Out of Work and Hope, Serbs Evacuate
Since NATO Arrived, 190,000 Have Fled
Washington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, February 17, 2000; Page A21
Asanin was an unpretentious post office clerk in a small town in Kosovo.
At age 29, he was married, had become a father and seemed lodged for
life in a job that was steady if unglamorous.
eight months ago, his world came to an end.
was when, after 78 days of NATO bombing, Yugoslav President Slobodan
Milosevic abandoned his brutal repression of the secessionist revolt
in Kosovo, withdrew the Serb-led security forces and ceded control of
the province to its ethnic Albanian majority under protection of international
peacekeepers. Since then, Kosovo's Albanians have been moving the mail,
with international help, and Asanin, a barrel-shaped Serb, has been
without a home, without a job and without a foreseeable future.
and his family have joined an estimated 230,000 Serbs and other
non-Albanians, including more than 40,000 Roma, or Gypsies, who have
Kosovo since NATO troops flowed into the province last June, according
to a count by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. Their flight
has emptied the province of three-quarters of a Serbian population that
stood at 200,000 to 250,000 before the war. They have added to a sum
of Serbs, now reaching more than 700,000, forced out of their homelands
in the past decade by the disintegration of Yugoslavia into its ethnic
government has complained repeatedly that these refugees attract less
international concern than the 850,000 Kosovo Albanians forced from
their homes last spring by Serb-led security forces and the NATO bombing
campaign. Officials in Belgrade pointed out that although most Kosovo
Serbs fled soon after the Yugoslav withdrawal in June, the number has
continued to climb since then, with 500 joining the parade in December
and more in January. This is so, the officials charged, because KFOR,
the NATO-run peacekeeping force, is not adequately protecting the Serbs
from repeated attacks by Kosovo Albanians.
reign of terror is going on unabated right in front of the eyes of KFOR,"
the Yugoslav deputy foreign minister, Nebojsa Vujovic, told a news conference
here last week. "This must stop."
Shinohara, the UNHCR spokeswoman in Belgrade, said aid workers fear
that the latest explosion of violence between Serbs and Albanians in
Kosovo, at Kosovska Mitrovica, 22 miles northwest of the provincial
capital of Pristina, will send still more refugees into Serbia proper.
Although the peacekeepers' mission includes making the province safe
for all, hardly any Serbian refugees who fled in the past eight months
have dared to return, she noted, adding: "We certainly don't encourage
Yugoslavia began breaking up, the U.N. refugee agency has registered
200,000 refugees from Bosnia, almost 300,000 from Croatia, 1,300 from
Macedonia and 3,200 from Slovenia, all of them republics in the former
Yugoslavia. Most are in Serbia, which with minuscule Montenegro forms
what is left of the Yugoslav federation, and have been living with relatives
or in scattered facilities such as factory dormitories. Because the
Serbian economy has fractured over a decade of wars, most have little
hope of finding employment and restarting their lives.
very difficult [to find work], because NATO destroyed half our
industry, and even those who already were working here don't have jobs
now," said Dragan Milutonovic, who fled with his family from the
Suva Reka district just outside Prizren in Kosovo's southwest corner.
and other non-Albanians fleeing Kosovo--about 200,000 in Serbia and
30,000 in Montenegro--have been designated "internally displaced
persons" instead of refugees. This is because Kosovo is still technically
a Serbian province, although practically it has come under the governance
of the United Nations and NATO. For Asanin and his family, the effect
is the same: They cannot go home.
our houses were burned," Asanin complained at a construction worker
barracks here where he has sought shelter and food handouts from the
Republic of Serbia Refugee Commission. "The old men who were left
behind were killed. There is nothing left there."
fled Istok, about 40 miles west of Pristina, as soon as it became
clear that Serbian security forces were on their way out. A number of
Albanians had been killed in a Serb-run prison there during the war
(the prison was also bombed by NATO), and Kosovo Liberation Army guerrillas
were in no mood to be nice to their defeated Serbian neighbors.
his wife and two children in tow, Asanin took refuge first at a school
Kraljevo in southern Serbia. There, his wife gave birth to their third
child, a son now 7 months old named Darko. But Asanin and about 100
fellow refugees were forced out in September, when the school year began,
and have been wandering since in search of a place to settle down.
landed here 12 days ago at the barracks made available by a construction
company that used to do business in Kosovo. But they had to force their
way in because earlier arrivals--100 Kosovo Serbs who had a connection
to the construction company--did not want to share the space. The refugee
commission has given them food but urged them to move on.
want to stay here," Asanin insisted, saying baby Darko has been
hospitalized nearby with pneumonia. "We have nowhere else to go."
and his companions from Suva Reka have had better luck. They stayed
at a simple hotel that used to house weekenders in a stand of maples
near the village of Avala, 10 miles southeast of Belgrade. Since they
left with their pickups and tractors June 11, that is where they have
been waiting--for what, they are not sure.
are waiting to see what is our fate," said Svetislav Zivkovic,
ran a farm and worked in a tire shop back in Suva Reka. Then, with a
note of defiance, he added: "But Kosovo will always remain Serb."
a wizened 57, sneered at the younger man's bravado. "If the big
powers would really protect us the way they protect Albanians, we would
get back on those tractors and return," he said, and settled back
for a smoke.
the start of Yugoslavia's disintegration in 1991, almost 700,000 Serbs
have fled their homes in republics that have gone their separate ways:
Numbers of refugees
INSTITUTE, Friday, February 18, 2000
in the Balkans
by Gary Dempsey
Gary Dempsey is
a foreign policy analyst at the Cato Institute.
This month has been
the bloodiest in Kosovo since June, 1999, when NATO
troops arrived after 78 days of punishing air strikes against Yugoslavia.
What is different about this latest eruption of violence is that NATO
peacekeepers and ethnic Albanians were openly shooting at one another
the first time. During the clash, which took place in the polarized
Kosovska Mitrovica, ethnic Albanian snipers shot and wounded two French
soldiers. The French responded by killing one rooftop sniper and wounding
at least four others. NATO says that it has since arrested more than
40 people suspected of involvement in the bloodletting.
The clash between
NATO troops and ethnic Albanians is not surprising. As a
candid intelligence officer with the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) explained
to me in November, the separatist Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) has not
disarmed and disbanded as the White House claims, but instead maintains
an underground network that has "more than enough weapons to start
another war." The relationship between NATO's peacekeepers and
the underground KLA, he added, can be summarized in the following way:
"We are their tool, and when we stop being useful to them, they
will turn against us."
With the recent
violence in Kosovo, NATO and UNMIK officials seem to be
catching on, noting in a recent joint statement, "What is clear
. . . is that two young French soldiers, who came here as peacekeepers,
are lying in
hospital beds suffering from gunshot wounds inflicted on them by the
people that they came here to protect." And Gen. Pierre de Saqui
de Sannes, a French commander in Kosovska Mitrovica, has acknowledged:
"I will have great difficulty in preventing someone from throwing
a grenade or firing a rocket. If this strategy continues I confess I'm
not very optimistic."
spokesman James Rubin, however, doesn't seem to get it. He blames Yugoslav
president Slobodan Milosevic for ethnic Albanians' shooting at NATO
peacekeepers. "When things go bad," explains Rubin, Milosevic
"feels like he had a good day."
