Angelina Jolie's article in the Washington Post

Angelina Jolie’s article in the Washington Post should have been labeled a public service advertisement — it was just another UN fundraising appeal, certainly written by a UNHCR hack, but falsely disguised as a newspaper article.

Entitled “Staying to Help in Iraq”, with a subtitle saying “We have finally reached a point where humanitarian assistance, from us and others, can have an impact”, Angelina Jolie, or her flack, engage in a shameless bit of name-dropping — why else would you want an “actor”, as Jolie aparently prefers to designate herself — doing this?

“In Baghdad, I spoke with Army Gen. David Petraeus about UNHCR’s need for security information and protection for its staff as they re-enter Iraq, and I am pleased that he has offered that support. General Petraeus also told me he would support new efforts to address the humanitarian crisis ‘to the maximum extent possible’ — which leaves me hopeful that more progress can be made … During my trip I also met with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who has announced the creation of a new committee to oversee issues related to internally displaced people, and a pledge of $40 million to support the effort. My visit left me even more deeply convinced that we not only have a moral obligation to help displaced Iraqi families, but also a serious, long-term, national security interest in ending this crisis…

“What we cannot afford, in my view, is to squander the progress that has been made. In fact, we should step up our financial and material assistance. UNHCR has appealed for $261 million this year to provide for refugees and internally displaced persons. That is not a small amount of money — but it is less than the U.S. spends each day to fight the war in Iraq. I would like to call on each of the presidential candidates and congressional leaders to announce a comprehensive refugee plan with a specific timeline and budget as part of their Iraq strategy.

“As for the question of whether the surge is working, I can only state what I witnessed: UN staff and those of non-governmental organizations seem to feel they have the right set of circumstances to attempt to scale up their programs. And when I asked the troops if they wanted to go home as soon as possible, they said that they miss home but feel invested in Iraq. They have lost many friends and want to be a part of the humanitarian progress they now feel is possible. It seems to me that now is the moment to address the humanitarian side of this situation. Without the right support, we could miss an opportunity to do some of the good we always stated we intended to do”.

At the bottom of the article, it says this: “Angelina Jolie, an actor, is a UNHCR goodwill ambassador”.

This supposed newspaper article in The Washington Post, signed Angelina Jolie, though certainly not written by her, is posted here.

Iraqi execution apparently imminent

It is the first execution of Iraq’s former leaders that has been approved by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, and two Iraqi vice presidents, apparently fulfilling all the legal requirements in the present Iraqi penal code in a way that the executions of (1) Saddam Hussein and (2) his half-brother Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti (whose head was yanked off by the rope during the force of his fall from the gallows), (3) former judge Awad Hamed al-Bandar, as well as (4) former Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan (who was originally only sentenced to life imprisonment, but whose punishment was upgraded during an automatic appeal), did not. (Talabani somehow made himself absent for at least Saddam’s and Taha Yassin Ramadan’s executions.)

Ali Hassan al-Majid, known as “Chemical Ali” for his role in the air attacks with chemical weapons that killed thousands of Iraqi Kurds in Halabja and elsewhere, and a cousin of Saddam Hussein, will now die within the 30-day limit specified by Iraqi law — but, it will probably happen much sooner, and maybe even as early as tomorrow.

UPDATE: Reuters is now reporting that the Presidency Council (the president and the two vice-presidents) actually approved the sentence two days ago, and that there was no explanation of why this decision has been kept secret. This Reuters report is here.

The verdicts were upheld on appeal last September. It was earlier reported that they had been approved by the Iraqi president (and the two vice presidents) today (Friday).

Another new element today is that the death sentences passed and upheld on appeal on two other former senior officials — including one who had reportedly been promised amnesty by senior U.S. military officials, apparently for his covert assistance — has not been approved, or at least not yet.

It is not yet clear whether the death sentences for these two men — Hussein Rashid Mohammed, described as a former deputy director of operations for the Iraqi armed forces, and Sultan Hashim al-Taie, a former defense minister — will be commuted. Iraqi officials are reportedly saying that both men were really only career military officers who were simply carrying out orders

If their sentences are commuted, the imminent execution of Ali Hassan al-Majid would be the last of the capital punishments carried out on the former leaders of Iraq’s Baathist regime.

