The Albanian American Civic League Visits UCPMB Headquarters In The Presheva Valley

Updated: Aug 11, 2018

Albanian Platform for the Resolution of the

Conflict in Presheva


On March 1, Joe and Shirley DioGuardi met with Shefket Musliu and Sami Azemi at UCPMB headquarters in the Presheva Valley, where they were given an original copy of the Albanian platform for the resolution of the conflict between the Albanian majority in Presheva, Medvegja, and Bujanoc and the Serbian government on the very day that it was submitted to NATO. Later, Shirley edited the English translation of this historic document, which appears below.


Briefly, the Albanian platform describes the history of human rights abuses in the Presheva Valley and calls for an international presence there, consisting of armed forces and human rights monitors, that would guarantee the safety of all civilians, regardless of ethnicity. Most important, the platform, which is the unified response of the Liberation Army of Presheva, Medvegja, and Bujanoc (UCPMB) and the Albanian political parties in the region, abandoned a previous call for the annexation of the region to Kosova and, instead, asks for an international effort to create a democratic society in the Presheva Valley. The Albanian platform also asks that the Serbian forces withdraw from the region, that the UCPMB be placed under international supervision, and that the international community establish a judicial system, police force, and other municipal bodies. The platform calls for immediate negotiations between the Serbian government and the Albanian delegation representing the Presheva Valley, negotations that should be mediated by either the U.S. government or a credible international body.


ALBANIAN PLATFORM FOR THE RESOLUTION OF THE CONFLICT IN PRESHEVA, MEDVEGJA, AND BUJANOVAC


Preamble


The current tensions and crisis in the region of Presheva, Medvegja, and Bujanovac are the result of the segregationist, violent, and repressive policies and practices that have been imposed for decades by the Serbian government on the Albanian population. The rising tensions in the Presheve Valley are the result of:

  • Longterm institutional discrimination by the centralized Serbian government


  • Repression by the police and military, including the killing and massacring of Albanian civilians and the torching and demolition of homes during the war, which resulted in the forced expulsion of the Albanian population from the Presheva Valley


  • The firing of Albanians from their jobs in governmental bodies and educational institutions


  • The conversion of schools and businesses into military barracks and police stations


  • The marginalization of Albanians in the bodies responsible for local self-administration and the exclusion of Albanian cultural values and history from textbooks and curricula


  • Calculated neglect of economic development in the region


  • Total lack of access to information sources

As a result of Serbia’s obvious intentions to carry out ethnic cleansing in the Presheva Valley, and in response to escalating military and police repression, Albanian residents of the region established the Liberation Army of Presheva, Medvegja, and Bujanovac (UCPMB). The aim of UCPMB is to defend and protect the lives of Albanians in this unprotected region.

Beginning with an understanding of the priority of individual and collective human rights over state sovereignty,


In order to avoid an open military conflict between the UCPMB and the Serbian army and police, which would have unpredictable consequences, and in order to resolve the Albanian issue by political means,


Convinced that only a political solution will yield sound and acceptable results for all sides, and seeking to prevent armed conflict and to create conditions for a just and lasting resolution of the crisis for both sides,


The Albanian Delegation from Presheva, Medvegja, and Bujanovac presents the following platform for the prevention of armed conflict and for the resolution of the crisis in the region:


THE ALBANIAN DELEGATION FROM PRESHEVA, MEDVEGJA, AND BUJANOVAC


PLATFORM


I


All conflicts can and should be resolved in a political way and through negotiations.


II


The dialogue should begin as soon as possible and without conditions. The Albanian negotiating team will consist of UCPMB representatives as the team’s leaders and representatives of Albanian political bodies.


III


The negotiations should be held in a third location [neither in Serbia proper nor in the Presheva Valley] and with mediation by international factors, such as the U.S. government and the United Nations.


IV


Beginning with the first day of dialogue, both parties should cease military actions.


V


One of the credible international bodies, such as the UN or NATO, should guarantee the implementation of the agreement.


VI


Solutions cannot be found that are based on the concept of returning to the status quo. Political solutions cannot be found and the judicial-constitutional position of Presheva Valley Albanians cannot be resolved within the existing Serbian institutional and legal framework.


VII


The negotiations should proceed according to the principle of not excluding any solutions, as well as on the basis of established international principles.


VIII


The purpose of the negotiations is to protect the individual and collective rights of citizens, to preserve their ethnic territories, and to find political solutions that will solve the crisis in just and lasting manner.


The protection and guarantee of Albanians’ basic individual and national rights and freedoms shall be carried out in accordance with the relevant international document.

  1. The United Nations Charter

  2. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

  3. The International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights

  4. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

The starting points for the evaluation of the Albanian situation in Presheva, Medvegja, and Bujanovac, and which are important for negotiations, are:

  1. The region of Presheva, Medvegja, and Bujanovac is an integral part of the ethnic Albanian linguistic, cultural, and territorial continuum that has been divided against the will of the people.

