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        24 February 1998

        ICG Report


        Table Contents


        1.      INTRODUCTION

          It is almost a cliche to
say that Kosovo is a time bomb, a powder keg about to
explode. In the last few months, new events in this province
of Serbia, namely the public appearance of a Kosovo armed
resistance group, have attracted the outside world's
attention, mostly in the form of declarations and
statements. The simmering conflict is now changing its
nature although the long-announced explosion, the "second
Bosnia" seems improbable in the short run. If there is no
external intervention the most likelysscenario is the
continuation of apartheid-like repression by the Serbian
security forces, a low-intensity guerrilla war waged by
ethnic Albanians and an increasing death toll on both

  The level of violence is rising but it still
appears to be a series of separate attacks rather than any
kind of organised campaign. The one commonffeature is the
location of the troubles, almost exclusively in the Drenica
region, the triangle formed by the municipalities of
Srbica (Skenderaj), Klina (Kline) and Glogovac (Gllogovc) in
the centre of Kosovo. Since the first public appearance of
the Kosovo Liberation Army in November 1997, until 1
February 1998 there have been nine instances of
ethnically-motivated violence reported. The extent to which
these reports are exhaustiveiis difficult to evaluate
because usually only the media on the victims'  side report
the event. Reports from different sources often agree on
little more than the time and the place of some incident.
The events of 22 January 1998 are a good example of this
discrepancy. According to the Belgrade press, an armed
attack against the police station in Srbica and a shooting
on the Klina-Srbica road which resulted in the death of a
Serbian member of a municipal council by "unidentified
persons" (both blamed on the Kosovo Liberation Army)
provoked a Serbian police raid the Albanian village Donji
Prekaz. According to Albanian sources in Kosovo, it was an
unprovoked Serbian show of force in which one Albanian man
died and two Albanian women were wounded. According to
Serbian police sources there were no clashes in Donji
Prekaz, but perhaps there was an internal Albanian "clash
between local bands". So much for establishing facts about
violence in Kosovo. However, rising tension can easily turn
into a confrontation. The funerals of the two men, victims
of the violence of 22 January, (a Serbian and an Albanian),
took place almost at the same time and within less than 50 k
ilometres of each other. It was reported that 10,000 Serbs
and Montenegrins and 20,000 Albanians attended the
respective funerals. If the two, highly-emotional crowds had
come into contact, it may have been difficult to avoid
large-scale violence.

Politically the situation is a
total stalemate with both sides firmly digging in on their
uncompromising positions. The ethnic Albanians want the
recognition of their self-declared independence and nothing
less is acceptable to them, while the Serbian and Yugoslav
authorities refuse to listen to any such proposition and
explicitly say that they are ready to speak aabout anything
but independence. So the ethnic Albanians maintain- with
increasing efforts-their shadow state and their parallel
education and health systems, and try to ignore Serbia and
Yugoslavia as much as they can, while Serbian authorities
increase the police presence in the vulnerable parts of
Kosovo and set up checkpoints and weapon searches.   With
minimal leverage over the Belgrade authorities, the
international community can do little more than express
"concern" and "deep concern" over tthe situation, and warn
that it is "watching it carefully" and "monitoring it
closely". But basically the outside world has been engaged
in hand-wringing, since there seems to be no way of forcing
a Serbia-Kosovo dialogue on Belgrade. Foreign officials
repeat that the status quo is unacceptable, but with hopes
for peaceful resolution being minimal, the status quo may be
preferable to some violent alternative.   The key to the
resolution of the Kosovo problem lies in Belgrade. Even so,
if a realistic middle way is to be found between the total
domination currently practised by Belgrade and the total
independence demanded by the Kosovo Albanians there will
have to be concessions on both sides, including some
tempering of the ethnic Albanians' demands for independence.

        The International Crisis Group has developed extensive
expertise in peace-building in the Balkans over the past two
years monitoring implementation of the Dayton Peace
Agreement in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Bosnian e xperience
suggests that the international community can have a major
impact if it has the requisite will. The right amount of
pressure exerted over the parties to a conflict and an
even-handed, firm response to their grievances can bear
fruit even in such a complicated environment as Kosovo.

