Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Privatization continues in Kosovo with Ferronikeli plant up for sale


"Ferronikeli"is one of the largest nickel smelting and mining operations in Europe.


By Matthew Robinson

Gllogovce, Kosovo[Kosova](Reuters) - Kosovo's Glogovac ferro-nickel plant looks like a bomb hit it.

Twenty-eight bombs, in fact, dropped by NATO during its 1999 air war to expel Serb forces accused of ethnically cleansing the province's Albanian majority.

Severed pipes hang from the punctured roof, glass litters the floor and drums that once collected waste from the smelter now lie up-turned amid the debris like giant church bells.

"Try to make it look good," the mine's ethnic Albanian technical director says to a visiting camera crew.

Kosovo's United Nations authorities say the damage is purely superficial and have put "Ferronikeli" up for sale, seven years after Serbia closed it down and began using it as a military base in its war on Kosovo's separatist rebels.

Appearances aside, U.N. officials say Ferronikeli and mines like it represent the future for the impoverished province.

The plant is one of the largest nickel smelting and mining operations in Europe, with 13 million tonnes of nickel ore in three open-pit mines valued at around 2 billion euros.

Lured by a potential 100 million euros (68 million pounds) in annual revenue, four international mining companies including South Korea's Samsung Corp are expected to submit bids for it on April 27.

It is the most significant privatisation undertaken by the United Nations since it took control of the Balkan province in 1999. The buyer is obliged to take on 1,000 workers and invest at least 20 million euros over the first 3 years.

FUTURE IN LIGNITE

Kosovo's U.N. overseers hope the sell-off will breathe life into the dormant mining industry, laid low by chronic mismanagement and under-investment in the 1990s.

Kosovo is rich in nickel -- used to produce steel -- and lignite -- a form of coal used to produce power -- but its mines badly need investment. The West plans to decide the province's "final status" later this year, and Kosovo is keen to prove it can become a viable independent state.

"For the long-term sustainable future of Kosovo, the major industry will be mining," says Kirk Adams, the British acting director of privatisation at the Kosovo Trust Agency, KTA.

"It will be a major employer and major source of revenue with a huge and dynamic impact on the economy."

After six years of U.N. micro-management, the province of 2 million people is economically stagnant and unemployment hovers between 50 and 60 percent.

The population, 50 percent of which is below the age of 25, is impatient for change and the streets of Glogovac, 20 km (12 miles) from the capital Pristina, are filled with young men peddling smuggled cigarettes.

The picture is the same in Mitrovica in the north, where the once-thriving Trepca mining complex lies in ruins.

The U.N. hopes a resurgent mining industry can go some way to quelling the impatience that has fuelled bouts of violence against minority Serbs, who want to remain part of Serbia.

LEGAL LIMBO

A recent report by the World Bank and Kosovo's Directorate of Mines and Minerals, DMM, valued Kosovo's total mine resources at 13.5 billion euros, including 6.5 billion at the Sibovc lignite mine just outside Pristina.

"Kosovo has 40 percent of Europe's lignite, and it's good quality," said Adams. "The lignite reserves mean this should be a power-exporting area for the rest of the region."

The DMM estimates the mining sector needs 1.8 billion euros of investment to become fully operational, providing 35,000 direct jobs and at least the same again indirectly.

As a U.N. protectorate, Kosovo's suspended status means its privatisation process has been dogged by ownership disputes and liability concerns.

The U.N.-appointed KTA has managed to sell only around 30 of the 500 socially-owned companies -- a unique corporate model of the old socialist Yugoslavia -- on its books since May 2003.

But the agency insists most of the problems have been ironed out and there are plans to privatise more of Kosovo's mines.

"Mining is important to Kosovo both historically and in the future," says Adams. "We intend to privatise more mines and they will have a significant impact on jobs and investment in Kosovo.

"Ferronikeli is a very important start." Reuters

You may contact Mr. Adams at:

Kosovo Trust Agency
Kirk Adams,
Special Spin-Off Section
Tel: ++ 381 38 500 400 1261
Fax: ++ 381 38 248 076
E-mail: soetenders@eumik.org
You can also see the rules of the tender by going on the following website:

http://www.ferronikeli.com/eng/download/Rules_of_Tender-Special_Spin_Off-Ferronikeli-ENG.pdf

UK Ambassador: Independence for Kosovo is an open option


British envoy to Belgrade, David Gowan

Prishtina, Kosovo[Kosova]-UK ambassador in Belgrade, David John Gowan, said today in Prishtina that the Independence of Kosovo is an open option. He said he supports the conclusion of Contact Group Plus, which states that the Independence of Kosovo is one of the options to solve the status of Kosovo.
Gowan meet today in Prishtina with the Prime Minister of Kosovo, Bajram Kosumi. They talked about the latest developments in Kosovo and implementation of standards. The international community has said that a positive evaluation of standards is necessary to open negotiations for the final status of Kosovo. “Independence is one of the options for the future status of Kosovo. We are trying very hard to define the final status of Kosovo, but we need a big commitment from Kosovar politicians” said Gowan. RTK

Friday, April 22, 2005

Putin decorates World War II veterans, Albanian President Alfred Moisiu and his communist predecessor Ramiz Aliu

Moskow- The President of Russia has decorated 59 World War II from Albania, including the currect President Alfred Moisiu and the former communist leader of Albnia, Ramiz Aliu. The Russian ambassador in Tirana, the capital of Albania, has presented the medals to the veterans. Mr Moisiu and mr Aliu have attended higher studies in Moscow during the cold War. President Moisiu now condemns communism in the strongest terms. QIK and AP

If Kosovo is left in limbo, it will be a victory for Milosevic

Prishtina, Kosovo[Kosova]- Here in Kosovo is where it all began. The cancer that has been eating through Tony Blair's second term started out from this small fold in the Balkans.
As images of tractors crowded with refugees rolled across his TV screen, with their message that full-scale ethnic cleansing was under way, the prime minister's moral instincts were aroused.

In power for barely a year, Blair was eager to take action in what was in 1998 an Albanian-majority province of Serbia. After the west's dithering over Bosnia, he saw Kosovo as the chance to make amends.
Blair did not succeed in persuading Bill Clinton to use ground troops, but he can take credit for convincing the US president that diplomacy was failing to stop Slobodan Milosevic and force was needed. The war took longer than predicted but Nato bombed Serb troops off the field and after 78 days (with diplomatic help from Russia) persuaded Milosevic to withdraw, thereby allowing almost 800,000 Albanian refugees to return home.


Tony Blair viziting Kosovo after the war in 1999. He was the main proponent of the war to Liberate Kosovo[Kosova].


So the prime minister had a "good" war. His moral certainty and clout with the White House came together to produce relatively rapid success as well as support from most people in Britain, myself included. Kosovo was liberated and Blair is still a hero in Pristina.

Of course, critics pointed out that there was no UN security council resolution authorising Nato's war on Serbia. It was as illegal as the one on Iraq. True enough. But I felt the Kosovo campaign was legitimate - in a way that the Iraq one was not.

The Serbian government was violating human rights on a huge new scale, activating what is known in UN parlance as the outside world's "responsibility to protect". In Iraq there was nothing new about Saddam Hussein's repression and it was lesssevere in 2003 than earlier. Those who suspected he had no weapons of mass destruction argued that containment was working. For those not yet sure, the UN inspectors were in Iraq and should have been given more time.

But success in Kosovo had gone to Blair's head. The triumphant loss of his war-virginity made him a crusader, throwing away the necessary sense of caution and creating a stubborn self-righteousness. He assumed that, as with Kosovo, he would be justified and acclaimed once the Iraq war was over.

I regret his arrogance, although it does not weaken the case for the Kosovo intervention. One war need not lead to another, since politicians should judge each crisis on its merits. That said, Kosovo is rapidly returning to the international agenda, and we will need clarity and courage to ensure it does not flare up again.

For six years, the territory has been a UN protectorate. It has an elected president, prime minister and parliament, but ultimate power remains with Soren Jessen-Petersen, a courteous Dane who is the latest administrator of the UN mission in Kosovo (Unmik). He took over last year after clashes between Albanians and Serbs left 19 dead and forced more than 4,000 Serbs to flee their homes. The mobs also burned dozens of Unmik vehicles in frustration at the delay in getting a decision on whether Kosovo will be independent.

Western governments had played for time through a policy called "standards before status". Kosovo had to reach hundreds of benchmarks of democratic behaviour before talks on its future could begin. Jessen-Petersen narrowed the policy. "There was a sense after the March riots last year that we had to accelerate the process and simplify standards implementation, not to reward violence but because to keep this place in limbo for much longer would be rather risky," he told me. "We singled out all those standards that are linked to the minorities. The vast majority are focused on protection of the minorities, their living conditions, their rights and so on."

