Monday, May 30, 2005

Kosovo[Kosova] PM to visit Croatia and Slovenia

Prishtine- Kosovo[Kosova] Prime Minister, Bajram Kosumi, will visit Croatia and Slovenia on June 1st. During this time he will meet high level officials from both countries. Bilateral relations between the respective countries is the main agenda. It's worth noting that of all the former Yougoslav Republics, Croatia and Slovenia have an excellent relation with Kosovo[Kosova]. These two countries,especially Slovenia, export a lot of their goods to Kosovo[Kosova].

Whitaker-Krasniqi-RightCross- Phote taken by Albanian Media
Balkanupdate

Whitaker-Krasniqi- Photos by: Thorsten Baering


Balkanupdate

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Law caches up with another Serb war criminal

Deadlock over Serb war suspect

Buenos Aires-Argentina- An alleged Serbian war criminal who went under the name of 'Mrtvi' (Death) during the ethnic cleansing in Kosovo[Kosova] has been arrested, Interpol confirmed yesterday.
Media reports have linked Nebojsa Minic, 40, to crimes against ethnic Albanians in the city of Pec[Peje], where he led a paramilitary squad that reportedly raped, killed and looted its victims, including children, as Nato bombers attacked Serbia in the spring of 1999. His alleged crimes have also been documented by Human Rights Watch, which has been campaigning since 1999 for him to stand trial in Serbia.

Held two weeks ago in Mendoza on charges of carrying fake documents under the alias of Vlada Radiojevic, he is being held in expectation of an extradition request from Serbia, although this may be slow in coming.

'We have no warrant pending for his arrest,' said Argentina's Interpol chief, Luis Fuensalida. 'The only charge against him concerns the fake alias he was living under. We know he has a criminal record in Belgrade for drug and arms trafficking, but there is no request for his capture related to this or on charges of crimes against humanity.'

Minic arrived in Argentina from Chile in September 2003. Since his arrest, he has been in hospital under armed guard, said to be suffering from cancer and undergoing treatment for an Aids-related condition, but he could be released if an extradition order does not arrive. 'There is no reason to keep holding him,' said his lawyer, Alejandra Ruiz. 'I expect him to be released under house arrest.'

According to press reports, Minic was turned in by an Argentinian lover furious at having contracted HIV from the fugitive. 'This woman had been harassing my client with death threats before she revealed his presence to the police,' Ruiz said.

The heavily tattooed Minic at first claimed his name was Vlada Radiojevic. But police sources said that he later confessed to one of his captors: 'I was a much tougher policeman than you are.'

In Kosovo[Kosova], Minic sported a tattoo on his chest with the Serbian words for 'dead' and 'dead man', but has had it erased, according to sources in Mendoza.

His history as a gangster back to his teenage years, but his name first turned up associated to war crimes during the mass killings in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica in 1995, where Bosnian Serb soldiers murdered more than 7,000 men and boys. Media reports state that Minic was seen escorting truckloads of civilians to mass execution sites.

But the accusation against him by Human Rights Watch involves the killing of the family of a Kosovar Albanian butcher from Pec named Isa Bala in June 1999.

'We are the men with no names. We're probably going to die ourselves, but first we are going to have our fun,' Minic is said to have told Bala, demanding a large sum of money in exchange for sparing his family. Bala handed over his life's savings, but Minic's men murdered four of his children, his niece and his sister-in-law.
Uki Goñi,
The Observer

Kosovo faces renewed crisis

Serbs want a new European role but old problems haunt them, reports Tim Judah


Belgrade-Serbia -With all eyes on France and the future of Europe, the fate of Kosovo might seem piffling, but no one is going to die in France as the result of its referendum. As for Kosovo[Kosova], well, in 1999 we did fight a war over it and yet, when the UN Security Council on Friday gave the green light to a process that could result in its independence - or in another war - nobody noticed.
The council's decision is of momentous importance. The big powers - Britain, the US and France, dragging a reluctant Russia behind them - have decided that, six years after the end of the Kosovo war, the status quo itself has become a threat to stability.

Kosovo[Kosova] - for Serbs, the cradle of their civilisation, home to some of the most important Serbian historic sites - is a land where more than 90 per cent of the population is ethnic Albanian. Technically it is part of Serbia, but it has been a UN protectorate since the war ended. Kosovo's Albanians desire independence and if Kosovo is forced back to Serbian rule no one doubts they will go back to war.

In March 2004, 19 died[11 Albanian and 8 Serbs] and 4,000 Serbs and Roma were driven out of their homes when Albanians rioted. Diplomats and policymakers realised something had to be done. On Friday that work began.

The UN has asked Kosovo[Kosova] to live up to a series of eight standards, including human rights. Kofi Annan, the UN secretary general, will send a representative to assess the situation and in September, assuming a favourable report, a 'status envoy' will be appointed to discuss the 'final status' of the province.

According to sources this process will last up to nine months and, assuming Serbs and Albanians cannot agree on whether Kosovo should be independent or not, a Security Council solution might be imposed. It might be some form of what is called 'conditional independence'. That is to say, a figure with considerable legal powers, such as those held by Lord Ashdown in Bosnia, might be appointed with reserve powers to, for example, sack politicians deemed to be corrupt.

