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Kosovo Report: September 7, 1999


7 September 1999, Number 33, Volume 1

THACI DISCUSSES TRANSFORMATION OF UCK. UCK political leader Hashim Thaci visited NATO headquarters in the evening of 5 September and met with NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana. During his visit, Thaci also met with Belgian Foreign Minister Louis Michel, who proposed transforming the UCK into a civil defense organization. After the meeting, Thaci told journalists that he is sure that Kosovo will have its own defense forces, but added that there will be intensive talks with the NATO Allies regarding its name, character, and functions.

Asked about his comments on the possibility of transforming the UCK according to the Belgian proposal, Thaci said that the UCK takes all suggestions from NATO countries very serious and is studying them in detail. He stressed that one will have to plan for the time after the withdrawal of KFOR and stressed that the international community must not leave Kosovo unprotected.

Thaci later had a private meeting with Solana at his residence. NATO sources told RFE/RL that the discussion focused on the demilitarization process. Solana stressed that the UCK must meet the 19 September disarmament deadline and begin with its transformation. He also condemned the on-going violence in Kosovo and demanded that the UCK cooperate fully with UNMIK and KFOR. The following day Solana visited Kosovo.

RUSSIAN PEACEKEEPERS KILL THREE SERBS. Russian peacekeepers shot dead three Serbian gunmen in a village near Gjilan on 6 September. The Serbs earlier fired at a passing car, killing one ethnic Albanian and injuring two. When the Russian forces arrived at the scene and tried to arrest the gunmen, the Serbs shot at the peacekeepers, who returned the fire.

NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana said in Prishtina that "this incident...proves that the Russian troops behave according to the obligations that all KFOR troops have.... We have one KFOR, not two KFORs," Reuters reported. Solana also met with a delegation of ethnic Albanians from Rahovec who are blocking roads to prevent Russian troops from entering their town. A delegation member told an RFE/RL South Slavic Service correspondent that Solana "has been very correct. He said that the question of Rahovec cannot be solved against the will of its citizens."

After a series of meetings in Prishtina, Solana visited Prizren, where he met with representatives of the German KFOR contingent and with representatives of the three religious communities in Kosovo -- Muslims, Orthodox, and Roman Catholic. After the meeting, Solana took a walk through the city, where he was welcomed by thousands of citizens.

Meanwhile, tensions remained high in Gracanica, where local Serbs maintained a roadblock on the Prishtina-Gjilan road. In Obilic, four unidentified assailants shot at a Serb, while in Gjakova, a KFOR patrol found a destroyed car containing one person dead and one injured.

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