Friday, January 28, 2005

US could take sides in Kosovo

LONDON -- Friday – According to Daniel Server, the American Peace Institute's expert on the Balkan region, the US could take a one-sided approach to the question of Kosovo's status if Belgrade does not complete all obligations to The Hague Tribunal.

Server told Radio BBC that he is “unsure if anyone in Washington is currently thinking about new measures that can be taken against Belgrade because of its lack of cooperation with The Hague Tribunal."

“This is Belgrade’s problem. Belgrade actively encouraged The Hague Tribunal to indict Ramush Haradinaj. If this happens and Haradinaj goes to The Hague, Washington will then demand that all indicted Serbs go to The Hague immediately as well. I don't think that anyone in Belgrade thought about that ahead of time, but I think that this is exactly what Washington would do." Server said.

He said that the question of “What if Belgrade does not go along with its international obligations?" is still a very relevant one.

“In that case, it is completely possible that the US would then take a one-sided approach to Kosovo." Server said.

Asked what the possibilities of such a move are, Server said that “it’s not very likely, because America wants problems in Kosovo to be solved through discussions in which its main partners will be Belgrade, Pristina and the European Union."

“But if Belgrade continues to behave rigidly towards The Hague Tribunal, even if Ramush Haradinaj is indicted and goes to The Hague and this does not lead to violence in Kosovo, then there will be a serious problem, because the American administration will then be under pressure to take a one-sided approach to solving the problems in Kosovo." Server said.

World Bank survey puts Kosovo's mineral resources at 13.5bn euros

Kosova [Kosovo] mine [mineral] resources are worthy of 13.5 billion euros, according to a joint survey conducted by the Directorate for Mines and Minerals and the World Bank [WB].

The director for mines and minerals, Rainer Hengstmann, said in a press conference that those resources could generate 35,000 new jobs and would attract new investments.

Hengstmann said that the wealth of the mine in Sibofc [Sibovac] is estimated at 6.5 billion euros, wealth of Trepca at 3 billion, wealth of Feronikel 2 billion, whereas the wealth of the resources in other parts of Kosova were estimated at 2 billion euros.

He highlighted the need for making of investments in those mines, saying that some 1.8 billion euros of investment is needed.

There are 470 quarries in Kosova which do not possess licences to use mine resources. Hengstmann said that these companies could be licensed and operate legally.

The Independent Commission of Mines and Minerals, whose board would be comprised of three internationals and two locals, will issue licences for exploiting of mine resources in accordance with the rules.

The exploitation of mine resources in Kosova in the past was made by private companies, without clear rules, which often resulted in abuses.

But Adil Januzi, expert for mines, said that natural resources of Kosovo worth much more than Hengstmann presented. "Kosova has 13 billion tonnes of lignite only," he added.

Whereas Lorik Haxhiu, expert on mines and an adviser of the Ministry of Energetic and Mines, said that Kosova has a lot of natural resources, but their price is dependant on a number of factors.

One year ago Trepca's resources were estimated at 1.3 billion euros, but as result of price increase of minerals, now they are estimated at 3 billion euros.

Wanted Serbian general surrenders -BBC

U.N., EU Officials Map Out Kosovo’s Future

Poll says Serbs believe Kosovo is lost - Reuters

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Time running out to stop Kosovo's descent in violence - The Guardian

Survey shows most SCG citizens favour division of Kosovo

Most citizens of Serbia-Montenegro [SCG] are in favour of dividing Kosovo into Serb and ethnic Albanian parts, according to a survey conducted by the Centre for Political Research and Public Opinion of [the Belgrade-based] Social Sciences Institute for the European Movement in Serbia.

The poll shows that 57 per cent of citizens in Serbia and 39 per cent of citizens in Montenegro would like to see Kosovo divided while 19 per cent of citizens in Serbia and 22 per cent in Montenegro oppose the idea.

A total of 48 per cent of citizens in Serbia and 34 per cent in Montenegro believe that Kosovo is lost while 34 per cent of Serbian citizens and 40 per cent of Montenegrin citizens do not believe this to be the case.

Among those respondents who have a party affiliation, sympathisers of the G17 Plus top the list for the division of Kosovo along ethnic lines with 76 per cent, followed by the Democratic Party [DS] with 68 per cent, the Democratic Party of Serbia [DSS] with 65 per cent, the New Serbia [NS] and the SPO [Serbian Renewal Movement] with 59 per cent and the Serbian Radical Party [SRS] with 55 per cent.

Supporters of the Liberal Alliance [LS] in Montenegro are most in favour of the division of Kosovo with 56 per cent, followed by the Democratic Party of Socialists [DPS] with 48 per cent, the People's Party [NS] with 47 per cent, the Serb People's Party [SNS] with 44 per cent and the Socialist People's Party [SNP] with 43 per cent.

The research was carried out between 10 and 21 December in SCG excluding Kosovo. The survey covered 151 randomly-selected communities in 86 municipalities and included 2,023 citizens in Serbia and 1,018 citizens in Montenegro.

German Christian Democrat Doris Pack deplores UNMIK treating Kosovan institutions like children and calls for swift solution to Kosovo's status

At the end of a public hearing on Kosovo, organised on Tuesday by the European Parliament foreign affairs committee, German Christian Democrat Doris Pack, president of the delegation of relations with countries of South East Europe, called on Europeans and the whole international community to, “make more of a commitment to the peace and stabilisation process in Kosovo”. Ms Pack regretted that they had to admit that the United Nations had until now only obtained very slight results in Kosovo and that stabilisation standards had not been reached, mainly because the Kosovan government could not reach them because it did not have the political power. She added that “The United Nations mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) had to make a swift transfer of political power to the Kosovan government in the areas of competency for which it had recently and democratically set up”. She deplored the fact that Kosovan institutions were being treated like children.

She considered that UNMIK had contributed, in this context, in managing the crisis. Pack also called on the government in Pristina to act pro-actively in getting the decentralisation process moving and exhorted the international community, particularly the EU, to reach a rapid decision, by mid-2005 on the definitive status of Kosovo. She said that they also had to settle the question of the future accession to the European Union and that a Special Reprehensive in permanent contact with Brussels was urgent. Pack also highlighted the need to work more towards getting refugees to return. She stressed that no political solution in Kosovo would be possible which went against or excluded Serbia. Ms Pack explained that Serbia had to be closely involved in the stabilisation process and that if there were an independent Kosovo, there would be no ambiguity with regard to its borders.

Kim Friedberg, Advisor to he UN Special Representative in Kosovo heading UNMIK, Soren Jessen-Petersen, welcomed the progress made in security and reconstruction but warned that the Kosovo's status quo could not last. Freidberg indicated that respect for minority rights, managing the return of displaced persons and agreement on a multi-ethnic society were now UNMIK priorities. Friedberg also called on Kosovan leaders and Serbs to assume their responsibilities and find a definitive and viable solution. He also deplored the deliberate blocking created by the Serbian minority in Kosovo by no taking part in elections last November and in the decentralisation process begun by Pristina. He warned that the question of Kosovo's status depended on a consolidation of minority rights. Mr Freiberg emphasised that UNMIK still saw the danger of Serbian or Kosovan attempts to derail the peace process, “If progress is blocked by a minority, we have to, nonetheless, avoid making all those who want to live in a multiethnic Kosovo suffer. We cannot sustain an international protectorate eternally. We have to swiftly establish a strict timetable for the definitive status of Kosovo's status”. UNMIK, however, said that UNMIK would remain there as long as it was necessary and that Kosovo would probably require an external civil and military presence for a number of years to ensure long term stability and integration into the EU. Nebojsha Covic, president of the coordination centre for Kosovo and Metohia at the Council of Ministers in Serbia Montenegro deplored the permanent attacks on the freedoms of Serbs and non-Albanians in Kosovo whose protection “is also part of UNMIK and KFOR's mission (the international military intervention force”). He also rejected the accusations that Belgrade was constantly exerting pressure on the Serbian Kosovan minority to block the stabilisation process. Skender Hyseni, political advisor to the president of Kosovo, Ibhraim Rugova, called on the international community to “institutionalise Kosovo's independence as soon as possible”. Hyseni stressed that the war in 1999 was the result of erroneous political decisions imposed on Kosovo and that today Europe could no longer support solutions that destabilised the region. He insisted that Kosovan independence was the only practical solution that would get rid of the risk of conflict and allow economic development and the eventual transfer of part of its sovereignty to the institutions of the EU. He added that this would allow Kosovo, which at present could not benefit from bilateral trade agreements or programmes from international financial institutions (because it was not a country), from rapidly getting involved in a cooperation process with its neighbours, “independence would give Kosovo the chance to prove that it was able to respect universal values on human and minority rights”.

Modalities for Kosovo status resolution to be considered soon - UNMIK head

"Early this year we should start to reflect informally on the principles and modalities for status talks," SRSG [Special Representative of the Secretary General] Soeren Jessen-Petersen was quoted as saying in his speech addressed to the European Parliament, and conveyed by his special adviser Kim Freidberg.

SRSG Jessen-Petersen could not attend the conference for subjective reasons.

Freidberg said that there is the risk of attempts to derail the process by various means. "We cannot exclude provocations or violence by those who do not wish to see movement towards status resolution."

"I think it is clear that we are now moving closer to the resolution of the status issue, which is important not only for Kosovo but also Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Albania and the wider region. Status resolution will help Kosovo with its difficult economic and social situation, and, frankly, would also allow Belgrade to focus on its own economic and social priorities," Jessen-Petersen was quoted as saying.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

State Departament Daily Press COnference - Kosovo and Macedonia

QUESTION: According to an official announcement yesterday by the UN, "The Secretary General met with Ilinka Mitreva, Foreign Minister of FYROM, on Monday, January 24th. The Foreign Minister briefed the Secretary General on the status of negotiations between FYROM and Greece, on the name issue, and the demarcation of the Kosovo section of FYROM's border with Serbia and Montenegro." What is the U.S. position on those two issues?

MR. BOUCHER: What was the second issue?

