geert on Fri, 6 Mar 1998 22:23:18 +0100 (MET)

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<nettime> Vreme on kosovo

VREME  6/3/1998

Stojan Cerovic's Diary

Victims of Possible Compromise

Even if Milosevic were to concede to outside pressures, which will
certainly increase enormously, and, let us say, were to allow Albanian
children into schools, it is still questionable whether it would be
possible to stop the wave of so called Liberation Army of Kosovo (UCK)
reprisal actions

In the long line of failures, misunderstandings and ineptitudes of western
diplomacy in the Balkans, last week another characteristic case was added
to that list.  American Special Envoy Robert Gellbard visited Pristina and
Belgrade, and what he told Milosevic, Rugova and others sounded pretty
clear and logical, while what followed was the biggest bloodletting to
date.  He condemned terrorism and asked the political chiefs of Kosovo
Albanians to do the same, which was only partially successful.  He also
cWmisunderstanding and trouble with representatives of other schools of
As far as the Albanians are concerned, one part of Gelbard's message could
have inspired their national desperadoes to continue as they have done thus
far.  Not the part about unacceptability of force, but rather the part
about the ever-present small reward, that is to say reduction in
Milosevic's punishment.  It turned out that connections were made between
things that strictly had to be kept apart.  Milosevic was rewarded for his
posture toward Bosnia, and not toward Kosovo, and these are two completelyS


A Bloody Weekend In Drenica

A protest rally by ethnic Albanians in Pristina following the Drenica
bloodshed ended with a brutal police intervention in which 30 protesters
were wounded and one was killed, allegedly with a shot in the mouth

