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Kosovo Report: August 11, 1999

11 August 1999, Number 19, Volume 1

LDK PREPARES FOR GENERAL COUNCIL MEETING. Officials from the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) told RFE/RL that the party will hold the first meeting of the party's General Council in Prishtina on 10 August. The General Council is the LDK's second highest decision-making body between party congresses. It has not met for about one year. LDK officials said that they will discuss the future of the party in the post-war period and its position on solving the problems of Kosovo in the future. The party's Deputy Chairman Naim Jerliu said that the meeting will focus on ways and possibilities of cooperating with the international community to implement a civilian administration in Kosovo and on how to cooperate with other political forces in Kosovo.

Jerliu said: "That means that we will talk about a process of transforming the LDK into a political force. This is a change because the LDK indeed has been a leading liberation movement so far. Now it will have to transform itself into a political party, which will have to face competition from other forces, when it wants to take the lead in Kosovo in the future. That transformation means that the LDK will have to develop a political profile as a modern political party. The LDK has so far focused on cultivating a tolerant tradition and culture among the Albanians and this will be the wealth of the LDK, which will enable it to move over into a transformation process without pain... I think that there is a plurality of views in the LDK, which is a great potential and which will contribute to a strengthening of the LDK and that diversity of views also will allow the party to present itself as a party of special qualities and values."

Another source within the LDK told RFE/RL that the tone of discourse inside the LDK has become harsher on the eve of the council meeting. Meanwhile, party leader Ibrahim Rugova changed the list of LDK members represented in the UN-led Transitional Council for Kosovo yet again. A source who asked not to be identified told RFE/RL that Rugova took Fatmir Sejdiu off the list, although he was appointed just one week earlier.

FRANCE'S RICHARD VISITS MITROVICA. French Defense Minister Alain Richard arrived on 10 August on a one-day visit to Mitrovica. At a short meeting with journalists, Richard said that the security situation in Mitrovica is improving after patrols increased by KFOR soldiers in both parts of the city. Referring to protests over the weekend by ethnic Albanians demanding the unification of the city, Richard said: "I want to stress the fact that several hundred people were able to cross into this area of Mitrovica freely every day�. Disagreements arose after there were attempts by a large number of Albanians to march into the Serbian-dominated quarters."

He added that the French soldiers reacted in a "measured" way. Richard also said that all KFOR officials have supported the measures of the French KFOR commanders to handle that situation. He stressed that French KFOR soldiers will take additional measures to improve the situation in all parts of the city and to hinder any efforts by either of the ethnic communities to act aggressively towards the other.

Richard reacted to accusations by UCK leader Hashim Thaci, who said that the behavior of the French troops was "arrogant and undemocratic," by saying that: "Mr. Thaci is one of the parts in the crisis here. I am a member of a coalition that is trying to solve that crisis. I do not think I should discuss this question publicly, but I will meet with him soon. He says that he is in favor of a multi-ethnic society in which the Serbs can live together with the Albanian-speaking majority, and I will discuss this question with him." Richard was the first Western politician to visit Kosovo who did not take a walk through the city that he was visiting. He flew to the site of the meeting--a former Yugoslav Army barracks--by helicopter and left immediately thereafter for Prishtina, where he met with leaders of the Kosovo Albanians later in the day.

CLEAN UP IN GJAKOVA'S BAZAAR. In Gjakova, the clean up of rubble has started in the old part of the town, where Serbian forces burned down 700 shops and 200 houses. That part of the town will be reconstructed with the support of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

CRIME UPDATE. At least one person was killed and six others injured in Kosovo on 9 and 10 August. In Prizren, unidentified armed attackers fired at a Serbian couple, killing the man and injuring his wife. Meanwhile near Fushe Kosova, gunmen fired at KFOR soldiers. The soldiers later detained some suspects, but did not release their identities. Near Gjilan a Serbian women and her two-year-old daughter were slightly injured after unidentified attackers shot at them. And in Kamenica, unidentified gunmen fired at Russian KFOR soldiers, who immediately returned fire. Nobody was injured in the incident.

