Ivo Skoric on Thu, 11 Feb 1999 08:55:11 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Kosovo developments

American troops will soon be heading to a country, that American
government does not recognize, to secure the independence that State
Department opposes. 

We are reverting to pre-WWI stage when the fate of the Balkans was
determined in posh European salons. In Paris, the U.S. team still
used the phrase: "Kosovo rebels and Serbian forces" giving more
legal weight to the Serbian side. In Ramb Kosovo Liberation Army
representatives were present, giving the event deeper legitimacy
and, also, putting the Kosovo Liberation Army in the IRA-like
position giving up the struggle for full independence. 

Yet, of course, the Bosnian solution for Kosovo, i.e. 30,000 NATO
troops in the middle of Serbian vaterland, means the de-facto
independence of Serbian rule for Kosovars, while Milosevic still may
remain in power as a de-jure ruler of the province.

The question is: can Clinton get away with sending American to
Kosovo, while he still did not return them from Bosnia and while the
Impeachment Trial in Senate is going against him? He needs all the
popularity he can get, and sending "our boys" over to some forgotten
corner of the world, does not actually win the popularity contest.

However, he may risk doing that. From the Bosnian example it is
clear that american troops in the region are viewed as a source of
income, not as an enemy - so, Clinton may actually gain foreign
policy stature

Once this is over, Milosevic will crack down on independent media,
students to re-affirm his power. Actually, he already did: the third
author in the following Balkan Crisis Report from the Institute on
War and Peace Reporting, Dejan,lives in Belgrade, writes for Vreme
and faces crimminal charges for his writing.


------- Forwarded Message Follows -------



RAMBOUILLET, OHIO. The key decisions are clear: independence is out, NATO
is in, and Milosevic stays on top. Fred Abrahams reports from the French

THE RISKS OF TALK. The wounded and the ready tell Fron Nazi why the KLA
expects the peace talks to collapse, and fresh hostilities to erupt.

AFTER PARIS. Dejan Anastasijevic in Belgrade reports on the political
divisions at home facing Milosevic after any Kosovo deal.

MACEDONIA'S THREE ARMIES. Soldiers seem to be everywhere as international
forces gather in Macedonia in anticipation of a Kosovo deployment. Iso Rusi

Each week, IWPR's network of leading correspondents in the region provide
inside analysis of the events and issues driving the crisis in the southern

The reports are available on the Web in English, Serbian and Albanian;
English-language reports are also be available via e-mail.

The project is supported by the European Commission and Press Now.


For further details on how to subscribe to this service, plus further
information on this project and other information services and media
programmes, visit IWPR's Website: <www.iwpr.net>.

Editor: Anthony Borden. News and Internet Editor: Rohan Jayasekera.
Translation by Denisa Kostovic and Alban Mitrushi.

"Balkan Crisis Report" is produced under IWPR's Balkan Crisis Information
Project. The project seeks to contribute to regional and international
understanding of the regional crisis and prospects for resolution..

Articles are available, with permission, for republication.

The Institute for War & Peace Reporting (IWPR) is a London-based
independent non-profit organisation supporting regional media and
democratic change.

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The opinions expressed in "Balkan Crisis Report" are those of the authors
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Copyright (C) 1999 The Institute for War & Peace Reporting <www.iwpr.net>.


Almost all the details at the Kosovo talks are decided, and the key
decisions are clear: independence is out, NATO is in, and Milosevic stays
on top.

By Fred Abrahams in Rambouillet

International mediators called it "an important first step" when Serbian
and Albanian negotiators arrived in Rambouillet, France, this weekend for
discussions on the future status of Kosovo. In fact, many of the important
decisions had already been made: independence is out, NATO is in, and
Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic stays atop it all.

