Geert Lovink on Wed, 7 Apr 1999 22:45:10 +0200 (CEST)

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Date: Wed, 7 Apr 1999 19:18:47 +0000 (GMT)


PRISTINA IN EXILE. Kosovo Albanians in Skopje feel strangely at home: on
the streets and in the cafes, everyone is there. But as Gjeraqina Tuhina
reports, something is wrong, and many are still missing . . .

KLA LEADS NEW KOSOVAR "GOVERNMENT". KLA leader Hashim Thaci heads a new
Kosovo Albanian administration dominated by the guerrillas and other
opposition to long-time ruler Ibrahim Rugova. Fron Nazi reports from


IWPR's network of leading correspondents in the region provide inside
analysis of the events and issues driving crises in the Balkans. The
reports are available on the Web in English, Serbian and Albanian;
English-language reports are also available via e-mail. For syndication
information, contact Anthony Borden <>.

The project is supported by the European Commission and Press Now.


The opinions expressed in "Balkan Crisis Report" are those of the authors
and do not necessarily represent those of the publication or of IWPR.

Copyright (C) 1999 The Institute for War * Peace Reporting <>.



Kosovo Albanians in Skopje feel strangely at home: on the streets and in
the cafes, everyone is there. But something is wrong, and many are still
missing . .

By Gjeraqina Tuhina in Skopje

When I arrived from Kosovo, I expected to find the Macedonia I have always
known, the Macedonia I saw on my last visit a few weeks ago. But instead I
saw Pristina.

Literally, throughout Macedonia, in Tetovo, in Gostivar, in Kicevo and
especially in Skopje, the capital of Kosovo is in Macedonia. Everywhere I
went I saw friends from home, some I hadn't seen in a week, some I hadn't
seen in a long time. The streets belong to another town, but the feeling
was that you were walking in the middle of Pristina.

At first, it looked wonderful, and it seemed like people were even having
fun. The cafes were full, with everyone you knew. I saw all of my friends.
We went to the big open market in Skopje to buy personal items we of course
hadn't brought with us. And the people in Macedonia-that is, the Albanians
in Macedonia-are so welcoming. The Macedonians themselves talk about
"changing the demographics" of the country, and are in a bad mood: you can
feel the tension. But the Albanians--they offer the Kosovars so much
hospitality it hurts.

Most of all it is a time when we can be sure who is alive. We don't speak
about the dead yet, because nothing can be confirmed. But least we know who
is alive, because we have seen each other.

For me, the best was seeing many of my journalist colleagues, whom I hadn't
seen for at least a week. And of these, the most important was Baton
Haxhiu, the Koha Ditore editor whom everyone thought was dead.

I first saw him in fact in the huge queue at the border. I recognised his
car and his registration plate, seven kilometres back within Yugoslav
territory. But I never thought it would be him.

He was wearing a hat, and had shaved his beard Of course, he was still
officially dead, so obviously he was terrified, and wanted to hide. There
were a lot of rumours about Serbian agents and no one felt safe until they
got through the border.

When I finally recognised him I went crazy. I wanted to jump and kiss him.
But the look from his eyes was clear: you didn't see me.

Many other Albanians, people smarter than me, saw him, too. But they didn't
acknowledge him at all. They just only needed to see him, to know: "Baton
is alive."

For me, I felt as if I was dreaming. As if I wouldn't believe it until I
could touch him. The next day, when we finally met again, we just cried and
cried. I screamed at him that he had cost five years of my life. He just

And just below this sense of carnival, people really do cry in Pristina. I
was amazed, especially with the men. Crying and crying, from everything
they have been through.

For we are still in shock. We are too proud to admit that we are refugees.
People are using new expressions, like "deportees". Anything to avoid
admitting what has really happened.

In many of the cafes, people are seriously talking about how they will be
back in their homes within two weeks. They believe that NATO will continue
and win the war, and they will then be able to go back. They are even

But really all they have is this hope-for me, I'm afraid, a too hopeful
hope, a dream. They want these two weeks to be something temporary, itself
a dream. They want to pretend that it didn't happen and that it can all be
reversed. Even though we have no organisation anymore. Even though many are
dead. Even though we are, in fact, here in Macedonia.

