Monday, November 29, 2004

Kosovo Albanians must provide Serbs with sense of security – UN envoy - UN Press

Kosovo NGO says cases of Albanian March riot victims not investigated

The Council for the Defence of Human Rights and Freedoms [KMDLNj] accused UNMIK [UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo] today of failing to investigate murder incidents during the March riots in which the victims were Albanians. On the other hand, the international administration insists that all cases are under investigation and says that there have been Serbs, too, who have been prosecuted in connection with the riots.

"The KMDLNj has been closely watching the trials of those accused of carrying out the violence that took place on 16, 17, and 18 March 2004 and the sentences handed down. The KMDLNj supports the sentences in cases in which guilt has been proven but, at the same time, it expresses its dissatisfaction with the investigation process," KMDLNj executive director Behxhet Shala told the media.

He said: "Violence and crime should be condemned without exception because, otherwise, selective punishment and responsibility will cause a new wave of violence."

But, Neeraj Singh, an UNMIK spokesman, told KosovaLive that all cases were being investigated with dedication. He said that, for example, a Serb has been sentenced to five years imprisonment for throwing a grenade at international peacekeepers.

"The KMDLNj calls for an investigation into all incidents where there were human victims, regardless of their ethnic background. This means holding to account all those responsible for the violent events during March and all UNMIK Police and Kfor [Kosovo Force] members responsible for the fact that there were victims among the protesters. The KMDLNj also calls for continuation of the investigation into the drowning of the three Albanian children in Caber [Cabra]," Shala said.

According to him, the investigation has been directed mostly against Albanians and only Albanians have been sentenced so far. "Incidents in which Albanian citizens were the victims have not been investigated," he said.

UNMIK rejects these accusations. "It is true that no charges have been brought in cases in which the victims were Albanians, but all cases are under investigation. We can give our assurance that investigations are not motivated by ethnic background but by evidence of crimes," Singh said.

Singh said that charges had been brought in two cases in which the victims were Serbs

Violent protests against minorities "never will be planned" in Kosovo - Thaci

xcerpt from report by Marina Borozan: "Hashim Thaci: Me and Djukanovic understand each other perfectly" by Montenegrin newspaper Dan on 29 November

"My institutional relations with Montenegrin Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic are correct and include a mutual understanding regarding many issues that concern the two states and attempts to build a democratic structure in the region. As far as the government is concerned, the relations have been institutionalized and there have been several steps aimed at mutual cooperation," Hashim Thaci, chairman of the Democratic Party of Kosovo [DKP], told our daily, commenting about the cooperation with Djukanovic and the government in Podgorica. He also commented about the current political situation in Kosovo and his interpretation of the way to solve the Kosovo problem.

[Reporter] What do you think about the status of Albanians in Montenegro?

[Hashim Thaci] I appreciate this government's positive steps aimed at improving the position of Albanians in Montenegro, but it is certain that more remains to be done. So far the Albanians in Montenegro proved themselves to be a very constructive factor. Therefore, nobody should fear attempts to give them more rights. Kosovo and Montenegro, as independent states, will have a European status in the future. Djukanovic's government is one of the good examples of respect for minority rights in the region.

[Reporter] Will possible changes of the status of Montenegro as a state affect the state status of Kosovo?

[Thaci] One can clearly see that the union of Serbia and Montenegro has no future. Steps Montenegro is taking towards independence are another argument proving that the disintegration of the former Yugoslavia is a process that should be allowed to run its course. The independent Kosovo and Serbia and Montenegro as independent states should separately integrate themselves into the European Union structures.

[Report] What are your comments regarding announcements that another wave of violence aimed at non-Albanians is being prepared in Kosovo and that members of Al-Qa'idah are deployed there?

[Thaci] I do not want to comment about unfounded speculations launched by those who do not like stability and democratic progress in the country. Waves of violence against non-Albanians have never been prepared in Kosovo and they never will be. We are building reality, understanding, civil and ethnic tolerance in Kosovo.

Kosovo: Ruling party explains reasons for replacing

"LDK says it unanimously changed its ministers" by Kosovo Albanian newspaper Koha Ditore on 25 November

Prishtina [Pristina], 24 November: One day before coming out with the official list of new ministerial appointments, the LDK [Democratic League of Kosovo] presidency and its chairman Ibrahim Rugova removed its ministers from the posts that they have held so far and replaced them with new people.

LDK spokesperson Lulzim Zeneli said that the replacement of this party's ministers was done unanimously by the chairman and presidency leadership of this party, whereas minister "in transition", Behxhet Brajshori, stated that he is very surprised by this decision.

The decision to change the hitherto ministers of the LDK, according to Zeneli, came as a result of the political philosophy that aims at advancing new cadres based on the "internal competition of the LDK."

"The decision to propose ministers was within the acceleration of the process to form the institutions and we have made adequate decisions," Zeneli stated.

Asked to comment on the selection of candidates for ministers proposed from municipal leaderships and not from the centre of the party, Zeneli gave a general answer.

"The proposed candidates are members of the central presidency and they have proven to be successful in managing various situations. There are many elements that have made us choose them," he said, explaining the motives of his party's proposals. [passage omitted]

Asked why the LDK has decided to propose these personalities and not any others from the municipalities that are considered influential centres of the LDK, Zeneli stated, "The LDK is a large party and it has many cadres. We have decided in favour of the proposed ones in an enviable competition."

Asked if the replacement happened because of the dissatisfaction with the work of the ones replaced, Zeneli said, "This is not true at all."

"On the contrary, we are very pleased with their work and we thank them for this," the LDK spokesperson outlined.

"There is a democratic culture within the LDK and the decisions that are made here have a sustainable base," Zeneli stated, rejecting the rumours that he was also a potential candidate for one of the ministerial posts. [passage omitted]

"Shaking" Zeneli's statement

Behxhet Brajshori, who held the post of the minister of culture, sports and non-residential issues in the government led by Bajram Rexhepi, "shook" LDK Spokesperson Lulzim Zeneli's statement. He openly expressed dissatisfaction with the decision made by the LDK.

"I was very surprised by the party's decision," Brajshori said, when asked how he received the LDK's decision. He refused to comment any further on this, however. "This is my lengthiest possible comment for the time being," Brajshori said over the phone. [passage omitted]

In the meantime, even though he agreed to make a statement for the newspaper, Rexhep Osmani, minister of education, science and technology, had a short answer.

Asked to comment on how he received the LDK's decision to replace him, Osmani said, "Normally".

"The party's decisions are received normally," he added politely, without agreeing to answer other questions. [passage omitted]

Brussels cautious on likely Kosovo PM

Albanian premier "sceptical" about Kosovo premier-designate - paper

"Nano: Sceptical about Haradinaj as prime minister", published by Albanian newspaper Korrieri on 28 November

Prime Minister Fatos Nano expressed his scepticism about the appointment of Ramush Haradinaj as the new prime minister of Kosova [Kosovo]. In doing this, he echoed the European leaders who have criticized this candidacy. The AAK [Alliance for the Future of Kosovo] leader is close to officially taking the position of the head of government, only a few days after he was interviewed by the Hague Tribunal on crimes in the Former Yugoslavia. He was asked about his role in the 1998-1999 conflict, when he was a regional commander of the UCK [Kosovo Liberation Army].

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Nano gave yesterday his first assessment of the formation of the new government in Prishtina [Pristina] after the 23 October election. When questioned by journalists a few minutes after his meeting with Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel in Portoroz, Slovenia, Nano did not hide his scepticism. However, he added that the last word rests with the people of Kosova.

"I believe that, in the last election, Kosova gave proof of its democratic maturity and its ability to implement election standards, which are a priority part of the standards for a European reality," the prime minister said. He added: "Attention should be focused not only on the formation of a government, but also on its functioning and its establishment as a multi-ethnic representative of Kosova's self-governing institutions. Among other things, this government should reintegrate the Serbs into the institutions and the free, democratic life of Kosova."

Like the EU leaders, Nano had no praise for the rapid agreement, reached without international intervention, on the formation of the government in Kosova. The Albanian head of state said that the multiethnic representation in the institutions and the Serbs' reintegration is important. It should be noted, however, that some non-Serbian minorities have given their consent for the agreement between Rugova and Haradinaj.

Despite his lack of enthusiasm about the new executive in Prishtina, Prime Minister Nano expressed his confidence that the people of Kosova, who expressed their will in the general election on 23 October, would resolve their problems. "I believe that the people of Kosova will resolve the other issues, in cooperation with the European and Euro-Atlantic actors, who are assisting in this process of integration," he said.

The new Kosova government will be headed by Ramush Haradinaj. The LDK [Democratic League of Kosovo] has appointed Adem Salihaj as deputy prime minister. The agreement gives assurance that Ibrahim Rugova will be president. However, EU officials and analysts of Balkan political developments have expressed reservations in view of the fact that the new prime minister has been interrogated by the Hague Tribunal, which means that he might face charges for war crimes. This might disrupt the process of determining Kosova's future.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

UN ‘did nothing to help hostages

I helped free hostages, says ex-BBC cameraman

A KABUL-based British hotelier and former BBC cameraman says that he acted as a go-between when a pounds 830,000 ransom was offered to secure the release of three UN workers kidnapped in Afghanistan. Peter Jouvenal made his disclosures after his arrest on Thursday by Afghan secret police investigating the kidnapping of Annetta Flanigan from Northern Ireland, Shqipe Habibi from Kosovo and Angelito Nayan from the Philippines. He was released after 19 hours of questioning. "I was involved in successfully negotiating their release," Mr Jouvenal said yesterday. "I got them out. I suppose I was a bit naive to expect any thanks for it." He has more than 20 years' experience in Afghanistan and, in October 2001, filmed John Simpson's The Liberation of Kabul for the BBC. He says that he offered the ransom through Afghan contacts on behalf of a millionaire Kosovan businessman, Behgjet Pacolli, 53, a relative of Shqipe Habibi.

