ebalkan on 29 Mar 2001 01:22:06 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] Briefing 28-03-2001




- Daily briefing from Macedonian press about Macedonian crisis
- Daily briefing from international press about Macedonian crisis
- Supplement: Macedonian journalist from "Vecher" in the Albanian terrorists' headquarters in Kosovo


Yesterday the Macedonian army and police forces continued the action sweep and search against the terrorists scattered around the hillside of Shar Planina. The broken up terrorists groups retreated towards the Kosovo border in panic. The terrorist groups were desperately trying to round up a larger military formation with the purpose to make another attack on the Macedonian security forces surrounding them, and to flee towards Kosovo. The Macedonian artillery, the special forces and the helicopters neutralize every attempt of the terrorists to make larger formations. The extremists aim to break through the region of the Karanikolicki Ezera (lakes), where our forces are holding all strategic points. According to our security forces, the peak of the mountain Kobilica is the point where the final attack will be given to the terrorists. During yesterday’s military actions there were no dead and injured on the side of the Macedonian security forces. The information that comes to our fighting groups show that the terrorists were well prepared for combat. The villages Lavce, Lisec, Gajre were turned into the main logistic base for the support of the extremists. There, most of the houses and other sites were specially adapted for the conduct of armed battle, and they were the main weapon, ammunition, and food source for the terrorists that occupied the Old Tetovo Fortress. (“Dnevnik”)

Ismet Guri, the driver of the
UN Field Security Officer, Tom Metcalf in Skopje, two days ago, about 7:00 p.m. was arrested by the Macedonian police which, during the search of a vehicle with foreign register plates, found two automatic guns “scorpions”, two other guns with a large quantity of ammunition for them and two hand grenades. The police immediately arrested Ismet Guri against who yesterday the Ministry of Internal Affairs filed a lawsuit for a criminal act, and an investigative judge ruled a 30 days imprisonment. We are informed that the police have evidence that the arrested Guri was a “contact officer” for his chief Metcalf and the terrorists’ commander in the village Tanushevci. Tom Metcalf is assigned as the Security Officer for all UN organizations in Skopje. The Macedonian authorities, after the entering of the security forces in the village Tanushevci, informed that the special forces of the Ministry of Internal Affairs found a large quantity of food with the label of the UNHCR in the terrorists’ hideouts. The UNHCR Headquarters in Skopje said that they couldn’t give any information concerning this incident because Guri was not an employee of the UNHCR, but of the UN Field Security Agency, which, as an organization of the UN, has office at their premises. (“Dnevnik”)

Macedonian police stopped and provoked two UNMIK local staff members on  Monday, close to Blace border crossing. R.R.(24) and A.J. (25) were  stopped by police and provoked by police. “They kept insulting and cursing us, always on ethnic basis, while pointing their guns at us,” A.J. says. “When I tried to pull my UNMIK ID card, one of them hit me in the face and didn’t allow me to identify myself. ("FAKTI"-Albanian language daily)

The dialogue for resolving all problems in the country should commence as soon as possible, and we are exceptionally satisfied because the international community finds the idea for the solving of the open issues by democratic means acceptable, stated yesterday for “Dnevnik” the General Secretary of PDP, Muhamed Halili. He said that the party has a prepared platform for the dialogue and that the party’s position is that the Constitution is the generator of the crisis in the state. “In Macedonia, dialogue must be initiated for the development of the democracy and economy, and not only on the issue of equality”, said Halili. PDP remains on its opinion not to participate in the activity of the Parliament until the President, Ymer Ymeri, and the party’s presidency don’t present a new decision. Halili said “DPA and VMRO DPMNE have created the crisis in the country after the existing 10 year peace in Macedonia”. (“Dnevnik”)

In the Tetovo village, Poroj, the Albanian terrorists raped two female members of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Albanian nationality. The two abused women didn’t want to give statements to the Macedonian Security Forces because they were terrified. Tomorrow, in Skopje, the Hague Tribunal Prosecutor, Carla del Ponte, will arrive and talk to the raped policewomen. As we are informed, the members of the Ministry of Internal Affairs were inhabitants of Poroj and were not on duty when the terrorists occupied the village. They succeeded to retreat from Poroj with the convoy of refugees from that village. (“Dnevnik”)

NLA: WE HAVEN’T MOVE FROM OUR POSITIONS  In a statement given to VOA, one of the NLA Commanders stated that their withdrawal is a strategy that should enable the civilian population to leave the war zones. “There is no doubt that Albanians will continue with their struggle.” NLA officer says that their appeal to Albanians in RM to join the guerrilla was accepted much better than expected. “Now we have more than 4000 soldiers, all of them expecting an order to attack Government police and army forces.” ("FAKTI"-Albanian language daily)