QUESTION: The demarcation of the Kosovo section.

MR. BOUCHER: Demarcation?

QUESTION: Yes. To drawing a line.

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know our exact position on demarcation of borders, but if it's a matter that's being handled with the UN, we support -- I'm sure we support whatever the UN's doing in that regard.

I don't want to get too flip here, but we have worked very closely with the UN on these matters.


MR. BOUCHER: As far as the name issue, I think we've made very clear that we were going to use the name Macedonia, Republic of Macedonia, for the Republic of Macedonia, but that we also continue to support very strongly the effort that was being made with the United Nations to come up with an internationally acceptable name. We look forward to using whatever the outcome of those discussions would be, using the name that came out of those discussions. So we certainly welcome the continuation of those discussions and the efforts that the parties are making and the UN is making to come up with an internationally acceptable name.

QUESTION: So you are going to accept any outcome to change the legal policy from the so-called Republic of Macedonia to the new name?

MR. BOUCHER: We'll adopt whatever name comes out of those international discussions. We've made that clear before.

QUESTION: And also, last week, the Greek Ambassador, Alex Mallias, M-a-double-l-i-a-s, Director of the Balkan Affairs for the Greek Foreign Ministry, had talks here at the State Department. May we have a readout on those talks?

MR. BOUCHER: I'd have to check for you on that.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. BOUCHER: Okay? Thank you.

Kosovo issue must be tackled in 2005 - Slovene foreign minister

"The train for the resolution of the Kosovo issue will depart this year," Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel said after meeting on Tuesday [25 January] with Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the European external relations commissioner.

"We have to take this train," stressed Rupel, adding that the EU as well as the OSCE, which Slovenia presides over this year, need to take this opportunity and focus their know-how to this end.

Kosovo and the related final status of Serbia-Montenegro were just two issues that Rupel and Ferrero-Waldner addressed today. They focused on Slovenia's activities in the OSCE and how the EU could help resolve open issues.

The most burning issue for the OSCE is funding. Referring to Russia's efforts to cut its membership contribution, Rupel said Slovenia will try to convince Russia that "we cannot go on like that".

"This is the question whether to preserve the organization or reject it. I believe that 55 members are not keen on the organization falling apart," he told the press.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Kosovo train is leaving, Brussels conference concludes

The Kosovo train has left the station and it is up to Belgrade to decide whether it will board it or not, but in any case the train will not stop until it reaches its final destination, which is the independence of Kosovo, is the conclusion of Tuesday's international conference in Brussels on the future of Serbia's southern province.
The conference, organized by the European Center For Political Studies and the Belgian foundation King Boduin, rallies numerous prominent figures from the political, diplomatic and media spheres, all of which testifies about the topicality of the Kosovo issue and the great uncertainly linked to its final status.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Exclusive: It's time to talk independence for Kosovo - IHT

It's time to talk independence for Kosovo

Gareth Evans International Herald Tribune
Tuesday, January 25, 2005

A final status plan
BRUSSELS Kosovo's time as a UN protectorate is running out. After six years in international limbo, Kosovo Albanians are frustrated with their unresolved status and economic despair. If they don't start to see real progress on their aspirations for independence, major violence could well erupt in the coming months, as it did last March. And if Albanian attacks against Kosovo's Serbs sparked an armed response from Belgrade, the entire region could be plunged into renewed turmoil.

Of course, if Kosovo wants its own sovereignty it has to show the world it deserves it, with both the institutions and the willingness to protect its Serbian and other minorities. Moreover, given its checkered record, it must be prepared to put up with some international monitoring. On the other hand, a return to the pre-1999 situation is unthinkable, given Serbia's past behavior and realities on the ground.

In mid-2005, the United Nations is scheduled to evaluate the Kosovo government's commitment to democracy, good governance and human rights standards, and if this assessment is positive, it should be all systems go. No country can be expected to mature and grow in an international no-man's land.

The first step should be for the six-nation contact group, which includes the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Russia, to spell out a detailed timeline for the resolution of the status issue, adding some basic ground rules: Progress will depend upon the key issue of protection of minority rights; and there will be no support for Kosovo's return to Belgrade's rule, or Kosovo's partition, or any union of Kosovo with any neighboring state or territory.

As soon as possible, the UN secretary general should appoint a special envoy to begin consultations on a settlement accord and the process by which it should be implemented. That envoy should prepare a draft settlement text - a "Kosovo Accord" - and plan an end-of-year international conference, under UN chairmanship, to endorse it.

At the same time, Kosovo's elected Assembly should begin to draft a constitution, fully addressing the world's concerns. This would also be endorsed by the international conference, and its adoption by referendum in early 2006 would trigger the accord coming into force - and with it, international recognition of Kosovo as a sovereign state.

The accord and the constitution should between them set some limits on an independent Kosovo's freedom of action. In particular:

Kosovo would explicitly commit not to unify with any neighboring state or territory, other than in the context of integration with the European Union;

there would be several internationally appointed judges in Kosovo's superior courts, and certain international parties would have the standing to ensure that key matters relating to minority rights and other agreed obligations were brought before those courts;

Kosovo would accommodate an international monitoring presence, a "Kosovo Monitoring Mission," to report and recommend responses to any backsliding on Kosovo's commitments.

Ideally, this whole process would have Serbia's agreement and be endorsed by the UN Security Council. Belgrade - and perhaps Moscow - may refuse to cooperate with it in part or whole. But the resolution of Kosovo's status cannot be held hostage to that eventuality. Kosovo's de jure sovereignty, if not achieved by Serbian transfer or Security Council resolution, should still be recognized by the international community, or at least those states (including the United States and EU members) prepared to do so. For nearly all practical relations purposes, that will be enough.

After years of efforts to engage Belgrade constructively on the Kosovo problem, working through the proposed accord process without Serbia would amount to not so much a callous disregard of Serbia's rights as a prudent denial of its capacity to wield a veto fraught with risk for everyone.

As for the possibility of an uncooperative Russia, to resolve the Kosovo problem politically, without the Security Council's imprimatur, would be awkward, but much more defensible than the decision in 1999, faced with a similar veto, to intervene with military force.

Legitimate Serbian concerns should be taken fully into account, above all the status of Kosovo's Serb minority, and Serbia should be warmly encouraged to participate fully in achieving the best possible terms of a final settlement. But the international community should caution Serbia's leaders from the outset that the train is leaving the station, with or without them.

(Gareth Evans is president of the International Crisis Group, whose new report on Kosovo can be found at

Serb renegade defies Belgrade, joins Kosovo cabinet

A Kosovo Serb politician who has defied Belgrade's policy on Kosovo was handed the reins of a new ministry on Monday, to repatriate thousands of Serb refugees to the U.N. protectorate.

Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj asked Slavisa Petkovic to head the newly-created Ministry for Returns, a post reserved for the Serb minority.

Petkovic does not have the backing of the Serb leaders in Belgrade, but his appointment will be hailed by Western powers as concrete progress and a blow to Belgrade obstructionism.

He becomes the first Serb to join the Albanian-dominated government led by Haradinaj, a former guerrilla commander Serbia says is a war criminal.

"Serbs shouldn't return to collective centres, but directly to their homes," said Petkovic. "It means there will be Serbs in Pristina, Prizren, and all other towns where they lived before."

The United Nations mission in Kosovo, UNMIK, is expected to confirm his appointment on Wednesday.

Petkovic, 38, ignored a Serb boycott of Kosovo's October general election and his party took two of the 10 seats reserved for the minority in the province's 120-seat parliament.

Kosovo has been a U.N. protectorate since three months of NATO bombing in 1999 expelled Serb forces to end what the West said was their ruthless disregard for civilian life in fighting to crush an Albanian guerrilla insurgency.

An estimated 180,000 Serbs and other minorities fled after the war fearing reprisals. Some 100,000 remain, mostly in isolated enclaves patrolled by 18,000 NATO-led peacekeepers.

Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica has taken a tougher line on Kosovo since Albanian riots in March 2004 against minorities. He led calls for Serbs to boycott the October vote and he opposes Serb participation in Kosovo's institutions.

Analysts say Belgrade wants to obstruct progress on U.N. set standards of democracy and minority rights in order to delay negotiations due this year on whether Kosovo gets the independence its 90-percent Albanian majority demands.

Petkovic's emergence as a willing Serb interlocutor for the West could undermine Belgrade's claim to be the only real representative of Kosovo's Serb minority.

"Belgrade's stance toward the (Serb) community pre-empts local political leadership," the International Crisis Group, an influential think-tank, said in a report. "The boycott of the October elections has kept most of the bargaining power in Belgrade should a final status process begin in 2005."

Marko Jaksic, a Kosovo Serb hardliner and Kostunica ally, said of the appointment: "This shows clearly the U.N. mission has no qualms in opposing democracy, law and order and peace."

Kosovo To Be Discussed During Bush Visit -EU Commissioner

A senior European Union official said Monday that the E.U. intends to discuss Kosovo's future with U.S. President George W. Bush during his February stop in Europe.

E.U. Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn said the organization expects also to discuss the future of the Western Balkans, one of the poorest region in Europe, which is still recovering from decade-long ethnic conflicts of the 1990s.

"My intention ... is to have the Western Balkans, and especially the question of Kosovo also on the agenda of the visit of President George W. Bush to Brussels later in February," said Rehn.

Kosovo, which formally remains part of Serbia-Montenegro, has been administered by the U.N. since mid-1999, when a NATO air war ended a Serb crackdown on independence-seeking ethnic Albanians.

Its status remains unresolved, and the U.N. has said final status talks won't go ahead until the province's government enacts reforms to ensure the protection of minorities, respect for human rights and return of those displaced by fighting.

The province's ethnic Albanian majority wants independence, while its Serb minority wants it to remain part of Serbia-Montenegro, the union that replaced Yugoslavia.

The International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based think tank, warned in a new report released Monday that the disputed province could plunge back into its violent past unless the ethnic Albanian majority demand for independence from Serbia isn't addressed this year.

