Kosova reports 1998Report from independent source
Kosov@ Situation Report 21 August 1998
The Conflict in Kosov@Amidst reports by the Kosova Information Center about ongoing fights in the Albanian border region near Djakovica, Belgrade independent dailies report that the US ambassador in Macedonia Christopher Hill has been engaging in shuttle diplomacy between Belgrade and Prishtina. Hill stated that there was presently no need for direct talks. However, Radio B92 reports that secret talks have already been going on between representatives of the Kosovar Albanians and the government in Belgrade.
Belgrade daily DANAS quotes the leader of the Kosovar Albanian negotiationg team Fehmi Agani as saying in the Sarajevo based news paper DNEVNI AVAZ that the minimum the Albanian side expects from talks with Belgrade was the return to the autonomy of 1974. He also said that the existence of differences in the views of Kosovar Albanians represented a problem. In an interview with BLIC, Agani stated that Rugova had the support of KLA units from a majority of regions in Kosov@, while the KLA H.Q. favoured Adem Demaci.
DANAS also quotes Adem Demaci, the leader of the KLA political delegation, from an interview for Radio B92. He said that the KLA had some 30,000 armed followers and its H.Q. was in the village of Likovac, from where the army is commanded by a unified command structure.
According to Nasa Borba the Albanian language daily BUJKU published a statement by the "KLA H.Q. Drenica" in which the KLA supports "any policy leading to a united, free and independent Kosova".
In an interview for the German daily "Die Welt", Macedonian Albanian leader Arben Xhaferi stated that he would try to spare Macedonia a war by "provoking a political crisis in the autumn". The crisis would begin with an Albanian party boycott of the Macedonian parliament, whereupon the Alnanian parties would call for help from the international community. He also stated that an Albanian armed insurgence might be successful in Macedonia, given that the Macedonian army is not very strong. However, it was not in his interest that any of this happened, says Xhaferi.
The Belgrade daily BLIC quotes the Financial Times as reporting that the police and KLA-units in the Pec region had agreed on a cease-fire which would enable humanitarian organisations to supply goods to some 20,000 refugees staying in the surrounding forrests. The two-day cease-fire was the first of its kind since the beginning of the armed conflict in Kosov@.
Refugee SituationAccording to estimates by local humanitarian activists in Prishtina, the number of refugees in Kosov@ could be anything up to 600,000. The estimate is based on a calculation which takes into consideration the number of burnt villages and the population density in Kosov@. They also stated that a high number of refugees are forced to stay in the mountains as the police would not allow them to return to their villages. The KLA they characterised as a "story inflated by the media" and that its real strength was somewhere around 500 armed followers scattered throughout Kosov@ villages.
Meanwhile, the president of the Kosova province Veljko Odalovic has called on all Kosovar Albanian refugees to return to their homes. He also stated that many refugees were kept from returning to their homes by "terrorists" who force them to stay in the forrests and that the humanitarian aid brought to the area by international organisations was seized by those "terrorists" who use it for their own needs.
According to UNHCR figures, there are some 230,000 refugees from Kosov@, of which 167,000 are presently staying in the region.
The Prishtina based Council for the Defense of Human Rights and Freedoms has issued a report according to which two hundred and one Albanians have been killed in armed conflicts since June. Another 152 Albanians have injured and 185 abducted or held hostage, 296 have been arrested and 1,566 abused in various ways, says the report.
In another report, the Council states that there had been 570 Albanian casualties during the six-month armed conflict in Kosov@.
The Montenegro Commissariat for Refugees reports that 28,790 refugees from Kosov@have so far registered in the republic, whereas the estimated number of non-registered refugees is 6,000. The Montenegro Red Cross has registered some 30,000 aid seekers.
MediaAccording to Nasa Borba, the Nis based radio station SITI RADIO had to stop broadcasting after the police had seized some vital parts of its equipment, including a transmitter. The radio had been broadcasting despite the fact that it had not been given a frequency by the ministry of telecommunications. The station is a member of the ANEM network (Independent Electronic Media Association).
The co-ordinator of the ill-fated Prishtina independent radio station Radio Kontact Zvonko Tarle addressed another appeal, this time to the President of FRY Slobodan Milosevic, to allow the station to go back on the air.