December 8, 1999
by Michael Kelly


"This report makes sobering reading." Thus begins a 300-page document titled "As Seen, As Told, Part II," which was released Monday by the Kosovo mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. True words. The OSCE report covers human rights violations that occurred in Kosovo in the months following the June 12 entry into Pristina by the forces of KFOR, the 48,000-strong peacekeeping army that moved into Kosovo under the auspices of the United Nations. In other words, it covers what has happened in Kosovo since the forces for good assumed responsibility. The findings are not a surprise but a scandal. The war in Kosovo was fought to force an end to ethnic cleansing there, and this great goal was partially met.

The large-scale and systematic campaign by the Serbs to rid Kosovo of its ethnic Albanians--a campaign detailed in the OSCE report "As Seen, As Told, Part I," also released Monday--was halted. Most of the 1 million displaced ethnic Albanians returned to Kosovo. But this did not mean an end to ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. It meant the beginning of a new round of violence and terror, this time conducted by the Albanians, against their ethnic Serb, Croatian, Roma and Muslim Slavic neighbors. From the foreword of the OSCE report: "The human rights violations . . . for the period June-October 1999 include executions, abductions, torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, arbitrary arrests and attempts to restrict freedom of expression. House burnings, blockades restricting freedom of movement, discriminatory treatment in schools, hospitals, humanitarian aid distribution and other public services based on ethnic background, and forced evictions from housing recall some of the worst practices of Kosovo's recent past."

The OSCE report is an exhaustive catalog of ethnically motivated evil in its various banal forms. A day-by-day chronology of all human rights "events" that occurred between June 12 and Oct. 31 runs to 135 pages of single-space type, covering murders (more than 150), shootings, house-burnings, beatings and various other acts of revenge-seeking and terror. Many of the crimes were committed by free-lancers, and the Kosovo Liberation Army has declared itself against all such acts. But this declaration is perhaps not as convincing as it might be. The report lists many murders and other crimes committed by men wearing KLA uniforms or badges. It is clear that the violence aimed against non-Albanians in Kosovo is to a real degree directed by elements of the KLA. It is also clear that the violence is intended not merely to inflict revenge but to purge Kosovo of its non-Albanians. There is much in the patterns of ethnic cleansing that is familiar here: execution-style murders that serve to frighten the target populations into flight; campaigns of house-burnings and beatings and intimidation; the systematic expulsions from jobs and denials of jobs to members of the target populations.

At any rate, the effect has been to cleanse Kosovo of almost all but Albanians. Large numbers of Serbs and Roma people have fled Kosovo since June; the Yugoslav Red Cross listed 234,000 refugees in Serbia and Montenegro as of October. Of course, the ethnic Albanians' cleansing efforts are not to be compared with those of the Serbs in Kosovo in the months and years before June 1999. That, however, is not the important point now. What the Serbs did to the Albanians was a great crime and what the Albanians did in return was a much lesser crime. But they are both crimes, and the latter has occurred, and is still occurring, under what is supposed to be the United Nations' rule of law. This is the point that matters. In expelling the forces of Slobodan Milosevic from Kosovo, the United States and its allies took it upon themselves, as President Clinton said, "to protect the ethnic Kosovar Albanians and the ethnic Serbs alike." This, to put it mildly, we have failed to do. And this matters tremendously. The perpetuation of ethnic cleansing promises the next round in the Balkan cycle of blood.

That this campaign is being waged under U.N. rule does immense damage to the United Nations and to the United States, which are seen by the Serbs and their co-religionists in Russia and Greece as enforcers not of justice but of victory for one side over the other in wars of ethnicity and faith. It is therefore surprising that the OSCE report has been met with utter, silent indifference by President Clinton, Secretary of State Albright and all those others, in the media and in the ranks of right-thinking people, who once cared so very, very deeply about suffering in Kosovo. Actually, it is not surprising, is it?

September/October 1999
Michael Mandelbaum


NATO s War Against Yugoslavia

On the night of May 7,1999 - the 45th day of NATO s air campaign against Yugoslavia - bombs struck the Chinese embassy in downtown Belgrade, crushing the building and killing three Chinese who were said to be journalists. An investigation revealed that American intelligence had misidentified the structure as the headquarters of the Yugoslav Bureau of Federal Supply and Procurement. On the basis, NATO planners had put it on the list of approved targets and, guided by satellite, an American B-2 bomber destroyed it.

The attack on the embassy was therefore a mistake. It was not, however, an aberration. It symbolized NATO s Yugoslav war, a conflict marked by military success and political failure. The alliance s air forces carried out their missions with dispatch; the assault forced the Serb military s withdrawal from the southern Yugoslav province of Kosovo. The wider political consequences of the war, however, were the opposite of what NATO s political leaders intended.

Every war has unanticipated consequences, but in this case virtually all the major political effects were unplanned, unanticipated, and unwelcome. The war itself was the unintended consequence of a gross error in political judgment. Having begun it, Western political leaders declared that they were fighting for the sake of the people of the Balkans, who nevertheless emerged from the war considerably worse off than they had been before. The alliance also fought to establish a new principle governing the use of force in the post-Cold War world. But the war set precedents that it would be neither feasible nor desirable to follow. Finally, like all wars, this one affected the national interests of the countries that waged it. The effects were negative: relations with two large, important, and troublesome formerly communist countries, Russia and China, were set back by the military operations in the Balkans.


At the outset of the bombing campaign the Clinton administration said that it was acting to save lives. Before NATO intervened on March 24, approximately 2,500 people had in Kosovo s civil war between the Serb authorities and the ethnic Albanian insurgents of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). During the 11 weeks of bombardment, an estimated 10.000 people died violently in the province, most of them Albanian civilians murdered by Serbs.

An equally important NATO goal was to prevent the forced displacement of the Kosovar Albanians. At the outset of the bombing, 230.000 were estimated to have left their homes. By its end, 1,4 million were displaced. Of these, 860.000 were outside Kosovo, with the vast majority in hastily constructed camps in Albania and Macedonia.

The alliance also went to war, by its own account, to protect the precarious political stability of the countries of the Balkans. The result, however, was precisely the opposite: the war made all of them less stable. Albania was flooded with refugees with whom it had no means of coping. In Macedonia, the fragile political balance between Slavs and indigenous Albanians was threatened by the influx of ethnic Albanians from Kosovo. The combination of the Serb rampage on the ground and NATO attacks from the air reduced large parts of Kosovo to rubble. In Serbia proper the NATO air campaign destroyed much of the infrastructure on which economic life depended.

Had is been a war fought for national interests, and had the eviction of Serb forces from Kosovo been an important interest of NATO s member countries, the war could be deemed a success, although a regrettably costly one. But NATO waged the war not for its interests but on behalf of its values. The supreme goal was the well-being of the Albanian Kosovars. By this standard, although the worst outcome the permanent exile of the Albanians from Kosovo was avoided, the war was not successful.


According to the Clinton administration, the harm to the people of the Balkans was inevitable and entirely the fault of Serbia. Yugoslav President Slobodan Milo{evi}, the administration said, had long planned to evict all Albanians from Kosovo where they had come to outnumber Serbs by almost ten to one in order to ensure perpetual Serb control of the province. NATO could not honorably stand by while Milo{evi} carried out his scheme of "ethnic cleansing" and thus had no choice but to respond as it did with a 78-day bombing campaign.

Precisely when Belgrade decided on the tactics it employed in Kosovo after the bombing began, and indeed just what it decided whether the displacement of almost 1,5 million Albanians was its original aim, simply a byproduct of a sweeping assault on the KLA, or a response to NATO s air campaign are questions that cannot be seriously addressed without access to such records as the Milo{evi} regime may have kept. To be sure, the practice of ethnic cleansing was scarcely unknown to the regime; indeed, it has been an all to-familiar feature of twentieth-century Balkan history. And whatever their motives, those who killed and put to flight Albanians, and those with authority over the killers and ethnic cleansers bear personal responsibility for the epidemic of crimes in Kosovo.

But there are reasons for skepticism about the Clinton administration a assertion that Milo{evi} s spring offensive against the Kosovar Albanians, like Hitler s war against the Jews, was long intended and carefully planned.

Milo{evi} had, after all, controlled the province for ten years without attempting anything approaching what happened in 1999. In October 1998, Serb forces launched an offensive against the KLA that drove 400,000 people from their homes. A cease-fire was arranged, and a great many returned. A team of unarmed monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) was despatched to the province to give the Albanians a measure of protection. At the outset of 1999, the cease-fire broke down, violated by both sides. Although a concerted effort to reinforce the cease-fire and strengthen the international observers could not have ended the violence altogether, it might have limited the assaults on noncombatants and adverted the disaster that Kosovo suffered. Containing the fighting could have bought time for what was necessary for a peaceful resolution of the conflict. a change of leadership in Belgrade. Removing Milo{evi} from office was by no means an impossible proposition. He was not popular with Serbs (the subsequent NATO assault temporarily increased his popularity), he did not exercise anything resembling totalitarian control over Serbia, and prolonged demonstrations in 1996-97 had almost toppled him.