"Kosovo has to continue to work in order to become a democratic, tolerant and multiethnic society where all the citizens have the right to live, move, work and prosper regardless of their ethnic origin or religion," Rehn said after meeting Kosovo's leaders.

He called upon the leadership to "show real progress and substantive improvement in interethnic relations.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

International Crisis Group Report Released - Kosovo Toward FInal Status

Kosovo: Toward Final Status
Europe Report N°161
24 January 2005


Time is running out in Kosovo. The status quo will not hold. As evidenced by the deadly rioting in March 2004, Kosovo Albanians are frustrated with their unresolved status, the economic situation, and the problems of dealing with the past. The Albanian majority expects the international community to begin delivering this year on its independence aspirations. Without such moves it may act unilaterally. In such circumstances, given the dismal record of Kosovo Albanians with regard to minorities, Kosovo's Serbs may call upon Serbia's armed forces to protect them, and the region could be plunged into new turmoil.

Either 2005 sees major progress on a future status solution that consolidates peace and development, or the danger is that Kosovo will return to conflict and generate regional instability. This report, seeking to fill the blanks left by Security Council Resolution 1244 at the conclusion of the 1999 conflict, shows how that progress might be made.

As a first step, the six-nation Contact Group should issue as soon as possible a statement spelling out a timeline for the resolution of the status issue and four crucial ground rules: that the protection of minority rights in Kosovo is the issue on which progress will most depend and that neither Kosovo's return to Belgrade's rule, nor its partition, nor any possible unification of Kosovo with Albania or any neighbouring state or territory will be supported. At the same time, a Special Envoy should be appointed by the UN Secretary-General to begin consultations on the content of a settlement accord and the process by which it should be implemented.

In mid-2005 the UN is due to assess the Kosovo government's commitment to democracy, good governance and human rights standards. If the assessment is positive, the Special Envoy should prepare a draft settlement text -- the 'Kosovo Accord' -- and the details of an international conference to endorse it.

If Kosovo's new government is to lead its people to the independence destination they desire, there must be complete respect and protection for Kosovo's Serb and other minorities. The Kosovo Assembly, with international assistance, must immediately begin to draft a constitution, fully satisfying these concerns, the text of which would, if accepted by the international conference, form part of the proposed Kosovo Accord. Overall the object of the Accord, together with the new constitution, would be to create the conditions for acceptance of Kosovo as a full member of the international community.

It would be appropriate, given everything that has happened in the past and the uncertainties about behaviour in the future, for the Accord and constitution, between them, to set some limits -- important in content, but few in number and relatively limited in scope -- on an independent Kosovo's freedom of action, in particular:

Kosovo would be explicitly committed not to unify with Albania, or any neighbouring state or territory, other than in the context of EU integration;

there would be a number of internationally appointed judges in Kosovo's superior courts, and certain international parties would have the standing to ensure that certain key matters relating to minority rights and other agreed obligations can be brought before those courts;

Kosovo would accommodate an international monitoring presence -- the 'Kosovo Monitoring Mission' -- to report to the wider international community and recommend appropriate measures if Kosovo were to backslide on its commitments.

Before the end of 2005 the international conference should take place, under UN chairmanship and attended by representatives of the Contact Group members, the EU, Belgrade, and Kosovo's government and opposition parties. In early 2006, approval of the constitution by Kosovo's citizens in a referendum would trigger the coming into effect of the Kosovo Accord. Desirably, to give it complete legal as well as political effect, the Accord would also be endorsed by the UN Security Council. Kosovo's de jure sovereignty, if not achieved by Serbian agreement or Security Council resolution, should be recognised by the whole international community, or at least such of its member states (including the U.S. and EU members) as are prepared to do so.

It has to be contemplated that Serbia -- and perhaps Russia as well ­-- will refuse to cooperate with part or all of this. But the proposed process should not be held hostage to that eventuality: the situation on the ground in Kosovo is too fragile, and the status quo too unsustainable in too many ways, for the international community to allow its future status to be put on indefinite hold. While legitimate Serbian concerns should be taken fully into account, particularly about the status of Kosovo's Serb minority, Belgrade should be cautioned from the outset that "the train is leaving, with or without you", and encouraged to participate fully in achieving the best possible terms of settlement.

Complacency has guided policy on Kosovo for too long. The potential for renewed violence is very real. The international community, in particular the member states of the Contact Group, must decide whether to regain control of the agenda or allow matters to slip until unpleasant new facts are created on the ground that they will have to deal with. The agenda set out above requires political courage as well as energy. But the alternative is worse.


1.  As soon as possible:

(a)  The Contact Group countries (highly desirably including Russia, but if necessary without it), as a confidence and momentum building measure, should issue a statement identifying a timeline for the resolution of the status issue.

(b)  That statement should make clear that the protection of minority rights in Kosovo is the issue on which progress will most depend and that neither Kosovo's return to Belgrade rule nor its partition, nor any possible unification of Kosovo with Albania will be supported.

(c)  The UN Secretary-General, in consultation with the Contact Group, should appoint a Special Envoy to begin consultations on the structure of a final status process and the content of a draft settlement.

(d)  The Kosovo Assembly, with support from international donors, should begin to draft a constitution, including provisions for the protection of minority rights and a number of internationally appointed judges in the Supreme and Constitutional Courts.

(e)  The Kosovo Provisional Institutions of Self Government (PISG) should launch a series of specific programs aimed at accommodating the Serb minority, including a "Pristina - Open City" campaign.

2.  By mid-summer 2005: The SRSG should conclude a review of the PISG's commitment to meeting standards -- with subsequent steps being premised on that review being positive.

3.  By autumn 2005:

(a)  The Kosovo Assembly should finalise the text of the draft constitution.

(b)  The Special Envoy should produce a draft settlement text -- the 'Kosovo Accord'-- and the details of an international conference to endorse both it and the Kosovo constitution.

4.  By end 2005: The international conference should take place, under UN chairmanship and attended by representatives of the Contact Group members, EU, Belgrade, and Kosovo's government and opposition parties (or such of them as are prepared to do so), and endorse the texts, as negotiated, of the Kosovo Accord and constitution.

5.  Early 2006:

(a)  Kosovo should conduct a referendum on its new constitution.

(b)  The Kosovo Accord should be put to the UN Security Council for approval (with that approval being a highly desirable, but not necessary, condition for subsequent steps).

6.  Mid-2006:

(a)  UNMIK should hand over its executive functions to the Kosovo government and its monitoring ones to a new international body (the 'Kosovo Monitoring Mission'). The continuing long-term role of KFOR, or a successor mission, should be confirmed by an accord agreed between NATO and Kosovo's government.

(b)  To the extent this has not already been achieved by Serbian agreement or Security Council resolution, Kosovo's de jure sovereignty should be recognised by the international community, or such member states (including the U.S. and EU members) as are prepared to do so.

Pristina/Belgrade/Brussels, 24 January 2005

Saturday, January 22, 2005

International think-tanks warns of trouble if Kosovo's status not soon resolved

Western powers and U.N. officials administering Kosovo must this year decide on the province's status or run the risk of letting the Balkans slide back into crisis, a respected think-tank warned Friday.

The International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based think tank, cautioned in a 43-page report that time is running out to decide the fate of Kosovo, which has been under U.N. administration since a 1999 NATO air war stopped a Serb crack down on independence-seeking ethnic Albanians.

Kosovo officially remains part of Serbia-Montenegro. The province's ethnic Albanian majority wants independence, while its Serb minority wants it to remain part of Serbia-Montenegro, the union that replaced Yugoslavia.

"Either 2005 sees major progress on a future status solution that consolidates peace and development, or the danger is that Kosovo will return to conflict and generate regional instability," said the report, which was released to The Associated Press on Friday, three days ahead of its scheduled publication date.

The report warned that Kosovo Albanians are frustrated with the unresolved status and unless the international community begins "delivering this year on ... independence aspirations," they may act unilaterally.

"In such circumstances, given the dismal record of Kosovo Albanians with regard to minorities, Kosovo's Serbs may call upon Serbia's armed forces to protect them, and the region could be plunged into new turmoil," it said.

Some 200,000 Serbs and other minorities fled Kosovo following revenge attacks by ethnic Albanian extremists after the 1999 conflict.

In the report, the ICG proposes that U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan appoint a special envoy to help reach a deal that would be endorsed at an at an international conference.

"If Kosovo's new government is to lead its people to the independence destination they desire, there must be complete respect and protection for Kosovo's Serb and other minorities," the report says.

The U.N. has said talks on the final status depend on the province reaching standards on minority protection, respect for human rights and return of those displaced after the war. The U.N. plans later this year to review how far the government has come in meeting those benchmarks before deciding on whether to start final-status talks.

The report says that before the start of talks, all parties should agree that Kosovo not be allowed to unite with the neighboring Albania; that there be no partition of the province of 2 million, and that some sort of international presence remain even if a deal is reached.

"The agenda set out above requires political courage as well as energy," ICG said. "But the alternative is worse."

Friday, January 21, 2005


The territory has been moving towards independence since 1999, and it
is time for the international community to say so.

By Nicholas Whyte in Brussels (BCR No 538, 21-Jan-05)

It's time for the international community to get off the fence on
Kosovo. Over the past five years, the final status issue has been
delayed and ignored while Kosovo's two million inhabitants continue to
exist in an international limbo.

The population will never accept a return to Belgrade rule, and Serbia
does not really want it anyway. The idea of union with other Albanian
territories does not interest anyone except a handful of fanatics, and
partition would set a dangerous precedent for other potential conflict

Kosovo has been moving towards independence since 1999, and it is time
for the international community to say so.

The deadly violence of March 2004 showed that the international
community cannot rely on local goodwill forever. Either 2005 will see
the start of a final status solution that consolidates peace and
development, or Kosovo may return to conflict and generate regional

As a first step, the six-nation Contact Group (the United States,
Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Russia) should issue as soon as
possible a statement spelling out a schedule for the resolution of the
status issue, with independence as the goal.

