UNHCR BACKGROUND PAPER ON REFUGEES AND ASYLUM SEEKERS FROM KOSOVO
 New York Times special section: the Conflict in Kosovo
 Washington Post photo essay - Breaking the Peace

KOSOVO: ETHNIC CLEANSING redux

NATO Ultimatum  #NATO ultimatum
History   #History
Kosovar Albanians struggle for autonomy or independence
Serbs suppress and massacre  #massacre
NATO threatens  #nato
OSCE Monitors  #osce
Milosevic  #milosevic
 #Kosovar refugees


  REFUGEE EXODUS 'OUT OF CONTROL'
  More Kosovo refugees are flooding across the borders 
April 2, 1999
  There has been a sharp increase in the exodus of refugees from Kosovo with Nato saying more than a third of the population has fled into neighbouring countries since the start of the conflict.
  The UN estimates that more than 180,000 have crossed into Macedonia, Albania and Montenegro in the last 10 days.
  Aid agencies are warning of a humanitarian disaster not seen in Europe since World War II as the organised expulsion of Kosovo Albanians by Serb forces continues without respite.
  The Albanian Government has warned of a catastrophe. Information Minister Mussa Ulqini said: "The situation is out of control."
  The authorities in Macedonia have said the country can no longer cope with the refugee crisis and are appealing for international help.
  Meanwhile, an investigation is under way in Yugoslavia following the capture of three US servicemen by Serb forces.
  And according to the official Yugoslav news agency, Tanjug, President Slobodan Milosevic has asked Russia for military aid during a meeting in Belgrade with Russian MPs.
  So far Russia has ruled out giving military support to Mr Milosevic.
  At the Macedonian border large numbers of refugees are arriving. Aid agencies describe the situation as "very difficult" and say they do not know how they will cope.
  Up to 10,000 men, women and children are gathered in fields next to the border.
  There are no shelters - they sit on bare grass, huddled in groups of up to 20, trying to keep warm and shelter from the rain.
  Correspondents say sanitation is non-existent, children are weak and starving and the elderly barely have the strength to go on.
  More than 25,000 Kosovo Albanians have been forced onto trains in recent days and sent to the Macedonian border, joining the crowds of refugees who have got there on foot.
  UN spokesman Fred Eckhard said the railway passengers were being rounded up in what appeared to be a "deliberate and systematic policy to railroad large sections of the population into exile".
  Forced out of the carriages two miles from the border and robbed of their last possessions and documents they are then ordered to walk the rest of the way to Macedonia - official name Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
  Albania 'overwhelmed'
  A further 11,000 refugees arrived overnight in the northern Albanian town of Kukes. Aid workers there say the situation is critical.
  A BBC correspondent on the Albanian border, Clarence Mitchell, says refugees crossing into Albania have all told how Serb paramilitary forces had systematically emptied Pristina at gunpoint over the last 48 hours and driven them towards the border.
  Even though Albanian residents have been putting up refugees in their homes, many are sleeping in the streets. Food and water is in short supply and a helicopter airlift of supplies is being considered.
  The Albanian government is reported to have announced the closure of all schools in the northern border region to provide accommodation for the new wave of refugees.
  Sixteen plane loads of relief supplies have arrived in the Albanian capital, Tirana.
  B-1 bombing starts
  American B-1 bombers, operating out of RAF Fairford, have been used in the Nato onslaught for the first time on the tenth night of strikes.
  But Air Marshall Sir John Day said the bad weather was continuing to hamper raids against Serb forces.
  At a briefing on Friday he confirmed that those bombing missions which had been completed overnight continued to focus on reducing President Milosevic's dwindling fuel supplies.
  British defence officials are warning of a possible coup attempt in Montenegro backed by President Milosevic in Belgrade.
  Montenegro is part of the Yugoslav Federation but the republic's leadership has distanced itself from Belgrade's policy of ethnic cleansing.
  Serbia gathers evidence on US soldiers
  An investigation has begun into the case of three US soldiers captured by Serb forces.
  An official from the Serbian provisional government in Kosovo said: "The process of collecting evidence, on the basis of which a criminal procedure starts, is under way. More details will be available on Saturday".
  It is unclear whether the three had appeared in court.
  Belgrade officials have said they could face charges of espionage or invading Yugoslav territory.
  US President Bill Clinton said there was no basis for them to be put on trial. He delivered a blunt warning to the Yugoslav president that he would be held responsible for their safety and well-being.
  The three US soldiers - who were paraded on Serbian television showing some signs of physical injury - were from a peacekeeping unit based in the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia.
  The three captured men were named as Steven M Gonzales, Andrew A Ramirez and Christopher J Stone.
  In spite of this latest twist in the Kosovo crisis, President Clinton vowed to stay the course. "We will continue to carry out our mission with determination and resolve," he said.
  Russia sets sail
  Meanwhile, a Russian reconnaissance ship has left the Black Sea port of Sevastopol, to monitor the situation in Yugoslavia.
  Moscow announced the move earlier this week, saying another six ships would follow.
  Washington has condemned the move as unhelpful and expressed concern about the kind of signal it would send to Yugoslavia and other countries in the region.
  The US has also rejected a call by Russian President Boris Yeltsin for an emergency meeting of the world's leading industrialised nations - the G8 - to find a political solution to the crisis.
 






  Refugees mass on the border with Macedonia, waiting to be registered
  Tides of refugees from Kosovo are still hoping to cross over into neighbouring Macedonia, Albania and Montenegro, as aid agencies struggle to help those who have already found sanctuary there.
 
  Truckloads of Kosovo Albanians wait at Kukes in northern Albania to be taken to the capital, Tirana.

  Refugees wait to cross into Albania after the authorities decided to register all those displaced from Kosovo - a change of policy reported to have caused a back-up of refugees some miles long.
 
  Some 2,000 Kosovo Albanians sought shelter at the Piscine refugee camp in Tirana.
 
  Children and adults alike at the Piscine camp sort through clothes donated by the Red Cross.
 
  While at Schiphol airport in the Netherlands, staff from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees prepare another aid shipment bound for the Albanian capital.
 
  Refugees take donated beds into the camp at Rakovica, 16km west of Sarajevo.
 
  Two Muslim refugees from Yugoslavia consume humanitarian aid distributed at the Rakovica camp. Since Nato air strikes began, up to 6,000 Muslims have fled to Bosnia, joining the 10,000 Kosovo Albanians already there.
 
 

  REFUGEE HORROR GOES ON
March 30, 1999  Families talk of leaving with only the clothes on their backs
  More than 120,000 Kosovo Albanians have now fled Kosovo amid continuing reports of Serb forces assaulting civilians and burning houses.
  Reports say another 100,000 are still surging towards the borders of Montenegro, Macedonia and Albania.
  In recent days many thousands have made it to the borders.
 Albania: Up to 100,000
 Montenegro:37,500
 Macedonia: 20,500
  Paul Stromberg, a Geneva-based spokesman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said reports from observers on the borders spoke of widespread violence and intimidation from Serb forces.
  "The picture drawn for us by refugees is very, very grim and very, very discouraging," he said.
  Albania struggles to cope
  The BBC correspondent in Albania, Clarence Mitchell, said refugees continued to pour into the border town of Kukes late into the night.
  The town of just 18,000 inhabitants, had swelled with more than 80,000 refugees in 72 hours.
  Five thousand were being sheltered in four warehouse holding areas and another 5,000 were housed in private homes.
  Although the agencies were trying to move people away from the small border town, many refugees were waiting in a desperate search for lost relatives.
  "Around 30 men have been waiting on the Albanian border for their wives and children since Thursday," a spokesman for the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said.
  But the majority of refugees arriving in Kukes are being loaded onto buses, open top lorries, and tractors, to make the perilous journey down mountain tracks to larger Albanian towns and cities.
  Exodus into Montenegro
  In Montenegro, correspondents have described the stream of refugees as an exodus and officials there expect 40,000 more to arrive.
  One truck in the hundreds of vehicles heading out of Kosovo contained the population of an entire village. They said they were loaded onto the truck at gunpoint and a hand grenade was lobbed at them as they left.
  "We didn't have time to pick up clothes or food or anything. We just had the clothes on our backs," one woman said.
  Aid agencies swamped
  Aid agencies such as the UNHCR accept that they do not have enough people on the ground to deal with the crisis.
  Kukes, for example, has just one UNHCR representative, although six more aid workers are to join him soon.
  Emma Bonino, the European Union's commissioner for humanitarian affairs, is expected to visit Albania and neighbouring Macedonia to assess the scale of the refugee crisis and how Europe should respond.
  There have been pledges of emergency aid from several countries including Britian which has offered a transport plane to ferry supplies into Albania from Copenhagen as well as £10m in extra aid.

 
  March 30, 1999
  THE OVERVIEW

  NATO HUNTING FOR SERB FORCES; U.S. REPORTS SIGNS OF ‘GENOCIDE'
 FLOOD OF REFUGEES
 Raids Focus on Halting the Serbs' Attacks on Ethnic Albanians
  By FRANCIS X. CLINES
  WASHINGTON -- NATO bombers hunted for Serbian troops in embattled Kosovo Monday and the Administration said evidence of "genocide" by Serbian forces was growing to include "abhorrent and criminal action" on a vast scale. The language was the State Department's strongest yet in denouncing Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.
  There were also more reports of assassinations of ethnic Albanian leaders and of the scorched-earth torching of Kosovar villages by Serbian forces.
  Tens of thousands of refugees continued to flee in terror, pouring into Albania, Macedonia and Montenegro and compounding the Balkan region's profound refugee problems.
  "President Milosevic has adopted what can only be described as a siege mentality," said Air Commodore David Wilby of Britain at NATO headquarters in Brussels. "He believes he can realign his ethnic problems in one week and that NATO unity will crack in that same period," he said of the nonstop refugee flow.
  "There are indicators that genocide is unfolding in Kosovo," said the State Department spokesman, James P. Rubin, invoking a word heavy with implications of proof and punishment in international law. There is no reason to await further confirmation before using the term, he argued, "because we can clearly say crimes against humanity are being commited" that carry penalties of life imprisonment.
  He added, "Let me say that the abhorrent and criminal actions, I mean on a massive scale, are occurring in Kosovo."
 

