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ERP KIM Newsletter 06-07-03b INFO SERVICE
Dear readers,
In today's edition of the ERP KIM Info Service bulletin we include the speech given by the head of the U.S. Office in Pristina, Mr. Reno Harnish, on the occasion of U.S. Independence Day with a short commentary by Mr. Slobodan Maricic, the editor of TIKER News Agency (Belgrade). We believe that no further comment is necessary.



U.S. Office in Pristina
4th of July Speech by Reno Harnish, the head of the U.S. OFfice in Pristina, marking U.S. Independence Day


Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, and thank you for joining with us to celebrate the 227th birthday of the United States of America. Two hundred years ago today, President Thomas Jefferson had just doubled the size of the United States through the Louisiana Purchase, making a new land that stretched from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Government was stable, the country was prospering, the future was good. All in all, Americans had every reason to be happy and few causes for worry.

Just a few short years before, however, it was a completely different world for the American people. The decade of the 1790s was perhaps one of the most critical decades in the history of our country. It has been described as "The Age of Passion" for one simple reason; political dialogue within the highest echelons of the revolutionary generation was a decade-long shouting match. Political relations between America's leaders were not very good and little was being done to make effective government a reality. The very future of our country was at stake and it was not at all clear that this grand experiment would succeed.

The experience of America's Founding Fathers in facing those challenges may be useful for us today. Although Kosovo's future is still undetermined, you confront many of the same issues that are so critical to Kosovo's democratic future.

In 1790, the United States had won its independence from England. We had our Declaration of Independence, we had our Constitution, and the war was over. There was much to be happy about, but there were also big problems. The economy was terrible, our currency was of little value, and almost one of every five people in the thirteen colonies were slaves, held against their will, unable to live and work as they wished, with no voice in the political system. To many, it seemed our leaders did not seem to know what to do next.