On the first day, the Contact Group on the Balkans sponsoring the
negotiations--the US, Russia, UK, France, Germany and Italy--presented a
draft agreement that lays out the constitutional and security arrangements
for an autonomous Kosovo inside Serbia, with a promise to revisit Kosovo's
status after three years. NATO is expected to send at least 30,000 ground
troops as soon as it is signed. A spokesperson for the Contact Group
referred to the "guiding principles" of the agreement, with details to be
negotiated by the delegates, and diplomats estimate that 85 per cent of the
agreement is non-negotiable. Key potential deal-breakers remain, such as
the Albanian demand for a referendum in three years and the Serbian demand
for a formal recognition of the existing borders of the Federal Republic of
Yugoslavia. Yet the international mediators, at least, appear confident
that a deal will be reached.

French President Jacques Chirac opened the proceedings at the elegant
chateau by challenging the two delegations to "choose life." They listened
solemnly from different parts of the room, ignoring the presence of the
other side. There were no handshakes or photo-ops which could potentially
be seen as compromising by either group's constituency back home.

Instead, both sides retreated to their respective work spaces, one above
the other, to hammer out the few remaining details of an interim agreement
that, international mediators claim, will restore "substantial autonomy" to
Kosovo without offering independence.

The actual degree of Kosovo's autonomy under the agreement is a question
for debate, despite claims by the Contact Group that it would meet the
level Kosovo enjoyed under the 1974 Yugoslav constitution. Under the old
constitution, Kosovo enjoyed a degree of economic autonomy. According to
drafts in circulation, the federal government would maintain firm control
over Kosovo's monetary policy, and the province would probably be unable to
secure independent loans from international financial institutions.

In addition, the political system proposed in the draft is a "recipe for
gridlock," said the Albanian delegation's legal advisor, Paul Williams, an
American lawyer who advised the Bosnian government at Dayton. According to
the draft, the president of Kosovo and the president of Kosovo's parliament
must be from different ethnic groups. Assuming that an Albanian was
president of Kosovo, then a Serbian president of parliament could influence
the legislative process, Williams said.

Another provision in the draft allows any national group in the parliament
(Turks, Roma, Albanians, Serbs and others) to block any parliamentary
decision that they believe is against their national group's "vital
interest." The term is not defined in the draft, and there is no clear
procedure to devise a solution when such objections are raised.

The fundamental issues, however, come down to two points: Kosovo's status
and the future security arrangement of the province.

The former is the main concern of the Serbs, who demand that Kosovo remain
a part of Serbia. The latter is the most important issue at the
negotiations for the Albanians, who want NATO troops in Kosovo, including
Americans. Albanians are pushing for a formal cease-fire, that would be
backed by bringing NATO directly into the deal as a signatory on any

Within this framework, deals can be made so that all sides claim victory.
Milosevic, not present at the talks, may accept NATO troops in Kosovo, a
withdrawal of his forces, and autonomy for the region--if Kosovo
independence is off the table. He can tell the Serbian public that he, once
again, defied the international community, which is trying to tear
Yugoslavia apart, and at the same time stuck NATO and the Organisation for
Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) with the burdensome price tag of
policing the region.

The Albanians, including the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), may defer their
demand for independence if NATO troops enter Kosovo and the Serbian police
withdraw. They are pushing for a referendum on Kosovo's status after three
years, but will probably settle--or be forced to settle--for a more vague
"revisiting" of the issue under the auspices of the international

In the meantime, Kosovo would largely be an international protectorate
policed by NATO and administered by the OSCE. Politically flawed, and weak
on the arrest of war criminals, the agreement would stop the fighting for
the time being. Both sides are expected to sign.

Until that "great victory for European diplomacy," as the French government
is likely to call it, the two delegations will be locked up in Rambouillet
to hammer out the details. These include whether Kosovo's national groups
must be larger than 5 per cent to have automatic representation in the
parliament. (Milosevic claims that Kosovo has a sizeable number of
Egyptians and a little-known community of Goran.) The two sides sleep and
work in separate areas, as their international interlocutors wear out the
carpet between them. US Ambassador Christopher Hill, leading a mid-level US
delegation, is firmly in control of the negotiations, with close
consultation with his mentor from Dayton, Richard Holbrooke.

