Saturday, July 30, 2005

Covic orders Serbs in Gracanica and Partesh to refuse pilot projects

Citing reliable sources close to UNMIK, Zëri reports that Nebojsa Covic, head of the Coordination Centre for Kosovo, has tried to convince Serbs in Gracanica and Partesh to refuse the implementation of pilot projects for reforms in local government.

The newspaper notes that if Serbs in Gracanica and Partesh support the pilot projects of the Kosovo Government, the chances for a positive report by Ambassador Kai Eide will immediately grow. At the same time, says the paper, the eventual success in decentralisation of power in Kosovo could be the key argument of Kosovans during negotiation on final status.

Minister Haziri: I respect Eide’s statement

In a debate held at the US Institute for Peace, Local Government Minister Lutfi Haziri was quoted as saying, ‘regarding Mr. Eide’s statement that progress is slow in Kosovo then we must acknowledge this and work with more insistence to change this pace’.

Haziri also added that the strategy of the Belgrade Government is hindering the process because they have called on Kosovo Serbs to object to decentralisation. Haziri also said the Kosovo Government would do all in its power to fulfil the tasks required by the international community.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Muscatine Kosovo Project -Click Here

Calmy-Rey defends Swiss position on Kosovo

On the eve of an official visit to Kosovo, the Swiss foreign minister has defended Switzerland’s goal of achieving a form of independence for the province.

But in an interview with swissinfo, Micheline Calmy-Rey stressed that a decision on Kosovo’s future status could only be taken with the support of the government in Belgrade.

Calmy-Rey’s visit – which gets underway on Saturday - comes at a sensitive time for Swiss relations with Serbia and Montenegro.

Last month Serbian President Boris Tadic told the Swiss foreign minister in no uncertain terms that he was not open to discussion about independence for Kosovo.

Belgrade has also repeatedly called on Switzerland to remain neutral and not take a position on the province’s future.

Kosovo officially remains part of Serbia and Montenegro, the union that replaced Yugoslavia. But it has been under United Nations and Nato administration since a 78-day Nato-led air war that halted a Serb crackdown on ethnic Albanians in 1999.

Before she returns to Switzerland on August 2, Calmy-Rey will celebrate Swiss National Day on Monday in the company of Swiss peacekeeping forces stationed in the province.

Swiss soldiers have been deployed as part of the multinational peacekeeping force in Kosovo since 1999.

swissinfo: What are you hoping to achieve during your visit to Kosovo?

Micheline Calmy-Rey: The purpose of my visit is to explain to the Kosovar authorities the Swiss point of view regarding the political future of Kosovo. I am also going to underline the importance of Swiss engagement in Kosovo – including financial and technical assistance - for stability and the promotion of peace.

I’d like to emphasise that Kosovo is a very important region for our country. Ten per cent of the population of Kosovo live in Switzerland. So Kosovo’s interests are also ours, especially in terms of security.

Our position is clear-cut, unbiased and unequivocal.

swissinfo: Serbia has made it clear that it is unhappy with Switzerland’s suggestion that Kosovo could move towards some form of independence. How are you going to make progress without Serbia and Montenegro's support?

M.C-R.: We will continue to communicate our position to both sides. And our position is clear-cut, unbiased and unequivocal. Our idea is that the evolution towards a form of formal independence must happen under close international monitoring as well as through negotiations with the authorities in Belgrade, upon whom this independence cannot be imposed.

On the other hand, our position on the achievement of [basic] standards in Kosovo remains unchanged. We will not give way to any compromise with regard to improvement of these standards, especially when it comes to the situation of minorities and security issues. A significant international presence [in the province] will continue to be necessary as long as these standards are not achieved. Switzerland is determined to pursue its commitment side by side with other members of the international community.

swissinfo: Serbian President Boris Tadic has said he will "never accept" an independent Kosovo and will do everything in his power to prevent secession. How do you go about convincing him otherwise?

M.C-R.: We will not push for a particular solution. All we are trying to do is convince both parties that the time has come to start a political dialogue at the highest level on the status question.

Our position on Kosovo is consistent with our general policy towards the Balkan countries.

swissinfo: Some parliamentarians in Bern have criticised your stance on Kosovo, saying it is a major foreign-policy shift and that as such it should be discussed by parliament. What is your response?

M.C-R.: [All I can say is that] our balanced position on Kosovo is consistent with our general policy towards the Balkan countries and was approved by the government last May.

swissinfo: By coming out with a clear line about the future status of Kosovo, are you not jeopardising Switzerland’s role as a neutral facilitator?

M.C-R.: In accordance with our policy of neutrality, we have always taken unequivocal positions which are based on assessments of the interests of all parties.

We have clearly expressed that it is important to take into account two equally legitimate desires. Firstly, the right of minorities to live in safety, to have the same opportunities for economic development, to have the same access to social services and education, and to exercise the right to return. And secondly, the will of the majority of the population to exercise its right to self-determination.

swissinfo-interview: Ramsey Zarifeh

Kosovo PM defends progress toward negotiations

PRISTINA, Serbia and Montenegro, July 29 (Reuters) - Kosovo's government told international powers on Friday it was doing its best to improve life for its Serb minority, a main condition for talks the Albanian majority hopes will bring the province independence.

Kosovo Prime Minister Bajram Kosumi met diplomats from major Western powers and Russia days after they wrote expressing concern at lack of progress in giving more local power to minorities, key to clinching "final status" talks this year.

Kosumi admitted the slow pace of reforms but said Belgrade shared the blame by blocking Serb participation in the project to create new municipalities in minority areas.

"The Kosovo government will do whatever it can to overcome these obstacles, but we cannot say that nothing has been achieved," he told reporters after meeting the Contact Group -- the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Russia.

The United Nations took control of Serbia's mainly ethnic Albanian province in 1999, after 78 days of NATO bombing drove out Serb forces accused of brutal atrocities against civilians as they fought to crush a separatist insurgency.

Six years on, a U.N. envoy is expected to report by September whether the province has made enough progress to secure negotiations the 90-percent ethnic Albanian majority hopes will lead to formal independence.

The U.N. first wants progress on democracy and minority rights, particularly in decentralising powers to Serbs, who shun authorities in the capital Pristina and continue to live in isolated enclaves watched over by NATO-led peacekeepers.

That progress has been stalled by ethnic Albanians' reluctance to concede too much ahead of negotiations and by Serb complaints over the boundaries of the proposed municipalities.

In the letter to Kosumi the Contact Group said "the process to re-integrate Kosovo's minorities into communities has been too slow". Leaders must re-double their efforts since the result of the U.N. review was "not a foregone conclusion," it warned.

Serbia opposes independence for Kosovo, which Serbs regard as the sacred cradle of their nation. Analysts warn of fresh violence in the still-volatile province if talks are delayed.

Kosovo Confronts Its Future

Jackson Allers - 7/29/2005
KOSOVO. It is a regular sight in the Ferizai/Urosevac municipality of Kosovo - some 50 kilometers north of the Macedonian capital of Skopje - to see U.S. servicemen parking their Humvees in front of small cafes during their regular “security” details. M-16’s strapped across their torsos, the troops snack on kebabs, washing them down with Coca-Cola, and ogle the local Albanian girls.

These GIs are part of an occupying NATO force, known as KFOR, Kosovo Protection Forces, and they are expected to be present in Kosovo for a long time to come.

The so-called Contact Group countries – United States, United Kingdom France, Italy, Russia and Germany * most involved in deciding the future of this southern province of Serbia, tout 2005 as the “year of decision” for the status of Kosovo. Six years after the United Nations Security Council resolution 1244 designated Kosovo a U.N. protectorate the beleaguered U.N. Mission administering the province is looking to exit as quickly as possible despite the fact that the U.N.-appointed envoy to the region, Norwegian Ambassador Kai Eide, says the security and freedom of non-Albanian communities is at risk.

At the forefront of this push to resolve Kosovo’s status are representatives of two U.S. presidential administrations.

During a July trip to Kosovo as the head of the Washington D.C.-based (and CIA funded) National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI), former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright commented, “I know Kosovans have a dream and people are entitled to have their dreams fulfilled.”

This sentiment is backed by Venhar Nushi, a spokesperson for the Pristina-based political think-tank, Kosovo Action for Civic Initiatives, KACI, who said, “We all know what the United States actually did for Kosovo. From my point of view, I think the U.S. came here for a task, and that’s to make Kosovo independent. Definitely.”


But, any claim by the U.S. to "resolve" the situation in Kosovo is hobbled by the legacy of former President Bill Clinton’s decision to lead NATO in a 78-day bombing campaign of Serbia in violation of the U.N. charter. Diplomats and analysts point out that the bombing was illegal by international standards and its repercussions have been felt widely, including its invocation by the Bush administration to justify its own illegal invasion and occupation against Iraq.

What is clear, however, is that the United States has no plans of abandoning Camp Bondsteel, the 955-acre military installation described on the Camp's official homepage as being “located on rolling hills and farmland” in south-eastern Kosovo. The Pentagon has paid Halliburton subsidiary KBR more than $2 billion to construct the camp – an amount, according to the U.S. General Accounting Office, that was one-sixth of the money spent by the Pentagon on Balkan operations from 1995 to 2000.

During a visit to Kosovo in June, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, Nicholas Burns said, “The U.S. is going to remain centrally involved in Kosovo, leading the diplomatic process [to resolve status],” adding, “we will certainly maintain a military presence here, with KFOR, as a symbol of our commitment for a secure and peaceful Kosovo.”

Few ethnic Albanians question the presence of the U.S. military. The U.S. support of the Kosovo Liberation Army, the same group branded by the U.S. State Department in 1998 as a "terrorist organization," showed clearly to all ethnic groups in the disputed region that the U.S. favors the Albanians.

Political commentator, Dukagjin Gorani, Senior Editor of the Kosovo daily paper, the Express, admits, “Kosovars are not very prompt to understand the geopolitics of conspiracies. To Kosovars the existence of Bondsteel, which is now the biggest U.S. military base in Europe, is and will probably remain a sign of political stability for Albanians. In fact to most of us it is a sign that Kosovo will never again go back under the umbrella of Serbia and Montenegro.”