Even though we had a Constitution, no one really knew how to make it all work. Without the support of other countries or an international community, our Founding Fathers had to go it alone, figuring out how to maintain the values of the American Revolution, while governing effectively.
We somehow pulled through it and America's economy stabilized, compromises were worked out, and debate resolved the issues instead of violent conflict -- with one notable exception. However, there was one issue they would not face and that almost proved to be the undoing of the United States. It is perhaps from that failure that Kosovo may stand to learn the most today.
Our success was due in no small measure to a group of prominent political leaders -- seven men, known collectively as the "Founding Fathers." Those seven American heroes were George Washington, our first president; John Adams, our second president; Thomas Jefferson, our third president; James Madison, our fourth president; Benjamin Franklin, our first Ambassador; Aaron Burr, our third Vice-President; and Alexander Hamilton, our first Secretary of the Treasury. Three of those men signed the Declaration of Independence, but all of them risked their lives and fortunes to achieve their dream of self-rule. Each of them was committed to making their fledgling country work in the face of great odds, no matter what the personal cost.
They had one indispensable asset -- a conviction that, no matter what, their experiment was going to succeed. They believed they would not fail in their mission, that their dream was much bigger than any of them as individuals. They knew they could only succeed if they produced results and worked together, putting party politics behind them. I believe these great men continue to speak to us today and there are three important lessons they have to teach us.
Their first lesson for today's Kosovo is the role and conduct of personal relations in politics. The Founding Fathers were a very diverse group. They came from different social backgrounds, they professed very different political ideologies, and even their personalities clashed. They often shouted at each other, they even shunned each other from time to time, but they limited their conflicts to verbal debate. Except once.
On July 11, 1804, Aaron Burr shot Alexander Hamilton in a duel. Hamilton died the next day. Aaron Burr, Revolutionary War hero and brilliant political thinker, was disgraced and had to flee his homeland in disguise, never again to hold public office. The use of violence to achieve political ends ended up destroying two of our Founding Fathers -- there was clearly no winner in the conflict and the American people lost two of their greatest leaders. The lesson for all was clear; violence in the pursuit of political objectives destroys everyone involved.
Before that fateful day, during the decade of the 1790s, the Founding Fathers managed to pull together and govern as a collective enterprise -- not as individuals seeking to dominate one another. The job at hand, and the responsibility the voters entrusted to them, were simply too great for any of them to achieve individually.
The Founding Fathers all knew each other personally. This is not to say that they were always friends or even liked each other, but they had personal relationships between them that enabled them to build trust and to work together for the common good. They met often and wrote many letters to each other. They often shared meals and drinks, and otherwise made it a high priority to know each other. As a result, they could trust one another in matters of state, as well as in matters of a more personal nature. Through this trust, they were able to work out compromises and resolve issues together outside the arena of public debate where calmness and reason could prevail over partisan politics and polemics.
Recent moves by two of Kosovo's political party leaders to establish a positive personal relationship is a significant development in this sense. Theirs is a good example for all.
Finally, these great men had a profound sense of the history they knew they were making. They acted and wrote and spoke not only for their contemporaries, but for the countless generations they believed would follow. They believed in their success. But they also knew their work and the way they did it would serve to educate future generations of Americans and would set the standard for how their country would operate for many years to come.
The second lesson our Founding Fathers have for today's Kosovo is the importance of resolving economic issues as quickly and effectively as possible. When George Washington became our nation's first president in 1789, he quickly appointed Alexander Hamilton as the first Secretary of the Treasury. Within two days of taking office, Hamilton was hard at work collecting financial data from all sixteen states and drafting reports and proposals for how to manage the nation's economy. The urgency of the task at hand was obvious to all. America's economy was a shambles.
Hamilton's response was to draft a plan of action for economic reform. He knew that if his young country did not get on a sound economic footing, then all they had fought for in the Revolution could be lost. Hamilton began to place the nation's disorganized finances on a sound footing. In a series of reports, he presented a program not only to stabilize national finances but also to shape the future of the country as a powerful, industrial nation. He proposed establishment of a national bank, funding of the national debt, assumption of war debts held by the states, and policies to encourage manufacturing and entrepreneurship.
Overall, Hamilton developed a sound economic policy that was friendly to the business class of his day. He knew that without the support of the private sector, without the endorsement of the business community, the nation's economy would not succeed. By putting government and business on the SAME side, and developing policies in consultation with the business community, Hamilton was able to usher in a new era of economic growth and industrial development that enriched the American people and made them beneficiaries of unprecedented economic growth.
The lesson for Kosovo today is clear. Act fast and act on the basis of sound knowledge about the economy of Kosovo. First, business and government must consult with each other in formulating policies that will foster economic growth. How many members of the Assembly, for example, get out of Pristina regularly to discuss the VAT tax, excise tax, and permits with Kosovo's entrepreneurs? Second, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund recently recommended developing a focused economic strategy. Is the Cabinet considering an integrated approach to Kosovo's problems? Third, aggressive privatization of socially owned and state owned enterprises should be a top priority for you. You have the power and the authority to do this, with a few limitations. No more time should be wasted if you want to unlock your full economic potential. Finally, Kosovar businessmen, both those at home and those abroad, must invest in Kosovo. Show the foreign business community that Kosovo is a good investment and you can attract investment even before final status is determined.
Now let us look at the third lesson of our Founding Fathers for today's Kosovo. This one, I believe, is the most dangerous and needs to be resolved. For in this lesson, we learn not from what our Founding Fathers did, but from what they did not do. It was their inaction that speaks to us today and their lack of courage and resolve in dealing with this most difficult of issues.
In 1790, America was a country of some four million people, half of them under the age of 16. We had sixteen states, an increase from our original thirteen colonies. We were a young and growing country, but we were also a land of slaves. In all but two of those states, over 700,000 people of African descent were being held against their will, forced to work without pay, their only real freedom being the freedom to be bought and sold at any time, with or without their families. These men, women, and children constituted almost one-fifth of America's population in 1790. In five of our states, those slaves constituted half or more of the total population.
Worst of all, though, the very idea of slavery was anathema to the ideals and values of the American Revolution and each of the Founding Fathers disapproved of it personally. Still, the issue was so divisive that these otherwise heroic men believed facing this most difficult of issues would destroy the unity of their new nation. At a time when most intellectuals could not talk about a bi-racial society, very few Americans could even envision a country in which people of African descent would be considered equal partners. This mistake almost destroyed their dream and unraveled all the good work they had done.

