U.S. Hardens Stance on Yugoslav
By STEVEN ERLANGER
WASHINGTON -- The United States, trying to plot an eventual endgame
to its military involvement in the countries that once were part of Communist Yugoslavia,
is moving to undermine President Slobodan Milosevic's tight control over Yugoslavia,
senior U.S. officials say.
U.S. officials have toughened their tone against Milosevic in recent
days and are openly supporting the democratic government in Montenegro, a part of
Yugoslavia that Milosevic has hinted he might move against.
Milosevic's political grip has weakened because of his mishandling
of the rebellion in the southern Serbian province of Kosovo, U.S. officials say. But they
flatly deny reports of some covert or even overt new plan to oust Milosevic, saying that
his fate is up to the Serbian people. And he remains an important actor in Western efforts
to keep the peace in Bosnia and Kosovo, they say.
The officials were speaking after a series of high-level meetings of
the administration's national security team, with the special envoy Richard Holbrooke
taking part by a secure video link.
While they argue that the essence of U.S. policy -- support for the
democratization of the region -- has not changed, they concede that the U.S. tone about
Milosevic has hardened. "There is a generalized feeling now throughout the
administration that Milosevic is the problem in the Balkans, and less vital for the
solutions," a senior U.S. official said.
In Brussels last Tuesday, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright
called on the NATO alliance to find "an appropriate way to support the democratic
aspirations of the Serb people," who "have been silenced and shackled far too
long." Her spokesman, James Rubin, said last week: "Milosevic has been at the
center of every crisis in the former Yugoslavia over the last decade. He is not simply
part of the problem -- Milosevic is the problem."
But while urging democracy in Yugoslavia, the officials have not
called for Milosevic's removal and are wary of a further breakup of the country, which is
now made up of the dominant Serbia and Montenegro. "We're not supporting the
secession of Montenegro, which the Montenegrins themselves don't advocate," an
official said. "That could produce another unraveling in Europe, starting with the
Bosnian Serb republic."
Despite Milosevic's weaker position now, he withstood huge rallies
of 200,000 people calling for his ouster two years ago, and today the democratic
opposition is splintered badly, making its repression easier. The officials are concerned
that Milosevic could be replaced by someone worse, like the fanatical Serbian nationalist
In September a slightly moderate Serb nationalist, Biljana Plavsic,
whom Washington supported, was defeated by a harder-line Serb, Nikola Poplasen, in the
Bosnian Serb republic.
Washington has decided to do its best to protect Montenegro and to
revive support for a democratic opposition in Serbia itself, even as Milosevic has moved
to crush it.
Last week, for instance, the State Department welcomed a number of
Serbian democrats and news media figures who have been attacked by Milosevic, including
Slavko Curuvija, publisher of the newspaper Dnevni Telegraf, which Milosevic shut down on
Oct. 13 but which has been revived and publishes from Montenegro. They also testified at a
hearing in the House before the Congressional Commission on Security and Cooperation in
Milosevic has used the new U.S. oratory "to circle the
wagons," a European diplomat noted, drawing closer to old cronies and cracking down
harder on the independent news media, much of which has withdrawn to Montenegro.
The administration hopes to roll out an explicit program at the
beginning of the year, the officials said, which will include aid to independent news
organizations, academic institutions and civic organizations, many of which Milosevic has
been trying to repress in Serbia. Washington will also direct further support to
Montenegro, whose president, Milo Djukanovic, has been diverging from Belgrade and
Milosevic and providing safe haven for a number of the news organizations and academic
institutions that were shut down.
"There has been real progress toward democracy and economic
freedom in Montenegro, and we want to support them any way we can," a senior U.S.
official said. "It's also a way to show the Serbs in Belgrade, who are watching, that
we are not anti-Serb per se, which is what Milosevic always cries."
The United States is currently spending about $15 million a year,
including $2 million for independent television, to promote democracy in the Federal
Republic of Yugoslavia, which includes Kosovo. There, Washington hopes to help independent
news organizations in preparation for hoped-for elections for a local parliament.