Cuba signs the two most basic human rights treaties

Apparently, Cuba announced on 10 December – International Human Rights Day — its intention to sign the two most basic human rights treaties.

The two treaties — the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights — are both derived from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, or UDHR (see UN-Truth here), adopted by the UN on 10 December 1948 at a meeting in Paris at the culmination of two years of intensive drafting work. The U.S. then-First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and a French diplomat were the two prime movers in those negotiations.

As the website of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights puts it,the UDHR, together with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights [for full text see here], and its two Optional Protocols [see the first one here and the second one, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty here ], and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights [for full text see here ], “form the so-called [sic] International Bill of Human Rights“.

Cuba’s Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque, looking very relaxed and confident in the photos that accompanied the news story, was at UNHQ/NY for the brief signing ceremony. At a news conference later, he said, according to the Associated Press, that “Cuba was signing the covenants now because the UN Human Rights Commission — which he claimed the U.S. used for ‘brutal pressure and blackmail’ against Cuba — had been ‘defeated’ in what he called ‘a historic victory for the Cuban people’.”

The AP reported that Perez Roque stated “that Cuba would later specify some reservations about treaty provisions”, and the AP noted that in 2001, Fidel Castro criticized the International Covenant on Economic and Social and Cultural Rights, saying it “could serve as a weapon and a pretext for imperialism to try to divide and fracture the workers, create artificial unions, and decrease their political and social power and influence.”

At the news conference, the AP reported, Cuban Foreign Minister was asked by journalists “whether Fidel’s opposition to parts of the two covenants, including the right to form independent trade unions, had changed now that Raul is president, Perez Roque said no. He reiterated that Cuba would later specify some reservations about treaty provisions … A statement Cuba submitted when it signed the two treaties said its constitution and laws ‘guarantee the effective realization and protection of these rights for all Cubans’, but also stressed that the government would register ‘reservations or interpretative declarations it considers relevant’… According to this Cuban statement submitted at the signing, the United States’ economic embargo [which has been in place 46 years] and hostility to Cuba’s communist government ‘constitutes the most serious obstacle to the enjoyment by the Cuban people of the rights protected by the covenants’.” This AP report is published here.

Israeli journalists – a critique

Thanks to the extended excerpt and the link posted on the Angry Arab blogspot, I came upon this excellent article by Yonatan Mendel, an Israeli (former)  journalist, which is published in the current issue of the London Review of Books “This is not to say that Israeli journalism is not professional. Corruption, social decay and dishonesty are pursued with commendable determination by newspapers, TV and radio … When it comes to ‘security’ there is no such freedom. It’s ‘us’ and ‘them’, the IDF and the ‘enemy’; military discourse, which is the only discourse allowed, trumps any other possible narrative. It’s not that Israeli journalists are following orders, or a written code: just that they’d rather think well of their security forces.

“In most of the articles on the conflict two sides battle it out: the Israel Defence Forces, on the one hand, and the Palestinians, on the other. When a violent incident is reported, the IDF confirms or the army says but the Palestinians claim: ‘The Palestinians claimed that a baby was severely injured in IDF shootings.’ Is this a fib? ‘The Palestinians claim that Israeli settlers threatened them’: but who are the Palestinians? Did the entire Palestinian people, citizens of Israel, inhabitants of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, people living in refugee camps in neighbouring Arab states and those living in the diaspora make the claim? Why is it that a serious article is reporting a claim made by the Palestinians? Why is there so rarely a name, a desk, an organisation or a source of this information? Could it be because that would make it seem more reliable?

“When the Palestinians aren’t making claims, their viewpoint is simply not heard. Keshev, the Centre for the Protection of Democracy in Israel, studied the way Israel’s leading television channels and newspapers covered Palestinian casualties in a given month – December 2005. They found 48 items covering the deaths of 22 Palestinians. However, in only eight of those accounts was the IDF version followed by a Palestinian reaction; in the other 40 instances the event was reported only from the point of view of the Israeli military.