Here in Belgrade, it seems that the city is out enjoying the summer sun. For years, Serbs have wanted nothing less than for their country to be a normal part of Europe again. And things have been going their way. Last weekend the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development held its annual meeting here, and this weekend Serbia is holding its first Erotic Fair.

But Kosovo haunts them. On Friday Serbia handed over to Kosovo the remains of 64 Albanians, along with those of 709 others, in the Batajnica Ministry of Interior base, near Belgrade, where they were buried by the Milosevic regime during the war.

Vojislav Kostunica, the Serbian Prime Minister, and President Boris Tadic both say Kosovo is Serbian land and cannot have independence, only 'more than autonomy'. At first glance you might suspect that these were gambits in the negotiations. But they are not. Both men genuinely believe that Kosovo's two million Albanians can be persuaded by the international community to give up their dream of independence. But this is a fantasy and it is unlikely Russia will come to their rescue.
Serbians warn that, if Kosovo is given independence against their will, then extreme nationalists will come to power and plunge the region into chaos.

But Kosovo Albanians say the same. Without independence, they say, the radicals will begin an intifada, 'cleanse' the remaining Serb population and spread war into Serbia and Macedonia.
There is no easy answer for Kosovo. But one thing is sure. If nothing is done, the violence will be back and then British, French, Italian and US troops stationed there will come into the firing line and the UN mission could collapse.

Supporters of the European constitution remind us that the EU was born to end war. Across Kosovo, which has little prospect of entering the EU until at least 2014, they already use the euro and the European flag flies everywhere. They believe in it. Let's hope they're not wrong.
The Observer

ICG Report:: New trouble looms in Kosovo

Brussels, Belgium, The United Nations mission in Kosovo[Kosova] is a "facade" that is likely soon to provoke renewed violence in the Balkan region.
This was the gloomy conclusion of a new report by the Brussels-based International Crisis Group, which said the U.N. mission in Kosovo[Kosova] had little credibility among local people and was looking desperately for an "escape strategy."

"Recent weeks have seen an escalation in tension between (the two main ethnic Albanian political parties) so bitter that it risks spiraling into killings," the report said.

The report said six years after the end of the 1999 war between Serbian forces and NATO troops seeking to save ethnic Albanians from genocide, Kosovo was dangerously unstable yet again.

Without a sustained new effort by the international community, "Kosovo is likely to return to instability ... and again put at risk all that has been invested in building a European future for the Western Balkans," the ICG said.
Washington Times

Kosovo Governor praises Kosovo Government,slams Belgrade

Petersen focuses on standards
NEW YORK -- Saturday – The United Nations is expected to name a specialized representative who will be responsible for assessing the progress of standard implementation in Kosovo[Kosova] this month.

After yesterday’s meeting of the UN Security Council, where Kosovo[Kosova] was the main topic of discussion,Kosovo[Kosova] governor Soeren Jessen-Petersen said that members of UNMIK believe that considerable progress has been made in Kosovo[Kosova] . In a telephoned statement to Belgrade reporters, Petersen said that it is time to focus on implementing the most important standards, such as the return of refugees to the region.

However, he added that he does not expect that many people will want to return at this point and time.

“On one hand, there are many people who have left the region and do not plan on ever coming back to Kosovo. The other group is waiting for the final status of Kosovo to be determined. I think that in this case, numbers are not important; rather progress should be measured in creating satisfactory conditions for the return process. We must now be convinced that Belgrade truly wishes to cooperate with Pristina officials in order to make return efforts possible. Individual statements coming from Belgrade must be prudent. There are often statements being released that compare the situation in Kosovo to Nazi Germany. These kinds of statements will not convince people to return to their homes. Statements must be honest and accurate, but I think it would be helpful if Belgrade would with its statements try to convince refugees to make the decision to return rather than frighten and demoralize them.” Petersen said.

When asked about possible discussions between Serbian President Boris Tadic and Kosovo President Ibrahim Rugova, Petersen said that such a meeting needs to be held on neutral territory.

“Rugova is prepared to talk and even suggested a location and I believe that President Tadic is ready to hold discussions outside of Belgrade and Pristina. I know that he said that he only wants to meet in Belgrade or Pristina, but I am sure that he will understand the importance of such a meeting, and the sooner they decide upon a third country, the sooner they will meet. Now it is only a question of finding a time when both are free to meet. We expect this to happen within the next month.” Petersen said. FoNet

Saturday, May 28, 2005


Krasniqi-Whitaker
Balkanupdate

Breaking News: Krasniqi knockes out Whitaker to earn world title shot

28.05.05 – By F.Weber, Boxing.de: Luan Krasniqi passed his most important test and scored the biggest win of his professional boxing career. In front of 5,000 enthusiastic fans at Hanns-Martin-Schleyer-Halle of Stuttgart the 34-year-old heavyweight top-contender knocked out American Lance Whitaker in round six with a left cross to the head.


Luan Krasniqi now has a shot at World Champion Title.