But NATO chose a different course. Led by Secretary of State Madeleine K.

Albright, it summoned the Serbs and the KLA to the French chateau of Rambouillet, presented them with a detailed plan for political autonomy in Kosovo under NATO auspices, demanded that both agree to it, and threatened military reprisals if either refused. Both did refuse. The Americans thereupon negotiated with the KLA, acquired its assent to the Rambouillet plan, and, when the Serbs persisted in their refusal, waited for the withdrawal of the OSCE monitors and then began to bomb.

Albright later said that "before resorting to force, NATO went the extra mile to find a peaceful resolution", but the terms on which the bombing ended cast doubt on her assertion: they included important departures from Rambouillet that amount to concessions to the Serbs. The United Nations received ltimate authority for Kosovo, giving Russia, a country friendly to the Serbs, the power of veto. The Rambouillet document had called for a referendum after three years to decide Kosovo s ultimate status, which would certainly have produced a large majority for independence; the terms on which the war ended made no mention of a referendum. And whereas Rambouillet gave NATO forces unimpeded access to all of Yugoslavia, including Serbia, the June settlement allowed the alliance free rein only in Kosovo.

Whether such modifications, if offered before the bombing began and combined with a more robust OSCE presence in Kosovo, could have avoided what followed can never be known. What is clear is that NATO s leaders believed that concessions were unnecessary because a few exemplary salvos would quickly bring the Serbs to heel. "I think this is...achievable within a relatively short period of time", Albright said when the bombing began. She and her colleagues were said to consider Milo{evi} a Balkan "schoolyard bully" who would back down when challenged. Apparently the customs in Serbian schoolyards differ from those in the institutions where the senior officials of the Clinton administration were educated, for he did not back down. NATO thus began its war on the basis of a miscalculation. It was a miscalculation that exacted a high price. The people of the Balkans paid it.

Yet when the war ended, the political question at its heart remained unsettled. That question concerned the proper principle for determining sovereignty. The Albanians had fought for independence based on the right to national self determination. The Serbs had fought to keep Kosovo part of Yugoslavia in the name of the inviolability of existing borders. While insisting that Kosovo be granted autonomy, NATO asserted that it must remain part of Yugoslavia. The alliance had therefore intervened in a civil war and defeated one side, but embraced the position of the party it had defeated on the issue over which the war had been fought.

This made the war, as a deliberate act of policy, a perfect failure. The humanitarian goal NATO sought the prevention of suffering was not achieved by the bombing; the political goal the air campaign made possible and the Albanian Kosovars favored independence NATO not only did not seek but actively opposed.

Moreover, the Albanian Kosovars were unlikely to accept any continuing connection to Belgrade, in which case NATO would face an awkward choice. An effort to grant independence to Kosovo would encounter opposition from Russia and China, which, as permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, would be able to block it. Denying independence, however, would risk putting the NATO troops in Kosovo at odds with the KLA and repeating the unhappy experiences of the British army in Northern Ireland since the early 1970 and the American troops in Lebanon in 1982-83, both of which arrived as peacekeepers but eventually found themselves the targets of local forces.


Besides protecting the Albanian Kosovars, NATO aspired to establish, with its Yugoslav war, a new doctrine governing military operations in the post Cold War era. This putative doctrine of "humanitarian intervention" had two parts: the use of force on behalf of universal values instead of the narrower national interests for which sovereign states have traditionally fought; and, in defense of these values, military intervention in the internal affairs of sovereign states rather than mere opposition to cross border aggression, as in the Gulf War of 1991.

The first of these precepts contained a contradiction. Because no national interest was at stake, the degree of public support the war could command in NATO s member countries was severely limited. Recognizing this, the alliance s political leaders decreed that the war be conducted without risk to their military personnel. Its military operations were thus confined to bombardment from high altitudes. But this meant that NATO never even attempted what was announced to be the purpose of going to war in the first place: the protection of the Kosovar Albanians.

As for the second tenet of "humanitarian intervention", it is, by the established standards of proper international conduct, illegal. The basic precept of international law is the prohibition against interference in the internal affairs of other sovereign states. Without this rule there would be no basis for international order of any kind. But if the rule is inviolable, rulers can mistreat people in any way they like as long as the mistreatment takes place within legally recognized borders. Thus, in recent years international practice has begun to permit exceptions, but only under two conditions, neither of which was present in NATO s war against Yugoslavia.

One condition is a gross violation of human rights. The Serb treatment of Albanians in Kosovo before the NATO bombing was hardly exemplary, but measured by the worst of all human rights violations murder neither was it exceptionally bad. Far fewer people had died as a result of fighting in Kosovo before the bombing started than had been killed in civil strife in Sierra Leone, Sudan, or Rwanda - African countries in which NATO showed no interest in intervening. Thus NATO s war did nothing to establish a viable standard for deciding when humanitarian intervention may be undertaken.

Instead, it left the unfortunate impression that, in the eyes of the West, an assault terrible enough to justify military intervention is the kind of thing that happens in Europe but not in Africa.

A second condition for violating the normal proscription against intervening in the internal affairs of a sovereign state is authorization by a legitimate authority. This means the United Nations, which, for all its shortcomings, is the closest thing the world has to a global parliament. But NATO acted without U.N. authorization, implying either that the Atlantic alliance can disregard international law when it chooses a precept unacceptable to nonmembers of the alliance or that any regional grouping may do so (giving, for example, the Russian dominated Commonwealth of Independent States the right to intervene in Ukraine if it believes ethnic Russians there are being mistreated) which is unacceptable to NATO.

Nor did the way the war was fought set a useful precedent. The basic procedure for the conduct of a "just war" is to spare noncombatants. NATO was scrupulous about trying to avoid direct attacks on civilians. But by striking infrastructure in Serbia, including electrical grids and water facilities, the alliance did considerable indirect damage to the civilian population there. Besides harming those whom NATO s political leaders had proclaimed innocent of the crimes committed in Kosovo for which they blamed Milo{evi}, not the Serb people these strikes violated Article 14 of the 1977 Protocol to the 1949 Geneva Convention, which bars attacks on "objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population".

The bombing of Serbia, moreover, continued an ugly pattern that the Clinton administration had followed in Haiti and Iraq, a pattern born of a combination of objection to particular leaders and reluctance to risk American casualties. As with Milo{evi}, the administration had opposed the policies of the military junta that had seized power in Haiti and of Saddam Hussein in Iraq. As in the case of Yugoslavia, invading those two countries to remove the offending leadership was militarily feasible but politically unattractive for the Clinton administration. In all three countries, the administration therefore took steps short of invasion that inflicted suffering on the civilian population the crushing embargoes of Haiti and Iraq were the equivalents of the bombing of the Serb infrastructure without (until October 1994 in Haiti, and to the present in Iraq) removing the leaders from power. If there is a Clinton Doctrine an innovation by the present administration in the conduct of foreign policy it is this: punishing the innocent in order to express indignation at the guilty.


Although ostensibly waged on behalf of NATO s values, the war also affected two of its most important interests: relations with China and Russia. Its effect was to worsen relations with the only two countries in the world that aim nuclear weapons at the United States.

The Chinese leaders professed to be unconvinced by the American explanation for the accidental attack on their embassy. Whatever they thought, the attack was a political windfall for their regime. It deflected attention from the tenth anniversary of the bloody crackdown on the student rallies in Beijing and other cities and channeled against the United States popular sentiment that might otherwise have been directed toward the perpetrators of oppression. It was thus a double setback for American China policy: it strengthened the elements in the Chinese government least favored by Washington and it stirred anti-American sentiment in some sectors of the Chinese population.

As for Russia, the war accelerated the deterioration in its relations with the West that the ill advised decision to extend NATO membership to Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic had set in motion. In return for permitting a reunited Germany within NATO, Mikhail Gorbachev was promised that the Western military alliance would not expand further eastward. The Clinton administration broke that promise but offered three compensating assurances: that NATO was transforming itself into a largely political organization for the promotion of democracy and free markets; that insofar as NATO retained a military mission, it was strictly a defensive one; and that Russia, although not a NATO member, would be a full participant in European security affairs.

The war in Yugoslavia gave the lie to all three: NATO initiated a war against a sovereign state that had attacked none of its members, a war to which Russia objected but that Moscow could not prevent.