Gorani also suggests that the average Kosovo Albanian sees "allowing" the U.S. military presence on Kosovo soil as their contribution to the U.S. “war on terror.’


But ordinary Kosovo Serbs see the United States and the international community suggesting the province move towards independence, as stealing, by military force, the cradle of Serbian civilization.

Zoran Zdravkovic is a kindergarten teacher in the main central Serbian enclave, Gracanica, who traces his family roots in Kosovo back 600 years. He says that none of his friends can imagine living under Albanian rule.

"My son graduated faculty [university]. What work can he get here now? Nothing. My daughter is about to go to faculty. What then? My youngest daughter is 11, and what schools will she attend in an independent Kosovo?"

Official statistics put the unemployment rate at 60 percent among ethnic Albanians; numbers are much higher in the ghettoized Serbian communities. Serbian schools are precariously maintained in a de facto parallel system of governance. And while the United States, the international community and the Albanian-led government all talk about ensuring the security and human rights of Kosovo's minority communities, Zdravkovic, like many Serbs, says there is little practical evidence of this.

"If we want to move anywhere in Kosovo outside of our village to village routes, we have to request NATO escorts," Zdravkovic says, adding, "if Kosovo gets independence, no matter how bad our economic conditions could be in Serbia, we will leave because we want to have peace for our children * freedom to move around and, just live.”

Belgrade's political leadership is very clear that independence is off the table as a condition of future status. The line coming from Belgrade: "Less than independence, more than autonomy."

But, as the Serbian leadership has acquiesced to earlier U.S. demands to hand over suspected war criminals to the International Court of the Former Yugoslavia in exchange for financial aid, many Kosovo Serbs are afraid that they will forgotten by Belgrade's leadership in future dealings.

Framed in a larger political context, analysts like Gorani see the resolution of status in a Muslim-dominated province as something that the Bush administration would love to put as a "positive example" of U.S. foreign policy that would allow it to continue the unilateral imposition of what it calls "democracy and human rights" through military means. But, he concedes that the verdict is still technically out as to what the future status of Kosovo will be.
Jackson Allers is the Balkan Correspondent for Pacifica Radio's Free Speech Radio News. In August, he will assume the International Media Advisor role with Kosovo's top legal watchdog, the former Polish Solidarity movement lawyer and internationally appointed Ombudsperson, Marek Antoni Nowicki. He has been published in the Institute for War and Peace Reporting, Indypendent in New York City (, Relief Web, Urb Magazine, and have won or been nominated for three national awards as a radio journalist/producer/documentary audiophile. Most notably with the National Federation of Community Broadcasting's Gold Reel Awards. From July of '04 until April/May of 05', Mr. Allers was the Chief of Radio for the UN Mission in Kosovo (Unmik).

Govt stays true to proposals for boundaries for Gracanica and Partesh

Citing reliable sources, Zëri reports on the front page that the Local Government Minister and the Kosovo Government have not changed their position as far as the boundaries of pilot projects are concerned. The same sources told the paper that SRSG Søren Jessen-Petersen and his Principal Deputy Larry Rossin have remained faithful to the agreement they have reached three weeks ago according to which the Government would be responsible for defining the boundaries of pilot units.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Karadzic's wife urges surrender - BBC

The wife of fugitive Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic has appealed to him to surrender to the United Nations war crimes tribunal.
In an appeal shown on Bosnian Serb TV, Ljiljana Karadzic urged him to do so for the sake of his family.
Earlier this month, Mr Karadzic's son was held for 10 days by Nato troops.
Mr Karadzic and his military commander during the Bosnian civil war, Ratko Mladic, top the UN tribunal's most-wanted list.
The two men are accused of genocide over the killing of about 8,000 Muslim men during the Srebrenica massacre in July 1995.

Mrs Karadzic, who has always backed her husband during his 10-year flight from justice, said: "This is a message to my husband, Radovan Karadzic. I have to address you this way, because there is no other way.

"Our family is under constant pressure from all sides. We are being threatened in every way, our lives and our property. We are living in a constant atmosphere of concern, pain and suffering.

"That is why, between loyalty to you and loyalty to our children and grandchildren, I had to chose and I have chosen.

"I find it painful and hard to ask you, but I beg you with all my heart and soul to surrender. That will be a sacrifice for us, for our family.

"In the hope that you are alive and that you are free to make the decision yourself, I beg you to make the decision and do it for all our sakes.

"In all my helplessness and my weakness, the only thing that I can do is beg you."


Nato has unsuccessfully raided several sites where Mr Karadzic was suspected of hiding.

His son, Aleksandar, was held between 7 July and 17 July on suspicion of giving support to his father.

The family has always claimed it has had no contact with Karadzic and should be left alone.

International security agencies - speaking on condition of anonymity - told BBC Radio Four's File on Four programme this month that Mr Karadzic was believed to be in a remote part of north-west Montenegro.

Peacekeeping troops in neighbouring Bosnia cannot take action as their jurisdiction does not cover Montenegro, which is part of Serbia

German court rejects compensation claim by victims of NATO bombing in Kosovo

Cologne: The victims of the NATO air raid on a bridge in the Serbian small town of Varvarin in 1999 have also failed in a court of appeal with their case for damages against the Federal Republic. On Thursday [28 July] the Cologne Regional Appeal Court dismissed the case brought by 35 Serb citizens, thereby confirming the ruling of the Bonn district court (Az: 7 U 8/04). The appeal court finds no sufficient basis for the claims for damages, neither in humanitarian international law nor in the basic rights of the Basic Law, nor under the German state liability law.

The group had sued the Federal Republic of Germany for payment of an indemnity in of at least 535,000 euros. The plaintiffs are 17 people severely injured in the attack, as well as 18 family survivors of the 10 people killed in the bombing. They had accused the federal government, vicariously for NATO, of having violated the provisions of the Geneva Protocol for the protection of civilians. The Varvarin bridge, on which civilians were present, had been bombed on 30 May 1999 by fighter jets during the Kosovo war.

Source: ddp news agency, Berlin, in German 0921 gmt 28 Jul 05

US Embassy to be built (Express)

Express writes on the front page that the US is going to have permanent official representation in Kosovo as it has decided to build an embassy. However, land is needed on which to put up the structure.

The US diplomatic presence in Kosovo can soon change its status and location in Kosovo. Reliable sources told the paper that they have already started to search for a location. According to the paper, the most probable location is Hajvalia, in the southeastern part of Pristina, close to the ‘international village’.

Express quotes US Office spokesperson, Larry Corwin as confirming that a feasibility study is underway. ‘Permanent representation is being explored. However I am not aware that a company has been contracted by the US Government, or whether the building will start,’ he said.

Govt, UNMIK call for help in refugee returns - €22 million are needed

Dailies report that the Kosovo Government and UNMIK do not have sufficient funds for the successful return of internally-displaced people.

The papers quote Killian Kleinschmidt, the head of the Office for Returns and Communities, as saying that €22 million are needed to implement current projects for IDP returns. Kleinschmidt called on donors to support UNMIK and the Kosovo Government in acquiring the necessary resources.

In spite of the delays, Kleinschmidt said the process of IDP returns was going well. ‘If you visit various parts of Kosovo, you will find families who have returned to their reconstructed homes,’ he said, adding that a better internal climate and related negotiations between Pristina and Belgrade would help in the process of returns.

Fatmir Sheholli, spokesman for the Ministry of Returns, told journalists that Belgrade was impeding the return of Serbs. He added that Serbian propaganda about the situation in Kosovo was preventing IDPs from returning to their homes.

Koha Ditore quotes Sheholli as saying, ‘We have about 70, 000 applications, 70% coming from the Serb community and the rest from other ethnic groups, which represent the will of a large number of people who want to return to Kosovo.’

Lajm quotes officials of the Ministry for Returns as confirming that they are preparing a draft law for IDP returns.

The press says that based on the information of the Ministry for Returns and Communities, 11,000 people have returned to Kosovo so far. On 19 July UNMIK and the Kosovo Government launched the strategic framework for IDPs which envisages a greater flux of returns this year and next year.

Jessen-Petersen remains, UNMIK restructures (Kosova Sot)

Kosova Sot reports that the international authorities in Kosovo have entered a stage of internal restructuring. Beginning with the change of the role of international representatives in Kosovo Ministries, this process will continue with changes in UNMIK structures.

The paper quotes UNMIK spokesperson, Neeraj Singh, denying that SRSG Jessen-Petersen was leaving Kosovo at the beginning of the next month. Furthermore, Singh recalled what the SRSG has often stressed recently that ‘he has a lot to do in Kosovo’.

The role of international representatives in Kosovo Ministries has changed from the role of monitoring to liaison or supporting role.

‘With the transfer of competencies to local authorities, the role of UNMIK continues to change,’ Singh said.

The article points out that Pillar 1 will undergo changes following the establishment of two new ministries. According to the paper, OSCE will have a greater role in the upcoming stages.

Corridor, Serbian condition for Kosovo’s independence (Kosova Sot)

Kosova Sot reports that Serbs in Gracanica are very open about their intention to attach Cagllavica, Llapnasella, and several other villages in Lipjan municipality and in Fushe Kosova to the new pilot municipality of Gracanica. This would create organic links with Serbia as a condition for their acceptance of Kosovo’s independence.

According to the paper, Serbs in Partesh, another pilot municipality, say if Kosovo becomes independent before implementation of decentralization, then Serbs will abandon Kosovo. However, if real decentralization is in place, Serbs may accept independence for Kosovo, provided Gracanica has organic links with Serbia through a corridor.

Kurti: The revolution will prevent war in Kosovo

In an interview with Zëri, Albin Kurti, leader of the Self-Determination Movement, said Kosovo was heading toward negotiations on status and this implies reaching a compromise or giving up on independence.

‘They can find some politicians who can sign the new formal dependence of Kosovo from Serbia, but the people will never accept this. This is the reason why I think the current political system should be changed in a radical manner and this radical change is nothing else than a revolution which will not cause war but will prevent war from happening,’ Kurti was quoted as saying.

Coordinated pressure

Express reports that international decision-making centres are applying coordinated pressure on the institutional leaders of Kosovo to effect further progress on the eve of the decision for the start of status talks.

According to the newspaper, Prime Minister Kosumi and President Rugova have received a letter on Tuesday from the Contact Group containing a number of observations.

