January 03-04, 2004

ERP KiM Newsletter 03-01-04
(Weekend edition)

War against the Church continues in Christmas season!

Attempted usurpation of the Church property in Pristina on the initiative of the University and Ministry of Education

Serbian Orthodox Church strongly condemned the decision by the Municipal Assembly of Pristina dated December 30, 2003 to abolish its legitimate property rights over the land parcel in the center of the city on which the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of Christ the Savior is built. The illegal decision of the Municipal Assembly of Pristina was brought on the innitiative of the Pristina University and the Ministry of Education which hold the banner of anti-Christian campaign in Kosovo by promotion of falsified history and anti-Serbian sentiments among Albanian youth. The Church welcomed the decisive response of UNMIK authorities who immediately suspended the municipal decision and expects the UNMIK chief to abrogate the suspended decision by his executive order. The Serbian Orthodox Church plans to lodge official complaints to the international organizations for human and religious rights and the Governments of the leading countries contributing to the Kosovo peace mission.


War against the church like in Communist days
Silhouette of the Christ Savior Serbian Orthodox Cathedral in the downtown Pristina skyline.
The church stubbornly remains one of few surviving traces of the Serbian presence in the provincial capital and is targeted again by Kosovo Albanian institutions who intend to demolish it or to turn into a secular building. The still unfinished Cathedral has remained a living symbol of resistance to the rule of ethno-religious discrimination and terror of Kosovo Albanian nationalists directed against the Serbian Orthodox Church and its people in Kosovo.

CONTENTS:

Attempted usurpation of the Church property in Pristina
This latest "Christmas present" from the provisional Kosovo institutions, which seriously violates the basic religious and land ownership rights of the Serbian Orthodox Church, provoked a very sharp response on the part of Bishop Artemije of Raska and Prizren who, prior to yesterday's session of the municipal assembly, sent protest letters to the president of the Municipal Assembly of Pristina, Mr. Ismet Beqiri, and the head of UNMIK, Mr. Harri Holkeri. Bishop Artemije asked UNMIK for an urgent response to the aforementioned initiative of the Municipal Assembly of Pristina and to put a stop to the institutional terror that is being carried out in a completely shameless and callous manner to the detriment of the Serbian Orthodox Church and the Serbian people in the Province.

Coordinating Center requests protection for Serbian Orthodox property
The Coordinating Center for Kosovo and Metohija requested that UNMIK chief Harri Holkeri block the initiative of the Municipality of Pristina to take away the land parcel which is the location of the Serbian Orthodox Church of Christ the Savior.

UN transfers final government responsibilities to Kosovo institutions (2 reports)
The United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) has completed the transfer of specific responsibilities to local provisional institutions as part of its commitment to gradually introduce self-government to Kosovo.

Oliver Ivanovic: Fears of pressure after the transfer of responsibilities
Kosovo parliament presidency member Oliver Ivanovic assessed this evening that UNMIK's announcement that it will appoint advisors from Kosovo institutions in areas reserved fro Harri Holkeri "is actually a transitional phase" toward the complete assumption of those responsibilities by the Kosovo government.

Coordinating Center protests transfer of responsibilities - Covic addresses a severe protest to Holkeri for promising consultative role to Kosovo institutions in UNMIK reserved competencies


The Coordinating Center of Kosovo and Metohija has lodged a sharp protest following the decision of Harri Holkeri to complete the transfer of remaining responsibilities defined by section five of the Constitutional Framework to provisional Kosovo institutions of self-administration.

Bissett: War on terrorism skipped KLA
As early as 1998, the U.S. State Department listed the KLA as a terrorist organization financing its operations with money from the international heroin trade and funds supplied from Islamic countries and individuals, including Osama bin Laden. This did not stop the United States from arming and training KLA members in Albania and in the summer of 1998 sending them back into Kosovo to assassinate Serbian mayors, ambush Serbian policemen and intimidate hesitant Kosovo Albanians. The aim was to destabilize Kosovo and overthrow Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic.

Macedonia: Year in Review - Macedonia 2004: Our predictions
The removal of Serbian security forces opened the floodgates, and now (with the West coming under increasing threats and violent attacks from the "friendly" Albanians) only their return could close them. Serbia's return to the province (as envisioned in Resolution 1244) would of course mean a bloodbath. Yet should Kosovo become independent, and ethnic cleansing of minorities accelerate, would anyone stop them? And, if Kosovo were to be independent, would the Albanian secessionist movement in Macedonia not increase? Indeed, while no one wants a war, there is a residual fear and feeling from all sides that things are not over yet. As one Skopje man told us the other day, "I kept my gun just in case."


War when we were not attacked - comparing Serbia with Iraq
By contrast, Serbia was never a threat to other countries. Whatever Serbia did to the people living in Kosovo, Kosovo was and remains, under American and international law, part of Serbia. Serbia had never attacked the United States or our allies, or any of its neighbors. Serbia never even retaliated when the United States was bombing its capital city, Belgrade.


More News Available on our:

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KDN Archive

This newsletter is available on our ERP KIM Web-site:
http://www.kosovo.net/erpkiminfo.html


Attempted usurpation of Church property in Pristina

Serbian Orthodox Church strongly condemned the decision by the Municipal Assembly of Pristina dated December 30, 2003 to abolish its legitimate property rights over the land parcel in the center of the city on which the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of Christ the Savior is built. The illegal decision of the Municipal Assembly of Pristina was brought on the innitiative of the Pristina University and the Ministry of Education which hold the banner of anti-Christian campaign in Kosovo by promotion of falsified history and anti-Serbian sentiments among Albanian youth. The Church welcomed the decisive response of UNMIK authorities who immediately suspended the municipal decision and expects the UNMIK chief to abrogate the suspended decision by his executive order. The Serbian Orthodox Church plans to lodge official complaints to the international organizations for human and religious rights and the Governments of the leading countries contributing to the Kosovo peace mission.