Whereas NATO expansion had angered the Russian political class, the bombing of Serbia by all accounts triggered widespread outrage in the Russian public. Thus the sudden postwar occupation of the airport at Pristina, the capital of Kosovo, by 200 Russian troops evoked enthusiastic approval in Russia and signaled a shift in the politics of Russian foreign policy in a nationalist direction.

Moscow sought to secure a separate Russian zone of occupation in postwar Kosovo; NATO refused. Russia could not reinforce its position at the airport (and in any case depended on the NATO governments for economic assistance), so it accepted something less: a presence within the American, French, and German zones. The war therefore had the same consequence for Kosovo that NATO expansion had for Europe as a whole: the stability of the military arrangements in both places came to depend less on Russian consent than on Russian weakness.


The United States dominated the prewar diplomacy and the air campaign, and the war was thus a monument to the efforts of the two officials with the greatest influence on American policy toward the Balkans.

The lesser of the two was President Clinton. He assumed the role of commander in chief with reluctance. Asked at an April 23 press conference with NATO Secretary General Javier Solana during NATO s 50th anniversary celebration whether the alliance would consider inserting ground troops into Kosovo, Clinton deferred to Solana, as if it were the Spanish official and not he who had the power and responsibility to make that decision.

The official most closely identified with the war was Albright. When it ended, she spoke to troops in Macedonia preparing to enter Kosovo as peacekeepers. "This is what America is good at", she said, "helping people".

The help the Albanian Kosovars needed was with rebuilding their homes and their lives. Here, the Clinton administration s track record was not encouraging: it had promised order in Somalia and left chaos. It had gone to Haiti to restore democracy and had left anarchy. It had bombed in Bosnia for the sake of national unity but presided over a de facto partition. But since Clinton had made clear that little money for recovery would come from the United States, the Kosovars prospects depended on whether, at the end of the twentieth century, "helping people" was what Europe had come to be good at.

Albright was on firmer ground with another assertion. Kosovo, she said, was "simply the most important thing we have done in the world". This proved accurate, in no small part due to her efforts. And unlike the other political consequences of NATO's Yugoslav war, it was, for her, entirely intentional. In an administration increasingly preoccupied with its legacy, she had thereby produced one for herself. Focusing the vast strength of American foreign policy on a tiny former Ottoman possession of no strategic importance or economic value, with which the United States had no ties of history, geography, or sentiment, is something that not even the most powerful and visionary of her predecessors not Thomas Jefferson or John Quincy Adams, not Charles Evans Hughes or Dean Acheson could ever have imagined, let alone achieved. But as American bombs fell on Yugoslavia, Madeleine Albright had done both.

"Reporter" in Kosovska Mitrovica


Nowhere have I seen a finer line drawn between depression and having a good time than in the Serbian part of Kosovska Mitrovica. A regular parade of pride is carried out in the cafes there

Reporter, Banja Luka, Srpska, B-H, December 22 1999

Serbian history begins with Kosovo and it looks like Serbian geography will end in Kosovo.
Today in Kosovo the Serbs control four towns: Zvecan, Zubin Potok, Leposavic and Lesak. And a part of Kosovska Mitrovica, which is divided into southern, Albanian and northern, Serb parts. Once it was called Kosovska Mitrovica, for brief interval it was even Titova Mitrovica; now Mitrovica is Serb and Albanian.

The two parts of the city are connected by three bridges. Or, more accurately, divided by them.

"You see, [Ivo] Andric knew how to describe bridges beautifully," says an old geography professor. "When you encounter an obstacle, you don't stop; you conquer it by building a bridge over it. Even in this case, when bridges do not connect but divide two peoples, two riverbanks, two cities, we have encountered an obstacle. They are a people with whom one cannot live, that is the obstacle! How to overcome it? Stop them from crossing the bridge and leave them to perish on their own!"

As far back as the 1970's, when the only form of entertainment was the promenade, the division was apparent in Mitrovica. Walks on the promenade, which regularly began at seven in the evening, summer or winter, took place in what is today the northern part of the city. The Serbs would walk on the right side of the main street, from the bridge toward "Polet" and Zvecan; the Albanians would walk on the left. There was no mingling. Exchanges of information and rare greetings would take place in the middle of the street.

But there was no hate at that time.

No power on earth: "Today the only thing we have in common is hate. Even our Holy Father could not bring us back together," says the professor.

It appears to be true: on the basis of the reactions of others interviewed by Reporter, it is apparent that there is no power on earth, no tactics, no logistics that would contribute to making peace between people formerly joined in brotherhood and unity [a catch phrase of the Communist era].

"Make peace with them?! There is a nice English phrase for it: science fiction," someone adds.

"It's like putting a hedgehog and a snake into the same pit," says a third.

"As soon as they start talking about mutual coexistence, I grab myself between the legs," says a fourth with pride.

Three comrades-in-arms kept guard on Kukavica, the hill which dominates Mitrovica, for more than a month. They observed the Micro settlement, a part of the city populated exclusively by Albanian residents. They are all 35 years old. They introduce themselves: the first is one of the leaders of the anti-abstention revolution; the second is well-known for holding a strike every day between two bars; the third's hobby is breeding stones in the windows of Albanian houses.

"We did not fire a single bullet, so help me God," swears the "stone breeder". "We lay around, ate, went home once in a while to take a bath. One day we received an order to secure the exit from the buildings of a column of Albanian women and children. I almost broke into tears. In every child, I saw my child; in every woman, my wife; in every old woman, my mother... It was the worst day of my life, so help me God, and then..."

Then the first victims fell.

"People were walking in front of guns and that is how casualties happened."

News began to arrive about the burning of Serb houses in places surrounding Mitrovica. An Albanian house went up in flames, another, a tenth... In the very center of the Serb part of the city, right next to a residential building, the "Merlot" wholesale store was set on fire. The residential building could have gone up in flames as well.

"One spark is all it takes... The paramilitaries and the newcomers, so help me God. But after everything that they have done to us, now I would strangle them with my bare hands."

"Newcomers" to blame: The leader of the anti-abstention revolution would also strangle them, meaning the Albanians, with his bare hands but before doing so he heaps abuse on the "newcomers".

"From the very beginning when they chased Albanians from their property, they looted and burned everything that fell into their hands. After a while, this stabilized a bit. What can you do?"

How did the "newcomers" know which houses were Albanian?

"Who knows!"

The "guy on strike" explains how the Territorial Defense worked.

"We had explicit orders from the commander to expel no one. Yes, we did go from house to house and make lists of people who were not duly registered [as tenants: a state requirement throughout FR Yugoslavia] and who obviously came from God knows where. We explained to those people that they would have to leave the city but there was no use of force involved. I give you my word of honor that the army and the old residents of Mitrovica behaved exceptionally correctly."

How then is it that Mitrovica balconies are crammed with furniture and household appliances?

"Brother, go ask the bandits on the other side of the bridge."

I. lived in the southern part of Mitrovica, in the center of Bair, a settlement where few Serbs ventured before the war. We attended "Aziz Sulejmani" elementary school together. Although he was Albanian, he attended classes in Serbian. We talked together last time in October of last year when the craziness began. It turned out he was still here. He was here but so was the craziness.

At first, silence.

"What brings you here?"

He is uncomfortable and his responses are curt.

Then, he thaws just a little.

He claims that the southern part of the city is unrecognizable. Nothing is working on their side, either. "Fafos", "Akumulatori" and the zinc factory have been looted; the machines have been taken God knows where. The "Stari trg" mine is also no longer working. The streets are crowded with people walking aimlessly. There are new people, bosses, who are in fact peasants from Bajgora and Cicavica, the surrounding mountains; some of them are from Albania. It's as if they have never been to a city before, he says. The local Albanians call them "Indians." They control this part of Mitrovica. They are obnoxious, rude and inconsiderate. Kidnapping and rape is a common occurrence. Whoever has an 18 year-old daughter must bring her into the house at first dusk.

"So there is no hope," I say.

"I see none," he responds and at the very end he tells me:

"We were not lacking in people who could without pangs of conscience kill another or burn down a house but your people truly went overboard. Ask your people there."

So I asked "my people".

Unbelievably, no one would admit they had blood on their hands.

The round house: At the top of the northern part of the city, right next to the police station which was destroyed in the bombing, there is a round house. That is what we called the Mitrovica prison. In front of the prison, a combat vehicle and armed KFOR soldiers. Inside are 43 prisoners, 32 of whom are Serbs. Among them is minor V.V., a mentally retarded 17 year-old, who was arrested on the basis of an anonymous report by some Albanian.

