Conflict in Kosovo through the Conceptual Framework of Stakeholders
Publication Type:Journal Article
Source:Connections: The Quarterly Journal, Volume 14, Issue 4, p.69-81 (2015)
Keywords:conflict, internal and external stakeholders, Kosovo
Kosovo has been one of the longest-running ethnic conflicts in contemporary Europe. It can be characterized by the diverse nature of the participating entities and the heterogeneous complexity of their interactions. These aspects violently surfaced during the civil war that lasted for almost two years, from 1998 to 1999. One of the major frameworks for viewing and analyzing the conflict, as well as one capable of seeing to its ultimate resolution, appears to be an assessment of the issues through the conceptual lens of “stakeholders.” This focuses on the specific investments or “stakes”—be they economic, ethnic, historic, or cultural—that each of the participants “holds” in generating the scene of the conflict. This lens provides a significant focus, and is one of the more important research methods employed within the domain of strategic analysis.
Aneta Nowakowska-Krystman and Marzena Żakowska *
Research into armed conflict should encompass the examination of the role and status of the participants by presenting their interests, goals, behaviors, and relationships. In this paper, we have chosen the Serbian-Albanian conflict in Kosovo as a case study. Although hostilities ceased in 1999, the conflict remains ongoing politically, and is largely unresolved. This conflict has proven to be one of the most enduring in contemporary Europe. The crux of the conflict has been a dispute over the political status of Kosovo. Owing to its rich history and past cultural experiences, Kosovo’s territory has deep symbolic and mythological dimensions within the minds of both the Serbs and the Albanians. The conflict is embodied by the diverse natures of the participating stakeholders and the complexity of their interactions. These factors were manifested violently during the civil war from 1998 to 1999 that featured the horrors of ethnic cleansing, a crime against humanity. The war ended with the establishment of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo in June of 1999. However, its full resolution remains incomplete.
This article touches on the ethical and historical roots of the conflict. Most importantly, it attempts to illuminate the problem from the perspective of the interest groups that existed prior to and during the engagement in the conflict. The situational problematic includes the framework provided by the stakeholders that was used in strategic analysis. This analysis covers the period of the civil war, tracing the operations of a contractual system capable of building a future state with various stakeholders who have invested in realizing a fully functional statehood (the concept stakeholder, shareholders). Stakeholders are frequently organizations and groups residing within the analyzed entity (Kosovo as the state) that are further dependent on the decisions affecting, or potentially affecting, the state’s direction and navigational decision-making (see Figures 1 and 2). These entities directly or indirectly benefit or incur costs that are intimately associated to the state’s functioning. It is important to note that the interests of different stakeholders can be contradictory. These contradictions tend to breed differing levels of conflict and are linked to the conflict’s resolution.
It appears that the main actors must consider the specific needs and pressing force of establishing a critical hierarchy of importance in negotiations. Each of the interest groups or shareholders has their own authority, vulnerabilities, as well as vested interests. Also, each shareholder must reflect on the specific pressures prior to any major decision-making. Subject to analysis in this case are the authorities of Kosovo. This article thus presents the possibility of carrying out this kind of research with the Kosovo conflict as the case study, focusing on internal and external stakeholders.
Participation of the Main Stakeholders in the Kosovo Conflict
The background of the conflict between the Albanians and the Serbs is primarily ethnic. Other aspects of life and lived experience are shared, such as history, religion, culture, and language. The Serbs consider Kosovo to be the cradle of their statehood, belonging to territory that they gained in the Middle Ages; in this area was the capital of the medieval Serbian state. Furthermore, the seat of the Orthodox Church was in Peć. The church served as the cultural center of statehood, as well as a source of national identity for the Serbs. The presence of numerous monasteries provided the Kosovo Serbs with what was called a “Serbian Jerusalem.” For the Albanians, Kosovo has also been the cradle of both the state and the nation. In this line of thought, the Albanians robustly identify themselves with the Illyrians. This tribal population inhabited Kosovo during the second century B.C., whereas the Slavs, from which the Serbs are descended, came to Kosovo in the sixth century. This historical narrative is embraced by the Albanians and forms the basis of their claims to the territory as an indigenous people. The Serbs are still viewed as latecomers lacking in entitlement.
One essential source of conflict, therefore, appears to stem from Kosovo’s historical circumstances. These have generated multiple levels of antagonism between the Serbs and Albanians and have contributed to profoundly engrained dynamics of rivalry, as well as extremely partisan conflicts. It must be emphasized that for each of these groups, Kosovo holds deeply cherished mythological and symbolic values. Some of these identifications were forged in the defeat by the Ottoman Empire at the Battle of Kosovo Polje in 1389. The massive and bloody sacrifices of that battle are considered by Serbs, together with the Albanians, as a great sacrifice in the failed attempt to preserve the freedom of the nation.
