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Balkan Report: July 27, 1999

27 July 1999, Volume 3, Number 29

Conflict Of Interest Between Rugova and the LDK? RFE/RL's South Slavic Service recently broadcast this interview by Melazim Koci with Fadil Hysaj, who is a member of the leadership of the Democratic League of Kosova (LDK):

Koci: Why did the LDK not participate in the initial meeting of the UN's transitional council for Kosova?

Hysaj: I think that this was a scandal that happened but the LDK is not to blame. The party leadership did not receive an invitation from [UN Special Representative Bernard] Kouchner to participate in that meeting. The invitation was given to [aides to shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova], who were not legitimate LDK representatives. They were not elected to any post in the LDK.

RFE/RL: An agreement was signed at Rambouillet on the creation of a provisional government. Who is respecting, and who is ignoring that agreement?

Hysaj: It is true that the agreement was signed, and I consider the boycott of it irrational. Many of the things that were decided then have not been implemented politically. In the leadership of the LDK and its central council, many things have remained politically unclear. And I believe that [Rugova's] absence [from Kosova] has caused us great harm recently.

RFE/RL: You once said that the person who works against Rugova the most is Rugova himself. Can you clarify this?

Hysaj: I think that these [recent] actions [of Rugova] are typical. Avoiding dealing with important questions and the lack of discussion can return like a boomerang to the party itself. I think that there are many things to be clarified regarding the relationship of the president to his own party. And I do not know whether anybody in the party leadership really understands this.

At this point [the confusion] has passed a line where it is no longer tolerable. It is necessary that the president return as soon as possible so that the party leadership can meet and probably prepare for a party congress. The people need this party...and we can not continue working in the same way that we have done in the past.

RFE/RL: What are the prospects for the LDK?

Hysaj: We can say that there is a crisis in the party. But the events of recent weeks will force the party to reposition itself. The most dynamic part of the party will survive this crisis and come to the forefront in the near future. There can be no more politics based purely on loyalty [to one particular person]. This policy has no future anymore. We have to think about the future of the party [as a whole] in which only capable people [with clear positions] can survive [in political competition].

RFE/RL: Will the LDK participate in Kouchner's transitional council, independently of the return or non-return of Rugova?

Hysaj: This absence from just one session has not yet led to angry reactions from party members and leaders. But the party may not even survive the coming month if it continues not to participate. The LDK has no other alternative than to participate, even if only as an observer. We must not allow the "virus" of boycott to harm us. A boycott of the international community in Kosova would be fatal.

But I do not think this will last. The LDK never decided on a boycott. The problem is just that the invitation...did not reach the LDK leadership. The invitation reached only people who are advisors of the president but who do not hold any party office.

Such a development was scandalous and could even destroy the party. I call on these people to stop [tampering with] the party's rights and prerogatives. The international community, moreover, should know what the party's address is. (Translated by Fabian Schmidt)

Mystery Surrounds Russians' Role At Prishtina Airport. Unidentified officials of Russia's Foreign and Defense Ministries told Interfax on 20 July that Russia did not send its troops into Prishtina on 10 June, ahead of the arrival of NATO troops, in order to secure classified weapons (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 June 1999). The officials were reacting to a report in "The Times" on 19 July quoting journalists from "Jane's Defence Weekly" as saying that Russia's surprise move may have been designed to withdraw Russian SA-10 surface-to-air missiles and Czech-made Tamara devices, which are capable of tracking stealth bombers.

Also on 19 July, "The Times" quoted an RAF officer at Prishtina airport as saying that during the first few days of Russian control in June, "the stuff [military equipment] was pouring out of here." He added that the Prishtina airport was one of the most impressive military facilities he has seen. Already on 24 June, "Komsomolskaya pravda" reported that Russian paratroopers had orders to stop British forces from accessing a Yugoslav storage area at the airport that included unspecified "radar devices," missiles, and laser-guided bombs. (Fabian Schmidt)

'Big Progress' in Divided Mitrovica. Representatives of the Serbian and ethnic Albanian communities reached an agreement on 22 July aimed at guaranteeing freedom of movement in that divided city. It remains to be seen whether it will work.