Meanwhile, a NATO
official in Belgium has admitted that "the KLA is
certainly trying to precipitate events politically and get rid of some
people, both Serbs and moderate ethnic Albanians." Even more worrisome,
independent newspapers in Macedonia are reporting the existence of KLA-like
formations in Macedonia. The papers say the units are waiting for an
opportune time to link up with units from Kosovo and Albania following
violence planned for the coming spring. There are also reports now coming
from Western and independent media inside Yugoslavia telling of KLA
infiltration into Serbia proper, specifically into the municipalities
Kursumlija and Leskovac along the border with Kosovo. So far, two policemen
have reportedly been killed and six people wounded, and there is fear
that the number of incidents will increase at winter's end.
a move that suggests that Kosovo is becoming the Belfast of the Balkans,
French troops stationed in Kosovska Mitrovica have been
replaced by about 150 soldiers from the British Royal Green Jackets.
According to the New York Times, "The Green Jackets . . . have
experience in urban patrolling and civil unrest from serving in Northern
Ireland," and, accordingly, have achieved some of the "best
results" of all
the peacekeepers in Kosovo. "I think it is widely understood that
British have experience of patrolling urban areas and in dealing with
unrest," explains a British spokesman, and "when it comes
to infantry units,
most of our men have been in Northern Ireland in the not too distant
The analogy of Northern
Ireland and Kosovo is fitting. The British army went to Northern Ireland
to keep the warring sides apart and prevent another bloodbath. But instead
of ending the violence, both sides continued for decades to launch sporadic
attacks on one another as well as on the
peacekeepers who were ostensibly there to help.
What then can we
expect in Kosovo? Perhaps much the same. American hopes for peace in
Northern Ireland, for instance, were recently set back by the Irish
Republican Army's refusal to disarm. In Kosovo, similarly, NATO leaders
who touted promises by the KLA to disarm must now explain why peacekeepers
are targets. The fact of the matter is that, from Belfast to the Balkans,
unvanquished insurgent groups rarely turn in their weapons or give up
their political agendas. As a result, NATO now finds itself, not with
peacekeeping policy in the Kosovo, but with a KLA management policy.
like the British in Northern Ireland, NATO my find itself baby-sitting
belligerents for decades.
© 2000 The
WAR IN KOSOVO
NOTES FOR ADDRESS
TO STANDING COMMITTEE
FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL TRADE (in Canada)
I wish to thank
the committee for giving me the opportunity of
speaking this morning.
It is some comfort
to know that although I was not allowed to
speak to anyone in the Canadian embassy in Belgrade during a
recent visit there that I am free to speak to members of the
I have been an out
spoken critic of the NATO bombing of
Yugoslavia. I believe it to have been a tragic mistake--- a historic
miscalculation that will have far reaching implications.
When NATO bombs
fell on Yugoslavia in the spring and summer
of last year they caused more than just death and destruction in
that country. The bombs also struck at the heart of international
law and delivered a serious blow to the framework of global
security that since the end of the second world war has protected
all of us from the horrors of a nuclear war.
Kosovo broke the
ground rules for NATO engagement and the
aggressive military intervention by NATO into the affairs of a
sovereign state for other than defensive purposes marked an
ominous turning point in the aims and objectives of that
organization. It is important that we understand this and seek
clarification as to whether this was a "one-off" aberration
signal of fundamental change in the nature and purposes of the
organization.this is something the committee might well examine
in the course of its work.
2: an illegal
NATO's war in Kosovo
was conducted without the approval of the
United Nations security council. It was a violation of international
law, the United Nations charter and its own article 1, which
requires NATO to settle any international disputes by peaceful
means and not to threaten or use force, "in any manner
inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations."
Apologists for NATO
including our own foreign and defence
ministers try to avoid this issue by simply not mentioning it. There
has been no attempt to explain why the United Nations security
council was ignored. No effort to spell out under whose authority
did NATO bomb Yugoslavia. The ministers and their officials
continue to justify the air strikes on the grounds that the bombs
were necessary to stop ethnic cleansing and atrocities, despite all
the evidence that by far the bulk of the ethnic cleansing took place
after the bombing not before it. It was the bombing that triggered
off the worst of the ethnic cleansing.
As for the atrocities
it now seems that here again we were lied to
about the extent of the crimes committed. United states secretary
of defence Cohen told us that at least 100,000 Kosovars had
perished. Tony Blair spoke of genocide being carried out in
Kosovo. The media relished in these atrocity stories and printed
every story told
to them by Albanian, "eye witnesses." The myth
that the war was to stop ethnic cleansing and atrocities continue to
be perpetrated by department spokesmen and large parts of the
No one wants to
defend atrocities and the numbers game in such
circumstances becomes sordid. Nevertheless numbers do become
important if they are used to justify military action against a
sovereign state. In the case of Kosovo it appears that about 2000
people were killed there prior to the NATO bombing. Considering
that a civil war had been underway since 1993 this is not a
remarkable figure and compared with a great many other hot spots
hardly enough to warrant a 79-day bombing campaign. It is also
interesting to note that the un tribunal indictment of Milosovic of
May 1999, cites only one incident of deaths before the bombing
the infamous Racak incident, which itself is challenged by French
journalists who were on the ground there and suspect a frame-up
involving General Walker who sounded the alarm.
The Kosovo "war"
reveals disturbing evidence of how lies and
duplicity can mislead us into accepting things that we instinctively
know to be wrong. Jamie Shea and other NATO apologists have
lied to us about the bombing. The sad thing is that most of the
Canadian media, and our political representatives have accepted
without question what has been told to us by NATO and our own
foreign affairs spokesmen.
3: an unnecessary
Perhaps the most
serious charge against the NATO bombing of
Yugoslavia is that it was unnecessary. NATO chose bombing over
diplomacy, violence over negotiation. NATO's leaders tried to
convince us that dropping tons of bombs on Yugoslavia was
serving humanitarian purposes
A UN Security Council
resolution of October 1998 accepted by
Yugoslavia, authorized over 1300 monitors from the organization
for security and cooperation in Europe [OSCE] to enter Kosovo
and try to de-escalate the fighting. From the accounts of a number
of these monitors their task was successful. While cease-fire
violations continued on both sides the intensity of the armed
struggle was considerably abated.
The former Czech
foreign minister, Jiri Dienstbier, and Canada's
own Rollie Keith of Vancouver -- both monitors for the OSCE on
the ground in Kosovo -- have publicly stated that there were no
international refugees over the last five months of the OSCE's
presence in Kosovo and the number of internally displaced only
amounted to a few thousands in the weeks leading up to the
The OSCE mission
demonstrated that diplomacy and negotiation
might well have resolved the Kosovo problem without resorting to
the use of force. It was the failure of the United states to accept
any flexibility in its dealing with Belgrade in the weeks leading up
to the war that spelled diplomatic failure.
The adamant refusal
of the USA to involve either the Russians or
the United Nations in the negotiations. The refusal to allow any
other intermediary to deal with Milosovic and finally the
imposition of the Rambouillet ultimatum which was clearly
designed to ensure that Yugoslavia had no choice but to refuse its
It is now generally
accepted by those who have seen the
Rambouillet Agreement that no sovereign state could have agreed
to its conditions. The insistence of allowing access to all of
Yugoslavia by NATO forces and the demand that a referendum on
autonomy be held within three years guaranteed a Serbian
The Serbian Parliament
did, however, on March 23, state a
willingness to "examine the character and extent of an
international presence in Kosovo immediately after the signing of
an autonomy accord acceptable to all national communities in
Kosovo, the local Serb minority included." The United States was
not interested in pursuing this offer. NATO needed its war.