  March 30, 1999

  THE SERBIAN STRATEGY
  MILOSEVIC GOAL IS SERBIAN ENCLAVE, NATO AIDES SAY
  By CRAIG R. WHITNEY
  RUSSELS, Belgium -- NATO officials said Monday that Slobodan Milosevic's military campaign against the ethnic Albanians in Kosovo was aimed at establishing a Serb-only enclave in the province to keep after the fighting ends.
  "We have the impression that there is a campaign under way to ethnically re-engineer the inside of Kosovo, to achieve a solution more acceptable to him," said the chief spokesman for NATO, Jamie Shea.
  Responding to suggestions that the allied bombing had set off the offensive and caused additional civilian casualties instead of preventing them, military and civilian officials here said the Serbs had carefully built up the forces to launch the offensive over six months.
  Serbian military and police units began driving Albanian civilians out of towns and villages the day that the peace talks in France were
 
 
suspended in late February, the officials said, and began attacking over large areas of the province in force two weeks ago, when the talks were called off in failure.
  "This is not a spontaneous outbreak following NATO's actions," Shea said.
  A European diplomat said the geographical pattern of the attacks in Kosovo suggested that Milosevic's police officers and troops were trying to drive out the ethnic Albanians from lands once inhabited by Serbs in the north and center of the province.
  "There are ancient Serb monasteries in the center of the province and industrial development in the north that the Serbs apparently want to stake permanent claim to," the diplomat said. He speculated that if Milosevic ever did bow to allied demands, stop the fighting and agree to resume peace talks on a plan for autonomy for the Albanians, he could claim that the "ethnically cleansed" territory should stay Serbian, no matter what.
  The tactic is similar to the one that the allies used in Bosnia in the war that ended in 1995. Soldiers of one ethnic group drove people descended from other ethnic origins out of their houses and then burned the houses to make sure that the refugees would not try to return. In the Serbian part of Bosnia where that occurred, only ethnic Serbs stayed or were later resettled in such places to lay claim to them as Serbian territory.
  The allies said Monday that nine villages had been reported set afire west of Pristina, north and south of the road to Klina, in the last 24 hours.
  In addition, a spokesman for the allied military commander, Gen. Wesley Clark, said that "reliable sources" had reported that Fehmi Agami, an adviser to the ethnic Albanian leader, Ibrahim Rugova, was executed on Sunday. Four other prominent Albanian leaders, including Baton Haxhiv, were also reportedly executed, said the military spokesman, Air Commodore David Wilby.
  Two regions where allied officials said "ethnic cleansing" had been most intense for two weeks were west and south of Kosovo Field, where the Serbs were defeated by a Turkish force in 1389 and gave rise to a powerful and defining historical myth of Serb martyrdom.
  Western officials said Monday that the Serbs had driven 280,000 people from their houses in Kosovo. Large regions to the west and southwest of the provincial capital, Pristina, in an area roughly bounded by Djakovica, Malisevo, Urosevac and Prizren, almost to the Albanian border, and smaller areas between the cities of Klina and Pec, around Srbica and Glogovac, and between Kosovska Mitrovica and Podujevo to the north of Pristina, were "areas of ethnic cleansing," the alliance said.
  On Sunday night, officials said, allied warplanes went after a headquarters that was directing the largest operations and blasted the internal police headquarters in Pristina.
  Speaking for the allied military command, which said Monday that it was intensifying the bombing of the Serbian military and police headquarters that ordered the attacks, and going after tank and artillery units in Kosovo around the clock, Wilby said Milosevic was showing a "siege mentality."
  "He believes he can realign his ethnic problems in one week and that NATO unity will crack in that same period," Wilby said. "Helicopters are being used against the civilian population. Paramilitaries are entering towns and terrorizing the people, followed by military and police, who cynically give people leaflets saying it's safe to leave their homes."
  Refugees were being systematically driven toward Albania, Shea said, with 60,000 seeking shelter in that impoverished country. Many refugees, he said, had been forced to surrender identification papers and passports.
  "It's almost as if they were being declared nonpersons, making re-entry into Kosovo that much more difficult," he said. "Whole towns and cities, including the old center of Pec, have been totally destroyed."
  A European Union official who deals with refugee problems, Emma Bonino, conferred with the secretary-general of NATO, Javier Solana, on Monday and said afterward that it looked as if 80,000 to 100,000 people might be pushed into Albania.
  "This is a human tragedy that I would like to underline has been going on for many years, and in the last year in particular," Ms. Bonino said. "Now we are faced with a new phase of the same ongoing tragedy and a new phase in the same long-term strategy of repression."
 
  'COMPLY OR BE DESTROYED'
March 25, 1999
  Pristina awoke to air raid sirens and flames
  Nato commander General Wesley Clark has issued a stern warning to Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to toe the line or face the destruction of Yugoslavia's armed forces.
  "We are going to systematically and progressively attack, disrupt, degrade, devastate and ultimately, unless President Milosevic complies with the demands of the international community, we are going to destroy these forces and their facilities and support," he told a news conference in Brussels.
  The supreme allied commander in Europe said at least 40 targets were struck in the first night of attacks and said three Yugoslav planes were destroyed, one of them by a Dutch Nato fighter.
  General Clark said he had phoned Yugoslav military officials to warn them against sending their navy into the Adriatic.
  The Yugoslav navy "must remain in port. They must not come forth in the Adriatic or they will be treated as hostile forces," he said.
  He reaffirmed that Nato had no intention of using its ground forces. Earlier, US Defence Secretary William Cohen warned that the bombing campaign against Serb targets will intensify and said Mr Milosevic still had "an opportunity to pursue the path of peace".
  A similar message came from the UK Defence Minister George Robertson, speaking the morning after the biggest aerial bombardment in Europe since World War II.
  "We shall continue to hit hard hard until our military objectives are achieved," he told a news conference in London.
  In its latest emergency measure, Yugoslavia is expelling all journalists from Nato countries involved in the attacks.
  Earlier, Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic congratulated the air force and air-defence units for "resistance to the aggression of the Nato forces," state news agency Tanjug reported.
  Possible raids
  Meanwhile, a new round of Nato air raids was reported to have been launched on Thursday morning against targets close to the Yugoslav capital.
  Witnesses and local media say several sites have been hit including a military airport at Batajnica and an aircraft factory at Pancevo as air raid sirens sounded in Belgrade.
  Nato strategists are assessing the aftermath of the first wave of attacks amid strong criticism at the UN Security Council and a declaration of war by the Yugoslav army.
  Journalists expelled
  The Yugoslav government issued a sweeping order expelling "immediately" all foreign journalists from Nato countries involved in the attacks.
  A Yugoslav Government statement said they had to leave "because they, by their reporting from the territory of the Republic of Serbia, strengthened the aggressive acts of Nato forces aimed at violent destruction of the territorial integrity of Serbia and Yugoslavia".
  The BBC's Orla Guerin is among the the journalists already expelled from Kosovo, after being rounded up at gunpoint with other journalists in her hotel in Pristina in the early hours. She crossed into the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia this morning.
  State of war
  The western military alliance began Operation Allied Force at around 1900 GMT on Wednesday - saying its goal was to deter President Milosevic from further attacks on Kosovo Albanian civilians.
  In Yugoslavia's first official estimate of casualties, Information Minister Goran Matic said 10 civilians had been killed in last night's Nato raids. Mr Matic said another 60 were injured. He declined to give any details of Yugoslav military casualties.
  The Yugoslav army said 40 targets were hit in three hours including five airports, five barracks, communications and command positions.
  National television broadcast pictures of burning buildings throughout the country and what were reported to be victims in hospital.
  Onslaught makes history
  During the night, the Belgrade sky was lit up with tracer fire from anti-aircraft batteries in what was the first attack on a European capital since 1945.
  All-clear sirens sounded as dawn broke in the Yugoslav capital, Belgrade and a semblance of normal life began to return.
  In Kosovo's regional capital, Pristina, power has been restored after a complete black-out on Wednesday night but water supplies are still not back.
  Russian warnings
  Russian President Boris Yeltsin has warned that the US would be held to account for Nato air strikes against Yugoslavia.
  "Nato's aggression against Yugoslavia is a gross mistake by American diplomacy and Clinton, and they at the end will be held to account for it," Mr Yeltsin said in a statement reported on the Interfax news agency.
  In an emergency meeting of the United Nations' Security Council, Russia and China led condemnations of Nato's action, describing it as a violation of international law.
  President Yeltsin recalled Russia's representative at Nato's Brussels headquarters and ordered a halt to all co-operation with the alliance.
  In an earlier address to the American people, President Bill Clinton said that the western allies had to fulfil a moral imperative over Kosovo.
  "If President Slobodan Milosevic will not make peace, we will limit his ability to make war," he said.  
 
  CHRONOLOGY OF EVENTS RELATING TO THE KOSOVO CONFLICT
  By The Associated Press March 24, 1999
  1968 -- First pro-independence demonstrations by ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, many arrested.
  1974 -- Yugoslav constitution redrawn, declares Kosovo an autonomous province within Serbia.
  1980 -- Yugoslav leader Marshal Josip Broz Tito dies.
  1981 -- Ethnic Albanians hold street demonstrations demanding Kosovo be declared a republic, dozens injured.
  1989 -- Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic strips Kosovo of autonomy. More than 20 killed in protests.
  1990 -- Yugoslavia sends in troops to impose control. Serbia dissolves Kosovo's government.
  1991 -- Separatists proclaim Kosovo a republic, which is recognized by neighboring Albania.
  1992 -- Ibrahim Rugova, who advocates a peaceful path to independence, elected president of separatist republic.
  1996 -- Pro-independence rebel Kosovo Liberation Army emerges, claims responsibility for bombing police targets.
  Feb. 28, 1998 -- Militant Kosovo Albanians kill two Serb policemen, leading to police reprisals by Milosevic, now the Yugoslav president.
  March 1998 -- Dozens killed in Serb police action against suspected Albanian separatists.
  April 1998 -- 95 percent of Serbs reject international mediation on Kosovo in referendum. International sanctions imposed against Yugoslavia.
  May 1998 -- Milosevic and Rugova hold talks for first time, but Albanian side boycotts further meetings.
  July and August 1998 -- KLA seizes control of 40 percent of Kosovo before being routed in Serb offensive.
  September 1998 -- Serb forces attack central Kosovo, where 22 Albanians found massacred. U.N. Security Council adopts resolution calling for immediate cease-fire and political dialogue.
  October 1998 -- NATO allies authorize airstrikes against Serb military targets, Milosevic agrees to withdraw troops and facilitate the return of tens of thousands of refugees. Belgrade agrees to allow 2,000 unarmed monitors to verify compliance.
  October-December 1998 -- U.S. envoy Christopher Hill tries to broker political settlement. Scattered daily violence undermines fragile truce.
  December 1998 -- Yugoslav troops kill 36 KLA rebels. Six young Serbs killed in a cafe, prompting widespread Serb protests. Fighting in north kills at least 15.
  Jan. 15, 1999 -- 45 ethnic Albanians slain outside Racak, spurring international efforts for a peace settlement.
  Jan. 29, 1999 -- Serb police kill 24 Kosovo Albanians in a raid on a suspected rebel hideout. Western allies demand warring sides attend Kosovo peace conference or face NATO airstrikes.
  Feb. 6-17, 1999 -- First, inconclusive round of talks between Kosovo Albanians and Serbs in Rambouillet, France.
  February-March 1999 -- Yugoslav forces sweep through Macedonian border region, digging in across from where thousands of NATO forces gathering for a possible peacekeeping mission, and bombard KLA positions in the north. Rebels launch several attacks on Serbs.
  March 18, 1999 -- Kosovo Albanians unilaterally sign peace deal calling for a broad interim autonomy and 28,000 NATO troops to implement it. Serb delegation refuses and talks suspended.
  March 20, 1999 -- International peace monitors evacuate Kosovo, as Yugoslav forces buildup and launch offensives against rebels. NATO aircraft and ships ready for possible bombardments.
  March 22, 1999 -- U.S. special envoy Richard Holbrooke visits Belgrade to warn Milosevic of airstrikes unless he signs peace agreement. Milosevic refuses to allow NATO troops in Yugoslavia.
  March 23, 1999 -- Holbrooke declares the talks have failed. NATO authorizes airstrikes. Yugoslavia declares state of emergency -- its first since World War II.
 
