TUESDAY, MAY 2, 2000

A new hospital but few patients

A nearly vacant hospital in Kosovo epitomizes the divisions between
the remaining Serbs.

Richard Mertens
Special to The Christian Science Monitor


Sasa Ivic is an anesthesiologist's assistant at a new hospital that
opened five weeks ago in this Serb enclave in central Kosovo. The
problem for Mr. Ivic is that there is no anesthesiologist to assist. And
without an anesthesiologist, there can be no operations.

The hospital's operating room, with its gleaming tiles and shiny new
machinery, sits dark and unused. Down the hall is a delivery room, but
no obstetrician. The hospital has only three doctors, barely enough to
stay open.

"We have patients, but we don't have doctors," complained Mr. Ivic.
And not that many patients, either.

This near-vacant Serb hospital is a casualty of
the growing struggle for power among the
Serbs who have remained in Kosovo. It also
illustrates how long the reach of Yugoslav
President Slobodan Milosevic is. His Army and
police were driven from Kosovo last June, but
his regime continues to exert powerful influence
from afar. The struggle is of deep interest to
Western officials, who are trying to encourage
leaders who are willing to work with them. So
far they have not succeeded.

The Gracanica hospital was meant to be part of
a much-larger effort by the international
community to improve the living conditions of
Serbs who still remain in Kosovo, and thus to
encourage them to stay. Since NATO-led
troops occupied Kosovo last year, half of the
province's 200,000 Serbs have fled. Of the
100,000 or so who remain, most have
retreated into all-Serb enclaves, where
peacekeeping troops give them protection.

For political reasons, a hospital is badly needed. In purely medical
terms, it's superfluous. Normally, seriously ill medical patients would
go to the state hospital in Pristina, 10 minutes away. But since last
summer, Serbs have no longer been welcome there. For anything that
the local clinic cannot handle, Serbs have gone to a Russian military
hospital about 15 minutes away, or traveled outside Kosovo.

Financed by the Greek government and Doctors of the World, the
Gracanica hospital was meant to change this. But it was soon caught
up in a different conflict than the one between Serbs and ethnic
Albanians in Kosovo, this time among the Serbs themselves.

Serb doctors who might have worked in the new hospital were
warned not to by the Yugoslav Ministry of Health in Belgrade. They
were told they would lose their Yugoslav pensions and health
insurance if they did. In some cases, says the hospital's medical
director, Dr. Rada Trajkovic, they received personal threats. "They all
want to work here," says Dr. Trajkovic. "They call me almost every
day. But the [Milosevic] regime is threatening them."

The hospital is at the nexus of a struggle with at least three sides. On
one side are moderate Serbs, including the leader of the Serb
Orthodox Church in Kosovo, Bishop Artemije. These Serb leaders
have expressed a willingness to cooperate with the West. They have
frequent contact with the Western officials, including American
officials like Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. They have
denounced the Milosevic regime and have tried to foster connections
with Serbia's political opposition.

They are opposed in part by more defiant Serb leaders in northern
Kosovo, where Serbs live in an enclave that adjoins Serbia proper
and is virtually cut off from the rest of Kosovo. These leaders have
less to gain by cooperating with Kosovo's UN administration. While
their relation to Mr. Milosevic remains unclear, they have resisted
Western efforts to integrate northern Kosovo with the rest of the

On the third side are Milosevic and the Yugoslav regime. In February,
American and NATO officials accused Milosevic of using his police to
stir up trouble in the town of Mitrovica. In fact, Milosevic's influence
reaches almost everywhere in Kosovo where there are still Serbs.
Kosovar Serbs read the regime's newspapers and watch its television
broadcasts. Because Kosovo is still officially a province of Serbia,
Kosovar Serbs also are eligible for Yugoslav social services. Because
of Yugoslavia's dire economic conditions, such benefits are not
generous. But the prospect of losing them, and of being cut off from
the Yugoslav state, was one of the things that made Todorka
Slavkovic, a nurse, think twice before she went to work at the
Gracanica hospital.

"We're all afraid," she says. "But we want to work here."

The Kosovo Serbs have always been divided between those willing to
cooperate with the West and those determined to defy it. But the split
widened last month when the moderate Serbs, led by Bishop
Artemije, agreed to participate in an administrative council made up of
Kosovars and international officials. This council, formed late last
year, is part of the United Nations effort to share power with local
officials. Until recently, the Serbs boycotted it.

After the agreement, a mob of more than 100 Serbs attacked the
14th-century monastery in Gracanica where Bishop Artemije makes
his headquarters. Church officials blamed the attack on extremists
sympathetic to Milosevic, but it reflected a broader lack of support for
Serb moderates. "We don't have any political influence," Bishop
Artemije acknowledged recently.

The West is trying to change this. It is importing opposition
newspapers into Kosovo and is trying to help moderate Serbs start a
radio station. "This is a really important struggle, a struggle for truth, a
struggle for the souls of people, who are in danger of being taken in by
a very brutal regime ..." says the Rev. Sava Janjic, a spokesman for
the bishop.

The West also is trying to help the moderates by showing Serbs that
cooperating with the West yields results. Kosovo's UN administration
has begun to offer special services to the Serbs, including buses that
travel between the enclaves. It is giving more help to Serb schools and
health clinics. "It's very important to be able to demonstrate that there
are other Serbs willing to help them, that they don't have to depend on
Belgrade," a Western diplomat says.

For now, Milosevic and the more defiant Kosovo Serbs have the
upper hand. The primary-care health clinic in Gracanica is run by
doctors still loyal to Belgrade. It is a dingy place, but it is amply
staffed and busy. "A hospital is a good idea, for the Serbian people
and no one else," Dr. Mice Popovic, the senior doctor at the clinic,
says brusquely. "But it should work under the Serbian government and
not under the UN."


Committee for return of Kosovo Serbs launched

GRACANICA, Yugoslavia, May 2 (AFP) - Kosovo's Serb leaders and
the province's UN administrators on Tuesday set up an official panel
to oversee the return of tens of thousands of Serbs who have fled
here since last June.

The Joint Committee on Returns, launched in the Gracanica
monastery on the southern fringes of Pristina, also identified two
villages to be used as pilot projects for the first arrivals.

The committee will be operate under the chairmanship of Bishop
Artemije, head of the Serb National Council (SNV) in Kosovo, the
head of the UN mission (UNMIK), Bernard Kouchner, and the commander
of the international peacekeeping force KFOR, Spanish General Juan

It will coordinate the return of Kosovo Serbs who fled the
province to escape revenge attacks from ethnic Albanians, who
themselves had suffered from Belgrade's anti-Albanian policies. The
panel will identify communities for them to move to, rebuild their
houses and maintain their security.

Kouchner insisted at the signing ceremony on the need for proper
preparations for the homecomings.

"We want maximum security, we cannot take any risks," said the
former French health minister, adding that the committee would be
the sole official body dealing with the returns.

Washington said last month it would aid the return of some 700
Serbs to northwest Kosovo this summer.

The Serbian leader of the divided northern town of Kosovska
Mitrovica, Oliver Ivanovic, has also launched a programme for the
return of 25,000 Serbs.

The new council has already earmarked the villages of Osljane in
the northwest and Slivovo, some 30 kilometres (18 miles) south of
Pristina, as pilot projects for the returns, said Artemije's
spokesman Father Sava Janjic.

The houses in the deserted villages are mostly in ruins, he
said, but added that he hoped to see the first arrivals in June.
Most of Kosovo's remaining Serbs live in enclaves guarded by
KFOR troops.

Some 240,000 non-Albanians have fled the Yugoslav province since
the NATO-led peacekeepers moved in last June amid widespread

Sava said there could not be 100 percent security for minorities
in Kosovo but said that by creating the committee the Serbs wished
to find a "middle way."

He said the SNV also wanted to avoid a "hasty, disorganised
process in which people will be brought into hostile areas without
necessary preparation and coordination by KFOR and the UN."

"But on the other hand we would not want to wait years for the
security situation to be created and then start bringing the people
back," he added.