NATO's formal commitment to resolve international disputes by
peaceful means was thrown out the window.
document itself was not easily obtained from
NATO sources. The chairman of the defence committee of the
French National Assembly asked for a copy shortly after the
bombing commenced but was not given a copy until a few days
before the UN peace treaty was signed. I hope that members of
this committee have a copy to look at and will be able to find out
when and if Canada was informed of its conditions.
4: NATO's campaign
a total failure
We have been asked
to believe that the war in Kosovo was fought
for human rights. Indeed the president of the Czech Republic
received a standing ovation in this House of Commons when he
stated that Kosovo was the first war fought for human values
rather than territory. I suspect even President Havel would have
second thoughts about that statement now that a large part of
Yugoslav territory has in effect been handed over to the
The war allegedly
to stop ethnic cleansing has not done so. Serbs,
Gypsies, Jews, and Slav Muslims are being forced out of Kosovo
under the eyes of 45,000 NATO troops. Murder and anarchy
reigns supreme in Kosovo as the KLA and criminal elements have
taken charge. The United Nations admits failure to control the
situation and warns Serbs not to return.
The war allegedly
to restore stability to the Balkans has done the
opposite. Yugoslavia's neighbors are in a state of turmoil.
Montenegro is on the edge of civil war. Macedonia is now worried
that Kosovo has shown the way for its own sizeable Albanian
minority to demand self-determination. Albania has been
encouraged to strive harder to fulfill its dream of greater Albania.
Serbia itself has been ruined economically -- embittered and
disillusioned, it feels betrayed and alienated from the western
The illegal and
unnecessary war has alienated the other great
nuclear powers, Russia and China. These countries are now
convinced that the west cannot be trusted. NATO expansion
eastward is seen as an aggressive and hostile threat and will be
answered by an increase in the nuclear arsenal of both nations.
After Kosovo who can with any conviction convince them that
NATO is purely a defensive alliance dedicated to peace and to
upholding the principles of the United Nations?
More seriously the
NATO bombing has destroyed NATO's
credibility. NATO stood for more than just a powerful military
stood for peace; the rule of law, and democratic
institutions. The bombing of Yugoslavia threw all of that out the
No longer can NATO
stand on the moral high ground. Its action in
Yugoslavia revealed it to be an aggressive military machine
prepared to ignore international law and intervene with deadly
force in the internal affairs of any state with whose actions or
behaviour it does not agree.
There are those
who believe that the long-standing principle of
state sovereignty can be over ruled when human rights violations
are taking place in a country. Until Kosovo the ground rules for
such intervention called for security council authority before such
action could be taken. Apologists for NATO argue that it was
unlikely security council authority could have been obtained
because of the veto power of China or Russia. So it would appear
rather than even try to get consent NATO took upon itself the
powers of the security council. I am not sure we should all be
comfortable with this development.
may be times when such intervention is
justified and immediately Rwanda comes to mind, but
intervention for humanitarian reasons is a dangerous concept.
Who is to decide when to take such action and under whose
authority? Hitler intervened in Czechoslovakia because he claimed
the human rights of the Sudeten Germans were being violated.
Those who advocate a change in the current rules for intervention
are free to do so but until the rules change should we not all obey
the ones that still have legitimacy?
NATO made a serious
mistake in Kosovo. Its bombing campaign
was not only an unmitigated disaster but it changed fundamentally
the very nature and purposes of the alliance. Does article 1 of the
NATO treaty still stand? Does NATO still undertake to settle any
international disputes in which it may become involved by
peaceful means? Do the NATO countries still undertake to refrain
in their international relations from the threat or use of force in
any manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations?
Kosovo should serve
as a warning call that Canadian democracy
needs a shot in the arm to wake it up to the realities that foreign
policy is important-important because as happened one day last
march Canadians can wake up and find they are at war. Canadian
pilots were bombing Serbia. Yet there was no declaration of war.
The Canadian parliament was not consulted. The majority of the
Canadian people had no idea where Kosovo was -let alone
understand why our aircraft were bombing cities in a fellow nation
state that had been a staunch ally during two world wars.
It was not only
Yugoslav sovereignty that was violated by
NATO's illegal action. Canadian sovereignty was also abused.
Canada had become involved in a war without any member of the
Canadian parliament or the Canadian people being consulted.the
ultimate expression of a nation's sovereignty is the right to declare
war. NATO abrogated this right.
If it essential
that we give up some of our sovereignty as the price
we pay for membership in global institutions such as NATO then
it is mandatory
that such institutions follow their own rules,
respect the rule of law, and operate within the generally accepted
framework of the United Nations Charter. This NATO did not do.
It is for this reason I would suggest your committee must ask
some tough questions about the nature of Canada's involvement in
the Kosovo war.
721 Shrader St.
San Francisco, CA 94117 USA
Phone and fax 415-751-0302
opposes Greater Albania idea
Web posted at: 11:42 AM EST (1642 GMT)
(Reuters) -- The United States told Albanians on Saturday that multi-ethnic
tolerance was the way to integration in a democratic Europe and that
any ambition to build a Greater Albania would lead only to conflict.
On her first visit
to Albania as U.S. Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright
said the impoverished Balkan country would have to give up old ways
of doing business if it wanted to attract the foreign investment and
assistance that it needs.
Albright, a driving
force behind NATO intervention against Serb forces in
the mainly Albanian province of Kosovo last year, came to Tirana to
thank the Albanian government for their help given to Kosovo refugees
during the war and to encourage the government to press on with economic
and political reform.
But ethnic tensions
between ethnic Serbs and Albanians in the Kosovo town of Mitrovica demonstrated
what a hard task NATO still faces in the province.
not allow itself to be used by those who would create
conflict. Attempts to expand boundaries are an invitation to violence,
not peace and stability. The international community would no sooner
accept a Greater Albania than it would a Greater Serbia," she told
there is now a great struggle between those who want a peaceful and
democratic multiethnic state, and those who would drag their nation
back into a cycle of hatred, violence and retribution," she added.
world, a society and a people are judged by how well they
respect the rights of religious and ethnic minority groups. I urge you
to use your influence to help the people of Kosovo be guided by an attitude
of tolerance and make the right choices in the weeks and months ahead,"
Opponents of intervention
in Kosovo said the province would end up as part
of Albania, unravelling the delicate balance between borders and ethnic
minorities in the Balkans.
In practice this
has not happened, but some Albanians continue to seek
closer ties to the Albanian communities in Kosovo, Macedonia and Montenegro.
president Sali Berisha said in September Albanians
throughout the Balkans might try to make a federation if their governments
treated them as second-class citizens.
At a news conference
later with Albanian Prime Minister Ilir Meta, Albright
said: "There are some elements of Albanians in various places that
are taking actions that are worrisome in terms of trying to get stability."
must say in my conversations here, both with the president
(Rexhep Meidani) and the prime minister, they have made quite clear
that that is not the policy or interest of their government," she
On Mitrovica, where
troops of the KFOR peacekeeping force have come under attack from ethnic
Albanians and Serbs, she said: "The resolution of ethnic tensions
is critical to the security of Kosovo as a whole It's very important
that Mitrovica be able to be a multi-ethnic region. That is what the
essence of the Kosovo struggle was about."
