February 28, 2003

ERP KIM Newsletter 28-02-03

CONTENTS:

AGI: KOSOVO - FORLANI, THE WOUNDS ARE STILL OPEN
LE MONDE DIPLOMATIQUE - KOSOVO IN A DEADLOCK
B92: SERB DEPUTIES AGAIN WALK OUT OF KOSOVO PARLIAMENT

AP: Foreign ministers of Macedonia and Serbia-Montenegro discuss regional security
BETA: Djindjic proposes Kosovo federation
SRGOV: Nebojsa Covic - Statement to the NATO leaders in Brussels
BETA: There is no one to listen to Serbs from three villages

FLASH NEWS FROM KOSOVO - RADIO YUGOSLAVIA
KFOR COMMANDER GEN. MINI TARGETED BY ALBANIAN EXTREMISTS

More News Available on our:
KOSOVO DAILY NEWS LIST (KDN)
KDN Archive



If the soldiers leave Decani and move to their new base near Pec the monastery
will be exposed to serious danger says Italian Senator Alessandro Forlani, photo Decani

KOSOVO: FORLANI (UDC) THE WOUNDS ARE STILL OPEN

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Agenzia Giornalistica Italia (AGI)
February 27, 2003

(foto: Honorable Alessandro Forlani, UDC)

(AGI) - Rome, 27 February, - Regarding the imminent withdrawal of the Italian KFOR soldiers which have been guarding for three and half years the medieval monastery of Decani in Kosovo, Senator Alexander Forlani claims that "this place, so precious to the Serb-Orthodox memory and of such great artistic value, should not be left alone to possible retaliations by the Albanian extremists. If the soldiers leave Decani and move to their new base near Pec, the monastery, in which 35 monks and some of their attendants live, will run a risk to be exposed to serious danger.
According to reliable sources, the extremists have already destroyed 112 Orthodox churches since 1999 until today and desecrated numerous cemeteries. In this way they perhaps intend to discourage the return of the Serbs who had fled Kosovo in their time'.

This alarming news, in the opinion of Senator Forlani, again bring forward unsettled future status of Kosovo and the role of  the peace mission and the international peacekeeping forces. What will be the final institutional settlement in the region and are Albanians and the Serb minority still capable of cohabitation. So far KFOR has not succeded to fully prevent abuses by Albanian extremists and to assure the safety for the Serbs which have to live under armored protection, without elementary human and civil rights. 'We find ourselves, concludes the Senator, in front of a still opened conflict in a region of Europe that has potential for destabilization'.

We need more decisive and effective efforts by the international community to achieve that which is the objective of the UN Security Council Resolution 1244 – multiethnic and democratic Kosovo.

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KOSOVO IN A DEADLOCK

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LE MONDE DIPLOMATIQUE
February issue, 2003

(the following text is an unofficial translation of the text from Le Monde Diplomatique, photos by ERP KIM Info-Service)

By Jean-Arnault Dérens, special correspondent, Cetinje.

Almost four years ago the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) began a bombing campaign against Yugoslavia; after it ended, the province of Kosovo was turned into a UN administered protectorate. The results of the operation are more than doubtful. The economic situation appears catastrophic. The acts of violence against non-Albanians still continue, and a majority of 200.000 Serbs expelled from the province still are not able to return. But most of all, a direct clash between the extremist Albanians and the international community seems more and more eminent.

On January 4, 2003, around 5 p.m., unknown persons intercepted a car in one of the streets of Pec, a big city in the west of Kosovo, and opened fire on the persons inside. Tahir Zemaj, together with his son and cousin, fell dead. All three men were known militants of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), president Ibrahim Rugova’s party. Zemaj had been a commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA or UCK), but actually was dependent on the Armed Forces of the Republic of Kosovo (FARK), the paramilitary group established in the summer of 1998 by Bujar Bukoshi, at that time the “prime minister in the exile of the Republic of Kosovo”. FARK was grouping the followers of Rugova but they were obliged to join the ranks of the KLA, commanded by nationalists who ideologically professed an Albanian version of the Marxism-Leninism school, and were also very hostile to the LDK.

