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Kosovo Report: August 5, 1999

5 August 1999, Number 15, Volume 1

US OFFICIAL SAYS SERBIA POSES CHALLENGE TO REGIONAL STABILITY. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Canada E. Anthony Wayne said "it is clear that Serbia continues to pose a serious challenge to regional stability, including the democratic government in Montenegro. The loss of Kosovo to KFOR and the UN civil administration has left President Milosevic weakened and discredited domestically. Milosevic is an international pariah and an indicted war criminal. As long as he and his regime remain in power in Belgrade, Serbia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia cannot take their place among the community of democratic nations."

SERBIAN OPPOSITION LEADERS MEET GELBARD. The opposition Alliance for Change leaders Zoran Djindjic and Vuk Obradovic met with U.S. Special Representative to the President and Secretary of State for Implementation of the Dayton Peace Accords Ambassador Robert Gelbard on 3 August. They said that they discussed the unification of the Serbian opposition with Gelbard and the preconditions and possibilities for Serbia joining the Balkan Stability Pact. Serbian Radio and Television labeled the opposition leaders in the Alliance for Change on 3 August as "Quislings" and "the long hand of NATO."

Meanwhile, in Belgrade a three-day congress of over 200 representatives from the Serbian Diaspora in 31 countries began on 4 August. Milosevic and other Belgrade officials called for the congress and appealed to the Diaspora to give material aid to reconstruct the country. The international community made clear at last month's Sarajevo summit that it will not help Yugoslavia's reconstruction as long as Milosevic is in power.

Serbian Prime Minister Mirko Marjanovic met on 4 August with representatives of those parties that are still participating in the Serbian Parliament. This meeting was supposed to come up with a newly composed government. But even though the regime media paid much attention to the meeting beforehand, the parties failed to agree. After the meeting, representatives of the Serbian Renewal Movement and the Vojvodina Hungarians said that they are not going to participate in any government that can not represent Serbia towards the world.

The head of the Vojvodina Coalition Dragan Veselinov criticized the Serbian government ministers, saying that they have failed to invite the representatives of his party. Veselinov said that his party would have repeated the demand for the resignation of the current government at the meeting and to review possibilities of putting Vojvodina and Serbia on a more equal footing. No Montenegrin officials participated in the meeting either. The Democratic Party of Socialists of Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic earlier declined to participate in the federal parliament and government, demanding that both republics in the federation be treated more equally by the federal government.

KOUCHNER VISITS MASS GRAVE. UN Special Representative Bernard Kouchner visited a mass grave in Mitrovica on 4 August and said that what he saw was unbelievable. Kouchner said that it was the first time he had been confronted with the reality of mass murder, and added that what he saw helped him to understand the scale of animosities that still exist in Kosovo.

UCK SPOKESMAN DENIES INVOLVEMENT IN ATROCITIES. Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK) spokesman Lirak Celaj told AP on 4 August that "we fought so that our people could live free." He added: "We didn't fight to bring sadness to other people like we had experienced." Celaj stressed that "we would like to find out who the people are, who are [committing crimes against minorities in Kosovo and thus] putting the UCK to shame." He denied that the UCK has committed atrocities in Kosovo.

meanwhile, Serbian opposition leader Vuk Draskovic said, after a meeting with Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini in Rome, that the inability of KFOR to stop the violence against the Serbs of Kosovo by Albanians is helping Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.

GANG WAR IN BAJRAM CURRI. Four people were killed on 4 August and three others injured in two separate incidents in Bajram Curri. The incidents happened within only one hour of each other. Officials said that a remote-controlled bomb exploded on the road leading from Bajram Curri to Valbona, destroying a car, killing two and injuring three people. One hour later, two people opened fire at each other in Bajram Curri and killed each other. The police did not release the names because of the on-going investigations. Police Chief Veli Myftari said: "A rival gang organized an ambush of another group, and with a remotely controlled explosive device, which they planted on the Valbona bridge. They killed two people and injured three others. The situation is under control and special forces from Kukes and Tirana have arrived."

TAIWANESE PREMIER LAUNCHES TAX FREE ZONE IN MACEDONIA. Taiwanese Prime Minister Vincent Siew launched the construction of an industrial tax-free zone near Skopje on 4 August. After Macedonia formally recognized Taiwan, Taipei pledged to invest $200 million in Macedonia. Siew is accompanied by over 100 Taiwanese businessmen.

UNHCR TRUCKS BLOCKED IN MACEDONIA. Several hundred trucks bound for Kosovo with humanitarian aid are currently blocked at the Macedonian border. The Macedonian authorities demand that international aid agencies pay $350 for each truck. UNHCR officials announced that they will not pay the fees demanded.

INTERVIEW WITH PROVISIONAL GOVERNMENT MINISTER HYSENI. Interview by Rahman Pacarizi with the Prishtina-based politician, journalist and former political prisoner Hidajet Hyseni about the Human Rights Watch report on Kosovo. Hyseni currently works as Deputy Foreign Minister in the provisional government of Hashim Thaci.

Hyseni: "We think that the problems Human Rights Watch raised in its report are evident. They are causing us concern, and we understand the report well. We do believe, however, that there is a danger that such incidents are exaggerated by Serbian propaganda and particularly in international circles. [These events are, however,] not justifiable."

RFE/RL: "Mr. Hyseni in recent weeks there were attacks against Serbs by people believed to be Albanians. Can you explain what the reasons for such acts are?"

Hyseni: "It is unacceptable that such events happen, but that does not mean that these are orchestrated. The data published by international organizations about these events shows the contrary. There is a decrease in the number of such events. The international community is more aware now and that means that such incidents get more public attention. This causes us great concern. The reasons, therefore, are manifold. With the difficult situation that has been created in Kosovo there are now attempts to discredit the new Kosovar reality, and we also have information that particular circles are staging such incidents in order to discredit the new reality in Kosovo. There are also exaggerations by the Serbian propaganda, but unfortunately there are also uncontrolled and isolated acts by individuals who have lost their families, who have lost everything they had, or by criminal circles, war profiteers and others who abuse the chaos created in Kosovo."

RFE/RL: "Do you think that feelings of revenge play a role after all that happened during the last months in Kosovo?"

Hyseni: "We believe that we must not allow ourselves to give in to feelings of revenge. But we also have no illusions that we can evade such cases, given the circumstances that Kosovo is in. We can not talk, however, about an organized policy of revenge and we can not talk about a systematic campaign. What happens are isolated separate incidents, and I believe that they are diminishing. I would like to refute suggestions that Kosovo is going to return to the stage at which it was before. Kosovo suffered under Serbian domination, the Serbian genocide against Kosovo and as a reaction [to this] there are uncontrolled actions by Albanians. But the lack of Kosovar institutions that can do their work towards creating public order and security in Kosovo for all citizens has contra-productive effects. We believe that the experience of the last two months, in which in several areas the international peace-keeping forces and the Kosovar institutions complemented each other in creating public order and security, should serve as a model for all of Kosovo."

RFE/RL: "The Human Rights Watch report does not say that this is an organized campaign, but the report criticizes the Albanian leadership for not doing enough to stop the violence."

Hyseni: "We agree with that criticism and believe that we are not doing everything that we possibly could and must do. Therefore, we will attempt to do more. But there are also cases, in which Kosovar institutions are simply unable to take responsibility for public order and security. But an unclear position towards the future and the institutions of Kosovo towards the role of the Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK), towards a Kosovar police in the transitional period, has stimulated the appearance of such phenomena of anarchy and crime of different kinds."