 
 
 THE BREAKUP OF YUGOSLAVIA
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 



 


 
 
 
 
 



 

January 29, 1999 #top 

  THREE WEEK DEADLINE OVER KOSOVO
 
  International foreign ministers have given warring Serbs  and ethnic Albanians just three weeks to reach a deal to end the  conflict in the troubled province of Kosovo or face possible military  force.
  Meeting in London, the international Contact Group  declared that the province of Kosovo must be granted "substantial  autonomy" from Serbia.
  The Contact Group chairman, UK Foreign Secretary Robin  Cook, summoned both sides in the Kosovo conflict to meet for  talks within a week. They would be expected to conclude  agreement on the basis of the Contact Group's proposals within one  further week.
  The six-member group would then decide whether the  Serbs and Albanians had made sufficient progress to justify granting  the two sides a maximum of one more week to conclude negotiations.
  But as diplomacy reigned in London, violence continued to flare in the province itself, with reports of fresh fighting.
  A spokesman for the European security organisation, the OSCE, said 24 "male civilians" were found dead in western Kosovo, where Serb police clashed with ethnic Albanian rebels of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA).
  'Get serious'
  After three months in which there had been no talks between the two sides to negotiate a political outcome, the international community appears to have lost patience.
  Mr Cook said the Contact Group could not allow a stalemate to continue "while the ceasefire crumbles and people are being killed".
  His strong message was echoed by US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. "We have sent the parties an unmistakable message - 'Get serious'. Showing up is not going to be good enough", she said.
  The peace plan was earlier backed up by a stiff warning from Nato that the proposals would be imposed by force if negotiations were not opened within a few days.
  The warning was supported on Thursday by Britain and France who said they were prepared to send ground troops to Kosovo to enforce a negotiated settlement. Germany is also reported to have put its weight behind the idea.
  But it remains unclear whether the US would be willing to support a move to send in ground troops.
  Ms Albright said the Clinton administration would consult Congress about a possible role for US troops in enforcing an interim peace agreement in Kosovo.
 Proposals for peace
  The Contact Group paper proposes "a self-governing Kosovo with free and fair elections supervised by the (European security organisation) OSCE and with control over their own police and internal security", said Mr Cook.
  Mr Cook is to fly to Yugoslavia to reinforce the Contact Group's demand to the Belgrade authoritities and ethnic Albanian leaders in Pristina to sit down to peace talks.
  It was now up to the two parties themselves to help the political process take place to ensure "stability and peace and democracy" for Kosovo, Mr Cook said.
  Cautious welcome
  Both sides have welcomed the Contact Group's proposals - with conditions attached.
  Serbian Deputy Information Minister Miodrag Popovic is quoting as saying that that he welcomed the talks, but said Serbia's forces could not observe a ceasefire - a precondition set by ethnic Albanian leaders.
  "On behalf of the Serbian and Yugoslav Government we can say that the point the Contact Group wanted to make is welcome in this country as long as they exercise their influence over some of the ethnic Albanian political representatives to come to the talks.
  "We can't speak of any ceasefire because we consider the KLA a terrorist organisation."
  Moderate Kosovo Albanian leader Ibrahim Rugova said that he would send representatives to the peace talks in France, but was not yet sure if he himself would go.
  He added that such a conference must have a "very concrete outcome."
  "We cannot move ahead with negotiations ... that would eventually serve as a cover-up for the massacres and the killings that Belgrade has been committing," he said.
  Racak killings
  Ahead of the London meeting, a report in The Washington Post newspaper alleged that the 40 ethnic Albanians found dead in the village of Racak were killed by regular security forces acting on the orders of Belgrade.
  Yugoslav authorities have maintained that the victims were ethnic Albanian guerillas who died in combat with Serb forces, and that the bodies were moved by the KLA and made to look like the victims of a civilian massacre.
 
 


 #History   HISTORY, BLOODY HISTORY
  The hills of Kosovo have been a source of dispute for generations
  By Tim Judah, author of The Serbs History, Myth & the Destruction of Yugoslavia.
 *June 10, 1998
  For generations, Kosovo has been a territory disputed between Serbs and Albanians.
  And just as Serbs and Albanians fight for it today, their respective historians have long quarrelled over its "true" history.
  Albanians claim that they are its original inhabitants, being the descendants of the ancient Illyrians.
  The Serbs say that Kosovo lay at the heart of its medieval kingdoms and that during the middle ages few, if any, Albanians lived amongst them.
  The Serbs buttress their claim by pointing to their ancient monasteries and churches which dot the landscape.
  A KEY DATE IN KOSOVO'S HISTORY IS THE JUNE 28, 1389. 
  According to classical Serbian history, the Serbian Prince Lazar fought the invading Ottoman Turks at Kosovo Polje (The Field of Blackbirds) - and lost.
  Although his death was celebrated as glorious sacrifice, the defeat opened the gates to a Turkish advance which would only be checked some 300 years later at the gates of Vienna.
  Modern historians believe that the Battle of Kosovo was actually a draw, although the Serbs were fatally weakened.
  It is also now generally accepted that Albanian and Bosnian contingents fought alongside the Serbs and that other Serbian contingents fought for the Turks.
  However, until today, the original story has exercised a powerful grip on the Serbian imagination and the call to "avenge Kosovo" was an emotional one during the 19th century reawakening of Serbian nationalism.
  SERBIA UNDER TURKISH RULE
  By 1459, all of Serbia, including Kosovo, had fallen under Turkish rule.
  Slowly but surely, the population balance began to change as the then-majority Serbs migrated northwards to Bosnia, the Austrian and Hungarian lands.
  Following a failed uprising in 1689, the numbers of Serbs emigrating began to escalate.
  They were replaced by mostly Muslim Albanians who came to Kosovo's fertile lands from the hostile mountains of Albania proper.
  From 1878, Serbia was a fully independent state again but Kosovo still lay under Ottoman rule.
  This year was also important for Albanians as it saw the foundation of the League of Prizren, which marks the birth of modern Albanian nationalism, not just in Kosovo but for all Albanians.
  By 1912, Serbia and the other independent Balkan states joined together to drive the Turks out of their remaining possessions in Europe.
  For Kosovo's Serbs, the arrival of the Serbian Army was a liberation.
  For Albanians, by now the majority population, it was nothing short of an occupation, coupled with massacres and expulsions.
  During the First World War, the Serbian authorities were themselves driven out and, in 1915, Albanians took their revenge for 1912 by exacting reprisals on retreating Serbian troops.
  The Serbian revenge for this came in 1918 when the army of what was now Yugoslavia returned.
  SERB ATTEMPT TO SETTLE
  Throughout the inter-war years, the Serbs tried to reverse the population imbalance in Kosovo by sending settlers to the area.
  The authorities were, however, continually plagued by Albanian uprisings and unrest.
  In 1941, most of Kosovo became part of an Italian-controlled Greater Albania.
  Other parts were occupied by the Germans and Bulgarians. Tens of thousands of Serbs, especially settlers, were driven out.
  Tito's Yugoslav Partisans found it hard to recruit Albanian soldiers, but in the end they had some success when they appeared to promise Kosovo Albanians the right to unite with Albania after the war.
  When, in 1945, it became clear that this promise was not to be kept, theYugoslav authorities were again faced with Albanian uprisings.
  Until the1960s the province was kept on a tight leash, but in 1974 it was granted full autonomy, which gave it almost the same rights as Yugoslavia's six republics.
  From this time on, Serbs complained of harassment by Albanians who were also demanding the status of a full republic for the province.
  Serbs were also worried because, thanks to Serb emigration and a high Albanian birth rate, the proportion of Serbs in the province had now fallen to a mere one for every nine Albanians.
  Manipulating these grievances, Slobodan Milosevic, then the head of the Serbian Communist Party, rose to supreme power.
  In 1989 he stripped Kosovo of its autonomy.
  However, his actions precipitated a crisis across the rest of former Yugoslavia which was to end in its bloody collapse.
  Under the leadership of Ibrahim Rugova, Kosovo Albanians opted for peaceful resistance to Serbian rule under Mr Milosevic, declaring their independence and running a parallel state.
  However, over the last two years Mr Rugova has come under increasing attack from radicals who claim that his pacifism is tantamount to passivity.
  The events of the last few months, and the emergence of the Kosovo Liberation Army, show that there are now enough Albanians who are prepared to take up arms against Serbia to seriously threaten its hold on the province.