The Freedom of the Media Representative of the OSCE, Freimut Duve, yesterday congratulated the moderation and the level of responsibility of the Macedonian Media in the reports on the current crisis. Despite the tension that still exists in the country, the Macedonian Media showed a model moderation in the reports and the comments on the military actions in the region of Tetovo, said Duve. “The daily press showed incredibly slight spite and they underlined the necessity for the intensifying of the political process concerning the requests of the ethnic Albanians. In that region, the media in several occasions fired up the conflict and became instruments for further conflicts. That is why, amidst the violent conflict, the tone of the daily press in Skopje has the whole credit for the keeping the direction towards a peaceful future”, underlined Freimut Duve in yesterday’s announcement. (“Dnevnik”)


The Macedonian president, Boris Trajkovski, is expected to announce a date for the start of wide-ranging talks on changing the country's constitution to accommodate many of the Albanian minority's demands. The talks may involve mediation by the EU. A key grievance is the preamble to the 1991 constitution which describes the country as "the national state of the Macedonian people". (
Excerpts from Bloomberg) “I'm really convinced that it was not only the victory of democracy but also of Macedonians who, in these difficult times, were able to prove their unity and strength,” told Trakovski in an interview. “This is a victory for all citizens of Macedonia, regardless of their ethnic background.” Trajkovski maintained that no one is discriminated against in Macedonia on the basis of religion or ethnicity. He pledged, however, to discuss the possibility of revising the constitution to “recognize equal participation of all citizens based on individual rights.”(Excerpts from Associated Press)The Albanian daily Fakti called on the rebels to lay down their arms. The Slav Macedonian press was also careful not to offend the ethnic Albanian minority. But granting concessions may meet resistance among both the public and politicians. Many Macedonian Slavs are worried that granting Albanians equal status in the constitution will lead to the eventual break-up of their country. (Excerpts from Financial Times)

The United States and France fully support the Macedonian government in its struggle against ethnic Albanian rebels, but urge Skopje to rapidly consider reforms, French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine said. "We share a common stand" on this question, Vedrine said following talks with Secretary of State Colin Powell and other top officials of the new U.S. administration. "I hope that will be sufficient to get the situation back under control. If not, we'll have to resume talks amongst Europeans and with the Americans and maybe the Russians to see how to proceed," he said. French diplomatic sources said France had suggested a meeting on Macedonia to its partners within the contact group dealing with the former Yugoslavia. The contact group is made up of Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Russia and the United States. (
Excerpts from Agence France Presse)

DEVELOPMENT OF THE REGION  The weekend show of strength by the Macedonian army worked, and the Skopje government gets some breathing space. Nato forces should do their best to extend it. Within K-For's sphere of competence, soldiers and the international police need to do a better job of checking the movement of people into and out of Macedonia along its border with Kosovo. In Macedonia, the "national" liberation army has a political wing. Some of its goals are accessible within the framework of a Macedonian state even if not the one presently constituted. But to get anywhere near them demands long political conversation. Skopje has resolved not to deal bilaterally with insurgents, which is understandable. The good offices of neighbours are in short supply; it is hard to see Athens or Sofia let along Belgrade or Tirana being anything but intrusive. In Macedonia the EU should engage in concerted (and commercially generous) diplomacy. In the Balkans the consequences of inaction have been shown, again, to be far heavier than the short-run costs of active involvement. (Excerpts from The Guardian)

The report says: "We have detected a worrying lack of ministerial oversight of policy in the Balkans. The Secretary of State has not visited Yugoslavia and has no immediate plans to do so. We find it deeply regrettable that Mr. Vaz, the minister responsible for south-east Europe, has not visited the area either.” The report adds: "Since the revolution in Belgrade, only one junior trade minister has visited the area. Shadow Foreign Secretary Francis Maude last night branded Mr. Vaz "unfit for office". (
Excerpts from Sun)

