Former US President Bill Clinton and top diplomat Madeleine Albright are among Western leaders flocking to Kosovo to receive honors by ethnic Albanian militants they backed in the 1999 NATO war against Yugoslavia.
Falsely claiming that Yugoslavia was committing “genocide” against ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, NATO launched an air war in March that year, violating its own and the UN charter. Thousands of civilians perished, including ethnic Albanians the alliance claimed to be protecting, before an armistice was signed that allowed NATO to occupy the province as peacekeepers.
On Tuesday, Clinton arrived in Kosovo to receive honors from the ethnic Albanian authorities. He was presented with a medal by “President” Hashim Thaci, and a commemorative postage stamp bearing his face.
Clinton was welcomed to the stamp “club” by Representative Eliot Engel (D-New York), current chair of the House Foreign Relations Committee and another outspoken supporter of the ethnic Albanian cause.
Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was also on hand, praised by Clinton’s spokesman as someone who “played a vital role in ending conflict and bringing peace in Kosovo.”
Albright was widely credited as being the main driving force behind the 1999 NATO attack on Yugoslavia, approvingly dubbed “Madeleine’s war” by some US media outlets.
She is also supposed to be honored by a statue in one of Pristina’s squares already named in her honor. According to local media, the monument was commissioned last month and estimated to cost €19,788 – approximately $22,500.
The ceremony is scheduled for June 12, the date on which NATO troops entered Kosovo as peacekeepers, following the 78-day war on behalf of the “Kosovo Liberation Army” (KLA) militants that sought to separate the province from Serbia and Yugoslavia.
The ethnic Albanian militants, led by Thaci, eventually declared independence and were swiftly recognized by the US and most of its allies. About half the UN refuses to recognize Kosovo, however, including Russia, India, China – and Serbia itself.
UN Security Council Resolution 1244, which authorized the NATO presence in Kosovo, also declared the province a sovereign territory of Serbia. The US and its allies have systematically ignored much of the resolution’s provisions, however, turning a blind eye to widespread acts of terrorism, ethnic cleansing and abuse directed at the province’s non-Albanian residents, which culminated in the March 2004 pogrom of Serbs across Kosovo.
Other participants in the 1999 war have also expressed pride in their “achievement” recently, including NATO supreme commander at the time, General Wesley Clark, and British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
This week’s celebrations are hardly the first instance of outright idolatry displayed by ethnic Albanians towards their NATO sponsors, whether in Kosovo or in Albania proper. A six-foot statue of Clinton was erected in 2009 on Bill Clinton Boulevard in Pristina. President George W. Bush, who led the recognized of “independent” Kosovo, was rewarded with a 9-foot statue in the Albanian town of Fushe Kruje in 2011.
More recently, the city of Sarande in Albania unveiled a bust of Hillary Clinton in June 2016, anticipating her victory in the upcoming US presidential election.