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Kosovo Report: September 17, 1999

17 September 1999, Number 40, Volume 1

FINAL ISSUE - NOTE TO OUR READERS: This is the last issue of the RFE/RL Kosovo Report. To keep up with events from the region, please refer to RFE/RL Newsline and the RFE/RL Balkan Report. Thank you!

OSCE, UN LAUNCH 'RADIO AND TELEVISION KOSOVO.' Richard Dill, the interim director of Radio and Television Kosovo (RTK), told an RFE/RL South Slavic Service correspondent in Prishtina on 16 September that the UN and OSCE have given the green light for his station to begin broadcasting on 19 September. Dill said that the program will be transmitted via satellite. He stressed that RTK is a public service that does not belong to any government or investor but exclusively to the people of Kosovo.

Dill added that RTK intends to broadcast programs from Kosovo, which are produced by Kosovars in Kosovo in cooperation with UN television. He predicted that it will become the basis for the creation of a full-fledged public service broadcaster and train the staff of such a station. The programs will be in Albanian and Serbian.

Martin Cuni, the chairman of the Coordinating Council of Radio and Television Prishtina, issued a declaration in Prishtina on 16 September saying that his council has nothing in common with RTK. The council was founded by ethnic-Albanian journalists who were demonstratively sacked by the Belgrade regime in 1990.

Cuni stressed that neither the UN nor the OSCE or the European Broadcasting Union have consulted his council about the creation of RTK. Dill, however, made clear that RTK is not a continuation of Radio and Television Prishtina, even though it will broadcast from its former premises.

RUSSIAN GENERAL URGES ETHNIC ALBANIANS TO TRUST HIS SOLDIERS. Major-General Valerii Yevtukovich told journalists in Prishtina on 16 September: "We will not use force, but we will continue our talks to find a solution that allows Russian troops to deploy in Rahovec. We believe that we will find a positive result," an RFE/RL South Slavic Service correspondent reported. Ethnic Albanians have been blocking the roads to that town since late August to prevent the deployment of the Russian KFOR contingent there, arguing that Russian mercenaries committed atrocities in that region during the war. Yevtukovich stressed that the Russian forces must go to Rahovec as part of the [18 June] Helsinki agreements and reassured the Kosovar Albanians that the Russian forces are neutral. He stressed that "the Russian Federation [is] not responsible for the things that [mercenaries had done, and those things] must not be linked to the Russian peacekeeping mission."

UNMIK PREPARES VOTER REGISTRATION. Officials from the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) announced in Prishtina on 16 September that they will begin to register voters for the upcoming elections on 1 October. The registration process will last for six months, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Meanwhile, several key political parties of Kosovo have decided to form a joint body which will assist with organizing the upcoming elections.

U.S. GENERAL SAYS UCK LEADERSHIP 'COMMITTED' TO DISARM. General Henry Shelton, who is the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in Prague on 16 September that the Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK) has "not complied as rapidly as any of us would have liked to have in terms of the local level, but at the leadership level they have remained committed," Reuters reported. He added: "As of right now they are moving steadily toward that and we have no reason to believe that they don't intend to comply." Shelton declined to answer what he called "hypothetical" questions about what NATO will do if the UCK does not fulfill its obligations. He said: "It is something we will deal with when and if the date comes and they do not comply."