Express quotes Ambassador Eide as saying that he has seen lack of seriousness and is disappointed with political leaders in Kosovo.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Gorani: Tale of the Standards (Express)

Express carries an op-ed by editor-in-chief Dukagjin Gorani who says Standards for Kosovo have been drafted to get UNMIK out of Kosovo, and not to solve problems.

Gorani wonders how much truth there is in a general assumption that the final status of Kosovo, that is conditional independence, depends on Eide’s report or on Solana’s reproaches against laziness and corruption of Kosovo’s political leadership.

Much like in the past, it is believed that Kosovo is facing a crucial test on which its status fate depends. However, those beliefs are in vain when it is clear that the only goal of this assessment is to provide a rationale to end UNMIK’s mandate in Kosovo.

‘Regarding the status, there is no need to waste words. Kosovo has been allocated conditional independence and this does not depend, or has never depended, on assessment reports. It is an organic process that has to be concluded, even if the country was threatened by civil war,’ Dukagjin said.

Kosovo Government doesn’t share Eide’s opinion

Lajm reports that the Kosovo Government does not share the opinion of Ambassador Kai Eide on the implementation of standards. The newspaper says regardless of Eide’s statement that he is disappointed with lack of progress in Standards implementation. However political advisor to Prime Minister Kosumi says the Government has made considerable progress implementing the Standards.

‘The Kosovo Government is close to finalising the plan for Standards until the end of the year. We are also seriously thinking of preparing an action strategy for Standards that will be called ‘Standards toward Europe’, even after the resolution of Kosovo’s final status,’ said Naser Rugova, PM Kosumi’s political advisor.

The newspaper recalls that in an interview for ISN Security Watch, Ambassador Eide said he would have liked to see more progress and political maturity in Kosovo. Asked to comment on the issue, the PM’s advisor said Eide’s statement was surprising to the Government. He added that due to insufficient competencies, Kosovans cannot be expected to make major accomplishments in the area of standards.

The paper quotes former Prime Minister and senior member of the PDK, Bajram Rexhepi, as saying, ‘one can notice more words than concrete actions for standards’.

New info on burning of Albanian civilian corpses in Mackatica

Koha Ditore reports that Belgrade-based Danas newspaper carried an interview with an anonymous source that revealed thorough details about the burning of Albanian civilian corpses in Mackatica factory in Serbia during NATO air-raids over Yugoslavia.

The witness, who wanted to remain anonymous, told Danas that during the NATO intervention, members of the Serbian State Security were ‘untouchable’ and gave the names of several Serbs who participated in the burning of the corpses.

Calmy-Rey reconfirms Swiss position on Kosovo’s independence

Several dailies report that Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey will visit Kosovo from Saturday through Monday. Koha Ditore quotes the FM as saying that Switzerland will continue its discussions for the independence of Kosovo.

Zëri quotes Calmy-Rey as saying that she will also discuss ‘Standards alongside status’.

Moscow has idea to postpone status talks for several months? (

Citing Western diplomatic sources, Zëri reports on the front page that Moscow is thinking of postponing the start of talks on Kosovo’s status for several months. The source told the paper that Moscow had been using diplomatic channels for this purpose and during recent meetings with Western diplomats it voiced its opinions regarding the pace of resolving the Kosovo’s status.

According to the same source, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on several occasions proposed a break between the period when Ambassador Eide concludes his report and the start of the status resolution.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Covic: Kosovo can only be taken from Serbia through use of violence

Citing information published by Belgrade’s daily newspaper ‘Kurir’, Zëri reports that the head of the Belgrade’s Coordination Center for Kosovo, Nebojsa Covic, has said that Kosovo could be taken away from Serbia only through violence.

While all the solutions are on the table, Covic said no politician in Serbia would recognize or allow the independence of Kosovo. ‘No one dares to give away a part of our territory’.

If Albanians in Kosovo have the right to declare and gain separation, then the people in Republika Srbska should have the same right, Covic said.

Tasim Ali Osaj turns himself over to police

Dailies report that the main suspect for killing of Enver Haradinaj, Tasim Ali Osaj, handed himself over to police in Peja on Monday morning, and is now being questioned.

Koha Ditore writes that the spokesperson of regional police in Peja, Zeqir Kelmendi has confirmed that a person did surrender to the police but did not reveal the identity. However, some papers claim the person under police custody is Tasim Osaj.

Enver Haradinaj, the brother of former Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj, was killed on 15 April 2005. Koha also writes that the wanted person in relation to Haradinaj’s killing is one of the four brothers belonging to an armed Kosovo Albanian group ‘FARK’ who were kidnapped after the conflict. Daut Haradinaj [Enver’s brother] and four others known as ‘Dukagjin Group’ are currently serving time in prison for the kidnapping.

Lulzim Osaj said his brother Tasim was not responsible for the murder of Enver Haradinaj and that his family bore no grudges toward Haradinaj family in relation to the murder of their eldest brother, Rexhë Osaj, six years ago.

‘If Tasim had committed the murder, he could have fled to Albania or someplace else,’ Lulzim further stated.

Zëri and Lajm also cover the story.

Salihaj, Tërmkolli say they won’t be removed from government

Zëri quotes senior Kosovo Government officials as saying they are not threatened with removal from the government as has been speculated in the media lately. Deputy Prime Minister Adem Salihaj said it was political speculation that he, Minister Tërmkolli and Minister Haraqiaj would soon be removed from the Government.

Asked to comment on the issue, Minister Tërmkolli was quoted as saying, ‘I will not resign… even if UNMIK calls for this, because there is no reason for me to do so.’

Express reports on the front page that UNMIK chief Søren Jessen-Petersen is ready to punish those responsible for perpetrating corrupt activities in the Kosovo Government. However, his partners from the Contact Group are trying to block any related action. Express says investigations on possible involvement of government officials in corruption and organised crime went smoothly, ‘but the break occurred when the decision for punishment had to be made’.

Unnamed sources told the paper that the UNMIK chief was ready to act according to the rule of law, but his partners from the Contact Group stopped him. ‘The English… they are obstructing the process,’ said the source.

According to the newspaper, international advisor to the Presidency and Government, Simon Haselock, is trying to prevent action. Haselock is reportedly lobbying Kosovo institutions and Contact Group members to postpone or block the investigation and punishment of senior government officials.

Express claims that the UNMIK chief promised some Kosovan political leaders a month ago that ‘it is a matter of days before someone from senior government structures to go home’.

UNMIK DPI Director Hua Jiang denies that SRSG Jessen-Petersen asked for the removal of the deputy Prime Minister and the two Ministers. She said allegations of corruption were currently being investigated and that was a police matter.

Commenting on the issue, PDK Secretary General Jakup Krasniqi said there would powerful reactions if the investigations were not completed, especially if the process suffered because of political intervention. ‘There are claims that the international administration wants to delay the investigations and punishment until autumn [when the ministries of justice and order are expected to be in place] so Kosovans could deal with the issue,’ the paper said. ‘The PDK would not accept this as it is UNMIK’s responsibility to finish the job.’

Serbian media say Jessen-Petersen to leave, UNMIK denies (Lajm)

Lajm quotes information published by a Serbian newspaper that SRSG Søren Jessen-Petersen will leave Kosovo by the end of August and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan will have to make a quick decision on a replacement for Jessen-Petersen.

Lajm also quotes UNMIK sources as denying the speculation by the Belgrade media about the early departure of Jessen-Petersen. According to UNMIK, these are fabrications as the SRSG has repeatedly said he has no plans to leave the Mission at this time.

'Balkan' Lazio add Kosovo-born midfielder Behrami to roster

Rome - Lazio of Rome announced Tuesday the signing of Kosovo-born Swiss midfielder Valon Behrami from second division side Verona for a reported 2.8 million euros (3.36 million dollars).

The highly-rated 20-year-old signed a five-year contract worth 300,000 euros per season, set to rise progressively to 500,000 euros. Verona agreed to sell its 50 per cent stake in the player after obtaining the consent of Genoa, which owns the other half.

Behrami will join a squad that features strikers Goran Pandev of Macedonia and Igli Tare of Albania and which local media have already nicknamed "Balkan Lazio".

The Roman club is trying to bounce back after narrowly escaping bankruptcy last year. The team will play Marseilles of France in the Intertoto competition semifinal scheduled to take place on Wednesday.

Winners of the Intertoto Cup are allowed a place in next season's UEFA Cup.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Albanian Che Guevara

Compared to the revolutionary Che Guevara, Albin Kurti says that Kosovo is heading toward an inevitable conflict which may have even more tragic consequences than the one in 1999, Lajm writes.

Kurti considers that the only way to avoid the conflict is by having a revolution aiming at toppling the ‘local-dictatorial and international-colonial’ government. He says that the first step toward this is for the citizens to join the newly-formed self-determination movement while the next step is all-out protests throughout Kosovo.

Kurti denies allegations that anarchy may overwhelm Kosovo if people acted according to his advice by expressing great faith he has on peaceful character of the people in Kosovo.

Thaçi: Security in Kosovo (Koha Ditore)

Koha Ditore carries an opinion piece by PDK leader Hashim Thaçi who claims that with its current coalition Government status, Kosovo is in serious danger. According to Thaçi, a right solution for Kosovo’s political status cannot be reached with the weakest and most corrupt government in the region. ‘This type of Government not only misuses the will of citizens, but has also installed fear among international friends who support independence,’ Thaçi added.

On the issue of security, the PDK leader makes the following proposals -- to build as soon as possible a joint local and international committee that would identify the key problems of security in Kosovo; to create the Ministry of Order and the Ministry of Justice that would not be controlled by political entities and would be in the service of all Kosovo citizens; intensive work on making official the Kosovo Intelligence Service, which should be apolitical, professional, multiethnic and according to Western standards; effective management of Kosovo Consolidated Budget funds for the return of refugees The PDK leader also proposed to draft a project in cooperation with local authorities in Mitrovica for the return of IDPs from both parts of the town, for the reconstruction of damaged houses and especially for opening Mitrovica Hospital, faculties and high schools for all citizens; to use government funds to build a neighbourhood for Romas in a proper part of the town and not continue to endanger them on the banks of the River Ibër; to launch reforms in local government that would correspond with the requirements for decentralisation according to European standards; and civic principles.