Politically speaking, the distant Battle of Kosovo determined the loss of the once independent Serbian state. This further relegated the conquered population to what amounted to five-hundred years of submission and servitude to the Ottoman Empire, from 1459 to the early twentieth century. One result of Kosovo coming under Turkish rule was the gradual development of sharp antagonisms between the Albanians and Serbs. This was facilitated by the policy of colonization and Islamization decreed by the Turkish government. In Kosovo this resulted in the Albanians becoming the dominant ethnic group. They actively embraced Islam in contrast to the Serbs. Because of this, the Albanians were treated by the Turks as the privileged group, while the Serbs, who remained Orthodox, became alienated outsiders. 
This socio-political system was later reversed in the twentieth century as the result of a new geopolitical system emerging after the Balkan Wars and the First World War. Kosovo, which had been included territorially in the state created by the Serbs, the Kingdom of Serbia (1912–1918), was later included in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia (1918–1941). These political conditions spawned large migrations of Albanians who had become increasingly and vehemently discriminated against by Serbs. The situation changed again during the Second World War when Kosovo was incorporated into a pro-fascist Albania – circumstances that favored the return of the Albanian émigrés to Kosovo. The Albanian resettlement brought reprisals against the once dominant Serbs that then led to a mass exodus of the Serbian population.
After the war, and to the detriment of the Serbs, the entire ethnic composition changed in Kosovo. A main reason for this transformation was a high birth rate among the Albanian population as well as Serbian emigration that was also largely motivated by economic considerations. Kosovo was one of the least economically developed regions in Yugoslavia. In the 1990s, Kosovo was inhabited by an 81 percent Albanian population, in contrast to an approximately 11 percent Serbian population. This demographic advantage has been repeatedly cited and invoked by the Albanians on the international stage as one of the principal arguments favoring the granting of independence to Kosovo.
In the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY), Kosovo had the political status of an autonomous region under the constitution in 1974. In practice, this meant Kosovo became a fully-functioning autonomousgovernment, along with the introduction of an Albanian curriculum into the Serbian educational system. Despite this, in the 1980s Kosovo Albanians began to demand the granting of status as a republic, and an equivalency with the other republics of the SFRY. Their demands were not taken into account by the Yugoslav authorities. This was mainly due to the 1989 implementation of Serbian President Slobodan Milošević’s program for Kosovo’s centralization, as well as to a vigorous defense of the rights of the Serbs living in the region.
This policy led to the abolition of Kosovo’s autonomy in 1990 and the adoption of the new Constitution of the Republic of Serbia with widely restricted administrative rules for the province that had functioned during 1946–1973. A number of protests by Albanians against these changes were brutally suppressed through the use of military force. These events led to a serious crisis in Serbian-Albanian relations. In response, Kosovo Albanians aggravated by Serb discrimination, the abolition of political institutions, mass layoffs, and the introduction of the Serbian curriculum into the educational system, reactively formed a parallel administration, called the state of the Republic of Kosovo to the Socialist Republic of Serbia. In this state, they created a separate administration, taxation, education, health, and social service systems. In a secret referendum in September 1991, they proclaimed the independence of the Republic of Kosovo. In the following year, they established a secret ballot for parliament and president. Ibrahim Rugova, the leader of the Democratic League of Kosovo (the Albanian opposition party), was elected as the first President of the Republic of Kosovo. The parallel state was recognized only by Albania, as the European Community refused to approve or acknowledge its independence. However, Kosovo Albanians had hoped that the issue of their political status would be finally resolved in the Dayton Peace Agreement (1995) that had ended the war in Bosnia. This problem was ignored by the international community, which triggered aggressive radicalization among Albanians in Kosovo.
Radical groups such as the Kosovo Liberation Army (Ushtria Çlirimtare e Kosovës, KLA) were vehemently opposed to the continuation of the previous policy of “passive resistance” promoted by their leader, Rugova. In the period from 1996 to 1997, the KLA began fighting for its independence by attacking Serbian police officers, police stations and civilians, as well as those Albanians suspected of loyalty to the authorities in Belgrade. In 1998, the conflict escalated and lethal clashes between KLA fighters and the Serbian police became an aspect of daily life. An escalation of these hostilities in 1998 caused approximately 242,000 people to flee their homes. The majority of these were Albanians.