 #top  #massacre VILLAGERS SLAUGHTERED IN KOSOVO 'ATROCITY'
SCORES DEAD IN BLOODIEST SPREE OF CONFLICT
  By Guy Dinmore Special to The Washington Post Sunday, January 17, 1999; Page A01
  BELGRADE, Jan. 16 -- At least 45 ethnic Albanians were found slaughtered today in the village of Racak in the breakaway Serbian province of Kosovo in what appeared to be the bloodiest spree in the year-long conflict between the warring sides.
  International observers -- including U.S. Ambassador William Walker, the head of the multinational force attempting to monitor the tenuous cease-fire -- immediately accused Serbian security forces of mass murder. President Clinton issued an angry condemnation of the killings. NATO announced it would hold an emergency meeting on Sunday in Brussels to discuss what action to take, and there were demands for access for investigators of the U.N. war crimes tribunal. 
  The bodies of the ethnic Albanians, which included a young woman and a 12-year-old boy as well as a number of older men, were discovered scattered on a hillside and heaped together in a gully near Racak, 15 miles south of the provincial capital, Pristina. Villagers  said Serbian forces had rounded up the victims, taken them up a hill and killed them. Some had their eyes gouged out or their heads smashed; many were old men shot in the head at point-blank range.
  U.S. diplomatic observers counted 45 bodies, but local villagers and the Kosovo Liberation Army said they had counted 51, including a 3-month-old baby. That report, however, could not be confirmed.
  It was the highest single death toll in the 11 months since the Serbian crackdown on ethnic Albanian separatists began. Kosovo is a province of Serbia, the dominant Yugoslav republic. A cease-fire, brokered by U.S. envoy Richard C. Holbrooke with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, has been in effect since Oct. 12. The truce halted more than seven months of fighting between the majority ethnic Albanian population and Serbian authorities.
  After touring the grisly scene and seeing the bodies of some 20 ethnic Albanians scattered across a hillside, a visibly shaken Walker called the killings "an unspeakable atrocity," and "a crime very much against humanity."
[photo caption: Some of the Serbs' ethnic Albanian victims in the Kosovo village of Racak were found on Saturday with gouged eyes and crushed heads.]
  Walker said he did not "hesitate to accuse the government security forces of responsibility." He urged prosecutors from the International War Crimes Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia to investigate.
  Clinton responded to the news with a strong condemnation that suggested the Serbs had violated commitments made to NATO to forestall Western military action.
  "THIS WAS A DELIBERATE AND INDISCRIMINATE ACT OF MURDER DESIGNED TO SOW FEAR AMONG THE PEOPLE OF KOSOVO," CLINTON SAID IN STATEMENT. "IT IS A CLEAR VIOLATION OF THE COMMITMENTS THE SERBIAN AUTHORITIES HAVE MADE TO NATO. THERE CAN BE NO JUSTIFICATION FOR IT."
  The State Department announced the emergency NATO meeting, and spokesman James P. Rubin said: "There should be no doubt of NATO's resolve."
  Rubin said Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright had been in contact with other NATO foreign ministers and demanded that Milosevic bring those responsible to justice.
  Louise Arbour, the chief prosecutor at the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague, said she would lead an investigation into the massacre in the next few days. Her spokesman, Christian Chartier, said Arbour was demanding "immediate and unimpeded access."
  The prosecutor's efforts to lead a team to investigate earlier charges of atrocities in Kosovo have been rebuffed by Serbian authorities, who do not recognize the jurisdiction of the tribunal and refused to issue visas.
  "For this, we don't care," said Chartier in a telephone interview. "We are no longer prepared to discuss jurisdiction." He said Arbour and her team planned to leave for Kosovo within 48 hours.
  Diplomats in Belgrade said the massacre had dashed any remaining hopes of preserving the already shaky cease-fire. But they dismissed the likelihood of NATO intervention in the short-term, saying the alliance was divided and unwilling to commit the ground troops needed to enforce a peace agreement.
 NATO Secretary General Javier Solana said in Brussels that NATO "will not tolerate a return to all-out fighting and a policy of regression in Kosovo."
  U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, who said he was shocked and "gravely concerned," called for a full investigation.
  "There have been problems and violations of the agreement for many weeks now, and clearly it is shaky," Rubin said.
  "It is not as bad as it was last fall, but it's heading rapidly in that direction," he said.
  Ethnic Albanians outnumber Serbs by nine to one in Kosovo, where more than 1,000 people were killed and tens of thousands driven from their homes in fighting last year.
  The massacre occurred two days after the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) freed eight Yugoslav soldiers, ending a five-day standoff.
  Serbian police, who were backed by tanks, said in a statement that they had sealed off Racak on Friday while searching for the killers of a policeman, but had been shot at by KLA rebels.
  "In the clashes, several dozen terrorists, most of whom were in uniform with KLA insignia, were killed," the statement said.
  But residents said the police officers had separated men from their families and told them they would be taken to the nearby town of Urosevac. Instead, a group of more than 20 men were led up a hill and executed, villagers said.
  Walker said, "We were hoping for a reciprocal confidence-building measure. Instead we have this. . . . the killing of innocent civilians."
  KOSOVO MONITORS FIND MUTILATED BODIES AFTER SERB ATTACK
January 17, 1999 By THE ASSOCIATAED PRESS
  RACAK, Serbia -- Scattered on a Kosovo hillside and heaped together in a muddy gully, the bodies of 45 ethnic Albanians were found shot or mutilated Saturday in what appears to be the worst killing spree of the nearly year-old conflict.
  International monitors expressed horror at the discovery, which came a day after Serbian forces attacked the area in southern Kosovo. The killings present the gravest threat yet of a return to full-scale combat in the separatist province.
  Some of the dead were found with their eyes gouged out or heads smashed in, and one man lay decapitated in the courtyard of his compound. The victims included one young woman and a 12-year-old boy, and many were older men, including one who was 70.
  Many had been shot at close range, and residents of Racak village said Serbian forces had rounded up the men, driven them up the hill and shot them. Twenty-eight bodies lay heaped together at the bottom of a muddy hillside gully.
  All the victims were dressed in civilian clothing, despite the insistence of the Serbian police that most of the "terrorists" wore uniforms of the rebel Kosovo Liberation Army.
  Visibly upset and his voice shaking after visiting the killing site, the American head of the three-month-old Kosovo Verification Mission, William Walker, called the killings a massacre, "an unspeakable atrocity," and "a crime very much against humanity."
  "Nor do I hesitate to accuse the government security forces of responsibility," Mr. Walker said.
  "It looks like it was done by people who have no value for human life," Mr. Walker said.
  United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan called for a full investigation, saying he was shocked and "gravely concerned."
  In Kosovo, ethinic Albanian leader Ibrahim Rugova renewed his call for NATO intervention after the "cruel attack."
  International monitors and journalists came across the carnage this morning in Racak, 15 miles south of the provincial capital, Pristina, after having been barred from the site by the Serbian police the previous day.
  The wails of women discovering the loss of their men could be heard as residents who had evacuated on Friday returned.
  One by one the monitors counted the bodies.
  It was the highest single death toll since an Oct. 12 truce brokered by the United States envoy Richard Holbrooke with President Slobodan Milosevic of Yugoslavia that largely halted more than seven months of combat in the province of Serbia.
  The informal cease-fire, which international officials have insisted is still largely intact, is in the worst danger yet of collapsing into a resumption of the province-wide fighting that devastated Kosovo in 1998, killing as many as 2,000 people.
  The Serbian police, who were backed by Yugoslav Army tanks in the assault on Racak and neighboring Petrovo on Friday, said today that they had killed "tens of terrorists" in the action.
  They said they had fought back after coming under mortar and automatic weapons fire while trying to arrest guerrilla suspects for the killing of a policeman.
  But villagers said Serbian policemen had separated men from their families and led them toward the local police station. They later turned and herded them up the hill, where they killed them, the residents said.
  Bodies lay where they apparently were slain, along cow paths and in deep, hilly ravines.
  An ethnic Albanian man who gave his name only as Raim said he had been told that the Serbian police had barged into his family compound while he was away and attacked and killed his father and two brothers.
  "Yesterday early in the morning, police came with very heavy machine guns together with the army," he said. "They entered the village with infantry. Half of the people they arrested and beat up. The rest you can see here," he said pointing to the heap of bodies.
  "We don't know what we are going to do," he said, sitting on a stump with his head in his hands, holding on his knees a rifle with "UCK" -- the Albanian-language acronym for the Kosovo Liberation Army -- burned into the wooden butt.
  As many as 2,000 people, mostly ethnic Albanians, have been killed since Mr. Milosevic launched an offensive last February to try to crush separatist militants and reinforce Government control over the Albanian-majority province in Serbia, the larger republic in Yugoslavia.
  In a report of another outbreak of fighting today that could not immediately be confirmed, the ethnic Albanians' Kosovo Information Center said Government forces were using heavy artillery and tanks in an offensive against three rebel-held villages in the west.
  The report said rebels were fighting back in an area south of Decani, where a British monitor and his Serbian translator were each shot in the arm the previous day in the first confrontation to injure a monitor.
 

January 18, 1999

  NEW CLASHES AT MASSACRE VILLAGE
  Identifying the dead: Over 40 ethnic Albanians were killed
  More fighting has broken out around the village of Racak in southern Kosovo, scene of a massacre of 40 ethnic Albanians on Friday.
  Despite a stern warning from Nato to respect the cease-fire - or face the possibility of air strikes - Serbian military police are reported to have surrounded the area with anti-aircraft guns and mortars. Machine gun fire has been heard.
  An international monitor is quoted as saying other villages nearby were coming under attack.
  "It seems to be that this is a plan to systematically go from one village to another," international monitor Artur Marquardt told reporters.
  The renewed fighting comes as the Chief Prosecutor from the International War Crimes Tribunal, Louise Arbour, prepares to try to reach the village to inspect evidence of the massacre.
  Two senior Nato generals are also due to arrive in Belgrade to warn the Yugoslav authorities that they face air strikes if they do not end the violence in Kosovo in compliance with the cease-fire agreed last year. 
[photo caption: Ethnic Albanian families fled the Kosovo village of Racak Sunday as new fighting broke out between Serbian forces and ethnic Albanian rebels. Dozens of mutilated bodies of civilians were found near the village on Saturday.]
  In a BBC interview Nato Secretary General Javier Solana reiterated the organisation's three key demands. He said the Serbian authorities must comply with previous UN resolutions on the province, cooperate with the investigators from the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, and support the activities of international monitors.
  The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the body in charge of international monitors in Kosovo, has called an emergency meeting on Monday to discuss the growing crisis. It is expected to reiterate demands for unimpeded access for the Kosovo Verification Mission (KVM).
  The UK Foreign Secretary Robin Cook is also due to make a statement in the House of Commons and is expected to call for international investigators to be allowed access to the scene of Friday's massacre.
  INVESTIGATORS BARRED
  Belgrade has so far refused to allow investigators from the tribunal into the troubled province but Ms Arbour has called on the Yugoslav authorities to allow her access to Racak. She has not so far been granted a visa by the Yugolsav authorities.
  Speaking in an interview with the French newspaper Liberation, Ms Arbour warned that holding the position of head of state would not exonerate anyone held responsible for atrocities.
  "The international community did not set up this court to judge small fry," she is quoted as saying. "It expects it to make up for the inability of states to judge their own leaders if their responsibility was believed to be involved."
  She said investigations by the ICTY were intended to reach "the highest possible level."
  TOUGH MESSAGE FROM NATO
  The two Nato Generals, Wesley Clark, the supreme allied commander in Europe, and Klaus Naumann, chairman of Nato's Military Committee, are expected to deliver a tough message to the Yugoslav authorities.
  On Sunday Nato condemned Friday's massacre as a "flagrant violation of international humanitarian law". The organisation is demanding full compliance with existing UN resolutions calling for an end to violence in the province and says that air strikes against Serbia, narrowly avoided last October, remain an option.
  "The council demands that the government of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia take immediate steps to ensure that those responsible for this massacre are brought to justice," the Nato Secretary-general said.
  SERBS DISMISS REPORTS
  Serbia has dismissed reports of the massacre and said its forces came under attack while they were investigating the murder of a policeman.
  The Serbian deputy prime minister said the police at Racak had only shot at "terrorists" who had opened fire at them. Vojislav Seselj said on Sunday that the Kosovo Albanian fighters had tricked KVM chief William Walker and Western media.
  However, US President Bill Clinton and Mr Walker both blamed Serbian forces for the killings.


 #top  #nato 
 MILOSEVIC THREATENED WITH NATO ACTION
January 19, 1999
 
  The Serbian security forces have begun a new offensive
  The threat of Nato air strikes against Yugoslavia has come a step closer after Belgrade's expulsion of the head of the international observer mission, William Walker.
  Nato's two most senior generals, Wesley Clark and Klaus Naumann, have arrived in the Yugoslav capital to deliver a warning of possible military action to President Slobodan Milosevic.
  They will call on the Serbian leader to pull his security forces out of Kosovo, grant access to international investigators and reverse his decision to expel Ambassador Walker.
  Mr Walker was given until Wednesday evening to leave Yugoslavia, after blaming Serbian security forces for the massacre of 40 ethnic Albanians in the village of Racak. But Western officials say he is likely to sit tight for a few days.
  Mr Walker's expulsion - and the killings that preceded it - have been internationally condemned.
  US State Department Spokesman James Rubin said the move appeared to be a "transparent attempt to divert attention from the tragic massacre in Racak".
  OSCE Chairman Knut Vollebaek told the BBC that the expulsion was totally unacceptable and threatened the whole mission.
  Both Nato Secretary-General Javier Solana and US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said the threat to use military force against Yugoslavia was still active and they were prepared to exercise it.
  Mrs Albright warned Mr Milosevic that he would be making a grave mistake if he failed to meet his obligations over Kosovo.
  Speaking in Washington, she said air strikes against Serb positions were still an option.
  Nato has been ready to launch punitive raids against Serbia since last October, when President Milosevic escaped military action by agreeing to a moratorium on the use of force in Kosovo.
  Nato forces poised
  Nato itself has issued further warnings that the violence in Kosovo must stop, though the alliance has so far given no indication that it will authorise strikes.
  General Clark said his forces were poised for action if the order was given by Nato governments.
  He said he would not want to speculate on the likelihood of action, but added "the plans that were made in October are very much alive".
  "Most of the forces are poised and ready should they be called on today. The others are only a few hours away and so this is a very real possibility."
  Richard Holbrooke, the US special envoy to the Balkans who brokered the last-minute deal, said on Monday that Yugoslavia and Nato were now on the brink of an "extraordinary emergency". He said the situation was at least as serious as it was when Nato gave the activation order for air attacks last year.
  He accused Belgrade of "clear-cut violations" of the October agreements.
  Most serious setback
  The permanent council of the OSCE, meeting in emergency session in Vienna on Monday, described the Racak massacre as the most serious setback to peace efforts since the October ceasefire.
  The council noted that many of those killed had been executed.
  UN Security Council President Celso Amorim said that "members of the Security Council strongly condemn the massacre of Kosovo Albanians in the village of Racak".
  President Jacques Chirac of France said French policy on Kosovo would have to be redrawn as a result of the Racak killings.
  Russia - Belgrade's traditional ally which opposed Nato's air strike plans last year - also condemned the killings and called on the Yugoslav authorities to co-operate with international investigators.
  However, most observers say that Russia is still likely to block Security Council approval of Nato air strikes.
 