Thaçi also criticised current Government officials for involvement in misuse of the budget. ‘Such a situation is intolerable. We must all put an end to this situation, so we can build a democratic state, with functioning institutions, with the rule of law and with civic democracy,’ Thaçi concluded.

Editorial: Unhappy with the world

Kosova Sot carries an editorial on the front page saying that the repeated boycott of decentralization by the Serbian List is likely to slow down the processes.

Participation in the pilot projects of the Serbian representatives was considered a victory for efforts to include Serbs in the process. However, despite the fact that the SRSG allowed adding more cadastral zones to the municipal units, something that was opposed by Local Government minister, Lutfi Haziri, Serbian politics orchestrated by Belgrade have found other reasons to impede implementation of the projects.

Serbs continue to remain the biggest obstacle for implementing the reform and for political stability in the country.

It will be difficult to even think of succeeding in areas inhabited by Serbs, if they do not want to support the process. Therefore, from now we can foresee a failure, which will be detrimental to the process and will affect Eide’s report. Although Albanians are not to blame, the responsibility for success falls on them as they control the governance structures. Serbs should consider it a smart move to become once again involved in the working groups, the editorial concludes.

Media coverage on decentralization

All dailies pay considerable attention to developments regarding decentralization following the signing of the administrative direction by the SRSG to launch the establishment of the first pilot municipalities.

Dailies focus on the issue of borders of the new municipalities, which according to them have not been clearly defined as the new administrative direction allows more than one cadastral zone in one pilot unit.

Hajvalia, Caglavica, and Llapnasela want to join Gracanica, is the front page headline in Koha Ditore. According to the paper, these areas want to join mainly for patriotic reasons -- Hajvalia, so it would not be considered an enclave, while the latter two want to be part of an exclusive Serbian municipality.

Zëri writes on the front page that now the SRSG has signed the AD, the Government of Kosovo is expected to decide on Tuesday when to start with forming municipal assemblies for the new pilot units. However, the paper quotes its sources that definition of municipal borders has remained an obstacle and could lead to postponing of the decision.

Zëri also carries an opinion piece on the issue saying that the SRSG did not manage to achieve a consensus over the last few months between the Government and opposition on decentralization. The editorial further says although the SRSG agreed sometime ago for the Government to be in charge of defining borders of pilot municipalities, which they call a capital segment, he is now becoming more authoritative in dealing with the issue.

Kosova Sot reports on the front page that Gracanica is risking its status as a pilot municipality. According to the paper, head of Serbian List for Kosovo and Metohija

This media summary consists of selected local media articles for the information of UNMIK personnel. The public distribution of this media summary is a courtesy service extended by UNMIK on the understanding that the choice of articles translated is exclusive, and the contents do not represent anything other than a selection of articles likely to be of interest to a United Nations readership. The inclusion of articles in this summary does not imply endorsement by UNMIK.

Oliver Ivanovic has threatened to withdraw his representatives from the working groups on decentralization if more cadastral zones are not included in pilot municipalities.

Decentralization to be discussed in US, is the front-page headline in Express. The paper reports that Kai Eide is in Washington where he is expected to meet with high-ranking US and UN officials and decentralization will be one of the topics. Minister for Local Governance Lutfi Haziri is also there.

Lajm writes that while the AD signed by the SRSG will allow Caglavica and Llapnasela to join Gracanica, the problem is with Partesh, which, according to Fehmi Mujota from the Local Government Ministry, could create a problem area as well as a national territorial strip that will try to link with other central parts in Kosovo.

Ethnic head tells French chief Serbs will refuse to live in independent Kosovo

Gracanica, 25 July: The head of the French office in Pristina, Thierry Reynhard, has told Kosovo County head Srdjan Vasic that Kosovo will become independent, adding that the Contact Group and the UN are behind this project.

Vasic told SRNA that Reynhard had told him that the Serbian monasteries and churches, which have been proclaimed world heritage and are under UNESCO protection, would be exempt from this status.

Vasic warned Reynhard that Serbs would refuse to live in an independent Kosovo.

"If Kosovo becomes independent, we will witness a new wave of refugees and the province will become a monoethnic community without the Serbs and others who are currently striving for a multiethnic and democratic Kosovo-Metohija as part of Serbia," Vasic said.

He warned that the Serbs will not accept nor participate in the realization of a project creating a Gracanica municipality as part of the Gracanica local community unit.

Source: SRNA news agency, Bijeljina, in Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian 1021 gmt 25 Jul 05

Local Government Reform Launched in Kosovo

The UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) has approved new legislation on reform of local government, a step that is vital if Kosovo is be certified as meeting the standards necessary for talks on its final status to start. The new local government system will be piloted in five areas - of which two are Kosovo-Serb enclaves - before being gradually extended to the rest of Kosovo. The new local governments will have powers in the field of housing, hospitals and schools, among other things. There will - at least initially - be no elections to the provisional assemblies in the new units, however; they will be selected by the Ministry of Local Government, taking into account the views of residents, and approved by UNMIK head, Soeren-Jessen Petersen.

Significance: A significant amount of faith is being placed in the increased powers of local governments as a way of bringing a more peaceful Kosovo, and the trial schemes will be closely watched. The plans do not tally with the suggestions put forward by the Serbian government, however - which consisted essentially of autonomy for local governments within a Kosovo that would be an autonomous part of Serbia - and there is still much resistance to Serbs taking part in Kosovo institutions. However, those Serbs who live in enclaves and their leaders, as opposed to those in the more solidly Serb areas north of the Ibar river, are much more in favour of co-operation with the Kosovo authorities. Disagreements over the boundaries of the new municipalities, among other things, may yet cause problems with their implementation.

New York Times Article


PRISTINA, Kosovo, July 22 - In the six years since NATO bombers forced Yugoslav troops out of this troubled province, progress toward resolving the entrenched enmity here between Serbs and ethnic Albanians has been slow. The United Nations, which has been administering Kosovo, now wants to broker a deal and step aside.

The negotiations are bound to be painful. Serbs are determined to keep Kosovo, their religious heartland, while ethnic Albanians, who make up 90 percent of the population, demand independence after suffering years of ethnic violence that culminated in the war of 1998 to 1999.

In one unusual peacemaking effort, a group backed by the British government has brought together eight politicians from two opposing camps - former Albanian guerrilla leaders on one side, and minority Kosovar Serbs on the other - for some exercises in getting along.

The group was divided into pairs, an Albanian and a Serb in each. Every day began with 15 minutes of staring into each other's eyes. Then they performed exercises - including climbing trees together and falling backward into each other's arms.

"We were trying to break their barriers down," said Scarlett MccGwire of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy, the group that organized the meeting.

They wanted to challenge the participants to see one another not as "terrorist" or "oppressor," but as human beings, Ms. MccGwire said.

To a surprising degree, the effort worked.

Xhavit Haliti, a founding member of the Kosovo Liberation Army, attended the encounter and found himself won over. "I would recommend it for all the party leaders," he said. By the end of the week, he said, he and his Serbian counterparts were going out to restaurants together and even shared a sauna.

But as successful as these exercises were, they also point to the tough road ahead in Kosovo, where the majority of each community still barely acknowledges the other.

Serbs face the possibility of living in an independent Albanian-dominated state. Diplomats say that if Albanians want to achieve anything like independence they will have to give the Serbs basic rights, like freedom of movement, as well as the right of those refugees who fled the region to return from Serbia.

The framework for the negotiations is still far from clear. The United Nations has commissioned a report to study if and when talks can start. Most diplomats expect the negotiations to begin by early October. The talks would involve local Albanian and Serb leaders, the Serbian government and representatives of leading industrial democracies.

While many Western officials privately acknowledge that independence is perhaps the only solution the Albanian population will accept, the Serbian government is hoping Kosovo will remain within Serbia, but be granted substantial autonomy.

Any resolution has to grapple with Kosovo's nearly complete division along ethnic lines, a rupture that goes back to June 1999, the month the Serb-dominated Yugoslav forces who were accused of committing atrocities against Albanians were forced by NATO troops to withdraw. As the soldiers left, the returning ethnic Albanian refugees sought revenge on their Serb neighbors, and forced up to 200,000 to flee.

Those Serbs that stayed in Kosovo - their numbers are seasonal and fluctuate between 70,000 and 130,000 according to local aid agencies - have led volatile lives.

Ethnic violence, which can dissipate for months on end, often reappears without warning. In March last year, 50,000 Albanians rioted across the province, attacking Serbs and other minorities and forcing 4,000 from their homes. Few Serbs remain in Kosovo's cities, with the exception of Mitrovica, which is divided down the middle along ethnic lines. Instead, most Serbs live in rural enclaves like Gracanica, the largest such enclave with a population of 5,000, just two miles south of Pristina.

Gracanica, like most Serbian villages across Kosovo, retains links with the Serbian capital, Belgrade. Serbia provides such basic services as health and education, and some documentation, like passports and birth and marriage certificates, services that rankle Albanians who regard the United Nations and their regional government as the only rightful authorities in the province.

"We live in two separate worlds," said Sasa Sekulic, a Serbian business owner in Gracanica. Forced to leave his home in Pristina by ethnic Albanian looters, Mr. Sekulic set up a small business making candy. He planned to sell it in Kosovo, but while Albanians are happy to sell him the ingredients, Albanian shops refused to stock his products after a television news show disclosed they were made in Gracanica.

Without the international community there to protect them, he said, most Serbs do not see a future in a Kosovo dominated by Albanians.

"You won't find us here," he said. "We don't want to live in an independent Kosovo."

Talks on Kosovo's final status are seen as inevitable, though. United Nations and NATO officials have concluded that the longer negotiations are put off, the higher the risk for more unrest.

The report on whether talks go ahead was commissioned by Secretary General Kofi Annan, and is being undertaken by the Norwegian diplomat Kai Eide. Mr. Annan is expected to make a recommendation to the Security Council next month.

Many Albanians see Kosovo's independence as a foregone conclusion, and one in which the Serbian government in Belgrade should have no say. Graffiti sprayed on the walls of the United Nations administrative headquarters in Pristina and elsewhere across the capital reflect that view. The slogan reads simply, "No negotiation, self-determination."