The Albanian, Serbian and international press are outside the chateau's
walls, scrounging for scraps of information that fall off the negotiating
table. Sparse and poorly organised press briefings by the organisers offer
little insight about the talks.

If the talks are successful, another conflict will have been contained in
time for NATO's 50th anniversary this April. But whether such an agreement
will lead to a long-term resolution of the Kosovo conflict remains to be

Whatever the result, it is certain that the position of Milosevic--Serbia's
"father," "saviour," and undisputed leader--will be enhanced. Once again,
he will emerge as the "factor of stability", possibly this time extracting
an end to the "outer wall of sanctions" which have been in place since
Bosnia. And as after his agreement with Holbrooke over Kosovo in October
1998, Milosevic is likely, in the event of any deal, to embark on a further
crackdown on the few remaining domestic elements outside of his control:
bad news for students, independent media, non-governmental organisations
and everyone else concerned with long-term stability in the region.

Fred Abrahams is a researcher on the Balkans for Human Rights Watch.


KLA fighters have little faith in the Rumbouillet negotiations. Convinced
that the differences are too great, they expect the process to collapse,
and fresh hostilities to erupt.

By Fron Nazi in Tirana

At a packed caf? in the centre of Tirana, two representatives of the Kosova
Liberation Army (KLA) are seated quietly at a corner table. Dressed
casually in dark slacks and long coats, and puffing habitually on
cigarettes, there is little to distinguish them from the crowd. But while
other patrons, Albanians from Albania proper, discuss the daily hardships
of Albania--continuous blackouts, lack of running water, government
corruption--only the KLA men heatedly discuss the outcome of the
Rumbouillet negotiations on Kosovo.

In Albania, the Yugoslav province is simply not a burning issue. People do
not spend too much time debating it, even though it gains a heavy dose of
media coverage. Off the record, most Albanian political leaders even admit
that there is not much that they can do about it. Tirana can and does push
for self-determination for Kosovo Albanians before international
organisations such as the UN and the EU, and senior political figures make
occasional statements about the right of Albanians to defend themselves.
But otherwise, it has had very limited direct political influence over
either the KLA or even, for that matter, Ibrahim Rugova's Democratic League
of Kosovo.

Given the difficult circumstances in Albania, the local KLA representatives
insist that the best form of assistance is the one that Tirana has been
providing: non-involvement. This has allowed both Tirana and the KLA to
attend to their own affairs, without too many complications arising between
them. Potential problems could include international concern over supposed
"Greater Albania" designs or domestic discontent if Tirana was seen to pay
more attention to Albanians in Yugoslavia than those at home. Tirana's
discretion, combined with the low profile of the KLA within Albania,
appears to have helped win the moral support for Kosovo from many local
Albanians. This is also reflected in pro-KLA articles and programmes that
have appeared in both the political-party and independent media.

KLA representatives express particular satisfaction at the appointment of
Hashim Thaci, a KLA commander in Kosovo, as the head of the Kosovo Albanian
delegation at Rumbouillet along with Rugova and Rexhep Qosje, chairman of
the United Democratic League. According to one field officer, "the
nomination of Thaci was a clear sign to the Kosovars and to the West that
the KLA shall determine the future of Kosova."

The appointment might prove to be something of a Trojan Horse for the KLA,
however. Both Western Europe and the US have made it abundantly clear that
independence for Kosovo is not up for discussion. Consequently, the
acceptance of anything short of independence by the Thaci-led delegation
will directly implicate the KLA in "selling out" over Kosovo.