Three days earlier, an RFE/RL South Slavic Service correspondent reported that Mitrovica was firmly divided between Serbs and Albanians along the Ibri River. French soldiers still kept the main bridge across the river under their control.

On 17 July, local Albanians held protests against the partitioning of the city, and French KFOR officials promised to ensure the return of Kosovar Albanians to the northern part of the city. They also pledged that armed Serbian civilians will be disarmed. That did not happen, however, and the Albanians who once lived in the northern part of the city still remained with their friends or relatives in the southern districts.

An Albanian inhabitant told RFE/RL on 19 July that French KFOR soldiers did not allow his family to return to the northern part of Mitrovica because they had no identity documents. Another Albanian, who tried to return, said that Serbs threw rocks at him when he tried to cross the bridge. Serbs surrounded the RFE/RL journalist and several colleagues from other radio stations when they tried to cross into northern Mitrovica. Serbs threatened the journalists in poor English, telling them to go back to the other side. This happened only a few meters away from the French soldiers, who did not intervene.

A French KFOR soldier told RFE/RL that the situation is not as bad as it seems: "When we arrived here, the Albanians and Serbs were at war. And you can see that there is no shooting now. There are no deaths." He added that this is a great step forward. But he also said that such a situation could continue for months. Asked about the incident in which the Serbs insulted and threatened the journalists, the soldier said: "I can imagine that just one month ago you could not even have spoken to them. In my view this is big progress." Meanwhile, there are cases of Serbs crossing into southern Mitrovica, such as when they have to use the local hospital.

City Prefect Bajram Rexhepi said, however, that the situation in the city is very difficult, and accused ultranationalist Serbs of trying to partition the city. He stressed that the Albanians are willing to work closely with the international community to solve any problems, but added that no results had yet been achieved in this case. He said: "We may have to attain our goals by force. This may be reasonable." (Translated by Fabian Schmidt)

Montenegro Preparing New Currency? President Milo Djukanovic has appointed Johns Hopkins University Professor of Economics Steve Hanke as an advisor to help launch a separate Montenegrin currency, the "Financial Times" reported on 22 July. Hanke said that the currency could be ready within three months.

Central to the project is a currency board, under which the exchange rate of the convertible dinar would be pegged to the German mark, which for decades has been the unofficial currency throughout the former Yugoslavia. The new currency would be backed by D-mark reserves equal to or greater than the dinars in circulation. In a novel move, the currency reserves would remain in Switzerland to prevent Belgrade from interfering with the project.

On 23 July, the Belgrade daily "Danas" reacted to the story with the headline: "A Fourth Yugoslavia in September." In the region, the interwar kingdom is sometimes known as the first Yugoslavia, while Tito's creation is called the second. The third is the rump state that Milosevic was left with after Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia, and Bosnia declared independence. (Patrick Moore)

RFE/RL And The Kosovo Crisis. During the Kosovo crisis, RFE/RL dramatically expanded its multiethnic and multilingual South Slavic broadcasts to provide all of the peoples of this strife-torn region a reliable and regular source of accurate news and analysis--on FM, AM, shortwave, satellite, and the Internet. In fact, a recent Belgrade survey found that RFE/RL was the most listened-to international broadcaster in Serbia during the NATO bombing campaign.

Today, RFE/RL broadcasts 13.5 hours live to Serbia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Croatia.

Expanded Broadcasts. Following Serbia�s adoption of media restrictions in October 1998, RFE/RL increased its South Slavic Service daily broadcasts from seven to nine hours.

Anticipating renewed ethnic tension in Kosovo, on March 8, 1999, RFE/RL began daily 30-minute broadcasts in Albanian.

Just hours after NATO�s decision to begin air operations in the region, RFE/RL increased by 3.5 hours per day the amount of broadcasting in Serbian.

The next day, RFE/RL doubled its daily Albanian-language broadcasts, bringing to 9.5 hours RFE/RL�s cumulative daily broadcasts in Serbian and Albanian. An additional four hours of programming focused on Bosnia and Croatia can be heard by and is also relevant to a Serbian audience.

