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Balkan Report: September 9, 1999

9 September 1999, Volume 3, Number 36

Physician, Heal Thyself! Austria's Erhard Busek warns the EU countries that they should get their own Balkan policies in order before lecturing the regional states about improving cooperation among themselves. Busek--who is a former deputy prime minister and leader of the People's Party--now heads Vienna's Institut fuer den Donauraum und Mitteleuropa (Institute for the Danube Region and Central Europe).

Busek wrote in "Die Presse" last week that the EU has so far proven unable to deal with Balkan problems without the active intervention of the U.S. The EU's member states are still given to "senseless rivalries" among themselves that hinder the formation and execution of clear policies. The problem is further compounded by the lack of Balkan experts in many Western European governments.

When the EU does take action, Busek continues, the result is often a muddle. For example, the German-sponsored Balkan stability pact was launched with great fanfare at a July summit in Sarajevo, but it still remains unclear how the project's goals of democratization, security, and economic development will be realized. Basic issues such as coordination of responsibilities between the Pact's Bodo Hombach, Bosnia's Wolfgang Petritsch, and Kosova's Bernard Kouchner remain unsettled. The same goes for the vital question of funding.

Instead, there is a plethora of ministerial conferences, expert symposia, and duplicated initiatives. In the end, nobody is sure where things are headed. One thing seems certain, however, Busek argues: the EU and the international community cannot indefinitely continue creating protectorates as they have in Bosnia and Kosova.

It is true that the EU has been hampered by its tensions with the U.S., which has not always been delicate in its dealings with its European allies. But the basic problem is of the EU's own making, and it must solve that problem itself, Busek concluded.

One sign that the EU is indeed learning from some past mistakes came at the foreign ministers' meeting in Saariselka, Finland, on 4 September. Their decisions indicated that they remain firm that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and his Serbia are not acceptable as members of the international community. Germany's Joschka Fischer said in the northern Finnish town: "As long as murderers are in power in Belgrade, how can there be a dialogue? The longer Milosevic remains in power, the more damage he will leave behind."

The ministers also refused to succumb to the temptation to seek an alternative to one Balkan strong-man by endorsing any one of his rivals. The EU officials instead agreed to support "the democratic values [that the Serbian opposition] represents," Finland's Tarja Halonen said after the meeting. She explicitly noted that the EU does not support individual opposition politicians. (This will come as a blow in particular to the Democrats' Zoran Djindjic, who has carefully courted several EU leaders, including Germany's Gerhard Schroeder.)

Halonen added that "elections in the present unsatisfactory conditions will not necessarily change anything" in Serbia. (By "unsatisfactory conditions," she presumably meant Milosevic's control over the media and means of coercion.) The ministers also agreed on a document that encourages "constructive dialogue between Serbia and Montenegro" and does not endorse Montenegrin independence.

Prior to the meeting, the EU agreed in principle to lift the embargo on oil deliveries and commercial flights to Montenegro and Kosova. All sanctions on Serbia will nonetheless remain in place. (Patrick Moore)

Will Kouchner Expand Transitional Council? "Koha Ditore" reported on 4 September that UN Special Representative Bernard Kouchner is planning to expand the advisory Kosovo Transitional Council. The plan envisages the inclusion of smaller political parties that are represented in the shadow-state parliament. In addition, Kouchner will add Bardhyl Mahmuti of the recently-founded Democratic Union Party and Bujar Bukoshi, who is shadow-state prime minister.

But Gjergj Dedaj from the Liberal Party of Kosova, which has repeatedly complained about its exclusion from the council, told RFE/RL: "I have no information about a possible expansion of the Transitional Council. ...However I hope that this will happen because only our own members can represent the Liberals. No other party can do that."

