The Washington Times
COMMENTARY

March 24, 2000

Kosovo anniversary without celebration

Gary Dempsey

March 24 marks the one-year anniversary of the
commencement of NATO airstrikes against Serbia, but
things in Kosovo, predictably, are not going according to
the Clinton administration's naive plans. In fact, a senior
Pentagon official recently warned that U.S. troops in
Kosovo may soon have to fight their former partners in war,
ethnic Albanian guerrillas who now are threatening
cross-border attacks against Serbia.

This has got to cease and desist, and if not, ultimately it
is going to lead to confrontation between the Albanians
and KFOR, explained the official, referring to the NATO-led
peacekeeping force in Kosovo.

The following day, U.S. peacekeepers swept through
Eastern Kosovo seizing 22 crates of ammunition and more
than 200 uniforms, mortar tubes, hand grenades, rifles,
mines, rucksacks, sleeping bags, explosives and fuses. The
operation was part of an interdiction strategy aimed at
preventing ethnic Albanians from using Kosovo as a
launching ground for incursions into Serbia.

That comes on the heels of the bloodiest month in
Kosovo since NATO troops arrived. What was different
about the latest round of violence, however, was that it was
NATO peacekeepers and ethnic Albanians who were
shooting each other. During the clash, which took place in
the polarized city of Mitrovica, ethnic Albanian snipers shot
and wounded two French soldiers. The French responded
by killing one rooftop sniper and wounding at least four
others.

The clash between NATO troops and ethnic Albanians
was not surprising. As a candid intelligence officer with the
U.N. Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) explained to me in
November, the separatist Kosovo Liberation Army has not
disarmed and disbanded as the White House claims but
instead maintains an underground network that has more
than enough weapons to start another war. The relationship
between NATO peacekeepers and the underground KLA,
he added, can be summarized in the following way: We are
their tool, and when we stop being useful to them, they will
turn against us.

Since the violence in Mitrovica, NATO and UNMIK
officials seem to be catching on, noting in a recent joint
statement, What is clear . . . is that two young French
soldiers, who came here as peacekeepers, are lying in
hospital beds suffering from gunshot wounds inflicted on
them by the very people they came here to protect.

Meanwhile, a NATO official in Belgium has admitted the
KLA certainly is trying to precipitate events politically and
get rid of some people, both Serbs and moderate ethnic
Albanians. Even more worrisome, independent newspapers
in Macedonia are reporting the existence of KLA-like
formations in Macedonia. The papers say the units are
waiting for an opportune time to link up with units from
Kosovo and Albania following violence planned for the
coming spring. There also are reports now coming from
Western and independent media inside Yugoslavia telling
of KLA infiltration into Serbia proper, specifically into the
municipalities of Kursumlija and Presevo along the border
with Kosovo. So far, two policemen have reportedly been
killed and six people wounded, and there is fear the number
of incidents will increase after the spring thaw.

Moreover, in a move that suggests Mitrovica is fast
becoming the Belfast of the Balkans, French troops
stationed there have been reinforced by about 150 soldiers
from the British Royal Green Jackets. According to analysts,
the Green Jackets . . . have extensive experience in urban
patrolling and civil unrest from serving in Northern Ireland
and, accordingly, have achieved some of the best results of
all the peacekeepers in Kosovo. I think it is widely
understood that the British have experience of patrolling
urban areas and in dealing with civil unrest, explains a
British spokesman, and when it comes to infantry units,
most of our men have been in Northern Ireland in the not
too distant past.

The analogy of Northern Ireland and Kosovo is fitting.
The British army went to Northern Ireland to keep the
warring sides apart and prevent another bloodbath. But
instead of ending the violence, both sides continued for
decades to launch sporadic attacks on one another as well
as on the peacekeepers who were ostensibly there to help.

What then can we expect in Kosovo? Perhaps much the
same. American hopes for peace in Northern Ireland were
recently set back by the Irish Republican Army's refusal to
disarm. In Kosovo, similarly, NATO leaders who touted
promises by the KLA to disarm must now explain why
peacekeepers are targets. The fact of the matter is that, from
Belfast to the Balkans, unvanquished insurgent groups
rarely turn in their weapons or give up their political
agendas.

As a result, NATO now finds itself, not with a
peacekeeping policy in Kosovo, but with a KLA
management policy. And like the British in Northern Ireland,
NATO may find itself baby-sitting these belligerents for
decades.

Gary Dempsey is a foreign policy analyst at the Cato
Institute


The Irish Times
March 25, 2000

Chaos reigns as world's gaze wanders

A year after NATO's militarily successful intervention in Kosovo,
the place is a mess - and a mass of hatred, reports Elaine Lafferty.
The best one can say is that it is stable

It is spring in the Balkans, a season of planting and ploughing
and political revisionism. Western analysts are spewing reports
declaring the NATO campaign a success; the place is being rebuilt,
they say. One million roof tiles have been distributed, thousands of
people have got medical help from Kfor and mines have been cleared
from 16,000 houses and 1,250 miles of road.

Humanitarian organisations, at least some of them, are less
enthusiastic and certainly less optimistic for the future. UNICEF this
week called Yugoslavian children the most endangered in Europe. The UN
High Commissioner for Refugees says it is still too dangerous in
Kosovo to try to return the 250,000 Serb refugees who fled after June.
For now, they must join the 600,000 Serb refugees from Bosnia and
Croatia who are still wandering the Balkans.

Journalists sift through the rhetoric, some searching futilely for
reliable statistics to provide a context for on-the-ground impressions.

In many ways, the world's attention seems elsewhere. The nuclear
tensions between India and Pakistan are more urgent; news of elections
and disasters in Africa are even making it on to the news pages. The
Middle East continues to be the hot spot.

So what of Kosovo, of Yugoslavian President Slobodan Milosevic? What
of a 78-day air war that achieved at least two things: the cessation
of Serbian oppression against ethnic Albanians in the province and the
showering of toxic-depleted uranium from bombs all over Yugoslavian
soil and water?

Let us go back a few years to refresh memories. The Kosovo province, a
land of some 1.3 million that borders Macedonia and Albania as well as
the southern Yugoslavian province of Serbia, has long been a disputed
region.

Serbs claim it as their historical and religious heartland. Ethnic
Albanians, who are Muslim, claim it as their homeland for the last
several hundred years, at least. The Albanians have certainly been the
majority here for a long time, comprising some 80 to 90 per cent of
the population, with the remainder mixed among Serbs, Roma, and
Bosniacs. Ethnic tensions were simply not permitted to exist under
Josef Tito, the Communist strongman whose reign ended in 1974. In
fact, his Brotherhood and Unity policy simply repressed hatreds.
In 1989, Slobodan Milosevic facilitated his rise to power by revoking
the autonomy that Kosovo had enjoyed, ostensibly to protect the Serb
minority, who were suffering at the hands of the Albanian majority.
What followed was a decade of a reversal of the freedoms the Albanians
had enjoyed. In 1998, a loosely organised guerrilla group emerged,
armed and uniformed, calling itself the Kosovo Liberation Army. Its
war with the Serbian paramilitaries and Yugoslavian Army escalated. A
Serb massacre of civilians in the Kosovo village of Racak is widely
considered to have been the last straw for the West, and the impetus
for the NATO campaign.

Now, as the snow on mountains ringing Kosovo melts, nearly all the
750,000 to one million Albanian refugees who fled during the NATO
campaign have returned. Many were stripped of all their belongings and
valuables by the Serbs, their identity documents seized, their cars
and tractors shorn of licence plates.

What have they returned to? What does this place - nearly empty a year
ago, visibly populated then only by uniformed Serb soldiers patrolling
streets of wrecked shops and deserted and fire-blackened homes - look
like now? What has replaced the sounds of air-raid sirens and gunfire
and bombs hitting their marks?

A few scenes . . .

It is midday in the centre of Pristina, the Kosovo capital. The
streets are crowded with pedestrians, the streets clogged with
coughing and dusty cars, bumper to bumper. Not far from here, the
city's massive sports stadium, once a symbol of ethnic coexistence
under Tito, burned a few weeks ago, due, apparently, to faulty
electrical wiring. It is now a twisted, blackened shell that looms
over the city. Surrounding the stadium are tented and open market
stalls, selling just about anything one could want. There are Honda
generators, petrol in plastic bottles, garden hoses, Nike jackets,
German car parts, door knobs, socks and jumpers. Boxes display fresh
produce from Greece and elsewhere, oranges and potatoes and onions and
kiwi fruit. There are walls of cigarette cartons; a pack sells for
DM1.50.