Albright made the
same point at a meeting with Hashim Thaqi, the Kosovo
Liberation Army leader who had close ties with the United States before
and during the Kosovo conflict.
was one of concern about rising extremism ... and the need for responsible
political leaders to dissociate themselves from that nd to use their
moral influence to promote tolerance," said James Dobbins, her
adviser on the Balkans.
her that he was trying to do all that and the United States
accepts his assurances, a U.S. official added. "Our information
does not indicate that Thaqi...is responsible for or encouraging this,"
redraw Italy's crime map
By Frances Kennedy,
20 February 2000
They might not wear
fine cashmere jumpers, drive bulletproof Mercedes and
launder their narcodollars on the London stock exchange, but the members
of the Albanian mafia are beginning to worry Italian police almost as
much as their native counterparts.
The National Anti-Mafia
Directorate (DNA) says the mafia albanese has been underestimated and
in under 10 years has grown into a fully fledged criminal organisation,
controlling prostitution, illegal immigration, and a large slice of
the drug trade. Steering clear of the south, where the Italian mafia
is firmly in command, the Albanians are targeting affluent central and
northern areas like Lombardy, Piedmont and Tuscany. They, along with
the rich Russian mafia, Nigerian gangsters and the Chinese triads, are
redrawing Italy's criminal map. Rather than risk the wrath of Cosa Nostra
the newcomers from across the Adriatic have filled vacuums in the criminal
world, seeking cooperation not conflict. The first Albanian criminals
arrived in 1991, along with a mass of desperate humanity, in rusty boats
on Italy's south-eastern coast. Escaping poverty and anarchy at home,
they learnt their criminal ABC from the local Puglian mafia, the Holy
United Crown, the poor relation of Cosa Nostra.
The Albanians spotted
the fortune that could be made ferrying people on to Italy's beaches.
In 1999 more than 56,000 illegal immigrants washed up on Italy's south-eastern
shores. They had each paid between one and two million lira, meaning
annual gains of between 60 and 120 billion lira (£20-40 million).
The next growth area for the young Albanian gangsters flexing their
muscles was prostitution. The Italian mafia had always viewed the trade
with disdain - in fact until the 1970s anyone who had been a pimp was
not allowed to join "the family" - and it had been run by
"third division" criminals. The
Albanians, most of them in their twenties or thirties, lured some girls
with the promise of waitressing jobs and kidnapped others. Thousands
of prostitutes, who are kept as slaves and beaten if they don't earn
enough, are rotated from province to province.
The Direzione Nazionale
Antimafia (DNA), which co-ordinates crime fighting, first set up a foreign
crime unit several years ago. Unit chief, Lucio Di Pietro, says that
the Albanian gangs meet all the fundamental mafia
characteristics; omertà (the law of silence), violence and intimidation
of victims, strict control of the territory and a hierarchical structure.
They have adopted the slightly anarchic model of the ndrangheta, from
Calabria, which is less hierarchical than the Sicilian mafia, has no
ruling council, and is based firmly on blood ties.
But Dr Di Pietro
stresses that the expansion of gangs from across the Adriatic does not
mean the Italian mafia has surrendered ground. "No Albanian group
would ever be capable of taking on the Camorra or Cosa
Nostra" he says. "The fact that there have been no turf wars
between Italian and Albanian mafia is significant. They have evidently
made a pact. Cosa Nostra will tolerate outsiders only if there is some
gain; otherwise it will wipe them out."
The pay-off in this
case is arms, freely available in the Balkans. The same
speedboats bearing loads of miserable immigrants also carry arms, ammunition,
Dr Di Pietro believes
the same reasoning prevails in the drugs trade where
Albanians now have control over the Balkan heroin route, skirting round
former Yugoslavia either through Bulgaria and Hungary or Albania itself.
"Provided there is strong demand, which there is with drugs in
Italian mafiosi are not concerned about others operating in the same
In fact, they are pleased to cultivate links with a country that is
Colombia on Europe's back door. As well as the premium hashish and marijuana
they are now growing cocaine [in Albania] and we are talking tons not
kilos of the stuff," he says.
Public opinion is
increasingly sensitive to the security threat posed by the
Albanian gangs. A recent spate of meticulously executed robberies of
villas in Tuscany and Umbria by Albanian and Slav gangs has prompted
calls for tougher action.
Another highly remunerative
activity is "instant kidnappings", where wealthy industrialists
or their families are released after just a few hours or a couple of
days. Ransom fees are relatively low and many victims do not even contact
Proof that the Albanians
are developing into a fully fledged mafia is that they are having to
find ways to launder their profits. The growing number of tax codes
and VAT numbers belonging to Albanian citizens indicate they are buying
into the legal economy, in particular through bars and restaurants.
Novine, Banja Luka, Republika Srpska
Issue 203, February 16, 2000
With the arrival
of the "peacekeepers" in Kosovo many institutions have
begun to transform into classic bordellos. The cafes and bars which
first in securing "their" girls were quickly joined by many
FLOURISHING OF THE WORLD'S OLDEST PROFESSION IN KOSOVO
By Joco NIKOLIN
In Kosmet there
is too much of everything that is bad: violence, running
wild, inefficacy of the peacekeepers, and various forms of crime - from
drugs to prostitution.
All appeals to date
that this evil stop have fallen through and how long
things will remain like this is unknown. No one wants to get involved
prognoses of this kind because law and order disappeared a long time
ago, and it appears that there is no real wish on the part of the forces
responsible for peace and order to contain the rapists and rape.
What is flourishing
the most, probably because of the scent of the
approaching spring, is prostitution. There are more and more girls for
entertainment, as well as places in which they "work". Some
their own free will; others are forced to do so. Some are locals,
Albanian women, while others are from abroad, mainly from the Eastern
bloc countries: from the Ukraine, Moldavia, Romania, Bulgaria...
The inventory is
world-class, from novices under the age of majority to
ladies with extensive experience in the world's oldest profession. Under
the "red lanterns" the competition is increasing, and the
turning over more and more money. Because the price of half an hour
"entertainment" has risen to approximately 100 marks.
The main customers
are, of course, soldiers from the peacekeeping forces
of the United Nations who arrived in Kosmet in the middle of last year.
The ladies of the evening followed them here like seagulls following
ships at sea. To lighten their leisure hours and their nostalgia for
"Here one can
earn good money," declared Katarina, a 22 year-old Ukraine
She also confided
to the reporter that she came to Kosmet, where she had
never been before, from Bulgaria. In the meanwhile she worked in
Macedonia for a short while.
Her friend, and
slightly older countrywoman, Ljudmila, was, she says,
sold five times during her illustrious career. She arrived in Kosmet
The price of girls
varies but it is generally between four and five
thousand marks. The Czech agency CTK recently published that, besides
Albanian criminals, some Serbs are participating in this business. "This
is one domain in which the Serbs and Albanians are working together,"
claims a person with good knowledge of the situation.
The girls generally
arrive as strippers or dancers and later "change
The arrival of the
"peacekeepers" last July changed much in the life of
Kosmet and its residents.
quickly, many institutions began to transform into classic
bordellos. The cafes and bars which were first in securing "their"
were quickly joined by many private houses. And it has not stopped,"
stated an officer from the Italian military contingent.
