The Guardian, UK
for a safe harbour
year on and Kosovo still suffers from the tragic consequences of unresolved
Thursday March 16, 2000
Sava Janjic is one of the bravest Serbs left in Kosovo. A soft-spoken
figure whose scholarly appearance masks passionately held views, his
quality is his willingness to acknowledge the crimes done to Albanians
by the Milosevic regime.
as sits in the high-ceilinged refectory of the monastery of Gracanica,
he has little to feel cheerful about. A leader of the Serb National
Kosovo, he became the articulate voice of those Serbs who felt they
should cooperate with the United Nations administration when it arrived
territory in June.
he feels let down and under pressure. Kfor, the international peace
force, is failing to protect Serbs enough to give them freedom of movement
beyond their prison enclaves, let alone create conditions for those
who left Kosovo to want to come home. In the northern city of Mitrovice
which has been effectively partitioned, pro-Milosevic Serbs boast that
their success in keeping Albanians out shows a tough line is the only
solution. Father Sava senses Slobodan Milosevic's support in Kosovo
is growing and that the hard-liners who denounce Kfor as nothing more
than an occupation force are gaining strength. The trouble in Mitrovice
is not just a battle between Serbs and Albanians but a struggle for
the allegiance of Kosovo's Serbs.
his many disappointments Father Sava's regrets the lack of support which
he and his boss, Bishop Artemije, Kosovo's senior Orthodox
clergyman, have had from opposition politicians in Belgrade. At a recent
meeting, the two clerics asked the anti-Milosevic politicians to sign
declaration which would stress two points. First, that it was not an
act of treason for Kosovo's Serbs to work with the United Nations. Second,
"injustices" had been inflicted on Albanians. Although this
was deliberately softer than the clergymen's usual formulation "crimes",
even this was too much for Belgrade's opposition.
it been signed, the statement would have had far-ranging political benefits.
Father Sava and Bishop Artemije are convinced that unless more
Serbs acknowledge that the atrocities done in their name are the prime
cause of the hatred which bedevils Kosovo today, tolerance will take
time to grow.
is easy to see that Serbs cannot readily accept that their side bears
the greater guilt. What is more depressing is the way this escape from
the facts is beginning to creep into western public discourse on Kosovo's
shaky peace. Allan Little's recent BBC2 programme, Moral Combat, was
only the latest
example of the tendency to say a plague on both houses - with the danger
that the international community will wash its hands and withdraw from
Kosovo, as Milosevic is no doubt calculating. Little produced an excellent
discussion of the conflict among western politicians and military strategists
over the conduct of the wr, but he put it into a surprisingly one-dimensional
framework which gave no political context beyond the tendentious claim
that from the very beginning the Kosovo Liberation Army aimed at provoking
a Nato intervention. If that was so, how come the KLA's man at Rambouillet
did most to anger the Americans and endanger the
talks? And what happened to the consensus among all who reported on
Kosovo in 1998, including Allan Little, that the KLA was one of the
least centralised and disparate guerrilla movements of recent times,
with minimal overall leadership and no clear strategy?
notion of "balance", in which a suffering Albanian family
is juxtaposed with a suffering Serb family, culminated in the programme's
final line that
"the oppressed, now liberated, have become the oppressors",
which created a false moral and historical equivalence. Is there really
no difference between a state-machine whose security forces use arson,
artillery, and cold-blooded murder on a mass scale against people still
in their homes, and the hot-blooded revenge-seeking of bereaved people
returning to destroyed villages and burning the houses of their Serb
neighbours, usually after the
Serbs had already left?
we have moved to a second post-war stage, where crime in Kosovo is random,
opportunistic, urban and largely done by professional criminals who
want to make money out of Serb flats rather than by former refugees
in the countryside. It is the inevitable consequence of a law and order
for which the international community is mainly to blame for failing
to provide the police it promised. Take away the police from London
or Berlin, and see
how quickly the crime rate would soar.
is not to deny that the current violence against Serbs in Kosovo takes
place in a vindictive atmosphere where most Albanians, regrettably,
ethnically. Moderate Albanian opinion keeps quiet and witnesses to repression
do not come forward. Far from restraining them, parents encourage their
children to stone Serb buses when they pass through Albanian areas under
Kfor escort. The Albanian press does not feel able or willing to report
fairly, let alone critically, on what is being done to Serbs.
is where Father Sava comes back in. Albanians would start to differentiate
and not lump all Serbs together as evil-doers if they felt more Serbs
were able to accept the truth about what happened in 1998 and 1999,
and even show some sense of collective responsibility. Albanians would
also relax if more Serbs did not go on behaving, as those in Mitrovice
do, as though the Serbs can still win the war and get Kfor to withdraw.
western governments the message is clear. The ambiguity of UN resolution
1244 which left Kosovo's final status obscure has become a liability.
It gives false encouragement to Serbs and real anxiety to Albanians.
What is needed is a forthright statement by the western powers, and
preferably the security council as a whole, that Kosovo will never return
to Serb rule. This would help the cowardly opposition in Belgrade to
break free of the nationalist cancer. They could correctly argue that
it was Milosevic who lost Kosovo, and then go on to develop a modern
political and economic agenda no longer distorted by territorial self-delusion.
Albanians such a declaration would provide a reason to stop seeing every
Serb in Kosovo as a potential fifth columnist. In exchange for an nternational
commitment that Kosovo's return to Serb rule is off the table for ever,
the leaders of the various Kosovo Albanian parties should be urged to
agree to a formal statement that the territory will remain legally part
of Yugoslavia, though under international protection, for three or five
more years. In that period Milosevic might finally leave power or Yugoslavia,
with the help of Montenegro, might dissolve - leaving Kosovo independent
are hard choices ahead for Serbs, Albanians, and the international community,
but to trivialise Kosovo's current troubles as an endless Balkan cycle
of violence does no service to anyone.
police accuse Kouchner of preventing KLA probe
DRESDEN, Germany, March 16 (AFP) - German police deployed in
Kosovo have accused UN administrator Bernard Kouchner of hampering
inquiries into the activities of members of the ethnic Albanian
Kosovo Liberation Army, the daily paper Saechsische Zeitung reported
The paper cited a "confidential" report by the police which
they were preparing an operation against KLA leader in Prizren and
the KLA-designated mayor of the town in December when Kouchner gave
a verbal order for it to be dropped.
They were suspected of expelling other ethnic groups from their
homes and having imposed illegal taxes.
Susan Manual, spokeswoman in Pristina for the UN mission in
Kosovo headed by Kouchner, said he had never asked for any inquiry
to be halted. He had simply asked to be informed of any inquiries
which implicated political leaders in Kosovo, she added.
NEW YORK TIMES
March 17, 2000
/ By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
Real on Kosovo
Karl Kraus, the
famous Austrian journalist and playwright, once
observed that European wars were caused by diplomats who lied to
journalists and then believed what they read in the newspapers.
One is reminded
of that aphorism today when listening to U.S. and NATO
officials insist that they are still committed to building a multi-ethnic
-- despite the murderous inter-ethnic violence still going on there,
obvious desire of the Pentagon and NATO to get out of Kosovo forever.
It's time U.S. and
NATO officials stopped fibbing to themselves and then
believing their own quotes. It's obvious that the Kosovar Serbs and
hate each other and have no intention of living together in the idealistic
multi-ethnic state that the Clintonites once envisaged.
Now it might be
momentarily satisfying to just walk away, telling both sides:
"You people deserve each other. Why don't you just slug it out
and call us
when you're exhausted." But that would only lead to another bloodbath
refugee turmoil. Like it or not, the U.S. and NATO do have an interest
stability in the Balkans -- if for no other reason than that it would
to focus on more important problems.
Since we can't walk
away, our real choices are clear: Either we disarm the
warriors of Kosovo or we disarm the warring politics of Kosovo. That
say, when dealing with an unfinished civil war, in which people hate
other but are still living side by side, one option is to use overwhelming
to disarm the whole population and then stand guard on every street
until they learn to love each other. At a time when NATO wants to reduce
troops in Kosovo, this option is not realistic.
That leaves the
other option -- disarming the politics of Kosovo. Right now
the politics of Kosovo is always on the verge of explosion, because
the big parties -- the Serbs nor the Albanian Kosovo Liberation Army
content or exhausted. The K.L.A. is using the U.S. zone in Kosovo as
privileged sanctuary to infiltrate southern Serbia and aid ethnic Albanians
living there, while the Serbs are infiltrating men and matériel
Kosovo to protect their people there.
