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Balkan Report: July 13, 1999

13 July 1999, Volume 3, Number 27

A Slovak Model for Croatia? Analyst Davor Butkovic recently wrote in the Zagreb independent daily "Jutarnji list" that Croatian President Franjo Tudjman's nationalist vision is sadly behind the times, and that this has cost his country dearly in seeking integration into Euro-Atlantic structures.

Croatia began its independent statehood, the article notes, at the same time as Slovenia in 1991. Slovenia is now seriously being considered for the next round of expansion of both the EU and NATO. Croatia, however, has slipped so far back that even Albania and Macedonia have left it behind in seeking integration into both those institutions.

The problem, according to the Zagreb daily, is that Tudjman's approach to political issues is out of touch with that of the rest of the Western world. On Kosova, for example, the Croatian leader suggested a partition of Kosova and further deals with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic that would have included an amnesty for the indicted war criminal. Tudjman, "Jutarnji list" continues, does not seem to understand that the idea of restoring Milosevic to international respectability has long ago been removed from the agenda in most Western capitals.

Tudjman's basic failing, according to the article, is that he does not have much use for liberal democracy. Furthermore, he sees basic international trends toward greater integration as a threat to Croatian sovereignty.

Is there a way out for Croatia? Butkovic points to the example of Slovakia, which last fall voted out the regime of Vladimir Meciar, who had held similar views to those of Tudjman on democracy and integration. The Slovak voters turned Meciar out, and his country subsequently made rapid progress toward being considered for membership in Euro-Atlantic institutions. Croatia, the article concludes, can take hope from the Slovak model. (Patrick Moore)

Rugova's Political Future. RFE/RL's Ismet Hajdari on 8 July moderated the following program entitled "Rugova's Democratic League of Kosova (LDK) continues to wait for its leader and the shadow-state's president," focusing on why Kosovar pacifist leader Ibrahim Rugova does not return to Kosova.

In an interview with RFE/RL, LDK leader Naim Jerliu said: "The highest quality of our people is [reflected in] the massive quick return of our people to Kosova even though there were no normal social, security, and living conditions here. ...We believe that [the return of] Rugova will be very important for the consolidation of a common policy in Kosova, considering that he is the elected president of Kosova and that he enjoys great authority among [and respect of] the people of Kosova. We hope and believe that President Rugova will return very soon, as he said [he would do] several days ago."

In a statement, [rival Kosova Liberation Army (UCK)-backed] provisional government Prime Minister Hashim Thaci said: "Ibrahim Rugova has a deadline until the end of this week to take up his positions in the government."

Meanwhile, most commentators and politicians criticize the failure of Rugova to return. Bilal Sherifi, political advisor of Thaci told our colleague Evliana Berani: "I think that for a very long time he has been an observer of the developments in Kosova and now he continues to be an observer of the developments in Kosova, but this time from far away."

-Berani: "How do you explain the fact that he does not appear before the public?"

-Sherifi: "Simply, he has no ideas, no vision, no program, no concept of how to act or what to do--and that is why he does not appear. Again yesterday, Prime Minister Thaci called on him to come to Prishtina and join the government."

-Berani: "Has Thaci received a response?"

-Sherifi: "As usual, there was no answer."

-Berani: "Concerning the unification of the political groups in Kosova, what can you tell us?"

-Sherifi: "The Albanians' parties in Kosova have never been more united. If the LDK does not participate in that unification of political parties, it does not mean that there is no unity. It does not mean that the Kosovar Albanians are not united simply because Rugova does not participate."

Mark Krasniqi, who is an academic and leader of the Christian Democratic Party, stressed, however, that Rugova is the principal political leader of Kosova. Krasniqi told RFE/RL that Rugova must speak out regarding all the controversial questions in the Kosovar political life: "He now needs to cooperate with the international community in Kosova through his government, so that the public is not left guessing about his recent passive behavior. Rugova has always had one position towards Kosova and that is the position of independence for Kosova. Nobody else enjoys such support from the entire people as does President Ibrahim Rugova."

-Berani: "Hashim Thaci has publicly invited Rugova several times to return to Kosova."

-Krasniqi: "I don't know who that Thaci is that he can invite Rugova. Thaci cannot invite Rugova. Rugova was elected as president of the Republic of Kosova by the people of Kosova. He needs to consult with us and we with him. He cannot deal with those who accept him only as a party leader. That is [unfortunately] also the way the Albanian parliament views him, even though it has no competence to interfere in the politics of Kosova. Therefore Rugova does not go to Thaci; Thaci can only be a student of his, and nothing else."