Representatives of the Social Democratic Party, which like the Liberals has seats in parliament, told RFE/RL that they held talks with Kouchner recently. They urged him to include in his council those parties elected in the shadow-state elections of March 1992. (Fabian Schmidt)

Solana's Balance Sheet For Kosova. On 7 September, NATO sources told an RFE/RL South Slavic Service correspondent in Brussels that Secretary-General Javier Solana returned upbeat from his second visit to Kosova. He identified three particularly important issues during his visit. The first is reconstruction of the country, which also includes reconciliation and the rebuilding of a civil society. The second is finding a solution for the problems in Rahovec. And the third is the transformation and demilitarization of the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK), for which he ruled out an extension of the 19 September deadline.

Solana said he was very satisfied with his meeting with the ethnic Albanians of Rahovec, who have been blocking the roads to that town to prevent the deployment of Russian soldiers there. He said that Russian troops must be deployed in Rahovec, but not by force and not against the will of the population. He made clear that using force to deploy the Russian troops there is not an option. He suggested first deploying an international police force that can then "prepare the ground" for the later deployment of the Russian forces. (Fabian Schmidt)

The 'Kosovo Corps' Takes Shape. Rahman Pacarizi, who is an RFE/RL correspondent in Brussels, recently discussed the results of an 8 September NATO Council meeting with Ismet Hajdari, who heads our Prague-based Albanian-language journalists:

Hajdari: Rahman, what is the position of NATO towards the creation of a Kosovo Corps?

Pacarizi: From NATO sources we have received detailed plans for the creation of the Kosovo Corps, which will end the demilitarization process and the transformation of the UCK. This, according to NATO officials, will give many of the UCK members an opportunity to maintain a uniformed organization with civilian duties. This will also lead to fulfilling UN Security Council Resolution 1244 and its requirements for the demilitarization of the UCK. NATO sources said that Kouchner will present this project to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

On the base of that plan, as of 19 September 1999 the UCK will cease to exist as a legitimate organization. Any groups that remain will be considered criminal gangs, and KFOR will treat them accordingly. Solana has made clear to Hashim Thaci and to General Agim Ceku that there is no possibility of extending the 19 September deadline. A very high-ranking NATO official told us that Ceku insisted during the discussions with Solana in Prishtina that Kosova will have its own army. That source told us, however, that NATO will demand that [the UN agree to any such proposal].

Our source added that the Kosovo Corps will not be armed but that it will be organized in a territorial military structure. Concerning the size of these forces, which also was an issue of debate, the UCK demanded 5,000 members, while the NATO plan provides for 3,000 active members and 2,000 reservists.

Hajdari: To what extent will the forces be military in nature?

Pacarizi: NATO plans that the Kosovo Corps will have a military organization divided into six regions. These units will have uniforms and clear-cut duties. They will not be armed, with the exception of those duties that oblige them to defend themselves or equipment. KFOR may make other exceptions as it sees fit. According to the proposal that will go to the UN Secretary-General, that corps will be formed under the authority of the UN special representative. It will have a staff of commanders, including a chief-of-staff and a deputy.

It will also have special units, including transport units, rapid reaction forces, medical teams, ABC units, civil air defense units, and communication units. These units will be used on orders of KFOR in cases such as natural and humanitarian disasters, fires, floods, and other circumstances as KFOR sees fit. KFOR will cooperate with these units in particular in defusing mines and in training exercises. The Kosovo Corps will keep permanent contact to KFOR, NATO, and the UN through liaison officers.

Hajdari: Doesn't that mean that the Kosovo Corps is de facto a kind of army of Kosova?

Pacarizi: There were many questions like that asked here. But the NATO position is what a NATO official told us: Kosova does not need an army. It has KFOR to protect it from any danger from within or without. The corps will not be in charge of maintaining law and order. It will not have the right to control roads and traffic or do anything related to law enforcement. The only force in Kosova responsible for law and order will be the civilian police of Kosova--and KFOR.

Hajdari: What will happen to those UCK members who will not be admitted to the corps?

