Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Ex-Kosovo rebel denies involvement in Albanian National Army in Macedonia

Unattributed interview with Bardhyl Mahmuti, political representative for diaspora of the former Kosovo Liberation Army, in Skopje on 20 December, "Let speculation about my being part of military or political structures stop", published by Kosovo Albanian newspaper Koha Ditore on 21 December

Shkup [Skopje], 20 December: The former political representative for Diaspora of the Kosova [Kosovo] Liberation Army's political directorate has categorically denied involvement in the political leadership of the armed formation of Albanians - the Albanian National Army (AKSh). He says that his name was mentioned in the AKSh meetings as its political leader. Moreover, his name was mentioned in various diplomatic circles, which in a way have stepped up pressure on him.

[Koha Ditore] Recently, we saw a very complicated situation in Macedonia, which could escalate into an armed confrontation. Your name was mentioned in the Albanian National Army and some Western circles as one of the political representatives of this structure. How much truth is there in such allegations?

[Mahmuti] I have been carefully following political developments in the Balkans and beyond and, in particular, I am preoccupied with the situation in Kosova and Macedonia. The situation is very worrying because the problems are piling up and some people are seeking to solve them through armed conflict. I am quite confident that armed conflicts cause more problems than they help solve. Wars cannot be justified except in the cases when all political means for solving the problems have been exhausted. The war against [former Yugoslav President Slobodan] Milosevic in Kosova is the best example of historic contests where the involvement of the international players helped a successful resolution. I was a member of the Kosovo Liberation Army's political directorate, and after the war I held important positions in Kosova. In no case was I, or am I a member of any other formation.

[Koha Ditore] Does this mean that you are not a member of the AKSh, and that you are not linked to this military formation that strives for a national unification?

[Mahmuti] No, I do not belong to any AKSh structure. All those who followed the war of the National Liberation Army in Macedonia [NLA; UCK in Albanian] may recall the speculation with my name. After the end of that war, the speculation continued in another respect.

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