UPDATE: See Comment from Asdren, below: “As a young Kosovo-Albanian who has suffered the worst of this war, I consider Mr. Blair as my hero, I believe that I exist today because of him and his key decision he made on stopping the brutality during this war.”
Comment at end
1st November, 2009
Former President Bill Clinton Unveils Statue in Kosovo
PRISTINA, Kosovo — Thousands of ethnic Albanians braved low temperatures and a cold wind in Kosovo’s capital Pristina to welcome former President Bill Clinton on Sunday as he attended the unveiling of an 11-foot statue of himself on a key boulevard that also bears his name.
I don’t mean in any way to discount the great works Bill Clinton did leading the NATO forces in 1999 – not at all. And I DO know that our then prime minister thanked President Clinton for providing as much as 80% of the resources for this battle in Europe’s backyard.
But, er … didn’t Tony Blair have something to do with this too? Tonibler Dajaku’s family think so
Excerpt, May 2007:
A BIG THANK YOU FROM MY HEART, MR BLAIR
Yesterday Tony Blair declared that he will step down as a PM. Meanwhile in the village of Rakitnica, Kosova, his namesake Tonibler Dajaku is enjoying a happy childhood, which would have not been possible without Tony’s determination to human rights and bringing justice to the world. Had Tony – the PM – simply decided to stand aside and watch Milosevic’s criminal government ethnically cleanse Kosova from its native people, little Tonibler today in most likelihood, would be living in the mud and misery of a refugee camp. Like the experience of many Palestinian children grown up in such camps has shown, he would have most likely had a bitter and hateful life, prone to be thrown at the arms of international terrorism. So, for saving little Tonibler alongside a million other Albanians, from the claws of evil, Mr Tony Blair – a big THANK YOU from my heart. So much for the ridiculing from those little-brained, egotistical, western analysts that were mocking the Western intervention in Kosova as “Madeleine’s or Tony’s war” and were questioning the validity of the humanitarian motives for that intervention.
O n a lighter note, the Dajaku last name is funny – in Albanian it means ‘the beating’. It’s advantageous, for it opens up a bunch of creative opportunities in naming children, the range of which you can easily guess. The child Tonibler was born shortly after the Kosova war, and I can imagine his parents contemplating that he was going to be a celebration of Tony Blair’s beating of Milosevic. I can toast to that: for little Tonibler, to have a long, healthy and prosperous life and Tony senior to have a healthy, respectful and serene retirement. Thank you Tony, the world will miss your reasonable and articulate voice.
You know something, I think Mr Blair will be perfectly happy with those words. He doesn’t need the whistles and bells any more than he needs the money which is drawn magnetically towards him in his post-political life. Thus, he’d give it all up to get back into active politics and become the EU’s first permanent President. That’s clear and undeniable.
But perhaps the Kosovars have a statue ready for Our Man too. In fact, perhaps there will even be a Nobel Peace Prize certificate tucked under the statue’s arm. That’s probably where it’s been all this time, while some of us have been blaming the postal services! After 10 years hard work to settle Northern Ireland’s decades of ‘Troubles’, Blair completed that task in May 2007, a month before he ceased to be prime minister.
His reward? It’s in the post.
THE TROUBLE WITH AWARDING NOBEL PRIZES EARLY …
The case of a Nobel peace prize split in 1998 for two Northern Ireland politicians might have some lessons for us all. Considering who DOES get a Nobel prize for doing … well … nothing, am I wrong to conclude that for Tony Blair to receive due thanks for his work for peace he has to leap far higher hurdles than do others?
Such as David Trimble and John Hume, deserved Nobel laureates both no doubt, were part of the process towards the settlement but hardly essential. Their Nobel prizes were issued in 1998, reflecting their support for the Belfast Agreement put together under Blair, Aherne, George Mitchell and others. But within a few years both Trimble’s and Hume’s parties were eclipsed by Ian Paisley’s DUP and Gerry Adams’ Sinn Fein. The DUP’s & Sinn Fein’s representatives now sit in devolved government in Belfast – the government successfully devolved by Tony Blair with the determined help of Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern. Neither of these two leaders have received a Nobel peace prize.
Blair became the first British PM to address the Irish parliament in its 80 years existence.
So many “firsts” for Tony Blair; such scant recognition.
Back to the Clinton statue.