The murder of Zemaj is only the more recent of a long series of murders. It was surely a real massacre, a blow for the cadres of LDK, especially in Pec region and in the west of Kosovo. In December of 2002, Zemaj had revealed he was a witness in the case against the “Dukagjin group,” five ex-combatants of the KLA who have become members of the Kosovo Protection Corps, a paramilitary force of unclear competencies, officially created by the UN administration in order to facilitate a social rehabilitation of ex-guerillas. The five men were declared guilty of the murder of four Albanians who were, like Zemaj, under the influence of FARK. The most famous of the defendants was Daut Haradinaj, whose brother, Ramush, heads the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK), a small nationalistic group that obtained approximately 8% of the votes in the elections organized in the territory since the beginning of the UN protectorate.

Ramush, a 34 year-old ex-commander of the KLA in the region of Pec, Decani and Djakovica, has a thick record in France and Switzerland. After a short time in the Foreign Legion, he joined the forces of the KLA where he was noted for his involvement in instances of extreme violence against the civilian Serb population. Ramush Haradinaj is the most likely of the former KLA commanders to be indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague.

Nevertheless his party has managed to attract some ex-Communist Albanian leaders in the province, such as Mahmut Bakalli, and a few distinguished intellectuals. The AAK had also openly profited – at least until the year 2001 – from the support of some diplomatic circles, especially in the United States. This “third force”, despite never managing to attract the electorate, has been trying to install itself on the political scene, which is characterized by the confrontation between Rugova's LDK and Hashim Thaçi's Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK), a party which gathers some distinguished ex-KLA leaders. This is one of the reasons why it has won the support of certain international circles, who are bothered as much as by the immobility and subservience of the LDK as by the PDK’s drift toward the mafia. Anyhow, this support will have been in vain in the event Ramush Haradinaj is seized on grounds of his criminal past.

Kosovo suffered a long political crisis after the legislative elections in November of 2001. Only after several months and three polls did the provincial parliament manage to elect Rugova as president of Kosovo, a nominal function without any political competencies. After the negotiations that ensued, Bajram Rexhepi, the leader of PDK, was appointed to the position of prime minister. This long crisis demonstrated, above all, the amazing mediocrity of the key figures of political life, who are interested only in pointless games to gain power.

In the middle of the rivalry between the LDK, the PDK and the AAK, the only alternative that managed to break out and reach out to the electorate was the nationalist one. But this position runs the risk of leading rapidly to an open confrontation with the international administration of the province. Thus, Rada Trajkovic, the spokeswoman of the caucus of Serb deputies in the Kosovo parliament, has announced that in the spring, Europe can expect a confrontation between the Albanians and international representatives. (1)

It is interesting to recall, considering the political deadlock in which the province has found itself, the intentions of the international community when it initiated military intervention in Yugoslavia. The apparent aim to put an end to the repression and the acts of violence against the Albanian population concealed another, political goal, also of major importance: to precipitate the fall of Slobodan Milosevic's regime. Nevertheless, the Albanian nationalists considered the intervention as support for their plans of making Kosovo independent.

Anti-Western resentment
(photo: Ramush Haradinaj, former legionare, UCK commander and a political leader)


Milosevic's regime already belongs to the past. And if Albanian nationalism served as a foundation for Western strategists yesterday, today it is perceived as a factor of destabilization for all of the Balkans. The international community is concurrent in excluding all prospects of independence for Kosovo because it believes that an independent Kosovo would lack economic viability and might well turn into a small mafia paradise, as well as a magnet for Albanian irredentism, especially in Macedonia.

As the "peripheral" nationalisms in Kosovo and Montenegro became of less and less strategic interest in the eyes of West, anti-Western resentment has grown among both the Albanian leaders and those in Montenegro, where Milo Djukanovic and his supporters feel – not unjustifiably - that they have been used and then dumped.