As the contest was declared as an official WBO eliminator Krasniqi has now earned a world title shot at champion Lamon Brewster, a contest that will take place this year. Universum Box-Promotion already has an eye on the huge Color Line Arena of Hamburg and on September 28 as possible a date and site. September 28 was the birthday of German boxing hero Max Schmeling who passed away this year at age 99.

"I met Schmeling in 2002 and promised him to win the heavyweight world title for Germany", Krasniqi said after his biggest win so far. "Unfortunately I wasn't fast enough to accomplish this during his lifetime. Now I hope that I can challenge for the title later this year."

Expectations were high on Krasniqi when he entered the ring in front of his home croud in Stuttgart, a city close to his smaller hometown Rottweil, but he outboxed his ten centimeter taller and 13 kg heavier opponent Whitaker from the beginning and systematically worked out the chance for the knockout punch.

"I fought a very smart fight", Krasniqi said. "I used my feet and reflexes and I quickly moved in and out. I also used my jab all the time and listened to the commands of my coach Torsten Schmitz. Everything worked out well and this makes me so happy. Now I'm ready for the showdown and I want to fight Lamon Brewster for the world title."

"I trained very hard and my team gave me a lot of support. But it just showed that Luan was the better man tonight. I have no excuses", Whitaker admitted honestly.

Krasniqi won for the 28th time in a career that saw him losing only once with another fight resulting in draw. Earlier in his career Krasniqi already avenged his single loss to Przemyslaw Saleta in convincing manner.

His defeat to Krasniqi was the third loss for Lance “Mount” Whitaker who remained on the canvas flat on his back for almost a minute after the German knocked him out.

In the days preceeding the event the athmosphere was tense. Team Whitaker and their highly provocative speaker Steve “Crocodile” Fitch predicted on every possible location that the American would knock out the German in three rounds. At the official weigh-in on the previous day in Stuttgart the tension erupted into a riot on the podium. Krasniqi, however, handled all those psychological gibes very composed.

His upcoming opponent Lamon Brewster won the WBO belt on April 10, 2004, with an unexpected and sensational fifth round knockout over Wladimir Klitschko. Since then he defended his title twice: Against Australian Kali Meehan by a split decision and against Polish Andrew Golota with a first round knockout.

Should Krasniqi manage to defeat Brewster he would become the only heavyweight world champion from Germany beside Max Schmeling (1905 – 2005). The experts will probably give Krasniqi solid chances to succeed.

All Results:

WBO Heavyweight Eliminator:
Luan Krasniqi KO6 (2:33) Lance Whitaker

Heavyweight:
Valery Chechenev KO5 (1:41) Konstantin Onofrei

Heavyweight:
Juan Carlos Gomez KO2 (2:27) Jorge Arias

GBU Bantamweight Championship:
Alicia Graf W10 Alesia Graf
(96:95, 96:94, 94:96)

Super Welterweight:
Mustapha Karagol KO2 (2:10) Isaak Charles Okello

Cruiserweight:
Firat Arslan KO1 (1:35) Wlodek Kopec

Heavyweight:
Bagrat Ohanyan W4 Ali Saidi
(39:37, 40:37, 38:37)

GBU Jr. Featherweight Championship:
Silke Weickenmeier W10 Miki Kikukawa
(98:92, 97:92, 96:94)

Flyweight:
Julia Sahin W8 Marianne Chubirka
(79:75, 77:75, 79:73)

Heavyweight:
Ergin Solmaz KO1 (2:59) Alexander Kahl
East Side Boxing

Interview with the Europian Champion, Luan Krasniqi

- By Fabian Weber, Boxing.de - On May 28 European heavyweight champion Luan Krasniqi will face US giant Lance Whitaker in a WBO world title eliminator. The winner of this explosive heavyweight clash at Hanns-Martin-Schleyer-Halle of Stuttgart will get a shot at WBO champion Lamon Brewster.

Boxing.de: Luan, your big fight against Lance Whitaker is only few days away. Do you feel nervous or rather anticipated?

Luan Krasniqi: Quite surprisingly I don’t feel nervous. This is perhaps just because I know exactly how important this fight is to me. On the one hand I’m somebody who improves with challenges. On the other hand I know exactly what is in store for me. I met Whitaker on the press conferece and of course I start to get more excited. But I’m still relatively calm and relaxed..

How did you prepare for this impotant fight?

I had an excellent training period. Really, my preparation ran perfectly. I had three very good sparring partners with who I had strong battles in the gym: David Bostice [former opponent of Wladimir Klitschko], Julius Long [2,10 m] and a tall Polish boxer who is also quite skillful. Basically I’m in training for four months. But in February I suffered a cold and we postponed the fight from April to May. Afterwards I trained twelve weeks continuously with my coach Torsten Schmitz. We worked out a few weeks in Berlin but most of the time I trained in my hometown Rottweil. I know that I can go twelve rounds. This makes me happy. Yesterday I heard that team Whitaker wants to destroy and kill me. The usual prefight gossip talk. There is one thing that I know exactly: It will be very hard for Whitaker to keep up with my pace for twelve rounds. I don’t think an American heavyweight can keep up with my pace for twelve rounds.