This must contain some crucial ground-rules: that the protection of
minority rights is the issue on which progress will most depend, and
that neither Kosovo's return to Belgrade's rule, nor its partition,
nor any possible unification of Kosovo with Albania or any
neighbouring state or territory will be supported.

A Special Envoy should manage the process, working closely with the UN
Special Representative in charge of Kosovo, Søren Jessen-Petersen. In
mid-2005, the UN is due to assess the Kosovo government's commitment
to democracy, good governance and human rights standards.

If the assessment is positive, the Special Envoy should prepare a
draft settlement text - the "Kosovo Accord" - and the details of an
international conference to endorse it.

Kosovo's Albanians should not wait until then, however, to start
repairing their relations with their own Serb minority. They should
immediately start working on a "Pristina - Open City" campaign to
attract residents of nearby Serb enclaves back into the capital, and
to the nearby urban centres they were burned out of in the March 2004
riots. But they should also begin to prepare a constitution for an
independent Kosovo, with more than adequate rights guaranteed for all
minorities and with provision for internationally-appointed judges on
Kosovo's superior courts. They should also prepare for an
international monitoring presence, a "Kosovo Monitoring Mission", to
report to the wider international community and recommend appropriate
measures if Kosovo backslides on its obligations.

Serbia needs to accept that Kosovo is lost, and that the role of
Belgrade is to make the best case they can for the Serbs of Kosovo,
rather than fantasise that they will get all, or part, of the province

Serbia has legitimate interests in resolving public and private
property disputes, guaranteeing the situation of the Patriarchate of
Pec and other important religious buildings, and settling the question
of Kosovo's share of Serbia's international debt - where the
international community should be prepared to find a generous
solution. This can all be achieved if Belgrade acquires a sense of

Recent noises from Belgrade are not encouraging in this regard. Media
reports about the plight of Serb villagers in Kosovo who have no
electricity supplies have somehow failed to mention that many Albanian
villagers are in just as bad a position, and their electricity has
been cut off because they have not paid their bills.

Justice Minister Zoran Stojkovic appears to believe that resolving the
legacy of past conflicts through compliance with the Hague war crimes
tribunal is not in fact essential for Serbia's future relations with
the outside world, despite the withdrawal last week of US aid to
Serbia precisely on the basis of Belgrade's failure to meet the
tribunal's demands.

It is not surprising that the EU's foreign policy chief, Javier
Solana, called off a planned visit to Belgrade this week because there
had been insufficient progress on any of the issues he is interested
in. The international community must not reward Belgrade's fantasies.
Instead, it needs to reinforce the message that Belgrade has no veto
on the resolution of Kosovo's final status, and that if it is
necessary to find a solution that can be made to work without
Belgrade's consent, that solution will be found.

Complacency has guided policy on Kosovo for too long. The potential
for renewed violence is very real. The international community, in
particular the member states of the Contact Group, must decide whether
to regain control of the agenda or allow matters to slip until
unpleasant new facts are created on the ground that they will have to
deal with.

To tackle this agenda requires political courage as well as energy.
But the alternative is worse.

Nicholas Whyte is the Director of the International Crisis Group's
Europe Program.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

OSCE's Rupel sees situation in Serbia as "complicated"

A representative of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe [OSCE], [Chairman-in-Office] Dimitrij Rupel, has said that "Kosovo and Serbia are very far away because of the complicated situation in Serbia".

Explaining his statement, Rupel, Slovenia's minister of foreign affairs, told B92: "On one side there are the problems of the past, by this I am referring to the Hague suspects, there is the problem with Montenegro, because the future of this union is very unsure, the problem with Kosovo because Serbia's concepts are for the most part different from those of the international community."

Rupel continued: "They have a fairly exciting internal political life, because there are election problems, some say that there will be elections for the entire nation, some say there will not. Well, if this is not enough to call the situation complicated, then I do not know what else is necessary."

Speaking of his visit to Kosovo, Rupel said that he took that time to meet with every important figure in the region's political life and that his impressions were not very bad, and for the most part, very encouraging.

"Our friends in Pristina are aware that without paying attention to the Serbian minority and monuments of the Serbian culture, they cannot expect positive reports which would initiate talks about the future status of Kosovo," Rupel said.

Asked by reporters to explain the comment he made in Vienna that perhaps the separation of Serbia and Montenegro could bring stability to the region, Rupel said that this statement was made up and that he never said such a thing.

"It is important to see what Serbia and Montenegro will decide between themselves," Rupel said.

Kosovo premier says no chance of conflict spilling into Macedonia

Skopje: Kosovo authorities are very interested in the region's and Macedonia's stability, Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj said Thursday [20 January] in an interview with Macedonian TV Telma.

"I am encouraged by the efforts of Macedonian Government and citizens to improve interethnic relations in the country, preparing it for an accession to the European Union and NATO," Haradinaj said.

Asked about a possible conflict in Kosovo during talks on the province's status and its spilling over in Macedonia, Haradinaj said that there was no potential for such developments.

"Kosovo is stable and the situation has been improving. Everybody who visit Kosovo may see that," Haradinaj said.

Speaking about a demarcation of the Macedonia-Serbia/Montenegro border, on Kosovo part, Haradinaj said the matter called for a direct Skopje-Pristina dialogue.

"We are open for good relations with Macedonia and talks on any subject of mutual interest. I hope that the Macedonian Prime Minister will find an opportunity to visit Kosovo," Haradinaj said, adding that Kosovars are ready for both political and business relations with Macedonia.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Albanian Prime MInister Nano says Kosovo should become independent state

Albanian Prime Minister Fatos Nano said on Wednesday that Kosovo should become an independent state and that, initially, the province's administration should be modified to become "less international and more European."
In an interview he gave for the AFP news agency during his stay in Paris, Nano voiced hope that Albania would sign the Agreement on Stabilisation and Association with the European Union in 2005 and join the European Union together with other Balkan countries in 2014.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Offical Transcript from the Confirmation Hearing of Condoleeza Rice - EXCERPT ON KOSOVO

Voinovich: You've dealt with a lot of the major issues that are on everyone's mind. But I think you know I have a particular interest in Southeast Europe, where I spent probably more time than any member of the Foreign Relations Committee. And we've made some progress there.

We've gotten rid of Milosevic. We've gotten rid of Tudjman. Stjepan Mesic just got reelected president of Croatia. Slovenia has joined NATO and the E.U. And there's some real progress being made.

But I am very concerned about what's going on in Serbia- Montenegro today. I'm very concerned about what's happening in Kosovo. Because I really believe that, unless things are stabilized in Serbia-Montenegro and we stabilize things in Kosovo, that we could very well have another crisis on your hands this year, particularly because we're discussing the final status of Kosovo, what's going to be happening there.

I'd like to say that Mark Grossman has done a good job. I'd like to know, where is that on your priority list? And are you familiar with it? And what do you -- you know, we've got our NATO forces over there.

VOINOVICH: They haven't got the job done.

You recall on the 17th of March last year, 4,000 refugees, 900 homes burned, 30 churches. There's some real problems in that part of the world. We've invested a lot of money. I'd like to know what do you think you're going to do about that?

RICE: Yes, I think it's a high priority, Senator, because it would help complete the European construction if you think of it that way, that in effect, until the Balkans is settled it's going to be hard to think of Europe as truly whole and free. So we need to resolve the remaining Balkans issues.

And on Bosnia-Herzegovina we've made a lot of progress. We've been able to end the SFOR mission there and to have the E.U. take that mission over.

But you're right, in Kosovo, in Serbia, Montenegro, we have a thorny set of problems.

One of the issues in Kosovo has been to try to get some energy into UNMIK. And I think we've got now in the leadership there, strong people who are looking to try to improve the coordination on economic and political affairs there.

We definitely need the Serbs to continue their democratic process. I think we were all somewhat heartened about the election there of Mr. Tadic, and I hope that they will take the opportunity that that provides to make progress on the further democratization of Serbia.

And, of course, we do need their cooperation in the international tribunal for Yugoslavia, and we continue to press that case.

Ultimately, on Kosovo, as we've had this standards before status approach, we recognize that the standards are going to be important to the future of that region. Meeting those standards is going to be important to the future of that region.

And I notice that Mr. Jessen-Petersen has put a lot of emphasis on those standards that are about minority rights and the need to deal with the Serbian minority there, so that we can move on then to discussions in the review conference that's coming up about status (ph).

VOINOVICH: I'd just like to say that I hope that we really give it the priority it needs. Because last year when Secretary Powell was here, I said to him, "I don't think we're doing the job we're supposed to be doing."

He said, "I know. I think things are fine." And then we had the blowup there.

But I'm just telling you, we have a situation there.

Now you've got the new prime minister of Kosovo who may go to The Hague, Selana (ph), and our people have encouraged the Kosovars not to put that person in and he's still there.

So you've got a real problem there that needs to be taken care of in addition to getting the other countries to give up their caveats in terms of what they can do. Because we had all these burnings of homes there and they just watched the homes and monasteries burn down and said, "We can't do anything about it because our orders are we only protect people, not property."

RICE: I take the point, Senator.

EXCLUSIVE:Unofficial Transcript - Rice - UNMIK leadership has improved political affairs in Kosovo

Serbia: Need to continue democratic process in Serbia, Tadic to continue process of further democratization of Serbia and they need to cooperate with ICTY.

Kosovo: We recognize that standars are important for future. Peterson has put his effort on standards for minorities.

UN welcomes Kosovo Protection Corps offer to send unit to tsunami-hit region

The UN headquarters in New York has welcomed the idea of sending a contingent of the Kosova [Kosovo] Protection Corps [TMK] in Southeastern Asia affected by tsunami some weeks ago.

Sources within UNMIK [UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo] told KosovaLive that the TMK request to help the tsunami victims was deemed by New York as step of a good will.

The UN headquarters said that it remains to southeastern countries in Asia to decide whether they want to invite the TMK to provide their assistance in overcoming the crisis.

The TMK are established by the UN to react and help in emergency situations, but the majority population in Kosova sees the TMK as a defence force.