2.      ORIGIN OF THE CONFLICT The tensions in Kosovo have a
long history, but the current troubles began in March 1989
when the province was forcibly stripped of its autonomy.
Belgrade has been running it ever since in ways reminiscent
of apartheid with the aid of a massive police and military
presence. For almost nine years there has been a cold war in
Kosovo between two entirely separated communities cohabiting
the same soil: the Serbs who constitute less than 10 percent
of the total population and the 1,935,000 Kosovo Albanians
(known as Kosovars) who make up 90 percent of the
population2E The difference between the two groups is
cultural, ethnic, linguisticaand religious (Serbs are mostly
Orthodox, Albanians mostly Muslim). If t he birth rate of
the Kosovars remains at 23.1 birth per 1000 (the highestiin
Europe with 52,000 living newborns a year), Serbs will
become an ethnic minority in Serbia by the year 2020.
Already today in Serbia, Serbs account for fewer than 50
percent of live births. Seventy percent of Kosovo's Albanian
population is below the age of 30. The Serbian authorities
in Belgrade, and most of the Serbian opposition have little
if any respect for Kosovars' minority rights while the
Kosovars dispute the term "minority", pointing out that in
the Kosovo province t hey are an overwhelming majority. The
record of human rights violations in Kosovo is appalling.
The international community has concentrated its attention
on this area both because it is the most undisputedly
negative aspect of Serbia's grip on Kosovo and because it is
the one item over which international interference has
traditionally been judged as acceptable.

The 1997 US Department of State Human Rights Report for
Serbia-Montenegro (the US does not recognise the "Federal
Republic of Yugoslavia") stated it bluntly: "Political
violence, including killings by police, resulted mostly from
efforts by Serbian authorities to suppress and intimidate
ethnic minority groups." And later: "Torture and other cruel
forms of punishment, which are prohibited by law, continue
to be a problem, particularly in Kosovo directed against
ethnic Albanians." While the repression by Serbian security
forces against Kosovars is dreadful, it seems to be indiscr
iminate, aimed at people because of their ethnicity and not
necessarily because of any concrete activity or opinion.

3.      POLITICAL SITUATION IN KOSOVO In the summer of 1990
Kosovars proclaimed a "Declaration of Independence", then in
September 1991 they held a referendum for independence and
finally in May 1992 organised semi-clandestine elections for
president and a parliament, won by the Democratic League of
Kosovo (LDK) and Dr. Ibrahim Rugova, it's chairman. The
Kosovar Parliament was prevented by the Serbian police from
meeting so its inaugural session has never taken place.
Nevertheless, some parliamentary commissions work and part
of the government was formed, although five of the six
ministers live outside the former Yugoslavia.    Political
life in Kosovo consists mostly of the activity (statements,
declarations and meetings) of more than 20 political
parties. The leading party of Kosovars, Dr. Rugova's LDK,
holds enormous power in the province since it controls the
three-percent tax which every Kosovar from the Diaspora
contributes to fund Kosovo's parallel institutions. In the
last two years, however, there has been a growing rift
between LDK and the government-in-exile led by Prime
Minister Bujar Bukoshi. In June 1997, Bukoshi declared that
Dr. Rugova's policy of peaceful resistance to the regime has
brought the Kosovo Albanians' movement to a dead end and
yielded no positive results.

The second largest ethnic
Albanian party is the Parliamentary Party of Kosovo or PPK,
led by former long-time political prisoner Adem Demaci,
which has the discreet backing of Prime Minister Bukoshi.
Because many PPK officials advocate civil disobedience and
active resistance, the PPK is seen as more active and
resolute although until recently it had not translated its
declarations and statements into constructive actions. In
January 1998, the PPK called on the Kosovars to turn off
their lights for five minutes and to stand still in the
street for one minute at precise moments in order to
demonstrate a collective protest against the police
actionsoof the Serbian regime.

