INFORMATION SERVICE OF THE
DIOCESE OF RASKA AND PRIZREN
on Serb civilians and their Churches in Kosovo Continued
Monastery, March 1, 2000
the last several days the anti-Serb ethnic violence in Kosovo has
dramatically increased. We are constantly receiving reports from the
ground on various acts of violence, harassments, threats and murders.
Sunday, Feb 27, at 20.30 six mortars were fired on the Visoki Decani
Monastery. They fell and exploded in the monastery garden, thirty meters
south from the Monastery church built in 1327. The mortars exploded
the very vicinity of the Italian KFOR checkpoint. This heinous attack
the only remaining Serb community in the area has greatly disturbed
brotherhood and the Italian soldiers. The monastery was threatened many
times so far by the local Albanian extremists who want to destroy this
Medieval Christian shrine as well as more than 80 other Orthodox
churches destroyed after the end of the war. The attack occurred on
eve of the Albanian celebration of the founding of KLA.
Friday, Feb 25, the Serbian Orthodox priests from Gnjilane confirmed
that exactly at 20.00 unknown assailants threw a grenade on the Western
portal of the Serb Orthodox cathedral of St. Nicholas. The explosion
damaged the improvised tent under which Serb elementary school children
attend lessons because they are not allowed by local Albanians to go
a regular school. The entrance of the church and the tent were damaged
in this attack.
Saturday, Feb 26, around at 8.00 in the morning a respected Serb
doctor gynecologist JOSIF VASIC (38) was shot in Gnjilane. Unknown
assailants shot four hits on Vasic who died soon after. At the end of
January 2000 a Serb woman MITRA VASIC from the Klobukar village near
Gnjilane was killed by Albanian extremists. She was slaughtered and
stabbed by a sharp pole while her house with her body were set on fire.
Serbian Orthodox Diocese of Raska and Prizren is outraged by such an
escalation of ethnic violence against the remaining Kosovo Serbs in
Province. These attacks unfortunately prove that Kosovo is still a
lawless place and that the goal of the ethnic Albanian extremists
remains to ethnically cleanse the southern Serbias province and
all remaining Serbs and non-Albanians out of Kosovo.
is more than 8 months that such crimes are being carried by ethnic
Albanians with impunity in the presence of the international
peacekeepers and the UN mission.
the same time Albanian extremist press published in Pristina is
strongly attacking Bishop Artemije. In his editorial, Skender Buçpapaj,
editor-in-chief of Bota Sot newspaper openly violated Dr. Kouchners
regulation on hate speech and spilled out all kinds of lies and insults
on the Serb Orthodox hierarch. On the other hand extremist Serb media
from Belgrade continue with their accusations that the Serbian Orthodox
Church with Bishop Artemije has betrayed the Serbian people. Such
attacks in extremist media clearly demonstrate that the moderate
position of Bishop Artemije and the Serb National Council to which late
Dr. Vasic belonged too is branded as the most serious enemy of
extremists on both sides.
Nora Boustany Friday, March 3, 2000; Page A26
Polansky, an American author of several books on Gypsy communities in
Europe, has completed a survey on what has happened to that population
in Kosovo after last spring's war. It raises disturbing questions about
how they are being deprived of relief and medical aid and how they live
in fear of being kidnapped if they leave their ghettos. In an interview
last week, Polansky said he visited and researched 29 districts in Kosovo
from August to November last year.
was on loan to the U.N. refugee commissioner from Czech television because
of his Roma language skills. He said the Gypsy communities get no food,
supplies or clothing and always seem to be out of water. In one camp
where there were no telephones or cars, unarmed U.N. police officers
refused to take sick children to a hospital at night, he said. Five
children have died in those camps, and one woman who was about to give
birth also was denied when she asked to be taken to a medical facility.
"In the eyes of relief agencies, Albanians take priority.
do not seem to feel sorry for the minorities suffering under the Albanians,"
he said. Polansky said more than 14,000 Gypsy homes have been burned
down. "These people had homes with lovely furnishings, television
sets, cars, normal jobs, and many had Yugoslav passports," he said.
"There has been a systematic cleansing of Gypsy neighborhoods and
only about 30,000 remain from an original population of 151,000 that
lived in Kosovo before the war." Many have sought refuge in Macedonia,
Montenegro, Italy, Sweden, Germany and Switzerland. Polansky claimed
that ethnic Albanian employees of nongovernmental organizations and
relief groups prevent aid from reaching the Gypsies, also known as Roma.
Mother Teresa's group and Islamic Relief have refused to deliver aid,
all Gypsies are Muslim in Kosovo. It is ethnic cleansing at its worst.
I cannot be pro-Serbian, because they almost killed me. But now Albanians
are doing the same thing, cleansing their areas of minorities,"
Gypsies venture outside the camps, "they are subject to being kidnapped.
They cannot go to work or school."
United States propped up the KLA in the Kosovo conflict. With
Milosevic gone, and no one in control, the former freedom fighters are
now transforming the province into a major conduit for global drug
the bombs stopped falling over Yugoslavia last June, a flood of
humanity swept through the Balkans as thousands of Kosovar Albanians
returned home from refugee camps. But over the craggy mountains
separating Yugoslavia and Albania, a far less innocent traffic returned.
A fleet of Mercedes sedans without license plates lined the streets
Kosovo's capital, Pristina, and young men with hooded eyes and bulky
suits checked into the top floors of showcase hotels such as the Rogner
in Tirana, the Albanian capital. It was time for criminal elements with
close ties to America's newest ally to reopen the traditional Balkan
Road -- one of the biggest conduits for global heroin trafficking.
Law enforcement officials in Europe have suspected for years that ties
existed between Kosovar rebels and Balkan drug smugglers. But in the
six months since Washington enthroned the Kosovo Liberation Army in
that Yugoslav province, KLA-associated drug traffickers have cemented
their influence and used their new status to increase heroin
trafficking and forge links with other nationalist rebel groups and
The benefits of the drug trade are evident around Pristina -- more so
than Western aid. "The new buildings, the better roads, and the
sophisticated weapons -- many of these have been bought by drugs,"
Michel Koutouzis, the Balkans region expert for the Global Drugs
Monitor (OGD), a Paris-based think tank. The repercussions of this drug
connection are only now emerging, and many Kosovo observers fear that
the province could be evolving into a virtual narco-state under the
noses of 49,000 peacekeeping troops.
For hundreds of years, Kosovar Albanian smugglers have been among the
world's most accomplished dealers in contraband, aided by a propitious
geography of isolated ports and mountainous villages. Virtually every
stage of the Balkan heroin business, from refining to end-point
distribution, is directed by a loosely knit hierarchy known as "The
Families," who answer to the regional clans that run every aspect
The Kosovar Albanian traffickers are so successful, says a senior U.S.
State Department official, "because Albanians are organized in
close-knit groups, linked by their ethnicity and extended family
The clans, in addition to their drug operations, maintained an armed
brigade that gradually evolved into the KLA. In the early 1990s, as
the Kosovar uprising in Yugoslavia grew, ethnic Albanian rebels there
faced increased financial needs. The 15 Families responded by boosting
drug trafficking and channeling money and weapons to the rebels in
their clans. As traffickers started taking bigger risks, drug seizures
by police across Europe skyrocketed from a kilo or two in the early
1980s to multimillion-dollar hauls, culminating in the spectacular 1996
arrest at Gradina, Yugoslavia, of two truckers running a load of more
than half a ton of heroin worth $50 million.
German Federal Police now say that Kosovar Albanians import 80 percent
of Europe's heroin. So dominant is the Kosovar presence in trafficking
that many European users refer to illicit drugs in general as
"Albanka," or Albanian lady.
The Kosovar traffickers ship heroin exclusively from Asia's Golden
Crescent. It's an apparently inexhaustible source. At one end of the
crescent lies Afghanistan, which in 1999 surpassed Burma as the world's
largest producer of opium poppies. From there, the heroin base passes
through Iran to Turkey, where it is refined, and then into the hands
the 15 Families, which operate out of the lawless border towns linking
Macedonia, Albania, and Serbia. Not surprisingly, the KLA has also
flourished there. According to the State Department, four to six tons
of heroin move through Turkey every month. "Not very much is stopped,"
says one official. "We get just a fraction of the total."
Initially, the Kosovar traffickers used the direct Balkan route,
carrying goods overland by truck from Turkey and Yugoslavia into
Europe. With the Bosnian war, the direct route was shut down and two
splinter routes developed to bypass Yugoslavia.