“Another example: in June 2006, four days after the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was kidnapped from the Israeli side of the Gazan security fence, Israel, according to the Israeli media, arrested some sixty members of Hamas, of whom 30 were elected members of parliament and eight ministers in the Palestinian government. In a well-planned operation Israel captured and jailed the Palestinian minister for Jerusalem, the ministers of finance, education, religious affairs, strategic affairs, domestic affairs, housing and prisons, as well as the mayors of Bethlehem, Jenin and Qalqilya, the head of the Palestinian parliament and one quarter of its members. That these officials were taken from their beds late at night and transferred to Israeli territory probably to serve (like Gilad Shalit) as future bargaining-chips did not make this operation a kidnapping. Israel never kidnaps: it arrests.

“The Israeli army never intentionally kills anyone, let alone murders them – a state of affairs any other armed organisation would be envious of. Even when a one-ton bomb is dropped onto a dense residential area in Gaza, killing one gunman and 14 innocent civilians, including nine children, it’s still not an intentional killing or murder: it is a targeted assassination. An Israeli journalist can say that IDF soldiers hit Palestinians, or killed them, or killed them by mistake, and that Palestinians were hit, or were killed or even found their death (as if they were looking for it), but murder is out of the question. The consequence, whatever words are used, has been the death at the hands of the Israeli security forces since the outbreak of the second intifada of 2087 Palestinians who had nothing to do with armed struggle.

“The IDF, as depicted by the Israeli media, has another strange ability: it never initiates, decides to attack or launches an operation. The IDF simply responds. It responds to the Qassam rockets, responds to terror attacks, responds to Palestinian violence. This makes everything so much more sensible and civilised: the IDF is forced to fight, to destroy houses, to shoot Palestinians and to kill 4485 of them in seven years, but none of these events is the responsibility of the soldiers. They are facing a nasty enemy, and they respond dutifully. The fact that their actions – curfews, arrests, naval sieges, shootings and killings – are the main cause of the Palestinian reaction does not seem to interest the media. Because Palestinians cannot respond, Israeli journalists choose another verb from the lexicon that includes revenge, provoke, attack, incite, throw stones or fire Qassams”.

This excellent article, written by Yonatan Mendel, can be read in its entirety here.

Long-term deal: Egyptian gas flows to Israel

Israel’s Minister for National Infrastructure, Brigadier General (reserve) Binyamin (Fuad) Ben Eliezer said in Jerusalem last week that he expects natural gas will be flowing from Egypt to Israel by the beginning of March, in an undersea pipeline from El Arish to Ashkelon.

Ben Eliezar, who belongs to the Labor Party, said that gas was first injected into the pipeline on the night of 19 February, “on a trial basis”. He said he hoped the full flow would be carried within days.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Defense confirmed on Thursday that the Egyptian gas has arrived successfully in Ashkelon, but the activation of the flow, or its distribution all over the country, will be in a few days. He said there would be an official inauguration ceremony just before the middle of March.

“By the way, the contract we signed with Egypt is for twenty years”, Ben Eliezar noted. This, he said, will help consolidate peace with Egypt . He made these remarks at a panel discussion held during The Jerusalem Conference on 20 February.

Israel’s first Ambassador to Egypt, Zvi Mazel, who is now retired, told journalists at a briefing in Jerusalem on Thursday that Egypt’s interest in the deal is that “it needs technology and investment from Israel, and we are ready to give it”.

Agence France Presse (AFP) reported this week that Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood opposition, which controls a fifth of seats in parliament, says that the Egyptian Government is committing a “crime” against the Palestinian people by selling this gas to Israel while Israel is tightening sanctions and maintaining a siege of the Gaza Strip.

Ben Eliezar himself signed the Memorandum of Understanding with Egypt’s Oil Minister Sameh Fahmi in June 2005. The preliminary agreement was for 15 years – with the Israeli-Egyptian consortium East Mediterranean Gas (composed of Egyptian General Petrol Corporation and Israeli businessman Yossi Meiman’s Merhav) to provide 1.7 billion cubic meters or 59-60 billion cubic feet of gas annually to the Israel Electric Company for about $2.5 billion a year — with an option to extend for another five years.

The deal was first discussed in 1999, under Israel ’s then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak, also a member and now the leader of the Labor Party — but was frozen for five years after the outbreak of the Second Intifada.