He also acknowledged that the scheme would create new Serb

"Enclaves are the reality of Kosovo ... because of the lack of
security," he said.

"Militarily protected enclaves are for the moment the only
possible surrounding in which Serbs and non-Albanians can survive in
the atmosphere which is in many cases very hostile," he added.

Sava said initial contact had been made with the Serbs of
Osljane, who are currently in Serbia, to kickstart the programme.
He said they were ready to return but had been told by
Yugoslavia media that only the Yugoslav army could guarantee their
safety, which he stressed was not realistic.

"We hope we can help the people to understand the reality at the
moment and to openly support the activity of SNV," he said.

The Guardian, UK

Fear stalks Kosovo's remaining Serbs

A diminishing minority, guilty and innocent
alike, is under siege

Owen Bowcott in Kosovo Polje
Friday April 28, 2000

Milan Jankovic and his wife Todora rarely leave their
second floor apartment these days. Norwegian
soldiers patrolling the graffiti-disfigured estate
bring them food; their closest neighbour, Maria Vlascevic,
is planning to leave for Belgrade.

For the few Serbs who remain in Kosovo, their
impoverished lives are shrinking around them.
Friends have departed, jobs prove impossible to find
and revenge killings by ethnic Albanians are thinning
their numbers.

Of 200,000 Serbs resident in Kosovo before last
year's conflict, around three-quarters are estimated
to have fled since Nato and K-For troops entered
the province. Most bundled up their possessions and
retreated north to Serbia ahead of the occupying

"Once there were 15 Serb families in this block. Now
there are only three," sighs Mr Jankovic who lives in
Breje, an estate on the edge of Kosovo Polje. The
area remains a Serb enclave but its population,
protected by multinational contingents of police and
K-For soldiers, has declined sharply.

"One of my sisters has been kidnapped and no one
knows where she is. We had an apartment in Pristina
but that has been taken; I have the documents to
show it's ours but I can't sell it. If I could, I'd be
off to Montenegro immediately. We want to live
somewhere where you don't have to lock the door a
hundred times."

As his wife patiently mills coffee beans in a
hand-grinder, he lays out his worthless papers with
a disconsolate shrug. "It's not safe to visit [the
capital] Pristina. These have become days of terror.
We are relatively lucky here. The Albanians could
come and kill us all - but we never killed any of
them, didn't touch them, so I guess they respect us."

Despite the presence of tens of thousands of K-For
troops, the killings have continued unabated at the
rate of several a week.

Last week a salvo of mortar shells crashed into the
village of Gorazdevac, 50 miles west of Pristina and
one of the last all-Serb villages in the province.
Former members of the Kosovo Liberation Army are
suspected of carrying out the attack. No one was

Across Kosovo, each Orthodox church with its
distinctive onion-domed roof has an armoured
K-For vehicle parked alongside. Those left
unguarded have already been reduced to rubble,
dynamited by Albanians in reprisal for the role they
claim Orthodox priests played in stirring up ethnic
and religious hatred.

There have been a few, tentative signs of
reconciliation. In a rare act of solidarity, Kosovo's
Serb and Albanian leaders recently issued a joint
statement calling for an end to the killings. Among
the signatories were Hashim Thaci, the former head
of the Kosovo Liberation Army, Ibrahim Rugova, the
best known ethnic Albanian politician, and, for the
ethnic Serbs, Bishop Artemije and the moderate
Rada Trajkovic. The statement called for a "climate of
tolerance" to prepare for municipal elections planned
for later this year.

Oliver Ivanovic, a Kosovo Serb leader, is also
organising the first return of 1,000 fellow refugees
to a valley near Istok, in an attempt to test the
United Nations' commitment to restoring law and
order. Dennis McNamara, the UNHCR envoy in
Kosovo, has warned, however, that it is not yet safe
for a large-scale return of Serbs.

The charred rows of ethnic Albanian homes in almost
every town and village of Kosovo, torched by Serb
forces during last year's 78-day war, are constant
reminders of continuing resentments.

Even the stone tower, commemorating the battle of
Blackbird Field in 1389 and used by Yugoslav
president Slobodan Miliosevic 600 years later as a
rallying point for his version of Serb nationalism,
now bears the scars of recent conflict. Despite being
protected by K-For troops, it has suffered several
grenade attacks.

Back in the town of Kosovo Polje, Milan Jankovic
muses over how his family's horizons have
contracted to a two-roomed apartment. "Things
were not like this when Tito was alive," he says. "I
lived here for 50 years, had Albanian and Serb
friends and no one ever bothered me. If Tito were
alive you wouldn't need British and Norwegian
soldiers here."

He knows who to blame: "A child could have solved
these problem better than Milosevic. What did he
achieve? Hate. Nothing more.

"If people who were guilty died, it wouldn't be a
problem. But it's the innocent who are dying. What
Milosevic did for us was a big shame. It was
important to be a president for all the people, not to
leave us in such a condition where we have nothing
left to eat."

His neighbour, Maria Vlascevic, is packing up and
preparing to head north to Belgrade. "A lot of
Serbian monasteries have been destroyed," she says.
"I am leaving because I have a 17-year-old daughter
and she can't even go out to the coffee shop in
safety. I can't say whether other presidents are
better than Milosevic, but he's my president."


Bavaria expels 50 "criminal" Kosovars by charter plane

MUNICH, Germany, May 4 (AFP) - Fifty former refugees from Kosovo
convicted of criminal offences have been deported and taken back to
Yugoslav territory by special charter plane, the Bavarian interior
ministry announced Thursday.
The 49 men and one woman, who had been found guilty of offences
including drugs, robbery and assault causing bodily harm, were put
on the plane which landed in Pristina Wednesday, the ministry said
in a communique.
It was the first time the Bavarian authorities had used a
private charter plane for such expulsions, although the southern
German state has already expelled 60 other convicted Kosovars, the
statement said.
Bavarian Interior Minister Guenther Beckstein warned that "the
legal obligation" of former refugees from Kosovo to leave the
country "will be rigorously applied and continue to be clearly
expressed through systematic expulsions."
The statement said those under obligation to leave had the
possibility of returning voluntarily by taking up offers of support
from the federal and regional authorities.
"Whoever does not do this is consciously reckoning with
expulsion," Beckstein said.
The statement said 5,805 Kosovars had already voluntarily
returned home by air and that since April 20 they also had the
possibility or returning by land.
German courts ruled at the end of February that refugees from
Kosovo no longer had right to remain, on the basis that they no
longer faced persecution in their home country.
In Germany, the regional authorities have immigration
responsibilities, and as with earlier waves of refugees from the
ex-Yugoslavia, their forced return has begun with criminal

May 4, 2000


Serb refugees disillusioned with life in Serbia are being encouraged to
return to Kosovo.

By Miroslav Filipovic in Kraljevo

Around 20,000 Kosovo Serb refugees could be repatriated under a plan drafted by Serb leaders in the province.

The Serbian National Council, SNV, says its proposal, which has been
submitted to the international community, would help to create multi-ethnic
territory in the north of Kosovo.

Under the plan, refugees would return to the parishes of Istok and Klina,
located between Mitrovica and Zubin Potok, the only places where Serbs have remained in large numbers.

Following the withdrawal of Serbian forces last June, about 350,000
non-Albanians left Kosovo, among them about 270,000 Serbs. Cold-shouldered and faced with insurmountable financial difficulties in Serbia, many now want to return to Kosovo.

Mihajlo Doncic, from Bice in Kosovo, lives with around fifty other Serb
refugees in one household in Jovac, near Kraljevo, Serbia, " We know we must be a burden to local people and to Serbia - that's why we want to go back.

"This weekend we visited our villages in Kosovo. They are all destroyed, but
they are still our villages and our property."

Before the exodus from Kosovo, there were 34 villages in Istok and Klina in
which Serbs formed the majority, and 41 in which they represented a
significant minority. Serbs owned 60 per cent of the land in the area.

