Friday, June 10, 2005

Serb Politician: Kosovo[Kosova] is Independent

BELGRADE -- Friday – Kosovo[Kosova] is already independent, the leader of the breakaway Liberal-Democratic faction of Boris Tadic’s Democratic Party said today.

Cedomir Jovanovic, the former deputy prime minister of Serbia who was expelled from the Democrats after the fall of the Zivkovic government last year, said that he is oppossed to the de facto indepndenc of Serbia’s southern province.

He told Belgade weekly news magazine NIN that the status of Kosovo[Kosova] must be settled by the people who live there “and they are mainly Albanians”.

“Why can’t some Serbian and Albanian party be coalition partners in Kosovo tomorrow? That’s our goal, not the division of Kosovo,” said Jovanovic.

“Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica and President Boris Tadic want Serb schools, a Serb helath system and security for Serbs in Kosovo. I want the best schools, the best health system, the highest security, and we can do that so that we can offer the international community a mechanism for achieving it,” said the former deputy prime minsiter. B92

Former Kosovo PM, Ramush Haradinaj, has been released from The Hague Tribunal

Kosovo Prime Minister Bajram Kosumi(left) greets the return of his predecessor, Former Kosovo PM, Ramush Haradinaj, who has been released on bail by the Hague Tribunal. He arrived yesterday in Prishtina Airport around 16:00 local time. Haradinaj is expected to stay out of public view for the next 3 months. Sources say he will continue leading the Aliance for the Future of Kosova[Kosovo ]Party. (FoNet)


Thursday, June 09, 2005

Serbian Church remains silent on the "Srebrenica video"

Church silence no surprise
BELGRADE -- Thursday -The Serbian Orthodox Church has no right to bless arms or those who use them, religious sociologist Mirko Djordjevic said today.

Djordjevic was commenting on a videotape which came to light this month showing the Church's Father Gavrilo blessing members of the paramilitary Scorpions unit before they went to fight.

He said today that the Church had no right in dogma or canon to bless arms or armies. "Apart from that, this wasn't any kind of regular army unit but paramilitary formation going to war in another state. If nothing else, Father Gavrilo must have known that," he added.

"The silence of the Serbian Orthodox Church on the case of Father Gavrilo doesn't surprise me, there was a precedent in a similar incident in the recent past. You will remember Father Filaret who, in 1995, was photographed on a tank and, far from being reprimanded, he was promoted," said Djordjevic. It is worth noting also, that the Serbian Orthodox Church supported Milosevic's War in Kosovo[Kosova] as well. The head of the Serbian Church,Patriarch Pavle, praised Milosevic during the war as well as issuing statements in support of the Armies action in Kosova[Kosovo]. Beta and Kosovapress.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

The Video that put Serbia in dock

Democratic Youth activists whitewash graffiti "Scorpions, Serbian heroes" and "Ten Years from the Liberation of Srebrenica" in Belgrade. A large majority of Serbs consider the massacre of Srebrenica as�Liberation� of that city. In a video released by the Hague Tribunal last week, Scorpions were shown executing Bosnian civilians in Srebrenica. They have also been "credited" for numerous massacres in Kosova [Kosovo] during the war in 98-99.
For more, click on the link below:
How video that put Serbia in dock was brought to light

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Former Kosovo[Kosova] PM, Ramush Haradinaj, to be released from Hague

Haradinaj to be released

THE HAGUE -- Tuesday — Hague Tribunal prosecutors will not appeal against this week’s Trial Chamber decision to release former Kosovo prime minister Ramush Haradinaj on bail pending the beginning of his trial.

This effectively means that Haradinaj may be returned without further delay to Kosovo. He is not expected to stand trial before 2007.