After the withdrawal of the Yugoslav Army and police, and the deployment of KFOR, chaos reigned in Kosovo. Everyone could report anyone and have them put in prison. Many people took to this new "parlor game" and there were some truly comical situations: a kid who once upon a time was slapped by a neighbor reported him as the looter of an Albanian house close to the City Hospital. Fortunately the "looted" Albanian was an honest man.

When V.V. ended up in prison, many residents of Mitrovica had cause for fear. The boy, who completed a special school and who had been teased by many of his neighbors for comic effect, had the ideal opportunity to seek revenge. Even though V.V. has been in prison for months, the details of his interrogations are unknown. For now, it is only known that in a subsequent written declaration to Kaplan Baruti, the president of the Mitrovica court, he refuted everything that he had previously said.

"The declaration which I gave to the gendarmes and at the hearing before the judges was given under great duress and pressure and fear because I was there," says the declaration, which Reporter succeeded in obtaining. "I was frightened as a witness and conscious of the moment, I made things up because they said they would let me go if I said so. Since I have no money to pay an attorney, that is why I am now asking you to listen again to my declaration because everything I have said so far is not the truth..."

Those who know V.V. say that it is possible that he may have stolen something but that he certainly did not do anything worse. And they also say that there are people walking freely around the city who have derived considerable profit from ill-gotten gains or grabbed hold of at least a couple of Albanian small businesses. Some vanished at the right moment.

They tell me their stories with caution: one of my relatives, not so distant at that, went a little overboard. Wearing a policeman's uniform, he got so carried away that he did not spare either Albanians or Serbs. He is on some of the various lists and when KFOR entered Mitrovica he had to flee without turning back. He settled in Kraljevo. He has a house, a garden but he also suffers from nostalgia. Every once in a while he phones. One day, just to tease him, they tell him that KFOR will soon enter Serbia and that he should look out.

"Where can I go now, woe is me?!"

"You better do something," his former neighbors say to even the score.

"I've been thinking that perhaps the only salvation for me is Greece."

"How are you going to get to Greece when KFOR is in Macedonia?!"

"By way of Salonica!"

"Hello, genius, how are you going to get to Salonica?"

"By way of the Salonica front line, poor wretch that I am! It won't be my first time!"

"Have gun": Residents of Mitrovica no longer care about front lines. They have had enough of that, they say, but they will not surrender their arms. Every single house has at least one rifle. A well hidden rifle.

"Have gun?" asks a French soldier.

"No gun," responds the Serb mechanically.

"Have, have," smirks the Frenchman.

"Have, have but you don't know where it is," grins the Serb and salutes him.

A real idyll!

"All of my bones are over there," says a man, pointing with his finger at the southern part of the city, toward the Orthodox cemetery. "My father, my mother, two brothers, my brother's son, poor boy; he died in Krajina... I heard from the priest that the vermin knocked over the tombstones. Even when we are dead we are in their way, the dogs, may they be damned and have no peace even in death!"

He is crying!

Then the same finger points at a building several hundred meters from the railway bridge, in which there is an enormous black hole on the fifth floor instead of an apartment.

"What a fool! One of ours, a Serb. As soon as the shooting started, he doused everything in gasoline, lit a match and floated off toward Smederevo. He must have been thinking: if I can't live here, no one else is going to live in my place either. And our people are swarming in basements."

Then, more about the cemetery.

They have been repeating the story about the cemetery, the Serb Orthodox cemetery which remains in the southern part of the city, at the mercy of the Albanians who are carrying from it entire blocks of marble [i.e., tombstones], to me for days.

"If only we could get to the cemetery!"

It's like a Buddhist mantra.

"Where have we left our cemetery, damn it..."

Sitting in a cafe, in the space of only an hour I am forced to listen to the song "Oh, cemetery, cemetery, you green garden..."

A fine line: Nowhere have I seen a finer line drawn between depression and having a good time.

It is ten o'clock before noon. In the tavern "At Baca's" (the place is officially called "Old Serbia" but everyone calls it "At Baca's", just like "Sfension" is called "At Boza's" or "Zlatibor" is called "At Kome's" and so on) the accordion is playing, reverberating to high heaven, people are on the tables. A regular parade of pride is carried out here.

First King Peter's guard marches, then a message to Serbia not to despair, the Chetniks are getting ready; the crescendo arrives with "Vidovdan" [references to old Serbian national songs with wartime overtones].

"Wherever I go, I return to you again, who can remove you from my soul, Kosovo," the young men engage in training of the vocal chords from their tables and chairs.

There is no pause except for "crossings". That is where you take your drink, select an adopted brother, cross yourself, then both cross your arms and both down your respective drinks. Then you kiss three times [traditional Serb greeting]. Later this is repeated in your chair, on the table... It's easy to get on but hard to get off the tables... And so on until everyone is dead drunk.

Like in any normal city, the sociopolitical life of Mitrovica takes place in the cafes. Kosovo-Serbia, Serbia-Kosovo and Cobe.

They call HIM Cobe.

"If only Cobe knew how they betrayed us," an elderly compatriot complains after a "crossing".

The man is convinced that Cobe does not know the truth, that he is in the dark about the entire situation, that he will eventually discover what is going on and then...

I cannot believe my ears.

All semblance of congeniality and listening skills have been cast aside.

We are already communicating in terms of "eat shit; no, you eat shit."

"Where is that doctor and that lawyer who walked around Pec a year ago? Those bastards! They set the people at each others throats and then they disappeared," my compatriot friend is not giving up.

I want more on Milosevic.

He'd make me put on Vesna Pesic's girdle but she ran away to a foreign country. He'd pull off my nose, just like Djindjic's. He'd piss on my epaulettes, and on those of some other generals as well...

I'm saved by a new "crossing."

"Where are your Serrbs, o Serbs," some peasant is yelling from the door and kissing everyone at every table. He is among the first to have left for Berane [Montenegro]. He opened a restaurant there; no one knows where he got his money.

The compatriot is irked... He leaves the table... Half an hour later he comes back and offers me a handshake in forgiveness. He sits and starts humming to himself:

"Comrade Slobo, extend your right hand to your brother Vuk Draskovic."

"Vidovan" and "Cemetery" one more time.

"My son," says the compatriot, "do you know that Serbia is being defended in Mitrovica?"

"Vidovdan" and dancing on the tables.

Some three hundred meters away, not far from the Zvecan train station, a couple of dozen Serbs. They have come to get food and now are waiting for Russian trucks to deliver them safely to Gojbulje or Kosovo Polje. Only one hundred meters away from them, at a bus station, another couple of dozen unfortunates are waiting for the bus which will take them on an indirect route, through the mountains, to Zubin Potok. With the first snow they will be cut off from Serb territory. "Oh, Serbia, our mother, don't despair" - one hundred dinar notes are flying throughout the cafe.

Absurdistan: Outside the cafe the situation is as merry as at an autopsy. Nothing is working except the street vendors. People are reluctantly spending their last money. And waiting for heaven knows what.

"I am an optimist. I know the day will come when the uninvited guests will be forced to leave," Novak Bjelic, the general director of "Trepca", tells Reporter.

"We will return to Trepca what belongs to Trepca. Whatever is achieved by force is transient. Might makes right but God does not like might. [An old Serb proverb: 'Sila Boga ne moli, ni Bog silu ne voli.'] Since the signing of the Kumanovo agreement we have 118 million dollars worth of direct losses and 74 million dollars worth of indirect losses. Our factory has be usurped; more than 5,000 people, representing a third of the employees, are now jobless but all things will pass, things will return to what they were. I guarantee it."

"An independent Kosovo? Yes, we'll call it Absurdistan," a school friend comforts me.

They will resist. Even if the Albanians set out with weapons. Then everything that occurred earlier will look like a tea party in comparison with what could happen, those here insist. And they advise their "Serb brothers" to even if they are not helping them, at least not forget the Kosovo Serbs.

After four days in Kosovska Mitrovica, in a half-empty bus we set out for Belgrade. I am haunted by the words uttered in the cafe by the compatriot:

"Serbia is being defended in Kosovska Mitrovica."

She was not defended in Knin [Serb majority town in Croatia]. Nor in Erdut [Serb majority village in Croatia]. Nor in Serb Grbavica [Sarajevo].

We are close to Rudnica, the administrative border of Serbia and Kosovo.

Neither the photo reporter nor I talk.

Then the policeman waves his hand.

The photo reporter and I look at each other. We are almost ready to hug each other for joy.

We enter Serbia.

Behind us we leave Kosovo.

The eternal wound. And to some, by the will of God, an eternal symbol.


