October 24, 2002
Gracanica, Oct 24, 2002
The recent joint KFOR/UNMIK action against a criminal K/Albanian gang near Pec shows more readiness of the UN/NATO led mission to deal with the increasing danger of Kosovo Albanian mafia and extremism in the Province of Kosovo. After the war in 1999, some of the leading UCK/KLA commanders organized their gangs and quickly divided Kosovo's drug, oil and prostitution markets among the most powerful clans, killing hundreds of Serb civilians and dissenting Kosovo Albanians under the pretext of revenge. Instead of becoming a NATO protected safe haven for all ethnic groups, Kosovo became a theater for brutal reprisals in which many innocent people lost their lives and dozens of valuable Christian monuments were turned into ashes. Despite all efforts of many dedicated men and women in UNMIK and KFOR, Kosovo Province is still far away from being a place free and safe for all its inhabitants.
The Mission is still very careful to deal with extremists far away from the public lights, because the mafia and extremist leaders hide behind their war-time authority as "Albanian national heroes" and can easily galvanize the public into action on their behalf. Three recent incidents in which Kosovo Albanians demonstrated open hostility towards the international peacekeepers (Decani, Aug 14; Gorazdevac, Aug 28; and Pec, Oct. 11) indicate that arrests of the leading extremist leaders might result in further violence. On the other hand, leaving the problem of organized crime and ethnic extremism under the rug would make Kosovo Province even more politically unstable, which could boomerang on the UN/NATO led mission very soon.
At the moment, the strong influence of the former KLA warlords is a major obstacle for normal cooperation between moderate Kosovo Albanians and Serbs who are fed up with everyday violence and crimes and want to find a way towards Europe. As long as Albanian extremists continue with intimidation and threats against moderate Albanians, Kosovo Province will remain divided into two entrenched communities where radical political options prevail. Serbian extremism was severely defeated by sending Milosevic and his friends to the Hague. Nevertheless, some groups of radicals still continue exerting influence on Kosovo Serbs using K/Albanian extremism and the hard life of the Serb community as a pretext for their political agenda.
In the Balkans, and especially in Kosovo, the mafia cannot be completely separated from ethnic extremism and terrorism. After confiscating 260 tons of smuggled cigarettes, peacekeepers found various military equipment, a radio scanner, counterfeit driving licenses and U.S. and Serbian license plates clearly indicating that this was no "ordinary" mafia but a group belonging to a larger paramilitary organization, ready to launch terrorist attacks both against locals and internationals.
The latest action of UNMIK and KFOR increases hopes that the Mission will finally clamp down on ethnic Albanian extremism before Kosovo becomes a permanent base for the mafia and terrorist groups capable of targeting other European countries as well as increasing general instability in the Balkan region.
KFOR/UNMIK Joint Search Operation
In the early morning of 22 Oct 02 KFOR-Military Police and UNMIK-Police conducted a joint search operation in Peja / Pec. Six Kalashnikov-rifles, four pistols, around 400 rounds of ammunition, one respirator, four radio sets, one radio scanner, various military equipment, fifteen counterfeit stamps, fifteen counterfeit driving licenses for driving abroad, two American, and four Serbian car number plates were found. From a warehouse 260 tons of cigarettes were seized which represents one of the largest quantities of cigarettes ever confiscated in Kosovo.
Four individuals were detained
and handed over to UNMIK-Police. KFOR will not be releasing names or
any personal details.
OTHER KOSOVO RELATED NEWS
- Kosovo and Metohija
October 23, 2002
Last night at approximately 20:00 hours, a 75 year-old Serb local, Miodrag Stankovic, was beaten up at the railway station in Kosovo Polje. Serb sources confirmed for Radio KIM that Stankovic was attacked by two Albanian men who first knocked him to the ground, then beat him all over the body with their fists and hands, inflicting serious injuries. The Kosovo Polje Health Center Emergency Center confirmed that Miodrag Stankovic was admitted last night at approximately 22:30 hours where he received emergency treatment for his injuries. Physicians diagnosed serious head injuries. He was transferred to the Russian military hospital and then released for home treatment, stated the physician on duty, Dr. Natasa Prentic.
October 23, 2002
Since the deployment of KFOR and UNMIK, 110 monasteries and churches were destroyed and many Orthodox cemeteries desecrated in Kosovo, the bishop of Raska-Prizren, Artemije, told Deutsche Welle radio. Many Orthodox shrines, dating from the 13th century, have survived the five centuries of the Turkish rule, the bishop Artemije said and warned that Albanian extremists are now targeting cultural and historic heritage. The Serbian Orthodox Church has collected evidence on the destroyed monasteries and churches in Kosmet and is conducting serious negotiations with the international community and UNESCO representatives but there has been no visible improvement so far, the bishop Artemije warned.