Now decision day is approaching. Kofi Annan will shortly appoint an envoy to review whether standards have been met sufficiently. If, as expected, the verdict is positive, another UN envoy will get the job of negotiating Kosovo's status.

Governments are already drawing up guidelines. They are likely to contain three noes: no return to the prewar position when Kosovo was under Belgrade's rule; no partition; and no change in external borders, ie no unification with Albania.

There is disagreement on Belgrade's role and how to handle Russia's potential for blocking Kosovo's independence. (It was the threat of a Russian veto that prevented Nato seeking UN authorisation before the 1999 war.) Nor is it clear if Annan will give his envoy a deadline. "I don't think anyone wants an open-ended conference that lasts for years, not a 20-year or 30-year Cyprus-type thing," Jessen-Petersen says. "Periods of six to nine months have been mentioned."

Western governments favour some form of independence, but are uncertain how to define it. Germany, once a firm champion of the Kosovo cause, appears to be backtracking. Its diplomats favour something similar to the conservative conclusions of a recent commission on the Balkans chaired by Giuliano Amato, a former Italian prime minister, and made up mainly of other centre-right politicians.

They proposed keeping Kosovo as a UN protectorate with slightly enhanced self-government under independence without full sovereignty. This is a disastrously condescending hybrid that would anger Kosovans and leave property and ownership issues in the legal limbo that now hinders investment. The commission also argued that Belgrade must agree to any change in status.

The International Crisis Group (ICG), by contrast, advocates full independence but with a continuing role for international monitors, foreign judges in the higher courts for ethnically sensitive cases, foreign troops to train a small Kosovan army, and UN staff checking on minority protection. This would be like East Timor, another recently independent state.

Serbia's objections are a problem, but Britain argues that Belgrade must have no veto. Other European governments should take the same view. The ICG says Belgrade may prefer an "imposed" solution rather than sign up to the "loss of Kosovo". Politicians could complain they were victims of outside forces - not an unusual Belgrade line.

Russia is a bigger problem. If Putin cannot be persuaded that Kosovo needs independence, the rest of the world should recognise the new state anyway. Kosovo can go without a UN seat - the only major consequence of a Kremlin veto.

As long as the EU accepts Kosovo's independence, the new state would have most of what it wants. Protecting the Serb minority is a high priority and, after the folly of last year's clashes, most Kosovans realise the door to EU membership will never open if ethnic violence is repeated.

But western governments must not go on delaying. Anything short of independence will mean that Milosevic, in his jail cell in the Hague, will have won after all.

Jonathan Steele in Pristina
The Guardian
j.steele@guardian.co.uk

Serb Politician threaten for supporting Kosovo’s Independence

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Goran Svilanovic, Former Foreign Minister of Serbia and Montenegro, has called on Serbs to "live in reality".

BELGRADE -- Thursday – The youth group of the Power of Serbia Movement protested and displayed posters in front of the parliament building today in protest of Goran Svilanovic.

The reason behind the protest is Svilanovic’s controversial stance of showing support for the independence of Kosovo. The Serbian Radical Party has also filed criminal charges against Svilanovic to the Belgrade district court for compromising national territorial issues.

The anti-Svilanovic posters depict Svilanovic’s face over a map of Kosovo with an Albanian hat on his head, and the message “Stop the Falling Apart of Serbia.”

Both the Power of Serbia Movement and the Serbian Radical Party have denounced Svilanovic’s stance on the Kosovo crisis, stating that the former foreign affairs minister is for the independence of Kosovo.

Radical Party official Aleksandar Vucic said that while Svilanovic was foreign affairs minister, “he stated his stance that it is necessary to give Kosovo independence” and therefore committed the crime for which they filed charges against him.

“The foundation is based on what he did between 2000 and 2003 while he was foreign affairs minister because that confirms that he had the same political views in 1999 and as we have stated in the charges, that he supported the independence of Kosovo. Everyone has to answer for that, but we have asked for him not to answer as a national official or a regular citizen, but to answer for what he did while he was foreign affairs minister. And he will have to answer for that.” Vucic said.

Svilanovic told B92 that “those people who are protesting” are not ready to face the catastrophic results of the politics which they created or supported in the last ten years, which are responsible for the current crisis in Kosovo.

“Those who are protesting today are the last people who would have the right to say even one word about it, because while they are talking about getting closer to EU integration and offering guarantees for Serbs, they are ignoring the reality in the region and will wait another five or ten years until all the Serbs have moved out of the region because of constant violence being committed against them, all the while under the claims that they were against this sort of thing happening.” Svilanovic said.

Svilanovic’s party, the Serbian Civil Council, has asked those people whose politics helped destroy the country in 1999 and separate Kosovo from Serbia, to stop attacking Svilanovic.

“Such defenders of Kosovo that are relaxing in Belgrade with the privileges that politics have brought to them should return their extra profits and money from exotic islands that they had relocated during the 90s, which was taken from the pockets of the Serbian people.” the party states. B92

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Serbia trying to stir chaos in Kosovo

The latest incidents in Kosovo have given the international and local politicians in Kosova a cause for concerned. First there was the mysteries assassination attempt on March 21 targeting the President of Kosovo, Ibrahim Rugova. The bomb exploded on the side of the street while his convoy passed by. Rugova escaped unhurt, but police have yet to discover the perpetrator of this criminal act. The second troubling act happened on April 14, when assassins spray-bulleted a car in which the brother of Former PM, Ramush Haradinaj, was killed. There is been a week since that incident happened, and police have yet to uncover any leads.
The latest incident happened on April 17, and this time the target was the opposition party lead by Veton Surroi, Once again police have not reported any leads. You see a pattern? I do.

All the attacks are directed across the political spectrum in Kosovo: The President, The Prime Minister and the Opposition. Who could possibly have a motive to attack people across the political spectrum? Who could have the capability of committing the act and leaving no trace behind? Anybody thought about Serb involvement? The answer is very troubling, but it needs to be considered seriously by the NATO and UNMIK in Kosovo. It seems like the he Serb Government has given the green light to its Intelligence Services to cause trouble in Kosovo. In recent months the Serbian government has become very frustrated with its inability to stop Kosovo from moving towards Independence. They may have very well decided that chaos is the only venue they have to prevent Kosovo from becoming Independent. By causing chaos, Serbs want to prolong the status of Kosovo until more favorable times. At the same time, Serbian government hopes that this will prove to international community that Kosovo cannot govern itself.

Serbian Government has said the it will do anything to prevent Kosovo from becoming Independet.

The Serb government has a very strong motive to commit acts like this. But does it have the capability to do so? After all there are that many Serbs in Kosovo to commit all these organized acts! The answer is yes. The Serb Intelligence community has continued to maintain a relationship with those previous Albanians whom it calls “loyal citizens”. The Kosovo Police and KFOR needs to investigate claims that “loyal Albanians” who may be on the payroll of the Serb Intelligence Community, are committing these acts. Serbs certainly have a motive to commit these acts- KFOR and Kosovo police need to prove the facts-whatever they are!

Ferik Ferizaj

Holbrooke :New Course For Kosovo

By Richard Holbrooke

Significant differences between the first and second Bush terms continue to emerge. After studied silence in her White House years, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is beginning to reveal her style and values, clearly with presidential approval. She seems to be a pragmatic conservative, oriented toward problem-solving, pursuing essentially non-ideological policies. She is careful (and politically smart) to keep faith, in all her statements, with neoconservative values, but she is also finding high-profile, low-cost ways, such as extensive travel, to improve America's shaky image and relationships around the world. Several recent events are worth attention:

• The dramatic policy reversal -- personally shaped by President Bush -- resulting in a decision not to veto a U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing a role for the International Criminal Court in Darfur. This was the first time in four years that the Bush administration had departed from its practice of opposing anything having to do with the ICC.[Passage regarding Rice's involvment aroung the world
omitted]


Holbrooke with a Kosova Liberation Army Officer Lum Haxhiu in Junik -Western Kosovo 1998

One notable policy change has gone virtually unnoticed -- the one concerning Kosovo, where, after four years of neglect and mistakes, the administration has made a major shift. Ever since the 78-day NATO bombing campaign freed the Kosovar Albanians from Slobodan Milosevic's oppressive grip in 1999, political control of Kosovo has been in the semi-competent hands of the United Nations, while NATO has maintained a fragile peace between the majority Albanian and minority Serb populations.