The Serbs from Kosovo have their own party, the Serb
Resistance Movement
led by Momcilo Trajkovic and opposed to the regime in
Belgrade. At the beginning of 1998, an organisation of
Kosovo Serbs called Bozur, supportive of Yugoslav
president Milosevic, renewed its activity after many years
of silence. All-Serb parties (Socialist, Radical and Renewal
Movement) are also active, but with few members, they do
not have much importance for overall Kosovo Serb political

Ever since the 1990 Declaration of Independence, the
Kosovars have sought tto reject Serb and Yugoslav rule by
trying to live as if they were indee d in an independent
state. This is not entirely possible because Kosovars have
to put up with many of the key elements of the Yugoslav
state: they use Yugoslav passports and Yugoslav currency,
services such as the post -office and telephone company and
of course the police and the army are Yugoslav too. Most
symbolically on Yugoslav state holidays the Yugoslav flag
is displayed all over Kosovo and the only occasion when
Kosovars can display the Albanian flag, (which they
consider theirs), is during weddings

In the euphoria of their Declaration of Independence the Kosovars
decided to set up teaching facilities and clinics entirely
separate from the Serbian institutions. At the time the
systems appeared to be temporary measures, aimed at
out-waiting the Serbian wave of repression and discrimination
 in employment. Now, after seven years, it is obvious that
the system  is not viable and that although the Kosovars
are making an admirable effort to make it as efficient as
possible, neither education nor health services are
satisfactory. At the end of the twentieth century,
scientists cannot learn in garages without having the
opportunity to carry out even the most simple

a.      Education and health care

After the Serbian government unified the school
curriculum all over Serbia, (in effect outlawing teaching
in the Albanian language), Kosovar teachers voiced their
opposition and mounted a campaign of industrial action.
TThe Serbian authorities responded to the protests by firing
striking teachers and sending in the police to bar Kosovar
pupils and students from school and university

The upshot of the dispute was Kosovo's
parallel education system, originally conceived as a way
for teachers to continue delivering classes while  they
waited to be readmitted to school premises. More than six
years on, mmost primary and good part of secondary schools
are accessible for Kosov ar children to learn according to
Kosovar curriculum in the Albanian lang uage, although in a
limited way, (i.e. only certain parts and only at cer tain
times of the day). University students have, however, never
been al lowed to enter the university buildings. They study
in alternative premis es: mosques, garages, private
apartments. This year's graduating medicine students will
be the first to have studied entirely in the parallel system.

A similar parallel system, entirely funded by the
three-percent tax from  the Kosovar Diaspora and
contributions from local Kosovars, operates in the health
sector. It was set up at the same time as the education
system  and for similar reasons: Kosovar doctors lost their
jobs and Kosovars did not trust the Serbian doctors so
they looked for doctors of their own ethnicity. The system
comprises the Mother Teresa health centre which caters for
57,000 families and 92 small clinics all over Kosovo. They
provide  basic medical assistance and drugs to the
population free of charge. Only as a last resort do
Kosovars turn to state (i.e. Serbian) doctors or ho
spitals. International organisations sometimes manage to
conduct vaccine  campaigns approved by the Serbian state
but under a neutral foreign banner.

Kosovars are extremely proud of their parallel health and education
systems and indeed they have set up an impressive system,
given the very adverse conditions. But neither education
nor health are adequate for the needs of the Kosovar
population and future generations may ultimately be at  a
serious disadvantage unless conditions improve. Primary and
secondary  schools suffer from a shortage of premises and
the cost of education has  to be partly covered by parents.
Instruction at all levels is carried out wwith very few
teaching aids, even in science subjects. The diplomas iss
ued by the Pristina University are not recognised
internationally which is a source of much grief among the

In September 1996, after negotiations
mediated by the Vatican-based organ isation Sant'Edigio, an
agreement was signed (separately) by then preside nt of
Serbia Slobodan Milosevic and the Kosovar leader Dr. Rugova.
Very  short, general and with no deadline or measures of
implementation, this " Rome agreement" was supposed to be
implemented by a special mixed commiss ion known as "3+3,"
because of the number of participants on both sides.  The
3+3 Commission met several times, but registered no
progress, mostly  because the Serbian side interpreted the
agreement as meaning that Kosovar students would be
reintegrated into the Serbian education system, where as
the Kosovo side saw the agreement as allowing Kosovar
students to retu rn to all school premises without
conditions. The major wave of anti-government street
protests in Belgrade which started in November 1996 disrup
ted discussions on implementation of the agreement.