Whitaker is 2,03m tall and weighs 120 kg which gives him a decisive size advantage over you. Against Timo Hoffmann, a man almost as heavy and as tall as Whitaker, you experienced some trouble last year. How do you want to handle Whitaker?

I imagine that Whitaker doesn’t have the same ring authority that Hoffmann displayed. But on the other side Whitaker is more dangerous. He punches harder and he is a better boxer. That’s why he will suit me. Skilful boxers suit me because on them I can show my own strengths to advantage, first of all my great speed. Against Hoffman I didn’t feel free, I felt tensed up. Something was missing. I couldn’t launch my game plan well. I think there were several reasons for this. I missed the first three rounds and I made him stronger than he was. By doing a bit of nonsense in the ring, something I usualy never do, I probably also negatively influenced the judges. But nevertheless, in my mind I won this fight, even though they scored it a draw. However, the fight against Whitaker will be completely different. Needless to say that Hoffmann and Whitaker have completely different strengths. Whitaker is a very different calibre.

Whitaker scored 24 knockouts, 19 of them inside of three rounds or less. Do you expect a quick start from him?

Yes, I believe he will start fast. This sounds likely after listeing to their statements, like they want to destroy me and so on. In case he makes a wild start I will go out of his way and fight back, depending on the situation.

You have a strong stamina. But Whitaker appears to have endurance as well as he went twelve rounds three times and ten rounds twice. Do you think your fight will last long?

Yes, I believe our fight will go over many rounds. But in the heavyweight division there is also the chance that one punch can end things quickly. If he makes a mistake I will take advantage of it. I don’t intend to expand the fight with no need. I will try to stop him. But I’m prepared for twelve rounds. This is a long distance and it’s a hard effort to last it.

Whitaker hired motivator Steve „Crocodile“ Fitch who shows up on the press conferences in military dress and calls out offenses. Among other statements he predicted that Whitaker would kill you. Do you think he carried things too far?

I would call it differently. In my mind this is just completely ridiculous. I listened to his shoutings and I must admid that Fitch is quite good informed about me - in contrast to Whitaker who allegedly has never seen me fight. Fitch knows about the early stage of my professional career and about my sparring with Lennox Lewis. He knows about my title fights and so on. If this man is a help for Whitaker I will not grudge it. Fitch by the way is a very friendly person. He just tries to motivate. If someone is in need of that he may feel free to use such services. I don’t take it all that serious. I spoke to Fitch and found out he also knew about my sparring in the US with Maurice Harris, who by the way is a pretty skilful fighter. But in the end I could always handle him. And in case Fitch has contact to Harris, then he will know the score.

In case you beat Whitaker you will be in line for a title fight against Lamon Brewster who just knocked out Andrew Golota in round one. What is your opinion about Brewster?

Basically I didn’t think Brewster is all that strong. I was very surprised that he knocked out Golota so quickly. But this is heavyweight. One punch can change everything. Brewster is also another example for somebody who improves with challenges.

What is Luan Krasniqi doing in the remaining days before the fight in Stuttgart?

I will try to rest and to calm down before the storm. I want to recharge my powers that I spent during that hard preparation period. I’ll only work out once every day now and I won’t do too much. I will try to climb through the ropes on Saturday in top shape.
Luan Krasniqi is from Kosovo[Kosova], but now lives in Germany.
Eastside Boxing

Friday, May 27, 2005

Serbian prosecutor: More mass grave related indictments soon

BELGRADE -- Thursday – War crimes indictments may soon be issued as a result of the exhumation of the bodies of murdered Albanians from various mass grave sites uncovered in Serbia recently.

While visiting locations in Batajnica where the remains of those Albanian victims are being kept, investigative judge of the Belgrade District Court, Milan Dilparic, said that there is a strong possibility that war crimes indictments will be issued by the end of this year if the investigation continues at the same speed at which it is currently going.

Dilparic said that he expects that the investigation will be finished by the end of the year, but that in order for the indictments to be finalized, UNMIK and The Hague become involved in the process. However, he said that the investigation cannot be finished until the identities of all the victims have been confirmed, as well as the method and place of the murders.

The remains of the Albanian victims will be handed over to UNMIK officials tomorrow by representatives of the Coordination Center at the KFOR base located in Merdara. The remains are being kept in tunnels that were once used for growing mushrooms, and according to Dilparic, the natural conditions and temperature in the tunnels are ideal for preserving corpses.

In Batajnica the skeletal remains of 709 individuals were exhumed and reparations have been done on 356 bodies so far. At the grave site in Petrovo Selo, 77 bodies were exhumed from two separate burrows. The bodies were exhumed during 2001-2002 and have been kept in the tunnels under the protection of the police since then.