Under Security Council Resolution 1244, passed in 1999, the final status of Kosovo was supposed to be worked out through negotiations that would result in either independence, partition or a return by Kosovo to its former status as part of a country once known as Yugoslavia, now "Serbia and Montenegro." But instead of starting this process years ago, Washington and the European Union fashioned a delaying policy they called "standards before status," a phrase that disguised bureaucratic inaction inside diplomatic mumbo-jumbo. As a result, there have been no serious discussions on the future of Kosovo for the past four years, even as windows of opportunity closed and Albanian-Serb tensions rose. Finally, bloody rioting erupted last March, leaving eight Serbs and 11 Albanians dead, a thousand people injured and the region teetering on the brink of another war. Tensions have remained high ever since; just two days ago there was a bomb attack on the offices of an opposition party in Kosovo.

Last month, after warnings about the explosiveness of the situation from Philip Goldberg, America's senior diplomat there, Rice sent Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns to Europe for meetings with the nearly moribund Contact Group (the United States, Britain, France, Italy, Russia and Germany). Burns told them that the situation in Kosovo was inherently unstable and, unless there was an acceleration of efforts to determine its final status, violence would probably increase, with NATO forces, including U.S. troops, tied down indefinitely.

Under American pressure -- always the necessary ingredient in dealing with the sluggish, process-driven European Union -- a new Contact Group policy has begun to emerge. This summer a special U.N. representative will "determine" that Kosovo has met the necessary standards -- self-governance, refugees, returnees, freedom of movement, etc. -- and is therefore ready for status talks. (Of course, this should have been done years ago, but better late than never.) Then will come the really tough part: What should Kosovo's final status be? Separate nation, Serb province, partition?

Although no one is talking on the record in Washington or in Europe, I find it hard to see any ultimate outcome for Kosovo other than independence, perhaps on a staged basis over the next several years. But such an outcome requires strong guarantees for the endangered Serb minority that remains in Kosovo -- between 100,000 and 200,000 people. The protection of Kosovo's Serbs will require some sort of continued international security presence. In addition, the deeply divided Kosovar Albanians, whose last prime minister is now facing war crimes charges in The Hague, must achieve a much higher level of political maturity.

Ultimately, Belgrade will have to accept something politically difficult: giving up Serbian claims to Kosovo, which Serbs regard as their historic heartland. The Serbs will have to choose between trying to join the European Union and trying to regain Kosovo. If they seek their lost province, they will end up with neither. But, if it can opt for the future over the past, Serbia would have a bright future as an E.U. member, and the ancient dream of an economically integrated, peaceful Southeast Europe (including Greece and Bosnia) would be within reach. The European Union, however, must make a real deal on Kosovo an integral part of the membership process for Serbia.

There are many complicated subplots here, involving Montenegro, Bosnia, Albania, the United Nations, the E.U. and NATO. But for now the important thing is that after ignoring the issue for four years, the administration is doing something in the Balkans, where nothing happens without U.S. leadership. Given that instability in the Balkans -- and Kosovo is highly unstable now -- has historically spread into other parts of Europe, and that the region lies in the heart of the growing NATO sphere, this is the sort of problem that must be addressed before it grows again into a major crisis.

Richard Holbrooke, a presidential envoy for Bosnia and Kosovo during the Clinton administration, writes a monthly column for The Post. Washington Post

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Blast in Kosovo Capital wounds three


Surroi is the leader of Political Party ORA[TIME]

PRISTINA, Kosovo[Kosova] - An explosion late on Sunday in the Kosovo capital Pristina injured three people and damaged the offices of an opposition political party, police and witnesses said.

The blast occurred shortly after 10 p.m. (2000 GMT) outside the offices of ORA, a small opposition party led by prominent Kosovo Albanian publisher Veton Surroi.

Surroi and other opposition figures have been threatened in recent days by a shadowy group calling itself The Defense of the Motherland. The groups is believed to be loosely affiliated with the largest party in Kosovo, the Democratic League of Kosovo, lead by the President of Kosovo, Ibrahim Rugova. The group has warned that it will liquate all those who oppose the DLK and Mr. Rugova. The DLK denies any knowledge of the group. Opposition has called on DLK to denounce what they call “The Bandits”. Law enforcement agencies in Kosovo have said that they are not aware of the existence of the group.

A spokesman for the Kosovo Police Service said three children living on the floor above the offices suffered minor injuries.

"They were taken to hospital but have since been released," Refki Morina told Reuters. He said the explosion had caused significant damage to the building.

The street was cordoned off and members of the NATO-led peace force stationed in the province were on the scene.

The explosion is the latest in a series of violent incidents to hit the U.N.-run province in recent months. They include a roadside bomb blast in March targeting President Ibrahim Rugova. He escaped unhurt.

Kosovo is gearing up for negotiations later this year on whether it becomes independent -- as the 90 percent Albanian majority demands -- or remains formally part of Serbia.

The United Nations, which has run the province of 2 million people since the 1998-99 guerrilla war, says extremists could try to destabilise Kosovo as the talks near.

Kosovo's political scene has become increasingly frayed since the resignation of Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj to face war crimes charges at the U.N. tribunal in The Hague.

Diplomats say his decision on March 7 to surrender to The Hague left a gaping hole in Kosovo's governing coalition. The weeks since have been filled with accusations of corruption and criminality between opposition and ruling parties.

Haradinaj returned briefly to Kosovo on Sunday after the tribunal granted him temporary release to attend the funeral of his brother, Enver, who was shot on Friday in what a NATO source was probably a clan dispute.

A 78-day NATO bombing campaign in 1999 drove out Serb forces accused of atrocities against Albanian civilians in fighting the separatist rebels.
Reuters & RTK, Kosovapress

Funeral for Enver Haradinaj.
Balkanupdate

Kosovo ex-PM among thousands at brother's funeral



Gllogjan-Peje, Kosovo[Kosova]- Former Kosovo prime minister Ramush Haradinaj, on temporary release from the U.N. war crimes tribunal, joined some 20,0000 ethnic Albanians at the funeral of his brother on Sunday.

Enver Haradinaj, a 24-year-old student and former guerrilla, was shot dead on Friday while driving from Peja towars Decan.

Ramush Haradinaj, who resigned in March to face war crimes charges in The Hague, was released to attend the funeral in his hometown of Gllogjan, 90 kilometres west of the capital Pristina.

Enver Haradinaj was buried between the graves of two other Haradinaj brothers, who were killed in fighting during an ethnic Albanian separatist insurgency in the late 1990s.

The rain-drenched crowd applauded as Ramush Haradinaj, the 36-year-old former guerrilla commander, stood to speak.

"His death was unexpected. But my message is as it was before: to support the processes underway in Kosovo, to continue to work and to build Kosovo" he said, echoing an appeal for calm before his departure in March that won him international praise.

Haradinaj arrived five minutes before Sunday's ceremony began, released on condition he did not try to contact potential prosecution witnesses or talk to the media.

He is charged with crimes against Serb civilians and Albanian "collaborators" during the war. He denies any wrong-doing.
Reuters & Albanian Media.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Former Kosovo PM, Ramush Haradinaj, released from Hague

The International Court in Hague has release the Former Kosovo Prime Minister, Ramush Haradinaj, temporarily. The court said that Judge Bonomy took this decision to make it possible for Mr. Haradinaj to attend the funeral of his brother who was killed yesterday in Kosovo [Kosova]. The Judge attached the following restriction:
Haradinaj may not attempt to contact potential witnesses;
He may not have any contact with the media.
The funeral for his brother, Enver Haradinaj, will take place tomorrow in the village of Gllogjan, where the family lives.

Meanwhile, police have continued questioning Enver’s friend, who was also wounded in the ambush. Police have said that they do not have any leads yet. Rumors continue to persist in the region that the culprits are a drug ring lead by the Sadikaj family from neighboring village of Strellc [Decan].

Friday, April 15, 2005


Enver Haradinaj, brother of former Kosovo prime minister Ramush Haradinaj, is seen in this March 9, 2005 file photo made in Kosovo's province capital Pristina. Enver Haradinaj was gunned down and fatally wounded near the western Kosovo village of Raushiq on Friday, April 15, 2005. (AP Photo / Ferdi Limani

Balkanupdate

Kosovo’s Institutions condemn the latest killing


Haradinaj was ambushed while traveling from Peja towards Decan-Western Kosovo

Kosovo-Peje: The President of Kosovo, Ibrahim Rugova, through a pronouncement from his office, said today that he was shocked when he heard the news of the killing of Enver Haradinaj, the bother of former PM, Ramush Haradinaj. The pronouncement says”: “Those who did this savage act intend to destabilize Kosovo. They are against the freedom, Independence and democracy of our country, values for which Enver Haradinaj and his family have fought. We condemn this savage act and we demand that the relevant authorities bring these killers to justice. We want to express our condolences to the Haradinaj family and to the people of Kosova. We ask the citizens of the Peja and Decani region to remain calm for the sake of the country”.