The ascent of the Kosovar families to the top of the trafficking
hierarchy coincided with the sudden appearance of the KLA as a
fighting force in 1997. As Serbia unleashed its campaign of persecution
against ethnic Albanians, the diaspora mobilized. Hundreds of thousands
of expatriate Kosovars around the world funneled money to the
insurrection. Nobody sent more than the Kosovar traffickers -- some
the wealthiest people of Kosovar extraction in Europe. According to
news reports, Kosovar Albanian traffickers launder $1.5 billion in
profits from drug and arms smuggling each year through a shadowy
network of some 200 private banks and currency exchange offices.A
congressional briefing paper obtained by Mother Jones indicates: "We
would be remiss to dismiss allegations that between 30 and 50 percent
of the KLA's money comes from drugs."
As the war in Kosovo heated up, the drug traffickers began supplying
KLA with weapons procured from Eastern European and Italian crime
groups in exchange for heroin. The 15 Families also lent their private
armies to fight alongside the KLA. Clad in new Swiss uniforms and
equipped with modern weaponry, these troops stood out among the ragtag
irregulars of the KLA. In all, this was a formidable aid package. It's
therefore not surprising, say European law enforcement officials, that
the faction that ultimately seized power in Kosovo -- the KLA under
Hashim Thaci -- was the group that maintained the closest links to
traffickers. "As the biggest contributors, the drug traffickers
have gotten the most influence in running the country," says Koutouzis.
The congressional brief explains how groups like the KLA become
involved with drug barons. "Such groups had it easier during the
War when they could seek out patron states," it notes. "But
the decline in state sponsorship of insurgent groups, private funding
is critical to keep the revolution alive."
The KLA's dependence on the drug lords is difficult to prove, but the
evidence is impossible to overlook:
* In 1998, German Federal Police froze two bank accounts of the
"United Kosovo" organization in a DYsseldorf bank after they
deposits totaling several hundred thousand dollars from a convicted
Kosovar drug trafficker. According to at least one published report,
the accounts were controlled by Bujar Bukoshi, prime minister of the
Kosovo government in exile.
* In early 1999, an Italian court in Brindisi convicted an Albanian
heroin trafficker named Amarildo Vrioni, who admitted obtaining weapons
for the KLA from the Mafia in exchange for drugs.
* Last February 23, Czech police arrested Princ Dobroshi, the head of
a Kosovar drug gang. While searching his apartment, they discovered
evidence that he had placed orders for light infantry weapons and
rocket systems. No one questioned what a small-time dealer would be
doing with rockets. Only later did Czech police reveal he was shipping
them to the KLA. The Czechs extradited Dobroshi to Norway, where he
escaped from prison in 1997 while serving a 14-year sentence for heroin
In Kosovo, it's hard to separate a legal organizational structure from
an illegal one. "A trafficker can sell blue jeans one day and heroin
the next," says Koutouzis. "The same supply network is used.
no ethical distinctions. Heroin is just another way of making money."
It was the disparate structure of the KLA, Koutouzis says, that
facilitated the drug-smuggling explosion. "It permitted a
democratization of drug trafficking, where small-time people get
involved, and everyone contributes a part of his profit to his clan
leader in the KLA," he explains. "The more illegal the activity,
more money the clan gets from the traffickers. So it's in the interest
of the clan to promote drug trafficking."
According to Marko Nicovic, the former chief of police in Belgrade,
an investigator who works closely with Interpol, the international
police agency, 400 to 500 Kosovars move shipments in the 20-kilo range,
while about 5,000 Kosovar Albanians are small-timers, handling
shipments of less than two kilos. At one point in 1996, he says, more
than 800 ethnic Albanians were in jail in Germany on narcotics charges.
In many places, Kosovar traffickers gained a foothold through raw
violence. According to a 1999 German Federal Police report, "The
Albanian gangs have been involved in drugs, weapons trafficking
blackmail, and murder. They are increasingly prone to violence."
Tony White of the United Nations Drug Control Program agrees with this
assessment. "They are more willing to use violence than any other
group," he says. "They have confronted the established order
Europe and pushed out the Lebanese, Pakistani, and Italian cartels."
Few gangs are willing to tangle with the Kosovars. Those that do often
pay the ultimate price. In January 1999, Kosovar Albanians killed nine
people in Milan, Italy, during a two-week bloodbath between rival
Daut Kadriovski, the reputed boss of one of the 15 Families, embodies
the tenacity of the top Kosovar drug traffickers. A Yugoslav Interior
Ministry report identifies him as one of Europe's biggest heroin
dealers, and Nicovic calls him a "major financial resource for
KLA." Through his family links, Nicovic says, Kadriovski smuggled
than 100 kilos of heroin into New York and Philadelphia. He lived
comfortably in Istanbul and specialized in creative trafficking
solutions, once dispatching a shipment of heroin in the hollowed-out
accordion cases of a popular traveling Albanian folk music group.
German authorities eventually rrested him in 1985 with four kilos of
heroin. They confiscated his yachts, cars, and villas, and sent him
prison. Kadriovski's reign appeared to be over.
But Kadriovski greased his way with narco-dollars. He escaped from
prison by bribing guards, and in 1993 he headed for the United States,
where it's believed he continues to operate.
According to Nicovic, Kadriovski reportedly funneled money to the KLA
from New York through a leading Kosovar businessman and declared KLA
contributor. "Kadriovski feels more secure with his KLA friends
power," Nicovic says.
The U.S. representatives of four other heroin families are suspected
Interpol of having sent money for the uprising, according to Nicovic.
These men typically maintain links with local distributors, he says,
and move heroin through a network of small import-export companies in
New York and Philadelphia.
Now free of the war and the repressive Yugoslav police machine, drug
traffickers have reopened the old Balkan Road. With the KLA in power
and in the spotlight -- the top trafficking families have begun to seek
relative respectability without decreasing their heroin shipments. "The
Kosovars are trying to position themselves in higher levels of
trafficking," says the U.N.'s Tony White. "They want to get
the violence of the streets and attract less attention. Criminals like
to move up like any other business, and the Kosovars are becoming
business leaders. They have become equal partners with the Turks."
Italian national police discovered this new Kosovar outreach last year
when they undertook "Operation Pristina." The carabinieri
chain of connections that originated in Kosovo and stretched through
nine European countries, extending into Central Asia, South America,
and the United States.
"People from Pristina worked all over Europe and the world,"
JYrgen Storbeck, director of Europol, the cooperative police force of
the European Union. "They used sophisticated methods, taking advantage
of places where police work was not so successful, like Eastern
Europe." Eventually, 40 people were arrested and 170 kilos of heroin
were seized in an operation that involved seven European police
As their business reaches a saturation point in Europe, Kosovar
traffickers are looking more to the West. It's a smart business move.
The United States has seen a marked shift from cocaine to heroin use.
According to recent DEA statistics, Afghan heroin accounted for almost
20 percent of the smack seized in this country -- nearly double the
percentage taken four years earlier. Much of it is distributed by
The Clinton administration has launched a vigorous crackdown on
Colombian heroin. As the campaign intensifies, some White House
officials fear Kosovar heroin could replace the Colombian supply. "Even
if we were to eliminate all the heroin production in Colombia, by no
means do we think there would be no more heroin coming into the United
States," says Bob Agresti of the White House Office of National
Control Policy. "Look at the numbers. Colombia accounts for only
percent of the world's heroin. Southwest Asia produces 75 percent."
Perhaps most alarmingly, Kosovar drug dealers associated with the KLA
have begun to form partnerships with Colombian traffickers -- the
world's most notorious drug lords. "We have an all-new situation
says Europol's Storbeck. "Colombians like to use Kosovar groups
distribution of cocaine. The Albanians are getting stronger and
stronger, and there is a certain job sharing now. They are used by
Turks for smuggling into the European Union and by Colombians for
distribution of cocaine."
Washington clearly hopes the KLA will disentangle itself from its
drug-running friends now that it's in power, but this may not be easy.
"The KLA owes a lot of debts to the traffickers and holy warriors,"
says Koutouzis. "They are being pressured to assist other
insurrections." Already, the OGD has reports of KLA weapons being
routed to the newest Muslim holy war in Chechnya.
The congressional brief addresses the KLA's future: "One of the
you have with organizations that engage in drug trafficking is that
they become addicted to the trade and the income it brings," the
notes. "Later on in life, even if they want to stop trafficking
drugs, it's not always possible."