Actually, the European strategy in the Balkans seems to limit itself to a single purpose: to buy time. The discussions on the final status of Kosovo have been postponed indefinitely, and for the past year the European Union has been seeking a provisional and original solution for the Serbia-Montenegro dispute. The Belgrade Agreement, signed on March 14, 2002 under the auspices of Javier Solana, the man in charge of European foreign policy, foresees the replacement of the present Yugoslav Federation with a new Union of Serbia and Montenegro. The common competencies of this future confederal entity will be very limited; in exchange, Montenegro will have to accept a moratorium of three years before convoking a possible referendum on self-determination. (2)

Anyway, there is little chance that the constitutional negotiations between Serbia and Montenegro will succeed, having not met with success for one whole year, if the European Union does not implement a new pressurizing intervention. In fact, the Yugoslav minister of Foreign Affairs, Goran Svilanovic, defined the year 2002 as “a lost year” in his report. In effect, institutional aid has blocked all political reform, in Serbia as well as in Montenegro.

The objective of the new metamorphosis of Yugoslavia would be to prevent the hypothetical independence of Kosovo, which a rupture in the federal union of Serbia and Montenegro would make inevitable. But the agreement of March 14 explicitly restored the Yugoslav rights over the southern territory to Serbia.

The Albanian leaders have reacted with inflexibility, opposing any negotiations on the future state, which they boycotted and certainly disdained. Anyhow, the logic of the Western diplomats is inexorable. According to UN Resolution 1244, Kosovo continues to be an integral part of the Yugoslav Federation, whose legal heir will be the new Union of Serbia and Montenegro. But evidently Kosovo does not belong to Montenegro; its belonging to Serbia must be confirmed. In case of the break of the Union, it is explicitly stipulated that Kosovo will be under the sovereignty of Serbia. In November of 2002, Rexhepi, prime minister of the province, was threatening to unilaterally declare the independence of Kosovo if the Serbia Montenegro constitutional negotiations were accepted.

The phantom “Solana State,” as the Union of Serbia and Montenegro was soon christened runs the risk of precipitating a confrontation between the Kosovo Albanians and the international community. The lack of skill and foresight in the international circles is deplorable. After having granted full power to the most extreme manifestations of Albanian nationalism, was it very likely that it would be possible to go back without provoking any repercussions?

The only solution avoiding both the status quo and new confrontations must have the following indispensable conditions: concrete advances with respect to the reconciliation between the communities present in Kosovo, and the beginning of a direct dialogue between Belgrade and the Albanian leaders.

The 40.000 NATO soldiers deployed in Kosovo have already demonstrated their inability to prevent violence against the non-Albanian communities of Kosovo (3). On the other hand, the UN mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) has failed to seriously assume its political responsibility to ensure intercommunity dialogue. Accordingly, the speaker of the parliament of Kosovo, Nexhat Daci, managed to prohibit the Serbian deputies use the name “Kosovo and Metohija” during parliamentary sessions without any international reproach, an attitude even more surprising if one considers the blatant interventions of the UN High Representative in the political life of Bosnia.

The scanty beginning of dialogue between the Albanian leaders and Belgrade has always taken place in a neutral country. The last time was in November of 2002, during a colloquium on the Albanian question organized in Lucerne, Switzerland. Upon his return, Rexhepi had to publicly apologize for having shaken hands with to Nebojsa Covic, deputy premier of Serbia in charge of Kosovo, despite of the fact that the latter had apologized to the Albanian leader for Serbian excesses committed in the province.

The nationalistic escalation that the Albanian leaders use as a political strategy suggests, actually, a complex of irresponsibility fed by the international community. Since the future of Kosovo is decided by the Western diplomats, it more provident to engage in demogoguery than in real dialogue with Belgrade, something which is certainly difficult but unavoidable. In the same manner, the parliament of Kosovo can pass the most radical decisions but all of them must be endorsed by the special representative of the UN secretary general, Michael Steiner, who has the right of discretional veto.

Thus the “substantial autonomy” promised in the United Nations Resolution 1244 gives was to a colonial-like, completely uncontrollable situation. The justice system is only partially functional (4), public services are abandoned and corruption undermines the UN Mission (5), despite the valiant commitment of some administrators. An eminent journalist on Kosovo synthesizes the situation in the following way: “Instead of electricity, they deliver us generators. The same thing happens with justice, which deals with nothing more than expedient political operations.”

