November 05, 2003

ERP KiM Newsletter 05-11-03

Even the last remnants of former multiethnicity disappear in Kosovo today


Ethnic and Religious Coexistence which lasted for centuries is rapidly disappearing in Kosovo Province, regrettably despite the UN Administration
Serbian Orthodox church and an Albanian mosque share the same courtyard in the city of Urosevac. Once a home of 9.000 Orthodox Serbs Urosevac town, now known under the Albanian name of Ferizaj (according to Ottoman Feriz Pasha) is one of the most ethnically pure parts of Kosovo and Metohija Province. Only 12 elderly Serbs live isolated in their homes and are under medical and humanitarian care of the Greek KFOR. In June 1999 ethnic Albanian extremists looted and damaged the interior of the church. Since then the church is under constant KFOR protection.

CONTENTS:

Only 12 Serbs Left in Urosevac
The municipality of Urosevac is now the most ethnically pure part of Kosovo and Metohija: with the exception of 12 Serbs living in the town of Urosevac itself, there are no other Serbs in the entire municipality.

COVIC: It is Time for Timeframes For Fulfilling Standards
"It is very important that all the standards be defined so that there is no place for slacking. Standards have to be clearly set, well profiled and measurable," stated Covic.


Del Ponte: Kosovo Witnesses Being Threatened
"Witnesses with whom we have already spoken are now refusing to testify out of fear," she added, noting that the tribunal does have a witness protection system. However, this system often entails moving entire families, which is very difficult, she explained.

Kosovo Status Talks Could Start in 2005: US Official
US Under Secretary for Political Affairs Marc Grossman, referring to UN-set targets including the return of minorities, economic reform and rule of law, said: "If the Kosovars can meet these standards ... there will be a review of where they stand in mid-2005.

Belgrade Offers "Evidence" Of Albanian War Crimes in Kosovo
Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Zivkovic released a book Tuesday on "Albanian terrorism and organized crime" in Kosovo in the hope that it will lead to war crimes charges against ethnic Albanians.

CSM: For Refugees in Kosovo Long Way Back Home

Although four years have passed since they were chased from their homes by ethnic-Albanian militants seeking revenge for atrocities committed by the Serbian Army, many Kosovo Serbs, like young Yeton, have not given up hope that they might one day return.


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Elderly Kosovo Serbs are usually targeted by the Albanian extremists. Many elderly people have been killed, or they starved confined in their flats (out of fear). Some have been just simply evicted from their homes and damped in the street like these two ladies in Urosevac - a city which has been almost completely purged from Serbs (US sector) - archive photo ERP KIM June 1999

Only 12 Serbs Left in Urosevac
The municipality of Urosevac is now the most ethnically pure part of Kosovo and Metohija: with the exception of 12 Serbs living in the town of Urosevac itself, there are no other Serbs in the entire municipality.

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Borba daily, Belgrade
November 4, 2003


Only 12 Serbs left in Urosevac

No Serbs in any of 20 formerly Serb villages in Urosevac municipality and the town of Urosevac itself has been renamed Ferizaj by the Albanians

The municipality of Urosevac is now the most ethnically pure part of Kosovo and Metohija: with the exception of 12 Serbs living in the town of Urosevac itself, there are no other Serbs in the entire municipality.

Prior to the deployment of KFOR in June 1999, there were approximately 60,000 Albanians and 20,000 Serbs in the municipality, 9,000 of the latter within the town of Urosevac.

In June 1999 the entire Serb population fled. Today the municipality has a population of almost 100,000 Albanians, the majority of them immigrants from the Republic of Albania, and a few Ashkalis who remained in the town of Urosevac.

So far Urosevac Serbs have sold 85 percent of their real property - apartments, houses and land - to Albanians. Those who have not managed to do so say that the reason is fewer customers or low offers by the Albanians, who are aware that the Serbs will not return to Urosevac.

Last weekend on All Saints' Day (Zadusnice), a group of 50 Urosevac Serbs visited the village cemetery for the first time since 1999. The cemetery is now under KFOR protection but vandals had previously broken the tomb covers and removed the crosses.