Around the time the agreement shaped up in 2005, it was reported that a part of the Egyptian gas going to Israel will be piped to the Gaza power station, which was originally designed to operate on gas.

Gaza ’s power plant has been meanwhile operating on Israeli-provided industrial diesel fuel, paid for by the European Union since November 2006. Before the recent Israeli military-ordered fuel cuts to Gaza reduced the quantity of fuel permitted to enter Gaza , the bill amounted to some $10 million a month.

Israel’s Minister Ben Eliezar predicted last week that an increasing proportion of Israel ’s energy mix will be satisfied by natural gas – rising from 20% at present to 40% in the next decade.

The highly-advantageous deal with Egypt – in which Israel locked in a relatively low price for the life of the contract, while the market price has risen several times — will only supply part of Israel’s needs.

While the gas well in the Mediterranean that belongs to the Israeli company Delek will be depleted in the coming decade, Ben Eliezar said, there is another well located 90 kilometers west of Haifa could, if proven, sustain Israel for the next 30 years.

Ben Eliezer said at the conference that Israel was still negotiating with BG over a deal to buy a large part of the output of the Gaza Marine gas wells located in Palestininian maritime space in the Mediterranean Sea, about 36 kilometers off Gaza’s coast – despite the fact that BG indicated on 20 December that it was calling off the negotiations with Israel. The main problem was reportedly that BG had insisted that Israel pay the market price for the Palestinian gas, while Israel wanted a more favorable deal.

The Israeli Minister mentioned that there were on-going discussions with Russia ’s Gazprom, and with Azerbaijan .

He also said that Israel has been negotiating with Turkey for almost three years on constructing three undersea channels or pipelines from Turkey to the Haifa in Israel’s north, and Ashkelon in Israel’s south.

As a country with difficult relations with its neighbors, Ben Eliezar said, Israel has to “make sure that we have at least five sources of energy” in order to ensure a constant supply.

UNSC resolution on Iran may be slightly delayed

The Associated Press reported that “[UNSC] diplomats said Wednesday that the vote was likely to be delayed until next week to try to get four non-permanent members who have expressed concern about the resolution to back it. The five veto-wielding permanent council members — the U.S., Russia, China, Britain and France — have already agreed on the draft resolution”. This report is posted here.

Reuters reported that “Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin said Moscow could back a sanctions resolution the Western powers have drafted and which they want to discuss in the UN Security Council this week. ‘If Iran in the next few days does not stop the enrichment activities of its heavy water project then yes, Russia … has taken upon itself certain commitments… to support the resolution that has been drafted in the past month’, Churkin told reporters via a video link from New York … Though it agreed on the outline of the sanctions resolution last month in Berlin, some Western diplomats had expressed concern Russia might try to weaken the resolution out of pique over the West’s recognition of Kosovo”… The report is posted here.

Serbian reaction – Final spasm or first tremor?

Well written, these phrases, from the NYTimes: “the feelings of anger, sorrow and betrayal over the loss of Kosovo cut across all segments of Serbian society. The world is waiting to see whether the riots on Thursday were the final spasm of anger in Serbia or the first tremor in a new Balkan earthquake. The deep-seated disappointment of even the most staunchly pro-Western Serbs suggests that there will be no easy reconciliation in the wake of the declaration of independence by Kosovo’s overwhelming ethnic Albanian majority … ‘If you were here on Sunday’, Ms. Petkovic told a foreign reporter over the weekend, referring to the day of Kosovo’s independence declaration a week earlier, ‘I would be spitting on America, cursing Europeans, saying, “You are stealing our territory, just because you are bigger and you can do it”.’ The depth of her sadness and anger surprised even her, she said …

“Supporters of Kosovo’s independence argue that Mr. Milosevic’s brutal subjugation of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo forsook Serbia’s moral and legal claim to rule the territory. But experts here say policy makers in Washington and Brussels may have seriously underestimated the Serbian bond to Kosovo. They say they can only hope its severing will not lead Serbia into a new era of isolation that would be destabilizing for the entire region. ‘They were probably hinging too much on these polls that Serbia would wake up the next day and say, “Let’s get on with life”,’ said Ivan Vejvoda, executive director of the Balkan Trust for Democracy, a nonprofit grant-making organization in Serbia …