The only way NATO
can reduce its presence in Kosovo, without it blowing
up, is by doing what NATO did in Bosnia: disarm the politics by tacitly
partitioning the country. Bosnia is stable today because the key factions
exhausted by four years of war and got what they wanted: their own ethnic
zones. Once the dividing lines were stable, all NATO had to do was patrol
them. And once the parties in Bosnia were secure in their own space,
were more willing to reach out to one another.
To disarm the politics
of Kosovo, NATO needs to convene the parties and
redraw the map or impose a new one. One idea would be to move the
Serbian border with Kosovo near Mitrovica to the south -- to encompass
biggest pocket of Serbs still living inside Kosovo. In return, the Serbs
be asked to give the Kosovo Albanians the two small counties of Serbia
along Kosovo's eastern border, where a large number of Albanians still
That would create much cleaner dividing lines. Then NATO could make
Kosovo a self-ruling republic of Yugoslavia, with a promise to consider
independence sometime in the future.
Finally, NATO could
tell the Serbs that if they agreed to this land swap the
sanctions on them would be lifted. The Serbs would get out of their
economic hole. The Albanians would have self-rule. And NATO could patrol
the fence between them.
True, this would
mean the world would effectively have two Albanias -- the
original Albania and a new Kosovo Albania. Although the Albanians have
shown any capacity for running one state properly, let alone two, Europe
have to live with it.
A broken Kosovo
is no place to be experimenting with multiculturalism or
affirmative action. As Stalin would say, talking of a self-sustaining,
multicultural Kosovo today is like talking about "hot ice or dry
interest is that Kosovo, like Bosnia, be a place where the different
communities can live apart, stably, until they choose to live together
and where the U.S. and NATO can ensure that stability at the lowest
Since the Kosovo war ended before a stable dividing line could be
established there, we need to draw that now. Without a stable dividing
we will always be peacekeepers in a land with no peace to keep.
Daily News Service / 17 March 2000
human contact can ease Kosovo tension, says Orthodox 'cyber-monk'
By Bjarke Larsen
17 March (ENI)--Father Sava Janjic is one of the very few advocates
of reconciliation and peaceful
co-existence in Kosovo.
During the Nato
bombings, which began a year ago on 23 March
1999, Sava became world-famous as the "cyber-monk", thanks
internet site (www.kosovo.net) on which he not only
informed the cyber-community world-wide about what was happening
in Kosovo but also pleaded with all sides in the conflict to
negotiate a solution.
monastery at Decani, where he then lived, gave
shelter, food and clothing to many ethnic Albanian refugees
forced to flee the violence of Serbian soldiers and
paramilitaries, setting an example for others in the midst of
But very few followed
that example, however, and Sava is
pessimistic about the future.
He told ENI, during
a recent visit by journalists to Kosovo
arranged by the World Council of Churches in Geneva, that for
Kosovo's Serbian citizens the situation was worse today than
immediately after the arrival of the KFOR, the international
peace-keeping force, last year.
Sava was speaking
to ENI at the monastery where he now lives, in
Grajinica, 15 kilometres from Pristina, Kosovo's main city.
arrival in Kosovo at the end of 11 weeks of
intensive bombing by Nato forces, ethnic Albanians, angry at the
destruction and carnage inflicted on them, forced tens of
thousands of Serbs out of the province.
Sava, who has spoken
of the need by Serbs here to recognise the
injustices perpetrated against the ethnic Albanians, complained
to ENI that "the presence of 50 000 KFOR soldiers from the best
armies in the world, as well as several dozen human rights
non-governmental organisations, have not been able to protect
With the exception
of the town of Metrovica and the northern
part of Kosovo bordering on Serbia, the Serbs remaining in Kosovo
are confined to a few, all-Serbian villages across the region.
The southern city of Prizren, for example, used to be home to 10
000 Serbs. Now it has only 80, and half of them have taken refuge
in the town's Orthodox seminary. There they live like prisoners,
guarded for their own protection by KFOR guards 24 hours a day,
surrounded by barbed wire and sandbags, and escorted by at least
two heavily armed soldiers whenever they go shopping.
"We want to
remain because we live in the hope of a better
future," Father Miron, who is in charge of the Prizren seminary,
told ENI. "Man has to hope in order to survive, but most people
here are very scared."
All of Kosovo's
Serbian Orthodox churches, monasteries and other
church buildings have similar protection, as do the few Serbs
living outside the all-Serbian enclaves.
80 Serb churches and monasteries have been destroyed
or desecrated since the arrival of KFOR," Sava said. "From
pattern of destruction, we can see that it is neither revenge nor
done for religious reasons. It is a systematic destruction of
everything non-Albanian in Kosovo, carried out by extremists from
Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA."
Sava, who regularly
receives death threats from Serb extremists
opposed to his moderate views, believes that the war broke out
because there was no contact between Serbs and Albanians. "One
side does not understand the sufferings of the other, they do not
hear the wishes for dialogue," he told ENI. "Spiritually
speaking, we are well aware of what has to be done, but we need
support from the outside to make the first, precious contacts."
contact is beginning. On 8 February Kosovo's
religious leaders - Muslims, Serbian Orthodox, and clergy from
the small Roman Catholic community - issued a "Statement of
Shared Moral Commitment", condemning all violence and calling for
the shared moral values of the three religious communities here
to "serve as an authentic basis for mutual esteem, co-operation
and free common living in the entire territory of Kosovo".
The statement, however,
stopped short of asking for forgiveness
for past wrongs and urging reconciliation. Instead it stated that
"we call on all people of good will to take responsibility for
their own acts".
Admission of guilt
- or rather failure to do so - is perhaps one
of the main stumbling blocks on the road to peace and
reconciliation. The majority Muslim community wants the Serbian
Orthodox Church to take a bold step forward, to repent the crimes
committed by Serbs and to ask for forgiveness on their behalf.
The Orthodox Church claims it has already done so on many
occasions and says that it is now up to the Islamic leaders to do
more to curb Albanian extremism and help to create a political
climate to allow civilian Serbs who fled to return.
However, it is likely
to take years to overcome the mutual
distrust. KFOR officials have said that the international force
will have to stay here for at least another five years. Some
observers in Kosovo believe the figure might as well be 50 years.
* Bjarke Larsen
is a journalist and editor of the ecumenical
Danish quarterly magazine, Udsyn (Outlook), produced by
Friday, March 17, 2000
A Serb, An ethnic
Albanian. Torn apart by Kosovo's war, they manage
to remain best friends. And a year after NATO's bombing campaign
began, they agree that Kosovo's would-be healers are part of the problem.
By PAUL WATSON,
Times Staff Writer
many ways, it would be simpler if Fadil
Bajraj and Tomislav Novovic could just be enemies and get on with their
Unlike most of their ethnic brethren, the two men--one a Kosovo
Albanian and the other a Kosovo Serb--are best of friends. But nearly
year after NATO began bombing in the name of human rights and lasting
peace, they are separated by Kosovo's chaos.
They are two idealists battered down into dark pessimism, not just by
the brutalities of war, but by the hypocrisies and contradictions of
They are sick of hearing politicians at home and abroad say one thing,
to watch them do another.
As the March 24 anniversary of the start of the North Atlantic Treaty
Organization's bombing campaign nears, Kosovo and its people are beset
by myriad problems, among them rampant crime, ethnic violence and
political corruption. Beneath them all is the failure to resolve a fundamental
contradiction between the West's promises when it intervened
and Kosovo's anarchic reality.
On paper, Kosovo is a multiethnic province with "substantial
autonomy" within a sovereign Yugoslavia. On the ground, it looks
each day like an independent state that will be controlled by ethnic
The United Nations is trying to define Kosovo's autonomy in a way to
get ethnic Albanians to abandon their demand for independence and live
together with Serbs in the same country. Even if international officials
succeed, they face another daunting problem: how to return an estimated
250,000 refugees, most of them Serbs, without setting off a whole new
spiral of violence.
"NATO and the U.N. said they came here to protect human rights.
don't believe it," Bajraj, an ethnic Albanian, said over coffee
in a Pristina
cafe. "They still do not have any political options for Kosovo,
"Things are worse now than they were a year ago. The Serbs didn't
allow us to go to school, so we set up our own, which to us were legal.
What is happening now is that Serb children can't move from their
apartments. As a nation, that is shameful for us."
Before the airstrikes began, Novovic had spent three years fighting
system designed by Serbs to divide Kosovo's ethnic groups. He managed
projects run by billionaire George Soros' Open Society Institute, and
was the only Serb on a staff of 30.