Meanwhile, bodies of 64 Albanian, were return today in Kosovo[Kosova]. The trickiling of dead Albanians bodies from Serbia in Kosovo has been going on for the last 4 years. It is not known how many more mass graves are in Serbia. International Insitution have estimated that Serb forces killes between 100,00-120,00 Albanians during the war in 98-99. A significant number of these were taked to Serbia and buried in mass graves to hide the crimes.Both sides, Belgrade in particular, have been criticised for dragging their feet and prolonging the suffering of surviving relatives. Beta & RTK.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Slovenia brings WWII genocide charges

Under Tito Nazi collaborators were hunted down
Slovenia has charged a former senior communist official with genocide, over the massacre of 234 people in the aftermath of World War II.
Mitja Ribicic, 86, was a chief in the security forces under Yugoslavia's post-war communist leader Tito.

Slovene television said newly unearthed documents suggested Mr Ribicic ordered the summary execution of suspected Nazi collaborators.

Mr Ribicic, under investigation since 1994, has always denied such charges.

"He is being investigated under the law dealing with genocide committed against political or social groups," Pavel Jamnik, Slovenia's police chief dealing with war crimes, told the AFP news agency.

Revenge

After the war communist forces took revenge on those who had collaborated with German and Italian occupiers.

Some reports say there are hundreds of mass graves in Slovenia filled with the bodies of thousands of people massacred by the communist regime in the early post-war years.

Mr Ribicic is the first former Yugoslav official charged in Slovenia over the witch hunt for Nazi collaborators, since the country's independence from Yugoslavia in 1991.

Documents found in the Slovene National Archive reportedly suggest that in 1945 and 1946 Mr Ribicic helped draft a hit list of 234 people for execution.

He faces up to 30 years in prison if found guilty of the charges.

The Slovene government has recently drawn up draft laws giving equal status to all those civilians killed during and after the war, whether by communists or fascists.

BBC

Friday, May 20, 2005

Denmark: Kosovo's Status cannot be left in Suspension

Kosova[Kosovo] Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moller has said that Kosovo's status cannot be left in suspension and predicted that the region will reach a good status within nine months.

Expressing that the attitudes of the US and the European Union (EU) on Kosovo's future are similar, Moller has pointed out that an international mission will continue in Kosovo even after the determination of its legal status.

Moller has met with Kosovan President Ibrahim Rogova, Prime Minister Baram Kosumi and Soren Jessen Petersen, president of the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK).

Kosovan President Rugova said at the meeting that he appreciates the US plan that aims to solve Kosovo's status as soon as possible.

Having visited Belgrade before Pristina, Moller will continue his talks in Montenegro today.

The Danish Foreign Minister Moller will reportedly head a UN Security Council meeting on the Kosovo issue on May 27.
Anatolia

Kosovo's U.N. Governor :Kosovo has made major progress

EXCLUSIVE-Glowing UN report heralds Kosovo endgame


PRISTINA, Kosovo[Kosova], (Reuters) - Kosovo's U.N. governor will tell the U.N. Security Council next week the disputed province has made major progress on security and minority rights, in a report that could mark the beginning of the end of the province's uncertain status.

In the report, seen by Reuters ahead of its presentation in New York on May 27, Kosovo's U.N. governor Soren Jessen-Petersen, a Danish diplomat, details "significant progress" over the past three months on all eight "benchmarks".

These are democracy standards set by the West as a condition for opening talks on whether the protectorate ultimately becomes independent, as its 90 percent Albanian majority demands, or remains nominally part of Serbia, as Belgrade insists.

The United States and European Union want the talks to start in the autumn, to head off any risk of fresh violence from Albanians impatient to close the final chapter in the bloody collapse of Yugoslavia which led to war in Kosovo in 1998-99.

If Jessen-Petersen's report had been negative, Kosovo's leaders would have been told they had not made enough progress and the process would have been put on hold for another three months.

"A significant proportion of these Priority Standards Goals and actions have been achieved or, if both effort and pace of delivery are maintained, are on track for achievement during 2005," he writes in the report to be made public on Tuesday.

"The successes ... are creating a new framework of confidence in Kosovo's ability to build and sustain institutions that work for, and protect and promote the rights of all people," Jessen-Petersen adds.

He cites improved freedom of movement for minorities, low levels of inter-ethnic crime and a "deepening maturity" shown by Kosovo's Albanian dominated interim institutions.

If the Security Council endorses his report, Secretary-General Kofi Annan will appoint a special envoy in June or July to make a comprehensive review of Kosovo's progress since the "standards before status" policy was unveiled in 2003.

SACRED CRADLE

Serbia's traditional ally Russia, a permanent member of the Security Council with veto power, wants the review delayed. But Western diplomats say Moscow's opposition can be overcome.

The United States signalled its decision to resolve the issue this year, in a statement on Wednesday by the U.S. State Department's Nicholas Burns to the House Committee on International Affairs.

"The determination to go ahead is much greater than the Russian determination to delay it," said one senior diplomat.

Kai Eide, Norway's ambassador to NATO, is tipped to conduct the review. If positive, diplomats say Annan will select another envoy in September to mediate between Belgrade and Pristina, with the aim of reaching a status solution by early 2006.

Serbs believe the mountain-ringed province of two million people is the sacred cradle of their nation. The U.N. seized it in 1999 after 78 days of NATO bombing expelled Serb forces accused of atrocities against civilians while they fought to smother an Albanian guerrilla insurgency.