RFE/RL worked with VOA, BBC, Deutsche Welle, and Radio France International to assemble programming in Serbian and other languages for a joint, 24-hour international program stream for Serbia. This 24-hour stream is broadcast on FM transmitters located around Serbia as well as by satellite.

RFE/RL also coordinated a 24-hour international program stream for Kosovo, with programs in Albanian, Serbian, and other languages from the five international broadcasters. This is currently carried on three FM frequencies by Radio Pristina.

Enhanced Program Content. According to a poll of Serbian radio listeners reported in the 16 July issue of the Belgrade newspaper "Vecernje novosti," RFE/RL was the most listened-to international broadcaster during the NATO bombing campaign, and the fourth most listened-to broadcaster overall.

In spite of Yugoslav army threats, six affiliate stations in Montenegro continued rebroadcasting RFE/RL programs.

Throughout the crisis, RFE/RL continued to receive news reports from affiliate stations in Serbia and Montenegro, as well as from local reporters and stringers.

Expanded Internet Access. RFE/RL�s Internet website ( experienced a crisis-driven increase in page view traffic of 38% in March. That same month, RFE/RL's live Internet broadcast traffic grew by 37%; traffic to RFE/RL�s South Slavic broad-casts increased by 262%.

Yugoslavia provided the fourth largest number of RFE/RL website visitors from any country; only the U.S. provided more visitors to the RFE/RL South Slavic Service website.

A special Internet home page for RFE/RL Kosovo coverage provides constantly updated news and live, on-demand or ftp downloadable audio in four languages: Albanian, Russian, Serbian and English. (

Regional News and Analysis. RFE/RL�s South Slavic Service relies on its network of correspondents throughout Yugoslavia, who provided live reports throughout the bombing campaign, reported on conditions in the refugee camps, and conducted face-to-face interviews with Serbian and Montenegrin officials and citizens. They continue to cover demonstrations against the Milosevic regime, the ongoing investigation of atrocities in Kosovo, and the actions of KFOR and the UN provisional authority in Kosovo.

RFE/RL's publications, including the daily journal "RFE/RL Newsline" and weekly "Balkan Report," were supplemented by a daily "Kosovo Report," providing both immediate news coverage and analysis of events to readers on the Internet and to subscribers by fax and e-mail. (Prepared by RFE/RL's Communications Division)

D'Alema Writes Book on Kosova. Italian Prime Minister Massimo D'Alema told reporters on 21 July that he has written a book on the Kosova conflict. It will be entitled "Kosova, the Italians, and the War." D'Alema was editor of the leftist daily "L'Unita" from 1988 to 1990. It is not clear when his latest in a series of political books will appear, Reuters reported. (Patrick Moore)

Yugoslav Vlachs Seek Romanian Help. President Emil Constantinescu on 22 July received a delegation of the Movement of Romanian Vlachs of Yugoslavia, Mediafax Reported from Bucharest. Dimitrie Craciunovic, chairman of the movement, requested Romania to intervene with the Yugoslav authorities in order for the community to be "officially recognized as a national minority and granted collective rights." Craciunovic said the authorities have been procrastinating for eight years on answering the demand. He added that official statistics in Yugoslavia put the number of Romanian Vlachs at 32,000 at most, whereas unofficial statistics show that "no less than 800,000 Romanians live in eastern Serbia." And he said that Constantinescu "promised to help more than in the past." (Michael Shafir)

U.S. Helps Defend Croatian Journalists. A spokesman for the U.S. embassy in Zagreb said on 20 July that the embassy has donated $100,000 to the Journalist Association's Legal Defense Fund to help pay lawyers' fees and court costs. Most of the 500 lawsuits filed against journalists in recent years have been filed by government officials, their associates, or their families, AP reported. The government has used frequently lawsuits and any resulting fines to intimidate critical journalists and to try to bankrupt independent periodicals. (Patrick Moore)

Albanian Cannabis Production On The Decline. An Albanian police official told dpa on 18 July that the annual production of cannabis in Albania declined from an estimated one million plants in 1995 to about 100,000 plants in 1999. The official estimated that peasants have cultivated about 100 hectares of land with cannabis in southern regions of Albania alone, producing about 100 tons of marijuana.