The prosecution had earlier sought the right to appeal if bail was granted but announced this morning that no appeal will be lodged.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

How video that put Serbia in dock was brought to light

Srebrenica massacre tape has at last forced Belgrade to face up to its war atrocities

Tim Judah in Sarajevo and Daniel Sunter in Belgrade
The Observer

For 10 years they have not slept easy. The casual killers of the six cowed and beaten prisoners from Srebrenica were happy to play to the camera that day in July 1995, high on victory and heroes in the eyes of many fellow Serbs. But, as the years have worn on, that sheen has dimmed and the fear has grown. Did the tape still exist? Who had it? Where was it?
For the first time since the execution video was shown at the UN's war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague on Wednesday, The Observer can reveal the full story of the tape that has rocked not just Serbia and Bosnia, but the whole world.

It is the extraordinary story of how the tape was hidden for more than nine years but then, as its existence was revealed in a trial in Serbia, how a race began between the frightened killers and Serbia's leading human rights activist to find it - to destroy it or get it out to the world.

The tape is also the 'smoking gun', for it is the final, incontrovertible proof of Serbia's part in the Srebrenica massacres in which more than 7,500 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were murdered. Until last week Serbian officials, both from the wartime regime of Slobodan Milosevic and since his fall in 2000, have argued that Serbia was not involved with the massacres. Now, the tape proves that to have been a lie.

It will prove valuable ammunition, not just in trials like that of Milosevic but also in Bosnia's action at the UN's International Court of Justice in which it has charged Serbia with complicity in genocide. The gruesome tape shows the execution of six Bosnian Muslim prisoners, four of whom were under 18 and the other two under 30. The beaten prisoners, hands bound, are shown lying face down in a lorry. A guard kicks one in the head. They are ordered off the truck, told to lie down and, in a later clip, shot in the back while standing.

The first four to die are ordered to walk forward, one by one, and then shot. Then the hands of the last two are unbound and they are told to carry the bodies to another spot, where they are also shot.

The cameraman, known by his nickname, Bugar, is impatient. He wants his fellow Skorpions, a unit belonging to Serbia's Ministry of the Interior, to hurry because his camera battery is running low.

The murders took place close to the village of Trnovo, which lies 30 minutes' drive east of Sarajevo, which was then still a city besieged by Serbian forces. From the beginning of the war in 1992, Trnovo was in Serbian hands.

In the summer of 1995 General Ratko Mladic, the Bosnian Serb army commander, is determined to win the war. He needs to concentrate all his men around the east Bosnian Muslim enclave of Srebrenica, declared a UN safe haven. He plots a strategy. His own men will deal with the enclave, but men from Serbia will attack Sarajevo to create a diversion and to tie down Bosnian government troops. Enter the Skorpions. Since 1991 this unit has played a key role, especially in eastern Slavonia, that part of Serbian-held eastern Croatia abutting Serbia. It is headquartered in Sid, an unremarkable little town, 80km north-west of Belgrade, but which during the Croatian war became the jumping-off point for the Serbian attack on eastern Croatia.

Their job is special - 'black operations' - and they are also used by the Milosevic regime to make sure the local Serb authorities, especially in occupied eastern Slavonia, do as they are instructed. To keep them happy, Belgrade allows them a free hand in smuggling and looting.

It is now 26 June, 1995. The Skorpions are about to set off for Bosnia and, while dogs nose around, an Orthodox priest blesses the men who are wearing red berets and black jumpsuits. Next clip: they are in Pale, by the coaches which have brought them to the Bosnian Serb wartime capital. They pose for the camera in front of Pale's roadside name sign. Next clip: the executions.

What has been shown on Serbian and Bosnian TV is four minutes of a two-hour tape. As the Skorpions went into action this was, in effect, their Bosnian 95 tour video. Says Natasa Kandic, Serbia's leading rights campaigner, who gave the tape to Serbia's war crimes court and the one in The Hague, 'they filmed everything'.