Now Novovic lives as a refugee in his own country, eking out a living
by selling the books of his cherished library from a rusty metal stand
street corner in Belgrade, the Yugoslav and Serbian capital. He is disgusted
with people who claim to protect rights he no longer believes in.
"One totalitarian system was replaced by another totalitarian system
Kosovo," he said. "Only the roles have switched between the
the perpetrator. All of my life, I've tried to live with [Kosovo] Albanians,
side by side.
"I believe in human rights principles that are universal, that
applied to everybody," he continued. "But this experience
has proved to me
there are very few things in life that we decide ourselves, and that
I had a
poor understanding of various groups dealing with human rights--even
those rights themselves."
Across the Chasm,
a Bond of Faith
Across the ethnic chasm, in Pristina, Kosovo's provincial capital, Bajraj
is one of the few people in whom Novovic still has faith. He is a proud
hippie, a Jerry Garcia look-alike with a Bob Dylan button pinned to
vest. He writes Albanian-language subtitles for Hollywood movies.
He also has worked for the Soros foundation and is one of the few
ethnic Albanians who sound convincing when they say Kosovo needs
Serbs--not the war criminals who committed massacres and other
atrocities, but the many people who did not.
On a recent visit to the region, U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright
insisted that conditions are improving in Kosovo and other parts
of the Balkans. Her spokesman, James P. Rubin, visited Kosovo this week
and bluntly told Kosovo's ethnic Albanian leaders that it is time to
extremists who are persecuting Serbs.
Bajraj said Rubin's message was about nine months too late. He argued
that by openly backing former Kosovo Liberation Army leader Hashim
Thaci and other ethnic Albanians who have no popular mandate,
Washington is trying to impose leaders that most people in Kosovo don't
The U.S. once supported Ibrahim Rugova, who sought nonviolent
change in Kosovo, but dumped him in favor of Thaci and his KLA
guerrillas as part of a strategy to force a settlement on Yugoslav President
Slobodan Milosevic. Yet Rugova placed well ahead of Thaci in a recent
Gallup poll in Kosovo funded by Washington.
"The West has betrayed Rugova a couple of times," Bajraj said.
not for Rugova, but he is the best of the worst. The West has time to
correct its mistakes, but it just pushes harder through our so-called
political leaders. They are not leaders. The West has imagined they
Such policies are making Kosovo look more and more like an
Bernard Kouchner, the U.N. administrator in the province, complained
to the U.N. Security Council on March 6 that "continuing ambiguity
Kosovo's future" was making a bad situation worse.
Even though Kosovo is part of Serbia, Yugoslavia's dominant republic,
Yugoslav dinars are worthless here. The U.N. replaced the national
currency with the German mark, and this week also approved Kosovo's
own postage stamps. In addition, Kosovo has its own customs service,
which is already corrupt.
NATO has made it clear that it won't deliver on its promise to allow
few hundred Serbian police and Yugoslav troops back into Kosovo to
control the national border and guard cultural sites as long as Milosevic
remains in power.
But instead of fading, Milosevic is tightening his grip in Belgrade.
West's problems in what remains of Yugoslavia are also getting more
After returning from Kosovo this week, a senior Pentagon official
warned that a new ethnic Albanian rebel army of about 500 fighters in
Serbia proper threatens to draw peacekeepers, including U.S. troops,
conflict against their former ethnic Albanian allies.
U.S. peacekeepers swept through eastern Kosovo on Wednesday, seizing
arms, ammunition and uniforms in an attempt to seal the border with
Serbia to insurgents.
Most Serbs Live
in North or Are Guarded
Inside Kosovo, most of the dwindling Serbian minority lives in the
north--which ethnic Albanians suspect Milosevic is trying to split from
the province--or in scattered enclaves heavily guarded by NATO-led
In Pristina, British paratroopers go grocery shopping for Serbian
families holed up in guarded apartments. Speaking Serbian in public
enough to get a person killed. French soldiers now do the food shopping
for ethnic Albanians living under siege by angry Serbs in the divided
of Kosovska Mitrovica.
The Yugoslav government told the U.N. Security Council on March 6
that since NATO-led peacekeepers took control of Kosovo in June, 811
Serbs and Montenegrins have been slain, while 757 more were abducted
disappeared; an additional 27 people from non-Albanian minority groups
also have been killed. Attackers have seriously damaged or destroyed
Serbian Orthodox churches and monasteries dating back to 1315, often
with rockets or other military explosives, Belgrade complained.
Several human rights reports have provided evidence that ethnic
Albanians have not only engaged in "revenge attacks," but
organized activity by trained guerrillas able to operate under the noses
more than 37,000 troops from some of the world's best armies.
The toll of death and destruction under NATO's watch is small compared
with about 10,000 ethnic Albanians who were killed--or disappeared in
attacks--by Serbian police, Yugoslav troops and paramilitaries in the
first half of 1999. Hundreds of thousands of ethnic Albanians were expelled
or fled Kosovo, but returned after the peacekeeping force arrived.
As the early spring sun begins to warm Kosovo's killing fields, forensic
teams working for the international war crimes tribunal are preparing
start digging for more evidence of Serbian atrocities.
constant pleas for help, the U.N. still has only a
third of the 6,000 foreign police officers it says it needs. Member
governments have been slow to come up with the troops, and those who
go to Kosovo often quit in frustration.
Even Kouchner has undercut his badly demoralized police force. On
Jan. 6, U.N. police raided the home of Gani Thaci, a brother of Hashim
Thaci, and arrested him for firing a gun from an apartment. They also
seized weapons and a suitcase containing $791,000 in cash.
Hashim Thaci demanded--and quickly received--an apology from
Kouchner. His brother was released without charge, and the money and
weapons were returned.
While everyone acknowledges the difficulty of policing Kosovo so
soon after a vicious war, the U.N. administration is struggling to provide
such basic services as water and electricity. After months of promises
the power system would be fixed soon, it is as bad as ever.
On an average day, the electricity is on for four hours, then off for
next four. The reasons for the chronic power shortages change, but are
usually summarized by the phrase "years of Serb neglect."
Yet when NATO warplanes were continuously bombing the power grid
last year, Serbian and ethnic Albanian work crews somehow managed to
get the electricity back up within a few hours.
In Belgrade, Milosevic--who was indicted on war crimes charges
involving Kosovo--continues to make excellent propaganda from the
11-week NATO bombing campaign and the violence that NATO-led
peacekeepers subsequently failed to stop.
The opposition's credibility is sapped by its own corruption and
back-stabbing. Its leaders can't even agree on a date for a protest
renew demands that Milosevic quit. Each night, the carefully scripted
reports on Milosevic's state-controlled television portray him as a
and his enemies as destroyers.
Sometimes, it is more than smoke and mirrors. All but a few of the
road and rail bridges that NATO bombed last year have been rebuilt.
refineries at Pancevo and Novi Sad, which NATO reduced to charred ruins,
are producing heating oil and diesel again at a little more than half
Despite the rebuilding, Yugoslavia's economy is still a mess--and not
only for the thousands of refugees like Novovic. Industrial output plunged
23.1% in 1999. But Yugoslav authorities claim factories and other
industries produce more than twice what they were in June at the end
Serbia's workers earn on average the equivalent of $38.25 a month at
black-market exchange rates--9.3% below what they were earning as
recently as December.
Milosevic is doing his best to destabilize the Western-backed
government of Montenegro, Serbia's smaller partner in the Yugoslav
federation, with a trade embargo that is blocking even food and medicine.
As the NATO-led force tries to keep the peace in Kosovo, fears are
mounting that Montenegro--which has threatened to secede from
Yugoslavia--may be the next, and perhaps worst, Balkan battleground.
Many of his critics charge that Milosevic stays in power by constantly
provoking crises, and Washington has cautioned Montenegrin President
Milo Djukanovic to avoid giving Milosevic an excuse.
By Djukanovic's reading of U.S. policy, Washington has promised to
defend Montenegro if Milosevic attacks.
"Mrs. Albright reiterated the readiness of the Western democratic
to offer Montenegro help in efforts to preserve peace and to defend
the event of possible aggression," Djukanovic told reporters after
talks with Albright in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Novovic knew what was coming in the final days before last year's
airstrikes began. He had no doubts where it would lead, so he packed
all he really cared about--most of his 3,500 books--and fled north to
His mother returned to the family's Pristina apartment when NATO
troops arrived in mid-June. When Novovic called to check on her, she
him, "There are KLA guys with knives in front of my door,"
The men gave her one day to leave.
"In a panic, I called a Serb woman in Pristina who runs one of
human rights organizations in Yugoslavia," Novovic said. "And
after I told
her my mother was in trouble, she said to me, 'That's very nice, but
many Albanians did you save?'