BUGAJSKI: SKOPJE NEEDS TO OPEN DIALOGUE WITH ALBANIAN LEADERS  In an interview with KosovaLive, Janusz Bugajski, an analyst from the  Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C.,  talked about narrowing of Ground Security Zone in Kosova and the way of  resolving the crisis in Macedonia. According to Bugajski, The Albanian population in Macedonia harbors some justifiable grievances. They criticize the constitution for defining the republic as a state of "Macedonians, and other minorities." Albanian leaders allege that the document reduces them to second-class citizens and must be amended. Although the government of President Boris Trajkovski has made some moves to integrate Albanians into various state institutions, the majority still feels excluded from decision-making. Slav Macedonians also fear that any further "group rights" for the Albanian community will provoke more far-reaching demands for territorial autonomy, federalization, and eventual separation. The Macedonian government is caught in a vicious dilemma between Albanian and Macedonian nationalism. A weak response against the guerrillas could alienate it from the Slav population and lead to its downfall. To achieve a proper balance, Skopje needs to act tough with any gunmen while studiously avoiding civilian casualties and launching a bold initiative for a far-reaching dialogue with Albanian leaders to forge a new national contract. The message must be clear: no tolerance for violence, whether by Albanian or Macedonian gunmen, and complete openness to valid Albanian demands, Bugajski concluded. (
Excerpts from KosovaLive)


Troops from Britain’s élite Special Air Service regiment were deployed to Kosovo last week in a massive British Army-led operation to arrest extremist Albanians, western defence sources said yesterday. Their targets were nearly two dozen Albanian men suspected of involvement in a bus bombing in Kosovo aimed at Serb civilians that left 11 people dead, including a child of two. SAS teams last week spearheaded the arrests of 22 Albanians, sources said, after a surveillance operation that at its height involved 3,000-plus international police and British troops in the Kosovo capital, Pristina, and the north-western town of Podujevo, near where the bomb blast took place. (Excerpts from The Scotsman)

USE WORDS, NOT GUNS, BALKAN LEADER TELLS REBELS  Far from being defeated in their forced retreat from the edges of Tetovo, ethnic Albanian rebels fighting government forces scored a victory in focusing opinion on their situation. Most Albanians said they were disappointed by the performance of the main Albanian party, the Democratic Party of Albanians, in the center- right coalition government which came to power in 1998. (Excerpts from Agence France Presse)Mr. Xhaferi, his own credibility at risk, is openly using the threat of more violent Albanian responses to press for rapid political change in order to satisfy ordinary Albanians, who want stability and prosperity and who say they have little interest in any "greater Albania." Xhaferi pressed Solana today to sponsor a serious discussion of constitutional change. Otherwise, Xhaferi said, President Trajkovski and the Macedonians "will just play games." Xhaferi said the rebels pulled back from a fight with Macedonian forces in recent days because he had passed a message that more violence would damage chances for political change. He may also be exaggerating both the stakes and his own importance. Senior Western diplomats, who admire him, also say he can sometimes speak theatrically about the urgency of certain changes, and when they do not happen on time, "the show goes on," as one said.  Another diplomat suggested that the armed men were not under obvious political control, but appeared to have retreated in the face of overwhelming military firepower, international isolation and their failure to attract recruits. He believes in consensual, liberal democracy, based on individual rights, Xhaferi said, adding: "The boys in the hills have a collectivist ideology. But if I don't succeed in opening the process of real change, I will have failed, and I will be responsible for the change in people's heads. I want to civilize the conflict, not militarise it. But I must succeed."(Excerpts from The New York Times) 

KOSOVAR LEADERS IN IACASK FOR BEGINNING OF DIALOGUE  The Macedonian government must begin the dialogue to respond to the  requests of Albanians in Macedonia, said two members of the Interim  Administrative Council (IAC) after Tuesday's regularly scheduled  meeting. "We discussed the situation in Macedonia and requested that  international pressure be increased on the Macedonian government so that it will begin the dialogue to fulfil the requests of the Albanians in this republic," the president of the Democratic Party of Kosova (PDK),Hashim Thaci, stated. (
Excerpts from KosovaLive)  ALBANIAN REBEL COMMANDER KILLED IN CLASHES IN SOUTHERN SERBIA  The commander of the so-called 'Mjekra' brigade of the Liberation Army for Presevo, Medvedja and Bujanovac (LAPMB) was killed Monday in in clashes with Serbian forces around Cerevajka, a village near Presevo in southern Serbia despite a ceasefire, said Jonuz Musliu, a rebel spokesman. (Excerpts from Agence France Presse)