Soon after arriving in Pale, the men were sent to Trnovo and from there they fanned out to launch their feint on Sarajevo. The plan worked, and on 11 July the defences of Srebrenica had collapsed. Now thousands of prisoners were falling into the hands of Mladic. Up on Mount Jahorina, overlooking Sarajevo, says Kandic, the Bosnian Serb leader, Radovan Karadzic, and his Vice-President, Nikola Koljevic, needed to work on distributing the prisoners. In Trnovo the Skorpions were ordered to send some of their vehicles to Srebrenica to collect their share of the Muslim captives. According to Kandic, who heads Belgrade's Humanitarian Law Centre and who has the story from the man who gave her the tape, a coach packed with more than 50 prisoners arrived in Trnovo.

At that point the only people in Trnovo were the Skorpion's commander, Slobodan Medic, then 28, and a few of his men. Medic, says Kandic, now got orders 'to take some people from the bus and kill them. He told his men to take six'. The six seem to have been taken by truck, up to a secluded spot close by called Godevinske Bare, where the killings took place. The coach with the other prisoners then continued to other locations and 'all the other prisoners were killed', says Kandic.

Bugar, the man filming, was a close friend of Medic. The day after the killings, which took place between 15 and 19 July, he gave the camera to someone else. When the unit came home to Sid that person made 20 copies, distributed among the then acclaimed Skorpion 'heroes'.

When he discovered this, Medic was furious. He knew the tape could be used as evidence if it fell into the wrong hands. He ordered everyone to return the tapes and 20 were destroyed. But one man, who had rowed with his colleagues and had left Trnovo the day before the executions, made one more copy for himself. Fearful and uncertain what to do, the man, whom Kandic cannot name but who will testify at The Hague, hid the tape outside Serbia. For years nothing happened.

That is, until 2003. As war broke out in Kosovo[Kosova], the Skorpions were reactivated. In March 1999 they lived up to their reputation, killing 19 ethnic Albanian civilians in Podujevo. Two Skorpions were put on trial and in 2003, one of them, who agreed to testify against the others, mentioned that a tape of their Bosnia 95 tour existed. Kandic contacted the man, who said he did not have it but knew the man who did. She went to Sid and found him. He gave it to Kandic who agreed not to use it until he was out of the country.

In Sid, tension began to rise. Kandic had been spotted there with the man who had the tape and the other Skorpions guessed he had told her about the Srebrenica prisoners. A desperate hunt began. Kandic began to get reports that the Skorpions were attacking and harassing people in Sid as they searched for the cassette.

On 9 December, the Hague tribunal released on bail Frenki Simatovic, former head of the Red Berets, another Interior Ministry unit which had worked with the Skorpions, and Jovica Stanisic, former head of the Serbian secret police. The orders went out to find the tape.

In Serbia, with the tenth anniversary of the massacre coming up, Kandic, angry at claims in public by various personalities that Srebrenica had been 'liberated' and that there had been no genocide, said she had seen the tape.

On 23 May she gave it to Serbia's own war crimes prosecutor. He promised to investigate, but no arrests were made. She also gave it to The Hague's prosecution team, who showed it on Wednesday. Immediately afterwards she gave it to Serbian TV.

Within 24 hours four men had been arrested in Serbia, including Slobodan Medic. Six more were brought in for questioning but were later released. Three are on the run. Serbia's police dossier on the case contains 136 names.

For the Serbian authorities, a psychological barrier has been smashed. Pressure is now mounting on them to arrest at least Mladic, who is believed to be in Serbia. Svetozar Marovic, the President of Serbia and Montenegro, has said he will be arrested within a month. Boris Tadic, the President of Serbia, wants to attend the commemoration of the massacre at Srebrenica on 10 July.

Now, says Kandic, Serbia must arrest Mladic. 'After this,' she says, 'there is no choice. Serbs have been forced to see what happened and they have to stop denying that Serbia's forces were there.'

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Albanian writer wins new international Booker prize

Ismail Kadaré, an Albanian novelist and poet, has been named the winner of the inaugural Man Booker International Prize.