He also claims that
crime and prostitution have become most rampant in
the south of Kosovo which borders on Macedonia and Albania. Many
prostitutes have come from "the land of the eagles" and there
is a large
number of pimps there, as well, who have international reputations.
These are employers who, besides Kosmet, send girls to the European
West. This was recently confirmed by the Brussels press which claimed
that in their country there are already several hundred Albanian
In the prostitution
business there are few rules but one is strictly
followed: the lion's share of the income goes to the pimps. Always more
than half. The girls are satisfied if they are left with 40 percent
the amount paid for "service".
slave trade" is not abating. Most probably it will continue
because this problem is not a priority for us," says Roma Batacaraja
(sp?) from UNMIK, in charge of woman's issues.
According to Yugoslav
law prostitution is forbidden. However, because
anarchy rules in Kosmet, there is no one to put out the "red lanterns".
Their light, in itself, is the symbol of a state of chaos which has
lasted for years.
A few days ago Italian
soldiers freed twelve girls from one house near
the airport of Slatina. They were kept as sex slaves, and their main
clients were "peacekeepers". The majority of the ladies were
Eastern Europe and arrived in Kosmet from another destination, that
they were "guests" in two other European countries before
It is clear that
an international division of approximately 50,000
soldiers wearing the insignia of the world organization is very
attractive to the prostitutes. In Pristina, Urosevac, Gnjilane and other
cities there can be shortages of everything except "girls for just
night". When some leave, others take their place. And so on in
The soldiers pay, because their wallets are so deep that it is
unimaginable for the local Albanians and the remaining, rare Serbs.
is where the price of 100 marks and more for less than an hour of
"relaxation" at one of the bordellos comes from.
The chief of the
UN mission for migration in Pristina, who freed the
above-mentioned prostitutes, says that they are terrified of revenge
their respective pimps. These "employers" are even threatening
of the mission because of what they have done. Their messages are more
than clear: no one is allowed to get involved in their business.
at the same time, discovered that the most frequent guests
of the bordellos are Americans and Italians whose rules of service are
more liberal than those in effect for Russians and the British. It is
interesting that deals are achieved very easily and that there is no
fear of AIDS or sexually transmitted diseased. Evidently, these do
Many foreign reporters,
writing on this matters, recorded that the
prostitutes in Kosmet have "no medical protection" unlike
colleagues in the West.
The Albanian pimps
in Kosmet are wholeheartedly assisted in procuring
"fresh meat" by their countrymen from western Macedonia and
large number of "ladies of the evening" arrived from these
Kosmet for lower prices than those outside the Balkan region.
For all "imported"
girls the rule is that first they must be paid off,
and then they begin to take some of the money for themselves. How long
the pay off period is going to last is never known in advance.
Everything is in the hands of the pimps and various criminal gangs.
Translated by Snezana
Lazovic (February 20, 2000)
The Daily Telegraph, UK
February 22 2000
Serbs remain defiant in losing battle for survival
By Julius Strauss in Pristina
LIKE most Kosovan
Serbs, Bosko, a former irregular who lives
in the bitterly divided town of Mitrovica, is brimming with
nationalist defiance. "For us this is now a matter of survival,"
he said, pledging that all Serbs left in northern Kosovo would
fight rather than allow the Albanians back.
flee to Serbia. We will fight and maybe die, but a
lot of Albanians will die with us." Once his words would have
been intimidating, but now they seem desperate. Even in
northern Mitrovica, for all its apparent boisterousness, there is
an over-riding sense of defeat.
For the Serbs of
Kosovo, the arrival of Nato troops last June
marked the beginning of the end of a seven-century struggle for
survival. Since then, more than half have left the province. Of
the estimated 80,000 remaining, most now live in small
enclaves such as Mitrovica, surrounded by Albanians hell-bent
on forcing them out.
The northern part
of Mitrovica and its hinterland are
Serb-controlled, although some of the houses belonged to
ethnic Albanians before the war. Hard men with short hair fight
to keep the area ethnically pure. Even so, more Serbs are
leaving than arriving. Officially, Kosovo is still multi-ethnic
but most of the old Serb settlements now lie deserted and
broken, the churches desecrated or blown up and the houses
burnt. The villagers, so proud of their roots and history, are
eking out an existence as refugees in Serbia.
The Kosovan Serbs
were in decline long before the war with
their ethnic Albanian neighbours. Emigration and comparatively
low birth rates had already taken their toll during Tito's time.
When Slobodan Milosevic came to power in the late Eighties he
seized their cause and made it his own. He used volunteers
from Kosovo as storm-troopers of the Serb nationalist
movement, deploying them to force out his more liberal
But for the Kosovan
Serbs, Milosevic's patronage was a
Faustian pact. For a few years they received rights well beyond
their wont. Guns were distributed among them, choice jobs
were offered and ethnic Albanians were sacked en masse from
the state administration to make way for them.
Today they are understandably
bitter. As with the Bosnian and
Croatian Serbs before them, they have ultimately been deserted
by a regime that has no more use for them.
Friday, February 25, 2000
Prepares to Abandon Neutrality in Kosovo
0137 GMT, 000225
The day after NATOs
urgent call for reinforcements to be sent to the
embattled northern Kosovo town of Mitrovica, NATO Secretary-General
George Robertson proclaimed Feb. 23 that the conditions in Mitrovica
stabilized. NATO assurances of safety in Mitrovica contradict other
coming from the region. This contradiction suggests the possibility
upcoming change in NATO policy for Kosovo.
Despite its claims,
NATO does not seem to control Mitrovica, or Kosovo in
general, and blames the Serbs and Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic
for continued instability there. NATO has insisted since the beginning
presence in Kosovo that it would force the Serbs and Albanians to live
together in harmony. Prolonged violence will undermine NATOs mission
Kosovo and force the alliance to withdraw from an irreparable situation.
In order to coordinate
a withdrawal, NATO will have the option to either
abandon its pretense of neutrality and openly choose a side or effectively
deal with the violence, which it obviously lacks the power to do. The
conflict in Mitrovica and the movements inside Serbia have apparently
forced NATO to acknowledge that its pretense of even-handedness in Kosovo
is all but impossible to maintain. If NATO abandons its role as guarantor
of justice, it must find a good political excuse to do so. It has already
laid blame on the Serbs for the increased violence. Next, NATO will
have to publicly advocate that the Albanian administrative structures
in Kosovo are competent, fair and prepared to rule the province.
Other KFOR leaders
have publicly agreed with Robertson that conditions in
Kosovo have become stable. For instance, on Feb. 23 Canadian commander
Bruce Pennington said Mitrovica does not appear to be that dangerous
location, reported Reuters. He also said he felt confident that
already on the ground were adequate.
disproves NATOs assertions. KFOR prevented a crowd of
25,000 ethnic Albanian protestors on Feb. 21 from storming the bridge
dividing the northern Serb-dominated part of town from the southern,
Albanian half. In the previous weeks, 18 peacekeepers have been injured
and 12 residents killed in unrest in the city. And KFORs search
for weapons has turned up, among other things, six AK-47s, 28 rifles,
one machine gun, four rocket-propelled grenades and nine hand grenades.