On Tuesday, March 3rd, over 50,000 people gathered on a hill in the village
of Likosani near Drenica, some 40 kilometers north-east of Kosovo's capital
Pristina. Nine bodies wrapped in red-and-black Albanian national flags were
lying in front of a makeshift stage. Only fifty yards away, there were nine
freshly dug graves. The funeral was originally scheduled for one o'clock in
the afternoon, but commenced in the early evening hours because police had
erected barricades on all roads to Drenica. They tried !mpassable
side-roads the police couldn't barricade. When the bodies finally arrived,
it turned out that the death toll was bigger than expected so three more
graves had to be dug. A total of 24 persons, mainly peasants from Likosani
and the nearby village Chirez, were buried that day. The four policemen and
an ethnic Albanian buried the day before bring the total death toll of the
bloody weekend in Drenica to 29.
The obviously exaggerated reports by both the Serb and the Albanian side,
as well as controversial testimonies of eyewitnesses still in a state of
shock, made it no easier to establish what exactly happened between Friday,
when the clashes broke out, and Sunday, when police finally left Drenica.
It is certain, however, that Kosovo has not seen so much bloodshed since 28
March 1989, when 70 people were killed in riots following a government
decision that effectively took away  Kosovo's autonomy.
A protest rally by ethnic Albanians in Pristina following the Drenica
bloodshed ended with a brutal police intervention in which 30 protesters
were wounded and one was killed, allegedly with a shot in the mouth. The
situation in the province is tense, there is no telling what could happen
next. Ethnic Albanian political leaders, including the Democratic Alliance
of Kosovo leader Ibrahim Rugova and head of the Parliamentary party Adem
Demaci, have girded together and convened for days in an effort to take
!condolence to the families of the killed policemen, and duly praised the
police for their "courage, patriotism and commitment".  The Commander of
the special police troops, Miroslav Mijanovic, called the four killed
policemen "the knights of Kosovo slued by ethnic Albanian bandits", while
the ethnic Albanians said the friends and relatives they buried in Likosane
were "martyrs and heroes, the innocent victims of Serbian terror". It
appears that neither side is prepared to treat one another as human
beingsTers were killed and another two were wounded, while the death toll
on the other side rose to 15.  The Serbian interior ministry didn't bother
to disclose the names of the killed "terrorists" nor the nine allegedly
arrested, leaving that to the ethnic Albanian side. There are lots of facts
indicating that the Interior Ministry statement is only partially true.
There had been no routine patrol assignments in the central Kosovo region
of Drenica and its border municipalities Glogovac, Mitrovica and Klina sin!
from Drenica, clashes between police and the UCK broke out on Friday
evening, a whole day prior to what the police said. According to
eyewitnesses, the fighting broke out in Srbica, the largest village in the
Drenica region, and not in Likosane.
The fighting broke out when unidentified individuals drove by a primary
school accommodating Serb refugees and fired at the building with automatic
weapons. Police reacted instantly and started pursuing the assailants, who
stopped their vehicle in a chicane near Likosani and opened fire at their
pursuants. The police vehicle slid off the road into the ditch, and it
seems that two police officers were killed in this shootout.  The back up
unit that consequently arrived could not make any progress at night.!
during the search, and that is when the massacre began.
Brains in the grass: Those who somehow managed to reach Likosane and Chirez
on Monday came across a sickening sight: in the bullet riddled houses lay
the dead, surrounded by their family members in a deep state of shock. Four
brothers of the Djelji family - Bechir, Nazmi, Bedri and Bekim were killed
in their Chirez home. Muhamet Dzleja, 79, his brother Naser and cousin
Kadrid were apparently shot from close range, the photographs clearly
showing gunpowder marks around the wounds. Dzemsir Nabihu and his pr!their
estate breaking through the gate with an armored vehicle at around four
o'clock in the afternoon. "My father shouted out that the door was open,
but they shattered the windows and pointed their rifles at us. They told us
to lie down on our fronts, put our hands behind our heads and locked us up
in a small room. They took all the men out while we stayed locked until
they left," Mirsije told Vreme's reporter. When she and the other women got
out, their men were nowhere to be seen. Traces of blood on tA"They were
alive when they left", Mirsije said in tears.
Her cousin Dzevdet Ahmeti, 30, who happened to be in Pristina over the
weekend and fortunately avoided the fate of his relatives, said the police
robbed their home of about 5,000 German marks' worth of gold and foreign
currency, ten kilos of meat and 200 eggs. They also took a satellite dish
receiver and a car radio. "I don't understand these people", Dzevdet said
with a strange calm in his voice. After they were done with the Ahmeti
family, they moved into a neighboring house thinking it was abandoned. T!
One climbed into the attic and peeped in, but he didn't see me. I was
paralyzed with fear", Nait said. The Likosani villagers say that not a
single member of the Ahmeti family was a terrorist. "They were the only
wealthy family in the village. They worked hard for their money, minded
their own business and had good relations with everyone", one of the
villagers said.
Why were they killed then?
The villagers said the police saw someone run into the Ahmeti backyard,
while a police source said the following: "They shot at us from each and
every house in the village. Our boys went wild. No one in the village would
have survived if it weren't for orders from Belgrade to stop."
Say hello to Gelbard: The ethnic Albanians of Likosani and Chirez believe
there would have been far more casualties if it weren't for the UCK, whose
reputation seems to have remained unstained after the latest events. "They
would have killed us all had there been no one to defend us", a villager
said, and then answered our "naive" request for information on the
whereabouts of the UCK and whether they would be willing to talk. "Who do
you think the UCK are and where do you think they came from? Look
aroundTThe US administration now has to explain that encouraging Milosevic
was not their intention. What happened last weekend will only widen the
rift within the international community. Some of America's European allies,
not too fond of what they call US bulldozer diplomacy in the Balkans, are
actually quite delighted that the US is now tangled up  in the Kosovo mess,
and they will most certainly look for a way to capitalize on any Washington
There is a lot of evidence to suggest that the Drenica massacre was in fact
a result of a cynical strategy. Serbian president Milan Milutinovic's
optimistic statements about the education agreement and the forthcoming
visits of western diplomats to Belgrade could be a prelude to a "Lex
Specialis" for Kosovo. Too bad there was no one to explain this to the
dwellers of Likosani and Chirez, for they might have decided to spend the
weekend somewhere else.
Dejan Anastasijevic

War in Kosovo

Thin Red Line

It is a fact that all armed actions for which the Liberation Army of Kosovo
has taken responsibility fall under the category of armed insurgence.
However, the unfolding of armed action by the MUP of Serbia in the Drenice
Region of Kosovo bares all the telltale signs of operations on enemy
territories as were witnessed in the wars in former Yugoslavia

On the evening news on state television (March 1), the President of FR
Yugoslavia, Slobodan Milosevic, expressed his condolences to the families
of four policemen killed in Kosovo, while the President of Serbia, Milan
Milutinovic, announced that the problems of Kosovo can be resolved
exclusively in Serbia, and that "terrorism directed toward their
internationalization will bring the greatest harm to those who resort to
such weapons".  In the same TV program, the MUP of Serbia announced that
its members, r! for hand held rockets...
TERRORISM: That's as much as Milosevic and the Police were willing to
comment on an armed action whose official casualty tally is twenty dead.
Information not released includes names of killed Albanians, the number of
wounded, how many policemen and with what weaponry participated in the
conflict, whether the killed were armed, whether they'd been previously
listed as dangerous, whether there were civilian casualties, and if so,
under what circumstances, and much, much more which the public has a right
tNf the conflict or of initiating the negotiating process will depend on
many circumstances, of which the topmost is the approach of the relevant
international community.
In the event that the whole "Kosovo knot" is relegated exclusively to an
uncompromising "battle against terrorism", there will inevitable be war in
that territory.  On the other hand, there is an opinion that Milosevic,
after having demonstrated such resolution, is in actual fact ready to sit
down, in due time, to the negotiating table with the leaders of Kosovo
Albanians.  Confirmation for this can be seen in the meeting between
Milutinovic and the Serbian Minister of Education, Jovan Todorovic, after
whDFilip Svarm