He beat out a field of authors that included Canada's Margaret Atwood and the late Saul Bellow.

This is the first time that the prize has been given. The Man Booker International Prize was created to honour a body of work by a living author and will be given every two years – unlike the Man Booker Prize, which goes to a specific book by a Commonwealth author. Nominees for the international version can be from any nation, but their work must have been translated into English.

Kadaré, who has lived in France for 15 years, was selected by a panel of judges that included writers Alberto Manguel and John Carey.

"Ismail Kadaré is a writer who maps a whole culture – its history, its passion, its folklore, its politics, its disasters," Carey said in a release. "He is a universal writer in a tradition of storytelling that goes back to Homer."

Kadaré said he was deeply honoured to win.

"I am a writer from the Balkan Fringe, a part of Europe which has long been notorious exclusively for news of human wickedness – armed conflicts, civil wars, ethnic cleansing, and so on," he said.

"My firm hope is that European and world opinion may henceforth realize that this region, to which my country, Albania, belongs, can also give rise to other kinds of news and be the home of other kinds of achievement, in the field of the arts, literature and civilization."
Kadare published his first novel, The General of the Dead Army, in 1963 and has since been published in more than 40 countries. Some of his other books include:The File on H,The Three-Arched Bridge,The Concert,Broken April,Doruntine,The Palace of Dreams,The Pyramid,Elegy for Kosovo[Kosova],The Castle and his latest Spring Flowers, Spring Frost .

The prize is worth about $135,000. Kadaré will receive the award at the official ceremony on June 27 in Edinburgh.

Stanislaw Lem of Poland, Naguib Mahfouz of Egypt, Cynthia Ozick of the U.S., Ian McEwan of Britain, A.B. Yehoshua of Israel and Atwood were among the other 18 nominees from 13 countries.

Serbian TV shows Srebrenica massacre for the first time

By Matt Prodger
BBC News, Belgrade

The footage shows victims with their hands tied behind their backs
TV stations in Serbia and Montenegro have been showing graphic footage of what appear to be executions of residents from Srebrenica in 1995.

The video apparently shows members of Serbian state security forces executing six Muslims from the Bosnian town.

The footage shows victims with their hands tied behind their backs. This one is of a 16 year old boy being shot.

The video was used as evidence during a trial at The Hague war crimes tribunal on Wednesday and in an unusual step was repeated in news broadcasts in Serbia.

More than 7,000 Muslim men and boys were murdered in the enclave in 1995.

The footage was shown by prosecutors at the trial of former Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic.

Deadly Scorpions

It is a truly chilling video which begins with a Serbian Orthodox priest blessing paramilitaries before they go into battle and ends with what appears to be the same paramilitaries shooting badly beaten civilians prisoners in the back with machine guns.

The six men were led away from a lorry and shot

The killers are wearing the uniforms of a unit known as the Scorpions, which prosecutors say fell under the command of the Serbian interior ministry.

At one point the man filming the executions complains that the power supply for the camera is running down and is told by one of the killers to keep filming as long as he can.

The six men were led away from a lorry and shot

This is the first time that the Serbian media has presented the public with such graphic and direct evidence of the Srebrenica massacre.

UN pressure

Despite this, only one newspaper carried the story of the video on its front page on Thursday.

The 10th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre falls on 11 July, yet last week a survey suggested that only half of the Serbian population believe it actually occurred.
The same survey suggested that two thirds of the public believed that the men most wanted in connection with the crime - Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic - were in fact heroes.

The United Nations chief war crimes prosecutor, Carla del Ponte, is currently in the Serbian capital to press the government once more to arrest the two indicted men, who are believed to be hiding in Serbia and Montenegro or the Bosnian Serb republic.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Interview with Luan Krasniqi after his victory over Whitaker

Last Saturday, May 28, former European heavyweight champion Luan Krasniqi, 28-1-1 (25), scored the most important win of his professional career. At Schleyerhalle of Stuttgart the 34-year-old German knocked out American giant Lance Whitaker with a right cross to the temple in round 6. Luan was this the biggest win of your career?

