Last month I appeared as a witness at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. During the questioning by the defendant, former President Slobodan Milosevic, he asked me to quote excerpts from an article I had written in 2000 entitled, New Diplomacy, Old Agenda. One of the excerpts read as follows:

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"The U.S. led attack on Yugoslavia was designed to improve President Clinton's public image and restore credibility to NATO, whose existence since the end of the cold war was in jeopardy. This was the real agenda of the NATO war. In terms of Balkan history it is an old agenda. Traditionally western intervention in
the Balkans has proven to be disastrous. From the Congress of Berlin to both world wars, the western powers have intervened in the Balkans for their own selfish policy objectives. These aims have had little relevance to the issues affecting the peoples of the Balkan countries. What was true of the past has proven true again in Kosovo."
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The events that have taken place in Kosovo since I wrote that article have only served to reinforce the truth of what was then written. Western policy since the end of the illegal bombing of Yugoslavia has been a total failure. The massive ethnic cleansing of the non-Albanian population, the reign of terror against those few Serbs who have remained, the rampant burning and blasting of Christian churches, the refusal to disarm the Kosovo Liberation Army, the acceptance of widespread drug and human trafficking in the so-called UN protectorate stand as evidence against the NATO and United Nations authorities. These are hard facts. They stand as testimony to failure.

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Unfortunately, the Serbian tragedy is not yet over. Sometime this year a decision will be announced about Kosovo independence. I say announced because there is some evidence suggesting the decision has already been made to tear away that integral part of Serbia and to grant Kosovo independent status. The Economist magazine of 18- 24 February 2006 reported that John Sawers the political director of the British Foreign Office told a group of Serbs in Kosovo earlier in the month that the Contact Group had already decided on independence for Kosovo. Since the talks between Serbia and representatives of the Kosovo Albanians are being undertaken under the auspices of the Contact Group Mr. Sawers words are not to be taken lightly
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There are other indications that independence is already a foregone conclusion. The Contact Group Guiding Principles announced in November 2005 stated, among other things, that there could be no return of Kosovo to the pre-1999 situation. This is an ambiguous statement but since prior to 1999 Kosovo was an integral part of Serbia this guiding principle could be interpreted to mean that Kosovo will no longer remain part of Serbia. Other remarks by senior United States officials have made it clear that the option of independence for Kosovo is open for discussion. These are ominous signals that the guarantees set out in UN Resolution 1244 reaffirming the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Yugoslavia as set out in the Helsinki Final Act may be ignored or conveniently overlooked as have other parts of the resolution.
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The influential International Crisis Group has not been hesitant in setting out its views on the issue of independence. It has made its recommendations abundantly clear in a report dated February 17, 2006 entitled Kosovo: The Challenge of Transition. That report recommends that, "The international community and in particular the UN Special Envoy charged with resolving the status process, Martii Ahtisaari, must accordingly prepare for the possibility of imposing an independence package for Kosovo, however diplomatically painful that may be in the short term" There is no concern expressed by the Contact Group or UN officials that because Martii Ahtisaari is a prominent member of the ICG that this report would appear to place him in a conflict of interest position. There is further reason to suspect his impartiality as a mediator since Der Spiegel magazine has reported that Mr. Ahtisaari has said that Kosovo is headed for independence.
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There may least be some comfort that the ICG seems to have dropped the idea it once advocated that the discussions include the possibility of adjusting Kosovo's northern border to include the Presevo valley. However, if the ICG has dropped the idea of incorporating part of southern Serbia into a new and independent state of Kosovo the Albanians in southern Serbia have not. Three ethnic Albanian municipalities in southern Serbia have passed resolutions calling for political and territorial autonomy and the withdrawal of Serbian security forces from the area.

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The demands of the Albanians in southern Serbia underline the dangers inherent in the violation of the territorial integrity of states even if it is carried out under the aegis of supposedly responsible international agencies like the Contact Group and is sanctioned by the European Union. Should a decision be taken to grant independence to Kosovo a precedent will have been established that will pose a serious threat to the very structure of world peace and security. The stakes here are high and any decision on Kosovo independence will have implications that go far beyond the geographical confines of the Balkans
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The territorial integrity of states is an old principle that is generally acknowledged to have been firmly established by the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 which declared that outside interference in a state's internal affair was illegitimate. Through the years the principle of territorial integrity has not diminished. It is still considered one of the most basic principles of international law and continues to be a major instrument for the prevention of armed conflict between states.

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Article 2[4] of the United Nations Charter includes territorial integrity as one of the principles that prohibits the threat or use of force in the resolution of international disputes. Territorial integrity is included in the Declaration of Principles of International Law concerning friendly relations among states. The United Nations Charter regards it as one of the paramount elements included in the concept of sovereign equality.
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The Helsinki Final Act of 1975 reinforced the principle of territorial integrity and went further by including a section on the inviolability of frontiers. It is hoped that members of the Contact Group and the UN Special Envoy are familiar with the wording of these two sections of the Act. They read as follows:
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The participating states regard as inviolable all one another's frontiers as well as the frontiers of all States in Europe and therefore will refrain now and in future from assaulting these frontiers.
Accordingly, they will also refrain from any demand for, or act of, seizure and usurpation of part or all of the territory of any participating State.


The participating States will respect the territorial integrity of each of the participating States.
Accordingly, they will refrain from any action inconsistent with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations against the territorial integrity, political independence or the unity of any participating State, and in particular from any such action constituting a threat or use of force.
The participating States will likewise refrain from making each other's territory the object of military occupation or other direct or indirect measures of force in contravention of international  law, or the object of acquisition by means of such  measures or the threat of them. No such occupation or acquisition will be regarded as legal.
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These are fundamental principles. They form an integral part of the framework of international law. They are designed to be a guarantee of international security and mutual respect among nations. They are to have universal application and cannot be put aside because of special circumstances or when they prove embarrassing or inconvenient.
Their message is simple and clear. Borders can only be changed by agreement between states.

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