February 13 , 2003

ERP KIM NEWSLETTER 13-02-03

CONTENTS:

BETA - Serb deputies announce counterdeclaration
SRNA - UNMIK must prevent activation of Albanian groups
BETA - KFOR and UNMIK are protecting prominent Serbs and Albanians  in Kosovo Polje
AP - Serbia asks UN Mission and NATO to prevent militants from spilling accross boundary
Relief Web - Invisible Serb Refugees
SRGOV - Covic demands extradiction of terrorists
POLITIKA - The Forgotten Village


SERB DEPUTIES ANNOUNCE COUNTERDECLARATION

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BETA
Kosovska Mitrovica, February 12, 2003

 
,Deputies of the Return (Povratak) Coalition assessed today that the proposed declaration of Albanian deputies on Kosovo as a sovereign and independent state represents the most blatant abuse so far of "provisional institutions of self-government".
 
Serb deputies in the Kosovo parliament emphasized at a meeting in Kosovska Mitrovica that the very initiation of a procedure in the Kosovo parliament with respect to the declaration carries serious political consequences calling for urgent reaction from UNMIK and legitimate representatives of the Serb people.
 
Toward this end the Return Coalition will adopt a declaration on respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Serbia and Montenegro in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1244, it was advised after the meeting.
 
The Coalition believes that the placement of the Albanian declaration on the parliamentary agenda is the logical consequence of the tolerant position of UNMIK chief Michael Steiner toward similar initiatives in the past, seriously undermining agreements and responsibilities emanating form Resolution 1244, as well as joint agreements he and his predecessors have signed with Federal Republic of Yugoslavia officials.

This applies primarily to the Joint Agreement of UNMIK and the FRY, the Declaration on the Decentralization in Kosovo, and the Plan for Administration of Northern Kosovska Mitrovica.
 
In a communique issued after the meeting Return Coaliton deputies state that, as legitimate representatives of the Serb people, they will not allow themselves to be treated as legal and political representatives of a minority.
 
In this respect, stated the Serb deputies in Kosovo, the legitimacy of any political process will be assessed only from the perspective of the possibility of their active and equal participation and from the perspective of strict respect for UNSCR 1244.
 
Representatives of the Serb Return Coalition announced that they also have a strategy if Albanian deputies at tomorrow's parliamentary session propose the addition of draft declaration on the independence of Kosovo to the agenda, which they have a right to do according to the Constitutional Framework.
 
This strategy was not revealed to the press; however, it was said earlier that Serb representatives would not participate in debate if the declaration on independence is included on the agenda of tomorrow's session.

A second variant would be for Return deputies to proclaim their own declaration on the sovereignty of Serbia and Montenegro in Kosovo together with Serb representatives in local (municipal) assemblies.

The session of the Kosovo parliament is scheduled for tomorrow; however, the declaration on independence proposed by the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo of Ramush Haradinaj is not on the agenda. In order to be debated by the parliament, it is necessary for it to added to the agenda with the support of two-thirds of the parliamentary deputies.
 

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UNMIK MUST PREVENT ACTIVATION OF ALBANIAN GROUPS

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SRNA
Kosovska Mitrovica, February 12, 2003

The member of the presidency of the Kosovo parliament Oliver Ivanovic said that UNMIK and KFOR must prevent the re-activation of Albanian terrorist groups and protect the civilian population.
 
Ivanovic believes that the announcement from The Hague regarding the possible arrest of four "former senior officers of the KLA and current politicians in Kosovo" is one of the reasons for the regrouping of Albanian terrorist groups in Kosovsko Pomoravlje.
 
He added that the reactivation of Albanian terrorist groups would destabilize not only the immediate area of Kosovsko Pomoravlje jbut also south Serbia and the wider region.
 
Ivanovic said that news of the reactivation of Albanian terrorist groups is causing unrest among the Serb community.

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KFOR AND UNMIK ARE PROTECTING PROMINENT SERBS AND ALBANIANS IN KOSOVO POLJE

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BETA
Kosovo Polje, February 12, 2003

A Serb representative in local government in Kosovo Polje Svetislav Grujic confirmed today that KFOR and UNMIK police are taking preventative measures for the protection of prominent Serbs and Albanians from possible attacks by extremist groups in the area.