The leader of Serbs from Mitrovica and President of the Executive Council of SNV, Oliver Ivanovic, said," The Serbs are facing a grave situation. Time is not on our side. We are getting further away from a multi-ethnic Kosovo
every day."

According to the SNV, the refugee return will take place in two phases. The
first will see Serbs going back to villages in which they were a majority;
the second to where they were a minority. The stages are scheduled to finish
by mid-June and the end of September respectively.

Ivanovic says the weakness of the plan, which is said to have US backing, is
that KFOR may not be able to protect the refugees. "The return of the Serbs
should be secured by KFOR," he says."It is trained for such tasks, so it
must be able to carry it out."

According to US officials, the successful return of Serb refugees would
enhance the position of moderate Serbian leaders, encourage Serb
co-operation with international officials and test the declared readiness of
the Albanian politicians to accept a multi-ethnic Kosovo.

Ivanovic told IWPR that the US State Department has earmarked $5 million for the repatriation programme. "It is not even near our needs, but it is a good figure to start with," he said.

The programme, however, has not been welcomed by UNHCR. "We can hardly support something like this at the moment," said a senior UNHCR official, adding the agency could only back repatriation when key conditions, such asthe security of the refugees, their accommodation and access to public services, have been met.

NATO, however, is keen to see the process go-ahead, arguing repatriation can no longer wait for perfect conditions.

Meanwhile, The President of SNV in Mitrovica, Dr Vuko Antonijevic, has
criticised humanitarian organisations that have helped Kosovo Serb refugees
build houses in Serbia.

"This works against the interests of the Serbian people, " he said. "We want
them to return. If somebody builds a house for them in Serbia, they will
remain there. I appeal to the humanitarian organisations to wait for the
refugees to go back and then build houses for them."

Ivanovic wants Albanian leaders to agree to the repatriation project in
writing. So far, the Party of Democratic Success, led by Hashim Thaci, has
said it is not against the plan, but insists it should be preceded by the
freeing of Albanian prisoners in Serbia.

At the same time, more and more refugees are making it clear that they no
longer want to live in Serbia. Representatives from the Council for the
Return of Serbs from Istok and Klina have opened offices in Kraljevo and
Kragujevac - Serbian cities with the largest number of refugees from the two
parishes - and they say the number of people eager to come back is growing.

"There is no life for us outside Kosovo," said Dragica Ruspic from Istok.
"We're blamed for everything bad that happens in Serbia. Local people say
we're responsible for everything."

Meanwhile, Bratislava Morina from the Ministry of Refugees in Serbia says
that if Kosovo Serbs should not be compelled to return. "The SNV cannot make one person return to Kosovo, if he does not wish to do so," she said
recently in Kraljevo, during the talks about the fate of about 25,000
refugees in this city.

It's clear that the current instability in the north of Kosovo would make it
hard for Serbs to return. Repatriation, though, is a priority for those who
stayed behind. "This year is decisive, " said Ivanovic. " Either Serbs
return to Kosovo, or those of us who remain will leave for Serbia."
May 5, 2000


The remnants of Pristina's Serb population huddle together in a building guarded round-the-clock by KFOR troops.

By Petar Jeknic in Pristina

"Can this be called a life? " sighs Sanja Nikolic, as six KFOR solidiers,
weapons at the ready, escort two of her children to a bus parked outside her

The troops stop the traffic and the bus, sandwiched between armored
vehicles, sets off for a Serb school in Laplje Selo, 10 km from Pristina.

Sanja and her family live in a building in the Pristina suburb of Ulpiajana,
housing the remnants of the city's Serb population.

The one hundred or so families, protected round-the-clock by KFOR soldiers, moved to the shelter after being forced out of their homes in other parts Pristina.

When international troops entered Kosovo last year, most of the region's
200,000 Serbs fled to Serbia, fearful of revenge attacks. Those who remained
behind retreated to enclaves, the largest being northern Mitrovica.

Sanja , though, decided to stay in Pristina. The 31-year-old mother of three
has now been living in the city's solitary Serb enclave since December.

Before she moved there, she lived in a heavily guarded apartment in the
suburb of Dardanija. "Seven KFOR soldiers were in my flat day and night,"
she says. "I couldn't stand it any more. But it was difficult for them to
protect me, so they decided to move me here."

It's cold in her one-bedroom apartment. She has a floor heater, but often no
power (power cuts occur every three hours or so in Pristina). The water
supply is sporadic, and Sanja keeps water stored in plastic bottles on the
kitchen floor.

"When the power is back on I just don't know what to do first. I have to
cook lunch, do laundry, wash or iron the nappies," she says. "I can't afford
to buy Pampers nappies and I've been trying to use the cotton nappies less
because I don't know when or how I'll be able to wash them."

Sanja's three month-old daughter Tamara was born in the Russian hospital in
Kosovo Polje. Everything she needs - bottles, nappies, Kleenexes - is
provided by KFOR soldiers.

Tamara will never meet her father. Sanja's husband was a locksmith. He was
killed after last year's NATO bombardment, despite never working for the
Serbian security services or ever being politically active.

Sanja was five months pregnant. She buried her husband, then left for
Belgrade with five-year-old Milorad and eight-year-old Marko.

"Albanians were disturbing us all the time. They were kicking our door,
phoning and threatening to kill me. Four Albanians tried to pull me into a
car on the street. I decided to go to Belgrade. I thought - our people are
there, they will help me."

Arriving in Belgrade's Dragise Misovic hospital, though, she was greeted
with the words, "You're the last thing we need right now. We've got enough
refugees from Croatia and Bosnia. Go back to where you came from."

Sanja and her children spent two months in Belgrade, knocking on doors and
asking humanitarian institutions for help. Everywhere she went she got the
same answer, "It is not our area of responsibility."

They were staying with relatives in a tiny flat, sleeping on the floor. Life
was difficult, and Sanja decided to rejoin her parents in Pristina, only to
face more problems.

Her parents had been subjected to verbal and physical intimidation. And
after her father was beaten up, breaking his nose and collarbone, the family
decided to move to the Montenegrin town of Berane.

Sanja stayed in Pristina, alone but for her three children. When she's not
cooking or washing for the children, she stands by the window in her block
and watches the street, like every other resident. She hasn't left the
building since she arrived.

The view is nothing special: the building opposite, parked cars, garbage and
KFOR soldiers. There's not much else to do.

Other residents go shopping or visit the doctor, always escorted by armed
soldiers. They all survive on humanitarian aid.

"What hurts me most is how they treated me in Belgrade," Sanja says now. " I didn't get any help from Kosovo Serb political representatives. And here,
nobody comes over to see how we're doing."


May 5, 2000

Macedonia may have been spared inter -ethnic violence, but it remains a
bitterly divided society.

By Zeljko Bajic in Skopje

In Skopje, people are on the move. The river Vardar divides the town, with
Macedonians on one side and Albanians on the other. Those on the 'wrong'
side are busy arranging apartment exchanges.

Nowadays it is rare to find Macedonians and Albanians living next-door to
one another. The two communities keep to themselves. They have their own hairdressers, dentists, bars and discos. Children attend separate schools from infancy. In a recent opinion poll not one respondent said they would consider marriage to a member of the other community or allow their children to do so.

The war in Kosovo has had a large part to play in this polarisation. While
the Macedonian community was hostile to the activities of the Kosovo
Liberation Army, KLA, the Albanian community lent its support.

On April 13, villagers in Poroj, 100 per cent Albanian, erected a statue to
Mujdin Aliu, one of their residents who died fighting for the Kosovo
guerrillas. Local youths attended the ceremony in old KLA uniforms and waved the Albanian flag. Representatives from the coalition government party, the Democratic Party of Albanians, also came along.

It is estimated that around 1,000 young Albanians from Macedonia fought in
the KLA and about 150 were killed. Albanian language broadcasts from Radio Skopje have been known to praise the militants and often play their songs.

Macedonians fear this will all lead to Albanian community demanding an
independent republic like that sought in Kosovo. According to the
constitution, Macedonia is a country of Macedonians with other nationalities
living within its borders. Many a Macedonian would argue the majority
community is rather generous regarding the "rights of Albanians".