Asked whether Rugova will have the moral right to ask for help from a people with whom he does not communicate, Krasniqi said: "I understand that question to be an appeal to Rugova to express himself as soon as possible. He needs to clarify why he is there and not here, and must develop relations with the government of [his own Prime Minister] Bujar Bukoshi as soon as possible. Then we decide jointly what we have to do and where we go."

Representatives of several political parties in Tirana told RFE/RL that the return of Rugova is a basic question for the stability and unity of the Kosovar political scene. Going home is a duty of all those who are working to rebuild institutions in Kosova, said Democratic Party deputy leader Genc Pollo: "The future of Kosova is a pluralist democracy, and Mr. Rugova with his reputation and support of the people has a very important role to play. It is therefore important that he goes to Prishtina as soon as possible. Mr. Rugova has to judge all the factors linked to his return for himself. I think, however, that right now it is necessary that all [of the leaders] whom the Kosovars believe in must be among their people, especially considering what we will face in the upcoming weeks as the expellees come home. My impression from visits in camps in Albania is that a majority of the refugees support Mr. Rugova. We are, however, in a process in which NATO and the international community are building democratic institutions under the umbrella of their protectorate. Under such circumstances, we need the participation in Prishtina and throughout Kosova of everybody--and Mr. Rugova in particular."

A spokesman for President Rexhep Meidani said that Meidani agrees that Rugova should return to Kosova: "Rugova must decide himself about his return because he is in a better position to judge that. But I think that he is fully encouraged by the [relevant] Albanian institutions and the president of the republic--as well as by the political forces in Kosova--to take up his responsibility. This is because Kosova needs a leadership to maintain a partnership and to cooperate with the international community to rebuild democratic institutions."

Information Minister Musa Ulqini said that the most important task now is the unification of all political forces in Kosova: "We are trying to contribute toward that end. We would like to see everybody involved in that process, including Mr. Rugova. I think that all political and military forces in Kosova at this historic moment must not only look at the things that divide them, but also at what unites them. The Albanian government maintains contacts with all political forces that are active in Kosova today. It will continue to maintain that position and will continue to stress that Kosova needs everybody. I must say that the political contribution of Mr. Thaci has been honorable. I have always found his statements for coexistence with minorities of great importance, as are the positions he expressed as a leader of the UCK to cooperate closely with NATO structures in Kosova." (Translated by Fabian Schmidt)

UCK Members Found Political Party. On 5 July in Prishtina, several members of the UCK led by Bardhyl Mahmuti announced the formation of the Party of Democratic Unity, AFP reported. UCK spokesman Jakup Krasniqi is a member of the party's steering committee and Mahmuti is its president. Both are former members of the Kosova People's Movement (LPK), which publishes the daily "Zeri i Kosoves" in Switzerland. Thaci did not join the party.

Mahmuti said that the party will "support women and young people" and bring Kosova's education system up to "the highest standards in Europe." He also said the party is "committed to mutual tolerance and the rights of people to self-determination." He added that "independence of Kosova is a precondition for peace and stability in the Balkans." The LPK has a more nationalistic program than the new party, advocating the unification of all majority ethnic Albanian territories in the Balkans in one state. The Party of Democratic Unity's program is aimed only at Kosova. (Fabian Schmidt)

Concern for Serbs, Roma, Gorans. A spokesman for the UNHCR said in Geneva on 9 July that Serbs and Roma in Kosova "face a worsening situation of harassment and attacks" from ethnic Albanians, AP reported. The spokesman added that the 100,000 Serbian refugees in Serbia face growing pressure by the Belgrade authorities to return to Kosova. He called Belgrade's policy "totally irresponsible." On 11 July, Reuters reported from Jelovjane, Macedonia, that many members of the small Goran community in Macedonia fear that their kin in mountainous border areas of Kosova may be subject to attacks from ethnic Albanians because of alleged Goran sympathies for the Serbs. The Gorans are ethnic Slavs who speak a Slavic language. They are of the Islamic faith and over the centuries have adopted many Albanian customs and practices, including dress. (Patrick Moore)

Kosova Urgently Needs Basic Services. Public services, health services, and other basic facilities need to be restored as soon as possible in Kosova, several international humanitarian organizations said in a joint statement in Prishtina on 8 July. The damage to water supplies, health services, and housing is worse than many expected. About 40 percent of local water is of a questionable quality, according to the statement. The organizations also warned that in many cases water has been contaminated by the remains of dead humans and animals.