While the Albanian-dominated government is aware of the necessity of reassuring the Serbs, critics outside of Serbia and even some local politicians say government officials have been reluctant to turn their words into deeds.

"I think Kosovo's institutions are obliged to guarantee a good life the for the Serbs of Kosovo, to create the space for them to lead a better life," said Xhavit Haliti, the former guerrilla fighter, now a politician. "That is not happening." NY Times

Friday, July 22, 2005

Doris Pack: Kosovo’s future is in the European Union (Zëri/Lajm)

Zëri quotes member of the European Parliament, Doris Pack, as saying that the future of Kosovo is in the European Union. ‘Integration in the EU will be impossible without regional cooperation. The times of war are over and now it is time to build. The countries of the Balkans and Kosovo will have the EU’s support in achieving the necessary goals, but no one will do your job. Therefore, your fate is in your hands,’ said Pack.

Lajm quotes Pack as saying that the youth of Kosovo should apply pressure on politicians to move processes forward.

Assembly calls on US and EU to apply pressure on Serbia for the missing

All daily newspapers cover yesterday’s session of the Kosovo Assembly which focused on the issue of missing persons. The press reports that Prime Minister Kosumi said the issue was a humanitarian and not a political issue. However, representatives of the opposition reacted by saying that it is a completely political issue and called for the issue to be the first point of future talks with Belgrade.


Serbia’s policy of urging Kosovo Serbs to boycott the Kosovo government is creating resentment among local Serb leaders.

By Arben Qirezi in Pristina (BCR No 566, 22-Jul-05)

A gap has opened up between the Serbian government and Kosovo Serb leaders after one of the latter said he will join the Albanian-dominated local assembly in defiance of Belgrade.

Serbia’s position is clear-cut: no participation without extra guarantees. As Serbia’s president, Boris Tadic, put it recently, "Serbia is asking for a more active policy by the international community and for guarantees for the Serbs from the local authorities. Without this, Serb participation in Kosovo institutions would make no sense.”

Tadic was speaking after meeting the UN envoy, Kai Aide, who vainly urged Serbia's leadership to start persuading Kosovo Serbs to join local institutions.

But Oliver Ivanovic, head of the Serbian List for Kosovo and Metohija, SLKM, now says he fears that Serbia is using the issue as a political football, to the detriment of the real interests of Kosovo Serbs.

“Everything is being done … for internal wrangling,” he announced this week. “These calculations may cost a lot to the more than 100,000 Serbs who have decided to stay in Kosovo."

Ivanovic announced that his group will now take up the eight seats that it holds, but has not occupied, in the Kosovo Assembly, and will formally announce a decision to join the government over the next few days.

The announcement marks a sharp break with SLKM policy, which was earlier characterised by a willingness to leave all the big policy decisions to Belgrade.

On the urging of the Serbian government, most Kosovo Serbs boycotted the elections to the assembly last October.

With less than 1,000 Serb voters casting their ballot, the SLKM and the Civic List Serbia, CLS, took the 10 seats that had been allocated to the Serb community, irrespective of the number of votes cast.

The CLS, with two of the 10 seats, led by Nebojsa Petkovic, immediately joined the assembly and took over the ministry of returns and communities.

With the Kosovo government focusing hard on returnee programmes, Petkovic found himself managing the biggest single ministerial budget, worth 14 million euro in 2005 alone.

The ministry of agriculture, which is also reserved for Kosovo Serbs, remained without a minister, however, because the SLKM decided to continue with the Belgrade-inspired boycott.

Although the UN’s framework for governing the territory, the Constitutional Framework of Kosovo, says representatives who fail to appear at assembly meetings for more than six months should be dismissed, the UN mission in Kosovo, UNMIK, declined to enforce this provision, clearly hoping the SLKM would eventually change its mind.

In the meantime, Petkovic criticised UNMIK for giving so much importance to the SLKM, instead of allowing the CLS, "which has shown good will to work within the institutions, to take over the remaining vacant seats in the assembly and the government".

Ivanovic's previous position, that the SLKM could not make any decision on participation in Kosovo institutions without Serbia’s support, was a calculated tactic, some observers said, aimed at maximising the Serb position and at ensuring Belgrade was granted a major role in any final-status negotiations.

"Belgrade counted that a continuous boycott of Kosovo Serbs would enforce the argument that Serbs need their own self-government within Kosovo,” said Bekim Kastrati, a political analyst from Pristina.

“On the other hand, as a Belgrade-sponsored political group, the SLKM lacked the internal strength to take decisions on its own."

But Ivanovic’s latest statements suggest these calculations have lost much of their original force.

Serbia suffered a major loss of prestige last year after the international community rejected its plan to set up five autonomous Serb regions in Kosovo, linked to each other by corridors.

In the ongoing deadlock, a view has clearly emerged in Kosovo that Belgrade is now simply reinforcing its own position at the expense of the Kosovo Serbs, whose dependence on Belgrade has left them without a credible voice.

Arben Qirezi is IWPR/BIRN Kosovo editor.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

UNMIK chief says Serb boycott of Kosovo institutions is "mistake"

f report in English by independent internet news agency KosovaLive

Prishtina [Pristina], 21 July: The chairman of the Serb List for Kosova [Kosovo] and Metohija [SLKM] Oliver Ivanovic, said that the list has made it clear to the EU high representative for the common foreign and security policy, Javier Solana, that, under the current circumstances, Serbs cannot join the institutions of Kosova.

Ivanovic made these comments after a meeting between Serb political representatives and Solana and a party meeting.

Explaining the SLKM's decision, Ivanovic said that Serbs' lives have not improved at all since the boycott began.

"UNMIK [UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo] has provided only superficial support and not in practice. It has done nothing for decentralization, and Kosovar institutions are demonstrating that they know more about talking than working," he said.

Ivanovic stressed that SLKM members are aware that the decision is very risky. But he said that Belgrade - having discouraged Kosovar Serbs from participating in Kosovar institutions - will bear the consequences.

After meeting with Solana, UNMIK Chief Administrator Soeren Jessen-Petersen voiced his surprise at the SLKM's accusations.

"Even when Serbs were not participating in the institutions, we conveyed their concerns [to the Kosovar institutions] and were in touch with them. I believe that choosing not to participate is a mistake," he said.

Source: KosovaLive website, Pristina, in English 21 Jul 05

Kosovo minister calls on Serbs to "quit self-isolation", return to Mitrovica

Text of report in English by independent internet news agency KosovaLive

Mitrovice [Kosovska Mitrovica], 20 July: Culture, Youth, Sports and Non-residential Affairs Minister Astrit Haracia called on the Serbs from the village of Svinjare in Mitrovice "to return to their homes and to quit self-isolation".

Haracia made this comment during a visit to this village, accompanied by the representative of the [UNMIK, UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo, chief] Jessen-Petersen's Office for Return, Kilian Kleinschmidt and UNMIK police Deputy Commissioner Hans Martin Zimmermann.

Milorad Radivojevic told guests that the Serbs from Svinjare were not satisfied with the construction process, or with the compensation provided for reconstruction of other premises. He also said that security conditions have not been created for the return to the village.

"We had cases of cattle being stolen, and recently someone even stole trucks provided to the returning families. Not a single person has been unveiled [discovered] that participated in last March riots when homes in the village were ruined nor have thieves of cows and the trucks been arrested," said Radivojevic.

A total of 37 families, numbering 70 persons, have returned, according to him, but 26 of them left the village again after recent robberies, returning to collective shelters in the northern part of Mitrovice and in Zvecan.

Minister Haracia told Serb representatives that he visited village of Svinjare in order to identify problems related to the reconstruction of houses and the return of the displaced citizens to their properties.

"So far I have visited 20 villages of Kosova [Kosovo], where Serbs, Ashkali and so on live. Statistical data indicate that the Inter-ministerial Committee has finished the construction of 879 houses for Serbs and families of other communities, whose houses were damaged in last March riots, and owners of 90 per cent of the houses have signed trilateral contracts," said Haracia.

Minister Haracia told the Serbs in the village Svinjare that they can discuss any of their problems, but there is no reason whatsoever for this village to be privileged from other villages in Kosova. He has guaranteed them that the directions for the reconstruction of the homes given by the Commission headed by former minister Brajshori have been fully respected.

Source: KosovaLive web site, Pristina, in English 20 Jul 05

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Borut Grgic: Engage Europe now (Koha Ditore)

The following article by Borut Grgic, director of Ljubljana-based Institute for Strategic Studies appeared in yesterday’s edition of Koha Ditore. The original copy in English was provided by the newspaper.

“With the US back in the game, the Kosovar leadership may feel comfortable about its position just before the opening of the status talks. Many, it seems, are linking US political re-engagement with independence, drawing an equal sign between the two.

While Kosova’s independence is the most-likely end result, it is by no means a predetermined fact. Washington has been explicit in its support of having the negotiations start this fall, but has been careful so as not to endorse any end solution. While on his trip to the region, Nicholas Burns refused to even speculate. This means Pristina needs to prepare for a tough negotiation which it will conduct directly with Belgrade, and not through the US or the EU.

If the Kosovar side stumbles during the actual negotiations process – i.e. if they are outfoxed by Belgrade – independence may become unattainable. It will be difficult to get international support (even US support) for independence once the negotiations conclude.

Serbs are excellent negotiators, let’s not forget that. They have outsmarted the international community on a number of occasions, and Kosovars already have experience with them from Rambouillet. Above all, there is an urgent need for a united domestic front in Kosovo. It will be difficult to do the negotiations, and make some of the tough compromises if divided at home. In fact, Kosova would be better off stalling the beginning of talks until this unity on the domestic front is attained. The chief of UNMIK, Mr. Søren Jessen-Petersen, is right to urge a grand coalition ahead of negotiations.

Second, stacking all the chips behind the US is close to a tactical error. The US is important, but so is Europe. Kosova needs to do more to engage the various European capitals on the highest political level, and even more on the Track II (expert and academic) level. Many in key European capitals not only think Kosova’s independence is a bad idea, but outright oppose it. The argument one often hears when traversing through conferences on the Balkans organized in Europe is that Kosovo lacks the capacity to be an independent state. They fear that if independent, Kosovo will amount to a failed state.