With Bernard Kouchner through Kosovsko Pomoravlje:

A Man Who Does Not Sleep Well

"I am intentionally violating Resolution 1244 with respect to the return of the Yugoslav Army to the borders. This is impossible for now because it would lead to a new war," claims Kouchner.

Reporter, Banja Luka, Srpska, B-H, December 22 1999

Kosovsko Pomoravlje, that is, the southeastern part of the province around the town of Gnjilane, during the conflict between the forces of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Serbia [Police] and the Yugoslav Army with the KLA and the war which followed, has been chiefly spared from great destruction and murder, thanks to the high percentage of the population which is Serbian, especially in the villages, and the almost negligible presence of KLA terrorists. Following the end of the war the situation changed drastically. Violence appeared quickly and spread even more quickly. A large number of Serbs fled to southern Serbia and the Gnjilane region was left without a Roma population. According to official statistics, before June 20 in Gnjilane only one house was destroyed. By the end of October, 280 houses were burned or destroyed in the town and there is no need to explain whose houses they were.
A mistake: It is under these circumstances that, on December 11, the transitional administrator of Kosovo, Bernard Kouchner, visited Gnjilane and the nearby village of Partes, one of those enclaves in which Serbs live in practically complete isolation. According to the program of the visit, Kouchner was supposed to present the Serbian and Albanian community with a plan for increasing security in Kosovo, to speak with representatives from the Serbian villages, to personally walk through the Serbian part of Gnjilane, and to conclude the visit by addressing local Albanians in the Gnjilane Sports Auditorium. At first glance it appeared that the purpose of the visit would be to give support to the Serbs and to warn the Albanians that they must stop the crimes. It turned out completely different.

According to the pre-arranged schedule, the Nobel prize recipient was supposed to address a larger group of Serbs that evening in the village of Partes, several kilometers west of Gnjilane. However, because of a disagreement between the Serbs and KFOR representatives regarding the place of the meeting and thanks to two local Albanians who succeeded in provoking the villagers, the visit was canceled. Instead of this, Kouchner only met with representatives of several Serbian villages in the empty plant of the Gnjilane Battery Industry at the entrance to Partes.

The administrator immediately addressed the issue on hand. "I know that you have many problems, especially with security. Precisely because of this we have drawn up a plan for protection and greater security which would first and foremost mean securing visits to schools and to health facilities." The first to speak in the name of the Serbs was Father Kirilo from the Holy Archangels Monastery near Gnjilane, the president of the Church National Council of the Kosovsko Pomoravlje district: "We believe that America and the Western nations are strong enough to stop violence. We want to reconcile with the Albanians as soon as possible, to live together with them, because that is how we have been living for hundreds of years."

At this point Kouchner lost control a little and explained to the priest that he did not believe in multiethnicity. "I know the history of the Serbian people; I know that you have been here for 1,500 years; but you must not forget the last ten years of apartheid. We know well that because of the evils to which the Albanian people were subjected, a common life is not possible at this time."

Sympathy: This was followed by questions from the representative of the village of Gornje Kusce, Jovan Simic: "Can you sleep at night while the greatest ethnic cleansing of Serbs is being executed? You are violating Resolution 1244, you have thrown out the dinar, you are refusing to allow our army to return, you are creating an ethnically clean, Muslim state in our land. My municipal administration has no confidence in you; whether you will ever have confidence in us, I do not know, because I do know that during your administration we have been subjected to many evils."

Bernard Kouchner is already putting on a serious, sympathetic facial expression. "I do not sleep well. For me, a man is a man, there is no difference between Serbs and Albanians. I understand that you have no confidence in me but your criticism should be directed toward the international community which has not secured sufficient funds nor manpower. As far as the introduction of the mark is concerned, the dinar has not been abolished but donators do not want to give money in dinars, because that currency is not convertible. In any case, everyone in Kosovo was already using marks. Just look, Montenegro has also introduced the mark as its currency, and I'm certain that half the transactions in Serbia are being done in marks. I know that Kosovo is a part of FRY but the international community, including China and Russia, have empowered me to secure autonomy in Kosovo. This means autonomy similar to that granted by the Constitution of 1974."

"That was no autonomy, at that time the Shiptars had their own state," Simic attempts to explain but Kouchner authoritatively says: "No, no, according to the Constitution of 1974 Kosovo was a part of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia." Following this Simic stops asking any more questions. He only laughs bitterly. "The only part of Resolution 1244 which I have not honored," continues the head of UNMIK, "and where I am intentionally in violation is with regard to the return of the Yugoslav Army to the borders. This is impossible for now because it would cause a new war." After the meeting with Kouchner, the Serbs who are present do not look any happier. Jovan Simic is approached by foreign and Albanian reporters who ask him to repeat his name. He does not wish to do so. He tells Reporter's journalist briefly that Bernard Kouchner is "talking nonsense". "He claims to know something about our history. He knows nothing about our history. Thaci gave him two or three million marks, or perhaps twenty or thirty million marks, to do what he is doing." All of the ten or so Serbs present agree that unless the transitional administration provides security and employment for them in the near future, Serbia proper will receive thousands more of new "internally displaced persons".

Applause: From Partes to Gnjilane, where Kouchner is met by several thousand enthusiastic Albanians. From the mass one hears whistles of disapproval directed at Father Kirilo, who has returned to the city in a KFOR jeep. Kouchner talks with local public officials, the UN administrator in Gnjilane and American officers. Appetizers and pats on the back for a job well done. Somewhat later, the Frenchman is answering questions from reporters. An Albanian colleague wants to know where Father Kirilo got the idea that Serbs and Albanians could live together when the Serbs show no remorse at all for crimes against Albanians. "They always talk about history," answers Kouchner, "while forgetting forty years of Communism and ten years of apartheid. As far as I know, only Father Sava from Decani has asked for forgiveness for crimes."

Kouchner then exits the municipal building and hundreds of Albanians "break through" the KFOR cordon and escort him through the Serbian part of town. If this walk was supposed to be a sign of support to the remaining Serbs in Gnjilane, it was more than a low blow.

Fifteen minutes later in the sports auditorium in which the temperaturs seems to be lower than outside, about five hundred Albanians gather. "After the elections you will govern Kosovo," Kouchner begins his speech significantly, accompanied by thunderous applause. "Kosovo does not belong to anyone except the Kosovars"; even louder applause. From the public questions from slips of paper prepared in advance for the administrator. "How much do you like the Albanian people?" is one of them. "I feel very close to the Albanian people," answers Kouchner. "This, of course, is nothing new because I have been fighting for Kosovo for ten years already. I love all peoples, but some more than others, and that is the case with you." His earlier statement "For me, a man is a man, there is not difference between Serbs and Albanians" must have been lost somewhere on the road from Partes to Gnjilane.

The day after: Then a statement from the public that Presevo, Bujanovac and Medvedja are a part of Kosovo and the question what Kouchner intends to do to annex these southern Serbian municipalities to the province. The administrator, dead serious, says: "This must be resolved peacefully, through negotiations." And at the end one of the Albanians asks the most important thing: "When will the Serbian police return to Kosovo?" "There is no chance of that occurring," responds Kouchner and, lauded by ovations, brings his speech to a close, promising to visit again and to wear warmer clothes.

In the late afternoon, a convoy of UNMIK vehicles returned to Pristina. A day after Kouchner's visit, Albanians from the village of Gornja Budriga fired nine mortar shells at the village of Partes, and in the forest near the Gnjilane-area village of Pasjan, Aleksandar Jovanovic, a physical education teacher in the primary school in the village, was killed.

Serbs in Pristina

Speak English, So That No One Understands
by Igor Gajic

Reporter, Banja Luka, Srpska, B-H, December 29 1999

"Children are the worst," she whispers, immediately loosing traces of good mood that appeared while she talked about her daughters. No wonder. A ten-year-old child demanded to see identification papers from her father-in-law. He had to obey. One never knows who's behind the child.
"Merdita. That's all I can say in Albanian. Could I buy something here?" every morning an elderly gentlemen asks in several stores in Pristina. Esad Jusufi has been living in Pristina for more than thirty years. He is not an ethnic Albanian and does not speak Albanian. Currently he is paying for this sin by suffering daily humiliation. If lucky, he is not chased away. In most cases, he is thrown out of the store as soon as he starts speaking in the Serb language after saying "Merdita".

"It's even good now. In two-three stores they almost always let him buy something," says his wife, who carries an even heavier burden. She is a Serb.

"I am afraid. Of course I am afraid. But you must not show fear. That can be deadly here," Sonja slowly responds. She is nervous. She lights one cigarette after another. Still, she does not hesitate while talking: "That is my choice. I've decided to stay and I shall stay here."