Marko Nicovic, the former Belgrade police chief, puts it a bit more
succinctly: "If Kosovo gets full autonomy, they may well double
production of heroin," he says. "Kosovo will become a smuggler's
paradise, its doors open to every global criminal."
The U.S. Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 prohibits aid to any entity
has colluded with narcotics traffickers. Similarly, the Balkan peace
agreement brokered in June prohibits the KLA from engaging in criminal
activity. And so the Clinton administration tries to steer clear of
questions suggesting the KLA has joined a rogues' gallery of
narco-leaders. KLA drug-running is the last thing the administration
wants to tackle with the success of its "moral war" already
Late last spring, Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) sent a letter to
President Clinton requesting an assessment of KLA drug trafficking.
president responded quickly, telling Grassley in a June 15 letter that
he had demanded an intelligence assessment from the CIA and the DEA
Kosovar drug trafficking. "Neither agency," the president
any intelligence that indicates the KLA has either been engaged in
other criminal activity or has direct links to any organized crime
groups." Clinton did acknowledge that crime groups "have contributed
least limited funds and possibly small arms to the KLA." He romised
"monitor" narcotics distribution there in the future.
"There was no action," said a congressional source close to
"It was a nonanswer."
White House officials deny a whitewashing of KLA activities. "We
care about [KLA drug trafficking]," says Agresti. "It's just
got our hands full trying to bring peace there."
The DEA is equally reticent to address the issue. According to Michel
Koutouzis, the DEA's website once contained a section detailing Kosovar
trafficking, but a week before the U.S.-led bombings began, the section
disappeared. "The DEA doesn't want to talk publicly [about the
says OGD director Alain Labrousse. "It's embarrassing to them."
High-ranking U.S. officials are dismayed that the KLA was installed
power without public discussion or a thorough check of its background.
"I don't think we're doing anything there to stem the drugs,"
senior State Department official. "It's out of control. It should
high priority. We've warned about it."
Even if it tried to stop Kosovar heroin, the U.S. would be hard-pressed
to do so. "Nobody's in control in Kosovo," adds the State
official. "They don't even have a police force."
Regardless of what it says, there's little indication that the
administration wants to do anything with the intelligence available
about its newest ally. "There is no doubt that the KLA is a major
trafficking organization," said a congressional expert who monitors
drug trade and requested anonymity. "But we have a relationship
the KLA, and the administration doesn't want to damage [its]
reputation. We are partners. The attitude is: The drugs are not coming
here, so let others deal with it."
That phrase is troublingly familiar. It raises the question: Is our
embrace of the KLA the latest in an ignoble tradition of aiding drug
traffickers for political reasons? Similar recipients of U.S. largesse
have included the Nicaraguan Contras, former Panamanian strongman
Manuel Noriega, the Afghan Taliban, and Burma's Khun Sa.
Early in 1999, as the war against Serbia raged, Congress voted to fund
the KLA's drive for independence. In the days ahead, our embrace of
the KLA may come to haunt us. Elections scheduled for this spring in
Kosovo have been delayed; but no matter when they occur, observers say,
their outcome is already certain. The time-honored clans will win. And
the men in oversized suits -- the kind who sing allegiance to democracy
and global capitalism while conducting business in the back of an
unlicensed Mercedes -- will be running the show.
Sunday Times (UK) / March 5, 2000
doctor dies in Albanian 'cleansing'
Walker, Gornje Kusce
grave of Dr Josef Vasic is in the middle of a cemetery on a
steep hill beneath the Orthodox church in Gornje Kusce. Heavy
rains that washed away much of Kosovo's winter snow have
reduced the flowers, cigarettes and apples left to comfort the
doctor on his heavenly journey to a sodden mess.
the beleaguered Serbs of Kosovo, the province has again
become the grim land of eternal sacrifice celebrated in the epic
poetry they hand down from generation to generation.
centuries ago it was the Turks who were rampant. Now, as
Nato and the United Nations look on bewildered, it is the
Albanians. Ethnic cleansing continues unabated and Vasic, a
gynaecologist with three young children, was its latest victim.
of two remaining Serbian doctors in eastern Kosovo's main
city of Gnjilane, Vasic, 37, who had spent most of his
professional life treating Albanian women, was gunned down in
the street at 9.30am just over a week ago.
heard four shots," said his widow, Dragana. "He had already
been beaten up once and had a grenade thrown at him. I didn't
think it could happen a third time."
few minutes later she knew the worst. Vencislav Grozdanovic,
a biochemist who had been walking with Vasic from the clinic
where they both worked, described how a dark-haired man in
his thirties had shouted at them to lie down.
instinctively ran. Behind him, Vasic shouted in
fear before the shots rang out.
from Nato-led Kfor peacekeepers, the only
organisation fighting the losing battle to contain
Kosovo's anarchy is the UN international police
force. Their two commanders in Gnjilane, an
American and a Russian, have admitted that little can
be done to halt such cold-blooded assassinations.
an Albanian wants to murder a Serb, UN sources
say, he can do so with virtual impunity. Any attempt
to find the perpetrator is lost in the conspiracy of
silence that casts a depressing pall over a province in
the grip of a powerful Albanian mafia.
Korotenko, Gnjilane's deputy UN police
commander and a member of the elite Russian
Spetznaz special force, has done what he can for the
was the fear of further attacks that the doctor
could not be buried in Gnjilane. Under heavy Kfor
protection, Dragana Vasic and the couple's daughters
- Andriana, 3, Jovana, 5, and Jelena, 8 - along with
the dead man's mother Ruzica and a few other
relatives, were taken to Gornje Kusce, two miles to the north.
is one of several villages that serve as havens for the Serbs.
All have an Orthodox church or monastery, ringed by barbed
wire and surrounded by a few hundred families.
the funeral the Vasics returned under guard to their
apartment block, where American soldiers are on permanent
duty and UN police occupy the more vulnerable flats.
used to be 11,000 Serbs in Gnjilane, now there are about
1,000," said Korotenko's colleague, Commander Gary Carrell
from Montana. "Quite frankly it's a very dangerous place right
of the UN organisation in Kosovo appears apathetic, but
Carrell and Korotenko provide an uplifting example of
international co-operation, their strength as a team drawn from
serving together in Bosnia.
believes the "vast majority" of Albanians do not approve
of the continuing murders, but are scared of speaking out
because the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) extends its
intelligence network through Gnjilane's chaotic and litter-strewn
UN had pinned much hope on training a local police force,
which was supposed to have been multi-ethnic and conformed to
international standards. The backbone of the force should have
been former Albanian policemen sacked in 1989 by Slobodan
Milosevic when, as Serbian president, he rescinded Kosovo's
and Korotenko found the KLA deeply suspicious of such
a force. Many former policemen, now in their forties and
fifties, knew too much about the KLA for comfort.
the political leadership of Hashim Thaci, a man described
by Madeleine Albright, the US secretary of state, as "Kosovo's
Gerry Adams", the KLA made sure that its own men took the
bulk of the new police posts.
also created the so-called Kosovo Protection Corps (TMK) as
a form of home guard. Carrell and Korotenko have little doubt
that the TMK, which gave out 15,000 uniforms despite being
limited to a maximum strength of 5,000, is merely the KLA
under a different name.
find some members arrogant and troublesome. "We
suggested they could help clear the rubbish from the streets,"
said Carrell. "They said they were war heroes.",
20 Serbs have been killed in Gnjilane since Kfor entered
Kosovo last June, and there are four or five attacks a week on
those who remain.
weeks ago the UN police believed they had made a
breakthrough when they arrested three teenagers with a stock of
grenades. But one of Kosovo's newly appointed Albanian judges
released them pending trial, even though they had failed lie
Serbs have not been the only victims of the anarchy: several
Albanians who legitimately bought houses from fleeing Serbs
have been shot by KLA fighters who believe they have a divine
right to the spoils of ethnic cleansing.
Pristina, the capital, in the grip of the criminals, there
seems to be little hope for towns such as Gnjilane. The
inhabitants of Gornje Kusce are escorted by Kfor on shopping
trips two or three times a week. UN sources have criticised
American troops for running weapons searches in the village.
"They all have guns, otherwise they wouldn't still be there,"
week there was a near-riot as the Americans ploughed
through the narrow roads of the village. Groups of men shouted
"Nato terror". The irony, however, was that without Nato
protection the village would have emptied months ago.
diplomats have predicted that the few remaining Serbs in
Kosovo's large towns will soon move north to Mitrovica, the
one urban centre under Serbian control in the province.
Vasic is not interested. "Why swap one nightmare for
another?" she said. "I have lost a beautiful and brave husband.
have nowhere to go."