"Probably, she meant, 'How can you ask for help now when you didn't
help Albanians when they needed it?' I think if one is fighting for
rights, then it doesn't matter whether it is the rights of Serbs, Albanians,
Chechens or anyone else. I was completely shocked."
Rather than argue, however, Novovic hung up and called the Kosovo
peacekeeping force instead. After a few hours, British soldiers came
guard his mother's second-floor apartment, which became a virtual prison
for her. She finally abandoned it and fled in September.
Novovic's ethnic Albanian colleagues in Pristina have told him he is
welcome to come back to his old job, but he refuses.
"I'm not sure whether it's fear anymore, or shame because of what
done to some people, because of all that horror and violence that took
place down there," Novovic said. "Not everybody's guilty,
but that doesn't
decrease my feeling of responsibility."
Like Bajraj, his ethnic Albanian friend with whom he talks at least
a week, Novovic lays much of the blame on NATO's decision to issue an
ultimatum to Milosevic last spring demanding broad self-rule for Kosovo,
instead of giving diplomacy another chance.
NATO said Milosevic forced its hand by launching a spring offensive.
Military experts from the Organization for Security and Cooperation
Europe, which includes the U.S., later concluded that the Serbian offensive
followed months of provocative cease-fire violations by the rebel KLA.
"What NATO did in these couple of months of bombing was to inflict
collective punishment against a whole nation," Novovic said. "On
hand, it gave Serbs an alibi for all the crimes that they've committed.
"Now every Serb says: 'We are the victims. Never mind that we were
killing, that we were banishing, that we were burning houses, destroying
villages and so on. Albanians deserved that anyway, and it's shown by
way they are treating us now.' "
NATO's failure to make real peace has prepared the ground for the next
cycle of vengeance, and many Serbs are already talking about it, Novovic
"Whether that revenge will be in a year, five years or 15, it is
matter of time."
20 March 2000
Nearing the anniversary
of the Kosovo war, it is time to consider
winners and losers. Things are not as clear as they were a year
ago. President Slobodan Milosevic has survived his defeat and the
territorial integrity of the rest of Belgrade's domain appears
intact. The Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) is eager to establish an
Albanian state in Kosovo but is blocked by NATO. And the alliance -
unable to suppress the guerrillas, unable to withdraw and unwilling
to negotiate with Milosevic - is devoid of options. A year later,
Milosevic seems both secure and hopeful that events are moving his
way. In an odd parallel to Saddam Hussein's experience, being
defeated by the West may open doors rather than close them.
It's been almost
a year since the beginning of the Kosovo war and
it is time to take stock. In many ways, it is easier to understand
what has happened than what is going to happen, not only because
the future is inherently unknowable, but because the future of the
Balkans is particularly opaque. It is made opaque by three facts.
First, NATO has enabled the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) to come
close to its goal of creating an Albanian state in Kosovo. Second,
NATO has failed to break the Serbian nation and to deprive it of
the means to influence events in Kosovo. Third, NATO does not want
to see an Albanian state in Kosovo nor does it want to see Serbian
In short, the two
national competitors, Serbs and Albanians, remain
in place while NATO stands opposed to both of their national
aspirations. To further complicate matters, since it lacks the
necessary military power NATO is neither in a position to impose
its will, should it actually redefine its policy, nor is NATO in a
position to withdraw. Thus, we are in a three-player game in Kosovo
in which none of the parties will or wishes to abandon the field
and none can prevail. NATO has maneuvered itself into a position
where it threatens the national aspirations of both Serbs and
Albanians simultaneously, yet lacks the force to govern directly.
This is a prescription for chaos.
To fully appreciate
the danger of the situation, we need to
understand that both the Albanians and Serbs find themselves in
very similar strategic positions. Both sides have achieved the
underlying preconditions necessary to move from a defensive to
offensive position. Each side is probing the others' (and NATO's)
weaknesses. Thus, each side is daily becoming more aggressive.
A year ago, the
Albanians as a whole and the KLA took advantage of
what Serbia was providing, an image of an ethnic population
undergoing massive violations of human rights. The goal of this
campaign was to trigger a NATO intervention against Yugoslavia. The
Albanians had a fairly sophisticated understanding of the
consequences of NATO intervention. NATO's actions would expel
Serbian armed forces from Kosovo, which in turn would force at
least a partial withdrawal of the Serbian population, who would
make one of two assumptions:
1. That NATO was
in favor of a Kosovo cleansed of Serbs and that it
was, in effect, a full ally of Albanian national aspirations.
2. That NATO, whatever its intentions, was ineffective in defending
the Serbian population from KLA attacks.
The KLA took advantage
of Serbian actions, Western perceptions and
political realities within NATO capitals. NATO intervention allowed
the KLA to lay the foundation for an effective strategy toward some
Let's consider the
KLA's strategic goals:
1. Becoming the
preeminent political force among Albanians in
2. The creation of a KLA-dominated government in Kosovo.
3. The unification of Kosovo with Albania proper under a government
dominated by the KLA and its allies.
4. The extension of Albania to all areas populated by Albanians.
5. The creation of an Albanian entity that is secure, regionally
dominant and that controls the primary trade routes from Turkey to
The KLA achieved
its first goal when the United States and NATO
were forced to rely on it to enable ground operations in Kosovo.
NATO depended on the KLA for intelligence, to pin Serb ground
forces down during the bombing operation and to enable NATO's
special forces to carry out operations in the region. This
dependency gave the KLA three advantages. First, as a primary
intelligence source for NATO, the KLA was able to shape NATO's
understanding of what was happening on the ground. This, in turn,
shaped NATO operations in favor of the KLA not only in relation to
the Serbs, but also in relation to other, non-KLA Albanian
political forces. Second, by supplying and supporting KLA forces
during the conflict, NATO strengthened the KLA in relation to other
Albanian factions, while providing the KLA with a political
imprimatur as NATO's anointed. Finally, in relying on the KLA for
civil administration after the war, NATO made the KLA the de facto
government of Kosovo.
its first goal, the KLA is now engaged in pursuing
its second: the creation of a KLA-dominated government in Kosovo.
This has led to an interesting reversal. NATO, the KLA's enabler
in its first phase, is now the KLA's primary block in achieving its
second goal. NATO cannot tolerate the KLA achieving its second
strategic goal for domestic political and geopolitical reasons.
Domestically, an Albanian state in Kosovo, with the inevitable
ethnic cleansing of Serbs, would provide armed political opponents
of NATO governments. Some of these countries, like the United
States, are currently in the midst of elections that are devoid of
international content. The triumph of the KLA would give George
Bush a weapon that Clinton must deny him.
There is also a
deeper geopolitical reason. The creation of an
Albanian Kosovo would inevitably lead to its integration with
Albania proper. It would create the demand for border
rectifications with countries like Macedonia that have Albanian
populations, making Albania a dominant regional power. Although
Albania is one of the most impoverished areas of Europe it must be
remembered that there is a massive throughput of narcotics that
could provide resources for improving Albanian military capability,
if not standards of living. This is not something that other
countries in the region want to see. In particular, Greece and
Italy, both NATO members with important national interests in the
Balkans, would be upset with this evolution. Therefore, NATO,
having helped the KLA achieve its first strategic goal, must now
act to block its second strategic goal.
situation dramatically is the fact that the Serbs
themselves now find themselves in a much more favorable strategic
position than they were just a few months ago. Consider Milosevic's
1. Stay in power
2. Prevent the further disintegration of the Yugoslavian
3. Reclaim lost territories and integrate areas that are
4. Make Serbia the preeminent power in the Balkans.
It seems clear,
a year after the war began, that like Saddam
Hussein, Milosevic is not going to fall. The facile assumptions
made after the war that he could not survive his humiliation by
NATO have proven false. Milosevic was certainly despised by many
factions for leading his country into war and being outmaneuvered
by NATO, but he retained substantial support. NATO's persistent
anti-Serbian policy had persuaded many Serbs that NATO, for some
uncertain reason, meant to obliterate the Serbian nation. Milosevic
was seen as a champion of Serbia and as NATO's victim. He presented
himself as a man who had thwarted NATO's true ambitions by
confining Serbia's defeat to Kosovo.
At the same time,
the democratic opposition that NATO had
fantasized about was neither as democratic as NATO believed, nor as
united. Certainly, it was not as powerful as NATO believed.
Whatever bitterness there was toward Milosevic's mishandling of the
war, the opposition was perceived as being opportunists, or worse,
as tools of NATO. His opponents were made to look like traitors.
