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Kosovo Report: July 7, 1999

7 July 1999, Number 1, Volume 1

NATO'S CLARK THREATENS TO ARREST ALL PARAMILITARIES IN KOSOVO. NATO Supreme Commander Europe General Wesley Clark said that NATO will arrest all Serbian paramilitaries who still are staying inside Kosovo. He made the remarks during a visit to the French and Italian zones of the Kosovo peacekeeping force (KFOR). In Mitrovica Clark stressed that there is no space for paramilitaries and that they have to leave Kosovo. He added that it is necessary to take steps that enable the Serbian and Albanian communities to live together in the region.

RUSSIAN PLANES ARRIVE IN PRISHTINA. Three Russian planes carrying 300 paratroopers for KFOR arrived at Slatina airport in Prishtina. KFOR spokesman Louis Garneau welcomed the arrival of the Russian troops and said that their presence will contribute to building peace and stability in Kosovo. Earlier, in response to a NATO request, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria had declined to provide air corridors to Russian military planes. Romania and Hungary, however, gave the green light to the flights following a 5 July agreement between NATO and Russian officials on Russia's role within KFOR (see below).

NEW KOSOVO ADMINISTRATOR URGES OPEN DIALOG. Newly appointed UN civilian administrator for Kosovo Bernard Kouchner said on 6 July in Geneva that his team will be open to dialogue with all sides in Kosovo. He added that the key tasks of his administration are security issues, providing the population with essential supplies, the reconstruction of the health and school systems and building a government administration based on democratic principles. Kouchner will arrive in Kosovo next week, according to AP.

OGATA CONCERNED OVER REFUGEE HOUSING. UNHCR chief Sadako Ogata said during a press conference in Prishtina on 6 July that the return of refugees to Kosovo is proceeding in a satisfactory manner. She said that one key concern of the UNHCR is securing accommodation for the returnees, as between 40,000 and 50,000 houses have been destroyed in Kosovo. Ogata also expressed concern that more than 70,000 Serbs have left Kosovo.

UNHCR CALLS ON KOSOVAR SPECIALISTS TO RETURN. UNHCR officials in Skopje on 6 July appealed to Kosovar specialists to return to Kosovo soon and help in the reconstruction of the region. A UNHCR spokeswoman called on doctors, engineers and political leaders to return as soon as possible. More than 600,000 refugees have returned to Kosovo, according to UNHCR officials, while 150,000 remain in Macedonia, Montenegro and Albania. The number of refugees temporarily living in places farther away is currently around 91,000.

GRAVE OF SIX FOUND IN GJAKOVA. KFOR soldiers found the bodies of six missing Kosovar Albanians on 6 July in a grave in Gjakova. About 1,200 inhabitants of Gjakova disappeared during the war, according to AP. The agency added that a number of them are believed to have been arrested by Serbian forces.

RED CROSS VISITS KOSOVAR PRISONERS. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has visited several imprisoned Kosovars in Serbia on 6 July. ICRC Spokesman Urs Boegli told RFE/RL's South Slavic Service that the Red Cross currently has a list of about 500 prisoners. He added that the Belgrade authorities have promised to hand over a list of another 2,000 imprisoned Kosovars by the end of the week. Boegli declined to comment on the situation in which the prisoners are kept. He added that the ICRC will transfer messages from the prisoners to members of their families and send messages from the families to the prisoners. Boegli had no figure about missing persons, but acknowledged that outside ICRC headquarters in Prishtina, there are long lines of hundreds of people waiting for news from relatives who have disappeared. He said that in the best case, these people may have been arrested, but in the worst case they may have been killed and may not yet have been discovered or identified.

ANTI-GOVERNMENT PROTESTS IN SERBIA. In the evening of 6 July in Uzice, the second meeting of the opposition Alliance for Change has taken place under the slogan "Now, or never." Vladan Batic, a leader of the Alliance for Change, said that today's meeting will be only one in a series of protests that began last week and will continue until there is serious democratic change in Serbia. The Alliance said that they want to force Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to hold early elections. The turn out at anti-Milosevic demonstrations has been large recently, while the Socialist Party and the United Yugoslav Left denounced the gatherings harshly and called on citizens to stay away from them. Yugoslav citizens also protested without the opposition calling demonstrations. In the evening of 5 July in Leskovac, 20,000 citizens turned out and demanded the resignation of Milosevic. No political party organized that protest, but a local radio producer, Ivan Novkovic, called the meeting over the air. The police in Leskovac arrested Novkovic on 6 July for organizing that gathering.

DETAILS OF THE RUSSIAN, NATO AGREEMENT. An RFE/RL South Slavic Service correspondent reported from Brussels on 6 July that NATO and Russian officials struck an agreement on Russia's role in KFOR in Moscow on 5 July. The number of Russian soldiers in KFOR, according to the agreement, must not be higher than 3,600. Of these, 2,850 will be deployed within three Allied sectors, while 750 will be deployed at Slatina airfield in Prishtina and at the Russian logistical base in Fushe Kosova. According to the agreement, which may enter into force immediately, one or two battalions will be deployed in Kamenica in the U.S. sector. One battalion will take up positions near the village of Llausha in the French sector, although there will also be French troops in that area at the same time. Another part of the Russian contingent will be stationed in the German sector near Malisevo in the Prizren region. Until a few days ago, the Russians insisted on having a corridor under their control to link the Prizren area via Peja in the Italian sector with Mitrovica in the French sector. NATO did not agree to that demand, but finally both sides found a compromise according to which the number of Russian soldiers in Prizren will be increased to 1,000.

According to the agreement, the Russian airport will be in the joint hands of NATO and the Russian contingent and will serve all parties in Kosovo, both KFOR and civilian air traffic in the future. NATO and Russia also solved disagreements over the role of Russian soldiers in the KFOR command structure. NATO sources informed RFE/RL that Russian forces will receive their orders from Russian commanders. However, a NATO official said that Russian troops will be under the "tactical control" of the "relevant KFOR centers" in the respective sectors, which are able to ensure that KFOR follows a unified policy. Russian troops have the right to refuse to execute NATO orders, if they are in contradiction with orders from Moscow. A NATO official said today that KFOR commanders will do everything to make sure that Russian troops integrate with the other soldiers, who come from NATO countries. According to the agreement reached in Moscow, Russia will return its permanent military representative to NATO's military command headquarters in Mons, Belgium, whom Moscow withdrew to protest NATO's bombing campaign against targets in Yugoslavia.