2000 Times Newspapers Ltd.
4 March 2000 p28
Serbs are still being presented as the bad guys.
So what's new in the news from Kosovo?
days ago up to 60,000 or 70,000 Albanians marched to the divided city
of Mitrovica in northern Kosovo. They came from Pristina, the capital,
other parts of the province to the bridge in Mitrovica. As the press
it, they wanted to protest against the refusal of Serbs in the northern
part of the town to allow Albanians to return to their houses there.
150 yards in front of the southern end of the bridge were 220 soldiers
the Royal Green Jackets, without weapons of any kind or any protection,
waiting to meet them. Their object was to deter the marchers from passing
over the bridge.
read most of the press you would certainly get the impression that the
Albanians were the ones with just)fiable grievances. Much was made of
Serbs having prevented them from getting back to their homes. No one
suggested that it must have been rather scary for the few thousand Serbs
northern Mitrovica to have tens of thousands of Albanians heading their
way. The comments of the American envoy Richard Holbrooke-he accused
of fomenting trouble in Mitrovica - were widely quoted. In short, the
in Mitrovica were generally represented as the bad guys. So what's new?
newspapers rightly stressed the heroic role of the Green Jackets
in holding back the marchers, few of them revealed that the British
soldiers broke under the weight of the advancing Albanian crowd and
retreated 150 yards before re-forming hastily on the bridge. No paper
due credit to French and Danish riot police, who swooped in from the
northern, Serb end of the bridge and fired teargas over the heads of
hard-pressed Green Jackets (some of whom admittedly suffered the
consequences) towards the mob. Without this prompt action the Albanian
marchers might well have broken the British line for the second time
been able to pass over the bridge to the Serbian side.
Nato 'liberated' Kosovo last June, some 200,000 Serbians, Bosnians
and gypsies have been driven out of Kosovo, or have left of their own
accord. This number is disputed-everyone is in the business of twisting
figures-but most Serbs have undeniably gone. The British Army estimates
that in Pristina there are 800 Serbs out of a Serbian population of
40,000 before the war. Of course, this ethnic cleansing has been widely
reported in the media, but who can doubt that there would have been
more outrage if Albanians had been on the receiving end? It is rarely
pointed out that in Mitrovica, where there is one of the last remaining
Serb enclaves, Serbs won't pass over the bridge to the Albanian side
fear of their lives, and that only some 15 have settled in their old
there. Nor-though there are exceptions, such as a recent brilliant account
by Tim Judah in the Observer -have many newspapers reminded their readers
that the troubles in Mitrovica began after Albanian terrorists killed
elderly Serbs on a bus.
reporting from Kosovo still tilts towards the Albanians and against
the Serbs even though, for many months, the real story has been about
Nato's failure to prevent the ethnic cleansing of Serbs. Why should
be? One reason is that many of the reporters in Kosovo are old Balkan
who first reported Serbian atrocities in Bosnia and then Serbian excesses
in Kosovo. They are hugger-mugger with Albanian intellectuals such as
journalist Veton Surroi. Their mindset is such that they find it very
difficult to see the Serbs as victims. In a sense they are reporting
last war rather than what is going on now.
also depend upon Nato for a great deal of their information, and
events have put Nato inextricably on the side of the Albanians. The
Army is particularly good at media relations; its spokesmen seem frank,
open and friendly. They are at pains to point out that the marchers
'not bad boys' even though the more extreme among them hurled missiles
the Green Jackets, injuring ten of them, one quite badly. My admiration
the British Army is boundless but it is a fact that its senior officers
following a political agenda which cannot allow the Albanians to be
a bad light.
French army, by contrast, is utterly hopeless at media relations,
appearing secretive, devious and unfriendly. The French and the British
at daggers drawn over what should be done in Mitrovica; the French having
kept Serbs and Albanians apart, the British preaching the virtues of
integration. Senior British officers freely rubbish the French off the
record. When I was in Mitrovica last week, a French lieutenant-colonel
me the implausible line that relations were hunky-dory and that 'zere
With chumps like these it may be no wonder that French soldiers in
Kosovo have got such a bad press in Britain. It doesn't seem to occur
many reporters that the much-maligned French policy in Mitrovica has
least kept Serbs from being ethnically cleansed, as they have been in
of the rest of Kosovo. If Albanians are now allowed back into northern
Mitrovica-and it is likely they will be, as a result of Nato pressure
the French-the outlook for Serbs there will not be at all bright.
course there are some journalists who are prepared to go against the
grain, though these are usually written off by the old Balkan hands
follow the Nato line. Robert Fisk of the Independent has consistently
criticised Nato, to my mind in brilliant fashion. He is held by many
reporters to be a loose cannon who does not know his Balkan history.
Watson of the Los Angeles Times also comes in for a considerable amount
stick. Mr Watson was the only Western journalist to remain in Pristina
throughout Nato's bombing, which seems an outstandingly courageous thing
have done. However, some of the Balkan pack aver that he was compromised
because he was prevented by the Serbs from reporting events fully. Perhaps
so, but wasn't it better to be writing something from Pristina rather
nothing at all? What they really object to may be Mr Watson's tendency
see both sides of the argument, and to portray Serbs as victims.
it ever change? There is a new consensus among the old Balkan hands
that the United Nations administration of Kosovo is a farce. With the
of rubbish on the streets, with the unmended roads, the electricity
and the water shortages, with UN personnel sweeping past in their huge'
white jeeps, it would be difficult to conclude otherwise. This will
big story over the coming months: how the peace is not working thanks
incompetence. But disenchantment with the UN will not turn into
disenchantment with Nato, the allegedly pro-Serb French excepted. Far
will it lead these journalists to question the rightness of Nato's war.
was their reporting of Serbian brutality which helped mould public opinion
and enabled Nato, by which I principally mean the United States, to
on its bombing campaign. These people were Nato's foot soldiers, and
can't turn back now.
FIGHTERS ON THE MARCH AGAIN
new Kosovo-based guerrilla force says it is prepared to go to war to
Albanian populated areas of southern Serbia with the province.
Llazar Semini in Pristina
United Nations worker, shot and wounded near Dobrasin on Tuesday, February
29, became the latest victim in a fierce conflict which is brewing in
a predominantly Albanian region of southern Serbia, close to the Kosovo
Grogan was driving a UN vehicle when Albanian guerrillas opened fire.
Grogan, now recovering from gunshot wounds in a US military hospital
in Kosovo, said the gunmen appeared embarrassed when they realised he
was a UN official - they claimed to have mistaken his vehicle for Serbian
concern that increasing clashes between Albanian guerrillas and
Serb forces in Presheve, Medvegje and Bujanoc are fuelling the flight
Albanian refugees into Kosovo. The International Rescue Committee, one
the largest refugee agencies operating in Kosovo, estimates 1,300 refugees
have trickled into Gjilan - the nearest town inside Kosovo - in the
months. Over 100 have arrived in the last three days alone.
Saturday night, a group of armed Albanians - allegedly members of a
new guerrilla group, the Presheve, Medvegje and Bujanoc Liberation Army
(UCPMB) - attacked a Serbian police patrol in Kocul, killing one officer
injuring three others.
Albanian killed in the clash was wearing the insignia of the Kosovo
Protection Force, TMK -- a civilian force formed by the United Nations
mission in Kosovo, UNMIK, from former members of the Kosovo Liberation
Army, UCK. Both UNMIK's spokeswoman, Susan Manuel, and TMK commander,
Agim Ceku, denied the Albanian casualty was a member of the protection
have long been circulating that spring will bring renewed violence
to the region. Some have pointed accusing fingers at Yugoslav President
Slobodan Milosevic, arguing that by provoking trouble in Kosovo he achieves
two ends - undermining UN efforts to govern the province and distracting
attention from his on-going bid to crush any moves by Montenegro towards
and the United States have warned Milosevic not to increase the
Yugoslav military and police presence in and around Presheve, Bujanoc
Medvegje, home to some 75,000 ethnic Albanians. US troops from Camp
Bondsteel near Ferizaj (Urasovac in Serbian) have intensified their
patrols to prevent Albanian extremists and weapons crossing the frontier
UCPRM was allegedly formed in January following the killing of two
Albanian youths from Dobrasin. The organisation claims to be made up
of men from eastern Kosovo. It welcomes volunteers from other parts
province. They wear insignia similar to the UCK, replacing the K for
with PMB for Presheve, Medvegje, Bujanoc - the three major towns in
Albanian border enclave."Someone had to come out and protect the
population of this area from Serb paramilitaries," one UCPMB commander
said in an interview with the Albanian daily Zeri.
