Tuesday, July 04, 2006

UNMIK police admit "parallel security structures" exist in north Kosovo

Text of report by Zija Miftari entitled "Fighting parallel structures before status is a mistake" published by the Kosovo Albanian newspaper Koha Ditore on 2 July

Prishtina [Pristina], 1 July: UNMIK [UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo] Police Commissioner Kai Vittrup has admitted the existence of parallel security structures, but he said that as long as these structures do not behave like police he does not intend to fight them. He left this issue for politicians to resolve.

This is also the first time that the existence of parallel security structures in Kosova [Kosovo] has been admitted publicly by a senior official of the international police administration.

Although he assessed the security situation in Kosova as stable but sensitive, Vittrup said that he has faith that the police will manage. He urged Gerard Gallucci, UNMIK regional administrator for Mitrovice [Kosovska Mitrovica], who expressed concern about possible riots in the north within the next two months, to rely on the police.

"My assessment, which is no surprise, is that we have a stable security situation, but it is, nevertheless, brittle. Minor incidents could threaten the situation, could threaten stability. Some people do not understand that such incidents will have a bad influence on the general security situation," he said.

Asked if the same could be said about the north of Kosova, he stated: "It is the same. I cannot say that the situation is better or worse than in other parts of Kosova. People in the north should understand that crimes do happen, that crimes happened even before 1999."

"Crime is not something that UNMIK and the ShPK [Kosovo Police Service, KPS] have determined. To make sure that we do everything possible to maintain law and order, we have taken a number of initiatives by increasing the number of international policemen, those of the ShPK, and we have encouraged mayors of northern municipalities to join and support the police through the formation of municipal security committees. Other parts of Kosova have accepted this, but I am still waiting for an answer from the north," Vittrup said.

He said the haste to present all crimes in the north as crimes with ethnic motives is part of the rhetoric.

"I believe that everyone should be careful, because not all crimes in the north are exclusively ethnically motivated. Nobody knows this for the time being. The interesting thing is that after the Serb priest was shot at, it was immediately said that Albanian terrorists did this. We have investigated the case and we have found the suspect, who was a Serb. But we read nothing about this in the newspapers from the north.

"I do not have a problem about informing the media if a crime is ethnically motivated. Why not?! When we find out the truth, I want to state it, and to tell everyone that this is the way to act. I believe that the rhetoric in the north is political. When I have meetings with municipal mayors in the Serb Coordination Centre, we do not have problems, we speak normally, they understand the problems, and they should have the strength to say that the municipalities should start working with the police, assume a share of the responsibility. I can hardly wait for this to happen," Vittrup said.

Asked about the fact that the UNMIK Customs Service has banned Albanian personnel from moving up north since their vehicle was blown up at Gazivode Lake, Vittrup answered that, nevertheless, "there are ShPK members at Gate 1 and we are not thinking of changing this."

"We have Albanians who work in the north, not in large numbers, but we do," he said.

He added that despite the fact that an institution like the UNMIK Customs Service does not allow its staff to go north for security reasons, "the situation is still stable." He noted that there is always a certain risk.

"If your work in a law and order agency, there is a certain risk. It is always a risk to be a police commissar, but I can say that no criminal will ever be able to remove UNMIK, the ShPK, or me personally from this region. If they try to remove us, then we will bring in twice as many personnel and we will increase the numbers," Vittrup said.

In the meantime, Vittrup said that he was not aware of the recent case where two members of the Kosova Assembly Presidency, one deputy, and a group of regional deputies were not allowed to visit the police station in the north for security reasons.

"I have not been informed about this case," he said.

To Koha Ditore's direct question whether there are parallel security structures in the north of Kosova, Vittrup answered in Albanian, saying "Yes." Asked how he intends to fight them, Vittrup answered: "First, the fact that they have a structure does not mean that we will fight them. If they start behaving like police, then we will act. There is only one police service in Kosova, and that is the ShPK. This goes for the north too. We are monitoring the phenomenon and if they start acting like police or if their numbers increase greatly, we will undertake some actions.

"While the structure exists and it is no longer a secret, then it is a political problem that will be resolved with the resolution of the status [of Kosovo]. If we started now to fight this structure, which has existed for seven years, that would not be smart, especially not before the definition of the final status. It is better for this issue to be resolved at the political level. Once again, if they start acting like police, we will not accept this," Vittrup said.

Asked why the existence of parallel security structures is being admitted now, given that they have existed for seven years, Vittrup answered: "I do not agree with their existence. I have not been here for seven years, but for a year and a half, but their existence is a fact. If we started fighting them before the definition of the status, that would not be smart at all. If they have existed for so long, then a political decision is needed. I am talking about the structure. If the structures start behaving like police, then that is another problem. We are monitoring it," he said.

Asked whether the negotiations with mayors of northern municipalities of Kosova, as well as the visit of NATO Admiral Harry Ulrich, commander of Allied Joint Force Command Naples, there will help, Vittrup said "it depends what they talked about." "We will see," he added.

He said that he does not expect riots in the north, despite various statements such as the one made by administrator Gallucci, who expressed his concern in Washington about possible riots within the next two months.

"I do not have the same fear as Gallucci. Riots are always a problem, regardless of where they happen. The police are here and if there are riots, we will manage. I would like to urge Gerard Gallucci to rely on the police," he said.

Source: Koha Ditore, Pristina, in Albanian 2 Jul 06 pp1,2

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