In the face of the ongoing civil war, once again raising the threat of destabilizing the Balkans, the international community began intensive diplomatic efforts to stop the violence and restore peace in Kosovo. The negotiations with both sides of the conflict were led by the Contact Group on former Yugoslavia, the Special Envoys from the United States, Robert Galbarda and Richard Holbrooke, and U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, as well as the Russian President, Boris Yeltsin. The Security Council of the United Nations adopted resolutions that imposed an arms embargo on Yugoslavia and Kosovo. It further urged the parties to refrain from violence against the civilian populations and initiate the process of peace talks. On October 13, 1998, Holbrooke and Milosevic signed a ceasefire agreement. This engendered the hope of ending the conflict. Implementation of the agreement was to be overseen by the OSCE Verification Mission in cooperation with NATO air forces (i.e., Operation Eagle Eye and Determined Guarantor). In accordance with the provisions of the agreement, the Serbian forces partially withdrew from Kosovo. The ceasefire was unable to stand: soon after the withdrawal of Serbian forces, the KLA resumed fighting.
The conflict reached a turning point when on January 15, 1999 people in the the town of Račak discovered the bodies of 45 ethnic Albanian civilians. The Albanians blamed the Serbs for the massacre. This event led the Contact Group to hold peace talks the following month in Rambouillet, and to present a peace plan designed to end the conflict. The plan was rejected by the Serbs on account of two conditions it contained: a) acceptance by the Serbian authorities to allow NATO forces entry into Yugoslavia, enforcing thereby and monitoring the implementation of the peace agreement; and b) a referendum, to be carried out three years after the date of signing, to determine the political future of Kosovo.
In view of the failure of the peace talks and the conduct of the Serbian forces, i.e. ethnic cleansing, the Atlantic Alliance decided to launch a vigorous military intervention against Yugoslavia on 24 March 1999 called Operation Allied Force. The aims of the intervention were to bring about the cessation of fighting and ethnic cleansing, to establish lasting peace, and to restore Kosovo’s autonomy. NATO’s bombing forced PresidentMilosević to take the peace negotiations seriously, and appeared indispensable to any lasting agreement that could also ensure the safety of people returning to their homes.
After two months of bombing and intense diplomatic negotiations with the Serbian side, an agreement was finally signed between the Serbian government and NATO in Kumanovo to end the intervention in Yugoslavia.Under the agreement, again, most Serb forces were required to withdraw from Kosovo, and the international peacekeeping force KFOR to enter in their place as an international peacekeeping force under NATO command. The final terms of the peace agreement ending the armed conflict in Kosovo were adopted in Resolution 1244 by the UN Security Council. According to the resolution, Kosovo was to remain under the temporary administration of the UN mission, remained an integral part of the Republic of Serbia and Yugoslavia. The restoration of order and security was entrusted to KFOR.
The Concept of Stakeholders and the Kosovo Conflict
The armed conflict in Kosovo is defined by the diversity of the actors involved. The various entities, or stakeholders, involved in the relevant period (1998–1999) can be divided into groups to identify the key or target stakeholders: 
Figure 1: Internal Stakeholders.
· internal and external, i.e. situated inside and outside the country (see Figures 1 and 2);
· active and passive, namely those with direct influence (e.g. political parties, the Kosovo Liberation Army) and indirect influence (e.g. citizens, the Albanian and Serb populations, media);
· necessary and conditional, i.e. those necessarily present in developing countries (e.g. president, ministers) and those whose participation is not required;
· current and potential, i.e. those created because of the existence of a specific political situation, in this case taking into account the legal regulations concerning the impact on the functioning of the state;
· the positive (e.g. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, NATO), neutral (e.g. the International War Crimes Tribunal), or negative (e.g. the Serbian authorities, the Yugoslav army) nature of stakeholders’ impact.
Within the conflict there emerge four groups of internal stakeholders (see Figure 1) that include national entities, namely:
· society, i.e. those immediately impacted by the conflict,
· centers of state power
· military force/direct participants in the conflict
· economic entities (manufacturing and services).
These groups are not uniform or unified. It seems appropriate, therefore, to extract smaller units (e.g., the president, the minister of national defense) and then determine the strength of their influence.
1. The centers of state power: government authorities
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
President: Slobodan Milosevic
Prime Minister: Momir Bulatovic
Deputy Prime Minister: Nicola Sainovic
Minister of Internal Affairs: Zoran Sokolovic
Republic of Serbia
President of Serbia: Milan Milutinovic
Prime Minister: Mirko Marjanović
Minister of Internal Affairs of Serbia: Vlajko Strojilkovic
Self-proclaimed Republic of Kosovo (1991)
President: Ibrahim Rugova (elected president in 1992, re-elected in 1998)
Prime minister: Bujar Bukoshi (the “prime minister” of Kosovo’s government-in-exile in Germany).