During the first years of the post-war period, the reconstruction deceptive, moving forward in a rather anarchic way and leading to losses in natural resources and historical heritage. But now the economy of Kosovo is totally stagnant and, for the teeming youth, emigration to the West seems to be the only exit. Under these conditions it is understandable that the sirens of radicalism can seduce Serbs and Albanians alike.

Finally, Kosovo in 2003 represents the same ticking bomb as in 1999. The only difference is that the international community is now directly involved in the crisis, although it would be satisfied with an illusory peace and the ability to forget about Kosovo and the Balkans. Like in 2000 and 2001, a confrontation with the international community might take the form of new armed clashes in the peripheral Albanian inhabited regions, especially in Presevo Valley in the south of Serbia.

1. Danas, 6-1-03

2. See the text of the Belgrade Agreement [in French] at: www.balkans.eu.org/article.php3?id_article=795

3. P.M. de La Gorce, “Le sud-est de l'Europe sous l'emprise de l'OTAN,” Le Monde diplomatique, March 2000

4. Patrice de Charette, Les oiseaux noirs du Kosovo. Un juge à Pristina, Michalon, Paris, 2002

5. “Kosovo: corruption à la Minuk”, Le Courrier des Balkans: www.balkans.eu.org/article.php3?id_article=2065

French original: "Le précédent contesté de l'intervention au Kosovo," Jean-Arnault Dérens, Le Monde diplomatique, February 2003


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SERB DEPUTIES WALK AGAIN OUT OF KOSOVO PARLIAMENT

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Radio B92, Belgrade
February 27, 2003

(photo: Serb deputies arrive to a Parliament session in armored vehicles)

Pristina - Deputies of the Return (Povratak) Coalition walked out of the Kosovo parliament on Thursday after demands by some Kosovo Albanian deputies that two declarations be added to the agenda, one expressing parliamentary support for Fatmir Limaj, indicted by the Hague tribunal, and one abolishing the Declaration of the Union of Serb Municipalities adopted in Mitrovica two days ago, reports B92 correspondent Zoran Culafic.

Only 13 deputies from the Return Coalition were present at the Kosovo parliament session because the remaining nine deputies were not provided with transportation to Pristina. Despite this some of the Return Coalition deputies agreed to attend the session, where the items on the agenda included laws on libraries and archives.

Kosovo parliament presidency member Oliver Ivanovic told B92 that the deputies left the session "after demands for irregular changes to the agenda". He added that attendance at the next parliament session would depend on "the manner in which UNMIK chief Michael Steiner will react". Ivanovic said that Return Coalition deputies "expect a sharp response" from Michael Steiner, even at the price "that someone be punished for such behavior in the Kosovo parliament". "Today the parliament functioned in an irregular manner. I think the very fact that nine deputies were not present because it was not possible to provide them with transportation speaks for itself, let alone the attempt to adopt the two declarations. This type of politicization is unacceptable because it leads to strong ethnic polarization and increase in tensions," said Ivanovic.

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FOREIGN MINISTERS OF MACEDONIA, SERBIA-MONTENEGRO DISCUSS REGIONAL SECURITY

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Associated Press
February 27, 2003

By KONSTANTIN TESTORIDES, Associated Press Writer

SKOPJE, Macedonia - The foreign ministers of Macedonia as well as Serbia and Montenegro on Thursday said organized crime was the single biggest threat to their countries' security.

Macedonia's Ilinka Mitreva and Goran Svilanovic of Serbia and Montenegro - or what used to be Yugoslavia - _ agreed that recent incidents in the region were the work of criminal gangs, rather than ethnic tensions.

"The essential threat to the stability in the region does not come from our neighbors, but from organized crime," declared Svilanovic.

"Both our countries are challenged with the threat of organized crime and we will solve all other problems if organized crime is uprooted," he added.

Both Macedonia and neighboring Serbia, have restive ethnic Albanian minorities that have staged insurgencies - in 2000 and 2001 - to demand more rights.

In both countries, the insurgencies were ended by Western-brokered peace deals that improved the situation of the ethnic Albanian communities.