The Government of Kosova also condemned the killing in the strongest possible terms. “In these difficult moments for all of us, and especially for the Haradinaj family, the Prime Minister and the Government of Kosova express the sincere condolences to the Haradinaj family, friends and all the citizens of Kosova”.

International Institution in Kosovo condemned the killing as well. The head of the US office on Kosovo, Philip Goldberg, said: “The U.S. office condemns this terrible crime. I hope the actors of this crime will be caught soon, and we encourage everyone who has any information to contact police immediately”. RTK & Kosovapress

KPC Guard authorized for public ceremonies in Kosovo



Kosovo- Prishtina- Kosova Protection Corps Guard was authorized today to officially organize public ceremonies in Kosovo. This was made public after a meeting today between representatives of UNMIK, the Government, KFOR and members of Contact Group.
KPC commander, General Agim Çeku, said that everyone congratulated KPC for the completion of the 8th standard [the inclusion of minorities]. Kosova Prime Minister, Bajram Kosumi, also said that he was satisfied with the latest development in KPC. RTK

Former Prime Ministers Brother killed in Kosovo

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Former Kosovo Prime Minister, Ramush Haradinaj
According to a spokesperson for Kosovo Police Service (KPC), Refki Morina, today around 15:10, alone the highway between Peja and Gjakova, near the village of Raushiq, there was an assassination attempt in which two people were wounded. Sources from the Hospital of Peja have said that one of the wounded has died and he is Enver Haradinaj, the brother of former Prime Minister, Ramush Haradinaj.

He was currently a student at Prishtina University. Before he started attending the University, he was a Kosova Protection Corps member. Ever since the end of the war on Kosovo, there have been constant threats against the Haradinaj family. There are rumors in the Dukagjini region of Kosovo that the Haradinaj family is a target of a large drug ring, lead by a Sadikaj family. Police have said they have no suspect at this time. During the war in Kosovo the Haradinaj family was a major supporter of Kosova Liberation Army. Two more brothers, Luan Haradinaj and Shkellzen Haradinaj, were killed while fighting Serbian forces. Another brother, Daut Haradinaj, is serving jail time in Kosovo for allegedly participating in murdering Serbs and other Albanian collaborators during the war.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Rugova and Daci urge ICTY to release Haradinaj

Rugova and Daci write to the ICTY
Express reports that Kosovo President Ibrahim Rugova and Parliamentary Speaker Nexhat Daci have sent a letter to the chief of the Hague Tribunal, Theodor Meron. They offer guarantees for the release of former Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj to defend himself in freedom.

The letter was sent through Haradinaj’s defense coordinator, Michael O’Riley.

Meanwhile, the government of Kosovo has created a Commission for the Defense of Hamush Haradinaj. The commission will be headed by Haradinaj himself, but it will be coordinated by Michael O’Reilly. Members of the commission include government ministers, and other important personalities, including high profile lawyers and professor of the University of Prishtina. The commission will start working immediately by organizing campaigns for collecting funds.
RTK & Express

Former Italian PM, Amato: Everybody should accept the Independence of Kosovo

Former Italian Prime Minister, Giuliano Amato, told Serbian media In Belgrade that if we like to expedite the resolution of the status of Kosovo, it is necessary for a new beginning. “It would be good if everyone involved accepts Kosovo as an Independent state”.

Meanwhile a report relesed by the International Commission on the Balkans criticizes the EU over it's failures in the region.The 65-page report is based on a 12-month study by the panel of Balkan experts and politicians including six former prime ministers headed by Giuliano Amato of Italy.

Europe attacked over Balkans failure

Ten years of international policy and peacekeeping in former Yugoslavia have reached a dead-end in Kosovo, Bosnia, and Serbia, with the region threatening to turn into a "marginalised black hole", a panel of senior politicians and experts have concluded.
Urging a radical overhaul of international and EU policy in the Balkans, the damning indictment calls for the abolition of Lord Ashdown's office of high representative in Bosnia, a post with dictatorial powers now seen to be hampering rather than helping Bosnia's democratic development.

The report denounces the UN administration of Kosovo, calling for the Albanian majority territory to be granted a form of independence. The loose union of Serbia and Montenegro in the common state helped into being two years ago by EU policy-makers, is also deemed a failure and should be scrapped, the report says.
Criticising most of the pillars of international policy in former Yugoslavia since the end of the Bosnia and Kosovo wars, the report calls on Brussels to come up with a strategy to bring all the countries into the EU within a decade.

"The international community and the EU in particular have been engaged in the Balkans to an extent which is unprecedented," says the report, by the Commission. "But despite the scale of the assistance effort, the international community has failed to offer a convincing political perspective to the societies in the region.

"The future of Kosovo is undecided, the future of Macedonia is uncertain, and the future of Serbia is unclear. We run the real risk of an explosion of Kosovo, an implosion of Serbia and new fractures in the foundations of Bosnia and Macedonia."


The emphasis is on urging the EU to provide persuasive promises of EU membership to Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Kosovo and Bosnia.

Despite ploughing billions into the region and Europe dispatching "almost half of its deployable forces" to the Balkans, the medium-term returns have been meagre - "a mixture of weak states and international protectorates", zero growth, pervasive corruption, high unemployment, and public disaffection.

Although the report says that "a shift in international and Brussels thinking" is needed to break the impasse, Mr Amato sounds pessimistic that Europe is up to the challenge. "Enlargement fatigue hovers over the European capitals these days," he said.

But if Brussels fails, the EU will become bogged down as a "neo-colonial power" in Kosovo and Bosnia, the report warns. "The real choice the EU is facing in the Balkans is: enlargement or empire."

Lord Ashdown's absolute powers in Bosnia should be scrapped and his role should be taken by Brussels officials in charge of EU enlargement.

The most volatile flashpoint in the Balkans, however, is Kosovo, the status of which remains open six years after Nato drove Serb forces out of the province. The UN mission "bears a substantial share of the blame for the failure in Kosovo _ a failure which can be explained but should not be tolerated."

The report says Kosovo should be made independent by next year, albeit with international officials still empowered to enforce minority and human rights. The expected fierce Serbian resistance to such proposals should be bought off with EU promises of membership for Belgrade.

The report calls for an EU-Balkan summit next year aimed at producing "road maps" for each of the countries joining the EU.
Kosovapress & The Guardian

Serb deputies to return to Kosovo's Parliament

Serb deputies to return to Parliament
Prishtinë- The head of Kosovo’s parliament, Nexhat Daci, meet yesterday with Serb deputies: Ivanoviq, Goran Bogdanoviq and Rangjel Nojkiq , to look at the possibility of them [Serb deputies] returning to the chamber and fulfilling their duties as deputies. Deputies from SLKM[Serb party in Kosovo], said that they will return in parliament within a short period. They told Daci that the head of their parliamentary group will be Rangjel Nojkiq. QIK

Rugova’s free Kosovo

PRISHTINA -- Thursday - Kosovo President Ibrahim Rugova said that thanks to NATO and friends, Kosovo has already been free for the past six years.

Rugova said that a lot has changed in Kosovo in these past six years and that the region is nearing independence.

“When the US and the European Union recognize Kosovo’s independence, Kosovo’s neighbors will do the same. UNMIK will stay in Kosovo for a while longer, but only in the role of an observer, while KFOR and NATO will continue to do their work. Kosovo will have its own armed forces with a limited number of soldiers.” Rugova said.

“Belgrade can give its opinion about Kosovo, but has no right to lead processes or make decisions. That is why I stress that a quick acceptance of the situation is the best solution for them.” Rugova said.

“Getting the Kosovo Serbs involved in the community and institutions would be a lot easier if Kosovo gained recognition, but a lot of time must past before we will be able to live together, side by side. There are seats reserved in the Kosovo parliament for Serb officials, three ministries and a separate budget as well.” Rugova added.

Kosovo officials Azem Vlasi said that Serbian President Boris Tadic’s call for a meeting to be held with Rugova was nothing more than a bit of marketing.

“The Serbian president’s invitation he sent through the newspapers was completely improvised and serves as nothing more than cheap propaganda, instead of representing a serious national act. It is a political maneuver used while the Contact Group is here, in the sense of ‘I’m inviting you for talks, even though I know you will not accept the invitation.’” Vlasi said. b92

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Brussels backs closer ties with Serbia despite concern over war crime cases

By Daniel Dombey in Brussels and Eric Jansson in Belgrade
Financial Times

The European Commission yesterday gave the green light to closer ties with Serbia, despite disappointment that Belgrade has not done more to co-operate with a war crimes tribunal.