She and her family receive daily threats. Two adult daughters do not make the situation any easier. They are also in Pristina. They do not want to leave for Belgrade although they have many relatives and friends there.

The reason they feel uncomfortable in Belgrade is similar to the pressure in Pristina. In Belgrade, they are Jusufi [an Albanian surname; Esad Jusufi is most likely a Goran, a Serb speaking Muslim]. They say that their friends and relatives are not the problem. The most recent trip to Belgrade was very unpleasant.

"You are Albanians," concluded the policeman at a checkpoint between Kosovo and Serbia. Later harassment at Police checkpoints was probably routine for the policemen. It wasn't routine for Sonja's daughters.

"While the Serbs were in Pristina we would take the name Jusufi off the door of our apartment and put up my surname, Nikolic. Now we have taken that one off and put Jusufi back on the door," Sonja relates, as an anecdote.

She says she is afraid for her husband. The corners of his mouth have become hard, she says.

"He has never carried a weapon, but daily humiliation has left a deep mark on him. I think that right now he would be capable of killing anyone knocking on the door".

His parents have also had their fill of troubles. Assailants have broken into the house of his father, also Esad. They put a gun against his head and tried to force him to admit that he was a Serb. Esad senior is eighty.

Children: According to Sonja, danger in the streets of Pristina does not come from adults, but mostly from children.

"Children are the worst," she whispers, immediately loosing traces of good mood that appeared while she talked about her daughters.

No wonder. A ten-year-old child demanded to see identification papers from her father-in-law. He had to obey. One never knows who's behind the child. Her mother fared even worse. She was stoned two months ago. He hasn't been outside her house since then.

In the apartment, while showing photos, Sonja again appears to be in the good mood. Solders who provide our escort are, however, not in a good mood at all. They are afraid. "Speak English, please," requested an Italian escort, afraid that a Serb word may escape in a conversation with Sonja, out in the street. That would mean a verdict. Both for us and them.

However, Sonja is already used to the street. As soon as she steps out she is totally transformed. Not even a trace of sorrow and fear. A hat, sun glasses, a mobile phone.

"You must look like a foreigner and must not be afraid," she repeats. "They immediately sense fear".

She claims that she made a definite decision to stay when she was afraid the most. "Friends" gave her a call and gave her friendly advice to leave Kosovo. Otherwise...

"I was terrified. I wouldn't dare step outside the apartment. And then something broke inside. I've even started going out at night."

The going out consists of a visit to the bar named "Kuki", run by two British subjects.

"That is the local 'Casablanca'. It is a heaven for all non-Albanians. Of course, all conversation is in English."

Her theory, which makes her feel secure at night, is a bit strange: "Who would expect that there are Serbs crazy enough to walk around Pristina after dark?"

The Jusufi family shares their apartment building with ethnic Albanians. "Our neighbors are good. They do not bother us".

The remaining one hundred Serb families live in a "colony" guarded by the British. Entrance to the "colony" is not allowed.

"We do not want to draw attention," explains the officer in charge of the security.

KFOR avoids every risk.

Escape from market: The market in Pristina is a forbidden zone even for KFOR. Sonja also does not go there.

"You never know who can stick a knife in your back in the crowd. We simply do not go there," says one of the Italian soldiers.

In the end they accept to take us there for a few minutes. Enough.

Stench, filth, too loud Albanian music, several stalls and hundreds of foreign currency dealers, are the basic characteristics of the market.

It is not advisable to linger. As soon as the KFOR vehicle slows down, a group of dealers slowly approaches. Reactions to a camera are recognizable in any language. Fortunately, our driver uses his roots from Milan and experience to quickly leave the market through an unbelievable traffic jam.

A further drive through the city brings up similar pictures.

The city itself is almost as dirty as the market. Garbage in the streets can be measured in tons.

There are no signs in the Serb language. Cafes, pizza restaurants and restaurants have been set up in every available space. They are decorated without skill, but with a lot of enthusiasm. Former Jugobanka branch has been turned into a pizza restaurant. Above the entrance, there are still a few letters that point out the previous function of the space. Apartments at corners of the buildings are also trendy. They are being turned into offices.

Permits are not necessary. There are no driving permits either. Most of cars have no number plates.

While we are going around, Sonja explains where we are and it is noticeable that she is slowly loosing her guise of a foreigner in the streets of Pristina. Her voice is getting increasingly quiet and then she slips a Serb word. She jumps as if she were hit by lightning.

"Sorry," she says quietly, lowering her head.

She did not wait for an admonishing stare of a soldier.

Film Town

The KFOR Command is located in the complex that once upon time was known as the Film Town. As in the rest of Pristina, the main characteristic of the camp is mud.
"Mud, mud, mud. I've never seen this much mud," rages an Italian soldier from our escort. He requested to be sent home: "I won't make it here until April. I'll drown in mud, and people here are also strange."

Almost everyone swears while walking through the camp. In front of the entrance to the main building, there are buckets with water and brushes: to wash ones boots before going inside.

The camp employs many Albanians. Most of them probably recall their days from the Yugoslav People's Army.

It was almost nostalgic to watch them washing military vehicles, clean mud ad infinitum and pour food in the restaurant.

The cooks are, of course, KFOR's. Nevertheless, although this is a KFOR's restaurant, the Serb language is not allowed here either.

"Write a different name," an Italian squeezed through his teeth while we were signing in for lunch.

Thus, that day Johnatan Lewis, a journalist with "Daily Sun", had a lunch in the Film Town.

Dot on Letter "I"
On the road to Pristina it is very easy to spot an entrance to the territory where Serbs are undesirable.
A sign in the Latin alphabet for a car service "Auto Servis" on one of the houses in a nameless village is a sufficient indicator. The sign has been shot. A dot above I indicates an entrance to the zone with different grammatical rules.

The Institute for War & Peace Reporting


In the ethnically divided town of Orahovac, Albanians are unwilling to forgive the Serb minority for its conduct during the Kosovo conflict.

By Petar Jeknic in Orahovac, February 4

They say they fear for their lives, survive on humanitarian aid and are
virtual prisoners in their own homes.

Serbs living in a small enclave in the centre of the predominantly Albanian
town of Orahovac (Rahoveci) say their lives could not get much worse.

Despite the presence of KFOR troops in the enclave, some of its 1,500
inhabitants are targeted by Albanians bent on avenging crimes committed by
Serbs in the town during the Kosovo conflict.

The Serbs, it seems, can count on little protection from the international
community, which has been accused by the Belgrade-based human rights
activist, Natasha Kandic, of turning a blind eye to the attacks.

Three Serbs were killed and nine were wounded last December. The Director of the town's high school, Blazo Radic, was the victim of a grenade attack a
month later.

"I don't understand why they're doing this," said Radic, who was unhurt in
the attack. "I used to help all of them when we worked together. If they
want to expel me from here, I'm telling them I'm not going anywhere, even if
I end up getting killed."

But Radic's determination to stay is not shared by other Serbs. "There are
fewer and fewer students. They are leaving because conditions here are so
difficult," said Miroslav Grkovic, director of the Vuk Karadzic primary

Much of the pre-war Serb population has fled to Serbia proper, while many of
those who remain are waiting for the next convoy to leave the town. (Before
the war, some 4,000 Serbs lived in the town.)

Their Albanian neighbours make it difficult for the enclave's inhabitants to
trade, forcing them to rely on food handouts from international relief

"There are no goods in the shops because lorries cannot pass through
Albanian territory," said fifteen-year-old Danijel Lamovic. "We live on
humanitarian aid, which arrives once a month."

Yet there are still those in the enclave who think there might be a future
for Serbs in the town, if the international community helps to improve the
local economy.

"With the help of KFOR we hope to open two factories, employing about a
hundred workers," said local Serb leader Slavisa Kosina. "We are also hoping for international financial grants for 239 households. It would mean that one member from each family would have a source of income. Together with humanitarian aid I think we could survive."

But even if they manage to eke out a living, few of the town's 20,000
Albanian population are likely to forgive the Serbs for their conduct during
the war.

"When we lived with Serbs before, we lived well. But not anymore," said
65-year-old Selim Kornjiqi. "We used to respect them and had no idea they
would become our enemies."

Natasha Kandic, executive director of the Belgrade-based Humanitarian Law Centre, recently published the names of more than two dozen Orahovac Serbs who committed war crimes in the town.

"The Serbs make no secret of the fact that Serb forces committed crimes
against Albanians. They do not hide their shame for the humiliation the
Albanians were subjected to during NATO's bombing," her report said.

Serbs and Albanians in the town hardly communicate with each other. "As a
member of the commission for co-operation with the Albanians I've attended
three meetings - nothing has improved, on the contrary, I think things have
deteriorated," said the primary school director Grkovic.