ALLIES CONDEMN DEATHS OF ETHNIC ALBANIANS
  By William Drozdiak Washington Post Foreign Service Monday, January 18, 1999; Page A17
  BERLIN, Jan. 17 – Faced with a resurgence of civil war in Kosovo, the NATO allies struggled today to prevent the volatile conflict in the Serbian region from spiraling out of control in the wake of the bloodiest massacre since fighting erupted there 11 months ago.
  NATO ambassadors, meeting in Brussels, condemned the killing of 45 ethnic Albanians by Serbian security forces and dispatched the alliance's top two generals to warn Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic that the patience of Western governments was running out.
  They called the killings a "flagrant violation of international humanitarian law."
  With Western governments loath to approve military intervention that could embroil them in another Balkan war, they abstained from any substantive action that could halt the violence in Kosovo – a province of Serbia, Yugoslavia's dominant republic.
  NATO's chief military commander, U.S. Gen. Wesley Clark, and the chairman of its military committee, German Gen. Klaus Naumann, will travel to Belgrade in coming days to meet with Milosevic. But in the absence of any serious threat of airstrikes by the Western alliance, it appeared unlikely their mission would produce any change in behavior by Serbian security forces.
  "Nobody likes the idea of taking military action against the Serbs, so we are taking a cautious and phased approach," said a senior NATO diplomat. "But it may become necessary at some point, because our credibility is on the line and the military option is the only thing that works with Milosevic."
  In Washington, Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright welcomed the NATO statement, saying it demonstrated "the seriousness of the situation." She and other U.S. officials expressed hope that the explicit declaration that NATO'S military "activation order" of last fall remains in effect would get Milosevic's attention and make him recognize that NATO is once again prepared to intervene. 
  "Secretary Albright is encouraged by the strong statement and the strong message in the statement that NATO has just approved," said her spokesman, James P. Rubin. "She believes it appropriate to continue to marshal diplomatic pressure to convince President Milosevic and the Serbs to comply with obligations they have assumed, and she hopes that the gravity of the situation will be understood when General Clark and General Naumann of NATO go to Belgrade this week."
  Earlier today, Rubin said it is crucial for Milosevic to understand that instead of issuing "hysterical, phony statements," he should ensure that the massacre is investigated and those responsible are brought to justice. 
  The U.N. war crimes tribunal's chief prosecutor, Louise Arbour,is scheduled to travel to Kosovo Monday to investigate the massacre.
  Meanwhile, fighting near Racak, the Kosovo village where the ethnic Albanians were slain, forced mourners to stop their funeral services and join international monitors in fleeing to safety. Later in the day, Serbian forces sealed off other villages in southern Kosovo.
  The massacre came after weeks of escalating military confrontations between Serbian security forces and Kosovo Liberation Army guerrillas who claim to be fighting for the province's independence.
  U.S. envoy Christopher Hill has been laboring for three months to broker a deal that would grant the ethnic Albanians – who make up 90 percent of the population in Kosovo province – substantial political autonomy if the rebels abandon their armed crusade.
  NATO suspended its threat of airstrikes against Yugoslav military targets last October following an eleventh-hour peace deal cut by the U.S. envoy Richard C. Holbrooke. The "activation order" that authorized NATO military commanders to launch bombing strikes has never been lifted, but NATO officials said any decision to proceed with bombing raids was not imminent. 
  As his part of the bargain, Milosevic agreed to reduce the presence of Serbian security forces in the province and open serious talks on power-sharing arrangements with Kosovo's ethnic Albanian leadership. But truce violations have been mounting in recent weeks as both sides appear to be gearing up for renewed warfare.
  Milosevic has spurned earlier promises that were central to the cease-fire by redeploying army and special police units in Kosovo that were supposed to be withdrawn. He has also defied the Western alliance by re-equipping Serbian forces with armor and heavy weapons to conduct military sweeps against Kosovo Liberation Army rebels.
  NATO diplomats acknowledged Milosevic may have been emboldened by Western capitals' recent preoccupation with the Iraq crisis and the impeachment proceedings against President Clinton. They also noted that Milosevic may have felt compelled to shore up his standing with his own military leadership by ordering a harsh response against recent rebel attacks, including the kidnapping by rebels of several Serbian soldiers, who were released from captivity last week.
  The latest upheaval occurs at a distressing time for the Western military alliance, which is trying to chart the scope of its mission in the 21st century. The new strategy is supposed to be unveiled at a 50th anniversary gathering of alliance leaders in Washington in April, at which Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic will be inducted into the alliance.
  "Our worst fears are coming true," said a senior U.S. policymaker in Washington. "Just when we need to concentrate our energies on delicate negotiations for a future mission statement we are being hit with a new crisis in Kosovo."
  NATO's options appear unpalatable in many respects. In the wake of the agonizing debate last October, several European states remain reluctant to approve airstrikes without explicit authority from the U.N. Security Council. That prospect appears unlikely, given staunch opposition by Russia and China – two of the council's five permanent members – against any outside military intervention within Yugoslavia's borders.
  Until Friday's massacre, some NATO governments were inclined to blame the Kosovo Liberation Army for stirring up trouble by ambushing Serbian forces.
  NATO has withdrawn from the Balkan region most of the 300 planes mobilized by allied nations last October for possible bombing raids. Military sources said only 80 planes are now in the theater and that any order to proceed with preparations for airstrikes would require several days to reassemble the armada.
  Moreover, military experts question the enduring value of airstrikes against Serbian military targets without any intervention by NATO ground forces to enforce a cease-fire and disarm the combatants. But there appears to be little desire among NATO governments to dispatch troops to another Balkan hot spot when more than 30,000 NATO peacekeeping forces are still deployed in Bosnia.
  Staff writer Thomas W. Lippman in Washington contributed to this report.
   #top
January 17, 1999
 #osce   ROLE OF THE UNARMED OSCE
  OSCE - Founded during the Cold War and based in Vienna
  Under the Kosovo ceasefire agreement, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe - the OSCE - is to provide a force of peace verifiers to monitor developments in Kosovo.
  The OSCE was due to send a total of 2,000 verifiers to the Serbian province, but only about 800 are currently deployed on the ground. 
  The agreement reached by Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and US Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke in October requires the Serbian security forces to withdraw from the province or return to barracks.
  The ethnic Albanian Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) was also supposed to have suspended its activities.
  The job of the OSCE mission is to verify the agreement. The verifiers' duties also include overseeing any elections held in the Serbian province.
  The unarmed monitors were granted freedom of movement, given security guarantees and back-up from non-combat Nato surveillance aircraft.
  Correspondents say neither the Serbian forces nor the KLA have honoured their commitments. 
  COLD WAR PAST
  The OSCE has been primarily concerned up to now with supervising elections in emerging democracies.
  Created as the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe it grew out of the Helsinki accords signed in 1975 between the two Cold War blocs, undergoing a name change to OSCE in 1994.
  It comprises all the European states with the single exception of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the former Soviet republics including Russia, the United States and Canada.
  It describes itself as a pan-European security organisation established "as a primary instrument in its region for early warning, conflict prevention, crisis management and post-conflict rehabilitation in Europe".
  The OSCE has been active in trying to settle conflicts involving ethnic minorities, and has increasingly taken on a diplomatic role in seeking to prevent conflict.
  Since 1995, it has been involved in almost all the countries of the former Yugoslavia (Serbia, Bosnia, Croatia and Montenegro) and in 1997 it monitored elections in Albania.
  The OSCE has sent permanent observers to the former Soviet republics of Moldova, Georgia and Tajikistan.
  It has sought to promote democratic institutions and help refugees to resettle in Chechnya after the fighting between Chechen separatists and Russian troops.
  The organisation has also been involved in seeking a political solution in Nagorno Karabakh, a mainly Armenian-populated enclave in Azerbaijan, which has declared independence.
  MR. MILOSEVIC'S MASSACRE
   Monday, January 18, 1999; Page A22 The Washington Post Company [Editorial]
  FOR NEARLY A year Slobodan Milosevic has been waging war against the people of Kosovo. Throughout that time the Clinton administration has been insisting that it would not stand for the sort of atrocities for which Mr. Milosevic ultimately was responsible in Bosnia earlier in this decade. The brutal massacre late last week by Serb forces of 45 or more civilians shows just how much the administration's promises have been worth.
  Kosovo is a province of Serbia, which in turn is the dominant part of what remains of Yugoslavia. Mr. Milosevic, whose title is president of Yugoslavia, is in fact the despot of Serbia. During his decade-long rule, his subjects have steadily lost economic prosperity and political freedom. But Mr. Milosevic has held onto power by manipulating nationalist hatreds and fomenting ethnic wars -- against Croats, Bosnians and now the ethnic Albanians who make up 90 percent of Kosovo's population.
  In Kosovo, as throughout the former Yugoslavia, the human toll has been unspeakable. Some 2,000 Kosovars have been killed. Hundreds of thousands have been burned and bombed out of their homes. So many villages have been destroyed that, even under ideal circumstances, it would take years for Kosovo to recover from Mr. Milosevic's depredations.
  The Clinton administration allowed the Serbs's ethnic cleansing to proceed unimpeded throughout the spring and summer. Then, in October, Ambassador Richard Holbrooke negotiated a cease fire. But because the United States and its NATO allies still were not really prepared to confront and stop Mr. Milosevic, they settled for an agreement that delivered far less than administration officials claimed. It did not force Mr. Milosevic to withdraw his troops from Kosovo. It allowed the international community to deploy only unarmed monitors on the scene. And even Mr. Milosevic's concessions were not enforced. He promised to allow war crimes investigators access, but NATO took no action when he reneged. He promised to free hundreds of Kosovo prisoners, but when he kept torturing them, NATO again took no action.
  Now the massacre in the village of Racak shows how far from ideal the October agreement really was. Children and old people were killed, some with their eyes gouged out, some shot at close range. U.S. diplomat William Walker, head of the international monitors, called the massacre "an unspeakable atrocity" and "a crime very much against humanity." United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan said he was "gravely concerned." State Department spokesman James Rubin said, "There should be no doubt of NATO's resolve."
  The October agreement, in other words, at least provided access and quick reporting about this atrocity. Now we will see whether that information translates into action. The people of Kosovo cannot stand much more "grave concern" or unquestionable "resolve" from the United States and its allies.
 


