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Crisis 1999
Opinions Archive 1999
The Kosovar chaos

On its way to normalisation, Kosovo is going through a series of phenomena and processes of social and political deformations. Other societies which have experienced similar war destruction and social and political disintegration have experienced similar. The head of the "new Kosovar state" Bernard Kouchner declared a few days ago that in postwar Kosovo there was much less violence and crime than after the war in Lebanon, Salvador and other countries. However, this does not mean much for the citizens of Kosovo who are increasingly disturbed due to markedly deteriorated security situation and spreading of the climate of general uncertainty that has seized Kosovo in the past few weeks. Kouchner is obviously very active and he is trying to be present in all the parts of Kosovo where the conflicts among the ethnic groups are the most violent. He recently declared that he knew how certain problems could be resolved, but that he did not know how to cure human hearts.

Even if the latter is disregarded, one would have to conclude that despite extensive engagement of international civilian authorities and KFOR, certain things have not gone the way expected of them, primarily when the speed of implementation is concerned. It might be true that estimates had not been realistic. This refers mostly to expectations that the legal and political vacuum would quickly be filled, that strong presence of KFOR and prompt constitution of international police would have a decisive effect. It turned out that the expectations had been exaggerated and unrealistic. Despite political and diplomatic efforts and the agreement on the parallel withdrawal of Serbian forces and the entrance of KFOR, it was impossible to avoid formation of the vacuum. This could not have been achieved simply because Kosovo despite massive exodus had not been left empty in the demographic, social and political sense. In fact, in certain places and under certain conditions the vacuum could have been filled much better than in others had the already existing formations been put directly in the service of stabilisation under command of KFOR. This idea, however, seemed extremely unacceptable to many especially the foreigners, to the extent that it did not even deserve to be mentioned. Instead, from the very beginning, KFOR did its best to pressure and possibly even eliminate UCK (Kosovo Liberation Army) and the embryos of administration created by ethnic Albanians during the war. This might create new or intensify the existing problems among the Albanians. Only those who hardly or not at all understand the complexity of the situation can believe that this will make matters easier for KFOR and the international civil administration.

It cannot be denied that KFOR was quite successful in preventing chaos and possible incidents. But, one must not disregard that Kosovo Albanians, aware of what was happening in Albania in 1997, did not wish chaos to prevail and that great majority contributed by their personal behavior or in an organised manner to prevention of escalation of chaos. Many elements of the chaotic situation on the surface but especially under the surface, however, could not be eliminated as quickly as it was expected. It is after all a society of people who had experienced war trauma or who in some way participated in the war disaster. By nature of its composition, organisation and purpose, KFOR was not able to tackle the problems which emerge after the end of any war. That is why there are quite justified opinions in KFOR and in UNIMK (United Nations International Mission for Kosovo)itself that it is impossible for KFOR to deal with police work.

Despite this fact, the job of constituting international police are proceeding very slowly, but life is much faster. Phenomena have appeared which directly endanger healthy normalisation and threaten to become a heavy burden for Kosovo society and international civil authorities. These are very disturbing phenomena such as looting, robbery, assaults. Symptoms of transformation of these forms of social deviations into organised crime are even more dangerous. Minor or major groups which are engaged in crime show tendencies to improve their organisation, interconnections and even reach agreements about zones of interest. Assumptions have not come true that this would end when there would be nothing left to steal, or when everything abandoned gets new owners.

It seems that in the past weeks crime has increased or at least that it manifests no tendency of decrease. Since mid June when NATO troops entered Kosovo until 26 July, 198 lives were lost due to the current situation. Data produced by KFOR show that 78 of them, including persons killed in the village of Gacko near Lipljani, were the Serbs, and 74 were - the Albanians. If an average of three to five persons are killed a day, or about 30 a week, it can be estimated that in fact about 250 Kosovar citizens have lost their lives since the middle of June. This is much more than in the weeks before the beginning of the Kosovar war. The two situations are quite different of course, but a comparison is very interesting, at least as the phase of preparation for and the phase of ending of a war.

The phase of ending of a war may also be illustrated by numerous other data. Since the entrance of NATO troops until 26 July, KFOR services have registered 570 cases of houses set on fire and about 840 robberies. These are only the ones that KFOR has been notified about, and it can be assumed that this phenomena is much more frequent nowadays in Kosovo. Due to various forms of crime, including murder, KFOR troops and the international civilian authorities are keeping several hundred persons, mostly Albanians, in custody. What the actual number of the others is can only be guessed. The number of the arrested persons is changing, but the trend of increase continues. According to certain estimates, only on border crossings, mostly due to unauthorised carrying arms, but also due to other forms of crime, between 10 and 15 persons, Albanians, are held in custody every day. The largest number of the arrested are in the German sector. The British ranks the second, and the least are in the French sector. Although a little or nothing at all has been said about it, at least in Kosovo, it is assumed that about 15 persons have been arrested for violation of the rules of war and crimes against humanity. The administration of Bernard Kouchner has so far nominated 28 judges and prosecutors of various ethnic origin. It is known that many cases have undergone the usual investigation, but there has not been a single trial yet.

Fehim Rexhepi

AIM Pristina

Source: AIM
(Alternativna Informativna Mreza /Alternative Information Network in former Yugoslavia)

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