Indeed, many observers were surprised by the KLA's decision to participate
in the talks. It seems that the KLA could only emerge as the losers from a
process predicated on ruling out independence and deploying NATO forces in
support of a political structure likely to be headed by Rugova. But
according to the two representatives in Tirana, the KLA agreed to take part
in the talks for two main reasons. First, by demonstrating a willingness to
engage in dialogue, it wished once and for all to end comparisons with the
Serb forces, whom they consider to be a criminal entity. Second, by
demonstrating a willingness to work with the Western powers, the KLA hoped
to illustrate the reasonableness (and ultimately win the acceptance) of its
main position, namely that the only solution to the Kosovo problem is full

Whatever the immediate strategizing, the KLA representatives are convinced
that the Rumbouillet meetings will not produce a long-term solution. They
believe the fundamental differences between Serbs and Albanians over
control of the province are too great to be papered over by some complex
American-drafted formulas.

In fact, their main immediate concern seems to be over what they consider
to be the likely outcome of the talks breaking down, and the West then
trying to decide whom to blame. The West has threatened Belgrade with NATO
air strikes if it refuses to comply with commitments to end the fighting.
But even if NATO does attack, the worst Milosevic would suffer would be the
loss of a few military targets, while in return rallying fresh support from
the nationalists. If the KLA is seen as the obstacle, however, the West
could retaliate by freezing KLA bank accounts, stopping the flow of weapons
through Albania or, in an extreme, giving Belgrade a green light to attack
KLA positions in Kosovo.

In the end, the key problem for the KLA may be the classical dilemma of any
"liberation army" agreeing to a compromise. Sitting later in one of the
private houses in Tirana converted into a hospital ward, a KLA commander
noted, "Too much Albanian blood has already been spilled for anything less
that independence."

The 20 young KLA fighters in the ward have all lost at least one family
member at the hand of Serbian forces. Most of the wounded have injuries
below the waist, sustained from landmines, sniper fire and shelling. They
give the commander self-assessments of their recovery, and when they think
they can return to the front. The commander explains that a leave of
absence is granted first, and that those with only one male remaining in
the family are not allowed back. But he says 90 per cent cut their leave in
half and ask to be returned to the field.

The discussion in the hospital ward is constantly interrupted by the
ringing of the commander's mobile phone, alternately taking calls from
France and from field troops in Kosovo. He provides one sentence briefings:
"The delegation [in Rumbouillet] has made it clear they will not accept
anything less than independence."  "Serbian forces continue to attack
civilians, and we have exchanged gunfire." The KLA soldiers do not expect
the Rumbouillet negotiations to end the fighting, and in reality are
anticipating an increase in hostilities after the talks collapse.

Fron Nazi is an IWPR senior editor.


Kosovo is the only political glue binding Belgrade's fractious governing
coalition together. Milosevic's real problem will be after a deal, when
Serbia finally has to face itself.

By Dejan Anastasijevic in Belgrade

The regime of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic is spread thin, and
much weaker than it looks. When the talks on Kosovo finally opened in
Rambouillet, many observers were surprised by the relatively low level of
the Serbian delegation. It cannot even be called "Serbian", since most of
its members are not Serbs, but representatives of collaborationist "loyal"
Albanians, and small ethnic communities (Turks, Roma, "Egyptians"). Most
analysts concluded that this move by the Serbian leader was aimed at
lowering the status of the talks, and possibly underplaying the eventual

Despite appearances, this may not necessarily be the case. Milosevic's team
did include a chosen few power players whose presence confirms the
legitimacy of the talks. One negotiator is Nikola Sainovic, the federal
vice-premier, who is in fact (although not formally) Milosevic's
trouble-shooter for Kosovo, maintaining a direct link between the Yugoslav
president and local bureaucrats and security officers in the province.
Another is Ratko Markovic, who tailor-suited both the 1990 Serbian and the
1992 Yugoslav constitutions for Milosevic's fit. Vladan Kutlesic,
Milosevic's legal eagle and confident, is the only presidential advisor who
has survived at that position during ten long years of Milosevic's rule.
So, this trio signals that Milosevic does mean business in Rambouillet, at
least in spirit if not in body.

