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Kosovo Report: September 8, 1999

8 September 1999, Number 34, Volume 1

U.S. CONGRESSMAN, ITALIAN PREMIER VISIT KOSOVO. U.S. Congressman Eliot Engel visited Kosovo on 7 September. He told journalists that the Albanians must be careful not to loose their high moral standing because in this way they will also loose the independence of Kosovo. Engel stressed that the people of Kosovo are now close to reaching their aim: "A free and independent Republic of Kosova, and that to me is the goal of all people here." He was joined by Bianca Jagger, a human rights activist, who said that her visit was dedicated to those political prisoners still held in Serbian jails. She expressed her concern that the question of prisoners was neither raised in the Kumanovo military agreement nor in any UN Security Council resolution.

The Foreign Minister of the provisional Kosovo government Bardhyl Mahmuti said after a meeting with Italian Prime Minister Massimo D�Alema in Prishtina that this question is one of the most delicate: "Because there can be no stability in Kosovo without the release of thousands of Albanians, held hostage in Serbian prisons. The second problem is related to the arrest of war criminals. There can be no peace while those who committed these crimes in Kosovo go free, and the third [question] is the beginning of reconstruction, because the winter is coming."

D�Alema also met with the leader of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) Dr. Ibrahim Rugova, who thanked Italy for its support for Kosovo. He also met with UN Special Representative Bernard Kouchner, who said that UNMIK and the Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK) agreed that after 19 September, the UCK will complete its demilitarization and no longer wear uniforms or carry weapons.

International agencies, quoting KFOR officials, however, reported that KFOR and UCK representatives have reached an agreement about the transformation of the UCK into a Kosovo Corps. The corps will have 3,000 soldiers, a helicopter unit and some small rapid reaction units. The UN Security Council must first, however, approve the creation of the force.

NATO sources told an RFE/RL South Slavic Service correspondent in Brussels that NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana returned from his second visit to Kosovo with optimism on 7 September. He identified three particularly important issues during his visit: Reconstruction of the country, which also includes reconciliation and the rebuilding of a civil society; the solution of the problems in Rahovec; and the transformation and demilitarization of the UCK, for which he ruled out an extension of the deadline.

Solana said he was very satisfied with his meeting with the Albanians of Rahovec, who have been blocking the roads to that town to prevent the deployment of Russian soldiers there. He said that Russian troops must be deployed in Rahovec, but not by force and not against the will of the population. He made clear that using force to deploy the Russian troops there is not an option. He suggested first deploying an international police force that can then prepare the ground for the later deployment of the Russian forces. Meanwhile, the EU is preparing to approve a decision later this week to exclude Montenegro and Kosovo from the sanctions imposed on Yugoslavia.

OSCE OPENS POLICE ACADEMY IN KOSOVA. Sven Fredrikson, the Danish chief of the international police force in Kosova, inaugurated the Kosova police academy in Vushtrri on 7 September. The academy will be directed by Steve Bennett, a former U.S. marine. The first 200 cadets are 166 Albanians, 26 Serbs, and eight members of other ethnic communities. Forty of the students are women. Only one Serb attended the opening ceremony, "The New York Times" reported. There were 19,000 applicants for positions at the academy. The academy will eventually train between 3,500 and 4,000 police officers. Fredrikson told the students: "You must understand that without justice for everyone there will not be justice for anyone. You are the future, you'll protect the weak and innocent."

AVDEEV MEETS MILOSEVIC. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksandr Avdeev met with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic in Belgrade on 7 September, AP reported. Milosevic's office issued a statement after the meeting saying that "Russia supports Yugoslavia in its principled efforts and condemns violations of the UN Security Council resolution [on Kosova].... The greatest threat to a political solution...and the stabilization of relations in the region is the unhindered continuation of crimes by Albanian bandit groups."

The statement also called on KFOR to combat "terrorism, lawlessness, and crime" and urged an end to the "ethnic cleansing" of Serbs in Kosova. Milosevic is wanted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia for masterminding war crimes in Kosova. Avdeev is the highest-ranking foreign official to meet with Milosevic since the end of the Kosova war.

Avdeev also met with ultranationalist Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Vojislav Seselj in Belgrade on 7 September. AP quoted Tanjug as saying that the two had a "lengthy and friendly discussion" and condemned "efforts by some Western countries to create an international protectorate" in Kosova. Avdeev told ITAR-TASS after the meetings that "we voiced the need to draw lessons from the [Kosova] tragedy. It would be a pity if politicians are the last to do that."

ATTACKERS TRY TO BLOW UP CHAPEL IN KOSOVA. A Serbian Orthodox school chapel in Prizren was damaged by unidentified attackers who exploded five antitank mines on 6 September, Reuters reported. The attackers had placed a total of 20 mines around the chapel but 15 did not explode. In Vushtrri, a French soldiers stopped a man from setting fire to a church. The arsonist then shot at the soldier, slightly injuring him before fleeing. The church was only slightly damaged. In eastern Kosova, Russian KFOR soldiers found a Serbian man who had been shot dead on his tractor. And near Peja, unidentified attackers threw a grenade at a Serbian house. No one was injured.

KACANIK CONSTITUTION DAY. Shadow-state representatives held a ceremony at the Prishtina University, in honor of the constitution of Kacanik. The constitution of Kacanik was adopted on 7 September 1990 at an underground session of the legislators, whose parliament had been abolished by Belgrade in March 1989. The constitution declared Kosovo a republic within the Yugoslav federation, but outside of Serbia. Later, the shadow-state held a referendum for full state independence, which most Kosovar Albanians approved. Present was also Ilaz Ramajli, the last parliamentary speaker of that parliament and later Kosovar ambassador to Tirana; and Ibrahim Rugova, the shadow-state president. Some members of the Macedonian parliament were also present at the ceremony, but nobody from the UCK�s provisional government attended it.

KFOR TRUCK CRASHES INTO MACEDONIAN BUS. Macedonian news agencies reported on a traffic accident on 8 September, in which a German military vehicle hit a bus in a Skopje suburb. Three people were injured in the accident including a pregnant woman. It is the second traffic accident involving KFOR forces within two weeks.