"You can see, we are generous, they have all the rights, and yet they
relentlessly demand more and more," complained one young man. "If they don't like it here, let them go to Albania" is a common refrain, reminiscent of
anti-Albanian feelings in Serbia.

Albanians, however, who make up around one third of the population, argue
Macedonia is there birthplace and has been their homeland for generations.
The majority of them have never visited Albania and have no intention of
ever doing so.

Albanians complain they are made to feel like second-class citizens. The
official language is Macedonian. And although primary and secondary school
children are educated in their respective languages, university education is
conducted in Macedonian.

The formal separation of school children has resulted in an entire
generation growing up with little or no cross-community contact. A Dutch
charity recently attempted to open a multi-ethnic nursery, offering
excellent facilities, with programmes in both Macedonian and Albanian. The
predominantly Macedonian parents, however, objected, believing the scheme
was a thinly disguised attempt to erode their children's national identity.

Research by the Institute of Statistics calculated that out of the 15,000
marriages in Macedonia annually only 250 in recent years could be called

A Macedonian man said only the birth of his child brought his parents around
to accepting their Albanian daughter-in-law. "When we visited the village
where my parents live I got a real shock," the man said. "Nobody would talk
to me, I was isolated and people were whispering behind my back that I had
brought Albanians into their village."

One young Albanian said, " We would rather chat on the internet with someone in Japan or America than to somebody from another community."


Serb Orthodox church destroyed in blast

PRISTINA, Yugoslavia, May 6 (AFP) - A burnt-out Serbian Orthodox
church in a village in central Kosovo was totally destroyed in an
overnight blast carried out by unknown attackers, officials here
said Saturday.
The church in the village of Slovinje, some 25 kilometres (15
miles) south of the provincial capital Pristina, had been derelict
since the war ended last June and was not guarded, a spokesman for
the international peacekeeping force KFOR said.
Serbian leaders have criticised the NATO-led force for failing
to adequately protect churches destroyed or damaged since last year,
when KFOR took over security from defeated Yugoslav forces.
They say some 80 churches have been destroyed or damaged and
have made reconstruction efforts one of the conditions for their
continued participation in the Yugoslav province's UN-backed joint
Revenge attacks on Serbs and their property for Belgrade's
anti-ethnic Albanian policies have been common since Yugoslav forces
were driven out of Kosovo by NATO.

May 7, 2000

New Support to Help Serbs From Kosovo to Go Home


PRISTINA, Kosovo, May 6 -- Ten months after they fled the
province in the face of revenge attacks from Kosovo Albanians, the
Serbs of Kosovo and other minorities are seeing international
political will swing in their favor.

Preparations to help hundreds, even thousands, of Serbs and Gypsies to
return this summer are gaining momentum and have sparked vigorous
competition between local Serbian leaders to reap the political rewards of
bringing people home.

So far, Albanian leaders have not opposed the planned returns, although
they have set some conditions and excluded the return of any suspected
war criminals. As the plans materialize, international aid officials warn that
opposition will grow.

Western governments, peacekeepers and the United Nations
administration here are showing a sudden determination to bring Serbs
home. The head of the United Nations mission in Kosovo, Dr. Bernard
Kouchner, made the new drift clear last week when he endorsed the idea
in front of a visiting Security Council delegation last week.

"We are all in favor of Serbs returning," he said, announcing the creation of
a new committee to coordinate the returns. "We need them back, we want
them back, but please without any adventure."

The United States and other Western nations have lent impetus to the idea,
apparently seeking to win the political cooperation of the Serbs and to
counter persistent criticism that while they helped nearly a million Albanian
refugees return to Kosovo last year, they have presided over a violent
exodus of more than 200,000 Serbs, Gypsies and other minorities.

The showcase project favored by the Americans is for some 500 Serbs to
return to the village of Osojane in northwestern Kosovo. The $5 million
plan will involve building a road to provide Serbs with safe access and
complete reconstruction of the village, which was razed after the villagers
fled last June. Spanish peacekeeping troops will provide security.

British troops are undertaking a more discreet effort in central Kosovo,
repairing road and rail links and houses in a ring of Serbian villages around
the capital, Pristina.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees plans to return
thousands of Gypsies, to several towns around Kosovo. Widely accused of
collaborating with the Serbs in the expulsion and killing of Albanians last
year, 30,000 Gypsies fled and now live in guarded camps in Kosovo or
neighboring territories.

Albanian leaders have accepted the plan for the Gypsies' return after their
leaders acknowledged that some Gypsies had been involved in crimes
against humanity, said the chief of the United Nations refugee mission in
Kosovo, Dennis McNamara. He says thousands of Gypsies could return
this year.

The return of Serbs is, however, far more explosive and Mr. McNamara
and others have strong reservations. "It is too early to bring back refugees
at this stage," said the chief of one international aid organization in Pristina.
"The level of ethnic hatred between Albanians and Serbs in Kosovo is far
greater than anything I have seen elsewhere in the Balkans," added a

The newspapers are full of memorial notices for Albanians killed last year,
over 1,000 are still imprisoned elsewhere in Serbia, and the war crimes
tribunal at The Hague has recently resumed excavating suspected mass
graves, noted another refugee official, Paula Ghedini.

"We would not normally return refugees to an ongoing conflict situation,"
said Mr. McNamara. "If it is done early, without cooperation, it could
trigger off a violent reaction," he added, while acknowledging the political
momentum for return.

Mr. McNamara's agency has been on the receiving end of significant
violence, most recently last weekend in the Serbian part of the northern
town of Mitrovica when six peacekeepers and one policeman were injured,
39 vehicles of international groups damaged and four houses and one
warehouse burned in protests at the escorted return of Albanian refugees.

Local Serbs have different reasons for pushing the returns. Bishop
Artemije, the leader of the Serbian National Council, has made better
treatment of Serbs a condition for joining Albanian leaders in the
administration set up by the United Nations.

Serbian leaders in north Mitrovica broke with the bishop over his
willingness to do that, but still seek the political prestige that will attach to
any successful return.

Marko Jaksic, who until recently worked with the bishop on returns, said
the Serbs cannot afford to wait. "If we wait, these people will never come
back and that will play in favor of the Albanians allowing them to establish
their own independent country," he said. "They have one rule here -- with
fewer Serbs it is much easier to go for independence."


Four Serbs injured in shooting in southeast Kosovo

PRISTINA, Yugoslavia, May 7 (AFP) - Four Serbs, including one
young girl, were injured late Sunday in shooting in the southeastern
Kosovo town of Vitina, a spokesman for the international
peacekeeping force KFOR said.
A woman, the girl and one man were seriously injured in the
incident in the town's park at 9:30 p.m. (1900 GMT), while a second
man was slightly hurt, said Lieutenant Kemal Avci.
KFOR and UN police put up roadblocks around the area and were
still searching for the unidentified assailants late Sunday, he
A number of AK-47 automatic rifles were found abandoned at the
scene, Avci added, but did not say how many.
The three seriously injured were evacuated to the US military
base of Camp Bondsteel where they underwent emergency surgery.
The second man was treated in a Syrian hospital in the nearby
town of Gjnilane, 40 kilometres (25 miles) southeast of Pristina.
The shooting came a day after US troops found the body of a
murdered elderly Serb man near Vitina.
The discovery sparked a riot as around 100 Serbs blocked the
road and stoned passing cars, torching two.
Attacks on Kosovo's Serbian minority have been commonplace since
NATO forced Yugoslav troops out of the province last June in a bid
to halt Belgrade's crackdown on the ethnic Albanian majority.


KFOR Commander Says Serbs Could Return To Kosovo

PRISTINA, May 8, 2000 -- (Reuters) The new commander of Kosovo's NATO-led peacekeeping force said parts of the province might be safe enough for displaced Serbs to return but that the process would have to be carried out with extreme care.

