July 19, 2003

ERP KIM Newsletter 19-07-03


Waiting for better future
Serb returnees to Novake village near Prizren, July 2003

CONTENTS:

A SERB BEATEN UP IN HIS FIELD BY A GROUP OF ALBANIANS
POSSIBLE RETURN OF SERBS TO TWO VILLAGES NEAR UROSEVAC
"QUINT" REPRESENTATIVES DEMAND IMPLEMENTATION OF BENCHMARKS
ALBANIA BUYING KOSOVO AND METOHIJA COMPANIES
FOUR KOSOVO ALBANIANS CONVICTED OF WAR CRIMES
GRENADE BLAST NEAR KOSOVO POLICE STATION - NO CASUALTIES
MACEDONIA: ANOTHER ARMED ATTACK FROM KOSOVO
MORE THAN 1.000 CHILDREN IN ALBANIA LIVE IN HIDING TO AVOID VENDETTA

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A SERB BEATEN UP IN HIS FIELD BY A GROUP OF ALBANIANS
At one point Tomasevic managed to free himself and run away. He sought medical assistance in Zubin Potok and was immediately transferred to Kosovska Mitrovica hospital.

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Beta News Agency, Belgrade
July 17, 2003

KOSOVSKA MITROVICA - Mihajlo Tomasevic (58) was brutally beaten up today by a group of Albanians while he was working in his field in the village of Suvo Grlo, Srbica municipality.

Tomasevic said that two Albanians beat him while about ten others watched.

At one point Tomasevic managed to free himself and run away. He sought medical assistance in Zubin Potok and was immediately transferred to Kosovska Mitrovica hospital.

Dr. Vladimir Adzic, who examined Tomasevic, said that he sustained an injury to the left side of the chest, most probably from being hit by a stone. He is recovering and out of life-threatening danger.

This is the second physical attack on Tomasevic, who also lost two sons in the past four years. One was killed in Kosari during the NATO bombing, while a second was killed when he drove over a landmine on the Zubin Potok-Suvo Grlo road.
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Many remaining Serbs in urban centers live amidst barbed wire and fear
An elderly Serb couple in Prizren with Vice Premier Covic, July 2003

POSSIBLE RETURN OF SERBS TO TWO VILLAGES NEAR UROSEVAC
"It was agreed to begin the return of Serb families to the villages of Babljak and Grlica, while the insistence of the Serb delegation to also initiate Serb returns to the villages of Gornje Nerodimlje, Donje Nerodimlje, Stojkovice and Zaskok was opposed by local Albanians," said Staletovic.

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Danas daily, Belgrade
July 18, 2003

Petition to return

Strpce - The local Albanian community has agreed that displaced Serbs return to the villages of Babljak and Grlica in Urosevac municipality. However, returning to the town of Urosevac is out of the question, Slavisa Staletovic, a member of the joint task group for returns and deputy mayor of Strpce municipality, told Tanjug news agency.

Representatives of the association of displaced Serbs and local Albanians met for the first time since June 1999 last week in Urosevac, in the presence of Hashim Thaci, Ibrahim Rugova and U.S. head of mission in Pristina Reno Harnish.

"It was agreed to begin the return of Serb families to the villages of Babljak and Grlica, while the insistence of the Serb delegation to also initiate Serb returns to the villages of Gornje Nerodimlje, Donje Nerodimlje, Stojkovice and Zaskok was opposed by local Albanians," said Staletovic.

He said that the displaced Serbs wanted to visit their apartments and houses in Urosevac from which the international community had evicted illegal Albanian residents less than a month ago; however, they were not permitted to do so.

"We assume that the reason is that those apartments and houses were burned down a few days after they were vacated by unknown perpetrators and it was not desirable for either us or Harnish to see the condition they were in," explained Staletovic.

He added that at the meeting the delegation of displaced Serbs handed Urosevac mayor Adem Salihaj and Harnish a petition bearing the signatures of 300 Serb families asking to return. A new meeting of the joint task group for returns to Urosevac has been scheduled for next week. (Tanjug)


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"QUINT" REPRESENTATIVES DEMAND IMPLEMENTATION OF BENCHMARKS AND THE BEGINNING OF THE DIALOGUE

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VIP Belgrade, July 18

PRISHTINA - At a press conference held at the American diplomatic mission in Kosovo on Thursday, the chiefs of the missions of the United States, Great Britain, France and Germany in Prishtina (the Quint Group) invited the representatives of the interim institutions and UNMIK to fully implement the “Standard before status” policy which, according to them, means taking concrete measures towards reaching the benchmarks set by the international community.