Yesterdays plea for
increased international presence in the region also argues against Mitrovica
s current safety and NATOs competency in maintaining order.
unrest illustrates NATOs obstacles in the entire Kosovo
province. Although NATO won the war against the Serbian Yugoslav army
for control of Kosovo, the alliance has yet to establish firm control
regions Serb or ethnic Albanian populations. The Serbs have reason
counter NATO after being bombed for three months. The Kosovar Albanian
population, although backed by NATO in the war, has since turned around
and tried to rid Kosovo of Serbs. During the process, the Albanians
completely disregarded NATOs mission for a peaceful and multi-ethnic
Kosovo, confident that NATO will not, for political reasons, turn on
In fact, it seems that the Albanians, led by the well-preserved remnants
the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), are the most powerful force in Kosovo.
The Serbs are not
simply bystanders, but the KLA seems to be the
uncontrollable entity initiating the violence. KFOR reported at the
1999 that 135 Serbs had been killed in Kosovo since the end of the war.
Mitrovica, the violence is more noticeable than in other areas because
the relatively large remaining Serb population, which NATO blames for
violence. NATO has not effectively reined in the former KLA members,
whose motives and structure have had no reason to change since the war.
In fact, NATO peacekeepers have even become targets of Albanian violence.
The alliance does not control Kosovo and cannot hold onto the image
are few and unappealing. NATO can either settle in for an
indefinite number of years trying to pacify the resistance of both Serbs
former KLA, or look for the quickest way out. If the alliance remains
Kosovo, it will remain sandwiched between two warring factions while
to spin the losing battle in a way that upholds NATOs image as
and guarantor of a peaceful, multi-ethnic Kosovo. In light of NATO
statements praising the safety of Mitrovica, it seems NATO has chosen
disengage. A prompt announcement that all is well in Kosovo and a NATO
withdrawal would relieve the alliance of its impossible mission in a
somewhat face-saving way, but it means NATO would need to pick sides.
The alliance has
already blamed Milosevic and the Serbs for the violence.
Now it has to make it look like Kosovo is ready to stand on its own,
a strong foreign military presence. There is no question that NATO would
champion the ethnic Albanians, if it had to choose one of Kosovos
Thus, for NATO to position itself for disengagement from Kosovo, it
begin to endorse the political, judicial and law enforcement bodies
established by the KLA. We can expect to see NATO statements pointing
out the sturdy administrative abilities of the Albanian leaders and
readiness of the majority Albanian police, the Kosovo Protection Corps.
this way, NATO can put on a show of handing over power to those who
already have it the ethnic Albanians before abandoning
the commitment to defending a multi-ethnic Kosovo.
If NATO does turn
Kosovo over to the Albanians, we must next consider what Russia and
Serbia could do in response, since they clearly will not tolerate a
NATO sanctioned opportunity for ethnic Albanians to overpower the Serbs.
Russia has already released several statements asserting its disapproval
of the NATO peacekeeping tactics, saying the alliance is biased in favor
of the ethnic Albanians. Serbia is not likely to act without a Russian
assurance that Moscow will back Milosevic, and Russias options
are limited to loud diplomatic opposition or using its Kosovo peacekeeping
troops to try to reverse the potential NATO decision. After all, Russian
troops are a part of the peacekeeping mission, and their goal all along
has been to defend the
seizes 22 kg of heroin in Albanian truck
SOFIA, Feb 25 (Reuters)
- Bulgarian customs said on Friday they had seized
21.7 kg (47.8 lbs) of heroin in an Albanian-registered truck heading
Turkey to Albania.
The shipment of
92 packages was hidden in metal tubes holding a cover of the freight
compartment, border customs' spokeswoman Kalina Petrova told Reuters
The Volvo truck,
carrying sweets, was crossing the Kapitan Andreevo border checkpoint
with Turkey. The two Albanian citizens in the truck were detained.
borders Turkey, Greece, Yugoslavia, Macedonia and Romania, lies on the
so-called Balkan route for smuggling drugs from Asia to western Europe.
Macedonian police find arms destined for Kosovo
SKOPJE, Feb 25 (Reuters) - Macedonian police have uncovered a
cache of weapons destined for Kosovo in an Albanian-populated village
in the Balkan country, Macedonian television reported on Friday.
Privately-owned SITEL television said 120 cases with Kalashnikov
automatic rifles and Skorpion handguns and two tonnes of ammunition
had been found in a hotel in the southern village of Kravari.
The hotel owner and an Albanian citizen had been arrested, the
television said, quoting police sources. Another private television
station, A-1 TV, carried a similar report.
Police were not
immediately available for comment.
Both stations said
the weapons were smuggled in on mountain tracks
from Albania and were bound for Kosovo, the Yugoslav province to the
north which is now under de facto international rule.
Police had also
found 40 kg (88 lbs) of marijuana, they said.
A-1 TV said the
police acted after a routine check near Skopje
revealed 10 Kalashnikovs in a car driven by an Albanian man. SITEL
said police searches for more weapons were under way.
Kosovo has seen
a recent upsurge in ethnic violence, particularly in
the northern town of Mitrovica, a major flashpoint between hostile
Serb and ethnic Albanian communities.
Earlier this week,
the Macedonian army said it had raised its level
of combat readiness along its border with Serbia.
for about one third of Macedonia's population of
roughly two million people.
- independent Belgrade daily
respected Serb doctor shot in Gnjilane
Gnjilane, Feb 28
- Doctor Josif Vasic, the member of the Serb National
Council of Kosovo and Metohija was shot on Saturday evening in the
center of Gnjilane. Four unknown assailants shot four shots on Dr. Vasic
who died on the spot.
Josif Vasic was
the only gynecologist in the area of Kosovo Pomoravlje
and worked in the improvised clinic in a tent near the Serb Orthodox
church in Gnjilane. Only several Serb doctors are taking care for more
than 40.000 Serbs in that area. All Serb doctors have been expelled
regular hospitals and now work in this imporvized clinic in Gnjilane
a few more villages. The Serb National Council in Gracanica has issued
statement in which the murder of Dr. Vasic is strongly condemned as
continueation of the Albanian strategy of ethnic cleansing of the Serb
population from Kosovo.A few days before a Serb judge with the same
surname of Vasic was killed in Gnjilane too.
MD's Death May Spur Exodus
By Elena Becatoros
Associated Press Writer
Sunday, Feb. 27, 2000; 5:17 p.m. EST
-- A Serb doctor who was a moderate political
representative for his dwindling community in this multiethnic, eastern
Kosovo town was buried Sunday, and locals said his killing would prompt
Serbs and other minorities to flee.
Josif Vasic, 38,
a gynecologist, was one of only five Serb doctors remaining
in the U.S.-controlled Gnjilane region. He was also Gnjilane's representative
in the Serb National Council, which represents the province's Serbs.
He was shot and
killed early Saturday by unknown assailants as he walked to work through
a Serb part of town, said a friend who would give his name only as Dragan
K for fear of reprisal attacks.
Serbs in Gnjilane
avoid using main roads in town for fear of attacks,
sticking to smaller alleys and paths within the Serb areas, said a medical
student who would give only his initials, M.P.
it a safe route," he said. "We definitely don't any more."
But mourners, many
of whom arrived at the funeral by bus under the armed
protection of American peacekeepers, said Vasic was a moderate who believed
in a multiethnic Kosovo and treated both Serb and Albanian patients.
"He was shot
because he believed the Serbs could stay in Kosovo and could live together
with the Albanians here," said Dragan K. "His belief cost
him his head."