Spanish Lieutenant-General Juan Ortuno, in his first news conference since
taking up command of the KFOR force three weeks ago, also appealed to the people of Kosovo to show more tolerance or risk wasting an historic opportunity.

While most of the more than 800,000 ethnic Albanian refugees who fled Serb
forces last year have now returned to Kosovo, KFOR has failed to stop a fresh exodus of Serbs and others amid revenge attacks by ethnic Albanians.

The number of Serbs and members of other minorities who have fled since KFOR and the United Nations took responsibility for Kosovo last June is the subject of dispute but Yugoslav authorities put the figure at more than 200,000.

Asked if the province was safe for the return of refugees, Ortuno replied:
"Not Kosovo, but there are different areas in Kosovo in which it could happen.

"This is why the return of the last refugees and... displaced persons should
be done in a very well-prepared and ordered way."

The U.N. refugee agency has said it does not believe the time is yet right
to encourage Serbs to return. It says the security situation is still too risky and memories of the conflict which claimed thousands of lives are still fresh.

Despite the presence of around 40,000 KFOR troops and more than 2,000 UN police in Kosovo, attacks on minorities and violent crime in general are still reported daily.

Gunmen wounded three Serbs, including a young girl, in the eastern town of
Vitina on Sunda, KFOR said. It also said a UN bus in the Serb-dominated north of the city of Mitrovica had been stoned after the driver was identified as Albanian.

On Monday morning, Ekrem Rexha, a former commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army, an ethnic Albanian guerrilla group, was shot dead on his way to work in the southern city of Prizren, the United Nations said.

"Tolerance and co-existence are key words for the future of Kosovo. There
must be more evidence of acceptance by and between different ethnic groups," Ortuno said.

"The focus of the world is still on Kosovo but this will not last forever,"
he cautioned. "It is up to the people of Kosovo to seize the opportunity."

Daily Pennsylvanian via U-WIRE

COLUMN: New horrors emerge from Kosovo's ashes

Updated 12:00 PM ET May 8, 2000

By Ronald Kim
Daily Pennsylvanian
U. Pennsylvania

(U-WIRE) PHILADELPHIA -- Where in Europe, in the year 2000, have the policies of the Western powers directly resulted in the vicious persecution and expulsion of an ancient Jewish community?

If you guessed Kosovo, you're right. One year after the aerial bombardment of Yugoslavia, the aims of NATO's military campaign are close to being realized. According to countless human rights observers and reports of European journalists, virtually all of Kosovo's non-Albanian population has been driven from the province by armed gangs of the Kosovo Liberation Army.

Before the war, the Kosovar capital of Pristina was home to 40 Sephardic Jews. All have been forced to leave, their homes looted or burned.

Cedomir Prlincevic, former director of archives in Kosovo and leader of the community, had to be rescued by taxi via Macedonia. He made it out alive with his elderly mother to the Yugoslav capital of Belgrade, bringing only his Talmud.

Immediately following the end of the war, over 90 percent of Kosovo's already dwindling Serbian Orthodox minority fled attacks from the victorious KLA. In the U.S. press, this catastrophe was legitimized as the revenge of Kosovar Albanians, whose oppression under Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's army and paramilitary forces "justified" the expulsion of all Serbs.

But this mass exodus is hardly limited to the Serbs. Last June and July, 300,000 Kosovars of all backgrounds, including Roma (Gypsy), Turkish and Gorani (Slavic-speaking Muslims), left their homes, mostly for Belgrade or neighboring Montenegro. As the persecution of the latter two groups indicates, religious affiliation is no protection against the wrath of Muslim Albanian extremists.

Today, Serbs and Gorani are confined to six tiny enclaves in Kosovo. Ironically, their safety -- and that of hundreds of beautiful medieval Serbian Orthodox monasteries and cathedrals -- hinges on the dubious protection of NATO soldiers from the very powers that launched last year's war.

In this new KLA-controlled Kosovo, created by NATO aggression and cosmetically patrolled by "peacekeepers," no minority is safe.

The village of Lecnice had been home to a small group of Roman Catholic Croats since medieval times. Last October, only months before its 700th anniversary, the whole community of 300 fled to Croatia. An 86-year-old Czech man was found with a bullet in the back of his head in a park near Pristina.

One should not conclude, however, that the elimination of ethnic minorities is the only difference between the old and new Kosovo. Albanian "moderates" -- not to speak of intellectuals and those who felt no sympathy for the KLA -- have fled to Belgrade, joining earlier waves of ethnic Croatians and Bosnian Muslims who escaped war and fascism in their own republics.

Since the departure of Milosevic's army, the KLA -- long reputed to be major drug traffickers into Western Europe -- has swiftly imported all the worst evils of the outside world to its new domain. Stolen cars are now everywhere, just as in Albania. Trafficking in prostitutes from the rest of the Balkans and the former Soviet Union has become a serious problem, one which peacekeepers' limited resources simply cannot address. Vigilante justice, looting and smuggling bespeak a level of lawlessness that makes the rest of Yugoslavia look tame by comparison.

Surprised? In February 1999, just before the war, Robert Manning of the Council on Foreign Relations described U.S. objectives in the Balkans: "turning the former Yugoslavia into series of protectorates one province at a time." In other words, integrating them into the global economy as fodder for free-market racketeering and U.S. economic colonization.

Citizens of the U.S. cannot be blamed for their ignorance of these tragic developments, which have gone virtually unreported in the media. But ignorance does not forswear responsibility.

For three months last spring, hundreds of millions of Americans (and Canadians and Europeans) were once again whipped up into a frenzy of militaristic, patriotic rage. Believing every rumor, every tabloid headline of "mass graves" and "genocide," these professional patriots -- including supposedly liberal intellectuals -- saluted a policy of "bombing for peace." Drunk on hatred of the primitive, tribal, anti-Western and incorrigibly bad Serbs, their insatiable blood-lust applauded the murder of ordinary Yugoslavs, even on Orthodox Easter.

Once Milosevic capitulated and agreed to withdraw his troops, the media conveniently terminated their coverage. Those few reporters who dare to risk their lives in Kosovo have had a hard time being heard by a bored public in Western Europe, let alone the U.S.

After all, we won, didn't we?

Now, faced with the horrors of the New Kosovo, we excuse ourselves from the consequences of our actions, pleading that "we didn't know."

And where have we heard that before?

(C) 2000 Daily Pennsylvanian via U-WIRE


May 9, 2000

Going home again is difficult for Kosovars

The US plans to return Serb refugees to the Osojane valley as early as June.
By Richard Mertens, Special to The Christian Science Monitor

Little remains of this farming community in northwestern Kosovo. The houses are deserted, the windows smashed, the furnishings scattered or gone. Abandoned stoves sit rusting in the uncut grass. Last year's corn still stands in the fields, weathered gray as barn boards.

The 400 inhabitants, all of them Serbs, fled last June around the time NATO-led troops entered the province. Afterward, ethnic Albanians bent on revenge looted and burned their houses.

For miles along this valley, the view is the same. In two other villages and in the scattered houses in between, no one is left of the Serb families who lived here, farming the rich bottomland.

The United States government hopes to change this. For the past two months it has been working with Serb leaders in Kosovo on a plan to bring Osojane's inhabitants back, perhaps beginning as early as June. If the plan succeeds, it would be the first large organized return of Serbs since NATO-led forces occupied Kosovo 11 months ago. The Americans say it could prepare the way for other displaced Serbs to return to their homes.

But the plan is already running into resistance from people who think it is a bad idea. These include local Albanians, many of whom lost homes and family members in two years of fighting the Serbs. Some Western officials also believe it is too soon to bring Serbs back to Kosovo.

"Our great fear in these situations is always not to provoke a backlash," says Dennis McNamara, Balkan envoy for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. "If you get a backlash, you always set things back."

Pressures of warmer weather

The pressure for Serb returns has been mounting as warm weather returns to the Balkans. About half of Kosovo's 200,000 Serbs are thought to have fled the province last year. Most settled in Serbia proper, where they have not been welcome. Many want to go home, and Serb leaders in Kosovo are eager to help them.