While these are obviously remarks based on poor judgment and understanding, Europe is not entirely to blame. The success which the Kosovars have had in terms of wining US Congressional sympathy is partly due to a comprehensive lobbying and explaining strategy set forth by the Kosova Diaspora living in the US. Second, Washington has been the favorite destination for Kosovar political leaders for year now.

The same commitment is missing across Europe. It should not come as a surprise then that EU governments generally tend to be skeptical vis-à-vis Kosovo’s independence. More can and must be done by Pristina to establish a comprehensive Track II engagement in Europe.

Aside form the fact that the EU will be a main ‘supervisor’ of the final status talks, the US despite its most recent diplomatic push, is slowly disengaging from the region. While US commitments grow bigger elsewhere – like in the Middle East – Europe is assuming increasing responsibility for stability and transition in the Balkans. Explaining to the US legislators and the Pentagon why the US presence in the Balkans is still necessary is becoming increasingly difficult. So rather than struggling to keep a power that does not want to stay committed, Kosovar leadership should engage with the EU. It the latter dimension that is presently fully missing.

The task for Prime Minister Kosumi is thus two fold. One the one hand, he should work to forge a sense of national unity before the start of the negotiations in order to maximize Kosovo’s political power at the actual negotiating table. Second, he should network aggressively across Europe, starting with countries closest to the region. It is paramount for Europe to better understand Kosovo – not least also because of the present internal crisis which has made many in the EU hypersensitive (in a negative way) to the Balkans. Second, the Serbs have made sure that Europe has heard their side of the story. Belgrade intellectuals are regular guests at conferences, and Serbian politicians visit with their European counterparts frequently. As a result, European perceptions may be skewed come negotiations time.

Only the US matters strategy will not work for the Kosova Albanians. It is too simplistic in light of the complexities surrounding final status talks.”

Profitable patriotism

BELGRADE -- Wednesday – The Serbian Government has approved financial assistance of almost half a million euros the former commander of the Yugoslav Army’s Pristina Corps, Vladimir Lazarevic, in return for his surrender to the Hague Tribunal, the Committee of Lawyers for Human Rights has revealed.

The Committee for Human Rights Lawyers’ Milan Antonijevic said today that the information on the payment earmarked for Lazarevic had been obtained from the Ministry of Finance under the Freedom of Information Act.

“On the basis of this information, the committee has asked the Finance Ministry where the resources for paying assistance to Hague Tribunal indictees and their families comes from and how much as been allocated, but not yet paid, for this during 2004 and to July 2005 for voluntary surrenders to the Hague Tribunal,” said Antonijevic.

“The committee received a reply, signed by Minister Dinkic, that funds had not been planned for the assistance of indictees in the 2004 and 2005 budgets, but that on the basis of Decision 06-621/2005 of February 2005, Government Ruling 401-685/2005, funds of 40 million dinars (about 500,000 euros) had been allocated from current budget reserves for securing the needs of assistance to General Vladimir Lazarevic on the occasion of his voluntary surrender to the Tribunal in The Hague,” he said, adding that the funds had not yet been paid.

“The committee was surprised by this reply from the Finance Ministry and we believe that it is our responsibility to inform the public,” said Antonijevic.

Lazarevic is charged with war crimes against Kosovo Albanians.

Following a number of “voluntary” surrenders to the tribunal at the beginning of the year, unconfirmed reports emerged that each surrender had involved major compensation for the indictees’ families. At the same time there were several cases of Bosnian Serb indictees choosing to surrender from Serbia rather than from the Republic of Srpska. Unofficial sources said at the time that, depending on their rank and the significance of their surrender, some of these indictees received assistance of hundreds of thousands of euros.

In a statement released after a meeting between Lazarevic and the government at the end of January, Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica said that he personally, the Cabinet and the state greatly respected Lazarevic’s patriotic, moral and honourable decision to surrender. The government also described the decision as an act of patriotism.

Lazarevic himself said at the time that his decision to surrender had been motivated by his desire to honour his country, the Serbian people and Kosovo.

The mayor of the former general’s home town of Nis, Smiljko Kostic hosted a reception for Lazarevic prior to his departure, describing him as a “Serbian hero” and presenting his family with the gift of a motor vehicle.

Kosovo Moving Closer to Final Status Negotiations

By Barry Wood
19 July 2005

Kosovo, the United Nations-administered south Serbian province, is slowly moving closer to final status negotiations. Analysts in the 90 percent Albanian-populated territory believe status talks are likely to begin in October.

Norwegian envoy Kai Eide is preparing a report reviewing developments in Kosovo and assessing the territory's implementation of standards of good governance. Analysts say that document, expected to be ready in September, is likely to conclude that the time has come for the United Nations to resolve Kosovo's final status.

The landlocked territory of two million inhabitants has been under U.N. control since 1999, when sustained NATO bombing in support of ethnic Albanians drove Serb troops out of Kosovo. NATO-led peacekeepers are posted throughout Kosovo.

Alex Anderson, the Pristina representative of the non-government International Crisis Group, says the final status negotiations, once they begin, will be exceedingly difficult. It will, he says, be a huge challenge to craft an agreement acceptable to both ethnic Albanians and the Serbian government.

"I don't think there is any good solution for Kosovo," he said. "It is such a contested territory that whatever solution is found is not going to leave everybody happy."

Mr. Anderson believes what is likely to emerge, perhaps within 12 months, is a plan for a kind of conditional independence.

Enver Hoxhaj, a member of the Kosovo parliament and a philosophy professor at Pristina University, believes a solid timetable for concluding the final status negotiations is needed. Mr. Hoxhaj rejects the idea that Serbia needs to agree on Kosovo's final status.

"I don't think that Belgrade [Serbia] should be asked concerning the final status issue," he said. "Belgrade has the right, actually, to be interested in the position of the Kosovo Serbs here, regarding the position of the [Orthodox church] religious sites. And I think everybody has an understanding for that. But regarding the status issue, Belgrade simply doesn't have the legitimacy."

Other analysts say to assure regional stability, it is essential that a Kosovo settlement be acceptable to Serbia. Kosovo Albanians want nothing less than independence, an outcome opposed by Serbia.

Kosovo's Serbs, who comprise well under ten-percent of the population, were targets for ethnic Albanian rioting 16 months ago. Mr. Anderson believes renewed ethnic violence would set back final status negotiations.

"I think it is widely understood that another collapse into violence like we saw in March of last year would be rather disastrous in terms of the international community's judgment on Kosovo," he said.

By almost all accounts there has been progress in Kosovo over the past year. Ethnic relations have improved. There is increased tolerance of minorities. More powers have been handed over to local authorities. However, the economy remains weak with unemployment approaching 50 percent of the work force.

Once the United Nations determines that final status talks can begin, a senior European Union diplomat, assisted by an American, is expected to guide the negotiations.

UNMIK submits to PISG drafts for two ministries

All daily newspapers report that SRSG Søren Jessen-Petersen has submitted to Prime Minister Bajram Kosumi the draft for the creation of two new ministries – the Ministry of Order and the Ministry of Justice.

‘We have discussed this issue earlier, and today he has officially received the plan,’ said the UNMIK chief.
Koha Ditore quotes the SRSG as saying that the creation of the two ministries would resolve the problems with parallel intelligence services among some political parties in Kosovo. ‘What we need to do now is pledge that we will create an apolitical judicial system that will treat all Kosovo citizens equally,’ added Jessen-Petersen.

According to Zëri, the two new ministries are expected to be created by the end of the year. Until then, says the paper, Jessen-Petersen has called for a debate on all security issues, including parallel structures and the so-called intelligence services in the political parties.

SRSG outlines steps ahead for Kosovo at Pristina University forum

PRISTINA – SRSG Søren Jessen-Petersen on Tuesday 19 July participated in a public forum on Kosovo in 2005 organized by Pristina Summer University. Following is the text of his speech:

Ladies and Gentlemen, I would like to thank the organizers of the Pristina Summer University for getting us together for this event. I am pleased to be here with my friends the Prime Minister and the Commander of KFOR, General de Kermabon. I would also like to thank the Prime Minister for his comments – some of which I will try to pick up on in the course of my speech.

I have been asked today to have a look at the way forward for Kosovo. I think that this way forward can be broken down into three distinct phases: the short term of standards implementation; the medium term of the settlement of Kosovo’s status; and the long term of Europeanisation. I hope to show that these three phases are not only inter-related. They are inseparable.


In most of my speeches this year I believe that I have made the point that this is a “crucial year” for Kosovo. So it is. The comprehensive review of progress on standards, led by Ambassador Eide, which the Prime Minister referred to, is ongoing at the moment. On this basis, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, will consider, in September or October, whether to recommend beginning of the process of settling Kosovo’s future status. The issues don’t get much bigger than this.

The standards policy is one that will be familiar to everyone here. The progress in implementation of standards that we noted in our regular quarterly review of the policy, and reported to the United Nations Security Council in May was the basis for the Secretary General’s decision to launch the comprehensive review.

There is a common perception among Kosovo-skeptics that nothing has moved on here since the international intervention in 1999. Our regular reviews of standards implementation have proven this to be wrong, and have noted progress in all eight standards. The economic, social and political life of Kosovo has become clearly better over time including for minority communities. But progress must be continual. Our regular reviews of progress take place four times a year and a new one is ongoing at the moment. This needs to show improvement too – the standards process is not one that allows anyone to rest on their laurels.

Because our assessment also shows that none of the eight standards has been fully implemented, some familiar challenges remain. Top of this list are minority rights (especially freedom of movement), the return of displaced persons, and, although not actually a standard as such, decentralization.

What should by now be clear is that improvements in these areas will also improve the lives of all citizens of all communities in Kosovo. The returns process is closely linked to better enforcement of property rights. This is not something which concerns only ethnic Serbs, Roma or Ashkali – it is the foundation stone of a functioning market democracy, and the sooner property rights are fully and consistently enforced, the better for everyone.

The recognition and enforcement of minority rights is also something that benefits all – everybody – in Kosovo, though the gains that it provides are more intangible: diversity is a strength – and one that is witnessed both by the European Union itself, despite recent doubts, and by a great many member states of the Union. These member states have ensured that minorities are a fully-integrated, but fully distinct, part of the social mixture that makes up their polity – and they have found that this embracing of difference has brought with it social, political and economic vibrancy.

