Chris Byrne on Tue, 30 Mar 1999 17:29:41 +0100

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>Date: Tue, 30 Mar 1999 17:37:40 +0200 (CEST)
>From: Geert Lovink <>
>Subject: Syndicate: IWPR'S BALKAN CRISIS REPORT, NO. 12
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>From: "Tony Borden" <>
>THE KNOCK ON THE DOOR. Albanians may watch proudly as NATO bombs destroy
>military buildings. But at night, our correspondent listens fearfully for
>a knock on the door.
>ROUND ONE: MILOSEVIC. Belgrade is winning the war, and NATO faces a hard
>choice: deploy ground troops or return to the negotiating table to face an
>even stronger Milosevic. Dejan Anastasijevic reports from Belgrade.
>IWPR's network of leading correspondents in the region provide inside
>analysis of the events and issues driving crises in the Balkans. The
>reports are available on the Web in English, Serbian and Albanian;
>English-language reports are also available via e-mail. For syndication
>information, contact Anthony Borden <>.
>The project is supported by the European Commission and Press Now.
>To subscribe to this service, send an e-mail to <>; in
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>For further details on this project and other information services and
>media programmes, visit IWPR's Website: <>.
>Editor: Anthony Borden. News and Internet Editor: Rohan Jayasekera.
>Assistant Editing: Alan Davis. Translation by Denisa Kostovic and Alban
>"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.
>The Institute for War & Peace Reporting (IWPR) is a London-based
>independent non-profit organisation supporting regional media and
>democratic change.
>Lancaster House, 33 Islington High Street, London N1 9LH, United Kingdom
>Tel: (44 171) 713 7130; Fax: (44 171) 713 7140;
>The opinions expressed in "Balkan Crisis Report" are those of the authors
>and do not necessarily represent those of the publication or of IWPR.
>Copyright (C) 1999 The Institute for War & Peace Reporting <>.
>Albanians may watched proudly as NATO bombs destroy military buildings.
>But at night, they listen fearfully for a knock on the door.
>By an IWPR correspondent in Pristina *
>The NATO jets flew very low over the city Sunday night. Each one was met
>with anti-aircraft fire from the ground, shooting into the sky.
>Outside on the street, I could hear shouting and cursing directed at
>Albanians, NATO, America, Britain, Clinton, Blair, Muslims, Turks--anyone
>who doesn't speak Serbian.
>Around 10 PM,. I heard someone wearing heavy boots run up the stairs of
>the building where I was staying. (I haven't slept at home for a week.)
>Then I heard a hard knock on a neighbour's door.
>"That's it," I thought, "they've arrived."
>I'm amazed at how calm you become when danger is close. I used to be
>terrified whenever I saw a policeman or anyone carrying a gun. But last
>night it was completely different. I was cool. I waited and thought, "The
>worst thing they can do is kill me, so nothing can surprise me."
>I made my decision: "I won't try to hide my identity or my native tongue."
>Albanian of course.
>Then I head footsteps again but this time they were running downstairs. No
>one knocked on my door. But I had to know what was going on, so I peeked
>outside my door.
>I saw a man I had spoken to before. I'd met him on the street a week ago
>and we exchanged a few works about, what else, the political situation. We
>spoke in Serbian. He seemed very open-minded, very "normal." After we
>talked, I thought to myself, "You can't condemn a whole nation just
>because of the government's policies. There are decent people among them."
>Or at least that's what I thought last week.
>When I saw him again Sunday night, he was wearing a strange
>uniform--neither police nor military--and carrying weapons as he headed
>down the stairs. The knock I'd heard was that of his friend, also wearing
>a uniform and armed, coming to pick him up. Off they went, no doubt to try
>to kill "at least" one Albanian or to burn down someone's home.
>And I will have to find a new place to sleep at night. I wouldn't want to
>run in him again.
>Until few days ago, I felt very sorry for Albanians living in the villages
>and all they were going through. Not anymore. Now, I'm fighting for my own
>survival. I'm try to stay alive and act as normal as possible, but it's
>In the morning, I ran back to my own home to check on my family. Out of
>breath, I nearly collapsed when I arrived. Since the phones are out,
>there's no other way I can check on my parents when I spend a night away
>from home. Every time I kiss my mother and father goodbye. I have this
>terrible feeling that I may never see them again.
>Sunday, I walked pass my favourite cafe--the place where my friends and I
>used to meet everyday. For years, we gathered here to meet and chat. We
>were so close that if you missed an afternoon, everyone noticed, and
>wondered where you'd gone. Now it's all destroyed. Even the chairs are
>gone. It doesn't look like my cafe at all. Inside five policemen were
>getting drunk on whisky in the middle of the mess they'd probably made.
>It may seem ridiculous to be thinking about this cafe now, but not to me.
>It represents too many memories, too many friends. God knows when we will
>all be together again.
>How many of my friends are missing? There is no way to find out.
>Telephones in Albanian houses are cut off, and the whole town is divided
>by police and armed civilians. No one can communicate, no one can move.
>For now, I can only remember my friends' names. I try to remember their
>faces but cannot. The only faces I remember are the frightening ones I see
>on the streets.