“The independence of Kosovo is by far the hardest blow in the series of secessions from the former Yugoslavia that began in 1991. After years of watching the country being whittled down — in 2006 Montenegro peacefully ended its union with Serbia — there was an expectation among reform -minded Serbs that, having rid themselves of Mr. Milosevic and embraced democracy, their case would be heard differently. ‘Now we’ve been doing things the right way, and it’s still not good enough, and Serb national interests are crushed’, said Ljiljana Smajlovic, editor in chief of the prominent Serbian newspaper Politika. Ms. Smajlovic said she expected the nationalists to become more powerful as a result, leading to years of recrimination ‘deeply harmful for the democratic process’ …

“The United States failed to gain the necessary support in the Security Council for a resolution in favor of the independence of Kosovo, and the lack of United Nations endorsement is consistently cited by the Serbian government and people on the street as proof that Kosovo’s declaration of independence was illegitimate. Ms. Petkovic said she could not help noting the response of the United States to the embassy attack. ‘The first reaction of American authorities was that they will put the protest in the United Nations Security Council’, she said with a wry smile”. The full NYTimes story is here.

UPDATE: Jose Ramos Horta recovering, but still in intensive care

…And the UN Security Council extended the mandate, on Monday, of the UN Integrated Mission in East Timor (UNMIT) for another full year, as UNMIT announced in Dili the surrender of one a wanted fugitive, apparently “a follower of Alfredo Reinado, the opposition leader who was killed during the attack on President Jose Ramos-Horta” The fugitive, who was not named, “had also been the target of investigations by the UN Independent Special Commission of Inquiry for Timor-Leste, which was set up to investigate the deadly incidents of April-May 2006”, according to a report by UN News Centre [which uses British English spellings], published here.

Jose Ramos Horta was brought out of a 10-day induced coma over the weekend, but he is still in intensive care at the Royal Darwin Hospital in Australia, where he may stay for several more months of medical treatement.

In the resolution adopted Monday, the UNSC again condemned “in the strongest possible terms the attacks on the President and Prime-Minister of Timor-Leste on 11 February 2008 and all attempts to destabilize the country, noting that these heinous acts represent an attack on the legitimate institutions of Timor-Leste, and welcomes the swift and constructive reaction by the neighbouring countries”. And it called “on the Government of Timor-Leste to bring to justice those responsible for this heinous act”…

The AP reported that “The attacks [against Jose Ramos Horta, and against Xanana Gusmao, who was not injured] were apparently a sudden escalation in a bitter dispute between the government and several hundred ex-soldiers who were fired in 2006 after going on strike to protest alleged discrimination”. According to AP, the UN “still has 33 military observers and about 1,500 international police and 1,200 civilians in the country”, while Australia has reinforced its military presence there by 1,000 armed forces and a warship stationed off the coast. This AP report can be found here.

The 2006 violence apparently arose from tensions between Timorese from the eastern and western parts of the territory, and between two sectors of the security forces — the army and the police.

Monday’s UN SC resolution “Requests UNMIT, working with partners, to intensify its efforts to assist with further training, mentoring, institutional development and strengthening of PNTL [the National Police of East Timor] …while continuing to ensure, through the presence of UNMIT police component, the restoration and maintenance of public security in Timor-Leste through the provision of support to PNTL, which includes interim law enforcement and public security until PNTL is reconstituted”

And, it “Welcomes the Secretary-General’s intention to send an expert mission to UNMIT in the first quarter of 2008 to conduct a thorough assessment of the requirements of the national police as well as possible adjustments needed to UNMIT police skill sets; and requests him to inform the Council of the finding of the expert mission”.

This UNSC resolution is reproduced here.

