Andreas Broeckmann on Wed, 9 Feb 2000 09:55:23 +0200

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Syndicate: meanwhile, 600-1000 km south of Vienna ...

> The Ottawa Citizen
> February 5, 2000
> 'War is in the air here':
> Observers fear Milosevic is manufacturing new Balkan crisis
> John Nadler
>    BELGRADE, Yugoslavia -- Violent clashes between Serb and Albanians
> in the northern Kosovo city of Kosovska Mitrovica are fueling fears that
> Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic will exploit instability along the
> Serbian-Kosovo border to create a new Balkan crisis.
>    It's feared Mr. Milosevic will subvert opposition demonstrations
> planned for the spring and elections scheduled for late this year.
>    ''I am not an optimist,'' said one Belgrade resident. ''War is
> in the air here.''
>    On Thursday, three Albanians were shot dead, and two Serb-owned cafes
> were attacked with grenades in one of the fiercest eruptions of violence
> to mar this tense border city in months.
>    Yesterday, ethnic Serbs living in the north clashed with Albanians
> from the southern side of the city on two bridges of the Ibar River,
> which serves as a boundary between Serb and Albanian Mitrovica.
>    This violence comes after weeks of mounting tension in the villages
> of Presevo, Bujanovac, and Medvedja, which are on the Serbian side of
> the border and under Yugoslav military control, but are inhabited by a
> majority of ethnic Albanians.
>    Analysts warn that violence in Serb villages in Kosovo will ignite
> violence in Albanian villages inside Serbia, and create a renewed
> crisis situation that could distract Yugoslav citizens from the message
> of the united opposition, and the protests this coalition is planning
> for the early spring.
>    ''Milosevic wants to provoke problems ... and make people worry about
> another war,'' said Slobodan Vuksanovic, deputy president of the
> opposition Democratic Party, in an interview yesterday. ''... If there is
> a possibility of another war, then people won't be able to think about
> economic problems, democratic reform, and normal life.
>    ''It's a normal human reaction. The more problems there are, the
> less support there is for (changes).''
>    Serbia's opposition activists are gearing up for the fight of their
> lives.
>    The two most prominent opposition leaders, Zoran Djindjic of the
> Democratic Party and Vuk Draskovic of the Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO),
> have put aside their bitter personal enmity for each other, and rejoined
> forces.
>    The result is a grand and unwieldy opposition bloc made up of Djindjic
> and Draskovic supporters, the Civic Alliance party, and dozens of smaller
> political groups.
>    This united opposition tentatively plans to begin street demonstrations
> in March, the nine-year anniversary of the first rallies in Belgrade
> against the Milosevic regime, in which the Serb leader deployed tanks
> to squash protests.
>    One demonstrator and one police officer died in the March 1991
> street clashes.
>    Analysts in Belgrade believe this worst-case scenario if Mr. Milosevic
> decides to move against the opposition in March: The Yugoslav president
> could use border instability in the south or political conflict with
> Serbia's autonomous-minded sister republic Montenegro to declare
> martial law.
>    This would give Mr. Milosevic a green light to employ extreme force
> to suppress demonstrations, cancel the upcoming elections, and eradicate
> the vestiges of Serbia's free press movement.
>    Serb police stoked tensions on Wednesday by preventing trucks carrying
> Montenegrin coal from entering Serbia. The Montenegrin newspaper Pobjeda
> stated no official reason was given for the impromptu blockade, but
> Mr. Vuksanovic termed it simple harassment.
>    ''It is more pressure against Montenegro,'' he said. ''The idea is
> to force Montenegro to accept Milosevic's rule across Yugoslavia.''
>    Also this week, a Serb opposition leader revealed that a dizzying
> number of Serb refugees from Bosnia, and Croatia are being granted
> Yugoslav citizenship.
>    It is an apparent manoeuvre to fill voting lists with nationalist
> pro-Milosevic supporters.
>    ''At least 50 refugees every day get citizenship in the Federal
> Republic of Yugoslavia,'' said Goran Svilanovic, president of the Civic
> Alliance party, ''probably because authorities in the republic want to
> create chaos in the elections lists.''

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