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<nettime> Republic of Kosova PR Program
Ann Doherty on Mon, 29 May 2000 01:25:07 +0200 (CEST)


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<nettime> Republic of Kosova PR Program


REPUBLIC OF KOSOVA PR PROGRAM

Organization: The Republic of Kosova
Agency: Ruder Finn

In 1989, the Milosevic regime in Belgrade began its brutal drive for a
"Greater Serbia" in former Yugoslavia by launching a reign of terror in
the autonomous province of Kosova in southern Serbia, a country the size
of Connecticut and home to 2.2 million people of whom 90 percent are
ethnic Albanians. 

Belgrade summarily revoked the autonomous status of the province, imposed
martial law, sacked 150,000 Albanians from their jobs, dismissed Albanian
physicians and hospital staff, closed Albanian-language schools and the
university, and unleashed a six-year wave of massive human, civil and
national rights abuses condemned repeatedly by the U.S. State Department,
United Nations, European Union, and international human rights
organizations.. 

Since the Milosevic crack-down in 1989, hundreds of Albanians have been
killed with thousands imprisoned, harassed, beaten, tortured and robbed. 
>From Kosova Milosevic went on to spread his "ethnic cleansing" to
Slovenia Croatia and finally Bosnia. The war in former Yugoslavia started
in Kosova it will also end in Kosova. 

Living under Serb tyranny, the defenseless Albanian majority established a
parallel society, declared their independence from Serbia in 1990, elected
a parliament and president in 1992, and set up a government in exile. An
underground economy was organized, with solidarity among the Albanians as
a means of survival. Despite 60,000 Serbian military, paramilitary and
police forces in Kosova the Albanians have managed to survive by telling
their story to the international community and focusing public attention
on their plight. 

For three years, Ruder Finn has led the Kosova public relations campaign
in the U.S. and Europe. The firm's previous experience as communications
counsel to Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina provided the background and
knowledge to skillfully advise the Kosovars in building understanding and
support in the U.S. 

Now, in the aftermath of the Bosnia peace settlement negotiated in Dayton,
Ohio, last November, the international community has begun to focus its
attention on resolving the Kosova question. They have said that there can
be no comprehensive peace in the Balkans without peace in Kosova. For the
last 12 months, Ruder Finn and the Kosova elected leadership have mounted
a campaign to build a bipartisan coalition of support in the U.S.
Congress, strengthen the Clinton Administration's resolve to address the
Kosova problem, and link an easing of international sanctions against
Serbia to improvements in the human rights conditions in Kosova. 

In December 1995, the Clinton Administration pledged to keep in place
"outer-wall" sanctions against Serbia including diplomatic recognition and
economic funding from the World Bank and other international lending
organizations until the reign of terror against Albanians in Kosova ended. 
In January 1996, the State Department agreed to U.S. mediation of
bilateral talks between Milosevic and the elected Kosova leadership as the
next phase in bringing lasting peace to the Balkans. 

The public relations campaign was largely responsible for keeping the
Kosova issue alive in Washington and pressuring the Clinton Administration
and Congress to become involved in finding a solution. 

Strategy

With the international focus on Serbian aggression in Bosnia, Ruder Finn
devised a strategy of linkage through which a final peaceful end to the
war in former Yugoslavia was coupled to resolving the dispute in Kosova. 
Additionally, strategic consideration was given to keeping the spotlight
on Kosova for targeted audiences including Members of the U.S. House and
Senate, Clinton Administration officials at the State Department and
National Security Council, diplomats at the United Nations Security
Council and General Assembly, and the extensive and vocal
Albanian-American diaspora. 

An intensive direct communications approach and media relations plan were
devised. In addition to a continuous "drum beat" of information flowing to
the targets, Ruder Finn increased the volume and velocity of the message
at critical times, such as during the Bosnia peace talks in Dayton, Ohio,
and during the U.N. General Assembly. A theme was created and used in
every public statement: "There can be no peace in the Balkans until there
is peace in Kosova." It became the battle cry for the public relations
campaign in America. 

