BACKGROUND PAPER ON REFUGEES AND ASYLUM SEEKERS FROM KOSOVO
York Times special section: the Conflict in Kosovo
Post photo essay - Breaking the Peace
KOSOVO: ETHNIC CLEANSING
NATO Ultimatum #NATO ultimatum
Kosovar Albanians struggle for autonomy or independence
Serbs suppress and massacre #massacre
NATO threatens #nato
OSCE Monitors #osce
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
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
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.
A further 11,000 refugees arrived overnight in
the northern Albanian town of Kukes. Aid workers there say the situation
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
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
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
It is unclear whether the three had appeared in
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.
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
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
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
Albania: Up to 100,000
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
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
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
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
HUNTING FOR SERB FORCES; U.S. REPORTS SIGNS OF ‘GENOCIDE'
FLOOD OF REFUGEES
March 30, 1999
Raids Focus on Halting the Serbs' Attacks on Ethnic
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
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
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
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
"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 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.
Meanwhile, a new round of Nato air raids was reported
to have been launched on Thursday morning against targets close to the
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.
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
National television broadcast pictures of burning
buildings throughout the country and what were reported to be victims in
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
"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
"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.
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
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, BLOODY HISTORY
The hills of Kosovo have been a source of dispute
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,
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
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
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
The authorities were, however, continually plagued
by Albanian uprisings and unrest.
In 1941, most of Kosovo became part of an Italian-controlled
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
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
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
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
"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.
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
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
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
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
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
"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
AT MASSACRE VILLAGE
Identifying the dead: Over 40 ethnic Albanians were
More fighting has broken out around the village
of Racak in southern Kosovo, scene of a massacre of 40 ethnic Albanians
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
However, most observers
say that Russia is still likely to block Security Council approval of Nato
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
that the massacre is investigated and those responsible are brought to
The U.N. war crimes tribunal's chief prosecutor,
Louise Arbour,is scheduled to travel to Kosovo Monday to investigate the
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
"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.
January 17, 1999
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
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
The unarmed monitors were granted freedom of movement,
given security guarantees and back-up from non-combat Nato surveillance
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
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.
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
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
Nato ambassadors issued an activation order authorising
air strikes late on Monday after being briefed by US Balkans envoy Richard
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.
October 1, 1998
WHERE DID ALL THE
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
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
"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
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
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
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 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
July 20, 1998
KOSOVO LEFT A 'WASTELAND'
The Serbian forces re-gained control in many key Kosovo areas
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
MASSACRE EVIDENCE IN KOSOVO
September 30, 1998
BBC journalists have seen first-hand evidence
of a massacre of ethnic Albanian civilians, including women and children,
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
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
He said what was happening in Kosovo may amount
Withdrawal claims dismissed
Ethnic Albanians in the province have dismissed
statements made by Yugoslav leaders that the offensive against them is
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.