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New Series no.11/12 August - November 1999
Founding Statement of the Free Kosova Committee

The statement printed here was adopted at the 20 September 1999 founding meeting of the Free Kosova Committee, an independent London-based body set up to argue for the principles embodied in the statement.

  1. The Free Kosova Committee (FKC) has been established to unite those who support the right of Kosova's people to live in peace and freedom in a multi-ethnic, democratic and independent state.

  2. FKC is convinced that no regional stability – no real democracy in Kosova, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Albania or Bosnia-Herzegovina – is possible without a free and democratic Kosova.

  3. FKC supports the territorial integrity of Kosova as a single self-ruling entity with fixed boundaries, as recognized within the former Yugoslav federation (SFRY). It rejects all calls for Kosova's partition on a linguistic, ethnic or any other basis, and all attempts to establish self-contained mono-ethnic enclaves anywhere on its territory. It equally supports the territorial integrity of Kosova's neighbours, whose established borders should be respected in the terms of the Helsinki Final Act.

  4. Since 1913 when it was annexed against the will of the majority of its population, Kosova has never validly or willingly been part of Serbia. Under the first Yugoslavia it was ruled from Belgrade as a colonial fiefdom. After 1989 it was forcibly returned to that status. FKC considers misguided and unjust the decision of Western governments, when the former Yugoslavia broke up, to treat Kosova as part of Serbia. Kosova's claim to sovereignty derives most recently and weightily from its status as one of the eight constituent units of SFRY until the latter's dissolution in 1989/92.

  5. FKC acknowledges the legitimacy of the Kosova people's assertion of its sovereignty in the new situation created by the dissolution of SFRY, including its right of self-defence against one of the most brutal regimes in postwar European history.

  6. KC believes that the international community should now explicitly recognize Kosova's right to self-determination, on a similar basis and with a similar procedure as for Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia and Slovenia. As soon as the appropriate political conditions have been established, the act of self-determination would take the form of an internationally supervised referendum open to all Kosova's citizens.

  7. FKC thus considers that the international community should drop its insistence on preserving at all costs the `Federal Republic of Yugoslavia' (FRY). Since SFRY dissolved, its former seat at the United Nations has remained vacant. FRY has not been recognized as its continuation, and the claims of the former Yugoslav successor states have been the subject of protracted EU negotiations. Kosova should forthwith be represented at these, in its capacity as one of the former Yugoslavia's legitimate heirs (as should Vojvodina). Any future relationship between Kosova, Montenegro, Serbia and Vojvodina should be only by free decision of these entities.

  8. Given the extensive destruction of Kosova's material infrastructure, economy, institutions, records and other basic needs of social existence, FKC accepts the necessity of the present interim international authority, whose task is to assist Kosova's economic and social recovery and to create a framework for the emergence of a democratic government representing all citizens on the basis of free and fair elections. The authority must also pursue war criminals, rebuild houses, and clear landmines or unexploded bombs. A further important role is to reassure Kosova's Serb and other minority citizens. Its work must be open, transparent and fully accountable to the people of Kosova, as well as to the parliaments of the countries providing its personnel. The interim period of international tutelage should be of strictly limited duration and subject to annual review.

  9. In the view of FKC it is vital for representative leaders of the local population to be engaged from the outset in all discussions ns that took place in 1990-92 should be proclaimed unlawful. Such deliberately provocative acts during the past decade as the renaming of streets and public institutions, or the erection of monuments and public buildings, in a manner designed to emphasize or enhance Serbian domination and to minimize or eliminate the Albanian social and cultural presence in Kosova, should be expressly repudiated and where possible reversed.

  10. FKC considers the definitive and formal removal of any Serbian state presence to be essential for reconciliation in Kosova, and specifically for the future well-being of local Serb civilians, who will have the best chance of living in security if they can no longer be identified with rule from Belgrade. At the same time, it affirms the right of Serbs and other minorities in Kosova to live in peace with their neighbours, to protection of their property rights, and to maintenance of their linguistic and cultural identity. Indeed, it sees the realization of such rights as crucial for the democratic future of the Albanian majority too. Conditions must be created for the safe return of all those driven from their homes by armed force or terror, irrespective of their national identity.

  11. In the opinion of FKC, a definitive withdrawal from Kosova is a precondition also for the eventual democratic regeneration of Serbia within its own legitimate boundaries. By recognizing forthwith the juridical separation of Kosova from Serbia, the international community will make the greatest contribution to the latter's quest for a new regional identity, at peace and in equal collaboration with its neighbours, and will do most to bar future irredentist fantasies or adventures.

  12. FKC considers that the Serbian state has certain essential and inescapable obligations towards Kosova: to cooperate in the pursuit and punishment of war crimes; to help trace missing persons; to assist in the replication of destroyed records; and to return looted property. Most urgently, the thousands of Kosovar prisoners held in Serbia must be returned forthwith. These obligations should be kept to the fore in all future negotiations between Belgrade and international bodies or democratic governments.

    For the Free Kosova Committee:

    Adrian Hastings and Bianca Jagger (co-chairs) Quintin Hoare (secretary) Alan Sealy (treasurer)

    Initial signatories include:

    Chris Agee, Paul Anderson, Anthony Arblaster, John Austin MP, Jack Cadogan, Peter Cadogan, Professor Michael Cox, Jill Craigie, Chris Cviic, Michael Foot, Nigel Fountain, Professor Tom Gallagher, Sir Reginald Hibbert, John Hodgson, Valerie Hughes, Lord Hylton, Professor John Keane, Richard Kuper, Branka Magas, Noel Malcolm, Melanie McDonagh, Richard Moore, Susan Nickalls, Professor Nigel Osborne, Corin Redgrave, Peter Rennie, Tim Robertson, Peter Rossman, Denys Salt, Amanda Sebestyen, Mark Seddon, Professor Martin Shaw, Ghaysuddin Siddiqi, Brendan Simms, Joan Smith, Alison Snape, Michael Stewart, Alun Thomas, Professor David Turner, Vanessa Vasi-Janekovic, Mark Wheeler, Francis Wheen, Ian Williams, Julie Wornan

    Contact address: 6 St Quintin Gardens, London W10 6AS telephone/fax +44 (0)171 912 0275

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