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Serbian Orthodox Diocese of Raska-Prizren
and Kosovo-Metohija

Press Release (new and amended version)
for immediate release


Gracanica, January 3, 2003

The Serbian Orthodox Diocese of Raska-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija expresses its most profound protest and disgust regarding the notorious decision of the Municipal Assembly of Pristina on December 30, 2003 to take away the right of use of construction land in the very center of Pristina from the Serbian Orthodox Church, which is the location of the still incomplete Church of Christ the Savior, and to transfer this parcel to the municipality which would simultaneously turn it over to the University of Pristina "for the use of the University Center complex" in accordance with the request of the University of Pristina (dated August 12, 2003) and the Kosovo Ministry of Education (dated September 9, 2003).

A few days ago, the Diocese inadvertently learned of the request of the University and the Ministry of Education and managed subsequently to obtain the draft of the decision adopted yesterday by the Municipal Assembly of Pristina, according to which the decision on issuance of a building permit to the Diocese of Raska and Prizren for the construction of the Orthodox Cathedral of Christ the Savior on land that the Church previously obtained in a completely manner in 1991 from the municipal authorities then in power in accordance with all relevant laws of the Republic of Serbia is declared invalid, without any prior consultation with the Serbian Orthodox Church and UNMIK.

This latest "Christmas present" from the provisional Kosovo institutions, which seriously violates the basic religious and land ownership rights of the Serbian Orthodox Church, provoked a very sharp response on the part of Bishop Artemije of Raska and Prizren who, prior to yesterday's session of the municipal assembly, sent protest letters to the president of the Municipal Assembly of Pristina, Mr. Ismet Beqiri, and the head of UNMIK, Mr. Harri Holkeri. Bishop Artemije asked UNMIK for an urgent response to the aforementioned initiative of the Municipal Assembly of Pristina and to put a stop to the institutional terror that is being carried out in a completely shameless and callous manner to the detriment of the Serbian Orthodox Church and the Serbian people in the Province.

According to the latest information in Pristina media, the deputy head of UNMIK for civil administration Francesco Bastagli authorized the civil administrator of the Municipality of Pristina yesterday afternoon to immediately suspend as invalid the decision of the Municipal Assembly to take away the property of the Church, and this was immediately done. Only two Serb members of the Municipal Assembly of Pristina did not vote in favor of the decision, which was supported by all Albanian deputies. One of them, Mrs. Ana Kostic, stated that "the Municipality does not have the right to take away the property and transfer it to the University because there is already an Orthodox church on it".

Albanian language media (including radicalized "Koha Ditora" in an article published on Dec. 31, 2003) reported on the takeover of the church land in extremely biased fashion, explaining that "the municipality had only returned property taken from the University at the time of the Serbian occupation of Kosovo". Of course, none of the reports mentions that the property on which the Serbian Orthodox Church has built a church and which it obtained in a completely legal manner has never been owned by the University of Pristina. Not one Albanian journalist or municipal representative even bothered to consult the Church regarding this case, which best demonstrates their true intentions and "objectivity".

The Diocese of Raska and Prizren welcomes the rapid response on the part of UNMIK officials preventing yet another misuse of the law and serious violation of the recently proclaimed "Standards for Kosovo" and requests from Mr. Harri Holkeri to issue an executive order which will abrogate the decision of the Municipal Assembly of Pristina and proclaim it null and void.

The Diocese of Raska-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija also welcomes the statement of the Coordinating Center for Kosovo and Metohija condemning the misuse of provisional Kosovo institutions against the Serbian Orthodox Church and its legitimate rights, and urges the Coordinating Center and the Serbian Government to take all necessary measures in a timely fashion in order to prevent such instances from reoccurring in the future.

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Coordinating Center requests protection for Serbian Orthodox property

The Coordinating Center for Kosovo and Metohija today requested that UNMIK chief Harri Holkeri block the initiative of the Municipality of Pristina to take away the land parcel which is the location of the Serbian Orthodox Church of Christ the Savior.

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Beta News Agency, Belgrade
December 31, 2003


BELGRADE - The Coordinating Center for Kosovo and Metohija today requested that UNMIK chief Harri Holkeri block the initiative of the Municipality of Pristina to take away the land parcel which is the location of the Serbian Orthodox Church of Christ the Savior.

In a written statement the Coordinating Center also requested protection for the property of the Serbian Orthodox Church and assessed that the initiative of the Municipal Assembly of Pristina is more proof that "the Albanian institutions are doing everything to wipe out the traces of the centuries-old existence of the Serbian people in Kosovo and Metohija".

"Unfortunately, this process is being carried out with the silent acquiescence of the global community, as well as of UNMIK officials whose mandate in Kosovo and Metohija includes the protection of the property and religious facilities of the Serbian Orthodox Church," it is said in the statement.


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UN transfers final government responsibilities to Kosovo institutions

The United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) has completed the transfer of specific responsibilities to local provisional institutions as part of its commitment to gradually introduce self-government to Kosovo.
 