Lt-Gen Agim Ceku has asked UNMIK to allow a TMK contingent to serve in the humanitarian mission in the countries affected by tsunami.

The idea for deploying of the TMK troops to Southeastern Asia was supported also by Kosova President Ibrahim Rugova and Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj.

Remarks by the SRSG to the media upon his return to Pristina this morning, following his trips to Geneva and Belgrade

very good in Geneva and less productive in Belgrade. In
Geneva I had very good talks on the missing persons [issue], [the] ICRC is
ready in February to resume the dialogue on the missing persons between
Pristina and Belgrade and I had very good talks with the International
Telecommunications Union; the issue of getting an independent code for
Kosovo is moving forward and I hope that we'll get a positive decision in

In Belgrade it seemed that - as very often is the case -  that Belgrade
seems to be able to only focus on one issue at a time and yesterday it was
electricity which the advisor to the Prime Minister called "the condition
of all conditions". They as I say focused only on that but I did inform
them about progress in the area of decentralisation, in the area of
standards implementation, I briefed them on my talks in Geneva with the
President of ICRC on missing persons and said that we would now move
forward and I had no comment against that so, I as say, we do intend to
convene a first meeting of the Working Group on Missing Persons in

Q: What was their reaction to [your briefing on the meetings]  in Geneva?

"I will say [that they were] just listening. I made it clear again that in
many areas which I think is also important for Belgrade - they are very
important for the Kosovo Serbs, that I know - in many areas we are making
considerable progress, the new government is making considerable progress.
I told them we are moving forward, the clock is ticking, it is not too late
for the Kosovo Serbs to engage but time is running and they'd better engage
as soon as possible because we are moving forward, this new government is
moving forward very determinedly in Kosovo."

Q: And what was their reaction to this?
"Discussing  only one issue, electricity, listening to my briefings on the
other issues. I trust listening carefully, I trust taking note that we are
moving forward, the clock is ticking."

Q: What's your position now that you've come back from Belgrade?
"I mean to continue moving forward; a lot of progress is being made in the
area of decentralisation, by the working group here, by the Prime Minister,
by the Minister for Local Government; a lot of progress [is also being
made] on standards implementation and in a lot of other areas, so we just
have to continue working hard - as the government  is doing, as UNMIK is
doing. We are moving forward towards a comprehensive review [and] with this
hard work  I expect there to be  a lot of progress in the positive
assessment which will take us into status talks, so we just have to
continue working hard on the agenda, continue reaching out to the Kosovo
Serbs, try to engage the Kosovo Serbs - but we cannot wait."

Monday, January 17, 2005

EXCLUSIVE: BBC Interview with Kosovo PM

Human rights group accuses secret service of harassment

A prominent human rights group that accuses Serbian security forces of hiding evidence of war crimes committed during the Kosovo war said Monday its associates are being harassed.

The Humanitarian Law Fund said secret service and police officials in southern Serbia are trying to intimidate anyone with ties to the group to prevent them from speaking out about atrocities committed by Serb forces in the 1999 war.

The Belgrade-based group recently accused Serbian security forces of burning the bodies of ethnic Albanian victims during the conflict to cover up evidence of mass killings.

"The local state security service and police have been interrogating people, threatening them and organizing terrorist acts in order to discover our sources and prevent the people from speaking out," the group said in a statement.

In one example cited by the group, Anita Nikolic, a customs officer who is represented by the fund in a sexual harassment case, received death threats and her car was set on fire.

A senior police official said investigators would look into the allegations of threats against the group's associates in southern Serbia.

The Humanitarian Law Fund claimed last month that Serbian security forces during the war burned bodies of slain ethnic Albanian civilians in Serbian factories and mines.

The authorities have promised to investigate the case but so far have not confirmed the fund's claims.

The war in Kosovo pitted Serbian security troops against ethnic Albanian separatists during the rule of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.

The brutality of the Serb crackdown led to 78 days of NATO bombing of Serbia in 1999 which forced Milosevic to pull out his troops from the province and hand over control to the United Nations and NATO.

Following Milosevic's ouster in 2000, the new, pro-Western authorities revealed the existence of at least three mass graves in central Serbia containing bodies of slain Kosovo ethnic Albanians.

Milosevic is currently standing trial at the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, for the atrocities committed by the Serbs in Kosovo, Croatia and Bosnia.

Serbs yield nothing on UN's Kosovo missing demands

Kosovo's United Nations governor Soren Jessen-Petersen left empty-handed on Monday after talks with Serb leaders on the fate of more than 3,000 people still missing since the 1998-99 Kosovo war.

Serbia has already found 836 corpses of ethnic Albanians in mass graves far from Kosovo, and on Sunday a senior police official said it was checking reports that Serb police also incinerated Kosovo Albanian corpses in 1999 in a factory furnace.

But the U.N. governor said his meetings had been dominated "exclusively" by Belgrade's complaints about power cuts in two Kosovo Serb enclaves, an issue he said had been politicised.

Jessen-Petersen said the fate of Kosovo's missing was a "burning humanitarian issue" and he deplored the fact that his talks had been sidetracked by an electricity complaint.

"I don't feel we have made today the kind of progress on some very important issues that should have been made," he told a news conference.

He urged a resumption of dialogue on the issue, which Belgrade suspended in the wake of devastating Albanian riots against Serbs and other minorities in Kosovo in March 2004.


"I urged (Prime Minister Vojislav) Kostunica to agree to an early date. I did not get an early date, but I will now come up with one," he said.

Interior Ministry inspector-general Vladimir Bozovic told Radio B92 on Sunday that investigators were probing charges that Albanian bodies had been burned in southern Serbia in 1999.

He hoped "a professional and objective investigation will be completed which will yield results" in the next two months.

Bozovic could not be contacted on Monday for comment.

Allegations that bodies had been burned as well as buried in mass graves came recently from respected human rights lawyer Natasa Kandic.

Citing "independent sources", Kandic says cadavers were incinerated on the nights of May 16 and 24, during NATO's 11-week bombing campaign to drive Serb forces from Kosovo.

She alleges that several police officials still holding senior positions were involved in the operation in the town of Surdulica, 40 kilometres (25 miles) east of Kosovo.

The province, with an ethnic Albanian majority, became a U.N. protectorate in 1999 after NATO expelled Serb forces.

The regime of former leader Slobodan Milosevic is known to have trucked hundreds of bodies from Kosovo to Serbia proper and buried them in mass graves, later discovered and opened.

The existence of the graves was revealed in 2001 as reformers braced Serbs for Milosevic's extradition to the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague.

Serbian authorities have yet to charge anyone for what U.N. prosecutors say was a systematic cover-up. About 2,400 of the 3,000 missing are Albanians. Fewer than half of the remains of those found dead have been returned to their families, a rate the U.N. says is unacceptably slow.

UNMIK chief "disappointed" over Serbian president's, premier's choice of topic

Following a one-day visit to Belgrade and his meeting with Serbian President Boris Tadic and Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica, UNMIK [UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo] chief Soeren Jessen-Petersen has reiterated his invitation to the Serbian leadership to join UNMIK and Kosovo institutions in high-level talks regarding the issues of joint interest, such as the issue of security.

A statement from UNMIK said that Petersen had informed the president and the prime minister about progress made regarding decentralization [in Kosovo] and he reiterated his invitation for a continuation of direct dialogue about missing persons.

"Prime Minister Kostunica and President Tadic almost completely focused on the issue of electricity supply to Batuse and Lipljan villages populated by the Serbs. These villages have been without electricity since there has been a fault in the grid, following villagers' refusal to pay their bills to the KEK [Kosovo Energy Corporation], which is a condition for fixing the problem, and this is a policy applicable to all KEK consumers", the statement said.

The UNMIK chief said that he "understood their concern, especially regarding individual cases where people face difficult living conditions. He asked his former adviser for minority issues, Craig Jenness, to visit these villages in company of Kosovo Serb representatives in order to establish precise reasons why these inhabitants were unable to pay for their bills".

"The KEK has a policy which I support, and this is that the people should pay for the services they use, which is the way these things are being done everywhere in the world. However, if there are individual cases of people living in difficult conditions, of course, we would immediately focus on them as humanitarian cases that must be solved through mechanisms of social protection," Petersen said.

Petersen said that he was "disappointed that the Serbian leaders did not focus on other equally important issues which he was ready to discuss".

"Such an attitude was inappropriate. Progress is being made over numerous issues which are of direct interest to Kosovo Serbs, especially with regard to decentralization. The clock is ticking, and we must move on. We believe that Belgrade could play a very useful role if it were to constructively engage regarding these important issues and this is why I am very sorry that they did not feel capable of doing this today. However, we must move on, which is what we are going to do," the statement said.

Petersen was also "disappointed with non-existence of a resolute devotion on part of the prime minister with regard to humanitarian issue of missing persons, despite an invitation by International Red Cross chairman Jakob Kellenberger last week and his personal invitation today that direct dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade be urgently continued".

UNMIK chief "nevertheless, intends to propose a date for a continuation of dialogue soon," the statement said.

Unmik and Serbia discuss Kosovo - BBC

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Daniel Server from the USIP says Belgrade might start implementing force in Kosovo

The US decision to deny additional ten-million-dollar assistance to Serbia reflects the dissatisfaction and frustration of the US Administration, but also its wish to make it clear to Belgrade that the lack of cooperation with the Hague-based war crimes tribunal would not be tolerated, Director of the Balkan Initiative at the Institute for Peace Daniel Server told the US state radio Voice of America.
Conditions for Serbia's sertification have not changed since 1996, but it appears that Belgrade has decided to keep the security structures from the Milosevic era, Server said

Friday, January 14, 2005

Transcript from the State Departament announcement that US Gov. is withholding its aid to Serbia

QUESTION: Last night you announced the withholding of some aid from Serbia and Montenegro.

MR. BOUCHER: $10 million, yeah.