>We wanted these NATO attacks so badly. We protested for them last year. I
>never dreamt that the sound of the incoming jets could horrify me so much.
>But it's not the air strikes that scare me. What I fear is their
>consequences on the ground and that there will be more killings.
>I felt happy last night for the first time as I watched the Ministry of
>Interior building in the centre of town be completely destroyed. I proudly
>stood at the window, watching. There are only ashes now where before the
>huge armoured police vehicles would begin their daily tours. At least
>something of "theirs" has been destroyed and people can finally see it.
>The big mushroom of flames that lit the night looked so beautiful. When we
>saw that huge, ugly building burning, we didn't care so much about the
>consequences of the attacks. At last, something good was coming from this
>tragedy, that shows no sign of ending So what if the windows in the nearby
>apartments were blown out by the blast? We just hope that the attacks
>continue and that NATO planes fly even lower tonight.
>How quickly day goes now! My friends used to call me "Nighthawk" because I
>adored the night and I adored waiting for the dawn. Night was my time. Now
>I hate it. When darkness comes, I will have to leave my home again and
>find someplace to hide. I will take my blanket, stay awake the whole night
>and hope not to hear a knock on the door. I'll listen to the roar of the
>jets, the anti-aircraft guns, the machine guns, and the shouting. Every
>shot sounds to me as if it's coming from the direction of my home. It
>fills me with a killing fear.
>The electricity goes off at about 6 PM. It's not a good idea to light a
>candle--that just shows that someone is inside. So everyone stays in the
>dark, waiting.
>* The name of this journalist is withheld to protect him against
>The regime is having a very successful war, and in a few days, NATO will
>face a hard choice: deploy ground troops with considerable risk of
>casualties, or return to the negotiating table to face a even stronger
>By Dejan Anastasijevic in Belgrade
>NATO may have predicted that the immediate consequence of its bombing
>campaign against Serbia would be a rapid deterioration of the situation on
>the ground in Kosovo, and this has occurred. But Western officials have
>been surprised by their inability to reduce Slobodan Milosevic's capacity
>to destabilise the region, and in particular to compel him to accept a
>peace accord and NATO peacekeepers.
>After six days of continuing missile attacks and air strikes, it seems
>that the Yugoslav military and police are in surprisingly good shape. NATO
>has hit most of its designated targets: eight military airports and dozens
>of radar sites, barracks, storage and other facilities have been blown up
>or badly damaged. But the military and police communications, command
>chains, and human resources have remained untouched.
>The same goes for most of the surface-to-air missiles and flak system,
>which the Yugoslav Army cleverly refrained from engaging during the raids,
>thus making them invisible to NATO electronic detectors. NATO now says
>that it is bringing in tactical fighters and targeting artillery and tanks
>in southern Serbia and Kosovo. But for the moment, bad weather is still
>forcing the allies to keep flying well above 10,000 feet, too high to aim
>at moving targets. The ground offensive by Serbian troops in Kosovo can
>thus continue for several more days at least, whatever NATO's efforts.
>In fact, Milosevic's forces have already achieved most of their goals:
>with frightening speed they crushed the resistance of the Kosovo
>Liberation Army (KLA) in the northern part of Kosovo, sending a wave of
>refugees south. They have secured 10-kilometre-wide buffer zones along the
>borders with Albania, Macedonia, and Montenegro--blocking possible entry
>paths for KLA reinforcements and supplies, and presenting an obstacle to
>an eventual attempt by NATO to force its way in.
>It remains unclear how NATO intends to cope with this situation: basic
>military theory says it is impossible to force an army to retreat by air
>attacks alone, regardless of the number of bombs and missiles used. This
>means that intensifying the bombing campaign south of the 44th parallel,
>which NATO announced on Monday, is unlikely to yield any fruit. It also
>means that NATO will have to reconsider its strategy, and more
>importantly, its policy. The problem is that correcting a mistake also
>means acknowledging that a mistake was made--a risk few policy makers are
>ready to take.
>On the home front, Milosevic has gained tremendous support, even among his
>most ardent critics. After the first air raid alert was sounded, most
>Serbs immediately adopted the slogan "my country, right or wrong." All of
>their frustrations about life in Yugoslavia were transferred towards the
>West. On Sunday, March 28, tens of thousands of young Belgraders assembled
>at the central square to attend a rock concert organised in defiance of
>the raids. For a moment, it looked as if Belgrade slipped back in
>time--the bands, as well as the faces in the crowd, were much the same as
>two years ago. Then, they were calling for the resignation of Slobodan
>Milosevic; this time, the target of their dissent was NATO and the Western
>leaders who ordered the strikes.
>Couple all this with the successful downing of an American F-117 west of
>Belgrade, which also boosted moral, and the conclusion is that Milosevic
>is better off than he ever was--and getting more so with each day of the
>campaign. NATO will continue to bomb for a few more days. But then it will
>face a hard choice: deploy ground troops with considerable risk of
>casualties, or return to the negotiating table to face an even stronger
>Dejan Anastasijevic is a journalist with Vreme magazine in Belgrade.

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