Therefore, in spite of intense efforts by NATO to topple Milosevic
after the war, all that it achieved was to flush Milosevic's
opposition out into the open, and force it to display its
impotence. This substantially strengthened Milosevic's hand. As
with Saddam, the mere fact that Milosevic survived helped restore
Milosevic then was
able to block the further disintegration of
Serbia by outmaneuvering Montenegrin separatists until even NATO no
longer had any confidence in them. Milosevic's ability to sustain
the presence of Federal forces in Montenegro was the first step.
When Montenegro's political evolution led to its remaining inside
the Yugoslav federation, the logic of disintegration was aborted.
Vague discussions of Vojvodina's seceding to Hungary, the entry of
NATO forces into Serbia proper and other territorial fantasies
petered out over the year. The breaking point came recently. When
the KLA tried to generate anti-Serb actions among Albanians still
living inside Serbia, NATO itself was forced to protect the Serb
frontier. During raids carried out last week, it actually struck at
KLA bases along the border. NATO is now protecting the territorial
integrity of the rest of Serbia. The main threat to Serbia's
territorial integrity, NATO's covert and overt operations, has
dissolved. What is left of Belgrade's domain will survive.
That leaves Milosevic
with his third goal: reclaiming lost
territories, beginning with Kosovo. Milosevic now sees time on his
side. Milosevic never understood the alliance between NATO and the
KLA. He never understood that there was no deep, geopolitical
community of interest between the two, but that what bound them was
NATO's domestic political situation and the KLA's ambitions. He
did not expect NATO and the KLA to split because he never
understood how shallow the ties were. Milosevic is undoubtedly
delighted by his new understanding of the situation. As the KLA
pressed forward with its second strategic mission, it forced a
split with NATO that directly benefited Serbia.
NATO's entire mission
is now based on a rapidly dissolving
foundation. Unless NATO can convince the KLA to abandon any further
strategic ambitions-which is unlikely-it is going to find itself
trapped between the absolutely unforgivable Milosevic and the
utterly ungrateful KLA. NATO cannot withdraw without being made to
look imbecilic and it can't stay without great danger.
>From where Milosevic
sits, this is an ideal situation. If NATO
leaves, the Serbs still enjoy military superiority over the
Albanians and will be in a situation to intervene. On the other
hand, the longer NATO remains, the less sympathy in the West for
the Albanians. If NATO stays, it will inevitably become dependent,
at least covertly, on Serbs in Kosovo, and perhaps on the other
side of the border as well.
The KLA cannot hold
back. They have their own intense credibility
problem. NATO is now clearly going to try to create a non-KLA
political alternative among the Albanians. More important, NATO
has a strategic card to play against the KLA. We give substantial
credence to reports that not only is KLA a critical part of the
global narcotics traffic system, but that it is using Kosovo as a
transshipment point. NATO does not have sufficient forces in
Kosovo to bring peace, but it has sufficient capability to
interrupt parts of the drug trade. If the KLA hangs back it risks
the emergence of new political forces under NATO sponsorship. If
it strikes at NATO, NATO can strike back at a fundamental interest
of the KLA. In either case, the KLA cannot pursue its other
strategic interests while NATO is still there.
The KLA always wanted
NATO out, but expected it to destroy the Serb
Army for them. That hasn't happened and that has created a
tremendous dilemma for the KLA. It cannot tolerate NATO in Kosovo
and it is not yet in a position to defend against Serbia. It can no
longer expect NATO to finish off the Serbs and it can no longer
expect NATO to ignore KLA operations. The KLA has been trying to
get NATO to strike across the border, but instead NATO struck at
NATO is desperately
signaling the KLA to rein itself in. But if
the KLA complies then its dream of a KLA-dominated Kosovo must be
abandoned and the narcotics trade that finances it will be
vulnerable to NATO pressure. It can't make the deal that NATO has
offered: temporary control over part of Kosovo at the discretion of
NATO. It just isn't enough.
The winner, at this
rate, is going to be Milosevic. If NATO and
the KLA come to blows, then time is entirely on his side. Either
NATO will increase its presence in Kosovo in order to crush or cow
the KLA - unlikely - or NATO will have to open lines of
communication or coordination with the Serbs. Alternatively, NATO
can withdraw, in which case the correlation of forces will favor
the Serbs against the Albanians.
A year after the
war began, Milosevic remains in power in Belgrade
and time appears to be on his side.
ironic justice of Kosovo
Seeking to stop ethnic cleansing, NATO finds it has accomplished it
ANALYSIS By David
Binder MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR
19 - At the beginning of this new century we may ask what problems we
inherited, unresolved, from the last century. One of those problems
is the Balkans. No other region caused such grief to so many
foreign empires in the 20th century.
THE BALKANS have
long tempted foreign interventions and the result is
generally the same: grinding destruction, bloodshed and little long-term
effects on the region's tangled ethnic, religious and territorial disputes.
It's early days yet in Kosovo - just one year ago, NATO began bombing
Yugoslavia with the goal of forcing the Serbs to their knees. Yet it
be difficult to argue that the unprecedented use of NATO power against
Belgrade altered things for long. At best, the war halted one side's
and opened the door to the other's transgressions.
This is nothing
new in the Balkans. Interventions past - whether by Ottoman
Turks, Germans, Russians, Italians or others - have had the opposite
- retarding development of normal relations between the indigenous peoples
of the Balkan peninsula and discouraged their own political evolution
beyond the stage of satrapies or petty despotism. In 1991, Yugoslavia
had only been free of German and Italian domination for scarcely 40
years. When the communist state of Josip Broz Tito plunged into dissolution
and fierce ethnic fighting, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Lawrence
Eagleburger said: "I am personally of the view that the only thing
that may bring it to an end is when all of the participants are exhausted."
This view was derided as cold-blooded, and the Croatian, Bosnian and
Kosovo wars were horribly savage. But the way things turned out, Eagleburger's
prescription might well have saved lives, property and untold future
of instability in the region.
'THE EVIL SERB'
The error of the approach taken by the United States and its European
to the problem of Yugoslavia throughout the 1990s lies in their belief
they could succeed where others failed. Then they chose sides narrowly
what inevitably became a series of civil wars: Here uniformly innocent
victims; there uniformly genocidal aggressors. Here ethnic cleansers,
the ethnically cleansed. At the root lies a simplistic dogma that blames
nation, the Serbs, as the origin of evil in the Balkans.
Portraying the Serbs
as such is an unwritten doctrine adopted by the State
Department at the beginning of the Yugoslav conflicts and continued
doctrine endorsed and spread by the mainstream media, human rights groups
and even some religious communities. It is a doctrine also embraced
Bernard Kouchner, the head of the U.N. Mission in Kosovo. Kouchner declared
unabashedly before Albanians in Gnjilane last December that "Kosovo
does not belong to anyone except the Kosovars," (meaning ethnic
Albanians. "I feel very close to the Albanian people," he
said, adding later, "I love all peoples but some more than others
and that is the case with you."
NO ONE IS BLAMELESS
Yet the indisputable reality of the Balkans is that none of its peoples
been an innocent victim of vicious neighbors. Except possibly the Roma.
were complicit at one time or another in killing, rape, plunder and
That was true in the first and second Balkan war, true in both World
and true in all of the Yugoslav civil wars of the 1990s.
Yes, hundreds of
thousands of ethnic Albanians fled Kosovo in the spring of
1999. Yet, there is a curiosity documented by the Organization for Security
and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) from the 78-day bombing campaign in
terms of "cleansing" - the OSCE found that 863,000 Albanians
left Kosovo, or 46 percent of the total. But it also reported that 100,000
Montenegrins fled Kosovo in the same period, or about 60 percent of
total. That is, to repeat, proportionately more Serbs were displaced
the bombing, and they did not return to Kosovo.
A year ago after a difficult start, the American-inspired Kosovo Diplomatic
Observer Mission of more than 1,000 was beginning to get traction,
separating the Serbian military and police forces from the Kosovo Liberation
Army and enabling thousands of displaced Albanians to return to their
homes. The final report to OSCE by a German general who was part of
KDOM confirms this.
But in its hubris,
the Clinton Administration sought more dramatic results -
amounting to abject submission of the Serbs to NATO rule. This was the
message of the failed "peace conference" in the French town
the collapse of which led directly to war. Had the observer mission
allowed to continue, Kosovo would have been a much gentler, happier
today. Possibly even the seemingly endless cycle of ethnic revenge could
have been halted.