QUESTION: And could you be more specific about the reasons behind this? It mentioned Ratko Mladic, who was recently, apparently, credibly spotted in the Republika Srpska. Are you somehow blaming Serbia and Montenegro for that or --

MR. BOUCHER: We, I think, have made clear that there are a variety of people who we think either have the ability or the influence to see that people wanted by the tribunal are brought to justice. That includes, obviously, the authorities in the Republika Srpska and we take steps against them.

We also think the Serbian Government has a responsibility, indeed, has the ability and the influence to ensure that these people are brought to justice. And so that's why we thought it was necessary to withhold the $10 million.

Red Cross, UN urge ethnic Albanians, Serbia to find Kosovo's missing

The international Red Cross and the United Nations on Friday urged authorities in Serbia and Kosovo to resume direct talks on some 3,000 people missing since the conflict in the Serbian province five years ago.

"Thousands of families have been waiting for years now to learn what happened to a missing relative," said Francois Stamm, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) operations chief for southeast Europe.

"The authorities on both sides have a responsibility to clear up this question," he added in a statement.

After a meeting with Soren Jessen-Petersen, the UN's special representative for Kosovo -- which is still under the world body's administration -- the ICRC reiterated that it was ready to chair a working group to find out what happened to the missing.

The southern Serbian province became a UN protectorate after a NATO bombing campaign to end the 1998-99 war between Serbian forces and separatist ethnic Albanian guerrillas.

Attempts to resolve the fate of those unaccounted for since the conflict have been hampered by the ongoing and at times violent stand-off between the Serbian and ethnic Albanian communities in the province.

Serbia has also objected to the appointment of Ramush Haradinaj, a former ethnic Albanian rebel commander, as prime minister of the province following elections in October.

Jessen-Petersen said further delays could only aggravate the suffering of families in all communities in Kosovo.

"I am grateful for the ICRC's offer to take a lead role in facilitating dialogue because we now need to move on this issue. It has been dormant for too long," he said.

The international community has insisted on a dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina on practical issues before it allows talks on the final status of Kosovo, which is hotly disputed by the two sides.

Kosovo: United Nations, ICRC, call for renewed dialogue on missing persons

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Powell Withholds from Serbia-Montenegro $10 million in Assistance

Kosovo leaders condemn killing of UN policeman

An international policeman died when a vehicle belonging to UNMIK [United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo] exploded. The incident happened in Prizren at 0830 [0630 gmt], UNMIK police spokesperson Ken Stica said. Although the name of the policeman was not made public, unofficial sources said the policeman comes from Nigeria.

UNMIK chief Soeren Jessen-Petersen, President [Ibrahim] Rugova and Kosova [Kosovo] Prime Minister [Ramush] Haradinaj denounced the killing of the international policeman.


BELGRADE, January 13 - Serbia's Supreme Court has overturned a war crime sentence on Sasa Cvjetan, former member of Serbia's notorious Scorpions "anti-terrorist" police unit, considered responsible for the March 1999 massacre of 14 civilians, mostly women and children, in Podujevo, Kosovo.

Cvjetan was sentenced to 20 years in jail, the heaviest punishment applied in Serbia, and at the time judge Biljana Sinanovic defined the massacre "a monstrous crime."

The severe punishment has been seen as an encouraging sign for Belgrade's capacity to settle the accounts with its own wartime past.

Cvjetan's defence lawyer Djordje Kalanj filed an appeal on December 22, 2004 reporting alleged abuses and irregularities both during the investigation and the trial.

The Supreme Court has so far failed to announce its motives but the overturning of the sentence is expected to fuel the year-long disputes on whether Serbia had completely broken with its nationalistic past during Slobodan Milosevic's regime.

Belgrade has been targeted by the Hague-based International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia which accuses Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica's government of lack of cooperation. Four former army and police generals, whose extradition has been requested by The Hague judges, are still at large in Serbia and the tribunal head prosecutor Carla Del Ponte believes that key fugitives such as former Bosnian Serb General Ratko Mladic enjoy excellent refuge and protection in Serbia.

US Representatives Lantos and Hyde Submited REsolution for the Recognition of Independent Kosova - FULL RESOLUTION TEXT

Expressing ilie sense ofilie House of Representatives that the United States
should declare its support for the independence of Kosova.
January 4, 2005
Mr .LANTOS submitted the following resolution (for himself and Mr .Hyde }; which was referred to

Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the United States should declare its support for the independence ofKosova.
Whereas the United States and the international community recognize that a right to self. detennination exists as a fundamental right of an people;
Whereas Kosova was constitutionally defined as a sovereign ten'itory in the First National Liberation Conference for Kosova on January 2, 1944, and this status was confinned in the Constitution of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia adopted in 1946, and the amended Yugoslav constitution adopted in 1974 preserved the autonomous status ofKosova as a de facto republic;
Whereas prior to the disintegration of the fonner Yugoslavia, Kosova was a separate political and legal entity with separate and distinct financial institutions, police force, m1micipal and national government, school system, judicial and legal system, hospitals and other independem organizations;
Whereas Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic rose to power in 1987 on a platfonn of ultra nationalism and anti-Albanian racism. advocating violence and hatred against all non-Slavs and specifically targeting the Albanians ofKosova;

Whereas Slobodan Milosevic subsequently stripped Kosova of its self-rule, without the consent of the people ofKosova;
Whereas the elected Assembly ofKosova, faced with these intolerable acts. adopted a Declaration of Independence on July 2, 1990. proclaimed the Republic of Kosova, and adopted a constitution on September 7, 1990, based on the international legal principles of self -detennination, equality, and sovereignty;
Whereas in recognition of the de facto dissolution of the Yugoslav federation, the European community establishal principles for the recognition of the independence and sovereignty of the republics of the fonner Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Kosova fully satisfied those principles as a de facto republic within the federation;
Whereas a popular referendum was held in Kosova from September 26-30, 1991, in which 87 percent of all eligible voters cast ballots and 99.87 percent voted in favor of declaring Kosova. independent of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia;
Whereas, from the occupation ofKosova in 1989 until the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NA TO) military action against the Milosevic ..egime in 1999, the Albanians of Kosova were subjected to the most brutal treabnent in the heart of Europe since the Nazi era, forcing approximately 400,000 Albanians to flee to Western Europe and the United States;
Whereas in the spring of 1999 almost 1,000,000 Kosovar Albanians were driven out of Kosova and at least 10,000 were murdered by the Semian paramilitary and military;
Whereas Slobodan Milosevic was indicted by the International War Crimes Tribunal and extradited to The Hague in June 200 1 to stand trial for war crimes, crimes against humanity. and genocide in Kosova, Bosnia. and Croatia;
Whereas the United Nations established Kosova as a protectorate tmder Resolution 1244, ending the decade long Serbian occupation ofKosova and Milosevic's genocidal war in Kosova;
Whereas Kosovar Albanians~ together with representatives of the Serb, Turkish, Roma, Bosniak. and Ashkali minorities in Kosova~ have held ftee and fair municipal and general elections in 2000 and 2001 and successfully established a parliament in 2002. which in turn elected a president and prime minister;
Whereas 50 percent of the population jn Kosova is under the age of25 and the unemployment rate is currently between 60 and 70 percent, increasing the likelihood of young people entering criminal networks, the source of which lies outside ofKosova, or working abtoad in order to survive unless massive job creation is facilitated by guaranteeing the security of foreign investments through an orderly tt'ansition to the independence of Kosova;

THU 10:26 FAX 2022263561
Whereas the Kosova parliament is committed to developing a westem~style democracy in which all citizens, regardless of ethnicity, are granted full human and civil rights and are colmnitted to the return of all noncriminal Serbs who fled Kosova during and after the war; and
Whereas there is every reason to believe that independence from Serbia is the only viable option for Kosova, after autonomy has failed time and time again: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved. That it is the sense of the House of Representatives that the United
States should -
(I) recognize the danger that delay in the resolution of Kosova's final status poses for the political and economic viability ofKosova and its neighbors, and consequently for the future of Southeast Europe;
(2) publicly support the independence of Kosova within its existing
borders as a sovereign and democratic state in which human rights, including the
rights of edmic and religious minorities, and the rule of law are respected as the
only way to lasting peace and stability in the Balkans;
(3) establish a monitoring body in conjunction with the United Nations,
the North Atlantic Treaty Organizati~ and other multilateral organizations to
ensure that the new state ofKosova achieves the standards set forth by the UN
Security Council, including the protection of minority rights and security for all of
Kosova. s communities. and to facilitate an orderly transition from a UN
protectorate to a fully functioning democratic govenunent;
(4) work with the Council ofEwupe to develop and implement anti-
racism programs that would be instituted at the level of federal and municipal
governments throughout the Balkans.

(5) work with the United Nations and North Atlantic Treaty Organization
to facilitate the return of Albanians to their pre-war homes in northern Mitrovica
and its environs aIKi Serbs to theirs in southern Mitrovica and other parts of
(6) provide its share of assistance, trade~ and other programs to support the
govenunent of an independent Kosova and to encourage the further development
of democracy. rule of law, and a free market economic system in Kosova and
throughout the BaJkans.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

EXCLUSIVE: European Chief Considers Using Existing, austere bases

European Chief Considers Using Existing, austere bases
By: Vince Crawley

As he eyes new locations for US troops in and around Europe, the top commander for the region small contigents likely will continue serving in Bosnia, Kosovo and the Republic of Georgia for years to come.

But, rather than build costly facilities for future missions, Marine Corps Gen. James Jones said he’s primarily interested in making use of existing locations – including US camps as well as existing facilities in potential host countries such as Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland and Romania.

“I’m for capitalizing on things that we’ve already put a lot of money in,” Jones said in a late December interview while visiting Washington.

Jones said Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo is an almost ideal model of the kind of installations he envisions for American troops in Europe in the decades ahead – small, austere, no family-support infrastructure and located in the heart of a potential hot spot where even a small US presence can have a significant impact.
For that reason, he favors turning Bondsteel into a semi permanent forward operating base “because its built, its already there,” he said. The massive base, in a sparsely Kosovo, was swiftly built as a hub for US troops after NATO’s 1999 air war against Serbia.