Finally, decentralization also brings benefits to all, by devolving power – and therefore responsibility and accountability – down to the lowest possible local level, which in turn allows voters to judge politicians and political parties on the basis of concrete actions, or the lack of actions, before their very eyes. It is regrettable that decentralization has come to be seen only as a minority rights issue – it is not, it is a democracy issue and one that brings government closer to all.

I have tried to outline the benefits that derive only from the three items highest on the political agenda at the moment. But this is not to downplay the importance of the remaining standards challenges, or to downplay the amount of work that remains to be done.

As I have said many times – and the Prime Minister has said the same – the standards framework provides above all the opportunity and responsibility of all the people of Kosovo – of all of you – to build a stable, multiethnic and democratic society. The kind of society that we all want to live in.


When Ambassador Eide completes his report on progress in implementing standards it will, as I mentioned, be presented to the Secretary General of the United Nations, whose recommendations will inform the Security Council’s decision about beginning the process of settling Kosovo’s status.

The outcome of the comprehensive review is not a foregone conclusion. At the same time, there is a growing recognition that an early launch of status talks, although difficult and at times tense, is in the interest of normalization and stabilization in Kosovo itself and in the region as a whole.

So while continuing to push standards implementation, we must also prepare now for the next step. Or rather, I should say, the PISG, the political parties, the people of Kosovo, must also prepare for the next step. On one level, of course, the process of standards implementation itself is preparation for the status process. But there will also need to be discussions – the exact format of which remains to be decided, of course, but discussions nonetheless. And these discussions on status will very likely be detailed. Whatever outcome is desired at the end of the process, it is not enough to state that at the beginning and wait for the process to deliver. Engagement will be necessary on a wide variety of complicated issues. For this preparation should already have started – and if it hasn’t, it needs to begin as soon as possible.

The issue of preparation for future status talks has been on the agenda of the Kosovo Forum from its first meeting in early June, and it is on the agenda again when the Forum meets this Thursday. I hope that at this meeting the participants will deal with concrete proposals for how the work of status preparations can and should be managed in the coming weeks. Preparation for the status process is a responsibility of all the political institutions in Kosovo. The Forum can help to provide impetus for these preparations, and help the political parties to reach consensus on the way forward. But clearly in the future the Assembly of Kosovo will need to assume its rightful responsibilities also on status preparations.

That this will involve intensive work is plain enough – but this is doubly true when taking into account my earlier point that standards implementation must remain on course and not be deflected by other political priorities.

Though I know that all political leaders in Kosovo see the urgency of the approaching status issue, I am not sure that all see its range and its complexity. I would advocate getting down to details – something that has worked, and is working, in the standards process. But when it comes to status preparations the political leadership in Kosovo must manage without UNMIK’s help. My mandate is to facilitate status preparations, but not to participate in them. Assistance in the preparations for future status is not something that my mission has the mandate to provide. Nor should it. This is the job of Kosovo’s leadership – your politicians. But this is also a process in which all the citizens of Kosovo must play a part. The Prime Minister rightly talked about the role of civil society and as Kosovo prepares for future status talks, civil society has a vital role to play.


On what Kosovo’s status will be I will offer no comment – which I am sure you will understand. But what happens after status? For me, the answer is Europe. Europe happens after status. Not straight away, of course, not immediately, but eventually. The EU Council of Ministers made clear on 17 June that the offer of a European perspective made to the Western Balkans at Thessaloniki in 2003, saying that all the countries of the Western Balkans had a future in the Union – this offer remains. This includes Kosovo, regardless of the outcome of the status process. But again, it is important to go back and look at what has to be achieved in order to move into Europe. If we do this, then it is clear that just as the standards process is essential to Kosovo now, and essential to Kosovo in terms of the status process – the standards process is also essential to Kosovo in terms of its long-term European future. All that is achieved by Kosovo in standards implementation today, is one fewer thing to be achieved by Kosovo in the Europeanisation process tomorrow.

So the way forward for Kosovo is, in my mind clear – a process of reform, within the standards framework, which delivers measurable benefits to everybody in Kosovo, and paves the way for talks on the settlement of Kosovo’s status – a status which itself will be decided within a European context, and with a European future built-in from the beginning.


I hope my message is clear – Kosovo’s future is better mapped than is often supposed. Status is a vital issue – and an emotional one for obvious reasons – but it is not the only one, no matter that it often appears to be so. The standards process provides that map for you and for your politicians to follow in order to achieve both a settlement of status and a European future – that is to say a future marked by peace, prosperity, democracy and multi-ethnicity. Throughout this process you will be able to count on the support of your friends in the international community, including UNMIK, and of course with the European Union taking an increasingly central role. Through this process, too, for as long as its presence is required I know you can rely on the stabilizing role of NATO in the form of KFOR. So I would like now to turn to my friend and colleague, Yves de Kermabon, not only to thank him for his contribution to stability here, but also, and this is really your job Mr. Chairman, for his contribution to this debate – and I look forward to your questions to all of us in due course.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Was Bosnia Worth It?

By Richard Holbrooke
Tuesday, July 19, 2005; A21

If you wonder whether the 1995 American intervention in Bosnia was the right decision, go to a really horrible place, one whose name has become synonymous with genocide and Western failure. Go to Srebrenica.

Ten years after Bosnian Serbs under the command of Gen. Ratko Mladic murdered 7,000 Muslims there, I found myself back in that valley of evil as part of the official American delegation representing President Bush and the nation. We walked across muddy fields, under leaden skies, through a vast throng of victim families who were burying more than 600 of their loved ones, their grief and personal hatred of those who had done this undiminished by the passage of a decade.

But even in Srebrenica, there has been progress since my last visit, five years ago. Then, only 10 brave -- one might say recklessly brave -- Muslim families had returned to their homes, and they lived in constant fear among 12,000 Serbs. Today 4,000 Muslims have returned, and one-third of the Serbs have already left. This is astonishing, and more of the same seems certain if the international community -- and especially the United States, the most respected nation in the Balkans -- remains involved; in this regard, Bush's strong words of support at the ceremony -- read by the head of his delegation, Ambassador for War Crimes Pierre Prosper -- were welcomed. There was also an important effort at reconciliation: Top leaders from Serbia and the Serb part of Bosnia came to lay wreaths, an important acknowledgment of Serb responsibility for what happened.

Things have improved even more in the rest of Bosnia. Above all, there is peace and not simply a cease-fire; this war will not resume. Nor has Bosnia become two separate states, as many critics of the Dayton Peace Agreement predicted. Although many (including in the Pentagon) predicted a Korea-like demilitarized zone between Serbs and Muslims, there are no barriers between the regions, and there are growing economic and political ties between ethnic groups. More than a million refugees have returned to their homes, many, like those in Srebrenica, to areas where they are in a minority. Both the European Union and NATO are beginning talks that could lead to association agreements between Bosnia and Brussels.

So there is good news (which often means "no news" to editors) from Bosnia. But not nearly enough. From the beginning, implementation of the Dayton Peace Agreement was insufficiently aggressive. The most important failure was not capturing the two most wanted war criminals in Europe, Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic. This is a story unto itself of missed opportunities and poor intelligence. Mladic is, after all, in Serbia, and has been seen in public. I would guess that Karadzic has trimmed his trademark gray pompadour, grown a beard, and is hiding in some monastery in the deep mountains of eastern Bosnia or Montenegro. If Karadzic and Mladic are not brought to justice, the international security force (now a European Union force, with NATO reduced to a small office and fewer than 200 American troops) will never be able to leave, and Bosnia's return to a multiethnic society (and the institutions of Europe) will be delayed or prevented.

It is by now universally understood that a great crime was committed in Srebrenica. As assistant secretary of state for European affairs at the time, I argued, unsuccessfully, that we needed NATO airstrikes to stop the Bosnian Serbs -- bullies who preferred long-range artillery and short-range murder to anything resembling a real military operation. But Britain, France and the Netherlands had troops deployed, as part of the United Nations' peacekeeping force, in three extremely exposed enclaves in eastern Bosnia, including Srebrenica. Facing the brutal threats of Mladic, they refused to consider airstrikes until the Dutch troops were ignominiously escorted out of Srebrenica. By then it was too late.

From 1991 to 1995 the United States had been reluctant to act in Bosnia. But after Srebrenica, President Bill Clinton knew that although the American people would not like it, the United States could no longer avoid involvement there. Thus began the diplomatic and military policy that led to the Dayton accords, to peace in Bosnia and, four years later, to the liberation of the Albanian people in Kosovo from Slobodan Milosevic's oppression.

Sending 20,000 American troops to Bosnia as part of a NATO-led peacekeeping contingent to enforce Dayton took real political courage. There were widespread predictions that it would fail, and there was opposition from most of Congress and the foreign policy elite. In a poll at the time, Clinton's decision was supported by only 36 percent of the American public, who expected heavy U.S. casualties. As it turned out, that expectation was misplaced; in the 10 years since Dayton, no -- repeat, no -- American or NATO military personnel have been killed by hostile action in Bosnia. It is a mark of the respect in which NATO -- that is, the United States -- is held.

This was Clinton's most important action in regard to Europe -- an action opposed, incidentally, by most of his political advisers. It was a classic commander-in-chief decision, made alone, without congressional support and with only reluctant backing from the Pentagon. But it worked: Without those 20,000 troops, Bosnia would not have survived, 2 million refugees would still be wandering the face of Western Europe, a criminal state would be in power in Bosnia itself -- and we would probably have had to pursue Operation Enduring Freedom not only in Afghanistan but also in the deep ravines and dangerous hills of central Bosnia, where a shadowy organization we now know as al Qaeda was putting down roots that were removed by NATO after Dayton.

Was Bosnia worth it? As we approach the 10th anniversary of Dayton, there should no longer be any debate. Had we not intervened -- belatedly but decisively -- a disaster would have taken place with serious consequences for our national security and the war on terrorism. Dayton reasserted an American leadership role in Europe after a period of drift and confusion. But the job is not yet finished, and it is encouraging to see President Bush and the new team at State recommit the nation, as they did last week at Srebrenica.

