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Kosovo Report: July 15, 1999

15 July 1999, Number 7, Volume 1

CLARK REASSURES ETHNIC-ALBANIANS OVER RUSSIAN PRESENCE. NATO Supreme Commander Europe General Wesley Clark visited Kosovo on 14 July and said that the ethnic Albanians there have nothing to fear from Russian troops. After a meeting with KFOR Commander General Sir Mike Jackson and UCK Commander Agim Ceku, Clark said that the Kosovars can rest assured that the Russian troops are part of KFOR and will act accordingly.

He stressed that Dutch troops will remain in Rahovec, where local residents have held protests against the deployment of Russian troops. Clark, furthermore, said that KFOR has started consultations with different sides, concerning that question, including the ethnic Albanian population. He said that he understands the fears of the ethnic Albanians and the sensitivities in that area, but underlined that he will insist on everyone contributing to the implementation of the KFOR plan and asked the people of Kosovo to show understanding for the Russian and other KFOR troops.

KFOR spokesman Jan Joosten said that one civilian was killed when his truck hit an anti-tank mine, which also injured two others. He added that KFOR has so far reported 61 mine-related incidents in Kosovo, in which 27 people have been killed and 37 injured. On 13 July around noon KFOR arrested four ethnic Albanians who were trying to expel Serbs from their homes. According to first investigations, two of them held documents identifying them as UCK Military Police. Joosten stressed that the only legitimate power in Kosovo is KFOR and that this will be the case until an international police force is operational. Joosten said that KFOR has so far arrested 185 people in Kosovo, 85 of whom are ethnic Albanians. KFOR has seized 1,100 AK 47 automatic weapons, 500 other automatic weapons, 700 grenades, 175 anti-tank weapons, as well as numerous mines and ammunition.

ARBOUR VISITS MASS GRAVE SITE. Louise Arbour, who is the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, visited the village of Celina on 14 July and said that those responsible for the massacre there must face trial. Reuters reported that investigators had uncovered a mass grave in that village containing 21 victims (including 18 women and children) just one day prior to Arbour's visit. Arbour said that she was shocked by what she had seen.

ANNAN PRESENTS ADMINISTRATION PLAN. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has presented a plan for the civilian administration of Kosovo. According to the plan, the UN will focus on the development of a civilian police force, the return of refugees and the planning of economic reconstruction. In a second phase, the UN will promote the development of political parties and of some [self-governing] bodies on the local level. The third phase will focus on the holding of free elections, which will then take place in the fourth phase of the plan. The final phase will include the handing over of the entire administration to local bodies. Annan did not specify time frames for the envisaged stages of the plan.

GERMAN CHANCELLOR TO VISIT KOSOVO. German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said on 14 July in Bonn that he plans to visit the Balkans including Kosovo at the end of the month. Schroeder said that he is encouraged by the Serbian protests against Slobodan Milosevic, adding that he hopes Milosevic will leave the political stage.

ALBANIA, MACEDONIA , GREECE PLEDGE COOPERATION. Greece, Albania and Macedonia intend to improve their political and economic cooperation, according to the foreign ministers of these three countries Georgios Papandreou, Paskal Milo and Aleksandar Dimitrov. The three met in Prespa, where they agreed to propose to their respective prime ministers the holding of annual meetings. Meanwhile, Bosnian Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic and Finnish presidential advisor Alpo Rusi said in Sarajevo that the conference on the Stability Pact for the Balkans will take place there on 29 and 30 July.

DJUKANOVIC SAYS MONTENEGRO MAY SEEK INDEPENDENCE. Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic said that Montenegro will seek full independence if negotiations with Serbian and Yugoslav legislators about the future of the Yugoslav federation fail. The talks began on 14 July in Belgrade. The leader of the Montenegrin delegation at the talks -- Zeljko Sturanovic -- said that the negotiations did not produce any concrete results on their first day. The Montenegrin government demands the decentralization of the Serbian-Montenegrin federation. The negotiations will continue on 15 July, and it is expected that a new round of negotiations will take place in Montenegro. The Serbian Socialists did not make any statement regarding that meeting.

ANTI-MILOSEVIC PROTESTS CONTINUE. Protests against the government of Slobodan Milosevic continued in Serbia. On 13 July there were protest demonstrations in four Serbian cities. The largest meeting on 13 July took place in Jagodina. It was organized by the Alliance for Change, and more than 4,000 citizens participated. The leaders of the Alliance for Change said they have come to ask the citizens of Jagodina, whether they are for Serbia or for Milosevic. Democratic Party leader Zoran Djindjic said that what is happening in Serbia now is a social revolution. He added that people at the demonstrations do not demand the head of Milosevic, but his resignation. The Democratic Party leader said that he expects that people from twenty cities of Serbia will launch a march on Belgrade at the end of the current round of protests and that then, together with the citizens of Belgrade, they will protest until the current government resigns. Leaders of the Alliance for Change said that they do not want war and added that the regime has nothing left to fight a war with, because the entire people is against it.

U.S. TO SUPPORT SERBIAN OPPOSITION CITIES. U.S. State Department spokesman James Rubin said on 14 July that the U.S. will give aid to those Serbian communities and municipalities that openly oppose the regime of Slobodan Milosevic. He said that: "Milosevic is not part of the solution, he is not part of the problem, he is the problem." Rubin added that the U.S. made clear earlier that the Serbian people must make steps towards democratization. Rubin stressed: "We made quite clear that we will not participate in the reconstruction of Serbia as long as Milosevic continues to lead that fundamentally undemocratic regime and as long as he and his regime refuse to pursue necessary democratic policies."

ALBANIAN HIJACKS GREEK BUS. An Albanian citizen hijacked a bus in northern Greece on 14 July and ordered the driver to drive towards the Albanian border. Later he released 46 passengers, but kept four passengers, the driver and a conductor hostage.