Accessibility links

Breaking News

Balkan Report: February 4, 2000

4 February 2000, Volume 4, Number 10

What Future For Kosova's Shadow-State? A session of the Kosovar shadow state parliament on 31 January caused a great deal of controversy. That day, a deadline would pass on which all parallel state structures in Kosova were supposed to cease to exist. But the parliament was still going strong and vowed to meet again within 10 days.

The shadow-state was created by moderate Kosovars in 1989 after Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic abolished the province's autonomy. In particular, it successfully operated extensive health and education systems. Funds came primarily from "taxes" paid by Kosovars working abroad. The shadow-state was an excellent example of self-help and passive resistance, and has been called "the world's most successful NGO."

In the course of the Serbian crackdown in 1998 and the full-blown conflict the following year, however, the moderate advocates of non-violence yielded primacy of political place among Kosovars to those prepared to take up arms and defend the ethnic Albanians from the ravages of the Serbian forces. After those forces left in June, the UN set up a civilian administration in the province and called on the various self-proclaimed government structures among Serbs and Albanians alike to dissolve themselves and join new bodies sponsored by the UN's UNMIK (UN Mission In Kosovo).

Shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova as well as his main rival, the former Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) leader Hashim Thaci, committed themselves in an agreement with UNMIK on 15 December 1999 to disband their respective rival underground governments (see "RFE/RL Newsline" 1 and 3 February 2000). In exchange, representatives of their respective political parties--the Democratic League of Kosova (LDK) and the Party of Democratic Progress of Kosova (PPDK), as well as representatives of other parties--are supposed to receive positions as heads of administrative departments. These departments will be equivalent to ministries and part of the Interim Administrative Council, overseen by the UNMIK administration. They were created after weeks of difficult negotiations.

But at the latest session, the shadow-state parliament not only failed to disband itself and its government. Instead, it decided that its mandate and that of its Prime Minister Bujar Bukoshi will expire only when new elections are held. The smaller parties in the legislature--including the Liberal Party of Kosova and the Christian Democrats--had rejected any dissolution of the legislature, arguing that the parliament had gained full legitimacy through underground elections in 1992 and 1998. Rugova's LDK--the largest party within the shadow-state parliament and which also has the majority of seats-- apparently shied away from overruling its smaller and long-standing political allies.

UNMIK spokesman Jock Covey then said that UNMIK gives the shadow-state another 10 days to disband, but added that the delay has also obstructed the launching of the new Council. The delay has also triggered harsh reactions from several Kosovar observers.

The journalist Baton Haxhiu wrote in a commentary in the leading Prishtina daily "Koha Ditore" on 2 February that "everybody was skeptical when the agreement [of 15 December] was signed between UNMIK and the [ethnic] Albanian political parties. Everybody believed that the newly created structures would fail.... Often the [international officials] asked: 'Who would possibly go against the views of international community, against the future of Kosova, against the institutional life of Kosova?.... Now it was the parliament of Kosova that did it."

Haxhiu added that the shadow-state had failed to protect its citizens and that it quickly collapsed during the 1999 war: "The question remains: are these [legislators] the same people who have been silent for ten years,...who have lied to their own people, pretending that [the people] have a parliament, that they have a president, that they have a government, that they have free elections and state institutions?"

The journalist stressed, moreover, that all other parallel Kosovar structures had respected the commitment to disband: "The UCK has agreed to be transformed into the Kosova Protection Corps, and [Thaci's] Provisional Government of Kosova ceased to exist on [31 January, as it said] in a press statement.... However, the president and the prime minister of the [shadow-state] Republic of Kosova continue to exist. Their armed structures continue to exist. These imitations of the UCK, who never took part in the war, can continue their activities, while those who fought [i.e. the UCK] have surrendered their arms.

"UNMIK has pedantically criticized the parallel structures that were created after the [February 1999] Rambouillet negotiations [i.e. Thaci's government]. It has searched every suspicious house and every person it suspected of potentially seeking to destabilize Kosova. And it did well. But falling silent and tolerating what happened on [31 January] will not promote the stabilization of Kosova.... Where is UNMIK now?"

Meanwhile, Rugova said in Prishtina on 2 February that the shadow-state has indeed been dissolved. It is not clear, however, whether he can claim to speak for the parliament. In any event, much of the press reacted with skepticism to his claims. (Fabian Schmidt)

Bukoshi Shows His Ledgers. At the 31 January session of the shadow-state parliament, Prime Minister Bujar Bukoshi presented a report of accounts for his shadow-state budget, covering the period of the last ten years. It was the first such report Bukoshi presented in public since his exile government began to collect a 3 percent tax from Kosovar Albanians abroad in October 1991. His report has not been published in full, but the figures given in several articles in "Koha Ditore" make it possible to put together an overall picture.

Bukoshi presented his budget between then and September 1999 in several different currencies, because the shadow-state maintained accounts in different currencies throughout Europe. The total revenues from October 1991 to September 1999 included 216.7 million German marks, $3.6 million, 30.4 million Swiss francs, and 24,100 pounds Sterling. The expenditures included 183.3 million German marks, $746.000, 19.3 million Swiss francs and 20,000 British pounds.

