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Kosovo Report: July 13, 1999

13 July 1999, Number 5, Volume 1

SERBIA GIVES ICRC LIST OF KOSOVAR PRISONERS. Officials from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) announced in Prishtina on 12 July that the Belgrade authorities have handed over a list with the names of about 1,438 imprisoned Kosovo Albanians. Officials of the ICRC said they have so far visited 381 prisoners in Sremska Mitrovica. In the coming days, they will visit the prisons of Prokuplje, Nis, Pozarevac, Leskovac, Vranje, Novi Pazar, and elsewhere. ICRC officials also said that they had visited 124 persons, who are in KFOR custody in four different places in Kosovo.

The Albanian-language daily "Koha Ditore" on 12 July published a list with the names of people being held in Serbian prisons. The list was provided by the Council for the Defense of Human Rights and Freedoms in Prishtina, and was handed over to that organization by the Serbian Justice Ministry. The list contains the names of 1,933 people who are in seven prisons in different cities of Serbia. In most cases, the lists only include the names and surnames of the prisoners, although they also include the places of birth for those prisoners held in Sremska Mitrovica. It is also noteworthy that the names of about 50 Serbs held in Leskovac and Krusevacare on the list, although no information is given as to why they are being held.

At the beginning of the week, UN Human Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson estimated that about 5,000 Albanians are being held in Serbian prisons. The Association of Political Prisoners of Kosovo has also given a similar estimate.

COHEN WARNS SERBS, ALBANIANS NOT TO ATTACK KFOR. U.S. Secretary of Defense William Cohen said in Budapest on 12 July that KFOR soldiers will return fire if attacked. Cohen stressed that KFOR's soldiers are neutral to both the Serbian and Albanian populations in Kosovo. He also added that the situation in Kosovo remains very dangerous since tensions there remain high.

DIENSTBIER URGES QUICK POLICE DEPLOYMENT. UN Human Rights Commissioner Jiri Dienstbier declared in Prishtina on 12 July that international police forces must be sent to Kosovo. He added that they must include at least 3,000 policemen and stressed that their presence is necessary to put an end to violence and crime.

THACI DENOUNCES SERBIAN WALK-OUT. Kosovar provisional government Prime Minister Hashim Thaci on 12 July denounced the decision by Kosovar Serbian leaders to suspend cooperation with the Kosovar Albanians and representatives of international organizations in the province. Thaci told Reuters that he hopes they will not continue their boycott, arguing that it is not in the interest of Kosovo. Thaci also said that Serbian paramilitaries, who have participated in crimes against Albanians, still walk the streets of Prishtina and other cities in the province.

TRAJKOVIC CHARGES ALBANIANS WITH ONGOING EXPULSIONS. Serbian Resistance Movement leader Momcilo Trajkovic said on 12 July that systematic expulsions of Serbs from their homes still continue in Prishtina. Meanwhile, UNHCR officials in Belgrade announced that 136,000 Serbs have left Kosovo. According to the same source, only about 78,000 of these Serbs have registered to date as refugees in Serbia and Montenegro.

ARBOUR CONFIDENT MILOSEVIC WILL BE CONVICTED. Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia Louise Arbour expressed her conviction in Tirana on 12 July that the indictment of Slobodan Milosevic and four of his co-workers will be supported by evidence provided by witnesses and expellees and by evidence found inside Kosovo. During her visit to Albania, investigators turned over to Arbour testimony of witnesses and refugees about crimes committed in Kosovo. Arbour began a visit to Macedonia and Kosovo after leaving Albania.

PRISHTINA MUNICIPAL WORKERS RETURN TO TOWN HALL. For the first time since the end of air-strikes on 12 July, 140 employees of the municipality of Prishtina resumed work. The city administration includes 80 Albanians and 60 Serbs, according to UN officials. The UN appointed Mexhid Syla and Zvonimir Stevic as co-mayors. UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) Spokesman Kevin Kennedy predicted that "four-hundred workers will be returning to work in the municipal building in Prishtina over the course of 90 days." He said that this will be a model also for the reestablishment of other sectors of public life.

UNICEF SAYS FEW SCHOOLS READY FOR USE. UNICEF officials in Prishtina announced in a press release on 12 July that over 40 percent of the schools in Kosovo have been heavily damaged or destroyed. In 95 percent of the buildings, it is necessary to repair doors and windows. After the destruction and looting, schools need some 28,000 desks, 58,000 chairs, and over 2,000 blackboards. In 69 schools, it is necessary to reinstall electricity. In 174 schools, partial repairs are needed. UNICEF stresses that the greatest danger comes from anti-personnel-mines. Some 169 schools have not yet been cleared of mines.