However, there have been fears that ethnic Albanian rebel groups have been rearming and are preparing fresh uprisings this coming spring in both Macedonia and Serbia.

In the most recent incident in southern Serbia, a policeman was killed and two more wounded last week when their car ran over a land mine authorities say was planted by ethnic Albanian "terrorists."

Svilanovic said that terrorist attacks on the Serbian security troops were financed by organized crime - which has flourished in the Balkans in the past decade of wars, including drug and human trafficking.

"We are not afraid of this spring or summer," Svilanovic said. "Those who are now organizers of the incidents in southern Serbia and Macedonia cannot count on support by the international community, or anybody in the region."

Svilanovic and Mitreva also announced that a summit of countries of Southeast Europe will be held in Belgrade, the capital of Serbia and Montenegro, in April.

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DJINJDJIC PROPOSES KOSOVO FEDERATION
ERP KIM info service subarticle

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BETA News Agency, Belgrade
February 27, 2003

BELGRADE -- Thursday – Zoran Djindjic has stepped up his campaign for a rapid resolution to the Kosovo question with a proposal for a partitioned, autonomous province.

The Serbian prime minister told media that Kosovo is a national and security problem which must be resolved.

“Kosovo is for me what Iraq is for US President George Bush: a difficult national and security problem which we must resolve.

“If the world expects us to understand global priorities, we are entitled to expect the world to understand our priorities,” Djindjic told Frankfurt Serbian-language daily Vesti.

“I am not interested in the status of Kosovo, like the special relationship with the Republic of Srpska, as a matter of emotion, justice, myths and history, but as an issue of statehood and international agreements.

“It is extremely unfortunate that some people in Europe and the rest of the world think the only good Serb democrats are those who renounce the national interests of their country, that they think war in Iraq should be our national priority rather than resolving the Kosovo issue.

“After two years of democratic government I think we have garnered enough democratic credibility to begin open discussion of this issue.

“I believe that after two years we have the right to seek from the West a degree of confirmation that they accept us as partners and are ready to help us.

“If they are not, let them say so,” said Djindjic.

The prime minister emphasised that he could not understand the argument that it was too early to begin discussion of Kosovo’s final status.

“I think it is time to stop applying double standards.

“When they ask us to cooperate with the Hague court, because this is an organ of the UN Security Council which we respect, then let us ask who is obliged to implement the resolution adopted by that same Security Council on the return of a thousand Serbian solders and police to Kosovo.

“Why is it not yet time for the return of Serbs to Kosovo while it is always time to implement decisions of the Hague Tribunal?

“Because the international community only responds to crisis situations, my goal has been to establish Kosovo as a politically critical situation, because no one will respond to demands put at the diplomatic level.

“In that kind of situation is important to have a resolution, and I am offering one,” said Djindjic.

The prime minister proposed the division of Kosovo into two ethnic communities, Serbian and Albanian, each with equal rights.

“Serbs would accept this kind of Kosovo, with a status greater than autonomy but less than a federal unit such as Serbia and Montenegro,” said Djindjic.

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STATEMENT OF NEBOJSA COVIC DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER OF THE REPUBLIC OF SERBIA AND PRESIDENT OF THE COORDINATING CENTER - BRUSSELS NATO HQ

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SERBIAN GOVERNMENT
February 27, 2003

Brussels, Feb 26, 2003

I thank you for your time at a moment when you are dealing with the difficult and complex problem of Iraq.

I am completely aware that you would like me to present you with solutions, not problems. But, I shall stick to the problems of southern Serbia (Presevo, Bujanovac and Medvedja) and Kosovo.

SOUTHERN SERBIA (Presevo, Bujanovac and Medvedja)

The situation in the municipalities of Presevo, Bujanovac and Medvedja is not even close to what it was two years ago. Significant results have been achieved in establishing peace and multiethnic institutions.

During the past few weeks, the situation has become more complex; with attempts to bring back the situation to the state it was two years ago.

Certain criminal and radical elements of the ethnic Albanians are trying to destabilise the situation in the region by frightening citizens, the multiethnic police force and multiethnic representatives of the local authorities.