"It was all through old mujaheddin contacts in Peshawar," said Mr Jouvenal, who travelled to Pakistan to set up the link. "At the end Mr Pacolli was prepared to pay $1.5million for their release. Initially he offered $1.2million and that was declined. The kidnappers said the Afghan government had already offered more." Mr Jouvenal said he did not know if any money had actually been paid but he added: "I am positive that Mr Pacolli was entirely responsible for their release." Mr Pacolli has denied that he paid any ransom. The three hostages were set free by their captors in mysterious circumstances on Tuesday. The Afghan government has strenuously denied that any ransom or release of Taliban prisoners secured their release. They had been captive since Oct 28. Syed Akbar Agha, the leader of Jaish al-Muslimeen, a Taliban splinter group which claimed to hold the three, has said that the government agreed to release 24 Taliban prisoners for Miss Flanigan and Mr Nayan. He said that Miss Habibi was released after a personal plea by Mr Pacolli. After he was released from questioning, Mr Jouvenal said: "After 19 hours of questioning they tried to get me to sign a statement saying I was part of the kidnap gang." The Afghan government was officially responsible for all efforts to negotiate the release of the hostages but Mr Pacolli arrived a week into the crisis to undertake his own private rescue attempt. The son of a Kosovan farmer, Mr Pacolli acquired vast wealth from building contracts in Russia during the years after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Mr Jouvenal approached Mr Pacolli and offered his services as a go-between because of previous experience negotiating prisoner releases in Afghanistan. He is married to an Afghani and opened the Gandamak Lodge after the fall of the Taliban. It had previously been the home of Osama bin Laden's fourth wife and her family.

Prominent Kosovo businessman wounded in an ambush

Assailants ambushed and wounded a prominent Kosovo businessman in the western part of the province, a police official said Saturday.

Ekrem Lluka, a wealthy ethnic Albanian businessman, was in a car with an associate and a driver when the vehicle was sprayed with bullets near the city of Pec, some 80 kilometers (50 miles) west of Kosovo's capital, Pristina, said Zeqir Kelmendi, a police spokesman.

Lluka received wounds to his legs and was treated at a city hospital, but his condition was not life threatening, Kelmendi said. The other two people in the car escaped unharmed.

The shooting was being investigated by a serious crimes unit, but police have made no arrests.

Lluka, at times a controversial figure, owns businesses including an insurance company, a printing house and local television and radio stations.

Recently, a venture involving him, other Kosovo businessmen and the Slovenian cell phone company Mobitel was declared the winner of a highly disputed bid to become the second provider of cell phone operator in the province.

That process was canceled by Kosovo's U.N. administration after it was contested by province's prime minister and the U.S. officials in Kosovo, who raised concerns about possible misconduct in the bidding process.

Kosovo has been administered by the United Nations since June 1999, following a NATO air war to stop Serb forces from cracking down on independence-seeking ethnic Albanians.

Kosovo president honours slain KLA founding commander

President Ibrahim Rugova honoured Adem Jashari, commander of former Kosova Liberation Army [KLA - UCK in Albanian] with the Kosova Hero Golden Order for his merits and contribution for the freedom and independence.

On the eve of Flag Day, 28 November, Rugova also awarded Albanian heroes Isa Boletini, Ismail Qemali, Hasan Prishtina, Bajram Curri, and Luigj Gurakuqi with this award for their contribution to freedom and independence for Albanians.

In an address to citizens for the Flag Day, Rugova said: "28 November is the day of Albanian Independence. Formal recognition of Kosova independence would complete the major act of 1912."

Rugova said in his message that Kosova is marking this historic day with a lot of progress made for those five years in freedom. "We will continue this progress and will work for all citizens. Let's hope we will celebrate next November with recognized independence," he said.

German MPs want answers to army's failures in Kosovo

Friday, November 26, 2004

Exclusive Interview with the coming new Prime-Minister of Kosova Haradinaj: The new government – functioning and inclusive - Kosova Newspapers

‘My belief is that the international community has in a front of them a coalition government and it will also have institutions that will be capable of successfully implementing Kosovo’s agenda,’ said Haradinaj.

‘The political life in Kosovo has undergone certain developments and I think that is worth appreciating. This is our first experience of acting in Kosovo institutions and having an opposition at the same time… What I can say at this point is that the coalition government is serious about its work and responsibilities.’

‘We will have a government that will not only be functional but also inclusive with the best experts in Kosovo and I am certain that during this mandate we will achieve the expected results. I also want to say that we will ensure the necessary room for the opposition so that it is informed about the work of the government and play its role in the political and institutional life.’

Commenting on the implementation of standards as a precondition to start talks on Kosovo’s final status, Haradinaj was quoted as saying, ‘We have made the necessary preparations for this. We have prepared the action plan for the first six months. This plan is being discussed and in it we have envisaged the actions of the Kosovo Government that are needed to achieve success by mid-2005. We are planning to accelerate the process of decentralization and the work of the working group. We will also work in economic development… we believe that the new government in cooperation with other mechanisms operating in Kosovo will start the economic revival and by doing so ensure that our focus on priorities, which are the standards for Kosovo, enable at the same time an overall development of Kosovo.’

Asked to comment on interethnic relations and the dilemmas of the Serb community participate in institutions, Haradinaj said: ‘We are trying to convince Kosovo Serbs to cooperate and become part of the joint project that we have in Kosovo. And this is not all. We are working so that groups for technical dialogue are developed and address all mutual issues with the government in Belgrade. We don’t have dilemmas or illusions that there are problems in many areas in Kosovo, but we believe that we will manage to convince Kosovo Serbs to join in and take on their responsibilities in Kosovo institutions, and to create a joint life for all in Kosovo.’

Breaking News: Controversial Businessman from Kosova Ekrem Lluka wounded in an attempt of assatination.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

UN Says Won't Stop Ex-Rebel Becoming Kosovo PM. - Reuters

Kosovo Documents Vanished

Member of the national council for cooperation with The Hague Tribunal, Jovan Simic, said that police related documents regarding war crimes committed in Kosovo are nowhere to be found.

“I know for a fact that there are at least 800 criminal reports which the police have filed against direct perpetrators of crimes against civilians in Kosovo. We are not talking battles here. The Hague does not issue indictments for killing someone else while fighting in a war. These are all crimes against civilians." Simic said.

Simic said that most of the documents have been processed but that recently the progress has come to a halt, and he is not sure what department of the government is to blame for the stoppage.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Two main Kosovo parties agree distribution of posts and ministries

The Democratic League of Kosova [Kosovo], the LDK, and the Alliance for the Future of Kosova, the AAK, have completed their talks on the formation of the new government. No names have been made public yet, although this had initially been announced for today.

[Reporter] Although the coalition partners had said that they would announce the composition of the coalition government, this did not happen. Our sources within the coalition government tell us that the Democratic League of Kosova does not have a list of names of those who will head the ministries, whereas the party spokesperson said the names would be published tomorrow [23 November]. It is now known that the Democratic League of Kosova and the Albanian Christian Democratic Party, the PShDK, will head the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, the Ministry of Economy and Finance, Ministry of Public Services, Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture, Ministry of Transport and Telecommunications, and the Ministry of Local Government which is in the process of formation. Meanwhile, the other partner in the government coalition, the Alliance for the Future of Kosova, will have four ministries. According to a senior party official, the Ministry of Environment and Town Planning will be headed by Bajram Kosumi, the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare by Ahmet Isufi, the Ministry of Trade and Industry by Bujar Dugolli and the Ministry of Energy by Ethem Ceku. According to our sources within the coalition partners, the Ministry of Return and Minorities will be headed by Serb minority representatives, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Development by the Bosniak coalition Vakat and the Ministry of Health by the Turkish Democratic Party of Kosova.

The new Kosova Assembly will be constituted at the beginning of next month. According to a senior LDK official, the first session will be held in the middle of next week, while denying media speculation about an earlier agreement that it would take place on 24 November.

Freed U.N. workers meet Afghan president, yearn for home - AP

Three U.N. workers freed by kidnappers in Afghanistan rejoiced at their freedom Wednesday and said they were sustained through 27 days of captivity by thoughts of their family and friends.

Looking tired but happy a day after their release, Philippine diplomat Angelito Nayan, Annetta Flanigan from Northern Ireland and Shqipe Hebibi of Kosovo met privately with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

They later had a tearful reunion with colleagues at a U.N. residence and made a statement that cast no light on their mysterious abduction, but made clear their yearning to share the "wonderful feeling" of freedom with loved ones.

"The hope of getting back together with them kept us going," Flanigan read from a sheet of paper, Nayan and Hebibi at her side. "We thank them for their love, their prayers and their friendship. We are looking forward to joining our families and returning to our work."

The three were expected to fly out of Afghanistan on Wednesday or Thursday.

Armed men seized the three, who helped organize Afghanistan's landmark October presidential election, on a busy Kabul street on Oct. 28, the first such abduction since the Taliban fell in late 2001.

A Taliban splinter group claimed responsibility for the kidnappings, suggesting anti-government rebels were adopting the tactics of Iraqi insurgents. The group claimed Tuesday that the government had agreed to release 24 jailed comrades.

But officials insist they did not agree to pay a ransom or free any jailed militants to secure their release. They have declined to identify the kidnappers or to explain how the hostages became free.

A spokesman for the U.S. military said Wednesday that Afghan authorities' "effective pursuit of the kidnappers. ... led directly to the release."

American forces led one of two raids in the Kabul area on Monday, but Maj. Scott Nelson said their overall role was "truly a limited one."

The freed U.N. workers thanked Karzai and security chiefs, and left his Kabul palace clutching gifts of Afghan carpets. Nayan was also given a traditional chapan robe from the Afghan leader's personal wardrobe.

"We are very glad that by the grace of God our two sisters and a brother who were taken by the hostage-takers, by the criminals, were released safe and sound," said Karzai, who won the Oct. 9 presidential vote.

The ex-hostages also thanked all Afghans for their condemnation of the kidnapping, which could hamper the country's post-Taliban revival.

"During our many months of work here in Afghanistan, we have learned to love Afghanistan, its people, its culture and traditions," Flanigan said.

"The awful experience we went through does not change our feelings for the Afghan people, and the solidarity they have shown during our 27 days of captivity just strengthens our commitment to support Afghanistan in its transition to peace and democracy," she said.

It was unclear if any of them intended to return to Afghanistan, where the United Nations is already preparing for parliamentary elections slated for April.

Afghan officials have expressed hope that the resolution of the hostage crisis will encourage the country's foreign backers to keep up their support.

