February 27, 2003
ERP KIM Newsletter 27-02-03
SRGOV: Covic calls for collective rights of Kosovo Serbs
BETA: Thousands attend Pristina protest rally
RFRLE: Kosovo Serbs take big step towards setting up of Serb
REUTERS: Kosovo Serbs form union angering Albanians
AP: Serbs, ethnic Albanians brace for renewed conflict in
Radio Yugoslavia: News from Kosovo and Metohija
(We kindly appologize to our readers because in our Newsletter
25-02-03 Special Edition, in the article Appalling situation in the
Serbian Orthodox cemetery of Pec, it was stated that the source was Radio
B92. The report, as it may be clearly understood from the text, was a
report by ERP KIM Info-Service)
COVIC CALLS FOR
COLLECTIVE RIGHTS OF KOSOVO SERBS
February 26, 2003
Feb 26, 2003 - Coordinating Centre for Kosovo-Metohija head Nebojsa Covic
told NATO leaders in Brussels on Wednesday that Belgrade's official
position is that Kosovo Serbs must have the same collective rights that
have ethnic Albanians in Macedonia.
Covic said that the NATO Council and Secretary-General George Robertson
both gave their support to Belgrade's efforts to work with NATO to tackle
the issue of destabilisation of southern Serbia carried out by criminal
groups, the Beta news agency reported.
The talks with NATO leaders also touched on the return of Serbia's
security forces to Kosovo-Metohija, said Covic. "This is stipulated in UN
Security Council Resolution 1244," he said, adding that the talks mainly
focused on the importance of refugee return, safety and the freedom of
Covic said that it is necessary to establish collective rights of Serbs in
Kosovo-Metohija in line with a programme adopted in June 2001 in Belgrade,
adding that ethnic Albanians in Macedonia have the same rights. However,
said Covic, there is the problem of the return of 230,000 people, which
has to be voluntary and sustainable.
He endorsed the initiative of holding a conference of Balkan states in May
this year, which would address the issue of border security. Tightening
border security would help prevent attacks by extremist groups.
Covic told NATO senior officials that the masterminds of the recent
terrorist attacks in southern Serbia come mainly from Kosovo, but not only
from that region.
"If we want to achieve regional stability, then we must not allow any
place in the region to become a safe haven for criminals from other parts
of the region. These criminals are mostly bandits from Kosovo who go to
southern Serbia and Macedonia. I can say that there is no rule of law in
Kosovo-Metohija, with due respect to efforts made by KFOR in the first
place, and much fewer by UNMIK," said Covic.
THOUSANDS ATTEND PRISTINA
February 26, 2003
PRISTINA -- Wednesday -- Thousands of people rallied today in Pristina
protesting over the arrest and extradition of four former Kosovo
Liberation Army members.
According to some estimates, as much as 50 thousand people attended
today’s ‘Freedom to the Liberators’ protest rally organized by
associations of Kosovo Albanian war veterans.
The speakers voiced their dissatisfaction with the issuance of indictments
against former KLA members, who led “a battle for liberation” and demanded
that such arrests stop.
The four former KLA members - Fatmir Limai, Haradin Bala, Isak Musliu and
Agim Murtezi – are charged with was crimes against Serb and Albanian
civilians in 1998.
TAKE BIG STEP TOWARD SETTING UP THEIR OWN ENTITY
Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (USA)
26 Feb 2003
Some 300 delegates representing Serbian communities in eastern, northern,
and central Kosova agreed in Mitrovica on 25 February to set up a
Parliament of Serbian Districts and District Units of Kosovo and Metohija,
"Danas" reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 February 2003). The delegates
approved a declaration endorsing the "sovereignty and territorial
integrity of Serbia and of the state union of Serbia and Montenegro." They
vowed to defend that integrity "with all available means." The resolution
said the new Union of Serbian Districts and District Units of Kosovo and
Metohija, or Serbian Union, will function as "an integral part of Serbia,"
Reuters reported. The declaration called for the return of Serbian
security forces to the province and urged a fight against organized crime
and "terrorism," which are terms that some Serbian politicians and media
use to justify oppressing Albanians. The delegates demanded the abolition
of the civilian Kosova Protection Corps (TMK), which most Serbs regard as
nothing more than a successor to the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) under a
different name. PM
...AND ELECT A LEADERSHIP...