UCPMB made their first public appearance at the funeral of the two young
Albanians, just as the UCK did at the beginning of the Kosovo conflict
following the murder of an Albanian teacher in Llaushe."At the
soldiers control the area of Dobrasin. If the population is endangered
other parts we are ready to defend them," the UCPMB commander said.
UCPMB want the region to unite with Kosovo. "We do not ask for
much, just the right of self-determination," they say. The new
force aims to
achieve this by harassing Serb forces and generally stirring up trouble
the border region. The new force is "hoping that the Serbs will
with excessive force against civilian populations and create a wave
outrage and pressure on KFOR to respond," a UN official told the
Times. "It's explosive and dangerous, and we hope KFOR uses restraint."Kosovo's
Albanian political leaders have yet to voice any real condemnation of
the incidents in the area. They fear Milosevic may exploit the situation
to cause trouble inside Kosovo itself. A new influx of Albanian refugees
could only worsen the already unstable situation in the province.
conflict would serve Milosevic's ends, distracting international and
domestic attention from the escalating tensions between Belgrade and
Montenegro.And it would surely have a knock-on effect in neighbouring
Macedonia, where unrest is brewing. Indeed, Skopje has already tightened
involvement in the intensifying conflict in southern Serbia seems
unlikely, at least in the short term. On Monday KFOR spokesman, Henning
Philipp, said there was concern over the security situation in Kosovo,
insisted there was no evidence of Belgrade breaching the Kumanovo agreement
by deploying troops within the five-kilometer buffer zone along the
army spokesman, Scott Olsen, said the only thing that would cause KFOR
to intervene inside Serbia would be atrocities. He said the US military
had asked KFOR command to make clear what constituted an atrocity. Meanwhile,
KFOR announced plans on Monday to hold military exercises in Kosovo
from March 19 to April 10 aimed at reinforcing its commitment to the
defence of the province.
Semini is IWPR's Kosovo Project Manager in Pristine.
splinter group fanning trouble in Serbia
BRUSSELS, March 8 (AFP) - Trouble in Serbia's southeast is being
fanned by a splinter group of the disbanded Kosovo Liberation Army
(KLA) that is getting support from inside Kosovo, a Brussels-based
think tank has said.
"The ethnic tensions in 'Eastern Kosovo' are, it seems, being
primarily stirred by the activity of a KLA splinter group called the
UCPMB," the International Crisis Group (ICG) said.
"This group ... is not entirely indigenous, but rather a local
branch of the KLA receiving backing from inside Kosovo," it said
a report seen Wednesday, titled "What Happened to the KLA?"
Thus far the UCPMB has been involved in "pinprick actions"
mostly against Serbian police, and is also reported to have killed
"collaborators" of the Belgrade government, it said, noting
buildup of Serbian forces in the area.
UCPMB is the Albanian acronym for the Presevo-Medvedja-Bujanovac
Liberation Army, a reference to the three towns in southeastern
Serbia, due east of Kosovo -- an area on the "heroin trail"
Turkey and western Europe.
The Presevo valley is home to an estimated 75,000 ethnic
Albanians, although the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
has said 6,000 of them have fled to Kosovo since the end of NATO's
air war on Yugoslavia last year.
In Prague last Sunday, US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright
said both sides were apparently involved in rising tension in the
area. "We have been concerned about some activities of the
Albanians," she said.
But she added: "The only government that has been involved in
disrupting activities in the region is the one in Belgrade."
Yugoslavia's ambassador to the United Nations Branko Brankovic
warned Monday in Geneva that Serbian forces would fight against
"terrorist" incursions from Kosovo province.
The ICG report noted that southeastern Serbia, and adjoining
eastern Kosovo, are stops along the way of the "Balkan route"
drug smugglers that leads to western Europe via Montenegro, Albania
"and even Serbia."
"There are indications, confirmed to ICG by one ex-KLA member,
that large sums of money from drug trafficking have entered KLA
accounts," it said.
Based in Brussels, the ICG is respected by diplomats and others
for its Balkans reports, compiled by analysts on the ground. Its
president is Gareth Evans, the former Australian foreign minister.
KLA guerrillas came to the fore in Kosovo in 1998, supported by
Kosovo Albanians who felt that a decade of passive resistance to
direct Serbian rule had achieved nothing in their impoverished
Ensuing battles between the lightly-armed KLA and Yugoslav
troops led to NATO's air war against Belgrade, which last June
resulted in kosovo.neting under UN administration with a large
NATO-led security force on the ground.
The KLA was subsequently forced by UN administrator Bernard
Kouchner and NATO commanders to disband. But as the ICG report
acknowledged, "in various manifestations it remains a powerful
active element in almost every area of Kosovo life."
KLA supporters have formed their own political party, the Party
of Democratic Progress of Kosovo, while others have joined the
UN-supervised Kosovo police force or unarmed Kosovo Protection
Corps, the report said.
But it remains "hard to believe" that the KLA is "entirely
clean" of involvement in organized crime, such as attacks on Serbs
and Roma (gypsies), political attacks and trafficking, it alleged.
Having failed at the start to sweep away the KLA, the
international community in Kosovo should aim now to be
"tough-minded," coopting KLA leaders into the peace process
resisting criminal activities, it said.
press info servis
Friday 10. 03. 2000.
extremists stoned all Serbian apartments, houses and businesses
KFOR guaranteed safety only in military base
Crowd Attacks Serbs in Obilic
(FoNet) - On Tuesday night Albanian extremists broke windows and
roofs on all Serbian apartments, houses and businesses in Obilic, where
approximately 900 Serbs are still living, Serbian sources in this city
told SRNA news agency. Obilic resident Srdjan Djordjevic related that
on Tuesday evening more than one hundred Albanians divided into several
groups and set out in five directions toward Serbian houses, businesses
they drove through all the streets and parts of the city several
times in their cars to let us know that they were going to do whatever
they wanted," said Djordjevic, adding that the Albanian extremists
led by "a certain Cerkez".
said that members of the international police then went from house to
house to warn the Serbs to be cautious and not to open doors. They
advised most of the Serbs to go with them to the KFOR military base
because there was no other way of guranteeing our safety. Those who
rejected this offer lived through the most difficult night since the
arrival of peacekeeping forces in Oblic," said Djordjevic. According
him, more than one hundred Albanians attacked the houses of the
remaining Serbs in Obilic with stones and other hard objects.
though there were soldiers on every corner, they did not move a
finger to protect us. They filmed the movement of the criminals and
outlaws from the air and their cameras allegedly filmed every individual
who stoned Serbian houses," said Djordjevic.
added that in KFOR's opinion there was no reason for intervention
"because none of the Serbs allegedly was in a life-threatening
situation." Milenko Timsa says that the Serbs in Obilic are disappointed
in the peacekeeping forces, as well as in the representatives of the
state organs of Serbia and Yugoslavia.
local state functionaries took more than 80 percent of Serbs with
them, it would be fair for them to also tell those of us who have
nowhere to go what to do. To stay or to go. We are sitting ducks on
the Albanians are venting all their anger," says Timsa.
to the Obilic Serbs, Albanian women also participated in
yesterday's celebration in honor of the killed founder of the terrorist
KLA, Adem Jasari. "They have also formed several groups. They used
stones and scrap metal to inflict damage on several dozen Serbian
apartments," say the residents fo Obilic. Djordje Dosljak says
did not intervene in this incident either but that "everything
film" and that the Serbs were promised that five Albanian women
nothing will come of that arrest because the judges, the
prosecutor and the translator are all Albanian. They freed the leader
street attacks on Serbs, Mirsad Kurtesija, who was the main organizer
the newest wave of violence, 12 times," emphasizes Dosljak.
Albanians also targeted by extremists
January 1 of this year to date in the area of Prizren 31 Serbian
houses were set on fire. Six Serbs, two Turks, one Romany and four
Muslims were killed. Eight Albanian women, three Turkish women and one
Gorani woman were raped. Four Albanian women under the age of 18 were
kidnapped, Blic learned from the Center for Peace and Tolerance in
Prizren. During the same period, two Serbs disappeared and, according
the Center's unofficial information, the number of kidnapped Albanian
nations is by no means final as Albanians avoid reporting kidnappings
the Center and to the UNMIK police for fear of reprisals.
residing in the area of Dragas reported to the center that
Albanians from neighboring Albania are moving freely through their
municipality. They have broken into and moved into all houses and
apartments owned by Goranis who were forced to flee to save themselves
to the villages of Globocica and Recene.
assisted (longer version) by S. Lazovic (March 10, 2000)
SUNDAY TIMES (London)
March 12 2000
Ready for war: the KLA was given covert
assistance by the CIA
before Nato began its bombing campaign in Kosovo
aided Kosovo guerrilla army
Walker and Aidan Laverty
intelligence agents have admitted they helped to train
the Kosovo Liberation Army before Nato's bombing of Yugoslavia.
