ERP KIM Newsletter
TWO ANALYSES OF THE SITUATION IN
KOSOVO AND METOHIJA
BALKANPEACE.ORG - HUMANITARIAN BOMBING VS.
IWPR - MURDER REIGNITES FEARS OF KOSOVO SERBS
Thousands of Serb homes
burned by so called Kosovo Liberation Army and other extremists still
remain in ruins since 1999 (photo ERP KIM)
CENTRE FOR PEACE IN THE BALKANS
Humanitarian Bombing vs.
Analysis, June 2003
This June marks the 4th year anniversary of
in the Serbian province of Kosovo. Given that the Kosovo Mission may be
perceived by some as a success story, offering precedence in the approach
of the international community's strategy for dealing with post-war Iraq,
it would be both timely and wise to, recap the "successes" of NATO's
Mission in Kosovo. Such a reflection may prove to be a telling and honest
warning to those embarking on similar, future projects in Iraq.
Almost four years after the United Nations established its mission in
Kosovo (UNMIK), inter-ethnic hostility is
and the few Serbs remaining in the province,
are afraid to travel freely.
law and order; promote human rights; and assure the safe and unimpeded
return of all refugees and displaced persons to their homes in Kosovo" -
Although the number of
be interpreted in many different ways,
between the ethnic Albanian majority and the Serbian minority remain high.
Surrounded and outnumbered by the ethnic Albanian majority (many of whom
see no room for Serbs in Kosovo) the Serbs are realistically pessimistic
about their future.
The ethnic make up of the population of Pristina
reflects the validity of this fear. Since 1999, the population of
Pristina has grown to over 500,000 people -
less than 200 of which are Serbs.
Since the NATO's entry into Kosovo in June of 1999, the indigent
population of this region
at the hands of Albanian extremists and organized terrorists. The NATO
troops, operating under the organization of
(Kosovo Force), have done little to protect minority groups and have stood
by and watched as over
from the region (primarily the Serbs and
and over 2,500 Serbs were
than 200,000 Kosovo Serbs have left their homes as a result of extremist
violence or fearing bloody reprisals from Albanians. The
80,000 to 120,000 Serbs
who remain live in isolated enclaves, sometimes as small as a single
apartment block, "protected" by NATO troops.
depletion of the number
of NATO soldiers committed to Kosovo is a strong indication that little
will be done to help these victims or prevent the further persecution of
minorities in Kosovo.
As a result of this absence of multi-ethnic tolerance, the non-Albanian
population of Kosovo is forced to live in ethnic ghettos. For those living
in ghettos, it is not safe to travel freely. Consequently, they can only
travel if KFOR provides an armed escort. The people are left to the mercy
of the schedules and goodwill of the KFOR unit assigned to this escort
task. Should the particular KFOR unit "not feel like" providing this
service, trips to the hospital, the market, school, church or polling
booths are not possible.
While Kosovo's Serbian National Council has demanded that the
UN Security Council
and NATO urgently develop a plan for the protection of the Serbian
communities within the province, the reality is that the KFOR
check-points, guaranteeing some level of security to the remaining Serbian
enclaves, have all but disappeared.
The decision to remove the checkpoints was ordered by the UNMIK (United
Nations Mission in Kosovo) administrator Michael Steiner, who believed
that the security situation had improved significantly.
Mr. Steiner's position was contradicted by the province's UN Ombudsman,
Marek Anton Novicki,
"The situation is not in the least bit optimistic for the Serbs who have
been expelled to return to urban regions, and at the moment there are no
basic conditions for their return."
At the same time, the
UN High Commissioner
(UNHCR) and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)
claim that Kosovo's minorities lack access to education, healthcare
services and equitable employment.
The report issued by these organizations states that one concern is
primarily the minority Serb and Roma populations, which find it harder to
move around freely and therefore to live normal lives in Kosovo where
ethnic Albanians are an overwhelming majority.
The question is then, on the foundation of what
information does the UN Administrator base his position? The inconsistency
in the two positions indicates an inherent lack of communication between
the two UN agencies, the UNMIK and the UNHCR.
As a warning to the unfounded and bias position of the UNMIK, the incident
rate of murder, terrorist activities and hate crimes in the region is,
despite the presence of the international community, increasing.
the Kosovo Protection
a local constabulary allegedly comprised of
from the supposedly disbanded Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). From the time
of its establishment, this organization has presented only roadblocks in
the path of those trying to establish stability in the region. The KPC is
openly engaged in organized crime. They run the regions
operations and fund themselves through protection rackets across Kosovo -
shopkeepers, businessmen and contractors across the province (including
Pristina, Suva Reka,
Dragash, Istok and
Prizren) - are required to pay the KPC
"protection". Instead of focusing on building and establishing the civic
foundations for the future of Kosovo, the international community has been
forced to commit its time and resources to investigating and persecuting
the criminal and terrorist cells that exist within the KPC, and that
operate not only within the province of Kosovo but
and other regions within Serbia as well.