This Nobel award decision/lack of recognition for Blair’s efforts does bother me a lot more than President Clinton’s statue. I think Mr Clinton too deserves a lot more than he has yet received from international organisations; as does President GW Bush. But since Northern Ireland is generally considered Blair’s greatest success, why no Nobel prize?
More from Fox news report:
‘Clinton is celebrated as a hero by Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian majority for launching NATO’s bombing campaign against Yugoslavia in 1999 that stopped the brutal Serb forces’ crackdown on independence-seeking ethnic Albanians.
This is his first visit to Kosovo since it declared independence from Serbia last year.
Many waved American, Albanian and Kosovo flags and chanted “USA!” as the former president climbed on top of a podium with his poster in the background reading “Kosovo honors a hero.”
Some peeked out of balconies and leaned on window sills to get a better view of Clinton from their apartment blocks.
To thunderous applause Clinton waved to the crowd as the red cover was pulled off from the statue.
The statue is placed on top of a white-tiled base, in the middle of a tiny square, surrounded by communist-era buildings.
“I never expected that anywhere, someone would make such a big statue of me,” Clinton said of the gold-sprayed statue weighing a ton.
He also addressed Kosovo’s 120-seat assembly, encouraging them to forgive and move on from the violence of the past.
The statue portrays Clinton with his left arm raised and holding a portfolio bearing his name and the date when NATO started bombing Yugoslavia, on March 24, 1999.
An estimated 10,000 ethnic Albanians were killed during the Kosovo crackdown and about 800,000 were forced out of their homes. They returned home after NATO-led peacekeepers moved in following 78 days of bombing.
Leta Krasniqi, an ethnic Albanian, said the statue was the best way to express the ethnic Albanians’ gratitude for Clinton’s role in making Kosovo a state.
“This is a big day,” Krasniqi, 25 said. “I live nearby and I’m really excited that I will be able to see the statue of such a big friend of ours every day.”
Clinton last visited Kosovo in 2003 when he received an honorary university degree. His first visit was in 1999 — months after some 6,000 U.S. troops were deployed in the NATO-led peacekeeping mission here.
Some 1,000 American soldiers are still based in Kosovo as part of NATO’s 14,000-strong peacekeeping force.
Police in Kosovo upped security measures ahead of Bill Clinton’s arrival by adding deploying more traffic police and special police.
NATO officials said the peacekeepers were also on alert, although no additional security measures were taken.’
TONY BLAIR’S KOSOVO
Kosovo was never going to be to Tony Blair what the Falklands war was to Margaret Thatcher.
But, as he visits Sarajevo to discuss the future of the region, the prime minister will stand alone as the only international leader whose standing was enhanced by the war.
He was the only leader not to lose his nerve during the conflict and benefited from a “Kosovo factor” as a result.
Before the conflict with Argentina, Mrs Thatcher was the most unpopular prime minister of the century. When Nato started bombing Serbia, Tony Blair was still riding historically high in the opinion polls.
There was also a relatively simple issue at stake in the Falklands – British territory had been invaded by a foreign power.
In Kosovo, Nato was interfering in the affairs of a sovereign state.
And the aim of the Falklands conflict was also pretty straightforward, to kick the invaders out of the islands. The objectives in the war with Belgrade were never crystal clear and changed many times.
Lady Thatcher benefited hugely from the war and the “Falklands factor” entered the history books as she was swept back into power at the next election on the back of it.
No cries of ‘rejoice’
When Tony Blair visits the Balkans to survey the wreckage left in the wake of the war with Slobodan Milosevic and the attempts to hold the peace together, there will be no Thatcherite cries of “rejoice.”
|The Nato alliance appeared fragile at points when it hit the wrong targets|
But that is not to say the prime minister has not benefited politically from the stand he took against Belgrade.
His determination to see it through despite growing attacks from all sides, transformed him from a massively successful national leader into a serious player on the world stage.
He was the only leader to never waver over the conflict, even though that saw him branded variously as naive, ignorant or confused.
At one point, the cross-party consensus behind the action even appeared to be crumbling in the wake of some tragic Nato bombing mistakes.
But Milosevic’s surrender finally allowed Mr Blair an “I told you so” smile – even though he was far too canny ever to suggest such a thing himself.
He still faces major criticisms for his commitment to the action and it will long be debated whether or not Britain and Nato should ever have got involved in a domestic conflict where yesterday’s angels rapidly turn into today’s devils.
And it still remains to be seen whether, once the dust has settled, things will be any better in the region in future.
But, for the time being at least, Tony Blair has been boosted by the war both at home and internationally.