There are few easy
explanations in the Balkans. Even so, the State
Department is hard pressed to describe how it could list the Kosovo
Liberation Army among the world's terrorist organizations in 1997, denounce
it as a "terrorist group" in February 1998, then turn around
overnight and embrace it as a formation of freedom fighters who would
ultimately be installed by NATO as a legitimate political force in the
summer of 1999.
Through the war,
some correspondents and policymakers continued to ask these questions.
They also pointed to disclosures of links between the KLA and Albanian
heroin trafficking rings in Italy, Switzerland, Germany and other European
countries, and the connection of the KLA leader Hashim Thaci to assassinations
of Albanian rivals.
Even without light
being shed on those behind-the-scene developments, a
strong case can be made that $11 billion military campaign against the
and for the Albanians was largely a failure.
1. We know it greatly
accelerated the flight of Albanians from Kosovo.
2. It did not substantially hurt the Serb military.
3. It did billions in pointless damage to civilian infrastructure
throughout Serbia and Kosovo province (for which NATO countries will
end up paying some of the repairs).
4. It left Slobodan Milosevic, the named and targeted enemy, firmly
5. It sucked the United States and NATO into an open-ended commitment
with no exit strategy.
Military and political
planners themselves acknowledged that the strategy
was deeply flawed, that they were shocked when the Serbs did not capitulate
after three days of bombs.
In the wake of the
Cold War, some view the United States as the last great
imperial power. The Balkan adventure of the United States in the last
shows that if it is imperialism then it is essentially haphazard and
makeshift in execution.
>From the start,
Kosovo was not so much a military problem as a policing
problem - as it was under the Serbs. Kosovo has been an indigestible
in the stomach of the Balkans for at least the last hundred years. It
promises to be just as indigestible for the international community
decades longer. Thanks in considerable part to feckless interventions
succession of imperial powers, its previous multiethnic character has
all but eradicated. But that does not make Kosovo any more compatible
surroundings. On the contrary, an ethnically cleansed Albanian Kosovo
threatens to destabilize southeastern Serbia, where there is an ethnic
Albanian minority of 70,000, and destabilize Albania itself and Macedonia
way of its ambition to serve as the motor of a Greater Albania. In short,
Kosovo remains a time bomb. And like it or not the Clinton administration
now presiding over the evolution of yet another mono-ethnic state -
Albanian Kosovo. Put it another way, the U.S. and NATO, though it was
opposite of their declared intentions, have succeeded in cleansing Kosovo
one ethnic group in favor of the other.
David Binder has
covered the Balkans for The New York Times since 1964.
Albanians pushing more Serbs out: UNHCR
BELGRADE, March 22 (AFP) - UN High Commissioner for Refugees
Sadako Ogata said Wednesday Kosovar Albanians are opposed to the
return of more than 200,000 Serb refugees to the province and are
pressing more minorities to leave.
"There is no desire among the Albanian population generally not
only to receive (back Serb refugees) but they want more Serbs to
leave," Ogata told the press in Belgrade.
"Serbs and other minorities are pressed to leave," she
Ogata said the expulsion of minorities was totally against UNHCR
principles and policies, adding that the return of displaced Serbs
to Kosovo was one of her toughest challenges and her "biggest
Up to 240,000 Serbs and other non-Albanians have fled violence
and threats since the arrival of the international force KFOR in the
province in June 1999, according to UNHCR estimates. That accounts
for almost all the minorities in the province, leaving an estimated
1.8 million ethnic Albanians.
The High Commissioner said there were "no acceptable security
conditions" for the return of Serbs and other non-Albanians to
Kosovo. Conditions, she said, "will depend a lot on how law and
order maintenance and the judiciary are restored."
Since the withdrawal of the Yugoslav military in June last year,
following NATO's 11-week air bombardment, Kosovo has been under UN
administration, backed by NATO-led Kosovo peacekeeping force
Ogata, on a 13-day tour to the Balkans, arrived to Yugoslavia
Wednesday and visited earlier in the day displaced Serbs and Gypsies
in collective centres near Smederevo and Kragujevac, in central
She also met Yugoslav Foreign Minister Zivorad Jovanovic and
Serbian refugee commissioner Bratislava Morina.
Ogata stressed the important role Serbia has to play in the
settlement of the refugee problems in the Balkans, saying the
country "hosts one of the largest refugee populations in the
Some 470,000 Serb refugees from Bosnia and Croatia and more than
200,000 displaced Serbs and other non-Albanians from Kosovo are now
living in rump Serbia, Ogata said.
She also expressed concern about the situation in the ethnic
Albanian-populated parts of southern Serbia near Kosovo --
Bujanovac, Presevo and Medvedja -- which have been the scene of
tension between armed ethnic Albanian groups and Serbian police.
Ogata's special representative to Kosovo, Dennis McNamara, said
up to 4,000 ethnic Albanians left the Presevo and Bujanovac region
since late January, bringing the total number of Albanian departures
from the region into Kosovo to 9,000 since June 1999.
The High Commissioner, who already visited Croatia and
Bosnia-Herzegovina during the trip, is scheduled to leave for
Montenegro Thursday, before travelling to Kosovo, Macedonia and
THE GLOBE AND
MAIL, Thursday, March 23, 2000
Gypsies live in fear of Albanian revenge
Accused by ethnic Albanians of collaborating with the Serbs during last
spring's violence, as many as 80,000 Roma have been forced to flee their
The Globe and Mail
Thursday, March 23, 2000
-- Europe's ultimate outcasts, Gypsies, are used to
being made the whipping boy when things go wrong. So it is with
fatalism, rather than surprise, that Nasser Adiqi faces what has
happened to the Gypsies of Kosovo since the end of NATO's bombing
campaign last year.
"We have always
been second-class citizens," he said.
Until last spring,
Mr. Adiqi was a schoolteacher in the Gypsy community
in the town of Kosovo Polje. Now, he presides over a squalid refugee
camp in Plementina, protected night and day by Norwegian troops. No
dares leave the camp for fear of being beaten or even killed.
So it is for Gypsies
all over Kosovo. When hundreds of thousands of
ethnic Albanians flooded back into Kosovo at the end of the campaign
the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in June, the Gypsies were caught
up in a wave of revenge attacks as the ethnic Albanians settled scores
for what had happened during the bombing.
The main victims
were ethnic Serbs. More than 100,000 have been forced
to flee since last year, and the remainder huddle in isolated enclaves
protected by international troops.
But other minorities
have suffered just as much. Hundreds, perhaps
thousands, of Muslim Slavs have been forced to flee, despite their
religious links to the ethnic Albanians, most of whom are Muslims.
Kosovo's small Croatian community also lives in fear.
But perhaps the
saddest case is that of the Gypsies. When the Serbs ran
Kosovo, they were persecuted and abused. Now, they are suffering the
same treatment at the hands of the victorious ethnic Albanians.
Accused by the ethnic
Albanians of collaborating with the Serbs during
last spring's violence, as many as 80,000 have been forced to flee their
homes. Many have left Kosovo, and most of those who remain live in
refugee camps or in fear-filled enclaves.
Paul Polansky, the
U.S. author of several books on Europe's Gypsies,
said that only 30,000 of the 150,000 who lived in Kosovo before the
remain in their homes. After travelling around Kosovo late last year
gauge the state of the Gypsy community, he estimated that 14,000 Gypsy
homes had been burned down as part of what he called "a systematic
cleansing" of the community.
The violence continues.
In the town of Djakovica, a besieged community
of 7,000 Gypsies (or Roma, as some prefer to be called) is under 24-hour
protection from international troops after a series of grenade attacks.
In January, two Gypsy men were slain while standing guard outside a
house after an arson attack.
Earlier, in Kosovo
Polje, a Gypsy father was kicked and stoned while
trying to take his son to hospital.
Mr. Adiqi and his
group have been relatively lucky, if that is the right
word for people who have lost their homes and possessions. Located in
muddy field under the imposing smokestacks of a big power plant, their
camp is far enough from the nearest ethnic Albanian community to deter
But many people
in the camp have awful stories to tell. Ardiana
Statovci, 17, spent the 11 weeks of the war in the same way that her
ethnic Albanian neighbours did: hiding in her apartment while Serb
paramilitaries rampaged through the streets outside.
But when the war
ended, a group of men dressed in the uniform of the
Kosovo Liberation Army, the ethnic Albanian guerrilla group, banged
the door of her Pristina apartment and accused her of collaborating
the Serbs. When she denied it, one of them hit her with his rifle butt.
She still has the scar on her forehead.
When she went out
to go to the hospital, some Albanian youths on the
streets said: "Hey, Gypsy girl. Come over here. Why did you help
Serbs steal from us?"
