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Vol 2, No 22
5 June 2000
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News from Kosovo
All the important news
since 29 May 2000

Llazar Semini

NATO condemns ethnic violence

On his fourth visit to Kosovo last Wednesday, NATO Secretary General Lord George Robertson delivered a strong warning condemning ethnic violence.

"The international community will not be patient with such acts. It will not be long before Kosovo as a whole begins to lose the support of the people it needs the most," said Robertson.

"KFOR has given the people of Kosovo a chance they have not had in 50 years, the chance to build a democratic and multi-ethnic society in peace."

"It is up to the leaders of Kosovo -and I met many of them today- to lead the way towards peace," he continued, "Most of all, that means standing up against the continuing violence and intimidation that go on here. That means allowing all those who have fled their homes to return in safety," Robertson added.

The NATO chief said Kosovo's leaders must tell the people this "blunt truth" and publicly condemn ethnic violence.

"In meetings, they have a tendency of telling me what I want to hear. Everyone agrees that ethnic hatred has to be set aside for the future of Kosovo," Robertson said, but added that none of the leaders repeated the message outside meeting rooms.

Robertson also expressed concern about continuing tensions in the Preševo valley in southern Serbia and its implications for peace and stability in the region.

International anger at murder of three Serbs

On Sunday 28 May, two men and one four year-old child were killed in a drive-by shooting in the town of Cernica (Cernicë) near Gnjilane in south-eastern Kosovo. Two others were injured in the attack, which occurred in the American-led Multinational Brigade East sector.

The policeforce of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) said they had arrested an Albanian suspect and an investigation was underway.

Bernard Kouchner, head of the UNMIK, expressed his revulsion at the "cold blooded" murder, saying the crime would not go unpunished.

Kouchner added that the only conceivable winner in this "disgusting form of extremism" is the regime in Belgrade, whose aim is the withdrawal of UNMIK and KFOR and the destabilization of Kosovo.

"This kind of violence does not hurt only a few people, or one ethnic group. It hurts all the people of Kosovo, regardless of ethnicity," NATO Secretary general Lord George Robertson said, warning strongly against any kind of ethnic cleansing.

"We did not stop ethnic cleansing one year ago to see ethnic cleansing of another kind take place."

The murder was strongly condemned by the Interim Administrative Council (IAC), the highest policy-making body, which includes representatives of all Kosovo's ethnic groups, and was also endorsed by the Kosovo Transitional Council (KTC).

Conference on Kosovo and its neighbors

A conference on Kosovo and its neighbors, sponsored by the Kosova Action for Civic Initiative, was held Saturday 27 May in Priština (Prishtinë). Participants included Macedonian Prime Minister Ljubomir Georgievski, Montenegrin Foreign Minister Branko Lukovac, Koha Ditore publisher Veton Surroi, Serb politician Stojan Protić and other well-known personalities in the Balkans.

They discussed problems of regional cooperation and security, development, infrastructure, the role of the media and democratization and the role of civil society in the Balkans.

Also present were Skender Gjinushi, speaker of the Albanian parliament, and Albanian parliamentary commission on foreign affairs head Sabri Godo.

IAC issues statement on refugee returns

In a statement issued on 26 May, the Kosovo Interim Administrative Council (IAC) appealed to countries playing host to Kosovo refugees to ensure their return was carried out in a controlled and humane fashion.

"At the same time, the IAC wishes to appeal to the authorities of the host countries concerned to make all possible efforts to ensure that the return process takes place in a phased, coordinated and humane manner," the statement continued.

It noted that there was a serious housing shortage in Kosovo, but welcomed the decision of some host countries to allow Kosovars in technical institutions to complete their courses.

More than 200,000 Kosovar Albanians are expected to return, mainly from Germany and Switzerland.

International postal service resumes

International postal service for letters to and from Kosovo began functioning last Wednesday. The occasion was marked with a symbolic letter sent to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in New York by Bernard Kouchner, his Special Representative in Kosovo, who described the event as "yet another milestone in the establishment of peace."

Ninety post offices are now open in Kosovo, compared with 130 before the war. The service is using 60 motorcycles and 10 vans to distribute letters and is expected to employ some 700 people.

Conference aims at more women voters

More than 250 women attended a conference entitled "Women in Elections and the Peace Process" in Priština on Saturday. The conference, organized by UNMIK, aimed to get more women to participate in upcoming autumn elections, and to encourage their involvement in building a tolerant society in Kosovo.

Journalists pay respects to colleagues

A commemorative ceremony was held at the UNMIK headquarters in Priština for Reuters war correspondent Kurt Schork and AP television war cameraman Miguel Moreno, who were killed in Sierra Leone last week.

For years, both men reported consistently and courageously with great perseverance in service of the truth. With their death, colleagues felt they had lost two men who did an immeasurable amount of work to enlighten the world about Kosovo and the crises in the Balkans.

Mitrovica's first trial

The Municipal Court of Mitrovica held its first trial on Thursday 25 May. Defendant Nebojša Mutavzdić, charged with attempted arson, was found guilty and sentenced to six months in prison, but was released for time served. Other trials expected to begin in Priština next week involve defendants now held in Mitrovica.

European Parliament delegation visit

A delegation from the European Parliament completed a four-day fact-finding tour assessing financial requirements to support democracy and economic development in Kosovo in advance of upcoming discussions on the EU's budget for 2001 in Strasbourg and Brussels.

Llazar Semini, 29 May 2000

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