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Kosova Daily Report #1352, 98-02-23

Kosovo Information Center: Kosova Daily Report Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: Kosova Information Center <kic_pr@zana-pr.ztn.apc.org>

Kosova Information Center

KOSOVA DAILY REPORT #1352

Prishtina, 23 February 1998


CONTENTS

  • [01] President Rugova Receives Swedish Diplomats
  • [02] Enhanced Status, Meaningful Self-Administration in Kosova, Robert Gelbard Says in Prishtina
  • [03] Two Albanians Killed in Kosova in Unclear Circumstances During Weekend
  • [04] Serbian Police Attack Albanian Family in Podujeva
  • [05] Serbian Police Snipes at a Member of Jashari Family at Prekaz i Ul&t
  • [06] Albanian Arrested at Shkup/Skopje Airport

  • [01] President Rugova Receives Swedish Diplomats

    PRISHTINA, Feb 23 (KIC) - The President of the Republic of Kosova Dr. Ibrahim Rugova received today in Prishtina Mr. Mats Staffansson, Ambassador, and Jonas Weiss, Second Secretary in the Embassy of Sweden in Belgrade.

    President Rugova and the Swedish diplomats exchanged views about the current situation in Kosova as well modes for a peaceful settlement to the crisis.

    The President described the prevailing developments in Kosova as very dangerous. Apart from the systematic oppression of the Kosova citizens, the Serb regime has engaged in further repressive practices in the country, several municipalities in western and central Kosova being mostly targeted, he said. Heavy Serb police forces which have been deployed in the area for over a month now have been routinely ill-treating, intimidating and provoking the local Albanian population, Dr. Ibrahim Rugova stressed.

    The people of Kosova are committed to peaceful approaches in the struggle for independence, President Ibrahim Rugova said, underlying that independence for Kosova, coupled with neutrality and guarantees for Serbs, is an optimal and feasible solution. He pressed for increased international efforts and pressure upon the Belgrade regime so as to get it involved in an equitable talks process in pursuit of a settlement for Kosova.

    Ambassador Staffansson said the Swedish government is well aware of the dangerous situation in Kosova, as well as the need to press for a negotiated settlement.

    [02] Enhanced Status, Meaningful Self-Administration in Kosova, Robert Gelbard Says in Prishtina

    PRISHTINA, Feb 23 (KIC) - Special Representative Robert S. Gelbard held a press conference Sunday afternoon (February 22, 1988) at USIS Prishtina at the conclusion of his meetings with President Ibrahim Rugova of the Republic of Kosova, other Albanian representatives, as well as Serb- installed authorities in Kosova.

    "I have had some extremely interesting and important discussions in the course of today", Ambassador Gelbard, President Bill Clinton's and Secretary of States Albright's special representative for the Balkans said at the outset of his meeting with the press.

    "The United States is extremely interested in and concerned about the situation in Kosovo at this time", Gelbard said, adding that the U.S. is particularly deeply worried by the rising cycle of violence which is occurring in Kosova. "We condemn the violence which is occurring. The official violence promulgated particularly by the police, we believe, accounts for the great majority of the violence which is going on in Kosovo. We feel it is unwarranted...", Special Representative Ambassador Gelbard said in his introductory remarks. "If there are concerns about public security they could be managed in a much better way, geared to building confidence with the population and among the population rather than leading toward a further cycle of violence. At the same time we also condemn the attacks against the police and others by the group that calls itself U^K [the Kosova Liberation Army]. As I have said before, I consider these to be terrorist actions and it is the strong and firm policy of the U.S. to fully oppose all terrorist actions and all terrorist organizations", Ambassador Gelbard said.

    Further, he said that this shows very clearly "the profound need for much better will on all sides and the urgent need for dialogue, for a particularly unconditional dialogue."

    "There needs to be the start of a serious effort on the part of the Government of the FRY and the responsible democratic Kosovar Albanian leadership to begin to lessen tensions. But this can only be based, given the profound suspicion which exists on the part of the Kosovar Albanian leadership in particular, on the dialogue without any kind of preconditions", the U.S. diplomat said, adding that the "United States is prepared to facilitate that dialogue in order to get it going". It is important to get it going, "in fact it is essential to get it going because of the very dangerous situation which prevails right now", Ambassador Gelbard emphasized.

