Photo: Ministry of Defense of North Macedonia
Responding to the government’s decision to send 31 members of ARM to Kosovo for a period of six months, Levica is spinning that KFOR is a suppressive force that frequently uses excessive force against the Serbs and that with this decision of the government, the country becomes a party in such repression. It also claims that more than 90 percent of the Macedonian population condemns the decision and that the mission is not part of the UN’s framework. All these claims are spins of Levica, that, by the way, has a legitimate right to require ARM not to participate in NATO missions, since the party’s policies are clear – anti-NATO orientation, writes Truthmeter.mk.
Under the content-sharing agreement between Truthmeter.mk and Meta.mk, we republish the text below:
Author: Teofil Blazhevski
The political party Levica demanded from the Macedonian government to withdraw the ARM soldiers participating in NATO’s peacekeeping mission in Kosovo – KFOR, and that the country in the future should participate only in peacekeeping missions under the auspices of the United Nations (UN). In the exposition of these demands, however, some spinning elements can be detected:
Spin: In the last few months we have been witnessing the manner in which the authorities from Prishtina, led by Albin Kurti, have been inciting instability in the North of K&M by applying repressive policies and executing classical violence on the peaceful Serbian population in K&M.
Repressing the population that has been trying to protect its fundamental human rights in the North of Kosovo and Metohija would have been hardly possible if it were not for the imperialistic tool of KFOR. Namely, on many occasions, KFOR representatives have applied excessive force to crush the protesters who were legitimately fighting for their rights suppressed by the repressive authorities, taking the side of the stronger and the armed against the ordinary people…
Last week, the government of SDS and DUI adopted a Decision to send 31 representatives of the Macedonian Army to participate in KFOR operations in K&M for a period of 6 months! With such a decision, the puppet government continues to directly repress the Serb population in Kosovo and Metohija – repression implemented in correlations and under the command of our “strategic partners”.
Levica, as well as more than ninety percent of the Macedonian population, condemns such a move by the Government…
[Source: Antropol – Levica’s Reaction, 10.07.2023]
Counterspin: Levica, quite legitimately and in compliance with its party policies of a clearly anti-NATO positioned party, has the right to advocate and demand the country not to send any more ARM representatives in NATO missions, but when specifying the rationale for such a demand, Levica is communicating with the public by twisting the truth i.e., by spinning.
Levica response to the government’s decision to send 31 ARM representatives on a six-month mission within the framework of KFOR communicates incomplete information and spins the truth regarding the alleged repression practiced by KFOR and the participation or role of the soldiers from North Macedonia within KFOR itself and in relations to the public opinion in the country.
Everyone who even remotely follows the events related to Kosovo, knows that prior to the violent clashes in several municipalities in the North of Kosovo inhabited by mainly Serb population – above all, in the Municipality Zvecan – NATO forces within the framework of KFOR almost never applied repressive measures as part of their mission in Kosovo, that, above all, is a peaceful mission and should ensure peaceful political resolution of misunderstandings between Prishtina and Belgrade.
Second, showing up on the spot following the protests of the Serb population in four municipalities was to prevent an even greater escalation because they assumed the role of protectors of municipal buildings thereby creating somewhat of a by-pass or replacement for Kosovo Police Forces who were sent in large numbers to guard the new Albanian mayors after the elections on 23.04.2023 that were massively boycotted by the Serbs. (The reasons for the boycott are questionable, but what is not questionable is that with only a 3-4 percent turnout in four municipalities, the new Albanian mayors will not have the legitimacy to govern the municipality since that local government will not be representative of the political will of most of the voters or the majority of the population).
Thirdly, the local Serbian population protesting against the inauguration of the new Albanian mayors and municipal councils by means of a decision made by the Government of Kurti for “implementing the legal state on the entire territory” dated 26.05.2023 was not at all subtly expressed on the protests from 29.05.2023. Containers and vehicles were overturned and set on fire, Molotov cocktails, tiles and stones were thrown, including firearms according to the official data also provided by KFOR. On the other side, two persons – Serbs – were transported to the Clinical Hospital in Kosovska Mitrovica with gunshot wounds, but no conclusion has been made yet about who shot at whom on 29th May during the first violent clashes in Municipality Zvechan or whether, after the shooting, violent clashes had occurred. As a matter of fact, that day KFOR, “was first rescuing” the members of Kosovo Special Forces (ROSU), who were blocked and surrounded by protesters, and then civilians thereby maybe preventing an even bigger radicalization or more casualties.