As of now, a total of 53.6 million German marks remain in the shadow-state budget. Of previous expenditures over the ten-year period, the largest part--89.7 million German marks--went into the shadow-state education system (it is not clear why he does not provide figures for the health service). The second largest sum--57.3 million German marks--went into the Defense Ministry, which, as "Koha Ditore" points out, reflects the fact that most Kosovars were willing to pay large amounts into the funds of the shadow-state only after the outbreak of the war. The next largest share went to the Tirana-based satellite television, which the shadow state financed with 10.2 million German marks, most of which went to pay for expenses to Eutelsat.

Most other expenses went into state institutions, such as the Parliament, presidency, foreign diplomatic representations, interior ministry, and local institutions. Finally, the creation of the Dardania Bank in Tirana was supported with 2.4 million German marks.

The future of the fund is under discussion. Rugova said on 2 February that it will go to UNMIK. The Bukoshi government previously proposed to create a Foundation for the Reconstruction of Kosova and Civil Society. That foundation would then also act as a founding body of a Prishtina branch of the Dardania Bank. Bukoshi did not, however, imply that he would be willing to hand the remaining money over to the newly-created Interim Administrative Council. For now, the money remains in the Dardania Bank in Tirana under his control. (Fabian Schmidt)

Montenegrin Authorities Cool On Serbian Opposition. On a visit to the U.S., Prime Minister Filip Vujanovic said in a phone interview to Podgorica that Milosevic has caused many of the problems in relations between Montenegro and Serbia. The prime minister added, however, that many other difficulties will continue to exist regardless of who is in power in Serbia. He stressed that future relations must be based on full equality "and not depend on what kind of regime there is [at the moment] in Belgrade," "Danas" reported on 2 February.

Elsewhere, Deputy Prime Minister Novak Kilibarda criticized the Serbian opposition for speaking too little in public about the program the Montenegrin authorities published in 1999 as a basis for redefining the relations between the two republics.

Observers note that the Montenegrin authorities have provided the Serbian opposition with moral support and a place to meet without harassment by Milosevic's police, but ties between Podgorica and the opposition do not go much beyond that. Montenegro has its own vital political and economic links to the West independent of the Serbian opposition. Montenegrin leaders point out, moreover, that only Serbs can bring democracy to Serbia. In that country, whose population outnumbers that of Montenegro by 10-to-1, Montenegrin issues play a very small role in political life and discourse. (Patrick Moore)

Guslars Against 'Bloodthirsty NATO.' One of the hallmarks of the centuries-old Serbian oral tradition is the recitation of ballads and folk poems by players of the gusle. This ancient stringed instrument has a sound all its own, the appreciation of which some feel is an acquired taste.

Some contemporary guslars have sung the praises of Serbian heroes in the Wars of the Yugoslav Succession, especially of General Ratko Mladic. A British television documentary made during the Bosnian war featured Radovan Karadzic singing his own poems and accompanying himself on the gusle.

"Vesti" reported on 3 February that a group of guslars have staged a concert in Belgrade "in the spirit of Montenegrin folk songs." The theme of the ballads is the experiences of Serbs during the 1999 NATO air strikes. The program was entitled "Bloodthirsty NATO and Serbia." (Patrick Moore)

"Fejat Svira, Bice Musko!" Also on a musical note, "Vesti" on 30 January published a long article on the brass band musician Fejat Sejdic, whose career has spanned 40 years and who has become a legend in his own time. This genre of music will be familiar to those who have seen the films of Emir Kusturica--such as "Time of the Gypsies" and "Underground"--in which Romany bands can turn up just about anywhere. They are particularly indispensable at weddings and are an integral part of the cultural landscape of much of Serbia and some neighboring areas.

Sejdic is a self-taught trumpeter and has played for many prominent as well as ordinary people in the course of his career. He recalls that Josip Broz Tito loved the song "Za svaku tvoju rec" (For Every Word of Yours), which he listened to with great pleasure. But, Sejdic adds, Tito never tipped the musicians. "Not even a single dinar," he told "Vesti."

His more recent listeners include Milosevic, Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic, and General Mladic, at whose son's wedding the musicians played. He describes Mladic as a jolly lover of folk music. Sejdic says that he often played for Milosevic both in Pozarevac and in Belgrade, and that the president is particularly fond of the Yugoslav genre of songs known as "starogradske pesme." (Patrick Moore)

Quotations Of The Week. "The solution to Bosnia is not in Bosnia alone, nor is the solution in Kosovo in Kosovo alone. They are part of a larger regional problem that urgently requires the democratization of Serbia, the departure of Slobodan Milosevic and his appearance at The Hague to stand trial for his war crimes indictment." -- NATO's General Wesley Clark on 2 February.

"The real question is, will Milosevic act, whether a referendum on independence is held or not?" -- Montenegrin NGO leader Srdjan Darmanovic.

"We Montenegrins don't have time to wait for Mr. Milosevic to resign. The question of his resignation is not Montenegro's problem. It is Serbia's problem." -- Montenegrin business spokesman Veselin Vukotic.

"We need international police and we need them desperately, especially on the so-called special police units. These are police units which are going to be used to deal with riot control, demonstrations, to secure areas, protect UN buildings, carrying out VIP transport, and these kind of things." -- UNMIK police chief Sven Frederiksen, in New York on 2 February. Quoted by an RFE/RL correspondent.