However, the United Nations and relief groups warned that much of Afghanistan remains dangerous for foreigners. Already this year, 24 aid workers have died in violence blamed on Taliban-led militants and renegade warlords.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who spoke to the three released workers on Tuesday, said he was "profoundly relieved" their ordeal was over.

He said the world body would need to "strengthen the security of its staff in order to enable it to fulfill the organization's mandate to further peace, reconstruction and democracy in Afghanistan."

Serbs seem ready to go on defying Hague tribunal. - Reuters

Most Serbs oppose handing three generals over to The Hague to face Kosovo war crimes charges, even if the country continues to pay a price internationally for its defiance of the United Nations tribunal.

An opinion poll published the day after tribunal chief prosecutor Carla del Ponte slammed Serbia at the United Nations showed the majority believes the officers should not be arrested and extradited, as she has repeatedly demanded.

Del Ponte's criticism was fully expected and more or less shrugged off in advance. She has criticized Serbia constantly since Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic was assassinated in March 2003 and cooperation with the tribunal fell off dramatically.

Her latest blast appeared to have only minor impact, suggesting Serbs may have concluded that the U.N. court has few teeth left. It is already handling a raft of ex-Yugoslav trials, including that of former Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic.

"I don't think that anything is going to change until the government arrests someone, and I do not believe they are going to make any arrests," said Jovan Simic, an advisor to Serbian President Boris Tadic, leader of the main opposition party. "The Serbian government is not taken seriously by anyone in the international community," he said, predicting that Serbs would continue "queuing in long lines for western visas".

But even before Del Ponte called Belgrade "the single most important obstacle" to the work of the tribunal, Finance Minister Mladjan Dinkic said the economy would not suffer.

"As an economist, I am not worried," Dinkic said. "The Americans produce most of the negative reports about our cooperation with The Hague but at the same time, they remain Number One investors in Serbia and continue to invest."


The poll in daily Politika showed 24 percent of Serbs thought the generals were not guilty and should not go to The Hague at all, while another 25 percent said they should not be arrested and should only go to the U.N. court voluntarily.

Army generals Nebojsa Pavkovic and Vladimir Lazarevic and police general Sreten Lukic - indicted for alleged war crimes in Kosovo in 1999 - live openly in Serbia. Only a third of those polled thought the government should arrest them.

As for top fugitive General Ratko Mladic, del Ponte accuses Belgrade of harbouring the former Bosnian Serb commander and Belgrade regularly denies any evidence he is even in Serbia.

Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica has said that extraditing such men, seen by many as national heroes, could threaten the stability of the country. President Tadic and Foreign Minister Vuk Draskovic say that is an empty pretext for his inaction.

Kostunica's minority coalition depends for survival on the votes of Milosevic's Socialist Party, who could walk out should he risk ordering any extradition. So Kostunica avoids open defiance of the U.N. tribunal and says exhortation to voluntary surrender is as far as he will go.

The poll suggests he may have the majority on his side.

Serbia weathered a decade of sanctions and exclusion in the 1990s and was bombed by NATO for three months in 1999. However poor it looks, things are better now than four years ago.

The penalty of losing foreign aid because of defiance of The Hague is not new. The inducement of joining the European Union by 2014 may be just too distant to matter in daily life.

UN says won't stop ex-rebel becoming Kosovo PM. - Reuters

The United Nations has ruled out blocking the appointment of an ex-guerrilla commander as prime minister of Kosovo, despite concern in the West that he could be charged with war crimes.

Ramush Haradinaj is set to become prime minister in the U.N. protectorate under a coalition deal which parliament is expected to vote on early next month following October elections.

But the announcement coincided with media reports that he could be indicted for war crimes after twice being interviewed this month by investigators from the U.N. tribunal in The Hague.

"We leave this decision in the hands of the political parties and the Kosovo assembly," U.N. spokesman Jeff Bieley told a news conference in Kosovo on Wednesday.

He echoed U.N. governor Soren Jessen-Petersen, who said that to say no to Haradinaj would be to "say no to democracy."

Western diplomats warn of unrest and possible violence should the burly former regional commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) be arrested while in office.

They say stability is crucial as Serbia's southern province nears talks expected next year on whether the Albanian majority gets the independence it demands.

His appointment could further sour relations between Kosovo and Serb leaders in Belgrade, where Haradinaj is already considered a war criminal. Serbia's president said making him prime minister was "absolutely unacceptable".

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana weighed into the dispute earlier this week, telling reporters in Brussels that the 36-year-old politician might not be the best person to lead Kosovo towards negotiations on its "final status".

The West wants to open status talks in mid-2005, provided Kosovo makes sufficient progress on U.N.-set benchmarks of democracy, minority rights and the rule of law.

The office of chief U.N. war crimes prosecutor Carla del Ponte has said it is working on an investigation concerning the former KLA leadership, without giving details.

"I did not receive any cooperation from the international community on this investigation," del Ponte said this month. "However, I am confident I will be able to issue a solid indictment by the end of this year."

The province of two million people became a U.N. protectorate in 1999 after NATO bombing expelled Serb forces to end what Western powers said was ruthless disregard for civilians in fighting an Albanian rebel insurgency.

After Albanian riots against Serbs and other minorities in March, an internal U.N. report warned that pressure for independence was so great that a decision on Kosovo's "final status" could no longer be safely postponed.

But in a report to the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said the standards had not yet been met, describing progress made so far as "uneven and limited".

U.S. Envoy to United Nations Urges Serbia to Catch War Criminals

Serbia Said Key Obstacle on War Criminals

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

War crimes suspects 'living free' Del Ponte to the UNSC - BBC

UN Workers in good health - NYTimes

Two Serb portfolios in new Kosovo government

The new Kosovo government will have thirteen ministries of which two are to be held by Kosovo Serbs.

According to Pristina media, Serbs will be appointed as minister for local communities and repatriations and minister for agriculture.  Two Serbs will also be appointed as deputy ministers in the new government.

It is still not known which of the newly elected Serbian MPs will be appointed to the cabinet, and there is little confidence that Serbs will be included in the new Kosovo government as soon as it is proposed to the parliament.

Too early to assess Kosovo's final status - Annan

U.N. hostages in Afghanistan freed

Monday, November 22, 2004

Fears for hostages as suspect dies in jail

CONCERN grew for the safety of three UN workers held hostage in Afghanistan yesterday after a man suspected of involvement in their kidnap died in police custody, allegedly as a result of torture.

The dead man, identified only as Kachkool, was arrested as part of Afghan police investigations into the kidnap of Annetta Flanigan, of Northern Ireland, Shqipe Habibi, from Kosovo, and the Filipino diplomat Angelito Nayan, who were seized on Kabul street on Oct 28.

The family of the dead man claim that his body was badly bruised and without fingernails when it was returned to them, following his death on Nov 12.

"Nobody knows if he died because of sickness or because of torture," said a spokesman for the interior ministry. who announced an inquiry into the death.

However, a spokesman for Afghanistan's Independent Human Rights Commission said: "The primary finding of our investigation shows there was torture."

Afghan police said yesterday that the dead suspect was a "known criminal" with a history of armed robbery from the Paghman district west of Kabul. The area is notorious for banditry and has been the focus for much of the search effort to locate the missing UN workers.

A radical Taliban splinter group, Jaish al Muslimeen, has repeatedly claimed to be holding the three Westerners. They have demanded the release of 26 Taliban prisoners, some in Guantanamo Bay. However, Afghan authorities said last week that criminal gangs were involved.


The new European Union enlargement commissioner, Olli Rehn, who will be in charge of the Western Balkans - Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, and Serbia and Montenegro - took up office on Monday, the European Commission Delegation in Zagreb said in a press release.#L# Assuming the post, Rehn said that apart from the Stabilisation and Association process (SAp), the Western Balkan countries were given clear European prospects. He said the numerous challenges specific for the Western Balkans should be solved within the SAp, and that progress towards EU entry would depend on how the countries met their commitments. He added that each country would go at its own pace and progress according to its own merits.

The Thessaloniki agenda, which the European Council endorsed in June 2003, underlines that the Western Balkans and support to the region's countries in preparing for admission to European structures and eventual membership of the EU are a high priority for the Union, read the press release. It added that both the EU and the Western Balkan countries were committed to the implementation of the agenda. The recently adopted European partnership with the Western Balkan contains an agenda of reforms for the countries in the region as well as a guide of measures they need to undertake, read the press release, underlining that the EU policy towards the region did not change. The SAp will continue to represent the general framework of EU activity in the Western Balkans until the countries are admitted to the EU, read the press release, adding that the regional dimension continued to represent an essential element of the SAp. The press release concluded by saying that the ability and willingness of each country to meet its commitments and constructively engage in regional cooperation was a key indicator of their will to face European obligations and possibly join the European family.

U.S. forces hunt for kidnapped UN workers in Afghanistan

EU issues warning over man tipped to be Kosovo's new PM - AFP

EU foreign affairs chief Javier Solana said Monday that a former ethnic-Albanian rebel leader under investigation for war crimes might not be the "most appropriate" man to lead Kosovo.

The investigation by UN war crimes prosecutors at The Hague into Ramush Haradinaj is delaying the formation of a new government after an election in the internationally protected Serbian province last month.

"As far as we're concerned, our number one priority is to work on the standards issue," Solana told reporters in reference to efforts by the European Union to build up democracy and civil rights in Kosovo.

"Whoever the prime minister, he has to work on the standards issue," he said as EU foreign ministers met here.

"And if in the end the prime minister is somebody who has to go to The Hague, he may not be the most appropriate person to work towards those standards."

President Ibrahim Rugova's Democratic League of Kosovo, which won 47 seats in the 120-member assembly, announced last week that it had reached a coalition agreement with Haradinaj's Alliance for the Future of Kosovo.

Under the deal Rugova would stay on for another term as president and Haradinaj would take the post of prime minister in Kosovo, which has been under UN administration since the end of the 1998-1999 war.

But Haradinaj's past as one of the best-known ethnic-Albanian guerrilla commanders against Serbian forces has come back to haunt him after UN prosecutors called him in for questioning earlier this month.

Thousands protest against Kosovo war crimes trial - Reuters

Belgrade accused of hiding 'Butcher' - W. Times

Ex-Guerrilla is Put Forward for Kosovo Prime-Minister - NYTimes

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Video of the German Television Report about March Events - in German

Picture of the Day: Despite the bad weather in Kosova, War Veterans Associations are set to organize a big rally in Prishtina on Monday.