Richard Holbrooke was the chief architect of the Dayton Peace Agreement. He writes a monthly column for The Post.

UN To Hand Over Police,Justice Role To Kosovo By Year End

PRISTINA (AP)--The U.N. mission in Kosovo plans to hand over duties in the fields of police and justice in the hands of the province's government by the years end, the head of the U.N. mission to Kosovo says.

Soeren Jessen-Petersen said that the new duties will be conditioned on effective monitoring, vigorous accountability and capacity building while the U.N. will remain the ultimate authority in the province's affairs.

According to the plan, two new ministries of justice and police will be created in coming months, with the rest of responsibilities to be handed over gradually by the years end, Jessen-Petersen said. Kosovo has been administered by the U.N. since 1999.

Donor funding still needed for mine-clearance operations in Kosovo - UN

19 July 2005 – Six years after the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) drove Yugoslav troops out of Kosovo amid ethnic fighting between Albanians and Serbs, unexploded mines are still claiming victims in the United Nation-administered province and continued donor funding is needed for clearance operations.

Repeating warnings from the Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC) to the public not to go into areas marked with tape or mine signs or approach suspicious objects, the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) noted today that so far this year two people had been killed and seven seriously injured in such accidents.

Since April when de-mining activities resumed, over 1,200 mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) have been located and destroyed, and over 2 million square metres of land cleared.

Last year, one person was killed and 13 seriously injured in 11 accidents, over 4,000 items of mines and UXO were located and destroyed and over 4 million square metres of land cleared.

Continued donor funding is needed for the on-going operations of international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and training of KPC teams, which together have some 250 people involved in the day-to-day clearance of mines and UXO, UNMIK said.

The NGOs active in Kosovo are the Halo Trust, Handicap International and the Mines Awareness Trust.

Jessen-Petersen and Kosumi to launch today framework for returns

Quoting information released by the Government’s Press Office, Zëri reports that the head of UNMIK and the Prime Minister of Kosovo have invited political leaders, Contact Group Representatives, heads of UNMIK Pillars and other international representatives to take part in today’s meeting of the Working Group on Returns, when a strategy on returns and communities will be announced.

Today’s meeting, according to the paper, will serve as a platform for launching the strategy and an opportunity to discuss it at the highest level.

Parliamentary and local elections in spring 2007?

Zëri carries an editorial as a lead story on the front page on preparations of the OSCE for the post-status situation in Kosovo. The OSCE is favouring rescheduling of elections in Kosovo. Therefore the third local elections planned for 2006 are likely to be postponed until 2007 when there will be joint parliamentary and local elections, the editorial says.

The first reason is the process of solving the Kosovo’s status, which according to the paper, is expected to last from 6 to 9 months. In any scenario, the UN Security Council is expected to adopt a new resolution on Kosovo no later than December next year to confirm agreement reached on the status. According to the paper, those developments would overshadow the local elections.

Other reasons for the delay are the reorganization of the elections system and that political parties will have a clearer perspective after the solution of the final status.

Govt: Political dialogue with Belgrade speeds up independence

Koha Ditore reports on the front page that according to the Kosovo Government, political dialogue with Belgrade, which is one the main conditions set forward by the international community, could start in autumn.

‘The meeting [between the PISG and Serbian Government] will most probably take place in autumn,’ said Government spokesman Daut Dauti. ‘This meeting would speed up the recognition of Kosovo’s status – independence.’

Monday, July 18, 2005

Army veteran tops U.K. single, album charts

LONDON (Reuters) - Ex-British army officer James Blunt secured his first U.K. No. 1 single Sunday with his ballad "You're Beautiful," and logged a second week atop the albums chart, the Official UK Charts Company said.
Blunt, who was stationed in Kosovo with the army in 1999, had spent seven weeks in the charts with the track from his debut album "Back to Bedlam" before moving to the top spot.

The single forced "Ghetto Gospel" by dead American rapper 2Pac and Elton John to No. 2, and Mariah Carey's "We Belong Together" to No. 3.

John's "Electricity" was one of two new entries in the top 10, bowing at No. 4. House track "Nasty Girl" by Inaya Day opened at No. 9.

Welsh soprano Charlotte Church's "Crazy Chick" dropped one place to No. 5. Her album, "Tissues and Issues," was the highest new entry on the albums chart, debuting at No. 5.

The first four albums were unchanged from last week: Blunt was followed by Coldplay's "X&Y," Faithless' "Forever Faithless," and Kaiser Chiefs' "Employment."


Key Kosovo Bridge Opens Linking Albanians, Serbs

PRISTINA (AP)--A key Kosovo bridge symbolizing the ethnic divide opened for traffic Monday, police said.

The bridge over the Ibar river in the northern town of Kosovska Mitrovica will remain permanently open in an attempt to bring the divided communities together, said Larry Miller, a spokesman for the U.N. police.

The bridge has in the past six years been the scene of periodic violent clashes between the ethnic Albanian majority, which lives south of the river, and Serb minority, which lives north of it. Last month the NATO peacekeepers handed over control of the bridge to the U.N. police, which prompted protests by the local Serbs.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

Unserious (Express)

Express quotes Skender Hyseni, advisor to Kosovo President Ibrahim Rugova, as saying there are many reasons why the meeting between Rugova and his Serbian counterpart Boris Tadic will happen neither in Pristina nor in Belgrade. Hyseni also said that there have been no serious offers ever since Tadic turned down the offer to meet in Geneva.

Differences bet internal and public approach of West toward Kosovo?

Zëri carries an exclusive article on the front page on ‘confidential detailed notes’ from the last three meetings of the Contact Group Plus with SRSG Jessen-Petersen, COMKFOR, Yves de Kermabon and Ambassador Kai Eide.

It reports that in the last meeting of CGP in Pristina, Jessen-Petersen said although it was very important to go ahead and implement local government reform, the issue of borders of pilot-municipalities should be dealt with cautiously. Jessen-Petersen warned that there could be reactions in places such as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia where borders of several municipalities changed. Furthermore, the creation of two new ministries later would also influence these projects, said the SRSG according to the paper.

COMKFOR Yves de Kermabon stressed during the meeting that the period when Kosovo’s political status will be discussed could be more problematic than the current situation of ‘fragile stability’.

UN Special Envoy for assessing Standards implementation, Kai Eide described his mission as independent, with wide competencies and without time limits.

Intl community to increase pressure on Belgrade and Pristina

The leading article in Koha Ditore notes that the attention has returned to Kosovo, as there are only several months until the completion of the assessment of standards that could lead to talks on Kosovo’s final status. Citing diplomatic sources in Brussels, the paper says next week Pristina and Belgrade could be put under a new wave of international pressure.

The paper notes that EU and NATO officials have reiterated their calls for Pristina and Belgrade to be more serious about the importance of the current situation. Scheffer and Solana call on Belgrade to give the green light for Kosovo Serbs to return to Kosovo institutions. Solana will visit Pristina on Wednesday and remind Kosovan leaders that the assessment of standards is not a foregone conclusion and that dialogue with Belgrade and decentralisation cannot wait much longer.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Pensions For War Criminals - Newsweek

They're facing trial, but they're not going poor.

By Rod Nordland

July 25 issue - In the Balkans, war crime pays. This year, a record 20 accused war criminals have been turned over to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia at The Hague, compared with only three in 2004. But NATO troops didn't nab these fugitives in daring dawn raids. Negotiators did much of the work, offering generous financial incentives. "Everybody here in Serbia believes the government gives big money to indictees," says Natasa Kandic, head of the Humanitarian Law Center in Belgrade. "If you want to go to The Hague, you'll be rewarded and your family will have a very good life."

Some of the incentives are legally mandated. Serbia passed legislation last year to provide pensions to its indicted war criminals. The law gives indictees a full salary, plus unspecified "compensation" for family and legal expenses. In the Republic of Srpska, the Serb-controlled part of Bosnia, benefits are even more generous: a full salary to the indictee himself, a double salary paid to his family, plus 80 euro a month to each of his school-age children. (A typical Bosnian Serbian salary is only 200 euro a month.) Family members also get four expense-paid trips a year to The Hague to visit indicted loved ones. And last year Srpska added a cash bonus of 25,000 euro for anyone who surrenders.

Still more generous inducements are offered to the really big fish. According to Serbian media reports, Gen. Vujadin Popovic got a bonus of $1 million when he turned himself on April 14. Popovic was the commander of the Drina Corps in Bosnia, which conducted some of the worst ethnic-cleansing campaigns in the region. Serbian government officials have told human-rights activists that Gen. Ratko Mladic, the accused architect of the Srebrenica massacre, was offered $5 million to turn himself in, although in the end he decided to stay on the run. (The U.S. government still has a $5 million reward for his capture.)

Why the largesse? Serbia desperately wants to begin talks to join the European Union, but progress on turning in war criminals is a precondition. Reports that generals like Mladic were living openly in Belgrade did not sit well with the Europeans; Mladic's family even drew his state pension on his behalf until last year. Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica has publicly supported indicted war criminals, but his coalition partners want to see progress on EU accession. So when Gen. Vladimir Lazarevic, wanted for war crimes in Kosovo, turned himself in last January, he was praised by Kostunica as a patriot and received by the Serbian Orthodox Patriarch. In Nis, the mayor gave Lazarevic a new car for his family at a ceremony attended by government ministers.

Part of the reason the international community created the war-crimes tribunal was to show that atrocities would be punished rather than rewarded. Instead, "we celebrate our war criminals as heroes," says Branko Todorovic, of the Helsinki Committee in the Republic of Srpska. James Lyon, director of the International Crisis Group in Belgrade, fumes that "the government of Serbia has made financial arrangements for war criminals, but has yet to make any legal provision to take care of the victims of these crimes... It's morally reprehensible." Last week some 30,000 Muslim refugees returned to Srebrenica for the 10th anniversary of that massacre, where 7,800 men and boys were captured and executed by Serb forces. For the first time, Serbia's president attended, though his government has yet to apologize for its role in the massacres. Many of the Muslims there booed him. As long as the Serbs are rewarding their indicted war criminals with handsome pension plans, reconciliation remains a long way off.

With Zoran Cirjakovic in Belgrade

© 2005 Newsweek, Inc.