   NATO threatening Serbia over its repression in Kosovo   Thursday, June 4, 1998    40,000 flee homes in Kosovo
 

 October 13, 1998
  AGREEMENT IN BELGRADE
  Ready for action: The Nato activation order is still in place
  Yugoslavia has agreed to allow a 2,000-strong force into  Kosovo to ensure it complies with United Nations demands.
  US Balkans envoy Richard Holbrooke confirmed that  Belgrade is willing to allow the verification mission by the  Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe.
  The force will be supported by non-combat aircraft  carrrying out aerial surveillance over the Serbian province.
  Mr Holbrooke said the OSCE mission will have freedom of  movement and has been given guarantees of security by Belgrade.
  He said that Nato Secretary-General Javier Solana is  expected to fly to Yugoslavia in the next few days.
  He said: "I hope this will mark a turning point in the tragic  relationship between the peoples of Kosovo."
  Mr Holbrooke said he hoped the deal would lead the way  to "autonomy and self-determination" for the people of Kosovo, 90% of whom are ethnic Albanians.
  But he also warned: "We're not out of the emergency yet. We're still in it."
  President Milosevic told the nation in a television address that the accord removed the threat of military intervention. But his office put out a statement saying that the agreement with Mr Holbrooke guarantees Kosovo's autonomy within Serbia - less than has been demanded by Albanian leaders.
  Representatives from the Albanian separatist group, the KLA, said anything short of full independence was unacceptable.
  'Commitments not compliance'
  US President Bill Clinton had earlier welcomed developments on the road to agreement.
  He said the Yugoslav leader's commitments on international observers, the withdrawal of Serbian troops and a timetable for Kosovo autonomy could provide a diplomatic solution to the crisis.
  But he warned: "Commitments are not compliance. Balkan graveyards are filled with President Milosevic's broken promises."
  UK Prime Minister Tony Blair called Monday's developments a "breakthrough" but warned Nato was still "prepared to use force if necessary".
  A Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman welcomed the deal and said his country would probably take part in the observer mission.
  Nato ambassadors issued an activation order authorising air strikes late on Monday after being briefed by US Balkans envoy Richard Holbrooke.
  But it included a four-day delay to allow further talks in Belgrade after the progress made on Monday. Correspondents say Nato's decision to hold fire for 96 hours - twice as long as was earlier suggested - recognised the gains Mr Holbrooke had made and the possibility of a peaceful settlement.
  Announcing the decision to authorise military force, Nato Secretary General Javier Solana said: "Yugoslavia has still not complied with UN resolution 1199 in a way that can be verified."
  "Even at this last hour, I believe that diplomacy can succeed and the use of military force can be avoided. but the responsibility lies on the shoulders of President Milosevic. He knows what he has to do."
  Despite the agreement in Belgrade, Nato officials say the activation order remains in place.



 #top   October 1, 1998
  WHERE DID ALL THE KOSOVARS GO?
 
  Every day the numbers change. Every morning dozens of  ethnic Albanians in Kosovo and decide to leave their homeland.
  Unlike their fellow Albanians across the border in Albania  proper they are not jumping ship because the economy is in tatters,  although the Kosovan economy has been badly affected by conflict,  mismanagement and the disintegration of the old Yugoslavia.
  Thousands of ethnic Albanians are fleeing the land of their  birth because of repression or fear of becoming dragged into the  conflict with ethnic Serbs, who make up around 10% of the  population.
  Many young men fled Kosovo to join the Kosovo  Liberation Army, known by its Albanian initials UCK, while others  emigrated because they did not want to become involved in the  war.
  Facing the Balkan winter
  The vast majority of ethnic Albanian refugees are displaced within Kosovo, many of them camped outdoors.
  The Union Nations High Commissioner for Refugees say thousands face death during the winter. But the government in Belgrade have accused Western journalists of exaggerating and distorting the situation.
  Around 46,000 have fled to Serbia and Montenegro. Some of these are former government officials or others who were accused of collaboration and have fled for fear of reprisals by the UCK.
  Living conditions are generally poor, with several families crowded into one house.
  There have also been violent clashes between Serbian police and Kosovo Albanian refugees in the Muslim enclave of Sandzak and south-eastern Serbia proper.
  Warm welcome in Albania
  Another 18,000 have crossed the border into Albania where, although the welcome is warmest, economic conditions are not tempting.
  Many of these refugees crossing a hazardous mountain trail to reach the Tropoje area of northern Albania, where they have received support from relatives and strangers alike.
  But Albania is desperately poor and winters can be bitter. The UNHCR is currently assessing the situation and is providing relief aid.
  Around 9,000 have travelled north to Bosnia-Herzegovina, where they have received a mixed welcome in Sarajevo.
  Bosnia's minister for refugees, Beriz Belkic, accused the Kosovar Albanians of trying to make a "ghetto" in the capital and said: "If the arrival of Albanians continues, sarajevo will not be a city but a peasant village.".
  The latest diaspora
  Thousands more have got as far as Germany, Turkey, Britain and even Ireland.
  Lyndall Sachs, a spokeswoman for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), says: "These refugees should not be confused with earlier generations of Kosovars who moved abroad earlier this century.
  "Many ended up in the United States and Australia, where I come from. In fact my first marriage proposal was from a Kosovar."
  She said: "A lot of the refugees headed to Sarajevo because they believed they would be looked after by the UN and taken to the West.
  Sheltering in a factory
  "But that hasn't happened - there are thousands of Bosnians who are ahead of them in the queue - and they are now being accommodated in a disused Coca-Cola bottling plant."
  Ms Sachs said: "They are very vulnerable to clandestine, criminal groups who are becoming increasingly involved in human trafficking, which is less risky and almost as profitable as drug trafficking."
  In 1998, there have been several incidents, especially in Britain, when illegal immigrants from Kosovo have been dumped at motorway service stations or found stowed away on ferries.
  The UNHCR has already spent $200m this year and financial constraints have affected their operational plans. Several projects have been cancelled.
 
 
 
 
 
 



 
 
 
 

  The United Nations refugee agency says more than 40,000 ethnic Albanians from Kosovo have fled their homes in an attempt to escape the latest security operation in the Serbian province. 
  About 5,000 have arrived in neighbouring Albania with nearly as many reported to have gone to Montenegro, Yugoslavia's smaller republic.
  General Wesley Clark, Nato Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, has said there are growing reports of the use of artillery and heavy weapons by the Serbs.
  Entire villages have been destroyed in an area near the border with Albania which remains closed to the outside world. There are reports of some summary executions.
  For the past five days, Serbian forces have been targeting several ethnic Albanian villages west of the provincial capital, Pristina. 
  Nato believes Serb forces are trying to cut off guerrillas of the Kosovo Liberation Army from their safe haven and source of supplies in Albania by clearing and occupying a swathe of land on the border. About 40 ethnic Albanians and two Serbian policeman have been reported killed.
  Nato acts Kosovo
  Earlier, Nato decided to speed up moves to help Albania and Macedonia seal their borders with Kosovo.
  Military commanders are preparing contingency plans to deploy up to 23,000 soldiers to guard Albania's borders but won't report for some weeks.
  A Nato official in Belgium said alliance ambassadors had decided to send military reconnaissance teams to the two countries within hours. 
  The official said there would be no immediate decision on whether to deploy troops in the region.
  Fear of a "second Bosnia"
  Nato spokesman, Jamie Shea, said the alliance was extremely concerned, and civilians were increasingly the victims of an apparent Serbian policy to clear out areas near the Albanian border, but rejected allegations by Albania that Serb security forces were carrying out an "ethnic cleansing" campaign in Kosovo.
  The specific details of the operation will be presented to Nato Defence Ministers when they meet next week but the Nato spokesman said the planning stage could not be rushed and that Nato needs "a few days to complete the planning process".
  He added that the ambassadors were determined Kosovo should not become a second Bosnia, as he put it, with the international community doing too little too late.
  But the BBC correspondent in Brussels, David Eades, says that even as Nato insists no option has yet been ruled out, there is clearly no great willingness within the alliance to take such a bold step.

 
Concern grows over the reported use of heavy weapons in Kosovo

Bajram Curri, in northern Albania, has received 4,500 refugees from Yugoslavia in three days. One group ate Thursday in a school building. 

  Ethnic Albanian leaders in Kosovo accused the Serbs of laying siege to Kosovo and of attempting "ethnic cleansing".
  The United States said it was trying to reinstate the talks through its Ambassador to Macedonia, Christopher Hill, who has been appointed as a "facilitator" and sent to Kosovo.
  But the US special envoy for the Balkans, Robert Gelbard, said they were "seriously jeopardised by Belgrade's disproportionate and indiscriminate use of force in response to violence from Albanian extremists."
  Referring to the latest violence, Mr Gelbard said: "What we have seen is something that, based on the refugee accounts, sounds an awful lot like ethnic cleansing as they've been trying to drive people out of Kosovo into Albania."
  He said the talks were "extremely fragile" but the aim was "a package of measures to stop the fighting, draw back the forces and see if we can put into place some very robust confidence-building and tension-reducing measures."

 
 

A group of rebels from the Kosovo Liberation Army, with  mules carrying ammunition, marched toward Kosovo from northern Albania last month.
 
 
 
 

 
 

A young Albanian armed with an AK-47 provides security to ethnic Albanian refugees as they walk into Albania down a steep mountain slope after escaping fighting in Serbia's turbulent Kosovo province, Sunday. The refugees walked more than 30 hours from their western Kosovo villages.

 
 Hidajete Viliaj, 26, with her 3-day-old baby girl, who was born on the flight out of Kosovo. Some 20,000 people have been driven from their homes, and that number is expected to double within the coming days. 

         Ethnic Albanian refugees from Kosovo board the ferry in Fierza, Albania to cross an artificial lake, Sunday, as they try to leave the region of Tropoja en route to southern Albania
 
 
 

      Albania estimates that 15,000 ethnic Albanians have fled there to escape a Serbian crackdown in Kosovo Province. In Bajram Curri, Albanian Army soldiers set up a 120-tent camp Sunday for refugees. 

  July 20, 1998
  REBELS CLAIM FIRST CAPTURE OF  KOSOVO CITY
  ORAHOVAC, Yugoslavia — In what could be the  beginning of a significant new phase of the fighting in the  Serbian province of Kosovo, ethnic Albanian separatists said  Sunday that they had taken Orahovac, their first city, and that  they would use their newly acquired weapons to keep it.
  Serbian forces were counterattacking Sunday  afternoon, but the separatist forces seemed confident and kept  up heavy firing against what they said were the remaining four  government positions in the city. 
  No matter what the outcome of this battle, the  separatists of the Kosovo Liberation Army are once again  showing that international efforts to support ethnic Albanian  political leaders who want to end the conflict with negotiations may fail. The politicians have little influence over the insurgents, who are armed with artillery and surface-to-air missiles that they say are smuggled in, and they increasingly believe that they can win militarily.
 