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UNITED NATIONS NEWS CENTRE

30 December, 2003 - The United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) has completed the transfer of specific responsibilities to local provisional institutions as part of its commitment to gradually introduce self-government to Kosovo.

Harri Holkeri, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Kosovo, sent a letter today to Kosovo's Prime Minister, Bajram Rexhepi, stating that 25 remaining "competencies" would now be carried out by Kosovo's major provisional institutions - the presidency, the government and the Kosovo assembly - bringing the total to 44.

The competencies transferred include specific powers over agriculture, the media, culture and the environment. They are the final batch of government responsibilities to be transferred according to Kosovo's Constitutional Framework. UNMIK, which has been in place since June 1999, is trying to establish progressively greater autonomy and more effective self-government in Kosovo.

In a statement issued today, UNMIK said "a small number of specific responsibilities," such as the work of an independent media commission, would not become functional until relevant laws are passed or the relevant administering body is established. But every competency is now the formal responsibility of Kosovo's provisional institutions.

UNMIK retains certain reserved powers in Kosovo, including control over security, foreign relations, minority rights protection and energy, until the province's final status is determined.

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UNMIK transfers some responsibilities from Constitutional Framework to Kosovo government

UNMIK chief Harri Holkeri confirmed today the transfer of remaining responsibilities from the UN civil mission to provisional institutions in Kosovo on the basis of section five of the Constitutional Framework.

Beta News Agency, Belgrade
December 30, 2003


PRISTINA - UNMIK chief Harri Holkeri confirmed today the transfer of remaining responsibilities from the UN civil mission to provisional institutions in Kosovo on the basis of section five of the Constitutional Framework.

In a letter to Kosovo premier Bajram Rexhepi, Holkeri confirmed the transfer of responsibilities and stated that at the meeting of the council for transfer of competencies held on May 28, 2003, 44 responsibilities in this process were identified.

Members of the council authorized UNMIK and Kosovo institutions to transfer responsibilities by the end of this year, it is said in a statement provided to Beta news agency.

The UN Security Council has approved this transfer.

Among the transferred responsibilities a small number of specific responsibilities cannot become effective until the relevant legislation is adopted, such as the creation of an Independent Commission for Media or until the relevant administrative body is constituted.

"Continuing its dedication to the establishment of substantial autonomy and effective self-administration, UNMIK will also strive to include provisional institutions in an advisory and consultative capacity in areas reserved fro UNMIK," the statement says.

Participation in this process, within the framework of which UNMIK is considering the proposal of the Kosovo government for the opening of several offices as part of the Kosovo government or the establishment of ties between UNMIK and the Kosovo government, will be reserved for all kosovo.netmunities and their elected representatives.

"The offices will held in capacity building and increase transparency in complete accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1244 and the Constitutional Framework," it is said in the UNMIK statement.


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Oliver Ivanovic: Fear of pressure that Kosovo Government will be given all responsibilities

Kosovo parliament presidency member Oliver Ivanovic assessed this evening that UNMIK's announcement that it will appoint advisors from Kosovo institutions in areas reserved fro Harri Holkeri "is actually a transitional phase" toward the complete assumption of those responsibilities by the Kosovo government.

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Beta News Agency, Belgrade
December 30, 2003


KOSOVSKA MITROVICA - Kosovo parliament presidency member Oliver Ivanovic assessed this evening that UNMIK's announcement that it will appoint advisors from Kosovo institutions in areas reserved fro Harri Holkeri "is actually a transitional phase" toward the complete assumption of those responsibilities by the Kosovo government.

"Obviously UNMIK is taking advantage of the situation in Serbia after the parliamentary elections, in which the Serbian Radical Party and the Socialist Party of Serbia won a large number of votes, which is a good excuse for continuing the process of completing the transfer of responsibilities from UNMIK to the provisional institutions," said Ivanovic.

Commenting on the transfer of all responsibilities from section five of the Constitutional Framework to Kosovo institutions, Ivanovic said that an eventual crisis regarding the forming of the [Serbian] government could be dangerous for the future fate of Kosovo and Metohija.

Ivanovic emphasized that responsibilities from section eight, including foreign affairs, police, judiciary and security, cannot be transferred by the UNMIK chief to the Kosovo government.

"These responsibilities can be transferred only after the final status of Kosovo and Metohija is resolved," said Ivanovic, adding that provisional institutions in the province so far have shown absolute political immaturity and incompetence for conducting a society.

UNMIK chief Harri Holkeri confirmed today the transfer of remaining responsibilities from the UN civil mission to provisional institutions in Kosovo on the basis of section five of the Constitutional Framework.

In a letter to Kosovo premier Bajram Rexhepi, Holkeri confirmed the transfer of responsibilities and stated that UNMIK "will also strive to include provisional institutions in an advisory and consultative capacity in regions reserved fro UNMIK".


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Coordinating Center protests transfer of responsibilities

The Coordinating Center of Kosovo and Metohija has lodged a sharp protest following the decision of Harri Holkeri to complete the transfer of remaining responsibilities defined by section five of the Constitutional Framework to provisional Kosovo institutions of self-administration.

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Beta News Agency, Belgrade
December 30, 2003

BELGRADE - The Coordinating Center of Kosovo and Metohija has lodged a sharp protest following the decision of Harri Holkeri to complete the transfer of remaining responsibilities defined by section five of the Constitutional Framework to provisional Kosovo institutions of self-administration.

"These are responsibilities in the areas of industry, culture, education, energy, commerce, media... which are being transferred despite the fact that not even the basic provisions foreseen by the Constitutional Framework and UNSC Resolution 1244 have been fulfilled," the Coordinating Center said in a written statement.