In London, a spokesman for the World Society for the Protection of Animals told Reuters on 7 July that "where there's been ethnic cleansing, there's also been a high mortality of animals." He noted that up to 80 percent of the animals have died in some areas, and that many of the survivors are in a poor state. Hundreds of dogs roam streets, and cattle wander in the countryside suffering from an infection caused by not being regularly milked. The province had some 700,000 livestock and 150,000 dogs before Milosevic launched Operation Horseshoe earlier this year, he added. (Fabian Schmidt and Patrick Moore)

Arkan and Mladic in Macedonia? RFE/RL's Albanian-language broadcasters reported the following story from Skopje on 6 July: The Hague-based International Criminal Tribunal has begun investigations into crimes against ethnic Albanians from Kosova on the territory of Macedonia. Some days ago, court officials began interviewing witnesses in the camps of Cegrane and Stenkovec.

Chief Prosecutor Louise Arbour asked the Macedonian authorities to allow the tribunal to conduct independent investigations on Macedonian territory after receiving reports that some alleged war criminals have visited Macedonia, namely Zeljko Raznatovic "Arkan" and General Ratko Mladic.

The Macedonian government has promised to cooperate with the court, but so far the Tribunal's prosecutors have not received the right to investigate independently. Instead, they are accompanied by investigators from the Macedonian Interior Ministry. (Translated by Fabian Schmidt)

700,000 Serbs Lack Basic Rights. The Democratic Party said in a statement in Belgrade on 8 July that some 700,000 Serbs lack elementary civil rights, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. The party charged that the government has acted "immorally and irresponsibly" by denying rights to Serbian refugees and expellees from Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Kosova. The displaced Serbs do not enjoy the right to residency, citizenship, or education.

The previous day, representatives of Kosova's Serbian teachers' union said in Belgrade that the Education Ministry has forbidden Serbian schools to register Serbian children from the province, who number about 50,000. Teachers from Kosova are barred from teaching in Serbia proper as part of the government's policy of forcing Serbian refugees to go back to Kosova. (Patrick Moore and Fabian Schmidt)

Yugoslav Army Seeks 14,000 Montenegrins. Montenegro's branch of the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights said in a statement in Budva on 8 July that the Yugoslav army since March has pressed charges against some 14,000 Montenegrin citizens for failing to respond to their draft notices. (Patrick Moore)

Albanian President Promotes Closer Cooperation with Montenegro. Rexhep Meidani told a delegation of Montenegrin Albanians in Tirana on 3 July that Albania's government wants to improve its cooperation with Montenegro. The delegation of representatives from the Democratic League of Montenegro, an ethnic Albanian party belonging to the government coalition, spent three days in Albania. (Fabian Schmidt)

Moscow Mayor Wants Russia-EU Declaration Backing Montenegro. Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov said in Munich on 3 July that Russia should seek a joint declaration with the EU, condemning pressure by the Yugoslav government on the Montenegrin leadership, the "Berliner Zeitung" reported. He added that Milosevic must expect that Russia and the EU will take unspecified joint measures if he endangers the independence of the government of Montenegro. Observers note that, if Russia has had one truly solid friend and ally in the Balkans over at least the past two centuries, it is neither Serbia nor Bulgaria but Montenegro. (Fabian Schmidt)

Croatia and Montenegro Look to the Future... Senior Croatian diplomat Zvonimir Markovic and Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic agreed in Podgorica on 8 July to put behind them the problems stemming from Montenegro's participation in Milosevic's 1991 war against Croatia. The two men stressed the need to "look forward with optimism to future relations," RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Djukanovic thanked the Croatian government for letting him use Dubrovnik airport for his international travels during the NATO air strikes against Yugoslavia.

He might have added that one of the "problems" from 1991 was the role of Montenegrin troops in pillaging Croatian towns and villages. One such adventure involved looting the liquor section of Dubrovnik airport's duty-free shop. (Patrick Moore)

...As Do Macedonia and Albania. The situation in the Balkans, the Kosova peace plan, the stability pact, and bilateral cooperation between Macedonia and Albania were at the center of a visit by Meidani to Macedonia on 8 July, where he met his counterpart Kiro Gligorov. Meidani said that the international community must support Macedonia, Albania, and Montenegro, since these countries carried most of the burden of the Kosova crisis, despite their weak economies. Meidani said that "we have turned towards stability in the region and freed ourselves from historical myths."

He also stressed the importance of the Dayton agreement and the stability of Macedonia for the region as a whole. He said that the participation of the Macedonian Albanians in the government and civil administration is essential for Macedonia's stability. He also stressed the importance of giving them rights to education in their own language as a contribution to multiethnic coexistence.

Gligorov said that the end of the war paves the way for a reconstruction of the region via the stability pact, which pays special attention to development projects on a regional level. Gligorov added that this also must involve rebuilding ties to Belgrade and including it in democratic processes rather than isolating it.

