country's sovereignty. His latest moves are less a renunciation of this immoral policy, however welcome that would have been, than an attempt to get a better deal by playing the pouting child. He obviously did not read the script very well; only the protégés of the Empire can play that role and get away with it, from Alija Izetbegovic in Dayton to Hashim Thaci in Rambouillet.

Furthermore, Empire Casting C.S.A. has already given the role to Arben Xhaferi and Imer Imeri. Their parties, DPA and PDP, are in effect a political wing of the UCK – perhaps even officially, since they never renounced the infamous Prizren protocol, signed with the KLA and UCK leaders with American mediation. Thus positioned, they can easily advance the Albanian cause either through negotiations, or war. Indeed, PDP leader Imer Imeri told Reuters Tuesday, having "made a compromise by giving up 70 percent" of their demands, the Albanians were now "waiting for something to be decided on the military side."


The issue here is not one of language or civil rights. It never has been. The issue is one ethnic minority claiming nationhood status, and using terrorism and propaganda about "human rights" to achieve its goal. First of all, no one fights for civil rights by taking up arms. The act in itself creates too much bad blood for coexistence to be possible. Secondly, language in the Balkans has always been a banner of not just nationality, but nationhood. That is why only Serbs will still sometimes say they speak Serbo-Croatian; others in the former Yugoslavia insist on "Croatian," "Bosnian" and even "Montenegrin." In other words: have language, need nation-state.

In the case of Macedonian Albanians, they insist not on freedom to use their own language, but a government-enforced privilege to not use another. Albanians need "their own social facilities" to feel at home, since one cannot "create a new Macedonian identity including Albanians," says professor Ismail Mehmeti, of the illegal Albanian university in Tetovo. It is a call for apartheid, a society deliberately separated from the rest of the country by language and ethnicity.

That separation is then only a step away from becoming physical. Why else would the UCK seize and hold territory, if its claim was not territorial? This logic is so overwhelming, and its denials by the UCK political wing (Xhaferi's DPA and Imeri's PDP) and the Western powers so unfounded, there ought to be little doubt about the Albanians' true purpose – and the support it has within the Empire.


On second thought, the current situation in Macedonia does not quite resemble the situation in Rambouillet. Albright and her cohorts went to France fully intent of launching a war against Milosevic and the Serbian people. Their ultimatum was never meant to be accepted, only to serve as a whitewash for aggression. It mimicked Austria-Hungary pathetic excuse for a casus belli from 1914. Though the method of imposition is the same as Dayton and Rambouillet, Empire's current strategy in Macedonia far more closely matches Munich of 1938.

The focus of US/NATO/EU "peace" efforts has been to achieve the Albanians' military and political objectives peacefully, saving themselves the trouble of an embarrassing war. Covering up or spinning away all the crimes the UCK is likely to commit would represent a tremendous challenge, one they would rather not face. They have had plenty of trouble already with burying the story of water shortages in Kumanovo and ignoring tens of thousands of Macedonians ethnically cleansed from UCK-occupied territories. Every so often, information slips through.

So far, the "mediators" have used up most of their Balkans playbook. There were panicking Albanian refugees; "civilian" victims of unidentified (but strongly alleged to be Macedonian) shells inside Kosovo; a phony arms embargo on the Kosovo-Macedonia border; reports of "human rights abuses" by the appropriate Western organizations; and now Rambouillet-like "peace talks," in fact an ultimatum demanding one side's unconditional surrender.

Three things have been conspicuously absent: a leader to be demonized, atrocities to be presented as genocide and an actual intervention against whichever side needs to be pulverized.

Of course, with Skopje defending itself so ineptly and reluctantly, there is little need for these extreme measures. Unless something radically changes, sooner or later Georgievski and Trajkovski will cave in, the UCK atrocities will be covered up, and the intervention will take on the form of "peacekeeping" and collecting a few token muskets from the bandits-turned-policemen of the UCK. Albanians – if not the Albanian state per se – will have gotten their Sudetenland coup; within months, as soon as camera lights go off, Bulgarians (another loyal US ally) will march into what is left of the vivisected country.

Macedonia will be no more. But there will be "stability" and "compliance" with the Empire's power – which is all its legates ever really wanted, the natives be damned. The Balkans would thus have "peace in our time."

Text-only printable version of this article

Nebojsa Malic left his home in Bosnia after the Dayton Accords and currently resides in the United States. During the Bosnian War he had exposure to diplomatic and media affairs in Sarajevo, and had contributed to the Independent. As a historian who specialized in international relations and the Balkans, Malic has written numerous essays on the Kosovo War, Bosnia and Serbian politics, which were published by the Serbian Unity Congress. His exclusive column for Antiwar.com appears every Thursday.


Past Articles

Rambouillet Repeated?

Empire's Willing Servants

Kostunica's Choice

Betrayal in Belgrade

The Empire Shows Its Hand

The Return of Kings

Meditations On The Edge Of The Abyss


Terms of Betrayal

Presevo – A False Victory

The Balkans: Land of Delusions

Enemies at the Gates

ICG's Blueprint for Destruction

Kosovo: Between Death and Taxes

Madness in the Mountains: Montenegro's Looming Secession

A House Divided


Empire at the Gates

Macedonian Maelstrom

Pax Americana

The Fourth Balkan War

Mayhem in Macedonia

Surreal Realm

Santayana's Curse

The Croatian Conundrum

March of the Black Eagle

Showdown in Belgrade

Out of the Shadows

With a Grain of Salt

Crusade's End

The Worst of Times

Moments of Transition

Déja Vu

The Crucible

Bandits on the Border

It's the Spelling, Stupid

Zoran Djindjic: Serbia's Richard III

Wheels of Injustice

The Tragedy of Bosnia

The Suspended Castle

Hand Of The Empire: Decision in Kosovo

Introduction: The Balkans Babylon

ITN: Case Closed

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