The talks on a "stabilisation and association" agreement - a way-station to EU membership - are now likely to begin this year. The deal could then take another 12 months to close.

The Brussels-based executive deemed that Serbia had done just enough to start talks on formal ties, particularly because 2005 is set to be a sensitive year for the former Yugoslav republic and its province of Kosovo.

Olli Rehn, the EU commissioner responsible for enlargement, said the decision demonstrated to "the people of Serbia and Montenegro that meeting critical international obligations is bringing the country closer to the European Union".

Brussels' positive verdict was prompted by a recent increase in the number of people indicted as war criminals sent to the International Criminal Tribunal on the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague.

Surrenders last week by Sreten Lukic, a retired general, and Vujadin Popovic, a Bosnian Serb officer linked to the 1995 massacre at Srebrenica, bring to 13 the number of Serb and Bosnian Serb indictees who have turned themselves in this year.

But Nebojsa Pavkovic, a former Yugoslav chief of staff whom the EU had hoped to see in the court by now, has yet to be handed over. The two most wanted indictees, Bosnian Serb leaders Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, also remain free.

However, the Commission is aware that Kosovo is likely to be on the path to independence by the end of the year - and felt a need to give Belgrade a stake in closer relations with the EU at such a sensitive time.

Kosovo, whose population is largely Albanian, was at the centre of a 1999 war between Nato and Belgrade and is home to a Serb minority as well as to some of the holiest sites in the Serb Orthodox church.

Mr Rehn rejected accusations that the EU was exercising double standards by beginning talks with Serbia when it has put membership negotiations with Croatia on hold be

Full speed towards independence

PODGORICA -- Wednesday – Montenegro finds itself in “the finishing phases” of the process to obtain full national recognition, according to its Foreign Affairs Minister Miodrag Vlahovic.

Vlahovic said that Montenegro is prepared to fully implement its planned referendum in accordance with all democratic demands and standards in receiving sovereignty for the state. Discussions for stabilization and accession in Serbia-Montenegro on the road to European integration will not delay preparations for the referendum, or get in the way of Montenegro declaring its independence, Vlahovic said.

“The long awaited positive assessment of the Feasibility Study represents a new impulse for Montenegro,” Vlahovic said, adding that Montenegro must take advantage of “all the possibilities” that the two-tracked approach offers.
B92

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Rogova rejects talks with Belgrade

BELGRADE-Serbian President Boris Tadic will invite Rugova to Belgrade this week for what would be "the start of direct political dialogue," his press office said in a statement to The Associated Press.

The announcement was made after talks in Belgrade with the so-called "Contact Group," which includes envoys from the United States, the European Union, Russia, France, Italy, Germany and Britain. The international envoys discussed future solutions for the troubled province.

According to German Contact Group official Michael Schaeffer, officials in Belgrade are ready for dialogue with the government in Pristina, adding that Belgrade will support the participation of Kosovo Serbs in work groups for decentralization and encourage them to include themselves in other work groups, and eventually, in Kosovo institutions.

“It seems that the two sides have agreed upon two things; that the can be no return to the situation of 1999 and that there will be no division of Kosovo. That means that things have started to move towards a compromise.” Schaeffer said.

PRISHTINA'S REACTION
No negotiations regarding the status of Kosovo

Meanwhile, a spokesman for Kosovo's President, Ibrahim Rugova, said he would reject the invitation.

"There can be no direct political talks with Belgrade," Muhamet Hamiti, a spokesman for Rugova, told the Associated Press in the Kosovo capital of Pristina. "The bilateral meetings between the leaders of Kosovo and Serbia ... can happen only after Kosovo's independence is recognized."

“If, eventually, there is an International meeting to bring a closure to the Independence of Kosovo, the neighboring countries can take place, but they will not have a veto. Bilateral negotiations between Kosovo and Serbian officials for technical issues[that are related to the war of 1999) will be discussed after Independence”

Serbs consider Kosovo an integral part of their nation and the birthplace of their statehood, but the province's ethnic Albanian majority wants complete independence.Kosovo is 90% Albanian and 10% Serb and other minorities.

Kosovo has been an international protectorate administered by the United Nations and a NATO-led peacekeeping force since 1999, when a NATO air war halted a Serb crackdown on ethnic-Albanian separatists.

Belgrade said Monday it was prepared to accept a "compromise solution" for its future status but stood firmly against independence for the territory.

AP,B92,RTK

Monday, April 11, 2005

Peterson visits KPC

Kosovo, Prishina: The head of the United Nation Administration in Kosovo (UNMIK), Soren Jesen Petersen, visited the Kosova Protection Corps Commander, General Agim Çeku, and congratulated him on the successful accomplishment of the 8th standard, and more specifically on the integrations of minorities in this institution.
Peterson was joined by the KFOR Commander Iv dë Kermabo and the head of the coordination office between KPC and UNMIK, General Belfor. The officials, together with General Çeku, later on will visit the members of Kosova Protection Corps, Third Zone, in the village of Brestovik (Peje), who are preparing the environment for the return of displaced persons. RTK

"Independent Kosovo" gathering momentum

The Independence of Kosovo is certain
Slovenia, Ljublana: “The idea of Independence Kosovo is gaining prominence in the International community”, writes in the today’s edition of Ljubljana’s daily, Delo, the director of the Institute of Strategic Studies, Borut Grgiç. He adds that “the arguments for this position [independence] are powerful”.

Delo writes that the final status is only a correct political expression for the independence of Kosovo, and Belgrade must give in, as the international community has decided to bring quickly the Kosovo's issue to an end.

According to Delo, the talks between Prishtina and Belgrade will begin soon. They will be held in Brdo near Kranj in Slovenia . RTK

Meanwhile,Koha Ditore reports on the front page today that the International Commission for the Balkans is drafting a report on the future of the region in Europe.

The document proposes that during the first two stages Kosovo should gain independence from Serbia in 2005-2006, and it should be recognized as an independent entity. However it will not enjoy complete sovereignty, as human rights and protection of minorities would remain reserved for the international community.

The commission foresees that during the third stage Kosovo will be recognized as a candidate for EU membership.

And the fourth stage means complete sovereignty. Koha Ditore

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Serbia's scrapheap scavengers

By Matt Prodger
BBC correspondent in Belgrade


The Saiti family, like many of the 10 million Roma (Gypsies) in central and eastern Europe, are struggling against poverty and discrimination.


The Saitis: Neglected by the Serbian welfare system
International Roma Day, on 8 April, is aimed at raising awareness of the problems facing Roma.

In central Belgrade the Saitis live on the wrong side of the tracks.

Their home is a cardboard hut perched beside a railway.

Shaban Saiti, 32, has a wife, four children and little else apart from a cannibalised Citroen car, which he calls his "Beloved Dyana".


Together they make up a familiar sight in Belgrade. Shaban spends his days driving round the streets searching for rubbish - anything - to sell.



Life on the tracks: Sickness blights the children's lives

Struggle to survive

In Serbia and Montenegro the Roma effectively recycle the country's entire household waste, selling on everything from old shoes to broken hairdryers.

But Shaban says it is a matter of survival, not choice.

"I spend the morning with my head in dustbins looking for things to sell on the street. Sometimes I find something, sometimes I don't. If I don't, then me and my family just have to suffer in silence."


Shaban's "Beloved Dyana": A cannibalised Citroen car
Today is a good day. Shaban finds some old shoes, and even a broken computer. But his prize find is a batch of fruit juice discarded by a restaurant because it is a month past its sell-by date. That will help feed his family.

At a roadside market he sells what he can and makes $2 - enough for petrol to get him home, but not much more.

Human rights groups say there are around half a million Roma in Serbia, while the government estimates far fewer.

To register for state assistance, they need a valid address. But most do not have one because their encampments are illegal.

Petar Antic, a Romani lawyer working for the Minority Rights Centre in Belgrade, says there are "the obvious problems like job discrimination, and attacks on Roma by skinheads and thugs".

"But our main priority is to get the Roma registered so that they can get homes, access to healthcare and education. It's a myth that they somehow want to live on the margins of society. They want what everybody else has, but they can't get it."

War refugees

In recent months the government of Serbia and Montenegro has said it will take steps to improve the position of the country's Roma population.


Life on the tracks: Sickness blights the children's lives
Many of the people in Shaban's railside slum are Roma refugees from the war in Kosovo six years ago.

They live a life without electricity, without running water, and always with the threat of being moved on. Most of them have no identity cards - no official record of them exists.

And that makes them vulnerable. A minority of Serbs would like to see the back of the Roma.