Macedonia remains volatile after a 2001 conflict between ethnic
and Macedonian government troops. A renegade
ethnic Albanian group,
known as the "Albanian
who operates from Kosovo, plans, organizes and executes occasional
terrorist attacks in Macedonia. This group advocates the unification of
ethnic Albanian-dominated areas in several Balkan countries.
It is clear that the UNMIK Mission in Kosovo has turned a blind eye to the
corruption that has infiltrated this operation. It is impossible to
imagine that the KPC, and those
groups similar to them,
can operate their international-scale drug rings (to the extent that they
have been tagged as the "heroin
linking the orient and Europe), without the intentional ignorance of the
UNMIK. The watchful leaders of the UNMIK appeared to have turned a ignore
organized crime in Kosovo, and are seemingly unmotivated to take any
action in combating the drug trafficking, prostitution rings, organized
crime and threat of
that exists in the province. Even
the Albanian population
has come to see that the UNMIK is clearly incapable of instituting
positive and proactive change in the province.
Not one of the 110 Serbian
Orthodox churches destroyed or damaged by Albanian extremists has been
reconstructed since 1999 - ruins of the church of St. Uros
near Urosevac, Southern Kosovo (photo ERP KIM)
Multi-ethnic tolerance in Kosovo
has not been
The murder and persecution of ethnic minorities in the province not only
continue to happen, but these incidents are
not even reported
by the provinces_ media outlets, which are of course, owned and operated
by the Albanians. Moreover, anything and everything that bears any
resemblance to a culture other than Albanian, is destroyed.
This politically corrupt and culturally intolerant climate continues to
strengthen its hold on the province. And in spite of the efforts of
(such as Amnesty International), who have
voiced their concerns
over Kosovo's oppressed minorities, nothing has been done to instigate
change. Amnesty International has conclusively stated that: "Unless such
rights can be guaranteed, minority refugees and internally displaced
people in other parts of Serbia and Montenegro will be unable to return to
When assessing the shortcomings of progress in Kosovo, the ineffectiveness
of the Government in Belgrade to take a proactive role cannot go
unmentioned. As the primary stakeholder, Belgrade has failed to propose a
constructive or detailed plan for their vision of the future of Kosovo.
More importantly, the Serbian Government has been unable to create enough
presence in order to hold the international force responsible and
accountable in governing this province according to resolution 1244 and as
an integral part of their sovereign state.
Iraqi Freedom four years from now
And hence the question of Kosovo's fate remains unresolved. In today's
Kosovo, no one side can offer acceptable objectives, while the Albanians
push forth with an unrealistic and
of independence. Such a precedent would most certainly lead to new Balkan
divisions (in particular Bosnia and Macedonia) and consequently new
conflicts in the unstable region. The UN is frivolously allowing what
little credibility they may still maintain (especially after their failed
diplomatic role in Iraq) to be destroyed by passive and corrupt
representatives, who in Kosovo have done little to uphold the UN's mandate
and ideals. Belgrade,
from its side,
must abandon its naïve hope for a quick and easy solution and instead
approach the problems of Kosovo constructively.
Thus, what lessons can we learn, more than four years after
NATOs intervention in Yugoslavia?
Before Canada can confidently engage in international reconstruction
efforts, such as the opportunity we have in shaping the rebuilding of
Iraq, we must be aware of the consequences of our role. More importantly,
to ensure that Canada's contribution can be measured, and that the impact
of our contribution has a long-standing and positive effect, we must first
outline the concrete and viable steps needed to achieve our goals. In the
unfortunate case of Kosovo, NATO's Forces either totally disregarded, or
were not in a position to implement the very goals they themselves set - a
multicultural and multiethnic society, the protection of human rights, and
the safe return of refugees. Their failure to deliver on these promises
has jeopardized or
shattered the lives of
most non-Albanians in Kosovo.
As a similar mission in Iraq unfolds today, we as Canadians must offer
credence to the example of Kosovo in determining the role we play in
reconstructing this fragile nation.
A Kosovo Serb woman Jagoda
Stolic, right, is comforted by a neighbourgh as she weeps following the
murder of her parents and brother in the town of Obilic on Wednesday, June
4, 2003. Three Kosovo Serbs were killed and their house was set ablaze
Wednesday, in an attack condemned by U.N. and local officials. (AP
MURDER REIGNITES FEARS OF KOSOVO SERBS
Increase in attacks against Serbs
could hit plans to return Kosovo refugees.
Institute for War and Peace Reporting IWPR
By Tanja Matic in Pristina (BCR No 436, 10-Jun-03)
The brutal murder of three Serbs in Obilic, central Kosovo, last week has
put security concerns high on the international community's agenda again.