Observers noted, however, that this would involve 200,000 to 300,000 plants under perfect agricultural conditions, implying that either the numbers of plants must be higher or the output lower than the official figures. Police launched this summer's crackdown on cannabis plantations last week. In the region of Fier, police destroyed about 15,000 plants. (Fabian Schmidt)

Quotations of the Week. If the state-owned television in Serbia "is not closed, the Alliance for Change, together with the people, will come to Belgrade to shut that septic tank and to prevent the stench from spreading throughout Serbia." -- Alliance leader Vladan Batic, in Kraljevo on 16 July.

"If [Milosevic] remains any longer [than the autumn], he will [regain control of the situation], and all our efforts will be useless. In November, the one who will have a loaf of bread and a finger on electricity will rule Serbia." -- Vojvodina Social Democratic leader Nenad Canak, in Vienna on 23 July.

"Some parts of the regime are not on Milosevic's side any more. I mean the majority of members of the army, of the police, and in other state institutions. That's why we want to encourage them to say 'goodbye' to Mr. Milosevic, if I can say it. But we cannot encourage them without great numbers of citizens." -- Democratic Party deputy leader Slobodan Vuksanovic, in Bratislava on 22 July.

"If we don't trust our generals, then whom should we trust?" Serbian reservist leader Miodrag Stankovic, telling fellow reservists in Nis on 18 July to trust a pledge made by General Nebojsa Pavkovic on local television to pay them back wages.

"We were brainwashed for 10 years by Milosevic and his gang. I would gladly see Slobo before a firing squad. He is responsible for our misery." -- Serbian reservist, quoted by AP on 21 July.

"If Serbs stay...the winner will be peace." -- Kosova Serbian leader in Vitina Vesko Piric, quoted by AP on 18 July. He had just issued an ultimatum to KFOR to close local UCK offices and Albanian cafes on the grounds that Kosovars plan attacks on Serbs there. He threatened that all Serbs would leave if the peacekeepers did not comply.

"Serbs never complain, they just suffer. Even if people don't see the truth, God will." -- Serbian woman in Kosova with bags packed to leave, quoted by AP on 20 July.

"Those who killed us, who tried to exterminate us--they did not succeed. We lost our fathers and brothers, but we have our freedom and should enjoy it. We guarantee that those who destroyed Kosova will never return." -- UCK leader Hashim Thaci, to a rally to commemorate war dead near Peja, quoted by AP on 18 July.

"We will take care of you." -- General Wesley Clark, to Kosovars in Rahovec, on 20 July.

Local children "told me we were free, and there were no more Serbs." -- one of three male Kosovars who emerged from a hiding place in a strip mine after three months. Reported by AP on 19 July.

"I've only booked one tourist in two weeks, and I had to drive 50 km to Prishtina to book the flight to Munich, because the phones don't work yet and the Serbs smashed my office computer." -- Malisheva tour operator to Reuters on 18 July.

"Albanian and Serb village leaders still refuse our request that they meet to settle differences [peacefully], but we hope the two communities will be able to co-exist," Italian KFOR spokesman at Gorazdevac, quoted by Reuters on 18 July.

"Preaching reconciliation is pretty useless." -- Britain's Sky News reporter in Kosova, on 20 July.

"We are satisfied to note that no hostile reception was given to the Russian peacemakers." -- Albania's ambassador to the Russian Federation, Shaqir Vukaj, quoted by ITAR-TASS in Moscow on 20 July.

"If we can get to the communities and have them engage in communal activity so that it creates jobs and people have a purpose, they are a lot less likely to burn down houses and think aggressively." -- World Bank President James Wolfensohn, quoted by Reuters in Prishtina on 21 July.

"We have to take care of our national interests." -- Croatian Justice Minister Zvonimir Separovic, on 19 July, as to why he will not give the Hague-based war crimes tribunal all of the documents it wants regarding alleged atrocities against Serbs in Croatia between 1991 and 1995.