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Belgrade Media Monitoring

Compilation from Belgrade daily newspapers, prepared by editorial staff of the Voice of Kosovo and Metohia

May 1, 2000

  • Machine gunfire heard near Bujanovac
  • Sullivan tries to persuade Albanians
  • Road blockades in Serbia
  • Protestors thwart checkpoint plans
  • No agreement in checkpoints dispute
  • Rioters wreak havoc in Bitola
  • Bitola remains tense following Macedonian rampage
  • Albanian rebels call for Macedonian peace talks
  • Macedonian president rejects dialogue
  • The US will back Macedonia, says Powell
  • Machine gunfire heard near Bujanovac

    (B92, 1. 5. 2001.)

    Bujanovac, Tuesday – Several bursts of machine-gunfire were heard near Bujanovac in southern Serbia early this morning. The Bujanovac press centre reports that half-an-hour after the gunfire at 6am, a seeries of loud explosions were heard.

    Sullivan tries to persuade Albanians

    (B92, 1. 5. 2001.)

    Konculj, Tuesday – The head of NATO’s Belgrade office, Sean Sullivan, met today with Albanian representatives in Konculj ahead of the re-scheduled fourth round of south Serbian negotiations. In talks behind closed doors, Sullivan broached the conditions under which the Albanian side would be prepared to return to the negotiating table. The fourth round was shelved on April 26 following Albanian objections to the topics of discussion. The second attempt has been pencilled in for May 5. (Radio B92)

    Road blockades in Serbia

    (B92, 1. 5. 2001.)

    Kursumlija, Tuesday – Kosovo Serb refugees have demonstrated their support for their compatriots by setting up road barricades in Serbia proper on the border with the province. Members of the Vidovdan alliance of Serbian refugees have blocked the Nis-Pristina road to traffic carrying goods subject to the new UNMIK-imposed taxes.

    Protestors thwart checkpoint plans

    (B92, 1. 5. 2001.)

    Kosovska Mitrovica, Tuesday – Danish KFOR soldiers were forced to abandon their attempts to set up a new checkpoint in Zvecane last night in the face of protests by Kosovo Serbs. Around 100 Serbs protested at the plans. Their demonstrations passed off without incident. Barricades remain in place at the Donje Jerinje border crossing. (B92)

    No agreement in checkpoints dispute

    (B92, 1. 5. 2001.)

    Pristina, Tuesday – Talks between UNMIK and Kosovo Serb leaders to try to end the checkpoints dispute ended in stalemate yesterday. Chairman of the Yugoslav kosovo.netmittee Momcilo Trajkovic, who led the Serbian delegation, said the discussions with UNMIK head Hans Haekkerup would continue at an unspecified date. He proposed that teams of experts be set up to examine the problem. The meeting also covered the issue of the temporary legal framework for Kosovo, currently being drawn up by a working party of Serbs and Albanians. UNMIK is now considering the Serbian proposals and preparing to deliver them to the Albanian side. Trajkovic also filed a request at the meeting for talks between the newly-created governmental sub-committee for kidnapped and missing persons and UNMIK’s own such unit.(Srna)

    Rioters wreak havoc in Bitola

    (B92, 1. 5. 2001.)

    Skopje, Tuesday – Several hundred rioters rampaged through the Macedonian town of Bitola last night in the wake of the funerals of four policemen killed by Albanian rebels on Saturday. The Macedonian interior ministry has now confirmed that Albanian-owned shops and restaurants in the town were targeted by angry groups of Macedonians. Around 40 buildings were damaged – several by arson attacks – in the four-hour long riots which began shortly after midnight. The violence peaked at around 2am with shots fired at a group of 30 to 50 people. One man needed surgery for a gunshot wound to his stomach, but is said not to be in any danger. Police arrested three men in connection with the shooting. Police have now appealed to civilians in towns across the country to refrain from further revenge attacks in order not to jeopardise stability. (FoNet)

    Bitola remains tense following Macedonian rampage

    (B92, 1. 5. 2001.)