After five years of political drift, two days of Albanian riots against Serbs and other ethnic minorities in March last year killed 19 people and sent 4,000 fleeing.

Kosovo Albanians are angry the years of U.N. stewardship failed to rebuild the economy or dent a jobless rate of over 60 percent. Eide warned in a report to Annan after the riots that prolonging Kosovo's uncertain status was not an option.

By Branislav Krstic and Matthew Robinson, Reuters.

Serbian President: Serbs will not decide the final status of Kosovo

BELGRADE, Serbia -- Friday – Serbian President Boris Tadic said that the future of Kosovo[Kosova] will, in the end, not be decided by Serbian or for that matter the Albanian officials.

President Tadic said that international institutions will be playing the key role in determining Kosovo’s future status, firstly, the United Nation Security Council and the Contact Group, but that Belgrade’s stances and suggestions will continue to be taken into consideration.

“Our arguments must be very convincing, with a very clear plan of activity in the coming period, because in September it is likely that discussions regarding Kosovo’s final status will begin.” Tadic said, adding that the situation in Kosovo must be presented to the citizens in a realistic manner.

Tadic stressed that the government in Belgrade must fight to make sure that Kosovo does not become independent, and that with this goal in mind, a diplomatic offensive must be created which will put pressure on the decision making bodies.

According to the president’s press service, Tadic still insists on meeting directly with Kosovo President Ibrahim Rugova in either Belgrade or Pristina and not at an international conference in Geneva as Rugova has requested. Rogova has said that he will only meet Tadic in International confference about Kosovo[Kosova].

Serbia-Montenegro President Svetozar Marovic said on the federal level and on the state level in Serbia, a complete agreement regarding Kosovo exists for the first time. Marovic said that a united, democratic approach to the future of Kosovo exists, which he said, international political centers are taking as a very positive sign.

Petersen talks standards

UNMIK Chief Soeren Jessen Petersen supports the US’s call for the speeding up of the process of implementing standards in Kosovo, but said that it will take time because some of the most basic standards have yet to be met.

“Not one of the so-called, priority standards has been fully implemented and there are several other factors that have been left out. Because of this, the Kosovo government needs to, in the next several months, work very hard, especially on encouraging return efforts and securing freedom of movement in parts of the region where this problem still exists.” Petersen said. He said he has faith in the Kosovo government.

He said that the necessary level of decentralization of the Kosovo government has not been met yet either, but said that he trusts that the giving of authority to the local government in the fields of health, education and security will enable Kosovo Serbs and other regional minorities to take an important role in the region and ensure their personal rights.

KFOR guarantees refugee return

Meanwhile, KFOR continues say that the return of refugees to the region has already been secured. The international forces in Kosovo are guaranteeing safety and security for all refugees who wish to return to the region, according to KFOR Commander Yves de Kermabon.

“The KFOR troops are here to cooperate with you and help to make sure that all who fled can return safely to their homes.” the French general said. B92 & RTK

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

US Unveils New Diplomatic Initiative for Kosovo

Washington- A U.S. official has testified that the Bush administration is embarking on a new diplomatic drive to resolve the final status of Serbia's province of Kosovo[Kosova], which remains under U.N. administration. Remarks by U.S. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns came in a congressional hearing Wednesday.

Kosovo[Kosova] has been in a state of suspension for six years as the United States and European Union considered its future, and 17,500 NATO soldiers preserved a fragile peace under United Nations mandate.

U.N. Security Council Resolution 12-44 in 1999 directed that Kosovo's final status should be worked out through negotiations.

Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns says the administration now considers it vital that the question of whether Kosovo becomes independent, a province of Serbia and Montenegro, or is partitioned be resolved.

"The status quo of Kosovo's undefined status is no longer sustainable, desirable or acceptable," he said. "It doesn't satisfy any of the parties or any of the people of the region, and it does leave open the possibility of renewed ethnic violence. And we believe that failure to address Kosovo's status in the near term risks undoing much of what we have achieved in the Balkans over the last 10 years."

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is sending Mr. Burns back to the region early next month.

He says the United States supports a process in which U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan will appoint a Norwegian diplomat to assess Kosovo's readiness for final status talks, after which senior U.S. and European negotiators would take over.

Some lawmakers who have criticized what they called Bush administration foot-dragging on Kosovo[Kosova] don't see a need for these steps.

"What's to negotiate, what's to determine? The people of Kosovo have a right to determine their own future through the ballot box just as every other group of people in this world," said Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, who is a California Republican on the committee. "There is nothing to determine there. Either we are Americans and we believe that or we don't."

Former Clinton administration diplomat Richard Holbrooke, a key figure in the Dayton accords that ended the war in Bosnia, warned in a commentary last month that Kosovo was inherently unstable, and that NATO troops would be there indefinitely unless there was an acceleration of efforts for a final-status accord.

Mr. Holbrooke predicts that Kosovo, and eventually also Montenegro, will become independent from Serbia, but that under such a scenario Serbia would have a bright future as a European Union member along with the other parts of the former Yugoslavia.

The Washington Post said the Bush administration will combine its diplomatic push on Kosovo with a warning to Serbia that a normal relationship with the United States and NATO depends on the capture of former Bosnian-Serb leaders Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic.