The disclosure angered some European diplomats, who said this had
undermined moves for a political solution to the conflict between
Serbs and Albanians.
Intelligence Agency officers were ceasefire monitors in
Kosovo in 1998 and 1999, developing ties with the KLA and giving
American military training manuals and field advice on fighting the
Yugoslav army and Serbian police.
the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe
(OSCE), which co-ordinated the monitoring, left Kosovo a week
before airstrikes began a year ago, many of its satellite telephones
and global positioning systems were secretly handed to the KLA,
ensuring that guerrilla commanders could stay in touch with Nato
and Washington. Several KLA leaders had the mobile phone number
of General Wesley Clark, the Nato commander.
diplomats then working for the OSCE claim it was betrayed
by an American policy that made airstrikes inevitable. Some have
questioned the motives and loyalties of William Walker, the
American OSCE head of mission.
American agenda consisted of their diplomatic observers, aka
the CIA, operating on completely different terms to the rest of Europe
and the OSCE," said a European envoy.
Americans who were directly involved in CIA activities or
close to them have spoken to the makers of Moral Combat, a
documentary to be broadcast on BBC2 tonight, and to The Sunday
Times about their clandestine roles. Walker dismissed suggestions
that he had wanted war in Kosovo, but admitted the CIA was almost
certainly involved in the countdown to airstrikes.
some "diplomatic observers" arrived, followed in October by
a much larger group that was eventually swallowed up into the
OSCE's "Kosovo Verification Mission".
said: "Overnight we went from having a handful of people to
130 or more. Could the agency have put them in at that point? Sure
they could. It's their job. But nobody told me."
who was nominated by Madeleine Albright, the American
secretary of state, was intensely disliked by Belgrade. He had worked
briefly for the United Nations in Croatia. Ten years earlier he was
American ambassador to El Salvador when Washington was helping
the government there to suppress leftist rebels while supporting the
contra guerrillas against the Sandinista government in Nicaragua.
European diplomats in Pristina, Kosovo's capital, concluded
from Walker's background that he was inextricably linked with the
CIA. The picture was muddied by the continued separation of
American "diplomatic observers" from the mission. The CIA
who have now broken their silence say the diplomatic observers were
more closely connected to the agency.
was a CIA front, gathering intelligence on the KLA's arms and
leadership," said one.
agent, who said he felt he had been "suckered in" by an
organisation that has run amok in post-war Kosovo, said: "I'd tell
them which hill to avoid, which wood to go behind, that sort of
KLA has admitted its long-standing links with American and
European intelligence organisations. Shaban Shala, a KLA
commander now involved in attempts to destabilise majority
Albanian villages beyond Kosovo's border in Serbia proper, claimed
he had met British, American and Swiss agents in northern Albania in
has alleged the CIA also helped to arm the KLA, but this
was denied by the guerrillas and agency sources.
was purely the Albanian diaspora helping their brothers," said
Florin Krasniqi, a New York builder and one of the KLA's biggest
financiers. He described how sniper rifles were exported from America
using a loophole in federal law that allowed them to be shipped to
"hunting clubs". Armour-piercing Barratt rifles made their
way to the
KLA's "hunting club" in Albania.
Ceku, the KLA commander in the latter stages of the conflict,
had established American contacts through his work in the Croatian
army, which had been modernised with the help of Military
Professional Resources Inc, an American company specialising in
military training and procurement. This company's personnel were in
Kosovo, along with others from a similar company, Dyncorps, that
helped in the American-backed programme for the Bosnian army.
Sunday March 12, 2000 Revealed:
Backed KPC's Reign of Terror
unit's reign of terror Kosovo 'disaster response service' stands accused
of murder and torture BY John Sweeney and Jens Holsoe Murder, torture
and extortion: these are the extraordinary charges made against the
UN's own Kosovo Protection Corps in a confidential United Nations report
written for Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
KPC stands accused in the document, drawn up on 29 February, of 'criminal
activities _ killings, ill-treatment/torture, illegal policing, abuse
of authority, intimidation, breaches of political neutrality and hate-speech'.
The 5,000-strong corps, funded by UN members including Britain, has
a £30 million aid budget for Kosovo. It was set up to provide
'disaster response services'; instead, says the UN, it has been murdering
and torturing people.
UN's own damning verdict on its newly created civil defence force is
fresh evidence of the failure of Special Representative Bernard Kouchner
to establish the rule of law in Kosovo. Many of the corps's recruits
came straight from the Kosovo Liberation Army, set up to meet the violence
of Slobodan Milosevic's police with violence.
intervention last June saw the departure of armed Serbs from Kosovo,
but violence and gangsterism by Albanian extremists has not stopped.
The report's grim message is that the UN is paying the salaries of many
of the gangsters. The report covers the period from 21 January, when
the corps formally came into being.
the heading 'killings', the UN says: 'Dragash: two members of the KPC
and three others were arrested by UN police in connection with the killing
of an ethnic Gorani (11 February).' There are three charges of ill-treatment
and torture: in Pec, a man was beaten senseless in the KPC's headquarters,
suffering head injuries and severe bruising from a rifle butt. The victim
had been attacked in a newspaper article, written by a former fighter
in the KLA. In Prizren, a man from the Torbesh minority - a group of
Muslim Turks suspected by the Albanians of collaborating with the Serbs
- was kidnapped and beaten up by a KPC member and three other men.
in Prizren, the KPC stands accused of using torture to obtain confessions.
After two men arrested on suspicion of stealing cars were handed over
to UN police, they 'complained they had been severely ill-treated. Subsequent
medical examinations corroborated the victims' allegations'.
from K-For, the multi-national force, suspended the two alleged torturers
from the KPC on 4 February. The KPC is not a police force, and yet one
of the grave concerns raised by the UN report, drawn up by Kouchner's
own office, is that members of the KPC are behaving as if they were
above the law. The report lists complaints from UN police working for
its mission in Kosovo, Unmik.
KPC has been running protection rackets across Kosovo - in Pristina,
Suva Reka, Dragash, Istok and Prizren - demanding 'contributions' from
shopkeepers, businessmen and contractors. In Suva Reka, KPC members
are alleged to have forced petrol stations to accept coupons rather
than money for fuel. In Vucitrn, the KPC reportedly demanded protection
money from members of an ethnic minority, the Ashkali, originally from
India. One family member had previously been kidnapped and the family
had been bombed.
KPC has a nice line in death threats, says the UN. Two members threatened
to kill K-For interpreters after being arrested by Nato troops in Kosovo.
Following the arrests, 20 KPC men mobbed the police station and demanded
their release. They were freed the next day.
KPC may be running prostitution rackets, says the UN. A report was received
on 14 February that a high-ranking KPC officer may be supervising a
forced prostitution racket running out of the Drenica Bar, close to
the Srbica KPC training camp.
KPC is led by General Agim Ceku, who comes in for fierce criticism from
the report. His earlier pledges not to tolerate any criminal behaviour
by KPC members and to expel anyone who violates the law are mocked by
the report, and Ceku, who was formerly a senior commander in the KLA,
comes in for personal criticism. Under the heading 'Activities against
minorities, including hate speech', Ceku is criticised for being present
at a walk-out staged by Albanian members of the KPC when a speech was
translated into Serbo-Croat - the language of the Muslim Slav minority
suspected by the Albanians of collaboration with the Serbs. The report
comments: 'It was the clear opinion of those present that this was a
premeditated action. The speeches of General Ceku and that of the regional
KPC commander were not those agreed upon in advance. The men spoke of
the war and loyalty to the "country" - 10 February.' Such
a speech would contradict the policy of the UN, the general's paymaster.
March 13, 2000
drug mafia supply heroin to Europe Kosovo:
report Maggie O'Kane in Belgrade
agencies fighting the drug trade are warning that Kosovo has become
"smugglers' paradise" supplying up to 40% of the heroin sold
in Europe and North America.
forces, struggling to keep peace in the province a year after the war,
have no mandate to fight drug traffickers; and - with the expulsion
from Kosovo of the Serb police, including the "4th unit" narcotics
squad - the smugglers are running the "Balkan route" with
peacekeepers of K-For "may as well be coming from another planet
when it comes to tackling these guys," said Marko Nicovic, a lawyer
and vice-president of the international narcotics enforcement officers
association, based in New York.
the hardest narcotics ring to crack because it is all run by families
and they even have their own language. Kosovo is set to become the cancer
centre of Europe, as western Europe will soon discover," he said.