So why the Egyptians and others? Part of the reason is probably Milosevic's
sick sense of humour. But there is a pragmatic side to it, too,
paradoxically in order to address an internal problem which has little to
do with Kosovo. Milosevic included all these political non-entities because
his clique at this point is so severely divided from within that a dozen
Serbian dignitaries would probably spend more time trying to back-stab each
other than to talk with the other side. Unable to find 12 trustworthy
people, Milosevic sent out three, and filled the remaining seats by a
string of place-setters.

Although Milosevic looks strong on the outside, his popularity in Serbia
has been slowly but steadily declining since 1994. It now hovers at around
25 per cent of the electorate. This is not enough to ensure a smooth rule,
so Milosevic has been forced to forge a coalition with other parties. His
first partner was his own wife, Mira Markovic, a hard-line communist and
leader of the Yugoslav United Left (YUL), who provided an ideological
transfusion to Milosevic's anaemic Socialist Party of Serbia. Next were the
radicals from the Serbian Radical Party, led by ultranationalist Vojislav
Seselj, who helped Milosevic maintain a safe majority in the parliament.
Finally, Vuk Draskovic, former opposition leader with the Serbian Renewal
Movement (SPO) who led street protests and was once arrested and severely
beaten by Milosevic's police, has now agreed to support the Serbian
strongman in exchange for a handful of seats in the cabinet. At this point,
Milosevic ran out of partners, as every single parliamentary party was
included in the government. The opposition in Serbia was officially
declared dead of natural causes. All that remains is Milosevic and his

They call it "The Government of National Unity", but it is in real life a
fragile coalition composed of some strange bedfellows: communists and
fascists with opportunists posing as centrists. Milosevic maintains his
power by carefully balancing these factions against each other, while
intimidating extra-parliamentary opposition, such as university students
and the free media. Apart from ideological differences, which tend to fade
before issues of national interest such as Kosovo, the four parties in the
governing coalition are engaged in a bitter, sometimes bloody competition
for lucrative state positions and government-issued import licences, which
they tend to see as a necessary price for their loyalty to Milosevic.
However, loyalty to Milosevic does not extend to their coalition partners,
and thus the constant in-fighting, which results in permanent reshuffling
of all state positions.

The problem for Milosevic is that he will not be able to satisfy all of
these conflicting interests for much longer. After years of direct and

indirect trade sanctions, combined with the nearly as disastrous effects of
a badly run economy, Serbia is in dire shape. Money is getting increasingly
tight even for the well-connected entrepreneurs, and the doles and handouts
are not nearly what they used to be a couple of years ago. The price paid
for loyalty is going down, and so is loyalty itself. As a result, the
government is becoming increasingly greedy, taxing the economy and the
people beyond a tolerable level.

Milosevic can overcome the fragility of his system by waving the issues of
greater national interest--such as Kosovo--in front of everybody's face and
screaming high treason at everyone who shows dissent. However, that will
not work forever. The economic and political system in Serbia is imploding,
and it is in fact only the Kosovo issue that keeps it together.

The issuing of hard-line statements followed by unashamed retreats
continue--with hardly a word from other parties. Last year, Milosevic
refused to accept a small delegation from the Organisation for Security and
Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and even held a referendum to confirm
Serbia's opposition to any foreign involvement on Yugoslav soil. Two months
later he agreed to accept 2,000 OSCE monitors. On the eve of the talks in
Rambouillet, the Serbian government declared that it was "absolutely
unacceptable" to hold any negotiations about Kosovo outside the Yugoslav
borders. Shortly after, and with a parliamentary rubber-stamp, Milosevic
sent a delegation to France. Now Milosevic is reiterating that Yugoslavia
will never accept foreign troops in Kosovo. The implication may well be
exactly the opposite.