The Coordinating Center "is especially concerned by the announcement of Holkeri's office that provisional self-administration, that is, the Albanians, will have an advisory and consultative resole in areas reserved for UNMIK, which is contrary to Resolution 1244 and the Constitutional Framework".

The Coordinating Center believes "that this is new evidence of the biased and dangerous behavior of Harri Holkeri and a new step in the direction of the creation of an independent Kosovo and Metohija".

Covic Addresses severe protest to Holkeri

Covic said that it is alarming that Holkeri intends to grant the consultative role to interim local self-government institutions in the affairs administered by UNMIK, as announced by Holkeri's office recently. Such a move would be contrary to provisions of the Resolution 1244. Covic concluded that this is just a new piece of evidence of UNMIK's biased and perilous policy which can only lead to independent Kosovo-Metohija.

SERBIAN GOVERNMENT


Belgrade, Dec 31, 2003 - In a statement issued by the Coordinating Centre, Covic said that the present UNMIK chief wants to complete what his predecessor Michael Steiner begin.

The authorities in question are from the sectors of industry, culture, education, energy, trade and media, Covic said. The UNMIK wants to transfer these authorities despite the fact that not even the basic preconditions for such a move, stipulated in the Constitutional Framework and the UN Security Council Resolution 1244, have been fulfilled.

Covic said that it is alarming that Holkeri intends to grant the consultative role to interim local self-government institutions in the affairs administered by UNMIK, as announced by Holkeri's office recently. Such a move would be contrary to provisions of the Resolution 1244.

Covic concluded that this is just a new piece of evidence of UNMIK's biased and perilous policy which can only lead to independent Kosovo-Metohija.

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Bissett: War on Terrorism skipped the KLA

As early as 1998, the U.S. State Department listed the KLA as a terrorist organization financing its operations with money from the international heroin trade and funds supplied from Islamic countries and individuals, including Osama bin Laden. This did not stop the United States from arming and training KLA members in Albania and in the summer of 1998 sending them back into Kosovo to assassinate Serbian mayors, ambush Serbian policemen and intimidate hesitant Kosovo Albanians. The aim was to destabilize Kosovo and overthrow Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic.

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Centre for Research on Globalisation, December 29, 2003

by James Bissett

U.S. President George W. Bush has made it clear the war against terrorists will be unremitting and relentless. Even those countries affording shelter to terrorists will not be spared. These words come too late for the Serbs, Gypsies, Jews, Turks and other non-Albanians who have been driven from their ancestral homes in Kosovo by the terrorist Kosovo Liberation Army. It is too late as well for Macedonia, which has been forced by the United States, the European Union and NATO to yield to all the demands of the Albanian terrorists in that country.

This double standard and lack of consistency when dealing with terrorists calls into question the policies the United States and its NATO allies followed in the Balkans. It also underlines the necessity for the United States and its allies to clean up their act if they wish to retain credibility in the war against terrorism.

The bombing of Yugoslavia in the spring of 1999 allegedly to stop ethnic cleansing and prevent the Balkans from becoming once again the powder keg of Europe has backfired. Kosovo has become exclusively an Albanian province with the exception of a few stalwart Serbians in the Mitrovica area who live surrounded by barbed wire and are threatened daily with murder and mayhem by their Albanian neighbours. The Balkans, since the end of the bombing, have been in constant turmoil caused by the KLA terrorist activities.

NATO allowed the KLA, which under the terms of United Nations Resolution
1244 was to be disarmed after the end of the bombing, to keep its weapons. The KLA was renamed the Kosovo Protection Force and been given the task of maintaining peace and security in Kosovo. How well it has been able to carry out this task is summed up in a report dated Feb. 26, 2001, to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, which accuses the protection corps of widespread acts of murder, torture and extortion.

That condemnation should not have come as a surprise. As early as 1998, the U.S. State Department listed the KLA as a terrorist organization financing its operations with money from the international heroin trade and funds supplied from Islamic countries and individuals, including Osama bin Laden. This did not stop the United States from arming and training KLA members in Albania and in the summer of 1998 sending them back into Kosovo to assassinate Serbian mayors, ambush Serbian policemen and intimidate hesitant Kosovo Albanians. The aim was to destabilize Kosovo and overthrow Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic.

Bin Laden and radical Muslim groups have been deeply involved in the Balkans since the civil wars in Bosnia from 1992 to 1995. Despite a UN arms embargo and with the knowledge and support of the United States, arms, ammunition and thousands of Mujahideen fighters were smuggled into Bosnia to help the Muslims. Many remain in Bosnia today and are recognized as a serious threat to Western forces there. The Bosnian government is said to have presented bin Laden with a Bosnian passport in recognition of his contribution to their cause. He and his al-Qaeda network were also active in Kosovo, and KLA members trained in his camps in Afghanistan and Albania.

Emboldened by the knowledge it could achieve its political objectives by terror, the KLA moved into southern Serbia and initiated, under the eyes of 40,000 NATO troops, a campaign of terror against the Serbian population. Not until NATO permitted the new democratic government of Serbia to send the Serb army back into the area was the KLA routed and sent back across the border into Kosovo.

Macedonia, with its large Albanian minority, was the KLA's next target.

