Friday, March 31, 2006

Albania, Croatia and Macedonia carry joint military trainings

Split, Croatia, 2006-03-30

(This English translation below is a rough one, done by people at KosovaPress. It is sometimes hard to understand)

On the Split harbor on Wednesday were held the joint military trainings of Albania, Croatia and Macedonia, in which took place army members of USA and Poland.

Purpose of the training was improvement of operative cooperation between Albania, Croatia and Macedonia, which in year 2003 with USA signed the Adriatic Card for membership in the Euro Atlantic structures.

Training scenario represented a simulation for a ship reveal and truck-transporting weapon for mass destruction.
Based to scenario, ship in the Croat waters was coming from Albania, while the truck was traveling from Albania, through Serbia and Montenegro and Croatia towards EU.


Ceku in talks with Serbian press

I expect Kosovo to become an independent state by the end of the year, said
Kosovo Premier Agim Ceku in talks with the Belgrade press. “We haven’t given
an ultimatum that this must happen in the course of this year, but the entire process
is heading that way,” said Ceku. Asked whether there was a possibility of unrest or
some mass discontent if that happens, Ceku responded there could be unrest and
frustrations only in case of a negative outcome of this process, and the negative
outcome is, in his words, everything except independence of Kosovo. Asked what
is then discussed in Vienna if the stand of the Kosovo Albanians is independence
and nothing else, he said their offer is being discussed. As he said, the Kosovo
Albanian negotiating team is proving in Vienna that Kosovo will be a functional
and stable society. “We want the international community to be present in Kosovo
only because of the minorities, until they start trusting Kosovo institutions. We
assure both Serbs and the international community that our goal is an independent
but democratic Kosovo, where human rights will be respected,” said Ceku.

I wish to be the premier to all Kosovo citizens, to help everyone, mostly Serbs,
because they are most concerned for their position,” said Ceku, adding that he will
surely go to some Serb region and explain his stands, especially that Kosovo
institutions are honest and serious in their offer to Serbs to integrate in the Kosovo

The Serbian leadership should leave them alone to decide. Kosovo Serbs
should cooperate with us, request from us safety of movement and all other rights,
while we are obliged to offer them this. I think they will understand this. I had
talks with the leaders of the Serb communities, they are pretty willing to
cooperate, but, unfortunately, they depend a great deal from the political decisions
from Belgrade, said Ceku.

Draskovic accepts independence

Dailies cover an interview the Foreign Minister of Serbia gave to the RTS on
Thursday. According to him, Serbia should declare that it fully supports the
independent and parallel journey of Kosovo towards Europe, and adds that “there
will be no seat in the UN and that there will be no change of existing borders with
Albania and Macedonia”.

To Kosovo everything but a seat at the UN, says Koha Ditore headline.
Express carries the interview as lead story. Draskovic has opened the taboo of
Kosovo’s independence in his country. He says that this is the reality that should
be told the people, the paper says.

PM Çeku: Kosovo Serbs are hostages of Belgrade’s policy

Several K. daily newspapers cover the meetings that editors and journalists of
Belgrade-based print and electronic media had yesterday with Kosovar and
international leaders in Pristina. Zëri puts the emphasis on their meeting with
Prime Minister Çeku, and quotes the latter as saying that Kosovo Serbs are held
hostage by Belgrade’s policy and that the position to boycott Kosovo’s democratic
and legitimate institutions was imposed on Kosovo Serbs.

“They must understand that their future is here and for this very reason they must
join the Kosovo institutions. As a majority, Albanians have to ensure conditions
for freedom of movement and conditions for a normal life and work for all ethnic
communities in Kosovo, especially for the Serbs. The Kosovo Government is
committed to helping Serbs join the institutions of Kosovo,” Çeku added.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Belgrade won't govern Kosovo

Vuk DraskovicBELGRADE -- Serbia-Montenegro Foreign Affairs Minister Vuk Draskovic said that Serbia should make it clear to everyone that Belgrade does not wish to have political control over Kosovo. “Serbia should clearly state that it does not govern Kosovo and that it will not govern Kosovo and that it is up to the Albanian majority to govern Kosovo, while respecting the rights of the Serbs. Serbia should state that we absolutely support an independent and parallel road for Kosovo towards Europe and that we have nothing against having Kosovo recognised as being independent by all international organisations, expect for the United Nation.” Draskovic said. “There will be no seat in the United Nations and no change in the current borders with Albania and Macedonia.” Draskovic said, adding that this is a proposal of compromise, which is one of the principles insisted on by the Contact Group. “Kosovo cannot be European if its future and destiny is imposed by force on Serbia. There is much room for finding a solution and maintaining all the legitimate rights of the Albanian minority and protecting the rights of the minorities, especially the Serbs, at the same time. I do not think that anyone in the Contact Group has made a concrete decision that Kosovo independence is unavoidable.” Draskovic said. Beta

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Radical Party of Serbia continues to lead populartiy polls

BELGRADE -- If elections were to be held in Serbia tomorrow, 34.2 per cent of the population would vote for the Radical Party of Serbia. According to a survey done by the Marten Board International agency, the Democratic Party is the second most popular political option in Serbia, with 25.2 per cent of the citizens’ support.

According to the agency’s Director Marko Davidovic, 13.8 per cent would vote for the Democratic Party of Serbia, the Socialist Party of Serbia would receive 5.7 per cent, New Serbia 4.2 per cent, and the Serbian Renewal Movement would get 3.7 per cent of the vote. According to the survey, the most popular politician in Serbia is Radical Party Deputy President Tomislav Nikolic, who is supported by 30.8 per cent of Serbian citizens, with Serbian President and Democratic Party leader Boris Tadic trailing right behind with 27.1 per cent of the vote. Democratic Party of Serbia leader and Serbian Prime Minister, Vojislav Kostunica, has 15.8 per cent of the Serbian people’s support.

The survey was conducted in between March 20 – 27, with 1,300 citizens surveyed on the territory of Serbia, excluding Kosovo. According to Davidovic, while 74.1 per cent of the population supports becoming a member country of the European Union, only 13.3 per cent support complete cooperation with the Hague Tribunal.

Radical Party of Serbia continues to lead populartiy polls

BELGRADE -- If elections were to be held in Serbia tomorrow, 34.2 per cent of the population would vote for the Radical Party of Serbia. According to a survey done by the Marten Board International agency, the Democratic Party is the second most popular political option in Serbia, with 25.2 per cent of the citizens’ support.

According to the agency’s Director Marko Davidovic, 13.8 per cent would vote for the Democratic Party of Serbia, the Socialist Party of Serbia would receive 5.7 per cent, New Serbia 4.2 per cent, and the Serbian Renewal Movement would get 3.7 per cent of the vote. According to the survey, the most popular politician in Serbia is Radical Party Deputy President Tomislav Nikolic, who is supported by 30.8 per cent of Serbian citizens, with Serbian President and Democratic Party leader Boris Tadic trailing right behind with 27.1 per cent of the vote. Democratic Party of Serbia leader and Serbian Prime Minister, Vojislav Kostunica, has 15.8 per cent of the Serbian people’s support.

The survey was conducted in between March 20 – 27, with 1,300 citizens surveyed on the territory of Serbia, excluding Kosovo. According to Davidovic, while 74.1 per cent of the population supports becoming a member country of the European Union, only 13.3 per cent support complete cooperation with the Hague Tribunal.

Kosovo PM calls on Kosovars to be generous towards minorities

All Kosovo Dailies carry an address by Prime Minister Agim Çeku to the people of Kosovo.

“Today we are winners, and as winners we should be generous. Let us behave
that way. We should never again allow things to go backwards. It is our obligation to
integrate the minorities in our society. Let us create room for a dignified life for all the people of Kosovo, regardless of their ethnicity,” Çeku said according to Zëri.
This is your Kosovo, Express headlined his address. The paper carries
PM’s entire speech calling the majority Albanian population for generosity towards minorities. “I am aware that reconciliation takes time, especially when each generation in Kosovo has been affected by animosities and discrimination. We need to strive to create conditions that future generations live in a climate of harmony and understanding.

Today, the entire region has been given the chance to leave the past behind and
to build a better future in the united and prosperous Europe. Let us move forward with joint forces,” was his message address both to Albanians and Serbs.

Epoka e Re reports that Çeku started his weekly addresses on the radio and asked the
people to look at Kosovo’s perspective.

Several dailies report that the PM will address the people every Monday in the
American style. Like Bush, says Kosova Sot headline.

KTV and RTK also report of a letter addressed by the Kosovo PM to the Kosovo
Serb community in which he says: “You are Kosovars, being Serbs at the same time. Your cultural identity will be fully respected and promoted. Your predecessors lived here;you were born here; your children’s future will be here. Don’t make the mistake to divide from Kosovo and leave your homes by listening to the calls of others who have never lived in Kosovo.”

