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Kosova reports 1998
Kosov@ Situation Report 14 October, 1998

Report from independent source

Situation in Kosov@

Despite reports from the Yugoslav government that the military action in Kosov@ was completed and IDP s were returning to their villages, the Kosov@ Unformation Center issued statement about the increasing military violence in Kosovo. Included in these reports were stories of the massacre of Albanian families in towns and villages such as Gornje Obrinje and Glogovc. Also intense military action in Suha Reka.

On September 23 the Security Council of the General Assembly issued a resolution calling for:

  1. The end of fighting
  2. Negotiations leading to autonomy for Kosovo
  3. A humanitarian rescue mission and the repatriation of refugees.
The same day the Socialist party delcared that the image of a humanitarian disaster had been invented as an excuse for the international community to put pressure on Yugoslavia.

By September 28 Danas as well as many other Yugoslavian papers began issuing reports, indicating that NATO was preparing to attack Yugoslavia and that they had already identified 600 targets for bombing and air strikes. Reportedly the air strikes would be not only in Kosovo, but also include military targets throughout Serbia.

According to ex Singidunum, on September 29th, Seslj, head of the Serbian Radical Party, issued a second warning that if NATO attacked Yugoslavia, NATO soldiers would be attacked around the world. He warned foreign citizens in Yugoslavia whose countries might participate in aggression to flee the country. Seselj included Yugoslav citisens in this warning, if they worked for foreign governments.

Montenegrin Prsident Milo Djukanovic held a press conference this morning about the meeting of the Yugoslavian Parliament in response to threats of a NATO attack. Djukanovic said that the government needed to be clear and transparent in its political activities. He called on Milosevic to bring the nation a unambiguous message in which he would say that he and all Yugoslavian political bodies are ready to keep the promises that were made ot Russian President Boris Yeltsin and that he would comply with the UN resolution. Djukanovic went on to say that because of the international mistrust, he thought all representatives needed to be personally assured that there would be a use of force.

The Russian foreign minister and defense minister were in Belgrade to warn Milosevic of possible airstrikes and to urge compliance with the UN Security Council Resolution of September 23rd.

Christopher Hill arrived in Belgrade to bring the final draft of the Contact Group s plan to solve the crisis in Kosovo.

Meantime in Pristina, a temporary governing council was formed, consisting of 16 members. Seven are Serbs and the other nine are Turks, Albanians or Romany. One of the main purposes of the council is to create conditions needed in order to hold local elections. Comments on the formation of this council were varied.

October 6th B-92 issued a report from NATO concerning the withdrawal of troops from Kosov@, noting that more troops had withdrawn in the past few hours than in the previous ten days. B-92 corroberated the fact that 100 police buses, trucks and armoured vehicles had been sighted leaving Kosovo.

Danas, October 7th, reported on an interview with Richard Holbrook, in which he warned Milosevic to take NATO threats seriously. Holbrook said that what he saw in Kosovo ...was not encouraging. Large numbers of refugees are in the mountains. People are returning to their homes, but they are damaged, without walls or rooves. The police are eveywhere and they give the impression that they are preparing for winter and that it will be a long stay. This makes it difficult for the refugees to return. the American diplomat reported.

NATO member nations warned their citizens against traveling to Yugoslavia. Canada closed the consulate for an indefinite period and Austria, Germany, Great Britain, Spain and the United States reduced their embassy staff to essential personell and warned citizens in Yugoslavia to leave the country. Most of the international humanitarian organizations had left Kosovo by Ocotber 9th. UNHCR reported that they would keep a skelaton crew and ICRC promised to continue their distribution of aid, even if military intervention were implemented. (Eye witness reports indicate that with these exceptions, the international NGO s have been evacuated to Macedonia).

B-92 radio commented on the highly patriotic messages that were broadcast before and after newsbroadcasts of Radio and TV Serbia. The message was that the Yugoslav Army guarentees the safety of its citizens and the anthem that accompanied the message included the refrain, We love you our fatherland. With us(the Yugoslavian Army) you are safe.

Over the next few days the threats of military intervention continued. High intensity talks between Holbrook and Milosevic continued over the weekend. Milosevic released a statement on Monday, October 12th that said the demands of the UN Resolution have been fullfilled in paractice, which could be unified by the rapid normalization of the situation on the ground. Holbrook refused to comment on Milosevic s statement. CNN reports that the main obstacle to reaching an agreement was Milosevic s refusal to allow a broad international montitoring mission in Kosov@.


Estimates from UNHCR are that about 50,000 IDP s have returned to their homes in the past week of relative calm. The report continued with an estimate that tens of thousands of IDP s remained without adequated food and shelter.

Civil Initiatives

On Friday, October 9th, Women in Black held a manifestation protesting war,and marking their seventh anniversary. Seslj had issued a threatening statement against the three local NGO s in Belgrade, including Women in Black, and there had been some anxiety over police interference. However,the manifestation was held without incident.

In a press conference in Belgrade, Seslj threatened three local NGOs implying that they would get trouble in case NATO bombes FRY. Seselj singeled out the Women in Black, the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights and the Belgrade Circle. Members of some of these NGOs now fear that these statements might provoke aggressive acts against activists.


Radio B92 reports that police entered the premises of the dailies Danas and Dnevni Telegraf and temporarily banned the papers from being published. The ban happened on grounds of a government decree on >special measures under conditions of threats of armed NATO attacks on the country, issued on 8 October 1998. The daily Nasa Borba was still available the following morning, but published a warning by the Minister of Information of the Republic of Serbia. The letter was printed despite the minister s explicit warning not to do so or to give any information about it.

Radio Index was closed on Saturday night when two inspectors from the Yugoslav Ministry of Telecommunication and two policemen visited the premises. The reason for shutting down the station was that the station had no broadcasting license.

In an escalation of national security, Seslj warned radio stations, which didn t stop broadcasting foreign news, that they would be subject to legal requirements to do so. He told B-92 that he woud guarentee they would no longer broadcast Radio Free Europe. In the same interview Seslj accused the independent media, who received foreign funding, of spying.

Two days later the government banned foreign broadcasts. Editors in chiefs of independent outlets were summoned to a meeting of the Deputy Serbian Prime Minister and the Information Minister. During the session that followed, the recommendation to agree to stop broadcasts from foreign media became an order. The ban included Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, BBC, and Deutsche Welle. The Association of Independent Media described the order as the most dramatic form of state media censorship yet to have occured in Serbia.

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