The town is a living hive with walkways that have been transformed into fruit and vegetable stands and general merchandise stores, and every square meter is occupied by newly built houses or what appear to be businesses.

All the streets now have new names and every trace of Serbs here has been systematically destroyed.


Serbian Orthodox monastery of St. Uros V near Urosevac. St. Uros was the founder of the
Urosevac town and one of Serbian royal saints (end 14th century).
St Uros Monastery with the church of the Ascension of the Holy Virgin in Sarenik, Gornje Nerodimlje (near Urosevac). The monastery and the church were built by the Serbian Empress Helen in the 14th century, west of Gornje Nerodimlje. It was completely destroyed by Albanian extremists in summer 1999 after the arrival of US
KFOR troops in the area.


It is Time For Timeframes For Fulfilling Standards
"It is very important that all the standards be defined so that there is no place for slacking. Standards have to be clearly set, well profiled and measurable," stated Covic.

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Free Serbia, Belgrade
04 November, 2003

Nebojsa Covic, vice president of the Serbian Government, announced that Kosovo would be presented with timeframes for fulfilling of standards.

"It is very important that all the standards be defined so that there is no place for slacking. Standards have to be clearly set, well profiled and measurable," stated Covic.

Announcing that time will come when there will be public and other processes during which the extend of the fulfillment of standards will be evaluated, Covic stated that it is very important that there be some criteria's under which it will be evaluated if standards have been fulfilled or not. In reference to this Covic mentioned the example of the return of the dispersed, which is one of the eight internationally set standards for Kosovo, by saying "if the standard does not say how many people are returning, how are they returning, how many bricks are needed for their houses, how many houses are needed, then that it not a standard".

"Standards must clearly determine what is the UNMIK role, what is the role of Harri Holkeri, or if his mission was only to initiate dialogue, which did not actually start," stated the Serbian vice prime-minister and emphasized that he believes "UNMIK chief has sincere and fair attitude in solving of the Kosovo problem".

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Del Ponte, Kosovo Witnesses Being Threatened
"Witnesses with whom we have already spoken are now refusing to testify out of fear," she added, noting that the tribunal does have a witness protection system. However, this system often entails moving entire families, which is very difficult, she explained.

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Borba daily, Belgrade
November 4, 2003


Speaking about Kosovo, the chief prosecutor of the Hague tribunal Carla del Ponte stated today in Vienna that the trial of an Albanian suspect is to start at the beginning of next year, that three indictments are ready and that investigations are in progress in two other cases.

Just before addressing the Permanent Council of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, Del Ponte told reporters that she has problems collecting evidence because Kosovo witnesses are being threatened, feel afraid and are living in great danger.

"Witnesses with whom we have already spoken are now refusing to testify out of fear," she added, noting that the tribunal does have a witness protection system. However, this system often entails moving entire families, which is very difficult, she explained.

Del Ponte also said that she was waiting for Kosovo documentation promised by Serbian justice minister Vladan Batic.

"I hope I will receive the documentation soon, as he promised me during our recent meeting," she said.

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Kosovo Status Talks Could Start in 2005: US Official

US Under Secretary for Political Affairs Marc Grossman, referring to UN-set targets including the return of minorities, economic reform and rule of law, said: "If the Kosovars can meet these standards ... there will be a review of where they stand in mid-2005.

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AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE

Tuesday, 04-Nov-2003 8:01AM

BRUSSELS, Nov 4 (AFP) - Talks on the final status of the UN-run province of Kosovo could start in 2005 if Kosovars meet certain standards, a senior US official said Tuesday.

US Under Secretary for Political Affairs Marc Grossman, referring to UN-set targets including the return of minorities, economic reform and rule of law, said: "If the Kosovars can meet these standards ... there will be a review of where they stand in mid-2005.

"And if they can meet these standards we will also be prepared to begin the processus of discussion on the final status for Kosovo," he said.

"If however they can't meet these standards or don't meet these standards then the contact group would set a new date," he added, referring to the six-member group comprising the United States, Russia, Britain, France, Germany and Italy which has overseen efforts to resolve conflicts in ex-Yugoslavia.