 KOSOVO LEFT A 'WASTELAND'
  The Serbian forces re-gained control in many key  Kosovo areas
  More than 100,000 civilians from the Serbian province  of Kosovo are reported to be on the run following a week-long  Serb offensive against separatist ethnic Albanians.
 Correspondents say entire villages and towns have  been abandoned.
  International relief workers are stepping up their  efforts to track down the missing thousands after finding about  50 terrified women and children with little food or water in the  forests near Malisevo in the west of the country.
  The area is a former stronghold of the separatist  Kosovo Liberation Army. It fell to Serb forces earlier this week.
  The separatist guerrillas are now surrounded by Serbian forces in a stand-off at one of their last remaining strongholds - the village of Junik near the Albanian border.
     Kosovo province's ethnic Albanians have been displaced by the tens of thousands in recent days. A mother feeds her baby in the shadow of a tractor near Dubovac Monday as they try to find a place for a temporary refugee home.
SERB FORCES  PILLAGE AND BURN ENTIRE AREAS OF KOSOVO
 
 GENEVA, Aug 4 (AFP) - Serb forces in Kosovo have  burned and pillaged entire regions of Kosovo in destruction  which has driven the ethnic Albanian population from their  homes, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)  said here Tuesday.
 A spokesman for the Geneva-based refugee agency  said Serb tactics were "very much reminiscent of what we saw  in Bosnia.
 "Many areas are being de facto depopulated with  some burning and destruction of property which has no  military justification," said Kris Janowski.
 He added the agency "hoped" Serb forces were not  pursuing a policy of ethnic cleansing as was the case during the  Bosnian war at the beginning of the 1990s. 
 He said that the current offensive had nevertheless emptied large parts of the troubled province of its population, without a view to any return in the near future, forcing Serbs and Albanians into distinct groups.
 He estimated the number of displaced people in Kosovo had reached 200,000, a tenth of the population. Seventy thousand people have fled their homes during the offensive of the past days.
 "On the one hand", he said, "you've got the Yugoslav authorities making promises that everybody will be allowed to go home...The next thing you see, the fighting flares up with double intensity".
 "Whether it's some kind of Machiavellian policy or just a result of fighting, the outcome is there to see," the official added.
 "Big parts of the country are becoming empty of people, all there is left is emaciated animals and burning houses. Under those circumstances there is no way these people are going to go back any time soon. They are basically terrified." 
 About 130,000 Albanians are on road in Kosovo and there are a further 27,000 refugees in Montenegro and 13,000 in Albania. Several thousand Serbs have also left their homes, reaching the UNHCR's estimated total of about 200,000.
 According to Janowski, the number of refugees increases daily but the fighting is preventing the UN from mobilising aid locally, and helping those who are displaced.
 He pointed out that while 35,000 NATO soldiers were stationed in neighbouring Bosnia to keep the peace, "another corner of the Balkans is burning and people are on the run". He did not go as far as to suggest NATO intervention however.
 The UNHCR has warned several times of a repetition in Kosovo of the events in Bosnia, where tens of thousands of people were displaced and dispersed throughout the countryside while aid agencies struggled through all kinds of barricades to reach them.
 Janowski concluded that almost all Serbs have now fled the areas which were held by rebel separatists the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), while Albanians have left the zones now under Serb control.
 

  Sunday, August 16, 1998
  LAST KLA STRONGHOLD FALLS TO SERBS
  Yugoslav soldiers near Junik
  Serbian forces have taken control of the last major Kosovo Liberation Army stronghold in the Serb province of Kosovo.
  Western journalists who visited the village of Junik, near the border with Albania, said nearly all the civilian population had fled, and many buildings were damaged. 
  Junik had been under siege for nearly three weeks.
  Serb forces, supported by tanks and helicopters, have been waging a major operation in the area against several villages held by the ethnic Albanian separatist KLA.
  ETHNIC ALBANIANS HAVE BEEN FLEEING THE FIGHTING, ADDING TO THE ESTIMATED QUARTER OF A MILLION REFUGEES IN KOSOVO.
  A BBC correspondent in Kosovo, Jeremy Cooke, says the fall of Junik is a major blow to the KLA, which has been pushed back from territory it controlled in recent weeks.
 
 August 17, 1998 
 

        REFUGEES IN KOSOVO ARE IN PERIL
           Even as NATO is to begin military exercises on Monday intended to intimidate the Yugoslav government into stopping its attacks on civilians in Kosovo, and despite what Western governments call intense diplomatic pressure, the shelling and burning -- and now possibly bombing -- are continuing.
          Although the government's stated target, the rebels of the Kosovo Liberation Army, seem to have been hurt in the attacks, the principal victims are almost certainly civilians. Perhaps 200,000 have fled their homes in recent weeks, and an unknown number have been killed or wounded.
          International aid agencies have been unable to keep up with the flow of civilians fleeing the offensive, and relief officials fear that many refugees will die from wounds or disease. The officials also fear that a slow and disorganized response by the aid groups will contribute to the refugees' plight.

August 25, 1998

  UN FEARS WINTER'S APPROACH IN KOSOVO
  Conflict has driven quarter-of-a-million people from their homes
  The United Nations Security Council has called for an immediate cease-fire in the Serbian province of Kosovo, saying continued hostilities and the approach of winter could lead to "an even greater humanitarian disaster".
  UN officials estimate that up to 265,000 people have been displaced by the conflict.
  About 65,000 have fled to neighbouring Albania, Montenegro or Macedonia while the remainder are believed to be still inside Kosovo, including some 50,000 camped out in forests and on hillsides.
  The council called for urgent peace talks between the Yugoslav authorities and Kosovo ethnic Albanians.
  The statement also makes clear the UN's continuing opposition to independence for Kosovo. The council reaffirmed all members' commitment to "the sovereignty and territorial integrity" of Yugoslavia.
  Fighting between Serbian police and army troops and separatist rebels of the Kosovo Liberation Army has again intensified.
  The latest reports from the province say Serbian forces have been shelling villages close to the provincial capital, Pristina.
  Earlier, the German government urged the EU to toughen its sanctions against Belgrade.
  Low-key approach 
  Diplomats say the council is effectively giving its backing to current US efforts to start a dialogue between the Belgrade authorities and representatives of Kosovo's Albanian community.
  The BBC's UN Correspondent, Rob Watson, says this approach represents the Security Council's readiness to give the lead role in the crisis to Nato and other institutions, and also reflects the lack of any real agreement within the UN over how to solve the problem.
  Nato has been planning for weeks for military intervention in Kosovo, but the main Nato powers have so far withheld action, fearing a Russian veto in the Security Council.
  A Nato delegation is expected to brief UN officials later this week

 August 31, 1998

  REBEL TERROR FORCING MINORITY  SERBS OUT OF KOSOVO
  By MIKE O'CONNOR
  PRISTINA, Serbia -- The six front windows of Rade  Smigic's hillside home in the village of Leucina open out on a  bucolic panorama that starts with pear trees in the yard and  then broadens to a valley with the family's fields and the homes  of the ethnic Albanians with whom they had shared a simple  rural life for as long as anyone can remember.
  No one knows who settled in the village in northern  Kosovo's mountains first: the large Smigic family, ethnic Serbs  with eight houses, or the ethnic Albanians who have about 90  households. People throw up their hands at the question and  say it was centuries ago.
  "We could have lived together for a thousand years more, there were no problems between Albanian and Serb in our village," said Halim Dervishi, an elder of the local ethnic Albanians. "They took water from my well for their fields. We had the same life."
  Despite the fondness with which the Smigic family is remembered, its homes have been torched. What is left of Rade Smigic's home is the framing around the front windows, piles of ashes and the family photographs that someone has meticulously torn into pieces.
  The only explanation from ethnic Albanian villagers is that the people who did it came from somewhere else.
 

Some of thousands of ethnic Albanian refugees from the Serbian province of Kosovo, camp in the valley near the Montenegrin border town of Plav, 38 miles northeast of capital Podgorica Sunday [9-13-98].

Ethnic Albanian refugees arrive in a tractor trailer in the village of Cirez, 20 miles southwest of Pristina Tuesday. Thousands of refugees fled the ethnic Albanian stronghold in the Drenica area after Serb security forces launched an offensive in the area.

September 24, 1998

  NATO STEPS TOWARDS KOSOVO ACTION
  Ethnic Albanians have been driven from their homes in Kosovo
  Nato has taken the first formal step towards military intervention in the Kosovo crisis.
  The announcement comes one day after the UN adopted a strong resolution calling on Serbia to halt its offensive against ethnic Albanians in its southern province of Kosovo and to start negotiating with them.
  Nato Secretary-General Javier Solana said: "The North Atlantic Council has approved the issuing of an activation warning for both a limited air option and a phased air campaign in Kosovo."
  But as the announcment was being made there were also fresh reports of Serb attacks.
  Serbian forces are said to have continued advances into the last pockets of Kosovo resistance.
  Serb police sources are reported to have split in two the separatist Kosovo Liberation Army forces by taking control of a main road passing through the group's last stronghold.
  The activation warning will allow Nato commanders to identify the assets required for any future Kosovo operation.
  The use of force will require further discussions by the North Atlantic Council but Mr Solana said the first step was an important signal of intent to Serbia.
  Nato defence ministers are expected to endorse the activation meeting when they meet in Portugal on Thursday.
  The decision is being described as a building-block towards military intervention.
  Mr Solana's declaration also contained a strongly-worded appeal to Yugoslavia's President Slobodan Milosevic to stop repressive actions against the civilian population.
  The BBC's Andre Vornic, in Vilamoura for the Nato meeting, said there is a feeling that military action may soon be called upon to enforce legal instruments put in place against President Milosevic.
  Shortly after the declaration:
  Holland promised F-16 squadrons.
  Germany promised 14 Tornado planes.
  Portugal made one frigate available as well as three F-16 planes and 100 men.
  The Western alliance has repeatedly called for a political settlement in Kosovo which would give its 1.6 million ethnic Albanian people a large degree of self-determination but not the independence most want.
  President Milosevic insists his forces have a right to tackle secessionist insurgency from the Kosovo Liberation Army within Serbia's borders.
  But Western powers say he has used excessive force, deliberately destroying ethnic Albanian villages and creating a humanitarian emergency for 275,000 people.
 
