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Kosovo Report: August 23, 1999

23 August 1999, Number 27, Volume 1

UCK WARNS ALBANIANS TO REFRAIN FROM VIOLENCE. In a public announcement on 21 August, the General Staff of the Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK) said that for some time "undesirable elements of various ethnic backgrounds" had been trying to "compromise the name of the UCK." The statement added that these people are conducting "acts against the life and property of the citizens of Kosovo in the name of the UCK." The statement stressed that neither soldiers nor units of the UCK are not involved in such acts. The General Staff also called on the citizens of Kosovo not to let themselves be provoked into taking action that "can cause great damage and play into the hands of a propaganda campaign that only serves the enemies of Kosovo."

SERBS TURN IN WEAPONS. An unspecified number of Serbian inhabitants of Rahovec had handed over around 600 weapons to KFOR as of 22 August, Reuters reported. KFOR the previous day put up posters throughout the town's Serbian neighborhood listing the names of those who had received weapons from Serbian forces during the recent conflict. The posters ordered them to turn in their weapons or face arrest. They also warned that the peacekeepers will begin house-to-house searches after the deadline expires. KFOR nonetheless extended the deadline, arguing that the collection of weapons is proceeding successfully but not yet finished. KFOR also arrested three Serbian war crimes suspects there on 20 August.

TWO SERBS SHOT NEAR MITROVICA. KFOR spokesman Roland Lavoie told RFE/RL's South Slavic Service that two Serbs were shot by unidentified gunmen in the village of Banja near Mitrovica that day. One of the victims has since died. Near Lipjan, a Roma was injured in another armed incident. Elsewhere, KFOR soldiers arrested a man shooting from the window of his flat in Prishtina.

FUNERAL FOR 55 UCK SOLDIERS IN POLAC. Some 55 UCK soldiers, who died in battles with Serbian forces, were reburied in the village of Polac on 20 August, AP reported. About 10,000 people participated in the ceremony, which was also attended by the UCK leaders Jakup Krasniqi, Gani Koci and Fatmir Limaj, as well as French and Canadian peacekeepers.

KOSOVAR REFUGEES IN MACEDONIA UNDER PRESSURE TO LEAVE. UNHCR spokesman Bujar Idrizi told RFE/RL's South Slavic Service that the 19,000 Kosovar refugees remaining in Macedonia only have residence permits until September of this year. Macedonian Interior Minister Pavle Trajanov said that they will have to leave by then. Also Deputy Prime Minister Bedredin Ibrahimi--of the Albanian Democratic Party--said that conditions now exist for the return of the refugees to Kosovo. He added, however, that the government does not want to send them back by force, especially those refugees whose homes have been destroyed. He stressed that the return of these people must take place in close cooperation with the UNHCR. Idrizi told RFE/RL that the UNHCR is negotiating with the Macedonian government on an extension of the deadline for the return of the refugees, arguing that conditions have not yet been created for them to return to Kosovo. He said that everyone interested in returning has the possibility to register with the UNHCR and Macedonian Interior Ministry at offices in the camps and in Skopje, Kumanovo, Tetovo and Gostivar, where they will receive support.

STAMBOLIC SAYS MILOSEVIC CANNOT RESIGN. Serbian President Ivan Stambolic, who was removed from his post by Slobodan Milosevic 12 years ago told RFE/RL's South Slavic Service that "Milosevic can not resign. He has had possibilities to think about alternatives ever since he came to power, but he did not want to think about these alternatives. We have been wondering, whether he is a person capable of thinking about different options at all. If he does not know how to think like that, we have a very dangerous situation here. But now, he cannot think about alternatives any more. He simply cannot resign any more. The governing leaders of this recent authoritarian regime have maneuvered themselves into such a position that the resignation has to take place in a costly way. They do not know how to leave their power in a normal way, and that is the problem. They will be removed from power the same way that they came to power -- with violence... Therefore I think it is important that all opposition parties do their best to achieve a peaceful solution through massive demonstrations�Those who try to take others' heads in their struggle to remain in power will eventually loose their own."