They are the most prominent indicted Balkans war crimes figures still at large.
VOA & PolitInfo.

Kosovo diplomacy heats up ahead of key talks

ISN SECURITY WATCH -One week before the UN Security Council (UNSC) begins a new diplomatic offensive over Kosovo’s future, a major public and private diplomacy campaign already has Serbs, Albanians, and foreign diplomats involved in the issue.

On 27 May, the UNSC is set to discuss the fate of the province, which, although technically part of Serbia, has effectively been a UN protectorate since the end of NATO’s bombing campaign in 1999.

Diplomatic sources told ISN Security Watch that the Contact Group, which represents the major powers involved in the Balkans, had recommended to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan that he appoint Kai Eide, Norway's ambassador to NATO, to begin an examination of the situation in Kosovo.

If the resulting report is favorable, Annan will appoint another envoy in the fall to begin talks on the final status of the province.

These talks could last six to nine months, and unless a consensus on the future of Kosovo can be reached between the Serbs and Albanians – a highly unlikely scenario - the UN Security Council might decide to impose a solution, which could take some form of “conditional independence”.

Nicholas Burns, US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, was due to discuss the diplomatic offensive in congressional testimony on Wednesday.

In the run-up to the 27 May meeting, Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica has proposed holding talks next week with his Kosovar Albanian counterpart, Bajram Kosumi. Serbian President Boris Tadic has also invited Kosovo Albanian President Ibrahim Rugova to talk.

Kosumi has accepted the idea of talks in principle, but both sides can be expected to be more concerned with scoring points than with the substance of the talks.

Kostunica is keen to present Serbia as the party of compromise. Serbian leaders say the solution for Kosovo must be “more than autonomy, but less than independence”.

Kosumi, who like all Kosovar Albanian leaders will settle for nothing less than independence, is interested in talks because achieving dialog with Belgrade is one of the key “Standards” that the UN has set for Kosovo.

In private, there is now intense discussion as to who will be asked to become the UN’s “status envoy” between Belgrade and the Kosovo capital Pristina. That diplomat will likely start work next September.

Four names are currently being discussed. They are former Swedish prime minister Carl Bildt, former Italian prime minister Giuliano Amato, former NATO secretary-general Lord George Robertson, and former Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari.

Diplomatic sources told ISN Security Watch that as things stood now, Ahtisaari was regarded as by far the strongest candidate.(By Tim Judah in London)

Monday, May 16, 2005

Kosovar premier rules out May 24 meeting with Serbian counterpart

BELGRADE, Kosovar Prime Minister Bajram Kosumi on Monday rejected May 24 as a possible date for a first meeting with his Serbian counterpart Vojislav Kostunica, citing his "tight schedule".

Quoting sources in the Kosovo government, the Pristina daily Zeri said the Kosovan premier will most probably be visiting Germany from May 22 to 24, clashing with meeting date proposed by his Serbian counterpart.

However, Kosovo[Kosova] government spokesman Daut Dauti was quoted by the Pristina daily Express as saying that Kosumi was still interested in a meeting with Kostunica. He also said that the invitation was arbitrary and without consultation. Kosovo's Public Television, RTK, also quoted Kosumi as saying that Koshtunica cannot just schedule meeting whenever he wants to. He said he is thinking about proposing a date himself.

According to Kosovo media reports, Kosumi has not received an official invitation for the meeting, but he learned about the invitation from the media.

Serbian officials said Sunday that Kostunica suggested that the first meeting of the prime ministers of Serbia and Kosovo be held in Kosovo's Prizren on May 24 to iron out unresolved issues. Albanian politicians in Kosovo, includin the PM, have maintained that they will only talk to Serb officials about practical issues, not the final status of Kosovo. Serbia wants to talk about the final status.

Kosovo formally remains part of Serbia-Montenegro, but Belgrade has had no authority since NATO wrestled control of it from Serbia in 1999 after intensive bombing. Xinhua & RTK.

Kosovo's draft constitution widens Serbia gulf

By Eric Jansson in Pristina
Leaders in Kosovo[Kosova] are considering a unilateral split from Serbia, in case the United Nations, US and Europe fail to achieve a diplomatic settlement this year over the breakaway province's political status.
Ibrahim Rugova, Kosovo's president, has told the Financial Times that he is drafting a constitution envisaging the province of 2m people as a newly independent state in the Balkans.

"We are drafting our own constitution, as is our right, and in due time it will be presented to the parliament, which will either vote on it or send it for a referendum," Mr Rugova said, describing the document as "a constitution for a democratic state drawing on Kosovo's historical traditions, Jefferson, the unifying principle of independence and other European constitutions".

By announcing such plans Mr Rugova can only succeed in widening the political gulf between Belgrade and Pristina, the provincial capital. Both sides' positions already are hardening as they jockey for position before high level talks, possibly this year, to determine Kosovo's future.

Kosovo's current status is defined by UN resolution 1244, signed after a 1999 war, allowing for the presence of Nato troops and providing a legal foundation for Unmik, Kosovo's UN-led administration. The resolution states that Kosovo remains part of Yugoslavia, the federation replaced in 2003 by the union of Serbia and Montenegro.