Also early in 1999, the administration will make public posters and
publicity for a new "bounty" of $5 million a head for the capture of accused war
criminals in the region, including Kosovo -- money pushed on the executive branch by
Congress, in particular by Rep. Benjamin Gilman, R-N.Y., who is chairman of the House
International Relations Committee.
Among the targets of such a bounty are the former Bosnian Serb
political leader Radovan Karadzic, and his military commander Gen. Ratko Mladic. Both men
have been indicted by an international war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia but
have not been arrested by NATO-led forces in Bosnia. The two men are believed to be living
now in Serbia, officials said.
But the details for such a bounty program are still being worked
out, especially with the Justice Department, officials say. It will be run out of the
office of Robert Gelbard, who is in charge of carrying out the Dayton accords, and the
secretary of state will determine who qualifies for any reward.
The administration continues to press negotiations to find a
political solution to the conflict in Kosovo, between the ruling Serbs and the ethnic
Albanians who make up about 90 percent of the province's population.
But Holbrooke and the chief U.S, negotiator, Christopher Hill, have
had difficulty getting a coherent political response from the badly divided ethnic
Albanians. The essence of the problem is that the United States and the West want a
solution -- enhanced autonomy for Kosovo within Serbia -- that is favored by neither the
Serbs nor the population of Kosovo.
Increasingly, urged on by the Kosovo Liberation Army, the ethnic
Albanian residents of the province want independence, while the Serbs are reluctant to
grant any real autonomy, let alone an enhanced autonomy beyond the status Milosevic
removed from Kosovo in 1989.
Hill, who is currently circulating his fourth draft agreement among
the various parties, has been criticized by both sides. U.S. officials say they do not
expect quick success, but are still pushing to find a political settlement before the
spring, when the Balkan thaw could produce new fighting in Kosovo.
Holbrooke Says May Visit Belgrade For Kosovo Peace?
By Elif Unal
ISTANBUL - U.S. Balkans envoy Richard Holbrooke said Sunday he was
considering a trip to Belgrade in the near future to inject life into what he said was a
fragile peace process in the Yugoslav province of Kosovo.
"There is a possibility that I may make a trip to Belgrade as
part of this trip to the region ... we are thinking about it," Holbrooke told Reuters
TV on the sidelines of a meeting between Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot businessmen in
Holbrooke, backed by a threat of NATO airstrikes, in October
persuaded Serbian leaders in Belgrade to withdraw much of their forces from Kosovo and to
pledge to negotiate a settlement.
The deal brought a fragile cease-fire to halt eight months of
fighting between Yugoslav security forces and ethnic Albanian guerrillas in which 1,500
people died. The ethnic Albanian majority in Kosovo want independence after decades of
harsh direct rule from Belgrade.
But the envoy said neither side was fully observing the agreement
and called for political progress to shore up the peace.
Concern Over Failure In Compliance
"We are concerned that there has been some failure in
compliance on both sides. We want to revitalize and re-emphasize the process," he
said. "We are all mindful of the fact that...we need to make progress on the
political front in order to move forward."
Holbrooke said U.S. Kosovo mediator Christopher Hill would continue
shuttle diplomacy between the two sides.
"Ambassador Hill is continuing his marathon efforts to mediate
between Albanians and Yugoslav authorities. It is extremely difficult, both side are dug
in on very tough positions," he said.
Both sides have condemned Hill's latest draft autonomy plan for the
Serbian province and Holbrooke said hopes for face-to-face talks between Serbs and ethnic
Albanians were low.
"I am not positive that the direct talks are the best way to
pursue, perhaps indirect talks. Ambassador Hill and I will discuss that further," he
NATO has sent a 1,500-strong force to neighboring Macedonia in case
fighting breaks out and it needs to withdraw 2,000 unarmed 'verifiers' whose job is to
track compliance with the cease-fire.