The Serbian delegates meeting in Mitrovica on 25 February elected Marko
Jaksic of the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) to head the Serbian Union,
"Danas" reported. He was unable to attend the session because he is in
Kraljevo recovering from injuries sustained in a traffic accident.
Prominent Kosovar Serb personalities present at the gathering in Mitrovica
included Serbian Orthodox Archbishop Artemije and politicians Rada
Trajkovic and Milan Ivanovic, who, like Jaksic, is known as a hard-liner,
dpa reported. Trajkovic said that "all Serbs are afraid of Albanians
dominating their lives," Reuters reported. The Serbian meeting comes in
response to a recent call by leading Kosovar Albanian political parties
for independence. This in turn was triggered by the inclusion in the
preamble of the Constitutional Charter of Serbia and Montenegro of a
reference to Kosova being part of Serbia, which the province's ethnic
Albanian majority refuses to accept following the 1998-99 conflict (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 11 and 18 February 2003). PM
...BUT ARE REBUKED BY THE UN AND ALBANIANS
Michael Steiner, who heads the UN civilian administration (UNMIK) in
Kosova, dismissed the formation of the Serbian Union, Reuters reported
from Mitrovica on 25 February. He told a press conference that
"institutions that are based in monoethnicity will neither be our
partners, nor will they have any legal relevance." Steiner's spokesman,
Simon Haselock, argued that "these ideas of partition and division only
incite tension." Ramadan Avdiu, who is a political adviser to Kosovar
Prime Minister Bajram Rexhepi, said that "this union is an attempt at
dividing Kosova and is unacceptable." Observers note that one factor
instrumental in triggering the Croatian conflict in 1991 and the Bosnian
war the following year was the refusal of local Serbs to live in a state
in which they would be in a minority. Similar feelings on the part of the
Serbs of Kosova led them to support former President Slobodan Milosevic,
beginning with his rise to power in 1987.
KOSOVO SERBS FORM UNION
Tue February 25, 2003 04:04 PM ET
By Shaban Buza
KOSOVSKA MITROVICA, Serbia and Montenegro (Reuters) - Kosovo's Serb
minority formed a union of Serb-dominated towns and areas on Tuesday and
said they saw their future with Serbia, angering the pro-independence
ethnic Albanian majority.
The U.N.-led administration in Kosovo made clear it would not deal with
the new self-styled Union of Serb municipalities, and an aide of ethnic
Albanian Prime Minister Bajram Rexhepi branded it as an unacceptable bid
to divide the province.
About 300 delegates at an assembly in the Serb-dominated north of the
flashpoint town of Mitrovica elected a president and a 15-member executive
board and adopted a declaration that included establishing a Kosovo Serb
"The Serb entity would...function as an integral part of Serbia," the
declaration said, calling for the return of some Serbian army and police
forces to help secure Serb-dominated areas and fight organized crime and
The declaration set out a series of demands to improve the minority's
situation and create conditions for Serb refugees to return to the
"All Serbs are afraid of Albanians dominating their lives," said Kosovo
Serb politician Rada Trajkovic.
Serbs, many of whom live in enclaves guarded by troops from Kosovo's
NATO-led peacekeeping force, insist the province should remain part of
Serbia and say they are discriminated against. The Albanians demand
independence, saying they can never again be ruled by Serbia.
The landlocked province of two million came under international
administration in mid-1999 after an 11-week NATO bombing campaign to halt
Serb repression of its Albanians when Slobodan Milosevic was in power in
United Nations officials say the province's future will be decided by the
Security Council at some unspecified time in the future.
The U.N.'s Kosovo governor, German diplomat Michael Steiner, brushed aside
the formation of the union.
"Institutions which are based in mono-ethnicity will neither be our
partners nor will they have any legal relevance," he said.
His office this week rejected an appeal by Belgrade to allow the return of
Serbian forces to the province and for talks on its future status to start
Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic was quoted at the weekend as telling
Britain's Times newspaper that Belgrade would sponsor a breakaway Serb
mini-state if the West prevented its troops from returning to guarantee
the minority's rights.
He has accused the international community of gradually handing over
powers to Kosovo's Albanians.
But Steiner's spokesman Simon Haselock said: "These ideas of partition and
division only incite tension."
Ramadan Avdiu, political adviser to Rexhepi, said: "This union is an
attempt for the division of Kosovo and it is unacceptable."