Grujic told Beta that KFOR and UN police officers asked him yesterday to provide names of prominent Serbs in neighboring villages and in Kosovo Polje as well as information regarding their recent patterns of movement in order to prepare full protection measures.
 
"They advised us that they have information regarding expected criminal actions and attacks in upcoming days and months, which has provoked a considerable dose of fear and unrest among Serb representatives," said Grujic.
 
He said that representative of international security forces in Kosovo Polje have shown the same kind of interest toward local officials of Rugova's Democratic League of Kosovo.
 
"They took photos of Kosovo Polje mayor Skender Zogaj's house and the surroundings," said Grujic, adding that other DLK activists in addition to Zogaj were questioned regarding their movements.
 
Grujic said that the greatest danger is from extremist Albanians, adding that some Serb houses in Kosovo Polje were purchased after the war by ethnic Albanians from Bujanovac and Presevo.
 
Seven Albanians were arrested in south Serbia last weekend under suspicion of collaborating on terrorist activities.
 
Grujic said that the Albanians from south Serbia in Kosovo Polje have not carried out any extremist activities yet.
 
The Diocese of Raska and Prizren advised that members of the extremist Albanian National Army (ANA) are preparing to act against municipal officials in Kosovo Polje and prominent Serbs.
 
In its communique the Diocese notes the increasing frequency of news regarding the appearance of armed men wearing black uniforms and masks who patrol rural areas of the Province at night and are causing unrest among the population, regardless of ethnicity.
 
"Movement at night is no longer a risk only for Serbs but for all those who stand in the way of the extremist goals of the ANA organization," states the Diocese.

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SERBIA ASKS UN AND NATO TO PREVENT MILITANTS FROM SPILLING ACCROSS THE BOUNDARY

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Associated Press
February 11, 2003

By KATARINA KRATOVAC, Associated Press Writer

BELGRADE, Serbia-Montenegro - Belgrade demanded on Tuesday that the U.N. mission and NATO (news - web sites) troops in Kosovo prevent an imminent spillover of ethnic Albanian militants from the province into Serbia's troubled south.

"We asked for measures to halt the entry of armed militants from Kosovo," said Nebojsa Covic, a Belgrade government official.

Covic said the demand was addressed in a letter to the top U.N. official in Kosovo, Michael Steiner, and to the NATO troops there, known as KFOR. The international officials have not yet reacted.

He did not specify what measures Belgrade sought, but claimed the government had reliable information that armed ethnic Albanian militants were grouping in the towns of Kosovska Kamenica and Gnjilane, in Kosovo, close to the boundary separating the province from an ethnically mixed region in Serbia.

Covic, who spoke on the phone from Bujanovac, a town in the tense area about 200 kilometers (120 miles) southeast of Belgrade, said the government has also taken "steps to protect the civilian population from terrorist groups trying to enter from Kosovo."

The request followed a police sweep over the weekend in the Bujanovac region. Serbian police arrested 12 ethnic Albanians in two militant strongholds - the villages of Veliki Trnovac and Konculj - after uncovering a large arms cache of automatic weapons, ammunition and military and communications equipment.

Five were later released, but a municipal court ordered the remaining seven be detained for a month pending an investigation for "terrorism and conspiracy to act against the state."

Serbia's ethnically mixed south was the scene of an ethnic Albanian insurgency in 2000. The fighting between Serbian police and local rebels ended with a Western-brokered deal that gave more rights to ethnic Albanians on the municipal level, prompting the rebels to disarm.

The area has remained tense, with occasional flare-ups.

Kosovo formally remains part of Serbia, but the United Nations (news - web sites) and NATO took over its administration in 1999 after a 78-day NATO bombing campaign ended a crackdown on ethnic Albanian separatists by Serb troops under former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic (news - web sites).

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INVISIBLE SERB REFUGEES
Thousands of displaced Serbs are struggling to survive in unregistered camps across Serbia - seemingly beyond the reach or the help of the authorities.