Belgrade says the force would be treated as hostile if it crosses
KOSOVA (trials - Dešan)
Six months imprisonment for "association for hostile
Dešan, 13 December (ARTA) 1830CET --
The Serb installed Court in Pejš sentenced the young Shaban
Ahmetaj, from the Dešan municipal village of Isniq, with six months imprisonment. He was
accused of "association for hostile activities".
Ahmetaj was kept under custody in the prison in PejŰ since the
beginning of July. As the local people from Isniq claim, he was not engaged in any
activities during the fighting.
On the contrary, he was working as a shop clerk until the day when
the Serb police in Pejš arrested him.
KOSOVA (trials - Kašanik)
The trial against 15 Albanians accused for "terrorism"
Kašanik, 13 December (ARTA) 1730CET --
The defense attorneys, Avni Ibrahimi, and Rexhep Haxhimusa, from
Ferizaj stated that the trial against 15 Albanians, accused of terrorism, will start on
Monday (14 December) at 0900CET in the District Court of Prishtina. The indicted are
charged for "association for hostile activities" and "terrorism",
according the article 136 in conjunction with article 125 of the Yugoslav Criminal Code.
The indicted are Danush Kurtaj (1961), Hasan Dalleshi (1957), Fatmir
Kurtaj (1962), Avdylgafurr Luma (1961), Mejdi Dalloshi (1944), Tefik Raka (1939), arrested
on 10 August, and Xhevat Azizi (1954), arrested on 20 July, while Berat Luzha (1953),
Hajrush Kurtaj (1966), Qamil Ilazi (1948), Naser Kuka (1961), Reshat Salihaj (1971),
Bexhet Imishti (1958), Remzi Elezi (1962) and Naim Beka (1969) will be tried in absence.
Thirteen of the indicted are from Kašanik and the surrounding
villages, two of them are from the Ferizaj municipal village of Pleshtinš, and from Viti.
The accusation states that, "the indicted have held secret
meetings where they prepared and planned terrorist operations, weapon trafficking,
transporting of the ammunition, military and sanitary equipment, etc.".
KOSOVA (detention abrogated - Gjilan)
The detention of six Albanians accused for "terrorism"
Gjilan, 12 December (ARTA) 1730CET --
With the proposition of the Prosecutor of the District Court,
Momcilo Antic, and the decision of the investigation judge, Zivorad Stankovic, the
detention of six Albanians: Ismail Avdyli (1964), Halil Haliti (1968), Kemajl Aliu (1967),
Sali Shahini (1973) Fejzullah Aliu (1969) and Jonuz Aliu (1958), arrested on 11 and 12 of
November, was abrogated on 11 December.
The above-mentioned Albanians, accused of "association for
hostile activities" and "terrorism", are from the Gjilan municipal village
of Dobšršan, states their defense attorneys, Osman Arifi and Shemsedin Pira.
Meanwhile the investigations against fugitives Nebi Huruglica, Sinan
Avdyli, Ibish Ibishi, Xhafer Kryeziu, Naser Arifi, Enver Tahiri, and Naser Tahiri, were
postponed until their arrestment.
KOSOVA (shootouts - MalishevŰ)
Intensive gunfire from three Serb police checkpoints in MalishevŰ
MalishevŰ, 13 December (ARTA) 1800CET--
Unlike the everyday sporadic shooting, intensive gunfire was heard
in the territory of Malishevš on Saturday afternoon, informs the "KD"
correspondent from MalishevŰ.
Shooting from heavy machine-guns and other lighter weapons, was
heard near the village of CarrallukŰ, in KijevŰ, and coming from the building of the
private enterprise "Mirusha", at 1500CET.
Similar shooting was also reported from Pishat e LlazicŰs at
The reasons for the shooting are unclear as there is still no
information on eventual damage, reported the "KD" correspondent.
KOSOVA (IDP issues - Obiliq)
IDPs to celebrate the New Year in their houses
Obiliq, 13 December (ARTA) 1600CET --
If the OSCE verifiers keep the promises they made to the residents
of Obiliq and FushŰ-Kosova municipalities, then, tens of thousands of local residents
will be able to celebrate New Year-s in their own houses.