OPPOSITION GATHERS SIGNATURES AGAINST MILOSEVIC IN BELGRADE. The Serbian opposition Alliance for Change launched the collection of signatures on 12 July on a petition calling for the resignation of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic at 29 locations in Belgrade. Police sought to stop the action, however. Some 32,000 citizens signed the petition against Milosevic in 18 cities throughout Serbia last week. The organizers said that the collection of signatures will continue.

Elsewhere, the daily protests in Leskovac continued for their seventh day, even though some participants were arrested. In Vranje, several hundreds reservists continued to block the road to Krusevac, demanding back-wages for fighting in Kosovo. Meanwhile, Democratic Party leader Zoran Djindjic said that with the help of the Church and universities, the opposition hopes to organize daily demonstrations in Belgrade in August to demand the resignation of Milosevic.

The Serbian Renewal Movement of Vuk Draskovic issued a statement on 12 July saying that "international forces" can and must solve the current problems of Kosovo. The party believes, however, that a return of Serbs to Kosovo will only be possible if Kosovo remains an integral part of Serbia.

MORE REFUGEE CAMPS LOOTED IN ALBANIA. Albanian villagers on 11 July, looted a refugee camp near Peshkopi, which held about 3,000 refugees. In the village of Shtoj near Shkodra, Albanians looted another camp. NATO soldiers have begun to reinforce the security around other refugee camps. Already on 10 July, Albanians stormed and looted an Italian camp in Vlora. All incidents happened after the last refugees left the camps.

Interview with Melazim Krasniqi, spokesman of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) by Melazim Koci.

Koci: "What is the truth about the reports of divisions between the different Kosovar political groups?"

Krasniqi: "The truth is that there is confusion about the question of political representation. As you know, there are both the provisional government in Prishtina, and at the same time the shadow-state government of Bujar Bukoshi also acts as a government. That means that the agreement that Hashim Thaci, Ibrahim Rugova, and Rexhep Qosja reached at [the negotiations in] Rambouillet on the creation of a joint government has not been implemented. Unfortunately, there are divisions and they can have severe consequences for Kosovo."

Koci: "How do you personally explain that Rugova does not return to Kosovo?"

Krasniqi: "I have to say that there is a great deal of confusion, which is leading to disturbing speculations. I do not know what the real reasons are for Rugova not to return to his homeland. I believe that he should be here and contribute to an environment in which it would be possible to unite the Kosovar political groups to help reconstruct and rebuild Kosovo. I am also concerned that Rugova has disappeared from public attention. [In contrast to his former behavior], since the [end of the war], he has avoided expressing himself and instead has shrouded himself in a disturbing silence."

Koci: "What does the LDK do in view of Rugova's absence?"

Krasniqi: "The LDK must face the new realities in Kosovo, and it can not do so with an old mentality. Our membership demands concrete actions, clear positions towards the problems that have to be handled. We can only escape this crisis if we put the party's general council to work and activate the considerable potential that the party has. If we fail to do that, the LDK [may face] very severe [internal] divisions. I think that now is the last moment that the LDK can halt that dangerous tendency."

Koci: "You earlier mentioned Rambouillet. What do you think is the formula with which the different Kosovar Albanian groups can approach each other?"

Krasniqi: "Rugova, Thaci, and Qosja agreed on such a formula in Rambouillet, and for several months we have been engaged in making that a reality, as there can be no other way. If we had had a unified leadership and positions also on a communal level, this would have helped a great deal in avoiding the clashes that we have faced. If we continue like this, we will be sidelined and get into further conflicts between the different people. I personally do not think that it is in the interest of either the party or the people of Kosovo to come up with arguments as to why we cannot work together."

Koci: "Is it clear to the Kosovar Albanians that they will lose international support, if they fail to present a united position?"

Krasniqi: "In the past we have been accused of not being able to govern ourselves, but we had no chance to govern ourselves. Now we have a chance to govern ourselves, and if we do not give strong proof of our ability to govern, the international community will impose a classical protectorate on us. This would be a bad solution. The process of independence of Kosovo will be blocked in this way, and the danger of a reintegration of Kosovo into the Serbian and Montenegrin state will increase. Equally important, economic development will not proceed as needed, if we are unable to show seriousness in governing ourselves. But I believe that the Kosovo Albanians will be able to walk the path they have started on, and nobody will be able to hinder them in achieving independence."