UN war crimes probe muddies talks on new Kosovo government - AFP

A UN war crimes investigation into the man tipped to become Kosovo's next prime minister, former ethnic Albanian rebel leader Ramush Haradinaj, is delaying the formation of a new government after last month's election.

President Ibrahim Rugova's Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), which won 47 seats in the 120-member assembly, announced last week that it had reached a coalition agreement with Haradinaj's Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK).

Under the deal Rugova would stay on for another term as president and Haradinaj would take the post of prime minister in the southern Serbian province, which has been under UN administration since the end of the 1998-1999 war.

But Haradinaj's past as one of the best-known ethnic Albanian guerrilla commanders during the separatist fight against Serbian troops has come back to haunt him at the worst possible time for his political ambitions.

Earlier this month UN prosecutors called him in for questioning about war crimes allegations levelled by the ethnic Serb minority, charges he has repeatedly denied but which continue to dog his political career.

Haradinaj told reporters after his interrogation that he has "no other obligations" to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), but it is unclear whether the UN's investigations are complete.

Western diplomats in Kosovo are reportedly concerned at the prospect of a guerrilla commander with a questionable background at the helm of the Kosovo government.

"International sources in Pristina said the fact that Haradinaj is considered as a suspect by (the ICTY) is sufficient for a poor perception of his appointment to the top of the government," the Koha Ditore daily wrote Friday.

Chief UN war crimes prosecutor Carla Del Ponte has said she will indict former Kosovo Albanian guerrilla leaders by the end of this year, sparking outrage among the ethnic Albanian majority.

Analysts in Pristina believe the timing of Haradinaj's questioning, straight after the final election results were announced late last month, was no accident. They say it was a deliberate ploy to keep him out of high office.

Haradinaj was a high-profile commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army, the ethnic Albanian rebel movement which fought Slobodan Milosevic's Serbian forces for independence from Serbia.

He was in charge of the western zone of Kosovo during the conflict, where Serbs claim he authorised the murders of several civilians.

Veton Surroi, a journalist-turned-politician, said the coalition tie-up between Rugova and Haradinaj was unstable, with the ICTY being "the evident problem".

"We consider that such a solution is a postponement of crises for several months. Furthermore we are afraid that it would have negative implications in the coming developments, given the big challenges ahead of Kosova in 2005," he said.

The UN is expected to review Kosovo's progress toward meeting benchmarks of multi-ethnicity and democracy next year before deciding whether to begin discussions on the final status of the province.

A UN indictment against Haradinaj would cause widespread dissatisfaction among Kosovo Albanians and potentially derail a political process which has won the backing of the UN mission (UNMIK).

"Immediately after the elections, I urged the political parties to act on the voices of the voters by moving quickly, and they have done so, without international involvement," UNMIK chief Soren Jessen-Petersen said Thursday.

Asked to comment on the possibility of Haradinaj becoming prime minister, Jessen-Petersen said: "If he says no to this he would say no to democracy".

"Voters should be asked if somebody is acceptable for prime minister," he said.

Kammerhoff: Vorab keine Kenntnis von Kosovo-Unruhen

Saturday, November 20, 2004

UNMIK staff was ready to evacuate during Haradinaj’s interview

Koha Ditore reports on the front page that UNMIK was expecting riots while the AAK leader, Ramush Haradinaj, was being interviewed by the ICTY.

The paper quotes its sources as saying that UNMIK security chief sent an email to his dependants in the regional and municipal UNMIK headquartes: “Please contact your staff in your area confirm whether they have prepared their evacuation bags”. The document urges those who have done so to keep an “emergency bag not heavier than 15 kg containing only basic items and have on them no less than 400 Euros in cash, UN identification card, national passport and laissez-passes for a quick evacuation”. The article goes on listing additional items such as towels, toilet materials, medicines, a flash light and clothes. In his letter distributed to UNMIK personnel, chief of UNMIK security informs them that in the morning hours of 10 November riots connected to the interview of KLA leader by ICTY were expected.

After all, Haradinaj may NOT be the Prime-Minister

Kosova Daily newspaper reports that maybe Haradinaj will not become the prime minister of Kosova. After the pressure from the international community it seems that Nexhat Daci (LDK, former speaker of the House) will be the new Prime-Minister, and that in return RAmush Haradinaj (AAK) and his party will get more ministerium posts.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Montenegro, UN administration in Kosovo sign cross-border cooperation memo

Customs Administration director Miodrag Radusinovic and the UNMIK [UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo] Customs Service director-general, Paul Acda, have signed a memorandum on cooperation and mutual assistance.

The customs service and UNMIK members will work together to prevent cross-border crime, it was stated after the signing of the memorandum in Podgorica.

The director of the Customs Administration, Miodrag Radusinovic, pointed out that regional and global cooperation is very important in preventing cross-border crime, although cooperation with neighbouring countries is most important of all.

Kosovo's Surroi expects coalition government to be "incompetent, corrupt" Kosovo's Surroi expects coalition government to be "incompetent, corrupt"

Hour Civic Initiative leader Veton Surroi has said today that he accepts the agreement between the LDK [Democratic League of Kosovo] and AAK [Alliance for the Future of Kosovo] on a governing coalition, but added that the creation of a government without a program meant that it would be incompetent and corrupt.

Surroi made these comments after a meeting with UNMIK [UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo] head Soeren Jessen-Petersen, whom he had briefed about his party's future plans and Hour's view that this coalition could lead to a crisis in government.

"I have wished Rugova and Haradinaj success in their efforts. We accept it as a good step, but we also regard it as bad, because the government that is about to be formed has no programme. Furthermore, we have another problem facing our political system, which is relations with the Hague tribunal," Surroi said.

He also said that he had always maintained that future governments should have a governing program and not just be formed to meet the needs of communities. He added, "We will not take part in such a government."

Surroi also reiterated his position that Hour had maintained from the beginning that it would be in opposition and would play a constructive role. He added that Hour was not going to give up its four objectives: the constitution, decentralization, talks with Serbia, and talks on Kosova [Kosovo].

Asked about the Hague tribunal, he said that he was not a spokesman for the tribunal, but his view was that their statements indicate that, by the end of this year, an indictment would be filed against Kosovars. [Passage omitted]

West worried as ex-rebel eyes Kosovo's top job

Berlin denies Kosovo intelligence report

The German Government has denied reports that its intelligence services knew several weeks ahead of violence planned in Kosovo in March this year.

“The information published by German television ZDF that German intelligence services did not inform the army about the security situation in Kosovo is untrue and unfounded,” government spin doctor Bella Anda told journalists today.

She added that the German intelligence services and the German Army, which has a contingent stationed in Kosovo, had made a joint assessment of the situation in Serbia’s southern province, but declined to give details.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Ramush Haradinaj, leader of the AAK , new Kosova's Prime-Minister

Ramush Haradinaj
Originally uploaded by kosovareport.

Germany knew Kosovo violence was planned

BERLIN, Nov 18 (Reuters) - A broadcaster said on Thursday that German intelligence knew in advance that ethnic Albanians in Kosovo were planning violence in March that Western officials have said took them by surprise.

The anti-Serb riots, the worst violence in the Serbian province since the 1999 Kosovo war, left 19 people dead and many injured. Hundreds of homes were set ablaze.

German broadcaster ZDF said intelligence services intercepted conversations three weeks before the clashes broke out in which an ethnic Albanian discussed with an accomplice preparations for attacks on minority Serbs.

Citing intelligence service documents and unidentified sources, it said the man was also a paid informant of Germany's foreign intelligence service (BND).

A BND spokeswoman declined comment on the report.

The United Nations and NATO, partners in a peace mission for the past five years since allied bombing drove Serb forces out, said at the time the scale, speed and intensity of the mid-March violence took them by surprise.

Western officials have said the rioting was clearly orchestrated and directed by Albanian extremists in the province, whose majority Albanians demand full independence from Serbia.

Thousands of ethnic Albanians attacked Serb enclaves and churches as well as NATO peacekeepers and U.N. police.

Serbs outside Kosovo responded with attacks on a mosque in the Serbian capital Belgrade and another in the southern town of Nis. Most ethnic Albanians in Kosovo are Muslims, while Serbs are Orthodox Christians.

ZDF said its reporters had spoken to the ethnic Albanian informant, who told them: "Similar trouble could break out again at any time. It just needs a spark. We are in a position ... to put 30,000 guerrilla fighters into action."

Kosovo, a landlocked Serbian province of two million people, has been under U.N. administration since June 1999 after an 11-week NATO bombing campaign to halt Serbian repression of ethnic Albanians.

Annan shuns advice to speed Kosovo status talks.

UNITED NATIONS, Nov 18 (Reuters) - U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has rejected advice to more quickly decide the future status of U.N.-governed Kosovo and told the Security Council that he wants to stick by plans to consider the issue in mid-2005.

Annan's position was stated in a letter to the council's 15 members dated Wednesday and made public on Thursday.

He said Kosovo's local administration "must make substantial progress" on meeting U.N.-mandated standards on issues such as human rights in order to proceed with considering Kosovo's status.

The United Nations has governed Kosovo, a province of Serbia, since 1999, after an 11-week NATO bombing campaign to halt Serb repression of Kosovo's ethnic Albanians.

Kosovo's 90-percent Albanian majority demands independence, while Belgrade insists the province of 2 million people remain a part of Serbia.

A July report by Norwegian diplomat Kai Eide had recommended scrapping a 1999 policy that insisted Kosovo meet a list of U.N. standards - on law and order, security and human rights - before the question of its status is taken up.

"I would like to emphasize that all standards are important," Annan, who commissioned the report, said in the letter to the Security Council. He recommended working to lay the groundwork for a comprehensive review to be conducted in mid-2005.

Annan had asked Eide, Norway's ambassador to NATO, to study how to improve the U.N. mission in Kosovo after ethnic Albanian mobs rioted in March. The mobs set fire to Serb homes and religious sites, killing 19 and injuring nearly 1,000 civilians.

Annan said September consultations with parties including European Union leaders and NATO produced a "broad agreement on the need to focus on the economy and on security, the need to engage with Belgrade and to bring the Kosovo Serbs into the process and the importance of the standards process."