The chief of the US mission in Kosovo Reno Harnish said one of the issues the representatives of the international community are preoccupied with is the beginning of the dialogue between the interim institutions of Kosovo and the officials of Serbia and Montenegro. These countries support the beginning of the dialogue and I personally hope that we will see the determination of the Kosovo leaders to begin preparing for the discussions before the end of the summer, said Reno Harnish.

The chiefs of offices of the Quint group jointly affirmed that progress has been achieved in the implementation of the “Standard before status” policy and that a precise timetable is now needed for UNMIK and the local institutions to reach those standards. According to Harnish, this is not just about UNMIK’s request and that at issue is a wider demand by the international community in the interest of the people of Kosovo.

Pasquale Salzano, the chief of the Italian diplomatic mission in Prishtina, said the Balkans are at the top of the agenda of the European Union and that the dialogue between Belgrade and Priahtina is a priority. We are convinced that the dialogue on technical issues will follow shortly and we will encourage the process, said Salzano.

Emphasizing the results achieved in implementing the benchmarks, the chief of the British mission Marc Dickinson said another progress has been made with the latest initiative of local institutions and their invitations to refugees to return to Kosovo. According to him, this progress should be continued and broadened so that the residents of Kosovo can see concrete results to that effect.

Peter Rondolf, the chief of the German mission in Prishtina underlined that the Kosovo institutions will not remain alone in their bid to reach the set standards and that the countries members of the Quint will help them achieve that.

He said the Bible on the road to Europe is the fulfilling of these criteria and that besides democracy and the market economy, one of the main standards to be reached is remove all the obstacles in the relations with the neighbors and minorities. According to Rondolf, in the case of Kosovo, this means there should be no conflicts with Serbia. Daniel Ratier, acting chief of the French office said his country joins the requirements of all the countries members of the Quint related to the reaching of the benchmarks. He thanked the chief of the American diplomatic mission Reno Harnish for his efforts. Harnish is due to depart for a posting in Azerbaijan in the near future.

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ALBANIA BUYING KOSOVO AND METOHIJA COMPANIES
Despite the objections of the Serbian government the privatization of socially-owned and state-owned property has begun in Kosovo and Metohija.

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Vecernje Novosti daily, Belgrade
July 18, 2003


PRISTINA - Despite the objections of the Serbian government the privatization of socially-owned and state-owned property has begun in Kosovo and Metohija.

No official information is available; however, from sources close to Albanian business men we have learned that the brick factory in Srbica, which has been renamed by the Albanians as Skenderaj, has already been sold. The buyer is from Albania and has also purportedly expressed interest in a similar factory in Pec. An Austrian venture has expressed interest in "Termovent" in Orahovac, built by the Belgrade company of the same name. "Energoinvest" and "Energomontini", built by the former Sarajevo conglomerate, have only drawn the interest of businessmen from Albania, who are waiting for a better purchase price to buy.

The rock quarry in Klina has already been purchased by local Albanians. A tender is expected to be issued at the end of the month for about ten companies but no official information by the provisional Kosovo institutions for privatization has yet been released.
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FOUR KOSOVO ALBANIANS CONVICTED OF WAR CRIMES
The three judges sentenced Rrustem Mustafa and three of his associates to prison terms ranging from five to 17 years for ordering the killings, illegal arrests and torture of fellow ethnic Albanians

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ASSOCIATED PRESS
Wed Jul 16, 2:23 PM ET

By GARENTINA KRAJA, Associated Press Writer

(photo: Kosovo Albanians, supporters of KLA demonstrate in Kosovo - click to enlarge)

PRISTINA, Serbia-Montenegro - A court convicted four senior ethnic Albanian rebels and sentenced them to prison Wednesday for atrocities committed during their 1998-1999 war against Yugoslav forces in the province of Kosovo.