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IWPR
February 10, 2003
 

By Boris Drenca in Belgrade (BCR No 404, 10-Feb-03)

The old, run-down barracks lie next to a dirt road some ten km from Belgrade, on the outskirts of the village of Resnik.

Abandoned some time ago by their original occupants, these ten or so buildings now house 95 Serb families who fled their homes after the war ended in Kosovo in 1999.

Most of their possessions were left behind in the rush. When Serbian forces pulled out of Kosovo, they were followed by around 218,000 Serbs, fearful of possible Albanian reprisals.

At the time, refugees were directed toward camps in various locations in south Serbia. But many of these were already full of those Serbs who had fled Croatia and Bosnia. This forced the Kosovo Serbs further north.

As the existing camps were not big enough to accept all who made the long journey, thousands of displaced persons broke into empty factory premises and warehouses and made their homes there - unaware that by doing so, they would make themselves "invisible" in Serbia.

Vesna Petkovic, a public information assistant with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, told IWPR that there are 62 unregistered camps, with more than 3,500 inhabitants, in a number of municipalities.

There are nearly 300 recognised refugee centers, which are home to around 22,000 people.

While those living in unofficial camps are getting some form of help, it is minor when compared to the aid given in the official ones, where UNHCR covers the residents' living costs.

For those who live in the latter, food and other assistance is available - but more importantly, the refugees are given an identity card which allows them to seek employment and qualify for health insurance.

The inhabitants of the Resnik camp - like many others dotted across Serbia - legally do not exist. They have no address, no identity card and thus are completely unable to support their families.

Resident Predrag Zdravkovic, who is originally from the Istok region of Kosovo, told IWPR that he and his fellow refugees sometimes do unskilled labour work for black marketeers to earn some money. "Sometimes we feel as if we are in this country illegally," he said.

Goran Pitulic came to Resnik with his wife Stanka and their four-year-old son in 1999, and his daughter was born in the camp some 14 months ago.

Like all other camp residents, Goran's family lives in two unsanitary rooms. One barrack has twenty such accommodation units, their doors facing each other across a narrow corridor. "See what it's like here. When I open my door I literally walk into my neighbours' room," he said.

Their furniture and kitchen equipment have been salvaged from scrap-yards, repaired and pressed into service. "This is junk for someone, but I took it and fixed it - and for me it is good," said Stanka.

The rooms are divided by thin, damp chipboard. Stanka worries constantly that the old electrical wiring could lead to a fire in the building - especially during the winter months, when the residents burn wood in stoves to keep warm.

Their bathroom is a run-down unheated building some 50 metres from the barracks.

It has ten squat toilets and solitary washbasin. The water in the basin is as frozen as the puddles on the floor. The shower units, however, are supplied from three hot-water tanks bought by residents with help from their neighbours in Resnik.

This helps to keep the children clean and healthy, even if the temperature of the building is scarely warmer than it is outside. "We are toughening the kids up," said Goran ironically as he showed IWPR around the bathroom.

The camp residents believe that it is a miracle that none of the children have come down with a serious illness, given the conditions they are forced to live in. They do, nevertheless, point out that two of the camp residents have been diagnosed with the coxsackie virus, which attacks the heart.

Beyond the basic considerations - washing, keeping warm, eating regularly - the Resnik families have many other worries to contend with, none of which are helped by their illegal status.

At one point last year, they feared that their electricity supply would be cut off because of unpaid bills amounting to 16,000 euro - a debt disputed by the families, who claim that the bulk of the power was used before they arrived.

Thanks to the intervention of Nebojsa Covic, head of the Yugoslav coordination centre for Kosovo, the power was not cut off. But the bills have still not been paid. Camp residents have instead been given a new deadline to settle the debt, which is growing all the time.

In spite of the poverty and hardship, the majority of Resnik's displaced persons told IWPR that they would not go back home now. "Our houses have either been burned down, or are being occupied by strangers. Even if we were to go back, what would await us there?" asked Goran.

Predrag also believes that he can never return to Istok. He feels strongly that Kosovo's Serbs were misled by the previous Serbian regime, which kept telling them that they could stay in their villages - and then gave them just a few hours to pack and leave.

"I don't think we can ever go back there," he said, preparing for another long, cold day as one of Serbia's hidden refugees.