Monday, March 27, 2006

Serbia's Identity Crisis

William Montgomery/B92

Zoran Djindjic frequently emphasized to me that the Serbian people were equally divided into three camps: those naturally belonging to Western European democratic society; those hard-line nationalists firmed rooted in the past; and those in the middle, feeling emotionally tied to the nationalist wing, but wanting the benefits of closer ties to the European Union. His strategy was to focus on convincing the middle group that the benefits were great enough to leave their nationalistic sympathies behind. His complaint was that we in the West were not providing enough incentives to support his government's efforts to improve the life of the average Serb and therefore win over this critical middle group.

The death of Slobodan Milosevic and the subsequent internal turmoil over his funeral are a reminder of these deep divisions in Serbian society, as well as one more blow to the Serbian people as a whole. There is an identity crisis in Serbia, but it is far from limited to that country alone. No one who lived in the former Yugoslavia over the past twenty years has escaped the cycle of violence, nationalism, fear, and hatred, which swept over the region. We who live here now are still reminded of it every day. But there are significant differences from country to country, from one ethnic group to another.

Slovenia, which had traditionally discouraged immigration of other ethnic groups, has successfully entered the EU and is not looking backward (other than to successfully reestablish business ties with the other countries of the former Yugoslavia). Croatia has lingering wartime antagonisms with its ethnic Serbian population, but it has a clear vision of its future, secure borders, and is well on its way to full Euro-Atlantic integration. Montenegro's referendum in May is essentially a battle between those who see Montenegro as an integral part of Serbia/Montenegro and those who want Montenegro to establish its own national identity. If the referendum is successful, that process will be speeded up. If it fails, the fundamental conflict will continue for the foreseeable future. Macedonia wrestles with the question of whether a successful multi-ethnic society can be created/preserved between those who consider themselves Macedonian and ethnic Albanians. The reality is that significant voluntary ethnic cleansing is going on in that country now and how it all turns out will ultimately depend at least in part on whether Kosovar Albanian extremists will be permitted to incite violence outside of their own borders. Bosnia essentially has no identity and is prevented from establishing one by the Constitution imposed on them at Dayton and the radically different visions the three ethnic groups in that country continue to maintain.

Of all these situations, however, the one, which is the most complex and the most significant for the overall stability of the region, is that of Serbia. The reality is that the Serbian people have been buffeted by so many sharp blows to their psyche that they no longer are sure of who they are, where they want to go, and how they will get there.

The first major blow to Serbia was the shock that their whole concept of "nation" - that is the former Yugoslavia - was in the end, an illusion. The dissolution of Yugoslavia, welcomed with joyous celebration in Croatia and Slovenia, turned their world upside down and left them with a sense of bitterness and betrayal that haunts them to this day. Virtually no Serb that I have ever talked with has claimed to have accurately perceived the depth of antagonism/nationalism/desire for independence, which existed in Croatia or Slovenia. The world that they thought they knew and were a key part of turned out to not exist. It is sort of like thinking that you are happily married, only to come home one day to find your belongings out on the street and your spouse saying that she never really loved you in the first place.

Secondly, the Serbs were also surprised by the degree and speed with which the world turned against them. Through two World Wars, the Serbs were consistently on the side of the Western Alliance. During the Tito years, Serbs, as part of Yugoslavia, were welcome anywhere. Suddenly, this traditionally friendly approach radically changed. Sanctions were put in place, visa regimes instituted, and ultimately, Serbia was bombed by NATO. The image of Serbia in the West could not have gone lower. The strength of the Milosevic-era media and public relations propaganda, however, combined with their own fears and concerns about the downfall of Yugoslavia and the welfare of Serbs in Kosovo, Bosnia, and Croatia made them incapable of fully understanding what was happening in their name and why the World was seemingly all aligned against them. Serbs now have an overwhelming view that the world is prejudiced against them and that they are alone. The Serbs in no way feel that they are out of step with the world. They feel that the world does not care to understand them. Five years after the fall of Milosevic, it is harder now to get visas to neighboring countries (with the exception of Croatia) than it was before. The reality is that many of Serbia's bordering countries are working hard to join the EU or are already in it and their orientation has shifted from the region to the EU, leaving Serbia increasingly isolated.

Thirdly, for fifty years under Communism, the private sector was essentially banned and treated as something, which was basically immoral. Milosevic compounded the problem in his rule by granting to selected cronies sweetheart "privatization"deals, which enriched them personally at great cost to the State. As a result, Serbs remain highly suspicious of the whole free market economy, foreign investment, and the private sector. So while the Djindjic government and certain parts of the current government are pushing the private sector and foreign investment as a key way to speed up economic growth, many average workers and various low and mid-level officials are strongly resisting the process and putting up bureaucratic obstructions. The result is that substantial visible and invisible barriers remain to private business. Serbs are divided as to whether to welcome the new economic dynamic or hold out for a continuation of the socialized system, which has long been in place.

Fourthly, the 600,000 refugees and displaced persons living in Serbia today have in most cases not been assimilated into the society and live much as Palestinian refugees do, with memories of their past lives overwhelming the present. They are stuck in a time warp nursing grievances, which will never be adequately addressed.

Finally, the unresolved questions of Kosovo and Montenegro make the overall borders of Serbia and the nature of its state still unknown. Serbia cannot possibly be stabile until its citizens know its true size and borders. Furthermore, the reality of the loss of Kosovo is a major blow to the Serbian people that is hard for outsiders to fully comprehend. It takes away a cornerstone of their culture and history.

In sum, Serbia reminds me of a boxer in the last rounds of a grueling match. It has absorbed blow after blow with no end in sight. This has left the Serbian people uncertain and confused about their future. The political parties are too busy attacking each other for short-term gain to work together to build any sort of consensus. If Serbia were an individual, it would be obvious that he/she were suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and would need serious assistance to begin the process of recovery. The International Community had the spirit and goodwill to provide much of this assistance in the immediate aftermath of the downfall of Milosevic. But that honeymoon was based on the flawed assumption that the new government absent Milosevic was willing and able to move rapidly to full democratic and economic transformation. When it became clear that deep divisions existed in Serbia over its future - and its past - and that the popular support was simply not present for the dramatic change everyone expected, the sympathy of the West sharply decreased. The immediate future looks increasingly discouraging, with the upcoming deadline on the transfer of Mladic to The Hague or a suspension of talks on the Stabilization and Association Agreement with the EU; the Referendum on Montenegrin Independence; and the decision on Kosovo's future status. The outlook, therefore, is for this profound identity crisis to continue for some time to come.

Çeku more moderate than Chirac

Koha Ditore carries an opinion piece by Brussels correspondent Augustin Palokaj
who says that the high ranking EU and NATO officials have expressed
congratulations and praises for Prime Minister Agim Çeku. In him, they have seen
will and honesty to work, especially to reach out to Serbian minority. However,
these praises are clearly a pressure on Kosovo Government and a sign that the
international community is disappointed with what has been achieved so far and
they expect more.

Palokaj recalls Çeku’s inauguration speech at the Assembly when he spoke in
three languages, a sign of moderated leader, and mentions the case when the
French President Jacque Chirac leaf the EU Summit just because a French
businessman spoke in English.

Çeku and Buckovski address border issue

The leading story in today’s Koha Ditore reports that Kosovo Prime Minister
Agim Çeku and his Macedonian counterpart Vlado Buckovski will meet in the
second half of April and the main topic of discussion is expected to be the border
demarcation between the two countries.

Citing unnamed sources, the paper reports that Macedonia is interested to closely
cooperate with Kosovar authorities in resolving the border issue, and bypass
Serbian authorities due to the recent cold relations between Macedonia and Serbia.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Kosovo: Highest bidder for Grand Hotel withdraws

Prishtinë, Mar 27 2006 - KTA officials said on Thursday that the Makos consortium, the highest bidder for Grand Hotel, has officially withdrawn. Makos representatives said they had to make this decision because they were threatened.

“Makos representatives claim to have withdrawn because they were threatened. Now they should provide evidence to KTA. In the meantime KTA will continue with the standard procedures and based on the facts, the KTA Board will decide on future steps,” said Ekrem Tahiri, Spokesperson for KTA.

According to the KTA Regulation, Makos will lose the €500,000 it has deposited for the privatization of Grand. But if KTA verifies their claims were true, Makos will get the money back.

“The rules according to which the KTA functions says that if the first bidder withdraws, we go with the second bidder, and the procedures are the same as with the first bidder,” Tahiri told RTK. “But, I want to stress that the KTA Board has the final say, which makes the decision about the further steps.”

“Security is an important factor for investments in Kosovo, mainly to attract foreign investments,” said Tahiri. “So far the security in Kosovo was at satisfactory level, the international investors were safe. Lately we had a few cases where the first bidder withdrew with the justification that they were endangered and threatened. Police is investigating all these cases.”

KTA has already started negotiations with the second bidder, the Silcapor company. The owner of Silcapor, Zelqif Berisha, said he is ready to pay €8.1 for Grand. Silcapor has offered €8.1 million, € 20.2 million of investment and hiring 500 persons.