    He called for both sides to be flexible and realistic, so as to reach agreements "which could be implemented as a way of not just reducing tensions, but of saving lives."

    Robert S. Gelbard said the "U.S. feels very clearly that those who are advocating independence among the Kosovar Albanians are choosing or looking toward a goal which we consider to be unrealistic and not feasible".

    We believe that the future of Kosovo lies within the FRY, but at the same time we feel, as our Contact Group colleagues also feel, that an enhanced status for Kosovo is absolutely essential.", Ambassador Gelbard stressed. Belgrade is insisting on a status quo, he remarked, adding that there cannot be "the idea of some form of false autonomy" because that will not satisfy the aspirations of the population here. "We feel there has to be some kind of mechanism that would include meaningful self-administration in Kosovo. Ultimately, what the US thinks is really not important, it's what the two sides think that is really important, and we are prepared to support any peaceful solution which both sides would agree to."

    Referring to the presidential and parliamentary elections in Kosova, Ambassador Gelbard said in his introductory remarks: "The March 22nd Kosovar Albanian elections, which have been scheduled, are something that we think is acceptable. It is not a threat to Serbia. It is not a threat to Serbians, because it does not have any status, and of course there is no fundamental recognition for the Kosova Republic or Government. But this would have a positive result in a sense of maintaining good forward movement and a good sense of stability. What's most important right now is that we urge all sides to show restraint. This means restraint in rhetoric and in restraint in actions. The Kosovar Albanians have to avoid provocations and Belgrade, as the Government, has to demonstrate maximum restraint. Because Belgrade is the Government, we and the rest of the international community have greater expectations because of their control of the instruments of force and potential force. Any police and/or military crackdown will only increase Belgrade's isolation."

    Ambassador Robert Gelbard reiterated the well-known U.S. position on the maintenance of the outer wall of sanctions on Belgrade.

    The economic situation for this country [Serbia-Montenegro, FRY] is getting worse, not better, he stressed. "It could get much worse if there is not forward movement on Kosovo, starting with the implementation of the Education Agreement, as well is in other areas which I have outlined for President Milosevic."

    The Outer Wall of sanctions is real, the lack of formal relationships with the US is real, the U.S. envoy stressed. "Kosovo is right there in the center of those issues which can allow for that end of the Outer Wall of sanctions.", Mr. Gelbard said at the end of his introductory remarks.

    Most of the questions were related to the fate of the Education Accord.

    "I'm not certain the time is really ripe for an international conference" on Kosova, Gelbard said. "I think there are other ways to do it. It is clear that there is a profound lack of confidence among the parties. You'll recall that it took a number of failures before the conditions were ripe for Dayton. I think there has to be a lot of very quiet diplomacy and a lot of very quiet dialogue before there can be serious progress. The confidence building measures are the first set of issues which have to be achieved. The Education Agreement as I said is really in my mind as the first step."

    What is needed is "a quiet dialogue between the two sides which we [the U.S.] would be willing to help facilitate to get started.", Ambassador Gelbard said.

    "There is absolutely no excuse to the fact that almost two years

    later this agreement has not been implemented. I certainly understand the frustration of the University students in that regard. We support Monsignor Paglia, and the Sant Edgidio order in their attempts to try to get this agreement implemented that in fact we support them fully, and I often speak with Monsignor Paglia. In fact I will be reporting back to him after this visit.

    But, there needs to be responsible actions by both sides now, and I mean NOW to work to try to get this dialogue going. Restraint by the police and the military is absolutely essential. Failure to have that restraint will result in absolutely grave consequences for this country.", Gelbard said in reply to a questioner who wanted his comments on the possibility of putting UN or Nato observers in Kosova.

    Regarding the implementation of the Education Accord, Gelbard said "we do feel however there have to be a clearer series of deadlines implementing this agreement, that is going on too long without that", stressing the "urgency" that the addressing of this issue deserves.

    The U.S., in addition to having the presence of the Center (USIS) in Prishtina, provided a significant amount, about six million dollars here, the Ambassador said, illustrating the ways the American government is supportive."There is going to be a sizable assistance this year."