The U.N. chief outlined what he called "an integrated strategy" to move forward that has already begun to be implemented by Kosovo's U.N. governor, Soren Jessen-Petersen.

Annan said the main components of the strategy included dealing with the causes and consequences of the March violence; initiating a deeper dialogue with Belgrade; readjusting the standards policy, and granting more power to the provisional institutions of self-government while also increasing the monitoring of their performance.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

UN envoy hails agreement on new government in Kosovo following elections


The new Kosova government outlook:
President: Ibrahim Rugova
Prime-Minister: Ramush Haradinaj
Deputy Prime-Minister: Nexhat Daci (former Speaker of the Assembly)
Speaker of the Assembly: Fatmir Sejdiu

Monday, November 15, 2004

Trial of Kosova-Albanians in the Hague

UNMIK rebuffs initiative for additional election for Kosovo Serbs

UNMIK [UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo] has rejected the initiatives for organizing an additional election. These initiatives have been launched by Serb politicians in Kosova [Kosovo] and Serbian government advisers, who recently have shown signs of remorse for not participating in the 23 October election for the Kosova Assembly.

The UN administration has ruled out the possibility of organizing an election in which the Kosova Serbs would again elect their political representatives, UNMIK spokesperson Mechtild Henneke stated.

"We had the 23 October election. There will not be an additional election," was her comment on the initiatives of Kosova Serb political groups, which will not be able to participate in the institutions even if Belgrade were to change its mind and give them the green light.

Considering that a solution to this situation could be found only through elections, an adviser to the Serbian prime minister said that if the international community cared about support for the Serbs in Kosova's parliament and government, "then it would be normal to organize an additional election".

In this regard, Spokesperson Henneke emphasized UNMIK Chief Soeren Jessen-Petersen's position that seats for Serb political representatives exist in the Kosova Assembly and they will be legitimate if they participate in it.

"If they engage for the interests and well-being of Serbs, they will be their legitimate representatives," she said.

Serb politicians of Kosova who preferred not to run in the parliamentary election and whose boycott was strongly supported by Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica and the Serbian Orthodox Church are now trying to justify their new position with the "consequences" of the low turnout of Serbs in the 23 October vote, not mentioning their fear of remaining outside the processes.

"Serb politicians who have participated in the election cannot be legal representatives of Serbs because of the low turnout of Serbs in the election," Milan Ivanovic, chairman of the Serb National Council [SNV], told a news conference on Thursday [11 November] in Belgrade, a day before meeting with Kostunica.

Rada Trajkovic, deputy chairwoman of this council, who qualified the low turnout of the Serbs on 23 October as "a very mature political move", now believes, after changing her mind, that an additional election would be appropriate for the Serb community of Kosova.

Those who supported the boycott have considered that Serb participation in the election would create the "idea of the existence of a multiethnic Kosova and it could have been used to justify the requests of the Albanian majority for independence."

Albanians in south Serbia demand same rights as Kosovo Serbs

Representatives of the Presheve Valley [south Serbia] Albanians categorically reject any idea that would lead to territorial division of Kosova [Kosovo] and also demand the same status as the Serb citizens of Kosova.

The Presheve Valley representatives are against any border changes in the Balkans, but if the Kosova Serbs and Belgrade continue to insist on that, then they say that Presheve, too, would call for integration with Kosova, to which it belonged decades ago.

The Serbian political elite has again launched the idea for the partition of Kosova into two entities - the Albanian and the Serbian ones. This idea is regarded as nationalistic and counterproductive not only by Albanians but also by the world decision-making institutions because it is thought that it could "stir the hornet's nest" of all border disputes in the Balkans.

Democratic Party of Albanians [PDSh] chairman Ragmi Mustafa told KosovaLive that his party wanted the Kosova Serbs to enjoy all the rights possible, but, at the same time, his party wanted the Presheve Valley Albanians to enjoy the same rights, too.

"The idea for the partition of Kosova that has been put forward by Belgrade is very dangerous and could lead to new disturbances in the region," Mustafa said. "But, if Belgrade continues to play that card, the Presheve Valley Albanians will demand to join Kosova."

"If they insist on changes, then we will demand the implementation of the referendum of 1 and 2 March 1992," the PDSh leader said.

Twelve years ago, the Albanians of the three municipalities in "southern Serbia" (Presheve, Medvegje [Medvedja] and Bujanoc [Bujanovac]) held a referendum in which the overwhelming majority voted in favour of this region joining Kosova.

LPD [Movement of Democratic Progress] chairman Jonuz Musliu, who was formerly the political representative of the UCPMB [Liberation Army for Presevo, Medvedja and Bujanovac], was even more radical in his statement to KosovaLive. He said that the Presheve Valley had no future within Serbia because it has done nothing good for the Albanians.

Musliu laid part of the blame for the continuing state terror on the international community, which, he said, was not at all impartial when Albanians were concerned. "The international community treats the Serbs of northern Kosova as though it is their mother, whereas the Albanians as though it is their stepmother," Musliu said.

BDL [Democratic Union of the Valley] chairman Skender Destani, too, rejects any idea that could lead to deterioration of the situation in the region. Destani demands that the status of the Presheve Valley Albanians be advanced hand in hand with the status of the Kosova Serbs, including education, language, national symbols, preservation of contacts with mother country, etc.

Currently, the position of the Presheve Valley Albanians is described as very grave. The Belgrade government, according to politicians from this region, since the end of the 2001 conflict at least, has not shown any interest in advancing the political, cultural, and social position of the Albanians.

Kosovo war associations condemn beginning of trial of ex-KLA members

Leaders of the associations that have emerged from the war of the former UCK [Kosovo Liberation Army] have said in Prishtina that they will always stand up in defence of the war values and will raise their voice against all attacks against the UCK and its commanders.

This was said by representatives of the three associations that have emerged from the UCK war - the ShVL [War Veterans Association], ShIL [War Invalids Association] and the ShFD [Martyrs' Families Association] - today at the press conference held on the occasion of the beginning of the trial against Fatmir Limaj, Isak Musliu and Hajredin Balaj.

ShIL chairman Faik Fazliu said that his association condemned in the strongest terms the premeditated actions of the Serbian police and judicial bodies in cooperation with UNMIK [UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo], which have been raising accusations against Albanians for alleged criminal offences at this very sensitive stage for the people of Kosova.

"We regard these games played by Serbia with the help of the Hague tribunal [International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia - ICTY] and parts of UNMIK as having nothing to do with the true mission of the Hague tribunal, but as an attempt to equate the actions of the aggressor with the defensive actions of the victim," Fazliu said.

Trial Begins for Three Kosovo Albanians Accused of War Crimes - NYTIMES

Militant Group Split Over Hostages' Fate

Kosovo a break from Iraq for U.S. troops

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Wednesday, November 10, 2004


There are two key conditions which Serbia-Montenegro has to meet in order to join EuroAtlantic integration processes - cooperation with the Hague-based UN war crimes tribunal and participation of local Serbs in political processes in Kosovo, five US Republican senators said in Belgrade where they held talks with local top officials on Wednesday.#L# The US delegation, consisting of Gordon Smith from Oregon, George Voinovich from Ohio, Charles Grassley from Iowa, Michael De Wine from Ohio and Michael Enzi from Wyoming, was received by Serbia-Montenegro Foreign Minister Vuk Draskovic and Serbia's President and Prime Minister, Boris Tadic and Vojislav Kostinica, respectively. We have clearly presented what we see as the main obstacles to the progress of the people of Serbia-Montenegro.

There are four accused generals (who have still not surrendered to the tribunal) and there is a real need for Kosovo Serbs to participate in the processes in Pristina, Senator Smith said in Belgrade. Senator Voinovic added that the people of Serbia-Montenegro had to decide what they considered more important: economic prosperity or the issue of runaway General Ratko Mladic and the other three generals. The US delegation will also visit Podgorica, Montenegro on Thursday.

Hague Tribunal Officials Question Kosovo Albanian Politician

Officials of The Hague war crimes tribunal have questioned a prominent Kosovo politician about his role as a leader of ethnic Albanian guerrilla forces during the conflict in the Serbian province

Officials say Ramush Haradinaj spent about 90 minutes with investigators who questioned him in Pristina at the headquarters of the United Nations administration.

No details of the questioning have been released.

Mr. Haradinaj was a top leader of the ethnic Albanian Kosovo Liberation Army during the conflict of the late 1990s. He later moved into local politics, founding the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, a party that came in third in last month's Kosovo assembly elections.

Serbian authorities have accused him of responsibility for numerous murders in and other atrocities during the Kosovo conflict.

Afghan militants: Hostage release deal reached

U.N. to NATO: 'stay the course' in Kosovo - UPI

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Kosovo businessman seeks release of kidnapped UN worker in Afghanistan

A businessman from Kosovo, Bexhet Pacolli, has travelled to Kabul to negotiate the release of Kosovo woman Shqipe Habibi, who was, together with another two UN workers, abducted in Afghanistan by militants.

Pacolli, who is now in Kabul, told the Pristina media on Sunday [7 November] on the phone that he was negotiating her release.

According to the media, Pacolli has called on Islamic leaders to set free Ms Habibi whose health is worsening.

Kosovo editor against new ministry of return

Good evening ladies and gentlemen! UNMIK [United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo] chief Soeren Jessen-Petersen adopted an administrative decision by which the new Kosova government will have three new ministries. The new government will also have a deputy prime minister and deputy ministers. Veton Surroi, head of the civic political movement Ora expressed his reservations about the creation of the ministry of return.

[Reporter, Seremb Gjergji] The three new ministries are the Ministry of Energy, the Ministry of Local Government and the Ministry of Return and Minorities. Mr Petersen informed President [Ibrahim] Rugova about the decision. He also spoke of a quick formation of a new government. UNMIK officials said once we have the new government in place we will continue with the transfer of competencies especially in the field of economy.

[Jeff Bieley, UNMIK spokesperson speaking in English with superimposed Albanian translation] As you know the constitutional framework does specify that some of the ministries be given to non-Albanian ethnic groups. But it is the duty of the new government to assign the head of the new Ministry of Return and Minorities.