Tahiri also said that the KTA Board decided that the two mines, Strezovc and Golesh, which were tendered in the 8th wave of privatization, are to be re-tendered in the next wave of privatization. According to Tahiri, the mines will be re-tendered because there was only one bid for each mine and the price was very low.


Blair: Kosovo's and Montenegro's status will not affect Bosnia and Macedonia

(Sarajevo/London, DTT-NET.COM)-UK Prime minister said that solutions on the status of Kosovo and Montenegro will have no implications on the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Macedonia.

Tony Blair told Bosnian daily Dnevni Avaz that resolving the key issues of this year related to the future of Kosovo and Montenegro status solution will have to help stability in the Western Balkans region.

“Kosovo and Montenegro are the main issues of this year… the way this two issues will be resolved will have no implications on (Bosnia) Dayton and (Macedonia) Ohrid agreements” Blair was quoted in a interview to the daily.

The UK PM said that Kosovo final status will have to promote regional stability and multi-ethnicity reconfirming the position of London that independence is a serious option to be considered.

“The independence is, of course one and some would say the only option” he said on Kosovo.

On Montenegro Blair said that EU is trying to make the upcoming independence referendum in Montenegro in accordance with “ international recognised standards”.

Kosovo Moves from Transit to Destination Country for Human Trafficking

Luan Ibraj (

24 March 2006

The Board of Kosovo Women Members of Parliament organized a national conference on the topic: "How are we organized to fight the trafficking with human beings in Kosovo". A number of international and local representatives and entities that work on treatment as well as fight against trafficking in human beings took part in the conference. The conference emphasized that Kosovo is moving from a transit country, which it was before the war, to a destination country of trafficking.

According to the statement issued by the conference, the decision-makers focused their attention on the causes that bring about this phenomenon, noting that trafficking results from the transition currently proceeding in Kosovo, the high unemployment rates, poverty, movement of population, family disorders, lack of perspective, conflict of generations, etc.

The most common victims of criminals and criminal groups are women, mostly coming from Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro, etc. Lamentably, women under 18 years of age are increasingly victims of human trafficking.

The listed findings emphasize the necessity of greater social awareness about the need to fight human trafficking, never forgetting that trafficking is not a problem that concerns a single country, but rather the entire international community, concluded the conference.

Kosovo already has an Action Plan for Fight against Human Trafficking in place, compiled by the Kosovo Government. This conference was held with the support and under the auspices of the Action Plan. The plan is based on the international conventions and treaties against trafficking, and is similar to the documents adopted by western countries, such as the Swiss action plan.

According to the Office for Media Relations, it is understood that the Board of Kosovo Women Members of Parliament plans to organize a regional conference on this subject.

Privatization Central to Kosovo's Economy

With the privatization process accelerating toward completion, Kosovo stands to benefit from millions of euros in investment and substantial job creation
(Focus news Agency)
By Jasper Dick, managing director of the Kosovo Trust Agency

Following the end of the conflict in the summer of 1999, Kosovo's economy was a basket case. Years of under-investment, chronic mismanagement and the legacy of central planning had greatly reduced the economy's capacity to both produce and compete.
It was clear from the start of the international community's involvement in Kosovo that reforming and rebuilding the economy would be a major challenge. A central component of this policy for the economic re-vitalization of Kosovo is the privatization of stranded enterprises, commonly identified as "socially owned enterprises", SOEs, and the modernization of Kosovo's public utility firms, "publicly-owned enterprises", POEs.
To facilitate the above aims, The Kosovo Trust Agency (which was established by the United Nations Interim Administration in Kosovo, UNMIK, in June 2002) is charged with "preserving and enhancing" the value of both publicly owned and socially owned enterprises in Kosovo.
POEs include businesses such as KEK, the electricity company of Kosovo, and PTK, the telecommunications and postal services provider.
In the above cases, as with all other POEs, the KTA has put in place a program of incorporation, enabling it to reorganize the businesses in line with accepted corporate models and current best practice.
This includes attempting to provide accurate financial records, reporting mechanisms and systems, establishing capacity-building efforts to train local staff, introducing boards of directors and putting into place effective and robust corporate governance structures.
As far as SOEs are concerned, the KTA is tendering such enterprises for sale through a process called "spin-off." This privatization methodology is used to transfer the assets and profitable components of the enterprise into a new company, or "NewCo". Shares in this new company are then held in trust by the KTA, which sells them to private investors. The proceeds from these sales are held in trust by the KTA.
As of March 1, the KTA has tendered 145 SOEs. Because the KTA is occasionally obliged to divide SOEs into more than one new company, or NewCo, in order to privatize, this has resulted in the creation of a total of 219 NewCos.
The SOEs of Kosovo were not an overwhelmingly large number of business enterprises, numbering less than 600. But they had, and still have, a critical strategic place within Kosovo's economic landscape. Some informal estimates state that SOEs at one time comprised approximately 90 per cent of Kosovo's industrial assets, and made up 20 per cent of prime agricultural land (including major consolidated land parcels suitable for large-scale modern agricultural methods) and 60 per cent of Kosovo's forests.
In addition to successfully privatizing a large number of small and medium sized SOEs in a diverse range of economic sectors, the KTA has had a degree of success in targeting major SOEs for privatization, and in many instances has seen these privatized companies flourish. In July 2005, for example, the KTA finalized the sale of Llamkos, a steel-galvanizing factory, which is now successfully exporting steel pipes throughout the Balkans. In February 2006, the KTA put forward a number of large SOEs for privatization, including the Grand Hotel, the landmark high-rise which dominates downtown Pristina, the Peja Brewery, Kosovo's only major beer producer, and the Rahoveci Winery, the largest winery in Kosovo.
The process for concluding the sale for the firms tendered in February is ongoing, but when completed they have the potential to generate well over 30 million euro of direct investment. In addition, the sale of the largest single SOE to be tendered to date, the Ferronikeli Nickel mine, is nearing completion. Under the current conditions of sale, the privatization will include a minimum investment of 20,000,000 euro by the purchaser and will require the new owner to employ 1,000 workers within one year of the finalization of the sale.
The KTA is also active in a number of other projects considered critical to Kosovo's economic development. In late February 2006, the KTA began an advertising campaign, looking for strategic partners to assist local interests in the development of the Brezovica Ski Centre. The KTA is also laying the groundwork to begin the process of assisting in the reorganization of Trepca, which hopefully will go some way towards revitalizing these famous mines.
Each of the major transactions and projects outlined above has difficulties and challenges associated with them. Privatization can be a complicated and time-consuming process. In Kosovo, the process of privatization has been made more challenging because of the KTA's and the international community's determination to protect the rights of minorities and to carefully assess worker, creditor and ownership claims.
With these concerns in mind, the Kosovo Trust Agency continues to move forward with the privatization process, which will hopefully assist in the creation of private property rights, increase private investment in infrastructure and generate thousands of new jobs.

Jasper Dick has been managing director of the Kosovo Trust Agency since June 2004. In addition to Kosovo, he has been involved in privatizations in Turkey, Slovenia, Russia and Mongolia

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Since 1999, everything in Kosovo is taking place independently from Serbia

By: Mahir Yağcılar, member of Parliament Presidency and Chairman of Turkish Democratic Party of Kosovo (TDPK)

Mahir Yağcılar

Mahir Yağcılar
Kosovo’s issue is very complex and a century problem between Albanian and Serb communities. Both sides see this problem from different point of view. Whom Kosovo belongs to? - This is the question, which still does not have a common and acceptable answer.

What should the future of Kosovo be? – There is no mutual agreement yet and there are still completely opposite views.

There is no use of returning to the past, because it will make us face with endless arguments. Kosovo should have a future and hope for all its citizens. This future implies stability and prosperity for everyone. This is something what Kosovar citizens, and especially young people want and are asking for. Without hope there is no future, and without future, hope cannot exist. For this reason, Kosovo cannot remain a separate and isolated part of Europe. It cannot remain outside European and world mainstreams.

New Kosovar generation cannot be left in darkness and isolated from the world of information only because of the questions; who Kosovo belongs to, and what government Kosovo needs?

Kosovo is administered by UN, NATO armed forces (KFOR), OSCE mission, and many other international missions of the most important countries. Kosovo today has its own president, parliament and its government, which function based on democratic rules of the modern world. Laws are passed in line with EU principles. The Government is responsible for approving and implementing of executive decisions, whereas security is provided by KFOR forces. At the same time, Kosovo Police Service (KPS) and Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC), do their jobs within their competencies.

The customs, education and health system, social policies, privatization, are developed in line with EU principles. Euro is the official currency. All these activities are supervised and the final decision on them is made by UNMIK Administration headed by the SRSG.

Despite the difficulties and deficiencies the system of life and government may have, it is developed independently from the processes and events in Serbia and independently from the impact of Belgrade authorities. It means that there is a new reality in the region and in Kosovo. This is a reality of independence and of getting rid from Belgrade rule.