  2. The Albanians in the Presheva Valley are living in their ethnic, historical lands, where they are the majority.

  3. The constitutional, administrative annexation of the region by Serbia from Kosova, as ratified by the Serbian Constitutions of 1947, 1963, and 1974, resulted in harsh consequences for the Albanian population.

  4. The systematic Serb repression of the Albanians of Presheva, Medvegja, and Bujanovac significantly increased after the dissolution of the Former Republic of Yugoslavia in 1990 and especially after the approval of the Serbian constitution in 1992, which produced laws that institutionalized discrimination and repression against Albanians, denying them their political, social, economic, and cultural rights.

  5. The Albanian situation in Presheva, Medvegja, and Bujanovac worsened during the war in Kosova in 1998-1999. Extreme repression followed the withdrawal of Serbian troops from Kosova, the greater part of which then entered the Presheva Valley. Among the troops were individuals who committed atrocities and massacres in Kosova and some who were indicted by the International War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague. The transfer of these troops to the Presheva Valley clearly indicates that the ethnic cleansing of this region is the ultimate goal.

  6. The recent political changes in Serbia have not improved the situation in the Presheva Valley.

In order to reach an acceptable and lasting peace in the three municipalities, the Albanian negotiating team makes the following proposals:

  1. The territory of Presheva, Medvegja, and Bujanovac should be placed under international administration, which involves recognizing these municipalities as a territorial and political entity.

  2. The region should be demilitarized by withdrawing the Serb forces and placing UCPMB under international supervision.

  3. The international factor should take responsibility for establishing order and security in the Presheva Valley for all citizens, regardless of their nationality.

  4. The international factor should establish a judicial system, police force, and other municipal bodies.

  5. The region should continue under international administration until the final status is determined.

  6. Final status should be determined only after a democratic society is established, at which time the people should be given the right to self-determination.

As a precondition for the establishment of a lasting solution to the crisis in Presheva, Medvegja, and Bujanovac, the Albanian delegation believes that both sides must take the following measures:

  1. Local law enforcement should be established according to the national structure of the population and with the assistance of the international factor, including training by international police forces.

  2. The demilitarization of the region and the implementation of the agreement should be monitored by international armed forces.

  3. The return of residents who were expelled from their homes should be carried out without time limitations and with full protection under the supervision of international humanitarian organizations. The return should be followed by compensation for the material damage done to private property by the State.

  4. In addition to general rights, Albanians should also have the following, legitimate rights as part of a package of national rights that cannot be overturned by a majority vote of the parliament.

  5. Culture and Education

  6. The right to education in their native, Albanian language, at the levels and in the fields that are deemed appropriate according to need

  7. The right to develop curricula and textbooks, as well as the right to incorporate into the educational system Albanian history, language, culture, and tradition

  8. The right to engage in cultural and educational cooperation with Kosova

  9. The right to establish educational and cultural institutions and associations

  10. The right to recognize diplomas earned at various universities

  11. Language

  12. The official and equal use of the Albanian language in written and spoken discourse in public communications, at all levels of the judiciary and the local administration, in geographic names, in the naming of municipal bodies, departments, institutions, schools, and in the publication of official documents.

  13. The right to inform citizens in the Albanian language through the media

  14. Administration and the Judiciary

  15. The number of Albanian representatives in local and regional administrative bodies should be proportionally larger than the representation by the minority Serbian population in the region.

  16. The number of Albanian representatives in law enforcement should be proportionally larger than the representation by the minority Serbian population in the region.

  17. The number of Albanian representatives in the judicial system should be proportionally larger than the representation by the minority Serbian population in the region.

  18. The right to free use of national symbols and the right to national holidays

  19. The right to cooperate with Kosova

  20. The Albanians of the Presheva Valley should have an unrestricted right to cooperate with Kosova. The institutions of Kosova will assist Albanians in the Presheva Valley to protect and develop their ethnic and cultural identity through: a) a joint council for educational curricula in Albanian schools in the Presheva Valley, and b) a joint council for the preservation and development of Albanian cultural and religious monuments.

  21. The Albanians of the Presheva Valley should have an unrestricted right to cooperate with Kosova. The institutions of Kosova will assist Albanians in the Presheva Valley to protect and develop their ethnic and cultural identity through: a) a joint council for educational curricula in Albanian schools in the Presheva Valley, and b) a joint council for the preservation and development of Albanian cultural and religious monuments.

  22. Religious Rights

  23. Albanian religious monuments should be put under domestic and international protection.

  24. The Islamic Association of Kosova should be responsible for Islamic religious monuments in the Presheva Valley.

  25. Financial Rights

  26. The distribution of income at the municipal and regional levels should not

  27. discriminate against Albanians.

  28. 2. The right to free trade and economic development

  29. –The right to designate the region of Presheva, Medvegja, and Bujanovac as a

  30. free trade zone

  31. –The right to use natural resources at the regional level

  32. –The right to organize an international donors’ conference for the economic

  33. revitalization of the region

  34. The establishment of a permanent EUMM

  35. The appointment of an ombudsman to monitor the establishment of these rights

  36. Koncul, February 2001

  37. The Negotiating Team of the Presheva Valley

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