International officials governing Kosovo say it is now up to Albanian
leaders to try and improve community relations in the town.

"If we manage to improve the status of Serbs and Roma, whose freedom of
movement is very limited, then there is a future for them," said the head of
the OSCE mission in Orahovac, Walter Feltz. "Only the Albanians can
guarantee this by accepting and respecting the rights of minorities."

Petar Jeknic is an independent journalist from Belgrade. For further
information on Orahovac, click to IWPR's Special Reports section
<> for the recent investigation by the Humanitarian Law Centre


More non-Albanians leave Kosovo

About 1,000 people, mostly non-Albanian Muslims, fled southwestern
Kosovo into Serbia in January, UNHCR in Belgrade said yesterday, reports
AFP. The Muslims left the southwestern Kosovo town of Prizren and Gora
region to take shelter in Novi Pazar, a Muslim-populated Serbian town,
said UNHCR spokeswoman Maki Shinohara.

Some said they had left Kosovo following the murder of a Muslim family
in Prizren on Jan.11. Shinohara said this was "discouraging" and
"worrying" news after the deadly attack Wednesday against a UNHCR bus
near Kosovska Mitrovica. Some 250,000 Serbs and non-Albanians have fled
Kosovo since June despite the presence of peacekeeping troops.

The New York Times reports Serbs who survived the bus attack yesterday
said they felt more trapped and worried than ever. The 130 Serbs live in
the tiny enclave of Suvo Grlo, surrounded by Albanian villages. The
attack could push more Serbs to leave the village and other isolated
Serbian enclaves.

CNN adds UNHCR's Kosovo envoy, Dennis McNamara said the attack was "a clear attack on UNHCR as well as on the bus." "And that's very
demoralising for us, having spent so much time with these peoples, the
refugees we brought back, the work we've done in Kosovo, to have a
frontal attack on UNHCR."

[AFP – Some 1,000 Muslims fled Kosovo for Serbia: UN; The New York Times – Bus Ambush in Kosovo Costs NATO Faith of Serbs; CNN – NATO general denounces 'terror attack' on U.N. bus in Kosovo].

Kosovo's dwindling Serb population loses faith in peacekeepers

PRISTINA, Yugoslavia, Aug 1 (AFP) - Despite a series of visits by senior western officials urging them to stay, Kosovo's Serb population has steadily lost faith in the ability -- and the will -- of NATO-led peacekeepers to protect them.
Since the entry of KFOR soldiers on June 12, the number of Serbs in Kosovo has plummeted from 150,000 to an estimated 30,000.

And every day more leave, running away from intimidation and violence at the hands of ethnic Albanians seeking vengeance for the deaths and repression they themselves suffered from Serb soldiers, police and paramilitaries.

The cold-blooded massacre of 14 Serb farmers on July 23 as they were bringing in their harvest in the village of Gracko sent a chill through the Serb communities in the province, which for the most part are reduced to enclaves with a noticeable siege mentality.

According to KFOR figures released Monday, there have been 198 murders in Kosovo since the peacekeepers arrived, of which 73 of the victims were Serb and 74 were Albanian.

But the Serb Orthodox Church says the KFOR list is far from complete and counts more than 200 Serbs killed during the same period. A spokesman showed AFP a list of the victims' names, addresses and the circumstances of their alleged deaths.

In one example, the church said six Serbs had been killed in Obilic, a town just to the northwest of Pristina in a British-patrolled region. The British military spokesman for the area, Captain Dougie Graham, said: "No one was killed in Obilic. We have no knowledge of it."

In Pristina itself, where 1,100 KFOR soldiers are tasked with security, ethnic Albanian and Serb interpreters man a 24-hour emergency telephone number, jotting down calls from city residents experiencing or giving information about crimes and handing them to British officers who send out patrols.

"We deal with every phone call that comes in," said Royal Military Police Lieutenant Sean Handy.

But an AFP reporter saw that was not the case. After seeing Serb neighbours harassed several nights in a row, she called the emergency number herself, but no patrol came.

In another incident, Ristic Dusan, a member of the Serb Resistance Movement, a Serb political group with links to the Orthodox church, showed AFP where "three or four young men" had smashed in his door.

When the emergency number was called, a British soldier -- who refused to give his name -- said: "Tell them (the Serbs) to call us right away when they (the intruders) come back"

In the few Serbian towns, inhabitants say they feel in relative security in their homes, and as long as they stay in the towns' limits.

In Pristina, the provincial capital, only the rare Serb goes to the markets and they never leave their apartment unoccupied out of fear that it will be taken over by ethnic Albanians -- a still common occurrence.

Recent visitors, such as US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, have exhorted the Kosovars to put their ethnic hatreds behind them and to build a multi-ethnic society.

For Serbs, though, the message sounds empty. Their exodus continues. Moving trucks arrive every day and take away a lifetime's possessions.

In Kosovoska Mitrovica, a divided city in the French-controlled north of Kosovo, a local Serb community leader said 560 Serbian families had fled to Serbia proper.

The lucky ones leaving have organised an apartment exchange with ethnic Albanians in Serbia, who themselves feel under threat since forced departure of the Serbian military from Kosovo.

A few Serbs, though, say they are determined to stay.

For the most part, they are in rural areas. Among them are the mother and the two wives of two brothers killed in the Gracko slaying.

"We've always lived here and we are nothing without our fields and our homes," one of them says. "We will never leave."


Serbs flee murders, intimidation in Kosovo town

ZITINJE, Yugoslavia, Aug 1 (AFP) - The entire Serb population of this southeastern town packed what belongings they could and fled Kosovo Sunday after weeks of intimidation and violence, US peacekeepers said.
A convoy of 60 cars, tractors and trailers, heavily weighed down by passengers and belongings, was seen moving out of the town towards the border with the rest of Serbia with an escort of US military Humvee four-wheel drive vehicles and two Apache attack helicopters.

Zitinje's total Serb population of 450 was in the convoy, said a soldier observing the exodus. The town's ethnic Albanian population numbers 650.

Since the entry of KFOR peacekeeping troops into Kosovo on June 12, the province's Serb population has dropped from 150,000 to an estimated 30,000 despite appeals from western officials for the Serbs to stay.

Several of the US Kosovo Force (KFOR) soldiers based here said Zitinje's Serbs had been the victims of several violent incidents and intimidation, the most recent of which was on Friday when a grenade was thrown at a Serb property and a gunfight broke out between inhabitants.

But the act which pushed the Serbs -- almost all of whom were farmers -- to run away was a roadside ambush a week ago of a Serb couple living in the town. The couple, a 38-year-old woman and a 26-year-old man, were shot dead as they drove home at night.

It was the first time such a mass departure had happened in the area, but the KFOR soldiers knew from experience elsewhere in Kosovo that widespread looting and the torching of the deserted houses would quickly follow.

In a bid to head that off, the KFOR commander of Zitinje, Lieutenant Ryan Leigh, ordered a general night-time curfew in the region to be extended.

A group of 10 ethnic Albanians who had been caught redhanded, stealing from the Serb houses were being held in a KFOR truck with their hands tied behind their back. At least two of them had been found with firearms on them.

KFOR patrols quickly spread out into the town to prevent further looting and a number of tanks were brought in to seal off roads leading into and out of the Serbian quarter.

The sound of gunfire was heard as the US soldiers moved in, but there was no report of any casualties.

Another group of looters -- including three children -- was seen surrendering to soldiers after a brief chase. Ryan said they would all probably be released soon, after their bounty was confiscated.

An ethnic Albanian family stepped out of their gate as a squad of soldiers moved down their street. One of them, who gave his name only as Nebi, told AFP he would have nothing to do with the looting.

But, he asked anxiously, what would become of their Serb neighbours' cows which had been tied up without food or water?

The squadron leader, Sergeant Karl Wurzbach told him the animals would probably be divided up among the remaining residents in the town later in the day.

From Serb house to Serb house, the scene was the same: an obviously hasty departure, and cows and pigs left loose to wander the streets.

Some of the US soldiers in the town were heard joking that maybe they could carry the pigs off to their camp kitchens because of the aversion of ethnic Albanians -- who are Moslems -- to the animals.

Overall, though, the KFOR officers said privately they were at a loss as to what measures they could take.

"All the Serb houses will be burnt within two weeks, starting tonight," said one.

"There's not a lot we can do."


U.S. Army Firepower Escorts Kosovo Serbs Into Exile
11:53 a.m. Aug 01, 1999 Eastern
By Mark Heinrich

RADIVOJCE, Serbia (Reuters) - U.S. army helicopters roared overhead and troops lined a Kosovo roadside Sunday to keep ethnic Albanians from attacking a wretched convoy of Serb villagers rolling into exile.