    Skopje, Tuesday – The situation in Bitola, Macedonia, is said to be calm but tense today in the wake of last night’s rioting after the funerals of four policemen killed by Albanian rebels. Around 700 Macedonians attacked and set ablaze 40 Albanian-owned shops and restaurants during four hours of rioting beginning shortly after midnight. The violence culminated at 2am when shots were fired at a group of 30 to 50 people. Four were injured, one of whom required surgery for a gunshot wound to the stomach. Police have called for calm in the town, home to 6,000 Albanians. They appealed to citizens across the fragile republic to refrain from further revenge attacks. (FoNet/Radio B92)

    Albanian rebels call for Macedonian peace talks

    (B92, 1. 5. 2001.)

    Tirana, Tuesday – Armed Albanian rebels today called for talks with the Macedonian government in the presence of western leaders. In a letter written in English and signed by the National Liberation Army, the political leader Ali Ahmeti said that talks are, and will remain, possible but only with international mediation. "We are convinced that if talks are held without international mediation, without having a third party to act as a trusted and just intermediary, the results will be the same as in the past," Ahmeti said. The letter was addressed to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, NATO Secretary General George Robertson and the heads of the European Commission and the OSCE. It was released today to Albanian news agencies but dated April 24, ahead of Saturday’s clashes in northern Macedonia in which eight Macedonian troops were killed. Ahmeti insisted that it is not the NLA’s intention to break up Macedonia, but that once their grievances are addressed “we will continue to live together in a democratic and peaceful society.” The Macedonian government has long held that it will redress such grievances through dialogue with legitimate Albanian parties but not with the NLA. The letter repeated Albanian calls for constitutional change to guarantee equality. "Thus Macedonia cannot remain the ethnic property of a single ethnic group; it must be the state of two peoples,” Ahmeti concluded. (Reuters/FoNet)

    Macedonian president rejects dialogue

    (B92, 1. 5. 2001.)

    Washington, Tuesday – Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski today rejected an Albanian rebel request for talks, instead calling on the US to formally recognise the National Liberation Army as “terrorist.” During a discussion session at the US Institute for Peace in Washington, Trajkovski was asked to respond to a letter published today by NLA political leader Ali Ahmeti requesting internationally mediated negotiations. “We have never been in a position to discuss or to have any kinds of talks with terrorists, and we’re not planning to in the future,” Trajkovski insisted. The president said he had asked US Secretary of State Colin Powell during talks today to formally list as “terrorist” the rebel group responsible for the deaths of eight troops on Saturday. “The have to be formally designated,” he emphasised, a move that would shut off America as a source of fund-raising or visas for the rebels. The letter was dated April 24, prior to the killings committed on Saturday night. But Trajkovski insisted, “By committing this particularly heinous act, they have undermined the process of dialogue.” (Reuters)

    The US will back Macedonia, says Powell

    (B92, 1. 5. 2001.)

    Washington, Tuesday – US Secretary of State Colin Powell pledged today to “dry up the support that terrorists might think that they enjoy,” so long as Macedonia seeks political reconciliation. Following Washington talks with Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski, Powell expressed solidarity in the fight against “dastardly and cowardly acts from terrorists and terrorist organizations who are trying to subvert the democratic process in Macedonia.” Trajkovski flew to America following the deaths of eight Macedonian troops in clashes with Albanian rebels on Saturday night. Powell commended Trajkovski’s moves to address ethnic Albanian concerns and reiterated he would not push for constitutional amendments. He declined to specify the economic and security support offered by the US during Macedonia’s pursuit of political dialogue. Trajkovski nevertheless expressed satisfaction with the outcome of talks, Reuters report. “I believe this is a real demonstration of the commitment on the part of the United States in the republic of Macedonia, in the region,” the leader told press. Trajkovski earlier today denied the recent attacks had anything to do with the “democratic demands of ethnic Albanians.” “It is pure terrorism, and it must be eliminated,” he insisted. The Macedonian President will hold further talks tomorrow with his US counterpart George Bush and is also due to meet Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. (Reuters)

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