SERBS, ETHNIC ALBANIANS
BRACE FOR RENEWED CONFLICT IN VOLATILE BALKANS
Tue Feb 25, 3:51 AM ET
By ALEKSANDAR VASOVIC, Associated Press Writer
PRESEVO, Serbia-Montenegro - In the shadows of a possible war with Iraq,
another crisis is looming in this troubled corner of the Balkans, where
ethnic Albanian militants are preparing a fresh challenge of Serbian rule.
A former commander of ethnic Albanian rebels in Serbia's southern Presevo
Valley said he and his men are ready to launch a new insurgency this
spring aimed at breaking the region away from Serbia and joining it with
"The glory days will return - and this time we will fight until the end,"
the 29-year-old commander, who goes only by his first name, Murteza, told
The Associated Press.
The United Nations (news - web sites) and the NATO (news - web sites)-led
peacekeeping force in Kosovo are playing down the risk of renewed
conflict. U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Daniel J. Keefe, the commander of U.S.
troops in the province, said Monday that "we do not see a threat of
increased extremist activity."
But in an ominous sign of rebel activity in the area, which has long been
a flashpoint between Serbs and restive ethnic Albanians agitating for
autonomy, a Serb police officer was killed and two others wounded Sunday
when their car ran over a land mine. The Serbian government branded the
attack a "terrorist act."
The goal of the ethnic Albanian majority in the region 300 kilometers (190
miles) south of Belgrade is to shake off Serbian rule and join Kosovo,
where ethnic Albanians are a majority.
Kosovo has been under NATO control and U.N. administration since Serbian
troops left the province in 1999 after a 78-day alliance bombing campaign
ended former President Slobodan Milosevic (news - web sites)'s crackdown
against ethnic Albanians.
Milosevic was unseated in 2000 and is now on trial before the U.N. war
crimes tribunal in The Hague (news - web sites), Netherlands, for charges
stemming from that bloody conflict and earlier wars in Bosnia and Croatia.
By attempting to join with Kosovo, the Presevo Valley's ethnic Albanians
would end up under U.N. protection and closer to their ultimate goal: full
Many analysts believe the militants may take advantage of the world's
preoccupation with the crisis in Iraq to relaunch a rebellion in southern
A 2000-2001 conflict in the region ended with a Western-brokered deal. The
insurgents surrendered their weapons to NATO peacekeepers in Kosovo in
exchange for amnesty and self-rule on the municipal level.
But tensions and occasional flare-ups have persisted.
Murteza, dressed in a gray sweater, camouflage trousers and well-worn
military boots, joined some 7,000 of his ethnic kin from the town of
Presevo at a rally last week demanding more autonomy for the region and
the release of several detainees.
After an ethnic Albanian working for Serbia's Security Service was
assassinated earlier this month in the neighboring town of Bujanovac,
police arrested several suspects and seized large caches of weapons and
ammunition in two ethnic Albanian strongholds.
The raids led to protests in Bujanovac and Presevo and triggered fears of
renewed fighting. Murteza claims he has dozens of eager young fighters
under his command. He would not say what kinds of arms his force has; two
years ago, it had infantry weapons and light anti-tank arms.
"We demand fresh talks about the Presevo Valley, and freedom for our
boys," said Orhan Rexhepi, a local leader of the ethnic Albanian Movement
for Democratic Prosperity.
The Serbs, however, have vowed never to give up any more territory to
Heavily armed Serbian police have been patrolling frozen mountain roads
and villages overlooking the Presevo Valley, trying to prevent ethnic
Albanian militants from Kosovo from entering the area.
As a motorcade of armored jeeps and trucks rumbled through narrow and
muddy streets in the ethnic Albanian village of Konculj, a former rebel
stronghold, the Serbs were met with defiant stares from some villagers.
"This is hostile territory," said a Serb police commander who gave only
his first name, Milan.
In response to the police raids, the Albanian National Army, a shadowy
rebel group opposed to the 2001 peace deal, recently announced the
mobilization of its members in Kosovo, according to Serbian government
Nebojsa Covic, Serbia's deputy prime minister in charge of the region,
said the government had information that ethnic Albanian militants "were
grouping in the Kosovo towns of Kosovska Kamenica and Gnjilane" just
across the border.
The Serbian government has demanded that the U.N. mission and NATO troops
in Kosovo prevent an imminent spillover of ethnic Albanian militants from
the province into the Presevo Valley.