Then they beat her
from the attack, she was accosted and beaten by a
second, separate group who made the same accusation.
A few days later,
she joined a group of 1,000 Gypsies that fled Pristina
at 4 a.m. and walked through the rest of the night to Kosovo Polje.
she helps Mr. Adiqi run the camp for 800 Gypsies at Plementina, a
half-hour drive north of Pristina.
But her troubles
are not over. She has not seen her mother and three
younger brothers since they left Pristina at the start of the war,
headed for Macedonia. Her soft, brown eyes fill with tears when she
thinks of what might have happened to them.
Things in the Plementina
camp are safer than in most Gypsy enclaves.
Physical conditions are relatively good. New barracks-like buildings
with concrete floors and steel frames are springing up, built with the
help of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
But none of the
800 residents is bold enough to venture outside, even to
walk down the road for groceries. Refugee groups bring in all their
"We are prisoners
here," said Mr. Adiqi, a sober man with a day's growth
of beard who draws on a U.S. cigarette. "Who knows when we will
Wednesday March 22 4:03 PM ET
Return to Kosovo Too Risky - UNHCR Boss
By Philippa Fletcher
(Reuters) - The United
Nations' top refugee official said on Wednesday her
organization could not promote the return of Serbs to
Kosovo until security there improved.
The comments by
Sadako Ogata as she visited Serbia
marked the latest acknowledgement from the
international community that its goal of keeping
Kosovo multi-ethnic has proved much harder than
``The security situation
is one in which we cannot
promote returns right now,'' the United Nations High
Commissioner for Refugees told a news conference in
Ogata earlier visited
former workers' barracks outside
the industrial town of Smederevo near the capital
which have been home to hundreds of refugees since
1992 and toured another refugee center in the central
Serbian town of Kragujevac.
Ogata has also visited
refugee centers in Croatia and
Bosnia in the past few days.
Serbia has one of
the world's biggest refugee
populations, with well over half a million people
displaced by conflicts in Croatia, Bosnia and now
Kosovo. Many of them live in very basic conditions and
depend entirely on foreign humanitarian aid.
The depth of grief
and hatred generated by the
conflicts, which the West says were stirred by
Slobodan Milosevic, first as Serbian, then as Yugoslav
president, means few have been able to go home, even
years after peace treaties have been signed.
hope the recent change of government
in Croatia after the death of nationalist leader
Franjo Tudjman in January will make the return of
Serbs to Croatia more likely.
Kosovo Returns Unlikely
But in Kosovo, international
peacekeepers have been
unable to prevent continuing fierce attacks on Serbs
by separatist Kosovo Albanians out to avenge years of
Serb repression, making returns there a distant
Ogata spoke to refugees
from Kosovo and Croatia at the
barracks, where each family is crammed into one room.
``I think the common
aspiration that they have
expressed is one to go back. With those who came from
Croatia...they may be closer to the possibility of
returning. Those who came from Kosovo, I think right
now, even if they want to go back, they may have to
see how the situation evolves,'' she said.
``There are still
people fleeing from there.''
For several months
after Serbs and other minorities
began leaving Kosovo in June, international officials
insisted they were starting to see a turn in the tide.
Ogata's special envoy for the
Balkans, said a few people were going back. But he
also noted others were leaving and he urged NATO-led
KFOR peacekeepers and the U.N. civilian mission in
Kosovo to work harder on security.
``We would certainly
welcome more vigorous
international action and support, including for the
protection of non-Albanian populations and especially
Serbs,'' he told reporters.
The UNHCR is now
registering displaced people from
Kosovo to establish the true figure. The Yugoslav Red
Cross has registered 204,000 while the government says
the total is 350,000.
Ogata said some
of those from Kosovo told her they
thought they could live again with the province's
``They feel that
they can again once the situation
Graffiti on the
camp wall explained the will to
``Welcome to the
ghetto,'' it said.
year after Kosovo war, KLA leaders shaping province
March 23, 2000
Web posted at: 8:07 p.m. EST (0107 GMT)
In this story:
Serb clampdown Rising influence eclipsed Rugova
Veterans poised to lead province
PREKAZ, Kosovo (CNN)
-- For many people in Kosovo, last year's war actually began two years
ago -- long before NATO bombs began to fall on Belgrade.
Prekaz, near the
Kosovar capital of Pristina, was home to Adem Jashari, an
advocate of guerrilla war to free the majority ethnic Albanian province
from Yugoslavia and its dominant Serb population. The home where Jashari
and 58 members of his family, including 28 women and children, were
killed by Serb police is now a shrine visited by hundreds of Kosovo's
Liberation Army had claimed responsibility for the killings
of more than 50 people since it had surfaced in 1997. Serb authorities
thought they had wiped out the core of the organization with the killings
Instead, the deaths
of Jashari and his family proved a turning point in the region, propelling
a little-known independence movement into a rapidly growing armed force
-- and placing Yugoslavia and the Western military
alliance on a path that led to war a year ago Friday.
started the ball rolling," said Christopher Hill, then the U.S.
ambassador to Macedonia. "That really created more recruits for
the KLA than any KLA posters ever could have done."
Within weeks, the
Kosovo Liberation Army began to grow. Money for the fighting force flowed
in from Albanians abroad and drew a level of attention to the Serbian
province's claim on statehood that nonviolent political leaders had
never been able to attract.
Albanian street demonstrations used the attention to
highlight their demands for NATO to step in and help them. Kosovar leader
Ibrahim Rugova, the elected president of an independent Kosovo that
did not yet exist, stepped up his calls for help.
For years, Rugova's
Democratic League of Kosovo had advocated independence through a campaign
of passive resistance.
people. People talked about him as the Gandhi of Kosovo," said
Hill, now a senior official of the U.S. National Security Council. "The
problem he had was that he wasn't able to show that he was getting anywhere
with the Serbs, and frankly, wasn't able to show that
the international community was doing specific things to help him."
Serbs see Kosovo
as the cradle of their culture, and were determined to hold
onto the province. Rugova said the killing of the Jasharis marked a
change in strategy by the province's Serb authorities. Before the killings,
the Sorbonne-educated Rugova had run a passive, parallel Albanian administration
in the province with little interference, despite Belgrade's revocation
of provincial autonomy in 1991.
"In all this
time that we built our state, that in time became more
powerful, Belgrade lost its nerve and decided to destroy everything,"
In Belgrade, the
government of President Slobodan Milosevic sent more
Yugoslav army and Serb special police units to the province. Thousands
of ethnic Albanians began to flee Kosovo.
By September 1998,
NATO issued an ultimatum to halt the fighting. Belgrade appeared to
back down and withdrew some of its troops.
Many Kosovars returned
to their burned and battered villages. But KLA
leaders hoped to provoke Western intervention.
"We were convinced
from the beginning of the KLA that we will have
international support, because our fight was just," said Hashim
Thaci, the KLA's former political leader. "It was for our national
and democratic values. We knew that (the) international community will
not abandon us."
Western powers tried
to remain out of the conflict. But in January 1999,
following the killing of six Serb police officers, Serb forces attacked
the village of Racak and killed 45 residents. One of the first on the
scene was the international community's top human rights observer, former
ambassador William Walker.
at the killing galvanized Western leaders.
the difference was there was no resistance, as there was (in)
Prekaz," said Albanian historian Bajram Kurti. "Mr. Walker,
when he saw they were killed and massacred without resistance, he called
it genocide. That was the least he could say."
The killings at
Racak spurred last-ditch peace talks in France, with Western
countries threatening to bomb Yugoslavia if no settlement was made with
the Albanians. Meanwhile, the KLA's stature had grown inside Kosovo
to the point where it began to eclipse Rugova's Democratic League.
led by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, helped shape
the Albanian delegation. Rugova, the pacifist, was marginalized, and
Thaci took the lead.
put it plainly," Rugova said. "If the Albanians cannot
accept to cooperate, we will isolate them. If Belgrade cannot agree
to cooperate, they will be bombed. There was no diplomacy."
On March 18, the
Kosovo Albanians signed a peace deal calling for broad
autonomy for the province -- but not the independence they sought. A
contingent of 28,000 NATO troops would implement the agreement.
refused to sign. On March 23, U.S. envoy Richard
Holbrooke made a last-ditch appeal to Milosevic to accept the accord.
Milosevic refused, and Yugoslav troops broadened their attacks in Kosovo.
The next night,
air raid sirens began to sound over Belgrade, and NATO --
the alliance created todeter another war in Europe -- began to wage
one against Yugoslavia.
to lead province
A year later, the
KLA has officially disbanded -- but its leaders have
cemented their own status in the province.