 
 
  September 24, 1998
  SERBS CONTINUE ATTACKS ON KOSOVO ALBANIANS
   By JANE PERLEZ
 PRISTINA, Yugoslavia -- SCOFFING AT WARNINGS BY THE WEST THAT FORCE MIGHT BE USED TO END THE FIGHTING IN KOSOVO, the Yugoslav president, Slobodan Milosevic, pressed ahead with a tank and artillery offensive on Wednesday that chased about 10,000 ethnic Albanian civilians into the hills and left many of their homes on fire.
  Flames and columns of thick white smoke were visible, and the sound of artillery echoed from more than a dozen villages at the foot of the Cicavica hills, just a few miles north of the provincial capital.
  European Union diplomatic monitors said they saw Yugoslav army tanks entering the broad swath of countryside, which had been tightly sealed by the Serbian police. Late Wednesday afternoon army trucks were heading for the region.
  The monitors, as well as workers from the U.N. high commissioner for refugees, skirted the area in armored vehicles but were turned back, even on narrow side roads, by heavily manned roadblocks.
  A senior official of the U.N. refugee commissioner's office here, Morgan Morris, said that she believed up to 10,000 civilians were trapped in the mountains with only the belongings they could carry, after the artillery fire that started at 5 a.m. on Tuesday drove them out.
  These new ethnic Albanian refugees join more than 200,000 others who have fled their homes in the last six months. They spent Tuesday night in the cold and damp with no shelter and little food, and faced similar conditions Wednesday night.
  At the United Nations, the Security Council passed a resolution Wednesday calling for an end to Serbian attacks on the civilian population of Kosovo and allowing for the possible use of force to curb Milosevic.
  NATO defense ministers, meeting in Portugal on Thursday, are scheduled to consider several options on Kosovo.
  Officials in Milosevic's government have repeatedly said in the last two weeks that the separatist ethnic Albanian guerrillas have been crushed, statements that Western diplomats say were taken as meaning that no further military action was needed.
  But Milosevic has made a mockery of this interpretation by continuing to send in his army and police. On Wednesday he sent one of his senior political colleagues, Milan Milutinovic, to Kosovo to declare that all was normal.
  Milutinovic, the president of Serbia, who drove past the clearly visible burning villages on his route from Belgrade, said, "I didn't see much smoke."
  He added, "I see that life is normal in Kosovo."
  After months of neglect during the summer, Kosovo has become a renewed issue for Washington and Western European leaders who appear uncertain about how to respond to Milosevic's offensive and the hundreds of thousands of refugees it has created.
  Kosovo first became a flashpoint in the spring when separatist guerrillas of the Kosovo Liberation Army started attacking Serbian policemen and institutions and briefly held some territory.
  The Serbian police, backed by the Yugoslav army, started an all-out offensive against Albanian villages that were suspected of harboring guerrillas. But officials in Washington and at NATO headquarters acknowledge that the Yugoslav army attacks have gone beyond rooting out guerrillas and are now intended to intimidate all ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.
  Serbs make up less than 10 percent of the people in Kosovo, which has a population of about 2 million, but Serbs control all functions of government, including the police and the army, in the overwhelmingly ethnic Albanian province.
  The Serbian police acknowledged in a statement Wednesday that the Cicavica hills region had been "blocked." Action was being taken to search for a "group of disbanded terrorist units" that had attacked Serbian police units, the statement said.
  Western relief agency workers said they believed those who fled on Tuesday could be stuck outdoors, where the temperatures are steadily dropping, for a while.
  "This is a pincer movement, they are trapped by the military all around," said Miss Morris, describing the Yugoslav army's advance from the west that chased the villagers to the hills and troop movements from the east that stopped fleeing villagers from coming down the other side of the hills.
  According to the European Union monitors, the area under siege ran from Pristina north to Mitrovica, west to Srbica and then south to Komorane. The army attacked from all sides, they said.
  The monitors, who are supposed to have province-wide access, have been blocked from witnessing military action by the Serbian police since the monitoring groups were formed in June. Once the Yugoslav and Serbian forces withdraw from villages, the monitors are then allowed to inspect the damage.
  On Wednesday afternoon the village of Stanovce was a kind of viewing stage of the front line as the Albanian men of the village looked fearfully to the neighboring village of Bencuk six miles to the west. Houses burned and thick plumes of white smoke clouded the view of the countryside.
  In the village of Glavatin, about four miles to the southwest of Stanovce, many of the red-tiled two-story houses were also on fire. According to a U.N. refugee report Wednesday night, up to 15 villages at the Cicavica hills had been attacked. 
  Even though the artillery was not aimed at Stanovce, all the women and children were told by the men to leave. The dirt tracks of the village were empty except for clusters of anxious men.
  One young woman, Selvete Rrahimi, 17, came back Wednesday afternoon to check whether the family house was still secure. After seeing that the place was still intact, she hurried back to the main road to return to the safety of relatives near the capital.
  Asked why he didn't leave Stanovce for fear of an attack by the Yugoslav army, Nazmi Segashi, 23, a builder, said: "Where should I go? War is everywhere."
 
Photos of NEW MASSACRE IN KOSOVO
 
 

 [Wade Goddard for The New York Times] 
 In Gornji Obrinje, bodies of the slain were recovered from a gorge. Two ethnic Albanian children that where executed by Serb police are carried to a burial site in the village. 
 
 

  
 
 
    Ethnic Albanian men lift a dead villager onto a stretcher to be carried to the burial site in the village of Gornji Obrinja, Kosovo.
 
 
 

 
 

 

    A villager in Gornji Obrinje in Kosovo covered the body of a girl Tuesday before carrying her to a burial site. Fifteen members of the Deliaj clan, including children and the elderly, were killed in a massacre on Saturday by Serbian forces. There was another massacre that day a few miles away.
 

 
 
 
 
 

  Shehide Hysenaj, 73, looks at her dead neighbour Ali Kolludra, 62, who was executed in his garden by Serb police on the morning of September 26 in the village of Donja Obrinja.  
         Adam Brown/The Associated Press  Some of the 15 bodies of ethnic Albanians, believed to have been massacred, are seen in the village of Obrija, in the Drenica area southwest of Pristina, Yugoslavia, Tuesday. Albanians said they were massacred by the Serbs on Saturday. 

 
 September 30, 1998

  MASSACRE EVIDENCE IN KOSOVO
 
  BBC journalists have seen first-hand evidence of a massacre of ethnic Albanian civilians, including women and children, in Kosovo.
  Local villagers said the killings had been carried out by Serbian police.
  Eighteen people were killed with knives, or shots to the head. Some were mutilated. Two had been decapitated.
  One child survived, protected by the body of its mother.
  Correspondent David Loyn says those who died were refugees who had been living in makeshift shelters in the village of Gornje Obrinje.
  The leader of the British Liberal Democrat Party, Paddy Ashdown, who is visiting Yugoslavia, said he saw "weapons of total war" being used against villagers by Serbian forces fighting pro-independence ethnic Albanians.
  He said what was happening in Kosovo may amount to genocide.
  Withdrawal claims dismissed
  Ethnic Albanians in the province have dismissed statements made by Yugoslav leaders that the offensive against them is over.
  Serb and Yugoslav officials say their forces are withdrawing from Kosovo. But ethnic Albanians argue that the withdrawals are actually troop rotations.
  They say the troop movements are an attempt to deflect threatened Nato air strikes against Serbia.
  Western journalists reported that a large column of vehicles and tanks had been seen moving towards barracks in the provincial capital, Pristina.
  But other reports from correspondents in Kosovo said Serb forces had continued to attack ethnic Albanian civilians.
  Pentagon watching and waiting
  The US Government says it has seen no evidence of Serb authorities keeping to their withdrawal promise.
  Pentagon spokesman Captain Michael Doubleday said: "It's probably going to be a day or two before we can make a full assessment as to whether any of the statements had any meaning at all."
  Diplomats from the Contact Group on former Yugoslavia consisting of the US, Russia and several European powers, have travelled to Kosovo to look into reports of civilian massacres.
  A UN resolution, voted on last Thursday, calls for a ceasefire in Kosovo and warns the Yugoslav Government of "additional measures" against it if it fails to comply.
  Belgrade says the resolution has "no judicial or political basis," but on Monday the Serbian Prime Minister, Mirko Marjanovic announced that government forces were returning to barracks.
  On Tuesday the Pentagon said a list of American military units to be put at Nato's disposal for any intervention in Kosovo would be ready "in the coming days".

             Diplomats have been looking into evidence of massacres  

Thousands of ethnic Albanians have fled to Kosovo's forests after Serbian attacks. A paralyzed girl sat in a refugee camp south of Stimlje Thursday
An ethnic Albanian, 94, in her shelter made of tree branches, is part of a group of seven families living for more than two months in the hills south of Stimlje. The refugees said they feared returning to their ruined homes.
 
 
 
 
 

 



thousands of bodies have been found in unmarked graves near Srebrenica
 


 SLOBODAN MILOSEVIC: PRESIDENT UNDER SIEGE?
 March 9, 1998
  By Tim Judah, author of The Serbs History, Myth & the Destruction of Yugoslavia.
  In 1988, during his rise to supreme power in Serbia, Slobodan Milosevic told a rally of hundreds of thousands of ecstatic supporters that Serbia would win the battle for Kosovo.
  "We shall win despite the fact that Serbia's enemies outside the country are plotting against it, along with those in the country.
  "We tell them that we enter every battle with the aim of winning it."
  A decade later his words have returned to haunt him.
  UNHAPPY CHILDHOOD
  Born in 1941 in Pozarevac, close to Belgrade, Slobodan Milosevic's childhood was not a happy one.
  His father left home just after the war and was to commit suicide in 1962.
  He was brought up by his mother, a straight-laced communist schoolteacher, who was to commit suicide in her turn in 1972.
  At school Milosevic met Mira Markovic, the love of his life. She sprang from a distinguished communist and partisan family.
  She boasted that one day her Slobodan would be as glorious a leader as Comrade Tito himself, the then president of Yugoslavia.
  CLIMBING THE COMMUNIST LADDER
  At university and afterwards, Milosevic made sure progress up the Communist Party hierarchy.
  He worked first in an energy company and then as the director of major bank.
  By the early 1980s he was moving into full-time politics, becoming head of the Serbian communist party in 1986.
  It was the issue of Kosovo which transformed the image of Milosevic from that of a powerful but dull bureaucrat, into that of charismatic politician.
  Manipulating the grievances of Serbs, a small minority in the then Albanian-run Serbian autonomous province of Kosovo, Milosevic used the emotive issue to progress to supreme power.
  He became President of Serbia in 1989.
  A MONSTER AWAKENED
  However, it was the reawakening of Serbian nationalism sparked by Mr Milosevic which was to lead in turn to the reawakening of the other dormant nationalisms across the rest of the former Yugoslavia.
  This was to lead to the bloody war which ripped the old federal state apart between 1991 and 1995.
  During that time Mr Milosevic ran an authoritarian government at home and armed and helped Serb separatists in Croatia and Bosnia.
  It was a policy that was to end in disaster when, in August 1995, Croatia drove out the remaining Serbs from their self-proclaimed Republic of Serbian Krajina.
  But Mr Milosevic appeared unperturbed. By now he had abandoned his nationalist rhetoric in favour of words of peace.
  During peace negotiations in Dayton, Ohio, in November 1995, he abandoned Serb claims for a Greater Serbia and was rewarded with a partial lifting of the international sanctions that had crippled the Serbian economy since 1991.
  During the winter of 1996/97 Mr Milosevic rode out massive waves of protests against his government.
  Since then, the opposition coalition which led those demonstrations has disintegrated.
  In July 1997, Mr Milosevic moved from the job of Serbian to Yugoslav President.
  'FESTERING ISSUE OF KOSOVO'
  The present crisis stems from the fact that ever since he abolished Kosovo's autonomy in 1989, Mr Milosevic has failed to deal with the festering issue of the province in which its 1.7 million ethnic Albanians demand independence.
  Until recently it was believed that there were still some 200,000 Serbs left there but that figure is bound to have been slashed since the recent outbreak of hostilities.
  Analysts believe that Mr Milosevic is a political opportunist who is only interested in power and will change his position to suit any given situation.
  One example of this was how he recently brought the opposition leader Vuk Draskovic into his government as a deputy prime minister.
  It is still unclear how Mr Milosevic intends to deal with Kosovo.
  Despite the fighting there are those that believe that he is preparing to ditch the province just like he did with Krajina in 1995.
  Serbia's economy is nose-diving and economists have predicted severe problems this winter.
  There are those in Belgrade who have begun to speculate that the end of Mr Milosevic's career is in sight.
  However he has survived many crises before and many also believe that he is at his best in a crisis.
  


 
 

 
 
 
 
 

 


 
 

 
 


 
 

 
 

 
 
 


 
 
 
 


 
 
 
 
 

 
 


 
 


 

 
 

 #top