Boris Drenca is a freelance journalist based in Serbia.

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COVIC DEMANDS EXTRADICTION OF TERRORISTS

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Serbian Government
Belgrade, February 11, 2003

Head of the Coordinating Centre for Kosovo-Metohija Nebojsa Covic said Monday that the Serbian government calls on the international community to respond severely to the latest "wave of terrorism" in the region, and added that he would demand the extradition of terrorist leaders operating in Kosovo-Metohija and threatening southern Serbian municipalities.

Covic said the outlawed Albanian National Army (ANA) has announced the remobilisation of some of its disbanded units to "protect ethnic Albanians in the south of Serbia from Serbian repression". He also said that ethnic Albanian terrorists are trying to take advantage of the fact that the international community has been preoccupied with the Iraqi crisis.

"I think that the international community, primarily the OSCE and NATO, should respond severely to the activities of such organisations. Otherwise, a simple question arises - who tolerates these terrorist groups who are threatening to terrorise the whole region?" said Covic.

Covic said that the security forces of Serbia and Montenegro and Macedonia, as well as UNMIK and KFOR are all obliged to bring order and peace in the region and create conditions for the rule of law and safety for all people regardless of their ethnicity or religion.

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FORGOTTEN VILLAGE
Elderly Serbs waited for exams in health clinic located in school

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POLITIKA, Belgrade daily
February 10, 2003
 

By R. Basko
 
Kololec, February 2003
 
Captain Greg Haelsforn kindly invited some ten Kosovo journalists to visit the U.S. mobile clinic in the Serb village of Kololec in the far east of Kosovo. He provided transportation.
 
In the building of the elementary school in Kololec the mobile health clinic brought undescribable liveliness. Elderly Serbs, some with children in their arms, waited in line to be examined. On that day the classrooms took on the role of physicians' offices.
 
There were five Americans and one Russian physician and two nurses, also Americans. The team was joined by two dentist interns from Pristina and one physician from Kosovska Kamenica. There were no Serb physicians. When asked why, Major MacDonald, the head of the mobile clinic under the auspices of the military hospital in Camp Bondsteel, just shrugged.
 
Albanians visit doctors, too
 
Four TV cameras and several reports from Albanian-language media carefully filmed the major's statement regarding the U.S. physicians' desire to help the ill and disabled residents of the Serb village. The Americans attached great significance to the one-day visit of their mobile clinic.
 
By noon approximately 30 patients had been examined and at least as many remained, judging from the crowds in front of the "clinic". The American also brought Albanians from neighboring villages. Their exams were scheduled to begin at 13:00 hours. They waited in front of the doors together with the Serbs.
 
Chronic heart patient, 70 year-old Stojko Ilic of Kololec, patiently waiting for his turn, expected to get necessary medication. The clinic is well equipped with medicine, they say. In addition to physical exams, it offers tooth extractions but not fillings, for example.

Elementary school principal Zivorad Ristic, an older man, says that everyone has forgotten about Kololec, and that the arrival of the military clinic had become sort of a holiday for the village. The principal adds, with a dose of despair and bitterness: "The only visitors we get are aggressive Albanians who steal our livestock or who throw grenades from their cars as they pass through Kololec on their way to Ogoste."

Again in six months

The captain entered the principal's office and gave a signal for return to the base. Nevertheless, the principal managed to say that he personally survived four bomb attacks on his house in 2002 and was injured lightly once. There are 14 empty houses in the village and the number of elementary school students has falled from 80 to 27. In the school's heyday there were as many as 120.

"We have been left to our own devices," says the principal sadly. He received a shipment of school books sent by the Fund for Assistance to Serbs from Novi Sad.
 
Military physician MacDonald did not know why the lonely Serb village of Kololec was selected on December 27 as the destination of the mobile clinic, to the joy and satisfaction of its residents. He tersely stated that he came to the village following orders, adding that he might return again in six months. And people will be happy again in Kololec unless the village meets with the same fate as the neighboring village of Carakovac. Once there were about 50 houses there but one month ago it was completely abandoned when its last resident, called Zuca, moved to Kololec where security conditions are better.


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