The will of majority is for independence. It is also a reality, that a large number of Serbs have sold their properties in a legal way, and somehow they have declared themselves that they do not see their future in Kosovo.

Why this happened? This has happened for many reasons, but first of all due to the mistakes of the previous regime. This new reality makes the Kosovar people feel optimistic about their future. More than 90% of these people are Albanians, at least 50% of them are younger than 20, knowing very little about the past, expecting a lot from the future.

Serbs, which make less than 10% of the population, want Kosovo to return pre 1999 situation. But this is impossible, first of all due to the discrimination applied by previous regime. The mistakes of the previous regime lead towards a new conflict, which resulted in a defeat of Serbia from the greatest powers and Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). The people of Kosovo, especially Albanians realized their aspirations for freedom. The previous state was changed once and for all. Therefore Kosovo through internationally mediated negotiations must gain the final status, different from the current one, and this is a gained right which must result with the recognition of the new constitutional-legal status of Kosovo as a state.

A small percentage of the people, consisting of Turks, Bosniacs, Romas, Ashkanli, Egyptians and Gorans want peace and prosperity and they want to respect the state in which they live, believing that they will be able to realize their own rights in the internationally recognized state.

If wee see the basic principles of the Contact Group; no unification of Kosovo with other countries, no changing of borders, no return to 1999 situation, and that the status quo is unsustainable, we can conclude, taking into account the will of majority in Kosovo, that the conditions have been ripened for creation of a new state in Europe, the state of Kosovo.

This solution should be rounded up through talks that have already started, and it should be guaranteed by a new UN SC resolution. Whereas, Serbia and Kosovo must pursue their own paths towards EU and meet in EU as two sovereign independent entities.

Neither Serbia nor Kosovo should represent any burden to each other in this aspect. Integration into EU will give an end to the disagreements between these two nations and will impact in creation of a sustainable stability in the region.

On its path towards EU, Kosovo must be based on those principles, where everyone will have their own rights, elementary freedoms, here no one will be discriminated in any basis. This includes ratification and respecting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Council of Europe Framework Convention on the Protection of National Minorities, the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages and other smilar documents.

Special legal provisions must be enforced to guarantee the cultural and political rights of all communities and citizens of Kosovo.

Further monitoring by the European institutions is necessary during the process of building of the state of Kosovo, integration of communities living in Kosovo. The parliamentary mechanisms should be established for the protection of vital interests which will assure an affordable election system, and which will ensure continuation of the application of reserved seats at the Parliament for minorities

In the coming period, a significant attention should be paid to institutional support to preserving and developing of languages, education, culture and traditions of minorities.

The main role for protection of minorities belongs to the Albanian majority and their leaders, but also to the international community. Whereas the other communities should articulate clearly their demands and their readiness to take over a part of the responsibility for building a common future in Kosovo.

In the end of the day, everyone want to live in his country and realize the hopes for a better life. For this reason, no past or political disagreement, should deny to the citizens of Kosovo the right for a better life expressed through people’s will.

U.N. supports Kosovo Albanians

BELGRADE, Serbia-Montenegro, March 24 (UPI) -- A Serbian government official has accused the U.N. civilian mission in Kosovo of supporting ethnic Albanian separatists in Kosovo.

Sanda Raskovic-Ivic, president of the Serbian government coordinating committee for Kosovo, in a letter to Soren Jessen-Petersen, the chief of the U.N. mission in Kosovo, charged that Jessen-Petersen was one of the "most influential promoters of the goals of Albanian separatists."

Raskovic-Ivic's letter was in reaction to Jessen-Petersen's call that Western countries ignore Serbia's arrest warrant on Agim Ceku, Kosovo's prime minister, for alleged war crimes in Kosovo in 1999.

Friday, March 24, 2006

"Milosevic Killed" Virus Plagues Internet

Just days after the passing of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic inventive hackers have already unleashed a virus bearing his name.

A Trojan horse virus is planted in an e-mail titled "Slobodan Milosevic was killed", supposedly containing evidence of his murder, media reported. Feeding off conspiracy theories and suspicions of foul play in Milosevic's death, the e-mail is supposed to contain photographic proof of the claim.

Trojan horses penetrate computer files through seemingly harmless applications. Their main difference from worms and viruses is that Trojans do not replicate themselves, but can be just as dangerous. Sometimes Trojans are aimed at acting as internal spies - instead of just destroying information, they send important data such as passwords and personal details to another computer.

Milosevic died last weekend at a detention centre near the UN tribunal in The Hague where he was on trial on 66 charges for genocide and war crimes.
Sofia News Agency

Kosovo ready to take the last steps toward independence

By Tim Kennedy/Baltimore Sun

PRISTINA, Kosovo // Kosovo's Serbs and Albanians finally are meeting to discuss the fate of what U.N. special representative Soren Jessen-Peterson describes as the "last piece of the puzzle in the Balkans."

Although a final decision on whether Kosovo, a province of Serbia in the former Yugoslavia, should become an independent country lies with the U.N. Security Council, the duration of the process and its outcome will largely depend on the behavior of the two disputing parties, which are meeting in Vienna.
For the provisional government in Kosovo, this means demonstrating that it is truly committed - to use the language of the U.N. standards that would qualify Kosovo for independence - "to building a multi-ethnic, tolerant, democratic and stable society."

Progress made by the provisional government has been undramatic but steady. In 2004, Kosovo held parliamentary elections that were judged free and fair by international observers, and it established a coalition government that is cooperating fully with its U.N. partners.

Economically, Kosovo has created an entrepreneurial environment that is fully transparent, implemented a customs code, made great strides creating tax laws and privatized dozens of socially owned enterprises, most notably the $45 million sale in November of the Ferronikeli nickel works in Glogovac.

Finally, a European Union report on Kosovo in late 2005 praised the provisional government for "progress" in addressing the social and political discontent that fueled anti-Serb rioting that erupted in March 2004.

The minority Serbs, too, have responsibilities to fulfill if the United Nations is to decide favorably in the status talks. Two key U.N. standards are requirements that largely must be satisfied by Belgrade, the capital of Serbia. This means that the Serbs must encourage refugees and displaced persons to return to their homeland.

At the United Nations, Serbian President Boris Tadic has proposed a 20-year "grace period" before deciding Kosovo's final status. This suggestion was promptly dismissed by Kosovo's provisional prime minister and Europeans associated with the talks.

Both Mr. Tadic and Russia's U.N. ambassador, Andrei Denisov, warned that Kosovo's independence could have an impact on the resolution of other conflicts.

Russian President Vladimir V. Putin publicly cautioned the Russian representative on the six-nation U.N. Kosovo Contact Group that if Kosovo were granted independence, it would cause "a surge of unrest" in the breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia provinces in the former Soviet republic of Georgia.

But this argument illustrates a fundamental misunderstanding of recent events in the former Yugoslavia: An independent Kosovo would not set a political precedent but would follow the precedent created in the early 1990s when neighboring Bosnia, Croatia, Macedonia and Slovenia - all former Yugoslav republics - gained independence.

"We run the real risk of an explosion of Kosovo, an implosion of Serbia and new fractures in the foundations of Bosnia and Macedonia," said the November 2005 status report by the EU's International Commission on the Balkans. "The commission acknowledges that there are no quick and easy solutions for the Balkans and that ultimately it is up to the people of the region to win their own future. ... The starting point of the International Commission on the Balkans is that the status quo has outlived its usefulness."

The status talks for Kosovo have been delayed since 2002. The people of Kosovo have the legal right to self-determination, and the United Nations should affirm this right according to the principles that have been agreed to by the U.N. Contact Group and participating parties.

Tim Kennedy is a founding partner of the Strategic Policy Group, a political risk analysis firm based in Washington. His e-mail is

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Educational outlook poor in Serbia

BELGRADE -- Thursday - In comparison to the rest of Europe, the smallest number of young people are enrolled in university in Serbia.

In Serbia, only ten per cent of students go on to higher education and countries in transition, which were once behind Serbia, have averages of 20 per cent or higher. Experts are warning that this is the last sign for the Serbian Government to complete a new strategy for higher learning.

In Germany, 40 per cent of students continue their education after middle school, in England and France, 50 per cent of students go on to university as do 55 per cent of students in the US. Education experts say that educated societies progress faster because the society ends up being more creative generally. The statistics in Serbia point to a large percentage of unused potential.

Lacking higher education in the community also leads to an inadequate cultural matrix and the perpetuation of stereotypes. This also has an effect on industrial development and has political consequences as well. The main reasons for the small number of students continuing their education are tied to the lack of political development and metropolisation. Serbia also lacks adequate services in higher education. The strategic goal is to get the percentage up to 20 per cent in Serbia as well over the next series of years. Serbia also suffers from having obsolete university programs which prepare students for jobs and positions which have already been rendered obsolete in a modern society. B92

Serbian war crime suspect has become father

A former head of the Yugoslav army has become a father while awaiting trial for alleged war crimes in Kosovo, Serbian media reports say.
Former Serbian General Nebojsa Pavkovic and his partner had been allowed to use a "comfort room" in his detention unit at The Hague tribunal.