Shaban's wife Merima tells me that when darkness falls some people - mostly drunks and drug addicts, she says - come down to the slum to throw stones and bottles at them. Others call them names.

"We're frightened they'll burn down our home, because it's only made of cardboard and wood," she says. "At night we make sure all the children are in one room and one of the adults always stays awake to keep watch."

The Saiti children are already suffering from ill health.

Ten-year-old Hanunshi has a heart condition. She is small for her age, and wheezes as she sleeps on a pile of blankets. Her parents say they have no money for medicine.

Along with her brothers and sisters, she faces an uncertain future as the poorest citizens in one of Europe's poorest countries.

BBC

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Shea: Status quo-unacceptable



The Deputy Assistant Secretary General for External Relations, Jamie Shea said during his visit in Prishtina that non-solving of Kosova’s status is dangerous for the whole region.
KosovaLive

Friday, April 08, 2005

Greece considers Macedonia name

Macedonian Prime Minister Vlado Buckovski is against the suggestion
Greece says a UN special envoy has suggested a new name for the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in a bid to end a dispute over the state's name.
Greece objects to the neighbouring Skopje government using the name Macedonia, saying it implies claims on a Greek province of the same name.


It says UN envoy Matthew Nimitz proposed the name Republic of Makedonia-Skopje for official use.

Greece has said the new name could be a basis for constructive negotiations.

The suggestion uses the name of the capital in the same way that the Republic of Congo-Brazzaville incorporates the name of the city to distinguish it from the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.

Greek Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis told reporters the suggestion did "not totally satisfy Greece, but it was a basis for negotiations which Greece is ready to partake in a positive and constructive spirit".

But Macedonian Prime Minister Vlado Buckovski reacted coolly to the proposed name.

Decade of talks

His government has already offered the solution whereby the international community uses Macedonia and Greece uses Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).

"The double formula is on the table. We think that's a greater compromise than the compromise Greece is trying to come up with," he said, according to Reuters.



He said he expected the talks in New York to continue on Monday.

Last year, the United States acknowledged Skopje's use of the name Macedonia, angering the Athens government.

The US said the decision was not meant to anger Greece, but to reward Macedonia for its commitment to democracy.

Greece and Macedonia have held United Nations-led talks on the issue for more a decade. The dispute began with the break-up of the former Yugoslavia in 1991.

Greece imposed an economic embargo on its neighbour until it agreed to be referred to as the "Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" - a name which most of its inhabitants dislike.
BBC

Serb Party: Kosovo is already Independent


Cedomir Antic from G17 Group: Kosovo is already independent from Serbia



Belgrade, 7 April: Cedomir Antic, an official of G17 Plus, a coalition partner in the Serbian government, is engaged for an international conference on Kosova's [Kosovo] status and a special entity for Kosova Serbs.

Antic told KosovaLive that Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Miroljub Labus has also expressed this stance during designing of strategy on Kosova by Belgrade authorities.

"Kosovo is already independent from Serbia. But the problem lies with the fact that Serbia is not independent from Kosovo," assessed Antic.

Antic thinks that Serbia should be open to whatever option on Kosova's future status, and protection of Serb minority should be its priority.

"The G17 is engaged for resolving of status of Kosovo Serbs and then the status of Kosova. It is necessary the Serbs gain an entity as a region with broader autonomy first, through which they would keep the ties with the mother Serbia. If this is achieved, any option for Kosovo's final status is possible," Antic emphasized.

Cedomir Antic assessed that politicians in Kosova do not express a clear desire to realize full independence. "If political representatives of Kosova Albanians really want full independence, they should understand that this will not happen without dialogue with Belgrade. Given the fact that they delay such a dialogue, the year 2005 will end, and the question of status will not even be opened," said Antic.

He concluded that "another problem is that Belgrade behaves as if it does not know what they want and hope that the strategy they are working on will provide clear answers."
Kosova Live

Bush Thanks Albania For its support In Iraq

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U.S. President George W. Bush Friday thanked Albania for increasing its troop presence in Iraq and praised Tirana's stand on regional issues in the Balkans.

In a letter sent to Albania's Prime Minister Fatos Nano, Bush said Albania's decision was "another indicator of Albania's continuous and deep commitment in the fight against terrorism around the world and for security, peace, stability and democracy in Iraq."In February Albania, a small, predominantly Muslim country that has been one of the most vocal backers of the U.S.-led campaign in Iraq, where it has deployed a small unit of 71 troops in the Iraqi city of Mosul, decided to increase their number to 120.

Thirty-eight countries have provided troops in Iraq at one point or another. But 14 nations have permanently withdrawn since the March 2003 invasion, and today's coalition stands at 24.

Bush also praised Albania's moderate role in the Balkan region. Albania, Croatia and Macedonia have signed the Adriatic 3 Charter, a U.S.-backed initiative outlining a common military strategy aimed at promoting regional cooperation, in 2003.

"The United States continue to strongly support Albania's aspiration for a full integration into the Euro-Atlantic community," wrote Bush.

The U.S. President, however, reminded Tirana that the general elections expected in July were "an important moment" and that they should be held according to democratic standards. RTK & AP.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Fischer: The status of Kosovo requires International consensus

Prishtina, Kosovo- German foreign minister, Joschka Fischer, said today in Prishtina that the status of Kosovo requires an international consensus. After meeting the heads ok Kosovo institutions, KFOR and UNMIK, Fischer said the implementation of standards and the protections minorities are the prerequisite for opening up the negotiation for the final status of Kosova.
After the meeting with the President of Kosovo, Ibrahim Rugova, Fischer said that until the final status is decided, Kosova should go through three stages: “implementation of standards, decentralization and evaluation of the standards during the summer of this year”.
Fischer said the he would like to see the continuation of processes that have been started, protection of minorities and the implementation of the standards set by international community. “The future of Kosova is important for all the people who live in Kosova” Fischer added.
Meanwhile during the meeting with the Prime Minister Bajram Kosumi, the two talked about the need to create a consensus between the opposition and the government. Fischer and Kosumi agreed that the opposition and the government should work together for a free and democratic Kosovo. Prime Minister Kosumi thanked the German people for the help they have given to the people of Kosova. RTK

PM Kosumi: KPC is the nucleus of Kosovo Army

“KPC is the nucleus of the Kosovo Army, and that is why the government has the KPC as one of its main priorities on its agenda” said Prime Minister Bajram Kosumi after a meeting with the commander of Kosova Protection Corps, General Agim Çeku.
RTK

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Kosovo and Macedonia to extend border crossing points

Prishtina, April 05, 2005 – UNMIK and Macedonia customs authorities have agreed during a meeting on Monday in Prishtina for extension and modernization of the border crossing points between Kosovo and Macedonia.

The head of UNMIK Customs, Paul Acda and the Chairman of Macedonian delegation, Ilia Iloski said after the meeting that they expect to start those works in September.

The share of information between the two customs services, development of infrastructure and simplification of procedures at the border were the focus of yesterday's talks.

The both delegation also agreed to establish three groups of experts: group on infrastructure, the group on control and investigation, and the group on entry-exits at the customs services.
KosovaLive

Kosova Government meeting held

The Government of Kosova held its 114th meeting today which was headed by PM Kosumi. Dialogue with Serbia and the status of the Public Television of Kosova (RTK), were the main point of this meeting.
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Kosumi told journalist that he is ready to talk to Belgrade about all issues that he termed “technical”. But he added “I will not talk to Belgrade about the will of the people of Kosova”, insisting that there is no need to talk to Belgrade about the status of Kosova. Kosumi called on Serbs of Kosova to take their seats in the parliament in Prishtina. He said the government is working hard to improve the dialogue between different ethnic groups in Kosova.

Petersen: Kosovo can be responsible like any independent country

Here is an interview that UNMIK chief Søren Jessen-Petersen gave to Belgrade-based Danas newspaper.

‘There has been encouraging movement in Kosovo, although most of the problems remain unsolved. We had good elections in October, but they were unfortunately boycotted by the Serbs. The government was formed, and then came the resignation of Mr. Haradinaj. The new government was immediately formed in accordance with democratic constitutional principles. I think this proves the maturity and stability in Kosovo and this is encouraging,’ Jessen-Petersen was quoted as saying.

Kosova Sot also carries Jessen-Petersen’s interview and highlights the following quote: ‘Many Kosovo Serbs are still sceptic. The reasons of this scepticism are the post-war events in Kosovo in 1999 and what happened last March. I think the time has come for Kosovo Serbs to take on another position.’