Serb leaders in Belgrade say Kosovo;Kosova] must remain a Serbian province with "maximal autonomy", but most of Kosovo's ethnic Albanians, who constitute more than 90 per cent of the population, want full independence.

Mr Rugova argues that Yugoslavia's dissolution two years ago should trigger de facto independence for Kosovo. But his effort to reinforce this claim by drafting a constitution could exacerbate diplomatic headaches for the UN, US and Europe.

Refusal by leaders in Belgrade and Pristina to strike a compromise already poses difficulties. UN officials acknowledge that disputes in the province are festering rather than healing.

After wide scale ethnic Albanian violence against Serb communities last year, Kofi Annan, the UN secretary-general, urged a new approach and an exit from Kosovo as soon as possible. But while Russia and China oppose Kosovo independence, the UN Security Council cannot agree on a successful exit strategy.

Mr Rugova said opposition from Moscow and Beijing might soften. "If the US and European Union recognise Kosovo's independence, the Security Council will, too, perhaps with Russia and China abstaining," he said.

Bajram Kosumi, Kosovo's prime minister, told the Financial Times he backed Mr Rugova's moves. "I do not know if the constitution will be dealt with this year or early next year, but I know that by June 2006 Kosovo will not be what it is today," he said.

Both men said they would reject any plan for a gradual transition to independence. "The transitional phase, if it goes longer, is a danger to the transition of the entire region," Mr Kosumi warned.

The prime minister also directly accused Vojislav Kostunica, Serbia's prime minister, and other Serbian leaders of lying about Kosovo's future. FT

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Kostunica proposes a meeting with Kosovo PM

BELGRADE -- Sunday - Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica has proposed that his first official meeting with Kosovo Prime Minister Bajram Kosumi be held in Prizren on May 24.

“Kostunica and Coordination Center President Nebojsa Covic are ready to meet with Kosovo Prime Minister Bajram Kosumi and his advisors on May 24 to discuss all problems facing the region of Kosovo.” said Srdjan Djuric, Chief of the Serbian government’s media office.

“Since Kosumi has shown a readiness to begin talks, and taking into consideration that there are many unsolved questions in the region, the Serbian government believes that serious steps must be taken.” Djuric said.

Kosumi’s spokesperson Daut Dauti told the Beta news agency that Prime Minister Kosumi is ready to meet with Kostunica, but has not received an official invitation to meet in Prizren on May 24 as of yet.
.
Kosovo PM has indicated he is ready to talk with Koshtunica about everything other then the final status of Kosova.

“When we receive the invitation, then we will decide where and when we will meet.” Dauti said. Kosovo PM, Bajram Rexhepi has indicated his readiness to talk with Koshtunica, while at same time stressing that he will not talk with any Serb officials regarding the final status of Kosovo. He will only talk with Koshtunica regarding practial problems ( i.e the missing persons , energy, refugees).
Beta and Agencies

American bases in Bulgaria?

American bases in Bulgaria?

“United States of America will use there Bulgarian military bases”, said Nikolay Syinarov, the Minister of Defense of the country. He did not say which bases will be occupied by the US. Since coming to power five years ago, Defense Secretary of USA, Donald Ramsfeld, has indicated he wants to move bases from Western Europe to the east. Pentagon maintains a large base in Kosovo.

Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo is the largest USA military base in Eastern Kosovo. Pentagon wants to move more bases from Western to Eastern Europe.


Experts say Pentagon wants to stay in Bondsteel Camp even after the status of Kosovo is resolved. Bondsteel Camp is the largest US military base in Eastern Europe. RTK and Agencies

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Çeku: Serbs have freedoms in Kosova[Kosovo]

All in their minds

WASHINGTON -- Tuesday – The commander of the Kosovo Protection Corps, Gen.Agim Ceku, said today that Serbs in Kosovo only imagine that they are without protection.

“Security isn’t a problem in Kosovo, Serbs only think that they are without security. This is an issue of their perception. They have never checked whether they are safe or not. Serbs have free movement, they can go into the institutions, they can cooperate with Albanian majority. I believe that this is a psychological barrier against Albanians,” said Ceku, speaking at the Washington Institute for War and Peace.


Brig. Gen. William David shakes hands with KPC commander Agim Ceku(left) while visiting a KPC training site

Çeku heads the Kosovo Protection Corps, the civil defence group which was formed from former members of the Kosovo Liberation Army.

He says that the Kosovo institutions need to assist the process of repatriation of Serbs to their homes. “We as a society most do much more to encourage Serbs to return. Serbs on Kosovo have a much better impression of the Kosovo Protection Corps, than those who live in Serbia- who don’t see that the corps is working for the good of all citizens,” he added.

Ceku also said that he was in the US to explain the role of the Kosovo Protection Corps, progress so far, and to promote his vision for the future of the organisation. His visit is a private one, although he has told journalists that the US Office in Pristina has organised meetings in the State Department and the Pentagon for him. He will also meet the Albanian community in New York. B92&RTK