Slobodan and Radmila Stolic, both 80, and their 50-year-old son Ljubinko
were found dead in the early hours of June 4 amidst the burnt-out remains
of their home in Obilic, 10 kilometres from Kosovo's administrative
centre, Pristina, after the local fire brigade were called to the scene.
An investigation is underway.
The three are thought to have been axed to death before their home was set
ablaze. So far there are no indications who was responsible for the
The murders prompted a reported 23 families to leave the town and go to
Serbia, saying they planned to stay there until they felt safe enough to
return. But after meeting Serbian deputy prime minister Nebojsa Covic on
June 9, they agreed not to move out of Obilic. Covic, who is in charge of
Serbia's Kosovo Coordination Centre, promised to visit the province more
He said that if Serb families fled from the town, they would be playing
into the hands of Albanian extremists. What they needed was community
action, not political campaigning, he said.
The murders rapidly moved up the international agenda. Late on June 6, UN
Security Council chairman Russian ambassador Sergey Lavrov said in New
York that the killers_ aim was to thwart attempts to build a multi-ethnic
society where everyone would enjoy equal security and where refugees and
internally displaced persons could return safely.
UNMIK head Michael Steiner was prevented from visiting the site of the
murders last week by an angry crowd of Serbs protesting at what they see
as a lack of protection for them in Kosovo. He announced a 50,000 euro
reward for anyone providing information leading to the arrest of those
involved in the killings.
The incident also figured heavily when Steiner met EU representative for
foreign policy and security Javier Solana in Pristina on June 5 ahead of
next month's EU-Balkans summit in Thessalonica. Solana opened a joint
press conference by condemning the murders.
The attacks come at a time when the situation was thought to have been
stabilising. 2003 was supposed to be the international community's
declared "year of return" for minorities forced out of Kosovo during the
But the recent upturn in violence has left many feeling it is still unsafe
to come back. Of the 12,000 Serbs thought to have lived in Obilic when
Belgrade was last in control, it is estimated that 3,000 have fled.
Along with the Stolic murders, an investigation is ongoing into the
discovery in May of the body of Kosovo Serb Zoran Mirkovic, a
41-year-old-teacher, found in a field near Vitina, eastern Kosovo. In
April, the clandestine Albanian National Army said it was responsible for
blowing up a bridge in the north of the protectorate, on the only railway
linking it with Belgrade.
In response to the increasing violence, Kosovo Serb politicians have
called for boycott of all local institutions. In a letter to Michael
Steiner last week, Goran Bogdanovic, the only Serb minister in the
provincial government, announced he might resign if steps were not taken
to improve security.
Members of the Povratak coalition in the Kosovo assembly joined in the
protests, walking out of a June 5 session saying that few cases of attacks
against Serbs have been solved.
Povratak leader Dragisa Krstovic said the Kosovo government must take some
of the responsibility for the recent killings, "After all these things, it
would be normal for someone from government to hand in their resignation."
Nenad Radosavljevic, advisor on minority returns in the office of the
Special Representative for the UN Secretary General in Kosovo, told IWPR
last week that the Stolic murders are part of a "planned action directed
against the return" - but he believes that this will not succeed.
"I_m sure that after this case the wish to return will decrease, but I
hope not to a great extent, and only for a short time. Unfortunately, many
displaced persons are still living in terrible conditions in Serbia, but
Obilic aside, there are some other places in Kosovo where security has
seriously improved," he said.
An internal report from one international organisation, seen by IWPR, says
that there are 20 displaced families from Obilic who have expressed
willingness to come back, but the triple murder "could adversely affect
their will to do so".
One of the possible returnees, a 55-year-old woman from Obilic currently
living in Belgrade, told IWPR that recent events have damaged her
confidence that UNMIK and the Kosovo police can protect the Serbs.
"All my property is in Obilic and I still want to return, but only if
Serbian forces are back," she said.
Since the summer of 1999, when the UN established its protectorate in
Kosovo, non-Albanians, especially Serbs, have been subjected to constant
threats and violence. The situation improved after the beginning of 2000,
as the number of attacks slowly decreased with increased security
Reports from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe and
the UN High Commission for Refugees agreed that 2002 saw a continued fall
in ethnically motivated crime. Since May last year, KFOR has begun scaling
down its presence in minority areas.
It is hard to say whether the latest attacks are part of a bigger trend,
but they have made Serbs in the protectorate feel more cautious and
rethink their behaviour.
"Recently, I really have been speaking Serbian at more and more places in
the town, and I've also heard much more Serbian on the streets than
before," said a 27-year-old woman from Pristina.
"But after this murder, I have realised that I may have been too relaxed.
I_m sure I won_t be behaving like that for the time being."
Tanja Matic is IWPR's coordinating editor in Pristina
Struggle for peace amidst continued
Kosovo Albanian ethnic terror
and deaf ears of the UN Mission in Kosovo - a Serb girl from Kosovo with a
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