Even during the NATO campaign, the traffic signals usually worked. Now
they do not. Serbs used to operate the so-called infrastructure here,
the water supply and the power plants. They somehow got the creaky
stuff to work. The Albanians were largely unfamiliar with it and
international engineers have found much of the ancient equipment
baffling. Without traffic signals, chaos is reigning at this
particular intersection. An American UNMIK (United Nations Mission in
Kosovo) policeman in a blue uniform is screaming at cars to stop. He
is waving his arms madly, cursing, his face red. At his side stands a
young woman in a Kosovo Protection Corp uniform, the group that is
currently being trained to become Kosovo's police force. She is
watching him, learning how to be a police officer.

A small, red car fails to obey the UNMIK's officer's shouted command
to stop. Finally, the driver halts.

"What the f . . . are you doing?" screams the UNMIK policeman. He
grabs his gun from his holster and aims it at the driver. "Get out of
the car now!"

When the driver with the gun pointed at his head hesitates, the UNMIK
officer slams the gun on the hood and shouts the command again. The
driver opens the door.

"Give me your keys," the officer shouts. The driver complies, and the
officer takes the keys and throws them some 50 feet away into the
street. "There's your keys, you "f . . . ing idiot," shouts the
officer, stomping away.

The incident has captured the attention of all those stuck in traffic.
It has done nothing, of course, to alter the gridlock. A young police
trainee has just been taught to point a gun at someone who commits a
traffic violation.

Another scene. In a neighbourhood in the hills above Pristina, some 15
Serb families huddle in their homes. "No, they never leave," says an
Albanian who lives on the street. "They cannot. They would be shot or
beaten." Once a week the Serbs are escorted by British soldiers to do
their grocery shopping.

In Mitrovica, an 80-year-old woman is one of 15 Serbs remaining on the
southern side of the River Ibar, which used to be mixed Serb and
Albanian. She refuses to leave her home, to join her family in
Vovojdina, in the north of Yugoslavia. A veteran of the second World
War, she fought the Nazis and she is not about to give up now, even
though a nearby Serb man was hacked to death with an axe by an
Albanian just weeks ago. Now, at night, she sits outside her house in
a lawn chair beside a box of rocks. French soldiers escort her to do
her shopping, but worry they will not be able to protect her.
In Suva Reka, where several mass graves were found after the war, it
is market day, and the streets are crowded. A convoy of 1,100 US
marines is making its way across town as part of a planned show of
NATO strength during the next week. Children wave and people smile at
the Kfor troops, a response that is nearly universal among the
Albanians here. Many Albanian homes sport posters and calendars
depicting President Clinton. Many call the US Secretary of State,
Madeleine Albright, "Mother".

Still, the UN agreement that brought an end to the war here called for
a dismantling and disarming of the Kosovo Liberation Army, whose goal
is complete independence for the province, which is still, on paper,
under the rule of Belgrade. On the ground, with red Albanian flags
flying from buildings and homes and cars, this already looks like an
independent state. All the maps have been changed from Serbian
placenames to Albanian, which can lead to confusion among aid workers
as well as Kfor. Srbica is now Skenderaj; Pec, site of one of the
holiest of Serb monasteries, is now Peje. Street signs, which used to
have Serbian and Albanian spellings, have been altered, with Serb
names blacked out.

Despite the agreement, two KLA soldiers, still wearing their outlawed
uniforms, stand in the street in Suva Reka as the Kfor troops pass by.
William Hayden is a field officer in Skenderjai at the OSCE (the
Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe). He has worked
in the Balkans since 1994. Like other OSCE staff, he left Kosovo on
March 19th, 1999, just before the air war began. He returned in June.
He is eager to leave in October and says he is finished with this work.

"This is not working. This is not Bosnia. The UN agreement is
idealistic, but it is not realistic. In Bosnia we had some kind of
agreement between the parties. We do not have that here. What is the
rule of law? Which law governs? Is this still a part of Yugoslavia?"
he said. "Our local partners do not think so. Take the Albanian judges
now. They want to try Serb war criminals. They are not interested in
trying cases against people in their own community. So we have rising
crime, a large drug problem, even reports of organ theft. But the
judges are not interested in that.

"There is no framework and without a framework, historically, setting
up a civil society does not work. We are working against history
here."

Perhaps, but the big picture is that the place is relatively quiet for
the moment. If there is attention to the region, it is turning to the
political fortunes of Mr Milosevic, who seems to be more entrenched
than ever, and determined to prevent further erosion of Yugoslavia.
In fact, as Kosovo seems hopeless, thwarted, filled with hatreds but
relatively stable, interest is shifting to Montenegro, the
Western-leaning Yugoslavian republic that many say will be the next
source of contention.

A few Western reporters were not in Kosovo this week; they were
apartment hunting in Montenegro.


The Irish Times
March 25, 2000

War and peace revisited

Kosovo: War and Revenge by Tim Judah Yale. University Press, 336pp,
(pounds) 25.00 hbk in UK; (pounds) 12.95 pbk

By LARA MARLOWE

Tim Judah's 1997 The Serbs: History, Myth & the Destruction of
Yugoslavia was a standard reference book for journalists covering last
year's war in Yugoslavia. His new book is being published to coincide
with the first anniversary of the start of NATO's 78-day bombardment,
and his gloomy but well-reasoned assessment of the West's muddled
intervention and the Serbs' and Albanians' inability to break free of
their history makes me think I may carry his latest tome to another
Balkan war.

One of the most intriguing ideas buried in the new book is that the US
inadvertently - or deliberately - triggered the Yugoslav war by
presenting the Serbs with an agreement they could not accept at
Rambouillet. Because Appendix B gave NATO troops "together with their
vehicles, vessels, aircraft, free and unrestricted passage throughout
the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia . . ." the Yugoslav negotiating
team at Rambouillet refused even to discuss the military annex to the
agreement which the US Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright,
demanded they sign.

Slobodan Milosevic believed Appendix B meant the NATO occupation of
all of Serbia - not just Kosovo - and the likelihood that US Marines
would burst through his door in the middle of the night. The West
thought Milosevic was just being his usual bloody-minded self when he
refused to allow his delegation to sign in Paris. That he believed his
own survival to be at stake is ascribed to what Judah calls "the
'cock-up' theory of history" - some over-zealous NATO officers drawing
up a needlessly ambitious military wish list. Yet Judah later cites
Chris Hill, the US Ambassador to Macedonia who led the US delegation
to Rambouillet, as saying that Milosevic wanted to avoid the military
annex because "he felt that the true intention of the force was to
eliminate him."

Appendix B represents either great stupidity or great cynicism on the
part of Mrs Albright. If Milosevic's arrest and prosecution were not
an ulterior motive, why did she not drop the provision which made it
impossible for the Serbs to sign the agreement? And if Milosevic was
the real target, was it really necessary to destroy much of Serbia and
Kosovo and kill thousands of people only to fail in that goal? For
despite the bombing of his presidential villa and the International
War Crime Tribunal's indictment, Milosevic remains in power. The
Ahtisaari-Chernomyrdin agreement that finally ended the bombardment on
June 10th did not give NATO free access to all of Yugoslavia; the US
in the end abandoned the very demand that prevented a pre-war
agreement.

Despite Milosevic's atrocious record in Croatia and Bosnia, the West
failed to foresee his response to the bombardment - the mass expulsion
of Kosovo Albanians. "At no time . . . did any of the diplomats he met
ever understand that threats against hundreds of thousands of
Kosovars, either implied or direct, were actually meant to be taken at
face value," Judah writes. The German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer
later said he regretted not having taken Milosevic seriously in early
March 1999 when Milosevic told him that Serb forces could empty Kosovo
"within a week".