In February, its forces moved against this small and newly independent democracy. The familiar pattern of murder, ambush and intimidation followed. Unlike Serbia, which still possessed a powerful and well-equipped army, Macedonia had little with which to defend itself against the well equipped and battle-hardened KLA fighters. The promises of assistance made by former U.S. president Bill Clinton in return for Macedonia's co-operation during the Yugoslav bombing were forgotten.

Nevertheless, when the fighting started, it appeared NATO and the European Union might help Macedonia resist the terrorist threat. In March 2001, Lord Robertson, the Secretary-General of NATO, condemned the KLA terror campaign and described them as "murderous thugs." He supported the Macedonian government's refusal to negotiate with the terrorists. Obviously, Lord Robertson was not aware the United States had other ideas about which side to support in Macedonia.

The message was made clear in May 2001, when U.S. diplomat Robert Fenwick, ostensibly the head of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, in Macedonia, met secretly in Prizren, Kosovo, with the leaders of the Albanian political parties and KLA representatives. Macedonian officials were not invited. It was clear the United States was backing the Albanian terrorist cause. This was confirmed a month later, when a force of 400 KLA fighters was surrounded in the town of Aracinovo near the capital, Skopje. As Macedonian security forces moved in, they were halted on NATO orders.

U.S. army buses from Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo arrived to remove all the heavily armed terrorists to a safer area of Macedonia. German reporters later revealed that 17 U.S. military advisors were accompanying the KLA terrorists in Aracinovo.

In August 2001, fearing the Macedonian forces might be able to defeat the KLA, U.S. Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice flew to Kiev and ordered the Ukrainian government to stop sending further military equipment to Macedonia. Since Ukraine was the only country supplying Macedonia with military assistance, the Macedonians realized continued resistance against the KLA terrorists, the EU and NATO was futile. Macedonia was forced to concede defeat and obliged to accept all the terrorist demands. When the peace treaty was signed, Lord Robertson proclaimed, "This day marks the entry of Macedonia into modern, mainstream Europe ... a very proud day for their country."

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Balkananalysis: Macedonia year in review part 3 - security and defense

The year began with now-perennial worries over a "spring offensive" from Albanian paramilitaries. While this did not in fact occur, numerous low-intensity attacks and terrorist bombings did go on throughout the year.

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BALKANALYSIS (www. balkananalysis.com)

Posted on Wednesday, December 31 @ 13:00:00 EST by CDeliso

Introduction

The year began with now-perennial worries over a "spring offensive" from Albanian paramilitaries. While this did not in fact occur, numerous low-intensity attacks and terrorist bombings did go on throughout the year. As most of these were Kosovo-related, it seemed that, yet again, the unresolved situation there was the biggest threat to Macedonia's security. Growing dissent in the UN-administered province led to an upsurge in violence, against Serbs but also against UNMIK and KFOR personnel. Terrorist attacks carried out by the same "Albanian Liberation Army" active in Macedonia proved that the organization was at least partially staffed by the KPC- Kosovo's allegedly legitimate police force, composed of old KLA members. Reports from Kosovo Albanian media indicated a close intelligence cooperation between the SHIK (Kosovo Intelligence) and its counterpart in Tirana. Later comments from AKSH representative Idajet Beqiri also attested to connections for the group in Albania itself.

In general terms, 2003 saw a continuing process of Westernization and cooperation with NATO and the US. Macedonian security officials attended conferences and training seminars in far-flung European cities. Cooperation on anti-terrorist training was increased as the reshaping of the military got underway.

Western reforms and re-orientation; weaknesses and strengths

Defense Minister Buchkovski's stated goal- eventual NATO accession- involved adherence to the larger goals of the NATO alliance and US defense planners in Europe- a lighter, faster and more dynamic defense force capable of countering urban terrorism, that is, "asymmetrical threats." This philosophy was behind the projected sale of Macedonia's few Sukhoi jet fighters in favor of acquiring more helicopters.

Another tactic for appeasing the West was sending troops to Iraq. Since they all returned safe, one might say all's well that ends well. In Iraq, these crack troops no doubt picked up valuable experience in a truly "hot" zone, and seemed to be outfitted with much better, American style gear upon their return. And they won America's undying love, too.

America was not Macedonia's only military partner, however. In October, PM Branko Crvenkovski met with his Russian counterpart, Mikhail Kasyanov in Moscow, and signed a pact on military cooperation (mostly, however in the area of repairing existing Russian made equipment). Still, this was a good sign in an improved year for bilateral relations with Moscow.

Additionally, Macedonian police, defense and intelligence forces expanded cooperation with neighboring countries on matters ranging from Albanian militants to customs checks to weapons smuggling. While the little country is still finding its place in Europe, Macedonia's geography meant that it continued to be of interest to security forces of many countries, even if a war was not taking place.

In 2003, Macedonia's strength continued to be direct, human intelligence, while open-source intelligence and high-tech remained under-used. Since Kosovo remained the country's number one concern, one would have expected that cooperation with Serbia would have been solid. However, this issue was ambivalent as informed sources on both sides argued for or against the quality of cooperation. Serbia's armed forces proceeded along the same lines of NATO reform, though its leadership was afflicted additionally by never-ending Hague indictments.

On the level of personnel, Macedonia's greatest problem continued to be the suspect allegiances of ranking members of the police, intelligence and defense ministries. All of these ministerial slots had been given to Macedonians, meaning that (for reasons of political
correctness) the ministers' immediate subordinates had to be from the Albanian DUI party. This meant, essentially, that the same people who had participated in terrorist attacks against the state in 2001 would have access to the most classified information available- and, conceivably, shares it with paramilitaries. This thorny problem is not likely to be solved, though it did not present overt and publicized dangers to the fragile coalition in 2003.

