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Balkan Report: November 4, 1998

4 November 1998, Volume 2, Number 43

Kosovars Say They Are Not Bound By Milosevic-Holbrooke Pact. Unnamed Western diplomats told Reuters in Prishtina this week that the Serbian forces and Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) are testing the limits of the interim settlement in Kosova. The diplomats said that the Serbs have reentered unspecified areas they are supposed to have left and replaced stationary road checkpoints with mobile ones, instead of removing the checkpoints entirely.

The UCK has gradually returned to areas from which the Serbs drove them in recent weeks. The guerrillas, who did not participate in either set of talks, do not feel bound either by the pact in October between Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and U.S. special envoy Richard Holbrooke or by the follow-up agreement between the Yugoslav president and NATO officials. In Prishtina on October 31, Kosovar shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova said that the Kosovars have not agreed to any settlement on Kosova, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported.

This does not appear to unduly bother Ambassador Christopher Hill and other U.S. negotiators working to hammer out the "interim solution" that is supposed to result from the Milosevic-Holbrooke pact (see "RFE/RL Bosnia Report," No. 41). Hill told the BBC on November 1 that the Albanians will be "very happy" to receive control over their own schools, hospitals and police, which they will control on the local level as part of the interim agreement. The ambassador stressed that the important thing is to begin building "democratic institutions," even if the agreement -- like the Dayton agreement -- is far from perfect.

It still remains to be seen whether any Kosovars, especially those with guns, will accept this or anything else that is short of the autonomy that Milosevic took away nearly a decade ago. The proposed interim settlement will not grant all Kosova autonomy on a regional level -- as was the case previously under the 1974 constitution -- and will require Serbian agreement to any future changes. As some Kosovars have remarked, the ethnic Albanians are being treated like a "defeated Third World rebel movement."

Hill's spokesman nonetheless told AP in Skopje on November 2: "We continue to work with both sides, going back and forth," and denied that the November 2 date mentioned in the Milosevic-Holbrooke pact constitutes a "deadline." "This was to show their compliance and that they are actively pursuing negotiations," he said. The next day, the "Financial Times" quoted Hill as saying that he hopes that the two sides will reach an agreement "within weeks."

As General Jacques Klein once remarked during his tour of duty in eastern Slavonia: "If you're looking for good will here, you've come to the wrong part of the planet."

Berger Stresses Democratization of Serbia. U.S. National Security Advisor Sandy Berger said in Washington on October 30 that the U.S. government will continue to support what he called "the democratic forces in Serbia." He added that the democratization of Serbia is vital to the long-term stability of the Balkans.

In Belgrade the following day, Serbia's Independent Union of Journalists appealed in a statement to individuals and organizations at home and abroad to support the independent media, which have been closed or are under pressure because of the recent media law (see "RFE/RL Bosnia Report," No. 42). The journalists stressed that the law is unconstitutional. The authorities responded by urging the journalists to "respect the rule of law," the BBC reported.

Meanwhile in New York, the Hague-based war crimes tribunal said in its annual report to the UN Security Council that Belgrade does not cooperate with the court despite its obligations under the Dayton agreement to do so. The tribunal called upon the international community to prompt Milosevic to live up to his responsibilities, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported on October 31.

Djukanovic Blasts 'Serbian Hegemonism.' Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic said in Podgorica on November 1 that his republic's integrity is under threat from Belgrade's "Serbian hegemonism" and from Milosevic's allies within Montenegro, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Podgorica. Djukanovic charged that the federal authorities do not consult his government or the public when making important decisions on Kosova and other issues. He was speaking at the convention of the governing Democratic Socialist Party, which elected him party president.

UCK Sentences Two Serbian Journalists. The UCK issued a statement on November 1 in which it said that a guerrilla military court has sentenced two journalists from Serbia's state-run Tanjug news agency to 60 days imprisonment. The two men, who disappeared in mid-October, received the sentences for "violation and disregard of [unspecified] rules on civilian and military organization" laid down by the UCK. The statement added that the two can appeal their sentences but did not say where or to whom.

Serbian and foreign journalists appealed to the UCK to find and free the two missing men -- the second pair of Serbian journalists to "disappear" in Kosova this year -- soon after Tanjug announced they had gone missing. The other Serbian journalists were never heard from again. That, according to many Kosovar Serbs, is the fate of any Serb who falls into the hands of the UCK.

No Comment. Croatian Deputy Minister of Education Ivan Janes announced in Beli Manastir on October 29 that he has reached an agreement with the parents of 192 pupils to put an end to their children's boycott of classes. They had launched the boycott to protest that five teachers were giving lessons in Serbian rather than in Croatian. The five offending pedagogues will no longer be allowed to teach there, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported.

Quotes of the Week. U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, in Washington on October 27: "I'm not here to tell you today that in Kosovo all is well, it is not....We must consider Milosevic's track record, his long-standing unwillingness to negotiate seriously and the accumulated barbarity of the past months."

Vladimir Chizhov, director of the Russian Foreign Ministry's Third European Department, to Interfax on October 30: "Unlike the Americans, the [UCK] is seen in Russia as a terrorist structure and we do not mix with commandos."

Kosovar Albert Pacarizi, quoted by AP on October 29: "NATO isn't doing its job. They don't attack, they just give a news conference."

Foreign verification mission member to AFP, in Prishtina on October 28: "As soon as the police leave one place, the people return."

Young Serbian woman at the same time and place: "The police withdraw and Albanian terrorists will recapture the ground and start killing Serbs."

Unnamed Western diplomat in Prishtina to Reuters on November 1: "The [Serbian] police need a lot more adult supervision if this agreement is going to hold up. They're going where they shouldn't go. The [UCK] are a problem, too. They're strutting around like they own the place...We're rushing to get more [monitors] in to keep the lid on."