Yet it was perhaps the war's cruellest irony that NATO needed the
Albanian refugees. NATO's intervention, Judah writes, "was as much to
do with gunboat diplomacy as anything else". Western public opinion
would have turned against the bombardment, had it not been for the
wrenching scenes of refugees pouring over the borders. "The question
would have been asked, 'How can we bomb a small country - whatever we
think of its government - because it refuses to sign an agreement
about the future of part of its territory?'."

In contrast with widespread idealisation of the Kosovo Liberation Army
in the West during the war, Judah acknowledges Kosovo Albanian
involvement in the international drugs trade and notes the Marxist
dogmatism of some of the KLA's founders - who demanded not just an
independent Kosovo but a Greater Albania from Macedonia to Montenegro.
He records KLA meetings with CIA and MI6 agents from the early 1990s.
In the months leading up to the war, the scale of Serb atrocities
against Albanians was greater, but the KLA also kidnapped and
murdered, not only Serbs but Albanian "collaborators" as well.
Since the war ended, the guerillas have been involved in a campaign of
ethnic cleansing against Serb civilians. "With little law and order
people blamed the KLA for having brought crime in its wake and were
frightened of former KLA men or people who claimed to be KLA men
appropriating flats and shops and businesses at gunpoint," Judah
writes. Although UN Security Council Resolution 1244 required the KLA
to disarm, it has simply stashed most of its weapons across the border
in Albania and regrouped as the KPC (Kosovo Defensive Troops), which
Judah rightly calls "the KLA in mothballs".

By interviewing some of the protagonists after the war, the author
obtained behind the scenes details that journalists would have loved
to have known at the time - how Mrs Albright plotted to keep the
veteran Balkan negotiator Richard Holbrooke out of the region during
the 1998 KLA rebellion; how she panicked when the Albanian delegation
would not sign at Rambouillet, revising her opinion of the KLA leader
Hashim Thaci from "wonderful" to "odious". It is chilling to learn
that NATO believed 350 civilians would be killed in the bombing of
Milosevic's party headquarters - but nonetheless bombed the building.
(In the event, the Serbs evacuated the tower and no one died.)

Judah provides insights into diplomatic manoeuvring, but mentions only
in passing NATO's attack on a passenger train at Grdelica, the bombing
of the Albanian refugee convoy on the road to Djakovica and British
and American use of depleted uranium munitions. The results of the war
are pitiful, he concludes: an impoverished Serbia, still under
dictatorship; an anarchical, aid-dependent Kosovo demanding the
independence which the West cannot or will not give them. Of Milosevic
and NATO he writes, "They all just got it wrong". One expects a man
like Milosevic to "get it wrong". But aren't our own, democratically
elected representatives supposed to do better?

Lara Marlowe covered the 1999 Yugoslav war for The Irish Times.


Reporter, Banja Luka, Republika Srpska
Issue 99, March 15, 2000

Curfew in Kosovska Mitrovica:
Genocide with a human face

"It's as if they asked me what to do. You go home, there's nothing
on television and even if there were, there's no electricity; you go
to bed, you wrastle a bit if you have someone to wrastle with and so on...
You'll see, in eight to ten months, the midwives will be doing brisk
business. If this were to last a hundred years or so, there would be
more of us than the Shiptars."

By SLAVISA LEKIC

Nothing lasts longer than curfew.

In Kosovska Mitrovica, which cynics are calling Mostarska Mitrovica, more because of an excess of bridges than because of similarity with divided Mostar, curfew is generally peaceful. In fact, it is too
peaceful and that is a dangerous state for a people who have definitely decided on a fight. And because of this, many are predisposed to claim that the recently introduced curfew has become as unnecessary
as a good attorney after a divorce. Shit is happening during the day, as demonstrated by the most recent incident last week and the bombing of Serbs and French KFOR troops by the Albanians.

"If we are going to fight, brother, we are going to fight right in the middle of the day, are we not? The only purpose of the curfew is to trap us in our houses so the occupiers can drink in peace," says one man,
brother to brother, while we sit in the Dolce Vita Cafe, barely twenty meters from the north side of the bridge.

When restricted movement was introduced in Mitrovica, first at 6:00 p.m., then at 8:00 p.m. and finally at 10:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m., Dolce Vita was the only cafe which, by the decision of "that preserved
reptile" (which is what they call Bernard Kouchner, the head of UNMIK), was closed down but that "blockade" was quickly removed. Dolce Vita today is doing business at a brisk pace, as are the other
cafes and restaurants. That is how it is today when people disappear from the streets by 8:00 p.m. and withdraw into their homes. Whoever is sitting in a cafe when curfew starts must wait for dawn there.

"This is pure genocide with a human face. Screw them. It looks like they have decided to kill us with alcohol. Before, brother, you would drink from dawn until midnight, you would have a schedule, you had
time to get something to eat but this is a clear catastrophe. You are always thinking that you won't have enough time so you are like a sheep attacking a block of salt... You start at dawn, one drink at a time,
all day; at seven, you have a double, because you are running out of time; at seven thirty you have a triple, to get home and time; and at ten minutes to eight you are going home on all fours... I really don't
know how we are still alive. Tell me, my friend, is this not genocide. What will the evil ones think of next!"

There are, however, some who see no faults in the curfew.

"It's as if they asked me what to do. You go home, there's nothing on television and even if there were, there's no electricity; you go to bed, you wrastle a bit if you have someone to wrastle with and so on...
You'll see, in eight to ten months, the midwives will be doing brisk business. If this were to last a hundred years or so, there would be more of us than the Shiptars," a young man with sparse and almost white
hair confides during one of those Mitrovica dawns when the almost surreal rays of the sun touch the ghostly empty streets.

This is curfew in Mitrovica.

Armored "taxi": The high degree of tension and weariness, the maximal exhaustion of the nervous system and the rather immoderate drugging with alcohol have contributed to making the "conquering" of the
curfew the main event among the young people of Mitrovica. At first, this was tolerated: they were searched and gathered into transporters or even tanks and transported throughout the city. In the cafes and
taverns, the Serbs were dying of laugher.

"Brother, yesterday I hitched a ride on the French taxi. It's true that it's free but it was really noisy and uncomfortable," brags one man.

"Actually, the Greek ones are relatively comfortable and the people are really nice. A man stood next to the entrance and he even opened the door," another interjects.

"Who the hell sent these people from Ghana: they have no manners! They shout, they spit, and their taxis smell as if they came from the Gypsy Mall," adds a third.

"And the Swedes apparently chose the wrong profession: they don't know the city. I told him ten times "10 John Kennedy Street" but he's staring at me with a blank look. I tell him, OK, let me drive, but he
doesn't respond... I guess he finally figured out that he's dense: when we finally got there, he didn't even want to take the tip!"

Then the foreign "brothers" changed their tune: even a minute late bore the consequence, in addition to the usual, somewhat rougher search, of a form of deportation: the late comers would be stuffed into
armored "taxis" and transferred to the sign marking the entrance to the city. Once there, they had the option of either waiting for six o'clock and the end of the curfew, or of setting out on foot toward Zvecan,
two or three kilometers away, to look for a place to spend the night. Only then did the curfew "generate success"! With small exceptions, it's understood.

Then there are the ill-fated attempts. Of course, it was just my luck to have something similar happen to me. Quite unintentionally, it's true.

I was sitting quietly one evening in the Sfension Cafe in Zvecan and gathering energy to write an article which was due tomorrow. I had the main idea in my head but was irritated by the fact that, after four
years of computerization, I had to type the article on a classic typewriter. So I sat there, having a drink or two (ahem!), gathering energy, thinking about the configuration of the letters on the keyboard and
waiting for the man who was going to give me and D.M. a lift to Mitrovica and the Bisevac Motel, where I was staying. The curfew was getting nearer and there was no sign of the man.

Alright then, we don't want to impose on the hosts in Sfension so we go to a regular taxi station. There we encounter only good old Murphy and his laws: nothing remotely resembling a taxi. Half an hour after
the beginning of curfew, D.M. finally runs into some waiter: he'll give us a ride to Mitrovica but only to the entrance to the city, to the Muslim cemetery, where the checkpoint is kept by French soldiers. Better
than nothing, I am thinking, while my stable feeling of insecurity dashes from my heart into my heels. I make a joke, that is, I try to joke with D.M. in an attempt to hide my fear.

