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Statement on war in Kosovo/a:

The War Resisters' International, an international pacifist network with affiliates in over 30 countries, discussed the war and humanitarian crisis in Kosovo/a at its Triennial conference in Porec, Croatia, 20-26 September 1998

  1. The conference criticised the handling of the situation by intergovernmental bodies and by individual states:
    1. their failure to provide space for negotiations during the prolonged period when the Albanians of Kosovo/a pursued a disciplined policy of nonviolent action
    2. their treatment of Milosevic as a guarantor of peace in the region rather than as the person most responsible for the criminal policies carried out in the name of Serbian people
    3. their insistence that the issue has to be settled in the framework of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
    4. the refusal of those states which turn away refugees from FRY and especially the callousness of those states sending Kosovars back to a war and draft evaders into the hands of the Yugoslav army
    5. the game of bluff played by the Contact Group at a time when what was needed was an explicit and transparent explanation of what actions it was prepared to contemplate in what circumstances - this closed off wider exploration of peaceful options.
  2. The conference noted the catastrophic consequences of the violent strategy of the Kosova Liberation Army in the face of a ruthless regime.
  3. The urgent requirement today is to halt the bloodshed, to support the safe and voluntary return of displaced people, to create conditions for reconstruction, and to set in motion a process to achieve a long-term political solution and demilitarisation of the region.
  4. A long-term solution requires the recognition of the human and political rights of all the people of Kosovo/a. The Serbian government has claimed the right to retain sovereignty over the territory of Kosovo/a on the basis of the integrity of the territory. But according to international standards any state which wages war against a part of the population should forfeit its legitimacy and therefore its right to rule them or the territory they inhabit, and an ethnic group has the right to secede from a state under which it is systematically persecuted .
  5. We therefore call upon the UN and EU, and individual states, to apply a political sanction they have so far excluded and which we believe would make a more useful impact than economic sanctions: this sanction is that unless the Yugoslav government immediately ends its attacks on Kosovo/a towns and villages and allows full international monitoring of the situation in Kosovo/a, and unless they begin internationally mediated talks with the representatives of the Kosovo/a Albanians, the UN, the European Union and individual states should promptly
    1. withdraw recognition of the Serbian claim to territorial integrity in respect of Kosovo/a
    2. undertake a process to determine the wishes of all the people of Kosovo/a concerning the future of the territory
  6. The conference considered a range of proposals for nonviolent action in response to the present situation
  7. In the immediate term,
    1. we call on WRI affiliates and peace groups in Europe to consider blockading the embassies or consulates of FRY, beginning on 21 October under the slogan "Stop the war in Kosovo/a"
    2. we recommend that a further target for protest actions should be sporting events involving teams representing FRY
    3. we urge better communication among all international NGOs working on the question of Kosovo/a
    4. we urge support for the anti-war initiatives of anti-militarist and pacifist groups in Serbia and for voices for nonviolence within Kosovo/a, including those among the Serb and other minorities who oppose the policies of Belgrade and wish to live in peace with Albanians
    5. we call on all states to recognise the right to asylum of refugees from Kosovo/a and for war resisters from FR Yugoslavia
  8. In the longer term:
    1. we call on WRI affiliates and peace groups for increased support of the work of the Balkan Peace Team for inter-ethnic dialogue and encouraging civil society initiatives -- especially in helping find good volunteers, in spreading the public reports, and in strengthening BPT's financial base
    2. we ask WRI affiliates to examine other international initiatives for nonviolent intervention and support of local groups when these are based on requests from people in the situation and organised in close liaison with them.

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