Grossman, visiting the Brussels headquarters of NATO -- which coordinated the US-led bombing of the province in 1999 that forced Serb forces out of the predominantly Albanian-populated province -- underlined the desire for further progress.

"One of the things we discussed was the great importance in finishing the job ... with getting Kosovo right," he said, after talks with NATO's decision-making North Atlantic Council (NAC).

He added that he would be travelling to Serbia and Pristina "to talk about a plan that the contact group has achieved to have Kosovars meet standards more quickly.


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AFP: Belgrade Offers "evidence" of Albanian War Crimes in Kosovo

Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Zivkovic released a book Tuesday on "Albanian terrorism and organized crime" in Kosovo in the hope that it will lead to war crimes charges against ethnic Albanians.

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AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
Tuesday, 04-Nov-2003 9:20AM


BELGRADE, Nov 4 (AFP) - Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Zivkovic released a book Tuesday on "Albanian terrorism and organized crime" in Kosovo in the hope that it will lead to war crimes charges against ethnic Albanians.

"With this book, we want to help NATO and the UN in Kosovo to fight terrorism and organized crime," Zivkovic told a press conference.

He said the white book should also "help" the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) to "present new indictments against Albanian terrorists."

The book, jointly prepared by the police, the army and the foreign ministry, includes the names of some 156 members of ethnic Albanian extremist groups seen by Belgrade as responsible for war crimes against Serbs in Kosovo.

It also shows the alleged "chain of command" of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), ethnic Albanian guerrillas who fought an independence war against the forces of former Yugoslav strongman Slobodan Milosevic from 1998-99.

The KLA was officially disbanded after the conflict but many of its fighters now serve in the Kosovo Protection Force, a UN-supervised unit which was established after the world body took control of Kosovo in 1999.

Milosevic has been on trial at the ICTY in The Hague since February last year, facing more than 60 charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his role in the 1990s wars in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo.

Belgrade accuses the UN tribunal of bias against Serbs and has demanded that war crimes indictments be brought against Kosovo Albanians accused of carrying out atrocities against the Serb minority in the southern province.

So far no ethnic Albanians have been indicted by the UN court, although four were convicted in a Kosovo court in July of war crimes committed against other Kosovo Albanians.

Serbia's white book also fingers the Albanian National army (ANA), a rebel group which has been declared as a "terrorist" organization by the UN mission in Kosovo.

"The ANA presents a factor of instability and (is) linked with organized crime in Kosovo," Zivkovic said.

Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Nebojsa Covic said he had informed Harri Holkeri, chief of the UN mission in Kosovo, about a photograph of KLA fighters holding severed heads which was published Monday in a Belgrade daily.

The graphic image shows several men in KLA uniforms, smiling and holding two decapitated heads said to be from Serbian soldiers.

The KLA soldiers in the photo are now members of the Kosovo Protection Corps, according to the Vecernje Novosti daily.

"I have contacted Mr Holkeri and he has assured me that we will get the details of the case," Covic said.

More than 200,000 Serbs have fled Kosovo since June 1999, fearing ethnic Albanian reprisal attacks for the brutality of Serbian rule under Milosevic.

Some 1,300 Serbs have been missing since the war.


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For Refugees From Kosovo, a Long Way Back Home

Although four years have passed since they were chased from their homes by ethnic-Albanian militants seeking revenge for atrocities committed by the Serbian Army, many Kosovo Serbs, like young Yeton, have not given up hope that they might one day return.

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http://www.csmonitor.com/2003/1105/p07s01-woeu.html

THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR
from the November 05, 2003 edition


By Arie Farnam | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor

CAGLAVICA AND BELO POLJE, KOSOVO - When he was 5 years old, Yeton saw his grandmother gunned down by black-uniformed Kosovo Liberation Army soldiers. Then, his mother picked him up and ran out of the village toward the Montenegrin border.

"I wish we could go back to our house and our friends," he says, now standing on a road outside a refugee shelter. "I wish we didn't have to be hungry anymore."

Although four years have passed since they were chased from their homes by ethnic-Albanian militants seeking revenge for atrocities committed by the Serbian Army, many Kosovo Serbs, like young Yeton*, have not given up hope that they might one day return.