This isn't the first time for him and he's as cool as a cucumber.

We cover the 200 meters to the checkpoint on foot. I am merrily jabbering, sort of. Then I see three soldiers and their officers behind a tank. And I simply freeze. The Frenchmen are small but they are there
for very specific reasons. They are also armed. There is a young man in civilian clothing with them as well, a translator, it later turns out.

Without a single word one of the soldiers walks up to me and stares at me through narrowed eyes. I endure a full two seconds of this and then, staring above his helmet, offer him my press card which I have
been clutching in my right hand all the way from Zvecan. He doesn't give a damn about the pass; he shoves me against the tank, lifts my arms and spreads my legs and then searches almost every part of my
body with his hands.

"I am journalist, I am journalist," I hear myself saying in English.

"The lieutenant would like to know where you have been until now?" says the translator in Serbian thus interrupting my lament.

D.M. explains.

"The lieutenant would like to know if you know about the curfew?" continues the translator.

D.M. laughs and "confesses"!

"The lieutenant would like to know why you are laughing?" the lieutenant and the translator are persistent!

D.M. continues to laugh and says that if he is not home in five minutes, he is going to throw up in the checkpoint.

"The lieutenant would like you to give word of honor that this will not happen again," the lieutenant and the translator are now laughing, too.

D.M. is still dying of laughter and I am swearing up and down that this is the first and final time that we will do anything this stupid.

"Go, Serb," the lieutenant says in Serbian, patting me on the shoulder.

"Gzhuar," says the young man in civilian clothing.

Two hundred meters away in the motel they explain that the young man had told me "Good luck". In Albanian.

I try to get back to normal. Not even double drinks help. The article, nonetheless, must wait for the next day because I am so full of energy that a toy flashlight in contact with me would go out.

Of course, something similar will never happen again. Not because I am afraid, of course. Just because!

Exchange of goods: In Suvi Dol, a village on the periphery of the northern part of Mitrovica, only a very few Serbs remain who are somehow surviving surrounded by the majority Albanian population. They
are protected by KFOR. Contacts with Albanian neighbors broke off a long time ago. Still, a few days ago, with the first twilight, an Albanian neighbor who lived some 500 meters away jumped the fence into
the yard of a Serbian landowner. And when he heard the Serb repeat his gun, he said in a pleading voice:

"Neighbor, do not commit a sin, I only have a talk on you".

The Albanian knew that his Serbian neighbor intended to move to town and now he had come with a business proposition:

"As God is my witness, I have heard you have one cows here. He is good to stay here. Will die in apartment building. Will you sell him to me?"

The Serb has no idea what to do with the cow anyway. He thought about just leaving it. Might as well get something for it.

"I will, neighbor, but I could not sell it for less than a thousand marks!"

"May I not see my children if it is not true, that cow, I have seen, is worth between brothers two thousand but I seven hundred only had. In the name of God, let us do a favor onto you and onto me!"

"Better something, than nothing," thinks the Serb and, not thinking too much about it, offers his hand.

The Albanian takes seven hundred marks from his pocket, already prepared, and puts them on the table:

"As soon as this curfew is ready to start, you hit the cow toward myself and I have to wait for him there. So this one here does not see me pull him along and think I have stolen him," the neighbor makes all
the arrangements and leaves.

At exactly eight o'clock that evening, when the curfew begins, the Serb peasant leads the cow to the path in front of the house, caresses her horns, pats her back several times, hangs around her neck several
seconds and then gives her a powerful kick under the tail.

And the cow trots off toward her new owner, the Albanian peasant.

Silence in Serbian: S. had been working as a translator for UNMIK for three months already and had a pass, and during the day he entered the southern part of the city. But he also had the nasty habit, when
he wasn't working, of having a drink too many. That night was no exception and a bet was made: he would cross the bridge during the curfew and go as far as Jugobanka, at the beginning of the southern part
of the city. He was going to bring back two stickers from the UNMIK building as proof.

With the pass, he got past the checkpoints on both the northern and the southern part of the bridge. He walked on the left side of the street and he was twenty meters from Jugobanka when someone grabbed
him by the shoulder.

"Where are you going at this hour?" a younger man asked him in Albanian.

S. remained silent.

"Where are you going at this hour?" the Albanian repeated the question, this time in Serbian.

S. looked away; every other part of him remained motionless. He was as sober as a newborn baby.

"So, you are silent in Serbian?!" asked the young Albanian.

S. continued to look at the Jugobanka building and remained silent.

"Go back and watch yourself. This time I will let you go," the Albanian lightly hit him on the head, turned him around and pushed him toward the bridge.

Those who saw him banging on the door of Dolce Vita, where the "guardians of the bridges" stay during the curfew, swear that they have never seen a paler face in their lives. He began speaking only after his
third double Stock brandy.

Mental retardation: The Bisevac Motel is to Mitrovica what the Grand Hotel used to be in Pristina. Not because it is well-appointed, which it is, but because it is the only one in the northern part of the city.
Regardless of the fact that it is only 150 meters as the bird flies from Bosnjacka Mahala, where incidents are frequent, this is where domestic and foreign journalists and French humanitarian workers stay, but
also Mitrovica college professors who have fled from Pristina or Mitrovica and who occasionally, when ordered to do so by the appropriate ministry, stop by to hold a lecture or conduct a survey.

At eight o'clock the doors are locked and whoever wants to can wait for the dawn here, drink or watch TV in a special compartment. Sitting there one night were three professors, a waiter and a Belgrade
reporter. The good, old late news [of Radio Television Serbia] had just ended. The waiter is talking to the reporter about war and post-war events of interest; the professors are talking about the news.
Supporters of Milosevic, supporters of the opposition, supporters of Seselj, supporters of mercenaries, supporters of the Yugoslav United Left, supporters of traitors... A real political melange.

Then the waiter and the reporter fell silent.

"...And I really think, colleague, that those brown-nosers from the media need to have their horns trimmed a little," says one of the "colleagues"!

The Belgrade reporter said nothing and in the chair next to him sat the waiter with an expression of complete disinterest.

"They've become unruly, colleague, quite unruly," replies the "colleague".

The Belgrade reporter let this pass without comment as well.

"If Milosevic were to..." began a third "colleague" but he was interrupted by the rolling of the chair kicked back by the reporter.

"Let's go, colleague," the reporter said, leaning on the waiter, "It seems to me we have a serious case of metal retardation here!"

"You said something?" asks one of the "colleagues".

"Nothing, nothing at all. We are going to sleep and you can continue to delight in Milosevic," the reporter was already at the door.

"What do you mean by 'delight in'?" another "colleague" comes to the rescue.

"Just like the name says: while he screws you dearly!" ["milo sevi": a pun]

In the morning, as the Belgrade reporter is drinking his first cup of coffee, he notices that he is being stared at by one of the "colleagues" from last night.

"Good morning, colleague," says the reporter politely.

If looks could kill, Reporter's budget would the poorer for the price of a plastic wreath.

"Kozovo iz Serbia": There has been no water for three days. We brush our teeth and shave using mineral water. The pungent smell coming from rooms and hallways forces the guests to meet either in the
compartment or in a small salon on the second floor.

It's only midnight but it seems the sound of war drums is coming from that salon. Three foreign reporters (Japanese, British and a Dutch woman, a photo reporter who had been to all the Yugoslav war fronts),
the British reporter's translator, the waiter and I are debating war and peace. We are drinking Stock brandy, pelinkovac [a bitter aperitif], beer and there is also a bottle of Kosovo lozovaca [grape brandy]
which has somehow found its way from the other side of the city.

I am being asked to explain the Kosovo labyrinth, and I am talking to them about chaos.

"But peace, when will there be peace?" the Briton is the most persistent.

I tell him that this question is awkwardly formulated and explain that perhaps the idea does exist here which many people are talking about but that no one really knows how to achieve this and tell him what
that is: the reconciliation of the Serbs and the Albanians.

As far as I know. And I know. I know, because I am familiar with the mentality of both the Serbian and the Albanian people.

There are too many death on both sides, I explain, and tell the story how some Albanians asked KFOR troops at Pristina airport to kill a dog which was wandering around. Why? Because it was a Serbian
dog. I fume while I recite information on houses which the Serbs set on fire in the northern part. I talk about revenge.