He estimates that the province's traffickers are now handling between
4.5 and five tonnes of heroin a month and growing fast, compared to
the two tones they were shifting before the Kosovo war of March-June
last year, when Nato bombing forced Serbia's regime to pull out of the
largely ethnic-Albanian province.
coming through easier and cheaper - and there's much more of it. The
price isgoing down and if this goes on we are predicting a heroin boom
in western Europe as there was in the early 80s."
heroin trafficker in Belgrade confirmed to the Guardian that since the
war the Kosovo heroin dealers, most of them from four main families,
are concentrating on the western Europe and US markets. A kilo of heroin
that is worth £10,000 in Kosovo or £20,000 in Belgrade can
make £40,000 on the British, Italian or Swiss markets, said that
24-year-old heroin middleman. He expected the Kosovo route to grow:
nobody to stop them." Only half the promised 5,000 policemen havearrived
to join the peace operation in the province, which is now the main route
for heroin flowing through some of the world's most troubled countries,
Afghanisatan, northern Iran, the southern states of the Russian Federation,
Azerbaijan, Turkey, Kosovo and into western Europe and the US "It
is the Colombia of Europe," said Mr Nikovic, who was the chief
of the Yugoslav narcotics force until 1996.
Serb police were burning houses in Kosovo they were finding it [heroin]
stuffed in the roof. As far as I know there has not been a single report
in the last year of K-For seizing heroin. They are soldiersnot criminal
this, an official at Nato in Brussels said: "Generals do not want
to turn their troops into cops ... They don't want their troops to get
shot pursuing black marketeers." There is no evidence that the
ethnic Albanians' Kosovo Liberation Army is involved directly in drug
smuggling, but according to the British-based International Police Review
published by Jane's they may be dependent on the drug families who,
the Review says, partly funded the KLA's operations in Kosovo last year.
drug squad chiefs from northern and eastern Europe met in Sweden 10
days ago, the Balkan route was the main issue, according to the head
of the Czech narcotics agency, Jiri Komorous: "There are four paths
of drug trafficking through the Balkans to western Europe and we have
to improve our attempts to control the Kosovo Albanians."
Kosovo mafia has been smuggling heroin since the mid-80s - but since
the Kosovo war they have come into their own, according to Mr Nicovic:
have an entire country without a police force that knows what is going
on." The Kosovo Albanian mafia is almost untouchable. "Everything
is worked out on the basis of the family or clan structure, the Fis
(brotherhood), so it is impossible to plant informers," said Mr
diaspora have been in Turkey and Germany since Tito's communist purges
so the whole route is set up. Now they have found the one country between
Asia and Europe which is not a member of Interpol." To Britain,
he said, there are two routes: "By truck through Germany, Belgium
and France and then via Dover - and also through Budapest, Poland, the
Netherlands, then to Britain." Responsibility for organising police
work in Kosovo "is a grey area", said the Nato official, but
"if organised crime goes on thriving it will have intenational
tells Kosovars ``Don't misuse our help''
Yugoslavia, March 14 (Reuters) - U.S. officials hammered ethnic
Albanian leaders in Kosovo for the third day on Tuesday, urging them
vindicate a massive international commitment by choosing peaceful
came here...to deliver a strong message to those we have helped that
don't want our help misused by people who won't take the risks that
coexistence requires,'' Assistant Secretary of State James Rubin told
is important to vindicate what the Kosovars asked the West to do, for
them to show that they can coexist...We're troubled by the lack of
responsibility that leaders are taking for what's going on here.''
greater part of Kosovo's minority Serb population has fled in the eight
months since a NATO bombing campaign forced Belgrade to withdraw its
forces and made the Serbian province an international protectorate.
only Serbs but Romas, Moslem Slavs and other minorities have been
viciously persecuted by ethnic Albanians intent on revenge after a decade
Serbian oppression in the 1990s.
the international community's intervention has always been predicated
on creating an autonomous, multi-ethnic society.
ethnic Albanian leaders pay public lip service to those goals while
tacitly manoeuvring for Kosovo's independence as a largely mono-ethnic
reiterated Washington's position on ethnic turmoil in Serbia's Presevo
Valley, just east of Kosovo's administrative boundary, warning ethnic
Albanians there that the West would not intervene to rescue them as
it had in Kosovo.
made a commitment a year ago to Kosovo's leaders to act militarily,''
the U.S. diplomat said.
made no such commitment to other Albanians outside of Kosovo. It is
simply not true. People who say that are either deluded or pursuing
some sort of disinformation for their own purposes.''
Chris Hill, travelling with Rubin in his role as a National
Security Council adviser to U.S. President Bill Clinton, told reporters
Washington was determined to push forward with reform and rebuilding
war is hell, peace is at least purgatory,'' Hill said.
is very difficult to keep things moving with peace implementation.
(There are) a lot of frustrating issues. Some of the adrenalin that
you through a war isn't there through peace...It is very important to
sure that everyone remains engaged.''
suffers from contempt for law
Yugoslavia, March 14 (Reuters) - Scarce resources and contempt forthe
rule of law among both ethnic Albanians and Serbs are hampering effortsto
create an effective judicial system in post-war Kosovo.
the verdict of outside experts brought in to create a system that
meets international standards.
people in Kosovo don't give a damn about the law or the judiciary,"
Sylvie Pantz, the U.N. official charged with setting up Kosovo's court
system, told Reuters in an interview.
the law and the judiciary are viewed like the AK-47 (assault rifle)
was viewed six months ago, as a weapon to be used against one's (ethnic)
adversary in continuation of a war that's supposed to be over."
veteran criminal judge in France who then worked for the International
Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, Pantz has a reputation
tough, experienced, energetic operator.
she is stunned by the impediments to organising the judges and courts
needed in Kosovo, where majority Albanians rose up against repressive
Serbian rule in 1998-99, leading to NATO intervention and a withdrawal
FROM THE GROUND UP
is a problem. We need basics like paper, pencils, filing
cabinets and computers for the courts," she said.
the Serbs left they took the court archives. Many of the court houses
are damaged. Others are OK but occupied (by international agencies).
Windows, doors, heat and electricity are issues in virtually every location."
that space and supplies can be found, there's still the arduous
process of appointing judges and prosecutors.
appointments have been complicated by the poisonous atmosphere of
ethnic hatred that still prevails in Kosovo even after last year's NATO
strikes drove Serbian security forces out and ushered in a massive
is sometimes confused with revenge in Kosovo and that's completelyunacceptable,"
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State James Rubin observed duringa Kosovo
visit this week.
often well-based, ethnic fear meant that few Serbs agreed to acceptjudicial
or prosecutorial appointments. Many of those who did accept
ultimately refused to serve.
officials say that security -- protection from harassment or worse by
Kosovo's overwhelming ethnic Albanian majority -- was the major concern
Serb appointees may have been pressured by Serb extremists to avoid
service in an internationally established administration that Serbian
authorities in Belgrade worry might undermine their future claims on
A LOST CAUSE
me, for the time being, multi-ethnicity among Kosovo judges is a lost
battle. We did our best but until now it has been a total failure,"
including Amnesty International, say there is evidence that at
least some ethnic Albanian judges who are in place are unable or unwilling
to administer justice impartially, leading to manifestly unfair detention
and sentencing practices.
a result, international judges and prosecutors are being appointed in
least one area of Kosovo, the tense northern city of Mitrovica, in a
attempt to insulate the judicial process there from bias, threat and
Swedish judge and an American prosecutor are on board, living as virtual
prisoners themselves because of security fears.
men, outfitted with flak jackets, are escorted by military bodyguards.
They ride in armoured cars, switching their routes frequently, and sleep
night in beds inside the French army base that anchors the international
presence in Mitrovica.
security is necessary but a pain in the ass," said Michael Hartmann,
who spent 15 years as a rape and homicide prosecutor in San Francisco
who is the first international prosecutor appointed in Kosovo.
to tell you the truth I am more worried about security for witnesses
than I am about myself. We will need some sort of witness protection
programme if we expect people to come to court and testify in some of
more difficult cases."