‘We are very close to adopting the principle for no partition of Kosovo. I expect it to be clarified within a couple of weeks. Most foreign ministers have clearly said this – France, Italy, Greece, Slovenia and others. Those among Serbs that prefer the option of partition, I believe that they have in mind the northern part of Kosovo. But by doing so they are ignoring the fact that two thirds of Serbs live in central Kosovo. Therefore, should two thirds of the population be sacrificed? In those interest is this? I think this is not for the good of Serbs. Second, I believe that for many Serbs in Kosovo it will be important to know that there will be no partition and first of all we should address the issue of functioning local government and other important issues such as education, security, healthcare, etc. I also think that Kosovo’s partition would open up issues in other countries in the region, such as Bosnia, Macedonia and Serbia,’ the UNMIK chief was also quoted as saying.

Commenting on the final assessment of standards and Ramush Haradinaj’s voluntary departure, Jessen-Petersen was quoted as saying, ‘I think most Albanians would be happy if Haradinaj wasn’t indicted and if he hadn’t gone to The Hague. But this happened and the people act with responsibility, and the society voiced its outrage in a very quiet way. This all proved that the Kosovar society is mature, democratic and responsible. I think this also proved that the Kosovar society can be responsible as any other independent country.’

Serbian Government Website denies Kosovo crimes

By Douglas Hamilton
BELGRADE (Reuters) - Serbia launched a Web Site on the disputed province of Kosovo on Tuesday which appears to skip the bloodiest part of its recent history to focus on Serb suffering at the hands of Albanians in the past six years

"Images of Suffering" (www.srbija.sr.gov.yu/kosovo-metohija) glosses over what Serbs did to Albanians before 1999 and zooms in on what Albanians did to Serbs thereafter, especially in March 2004 when Albanians rioted, killed and burned homes.

It cites a Serbian Intelligence Service book on "Albanian terrorism and organized crime" in Kosovo, including the alleged "pan-Islamic factor" and a hint that Osama Bin Laden, not a desire for emancipation, incited Albanian separatism.

"This site is a total denial that the war took place," said Halil Matoshi, a prominent Kosovo Albanian writer jailed in Serbia during the separatist guerrilla war of 1998-99.

"According to this, only Serb rights have been threatened, and Albanians are just terrorists...there was no repression by the police and army, the state was just defending its territory by legal means," he told Reuters in Pristina.

The site intends to "remind the foreign public" of Serbian grievances in the year that the United Nations is expected to decide whether the Kosovo Albanian majority's demands for independence from Serbia should be met or rejected.

But its rendering of Kosovo history omits the parts most familiar to Europe and the United States, which launched a military "humanitarian intervention" against Serbia six years ago to stop mass murder and ethnic cleansing.

DON'T MENTION THE WAR

The site has only one mention of former Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic, whose repression of Kosovo Albanians in the 1990s triggered an Albanian insurgency, provoked NATO into its first war and landed him in The Hague on charges of genocide.

It speaks of facing "crimes committed by the previous regime secretly, in our name" but says "we are interested even more" in the fate of Serbs and other non-Albanians.

Some 12,000 Albanians were killed in the war and 800,000 were deported or fled to Albania and Macedonia as Serbia poured up to 44,000 troops and police into the province of two million. NATO bombed Yugoslavia for 78 days in 1999 until Milosevic gave in and agreed to withdraw his forces. Up to 600 Serbs were killed by NATO bombs, according to Amnesty International, and 180,000 Serbs fled Kosovo fearing Albanian revenge attacks.

The site appeared as Serbia awaits a decision from Brussels in the coming days on its acceptability as a candidate for membership of the European Union, which insists that Belgrade comply with the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague.

The site says it aims to help "discovery of the truth about the time of war and crimes that are behind us."

Additional reporting by Matt Robinson

Reuters 2005


Note: Here is a "collection" of crimes the web site denies. This is from the University of West of England, Bristol. These images are graphic and may not be appropriate for minors.

http://www.ess.uwe.ac.uk/Kosovo/Kosovo-Photographs.htm

Monday, April 04, 2005

Rugova will lead the Kosovar delegation to Rome

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Prishtine- President Ibrahim Rugova and Prime Minister Bajram Kosumi, after a meeting on Monday (today), informed the public that the delegation of Kosovars, who will be traveling to Rome on Friday to attend the memorial of Pope John Paul II, will be lead by the President himself. They also said that the delegation will be inclusive, and will include members of the opposition and other political and civic groups. Medias have reported that the delegation will travel on Friday.
RTK

KFOR de-barricades Mitovica bridge


Mitrovica -- French KFOR units have started removing barricades from the main bridge in Mitrovica today.
The taking down of this barricade, which separates the Albanian and Serbian communities, will be completed in four phases. The first, which was taken care of today, was to move all military vehicles and obstacles out of the way.
KFOR soldiers will remain on both sides of the bridge, and the bridge will be supervised by a patrol of international and Kosovo Police Service(KPS). KFOR has insisted in recent months that the security situation in Kosova is "excellent".
Beta & RTK

Two Serb generals extradited to the Hague Tribunal

THE HAGUE -- Monday – General Sreten Lukic was transferred to The Hague today.
There was much discussion of whether he was going to be extradited this weekend. President of The Hague Cooperation Council, Rasim Ljajic, guaranteed that Lukic would be taken to The Hague as soon as he was released from the hospital, while on the other hand, Lukic had stated that he has not made a decision yet and that his health is his first priority.
The Serbian government has announced that his medical records have been delivered to The Hague Tribunal, and that the court’s medical commission decided that he was well enough to be extradited.
“President of the Medical Commission Miodrag Ostojic sent a letter to President of the Hague Cooperation Council, Rasim Ljajic, stating that the report from the international medical commission is valid. After the successful medical intervention on behalf of Lukic’s physicians, Ljajic sent to the Tribunal a recommendation for further treatment, and the Tribunal informed Lukic that conditions for adequate medical treatment exist for him in The Hague.” according to the government’s statement.
The Serbian government will give guarantees in order to have Lukic released from confinement before his trial begins, adding that all needed medical treatment will be available to him as well.

Meanwhile another indicteed Bosnian Serb General,Ljubomir Borovcanin , who turned himself in last week, traveled to the Hague today.
His flight took off at noon from the Belgrade airport and was accompanied by Serbian Local Administrations Minister Zoran Loncar and Republic of Srpska Internal Affairs Minister Darko Matijasevic. Borovcanin turned himself in to the Serbian government on March 29, after speaking with Serbian Justice Minister Zoran Stojkovic and Minister Matijasevic.
The Serbian government has given guarantees for Brovcanin's eventual release before his trial begins and will provide financial support for his family.
He is accused of genocide, murder and crimes against humanity perpetrated during the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
B92

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Pope’s death brings sadness to Kosova

Pope Jon Paul’s death has been received with sadness and pain in Kosova. Last night, immediately after the news of the Holy Fathers death, President Ibrahim Rugova said that “The Pope has great merits for his contribution to freedom of Kosova”.
Meanwhile the bishop of Kosova, Fr. Mark Sopi, said that Pope John Paul II has done a lot for Kosova, and he thinks that his greatest contribution to Albanian people is the beautification of Mother Teresa. RTK

Albania Wary of Extremist Inroads

By Benet Koleka

Reuters
Saturday, April 2, 2005; Page B08

TIRANA, Albania -- A typical Saturday night in this predominantly Muslim capital means a few beers, a spin at the local disco and, for that late-night snack, a pork kebab. Albania wants it to stay that way.

To protect its own tolerant brand of Islam from extremists, the Balkan country wants to stop importing foreign-trained preachers and make sure religion does not get in the way of its efforts to join the European Union.
Many European countries worry about foreign imams bringing fundamentalist rhetoric from the Middle East into their mosques. In Albania, the threat is seen from fundamentalists who visit the country under the cover of aid missions, and from religious schools vying to cater to an upsurge in religious interest since the collapse of the atheist rule of dictator Enver Hoxha in 1990.

Hoxha, a dogmatic Stalinist, banned all religion during his four decades in power. Nowadays most Albanians identify with a religious group but do not practice their faith devoutly.

About 60 percent of the population consists of moderate Sunni Muslims, but analysts say the national spirit is more attuned to the liberal overtones of Bektashism, a sect derived from a mystic Shia order that flourished in Turkey under the Ottomans.

Bektashis, making up an estimated 15 percent of Albanians, are allowed alcohol and do not require women to wear a veil. Bektashi poets and intellectuals played a key role in Albania's 19th-century enlightenment and nation-building.

"An Albanian of Muslim stock very likely drinks wine, eats pork, enjoys parties and marries someone from another religion," said Artan Fuga, sociology professor at Tirana University.

In recent years, thousands of young men wanting to learn more about Islam have traveled to religious schools abroad, most attending month-long crash courses in the Salafi branch of Islam, which promotes a strict, traditional interpretation of Islamic doctrine.

