Monday, September 04, 2006

NATO looking into possible paramilitary activity in northern Kosovo

Text of report by independent internet news agency KosovaLive

Zubin Potok, 2 September: The NATO commander for Southeastern Europe, US Admiral Harry Ulrich, declared in Zubin Potok on 2 September that Kfor [Kosovo Force] troops are aggressively looking into any kind of evidence about possible activities by parallel military structures because, according to him, this is the first time he has heard that such a group exists in that region.

"I heard today that there is paramilitary activity. I can assure you, and we talked about this with the officials of Zubin Potok, that we are very aggressively looking into all evidence about possible paramilitary activities," Ulrich said.

The US admiral made these comments during a visit to the Zubin Potok Municipal Assembly.

Zubin Potok Mayor Slavisa Ristic said that during the meeting he told Admiral Ulrich that on 30 August, a group of people in black uniforms carried out shooting exercises on Mt Mokra Gora, close to the town. He also said he requested an answer from Admiral Ulrich, because he said he had not yet received an answer from Kfor.

US Admiral Ulrich advised that the purpose of his visit to the municipality was to see how satisfied the residents of the area were with the presence of Kfor and the security situation.

"We also discussed the status talks and my concerns about how the decision at the conclusion of Kosova [Kosovo] status talks will be received by the citizens," Ulrich said.

With regard to the creation of a Kosova army, Ulrich said this is part of the discussions about the status and that this is more of a diplomatic issue.

Municipality Chairman Slavisa Ristic said that the citizens and officials of the municipality are satisfied with the number of Kfor soldiers and the security, but he added that he asked the admiral for an increased presence of peacekeepers in those areas where bombs are hurled at citizens and weapons are fired.

"We very much appreciate Kfor's role in the citizens' security. I can assure you that no threat comes from the administrative boundary with Serbia, because there is no sabre rattling in Serbia, as chief negotiator Martti Ahtisaari has stated," Ristic said.

Admiral Ulrich and Zubin Potok Municipality officials also discussed some projects that will be implemented in the municipality.

Some time ago, municipal officials from Zubin Potok, along with those from some other municipalities in the Serb-dominated north, decided to sever any form of cooperation with the central institutions of Kosova.

Source: KosovaLive website, Pristina, in Albanian 2 Sep 06

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