Meanwhile, a few days ago, AFP reported that “Hospital general manager Dr Len Notaras told AFP the president was aware that he had been shot but was probably unsure about details of the attack after being unconscious for so long. ‘He certainly knows he was shot and that it was a very traumatic event. As to who did it and the rest of it, I’m not too sure about that and I would say that given the trauma there’s probably a degree of confusion’, he said. The president had responded well to five operations to repair the damage caused by bullet wounds to the back and chest, including significant reconstruction work, Notaras said … Notaras said he expected Ramos-Horta to remain in intensive care for perhaps another week before the leader was in good enough condition to be moved to a more general area of the hospital. Asked for a timeline for the president’s recovery and ability to return to East Timor and to work, the doctor said he expected him to be up and moving ‘and possibly able to make decisions’ in the next few weeks. ‘But in terms of being able to be fully active and moving around with the punishing lifestyle of a president, I expect he will need more convalescence before he gets to that particular state’, Notaras said. The type of injuries Ramos-Horta suffered could take from six to eight weeks to heal in a basic sense, and up to six months overall, Notaras said. ‘He has missed the last ten days of his life. Once he has the ability to reorient himself he will be able to be a lot clearer in his thoughts’, he said. ‘But we need to keep him in a relaxed and stress-free environment so he can let his body heal’.” This AP report is posted here.

Cautious update – satellite shoot-down reduces risk from hazardous chemical

Not 24 or even 48 hours after the satellite shoot-down by a (ballistic) missile fired from a U.S. Navy ship in the Pacific some 130 miles up into space at a speed of 17,000 miles per hour, but days later, there is a qualified statement of success.

The AP reported that “The Pentagon said Monday it has a ‘high degree of confidence’ that the missile fired at a dead U.S. spy satellite in space destroyed the satellite’s fuel tank as planned. In its most definitive statement yet on the outcome of last Wednesday’s shootdown over the Pacific, the Pentagon said that based on debris analysis it is clear that the Navy missile destroyed the fuel tank, ‘reducing, if not eliminating, the risk to people on Earth from the hazardous chemical’. The tank had 1,000 pounds of hydrazine, a toxic substance that U.S. government officials believed posed a potential health hazard to humans if the satellite had descended to Earth on its own. The presence of the hydrazine was cited by U.S. officials as the main reason to shoot down the satellite — described as the size of a school bus — which would otherwise have fallen out of orbit on its own in early March … ‘By all accounts this was a successful mission’, Gen. James Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in the Pentagon statement Monday. ‘From the debris analysis, we have a high degree of confidence the satellite’s fuel tank was destroyed and the hydrazine has been dissipated’. The Pentagon statement said a space operations center at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., is tracking fewer than 3,000 pieces of satellite debris, all smaller than a football”. This AP report is published here.

There has still been no reaction from Russia.

Is Russia upping the ante on Kosovo? Is the EU? NATO? The UN?

The Associated Press is reporting just now that ” Serbia’s minister for Kosovo, Slobodan Samardzic, crossed the border Monday to visit Serb communities in Kosovo. The top UN official in Kosovo, Joachim Ruecker, said he allowed Samardzic into Kosovo on the condition that he issue a public statement ‘making it very, very clear that he distances himself from violence and the visit is about ensuring peace and calm with the Kosovo Serbs’. Ruecker said he also insisted on meeting with Samardzic to ‘tell him what we think of some of his recent statements’ — but said later that he was not satisfied with some of the Serbian official’s answers. Samardzic said he told Ruecker that the Serbian government ‘will do everything to maintain peace in the regions of Kosovo it controls, where the Serbs live‘.” This AP story (datelined Kosovska Mitrovica, KOSOVO) is posted here.

So, the top UN official is being un-diplomatic, and the Serbs say they will continue to control areas of Kosovo that are populated by Serbs.

Is a real fight in the works?

The Russian Foreign Minister has weighed in: ” ‘We actively support Belgrade’s demand … to restore the territorial integrity of Serbia, restore the country’s sovereignty’, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on state-run Vesti-24 television. Lavrov claimed NATO and the European Union, which plans to deploy a 1,800-member police and justice mission to Kosovo, were considering using force to keep ethnic Serbs from leaving Kosovo. ‘The question of using force to hold back Serbs who do not want to remain under Pristina’s authority … is being seriously discussed’, Lavrov said in the broadcast, without offering any evidence. ‘This will only lead to yet another “frozen conflict” and will push the prospects for stabilizing Europe — and first of all for stabilizing the Balkans — far to the side’. The EU did not immediately respond to Lavrov’s remarks. But EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said earlier that the bloc’s mission would cover all of Kosovo, including the northern parts where Serbs are concentrated.“, the AP reported.