Though Kosovo no longer makes front-page headlines, about 1,800 U.S. troops are deployed there as part of larger NATO force. The province – where ethnic Albanians seek to break away from Serbia - is “still a pretty hot spot and will be for at least a couple of years more” said Jones, who is commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Europe.

Once a lasting peace takes hold the United States should be able to reduce its presence, but Jones said he sees no reason to abandon Camp Bondsteel.

“It’s fairly strategic; it’s an important part of Europe from the standpoint of the war on terrorism,” he said.

Jones has undertaken a similar strategy with the former Eagle Base at Tuzla Airport in nearby Bosnia and Herzegovina. The NATO peacekeeping mission there formally ended in December after nine years but a small American presence remains at the facility, renamed Camp Eagle. The base can accommodate a “battalion-sized surge” of roughly 1,000 troops, and the tiny permanent party presence can ensure access to the airfield at any time, Jones said.

Former Soviet Bloc

The American military presence in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia is more recent and is generally measured in the dozens of low hundreds. But Jones said that the United States has also devoted several years’ worth of financial and diplomatic resources to help train and equip Georgian forces for fights against regional rebel militants with ties to terrorist groups.
About 110,000 U.S. military personnel are assigned to units based in Europe, though tens of thousands are deployed to Iraq. Jones two years ago launched an initiative that’s in the process of sending about half of those troops to the home base within the United States.

The idea is to create a leaner, more deployable presence in Europe without the added costs of family services and extensive community infrastructure. Still, at least 55,000 American troops will remain in Europe – centered at Ramstein Air Base and Grafenwoehr, Germany, as well as deployment hubs in northern Italy and major ports in Rota, Spain, and Naples, Italy.

Naples will be home to the U.S. Navy’s European headquarters, which is transferring from London.
Jones’ staff also is engaged in diplomacy with new NATO allies, particularly Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland and Romania, to develop training sites for U.S. troops. (Army Times, January 17, 2005)

Serbia's Supreme Court overturns landmark war crimes conviction

Serbia's Supreme Court on Wednesday threw out a 20-year prison sentence and ordered a retrial for a Serb police officer found guilty by a lower court of executing 14 ethnic Albanian civilians during the 1999 Kosovo war, lawyers said.

The case was returned to the same Belgrade court that found Sasa Cvjetan guilty in March of the massacre of civilians in Podujevo, said his defense lawyer, Djordje Kalanj.

Defense lawyers had appealed Cvetjan's landmark conviction, saying his rights had been violated during the investigation when he was interrogated without his lawyers' presence.

Sonja Prostran, a spokeswoman for the Belgrade war crimes court, confirmed to B-92 radio that Cvjetan's conviction was overturned and the case ordered for retrial.

Prosecutors could not be reached after office hours Wednesday to comment on the Supreme Court's decision.

Cvjetan was a member of Serbia's notorious Scorpions "anti-terrorist" police unit, which stormed Podujevo during NATO's 1999 air war. He pleaded innocent to charges he shot a group of ethnic Albanian women, children and elderly people in Podujevo in March 1999, killing 14 and wounding five.

His was the first war crimes case to go before a civilian court in Serbia, which is still struggling to come to terms with atrocities committed by Serb troops in Kosovo.

Kalanj said he did not expect the retrial to start before March. It was unlikely that all witnesses who had testified in the original trial would appear again, "only those asked by the court," Kalanj said.

The high point of the trial had been harrowing testimonies from ethnic Albanian children who had survived the Podujevo massacre.

War crimes trials here became possible only after former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's ouster in 2000 and his subsequent extradition by pro-democracy leaders to the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands. He is now on trial there for his role in the 1990s Balkan wars, including Kosovo.

In 2002, four former Serb soldiers were convicted and sentenced by a military court in Serbia for war crimes in Kosovo, receiving from three to seven years in jail.

Seventeen Serb paramilitary soldiers are currently standing trial before a special war crimes court in Belgrade for alleged war crimes committed in Croatia in 1992.

NATO launched the 1999 air war to halt Milosevic's crackdown on ethnic Albanians in Kosovo. An estimated 10,000 ethnic Albanians were killed during the fighting.

Kosovo has since been run by a U.N. mission and international peacekeepers.

Macedonian premier asks Albania's help for border delineation with Kosovo

The relations between Albania and Macedonia are a positive example for all the countries of the region. Such a relationship is important for putting an end to the region's conflict-ridden past, and for opening the way to the cooperation and integration into Europe. Following his appointment as new head of the Macedonian Government, Vlado Buckovski decided to begin his foreign visits' agenda with a trip to Albania.

The further expansion of the cooperation in the economic, military and police fields was the main topic of the talks between the prime ministers of Albania and Macedonia. They expressed, in particular, their appreciation about the cooperation in the framework of the Adriatic Charter through which Albania and Macedonia expect to be invited to the next NATO summit and be admitted into the membership of the north Atlantic alliance.

Speaking at a news conference the two prime ministers described 2005 as the year of the economic cooperation.

[Albanian Premier Fatos Nano] The commissions of the economic and trade cooperation, and the water commissions will hold their meetings shortly. The economy ministers and the chambers of trade will organize joint activities aimed at the intensification of the exchanges between the two countries in the framework of the free trade agreement.

[Announcer] Buckovski said that the signing of the agreement on Ambo oil pipeline project is a symbolic indication showing that after many years the implementation of Corridor 8 [regional project] is becoming a reality. To this end during this year we will cooperate closely on the improvement of the infrastructure in the framework of this project.

Prime Minister Nano said that the implementation of Oher [Ohrid] Agreement, Kosova [Kosovo], and the dialogue with the other countries of the region are issues, on which they should be rapid progress.

[Nano] I commended and encouraged Prime Minister Buckovski for the continued resolute implementation of Oher Agreement and for continuing the excellent cooperation with [BDI Chairman] Ali Ahmeti. I shared with my colleague similar commitments and assessments about Kosova's stability and the need for the continued successful implementation of the policy of the standards for a status [as heard], promoted by the United States and the EU as a means for determining the final status of Kosova.

We noted with pleasure that our two countries are continuing their dialogue with Belgrade by encouraging the integration of Serbia-Montenegro into the regional cooperation initiatives, which stabilize the region and accelerate the reforms for integration into the Euro-Atlantic structures.

[Announcer] Asked by the journalists Buckovski said that he had asked for Albania's help in the re-delineation of the borderline between Macedonia and Kosova. We asked Albania's help so that the border's delineation begins exactly at the triangle of Albania, Macedonia and Kosova. However, for this we also need the support of UNMIK [UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo], Belgrade and Prishtina [Pristina].

[Nano] We pledged to follow this problem with due attention together in the framework of the gradual solution of all the issues specified in UN Resolution 1244.

[Announcer] Speaking about Albania's recognition of Macedonia's name Prime Minister Nano expressed his commitment to contributing in the international meetings to the solution of this issue.

[Nano] Albania has recognized and respects Macedonia's constitutional name in its direct relations with this country and its representative institutions. We are ready to contribute, as UN member country and in all the international contacts, to the eventual solution of this problem in the UN Security Council framework, because like in the case regarding the demarcation of the point at which our new, open borders meet in the region, we believe that the fewer outstanding issues from the past we have the more secure the stability and prosperity for the Euro-Atlantic integration of our countries and region [as heard].

[Announcer] Albania currently cooperates closely with Macedonia on police, defence and intelligence matters in the framework of the fight against trafficking and the integrated border management for peace and stability in the region.

Kosovo PM says province will gain independence by year-end

Kosovo's prime minister and former guerrilla leader Ramush Haradinaj said Wednesday that his UN-administered Serbian province would gain independence by year-end.

"The only option and possibility to fulfill the wishes of Kosovo people is independence of Kosovo. By the year-end it will be clear, and I believe, accomplished," Haradinaj told the Croatian weekly newspaper Globus in an interview.

Talks over Kosovo status should begin this year under UN auspices. The southern Serbian province became a UN protectorate after NATO intervened to end the 1998-99 war between Serbian forces and separatist ethnic Albanian guerrillas

Haradinaj said he was confident that by the middle of this year, Pristina would show considerable improvements on implementing a set of basic democratic standards, which is a prerequisite for status talks.

"For us those standards are not just the only way to open the doors for the final solution of the Kosovo issue but also the only (one) for us... to function as an European society, democratic and tolerant," he said.

Belgrade opposes independence for Kosovo, which is the historic cradle of the Serbian state, and has objected to the appointment of Haradinaj following October elections.

Haradinaj, 35, was a senior commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) guerrilla movement during the war against Serbian forces. He was recently questioned by UN war crimes investigators.

The international community insists on a dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina on practical issues before opening of status talks.

The leaders of Kosovo and Serbia held their first face-to-face talks since the Kosovo war in October 2003 but the process was badly undermined by violent anti-Serb riots in the province that left 19 dead and some 900 injured.

Serbian premier "blocking" Serbs from joining Kosovo institutions - official

The head of "Serbia" Civic Initiative, Slavisa Petkovic, told KosovaLive yesterday that Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica is obstructing the Kosova [Kosovo] Serbs to get a decision in favour of joining the institutions.

Petkovic said that the decision regarding integration of Serb representatives in the Kosova institutions was not made yesterday during the meeting with Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj.

However, he added that such a decision might be made in a week. "Boycott will most likely be brought to an end after [Special Representative of the Secretary General Soeren] Jessen-Petersen's visit to Belgrade. We are blocked by Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica and until then I cannot say for sure that we will return to the institutions," Petkovic told KosovaLive.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

OSCE Urges People of Kosovo to Play Active Political Role

Former Serbian Assembly President says Kosovo is lost to Serbia

Excerpt from interview with Civic Alliance of Serbia (GSS) chairwoman Natasa Micic by Dragan Banjac: "Kostunica's government is an interest group", published by Serbian newspaper Glas javnosti on 9 January

[Micic] [Passage omitted] Kosovo is effectively independent of Serbia. The sooner that reality is accepted the better it will be for Serbia. The problem of its status is a problem of the rights of its Serbian citizens, not who controls that territory, because Serbia does not have that control, and it will not have it. The independence of Kosmet [Kosovo-Metohija] should be linked to achieving European standards which will best be measured through the rights of minority citizens. The slogan "We will not give up Kosovo" is only a way to manipulate the Kosovo Serbs for the purposes of Belgrade's political power struggle. That is a continuation of Milosevic's policy that resulted in losing Kosmet. So I do not think it is possible for [Democratic Party of Kosovo leader Hashim] Thaci and [Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush] Haradinaj to sit in the Serbian Assembly and decide about whether Serbia's prime minister will be [Vojislav] Kostunica, [Boris] Tadic or [Tomislav] Nikolic, depending on who offers them a better coalition deal. That would mean that Kosovo was a part of Serbia, but the moment for that was lost forever 15 years ago.