It was the first time that the United Nations (news - web sites)-administered court had convicted anyone of war crimes from the rebel side in the Kosovo conflict.

The three judges sentenced Rrustem Mustafa and three of his associates to prison terms ranging from five to 17 years for ordering the killings, illegal arrests and torture of fellow ethnic Albanians suspected of collaborating with the Serb regime of Slobodan Milosevic (news - web sites).

"In the case of each accused, these acts are qualified as the offense of war crimes," said presiding judge Timothy Clayson of Britain. "No man is above the law."

An attorney for the men said they would appeal.

Kosovo is a part of Serbia-Montenegro, the successor to Yugoslavia, but has been administered by the United Nations since 1999, when NATO (news - web sites) air bombing forced an end to a Serb crackdown on separatist ethnic Albanians.

The four senior rebels, using headphones to hear a translation of the judge's words, listened in silence, but their families sobbed upon hearing the verdicts.

Mustafa, one of the most senior commanders of the now-defunct Kosovo Liberation Army, received a 17-year sentence for ordering the killings of five Albanians, failing to prevent illegal detention and failing to punish rebel soldiers responsible for abuses.

Mustafa commanded the rebels in northern part of Kosovo, a region known as Llap. The three associates served under his command in that zone.

Nazif Mehmeti, the head of the rebels' police unit, was sentenced to 13 years for conveying orders to kill civilians and making unlawful arrests. The rebels' intelligence chief, Latif Gashi, was sentenced to 10 years for illegal detention and torture. Naim Kadriu, who headed the rebels' detention center, received a five-year sentence.

Relatives of the men sobbed as the sentences were announced. Mustafa tried to calm them as he was being escorted out of the temporary court room by heavily armed guards.

"We fought for ourselves, not for them," he said, referring to the U.N. mission now in charge of administering the province.

He waved with handcuffed hands as he was driven away in an armored car

Gashi's sister, Nafije, clutching a handkerchief, said the trial was unfair.

"They fought for their own people, for their own country and we will always be proud of what they did," she said.


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GRENADE BLAST NEAR KOSOVO POLICE STATION- NO CASUALTIES
Unknown assailants on Thursday detonated a hand grenade near a police station in a northern Kosovo town, the day after four ethnic Albanians from the town were sentenced for war crimes, UN officials in the province said.

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AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
hursday, 17-Jul-2003 4:12AM

PRISTINA, Serbia-Montenegro, July 17 (AFP) - Unknown assailants on Thursday detonated a hand grenade near a police station in a northern Kosovo town, the day after four ethnic Albanians from the town were sentenced for war crimes, UN officials in the province said. There were no casualties or damage.

Two other grenades were found unexploded outside the police station, in the town of Podujevo said Derek Chappell, a spokesman for the UN police in the province.

He said the incident, which appeared to be an attempt to intimidate the police rather than attack them, was being investigated.

On Wednesday several hundred ethnic Albanian in Podujevo protested a landmark ruling before a Kosovo court, which sentenced four former rebels to between five and 17 years in prison for war crimes.

"If they wanted to attack the police they could have done so. I wouldn't say it was a deliberate attack, but an attempt to intimidate or warn the police," Chappell said.

Rustem Mustafa, once a senior officer in the now disbanded Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), and three of his associates were convicted of crimes including murder, illegal detention, inhumane treatment and torture.

Mustafa, known as Remi, was sentenced to 17 years for ordering the murder of five Kosovo Albanians and "failing to prevent illegal detention" in his zone of command during the 1998-1999 conflict.

The crimes were committed in what was then Mustafa's zone of command in the region of Podujevo, some 50 kilometers (30 miles) north of Pristina, the capital of the southern Serbian province.

The police station in Podujevo houses both UN policemen and members of the local police force, the Kosovo Police Service.

NATO-led peacekeepers, KFOR, were deployed to dispose of the remaining hand grenades, Chappell said.

Kosovo, a southern Serbian province, has been under UN administration since NATO bombed Yugoslavia to force the withdrawal of Serb troops in 1999.