Since the beginning of 2003, in the municipality of Presevo and Bujanovac we have catalogued death threats, explosions in the private dwellings of multiethnic police officers and other citizens, physical assaults, the murder of an ethnic Albanian member of the Serbian Security and Intelligence Agency (BIA), the planting of landmines and explosives, the murder of a member of the Gendarmerie and the wounding of another two.

There are indications that other paramilitary troops are organising in the region, such as the self-proclaimed Albanian National Army (ANA). This creates additional concern, as extremist groups are based along the administrative border between Kosovo and southern Serbia.

Despite these problems, Belgrade is successfully working on restoring order to the situation in southern Serbia, which includes cooperation with KFOR, the OSCE, and the EUMM, which has been of great benefit. We are resolute in responding to all the extremist threats and terrorist actions of certain local ethnic Albanians in a measured and responsible manner, and with your help.

The basis for stability and development of the region is fighting organised crime. Organised crime is to blame for the violence in the everyday life of the region, and represents a threat to the safety and economy of the region, but also the EU. Organised crime includes, primarily, drugs and arms trafficking, sex trafficking and money laundering.

Organised crime in the countries of the region is interwoven with the state, politics, politicians and bureaucrats, which gives it a special significance.

We need your help and cooperation to resolve these problems through special projects of regional stability. With your help, we must, and can preserve the results we have achieved in southern Serbia, which should also serve as a model for the peaceful resolution of the crisis in the region.

As a rule, organised crime is connected with war crimes and
war profiteers. We must not let criminals manipulate patriotic and national feelings, by hiding behind national flags.

Our goals in southern Serbia are:

1. Full respect of the Programme for peaceful resolution of the crisis and further building of multiethnic institutions, 2. Zero tolerance for violence, crime, extremism and terrorism, 3. Absolute cancellation of the Ground and Air Safety Zone.

We expect your support, assistance and full understanding in order to keep the peace in southern Serbia and to fully carry out the Programme for peaceful resolution of the crisis.

KOSOVO

As for Kosovo, certain Belgrade leaders are concerned that the position of Serbia in a possible process of the province's status could be jeopardised to the disadvantage of democratic support

Be sure that Belgrade will not undertake any action that would make the work of KFOR harder. On the contrary, we support a maximum of dialogue between the Army of Serbia and Montenegro and KFOR in order to resolve extremism and crime in Kosovo and southern Serbia.

In this sense, the arrest of Kosovo suspects is of great help, and for that we are thankful to KFOR.

What concerns us and makes harder our position as democratic authorities in the process of democratisation of the country:

1. After three and a half years, there is no return of internally displaced persons - Serb and other non-Albanian ethnic groups;

2. The level of safety and freedom of movement is not satisfactory for Serbs and non-Albanians and human rights are constantly violated;

3. The number of KFOR members has decreased;

4. Disharmony in the transfer of jurisdictions from KFOR to UNMIK, and from UNMIK to interim institutions;

5. The opening of border crossings between Kosovo and Albania, and the introduction of customs services between Kosovo and Serbia proper;

6. Repetitive provocations by ethnic Albanian politicians from Kosovo, aimed at prejudging the final status of Kosovo, in the form of independence for the province;

7. Excluding the Belgrade authorities from the process that is under way in Kosovo, and lack of partnership relations with UNMIK;

. Failure to resolve the fate of missing and kidnapped persons in Kosovo;

9. Failure to resolve the problem of the usurped property of Serbs and other non-Albanians from Kosovo;

10. Failure to implement certain agreements and protocols signed between Belgrade and UNMIK, as well as the Belgrade Agreement signed on November 5, 2001;

We have opted for sincere partnership relations with KFOR and UNMIK, but with full respect for mutual agreements that have been reached.

It is certain that the army and police of Serbia and Montenegro are no longer enemies to KFOR; KFOR now has an internal enemy: extremists and separatists backed by organised crime structures in Kosovo.

The proclaimed standards have been supported by the Serbian authorities, but they need to be elaborated in order to enable a realistic evaluation and monitoring of results achieved in the process of creating a multiethnic Kosovo.

We are pleading to you to help the Serb community in Kosovo become a constitutional people, and thus be able to exercise their collective rights as envisaged by the Ohrid agreement.