Luan Krasiniqi: I would rate this victory the highest of my career. The toughest victory remains my win over Sinan Samil Sam. But from now on every win is important. Yes, I would say that I scored my biggest victory on Saturday.

Whitaker was never knocked down before but you knocked him out sudden and clean. Does your knockout power have to do with your technique?

I believe there are several things that enabled me to knock out Lance Whitaker. Together with my coach Torsten Schmitz I worked on the technique of my punches. I used to have the bad habbit of leaning forward with my upper body while throwing punches. My punches were always sudden and explosive. But ultimately there was never real power in them. The reason was a wrong positioning of my upper body and the non optimal use of my leggs. By knocking out Whitaker I impressively displayed how I optimized my technique.

You looked more mobile and agile in the ring then ever before. Whitaker had a hard time to land a single punch. Did you work on your defense and footwork?

While preparing for the fight my weight went up to about 107 kg or 108 kg. When I worked hard and moved a lot during the sparring period I lost a lot of weight and came down to 102 kg. I was surprised about this myself. I profit from my light weight. It increased my mobility. As I weighed less things were easier for me.

Now you earned a world title shot at the WBO. When will it happen?

To negotiate things is the job of my management Universum. I’m just responsible for the athletic part. I will continue to train and I wait for my chance. Perhaps the contest will take place on September 28 on the 100th birthday of Max Schmeling. But it doesn’t matter to me when it will happen. The sooner the better.

What kind of boxer is WBO champ Lamon Brewster in comparison to Whitaker?

I always thought that Whitaker is stronger than Lamon Brewster. But Whitaker is an old hat and from now on I’ll be busy with Brewster. In 1993 Brewster and I fought in the amateurs in an international competition between Germany and the US, in the heavyweight division under 90 kg. I won on points. I know him. He attacks stormy and he has a good jab. He is clearly smaller than me. I didn’t have this personal experience with Whitaker which is why I studied his videos. His fights sometimes looked quite impressive. I will now sit down together with my coach Torsten Schmitz and work out the strategy how to defeat Brewster.

Can you imagine to score a spectacular knockout over Brewster like you did over Whitaker?

For this battle, I will also go in in top shape and I certainly will not speculate on a knockout. If I can, naturally, I will go for the KO, but I will be prepared to go twelve. It will be a terrific fight. I do not make other promises.

Do you take vacation time now?

Yes. I want to relax and go somewhere to get some sun. After three or four weeks I will resume light training.

You meet your tooth doctor today. Did Whitaker knock out a filling?

Oh no. The doctor just continues a root treatment. During my sparring period I realized trouble with my molars. The problem was treated temporarily and now my doctor will make it final.

I hope tooth pain didn’t spoil your biggest victory on Saturday?

During the fight I don’t feel pain from injuries because my adrenaline level is so high. During the fight a bomb could go off next to me, I wouldn’t mind.

Kosovo[Kosova] PM,Bajram Kosumi:"‘Big Progress, But Changes Come Slowly’"

The new prime minister is confident Kosovo[Kosova] will become an independent country—and not a moment too soon.
Kosumi: Democracy ‘will depend on us’

Kosovo[Kosova] - Even in the topsy-turvy world of Balkan politics, Bajram Kosumi’s rise to power as Kosovo’s prime minister is surely one of the most dramatic. In March his Alliance for the Future of Kosovo[Kosova] (AAK) party leader Ramush Haradinaj had to resign as prime minister when the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) indicted him for war crimes. Haradinaj was a popular leader among the 90 percent ethnic Albanian majority and there were serious concerns that Kosovo would see a return to the violence that swept across the region in March 2004 when 19 people were killed in riots.
But Kosumi’s transition went smoothly—it helped that hundreds of NATO troops were deployed across Kosovo—and he has hit the ground running. This spring has been an integral time for the region. On May 27 the United Nations Security Council was briefed on the progress that Kosovo[Kosova] has been making on things like good governance and human rights, and this week Kofi Annan is expected to name a special envoy to the region to oversee the continued implementation of these standards. Kosovar Albanians are hoping that will lead to final independence from Serbia, who NATO went to war with in 1999 to stop ethnic cleansing.