Terrorism and militant attacks: imagined and real

While Islamic extremism received plenty of coverage, in 2003 Macedonia fortunately escaped the wrath of the jihadis. There had been fears that the country's support for Iraq would make it a target. Yet Macedonia likely did not seem a juicy enough target for al Qaeda to waste its time on. However, if we are to believe recent Bulgarian reports, a small amount of Albanian "students" from Macedonia sent for religious education in Jordan and the Gulf were being indoctrinated, and either sent to Afghanistan, or sent home to seek new converts.
Macedonian authorities continued their scrutiny of specific figures in the Islamic religious community, and even became interested in a few more.

As usual, the biggest threat to life and limb came from the ostensibly secular Albanian extremists based in Kosovo, Skopska Crna Gora and Lipkovo. Yet save for a few needless deaths, they were unable to do much. The overnight sensation "Commander Chakala," blustering his demands and deadlines from the hills, only provoked a limited police action, checkpoints, and jokes from Macedonians. The Interior Ministry claimed that Chakala only had 20-30 followers, all "criminals." These opinions were publicly backed by the US, EU and OSCE.

A provocation of unquestionably criminal nature occurred after the escape and re-capture of Dilaver Bojku, or "Leka," a famous prostitution boss from Struga. He had escaped in a suspiciously easy way, leading critics to wonder whether his friends in high places were helping him. After a vociferous outcry from the internationals, Leku was recaptured. He subsequent bombing of a courthouse in Struga was meant as a warning to the authorities. Still, the intimidated locals were glad to see him go.

The deaths of two Polish NATO soldiers who drove over an Albanian-planted landmine on March 4 internationalized the issue. The mine had been meant for a Macedonian army patrol. Waning support for the Albanian cause dropped to nil in the immediate aftermath of the murders.

May was a trying month for Macedonian security officials. First was the embarrassing Vejce incident, which proved that no force on earth, not even the US Ambassador, is capable of persuading stubborn Albanian peasants to give way. A planned and pre-announced ceremony, for family members to lay flowers on the place where a massacre of soldiers had taken place in 2001, was stymied by Albanian villagers in Vejce. Their refusal to stop blocking the road made Minister Kostov threaten to quit, and even angered US Ambassador Butler. The government's inability to deal decisively with the villagers showed the continuing political fragility of the "Albanian question" in Macedonia. A similar affirmation of this was seen just over the border in Kosovo, where an internationally sanctioned, UN-implemented border crossing plan was scrapped at the last minute due to the bellyaching of Albanian villagers.

In late May, following the arrest of an Albanian over the 2 NATO deaths, the village of Sopot (near south Serbia, north of Kumanovo) made its own threats. Villagers gave the Macedonian police an ultimatum of 48 hours to release the suspect, Sulejman Sulejmani. This member of the "Albanian National Army" was viewed as a hero by the locals, who interestingly enough made it clear that the EU-led Concordia mission was not welcome, either. This Albanian turning against the West, increasingly noted in Kosovo, was one of the year's most ominous signs for the future.

Some foreign journalists were tipped off that a new conflict would began in early September, perhaps meant to coincide with the arrival of the English football team on the 5th. A small disturbance did occur, near the village of Brest on Skopska Crne Gora, when the police and army (supported by helicopters) took on about 5 Albanian militants led by a so-called "Commander Brechta." Two Albanians were killed in the fighting, one wounded and two escaped. The "international community" cautiously voiced support for the government's action, which had occurred as a result of typical Albanian provocations (the kidnapping of police officers in Aracinovo and a bombing in Skopje).

As temperatures dipped, the guns cooled off too, and verbal provocations took the place of military ones. Safe in their diaspora lairs, Albanian extremist leaders plotted and raised funds for whatever adventures are to come next. However, a growing international disdain for the movement and better intelligence have helped the Macedonians to suppress this threat.

Weapons collection theatrics

An operation that provoked great Western unease was the weapons collection of November and December. One of the Ohrid Accord's key stipulations, this ill-fated plan was meant to disarm those citizens (in villages, mostly) who distrusted the state and who might wage war again. A massive advertising campaign before the month-long event failed to change anyone's minds. As expected, not even the prospect of prizes such as washing machines and cars could inspire many people to turn over the goods; in the end, only about 5,000 guns were turned in, most of them too old or rusty to use. As with NATO's disarmament of the NLA in 2001, this was merely a simulated show of good will and progress. That very few people handed in their guns indicated their belief in a potential future war.

While the weapons collection was mainly a political stunt and thus to be discussed in that context, we can say that for the security forces, the mission was successful. That is to say, no one was killed or injured and tensions were kept to a minimum. The West had feared the worst and begged the Macedonians to defer the collections 'til spring.
However, their fears proved unfounded- just as was their optimism for a rich "harvest."

Conclusions

For Macedonian security and defense, 2003 was a year characterized by three themes: NATO cooperation and modernization programs; keeping the Kosovo and Kosovo-directed threats under control; and restoring Western trust through executing cool-headed security actions and a peaceful weapons collection program.

The first was by and large a success. Defense Minister Buchkovski recently stated that Macedonia is on track to join NATO in 2006. Almost as a reward, the EU military mission was ended in December in favor of Proxima- an unarmed 200-strong battalion designed to fight crime. For its part, NATO decided against removing its entire staff, even though its official mission had concluded- because they may as well stay to help oversee the modernization and accession process.