October 23, 2002
October 24, 2002
BELGRADE -- Thursday
- Serbian Government has called on Kosovo Serbs to take part in the
local elections on Saturday October 26. "Participation in the elections
creates prerequisites for organised decentralised local self-government
in Kosovo, and with it basic presumptions for realistic repatriation
of Serbs and other non- Albanians to Kosovo," said in the statement.
BUILDING AS A PRETEXT TO CREATION OF MONO-ETHNIC KOSOVO
Victory in Kosovo
James P. Rubin [op-ed, Oct. 19] is very proud of the job the Clinton administration did in Kosovo. In particular, he mentioned that there has been only one ethnically motivated murder in the past year.
That statistic more
than anything else proves the failure of U.S. policy in Kosovo. If Kosovo
was truly a multiethnic and democratic society, there would be a lot
more inter-ethnic turmoil: There was only one inter-ethnic murder because
the Albanians have chased everyone else -- Serbs, Turks, Romani -- away.
That failure is aggravated by the number of murders and other crimes
that the Albanians are committing against each other. Why doesn't Mr.
Rubin cite that statistic? Although the Albanians cleansed
(Saturday, October 19, 2002; Page A23) Despite a controversial history in Somalia and Vietnam, the idea of the United States as nation-builder is back in vogue. What a change from a few years ago, when the Clinton administration refused to use the term in public, and critics, including candidate George W. Bush, attacked it as international social work.
Now President Bush says the United States will work with the United Nations to rebuild Afghanistan and establish democratic institutions in Iraq after Saddam Hussein has been vanquished. Leading Democrats have gone further, calling for a substantial expansion of the U.S. peacekeeping role in Afghanistan and more concrete plans for U.S. involvement in post-Hussein Iraq.
This new enthusiasm of our political leaders is welcome. Indeed, preventing failing states from spawning terrorism and chaos is more important than ever. But if nation-building is to be effective in Afghanistan and Iraq, it is crucial that we fully incorporate this mission into our foreign policy machinery.
First, we must find a way to honor the nation-builders. In Kosovo today, we still have thousands of peacekeeping troops and civilians who are maintaining order, training police, helping to establish democratic institutions, and building the civil and penal codes that will make it possible for Kosovo to one day stand on its own.
Kosovo has been a success. Although tensions remain, violent crime is way down. According to the United Nations, there was only one victim of ethnic violence this year.
Thousands of local police have been trained. Kosovo's government now collects nearly enough revenue to be self-sufficient. The economy, while still primitive, has registered substantial growth in each of the past two years. True, there are still major uncertainties, including the potential collapse of the economy when the United Nations pulls out in coming years and the fact that Kosovo's political status has not been resolved.
Despite the progress, our soldiers and civilians feel little sense of support from home. To some degree, Kosovo is the victim of its own success and of the world's understandable focus on al Qaeda and the war on terrorism. But there is a more fundamental issue. As one of Europe's most respected active-duty generals told me, "You Americans are good at this; why are you so embarrassed about it?"
Until we find a mechanism to make nation-building a credit to one's career and a politician's legacy, we will never have the necessary staying power to make these missions work.
A second step needed is a bureaucratic one. Afghanistan offers a good example. After the initial achievements (creating a new representative government and obtaining promises of economic assistance), crucial momentum is slipping away.
Like it or not, the Afghans and rest of the world are looking to the United States for solutions to the inevitable problems in the areas of security and underfunded reconstruction projects. One solution would be the appointment of a high-level official, empowered by the president, to lead an international effort to improve security outside Kabul and cut through the red tape that is blocking critical development aid (i.e., the competing priorities and procedures of the World Bank, the United Nations and other donors). To his credit, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz seems to understand the importance of this work, but he cannot do it alone. A high-level official must be empowered by the president to negotiate with foreign governments and with our own bureaucracy until sufficient progress is made to hand over the task to the United Nations.
The same phenomenon is likely to unfold in Iraq. Assuming there is a war to overthrow Saddam Hussein, and assuming it goes reasonably well, the initial tasks of setting up a provisional government and establishing a secure environment can be accomplished quickly. We would then become the victims of high expectations. That's why a practical plan and a high-level envoy must be ready so that the longer-term and enormously complex security, economic and political tasks can be addressed while there is still substantial momentum and goodwill in the Iraqi population.
Last, we should be honest about what can be accomplished and how much it would cost. Neither Afghanistan nor Iraq is likely to be a thriving democracy anytime soon, so we have to set realistic objectives. A pluralistic Iraq with some decent form of representative government committed to locating and destroying all the weapons of mass destruction left over from Hussein would be dramatic progress. But even accomplishing this modest goal would be expensive and time-consuming. And as in Afghanistan and the Balkans, we are likely to underestimate the costs and to hope the Europeans and others could be pressured to pick up most of the tab.
Nation-building has now become a key foreign policy mission for the United States. But it won't work without high-level attention and a budget to match.
The writer was an assistant secretary of state in the Clinton administration. He traveled to Kosovo last month on behalf of the International Rescue Committee.
Service of the Diocese of Raska and Prizren