Tactics for executing the strategy included periodic, usually twice
weekly, Kosova Infofaxes a series of one-page concise summary paragraphs
about the current situation in Kosova actions by the Congress, supportive
newspaper columns, statistics on repression in Kosova and other convincing
information from the Kosova perspective. More than 300 Members of
Congress, U.N. Security Council members, foreign policy leaders and
organizations, human rights officials, columnists and commentators, and
foreign affairs journalists received the Kosova Infofaxes simultaneously
through Ruder Finn's private fax wire service. 

Two Congressional Delegation visits to Kosova were organized by Ruder Finn
in 1995, with six Members of the House traveling to the region on an
itinerary organized and escorted by Ruder Finn. The President and Prime
Minister of the Republic of Kosova visited the U.S. four times in 1995 for
the purpose of meeting with targets, speaking to foreign policy
organizations, and participating in interviews with journalists including
The Washington Post, Washington Times, New York Times, Time, Newsweek,
U.S. News & World Report, Reuters, Associated Press Television, Reuters
Television, CNN on numerous occasions, WTN BBC and C-Span. 

Op-ed articles by the Kosova Prime Minister and supportive Members of
Congress were drafted and published in The Christian Science Monitor and
Washington Times. Ruder Finn worked with the congressional Albanian Issues
Caucus to draft, introduce and pass resolutions of support for Kosova and
amendments to appropriations bill providing $8 million in humanitarian
assistance for Kosova in the 104th Congress. 

Congressional hearings were conducted on the subject of Kosova by the
International Relations Committee and Commission on Security and
Cooperation in Europe with Ruder Finn's assistance; statements were
drafted for Kosova officials who testified, and media interviews were
arranged around the hearings. 

Through the Albanian Issues Caucus, a core group of 20 Members of the
House, and Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole and other key members of the
Senate, Kosova with Ruder Finn's counsel built a solid coalition of
congressional support. 

On three occasions, Secretary of State Christopher met with the President
and Prime Minister; Ruder Finn also arranged meetings with National
Security Adviser Anthony Lake, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Madeleine
Albright numerous Assistant Secretaries of State and Defense Department
officials, and Vice President Al Gore. On two of these occasions, the
Administration publicly pledged unilateral military defense of Kosova if
the Serbs decided to overtly attack the republic. 

The Albanian-American diaspora concentrated in New York, Chicago and the
Upper Midwest was mobilized to help with the public relations campaign by
applying pressure on their elected congressional representatives to
support Kosova legislation, rallying in New York at the U.N. and in
Washington at the U.S. Capitol, maintaining a vigil at the Bosnia peace
talks in Dayton during the month of November, and making public statements
in support of their Albanian brethren in Kosova. 

Results. 

The public relations effort succeeded in placing the Kosova issue on the
international agenda. After a year of intense communicating, Kosova has
obtained the agreement of the U.S. Government to mediate talks between
Kosova and Serbia. Similarly, the U.S. and international commitment to
maintain economic sanctions on Serbia until significant improvement in
Kosova has been reaffirmed, creating a powerful incentive for Serbia to
negotiate. The U.S. warning to Serbia has been of substantial help in
preventing overt aggression in Kosova. 

And the U.S. Congress has appropriated $20 million in Kosova humanitarian
assistance over the last three years. Assistant Secretary of State
Holbrooke has confirmed that the U.S. will open an office in Kosova and
the State Department has encouraged Kosova to open a representational
office in Washington, D.C. thus providing de facto recognition to the
Kosovars. 

Media coverage throughout 1995 has been extensive with more than 250
articles in major publications, 43 interviews and segments on national and
international television and cable networks, and a continuing media
interest in the issue as a result of the flow of information. 

A general recognition has been reached among foreign policy leaders that
"There can be no lasting peace in the Balkans without peace in Kosova," 
with Ruder Finn's professional assistance has succeeded in elevating the
issue to the international agenda, securing involvement of the world's one
and only superpower, and keeping the Milosevic regime in check with the
threat of unilateral action and continuing crippling sanctions if
improvement in the situation is not realized. 

With this foundation, an end to the Kosova crisis is within sight in
1996.


Ann Doherty
Prinseneiland 329
1013 LP Amsterdam
The Netherlands
Tel: 31 20 6227472
FoEI: 31 20 6221369
Email: bagel {AT} xs4all.nl




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