Gen Pavkovic, 59, became a grandfather on the same day, the reports say, when his daughter also gave birth.

The general, who denies attacking ethnic Albanians, is on temporary release.

The former general's new daughter is his fifth child, and his first with 26-year-old partner Maja. He divorced his fourth wife Gloria in 2003.

Detainees awaiting trial in The Hague are kept at Scheveningen

"The general is delighted. Of course he would be, when he has two reasons to celebrate," a friend told Kurir newspaper.

The two babies - both girls - were said to be doing well.

His partner reportedly became pregnant in June last year after the couple spent a day in a special "comfort room" for conjugal visits at the Scheveningen detention centre.

Scheveningen has been described as the world's most luxurious prison, though correspondents say it was designed to press home the idea that inmates were innocent until proven guilty.

'Honourable soldier'

Gen Pavkovic is accused of involvement in the murder of hundreds of civilians and of forcing out about 800,000 from Kosovo.

He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Serbia's current government has described him as an "honourable soldier".

The former general was once an ally of fellow war crimes defendant, former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, who was found dead in his cell at Scheveningen earlier this month.

But he switched sides and refused to use troops against pro-democracy protesters who toppled Mr Milosevic. BBC

Ceku in Brussels

EU High Representative Javier Solana said in Brussels after talks with Kosovo
Premier Agim Ceku that it is very important as regards to standard implementation
in the province that there should be more action and less talk. Clear progress must
be achieved through actions in Kosovo so the negotiating process on the status of
Kosovo could progress, Solana stressed. When asked whether he agrees with the
position of British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, who recently stated that
Kosovo’s independence was unavoidable, Solana responded that it is not up to him
to speak about the outcome of the negotiations. Ceku underlined that much needs
to be done in Kosovo, especially in regards to integration of minorities. He said
that Kosovo Serbs must learn from their past mistakes, and that they should turn
towards Pristina for solving their problems, and take part in the public and social
life of the province.

Ceku said it was not probable that there would be violence in Kosovo in case the
solution of the status doesn’t satisfy the Albanian majority, but that such a
possibility could not be excluded. “I think there will be no violence and that the
solution will be as the majority wants in Kosovo and that the minority will accept
this solution as it will see it is in their interest,” Ceku told the press after meeting
NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer.

Ceku said that he has never committed or ordered war crimes and that his
conscience is clean. He said that war was imposed on the Albanians in Kosovo
and that he did what he had to do to protect his homeland. “And I am proud of
that. If Belgrade claims differently, that does not mean anything to me,” Ceku
said, answering to Belgrade’s allegations that he was involved in war crimes
activity. Speaking about the Kosovo status discussions, Ceku said that he is very
happy with the performance of the Pristina team so far. He said that a compromise
with the Serb side is possible, but it will depend on the steps taken by the UN
negotiators, adding that the Kosovo Albanians do not see any solution other than
independence as a viable one. “Independence is not supposed to take place after
five or ten years, but immediately after the discussion process,” Ceku said.

Petersen asks for disregard of Serbian indictments

PRISTINA -- Thursday - UNMIK chief Soren Jessen-Petersen is urging international community to disregard Interpol’s warrant for the arrest of Kosovo PM Agim Ceku. A letter that was brought to the notice of AP news agency reportedly cites Petersen as saying that UNMIK does not admit the validity of the warrants against Agim Ceku and Hasim Taqi. AP did not specify who was the recipient of the letter, but reveals the UNMIK chief’s assertion that the UN had jurisdiction over Kosovo and that the warrants against Ceku and Taqi were violating this principle.

Petersen reportedly said that the Interpol warrants for the arrest of Ceku and Taqi had to be set aside because both had to be allowed to move around freely. Ceku’s visit to Brussels, during which he talked to Javier Solana and Jap de Hop Shefer, indicates some countries have already accommodated Petersen’s request. Ceku said that NATO would stay in Kosovo after the issue of its future status is resolved, adding that he could not rule out outbursts of violence during the status-defining process, but that they were highly unlikely. Ceku said the solution for Kosovo would be what the majority want it to be and that the minority would accept that solution, because they would realize that it will suit their interests as well. “As you are well aware, we are a European state with a clear orientation towards EU and NATO membership. We are very pleased that the EU has opened a European perspective for Kosovo and we have a clearly defined plan for European integration. We are using this agenda for the development of Kosovo as well. I am glad to have talked to Solana in Brussels and to have convinced him that in Kosovo we are thinking of nothing but the European perspective and development of Kosovo in line with European standards. I hope we shall become part of the EU very soon”, said the former KLA commander. Serbia has issued an international warrant for Ceku’s arrest on count of war crimes charges. Hasim Taqi is also charged with war crimes by the indictment rasied at the District Court of Pristina. B92

Kosovo [Kosova] Media

Koha Ditore reports that SRSG Jessen-Petersen has intervened to waive the
international arrest warrant against Kosovo Prime Minister Agim Çeku and PDK
leader Hashim Thaçi. The paper says the SRSG addressed Contact Group
countries for help to solve the issue of indictments raised by Serbia and submitted
to the Interpol.

The paper carries a scanned copy of the letter the SRSG sent to British diplomat in
Pristina David Blunt explaining that UNMIK has exclusive legal jurisdiction over
Kosovo and that the warrant issued in Serbia against Agim Çeku and Hashim
Thaci is in breach of these principles and therefore its validity is not recognized,
said the SRSG according to the paper.

Solana wants Kosovo Government to work harder

Koha Ditore reports on the front page that the Kosovo Prime Minister Agim Çeku
received praises and clear messages from Brussels. EU encouraged with Çeku,
expects more work and less words from the Government, says the headline to the

From his side Çeku promised to take steps to reach out to minorities and called on
Kosovo Serbs to consider Kosovo as their homeland and work together with
Kosovo institutions to address their concerns, reports Koha Ditore.

Solana wants more work from the Government, Çeku promises concrete steps for
integration of minorities, reports Zëri in its lead story. “I trust you, we both took
off uniforms. We can talk about politics. What is happening in Kosovo is not easy,
but you are not for easy tasks”, the paper quotes EU High Representative Javier
Solana as saying to PM Çeku.

Several dailies carry headlines along the line that Solana expresses full support
and trust for Prime Minister Çeku.

All Kosovo wide broadcasters reported about the visit by commenting that Agim
Çeku brought the message to Brussels that Kosovo has only one agenda, “Status,
integration into EU, integration into NATO”.

RTK has reported the dissatisfaction expressed by Solana with the low level of
standards implementation and quoted him as asking to the Kosovo PM “more
actions than words”

SRSG and Kosovo President meet communities in Rahovec

K. Dailies and TVs’ covered the visit of the SRSG Jessen-Petersen and Kosovo President
Fatmir Sejdiu to Rahovec where they have addressed concerns raised by citizens in
two separate meetings; Standards, security, freedom of movement, economy,
decentralisation, missing persons and the status process.

Most papers highlight the call of both leaders to the Serb community to integrate
into Kosovo society. In a debate with citizens they also urged on all communities
to get closer one to another and in this way build the future for their children.

“You cannot complain of being isolated if you are not ready to go out and move
freely. You cannot complain that Kosovo society is divided if you are not ready to
integrate in it,” UNMIK chief is quoted to have told the Serb community
representatives, Zëri reports.

A local resident asked by RTK said that he move from one area to another only
with the escort of KFOR, UNMIK police and KPS, “not to mention other things.
We are really living in a ghetto.”

TVs’ report the SRSG saying that feeling of insecurity amidst Serbs is a result of the
lack of information. “Information gap and inaccurate information, or lack of it, adds
to the fears and concerns of the minorities. These meetings are very important at this
crucial moment to make sure that all the citizens of Kosovo know what is going on
and also know what they can expect”, said the SRSG.

He added that information and communication is very important at this crucial
period for the present and the future of Kosovo and its people.
Sejdiu on his part said, “We want to build a functional and legal state where the
human rights of all communities would be respected.”

Express under the caption Bad message from Rahovec writes that Jessen-Petersen
and Sejdiu got a clear message from the Serbs of the town who told the two
officials that they will not live in an independent Kosovo.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Kosovo Ministry of Justice and of Interior get competencies

One of the leading stories in the daily press today is the transfer of competencies to
the two new ministries – the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Justice.
Koha Ditore notes that the Ministry of Interior has received some competencies from
the Ministry of Public Services, while the Ministry of Justice has received
competencies from the UNMIK administration. According to the press, two
departments were transferred to the Interior Ministry – the Department for Emergency
and the Department for Civil Documents.