The Serb National
Council said Vasic's killing was part of "the latest wave of violence
and ethnic cleansing by Kosovo Albanian extremists," and criticized
international peacekeepers for failing to protect the province's dwindling
NATO forces entered
Kosovo in June following a 78-day bombing campaign to halt a crackdown
on ethnic Albanians, who are in the majority. Since then, more than
100,000 Serbs have fled the province as revenge attacks by ethnic Albanians
There were other
violent incidents over the weekend that appeared to be
On Saturday, a Serb
policeman and an ethnic Albanian were killed and three Serb police officers
were wounded during an attack on a police patrol in southern Serbia.
In a statement carried
by Serbia's official state-run new agency, Tanjug,
the police said Sunday that "a group of Albanian terrorists"
attacked the Serb police patrol late Saturday near the village of Konculj,
175 miles southeast of Belgrade.
Police said the
Albanian killed was a member of the Kosovo Protection Force, which is
made up of members of the officially disbanded Kosovo Liberation Army.
The KLA was created by pro-independence fighters in the Kosovo province
and was disbanded after NATO deployed in Kosovo last year.
Riza Halimi, an
ethnic Albanian who heads Serbia's Presevo district, said
attacks on Serbian police "have deteriorated the situation"
and that local ethnic Albanians were beginning to form guerrilla units
similar to the KLA.
Saturday, February 26, 2000
Serbs Accuse Peacekeepers of Favoritism
Balkans: Protesters contend that NATO seeks to oust
them even as rival Albanians are getting special treatment. Milosevic
By PAUL WATSON,
Times Staff Writer
Yugoslavia--On the north side
of the Ibar River, beyond the coils of razor wire, armored NATO
vehicles and troops, the isolation makes a perfect breeding ground for
Bernard Kouchner, the man running Kosovo under a
U.N. mandate, doesn't venture into the northern part of this divided
city, and most Serbs take that as yet more proof that they are victims
grand conspiracy to destroy them.
As about 3,000 Serbian protesters gathered here
Friday, Zorica Zivkovic wondered why Kouchner couldn't come to their
peaceful demonstration. After all, he helicoptered in Monday to
address ethnic Albanians after violent clashes with peacekeeping
"Why is it that Kouchner talked to Albanians the
very morning that they had their demonstration and says, 'My dear
friends'?" Zivkovic, 53, asked through a translator. "Why
doesn't he come here and say that? It means that only Albanians are
Like many of northern Kosovska Mitrovica's Serbs,
Zivkovic is a refugee of the continuing violence in this separatist
province. Ethnic Albanians burned down her house in nearby Vucitrn,
said, so she lives in a brother-in-law's home with her children and
"Every night we [Serbs] have our children kidnapped or beaten or
whatever," Zivkovic said. "We are in real danger here.
Not the Albanians."
The NATO-led peacekeeping
suffered a blow this week when the alliance's military commander, U.S.
Wesley K. Clark, complained that some unidentified countries had
weakened the Kosovo force by pulling out troops and refusing to send
others into the most dangerous areas.
At a meeting in Brussels on Friday, diplomats on NATO's
policymaking body, the North Atlantic Council, agreed that Clark's
complaints needed attention and that contingents should be brought back
up to their full numbers.
Yet NATO Secretary-General George Robertson said
the number of troops now in Kosovo is sufficient. The alliance
ordered its military committee to study the request for more peacekeepers
and report back, probably next week. Clark had asked for about 2,000
more troops, but it wasn't clear whether the forces offered Friday by
France, Italy, Spain and Britain would fulfill Clark's request.
About 30,000 troops from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's 19
member countries are in Kosovo, along with 7,400 from other countries.
The U.S. contingent is the largest, about 5,500 troops.
NATO's ruling council stressed that the peacekeeping force must be
evenhanded, but both Serbs and ethnic Albanians believe that different
countries' soldiers are biased against them.
Ethnic Albanians accuse French and Russian peacekeepers of protecting
Serbian war criminals. The Serbian minority is convinced that U.S.,
British, German and other contingents are in league with ethnic Albanians
trying to break Kosovo away as a separate state.
Kosovo is a province of Serbia, the dominant Yugoslav republic.
Oliver Ivanovic, a moderate voice among Serbian leaders in northern
Kosovska Mitrovica, said several times during interviews this week that
wants Clark to visit the district to see for himself whether war criminals
and paramilitary groups roam the streets.
On Sunday, U.S. soldiers were forced to retreat under a hail of stones,
bricks and snowballs when they tried to perform weapon searches in
Serbian areas. But Ivanovic said he would provide Clark with local guards
if the general wanted them as a guarantee of his safety.
"We need contact with the U.S.A.," Ivanovic said.
Many of the Serbs
at Friday's protest weren't so kind toward
Americans: "This is not Texas. Yankee go home," declared one
placards, all written in English for the benefit of foreign viewers.
NATO has blamed Yugoslav President Slobodan
Milosevic for stirring up trouble in northern Kosovska Mitrovica, but
Milosevic was widely jeered at Friday's rally.
Vuk Antonijevic, president of the Serb National Council, which has
regular contact with U.N. officials in Kosovo, drew the loudest cheers
from the crowd when he attacked both Richard Holbrooke, the U.S.
ambassador to the United Nations who has blamed Milosevic for the
unrest, and the Yugoslav leader in the same breath.
"In order to expel us easier from here, they are using dirty methods,
Milosevic is behind all of this," Antonijevic said. "We do
not belong to
Milosevic. We are only the ones who dared to stay here.
"He was making deals with Richard Holbrooke, and while they enjoyed
their conversations, they didn't ask us anything," he said.
Serbs are angry that the West doesn't appear to care about an estimated
250,000 Kosovo Serb and other minority refugees now living in Serbia
proper but is moving quickly to bring 1,600 ethnic Albanians back to
homes in northern Kosovska Mitrovica.
The U.N. refugee agency has interviewed at least 75 Kosovo Albanian
families forced from their homes in the north over recent weeks to see
what they would need to feel safe enough to return.
France has said that it will send as many as 700 more soldiers to
improve security in northern Kosovska Mitrovica. Ethnic Albanians,
however, claim that French soldiers did too little to help them during
Serbian rampages, and they still don't trust the French.
John Palmer, a U.S. protection officer with the U.N. refugee agency,
said after interviewing families Friday that he couldn't tell how soon
Albanians would be willing to go back to the north.
THE TIMES (London)
February 29 2000
so riven by hatred must normally live apart first'
Josif Vasic was
the sort of man Kosovo desperately needs. A
respected gynaecologist and Serb moderate, he was one of the
few Serbs who believed he could remain in Gnjilane, a multi-ethnic
town in the east, and rebuild bridges to the Albanian majority. He
had always treated Albanians in his surgery and recently he had
set up an improvised clinic for Serbs near the local Orthodox
church. Early on Saturday, as he was walking near his house, he
was shot dead from a parked car.
immediately on the Albanian militants who are
thirsting for revenge. The Kosovo Liberation Army may have
been disbanded, but many of its fighters have taken up arms
again. This time their targets are the Serb civilians, priests and
pensioners living in lonely poverty who would not or could not
flee when the Yugoslav Army left. Thousands of Nato troops are
deployed to protect little old ladies too fearful to go shopping or
even to open their front doors. Is this the multi-ethnic society
Nato fought for? Is this the job that British, French and German
soldiers will be doing, day in day out, for the next five years?