Pacarizi: It is very important that NATO accepts and respects the key role that the UCK had in the creation of the current situation in Kosova, including its role in Rambouillet. A third of the UCK will be involved in the Kosovo Corps. Another large part either has been or will be involved in the civilian police. In addition, 190 places are reserved for UCK members in those international bodies clearing mines. UNMIK has also managed to receive pledges of 300 stipends for UCK members to study abroad. Those are reserved for people who interrupted their studies because of the war. With these measures, the international community wants to show that it is ready to help the UCK soldiers return to normal life and help in the reconstruction of Kosova. (Translated by Fabian Schmidt)

Is Serbia's President Out Of Favor? London's "The Guardian" reported from Belgrade on 7 September that Serbian President Milan Milutinovic has fallen out of favor with his Yugoslav counterpart Slobodan Milosevic. The article quoted a spokesman for the New Democracy party as saying that Milutinovic is under house arrest and that "his life is threatened." The spokesman called for an independent commission to determine whether Milutinovic is able to carry out his duties.

For several weeks, opposition media have suggested that Milutinovic was in hospital undergoing treatment for high blood pressure or that he was in confinement. Government spokesmen have dismissed the reports. Milutinovic is among the five top Belgrade leaders whom the Hague-based war crimes tribunal indicted in May. Observers note that he has not looked particularly spirited in the TV footage that has appeared since then.

But the day after the "Guardian" report appeared, Milutinovic met in Belgrade with a delegation from the Zastava automobile plant, where the workers are anxious for long-promised government assistance. As if to make the point that he was back to stay, Milutinovic hosted ousted Republika Srpska President Nikola Poplasen on 9 September.

The question remains whether that is the end of the story. Has Milutinovic indeed returned to active participation in political life and will he make frequent statements and appearances, as he did in the past? Or will he go back to the shadows, emerging only for an occasional cameo appearance in response to rumors of his political demise? (Patrick Moore)

German Balkan Expert Warns Of Lack Of Vision. The West stands to "lose the gains it made from its military success in Kosovo" because Western governments have largely failed to define "a clear goal" for that region, a former Balkan correspondent told an RFE/RL press briefing this week.

Viktor Meier, who covered Southeastern Europe for "Neue Zuercher Zeitung" and "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" for most of the past 30 years, said that both the civilian UN staff and NATO armies within their respective zones in Kosovo are failing to implement policies and programs for "fear of prejudicing the future status of Kosovo." "If the West is tackling problems by putting off solutions," Meier suggested, "it will lead to the unraveling of other regions in the world."

Meier also questioned Washington's decision to apply what he called the "Talbott Doctrine" in Kosovo--that is, recent U.S. efforts to bring the Russians into every problem. Meier said that as a result of that approach, it will now be far more difficult to successfully integrate Kosovo into the West.

The author of a recently translated book entitled "Yugoslavia: A History of Its Demise," Meier argued that the former Yugoslav federal authorities share much of the blame for the problems the West is now grappling with. Their failure to democratize in the last decade led republics such as Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina to choose independence in order to guarantee the rights of their citizens. Meier concluded by suggesting that Yugoslavia is an "obsolete state," although one in which the process of disintegration is not yet finished. (Martins Zvaners)

UHNCR: Bleak Picture for Bosnian Refugee Returns. A spokeswoman for the UNHCR said in Sarajevo on 6 September that only 10,500 non-Serbian refugees and displaced persons have returned to their homes in the Republika Srpska since the Dayton agreement was signed at the end of 1995. She added that 840,000 Bosnian citizens remain displaced within that country and that 350,000 are refugees abroad, Reuters reported. She said that the main factors preventing returns are economic difficulties, questions regarding property rights, and lack of support from local political leaders. (Patrick Moore)

Republika Srpska Officers Told Not to Go Abroad. The Bosnian Serb Defense Ministry issued an order on 6 September forbidding its officers to travel outside the Republika Srpska or Yugoslavia lest they be arrested for war crimes and sent to The Hague (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 31 August 1999).

The next day, Manojlo Milovanovic, who is the Republika Srpska's defense minister, said in Banja Luka that Bosnian Serb officers may travel abroad only if they have written guarantees from SFOR and the tribunal that they will not be arrested for war crimes. He added that the court's policy of indicting persons in secret is against "international practice" and unduly makes innocent persons feel insecure, "Vesti" reported. Milovanovic stressed that the recent arrest of General Momir Talic in Austria for war crimes will not affect the Bosnian Serb army's relations with SFOR "very much."