"The Serbs are facing a grave situation," says Oliver Ivanovic, a Serb leader in northern Kosovo. "Time is not on our side. We are getting further away from a multi-ethnic Kosovo every day."

The American plan dates to February, when the leader of the Serb Orthodox Church in Kosovo, Bishop Artemije, discussed Serb returns with Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in Washington. After that meeting, a State Department official who is also a Serb Orthodox priest visited Kosovo. He made a dozen trips through the province and looked at scores of Serb villages.

Osojane stood out for many reasons. One was that the valley makes it easier to protect; there is only one road into and out of the village. But also, local Albanian leaders seemed to welcome the idea. The Americans were especially impressed by the Albanian mayor of the Istok municipality, Januz Januzaj, an intelligent, soft-spoken lawyer who was a respected commander in the Kosovo Liberation Army. In recent months Mr. Januzaj has probably done more than any other Albanian leader in Kosovo to reach out to ethnic minorities. He has gone so far as to visit villages where Gypsies, Slavic Muslims, and even Serbs still live. Many Kosovo politicians would find this unthinkable.

"In principle, I'm for the return of people who haven't committed any crimes," Januzaj says. "They are citizens of Istok, of Kosovo. If they want a future here, they can live here."

Local objections

But when other local people heard about the American plan, their reaction was swift and damning. "The people are completely against it," Januzaj grimaces. "This makes it more difficult for my position and the American position." He says local Albanians might accept Serb returns in "two or four years."

Albanian leaders also have imposed conditions on Serb returns that will be difficult to meet. One is that the Serbs apologize for crimes that Serbs committed against ethnic Albanians. They also want progress on one of the most emotional issues for Kosovo Albanians: the continuing imprisonment of more than 1,000 ethnic Albanians in Serbian jails.

In a few places in Kosovo, Serbs are already coming back on their own. But some Western officials say they are reluctant to encourage them to return to a situation where they need to be protected by armed troops. They say Serbs need enough security to move about safely and to have access to jobs, health care, education, and markets. This is lacking almost everywhere in Kosovo. Even the protection of Serb enclaves sometimes fails; two weeks ago, nine mortar rounds were fired into the Serb enclave of Gorazdevac.

US officials concede that bringing Serbs back to the valley will not be easy and that it may not be altogether safe. "There are risks attached to it," an official says. "But I think they can [return] .... I don't see that the average Albanian is going to object."

For now, political imperatives may be pushing other considerations aside. Serb leaders in Kosovo seem to be competing with each other to see who can bring back more people. The US hopes that the plan to return hundreds to Osojane will help Bishop Artemije and other moderate leaders win support among ordinary Serbs. At the same time, the bishop's rivals, including Mr. Ivanovic, say they have their own plan to bring back as many as 20,000 Serbs.

Recently, Spanish soldiers in the Osojane area have been trying to persuade local Albanians to accept the Serbs back. "They are very afraid, because they think Serb criminals will come here," says 2nd Lt. Jose Ortega, who was patrolling one afternoon in an armored troop carrier. "We're trying to tell them there will be no criminals."

He had already talked to Sabri and Beke Kelmendi, two brothers who have houses on one end of the valley, about three miles from Osojane. Last May, they say, Serbs killed both of their wives and one child in each family. Lately they have been working on their houses, which the Serbs burned. When the Spanish patrol passed, Sabri Kelmendi was replastering an inside wall. His brother's house was beyond repair, and workmen were digging the foundation of a new one.

"If the Serbs come back here, I won't stay," Mr. Kelmendi declared angrily as he paused from his work. "Not one Albanian person will stay here. All the Serbs in this region were paramilitaries. All of them were bandits. It's a bad idea."


May 9, 2000

Kraljevo Spurns (Kosovo Serb) Refugees

Kraljevo residents are threatening to forcibly evict thousands of Kosovo Serb refugees who they say are putting an impossible burden on the local economy

By Miroslav Filipovic in Kraljevo (BCR No. 138, 9-May-00)

"No entry to Kosovo Serbs" reads the sign on the door of a popular Kraljevo cafe. It reflects the volatile mood currently hanging over the southern Serbian town where resentment towards Kosovo refugees is rapidly reaching boiling point.

Around 25,000 refugees poured into Kraljevo in the wake of the Serbian army retreat from Kosovo last summer. But the town's 60,000-strong population -- depressed by economic conditions, which have grown steadily worse over the past 10 years -- sees the dispossessed Serbs as a crippling burden.

Already, there have been outbreaks of violence. Last month, an armed mob attacked an Audi with a Kosovo licence plate, loosing off a volley of pistol shots before completely demolishing the car. The vehicle's four occupants were later treated for serious injuries at the Kraljevo Health Clinic.

Meanwhile, in nearby Lazac, villagers staged angry protests when the authorities attempted to house 40 Kosovo refugees in the local cultural centre. And residents of Vitanovac have refused outright to connect refugee accommodation to the water supply, arguing that there would not be enough left for their own needs.

Since last September, people in Kraljevo and the surrounding region have been threatening to forcibly evict refugees from municipal buildings. Police were forced to intervene when locals sabotaged building projects aimed at providing emergency shelters.

Open conflict was averted last year when the authorities relocated thousands of Kosovars from school buildings to community centres and disused cowsheds. But locals in Mataruska Banja have since threatened to reclaim premises by force.

Mataruska residents say the once popular tourist resort has become a virtual ghost-town since the refugees arrived. One hotelier, Vladan Stojkovic, told IWPR, "People are keeping their distance because of the rude and dirty refugees. There aren't any factories or big firms here where people can earn a living. There is only tourism -- but now we don't even have that."

Stojkovic went on to say, "That's why we decided to take the law into our own hands. Blood will be shed, I'm telling you, if these people don't get out of Banja soon."

Kraljevo businessmen echoed the hotelier's resentment. One café owner commented, "Everything has changed since the Kosovars arrived. They're rude and arrogant. I've started losing my regular customers."

Particularly galling for most locals is the fact that some refugees appear to be comparatively well off. A few are even thought to have taken part in attacks on Albanian homes in Kosovo, bringing their spoils away with them.

Zvonko Obradovic, chairman of the executive committee of the Kraljevo Town Assembly, summed up the local mood, "The people here are in a really difficult position. Refugees who were government officials in Kosovo still get their salaries paid, even though they're unable to work. And they have a range of other benefits that the local population can't hope to enjoy. We're finding it more and more difficult to control the tensions that threaten to erupt into open conflict at the slightest provocation."

Residents claim the refugees often get preferential treatment - particularly over the fierce competition for stalls in Kraljevo's market place.

Around 3,000 factory workers, currently on unpaid leave from Kraljevo's ailing industries, make a living by selling goods at the market. This year, however, around 40 per cent of the prime pitches were allotted to Kosovars and the displaced stall-holders say they have been deprived of any source of income.

The situation in Kraljevo's schools has provoked widespread outcry. Around 1,300 refugee children have been placed in schools across the region, swelling classes by nearly 25 per cent.

Savo Veljkovic, headmaster of the Jovo Kursula primary school, said, "Hardly a day goes by without the refugee children breaking something. But the most disheartening thing is that they readily admit their vandalism and hand over money to pay for the damage. They treat school property as if it belongs to the enemy."

Kraljevo residents also complain that the refugees put enormous strain on local facilities. Visits to the town's health clinic have increased by 20 per cent while water consumption has soared by 25 per cent. Rados Trnavac, manager at the Vodovod water company, claims that supplies will be exhausted by mid-summer if the trend continues.

The refugees themselves remain defiant. A teacher from a secondary school in Pec, who now lives in a part of Kraljevo dubbed "Little Albania", says, "I feel intolerance and hostility at every turn. The locals look at us as if we were second-class citizens. We lived peacefully with the Albanians until the Serbian police arrived."