Milosevic Trial Hears 'Tea on a Veranda' Comparison - Reuters

In Kosovo's camps, a story waits for an ending- IHT

Monday, January 10, 2005

South Serbian Albanians list demands in wake of killing

The three major Albanian political groups in South Serbia put their differences aside today to agree on a nine-point demand on a strategy to resolve tension in the region after a sixteen-year-old boy was shot by Serbia-Montenegro Army border guards on Friday.

The demands include a rapid diplomatic response, the stationing of international military and police troops in the Presevo Valley, the withdrawal of Serbian security forces from the region and the opening of new border crossings.

The president of the Presevo Municipal Assembly, Ragmi Mustafa, explained the demand for an international security presence or the deployment of multiethnic police.

“The committee has demanded an urgent diplomatic response in the Presevo Valley in order to prevent the escalation of conflicts.  Deploying international military and police forces in the valley, as a preventative measure, and then the withdrawal of all Serbia-Montenegro Army forces from the Macedonian and Kosovo borders and their replacement by international forces or multiethnic police taking would be well accepted by all Presevo residents,” said Mustafa.-

The demands agreed on by the Albanian leaders were read at a protest rally which brought about five thousand residents of the mainly Albanian region to Presevo’s central square today.  There were no violent incidents during the demonstration.

The Albanian political leaders also proposed that no Presevo officials meet officials from Belgrade today.  The Municipal Assembly agreed with the proposal.

Both the federal human and minority rights minister, Rasim Ljajic, and the head of the South Serbian Coordination Centre, Nebojsa Covic, had travelled to the region seeking urgent meetings today with local officials.

Ljajic and Covic today visited the border location where sixteen-year-old Dashim Hajrullah was shot dead and the army base in the village of Cakanovac, three kilometres from Presevo, where the Macedonian border patrols are based.

Despite the apparent peace in the region, the words of Albanian leader Riza Halimi from today’s sitting of the Presevo Assembly left a bitter impression: “If the integrity and sovereignty of a state is to be defended by murdering children, I don’t think such a state has any chance of surviving in this day and age.”

EU auditors question Balkans projects - FInancial Times

  UN Appoints Adviser On Minorities In Kosovo

The U.N. mission in Kosovo appointed a Canadian lawyer Monday as a senior adviser for minority issues in the province.

Craig Jenness took up his position "to reach out and maintain" a dialogue with minorities, a U.N. statement said.

He will focus on issues such as security, the return of displaced people, freedom of movement and reform of local governance, which are all still difficult areas.

Kosovo has been administered by a U.N. mission since mid-1999 when an air war by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization ended a crackdown by Serb forces on ethnic Albanians seeking independence.

Its status remains unresolved, with Serbs wanting the province to remain part of Serbia and its ethnic Albanian majority insisting on full independence

Albania's Chemical Cache Raises Fears About Others - The Washington Post

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Kosovo politician says Serbian premier's visit should not have been allowed

Prishtina [Pristina], 7 January: There are many reasons why, according to the Democratic Party of Kosova [Kosovo] [PDK], the visit by [Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav] Kostunica to Kosova should not have been allowed. Among other things, he has obstructed the election process in Kosova, thus hampering the integration of the Serbs in Kosova institutions, Albanian missing persons have not been returned, and Kostunica has been inciting instability in Kosova and the region in general. This is what Jakup Krasniqi, head of the PDK parliamentary group, said today about Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica's visit to Kosova.

UNMIK spokeswoman Claris Pastori told Kosovapress today that the Serbian prime minister had visited the Peje [Pec] Patriarchate in a private capacity and that he was not going to meet with local and international officials.

According to Pastori, the aim of the visit by the Serbian prime minister - his first since he became prime minister - was to attend a ceremony on the occasion of Orthodox Christmas. She also said that the visit was taking place at Kostunica's request.

Kosova government spokesman Arben Qirezi, on the other hand, told Kosovapress that UNMIK [UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo] chief Soeren Jessen-Petersen had informed the prime minister about the Serbian prime minister's private visit to Kosova and had not asked his permission for such a visit.

Qirezi said that the government regarded the visit by the Serbian prime minister to Kosova as a private one.

"The Kosova government regards Kostunica's presence in Kosova as a private affair. Other officials have visited Kosova for private reasons. For this reason, the government regards this visit by a foreign official in a private capacity," he said.

Qirezi also said that the government and the prime minister had no reason to react, given that it was a private visit.

"There is no reason for the government to react to this visit and it does not represent any danger for Kosova. Jessen-Petersen has told us that this is a private visit for religious reasons," he said.

Jakup Krasniqi, a member of the PDK presidency and also head of the PDK parliamentary group, said that there were many reasons to stop the Serbian prime minister's visit to Kosova.

[Passage omitted: repeat of comments cited at beginning of report]

Krasniqi said that the position of the Kosova government after the October election had been very difficult and added that it was going to find it difficult to get recognition from the international community and particularly from the European factor.

According to him, the Kosova government should have reacted against Kostunica's visit, not just keep silent.

"The government should have reacted, not keep silent. This is unnecessary silence on the part of the Kosova government because here we have a man who has not changed his policies in the past five or six years and has been manipulating the Kosova Serbs to destabilize the political, economic and security situation in Kosova," Krasniqi said.

Ethnic Albanian youth shot dead near Serbian border

BELGRADE, Serbia-Montenegro (AP) - Top military officials were trying to defuse tensions Saturday in Serbia's restive south, where a border guard fatally shot an ethnic Albanian youth a day earlier.

Dashnim Hajrulahu, 16, from the village of Miratovci, about 300 kilometers (180 miles) southeast of Belgrade, was shot Friday in the border zone near Serbia's boundary with Macedonia, to the south, and the U.N.-run Kosovo province to the west.

A border guard fired on the youth, said investigative judge Ivan Bulatovic. He refused to give further details until the investigation was complete.

Serbia-Montenegro Defense Minister Prvoslav Davinic and army chiefs visited the region Saturday to ease tensions over the shooting.

Davinic expressed condolences to the victim's family, and said initial findings showed Hajrulahu had been crossing the border illegally and that the army acted within its authority. He promised a thorough investigation.

On Friday night, about 200 villagers demonstrated in Miratovci, claiming the killing was unlawful and that Hajrulahu was shot well away from the border line.

Several hundred ethnic Albanians also protested Saturday in the nearby town of Presevo, where regional council members met and pledged to seek legal action against the soldier.

Hajrulahu's family said they believed he was gunned down while taking a shortcut over a field on his way home after visiting his mother, who lives in neighboring Macedonia, local media reports said.

A local ethnic Albanian politician, Orhan Rexhepi, blamed the incident on Serbia-Montenegro's decision to deploy reinforcements last month in the tense south.

This region in southern Serbia, known as Presevo Valley, lies adjacent to Kosovo. It was the scene of a 2000 ethnic Albanian insurgency in which rebels fought Serbian government forces in a bid to unite the area with the ethnic Albanian-dominated Kosovo.

The fighting ended through Western mediation but the area remains tense, with the majority ethnic Albanians demanding more authority.

Presevo Mayor Ragmi Mustafa said the regional council would also ask for support from Albanians in Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia for a diplomatic initiative on Presevo Valley.

Macedonian deputy PM argues for "open cooperation", solidarity with Kosovo

Text of commentary by Deputy Prime Minister Musa Xhaferi: "Kosova represents opportunity, not danger, for Macedonia", published by Macedonian Albanian-language newspaper Fakti on 6 January

The year we have left behind marked the inauguration of a new policy of the Republic of Macedonia towards its neighbours. The year 2005 will be the year of the final dissolution of prejudices and the year in which we will begin to build a new way of thinking about relations with our neighbours in general and especially with Kosova [Kosovo].

I think that 2005 is the right time to start thinking in a different way and realize that the Republic of Macedonia is not a product of the war against the Albanians, as has been asserted up till now by the political elite. On the contrary, Macedonia should be a product of coexistence, power sharing and cooperation between Albanians and Macedonians in their common country.

Unfortunately, the prevalence of the old concept in the last 60 years, according to which Macedonia and the Macedonian nation could survive only through permanent war against Albanians in Macedonia, was not only a mistake but also proved to be detrimental to the Macedonian nation in particular and Macedonia in general. This concept has produced the conviction among Macedonian citizens that the Macedonian state would cease to exist the moment that it stopped its war against Albanians. This has been the source of all negative energies that have fed the Macedonian animosity towards Albanians - against ethnic Albanians in Macedonia in the first place and then, in a more severe form, against Albanians in Kosova, Albania and other areas.

According to the new concept, the Macedonian policy towards Kosova will, in the future, be based on the principles of open cooperation aimed at helping and strengthening the new democracy in Kosova, so that Macedonia will have a stable, democratic and strong neighbour with developed institutions. This new Macedonian policy is motivated by common interests of Macedonia and Kosova which accepts that stability in Kosova also means stability in Macedonia, progress in Kosova also means progress in Macedonia, and regional integration of Kosova also means regional integration for Macedonia.

The premise of this new policy is that a country cannot be stable, prosperous and strong without stable, prosperous and strong neighbours. I pray that, instead of a selfish policy, next year will be dominated by a policy of solidarity with one another because only together can we become part of the European Union and NATO.