As a result of their indecision and their lack of courage and willpower in facing this terrible truth about American society, our nation was forced to struggle with it for the next seventy years. That issue was only resolved after 600,000 Americans died fighting over that question in the American Civil War, and even then, the lingering social effects of slavery lasted well over another century, and even right up to the present day. Some 200 years later, Americans are still struggling with the legacy of slavery and the racism that made it possible.
It is exactly this mistake that I hope the leaders of Kosovo will not make. Today you are faced with a very difficult issue that rouses strong emotions. It is painful for many to discuss and it is divisive. But it is an issue that must be resolved. If you do not resolve it, it can destroy your dream and unravel all the good work you have done up to this point, just as it threatened the fabric of American society. I am referring to the issue of returns and reconciliation, the place of ethnic Serbs and other minorities in Kosovo today and in the future, and Kosovo's relations with Belgrade.
As I stand before you tonight, I am very pleased to report that, indeed, you are beginning to grapple with this difficult issue. Even though this issue is hard for political leaders and common people alike, you understand that it cannot be put off any longer. You recognize that concrete actions must be taken to resolve the problem of displaced persons from Kosovo. Kosovo's President, Prime Minister, President of the Assembly, and many political leaders in Kosovo have all signed an open letter to Kosovo's displaced persons living outside Kosovo.
This letter invites displaced persons to come back to their own homes where they belong. They are invited to come home and work with Kosovo's other communities and governing institutions to build a democratic, tolerant, and multi-ethnic Kosovo. Political leaders undertook this letter with courage. They did this on their own initiative, because they knew it was the right thing to do. America's Founding Fathers would be very proud and I have no doubt they would congratulate you for learning from their mistake.
But this alone is not enough. Further actions must be taken to facilitate returns, to help every single displaced person make an informed choice about their future, and to incorporate them into Kosovo's institutions, economy, and social life. Every municipality needs to get involved. But this is not the responsibility of the majority community alone. All ethnic communities in Kosovo need to reach out to the others to build trust and confidence and to show their commitment to a common life. Follow the example of our Founding Fathers to build trust through personal relationships, to work together to build consensus, to reach compromise, and to find quiet ways of resolving difficult issues that perhaps cannot be managed in public debate.
As you reach out to Kosovo's ethnic Serbs and other minority communities, you also need to reach out to the Serbian and Montenegrin government in Belgrade. The time has come for serious talks to takeplace about concrete, technical issues that are affecting the daily lives of people throughout Kosovo. Again, this is a very difficult political issue, but the choices you make now will only get harder if you put them off to a later time. Give your best efforts to resolve these issues or risk destroying the dream of your struggle just as we Americans almost destroyed the dream of our revolution.
When my government worked with our international partners to create the standards and benchmarks that are now the subject of much discussion today, we tried to put many of the standards that drove our Founding Fathers before you in the faith and confidence that you will rise to meet them. Although the work is not yet complete, you have made considerable progress. You are demonstrating that your intentions are good and you are reaching out to Kosovo's displaced persons through this open letter. This is an excellent step forward, but there is still work to do. Don't lose the momentum. This issue must be faced and resolved in a humane and considerate manner or it threatens to undo the very ideals for which you have struggled.
As we close this celebration of America's 227th birthday, I ask you to reflect on these seven great men and the work they did in building a nation of effective governing institutions. Learn from their examples, but also learn from their mistakes. Work together to build effective institutions and put party politics behind you. And continue to work hard -- even intensify your efforts -- to resolve the most difficult issue before you so it does not prove to be your undoing. Do not put this off and risk the catastrophic failure that my country almost suffered.

Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you again for joining us tonight to celebrate America's 227th birthday. On behalf of the American people, and our Founding Fathers who made our noble experiment work, we wish you success in achieving the vision of good government you have accepted for yourselves and making Kosovo a welcome home for all its sons and daughters.
Thank you.


Esteemed Mr. Harnish, I wish you and your compatriots a happy 4th of July, your greatest national holiday.

As far as your speech is concerned, please allow me to comment on it as it was sent last night to the address of my news agency. In some editorial offices the journalist preparing such a speech would likely be fired.

It does not seem fit, esteemed Mr. Harnish, to recommend historical recipes in a state where some of the holy shrines that have been destroyed are eight hundred years old, where elderly men and women are being murdered on their doorsteps, and where Serb heads have been chopped off regularly for the past eight hundred years - because such historical recipes do not exist, although you apparently see them as universal principles. However, one of points you fail to make or one of the semantic lapses in your speech is your admission that there is are people in Kosovo and Metohija who live under slave-like conditions.

In general, most of your speech would have emerged from any editorial office in drastically shortened form and with a lot of question marks. (I respect, although I have not personally attended, your training courses and workshops for progressive and chosen journalists; I only have a degree from an ordinary college in Belgrade and, a long time ago, I completed a training course called "national defense.") However, as a result of your admission of  the slave-like position of the Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija, you would not be fired in our small editorial office - on the contrary.

I do not at all share the opinion of "staunch" Serb nationalists who claim, among other things, that the Serbs are a heavenly people and the oldest people on Earth. As an ordinary nationalist or "patriot," as you and you compatriots like to describe yourselves while defending your interests, even when they lie ten thousand kilometers from your borders, e.g., in Kosovo and Metohija, I share even less the opinion that the Serbs are a stupid people, who will agree to live according to your recipe, like those who lived in accordance with the opinions of Mao Tse Tung, who had an answer and a solution for every question and every problem.

I am not sure about others or the peoples to which they belong. In conclusion, with sixty-odd years behind me, I know that little men do not have the right to talk about great and important things and ideas. As someone once said:

"Only great men talk about ideas. Ordinary men talk about other men, and little men talk about - things."

I identify myself as an ordinary man who completely agrees with your stated conclusion: "Here in Kosovo we cannot live in a bi-racial slave society any longer."

P.S. Upon further reflection, it strikes me that perhaps you, as an honorable man, like all the great men from your history whom you mention in your speech, wanted to tell the world and your bosses the real truth about Kosovo. If that is the case, please accept my apologies for all I have said above. On behalf of the several hundred thousand Serbs in Kosovo I am -slavishly grateful.


*("Slobodan" literally means "free" in Serbian)

ERP KIM Info-Service is the official Information Service of the Serbian Orthodox Diocese of Raska and Prizren and works with the blessing of His Grace Bishop Artemije.
Our Information Service is distributing news on Kosovo related issues. The main focus of the Info-Service is the life of the Serbian Orthodox Church and the Serbian community in the Province of Kosovo and Metohija. ERP KIM Info Service works in cooperation with as well as the Kosovo Daily News (KDN) News List

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