He went on to say that he had taken no part in the Serbian terror campaign in Kosovo. "Thousands of Albanians were killed and the paramilitaries piled their spoils on to trucks and fled for Serbia. Because of that, I had just two hours to leave the home, which my father and grandfather had built. And now you're asking me about a smashed window or a broken nose! It was you [the Serbs] who brought us here, so now you'll just have to put up with us."

Miroslav Filipovic is a regular IWPR contributor.


Three Kosovo Serb brothers injured in grenade attack

PRISTINA, Yugoslavia, May 10 (AFP) - Three Kosovo Serb brothers
were injured by shrapnel in an overnight grenade attack on a grocery
store in a southeastern village, a KFOR peacekeeping spokesman said
The brothers from the Serbian village of Cernica on the western
outskirts of the town of Gnjilane were treated in US military
hospitals and their lives were not in danger, said Captain Russell
Unidentified attackers threw the grenade through the shop window
at around 8:30 p.m. (1830 GMT) Tuesday, he said, adding that no
arrests had been made.
The US-led eastern sector of Kosovo has been troubled by
violence in the last week, with four Serbs shot and injured in the
nearby town of Vitina and riots sparked by the murder of an elderly
Serbian man found dead Saturday.
The volatile region is ethnically mixed between ethnic Albanian
and Serbs.
US and Polish peacekeepers of the NATO-led force have clashed
with angry Serbs protesting arrests or attacks on several occasions
in recent months.


Blic, Belgrade, Yugoslavia
May 9, 2000

Four Serbs injured in armed attack in Vitina - KFOR is conducting investigation

Four Albanians arrested

Pristina - KFOR soldiers and members of UNMIK Police arrested four people suspected of committing an armed attack in Vitina in which three Serbs were lightly and one seriously injured. The three arrested people were kept for investigation in the American base "Bondsteel" near Urosevac.

The fourth person has been arrested somewhat later. UNMIK Police is conducting investigation.

"In this attack one girl and one middle-aged woman were lightly injured while Dobri Kojic /88/ was heavily injured. In an attack that followed later, another Serb trying to help the Kojic's was also injured. The attack was carried out by for persons" KFOR spokesman Anido said.

Serb sources reported that at the moment of attack the Kojic's were at family
graveyard giving anniversary commemoration service to an older member of their family. KFOR spokesman says that the attackers were in black suits and that they ran away by a white car. Doctors of the hospital in American base "Bondsteel" are fighting for the life of Dobri Kojic.

The evening before yesterday at about 11:15 p.m. in the village of Vrbovce a newly built house of Slavko Vesic was blown by the explosive. Nobody was injured.


Kosovo Serbs Rally for Information on their missing

By Cvjetko Udovicic
Associated Press Writer
Wednesday, May 10, 2000; 4:24 p.m. EDT

KOSOVSKA MITROVICA, Yugoslavia –– Kosovo Serbs protested Wednesday in the province's most tense city and in the nation's capital, Belgrade, demanding swift trials for jailed relatives and information on missing Serbs.

Elsewhere in Kosovo, a grenade and machine gun fire wounded five Kosovo
Serbs, the private Beta news agency reported.

About 500 protesters – many of them wives, children or other relatives
of Serb prisoners – gathered outside the jailhouse in Kosovska
Mitrovica, an industrial city bitterly split along into ethnic Albanian
and Serb sectors.

"Let truth conquer doubt," read one banner, while others pleaded: "Give
me back my dad" and "My father is innocent."

"We are aware of the problems regarding Kosovo's judicial system," the
local NATO commander, French Brig. Gen. Pierre de Saqui de Sannes, told
protesters, alluding to the backlog of cases awaiting trial because of
lack of personnel and inadequate legislation.

Relatives said the 37 Serb prisoners in Kosovska Mitrovica had not eaten
since April 12 in protest to the "unbalanced treatment" they allegedly
received at the hands of NATO. They said they were being held
indefinitely, with little or no prospect of court action.

Local Serb representative Oliver Ivanovic said the Serb side would
expect U.N. and NATO peacekeepers to come up with a solution by the end
of the week.

"This is a unique legal case, with prison inmates protesting not over
whether they are guilty or not, but over a lack of trial," Ivanovic told

In Belgrade – which is capital both of Yugoslavia and its largest
republic, Serbia – the families of several hundred missing Kosovo Serbs
held a protest march demanding their loved ones be released or at least
accounted for.

Here the banners shouted: "Where is my grandpa?" and "We want our
children back!" They asked for information on the 1,200 or so Serbs
believed abducted or killed in Kosovo since early 1998. Most are
believed to have fallen victim to ethnic Albanians seeking revenge for
the Serb crackdown that ended in June after NATO's bombing campaign.

There is speculation that some of the missing Serbs are alive and being
held in secret, Albanian-run prison camps. However, NATO-led
peacekeepers have found no such prisons.

The protesters in Belgrade directed their demands toward several
parties: the authorities of Yugoslavia, NATO countries with troops in
Kosovo, U.N. officials now running the province and the International
Committee of the Red Cross.

Holding photographs of the missing, the protesters marched past the
Yugoslav parliament and embassies of several NATO member countries.

Meanwhile, at least five Kosovo Serbs were wounded Tuesday night, when
an unidentified man hurled a grenade into a shop in the town of Cernica,
20 miles southeast of Pristina, Beta reported. The man then opened fire
with a machine gun. One person was seriously injured, while the others
were slightly hurt, Beta said.

NATO officials in Pristina confirmed the attack, but said six people had
been wounded. They said a grenade was thrown, but did not mention
machine gun fire.


BLIC - Belgrade independent daily

MAY 11,

Protest of families of the kidnapped Serbs in Kosovo


Belgrade - Several hundreds of citizens having their family members
kidnapped in Kosovo held yesterday at noon a rally in the Square of the
Republic. After the rally they walked to the embassies of the countries
having their soldiers within KFOR units and handed them letters asking
for help in release of their relatives.

During the walk, the protesters shortly paused in front of the federal
Parliament. Two weeks ago they have sent to the Parliament a list with
names of the kidnapped requesting help. The same letter was sent to the
International Red Cross. Appeals for help were dropped into the post
boxes of the locked embassies. During the rally they hold slogans
written in Serbian, Greek, English, Russian, German and Spanish: "Peace
to all, freedom for all, return for everybody".

According to data of the Association for kidnapped since 1998 1,200
persons have disappeared or have been kidnapped in Kosovo.


Old Kosovo Foes Move Closer But Still Far Apart

Wednesday, May 10, 2000

By Andrew Gray

PRISTINA, Yugoslavia (Reuters) - Kosovo's Albanians and Serbs drew closer on the political front Wednesday but out on the streets thousands of ethnic Albanians demonstrated against plans to resettle Serbs in their region.

In a move hailed by a top international official as historic, Albanian and Serb
politicians issued a statement in which each community condemned crimes
committed against the other and urged all citizens not to resort to violence.

The leaders closed ranks at a meeting of a multi-ethnic council set up by the
United Nations to foster cooperation after over a year of armed conflict that
culminated in the 1999 NATO bombing to drive Serbian security forces out of

"This is the most important meeting we've had," said Bernard Kouchner, the
French head of Kosovo's United Nations-led administration. "This is, according to my opinion, the historic statement of the tenth of May."

The U.N. has been working for months to bring Serbs and Albanians closer after a decade of increasingly violent Serbian repression of Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority, which has been followed by a post-war plague of revenge attacks on Serbs.

But a protest in the western town of Istok showed how far the United Nations
and NATO, which took control of Kosovo last June, still have to go to achieve genuine reconciliation.


The demonstrators, marching just as the politicians in the capital Pristina
issued their statement, carried placards with slogans such as "Shed blood has not dried up yet," "Don't hurt the wounds of Kosovo" and "Stop Serb colonies in Kosovo."

They were protesting against plans floated by Kosovo Serb leaders and U.S.
officials to return Serbs to the area.

"We say this project should be stopped. Even talks about returning Serbs to
Kosovo should be stopped," said Remzije Zeqiraj, the head of the committee
which organized the protest.

