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Vol 3, No 23
25 June 2001
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News from Kosovo News from Kosovo
All the important news since 16 June 2001
Llazar Semini


UN Security Council appeals to Kosovo

A delegation of the United Nations Security Council comprising all of its 15 members appealed to both Kosovo Albanian and Kosovo Serb leaders to shun extremism and commit their efforts to building a multi-ethnic society.

"The communities should look toward the future," Bangladeshi Ambassador Anwarul K Chowdhury, president of the Council for the month of June, said at the end of a two-day visit.

Chowdhury noted that the Serb community was particularly concerned about security, saying that displaced Kosovo Serbs would not be able to return home unless their security was insured.

Another strong message the Council repeated throughout its visit was the importance of the participation of the Kosovo Serbs in the 17 November elections and in the interim institutions to be created.

The Council delegation also held meetings with representatives of all Kosovo communities, met with members of the Interim Administrative Council and the Kosovo Transitional Council, visited the divided city of Mitrovica and met with human rights activists.


Putin makes surprise visit to Kosovo

Russian President Vladimir Putin made an unscheduled stop Sunday in Kosovo, where NATO commanders call the shots for some 3000 Russian peacekeeping troops.

The first Russian president to visit Yugoslavia since the 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union, Putin was balancing a desire to reassert Russia's interests in the Balkans with his professed willingness to work with the Western alliance.

Putin criticized a plan for self-government in Kosovo, saying it was approved "in circumvention" of the UN Security Council and that it had a number of significant drawbacks.

Putin later held talks with Kosovo's UN chief Hans Hækkerup and the visiting delegation of ambassadors of the 15-member UN Security Council.

Putin has warned that Kosovo is the greatest threat to future stability in the Balkans.

During meetings in Belgrade with Yugoslav leader Vojislav Kostunica, he pledged to help disarm what he called Albanian "terrorists."

Putin called for the closure of Macedonia's borders with Albania and the Kosovo region of Yugoslavia to be blocked.


Hækkerup rejects Putin criticism

Hans Hækkerup on Monday rejected criticism of his mission by President Putin, but admitted there was more work to be done in improving security in the unruly Serbian province.

"I don't think it was fair criticism, but I think we want to change the security situation," said Hækkerup.

A plan by Hækkerup to grant Kosovo wide autonomy under UN supervision is not a solution to the province's problems, Yugoslav President Vojislav Koštunica said Wednesday.

"I think that Mr Hækkerup's proposal would not provide the framework for a solution to the problem," Koštunica told a press conference during a one-day official visit here.


Bush plans visit to Kosovo in July

President George W Bush plans to visit US peacekeeping troops in Kosovo as part of a European trip in July.

White House officials recently scouted locations in the Yugoslav province for the visit, to take place at the end of his second European trip.

Bush said Monday he supports Russian President Vladimir Putin's call for the border between Macedonia and Kosovo to be tightly sealed to halt the movement of weapons to Albanian rebels fighting the government.


Elections top agenda of Chairman-in-Office visit to Kosovo

The chairman-in-office of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Romanian Foreign Minister Mircea Geoanã, held a series of meetings in the Kosovo capital Priština with Albanian and Serb leaders.

Geoanã focused on the forthcoming Kosovo-wide elections, scheduled for 17 November, and their impact on the development of the region.

Geoanã urged increased dialogue between the players in Kosovo, the authorities in Belgrade and others in the western Balkans.

"Elections will be important, but the way you operate after the elections is also very important," he told Kosovo leaders.

Geoanã expressed cautious optimism Tuesday that Kosovo's Serb minority would take part in the province's legislative elections in November.

"I think there is an inclination (to participate) after the encouragement coming from (Yugoslav President Vojislav Koštunica)," he told a news conference.


Continuous refugee flow from FYROM

Despite a diminishing flow of people from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) into Kosovo, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said Tuesday she remained "extremely concerned" about the situation and continued to monitor it closely.

Astrid van Genderen Stort, a UNHCR spokeswoman in Priština, said the number of arrivals continued taking the total number of displaced people from FYROM since May close to 39,000 people and the total since February up to 48,000.

In southern Serbia over 700 Macedonian citizens of different ethnic backgrounds were reported entering at the end of last week, bringing the total of arrivals from FYROM to over 3,500.


Kosovo Serb Gets 15 years for part in Racak killings

A Priština court on Monday condemned Kosovo Serb Zoran Stojanović, 32, for his part if the infamous "Racak massacre" in 1999, when the killing of 45 ethnic Albanians provoked international outrage and paved the way for NATO intervention.

Stojanović, arrested in August 1999, was sentenced to 15 years by a panel of three judges, two UN international magistrates and one ethnic Albanian.

Lawyer Tom Gashi, representing the families of the victims, said: "I'm not satisfied; 15 years was the minimum sentence. I regret that the presiding judge did not uphold the charge of premeditation in the murder and attempted murders."

Following his sentencing, UN legal advisers and the human rights group Amnesty International accused the UN mission in Kosovo of continued ethnic bias in its judicial system and making "politically driven decisions," in spite of the appointment of international judges and prosecutors.

Serbian Interior Minister Dusan Mihajlović confirmed the existence of a third mass grave of victims from Kosovo during the war in the province two years ago, Belgrade radio B-92 reported Tuesday.

Yugoslav investigators, observed by the International War Crimes Tribunal, have begun work on a mass grave with 86 bodies found near Belgrade. Another grave with 25 to 30 mostly male corpses was found in the same area in eastern Serbia last week.


CCHF in Kosovo

From 18 May to 19 June 2001, 57 suspected Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF) cases were registered, of which four were fatal, the World Health Organisation reported Wednesday. Twelve cases have been classified as confirmed (ten laboratory and two on clinical/epidemiological grounds).

Most of the primary infections have occurred in areas of Kosovo that have had CCHF activity in previous years. CCHF infections are expected to continue throughout the summer and autumn months while ticks are active.

Llazar Semini, 22 June 2001

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