The fierce nature of the Serb protesters – apart from the videos and photographs of foreign agencies – can be seen in KFOR’s press release published on 30th May, specifying that the total number of KFOR peace-keepers wounded during the unprovoked violence in the municipality of Zvechan went up to 30 soldiers.
11 soldiers from the Italian contingent and 19 soldiers from the Hungarian contingent sustained multiple injuries, including fractures and burns from improvised explosive incendiary devices (”Molotov cocktails” – our note). Three Hungarian soldiers were wounded by the use of firearms. Their injuries are not life-threatening.
The same announcement informs that NATO decided to increase its presence in the four municipalities after newly elected mayors tried to take office to prevent violence and protect lives on both sides, but that ”they were attacked by increasingly aggressive crowds. KFOR always operates with firmness and restraint, within strict Rules of Engagement. In this case, it responded to the unprovoked attacks of a violent and dangerous crowd, whilst carrying out its UN mandate in an impartial manner”, states the press release of KFOR command.
ARM soldiers and officers are not involved in suppressing demonstrations
Fourthly, when Levica claims that the Macedonian Government, de facto, is involved in the repressions of Serb population in Kosovo through the ARM soldiers within KFOR, no details are elaborated about the deployed soldiers and officers and the kind of tasks performed.
According to the official Ministry of Defense of North Macedonia’s data, the ARM soldiers are deployed in securing the Regional KFOR Command in Pec as well as within the framework of participation in the Command in Prishtina:
In October 2020, the Government of the Republic of North Macedonia adopted a decision on sending 44 representatives of the Army of the Republic of North Macedonia (2-staff officers in the KFOR Headquarters in Pristina, 1 staff non-commissioned officer and 1 security platoon within KFOR Regional Command – West in Pec) for participation in the NATO operation “KFOR” in the Republic of Kosovo. The first contingent of Macedonian peace-keepers within NATO operation “KFOR” in the Republic of Kosovo was sent on 01.11.2020. The contingent was deployed within the framework of the Italian contingent. Since April 2021, the contribution within NATO’s operation “KFOR” has increased by 21 representatives or a total of 65 representatives, states the website of the MD.
However, further reading reveals that previous involvement of Macedonia’s participation within the framework of KFOR was in 2005 with the establishment of the Coordination Centre of ARM General Staff for “cooperation with the host country”, thereby KFOR – logistically supported by North Macedonia when units of the mission are on the territory of the country – is just added onto the other missions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Lebanon.
All this means that neither physically, nor figuratively, ARM, the Government or any other body took part in the repressions in Kosovo.
KFOR is under the jurisdiction of the UN
As a reminder, the request to participate only in missions led by the UN – as stressed in Levica’s response – is contradictory. Namely, KFOR is also a mission led by the United Nations:
Under the jurisdiction of the United Nations (Resolution 1244), NATO is leading the support of the peace operation in Kosovo from 12th June 1999, within the framework of extended international efforts for peace-building and stability in the area.
The tasks of the mission are: to contribute to a safe and secure environment; support and coordinate the international humanitarian effort and civil presence; support the development of stable, democratic, multi-ethnic and peaceful Kosovo, and support the development of the Kosovo Security Forces, specifies KFOR’s website, while more details can be found on this NATO-link.
And, finally, when Levica is saying that ”more than ninety percent of the Macedonian population condemns such a move of the Government…”, it is also spinning, because the only thing certain is that Levica condemns the move. As regards the extent and whether at all the citizens condemn the move, detailed research has not been performed or at least some kind of a simple public opinion poll, therefore the numbers are only in the field of speculation.
Due to all of the above-noted arguments, the assessment is that Levica’s response subject of this analysis is a spin.