[Reporter] After meeting Petersen, Veton Surroi said that he had reservations about the decision of the UNMIK chief regarding the creation of the Ministry of Return and Minorities.

[Veton Surroi] I don't think that Kosova needs, that the Kosova government needs a ministry of return. I think that this should be a special office within the Office of the Kosova President, as the representative of the people's unity, and in this way we would have inter-ministerial coordination.

[Reporter] Ramush Haradinaj, chairman of the Alliance for the Future of Kosova [AAK] was also informed about the decision of Petersen. He said that the decision adopted by the UNMIK chief comes after a request made by the Kosova government to expand its activities and to have competencies transferred to it. [Passage omitted]

Hague questioning of Kosovo Albanian politician threatens stability - analysts

The country's analysts regard the Hague tribunal [International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia - ICTY] decision to question AAK [Alliance for the Future of Kosovo] chairman Ramush Haradinaj to be a politically damaging act and a threat to the general security and stability in the country.

Analyst Fehmi Baftiu told Kosovapress that Haradinaj's interview by Hague tribunal investigators on, as it has been said, nonspecific events that happened during 1998-99 and his role in them, was a standard procedure that is applied by this tribunal.

"The interview itself shows that Hague tribunal prosecutors doubt the Serbian false accusations against some of the UCK [Kosovo Liberation Army] leaders, without wishing to prejudice the details of this particular investigation that involves Haradinaj," he said.

We could assume that this is the same case, he added, that was presented to us when I worked as an assistant at the office of the UCK political representative, Adem Demaci, in Prishtina.

Baftiu reminds that, if the interview is about this case, then it can be said freely that Haradinaj was not involved in it and the chain of command did not involve him in it in any way.

According to him, if the interview is about that case, which was presented to the office of the UCK political representative at the time, the victims were battle-ready military formations and the act was carried out in self-defence and, therefore, was not in violation of the law of war or Hague tribunal regulation.

"The most important thing is that Haradinaj was not involved in that incident either directly or indirectly, therefore, his interview is a standard procedure that has been applied before by Hague tribunal investigators in hundreds of instances in Kosova [Kosovo]," Baftiu said.

Responding to a question as to whether Haradinaj's interview by Hague tribunal investigators could damage the political processes at this stage of building the Kosova institutions, Baftiu said that it was obvious that someone was trying to scare the Albanian factor in order to control the situation and dictate the future institution leaders in Kosova.

According to him, had Haradinaj's interview been announced only two days before the election, then, given the Balkan mentality that prevails in Kosova, the AAK would have won over 50 per cent of the votes because the only philosophy of the Albanian people is spite.

Analyst Halil Matoshi, too, thinks that the current situation in Kosova -with the process of building democratic institutions underway and the talks on the status of Kosova about to begin - the invitation to interview Haradinaj by Hague tribunal investigators is a politically damaging and dangerous action for the general security and stability of the country.

"When I say this, I have in mind that the tribunal's interference in this process seems to be primarily politically motivated and is aimed at weakening the political core of a country whose status has not been resolved yet," Matoshi said.

He said that attempts to remove certain players - Ramush Haradinaj in this particular case - from the political game were motivated by the desire of the Belgrade authorities, who do not want to see a stable Kosova, to interfere in the process.

In support of his claims, Matoshi said that Serbia had filed 108 charges against Haradinaj and certain other leaders of the liberation war in Kosova.

"Serbia's dossiers -those compiled by Milosevic's regime as well as those compiled by his followers, such as Defence Minister [former Serbian justice minister] Batic and Prime Minister Kostunica and his government - show that the Hague tribunal has been under continuous pressure from the Serbian government to intervene and affect the positive political trends in Kosova," Matoshi said.

AAK chairman Ramush Haradinaj, who was commander of the UCK Operative Zone of Dukagjin [Metohija], has been invited by Hague tribunal investigators in Prishtina to be questioned about nonspecific events during 1998-99 and his role in them.

Ramush Haradinaj has expressed his readiness to be interviewed as of next week.

Five U.S. senators visit troops in Kosovo

Five U.S. senators and their wives landed in four helicopters at this sprawling U.S. base in Kosovo Tuesday to dine with U.S. peacekeepers and thank them for their work in the U.N.-run province.

The senators and their spouses sat with soldiers from their respective states around tables in the spacious mess hall, located at the heart of Camp Bondsteel in eastern Kosovo, home to most of the 1,800 U.S. soldiers, serving with the NATO-led peacekeeping force here.

The U.S. troops are part of the NATO-led 18,000-strong force, deployed since June 1999 following alliance's war aimed at stopping the crackdown by Serb troops on independence-seeking ethnic Albanians.

Sen. Gordon Smith of Oregon, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Sen. Mike DeWine and Sen. George Voinovich of Ohio and Sen. Michael Enzi of Wyoming enjoyed an ordinary lunch of grilled fish, chicken and roasted potatoes, as they chatted with the soldiers about their everyday work.

Following lunch, they were briefed by senior U.S. officers about the situation in this troubled and ethnically tense province. Later, they headed to Pristina, the province's capital, on Black Hawk helicopters.

Grassley said that the visit was intended to show their "appreciation to American military people for what they do to defend freedom and liberty."

Voinovich said that another reason for their visit was to bring themselves up to date with what is happening here.

"This is also to let people know that you care for what they are doing," he said.

U.S. officers told the delegation that if the situation in Kosovo improves in 2005, the overall number of NATO-led troops in Kosovo would be reduced to less than 10,000.

But Brig. Gen. Tod J. Carmony, the top U.S. commander in Kosovo, responding to questions from senators, cautioned against complete withdrawal of U.S. troops from the province.

Earlier this year, NATO outlined plans to bring down the number of its troops, citing improvement in the ethnically tense province.

However, that plan was shelved after ethnic Albanian mobs targeted minority Serbs and their property in two days of violence that left 19 people dead and more than 900 injured. The mid-March violence sent 4,000 people -- mostly Serbs -- fleeing for safety.


UPDATE 3-Afghans extend deadline for UN hostages.

A Taliban splinter group that has threatened to kill three U.N. hostages again extended a deadline on its demands after the government said it would respond to them on Wednesday, a spokesman for the group said.

The kidnappers have demanded the release of 26 Taliban prisoners, some of whom may be in U.S. custody, as part of a deal to free U.N. workers Annetta Flanigan from Northern Ireland, Shqipe Hebibi from Kosovo and Filipino diplomat Angelito Nayan.

"We have had contact with representatives of the government and the United Nations who said they would respond to the demands tomorrow," Sayed Khalid Agha of the Jaish-e Muslimeen (Army of Muslims) told Reuters on Tuesday.

"So we have extended the deadline until 11 a.m. (0630 GMT) tomorrow."

The three U.N. workers were abducted in Kabul on Oct. 28 after helping to run presidential polls won by U.S.-backed incumbent Hamid Karzai.

Earlier, two other spokesmen for the kidnappers said they had demanded a response by 3:00 p.m. (1030 GMT).

When this, like several previous deadlines, passed Sayed Khalid Agha said it had been set for 11 p.m. (1830 GMT) and if there was no response, the Jaish-e Muslimeen Shura, or council, would make a decision to kill the hostages.

Another militant spokesman, Mullah Sabir Momin, had said Hebibi would be killed first and the "beheading" shown on video. "The decision on the other two will be taken after seeing the reaction of the Afghan government and the U.N.," he said.

Momin said Hebibi seemed the most important hostage. "She says she is a Muslim. If a Muslim helps infidels or America, that Muslim will be punished first."


The government has expressed hope for the release of the hostages - two of whom were allowed to call home on Monday - but indicated it was unwilling to meet the kidnappers' demands.

"We know about their ultimatum and our response is that we hope they free the hostages on the basis of the decree of the Ulema and appeals from Afghans and the international community," Defence Ministry spokesman Zaher Azimi said.

In an interview with CNN, Karzai said the government was working hard to secure the release of the workers, adding: "Let's hope they will be free very soon."

Karzai declined to give details of efforts to free the three, but said: "We are working on it on a minute-to-minute basis, day and night."

Both the government and the United Nations have declined to comment on talks, but officials and the U.S. military have said they were hopeful the hostages would be freed.

Momin said the Shura had sanctioned the killing of the hostages in a meeting three days ago, but had extended deadlines in response to numerous appeals, including from leaders of Afghanistan's Mujahideen (holy warriors).

However, he dismissed the appeal from the Ulema, or council of clerics, saying they were "working for the infidels"

Hopes were raised on Monday when Hebibi was allowed to telephone a friend in Kosovo and Nayan spoke to the foreign ministry in Manila. Hebibi said she was well and not being badly treated, a relative said, while an official in Manila said Nayan told the ministry: "Tell my sister I'm OK."

The demand for the release of prisoners from U.S. custody is a significant hurdle given Washington' policy of not cutting such deals. But the Afghan government has in the past negotiated the release of several kidnapped foreigners, some by paying ransoms.

Kosovo Speaker urges internationals to act responsibly in Haradinaj case

Speaker Nexhat Daci has sent a letter to the EU High Commissioner for Common Foreign and Security Policy, Javier Solana, NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, UNMIK [United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo] chief Soeren Jessen-Petersen, US Under-secretary of State for Political Affairs Mark Grossman and UK Minister for Europe Denis McShane. In it he expresses his opinion about the procedure used by the Hague tribunal in the case of the AAK [Alliance for the Future of Kosova] leader and Kosova MP Ramush Haradinaj. Daci said among other things: While recognizing your contribution to Kosova, I urge you to do everything you can in order to ensure that the Hague tribunal investigations serve peace and stability in Kosova as well as the building of democratic, legal and legitimate institutions that represent the interests of all Kosova citizens and have a positive effect on regional stability and development, says the letter.

Haxhiu: Haradinaj prevented the outbreak of civil war in Kosovo (Epoka e Re)

According to the Kosovo political analyst Baton Haxhiu, the procedure against Haradinaj should be the same as the one against the general of the Croatian Army Rrahim Ademi because Haradinaj has played an important mediating role between peace and civil war in Kosovo.

‘Haradinaj is a man who by entering into politics prevented the outbreak of a potential civil war and has built the inter-party cooperation model and this peacemaker cannot be treated as any war criminal in the region’, stated Haxhiu.