The villagers state that the OSCE verifiers promised them that the
Serb police will withdraw from this region by 17 December. However, the prevailing
situation in the field proves the opposite. Field sources report on reinforcements of the
Serb police positions in the villages of Siboc, LajthishtŰ, ShipitullŰ, Graboc i UlŰt
and Graboc i EpŰr.
"During the past two nights, continuous gunfire was heard from
all positions of the Serb police. Consequently we were compelled to flee our homes",
claims Hida from the village of Siboc, who had just entered her home to take some food and
Sources close to the KLA, which is currently observing the field,
also report on provocative movements of Serb forces.
"They have not withdrawn from any positions, they provoke
continuously and reinforce their positions everyday", they claim.
This region is still uninhabited due to the prevailing
In the meantime, the CDHRF branch in Obiliq also informs on
provocative movements and behaviors of the Serb paramilitary units. There were also
reports that these forces mistreated local youngsters.
GERMANY (Kosovars in exile)
Albanians will spend the winter holidays in exile...
13 December (ARTA) 1630CET --
Bajram A. comes from the Dukagjin plain in Kosova. He has spent the
last 30 years of his life working in Germany. He has devoted his life to his family and
welfare in Kosova.
His family is currently running from one shelter to another. He does
not even know what is left of his property and the assets he earned through his work
Now, when the vacations are getting nearer, he cannot return to
Kosova. The reasons are very simple: the fear and experiences with the Serb border
officials. They (the police) would make problems for anybody who works in Germany and
comes from a region like Drenica, Dukagjin, Rahovec, Klinš etc.
It used to be like this in the past as well, but such conduct has
become more pivotal, as accuses for "helping terrorists" could result with
In fact, the fate of Bajram A. is similar with the fates of around
500,000 Albanians living in Germany and Switzerland, as well as other Western countries.
The war, destruction, losing of the beloved and the permanent threats while crossing the
border now prevent them from spend winter holidays together with their families.
Therefore, the classical way to greet, through phone or greeting cards, which will most
probably not be delivered to any villages in Drenica or Dukagjin, remain the only possible
way to wish a merry Christmas and a happy New Year.
All this is just because Albanians who travel by bus or private cars
have to drive through Serb-controlled areas. The same goes if they travel by plane, which
land in Belgrade or Skopje, because they have to undergo strict police check-ups in such
cases as well.
Another possibility is to fly from Germany to Zurich and then take a
direct flight to the Prishtina airport. It sees that such an option suits Bajram A. best
because "it is better to be stopped in Kosova then somewhere in Serbia or
Macedonia", he claims, still considering whether to spend his winter holidays in
KOSOVA (British delegation - Prishtina)
"I am here on a fact-gathering mission"
Prishtina, 13 December (ARTA) 1700CET-
The British liberal leader, Paddy Ashdown, declared on Sunday in
Prishtina, that he came to Kosova on a fact-gathering mission.
"I am here on a mission to collect facts, to see what the
situation is and of course, recommend my Government", said Ashdown after meeting with
the chief Kosova Albanian negotiator, Fehmi Agani.
This is the second visit that the leader of the English Liberal
Democratic Party made to Kosova, and according to him, it was taking place "in
somewhat better conditions".
Ashdown was accompanied by the spokesperson for the Foreign Affairs
of the House of Lords, Ms. Williams, as well as the British Ambassador to Belgrade,
Bryan Donelly, when he met with the negotiators, KLA general
political representative, Demaši, LBD chair, Qosja, and liberal leader, Dedaj.
Ashdown said he would visit other parts of Kosova on Monday. There
are claims that he might visit Malishevš, as well.
On the other hand, member of the Albanian negotiating team, Edita
Tahiri, claimed that during the meeting, the "Albanian side gave its opinions on the
new draft, reiterating that it is unacceptable".
"It is unacceptable because of the approach and concept that
the draft has", she asserted.
Asked whether they discussed the idea of organizing an international
conference on Kosova during the meeting, Tahiri said, "there were no discussions on
that behalf, although the Albanian side welcomes the initiative for such a