WHO WILL BE THE NEW KFOR COMMANDER? A NATO spokesman in Brussels said on 10 August that the NATO Council has not yet decided who will replace KFOR commander General Sir Mike Jackson. Press reports have indicated that the new commander might be the German General Klaus Reinhardt, however.

TRIBUNAL CONSIDERS CHARGING MILOSEVIC WITH GENOCIDE. Deputy Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia Paul Risley told the Beta news agency on 10 August that, due to evidence discovered recently, the indictment against Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic for war crimes committed in Kosovo may be reformulated to become an indictment for genocide.

BELGRADE'S KOSOVO REPRESENTATIVE WANTS ARMY AND POLICE BACK. The new director of the Yugoslav committee for cooperation with the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), Stanimir Vukicevic, said in Belgrade on 10 August, that he will demand that UN officials take measures to stop revenge attacks by Albanians against Serbs. Vukicevic also said that the commission will demand that UNMIK allow the return of the Yugoslav Army and police forces to Kosovo.

AFOR-2 IN ALBANIA. NATO will deploy 2,500 soldiers in Albania from the beginning of September to provide logistical support to KFOR, a NATO spokesman said. The first task of these forces--named AFOR-2--will be the maintenance and expansion of roads linking Durres with Kukes and Prishtina, AP reported.

Interview with UCK Chief of the General Staff Agim Ceku by Evliana Berani:

Berani: "Where do you see the main problems of Kosovo?"

Ceku: "With the joint efforts of the UCK and NATO forces in Kosovo we have attained peace and freedom for all citizens of Kosovo. But the war-time opponents of the UCK and NATO have not yet agreed to the new situation in Kosovo, and continue their actions aimed at maintaining the lack of security in parts of Kosovo. Therefore, they commit crimes against the citizens of Kosovo with the aim of creating an unstable and insecure situation for the citizens of the country. The UCK and NATO know who they are. It is the Serbian regime, which has been organizing activities through its secret service, police and paramilitary forces here, since it had to withdraw from Kosovo."

Berani: "Is the UCK cooperating with KFOR in order to find those responsible for the crimes in Kosovo?"

Ceku: "The UCK has guaranteed all citizens of Kosovo peace and security. If an incident happens in Kosovo, we are also concerned about it because there are many who are interested that any incident be blamed on the UCK. Therefore, the UCK is very interested to catch those who commit the crimes. We act in every situation and give information to KFOR, and we try together with KFOR to catch those who commit these undesirable acts."

Berani: "Does the UCK leadership indeed have full control over all members of the UCK?"

Ceku: "The UCK is an army organized in a military manner and functions very well on all of its levels from the General Staff to the lower ranking units. There were accusations recently that the UCK's commanders do not have their people under control, but I can assure you that we do have control over the army. The military hierarchy is functioning."

Berani: "At a meeting with journalists, several French military officials accused the UCK of organizing the protest gatherings in Mitrovica."

Ceku: "This is not true. In Mitrovica there is a civilian administration, as in every other town of Kosovo. This claim is not correct and the UCK commanders of that region have done a great deal to ease the tensions there. We see the situation in Mitrovica as a problematic case for the people of Kosovo, but also for the UCK. We want to solve every problem in Kosovo in cooperation with KFOR, and it is the obligation of KFOR to solve the situation in Mitrovica. But in any case, we wish to cooperate and make our contribution to solving the situation in Mitrovica. We do not accept the partition of even a millimeter of the territory of Kosovo. "

Berani: "How is the current cooperation between the UCK and KFOR?"

Ceku: "We are cooperating in two processes with KFOR: In the demilitarization of the UCK, and in the transformation of the UCK. The process of demilitarization, as is widely known, is proceeding according to the pace envisaged in the demilitarization agreement, and KFOR has made clear that the UCK has kept its obligations according to the agreement so far. But unfortunately we have had some misunderstandings and some contradictions in that direction. The main issue is that the presence of KFOR is supposed to create security on the ground. We do recognize that, but have to say that this has not been sufficient so far. Throughout our history, someone else has always had our fate in his hands, and we think in the long term. KFOR is not always going to be here, and we wish to build our own security system that is able to make sure that everybody who left can return to Kosovo."