A late-breaking incident that may get ugly saw the US slap sanctions on a Macedonian businessman, Blagoja Samakoski, and his company, Mikrosam on 24 December. The US placed a two-year contract ban on Mikrosam, claiming that the company's "missile proliferation technology violated the US Arms Export Control Act. As this story continues to unfold, more interesting details are likely to emerge.

As for the Kosovo situation, results here were more ambivalent. Attacks on border posts and forts continued, and land mines and bombings took the lives of Macedonian soldiers, civilians and foreign troops as well. The growing despair of the UNMIK administration over the lack of a happy exit strategy was readily apparent. For this reason, perhaps, 2003 saw an increased international resolve against Albanian extremists, as international troops and civilian officials started to come under fire too. For the first time since very early 2001, Macedonian actions against rogue elements were tolerated and even respected. International cooperation resulted in the arrests of several important figures, including AKSH leader Gaiffur Adili in Albania and Idajet Beqiri in Germany. However, the former was released, and the similar release of Agim Ceku- detained by Slovenia on a Serbian Interpol warrant- showed the extent to which the situation is still being dictated by the men with guns, men who still have designs on Macedonia. We're not out of the woods yet.

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Macedonia 2004: Our Predictions (extract)

The removal of Serbian security forces opened the floodgates, and now (with the West coming under increasing threats and violent attacks from the "friendly" Albanians) only their return could close them. Serbia's return to the province (as envisioned in Resolution 1244) would of course mean a bloodbath. Yet should Kosovo become independent, and ethnic cleansing of minorities accelerate, would anyone stop them? And, if Kosovo were to be independent, would the Albanian secessionist movement in Macedonia not increase? Indeed, while no one wants a war, there is a residual fear and feeling from all sides that things are not over yet. As one Skopje man told us the other day, "I kept my gun just in case."

BALKANALYSIS (www. balkananalysis.com)
Posted on Thursday, January 01 @ 06:00:00 EST by CDeliso

(...)

Security

Macedonia's main security problem in 2004 continues to be the unresolved, agitated state of affairs in Kosovo. Until there is some final solution to that particular mess, tensions will continue to simmer. Unfortunately, all of the likely solutions are detrimental to Macedonian security.

KFOR has proven to be less than stellar in policing the border, though in 2003 it improved considerably. Nevertheless, it remains highly probable that the 2001 war could not have occurred if Serbia's police had been guarding the border from within Kosovo.

The removal of Serbian security forces opened the floodgates, and now (with the West coming under increasing threats and violent attacks from the "friendly" Albanians) only their return could close them.

Serbia's return to the province (as envisioned in Resolution 1244) would of course mean a bloodbath. Yet should Kosovo become independent, and ethnic cleansing of minorities accelerate, would anyone stop them? And, if Kosovo were to be independent, would the Albanian secessionist movement in Macedonia not increase? Indeed, while no one wants a war, there is a residual fear and feeling from all sides that things are not over yet. As one Skopje man told us the other day, "I kept my gun just in case."

Apparently a majority of the population thinks as he does, if the pathetic "harvest" of the November-December weapons collection is anything to judge by.

In the bigger picture, Macedonia and its Balkan neighbors will all alike be affected by greater world events. First of all is the continuing morass in Iraq, which keeps the US bogged down in continuing death and destruction, even as Washington's war hawks press on for war with other Middle Eastern countries. And, considering that it's an election year in America as well, the Balkans is likely to receive scant attention. Had Milosevic or Seselj polled big two or three years ago, the US might have started bombing again (or at least gone the sanctions route). Now, despite the media fretting from the usual folks, no one really has the time to care.

Related to that is the Greek Olympics, which will feature more security than any in history. The Balkans- and particularly Bosnia- have already been fingered as posing a threat. The Greeks (and the hundreds of American agents secretly helping to prepare for the Games) believe that al Qaeda sympathizers may be lurking in Muslim-populated areas of the Balkans, and lying in wait to make mischief this August. That said, troublemaking of any kind is likely to be frowned upon by Europe. Again, this does not seem to be the year for a successful Albanian "liberation"
war. In the case that Islamic terrorists with links to the Albanian paramilitaries are discovered, foreign support for the cause will sink even further.

This does not mean, however, that Macedonia will be completely free from violence. The same low-level attacks will probably continue, though more sporadically. And, the growing resentment Albanians in Kosovo have for their UNMIK overlords may make the Westerners- for the first time- more of a target than Macedonians.

As mentioned above, Microsoft's new "strategic partnership" with the government is sure to have benefits, but it also involves some amount of risk. Frequently in 2003, bugs in Windows were discovered and increasingly hackers targeted the American company. In the US, lawmakers have voiced concerns over national security threats posed by an over-reliance on Microsoft software. Similar threats could apply anywhere that a state depends on the software of one country. Macedonia, which has less safeguards and alternative forms of protection as America, is conceivably more vulnerable to crippling bugs, viruses and hacker attacks.

In 2004, the Ministry of Defense will continue its cooperation with NATO, though we should not expect to see any ground-making initiatives to be unveiled at May's NATO summit in Istanbul. In all likelihood, the alliance's existing goals- decreasing troop sizes across Europe and focusing more and more on terrorism- will be the topic. Macedonian NATO accession will remain at least two years away. If the current EU Proxima police mission goes successfully, as it should, Macedonia will have one more notch in its belt to show the internationals. Even now, police and military forces have been professionalized considerably and are able to spend less time on immediate threats, and more on anti-terrorism, guarding against arms smuggling, etc.