The paper quotes SRSG Jessen-Petersen as saying, “Kosovo is on the path of forming
a democratic, tolerant and multiethnic society, and such a society can be built only if it
is based on the rule of law”. The SRSG pledged his full support to Justice Minister
Jonuz Salihaj and offered him the framework that determines the activities of the

Zëri quotes Justice Minister Salihaj as saying that in the first 100 days in cooperation
with UNMIK he would meet the foreseen criteria so that after this period UNMIK can
transfer the main competencies to the local authorities. “This is a rather complicated
process, but we will work and our work will be evaluated. There will be an internal
and external evaluation. We will be open and transparent to the public. The citizens of
Kosovo were short of this ministry and I believe we will do our job,” Salihaj added.
Prime Minister Agim Çeku is quoted as saying in Koha Ditore that the transfer of
competencies to the new ministries is a regular procedure. “The Department for
Emergency and the Department of Civil Documents as of this moment are in the
competency and responsibility of the Ministry of Interior Affairs, a Western standard,
as in any western country where the Ministry of Interior deals with these issues,” the
PM said after a meeting with Public Services Minister Melihate Tërmkolli and Interior
Minister Fatmir Rexhepi.

PM Çeku visiting Vienna and Brussels

Zëri reports that Prime Minister Agim Çeku had a working supper with UN Status
Envoy Martti Ahtisaari and his deputy Albert Rohan last night, and that today and
tomorrow he is going to visit Brussels where he will meet Javier Solana, Olli Rehn
and Jaap de Hoop Scheffer. “We are working to win the trust of minorities,” the paper
uses Çeku’s quote as a headline.

“This is the first meeting of Mr. Ahtisaari with Prime Minister Çeku. Ahtisaari wants
to hear from Prime Minister about his steps for the implementation of Standards. Also,
Ahtisaari wants to brief the Prime Minister on the current process for the solution of
the status”, Zëri quotes Ahtisaari’s spokeswoman Hua Jiang as saying. Shortly before
departing at Pristina Airport, PM Çeku said that he will talk with Ahtisaari about the
approach of the key status negotiator towards the solution of Kosovo status and will
brief him on the approach of Kosovo’s Government towards the process.

Ahtisaari and Rohan host supper for Çeku in Vienna, says Epoka e Re headline.
Express reports that in his visit outside the country in the capacity as Prime Minister,
Agim Çeku will met senior international officials involved in the Kosovo status talks.

PM Çeku: We are working at gaining the trust of minorities

Agim Çeku said that Kosovo government will be working unreservedly for being as
responsive as possible to the needs of the citizens and that one of the main goals is
gain the trust the minority community. “I’m working [on this] since the first day. It is
a laborious process. It is a long process, but we will never stop working on it” said
Çeku before his departure to Vienna where he is to meet with UN Status Envoy Martti
Ahtisaari, Zëri reports
Speaking on his visit to Vienna and Brussels, Çeku said that he will inform Ahtisaari
about Kosovo Government approach to status negotiations and discuss about the
mediators approach too. Furthermore, Çeku will also have tête-à-tête meetings with
the EU High Representative Javier Solana and EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli
Rehn and NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hop Scheffer. “I will discuss with them
the European perspective of Kosovo and out path towards NATO”, he added.

SRSG meets AAK President Ramush Haradinaj

All K. dailies cover yesterday’s meeting between UNMIK chief Søren Jessen-Petersen
and AAK leader and former PM Ramush Haradinaj. Most dailies highlight that
Haradinaj supports, what he called reasonable changes in the institutions and the
status process. He supports changes, reads a headline in Express. Dailies also focused
on Haradinaj’s statement that he would not be part of the Kosovo Negotiations Team.
Haradinaj and Jessen-Petersen discussed the developments that happened after the
death of President Ibrahim Rugova and the process related to the political status of
Kosovo, including the transfer of competencies, the functioning institutions and the
economic developments.

“I think one could notice early this year that the pace was going to change. The pace
has changed and these changes have brought a valuable dynamics and my belief is that
we are on a good pace now and that good work is being done for the status of Kosovo
and the lives of its citizens,” Haradinaj said.

Zëri quotes Haradinaj as saying that despite the expansion of freedoms, he has no
tendencies to take over responsibilities in the Kosovo Negotiations Team or in other
working groups, but he said he would be supporting their work.

Koha Ditore also quotes Haradinaj as saying that changes have brought dynamics in
favour of Kosovo. The paper notes that Haradinaj has promised the UNMIK chief that
he would show special commitment toward the Serb minority in Kosovo, and to other

Iliria Post reports on the front page that after one year and 8 days of silence,
Haradinaj reactivates in Kosovo’s political scene. According to Kosovar analysts,
during his tenure as Prime Minister the political scene had marked the most dynamic
period of good governance. The same analysts claim that even though in the shadows,
Haradinaj had his influence in the last 12 months.

Dailies note that the UNMIK chief didn’t talk to the media after the meeting. The press
quotes a press release issued by UNMIK as saying that Haradinaj stressed the
commitment of the AAK, as a governing coalition partner, to work hard on the
implementation of the Standards, including those essential to improve the living
conditions and future prospects of the minority communities, particularly the Kosovo

Express notes that the meeting happened almost one year after the ICTY filed an
indictment for war crimes against the former Kosovo Prime Minister. After the President,
the Government, the Assembly and UNMIK offered guarantees, the ICTY decided to
allow Haradinaj to defend himself in freedom. A week ago, the ICTY also allowed
Haradinaj to engage in political activities and make public statements.

Pacolli: Russia will not hamper Kosovo’s independence

Zëri carries a two-page interview with Behxhet Pacolli, a famous Kosovar
businessman and founder of the Alliance for a New Kosovo. “Kosovo must be
independent, and everybody knows this. But independence is not only one word.
Independence must have its foundations. Economy is the key foundation of an
independent state. There should be genuine economic reforms, and the people will
not have to face banal problems such as lack of electricity…” Pacolli was quoted
as saying.

The paper highlights Pacolli’s quote that he guarantees that Russia would not
hamper the process of Kosovo’s independence. “It will not even use its veto at the
United Nations Security Council,” Pacolli adds.

Jessen-Petersen visits Gracanica

All K. dailies cover the visit of the SRSG to Gracanica Monastery where he met Bishop
Artemije, Deputy President of Pristina Municipality Radojica Mitrovic and Head of
the Municipal Community Office Predrag Vasic, as well as with local Kosovo Serb
leaders Randjel Nojkic (SLKM), Rada Trajkovic (SNC) and Milija Popovic (KOS),
among others.

Enough with boycott, Jessen-Petersen tells the Serbs, writes Koha Ditore.
According to the paper the chief of the international administration said that
economy can only be improved after the solution of the status, therefore he asked
for the support of the religious and political Kosovo Serb leaders and for them to
help ordinary people reach interethnic reconciliation.

Zëri quotes the SRSG as saying that status talks bring hopes for the majority
population and concerns for the minorities. “I told Bishop Artemije that it is the
moment we all need to work together, especially the leaders of Kosovo Albanians
and Kosovo Serbs”. According to the paper Artemije asked UNMIK chief not to
prejudge Kosovo’s status.

Rada Trajkovic, dailies report, accused Kosovo Prime Minister Agim Çeku of
leading two wars against Serbs and of ‘terrorism’. She also accused the chief of
UNMIK for allowing him to take the post. According to dailies, Jessen-Petersen
intervened saying that Agim Çeku was elected in a legitimate way and that the
‘courts that filed lawsuits against him are not credible in Kosovo’.

Epoka e Re reports that Jessen-Petersen ‘softened’ his words with Serbs in
Hot in Gracanica, says Iliria Post headline. Serbs criticizing Jessen-Petersen,
says Express.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Ceku looking for appropriate collocutors

Kosovo Premier Agim Ceku will be making an attempt to establish good
relations with Serbs. Representatives of the Serb community are not very much in
the mood to cooperate with him, having in mind his past and role in the KLA.

Members of SNC and the Association of Serb municipalities of Kosovo have
openly said there are no talks with Ceku. He has already talked with SLKM
representatives, but no agreement has been reached. It is certain at this moment
that Ceku will be cooperating with the leader of the Serbian Democratic Party of
Kosovo and Kosovo Minister for Returns Slavisa Petkovic and Kosovo Deputy
Minister for Internal Affairs Dejan Jankovic. Glas has learned in Pristina that
Ceku is willing to talk with all Serb leaders and influential Serbs.

Glas Javnosti

Path toward an army

Express carries a two-page article on the Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC) and its
future development. “Kosovars claim to have an army of their own, the Serb
citizens of Kosovo don’t want the KPC to transform into the army of Kosovo,
while local officials hesitate to talk about the issue as according to them
everything depends on the final status of Kosovo,” says the article.

According to the paper, “ideas on the possible transformation of the KPC into an
army or some other organisation seem to be an internal matter of local and
international institutions”.