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MACEDONIA: ANOTHER ARMED ATTACK FROM KOSOVO AS NATO PROLONGS "PEACEKEEPING"

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REALITY MACEDONIA
Web posted July 17, 2003

1.. Armed Group Attacks From Kosovo, Fires On Ethnically Mixed Macedonian Border Patrol
2.. Armed Assailant Wounded In Attempted Intrusion From NATO-Occupied Kosovo
3.. NATO To Continue Support For Macedonia Mission - From Kosovo Occupation Base

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Macedonian Information Agency
July 16, 2003

ARMED INCIDENT NEAR BLACE

Skopje, July 15 (MIA) - Group of ethnic Albanians opened fire late Monday on the ethnically mixed ARM patrol in an attempt to enter Macedonia at Bardi Maalo locality.

One of the trespassers was wounded, while three other persons were detained by the border patrol.

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Associated Press
July 16, 2003

Man wounded in border incident in Macedonia

SKOPJE, Macedonia (AP) - A man was injured when Macedonian soldiers opened fire on two men trying to illegally enter the country from Kosovo, the army headquarters said Tuesday. An army patrol late Monday spotted an unlit car crossing the border on a side road near the regular border crossing of Blace, about 18 miles north of the capital Skopje, an army statement said.

The patrol tried to stop the car, and a man inside opened fire. The soldiers retuned fire, hitting one of the two men in the car. No soldiers were injured.

The men managed to escape to a nearby village. One of them, identified as Ismet Kurtishi Tadzedin, later asked for medical care and was arrested by Macedonian police, the army said.

It was not immediately clear why the two tried to enter Macedonia. The neighboring Serbian province of Kosovo has been run by the United Nations and NATO since 1999.

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NATO agrees to back extended EU Macedonia mission

-[T]he alliance still provides the 15-nation bloc with a special force to pull its troops out in case of emergencies and shares with it a headquarters which is used by NATO backup forces for the crisis management mission in neighbouring Kosovo.

BRUSSELS, July 16 (Reuters) - NATO agreed on Wednesday to continue its support for the European Union's peacekeeping mission in Macedonia, which the bloc is set to extend for a further 11 weeks until mid-December.

"It was completely uncontroversial," an official said after a meeting of NATO ambassadors. "They agreed to continue the support until December 15...if the EU decides to go on until then."

The EU's first military venture, the Macedonia peacekeeping operation, was run by NATO until a handover at the end of March.

But the alliance still provides the 15-nation bloc with a special force to pull its troops out in case of emergencies and shares with it a headquarters which is used by NATO backup forces for the crisis management mission in neighbouring Kosovo.

The main tasks of the EU operation, which is made up of 300 lightly armed troops, are to monitor the situation and show a visible international presence in Macedonia, where government forces fought Albanian rebels in 2001.

Diplomats said EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels next week were expected to approve a call from Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski for the mission's mandate to be extended.


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MORE THAN 1.000 CHILDREN IN ALBANIA LIVE IN HIDING TO AVOID VENDETTA
More than 1,000 children in Albania are living in hiding to avoid some kind of revenge, or vendetta, the Albanian ministry for social affairs said in statement published here on Thursday.

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AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
Thursday, 17-Jul-2003 3:00PM

TIRANA, July 17 (AFP) - More than 1,000 children in Albania are living in hiding to avoid some kind of revenge, or vendetta, the Albanian ministry for social affairs said in statement published here on Thursday.

Some 1,024 children between three and 15 years cannot leave their homes as they hope to avoid a tradition dating back to the 14th century, that "blood can only be revenged with blood," said the spokesman of the ministry, Naim Zoto.

According to the vendetta tradition, all males from a family, including children, can be victims of a revenge for a death of a murdered rival family member.

The deadly rule is still being respected in the poor mountainous regions in the north of the country, but also in some villages and towns in other parts of Albania.

In the northern town of Shkoder and its surroundings alone, at least 2,000 families and their 900 children still live in fear of being killed.

"They cannot even go to school because of their isolation and most of the children are illiterate and lack any possibility of communication," Zoto said.

The Albanian government has been working on an action plan to help these children and all families fearing vendetta, Zoto said.

"One of the actions would be to stop such severe traditions and introduce laws that can protect the lives of those faced with such savage and archaic tribal traditions," Zoto said.


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ERP KIM Info-Service is the official Information Service of the Serbian Orthodox Diocese of Raska and Prizren and works with the blessing of His Grace Bishop Artemije.
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