As the last few hundred Serbs from the village of Zitinje set off in cars and tractors loaded down with household goods, U.S. peacekeepers confined ethnic Albanian neighbors to their homes to ensure the convoy departed safely.

Turning onto the main road east toward the provincial border with the rest of Serbia, the Serbs picked up an escort that deterred the gauntlet of Albanians awaiting them from doing anything more than hurl abuse and the odd stone.

Kosovo's southeast, the quietest sector during a 16-month conflict between ethnic Albanian separatists and Yugoslav Serb security forces, has been busier than the U.S. troops assigned to control it by NATO might have bargained for.

With a number of ethnically mixed villages and scattered Serb enclaves, the southeast has had no shortage of abductions, murders and house burnings.

Sunday, the U.S. army went to elaborate lengths to preempt any incident that might furnish more grist to Belgrade's propaganda mill which has accused NATO of abjectly failing to protect Kosovo's dwindling Serb community.

Two Blackhawk helicopters clattered back and forth and a U.S. platoon with tanks, tracked armored combat vehicles and Humvee all-terrain jeeps mounted with heavy machineguns deployed along the road taken by the Serbs.

Helmeted soldiers with automatic weapons kept back scruffy villagers who had collected on the roadside through the village of Radivojce from daybreak after receiving word of the convoy.

``We're waiting here to see if the things they looted from our homes after we were kicked out by paramilitary thugs during the war will pass by our very eyes,'' said Daut Devaja, 40, a farmer, an hour before the convoy appeared.

``If I see my tractor or my car, or the computer they threw down my well, going by, I will stop the convoy and grab them,'' he told Reuters with bravado.

Most in the crowd knew that the Americans were there to make sure nothing of the sort transpired. But that did not put the locals off the Americans.

They chanted ``USA, USA'' and ``NATO, NATO'' throughout the morning as bucolic Radivojce swiftly transformed into an American armed camp.

Americans are idolized by Kosovo Albanians for having led NATO bombings that hammered the Yugoslav military machine into halting a bloody rampage against the 90 percent majority population and evacuating the province six weeks ago.

When the convoy of around 150 cars and tractors interspersed with Humvees rolled in, the mood darkened.

``UCK, UCK!'' bellowed the crowd, using the Albanian acronym of the guerrilla Kosovo Liberation Army. Others shouted, ``Yeah, go to Serbia, now. It's where you belong!''

They reserved their fiercest curses for a driver they identified as the former district chief of the Serbian security police.

U.S. soldiers caught several boys throwing stones that glanced harmlessly off the doors of a few cars and hustled them well away from the dusty, potholed road.

Crammed into sagging, clapped-out cars or perched on mounds of worldly possessions on tractor carts, the Serbs -- many of them grizzled, elderly farmers with black-clad wives -- bore the invective impassively for the most part.

They usually stared straight ahead or behind. A few younger ones reciprocated when flashed the obscene middle finger by ethnic Albanian teenagers, but remained silent.

``I didn't expect we'd have to act like riot police here. But we have to, since although the Albanians are really nice people, when Serbs show up, they go crazy. They forget that Serbs are people too. It's really sad here,'' said U.S. Second Lieutenant Robert Kimmel, from Gail, Texas, as he stood guard.

The ethnic Albanian villagers said that while the passing Serbs may not necessarily have been involved in wartime killing and expulsions, they believed many had pillaged their homes after they were driven out by Serb paramilitaries.

But no one could be sure once the convoy had passed. ``They covered their goods with plastic sheeting, and we couldn't see what was underneath,'' complained 21-year-old Faik Lutfiu.

``We're a bit bitter that the Americans allow these Serbs to leave with their whole households whereas we had to flee with only the clothes on our backs,'' said Afrim Jakupi, 34.

``But the Serbs were able to do a deal with the Americans to get out unscathed. That's the biggest surprise of peacetime.''

More than half Kosovo's Serbs have fled for fear of reprisal since NATO-led peacekeepers took over the province in June.

IWPR Report, August 4, 1999

The KLA's New Model Leader

An architect of Operation Storm which saw Croatia defeat and expel the Serb population of Krajina, Agim Ceku, the KLA's new chief will be hoping for similar successes in Kosovo.

By Drago Hedl in Rijeka, Croatia

Decorated nine times by Croatian President Franjo Tudjman for his exploits in Croatia's war with Serbia and its Serb minority, Agim Ceku, the recently appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) will be hoping to achieve similar military successes in his native Kosovo.

Born in the province's second city of Pec in 1960, 39-year-old Ceku resigned from the Croatian army in February this year, after a distinguished seven-and-a-half year career in which he rose to the rank of Lieutenant-General, less than one month before the beginning of NATO's bombing campaign against Yugoslavia. His last post was as commander of Croatia's fifth military district in Rijeka.

In an interview with the Rijeka daily Novi List, Gen. Ceku said that he would be drawing on his experience from the Croatian war in his new job as the KLA's chief. Of particular use, he said, would be the understanding of Serbian military tactics he had picked up while fighting them.

Although Croatia has generally remained quiet on the war in Kosovo and President Tudjman has sought not to irritate his Belgrade ally in the division of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatian sympathies, nevertheless, lie with the Kosovo Albanians. It is believed that Croatia has already been assisting the KLA, if not with arms, then at least with battle-tested ethnic Albanian fighters who have served in the Croatian army.

According to Tom Marku, the Kosovo Albanian leader in Croatia, a special ethnic Albanian unit was formed within the Croatian army in 1991 which Zagreb hoped to send to Kosovo in order to open up a second front during Croatian-Serbian war . The plan was thwarted, however, because of opposition from Kosovo's Albanian leader and pacifist Ibrahim Rugova.

Since the outbreak of war in Kosovo in February last year, these soldiers have been returning home to fight the Serbian authorities. Marku told the Croatian daily Jutarnji List that a further 16 ethnic Albanian officers are about to quit the Croatian army in order to join the KLA.

Unlike many of Croatia's "instant generals" who acquired their ranks virtually overnight with minimal or no prior military experience, Gen. Ceku is a professional soldier and former officer in the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA). A tall and powerful man, he is a graduate of Belgrade's military academy, which, given his ethnic origins, was quite an achievement at the time.

Like many non-Serbs in the JNA, Gen. Ceku deserted early on in the war with Croatia. In October 1991 he joined an embryonic Croatian army, which, at the time, resembled the present-day KLA, in terms of organisation, manpower and equipment.

Although a proliferation of military awards in Croatia has somewhat debased their value, the nine decorations which Gen. Ceku received for his achievements in a Croatian uniform as well as his rank, are probably indicative of an inspirational contribution to the operations he conducted.

Croatian military analysts consider Gen. Ceku the brain behind the Croatian Army's Medak Pocket offensive, in which Croatia captured several villages in Lika from Serb rebels in September 1993. He was also a key planner of Operation Storm, Croatia's greatest military victory, of August 1995 in which the city of Knin, hitherto the headquarters of the Serb rebels, was retaken, thus effectively ending the Serb revolt.

During both the Medak Pocket offensive and, in particular, Operation Storm the victorious Croatian army is alleged to have committed a series of war crimes. These are currently being investigated by The Hague Tribunal, although no public indictments have been issued to date.

According to a report of Croatia's Helsinki Committee for Human Rights published in April of this year, 410 civilians died in operation Storm, which officially lasted from 4 to 7 August 1995, and in the 100 days following the offensive. However, it is estimated that the real figure may be as high as 600, since many people are still listed as missing. In the wake of Storm, some 180,000 Serbs fled their homes, and some 22,000 of their vacant houses were systematically destroyed.

The question which preoccupies Western analysts now is whether Gen. Ceku was involved in any of the alleged war crimes. On the basis of the available evidence, it seems that he was not.

Unlike other Croatian officers involved in the Medak Pocket offensive and Operation Storm, Gen. Ceku has not featured in any of the reports of the various non-governmental organisations which have investigated what took place. Nor has his name cropped up in articles examining the offensives published in independent media.

Gen. Ceku has generally sought to keep a low profile and avoid media appearances, preferring to focus on military issues--an approach he wishes to maintain in his new position.

Asked what he thinks will happen in Kosovo once the war is over--whether it will be independent, or an autonomous region of Serbia--he responded: "I am a soldier and my task is to look after the army, the situation on the battlefield, and to wage war successfully." He promised to fight until forces loyal to Slobodan Milosevic were expelled from Kosovo and to leave politics "to our government headed by Hashim Thaci."

Drago Hedl is home affairs editor of Rijeka's independent daily Novi List.

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