2. The centers of state power:
Head of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovo: Bishop Artemije Radosavljevic
Head of the Serbian Orthodox monastery in Decani: Father Sava
3. The centers of state power:
key political parties
Kosovo Serbian Resistance Movement: leader Momcilo Trajkovic
Kosovo branch of the Serbian Radical Party: leader Rade Trajkovic
Democratic League of Kosovo, President Ibrahim Rugova
United Democratic League, headed by Rexhep Qosja
Parliamentary Party of Kosovo under the leadership of Adem Demaci, BajramKosumi
The Yugoslav Army (Vojska Jugoslavija, or VJ): Slobodan Milosevic; gen. Dragoljub Ojdanicchief of the VJ General Staff
The Serbian police force: Ministry of Internal Affairs Republic of Serbia (MinistarstvoUnutrasnjih Poslova, MUP): Slobodan Milosevic; gen. Sreten Lukic, gen. Radomir Markovic
The Serbian paramilitary units: Arkan’s Tigers, Seselj’s White Eagles.
Kosovo Liberation Army: Hashim Thaqi rebel leader known by his nom-de-guerre “Snake”.
Source: International Crisis Group, “Who’s Who in Kosovo,” http://www.crisisgroup.org/~/media/Files/ europe/Kosovo%2012.pdf (accessed 22 November 2014); Human Rights Watch, “Under Orders: War Crimes in Kosovo – 3. Forces of the Conflict,” http://www.hrw.org/reports/2001/kosovo/undword-02.htm (accessed 22 November 2014).
Within the group of external stakeholders, international actors have been identified in three groups (Figure 2), and should be analyzed as distinguished specific pressure groups on authority decision making process in the state. Based on the directness of impact, the first group can be divided into active (primary stakeholders) and passive (secondary stakeholders). Also highlighted are the current stakeholders (already existing) and prospective stakeholders (i.e., latent) that begin acting in response to a political situation.
We consider the key stakeholders to be groups, institutions, or organizations that meet two conditions: 1) they are able to exert effective pressure on the state; 2) they have their specific “stake” in action. The second category of analysis to be considered is a validation of impact/action. In addition, the state must take into account the urgency of their demands.
Figure 2: External Stakeholders.
Institutional functioning reflects the legitimacy and the relationship of authority, and can be considered from the point of view of contracts, exchange, legal title, moral rights, or the status of the risk incurred. This indicates the dominance of the particular organization or domination of stakeholders for the correlation.
As a result, we obtain information about the significance of the stakeholder. The positioning can be carried out based on a scheme using two variables: the level of interest and the force of impact (Figure 3).
The level of interest
The force of the impact
maintain the satisfaction
Source: Gerry Johnson and Kevan Scholes, eds., Exploring Corporate Strategy (London: Prentice Hall Europe, 1999), 216.
Figure 3: Positioning of Stakeholders.
In the literature, there are also schemes based on three categories of analysis: the force of impact (power/authority), legitimacy (validation), and the urgency of the needs and demands (Figure 4).
Legend: 1 to 3: Stakeholders of minor importance;
4 to 6: Stakeholders of medium importance;
7: Stakeholders of greatest importance (the key players)
Figure 4: The Three Analytical Dimension Stakeholders.
Source: Mitchell et al., “Toward a Theory of Stakeholder Identification and Salience,” 874.
The article briefly describes the problem by analyzing selected stakeholders. However, more often the type of analysis comes as stakeholders’ maps (information delivered in the form of images) and as a matrix of mutual domination (a mathematical technique developed by T. Saaty) and then presents comprehensive analysis of stakeholders.
The behavior of an entity, a state such as Kosovo, is attributable to its strategy that should be preceded by analysis. One of the most important seems to be the analysis of stakeholders. In order to characterize the pressure groups, the state must:
· understand the needs of stakeholders
· establish specific negotiation processes (with the range and fields pertinent to the coalition activities, conflict management, and the avoidance of unilateral action) in order to understand the different groups of stakeholders
· establish a process of decision-making oriented towards initiating or not a response to occurring phenomena
· allocate resources of the state that are guided by the requirements and degree of external demands, and by not forgetting the nation’s core competence.
Therefore, modern state management requires taking into account the broad perspective of bringing value/benefits to the stakeholders. It ostensibly results in efficient and effective action (Figure 5).
Figure 5. The Chain of Cause and Effect on a Balanced Scorecard.
Source: Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton, Strategiczna karta wyników, Jak przełożyć strategię na działanie (Warsaw: Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN, 2007), 46.