The idea how to get to one of the many camps of the disintegrated Liberation Army of Kosovo in Kosovo from where armed groups are sent to Macedonia and South Serbia, was up to recently, very difficult to realize. Up to the moment when the "privileged" journalists from the Western countries, came.
Our meeting place is the “Holiday Inn” hotel, where most of the foreign journalists have accommodation. In several jeeps, previously well dressed and with several bottles of mineral water, we head towards Tetovo. Just in case, they first search me if I am carrying some document, mobile phone with which I could disclose them, because I am Macedonian. They then warn me: “We are all going to take the heat!”. After they are convinced that I don’t carry anything that I can be identified by, we are finally on our way. The road is blocked on several points, but the colleagues are well familiar with it and after successfully avoiding the police, we arrive at the first destination. It is the vicinity of the village Neproshteno where a boy named Ali meets us. I find out that he is a student at the Pan-Albanian University in Geneva, and that now he is engaged in the Liberation Army of Kosovo as a translator. He speaks seven languages and is very familiar with the region.
It is dark, and quite cold…Fear from dogs and wolfs is great. Ali, in perfect English, says that we might encounter with some unpleasant meetings with the “inhabitants ” of the mountains. He asks us kindly to take a stick and a several stones each. On several spots, the road is almost inaccessible, but we manage. After something less than about 5 hours walking, exhausted, we arrive to a small inhabited place about 15 km from Shtrice, Kosovo. There we are taken over by other “friends ” of my colleagues. We say hello, and I, being new to the group, am asked, in perfect English and French, how I am, and after they are convinced that I am one of “them ” (probably by the use of the language) – we continue.
The next destination is Prizren. In the meantime, Hasan, one of the two new escorts, says that it is difficult. He complains on the food in the camp and on the interpersonal relations within the camp. He says: “We are many now, only our unit ’s number increased by several hundred soldiers in the past several days. And the new arrivals think that they own the world. And, now, they want to rule with it, but I don ’t know how when this is ours, and they have nothing to do with it. They don ’t care about the country, they are mercenaries and must obey, but who can explain this to them! ”. In the meantime, he explains that just last Friday, several additional airplanes from Switzerland with old-new recruits of the Liberation Army of Kosovo arrived. All but foreigners who, allegedly, acted arrogantly and simply were deaf to the commands of the “old wolfs ”.
On the road, everything is peaceful. Even though it is morning, there is almost no movement to be noticed. Young Albert, who says that he is Dutch and is only 18, is in the camps of the Liberation Army of Kosovo in Albania and in Kosovo for a year and a half already. Albert insists that the situation is still calm because people are in a state of suspense knowing the Liberation Army of Kosovo is preparing a new offensive.
Finally, about 15 km from Prizren, we turn towards Albania. We climb up a hill and then descend and come to an iron door. It opens with a remote control. We enter, and after about five minutes driving straight along the wide road surrounded with deep wood, we come upon wooden barracks. There is a playground at the beginning, which is surrounded with benches full with young people in uniforms. Loud Albanian music can be heard, German and Swiss newspapers are read, and conversation in all possible languages is heard. “Official ” language, they joke, is German, but one can make oneself be understood just as well in English, French, Spanish, Russian… Among the many “soldiers ” there are about 30 elderly people in uniform, with long beards, silent and always on a distance from the group. Our host, Ibrahim, who takes us under his care the minute we entered the camp, for whom there is no information of any kind, insists that they are newcomers. “They are from the East! They came several days ago. Don ’t be afraid to communicate with them, they are our own kind, Muslims! ”. Later we find out that they are from Afghanistan and that they are proved soldiers, but don ’t want to introduce themselves because they are afraid. Contrary to them, most of the Dutch are talkative, friendly and open for conversation. There are both men and women. The number is almost equal. Part of them doesn ’t know where they are, and why they are here, they just know that they have to fight. Therefore, they are always alert. Hans Young, 23 year-old Duch, says that he is here for the money, and his "job description" includes that he has to fight. “I accepted, and there is no joking about it ”, says Hans, and finishes: “Better off here with money, than at home on the street ”.
And while we chitchat with the present groups of young soldiers, from the depths of the forest, behind the barracks, a group of masked soldiers appears in full army equipment. And, that is the only weapon that I notice in my neighborhood. They stand in a line several hundred meters from us saluting in accordance with their army ’s protocol, after which they start to discuss around a map set before them. Our host, Ibrahim, warns us not go closer because they are in the middle of a “lesson ”. After about half an hour, in a line, they pass us, with their eyes focused at the ground. They simply don ’t breathe! We find out that they are moving on to new positions and that, at the day of our visit, they are the tenth group reenlisted to the border with Macedonia.
The group of talkative NLA soldiers claims that the decisive battles will take place soon, but do not say where. They only advise that we do not leave Macedonia in order to witness the creation of new history. But how is it possible to trust the words of these young people full with anger towards everything outside the frontiers of their camp?
We are heading back following the same route. I am feeling somehow more at peace now. At least I know that the so-called NLA soldiers are but outcasts from the system, to whom the killing seems to be the only way out.

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