Kosumi, the 45-year-old former professor and environment minister, is hopeful that things will continue to go in the direction of independence. But he also acknowledges that Kosovo[Kosova] still has a long way to go. With unemployment at 60 percent and the World Bank and the IMF unwilling to grant loans because Kosovo’s status is undecided, many citizens are feeling disillusioned about the country’s prospects. Earlier this week from his office in Pristina, Kosumi tackled some of these topics with NEWSWEEK’s Ginanne Brownell. Excerpts:

NEWSWEEK: Ramush Haradinaj was seen as a popular prime minister who did more in his 100 days in office than had been done in the previous three years by the last government. How detrimental was his resignation to the political process?

Bajram Kosumi: The indictment was painful because Mr. Haradinaj’s big plans for Kosovo[Kosova] were cut short. He managed to show that the government could be successful in solving large problems in cooperation with United Nations and international organizations. When I became prime minister some people questioned if I could continue with the same kind of dynamism and energy that he had shown. My answer was that Ramush was not the only one with ideas. Together we established the AAK, and we together led the party. We laid the foundations and for the last several years we have tried to build the party up to solve problems, not to just deal in political theory. And this is why our party is different.

Q: Were you pleased with the report that was presented to the U.N. Security Council?

A: It’s a very positive step. Our achievements have been evaluated three times now, and each time we have met with a positive reaction. Even though it was not said directly in the Security Council meeting, [our] status will depend entirely on the citizens of Kosovo[Kosova]. The democratic development will depend on us, and on our work, and the envoy that Mr. Annan appoints will see how far we have come.

In 2003 a provision was made that in order for Kosovo to even be considered as an independent nation it must first reach certain standards or benchmarks. Serbia and some other nations have complained that Kosovo has not fulfilled these, yet it looks like Kosovo could be moving on to the next step of status talks in September. What is your reaction to those grumblings?

I can say that most of these standards have been fulfilled. There are eight standards, and each of these standards has separately more than 100 different parts. The first standard is democratic institution building and most of those have been fulfilled—peaceful elections have been held, new democratic institutions have been created and so on. But yes, you may find one single issue like a law about the public broadcasters that has not been passed yet in the assembly. Since that has not yet been fulfilled then you can be right in saying this is not 100 percent done. There are some highly political standards like minority rights that cannot be limited by time. We cannot say they will be fulfilled within two or three months but these standards have opened up the process and we have created mechanisms that will enable their fulfillment. It takes time.

Nicholas Burns, the U.S. undersecretary of State, told Congress last month that the status quo was not an option for Kosovo—that things needed to move forward. How do you feel about the U.S. putting pressure on the international community to get things moving?

They want Kosovo to move forward faster. We consider this to be a big help, a big and good help. Seven years ago the decision was taken to help the people of Kosovo, it was the diplomacy of the United States who pushed it more than anyone. And I personally believe that the American diplomacy is more pragmatic and separates the politics from diplomacy much more than the European countries.

If we delay the decision-making moment, then we endanger the whole process and ourselves. For example in the economy we are facing difficulties, we cannot get assigned to foreign loans, there is no big investment because everyone is waiting to see what our final status will be. But what I am saying to a doctor, a teacher, an administrative worker is to be patient because in 2006 we [could] become a state and the road for development will open. If the decision gets delayed till 2007 or 2008, then we can ultimately lose patience. Our [hope] is to be like every other nation and every other people: to live free, to have the possibility to develop our democracy, to get rich if you want, to develop the economy and to just live a decent life.