Concerning Kosova, the two presidents had different views. Gligorov said that the Kosova issue should be resolved by giving the province a wide-ranging autonomy with respect for human and minority rights while also respecting the territorial integrity of Yugoslavia.

Meidani countered that he has different views, but that this should not stand in the way of bilateral cooperation. He concluded that, in the framework of European links, "there will be two new entities developing over a period of five to ten years. These will be Kosova and Montenegro as part of the community of European countries." He noted that both he and Gligorov are looking towards a European integration in which borders are increasingly less important. (Fabian Schmidt)

Milosevic Jr. Meets Bambi. In the presence of his mother, Mira Markovic, young Marko Milosevic recently opened his amusement park in the family's home base of Pozarevac, the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" reported on 9 July. The institution is called Bambi Park, which reflects the fact that Serbia's Bambi cake company is the second largest investor in the project, after the president's son.

Spokesmen for Bambi Park proudly noted that it will help improve the quality of people's lives. They added that it was completed in record time because construction work continued even "during the NATO aggression." (Patrick Moore)

Partners for Peace. Russian President Boris Yeltsin instructed Defense Minister Igor Sergeev on 8 July in Moscow to put Colonel-General Viktor Zavarzin in for a medal. Zavarzin led 200 Russian paratroopers into Kosova on 11 June, one day before the arrival of NATO troops. On 12 June, Yeltsin promoted Zavarzin to colonel-general up from lieutenant-general (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 June 1999). Until March 1999, Zavarzin represented Russia at NATO headquarters in Brussels.

Meanwhile in Bucharest on 8 July, NATO Secretary General Javier Solana said: "Let me say clearly that I am very, very pleased with Russian participation in KFOR. ...The negotiations in Helsinki and Moscow allow for positive, contractual cooperation between the different countries participating." (Fabian Schmidt)

Quotations of the Week. "If I could, I'd skin Milosevic alive, slowly. He doesn't deserve a quick death. He sold us out--everything that happened is his fault. We are the 'victory' Milosevic is talking about. Sure, Milosevic defended Kosovo. Only it's without Serbs now." -- Serbian refugee in Kraljevo, quoted by AP on 7 July.

"In the next two weeks we will see whether the flame will turn into fire. Milosevic's rule is cracking on all sides. It is now up to us to direct the discontent." -- Alliance for Change leader and Balkan expert Milan Protic, quoted by AP on 7 July.

"The dinar is the only legal tender in the Yugoslav territory, which results from articles of the United Nations resolution number 1244." -- Yugoslav central banker Zarko Trbojevic, quoted by Reuters in Belgrade on 7 July.

"Serbia does not exist any longer for Albanians. That's why we don't use their currency." "I don't want to see dinars any more." -- Two ethnic Albanian grocers, quoted by Reuters in Prishtina on 7 July. The two accept only German marks, which have been the former Yugoslavia's second currency for decades.

"We went to the other side of the bridge because our houses are there. All the war criminals are here. NATO should disarm them." -- ethnic Albanian in Mitrovica on 7 July, after the march to what has become the Serbian half of the town.

"We have to encourage interethnic tolerance and harmony. It's not easy after everything that happened. But it should be possible with all our inputs and support to encourage the living together of all communities that feel at home in Kosovo." -- OSCE representative Daan Everts in Tirana, quoted by Reuters on 7 July.

"The bottom line is that unless there is concerted effort on the part of political leaders and restrain themselves...there's really very little we can do to stop random acts of violence." -- UN spokesman Kevin Kennedy, quoted by AP in Prishtina on 7 July.

"We must simply get used to the fact that Albania is a country where carrying weapons is perfectly normal." -- Austrian Red Cross official in Shkoder after bullets hit the Austrian-sponsored refugee camp from outside. Nearby, rival groups of Albanians were fighting over the wood and bricks from a dismantled German refugee camp. Quoted by "Die Presse" on 7 July.

"Go and emigrate to Kosova. Now there is only room for immigrants from Serbia here. Let NATO employ you." -- Greek police to Albanian migrants and guest workers, whom they were deporting. Quoted by Reuters on 7 July.

Although the Greek state "refused to participate in [NATO's] military actions to protect Kosovo, it seems to have provided military means to [help] the defense of the [one] accused of mass crimes against the unarmed Kosovars, [namely] Slobodan Milosevic." -- Text of a statement by a group of Greek academics and journalists, who have sued the Greek state for flying to Belgrade on a military flight a lawyer whom they suspect is a defense attorney for Milosevic. Quoted by AP on 8 July.

"You can't win the war without the United States, but building peace is up to Europe above all. [The reconstruction of Kosova] will be, perhaps, the first true test of a common foreign policy, without which the EU will always remain in the position of a minority." -- Italian Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini, in Rome on 9 July.