When they return, young Salafist preachers are known to clash with the Muslim leadership over its practices, build new mosques and deliver hard-line sermons.

The government now plans to build a theology school "to end the export-import of students with Islamic countries" and use databases to keep tabs on those who studied abroad.
Washington Post

Saturday, April 02, 2005

PM Kosumi asks Albanian Government for support

“The future of Kosova will be Independence, and the government together with the people, should work with all their energies, to achieve the standards set by the international community”. This was the essence of today’s discussion between the President of Albania Alfred Moisiu and PM of Kosova Bajram Kosumi.
“The definition of the status of Kosova will bring calm and stability in the Balkans”- declared President Moisiu, adding that the status should be decide by citizens of Kosova, including minorities, in cooperation with the international community. The Albanian President saluted the maturity of the political class and the citizens of Kosova, and said “the people and the government of Kosova are giving the right signals”, adding that Kosova does deserve to be integrated in Europe.
PM Kosumi said that the last moth was very difficult for Kosova, but it gave us a good image of our country. We are building a democracy and working hard to respect the rule of law. Kosumi told the President that he is very determent to work for the implementation of the governments program, with priorities in standards and economic development so that negotiations for the final status of Kosova can begin this year. Kosumi said the he values the role the Albanian President has played in stabilizing the region and asked from Albania to keep supporting Kosova on her difficult journey.

Meanwhile in another meeting with the Albanian Prime Minister, Fatos Nano, Kosumi said the Independence is our democratic right. Oh the other side, PM Nano said that he supports the definition of the status of Kosova and its integration in Europe in as little time as possible.
RTK& Kosovapress

Friday, April 01, 2005

Conditional independence is the best way forward for Kosovo

Prime Minister Bajram Kosumi had a meeting today with members of European parliament Jost Lagendijk and Paolo Bergamashi, where status of Kosovo and the implementation of standards was the main subject. After the meeting with the Prime Minister, Lagendjik said the conditional independence for Kosovo is the best way forward.
“I came here for two things. I am one of the members of EP which supports conditional independence for Kosovo. I have said this two years ago, and I think this is still the best way forward”, said Lagendjik. He added that the Kosovo Government should be ready in the technical and the political level. The Government should know what to expect from the negotiations, the statuesque is not an option and things should move forward, said Lagendijk.
Meanwhile Prime Minister Kosumi said the he talked with Mr. Lagendijk about the relationship between the Government and the opposition, implementation of standards and for the steps the government will take to start negotiation for the independence of the country. He added that now is the time to think about how the country will function.
QIK

April 12, the deadline for extradition

BELGRADE -- Friday – The Serbian government has released a statement announcing that the deadline for the extradition of Sreten Lukic and Nebojsa Pavkovic to The Hague Tribunal is April 12.

On this date, a meeting of the European Commission is scheduled in Brussels where the decision on Serbia-Montenegro's Feasibility Study will be made. President of the National Hague Cooperation Council, Rasim Ljajic, said that Lukic will be released from the hospital in several days.

“After that, he will travel to the Tribunal accompanied by physicians and ministers." Ljajic said.

Ljajic said that a meeting has been held with the physicians who operated on Lukic in order to precisely document the treatment that Lukic needs to continue receiving at The Hague. He will be treated by physicians from Rotterdam, specifically hired for the job.

He said that there was no discussion at the meeting of dates and deadlines because it was unnecessary.

“The physicians will decide when his state of health will be stable enough and will decide when Lukic will be able to leave the hospital. It will only take several more days." Ljajic said.
B92

Minister Gjini tomorrow will travel to Nairobi

Kosovo’s minister of Environment and Spatial Planning, Ardian Gjini and his deputy Merxhan Avdyli, will travel tomorrow to Nairobi, Kenya, to take part in a conference that is being organized by the UN’s Agency of Urban and Spatial Planning. This conference takes place every two years, where ministers from all around the world take part. During their ten day stay in Nairobi, minister Gjini and his deputy will meet ministers from south Europe and other donators.
RTK

US finds Albania air crash bodies

Albanian and US rescuers have recovered four bodies of America soldiers from the wreckage of a US military plane that crashed with nine people on board in central Albania.
The C-130 transport plane crashed in the village of Rovje, about 100km (60 miles) south-east of the capital Tirana.
The search continues for the other five bodies. The dead were all Americans.
In the mean time, news agencies are reporting that the plane was found completely destroyed, diminishing hopes that there will be any survivors.
The plane was on a joint exercise with the Albanian military when it crashed on Thursday evening. The crew were based at Mildenhall in the UK.
The plane hit the mountain after apparently flying too low in the uninhabited region, reports say.
It crashed at a location called “Qafa e Ujët” shortly after 2200 (2000GMT). The news has been confirmed by the Albanian Defense Ministry.
BBC World News & RTK.

Croatia, Macedonia See NATO Invitation in 2006

ZAGREB (Reuters) - Croatia and Macedonia expect an invitation to join NATO together with Albania in late 2006 which should pave the way for other Balkan countries to follow, their prime ministers said on Tuesday.
"I expect that toward the end of 2006 we should get an invitation for full-fledged NATO membership," Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader told reporters after meeting his Macedonian counterpart Vlado Buckovski.
Although NATO officials say there needs to be more cooperation from Croatia on finding war criminals, the two former Yugoslav republics have made NATO and European Union entry their strategic goals.
Together with Balkan neighbor Albania they formed "the Adriatic Charter" to boost their chances of joining.
They missed NATO's largest eastward expansion in 2004 when seven other former communist countries were admitted, boosting the number of members to 26.
"Regional cooperation is very important and we rightly expect the invitation in late 2006. That will make things easier for NATO's southern flank and for other countries in the region to eventually join," said Buckovski.
A NATO spokesman in Brussels said the key to Croatia's membership chances would be cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in the Hague.
"Full cooperation, in particular on the Gotovina case, would seem to be politically important before an invitation can be issued," NATO spokesman James Appathurai said of the fugitive General Ante Gotovina, indicted in 2001 for crimes against humanity during a 1995 offensive against Croatian Serbs.
Croatia insists it has done all it can to find Gotovina but U.N. war crimes prosecutor Carla del Ponte accuses it of not having tried seriously to arrest him.
Alliance sources said Macedonia's case for membership was not helped by reports of irregularities in local polls on Sunday, where monitors cited stolen ballot papers and intimidation.
The former Yugoslav republics of Bosnia and Serbia and Montenegro have yet to join NATO's Partnership for Peace, the first stage toward possible entry into the alliance.
NATO still has peacekeepers in the U.N.-run province of Kosovo, which formally remains part of Serbia and Montenegro.
Croatia hopes to start EU membership talks in the next few months, depending on its cooperation with the U.N. war crimes tribunal, while Macedonia awaits an EU ruling on its application to start membership talks.
Serbia and Bosnia have yet to establish formal links with the 25-nation EU.
Reuters News Service

Serbia could see a recession

BELGRADE -- Thursday – Experts of the Institute for Economic Research say that Serbia could enter a recession if its economic development continues at the same slowed pace. “All economic indexes since the beginning of the year have been negative and a cure does not exist.” Sasa Djogovic, institute official, said. He said that high public spending, induced by delays in the restructuring of large public systems, along with inflatory pressure and expensive credit, de-stimulates economic stability, which is trying to keep to the foreign exchange rates restrictive politics in vain. “The foreign exchange rates are currently de-stimulating exports.” Djogovic said, adding that the fixed exchange rate set in 2001 should have been kept for no longer than one year, and then should have been left to follow the market’s trends. “The Serbian National Bank is forced to use exchange rates for reaching macroeconomic stability, which has not worked as a method in any other country.” Djogovic said. “The danger of a recession is a consequence of the trend of the fall of industrial production in the first two months of this year by almost two percent and the disproportionate growth of income and economic events. The chronic lack of liquidation of the Serbian economy additionally is made worse by the value-added taxes, and businesspeople, while waiting for those taxes to come back to them, are relying on expensive credit and loans.” Djogovic said.

Beta

Kosovo's Premier on Visit to Albania Today

TIRANA - On the first visit abroad since becoming Kosovo's Premier, Bajram Kosumi will pay a visit to Albania starting from today at the invitation of Premier Fatos Nano.

This was made public on Thursday by Kosumi himself after a meeting with the UNMIK Chief, Soeren Jessen Petersen. "During my stay in Tirana, I will have meetings with its relevant factors, and I am very happy to make the first visit out of Kosovo to Albania," Kosumi was quoted by Radio Kosova as saying on Thursday.
Albanian Daily News