Without the sustainable return and preservation of the Serb community in Kosovo, we will not achieve the declared goal of creating a multiethnic Kosovo.

Belgrade wishes to take advantage of 2003 to make up for lost time and to continue with its integration into the international community.

We know what is expected of us.

We intend to find ways to resolve these problems, but you could make the job easier for us, by sending us signals that difficult decisions yield rewards.

It is easier to "get away with" unpopular moves in Serbia, where we are building institutions that have been left destroyed for years and trying to restore democratic forces, if it is clear that we are facing some formal, concrete requests as part of an integration process.

A daunting task is ahead, one in which you can help. We count on your assistance, for the purpose of full stabilisation of our country as well as the entire region.

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THERE IS NO ONE TO LISTEN TO SERBS FROM THREE VILLAGES

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BETA News Agency, Belgrade
February 26, 2003

OBILIC, February 26, 2003 - The deputy mayor of Obilic municipality Hajriz Bekteshi refused to attend a meeting of NGO's, UNMIK administration, KFOR, UNMIK police and Serb representatives from Obilic, Crkvene Vodice and Janine Vode.

Bekteshi first asked that the meeting be rescheduled despite the fact that it had been scheduled last week; when this was refused, the deputy mayor left the meeting, saying he had to go to the protest being held the same day in Pristina.

Residents of Obilic, Crkvene Vodice and Janine Vode, the home of a total of some 300 Serb families, have lived under extremely difficult conditions without any freedom of movement since the arrival of international forces.

The residents of Janine Vode have not had drinking water for the past three years due to a problem with the water supply.

The meeting was to have included discussions on improving the security situation and living conditions.

After Bekteshi's departure, almost all the representatives of the international administration in Kosovo left one by one, saying that the topics on the agenda were not within their area of responsibility.

By the end of the meeting the only ones left were the Serbs from the three locations in the Obilic area who told each other their troubles.

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FLASH NEWS FROM KOSOVO - RADIO YUGOSLAVIA

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SVILANOVIC - NO DANGER OF DESTABILIZING THE BALKANS


There is no danger of destabilizing the Balkans this spring and summer, for the Albanian extremists who cause incidents cannot get support from the international community, the foreign minister of Serbia and Montenegro, Goran Svilanovic, said. He also pointed out that in yesterday’s talks with the highest NATO officials he got a clear endorsement for the actions which the authorities in Belgrade are undertaking in the aim of disarming extremists and maintaining peace in southern Serbia. According to Svilanovic, criminal interests lie behind the political aims of the Albanian extremists, and thus cooperation of the countries in this region with NATO and other international organizations in the battle against trading in arms, drugs and people is essential.

LIMAJ STILL IN SLOVENIA

Based on the decision of the Slovenian Supreme Court on the extraditing of one of the former KLA leaders, Fatmir Ljimaj, to the Hague Tribunal, the Slovenian minister of justice Ivan Bizjak signed the decree which initiated the proceedings for his surrender to this court. Bizjak did not reveal when Ljimaj would be extradited to the Tribunal, though he did say that this could happen within the legal 15-day cut-off period.

ALBANIAN PROTEST RALLY IN SOUTH MITROVICA

More than 3,000 Kosovo Albanians staged a protest rally in southern Kosovska Mitrovica demanding that Kosovo be granted independence and that all former members of the self-styled KLA be released from prisons in the Hague and Pristina. International police forces and KFOR troops were stationed during the protest rally on the north side of the bridge on the Ibar river, which divides the Serb from the Albanian part of the town. Several thousand Albanians also staged a protest rally in Lipljan, south-west of Pristina. According to UNMIK, there were no incidents.Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic assessed that it was high time that national interests were restored and demanded a change int eh conception of resolving the issue of Kosovo-Metohija. Djindjic told a press conference that Serbia has a legitimate right, as a democratic country, to define its national policy and takes part in the resolving of problems in Kosovo-Metohija. The provincial government should represent a ministerial council of the two national communities, Djindjic said and added that Serbs had a legitimate right to form a community of municipalities in Kosmet in which they are in the majority.