Although ethnic Albanians view the recent police raids as a provocation,
Covic said there would be additional raids aimed at seizing illegal
weapons and that he could not rule out "possible incidents."
"We will not negotiate anew with the terrorists," he said.
RADIO YUGOSLAVIA - NEWS
FROM KOSOVO AND METOHIJA
The Vice-President of the Serbian Government and the head
of the Coordination Centre for Kosmet, Nebojsa Covic, presented to the
highest NATO officials, the standpoint of the Belgrade authorities that it
was necessary to respect the collective rights of the Serbs in Kosmet and
to give them a status of a constituting people, as the one the Albanians
enjoy in Macedonia. He stressed that he got support from the NATO Council
and the General Secretary of the Alliance, George Robertson for the
intention of the authorities in Belgrade to supress, together with the
NATO, the actions of the criminal groups in the South of Serbia.
Covic told the NATO officials that the leaders of the Albanian terrorist
groups came mostly from Kosmet where there existed no rule of law yet an
there was no respect of the rights of all national communities.
Armed groups of Albanians, supported by the Albanian emigration leaders
gathered about HOMELAND CALLS (Domovina zove) FUND, prepare a line of
attacks on the security forces in the South of Serbia, writes the
Frankfurt daily in Serbian language VESTI. The daily quotes that for the
past 15 days more than 500 Albanian young men from the villages in the
vicinity of Presevo, have gone to the improvised camps in Kosovo in order
to get trained in handling explosives and hand weapons. The Army of Serbia
and Montenegro has learned that central bases of these groups are located
near Priluzje and in Mt Cicevica, a traditional stronghold of armed
Albanian extremists, quotes German daily.
The Supreme Court of Slovenia decided that the ex-member of KLA Fatmir
Ljimaj, indicted by the Hague Tribunal for war crimes against Serbian and
Albanian civilians, should be extradited to the Tribunal in the Hague. The
deputy Justice Minister of Slovania, Rok Ateblaj declared that Ljimaj
would be handed over to the Hague Tribunal probably before the coming
Friday. Ljimaj has a right of appeal on the decision of the Supreme Court,
but his appeal would not stop the execution of the decision.
Over 10,000 Albanians staged a protest rally in downtown Pristina
demanding the independence of Kosmet and the release of all the arrested
members of the former KLA who are tried in the Hague and Pristina. The
participants in the rally submitted their demands to the UN Security
Council, the EU and US and British officials.
The head of the OSCE mission in Serbia and Montenegro, Maurizio Massari,
said he was convinced that the latest incidents in southern Serbia would
not endanger the peace process. Criminal actions ought to be punished by
all means, Massari said and added that isolated incidents exist in all the
countries, not only in the south of Serbia. The OSCE is at the moment
concentrated on the reintegration of Albanians into state institutions,
the battle against organized crime and the accelerated social and economic
development in southern Serbia in cooperation with the republican
government and local authorities, Massari said.
All Pristina dailies pay much attention to the Declaration on Sovereignty
and Territorial Integrity of Serbia and Montenegro in Kosmet, adopted
yesterday (February 25) by the Assembly of Serbian Municipalities and
Municipal Units in the northern Kosovska Mitrovica. The KOHA DITORE daily
writes that after the constitution of the Serb entity in the Province, it
remains to be seen whether the Declaration of the Albanian Community on
Independent and Sovereign Kosmet and counter-declaration of the Serbian
community on sovereignty and territorial integrity of Serbia and
Montenegro in Kosmet, will be used as threats or their contents will be
realized. The ZERI daily quotes that the endeavours of UNMIK to unite the
divided Mitrovica are not successful and that the north of the city has
become center of confrontation and division of Kosmet.
The Serbian National Council of Kosovo-Metohija supported the declaration
on sovereignty and territorial integrity of Serbia and Montenegro in
Kosmet as well as the adopted determinations for further activities of the
Union of Serbian Municipalities in the Province. The communiqué of the
Council quotes that the Serbian people in Kosmet pledge for an
intensification of the implementation process of 1244 Resolution
stipulations, which have not been fulfilled until now. The SNC cannot
accept a hasty assessment of UNMIK Head Michael Steiner that Serbs tend
towards a monotheistic society in Kosovo because the Serbian community in
the Province requests only the legitimate individual and collective rights
of the constitutive people quotes the communiqué.
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and works with the blessing of His Grace Bishop Artemije.
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