Last summer, leading ethnic-Albanian politicians signed an open letter welcoming minority communities forced to flee Kosovo after the 1999 war here to come back home. The message briefly revived hope among refugees like Yeton and his extended family, who have lived in refugee camps in Serbia since the war. This year Yeton and an aunt tried to return to their village of Gorni Petric in western Kosovo.

But their road home quickly hit a dead end. "I went to visit our home, and our neighbors threatened me with knives and said we will be killed if we try to return," says Yeton's aunt, Vera Isaku. "Our houses have been burned and destroyed."

It's a common tale among the 240,000 refugees and internally displaced persons from Kosovo, mostly Serb and Roma (Gypsy) minorities, who found refuge in Serbia, Montenegro or Macedonia. Another 60,000 minority refugees from Kosovo are scattered across the rest of Europe. In the past four years only about 7,000 non-Albanian refugees have returned to Kosovo.

Kosovo was historically the poorest Serbian province, and Serbs have been drifting away for decades in search of better economic opportunities. However, it was once a haven for other minorities, such as the Roma, who often face discrimination elsewhere in Europe. The Kosovar town of Mitrovica once boasted the largest and most prosperous Romany settlement in the former Yugoslavia - 7,000 people, many of them skilled craftspeople and educated professionals. Today, not one of them is left, and their homes are rubble.

Sadima Toska once had a cozy home in that Romany neighborhood but now she and her seven children live in a refugee camp in the Serb-controlled town of Svechin. After four years of UN rations, these camps, which still hold tens of thousands of refugees, are being cut off from food and water aid as international attention turns toward the Middle East. "Of course, I would go back home at the first opportunity," Ms. Toska says. "But I am afraid we would be killed. KFOR [the NATO-led peacekeeping force here] says they can't guarantee our safety."

Attacks against minorities continue on a regular basis in Kosovo - everything from stone throwing to grenade attacks, arson and shootings - and most of the 100,000 Serbs and other minorities remaining in Kosovo are confined to isolated enclaves. Peggy Hicks, director of the Office of Returns under the UN administration of Kosovo, rates lack of security as the greatest obstacle to returning refugees, but the 70 percent unemployment rate in Kosovo does not help to bring émigrés back either.

Serb leaders call the invitation by ethnic-Albanian politicians propaganda, but Ms. Hicks and other international officials say it is a sign of progress. "Until recently, no politician here would say anything positive about returns,"she says. "Now, Kosovar politicians have realized that minority returns are key to their own future."

Kosovo's future remains in doubt. It is administered as a UN protectorate, though it is technically still a Serbian province, and Kosovar Albanians desperately want independence. Serbian and Kosovar Albanian officials have spoken recently of a date sometime in 2005 for final status talks, and a senior US official said Tuesday that such talks could begin in mid-2005 if Kosovo meets rule-of-law, democracy and other standards by then.

The return of minority refugees tops the list of conditions for independence set by international officials. As a result, Kosovo's Albanian political elite issued the open letter welcoming the refugees back, although most of the population opposes the returns. "Kosovo is for Albanians," says Palaj village resident Azem Dedinca, voicing a typical view. "Serbs and Roma have no place here. They killed Albanians or they collaborated with those who did."

In August, gunmen fired on Serb children swimming in a river near the Serb enclave of Gorazdevac in western Kosovo. The attack, which killed two youths, was timed just before 200 Serb refugees were expected to return to the area. The return was quickly aborted.

Only 24 men managed to return to the nearby village of Belo Polje before the attack, and they have set up camp amid charred ruins of their former homes, guarded constantly by Italian KFOR soldiers. "It is like living in a prison," says Radomir Kostic, a returnee who left his family in Serbia to help rebuild his village. "How can I consider bringing my daughters and grandchildren back to a place like this? On the other hand, what choice do I have? We have no chance living as refugees. We are not welcome in Serbia. They call us Albanians and refuse to give us jobs. Faced with two kinds of nothing, I choose my nothing, and this is the only home I have ever known."

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*It is very probable that Yeton might be a misspelled Serb name, or a name of a Roma refugee who also found refuge in Serbia proper together with more than 200.000 Serb refugees from Kosovo Province (ERP KIM Info Service Editor)


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