There have been rumors that radical elements within Kosovo have threatened to destabilize things if plans do not move forward. Is this a concern?

There is no radical movement as such. I am saying we should not prolong the decision-making process because we damage the essence of it. If the process gets longer and longer and if you lose your faith, it does not mean you push your radical elements. But you have people who lose faith [in government] and this endangers us all.

There are about 1,800 U.S. troops based at Camp Bondsteel in central Kosovo, and the United States has officially said that one of the reasons they are pushing talks is so that they can eventually deploy those troops to other locales. However, there has been much speculation that the Pentagon plans to keep Bondsteel open as a “lily-pad” base in the Balkans as other bases in places Germany and Turkey close. What are your feelings on this?

I believe that the American troops should stay here for a long time—not just American but the NATO troops [as well]. We see the presence of these troops, even after Kosovo becomes independent, as needed. It has direct impact in the security of the region and it has an impact of the psychological aspect of people. For over 100 years there have been wars between the Albanians and the Serbs who have fought against each other, and the presence of NATO creates a factor of stability.

Haradinaj,ousted in March,remains popular

How is the situation for the Serb population in Kosovo? I visited Gracanica, a Serb enclave just outside of Pristina, and while some told me they have not felt comfortable enough to leave the area since the war ended, others say they think things are getting better. How can you reach out to those who feel marginalized and show them things are moving in a more positive direction?

There has been big progress but changes come slowly. Until a few months ago you would still see in Gracanica posters of [former Yugoslav president] Slobodan Milosevic. But not every Serb thinks like this. I have spoken with Serbs from [another enclave called] Babljak and I entered their houses and they were really happy I came to visit. And I saw that those Serbs in their visions and in their views differ from the politicians in Belgrade. These are the simple people in a village, they believe in the future of Kosovo, they believe in their future here. They believe Kosovo will be a free place and they will be a part of this Kosovo.

In the government buildings there are 2,600 people who belong to minority groups who work here. They come into Pristina every morning, they work in their offices, they work with their colleagues. This is all normal. And no one stops and stares when they see a Serb walking down the street. Last month at the National Theatre a drama troupe from Belgrade gave an evening performance, and the theater was filled with Serbs. They watched the play, everything was OK and they went home. In my government one of my ministers is a Serb, and there were two Serbian members of the assembly who voted for me to become prime minister. This happened in Kosovo for the first time.

All these are arguments to tell you that people are free to work, whether Serb, Turk, whatever. They are our friends, they are part of the government. I am not saying everyone is like this. In northern Mitrovica, the problems are bigger because Belgrade is financing parallel structures [such as hospitals and schools for Serbs] there but the majority of the territory in Kosovo has seen big steps forward.

Another commission supports Kosovo's Independence

WASHINGTON D.C., PRISTINA -- Wednesday – Bruce Jackson of the Western Balkans International Commission said that the commission believes that “the independent status of Kosovo[Kosova] should be recognized.”

Jackson, who is president of the Project for Democracy and Transition, said that the unresolved status of Kosovo is “ruinous for not only Kosovo[Kosova] but Serbia as well.” Jackson said that the Kosovo[Kosova] government should receive increased sovereignty as it progresses with implementing standards such as minority protection.

“During that period, Kosovo will remain under the supervision of the international community.” Jackson said, adding that Kosovo “will share its sovereignty with the European Union in the end.“

He added that Brussels is disappointed with the reactions coming from Belgrade regarding Kosovo which are “almost always nationalistic statements.”

“I think that such an angle supports a completely wrong interpretation of the European integration process. I am personally disappointed that leaders such as President Tadic and Prime Minister Kostunica do not understand that this report should be taken as good news by Belgrade.” Jackson said.