PRIME MINISTER DJINDJIC - ON RESOLVING THE KOSOVO STATUS

Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic assessed that it was high time that national interests were restored and demanded a change int eh conception of resolving the issue of Kosovo-Metohija. Djindjic told a press conference that Serbia has a legitimate right, as a democratic country, to define its national policy and takes part in the resolving of problems in Kosovo-Metohija. The provincial government should represent a ministerial council of the two national communities, Djindjic said and added that Serbs had a legitimate right to form a community of municipalities in Kosmet in which they are in the majority.

KOSOVO ASSSEMBLY ADOPTED TWO DECLARATIONS

The Kosovo Assembly, at the proposition of the most influential Albanian parties, has adopted two declarations - one demanding of the Hague Tribunal to release war crime indictee Fatmir Ljimaj, an MP of the Democratic Party of Kosovo, pending the beginning of the trial, and the other rejecting the formation of the Community of Serb Municipalities, as a parallel institution claimed to be contrary tot eh constitutional framework of Kosovo and UN Resolution 1244. MPs of the Serb POVRATAK coalition left the session dissatisfied with the enactment of those declarations and the fact that nine MPs of the Serb coalition had not attended the session, as they had not been allowed KFOR escort. A Serb MP in the Assembly, Oliver Ivanovic, assessed that the enactment of the declarations was in breach of the rights and obligations of the Assembly of Kosovo-Metohija and added that members of the POVRATAK coalition expect UNMIK head Michael Steiner to voice his opinion on this issue.

ATTACKERS FIRED AT A RED CROSS VEHICLE

On Thursday morning, unidentified persons fired at a Red Cross vehicle parked in front of the headquarters of that organization in northern Kosovska Mitrovica, Tanjug reports. Shots were fired from the direction of the part of the town called Bosnjacka mahala, inhabited by Albanians. UNMIK has conducted an inquiry, but has not revealed any details save the information that nobody was injured in the attack.

PRESIDENT KOSTUNICA - KOSOVO MUST BE SOLVEDWITHIN PRESENT BORDERS

Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica said that the Kosovo issue must be solved within the present borders, with the return of displaced people and much more intensive communication between Belgrade and Pristina. He told the YU INFO TV that the idea of the formation of a community of Serb municipalities in the Province has certain limits and can be conducive to retaliation on the part of Albanian extremists, but added that the community had been formed in response to extreme Albanian demands.

STEINER TALKED TO THE POVRATAK COALITION MEMBERS

UNMIK Head Michael Steiner saw in Pristina, on Wednesday, representatives of the Serb POVRATAK coalition, on teh occasion of the enactment of a declaration on the territorial integrity of Serbia in Kosovo. He told the coalition representatives that the declaration was contrary to UN Resolution 1244. An MP of the Povratak coalition, Oliver Ivanovic, said that Serb MPs in the Kosmet parliament believe that the situation in the Province was very tense and that therefore they demanded of Steiner to intensify security measures in Serb enclaves.


PRESS REVIEW:

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KFOR COMMANDER GEN. MINI TARGETED BY ALBANIAN EXTREMISTS


Under the title KFOR COMMANDER TARGETED BY ALBANIAN EXTREMIST CIRCLES, the VECERNJE NOVOSTI daily quotes international offices as warning that Albanian extremists are preparing the liquidation of Italian general Fabio Minni. The KFOR leadership, as VECERNJE NOVOSTI unofficially learns, has already contacted competent authorities in Belgrade seeking their assistance in order that the prepared scenario be thwarted. The general himself does not seem to be too much frightened by Albanian threats, the daily writes. Such conclusion is testified to by his statement given in an interview to the Italian CORRIERE DELLA SERA daily, that the Hague Tribunal will soon demand the extradition of 10 former KLA commanders and that the list also includes several KLA leaders, who have meanwhile formed their own political parties. In reply to the question of VECERNJE NOVOSTI whether the arrest will follow soon and what is the truth regarding general Fabio Minni, UNMIK regional spokesman Christian Linmeyer explained that he knew nothing of the aforesaid list but that the list might appear in public very soon.

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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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