Diocese of Ras- Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija September 28, 2006
In a high-level conference of American experts held today on Capitol Hill, American experts from a variety of fields andrepresenting several prestigious think tanks called upon their government toreassess and change its policy toward Kosovo and Metohija. After years in which the only positions represented at such events were those hostile to Serbia and supporting the goal of detaching KiM from Serbia to create an Albanian Muslim state, this was the first major American gathering to put forward convincing and fact-based positions in favor of keeping KiM within Serbia.
The full-day conference, entitled “Reconsidering Kosovo,” was held at the prestigious Capitol Hill Club, which is Washington’s principal Republican gathering place. It brought together experts from such organizations as The National Interest magazine, National Defense University (part of the U.S. Defense Department), Accuracy in Media, the Wilson Center, the Heritage Foundation, the Library of Congress, the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, the International Strategic Studies Association, the Rockford Institute, the Traditional Values Coalition, the Institute on Religion and Public Policy, Jihad Watch, and many others. Media organizations and members of the diplomatic community also participated. At least one member of an Albanian-American activist group attended for reconnaissance purposes.
The conference was sponsored by the American Council for Kosovo, which is a lobbying organization in the United States for the Serbian National Council (SNV) of KiM, under the spiritual guidance of Vladyka Artemije of Raska and Prizren. Cosponsoring the conference were the Religious Freedom Coalition and Christian Solidarity International, organizations known for their defense of persecuted Christians around the world and for the protection of religious liberty in the United States. Congressman Trent Franks, a conservative Republican from Arizona, deliver luncheon remarks in which he compared the terror against Christian Serbs to terrorism against Israel. A letter to Vladyka Artemije from Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum called on a united opposition to “Islamic fascism,” whether in Kosovo, America, or the Middle East – the first time any American official has used this term, which has been adopted by President Bush, in reference to KiM.
The conference was organized into four panels examining:
(1) the international administration’s failures in KiM;
(2) organized crime, jihad terrorism, and the impact of Kosovo in the war on terrorism;
(3) human rights and religious freedom in KiM; and
(4) the negative impact Kosovo independence would have on the international order.
The prevailing view of the participating experts was the an independent Kosovo would become increasingly dangerous as a base of terrorism and organized crime, and that especially the growth of Wahhabist influence is a great concern. The failures of UNMIK and KFOR to protect KiM’s Serbs during seven years of the international administration points to disastrous consequences if KiM were to become independent, the experts believe. Several speakers commended the Serbian government’s united stand in firm opposition to detachment of KiM, and most expressed their view that the outcome of Kosovo’s future was not yet settled, and that imposed solutions and artificial deadlines were counterproductive to stability and U.S. interests.
The “Reconsidering Kosovo” conference confirms the accuracy of the position taken by Vladyka Artemije and the SNV, beginning with his first visit to Washington even before the 1999 war. By engaging American civil society and sectors of influence outside the narrow focus of U.S. policy in the Balkans, to include broader perspectives regarding jihad terrorism, crime, religious freedom, and other issues important to American civil society, think tanks, activist groups, and NGOs, the SNV effort has increased the influence of sectors favorable to the Serbian position in KiM.
Following the conference, a private meeting was held at Vladyka Artemije’s with representatives of the Serbian-American community. A confidential briefing was delivered on the successes of the lobbying and public relations effort on behalf of SNV and steps were outlined for supporting it to achieve a successful conclusion for Serbia. Mobilization of the Serbian-American community, as well as identification of resources in Serbia, was discussed with respect to needed political action and financial support for the SNV effort. There was agreement that the future of KiM is nearing a critical point and that removal of prospects of any imposed solution before the artificial end-of-year deadline is a primary goal.
American Council for Kosovo