Conclusions

Macedonia on January 1, 2005, will be considerably than it is today. The trajectory of world events will carry it along and, in the case of Kosovo, even present a threat. Security concerns will continue to irk the government.

However, the fact that more and more foreign companies are choosing to put their money here implies a certain commitment to the country's stability. Much-needed changes in the media will revitalize the industry, increase advertising potentials and encourage real competition and Western standards. The difference now is that the money will no longer come from "goodwill" donors in the West but from Western businessmen with a real interest in the quality of their product. In other words, the Western gravy train has sputtered to a halt, and it's make-or-break time for those sham artists made fat and happy by years of foreign largesse. About time!

For the first time, in 2004 the Macedonian media is going to be
interesting- and this more than anything, perhaps, will jolt the country out of its political and economic torpor. And not only media but government and business will benefit from the arrival of high-speed and affordable DSL internet- thus ending a long dark age in Macedonian history.

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Reconsidering our foreign policy: War when we're not attacked - Comparing Serbia with Iraq

By contrast, Serbia was never a threat to other countries. Whatever Serbia did to the people living in Kosovo, Kosovo was and remains, under American and international law, part of Serbia. Serbia had never attacked the United States or our allies, or any of its neighbors. Serbia never even retaliated when the United States was bombing its capital city, Belgrade.
 

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San Francisco Chronicle (California, U.S.A)

OPINION

Tom Campbell
Tom Campbell served five terms in Congress and was a member of the House International Relations Committee.


Sunday, December 21, 2003

Kosovo and Iraq are both instances of U.S. military action against a country that had not attacked us. The United States bombed Serbia for 79 days in 1999 -- until Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic gave up. The United States bombed and sent ground forces into Iraq in 2003 -- until Iraqi President Saddam Hussein gave up.

In comparing these two, it is worth noting that neither is at peace today. American troops still patrol Iraq; NATO troops still patrol the Serbian province of Kosovo, and they likely will continue to patrol for years to come.

Which situation posed a greater threat to international peace? What started the involvement in Iraq was Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait. It attacked, claimed to incorporate Kuwait and, during the Persian Gulf War, fired missiles into the territory of two U.S. allies, Saudi Arabia and Israel. After the cease-fire, Iraq expelled U.N. weapons inspectors whose presence it had agreed to as a condition of ending the Persian Gulf War.

By contrast, Serbia was never a threat to other countries. Whatever Serbia did to the people living in Kosovo, Kosovo was and remains, under American and international law, part of Serbia. Serbia had never attacked the United States or our allies, or any of its neighbors.
Serbia never even retaliated when the United States was bombing its capital city, Belgrade.

Human-rights abuses were present in both Iraq and Serbia. The CIA documented that 2,000 people were killed by Milosevic in Kosovo in the years prior to the U.S. bombing. Saddam Hussein gassed, shot, tortured and starved hundreds of thousands of Iraqi citizens before the United States went to war to overthrow the dictator. The now regular unearthing of mass graves in Iraq compels the conclusion that Iraq, not Kosovo, presented the stronger human- rights justification for intervention.

Those who doubt the United States will exit Iraq anytime soon suspect that U.S. and British troops will have to stay for a long time to quell centuries-old Shiite, Sunni and Kurd hostility. The same has proved true for the need for U.S. and other NATO troops in Kosovo: NATO troops are now in their fifth year of occupation to protect both ethnic Serbs and Albanians from annihilating each other.

Critics fault President Bush for not obtaining prior U.N. approval for the recent Iraq war, forgetting that President Bill Clinton did not obtain prior U.N. approval to wage war over Kosovo, either. In Iraq, the U.N. Security Council had given open-ended authority in 1991 to the United States "to restore . . . security to the area." While one can argue whether that wording was sufficient to justify the United States' action 12 years later, President Clinton had nothing like that authority when he dropped the first bomb on Belgrade.

After the capitulation of Milosevic, the U.N. Security Council did pass a resolution recognizing the de facto status of the United States and NATO in Kosovo. The Clinton administration pointed to this as after-the-fact U.N. ratification, claiming that the international community condoned the action. The same can be said about Iraq: Just two months ago, the U.N. Security Council passed a similar resolution regarding the United States' and the United Kingdom's presence in Iraq.

Whatever international law says, what about legality under the U.S. Constitution? President Bush sought and obtained approval from Congress before acting in Iraq (and, in a separate, earlier vote, in Afghanistan). President Clinton never did. When I asked Madeleine Albright, President Clinton's secretary of state, about the constitutional legality in congressional hearings, she said the U.S. action in Kosovo wasn't "war," it was "armed conflict," and therefore no congressional approval was constitutionally needed. I asked her what the difference was; she replied that she would let the lawyers figure it out.

In terms of announced rationale, President Clinton said Serbia posed a threat to NATO's security. President Bush said Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. Both prior-announced justifications gave way to others as time passed, rationales that became based on human rights and self-determination in both places.

I can understand opposing U.S. action in both Iraq and Serbia. I can understand supporting it in both. I can understand concluding that, on grounds of human rights, attacks on U.S. allies, international law and U.S. Constitutional law, the war in Iraq was a clearer case than the war in Serbia. To support the decision to attack Serbia, but not Iraq, however, is illogical.

It seems that it comes down to this: To some, President Bush can do no good, and President Clinton could do no wrong. Loyalties to both Presidents Clinton and Bush excite the strong feelings of many, but personalizing American foreign policy impedes objective judgment.


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