Albanian Unit Is Accused Of Abuses
Report Says Former KLA Rebels Threatened, Tortured, Killed Civilians
R. Jeffrey Smith Washington Post Foreign Service
March 15, 2000;
Albanians in Kosovo's new national guard engaged in illegal activities
and human rights abuses during the force's first five weeks of operation
this year, an internal U.N. report says.
report by the U.N. human rights unit in Kosovo says the United Nations,
NATO and ethnic Albanian leaders have failed to adequately supervise
the Kosovo Protection Corps. The corps, established in January to provide
humanitarian assistance and help clear land mines, is made up almost
entirely of guerrillas from the disbanded Kosovo Liberation Army.
report says several members allegedly tortured or killed local citizens
and illegally detained others; illegally attempted to conduct law enforcement
activities; illegally forced local businesses to pay taxes; and threatened
U.N. police who attempted to intervene and stop the wrongdoing. But
there was no indication in the report that such actions were organized
or ordered by the corps leadership. The report,
obtained by The Washington Post, was based on interviews with U.N. police
officers, regional U.N. administrators and local residents. "Many
said that the greatest human rights challenge looming in Kosovo"
is whether corps members will abide by U.N. regulations and whether
those "who violate the law will be punished," the report says.
report was sent to the top U.N. administrator in Kosovo, French diplomat
Bernard Kouchner. Susan Manuel, a spokeswoman for his office, said today
that while "no one is denying the essence of the report, they are
saying [the corps is] . . . raw material and the essence of the organization
is just taking shape now."
the incidents cited in the report is the Feb. 11 arrest of two corps
members suspected of killing an ethnic Gorani, a Slav who follows Islam,
in the town of Dragas. It also cited the Feb. 16 detention of a corps
member in Prizren for mistreating another Slav, and the suspension of
two corps members in February for torturing several ethnic Albanians
suspected of car theft.
ethnic groups in the region are Slavic, including Serbs, who are seen
as enemies by ethnic Albanians. In February, an ethnic Albanian man
who sought to rebut an accusatory newspaper article written by a former
Kosovo Liberation Army rebel was beaten by corps members in Djakovica,
the report says. And other corps members in the towns of Istok, Pristina,
Prizren, Dragas and Vucitrn have illegally demanded protection fees
or tax payments, the report states. In three other cities, U.N. or NATO
officials said they suspected corps members had participated in or helped
organize public demonstrations--activities that are off-limits for corps
the report was completed at the end of February, U.N. police have said
that corps members were involved in at least three assaults. During
the arrest of one of these members by police based in Prizren, "the
officers were surrounded by a mob attempting to drag them out of the
patrol vehicle," a police report said.
U.N. report covers the corps' activities during a five-week period in
which the force grew from 45 to more than 500 members. By next month,
the corps should reach full strength with 3,000 full-time members and
2,000 part-timers. Although the United Nations has issued a broad fund-raising
appeal to support the corps, its operations have been sustained largely
by U.S. and British contributions.
protection corps was formed after the Kosovo Liberation Army agreed
to disband last fall on condition that key members be transferred to
a national guard-type force. While its official task is humanitarian,
ethnic Albanian leaders have said the group is meant to serve as the
nucleus of a future army should Kosovo gain its independence from Serbia.
remains a province of Serbia, the dominant republic in the Yugoslav
federation, but has been under U.N. administration since June, when
NATO's 78-day air war against Yugoslavia ended. U.N. officials have
praised some corps leaders for helping calm ethnically charged protests
in the province that have threatened to turn violent. But they also
said some ex-rebels who have joined the corps have been implicated in
violent attacks on Serbs and other ethnic minorities and in the province's
of the corps members are readily identifiable by their solid green uniforms,
adorned with a patch in the Albanian national colors; a limited number
are allowed to carry handguns. But the group's charter explicitly prohibits
its members' involvement in law enforcement, a task the U.N. has reserved
for trained police officers--both foreign and local--under U.N. supervision.
An oath of office and a new code of conduct effective this week for
corps members require "the highest possible standards of discipline
and conduct . . . without any ethnic, religious, gender or racial bias."
also are barred from involvement in politics or political parties. The
report notes that corps commander Agim Ceku said in November that he
would not tolerate criminal behavior and that offenders would be expelled.
But "the time has come," it says, to hold corps leaders to
NATO's Disastrous Victory in Kosovo
by Doug Bandow
Bandow is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute.
A year ago the Clinton administration was beating the
war drums in the Balkans. Secretary of State Madeleine
Albright seemed more interested in bombing Serbia than
encouraging a peaceful settlement.
bomb the United States did, for 78 days. The
result, evidenced by the call for more U.S. troops for
Kosovo, is a policy failure veering toward disaster.
attack was supposed to bring peace to this
territory of Yugoslavia. But immediately after
Washington's "triumph" came the mass flight of ethnic
who did not run, including Croats, Gypsies, Jews
and even non-Albanian Muslims, have been bombed, shot,
kidnapped, beaten and robbed. Scores of orthodox
churches, monasteries and other religious sites have
Klaus Reinhardt, head of the NATO "peacekeeping"
force (KFOR), admits that Kosovo remains too dangerous
for the 150,000 to 250,000 refugees to return. Reports
the Organization for Security and Cooperation in
Europe: "House burnings, blockades restricting freedom
of movement, discriminatory treatment in schools,
hospitals, humanitarian aid distribution and other
public services based on ethnic background, and forced
evictions from housing recall some of the worst
practices of Kosovo's recent past."
situation deteriorates daily, especially in the
mixed city of Kosovska Mitrovica. Although leading
Albanians formally disavow the violence, most do
nothing to stop it. Those who speak out on behalf of
tolerance are themselves threatened; local officials
allied with moderate Ibrahim Rugova have been
Kosovo Liberation Army has disarmed in name only,
formally transmuting into the Kosovo Protection Corps.
Armed thugs rule the night and organized crime is
police and courts don't function and no one is
safe. Reports Steven Erlanger of the New York Times:
"robberies, apartment thefts, extortion and even
murders take place with near impunity."
rights abuses by the Serbs were bad enough. Now
the same practices are being carried out under the
West's authority. NSC adviser Sandy Berger's response:
to threaten ethnic Albanians with the loss of the
"support of the international community."
more than a few Kosovars don't care what the
"international community" thinks. A United Nations bus
was hit by an anti-tank rocket. Albanian snipers in
Mitrovica have injured French peacekeepers. Halit
Barani, head of the Human Rights Council, says the
French are "the same as the Serb soldiers."
and German troops have also been deployed to
Mitrovica. When U.S. forces searched apartments for
weapons, breaking down doors along the way, they were
met with a hail of stones, bottles and ice by Serbian
crowds. German soldiers were also attacked.
the Kosovo civil war rages on, with only a
temporary lull in the worst violence. The United
States must decide whether it is prepared to maintain
its occupation for years, if not forever, or to do
what it should have done last year leave the Balkans
to the Europeans.
decision to intervene looks ever worse as
hindsight lengthens. Kosovo never represented a
special humanitarian crisis: More people had died in a
score of conflicts around the world. The only
difference was that none of the other victims were
NATO launched what by any criteria was a
war of aggression. Instead of saving lives, Washington
many Serb civilians died under NATO bombs as ethnic
Albanians had died during the preceding year. And it
was allied bombing the sparked the mass expulsions
did eliminate Serb authority in the
province. But having allied itself with the KLA in
war, the West now upholds formal Serbian rule,
refusing to allow either independence or union with
Albania. Only the Clinton administration could concoct
such an incoherent policy.
a result, NATO faces a choice between policy
failure and policy disaster, as my Cato Institute
colleague Gary Dempsey puts it.
the alliance acknowledges reality and gives up on
its objective of preserving a multi-ethnic Kosovo
under Serb suzerainty, it will have failed. If NATO
attempts to achieve its objectives and stave off
failure, the consequences will be far worse.
the latter case, the ethnic Albanian majority is
likely to turn on allied forces. The possibilities
range from overt hostility and sporadic sniping to a
serious guerrilla campaign against the NATO occupiers.
Imagine explaining to American audiences that their
sons and husbands are dying to defend Serb sovereignty
policy has failed. Washington's objective today
should be to forestall disaster. The United States
should get out. Now.
Balkans is in Europe, not North America. The
Europeans are about to take over command of KFOR and
claim to be serious about creating an independent
military capability. Leave them responsibility for
year ago the administration was set on making war.
Now it should make peace. Instead of augmenting U.S.
forces in Kosovo, Washington should tell the Europeans
that U.S. forces are coming home. Then it should bring