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Kosovo Report: July 9, 1999

9 July 1999, Number 3, Volume 1

ROBERTSON CALLS MILOSEVIC A 'LOSER.' British Defense Secretary George Robertson said on 8 July in Prishtina that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic is a "loser," who must be held accountable for his crimes. He added that "the size of the spontaneous protests that are taking place in Serbia shows that the man responsible for the violence in this part of Europe is now pinpointed even by his own people." At a meeting with journalists, Robertson said that, one month ago, no analyst would have expected him to be in Prishtina.

An RFE/RL correspondent reported that Robertson visited British troops, took a walk through the city streets of Prishtina and told journalists that what he saw convinced him that the NATO attacks on military targets in Yugoslavia had indeed been precisely aimed. He said that those who believed that NATO caused the ethnic cleansing with its air-campaign, and who argued that this strategy could not reverse the expulsion of the Albanians, were wrong. He stressed that the conditions that NATO put to Belgrade were met within a short time. He said that there must be no return to violence and that the future must bring peace and stability not only to the Balkans, but to all of southeastern Europe.

OSCE Chairman Knut Vollebaek also visited Prishtina on 8 July. He is expected to meet with several Yugoslav opposition leaders including Democratic Party leader Zoran Djindjic. Vollebaek will also meet with several representatives of the provisional government of Kosovo on 9 July and with leaders of Kosovar Albanian political parties.

REFUGEES RETURN FROM GERMANY. A group of 160 Kosovar Albanians, who had taken refuge in Germany, returned to Kosovo on 8 July. The International Migration Organization (IMO) announced in Geneva that, as of 8 July, it will begin with the organized return of Kosovar refugees who had fled to countries throughout Europe, the U.S., Canada and Australia.

HUMANITARIAN ORGANIZATIONS URGE FAST RECONSTRUCTION OF BASIC SERVICES. Public services, health services and other basic facilities need to be restored as soon as possible in Kosovo, several international humanitarian organizations said in a joint statement in Prishtina. The damage to water supplies, health services and housing is worse than many expected. About 40 percent of local water is of a questionable quality, according to the statement. The organizations also warned that in many cases water is contaminated by the dead remains of humans and animals.

DJINDJIC IN KOSOVO. About 20 leaders of the parties united in the Serbian opposition Alliance for Change visited Kosovo on 8 July. International agencies reported that about 100 local Serbs received Democratic Party leader Zoran Djindjic in a hostile manner at the monastery of Gracanica. Djindjic met there with Bishop Artemije of the Serbian Orthodox Church and the leader of the Serbian Resistance Movement Momcilo Trajkovic. The hecklers shouted slogans against Djindjic and attacked journalists who wanted to talk to him.

ALBANIANS TORCH HOUSES IN PRIZREN. German KFOR commander in Prizren General Fritz von Korff said that his forces have arrested six Albanians suspected of setting fire to 16 Serbian houses in that city. Von Korff expressed concern over the "indifference" of the Albanian inhabitants of Prizren to these events, saying that many had not allowed fire-fighters to use their water. German police noted 91 incidents in the German sector on 7 July, including looting and the burning of property.

MORE ANTI-RUSSIAN PROTESTS IN RAHOVEC. Over 3,000 Kosovar Albanians protested in Rahovec on 8 July against the deployment of Russian troops there. They said they do not believe that the soldiers of a country, which supported the Serbs in the war against them, could offer them protection. The protesters held posters saying: "We do not believe the Russians" and "Russians killed us." KFOR officials said that Russia will send forces to Kamenica, Llaush and Malisheva.

RUSSIAN SHIPS LEAVE FOR THESSALONIKI. The first three Russian military transport ships left the Black Sea port of Tuapse with soldiers and military equipment bound for Kosovo, according to Russian news agencies. The ships are carrying 182 men, 29 vehicles and supplies. The ships are expected to arrive at the Greek port of Thessaloniki on 14 July.

SERBIAN PROTESTS CONTINUE. An RFE/RL correspondent reported from Belgrade that the third demonstration called by the Alliance for Change has taken place on 8 July in Prokuplje. The main demands were for the resignation of President Slobodan Milosevic, the formation of a transitional government and the establishment of freedom of the press. The Socialist Party of Serbia had earlier planned to hold another demonstration at the same time and the same place, but it cancelled these plans and announced that the police had not allowed them to hold that demonstration. Alliance for Change representatives hope that the demonstrations will develop into a daily occurrence.

Other parties and organizations also expressed their dissatisfaction with the current government. New Democracy leader Dusan Mihajlovic said that Serbia has two options: elections or the chaos of civil war. He called for early elections and added that using the hatred of the people to topple the government would not bring about democracy, but only another Milosevic.

The daily protests in Leskovac continued on 8 July. Observers noted that there are many reservists in that city who fought in the war and many who lost their lives. Meanwhile, in many cities of Serbia, opposition supporters are collecting signatures on a petition calling for the resignation of Milosevic. According to the organizers, this gathering of signatures is proceeding successfully. Belgrade officials harshly condemned the protests and argued that Milosevic was elected legally. They also singled out Bishop Artemije and Momcilo Trajkovic for criticism. A Socialist Party spokesman told journalists on 8 July that the declaration which the Serbs and Albanians of Kosovo signed jointly a few days ago is "manipulation, forgery and betrayal."

Meanwhile, a Serbian Red Cross official said that there are 100,000 Serbian refugees from Kosovo now in Serbia. Several opposition parties have criticized the policies of the regime towards the refugees and called on them to join the protests throughout Serbia.

MEIDANI, GLIGOROV CALL FOR INTERNATIONAL SUPPORT. The situation in the Balkans, the Kosovo peace plan, the stability pact, and bilateral cooperation between Macedonia and Albania were at the center of a visit by Albanian President Rexhep Meidani to Macedonia on 8 July, where he met his counterpart Kiro Gligorov. Meidani said that the international community must support Macedonia, Albania, and Montenegro, since these countries, despite their weak economies, have carried most of the burden of the Kosovo crisis. Meidani said that "we have turned towards stability in the region and freed ourselves from historical myths." He also stressed the importance of the Dayton agreement and the stability of Macedonia. He said that the involvement of the Macedonian Albanians is essential for Macedonia's stability, the participation of Albanian parties in the government and in the civilian administration. He also stressed the importance of giving them rights to education in their language as a contribution to multi-ethnic coexistence.

Gligorov said that the end of the war paves the way for a reconstruction of the region, via the stability pact, which pays special attention to regional development projects. Gligorov said that this also must involve rebuilding ties to Belgrade and including it in democratic processes rather than isolating it. Concerning Kosovo, the two presidents had different views. Gligorov said that the Kosovo crisis should be resolved by giving Kosovo a wide-ranging autonomy with respect for human and minority rights and under respect for the integrity of Yugoslavia.

Meidani said that he had different views, but that this should not be a reason, hindering cooperation, arguing that both presidents are looking towards a European integration, in which borders are becoming less important. Thus he said that, in the framework of European links, "there will be two new entities developing over a period of five to ten years. These will be Kosovo and Montenegro as part of the community of European countries."