A figure estimated at more than 200,000 Serbs and members of other
minorities fled Kosovo during and after NATO's air war against the forces of
Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic last year, fearing revenge attacks by
ethnic Albanians.

Some international officials urge bringing the Serbs back to Kosovo quickly,
anxious to avoid the charge that they waged war to prevent ethnic cleansing of Albanians but have done nothing about Serbs driven out of the Yugoslav

But others, including officials from the U.N. refugee agency, have said Serbs
should not be encouraged to return at the moment because Kosovo is not yet
safe enough.

Despite the presence of around 40,000 peacekeepers from the NATO-led KFOR force since last June, attacks on minorities or cases of harassment against them are still reported daily.

Protesters at Wednesday's rally, who appeared to number more than 2,000,
said Serbs would not be welcome back until a host of conditions had been met, including the release of Albanians detained during the conflict and now in Serbian jails.


The issue of the prisoners is highly emotive for ethnic Albanians, who see it as unfinished business from the conflict. International agencies say at least 1,200 Kosovo Albanians are in Serbian jails.

Wednesday's statement by the Kosovo Transitional Council, agreed by all of
the around 35 members present except one who objected on a technicality,
demanded the handover of all ethnic Albanian prisoners by Yugoslav

"We are determined that all the citizens of Kosovo should live equally under a law which treats people equally," said Xhavit Haliti, an ethnic Albanian member of the council.

"The declaration of the Serb representatives who condemn the Milosevic regime and crimes committed in Kosovo is a good step forward, as is the joint demand for the release of Albanian prisoners," he added.

Also Wednesday, the Balkans envoy for a major international organization said ethnic Albanian leaders were willing to put another contentious Kosovo issue -- the final status of the territory -- on the back burner for the moment.

Albanians overwhelmingly favor independence for Kosovo, which at the moment remains legally part of Serb-dominated Yugoslavia although under de facto international rule.

But Kosovo Albanian leaders are now ready to settle for defining Kosovo's
interim status for the moment, Albert Rohan of the Organization for Security
and Cooperation in Europe said after talks in Vienna with ethnic Albanian leader Hashim Thaqi.

(Additional reporting by Edita Bucinca in Pristina and Mark Thompson in


Refugees based in the Kraljevo region visit their villages in Metohija

Berkovo, village that was wiped away from the face of the Earth

by Miroslav Filipovic

Danas [independent daily], Belgrade, FR Yugoslavia,
May 10, 2000

Kraljevo - The village of Berkovo with 70 Serb houses,
is located on the very border between the
Municipalities Klina and Istok. Before the withdrawal
of the Yugoslav security forces [from Kosovo], the
village also had five households of ethnic Albanian
Catholics and one Roma household. Although the
village was full of Army and Police, none of the
Albanians were hurt and their houses were not

Today, Berkovo is a deserted village. Albanian houses
still stand untouched and they are the only
remaining objects in the village. Golub Jevtic and his
son Radovan have recently visited Berkovo in a
visit organized by KFOR. They encountered a horrific

"We had been told that the village had been burnt
down, but that is not true. It was methodically
destroyed. All Serb houses have been looted and
demolished. Everything that could be taken away,
has been taken apart and taken away by the Albanians.
When I say everything, I mean literally
everything. Furniture, household objects, doors,
windows, roof tiles, roof beams, floors, even
outhouses. Wells were mined and destroyed, all the
trees were cut down. We had a wonderful orchard.
In the whole village of Berkovo, today there is only
one inhabitant: my friend Bozo's dog," says Golub.

In mid June of last year all Serbs from Berkovo
escaped to Serbia. Only the two most courageous
locals stayed behind and they were murdered. During
the presence of Serbian authorities no Albanians
were killed or hurt in the village.

"We had no problems with our Albanian neighbors," says
Radovan, "we even protected them from our
policemen and soldiers. They kept asking whether we
had problems with Albanians. They said that if we
had any we should let them know and they would take
care of that. There was no need to report
anything. When the bombardment started, the Albanians
packed up and left for Albania. A neighbor, an
Albanian, took on departure a pendant with the picture
of mother Theresa and gave it to me. He said:
'Thank you, you could have killed us hundred times

"We are angry with our Albanian neighbors, although we
know that they did not demolish our houses.
They could have protected our houses the way we
protected theirs. They could have used their
influence with their Catholic brothers, Italians from
KFOR. They could have done a lot and they did not
try anything. Some witnesses even claim that our
Albanian neighbors killed the last two locals who
stayed in the village".

Father and son Jevtic's visit to their village was
approved by KFOR. They took a bus from Kraljevo to
the village of Gorazdevac. There they were taken over
by KFOR and escorted to the Pec Patriarchy.
>From there, in a convoy of Italian armored troop
carriers they traveled to their villages.

"We paid 340 dinars for a ticket to Gorazdevac,"
continues Radovan. "In Gorazdevac we were searched.
They were looking for weapons. Then they escorted us
to the Patriarchy, put us in troop carriers and
took us to our villages. They allowed us only five
minutes next to the remains of our houses.
Nevertheless, even that was too much. There was
nothing to see. Devastation and only devastation. As
if someone systematically tried to destroy any
possibility of our return."

However, the Jevtics believe that there is a winning
combination for their return. Golub's second son
Radosav attended in mid April a meeting with Oliver
Ivanovic, the president of the Executive Council of
the Serb National Council of Kosovska Mitrovica, in

"There is no reason not to trust Oliver Ivanovic, but
also there is no reason to unnecessarily risk the
only thing we have left: our lives. We are dreaming
about the return to our village, but he and all others
who are trying to convince us to return will have to
offer very serious guarantees for our security. That
is the only condition for our return. Everything else
will be easy. We shall build new houses, dig new
wells, if KFOR provides security for us. KFOR can do
it. They only need to show the will to do it."


Six Serbs Wounded in Kosovo Grenade Attack

PRISTINA, May 11, 2000 -- (Reuters) An attacker threw a
grenade into a Serb shop in eastern Kosovo, wounding six
people, the NATO-led KFOR peacekeeping force said on

The attack took place on Tuesday evening in the village of
Cernica, in Kosovo's U.S.-dominated military sector, a spokesman for the
force said.

Two of the victims were flown to a military hospital at U.S. forces' Camp
Bondsteel but their injuries were not believed to be life-threatening, Lieutenant Commander Philip Anido said.

Since KFOR and the United Nations took responsibility for Kosovo last June, ethnic Albanians angry at years of Serb repression have carried out numerous attacks on Serbs and members of other minorities accused of collaborating with them.

A 48-year-old member of the province's Torbesh community, an ethnic group which shares Albanians' Moslem faith but speaks a Slavic language, was found shot dead in his bed on Tuesday morning in a village near the southern city of Prizren, the UN said.


Kosovo Albanian Loyal to Serbia Dies

The Associated Press
Saturday, May 13, 2000; 6:25 a.m. EDT

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia -- A Kosovo Albanian loyal to Serbia was killed today in his home in the Kosovo town of Djakovica, Yugoslavia's state-run Tanjug news agency reported.

Adnan Zerka, a member of the Democratic Reform Party of Albanians, died en route to the hospital after unknown attackers opened fire on his house and injured him, Tanjug said.

NATO or the United Nations had no comment on the attack, which occurred about 45 miles southwest of the province's capital of Pristina.

The Democratic Reform Party has represented a minority of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo who do not support secession from Serbia. Its members have come under increasing threats and attacks since Serbian authorities were forced to hand over the province to NATO-led peacekeepers and the United Nations after the 78-day NATO bombing campaign last year.

The party's president, Sokol Cusa, condemned the killing, saying Zerka
"advocated a multiethnic Kosovo and equality for everybody."

Tanjug also said that hours before the killing, more than 100 "raging ethnic
Albanians" stoned an apartment building in the town of Obilic, just outside of
Pristina which is home to a number of Kosovo Serb families.

Nobody was injured in the attack, which was stopped by members of the NATO-led Kosovo Force, according to Tanjug.