Says the Briton: If you're bitten by a dog, it will not hurt any less if you kill the dog.

I swear at Clinton, Blair, Kouchner, Milosevic.

By two o'clock I am drawing maps.

Now the Briton is swearing at Clinton, Blair, Kouchner, Milosevic and calling for peace.

I take out my notebook: according to the British press, during the past ten years 3.5 million Albanians have left Kosovo. There aren't that many of them in the whole world, I say.

By three thirty I am talking in Japanese and English and Albanian, even though the waiter and the translator assure me that they can't even understand my Serbian.

And yes, I too spit on our precious mythology but here there is no room for mythology: here it is a matter of life and death.

He shakes his head.

Then, click: the power goes out. The Briton lights a cigarette lighter and looks for a candle. The lighter gets too hot. He swears and drops it. Darkness. And then: whack!

He lost his balance, tripped over someone's feet and banged his head on the wooden cabinet.

We lit two candles: from the left corner of his mouth there was a thin trickle of blood. He wiped his mouth with his left hand, raised his right into the air and pointed three fingers at us:

"Kozovo iz Serbia," he suddenly rises.

"Kozovo iz Serbia," he repeated loudly and jumped to the window with the lowered blinds.

"Kozovo iz Serbia," he shouted very loudly and opened the window.

Dawn came. The curfew was over. In the corner of the salon, near the door, completely exhausted and half-undressed, lie the Japanese man and the Dutch woman.

Suddenly, as if someone had issued an order, we all rush to the window and shout together:

"Kozovo iz Serbia!"

Rare passers-by stare confusedly at six fools shouting from the window of the Bisevac Motel! A Danish soldier points his finger showing us to his two colleagues. A Greek officer calmly and proudly raises
three fingers.

We go back to the table.

"Oh, this will big a big job for the cleaning woman," says the British reporter as if nothing had happened and went to get his laptop. A new day was beginning. A new story needed to be "packaged" by the
next curfew.

"Congratulations, you really did a good job convincing him," says the waiter. "But what if he hadn't banged his head...?!"

Curfew in Kosovska Mitrovica.

Translated by Snezana Lazovic (March 26, 2000)


The Independent (UK) / www.independent.co.uk

After 1,000 years, terror forces Serbs out of their Kosovo village

By Andrew Buncombe in Velika Hoca

26 March 2000

History sits heavily in the Serb village of Velika Hoca. In this ancient
community close to Prizren in south-west Kosovo, there are 13
churches – stone-built, beautiful and full of priceless treasures. The
oldest, the 12th century St Nicholas's, is said to date back to before
the Serb Orthodox Church was granted autonomy from Greece.

The village itself, set deep at the bottom of a sloping valley, is
thought to be at least 1,000 years old. As with many things here, no
one really knows for certain. But history may be about to change for
ever. The Serbs of Velika Hoca fear that after a millennium during
which their ancestors occupied this village and farmed the land, they
will be the generation that has to abandon it. At least 600 of the
original 1,400 villagers have left within the last 12 months. They are
unlikely to return.

"This is the most modern prison in the world. There is nowhere else
like this ," said Vidosav Cukaric, 52, principal at the village primary
school. "We cannot even go 500 metres outside of our village. Nato
protects us, but only in the village. We have freedom but we cannot
do anything." They are trapped. Surrounded by Dutch troops, it is
virtually impossible for them to leave the village without serious risk
of being attacked by Albanians. Even the 40 or so children who have
passed primary school age can only go to secondary school in nearby
Rahovec in an armed Kfor convoy. A truck picks them up and then
returns them each day.

Apart from the teachers in the village school, no one has a wage-
paying job. There is just one shop and the number of fields in which
the farmers feel safe to work is not large. They survive on
humanitarian aid.

So instead the people of Velika Hoca – one of the largest 100 per
cent Serb communities left in Kosovo – spend their days idling away
the time, sitting around in the village square, feeling increasingly
resentful and bitter. Unlike the high-profile Serb community of
Mitrovica, the Serbs of Velika Hoca receive no support from
Belgrade.

"We feel terrible," said Mr Cukaric, sitting in the school staff room
while the children thundered up and down in the playground outside.
"We feel as though our own government has forgotten us. We feel we
have been abandoned by everyone – by the Serb government, by
Nato. The local people do not care for politics, all they care about is
survival."

Mr Cukaric and the other teachers believe they may last another year
in such circumstances before they will be forced to leave – the
majority to Serbia, some to Montenegro. Unable to sell their homes
in Velika Hoca and with only the most basic personal possessions,
they would find themselves on the bottom rung of Serb society.

"People are leaving from day to day," he said. "When there are only a
little number of people left and we feel unsafe we will be collected
from here. If the international community is unable to solve the
problems and create a multi-ethnic Kosovo in a year we have no
hope to stay here."

What is happening in Velika Hoca has been happening across
Kosovo since the United Nations Mission In Kosovo took charge last
summer. Official estimates by the United Nations High
Commissioner for Refugees and the Office for Security and
Co-operation in Europe suggest that two-thirds of the 300,000 Serbs that
were living in Kosovo this time last year have left. The inability to
offer a safe environment for minority groups is seen as Nato's biggest
failure in the province.

The anger of Kosovo Albanians that has been directed towards the
villagers of Velika Hoca (two young men were killed while wood-
cutting on the edge of the village last October) may in part be based
on the belief that these Serbs were responsible for the massacres in a
number of nearby Albanian villages. The villagers here deny that,
insisting they only fought to "protect the village".

Either way the reprisals continue. Father Milenko, the village's
Orthodox priest, who still holds services in eight of its 13 churches,
said that a fortnight ago a church in a village in which he used to
celebrate the Slavic liturgy was destroyed. "When man is having
problems, the church is having problems," he said.

For all this, the thickly-bearded Fr Milenko, who has worked in the
village for almost 15 years, is one of the loudest voices in favour of
staying. "I have never thought about it and I would like to see a man
who can predict the future. I am here and I will be here," he said.

"Humanitarian groups should be doing their jobs. I think it is their
job to help people, not to help people to leave. Today another family
left – a grandmother and two children. I don't think they will ever
come back. Their family has been here for 500 years."

There are those who agree with the priest. Sasa Goci, 26, used to
work as a mechanic in Velika Hoca and the surrounding villages,
importing parts from Serbia. Now, with no possibility of a job, he
spends his time helping Fr Milenko and proudly showing the
village's occasional visitors around its churches.

At St Nicholas's, up a track on the edge of the village, Mr Goci
opened the heavy wooden door with a vast hand-made metal key that
he said was the original.

Inside it was cool and silent and there were ancient fading icons
hanging from the smooth stone walls. "I will never leave the village,"
said Mr Goci. "I cannot understand why anyone would."


The Washington Post / 26 March 2000 / OPINION

WAS IT A MISTAKE?
We Were Suckers For the KLA

By Christopher Layne and Benjamin Schwarz

Sunday, March 26, 2000; Page B01

On March 24, one year ago, NATO began its campaign to defend ethnic
Albanians in Kosovo. After almost three months of bombing and a
massive exodus of Albanian refugees, Serbian troops withdrew from the
embattled province. Today, Kosovo is roiled by continuing violence,
and ethnic divisions seem as strong as ever. Inevitably, a debate has
surfaced about the wisdom of NATO's intervention: Success or mistake?

The United States and its NATO allies won a military victory in
Yugoslavia a year ago but, as the deteriorating situation in Kosovo
attests, it has proved a hollow triumph. As a test of the Clinton
administration's doctrine of virtuous power--the notion that the United
States should intervene when other countries' internal conflicts offend
American values--the Kosovo war has proved one of the
administration's more notable failures. It is a failure--strategic,
diplomatic and military--that should have been predicted and avoided.

Accuse us of relying too heavily on the benefits of hindsight if you will,
but a brief overview of the current situation confirms the notion that this
was, from the start, a misguided venture. Washington's declared
objectives of bringing stability to the Balkans and building a multiethnic
democracy in Kosovo have utterly foundered. Worse, as should have
been foreseen, the United States and its allies are becoming stuck in a
geopolitical quagmire.