Milosevic is probably aware that he will eventually have to give Kosovo
away in one way or another. Yet to avoid another early retreat, and to keep
the political focus on Kosovo rather than other domestic issues, it is in
his interest to stall the talks. Even there, however, he faces a delicate
balancing act, since his bargaining power with the West may be reduced if a
deal is not struck before NATO's fiftieth anniversary in April. But
eventually, he will sell out. Thus the real challenge for him--and for
Serbia--will come after Rambouillet. Without the Kosovo issue overshadowing
the state of the nation, Serbia will finally be forced to look itself in
the mirror. It will not be a pretty sight.

Dejan Anastasijevic is a journalist with Vreme in Belgrade.


NATO jeeps and UN helicopters seem to be everywhere in Macedonia, as the
international forces are expanded in anticipation of a Kosovo deployment.
For its strong cooperation with the West, Skopje hopes to win big political
and economic benefits.

By Iso Rusi

In 1989, at the beginning of the multiparty system in Macedonia, one of the
first new parties, the Movement for All-Macedonian Action (MAAK), insisted
that the entire country should become a tax-free zone and should be
demilitarised. Macedonia would have no army of its own, and its security
would be guaranteed by the great powers.

Ten years later there are no tax-free zones in Macedonia. But the country
can claim that it has three armies, each in its own way taking care of
Macedonia's security.

In Skopje these days it is very common to see (and hear) UN helicopters
overhead, practising the transfer of wounded from the Skopje airport
Petrovec to the Skopje military hospital. On the streets, the dark olive
green vehicles of NATO far out-number the white vehicles of the UN
Preventive Deployment (UNPREDEP) and the Organisation for Security and
Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). In some places, one may even come across the
camouflage-wearing soldiers of the Macedonian Army, 10,000-strong but
without a tank or an aeroplane.

The approximately 1,050 soldiers of UNPREDEP continue to monitor the
Macedonian border with Albania, Kosovo and Serbia. The importance of the
mission in contributing to regional stability has been signalled in every
UN report to the Security Council seeking an extension of its mandate. (The
deployment in Macedonia began under the structure of the UN Protection
Force, or UNPROFOR, in 1992, and was converted in 1996 into a separate
mission under the title of UNPREDEP.) The current six-month mandate expires
this month, and last week the Macedonian government forwarded its request
for a further six-month extension to the United Nations. Yet despite
developments in Kosovo, the decision by the Security Council is uncertain.
Relations between Macedonia and China have deteriorated, after Skopje
signed a communiqu? for establishing diplomatic ties with Taiwan. China has
threatened to veto any extension of UNPREDEP unless Macedonia revokes the

NATO has by far the largest number of soldiers on Macedonian soil. One of
the first acts of the new Macedonian government this past December was to
agree to the deployment of 2,500 soldiers as "extraction troops" to be
ready to evacuate the 2,000 OSCE observers to be in Kosovo. The first NATO
soldiers had not even arrived in Macedonia when, after a one-day visit to
the country, French Defence Minister Alain Richard told journalists that
the number of NATO extraction forces could be doubled. He later denied
this. But sources close to the Skopje government insist that an agreement
was reached for 2,500 NATO troops, and a further 2,500 if necessary. Indeed
recent developments in Kosovo suggest that a figure of 5,000 NATO
extractors is not exaggerated.

Hints of major Western deployments have emerged from other senior Western
political figures. After the unexpected meeting of British Foreign
Secretary Robin Cook with Kosovo Albanian leaders Ibrahim Rugova and Adem
Demaci in Skopje on January 31 (due to snow in Pristina), Cook held a short
meeting with his Macedonian counterpart Aleksandar Dimitrov. In a
subsequent statement, Dimitrov confirmed that they had discussed
Macedonia's role in any NATO involvement in Kosovo. In Washington February
2-6, Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski asked for firm security guarantees
for Macedonia if the situation in the region deteriorates. After meetings
with President Clinton, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Secretary
of Defence William Cohen, Georgievski confirmed, "We have provided
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