A scheduled meeting of the Standing Committee on Military Matters did not take place in Sarajevo on 8 September because the delegation from the Republika Srpska refused to attend. Bosnian Serb officials told SFOR that they were concerned about their officers' security. The Serbian officers did attend a meeting in Sarajevo the following day, however, even though NATO told them that the guarantee they want can come only from The Hague.

Was Srpska just trying to make a point, or will there indeed be some change in its relations with SFOR? (Patrick Moore)

Joint Police Patrols Start In Brcko. Joint police units consisting of Serbs, Croats, and Muslims began patrols in Brcko on 6 September. An RFE/RL correspondent reported from that town that the appearance of the patrols is one of the first tangible results of the international community's decision to place Brcko under joint rule of the mainly Muslim and Croat federation and the Republika Srpska.

In Tuzla, the organization representing Muslims from Brcko accused Ambassador Robert Farrand, who is the international community's representative for Brcko, of failing to ensure multiethnic management the town's enterprises. (Patrick Moore)

Pale Returns To Oblivion. Reuters' Daria Sito-Sucic, who is an ethnic Muslim, recently visited Pale. Such a trip would have been unthinkable not too long ago.

She found that this was not the only change in the former capital of the Republika Srpska. The hard-line leaders and their bodyguards are gone, presumably for safe places in eastern Bosnia, away from SFOR. The moderate leaders meanwhile went to Banja Luka and took the government with them.

Pale is now a sleepy town. Sarajevo Serbs who fled there during the siege now long for their former flats and the relative bustle of the city. Young people are bored to tears in a ski resort town filled with pensioners and offering few career opportunities.

Sito-Sucic concludes that Radovan Karadzic and other hard-line leaders still have their supporters in Pale, but that economic pressure will force the Republika Srpska to open up. She notes, however, that many Sarajevans are still apprehensive regarding the Pale Serbs. One woman told her: "No Sarajevans who own holiday houses there even dare to go and visit." (Patrick Moore)

In The Winners' Circle. Milosevic received the ousted Republika Srpska President Nikola Poplasen in Belgrade on 10 September. Also present was Momcilo Krajisnik, who is the defeated former Serbian representative on the joint Bosnian presidency. Serbian Deputy Information Minister Miodrag Popovic denied that Milosevic was trying to reinstate Poplasen. The minister added: "we are not in the business of installing and removing governments around the world. Some other people are," Reuters reported.

In Banja Luka, caretaker Prime Minister Milorad Dodik said that "we are waiting for Poplasen to come back from Belgrade to take his official car." Last week, Dodik and SFOR took away Poplasen's office, body guards, telephones, and cars (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 September 1999). (Patrick Moore)

Quotations Of The Week. "Slobodan Milosevic spoke more of prospects for the interaction between state institutions, and the opposition leaders put the accent on their wish for spreading the Russian experience of democratic development. ...We voiced the need for drawing lessons from the Kosovo tragedy. It would be a pity if politicians are the last to do that. Had the Kosovo problem been settled in time, there would not have been the tragedy." -- Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksandr Avdeev, quoted by ITAR-TASS in Belgrade on 7 September.

"As long as we have an opposition like the present one, the Milosevic regime will be around for a 100 years. The only thing that is worse than communism is the Serbian opposition." -- Dramatist Dusan Kovacevic, quoted in "Danas" and "Vesti" on 9 September.

"There is no exit strategy for the Balkans. ...We are in there for a very long time."--UN special envoy Carl Bildt, in Oxford on 9 September.

"You don't have much time. Andy Warhol once said that every person, and by extension every nation, has 15 minutes of fame. You have about three minutes left." -- U.S. Senator Joseph Biden, to Bosnian leaders at the Oxford gathering. Quoted by Reuters.

"Numerous criminal affairs now shaking certain power structures help convince us that this government is actually a group of uncontrolled outcasts." -- Nikola Poplasen, on 8 September in Banja Luka, after the moderate government took away his office, cars, bodyguards, and telephones.