Kosova's newspaper about the negotiations for future Prime Minister

Thaçi, Haradinaj wait for the president’s decision (Koha Ditore)
Koha Ditore reports on the front page that during Monday, the name of Ramush Haradinaj has been mentioned as a possibility for the post of Prime Minister or of Assembly Speaker.

However, after SRSG Jessen-Petersen certified the election results, LDK was still hesitating whether to ‘try its luck’ with AAK only or go for the ‘already tested’ model of co-government.

The paper’s source didn’t specify if offering Haradinaj the post of Assembly Speaker was done to leave an open door for PDK or if it is a calculation by LDK to take the post of prime minister.

Bota Sot quotes an unnamed source inside the LDK as saying, ‘The LDK hasn’t given up on the post of Prime Minister [yet] and such announcements are speculation by certain media outlets.’

LDK leader Ibrahim Rugova made no comment about formulas that are being discussed by his political party. Koha Ditore notes that Rugova left UNMIK headquarters after meeting SRSG Jessen-Petersen without answering journalists’ questions about this issue.

Kosova Sot quotes unofficial soucres as saying that LDK and AAK have already reached a coalition [agreement] and they would be joined by the PSHDK and IRDK. The paper’s sources from both political parties said that there are ongoing negotiations to form a coalition.

Monday, November 08, 2004

BREAKING NEWS: Thaqi or Haradinaj for Prime-Minister?

Newspapers today carry the report that LDK is underway of deciding who will be their coalition partner. Sources report that more then half of LDK presidency has favored Haradinaj over Thaqi.

UN hands over more power to Kosovo government

Afghan hostage makes call to friend - Update

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Referendum in Macedonia - Turn out is the Key

Ethnic Rivalries Still Bitter in Balkans; Kosovo, Bosnia Sharply Divided; Macedonians Fear Vote May Spark Violence - WPost

Naser Bytyci and Branko Smilic are dentists who pulled teeth from fighters on opposite sides of Kosovo's ethnic war. Five years into a tenuous peace between ethnic Albanians and Serbs, the dentists live in the same town and practice the same profession. But Bytyci, an ethnic Albanian, pulls only Albanian teeth, and Smilic, a Serb, pulls only the teeth of Serbs.

Bytyci says he would not mind fixing Serb teeth, but that all the Serbs in town refuse to visit him or Albanian doctors of any sort. Smilic professes to be uninterested in giving Albanians root canals.

"It is better for each side to take care of its own," said Smilic, a stout man with a round face. "Suppose a patient got angry and began blaming the doctor because he was Serb or Albanian?"

It is safer, too, he argues, because recent violence against Serbs demonstrated that the foreign peacekeeping troops here cannot protect the Serbs.

The divided dentistry represents a persistent problem for Kosovo half a decade after NATO-led forces pushed the Serb-dominated Yugoslav army from the province and freed the ethnic Albanians from rule by then-president and current war crimes defendant Slobodan Milosevic.

Not only are the majority Albanians and minority Serbs living in segregated, mutually hostile communities, but they have been unable to integrate even ostensibly neutral public services such as health care. The "parallel structures" mock the stated aims of U.N. overseers in Kosovo to create a multiethnic society in advance of talks designed to resolve the political status of the province, which remains officially part of Serbia.

Kosovo's problems have a cousin in Macedonia to the south. There, a seemingly innocuous plan to reduce the number of municipalities nationwide by consolidating several areas has riled the majority Slavic population, which identifies itself simply as Macedonian.

The Macedonians assert that the plan, part of a U.S.-supported program of ethnic reconciliation, will make worse what they call efforts by the Albanian minority to split the country in two. Albanians say they just want to redress gerrymandering that has kept them at a political disadvantage.

The Macedonians have called a referendum, scheduled for Sunday, to squelch the municipal boundary plan. Several Macedonian analysts speak darkly of renewed violence if the referendum fails. A riot by Macedonians in July -- with trash and cars burned and windows smashed in the town of Struga -- provided a taste of the possible consequences, they say. Conversely, Albanians predict violence if the referendum kills the plan.

All over the Balkans region, the violence that burned in the 1990s has been doused, but the basic conflicts are unresolved. General trends are often negative.

In Bosnia, efforts to bring Serbs, Croats and Muslims into a workable government partnership have stalled. Few refugees who were driven from their homes during Serb campaigns of ethnic cleansing have returned permanently. Nor have Serbs returned after fleeing such places as the Bosnian capital Sarajevo at war's end. Croats remain segregated from Muslims in the western city of Mostar, touted as a symbol of peace when its graceful Ottoman-era bridge was recently restored. The town is almost totally devoid of Serbs.

Further afield, ethnic rivalry within Serbia and Montenegro, the last remaining chunks of Yugoslavia still glued together, threatens the country's unity. In 2006, the two republics are scheduled to vote on whether to remain united. Some Montenegrins are campaigning for secession.

Officials of the European Union, which has pressed to keep Serbia and Montenegro in one piece, say they fear that a Montenegrin exit would create an epidemic of breakups in neighboring countries: Serbs and Croats would want to go their own way in Bosnia, as would Albanians in Kosovo, other parts of Serbia and Macedonia .

A visit to Kosovo produces a sense of movement away from conciliation. The province held parliamentary elections on Oct. 23, but all but a handful of the approximately 120,000 Serbs who live among 1.7 million Albanians boycotted the vote, even though Serbs are guaranteed 10 of the 120 seats in the legislature.

In March, Albanians rioted, burning thousands of Serbs out of their homes. Nine Serbs and 12 Albanians died in the violence. Many Serbs left in the aftermath, resulting in a net loss of the Serb population for this year, U.N. officials say.

Smilic sent his wife and two children into exile in Serbia to escape the house burnings. He said he remained behind in part for protest, in part for economic advantage. The Serbian government in Belgrade pays him a stipend to stay put. He also collects pay for his dental services from the Albanian government in Pristina. However, he resists demands that he integrate with the Albanian staff at the main health center in the town.

He said that after the 1999 war, the center was renovated and the Serb staff, reduced from its prewar dominance, asked for a separate entrance for both medical personnel and patients. When that was refused, the Serbs set up a clinic in a private house.

"Of course, I don't think our Albanian colleagues would attack us if we went to the health center," said Smilic . "But there is danger from outsiders." He says the root of the problem lies in Albanian demands for full independence from Serbia, a subject that will arise at international talks proposed for as early as next year. "They want to be independent, and that means no Serbs. We can't move freely around here now, you can imagine if the peacekeepers leave and just the Albanians are in charge," he said.

Bytyci says the Serb fears, while authentic, serve as an excuse for radicals in that community to avoid any contact with Albanians in any institution. "We have three entrances to the health center. The Serbs can use any one they want," he said at his dental office near the clinic. Serb doctors and dentists "are taking money from the Kosovo government, but refuse to coordinate. No one knows where and if they work. They just come once in a while, take a share of medicines and disappear."

Bytyci said he has complained about this to UNMIK, the U.N. administrators in Kosovo. He said the Serbs receive almost a quarter of the local health budget, which, according to Bytyci, is excessive given their proportion of the town population. "The U.N. says it has to be careful. They don't want to upset anyone, so they don't do anything," Bytyci said.

U.N. officials acknowledge the problem but are reluctant to take dramatic steps. "At this stage, a lot of progress does not depend on the international side. You need a lot more from the local communities," said Peggy Hicks, director of UNMIK's office of returning refugees. "That's the key ingredient."

In Macedonia, unlike Kosovo, Albanians and Macedonians work together in government and have not adopted strict separation. Macedonians outnumber Albanians by about two to one in a total population of more than 2 million.

The proposed municipal reform originated in the so-called Ohrid agreement, which was negotiated under U.S. and European Union mediation in 2001 in a city by that name to end a seven-month armed revolt by Albanians. Albanians in Kosovo abetted the fighting.

Under the Ohrid deal, the Macedonians and Albanians agreed to increase the use of the Albanian language in government offices and to increase Albanian employment there. In recent weeks, envoys from the United States and E.U. have paraded through Macedonia to campaign against overturning the municipal reorganization plan. The E.U. has warned Macedonia that the dust-up could delay Macedonia's eventual membership in the union. Marc Grossman, the U.S. undersecretary of state for political affairs, advised that "Macedonia again faces a choice between the past and future," the Reuter news service reported.

In Struga, the plan yokes outlying villages and city under a single administration and makes Albanians the majority in the new political unit. At first, the Struga riot was directed against the local political offices of Macedonia's defense minister, Vlado Muchkovski, who was visiting the town, but it spread to other parts of town. Attitudes have not softened since.

On the Corso, the main pedestrian promenade in the resort town, cafe owners Micko Markovsky, a Macedonian, and Nusrat Ziba, an Albanian, serve about the same quality cappuccino and play the same Euro-pop music over their boom boxes, but agree on almost nothing else.

"We have change after change and they favor the Albanians," said Markovsky, who owns the Mia Pizzeria and Bistro. "What we need is jobs and the government concentrates on things that are not needed instead. This plan looks like a road to breaking Macedonia into two."

Ziba, owner of Queen's Bar, claimed that police stood aside as rioters rampaged up his street. "The Macedonians are used to privilege and don't want to recognize us as equals," he said. "Believe me, if we rioted like they did, there would have been plenty of dead Albanians around."

Friday, November 05, 2004

Friends of Kosovo woman kidnapped in Afghanistan launch Internet appeal

Friends of Shqipe Habibi, the Kosovo Albanian woman abducted while working for the UN in Afghanistan, have launched an appeal on the Internet in for her release.

Luan Ibraj, a journalist and Kosovo editor of the oneworld web site, said hisa bosses had allowed him to use the site to put out worldwide appeals by Shqipe's family in the western Kosovo town of Pec.

"Our goal is to reach a wide audience in the world and the one in Afghanistan in particular," Ibraj said:

"The Internet provides an unpretentious way to present our concerns about Shqipe's fate. We would like her to be released as soon as possible and come back to her home town Pec and her family."

Friends, colleagues and local journalists in Pec are engaged in the project via web pages or personal e-mail addresses.

Habibi, 35, British-Irish national Annetta Flanigan and Filipino diplomat Angelito Nayan were snatched from their UN car in front of their office in western Kabul last week.