Throughout Kosovo--especially in the northern town of
Mitrovica--ethnic tensions are at a boiling point, and, as recent United
Nations reports have underscored, the supposedly demobilized KLA
continues to wage a violent campaign intended to force Kosovo's
remaining Serbs to flee the province. More ominously, the KLA is
waging a guerrilla war inside Serbia in the hope of drawing NATO
forces into renewed fighting against the Yugoslav army.

Looking back, it is clear that this unfortunate outcome was inevitable,
given the failure of President Clinton, Secretary of State Madeleine
Albright and their advisers to understand the complex background of the
conflict and the motivation of the warring parties. In Kosovo, there were
no good guys. Over the centuries, relations between Serbs and ethnic
Albanians have been marked by reciprocal repression and revenge. The
more immediate causes of the violence that prompted the United States
and NATO to step in were the irreconcilable goals of these two hostile
ethnic groups. Ethnic Albanians, the overwhelming majority of
Kosovo's population, wanted complete independence from Yugoslavia.
Serbs, invoking the principle of national sovereignty, refused to accept
an independent Kosovo.

As a result of its failure to understand, the administration appears to
have fallen for some of the oldest tricks in the book. The KLA's
guerrilla campaign was a deliberate attempt to provoke Belgrade into
reprisals that would attract the West's attention. Knowing it could not
defeat Yugoslavia without NATO's military support, the KLA waged
a nasty insurgency that included assassinations of Serbian political and
military officials. The KLA calculated--accurately--that a violent
Yugoslav retaliation would pressure Washington and its allies to
intervene. Although U.S. intelligence warned the Clinton administration
of the KLA's intentions, Clinton and his advisers took the bait:
Washington placed the blame for events in Kosovo on Belgrade and
absolved the KLA.

The administration's choice of sides was compounded by a series of
diplomatic and military miscalculations. The U.S. believed it could
easily force Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to accept an
American-imposed settlement of the Kosovo question. The Milosevic
government might eventually have accepted partition, a solution that
might have restored a semblance of peace. But instead of pursuing that
diplomatic solution, the Clinton administration cynically offered
Belgrade terms that would have nullified Yugoslav control of Kosovo
and granted NATO the right to station troops anywhere in
Yugoslavia--terms Milosevic was bound to refuse. The United States
and its allies then decided to teach Milosevic a lesson by carrying out
their threat to bomb Yugoslavia.

In this light, Clinton's assertion at a June 25, 1999, postwar news
conference that the bombing was a way to stop "deliberate, systematic
efforts at . . . genocide" in Kosovo seems either disingenuous or
ignorant. Before the start of NATO's bombing on March 24, 1999,
approximately 1,800 civilians--overwhelmingly ethnic Albanians but
also Serbs--had been killed in 15 months of bitter warfare between the
KLA and Yugoslav forces. Up to that point, however, there had been no
genocide or ethnic cleansing. The Yugoslav army's admittedly brutal
operations had been directed at rooting out the KLA, not at expelling
Kosovo's ethnic Albanian population.

Ironically, the U.S.-led NATO bombing precipitated the very
humanitarian crisis the administration claimed it was intervening to
stop. Belgrade did not turn from conducting a counterinsurgency against
the KLA to uprooting the province's ethnic Albanian population until
several days after NATO began its bombing campaign. Indeed, in its
May 1999 report on ethnic cleansing in Kosovo, the State Department
conceded that "in late March 1999 [after the NATO bombing began],
Serbian forces dramatically increased the scope and pace of their efforts,
moving away from selective targeting of towns and regions suspected of
KLA sympathies toward a sustained and systematic effort to ethnically
cleanse the entire province of Kosovo."

Not only did the forced removal of civilians result from the NATO
bombing, but administration claims of mass killings--made to rally
popular support for the war--turn out to have been exaggerated. Clinton
defended the intervention on the grounds that the Yugoslavs had
slaughtered "tens of thousands." Secretary of Defense William Cohen
termed it a "horrific slaughter."

The numbers we now have tend to disprove those claims. To date,
according to U.N. reports, forensic specialists working under U.N.
auspices have exhumed 2,108 bodies. It is far from certain that all of
these victims perished as a result of Yugoslav atrocities; some may have
been combatants, others may have been civilians caught in the cross-fire
between the Yugoslav army and the KLA. Still others may have been
civilians killed by NATO bombs. In the end, the number of civilians
believed killed by the Yugoslav army in Kosovo is certain to have been
far less than the Clinton administration and NATO claimed.

Though the United States and its allies accomplished one goal by
forcing Belgrade to withdrew its troops from Kosovo last year we must,
in the end, ask at what price. The war in the province itself never ended.
Moreover, despite the presence of U.S. and NATO peacekeepers, once
Yugoslav forces left Kosovo the KLA began a new campaign of terror,
this time targeting the province's Serbian and Gypsy populations.

This campaign of ethnic cleansing continues unabated. Albright's assertion
March 8 in a speech in Prague that the KLA "disbanded" is a fiction.
Politically, the KLA leadership constitutes the backbone of Kosovo's de
facto government. Militarily, it has merely gone underground; the
continuing violence against the province's remaining Serbs
bears--according to NATO officers on the ground--the hallmarks of the
KLA. Meanwhile, across the border from Kosovo in Serbia proper, the
KLA--as part of its effort to carve out a greater Albania--is waging
guerrilla war in the Presevo Valley region, which is populated largely by
ethnic Albanians. In a disturbing replay of the events leading to the U.S.
intervention, the KLA is attempting to provoke a violent Serb response
in the hope that NATO again will be drawn into war, and that this time
NATO will do the KLA the favor of finishing off the Milosevic regime.
The Clinton administration has already been played for a sucker twice
by the KLA. It remains to be seen whether it will be manipulated yet
again.

Impartial observers recognize that in postwar Kosovo, the KLA has
been the heavy. Until now, the United States and NATO have been
hesitant to confront it, fearing--with good reason--the KLA will turn on
them. Last week's U.S. raids on KLA arms caches are, to judge by the
miscalculations of the past, likely to prove merely the opening skirmish
in the next Kosovo war--between NATO and the KLA.

This looming NATO-KLA confrontation shows how the Clinton
administration has painted the United States and NATO into a corner.
Allowing Kosovo to become independent, as the KLA demands, would
make a mockery of Washington's claims that it fought the war to bring
stability to the Balkans and multiethnic democracy to Kosovo. But if the
United States continues to insist that Kosovo retain its current nebulous
standing as a province of Serbia under U.N. administration, it risks an
almost certain conflict between NATO peacekeepers and the KLA. A
third option--if NATO decides simply to wash its hands of Kosovo--is
equally unworkable because would not take long for Belgrade to resume
its war against the KLA. Which, of course, is how this all started.

Confronting Kosovo's depressing prospects, Clinton administration
officials console themselves that, if nothing else, they at least "did the
right thing" by intervening. Even granting that doubtful premise, this is
not enough to exculpate them from the responsibility they bear for the
brutal quagmire Kosovo has become. In the real world, policymakers
are judged by the consequences of their actions, not by their intentions.
Measured by this standard, the Kosovo war is a damning indictment of
both the administration's foreign policy and its doctrine of "virtuous
power."

Copyright 2000 The Washington Post Company


USA Today
March 27, 2000

http://www.usatoday.com/usatonline/20000327/2075236s.htm

Serbs fear they'll be eliminated from Kosovo

Those remaining live in dread of reprisal from ethnic Albanians

By David J. Lynch

KOSOVSKA MITROVICA, Kosovo -- Each day that the bombs fell, she was scared. Scared for herself, scared for her country, but most of all scared for the baby boy growing inside of her. Olivera Josefovic, 35, made it through NATO's 78-day air war against Yugoslavia by telling herself to be strong for her child. Once the war ended, she reasoned, the fear would melt away. But for Kosovo's shrinking Serb population, fear has hardened into a constant companion. In the months since the war's end, ethnic Albanians have confiscated Serb dwellings to replace ethnic Albanian homes that Serb forces burned during the war. More than 80 Serbian Orthodox Churches, some dating to the 14th century, have been dynamited by ethnic Albanian extremists.