Citing unnamed international sources, Express says that in 2005 there was an idea
to transform the KPC. According to this idea, the KPC would have 2005 members,
which would be divided into a gendarmerie, ceremonial guard and peacekeeping
However, KPC Coordinator Chris Steirn told the paper that he had never heard of
such an idea and doubts that it ever existed. At the same time, KPC officials said
they were aware of the idea. “The idea that you are mentioning was last year, but
we didn’t accept it,” said KPC spokesman Shemsi Syla. According to Syla, at the
end of 2005, former KPC Commander Çeku together with some experts prepared
a project that should be applied after the settlement of Kosovo’s status and which
envisages the KPC as an army.

Jessen-Petersen to meet Ramush Haradinaj today

UNMIK chief Søren Jessen-Petersen will meet former Kosovo PM Ramush
Haradinaj today at UNMIK headquarters in Pristina, Zëri reports. According to a
press release issued by UNMIK, the SRSG has agreed with Haradinaj’s request to
meet and discuss the latest political and security developments in Kosovo. “The
decision of the UNMIK chief is in compliance with the Decision of the Trial
Chamber of the ICTY of 12 October 2005, as amended by the Decision of the
Appeals Chamber of the ICTY of 10 March 2006, on the Re-assessment of
Conditions of Provisional Release granted on 6 June 2005,” said the UNMIK press

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Milosevic buried in Pozarevac

Milosevic loyalists (FoNeT)
Milosevic loyalists (FoNeT)

BELGRADE -- Saturday - Slobodan Milosevic has been buried in his home town in East Serbia, after tens of thousands of people gathered to bid him a final farewell.

At the beginning of the proceedings, around 80,000 people gathered earlier today in front of the Federal Parliament, where his coffin was displayed.

Socialist Party officials delivered glorifying speeches in front of the Parliament, while many of the gathered shouted "Kosovo is ours".

Others carried photos of Hague fugitives Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, as well as of Radical Party leader Vojislav Seselj, who is at the Hague Tribunal awaiting trial. According to police sources, 100,000 people appeared at the ceremony.

Aco Tomic, Security Advisor to Serbian Prime Minister Kostunica, was present, as well as former army general and Hague suspect Dragoljub Ojdanic who is freed pending trial.

Former US attorney general Ramsey Clark, and head of the Russian Communist Party Gennadi Zyuganov were among the speakers.

Radical Party official Aleksandar Vucic read a letter in which his party leader and Hague indictee Vojislav Seselj praised Milosevic.

Police said there were no troubles, despite the fact that Milosevic's opponents organised a rally just a few streets away in the Republic Square which drew around 3,000 people.

Milosevic's funeral ceremony was subsequently held at 5.30 pm today in his home town of Pozarevac in East Serbia. He was buried under a linden tree in the backyard of his family house.

Milosevic's son Marko and wife Mirjana Markovic, who live in self-imposed exile in Moscow, decided not to attend the funeral because they "feared arrest or worse".

Milosevic's daughter, Marija, missed the funeral too. She said that she would demand exhumation of her father's body for "a proper burial" in Montenegro, where she now lives and where her father's parents are buried.

During the past two days, Miloevic's body was on display in the decayed Museum of Revolution after days of pressure by remaining loyalists for a high-profile funeral in Belgrade.

Slobodan Milosevic was found dead on March 11 in his cell at the United Nations detention unit in the Hague. The autopsy found that he died of heart attack and the toxicology analysis of blood wield no results that could be considered as evidence of a poisoning.

Draskovic: a people's funeral

Serbia and Montenegro Foreign Minister Vuk Draskovic described the rally as "a people's funeral".

"All of the Belgrade squares would be too narrow to host those killed, crippled, displaced during his rule," Draskovic said. B92

In Serbian Capital, Rites for Milosevic Draw Throng

Published: March 19, 2006

BELGRADE, Serbia, March 18 — Well over 50,000 Serbs massed on the central square here on Saturday in a public wake for Slobodan Milosevic, the large numbers representing, in this nation's deep divide, either his final victory or one last embarrassment for Serbia at his hands.

Filip Horvat for The New York Times

Supporters of the former Yugoslav president, Slobodan Milosevic, attended his funeral Saturday in his hometown, Pozarevac. He died March 11.

Filip Horvat for The New York Times

The funeral procession for Slobodan Milosevic began in front of the federal parliament in Belgrade.

A week after Mr. Milosevic died of a heart attack in his jail cell in The Hague, his coffin was carried at midday to a stage in front of Serbia and Montenegro's Parliament, formerly Yugoslavia's federal assembly.

"We are bidding farewell to the best one among us," said Milorad Vucelic, deputy president of Mr. Milosevic's Socialist Party. "There is no better place than this square for us to say our goodbye. Let us do it in a dignified manner. Let us shout his name as one."

The square had heavy symbolism for his supporters: it lent an official setting for a funeral not recognized by the Serbian state, and it was where large opposition rallies forced him from power in 2000, opening the way for his extradition to The Hague on charges of war crimes.

Crowds in Belgrade of the mostly middle-aged, bused from Bosnia, Croatia, Montenegro and Kosovo, chanted his nickname — "Slobo! Slobo!" — before the coffin was taken to his hometown for the funeral.

But even in Pozarevac, where he was buried at dusk under the lime tree where he first kissed his future wife, affection for him was far from unanimous. Many hoped that Saturday was merely a day to say goodbye, and that it did not mean a return to nationalist policies that isolated and impoverished Serbia in the 1990's.

"I can't believe what is going on here," said Iva, 41, who would not give her last name because she was speaking against Mr. Milosevic in his hometown on the day of his funeral. "It looks like it is collective amnesia."

And after Mr. Milosevic's body left the capital, a relatively small group of demonstrators, perhaps several thousand, held a counterrally in the center of Belgrade to remind Serbs of the miseries they say he inflicted on them and their neighbors. But, compared with the numbers at the wake, people who rallied there despaired at the poor turnout.

"It is humiliating that so many people appeared there," said Branislava Miloradovic, an English teacher. "If they forgot, they are idiots, and I hope there are more of us who still remember."

But while the mass display of defiance proved that Serbia's nationalist forces can still assemble large crowds, the long-term impact of this demonstration is harder to judge.

The Socialist and Radical parties who remain faithful to Mr. Milosevic clearly hope the turnout will bolster their nationalist and anti-Western policies, despite polls that show them with relatively little support. There is talk that it may be harder now for Serbia to hand over to The Hague Ratko Mladic, the former top Serbian military commander, or that sentiment will be even stronger against any deal for the independence of Kosovo, the southern province dominated by Albanians.

"I can't even go to Pristina to visit my husband's grave," said Dostana Nikolic, 62, referring to the capital of Kosovo, as she waited for Mr. Milosevic's body to arrive in Pozarevac. She was among the thousands of Serbs who fled Kosovo amid Albanian reprisals there after the war in Kosovo ended in 1999.

But experts note that Serbia is not cooperating much with The Hague anyway, and that it was never likely to let Kosovo go easily. And contrary to the angry tone set by the speakers on Saturday, many in the crowd seemed less sure that Serbia should retreat from steps to join the European Union.

"We are in Europe, and we need to stay in Europe," said Aleksandar Anastasovic, 66, who said he knew Mr. Milosevic in his hometown when the two were young Communist Party members. "But Europe needs to change its policies and find a place for the Serbs."

In the long drama of Yugoslavia's breakup, the return of Mr. Milosevic's body made a fitting chapter: After four years of trial on charges of genocide, he died last Saturday several months before its end — sparing him, and by extension Serbia itself, the stain of a guilty verdict.

Before his death, Mr. Milosevic, 64, who had suffered for years from heart trouble and high blood pressure, had said he worried about being poisoned. The accusation of poisoning is commonplace now, despite a coroner's report on Friday that there was no poison in his body.

His coffin arrived as cargo on Wednesday, and the crowds to see it the next day as it was laid out in the Museum of the Revolution were relatively small. But on Friday, the crowds grew to many thousands and hours of waiting, before the large rally on Saturday.

The pro-Western government here refused a state funeral for Mr. Milosevic, but many critics said Serbian leaders made enough concessions to give the proceedings all the frills of an officially authorized funeral.

After the coffin was paraded through the streets, speaker after speaker told the mass gathering in front of Parliament that the display of grief for the former president's death would indicate an end to Serbia's cooperation with the tribunal and forever change Serbian politics.

Filip Horvat for The New York Times

Supporters of the former Serbian president waiting in front of the federal parliament in Belgrade.

"As of today he will be one of the most powerful factors in the life of the Serbian state," said Vranko Radic, a member of Mr. Milosevic's legal counsel in The Hague.

Ramsey Clark, the former United States attorney general and counsel to Mr. Milosevic, and Gennadi A. Zyuganov, the head of the Russian Communist Party, were among a number of foreign delegates to address the crowd, all helping to reinforce the conviction that the former Yugoslav leader was the victim of a foreign conspiracy.

"It was not death, it was murder," said Mr. Zyuganov, a candidate for Russia's next presidential election in 2008.