Balance of Power

According to information released by Koha ditore, MUP of Serbia has around
13,000 policemen in Kosovo, and can bring within 72 hours an additional
25,000 policemen from the rest of Serbia.  There is good reason to presume
that these estimates are somewhat exaggerated.  Apart from this, the police
has at its disposal helicopters and armed transport vehicles, and there are
claims being made that it closely cooperates with different paramilitary
groups similar to those from the wars in the former Yugoslavia.

Kosovo and the Serbian Political Scene

Fast Homogenization

Serbian politicians are burdened by the experiences of previous generations
who had a hard time with this problem, mainly following a formula of "gold
and uniform", which meant some violence, some corruption and compromises,
and some ignoring

Announcing that the police have responded drastically to attacks by
Albanian terrorists who have been shooting for many long months in Drenica
and all over Kosovo, the president of Serbia, Slobodan Milosevic, has sent
the massage that the problems of Kosovo and Metohija may be solved only in
Serbia, and that terrorism directed toward internationalizing the problem
will bring evil to those who reach for such means.
Zoran Lilic, vice president of the federal government by special
authorization, stated on Monday in the Federal Assembly that in "the
escalating situation of the disputes in Kosovo" all means which a legal
state can and must undertake are certainly allowed, but that the army will
not get involved, because its function is to safeguard the borders of FRY.
A similar statement also came from the minister of defense, Pavle
Bulatovic, probably as a response to American warnings that the Army should
not be engagThe federation of that time, and Kosovo's politicians then
could also control some institutions like secret police, security forces,
territorial defense... and participate in the army command. It is highly
improbable that anyone in Serbia will consent to this under any
circumstances, since not only during the rule of Slobodan Milosevic, but
also during the entire decade before him, the belief that this power was
discretely used for separating Kosovo from Yugoslavia and for physically
pushing Serbs from thi!rk of the community, convoking the constituent
assembly and the agreed splitting of the country, and there is no readiness
for this. The Serbian political elite and the general public do not seem to
be ready for big concessions, regardless of their current susceptibility to
the idea that something must be done about the Albanians - there is a
belief that Kosovo may be lost, but there is not a belief that it should be
The homogenization of Kosovo in Serbia will probably facilitate the forming
of the new Serbian government, as last Monday in the Assembly of
Yugoslavia, in the Council of Republics, it could clearly be seen that
Kosovo was quickly homogenizing the political forces in Serbia. 25
representatives voted for the budget, only 5 were against and four
abstained; had this failed, it could have meant new elections. Along with
the representatives of SPS, JUL and SPO, all representatives of SRS voted
in favor of the !and Metohija, and it is necessary to solve these problems
as soon as possible, and since new elections would lead us several months
further from this solution, here we have got a new budget." Ph.D. Vojislav
Seselj, who often reacts most quickly and openly in situations like this,
said that the situation in Kosovo is Serbia's problem, not Yugoslavia's;
that it remains yet to be seen if it is about the beginning of a war or
not; that terrorism has to be exterminated, and that the action which began
with att!his fear of a tragedy, and asks that terrorism be suppressed,
followed by a package of reforms coming from Belgrade, which should also
include a fair offer to the Albanians from Kosovo; in the case that they
refuse this, they will carry the blame. Milan Bozic, federal representative
of SPO in the Council of Republics, has expressed SPO's serious concern
about the events in Kosovo, asking at the same time "are we facing an
organized civil war helped by the utmost radical forces from the area". He
warns thaTEuropean offices became alarmed at the news of bloodshed, but
before that they were sending signals that Kosovo was on schedule, which
may have also urged Albanians to try to use arms (which is considered to be
in their mentality) after a period of Ghandi-like resistance. The Serbs
know them as a people of arms, and this is where the story becomes cruelly
simplified - they live in a country which they hate, and the country treats
them as disloyal citizens.
The restrained and almost euphemistic appeals by European and American
politicians involved in the Balkan crisis, that Albanian politicians
condemn violent methods, do not have any effect. This makes the latest
diplomatic activities in Belgrade an almost certain failure. On the other
hand, this failure is met by dissatisfaction on the part of the strong
ones, and the bill will most probably be collectively paid once again, here
in Belgrade.
Milan Milosevic

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