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Kosovo Report: September 15, 1999

15 September 1999, Number 38, Volume 1

ETHNIC ALBANIAN REPRESENTATIVES AGREE ON DEMOCRACY PLAN. A group of 39 ethnic Albanians representing four political parties and various social organizations, media outlets, and NGOs in Kosovo agreed in Washington on 14 September on "a framework of basic principles, practices, and procedures to help guide Kosovo during and after its transition to democratic self-rule," Reuters reported. The Kosovars, including the Kosovo Liberation Army's Hashim Thaci, were invited by the U.S. Institute of Peace at the State Department's request. In a 10-page document, the Kosovars agreed to support a "multi-ethnic society that includes equal opportunity for all." U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright told the delegation: "You must combat the temptations of revenge, corruption, and criminality.... Evidence of unchecked criminality would lose you the support of the international community and the trust of your people."

Meanhwile, President-designate of the European Commission Romano Prodi told the European Parliament in Strasbourg that the people of the Balkans must overcome conflicts among themselves in order to be included in the process of European integration, an RFE/RL South Slavic Service correspondent reported. The parliamentary commission on Southeastern Europe, headed by German legislator Doris Pack, is scheduled to submit a proposal to the European Parliament on 15 September on financing Kosovo's reconstruction. The plan envisages annual expenses of 500 million euro ($519 million) up to the year 2004. Pack recently voiced sharp criticism of the EU agency for the reconstruction of Kosovo and demanded that the EU office in Prishtina become largely independent of its counterpart in Thessaloniki.

RETURNING SERBIAN REFUGEES AMBUSHED IN KOSOVO. Unidentified attackers fired at a convoy of returning Serbian refugees near Ranilug, in the U.S. sector of Kosovo, on 14 September, AP reported. One unidentified person was killed and two Serbs injured. Elsewhere, KFOR soldiers found two elderly Montenegrin women killed in their home in Peja. In Prishtina, unidentified attackers fired a rocket-propelled grenade into a Serbian cafe, injuring three Serbs, Reuters reported. Tanjug reported that 13 prisoners in Mitrovica--including 11 Serbs, one Montenegrin, and one ethnic Albanian--went on a hunger strike to protest what they called "total disregard" of Serbian criminal law in proceedings that the recently established UN court has launched against them. In an open letter, the prisoners said they were jailed on the basis of "unfounded reports and testimonies" by anonymous ethnic Albanians. FS

IVASHOV THREATENS TO WITHDRAW RUSSIAN TROOPS FROM KFOR. Colonel-General Leonid Ivashov, the chief of the Russian Defense Ministry's department for international military cooperation, said in Moscow on 14 September that KFOR has failed to implement UN Security Council Resolution 1244, Interfax reported. Ivashov warned that Russia will consider withdrawing its forces from Kosovo, arguing that "80% of the Serbs living in Kosovo have become refugees." He also complained that KFOR has not allowed Yugoslav security forces back into Kosovo, and added: "As a result, the borders of Kosovo remain open.... Weapons and drugs keep arriving." He concluded: "If the tendency for Kosovo's secession from Yugoslavia becomes irreversible...the Federation Council may raise the question of whether our contingent's further stay in the region is expedient."

Ivashov added that he is "absolutely sure" that the Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK) will not be disarmed by the end of the demilitarization deadline on 19 September. He claimed that UCK has so far only surrendered about 4,000, mostly outdated, weapons. He also criticized that "The UCK is evolving into a political force and is replacing the local government." UN Special Representative Bernard Kouchner is scheduled to visit Moscow on 15 September to explain the plan for the creation of a Kosovo Corps to Russian officials, ITAR-TASS reported. Russia earlier rejected the creation of the corps.