A group affiliated with Afghanistan's ousted Taliban regime has claimed responsibility for the abduction.

The last statement sent around the world through the Internet urging Shqipe's release contains an appeal from her brother Agim.

It reminds her kidnappers that in the Koran "her last name personifies Love".

"So, let love, understanding and mercy rule in this Holy Month of Ramadan so that Shqipe can come home to the warmth of her family ...and her two colleagues may return to their beloved families," Agim Habibi said in his statement.

Ibraj said the latest appeal had not gone unanswered.

"Many respondents from the Arab world promised that they would try their best for a positive outcome of the hostage crisis in Afghanistan," he said.

"Like a lot of other Kosovo Albanians she became a member of the UN Mission in Afghanistan because she wanted to help the process of reconstruction and establishing democracy and the long-suffering Afghan people," said Ibraj.

Serbia Leaders Reiterate Fri They Won't Give Up Kosovo

Serbia won't give up U.N.-administered Kosovo, which is dominated by pro-independence ethnic Albanians, Serbia's leaders reiterated in a statement Friday.
The statement was issued after a late-night meeting in Belgrade, called by conservative Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica and attended by representatives of the country's major political parties.
To ensure safety for the dwindling Serb community in Kosovo, the minority "needs self-rule, with a higher form of authority than just local governments," the statement added.
The leadership in Belgrade also demanded to be a part of any future talks on Kosovo.

Serbia's authority over Kosovo was suspended in 1999, when North Atlantic Treaty Organization bombing stopped a Serb crackdown on the ethnic Albanian separatists. Talks on a final status for Kosovo could come as early as mid-2005.

In April, Kostunica's government proposed a plan under which Kosovo would be internally divided into five regions to grant the local Serbs a degree of self-rule and better security.

Friday's statement said that plan, overwhelmingly endorsed by Serbia's parliament, "represents the framework for any further activities of (Serbia's) state bodies" concerning Kosovo.

Efforts by the U.N. mission in Kosovo to create a peaceful and democratic society there have suffered several major setbacks, including an outbreak of ethnic violence in March and the Serb boycott of local elections last month.

The late-night meeting ending in Friday's statement, however, was not attended by Serbia's pro-Western president Boris Tadic, who, unlike the rest of the leadership, urged Kosovo Serbs to take part in the local election to avoid a deep isolation.

Less than 1% of Kosovo's Serbs cast ballots, citing a lack of security amid recurring attacks by Kosovo Albanian extremists.

Thursday, the U.N. administrator in Kosovo, Soren Jessen-Petersen, warned Belgrade that "we are moving ahead" in Kosovo regardless of whether the Serbs take part in the process.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Decentralization with or without Serbs - UN Rep. In Kosova

UNMIK Chief Soeren Jessen-Petersen said that the Kosovo government will not wait for Serbian officials to decide whether they want to participate in Kosovo institutions.

“We are moving ahead. With or without you, with or without a decision from Belgrade, but we would much prefer that, in the interest of Kosovo Serbs, their representatives  play an active role in the entire process." said Petersen at a press conference today.

War crimes court summons for interview former rebel leader in Kosovo - AP

The U.N. war crimes tribunal has summoned a former rebel commander turned politician in Kosovo for an interview on his role during the province's war, officials said Thursday.

Ramush Haradinaj, one of the leaders of the ethnic Albanian rebels who fought Serb forces during Kosovo's 1998-1999 war and a prominent politician in the province, said he will appear before the war crimes investigators next week here.

In a statement, Haradinaj said he is willing to meet the officials from the U.N. court based in The Hague, Netherlands, to answer "unspecified allegations."

Haradinaj, who heads the third-biggest party in Kosovo, the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, served as the commander in the Kosovo Liberation Army, a guerrilla group that battled Serb forces loyal to the former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. He commanded the rebels in the western part of Kosovo.

The chief U.N. war crimes prosecutor's office declined to comment on the case.

Haradinaj's party warned in a separate statement that any attempt to indict him for war crimes could threaten the stability in this U.N.-run province.

The war wagged by the KLA was "a just war, war for freedom and for defending Kosovo's people," the party said. "Ramush Haradinaj was part of this war and any speculation against his role in the war is not in conformity with the justice, but with (Serbia's) anti-Kosovo policy."

Serbian officials have called for the arrest of Haradinaj and several other ethnic Albanian rebel leaders alleging they committed crimes against civilians in Kosovo.

Kosovo was placed under U.N. and NATO rule after the 1999 alliance's air war that ended Milosevic's brutal crackdown on independence-seeking ethnic Albanians. The 1998-99 war killed an estimated 10,000 people, mainly ethnic Albanians.

The court last year indicted three Kosovo Albanians, among them Fatmir Limaj, a senior former rebel commander, on charges of illegal imprisonment, torture and murder of Serb and ethnic Albanian civilians. That case marked the first time the tribunal acted against the rebels, who acted as NATO's allies during the war with Serbia.

Carla Del Ponte, the chief U.N. war crimes prosecutor, told NATO's North Atlantic Council Wednesday in Brussels, Belgium, that she will issue a new indictment against the KLA leadership by the year's end.

But she complained that her work was hampered by "widespread, systematic and potentially deadly" witness intimidation as she tries to wrap up her Kosovo investigations.

Del Ponte also criticized the international community for not helping her probes against the former rebel leadership.

Albanians "believe" Kosovo to get independence during Bush second term

Following re-election of George W. Bush as the president of the United States, Kosova [Kosovo] institutions hope that the Republican administration will be further engaged in solving Kosova's final status.

Muhamet Hamiti, spokesperson for the president of Kosova, told KosovaLive: "We expect the will of Kosova people for independence will be recognized by the United States, EU and the rest of the world. We believe that this issue will be solved during this term of Bush administration."

Hamiti said that the United States has "always" been burdened with solving global issues, including "state building", which is happening today in Kosova.

Kosova government said that the US foreign policy be it with Republicans or with Democrats has not any significant changes, when it comes to Kosova.

[Kosovo government] Spokesperson Mimoza Kusari said that the United States has a great role in the region. She said that "most of Kosovars were pro-Democrat, for they are emotionally tied with the US military intervention in Kosova in 1999".

"We look forward that Republicans will also focus on Kosova in the coming four years, given that here is an important process that has to be accomplished," she said adding that it was Bush's administration, which set up the timeframes for resolving Kosova's status. "Furthermore Kosovars want a larger US presence during the process of determination of Kosova's status."

BREAKING NEWS - The Leader of AAK responds to the rumours that he has been charged from the Hague Tribunal - Albanian

Deklaratë e kryetarit të Aleancës për Ardhmërinë e Kosovës, Ramush Haradinaj
4 nëntor 2004
Konfirmoj se dje jam takuar me përfaqësuesin e Tribunalit Penal Ndërkombëtar të Hagës për ish Jugosllavinë (ICTY) dhe nga unë është kërkuar që javën e ardhshme, në Prishtinë, të marr pjesë në takim për t’iu përgjigjur pyetjeve rreth akuzave jospecifike në lidhje me vitet 1998 dhe 1999.
E kam informuar përfaqësuesin e Tribunalit të Hagës se unë do të marrë pjesë në takim dhe se do t’iu përgjigjem të gjitha pyetjeve të tyre.
Dëshiroj të bëj të qartë se unë nuk kam asnjë lloj kundërshtimi ndaj kësaj procedure. Vitet e fundit unë kam qenë i shurdhët ndaj thashethemeve dhe akuzimeve tërësisht të pavërteta. Andaj, mirëpres mundësinë që të merrem me këtë çështje para një trupi ndërkombëtar që vepron me autoritetin e ligjit ndërkombëtar.
Në këtë fazë unë nuk kam njohuri se cilat akuza në mënyrë specifike, nëse ndonjë ekziston, Tribunali dëshiron t’i hetojë. Për këtë arsye unë nuk do të bëjë komente të mëtejme, por me kënaqësi do t’iu përgjigjem të gjitha pyetjeve të mediave, javën e ardhshme, pas përfundimit të takimit.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Picture of the Day

Picture of the Day
Originally uploaded by kosovareport.
A Kosovo Albanian mother holds the picture of her son with a (Find Them) sign, during a protest to call on authorities to resolve the fate of thousands of Kosovo Albanians missing since the 1999 war, in Kosovo's capital Pristina Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2004.

Kosovo Albanians block crossroads in capital, demand to know fate of missing

The families of the missing persons started a three-day protest in Prishtina blocking the crossroads which links Agim Ramadani and Mother Theresa Streets.

The protesters are demanding finding of missing persons and bringing immediately to Kosova [Kosovo] the mortal remains of those found in mass graves in Serbia.

"It is not known yet for the fate of 3,500 missing persons. In the meantime, the mortal remains of at least 700 Kosova Albanians are still in the mass graves in Serbia. Something should be done to return them," says Nusrete Kumnova, from the Mothers' Appeal Association.

She said that the international community should increase the pressure on Belgrade, following the admittance of some authorities there that there are some 17 mass graves in Serbia.

"We cannot wait any longer. This is unfair and intolerable. Our institutions and UNMIK [UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo] are postponing this issue. We will not allow that," she said.


The final results of Kosovo's October 23 parliamentary elections, released by the UN Mission in Kosovo in Pristina on Wednesday, confirmed the victory for Ibrahim Rugova's Democratic Alliance of Kosovo.#L# With 45.42 percent of the vote, the party led by Kosovo President Rugova came top with 47 seats in the 120-seat parliament. The Democratic Party of Kosovo won 28.85 percent of the vote and 30 seats. The Alliance for Kosovo's Future follows with 8.39 percent of the vote and nine seats in parliament and the List of Citizens gathered in the civil initiative called ORA with 6.23 percent and seven seats in parliament, while the Albanian Christian Democratic Party of Kosovo won two seats. Representatives of Serbs and other minorities also have their representatives in parliament because 20 seats had been reserved for them in advance.

Of other Albanian parties, the Party of Justice, the People's Movement of Kosovo and the Liberal Party of Kosovo also won one seat each. Parties can appeal the election results within 48 hours, after which the UN Civil Administrator in Kosovo, Soeren Jessen Petersen, can confirm the final election results. According to this election results, none of the political parties in Kosovo is able to form a government on its own, so the main task in the coming days is to form a coalition. (Hina) it.