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Kosovo Report: August 16, 1999

16 August 1999, Number 22, Volume 1

DINI URGES KFOR TO BE 'MORE VIGOROUS.' Italian Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini told "La Repubblica" of 14 August that "the Serbian population [of Kosovo] is suffering a repression that is much smaller but just as brutal and repugnant as that suffered previously by Albanians," Reuters reported. He stressed that "KFOR [must take] more vigorous action. Violence against the Serbian population must be prevented." He urged the Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK) to show a "responsible attitude." Dini stressed that the international community must give "no aid for reconstruction if we don't see a commitment to combat crime and drug trafficking" on the part of the Albanians. He noted that the international community did not launch its bombing campaign against Serbia in order to put the UCK in power, adding that independence for Kosovo could destabilize the Balkans. The following day, the UCK's General Agim Ceku stressed that an independent Kosovo will be a "factor of stability in the Balkans."

VIOLENCE CONTINUES IN KOSOVO. Unidentified attackers shot at German troops near Prizren on 15 August, according to KFOR spokesman Roland Lavoie. A German soldier was slightly hit in the incident. The previous day KFOR soldiers found a Serbian woman who was killed in Prizren and a 18 year old Serb who was killed in the village of Pozheran. Lavoie said that investigations into the incidents are continuing. He also said that the overall situation in Kosovo is improving.

Lavoie added that in separate incidents KFOR arrested 12 people on 14 and 15 August, three Serbs and nine ethnic Albanians. He added that: "The main cause of the incidents that are being reported now are crimes committed by one or a small group of people." Talking about the tense situation in Mitrovica, Lavoie said that so far KFOR has made great efforts to prevent clashes between the ethnic communities in that city. Asked whether a "Mostar syndrome" is taking root there, Lavoie said that usually the bridge is open and there are no conflicts, while on other days tensions are rising and KFOR closes the bridge.

Other KFOR officials in Prishtina predicted that the international police force for Kosovo will be fully functional before the beginning of September. So far, 700 international policemen are working in Kosovo.

RUGOVA HONORED FOR TOLERANCE. The German city of Muenster has awarded Kosovar leader and chairman of the Democratic League of Kosovo Ibrahim Rugova the Prize for Tolerance. Rugova was not present at the ceremony. Muenster issues that prize every three years to honor personalities who advocate tolerance.

BERISHA SAYS 'SIGURIMI' AGENTS WORK IN KOSOVO FOR BELGRADE. Albanian opposition leader and former President Sali Berisha told RFE/RL's South Slavic Service on 15 August that the current Albanian secret service has sent groups of employees from the communist-era secret service Sigurimi to Kosovo. He added that "I have the deepest conviction that these subversive groups represent the old links of Belgrade to the Albanian [communist-era] secret service." He did not elaborate. Berisha also charged the current Albanian secret service with smuggling arms to the UCK. He quoted Hashim Thaci as urging Majko to stop such smuggling. According to dpa, however, Majko called on UCK leader Hashim Thaci in Prishtina on 15 August to stop smuggling arms through Albania.