    The Outer Wall of sanctions still exists, and "there is a great deal of leverage on our part certainly with the Government of the FRY", Gelbard stressed. A lot of leverage exists there. "We strongly feel that it is an imperative that all democratically oriented groups here come out very strongly meanwhile and condemn terrorism".

    I consider that the U^K is a terrorist group by its actions. I used to be responsible for counter-terrorist policy in the American Government. I know when I see them. And I think it is important to draw the line between groups that are democratic versus groups that are anti-democratic through their use of terrorist means", Ambassador Robert Gelbard said at the end of his press conference in Prishtina Sunday.

    [03] Two Albanians Killed in Kosova in Unclear Circumstances During Weekend

    PRISHTINA, Feb 23 (KIC) - Two Kosovar Albanians were killed in yet unsolved circumstances in Skenderaj and Klina, respectively, during the last weekend.

    The Prishtina-based daily Koha ditore said today that a 36-year-old Albanian, Ali Raci, from Ujmir village of Klina was shot dead on Sunday afternoon. The newspaper quoted witnesses as saying that two unidentified gunmen shot dead Ali Raci in front of the gates of the local agricultural cooperative at Ujmir.

    Meanwhile, sources in Skenderaj said that the funereal of another Albanian, Murat S. Dajaku killed in unsolved circumstances last Friday, took place on Sunday, in his native village Rakinica.

    Ismail Dajaku, father of the deceased Albanian, was quoted as saying that the body of his son was found in a lorry of two Serbs who were seen driving through the village the same day.

    [04] Serbian Police Attack Albanian Family in Podujeva

    PRISHTINA, Feb 23 (KIC) - "It was around 6 p.m., and we were all sitting in the sitting room. We saw the police armored vehicle driving in the direction of our house. The vehicle turned around and stopped right in front of the house. Soon we heard yelling and bangs on our gate," Xhevat Ra^i, head of the family told Bujku newspaper reporter.

    The Albanian was thus describing the police attack on February 19.

    "My wife and I were wondering what to do. I rose, removed the curtain and looked through the window, when suddenly a very strong light was directed towards the house. They immediately began shooting in our direction. All I could think of was to call on my wife and children to lay down on the floor, while the bullets came through the window," Mr. Ra^i explained.

    "We stayed on the floor for about fifteen minutes, until my uncle came in and told us they were gone. It was a miracle no one was hurt," Mr. Ra^i told the newspaper.

    The Ra^i family spent the rest of the night at their uncle's.

    A Serbian police helicopter flew over T&rnava village seven or eight times during the same day, according to the Bujku newspaper.

    [05] Serbian Police Snipes at a Member of Jashari Family at Prekaz i Ul&t

    PRISHTINA, Feb 23 (KIC) - "The bullet which came from the Game Ammunition Factory came through the door which was opened and hit the corridor walls," said Shaban Jashari, head of the family which was attacked brutally by the Serbian police 22 January, when two girls, members of the family, and a lot of material damage was caused to the house, describing a fresh Serb police attempt to kill members of this family.

    "They made an attempt on the life of my son Ham&z Jashari this time who had walked through the door only seconds before the bullet came through," said Mr. Jashari, explaining that the police turret from where the bullet was fired is only 500 meters away from the house.

    Mr. Jashari told the Bujku newspaper his family was exposed to constant danger and open threats.

    Serbian Police opened fire on Bashkim Rifat Jashari, 20, member of the Jashari family in downtown Sk&nderaj 9 February. Initially, the Serbian police called on him to stop, but since young Bashkim Jashari refused to do so they shot in his direction. Fortunately enough, Bashkim made a narrow escape that day.

    [06] Albanian Arrested at Shkup/Skopje Airport

    PRISHTINA, Feb 23 (KIC) - On 21 February the FYROM police arrested Dervish Krraku from Peja, immediately after his landing at the Shkup/Skopje airport.

    Mr. Krraku lives in New York. He is a member of the LDK in New York and a very active political activist.

    Sources in Peja said they had no knowledge of the reason of his arrest. His family in Peja has not been notified either, and they have no knowledge on his whereabouts.

    Kosova Information Center


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