>b.     Economy
The unemployment rate among Kosovars
is extremely high (estimated at 70 percent). According to
Kosovo sources the number of unemployed has climbed by
130,000 since 1990. Whatever work exists is in the service
sector,  commerce, international organisations and in the
black market (cigarettes , alcohol, probably some weapons).
According to the Kosovar Pristina Economic Institute, in
1996 money earned in jobs on a regular basis accounted for
ten percent of the total income of Kosovars whereas in 1988
it acco unted for 49 percent. Emigration is often seen as
the only way to earn money and it is estimated that
between 1990 and 1995 some 350,000 Kosovars left. Some
European countries have signed accords with Yugoslavia
regar ding the return of Kosovar migrants, a move that is
decried both by the Kosovars abroad, who consider
themselves political refugees, and by local Serbs who
think that returning Kosovars will tilt the demographic
balance eeven further towards ethnic Albanians.

>c.     Media
Kosovo has a considerable
Albanian-language print media: the clearly pro-LDK daily
Bujku (with a print-run of 8,000), the independent daily
Koha Ditore (which was launched in April 1997 and reached
a circulation of 27,0 00 by the end of that year) and the
weekly Zeri being the main titles. Th ere is no censorship
for those publications and considering the fate of media
in the rest of Serbia, the press in Kosovo is relatively
well-off and of good quality, although very pre-occupied
with Kosovo-related issues. However, there is no
news-carrying local radio station in Albanian-only
Albanian-language services of foreign broadcasters (BBC,
Voice of America aand Deutsche Welle)-and no independent
television. Satellite antennas are astonishingly popular
among Kosovars who use them to watch a two-hour programme
prepared in and broadcast from Tirana with a small segment
dedicated to Kosovo issues with a clear pro-Albanian
slant. In Pristina people also watch other satellite
programmes in foreign languages.

a.      Political life

The policy of
LDK and Dr. Rugova is directed mainly at holding the line
on non-violent resistance and maintaining the Kosovars'
parallel life while waiting for the international
community to intervene. Dr. Rugova calls ffor an
international protectorate and for negotiations with
Belgrade und er foreign mediation. This request presents
the international community with a dilemma: since it
accepts that Kosovo is a part of Serbia, any international
involvement must first be accepted by Belgrade and the
matter is strictly speaking an internal one, although
questions of human rights violations and minority rights
put it within the possible scope of outside involvement.
Any other treatment of Kosovo, may be seen as recognising
its independence, with obviously far-reaching consequences.
Most countries do not accept the notion that they cannot
address the Kosovo issue, but lack the leverage to force
Serbia to start negotiations or even to stop human rights
violations in Kosovo.

There are ample signs in
Kosovo that the population is growing tired of the
passivity of its leaders, and there is dissent within LDK.
The propaganda campaign being waged by LDK
(self-congratulatory weekly press confere nces by Dr.
Rugova and upbeat articles in the daily Bujku) is irritating
 the impatient Kosovars and may be counterproductive. While
public support for the strategy of non-violence has
prevented much bloodshed to date,  many Kosovars feel that
it has not advanced their case for independence.  An
apartheid atmosphere still prevails in the province, with
repression  by Serbian police, appalling human rights
violations and trials of ethnic Albanians that have little
to do with law or justice. These are all perfect
conditions for a guerrilla-like organisation to recruit new
enthusiasts. The main opposition party in Kosovo, the PPK
may also gain some new  members from among the dissidents
in the LDK ranks.

Another reason for internal
discontent is the fact that both the president and the
parliament have had their mandates extended by the decree of
Dr 2E Rugova (respectively twice and three times) without
new elections. Elections are currently scheduled for 22
March 1998, but it remains to be  seen whether they will
actually take place. The LDK would probably still bbe
victorious since it is the best organised structure, but it
will cert ainly have less than the 76.4 percent share of
the vote it took in 1992.  The likelihood of elections
taking place on 22 March has been strengthene d in recent
months by the student demonstrations and the growing
activity aand apparent boldness of the Kosovo Liberation
Army since both developments question the mandate of LDK
and Dr. Rugova as the undisputed leaders  of the

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