Even if the funeral was not state-authorized, it was highly organized and carried many of the trappings of an official function. Supporters wore the same buttons and pins with his face, and the police lined the roads amid a well-calibrated arrival of buses from around Serbia. In Pozarevac, a municipal building was converted into a media center, with wireless Internet access and badges that journalists were required to wear also emblazoned with Mr. Milosevic's picture.

The coffin arrived in Pozarevac, about 50 miles southeast of the capital, in the late afternoon in a silver Mercedes hearse to a smaller and more local crowd than in Belgrade. People threw flowers in the path of the hearse and chanted slogans against the war crimes tribunal in The Hague during a second round of angry speeches.

The coffin was then taken to the Milosevic family house, a two-story building with a red roof behind a gate piled high with flowers. The coffin was lowered into a grave in a garden next to the lime tree, as a brass band played and messages were read from his absent wife and son.

"We two, we have always been on the same side of the world," said the message from his wife, Mirjana Markovic, who had been powerful here in her own right. "I'll fight on for our ideals."

His wife, who lives in Moscow, did not come, though Serbian officials had agreed to suspend an arrest warrant for her. Socialist Party members said they feared that the authorities would still confiscate her passport. Neither his son Marko nor daughter Marija were present.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

To Slobodan Milosevic: Thank you for all the lies,thievery and blood

For those few people that don't understand Serbian cyrillic (are there such people anyway?) here is the translation:

To Slobodan Milosevic

Thank you for all the lies and thievery, for blood of thousands innocent people, for fear and dubiousness, for lost lives and insecurity, for dreams which were never fulfilled, for horrors and wars which you lead in our name, without our agreement, for all your sins that you transferred to us!

We remember the military tanks and blood on Belgrade streets. We remember Dubrovnik. We remember Knin and Krajina. We remember Sarajevo and Srebrenica. We remember the NATO bombardment. We remember Kosovo. We are yet to remember it. And to dream about it.

We remember the dead, wounded, misfortuned and refugees. We remember our ruined lives.

The citizens of Serbia who remember
Nada (hope), Srecko (happiness), Zivko (life), Sloboda (freedom), Vesela (joy) and Mile Curcic

At first, we saw Milosevic as God'

By Colin Freeman in Belgrade

As a Serbian Army veteran, the funeral of Slobodan Milosevic filled Vladimir Miladinovic not with defiant pride, but dreadful memories of his time fighting in Kosovo.

There was his fearful comrade Nick the Houseburner, for example, notorious for setting light to Albanian homes and mutilating dead bodies. There was the indiscriminate bombardment of villages by units armed with tanks and grenades. And there was the awful, gradual realisation that the entire, horrific campaign was being waged for a leader he had long idolised.

Vladimir Miladinovic: No tears
"When Milosevic first came along I adored him, like everyone else," said Mr Miladonivic, who was an intelligence chief during the campaign in Kosovo in 1999. "But now we know that he wasn't a patriot, just an opportunist who exploited the nationalist cause for his own rise."

Mr Miladinovic, 33, is not unusual in harbouring regrets about the campaign that forced an estimated 800,000 Albanians from their homes and saw many hundreds killed and tortured. He is, however, one of the few ex-Serbian servicemen who have recanted publicly.

The reaction to his whistleblowing role in a recent television documentary, in which he detailed atrocities against Albanian civilians, showed the difficulty that many Serbs have in accepting any culpability for the bloodshed. When it was broadcast six months ago, the spectacle of being denounced by one of their own sparked a public outcry that forced him into hiding.

As a Serb, born and raised in Kosovo, he remembers how attractive Milosevic's nationalist rhetoric was. After decades in which feelings of ethnic identity had been suppressed by President Tito, Serbs had long felt marginalised by the Albanian majority until a visit from Milosevic in 1987 when he promised: "Nobody is allowed to beat you".

"From that moment, we saw him as God. He liberated us not just physically, but spiritually," Mr Miladinovic said.

His loyalty wavered only 12 years later, when he was posted to a Serbian Army garrison in his home town of Gnjilane. As a boy, he played with his Albanian neighbours. Now he saw fellow Serb soldiers use counter-insurgency operations against the guerrillas as the front for savage ethnic cleansing.

Once part of a machine that spilt endless blood in Milosevic's name, yesterday he found himself unable to shed a single tear. "I had no emotion when I heard of his death whatsoever. He had no sympathy for anyone who died, not even Serbs. I hope that after his death one very thick line is drawn under all this."

Macabre circus : Milosevic's shadow of death

By Nick Thorpe
BBC News, Belgrade

Following a week of accusations and high emotion, Nick Thorpe reports on laying the ghost of the former Yugoslav President, Slobodan Milosevic, to rest.

There are so many little dyings, wrote the American poet, Kenneth Patchen, half a century ago, that it does not matter which of them is death.

Gravediggers work in the backyard of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's house in his home town of Pozarevac
Gravediggers work in the backyard of Slobodan Milosevic's house
Watching Slobodan Milosevic's black, plastic wrapped coffin, lowered down the cargo chute of an all-white, Yugoslav Airlines plane on the runway at Belgrade airport last Wednesday, I wondered how many times Milosevic died.

And how many people would still be alive, in Serbia, and beyond, if he had never come to power.

"Did you ever talk with him about death?" I asked his close friend Milorad Vucelic this week. He thought for a moment, then told me this story.

The two men were flying together once in a small Falcon aircraft, as part of a delegation of Serbian and Bosnian Serb leaders.

They ran into a storm and the plane began tossing and turning. The others were worried for their lives but Milosevic started laughing.

"Why?" His friend asked.

"I just imagined," he replied, "all the people, scrabbling for our positions if we die now."

As an atheist, he had no truck with the afterlife. But he was interested in power, and it clearly amused him to contemplate the redistribution of his own.

Burnt in memory

Contemplating Milosevic in death, I remember another funeral, in Serbia in March 1999, of a young ethnic Hungarian, who died for him.

As a result of covering the conflicts in the Balkans, I have come to believe that evil exists, as a disembodied force, darkening peoples' hearts at certain times, in certain places
Zoltan Nemes was just 21 years old when he was killed as a soldier in the Yugoslav army, in combat with ethnic Albanians, fighting for the independence of Kosovo.

My recordings of the funeral were confiscated by the secret police when I was expelled from Serbia after the start of Nato bombing a week later.

But many details are burnt into my memory.

The whole, mainly Hungarian population of his village, Mol, in the northern province of Vojvodina turned out for his funeral.

At the graveside his commanding officer read out a speech commending his bravery.

An ethnic Hungarian politician commented bitterly, in another speech, that he had died for nothing - a member of one minority killed by one of another minority, in someone else's war.

I remember too the bells of the Catholic church, mixing with those of the Orthodox, the hooves of the horse-drawn hearse, the volley of shots over his grave, and the sound of 3,000 villagers, weeping.

And I remember Zoltan Nemes' father moving his head constantly from side to side, as though rocking a baby to sleep in his arms, as he buried his only child.

"There is so much Serbian blood spilt there, so many holy relics, that Kosovo will be Serbian even when not one Serb remains there," the nationalist poet Matija Beckovic had said, 10 years earlier, in June 1989.

Quest for power

These were the sentiments Slobodan Milosevic fanned in order to rise to power, and then to hold onto it, as up to a quarter of a million people died, some on the battlefields, but most as civilians, murdered in their towns and villages.

Slobodan Milosevic
Slobodan Milosevic's contribution to history will forever be disputed
As a result of covering the conflicts in the Balkans, I have come to believe that evil exists, as a disembodied force, darkening peoples' hearts at certain times, in certain places.

But to even suggest that, am I absolving them of a part of the crimes they should stand trial for, in courts like the War Crimes Tribunal in the Hague, where Slobodan Milosevic died?

It is easier to prove the existence of evil. But if evil is a power at large in the world, surely good must be present too? And justice - beyond the efforts of human courts.

The simplest Balkan peasant understood that better than all the urban intellectuals.

I once asked a Bosnian Muslim woman if she thought that those who had killed all the men in her family would ever be brought to justice.

"God will be their judge," she said.

"Serbia is a victim of its own necrophilia - the celebration of death," says Vuk Stambolovic, the head of the Centre for Social Medicine in Belgrade.

He believes the malady began even before Milosevic came to power, in the 1980s, when nationalists queued to dig up prominent Serbs who had died in exile abroad and rebury their remains in Serbia.

The macabre circus surrounding the return of Milosevic this week - where he would be buried, who would accompany the body, and with or without which honours, confirmed to Stambolovic that the shadow of death still lies heavily on his people.

Perhaps after the deaths of so many, the funeral of Milosevic allows us to focus finally on the Serbs, as victims.

Looking out of my hotel window in new Belgrade, surrounded on all sides by tall rectangular housing blocks, I feel like a Lilliputian, the tiny people created by the writer, Jonathan Swift in his novel "Gulliver's Travels".

Surrounded by giant tombstones.