To remember, it's enough just to spend half an hour back at the border. To
see the huge numbers of refugees trapped there and waiting in the cold, you
feel sick. And when you actually sit with people at the cafes and talk to
them, the stories are all the same: the policemen, the expulsions, the

Others have even tried to call home. I spoke to seven or eight friends who
rang up their houses. Again, always the same. Someone answers in Serbian.
They ask, "Is this the house of family so-and-so." The reply is clear: "I
don't know whose it was before, but it's mine now."

So despite the atmosphere in the streets, something is wrong. Something
doesn't fit. We know what it is. But we don't want to think about it.

Gjeraqina Tuhina is a correspondent for IWPR.


KLA leader Hashim Thaci heads a new Kosovo Albanian administration
dominated by the guerrillas and other opposition to long-time ruler Ibrahim

By Fron Nazi in Tirana

Kosovo Albanians have formed a new government, dominated by the Kosovo
Liberation Army (KLA).

The new administration, which was announced by Kosovo's 29-year-old prime
minister, Hashim Thaci, formally ends the decade-long rule of Ibrahim
Rugova's Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK).

The government is overwhelmingly made up of the KLA and Democratic Union
Movement (LBD), a coalition of five opposition parties to the LDK led by
Rexhep Qosaj, a long-time critic of Rugova. One post, that of deputy prime
minister, was left open for the LDK.

According to Jakup Krasniqi, the government spokesman: "The formation of
the government is of urgent necessity at a time when all political and
governing structures have collapsed."

The formation of a new government was envisaged in the ill-fated 23
February Rambouillet agreement. The new government was scheduled to rule
over Kosovo affairs until elections could be held.

The new government contains six representatives from the KLA. In addition
to the position of prime minister, the KLA controls the key ministries of
finance, public order and defence.  Five ministers come from the LBD.

Concerning the vacant LDK slot, Krasinqi said: "The LDK is currently
inactive. Most of their leaders have left Kosovo or as in Rugova's case
have been captured by the Serb forces. LDK is not capable of defending
Kosovo and thus is no longer a player."

According to the KLA, the government was formed inside of Kosovo and all of
its members, including Thaci, are currently there. However, LDK supporters
in Tirana say that the government was formed in Tirana and that the KLA
leaders are there in hiding.

The conflict between the LDK and the coalition of the KLA and LBD came to a
head in March 1998. While violence erupted in the province, the LDK
organised parliamentary elections. Opposition parties and the KLA
considered the poll inappropriate, given what was taking place.

The new government expects former Prime Minister-in-exile Bujar Bukoshi to
turn over the funds collected from the diaspora over the past ten years.
Since 1991 when the LDK formed its parallel government for Kosovo, it
financed itself via a levy on Kosovo Albanians abroad. Every Kosovo
Albanian was expected to donate 3 per cent of their income to finance the
parallel government.

According to some estimates, more than $300 million was raised, much of
which remains under Bukoshi's control. Following the outbreak of
large-scale fighting, the KLA set up its own fund, The Homeland Calls.
Since then, the money from the diaspora has been re-routed from the LDK to
the KLA.

The KLA feels that Bukoshi is spending the money to undermine their
campaign by trying to form an alternative army and by waging an anti-KLA
campaign among the Albanians and in Western capitals and media.

Bukoshi has claimed that the KLA is led by Marxists under the direct
control of Albania's former Socialist Prime Minister Fatos Nano.

"The government will work towards bringing freedom and democracy to Kosova
and will do so by working from within Kosova," said Krasniqi.

Fron Nazi is a correspondent for the Institute for War & Peace Reporting.
IWPR's Balkan Crisis Reports are available at:

The new government:

Prime Minister, Hashim Thaci, KLA
Deputy Prime Minister, Mehmet Hajrizi, LBD
Deputy Prime Minister, LDK (currently vacant)
Minister of Information Bajram Kosumi, LBD
Minister of Finance, Adem Grabofci, KLA
Minister of Immigration Rifat Blakaj, LBD
Minister of Public Order Rexhep Selime, KLA
Minister of Law Hydajet Hyseni, LBD
Minister of Information for Kosova Kadri Veseli, KLA
Minister of Development (vacant), LBD
Minister of Defence Azem Syla, KLA
Minister of Local Governance Rame Buja, KLA


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