Serbs who make up about 6% of Kosovo's population -- fear they will be obliterated from the area they regard as the cradle of their culture. ''It's worse now than before the war,'' Josefovic says, cuddling her 9-month-old son Marko. ''I thought peace would come for everyone, not that people would come here and kill the innocent.'' Kosovo is a province of Serbia, the dominant republic in Yugoslavia. Since the war, the province has been administered by the United Nations, which is trying to persuade Serbs and ethnic Albanians to bury their mutual loathing and live together.

The Serbs' fear of ethnic Albanian reprisals and skepticism about NATO's impartiality is making such coexistence all but impossible to achieve. Indeed, Mitrovica, an industrial city about an hour's drive north of the capital Pristina, is the focus of escalating concern over NATO's ability to pacify postwar Kosovo. Almost daily for the past six weeks, ethnic Albanians and Serbs have fought here with stones, guns and grenades in battles that have left dozens hurt, including several French soldiers.

Serbs began leaving Kosovo by the thousands as the Yugoslav army and police withdrew June 13 ahead of NATO troops. Only 300 of Pristina's 40,000 prewar Serbs remain; about half of Kosovo's 200,000 Serbs are gone. ''It's not easy for the Serbs. The Albanians have a future because we're here,'' French Lt. Matthieu Mabin says. ''The Serbs are very, very afraid.'' Some of the departed Serbs may have been implicated in war crimes. Many others feared becoming victims of vengeance. Gen. Klaus Reinhardt, commander of NATO's Kosovo Force (KFOR), came here to reassure Serbs.

About 150 NATO soldiers are serving as live-in guards for Serb families all over the province. More than 5,000 troops, desperately needed for other duties, are guarding Serb churches and monuments. Few Serbs are impressed. ''KFOR cannot protect the Serbs anywhere. NATO came to protect only the Albanians,'' says Oliver Ivanovic, 46, a Serb community leader. ''I hope NATO understands: To expel Serbs from this area (means) a 100-year war. The Serbs will not allow that.'' This grimy town is now effectively partitioned by the river Ibar, with Mitrovica's estimated 16,000 Serbs confined to the north. French soldiers patrol the main bridge linking the city's two halves. About six dozen ethnic Albanian families have returned to three gloomy apartment towers on the north side of town. They live under constant armed guard, with all entrances blocked by French armored vehicles and soldiers.

Meanwhile, a few miles farther north, the Serb enclave of Zvecan is beginning to have an Alamo-like feel to it. Earlier this month, about 50 local Serbs attended the opening of a small Serb art show in the village's one-story community center. But the festive occasion clashed with the pervasive gloom of a people who feel themselves on a slippery slope to cultural catastrophe.


LATimes, Saturday, March 25, 2000
www.latimes.com

1 Year After War With NATO Began, Serbs See a World Against Them


Kosovo: Wounds are far from healed, and critics say
separatist province's chaos is proof that the
alliance's intervention on behalf of ethnic Albanians
failed.

By PAUL WATSON, Times Staff Writer

KOSOVSKA MITROVICA, Yugoslavia--Svetlana Nojic
spent the first anniversary of the start of NATO's air
war in the compound of a Serbian Orthodox church, not
praying, but hiding--and waiting.
Nojic, one of 15 Serbs who have lived under
French military guard on the St. Sava Church grounds
since last summer, was expecting a visit Friday from
Sadako Ogata, the U.N. high commissioner for refugees.

But Ogata canceled her promised stop at the
church, a small Serbian enclave in this divided town's
southern side, and hurried instead to speak with
ethnic Albanians across the river, in the mainly
Serbian northern part of the city.
Ogata sent a deputy to the church to convey her
regrets. But everything is viewed through a political
prism in Kosovo, and a broken promise by the United
Nations' top refugee official--a week after Kosovo
administrator Bernard Kouchner was a no-show--only
added to the Serbs' conviction that the world is
against them.
What really bothered Nojic, who is the daughter
of the 104-year-old church's priest, Father Svetislav,
is that Ogata denied her the chance to make a
political point of her own. "I was going to ask her,
as a Japanese woman, 'Who has been condemned, who has
been punished, for those two atomic bombs dropped on
Hiroshima and Nagasaki?' " Nojic said. "Do war crimes
have an expiration date?"
A year after the North Atlantic Treaty
Organization launched airstrikes against Yugoslavia in
what it called a "humanitarian intervention" to end a
brutal Serbian crackdown on Kosovo's ethnic Albanian
majority, the wounds are far from healed--and critics
point to the separatist province's continuing chaos as
proof that the alliance's strategy failed.
The alliance won the war, and brought 800,000
ethnic Albanian refugees back to their homes, but many
of them then turned on Serbs and other ethnic
minorities, driving at least 250,000 new refugees from
Kosovo. There is no return in sight for most of them.
NATO Secretary-General George Robertson was
unbowed during a visit Friday to Kosovo's capital,
Pristina, with the alliance's supreme allied commander
in Europe, U.S. Gen. Wesley K. Clark.
"I'm more than ever convinced that NATO's action
was not only the right thing to do, it was the only
thing to do," said Robertson, who was Britain's
defense secretary during the air war.
"But I also know that the job is only half done,"
he said. "The conflict may be over, but the peace is
still to be won, and that is a challenge for all of
us. The international community, which has already
done so much, is going to have to do much better."
Clark and Robertson were supposed to visit
Kosovska Mitrovica, scene of some of the worst
violence between Serbs and ethnic Albanians, and
clashes between rioters and international
peacekeepers, in recent weeks.
But after arriving five hours late in Pristina,
the NATO chiefs canceled the trip to Kosovska
Mitrovica, insisting that they changed their minds
because time ran out, not because the city is
dangerous.
"I'm certainly not worried about visiting
Kosovska Mitrovica," Robertson told reporters in
Pristina. Kosovo is still technically a southern
province of Serbia, the dominant of Yugoslavia's two
remaining republics, but the territory's ethnic
Albanian majority is still as determined to win
independence as the Serbian minority is to stop it.
The U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague has
indicted Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and
four of his top officials on charges of war crimes and
crimes against humanity in Kosovo.
The U.S. estimates that Serbian police, Yugoslav
soldiers and paramilitary groups killed about 10,000
ethnic Albanians during the air war. The war crimes
tribunal still is searching for hard evidence to
support that figure and has suggested that many
victims' bodies may have been burned or removed.
Many atrocities were alleged to have occurred in
and around Kosovska Mitrovica, where large swaths of
the city were razed in an orgy of arson. But like his
daughter, Father Svetislav refused to lay any blame
for their own suffering on other Serbs. He chastised
only NATO.
"As a priest," he said, "I ask them if they have
a soul, if they have a conscience and if they have
honor."
It has been nine months since the arrival of the
NATO-led peacekeeping force in Kosovo, since Father
Svetislav or the other Serbs in the church compound
have ventured out in anything but a French armored
personnel carrier.
When a French soldier dropped them off just
outside the barbed-wire barrier at the church's front
gate last week instead of driving them past the
compound's wall as usual, ethnic Albanians started
pelting the Serbs with stones, Nojic said.
Ajshen Maliqi, 31, lives under constant French
military guard too, but on the mainly Serbian northern
side of the Ibar River that divides the town. She is
one of about 210 ethnic Albanians living in three
apartment blocks overlooking the river.
Although Maliqi stayed inside throughout the NATO
bombing campaign with eight other people, her family
abandoned their home nearly two months ago and fled to
southern Kosovska Mitrovica after angry Serbs went on
a rampage.
The rioters were retaliating for the killing Feb.
2 of two elderly Serbs in an antitank rocket strike on
a U.N. refugee agency bus, and for the firebombing of
a Serbian cafe in northern Kosovska Mitrovica. At
least nine people died in the unrest that followed the
attacks.
Maliqi returned with her father, Hyrshid, 65, her
18-year-old son and two other relatives earlier this
month on the promise that French troops would defend
them. Maliqi's son goes to school each day in an
armored French vehicle.
After speaking with Ogata briefly through the
family's first-floor window Friday--the human rights
chief remained on the street--Maliqi said that Serbs
never told her to leave but that she was too afraid to
stay when the violence exploded in the streets.
"It's not easy here now because we have no right
to leave our homes anymore," she said, looking out
over half a dozen French troops guarding her doorstep.
"All day long, we feel like soldiers too."