Thaci is a leader
of the advisory council that helps the current U.N.
administration govern Kosovo, now that Yugoslav troops are gone. Agim
Ceku, the KLA's former field commander, leads the Kosovo Protection
Force, the civilian police corps established by peacekeepers after the
Rugova has yet to
recover the stature he held before the conflict. While KLA
guerrillas battled Yugoslav soldiers in the countryside, he appeared
on television meeting with Milosevic -- an appearance he said was made
under duress -- and was sent into exile in Italy.
His Democratic League
boycotted the first meetings of a multi-ethnic council
advising U.N. administrators on rebuilding Kosovo, objecting to the
KLA's presence on the council.
Nearly a million
ethnic Albanians fled Kosovo during the war. Since their
return, the shoe is on the other foot: No longer oppressed, ethnic Albanians
are now accused of violence against the 100,000 Serbs who remained in
the province after the war -- half the original Serb population. The
continued strife has stretched peacekeepers' resources and tried the
patience of the
international community that has kept Kosovo afloat.
in power, presiding over a shattered, isolated Yugoslav
state and calling for the NATO-led peacekeeping mission in Kosovo to
withdraw. The peacekeepers' commander, Gen. Klaus Reinhardt, said last
week the force could be there for a decade.
Meanwhile, the veterans
of the KLA still promote the fighter Jashari as a
national hero -- an emblem of the independence they sought, and still
seek to accomplish.
"We do not
see the future of Kosovo linked with Yugoslavia or directed from
Belgrade," Thaci said. "But we will build the future of Kosovo
with the conditions we have."
Robertson contributed to this report, written by
Year Later Kosovo Wounds Still Fester; In Kosovo
to Preserve Multi-Ethnic Society Has Left Serbs Segregated in Ghettos
By Peter Finn
Post Foreign Service Friday, March 24, 2000; Page A01 GRACANICA,
new hospital in this Serbian enclave in Kosovo is a clean, modern, 20-bed
emergency-care facility in a blue and white prefabricated building plopped
at the edge of a field. It is also a monument to the outside world's
best intentions and biggest failures in the aftermath of the Kosovo
war. The hospital, opened last week by U.N. special representative Bernard
Kouchner, was built to care for local Serbs who are denied access to
hospitals staffed by ethnic Albanians. By building the clinic, international
officials acknowledged not only their desire to care for Kosovo's Serbian
minority--losers in NATO's war against Serb-led Yugoslavia--but that
they can do so only by segregating Serbs in ghettos.
Even so, the clinic
remains empty. Apart from its medical director, local Serbian medical
personnel are boycotting the facility--evidence of the long reach even
now of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic into Kosovo's Serbian communities.
One year ago, shortly
after 8 p.m. on March 24, the first NATO cruise missiles exploded on
the edge of Belgrade--the beginning of a longer-than-expected military
campaign to force Milosevic to reverse a vicious counter-insurgency
campaign in Kosovo that culminated when Serbian and Yugoslav forces
expelled nearly 1 million ethnic Albanians from the province and killed
several thousand more. But NATO's victory has given way to an even longer
and more complex battle.
The ideas used to
justify military intervention--multi-ethnicity, human rights and the
rule of law--have proven to be extraordinarily difficult to establish
in a territory that has no experience with democracy and a sometimes
shaky commitment to acquiring any. Since the war ended last June, revenge
attacks by ethnic Albanians have left hundreds of Kosovo Serbs dead
and hastened the flight of three-quarters of the province's prewar Serbian
population of 200,000.
The wave of retribution
has underscored that the most urgent and difficult task facing the United
Nations and other international organizations is not repairing the physical
landscape, but remaking the political psychology of two peoples. "It's
unrealistic to believe you can change all this, especially the mentality
of the people," in a short time, said German army Gen. Klaus Reinhardt,
commander of the NATO-led peacekeeping force in Kosovo.
a champion of Serbian nationalism, Kosovo was stripped in 1989 of the
autonomy it had since World War II, placing the province's 90 percent
ethnic Albanian majority under what Kouchner calls "an apartheid
system." Today, a new apartheid is taking hold. The province's
health care system is merely symptomatic of the new order. Controlled
by ethnic Albanians, Kosovo's established hospitals are off-limits to
Serbs, so the United Nations is building new facilities within Serbian
enclaves, institutionalizing the ethnic separation.
continued antagonism of ethnic Albanians toward the Serbs, Reinhardt
said: "There is one [thing] that is absolutely unacceptable, and
that is the security of the minorities." "We have always fought
for collective rights here, never individual rights," said Rada
Trajkovic, 53, medical director of the new clinic and a onetime member
of the ultra-nationalist Serbian Radical Party. "We have no experience
with human rights; political power was something one group had to use
against the other."
Before the war,
Trajkovic was a professor of surgery at the University of Pristina,
Kosovo's capital, who practiced at the city's central clinic. Within
days of NATO's entry into the city in June, one clinic physician, Andreja
Tomanovic, disappeared and another, Zlatko Gligorijevic, was shot and
killed. The medical staff fled and Serbian patients, even if they were
critically ill, were turned away. NATO doctors handled some emergencies,
but routine care collapsed in the climate of intimidation. Trajkovic
said babies died during delivery and patients with treatable diseases--such
as those needing dialysis--also died unnecessarily.
The new hospital
is intended to solve that crisis, but every small step to build a better
Kosovo is complicated not only by the irredentism of ethnic Albanians
but the meddling of Belgrade, whose influence reaches into the hallways
of this new facility.
Across the street
from the hospital is a cramped, dirty, ill-equipped facility that serves
as the primary health-care center for local Serbs. U.N. officials said
doctors and patients there are being warned by local supporters of Milosevic,
guided by Belgrade, not to work at or visit the new facility. Mica Popovic,
a physician who works at the old facility, denied that there has been
any intimidation, but he said none of the eight doctors in his clinic
would cross the street unless the new hospital is integrated into the
health care system of Serbia, Yugoslavia's dominant republic. And he
argued that the U.N. plan to run it independent of Serbia violates the
U.N. Security Council resolution governing postwar Kosovo--a resolution
that accepts the territorial integrity of Serbia and Yugoslavia.
here are refusing to cooperate with any of the multi-ethnic institutions
that Kouchner created to administer the province and lay the foundation
for the "substantial self-autonomy" called for by the security
council. "We are still hoping that the Serbs will join us,"
Kouchner said. There have been signs of incremental improvement. After
cowering in fear for months, Kosovo's Serbs are a little more visible
in places like the eastern town of Gnjilane, where today they crowded
a market street just a few feet from ethnic Albanian civilians and U.S.
The Serbian language--public
use of which has brought a summary death sentence for some--can again
be heard in Pristina, where 890 Serbs remain out of a prewar population
of 20,000. In the village of Pones, ethnic Albanian and Serbian children
attend the same schoolhouse, albeit with separate classrooms and curriculums.
"We would like it to be better," said Dragana Cveic, 11, who
plays hide-and-seek with ethnic Albanian children. Even some of the
more radical Kosovo Albanian parties are acknowledging that Serbs have
a right to live free of fear. "We have to secure the life of Serbs,"
said Valon Murati, a former guerrilla in the separatist Kosovo Liberation
Army and vice president of the Movement for the Liberation of Kosovo,
which advocates unification of all Albanians in the region into a single
independent state. "With this irrational hatred of Serbs, we cannot
While the isolation
of Kosovo's Serbs has reduced the opportunity for violence and the homicide
rate--40 to 50 killings a week late last year--has fallen to four or
five a week, the atmosphere is still murderous. Last week, a Serbian
physician in Gnjilane was gunned down in the street.
Many Serbs argue
that those who stayed behind in Kosovo were not responsible for the
atrocities against ethnic Albanians that occurred during the war, and
they are despondent. "For the moment, we have no hope," said
Ivica Ristic, 39, who lives on the edge of Gracanica within a protective
shield provided by Swedish NATO troops.
confused. If we were bombed for some democratic reasons, if this is
the democracy they were referring to, then there is nothing we can expect."
The vast majority of Serbs like Ristic have no freedom of movement;
the borders of their lives are defined by the presence of NATO tanks,
the distribution of humanitarian aid, beer inthe afternoon and two channels
of Albanian-language television in the evening. Ristic said the only
thing he shares with ethnic Albanians is the weather on television.
"The temperature is the same for both of us," he said.
900,000 ethnic Albanians fled Kosovo or were driven out. About 810,000
have since returned. At least 150,000 Serbs fled Kosovo, mostly to Serbia
proper, as the Albanians came back. © Copyright 2000 The Washington