For the past three
weeks they have had to do a lot more than that.
In Mitrovica, a grubby, run-down town near the Serbian border,
they have been caught in the tense stand-off between the Serbs,
armed and angry, on one side of the bridge and the waves of
Albanians trying to storm across. So far nine people have been
killed; many more would have died had the Serb bus that ran over
a mine yesterday been carrying schoolchildren.
More troops have
been rushed to Mitrovica. Nato has promised
reinforcements and will stage a big exercise in Kosovo next month
as a show of force. Lord Robertson of Port Ellen has called on
Europe to send more police, and Bernard Kouchner, the United
Nations Administrator, has begged for the "constant
involvement" of the international community.
They are missing
the point. Nato may be able to keep down the
violence and guard the minorities. The British, by far the best at
the job, say the murder rate in Pristina, at least, is now falling.
Nato cannot force people to live together who have no intention
of doing so. Troops can sweep the Mitrovica bridge of the
vigilantes who, like Horatius, fight off those who would cross;
but they cannot integrate two peoples traumatised by the horrors
of the past year who still see it as more important to destroy the
homes of their enemies than to rebuild their own shattered
Kosovo is a physical,
psychological and administrative mess.
Disunity, rivalry and the deadly infiltration of ruthless gangs from
northern Albania have robbed local politicians of any vision or
initiative. Racketeering has eclipsed the struggling legal
economy; the reliance on outside agencies for almost all
necessities has encouraged a culture of dependency. The chaos
is compounded by the complexity of the international presence,
with a myriad of agencies and bureaucracies competing for
dominance. And what is clear from Europe's failure to supply the
promised aid, police and political initiative is that the outside
world is tiring of the feuding Balkans.
Communities so riven
by hatred are normally forced to live apart
until they can live together again. Muslims in India, Protestants in
Ireland and Turks in Cyprus all fought for separation, for an
enclave where they felt safe. This was denied the Kosovan Serbs:
partly because of the precedent it would set for Bosnia and other
ethnically mixed communities, partly because of the danger that it
would be exploited by President Milosevic, and largely because
the world believed that after their acts of appalling repression it
served the Serbs right.
For this reason
the Russian proposal for a separate zone was
rejected. It was, like most Nato dealings with Moscow, a bad
decision. A Russian zone would have become a haven for Serbs -
and that would have been the least worst option. Separation
rarely works as a long-term solution - look at Pakistan, Northern
Ireland and Cyprus. But separate communities can slowly rebuild
their links: already Republika Srpska is beginning to co-operate
with the rest of Bosnia. Nato insistence on eliminating ethnic
enclaves in Kosovo will mean that more doctors like Josif Vasic
will be killed. And more troops will spend years trying in vain to
Gazette / Sunday 27 February 2000
houses in ruins
world keeps silent as Serb churches, monasteries are destroyed in Kosovo
under noses of peacekeepers
MARK ABLEY / The Gazette
Orthodox Church of St. Nicholas, in the Kosovo village
Banjska, was probably not an international treasure.
far as we know, it was just a modest house of God in an area
dotted with the same.
no one may ever be sure. On Jan. 30, 11 kilograms of explosives
were detonated at the altar, leaving much of the building in ruins.
explosion forms part of a sad and continuing pattern. Since a
wary peace took shape in Kosovo in June 1999, nearly 80 of its
Orthodox churches and monasteries are known to have suffered
heavy damage or destruction. The total may be higher, given that a
lot of churches are located in remote areas where few, if any, Serbs
attacks did not occur during the North Atlantic Treaty
Organization's bombing campaign last spring. They have happened
since the return of Kosovo's Albanian majority. Extremists, usually
assumed to be linked to the Kosovo Liberation Army, have carried
out a systematic campaign of destruction under the eyes of
unanswered question is why this devastation has caused so little
outcry. British and French media have paid some attention to the
attacks; but the North American media have carried few reports.
Dozens of non-profit groups are now working in Kosovo; they have
said next to nothing.
Western world is rather fed up with the Balkans," suggested
Colin Kaiser, chief of the unit for southeast Europe and the Arab
states in UNESCO's Division of Cultural Heritage. "The wars, first
in Croatia, then in Bosnia and most recently in Kosovo, became
more and more intense in terms of damage. But the cumulative
effect has been that the Western sensibility to it all has been dulled."
enough. But beyond that, it also seems true that after the wars
of the past decade, few Westerners dare to sympathize with anything
September, Bishop Artemije, the head of the Orthodox diocese
of Raska and Prizren, charged that while the first aim of the Kosovo
Albanians "is to expel all Serbs, the second is to eradicate all
and witnesses that could serve as evidence that the Serbs have
existed at all.
who and what are the witnesses? Churches, monasteries and
holy places. So they set out to destroy the witnesses, to obliterate
traces. In 21é2 months more than 70 monasteries and churches
burned or demolished. Among them were the churches built by our
illustrious and holy ancestors in the 12th, 13th and 14th centuries.
The churches and monasteries, which survived 500 years of Turkish
occupation, did not endure two months in the presence of a 50,000-
strong international 'peacekeeping' force."
troops from the United Arab Emirates, serving in the
United Nations' multinational KFOR mission, had been stationed
near the Church of St. Nicholas. But in late January they withdrew,
leaving the church unprotected. It was soon blown to pieces.
presence of the UN soldiers has slowed the rate of destruction in
recent months, but foreign troops can provide no guarantee of safety.
On Jan. 14, for instance, the Church of St. Elias, in a village called
Cernica, was partly destroyed by explosives. It stood just 70 metres
from a checkpoint of U.S. soldiers.
everyone would agree that the destruction of St. Elias's and
St. Nicholas's churches is regrettable. But what has so far escaped
much notice, particularly in North America, is that dozens of the
earlier victims were not just Serbian village churches, but buildings
of great beauty and historical significance. Among them:
The Church of the Holy Virgin in Musutiste, built in 1315.
Frescoes painted in the following years were among the finest
examples of medieval wall-painting in the entire region. The church
was looted, burned and mined by explosives.
The Church of St. Nicholas in Prizren, which is said to date to 1348
or earlier, and which contained medieval icons. Five explosives went
off, causing extensive damage.
The Monastery of the Holy Trinity near Musutiste, built from 1465
on. It held a unique library of manuscripts as well as a collection
recent icons. The monastery was first plundered, then burned and
finally leveled with explosives.
The Monastery of the Holy Archangels in Gornje Nerodimjle, built
in the 14th century, renewed and extended in 1700. The monastery
was looted and burned; a great pine tree, said to date from 1336, was
chopped down and burned; the cemetery was desecrated.
stories go on and on. The pattern is undeniable - and for once,
no one is even trying to claim that Yugoslavia's notorious president,
Slobodan Milosevic, is behind it.
far, thanks to a 24-hour guard by foreign soldiers, the greatest of
all treasures in the region - the monastic churches of Gracanica and
Decani - have survived. Writers have waxed eloquent about them for
generations; Rebecca West, for one, called Gracanica "as religious
building as Chartres Cathedral. The thought and feeling behind it
were as complex. ä There is in these frescoes, as in the parent
of Byzantium, the height of accomplishment."
of the buildings were jewels of European civilization. Now
they are rubble.