AFP

US disappointed at Kosovo Albanians

WASHINGTON, March, 28 (AFP) - The United States on Tuesday
expressed disappointment at the failure of Kosovo Albanian militias
to keep their commitment to demobilize.
"We are indeed disappointed in the failure of these parties to
live up to those commitments," said State Department spokesman James
Foley, referring to an agreement last week by the Kosovar militia
groups to demobilize.
"We continue to stress to the Albanian leadership in Kosovo that
we are serious about the messages of zero tolerance for violence and
extremism," he added.
Tuesday's Washington Post said that Kosovo militias appear
determined to continue challenging Serbian security forces in the
Presevo Valley of southern Serbia, an area which, like Kosovo, has
an ethnic Albanian majority, the officials said.
The militiamen have continued to wear uniforms and conduct
military exercises in a neutral zone in and around the village of
Dubrosin, which is off limits to NATO peacekeeping forces and the
Yugoslav military, it said.
"That greatly disappoints us -- the news in that article
concerning the failure of the parties to live up to the commitments
they made on March 23, commitments they freely undertook and that we
welcomed as an initial positive step," said Foley.
NATO-led KFOR peacekeepers recently cracked down on suspected
training camps in Kosovo for guerrillas crossing into Serbia
proper.
Foley did not rule out a repeat of the KFOR mission targeting
the militias.
"KFOR has in fact backed up these messages with appropriate
concrete action and remains capable of doing so as necessary in the
future," he said.



Reuters

West should hit KLA extremists in Kosovo-UN sleuth

GENEVA, March 29 (Reuters) - The West should be ready to use force
against extremist Albanians in Kosovo, the U.N. human rights investigator
for former Yugoslavia said on Wednesday.

In a gloomy survey a year after NATO forces entered the Yugoslav
province, Jiri Dienstbier, a former Czech foreign minister, also argued that
allowing Kosovo independence after tens of thousands of Serbs had been
driven out was unacceptable.

He told the U.N.'s Human Rights Commission most of Kosovo was
"ethnically-cleansed of non-Albanians, divided, without any legal system,
ruled by illegal structures of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) and very
often by competing mafias."

Dienstbier said the goal of extremist KLA forces was a "Greater
Albania". In this, he said, they were backed by former Albanian President
Sali Berisha and other Albanian politicians.

The only way out of the blind alley for the U.N. mission in Kosovo
(UNMIK) and NATO's KFOR force was to ensure that the U.N. resolution setting
up the operation and ensuring the province remained part of rump Yugoslavia
was implemented.

Countries participating in the Kosovo operation should be ready "to
fight decisively against those who would use arms against UNMIK and KFOR,"
Dienstbier said.

ARMED CONFLICT POSSIBLE

Proclaiming that Kosovo would stay in Yugoslavia "may mean armed
conflict, at least with the radical faction of the KLA and...criminal
structures," he warned.

But firm action by the West would "help those Albanians (in
Kosovo)...who support a normal life, democracy and a civil society but are
now under pressure from the armed extremists."

Dienstbier said if such a decision were not taken the conflict could
spread.

"We cannot escape responsibility by deceiving ourselves that the
numbers of murders and burned houses have been decreasing.

"It is similarly dangerous when some of the leaders of NATO make the
U.N. responsible, and vice-versa," he declared.

"Some American voices insist on passing the responsibility to Europe.
This will not work. The states whose representatives took the decisions
leading to the present situation have to take the same responsibility to
make positive change."

In an overall survey of the region, Dienstbier said the situation for
human rights in rump Yugoslavia was worse than when he made his last report
a year ago, and called for a review of the economic embargo against Belgrade.

"The abolition of all economic sanctions will support democratic
forces and create conditions for overcoming the huge unemployment and
poverty which is also often connected to discrimination on an ethnic basis,"
he said.

The one bright spot in the region, he told the Commission, was Croatia
where recent elections brought moderate social democrats and centrists to
power following the long rule of nationalist forces.



BLIC MAR 30

UN envoy for human rights claims that ethnic cleansing is the ruling
policy in Kosovo

DINSTBIER - MAFIA RULES KOSOVO

Geneva - UN special envoy for human rights in former Yugoslavia J.
Dienstbir said yesterday that UN provisional administration in Kosovo
and KFOR "have failed to fulfil any of the set tasks" and that the
situation in the province has only deteriorate and the problems have
increased.

"There is no revenge in Kosovo but very well organized policy of ethnic
cleansing led by Albanian extremists. Except in Kosovska Mitrovica, in
all other towns and villages there is almost no non-Albanian
population", Dienstbir said at news conference held at the Palace of
Nations on Geneva.

"Statements that KLA has been disarmed are complete nonsense. Although
UN provisional administration is present the actual rule is in hands of
Kosovo Protection Corps and Mafia. The aim of extreme KLA
representatives, former Albanian President Berisha and other Albanian
politicians is not only independent Kosovo, but Great Albania",
Dienstbir said. According to him attempt of destabilization of the
situation in Presevo only speaks in favor of such intention.

Dienstbir openly opposed the idea of independent Kosovo since it would
end with destabilization of the Balkans.



Blic press info servis Chronicle
Tuesday 28. 03. 2000

Helsinki Committee possesses evidence of initiating indictment against KLA

Six concentration camps for kidnapped Serbs

NOVI PAZAR (Beta) - The president of the Helsinki Committee for the
Protection of Human Rights in Novi Pazar, Sefko Alomerovic, has stated
that this organization "has reliable evidence regarding the existence of
six concentration camps in which the Albanians are holding kidnapped
citizens of Serbian nationality".
"We have also determined the names of some of the people who are
heading these concentration camps, and we have determined the name of
the man - the chief of the secret police - who heads all concentration
camps in Kosovo," said Alomerovic during an interview given to Beta,
adding that "in three instances there is enough evidence to initiate a
serious investigation".
"In two instances it is clearly apparent that an indictment can be
initiated because there exist dozens of witnesses and material evidence
that two men from Plava were killed on the order of Besim Ceku, the
brother of the commander of the Kosovo Protection Corps, general Agim
Ceku," says Alomerovic.
"Besim Ceku has the head of the secret police of the KLA, located
in the offices of the Raj Bank in Pec," said Alomerovic and added that
representatives of the Committee have advised KFOR officials of the name
of the man who is heading these concentration camps after which "they
got very excited and left the office". "Panic broke out and then they
began to question how we knew this and who told us this. Despite
promises, they did not allow one of the relatives of those kidnapped to
see the place where a concentration camp is located," said Alomerovic.
He said that the International Committee of the Red Cross had also
been advised of the existence of these concentration camps and an
initiative started for the exchange of all those kidnapped who are in
the concentration camps in Kosovo with imprisoned Albanians who are in
Serbian jails.
"There is a large number of kidnapped non-Albanians, several
hundred at least, and a large number of their family members are
distressed because they do not even know if their relatives are alive,"
said Alomerovic.
He advised that the Helsinki Committee in Novi Pazar has produced a
report on the position of Bosniacs in Kosovo after the arrival of KFOR.
"According to our evidence, 65 Muslims-Bosniacs have been killed in
Kosovo since the arrival of KFOR, and according to assessments on the
basis of indirect data, more than 100,000 Bosniacs have been expelled
from Kosovo," he said.
Alomerovic said that in the area of Sandzak, during the period of
the crisis in the region of the former Yugoslavia, human rights were
most greviously violated "even more so than in Kosovo".
"Unitl the beginning of the war in Kosovo in 1998 in that province
not a single village was ethnically cleansed, not a single Albanian was
kidnapped, not a single Albanian home was bombed or set on fire. In
Sandzak, in the years prior to the signing of the Dayton agreement, more
than 50 villages were completely ethnically cleansed. Six hijackings
took place in which more than 50 people were kidnapped and all of them
were killed. In addition, in Sandzak 36 Bosniacs were killed at work, in
apartments and homes. The Helsinki Committee has documented 16 classic
armed attacks on villages during which people were killed and their
houses set on fire," said Alomerovic.

Translated by S. Lazovic (March 28, 2000)