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<nettime> geertogram 052099 [digest]: letter to NGOs, IWPR x2, acimovic
Geert Lovink on Thu, 20 May 1999 18:19:03 +0200 (CEST)


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<nettime> geertogram 052099 [digest]: letter to NGOs, IWPR x2, acimovic letter


Geert Lovink <geert {AT} xs4all.nl>
          (fwd) Letter to Serbian NGOs regarding their appeal
          (fwd) IWPR's Balkan Crisis Report, No. 34, 18 May 1999
          (fwd) IWPR's Balkan Crisis Report, No. 35, 19 May 1999
          (fwd) Mihajlo Acimovic letter

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Date: Thu, 20 May 1999 08:29:37 +0200 (CEST)
From: Geert Lovink <geert {AT} xs4all.nl>
Subject: (fwd) Letter to Serbian NGOs regarding their appeal

Letter to Serbian non-governmental organizations regarding
the Appeal of 6 April by Belgrade NGOs from the
Norwegian Helsinki Committee and the
International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights

Oslo, Vienna 18 May 1999

Dear friends and colleagues,

As human rights organizations devoted to the protection of civil
society, and after having cooperated with some of you for many
years, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee and the International
Helsinki Federation for Human Rights take your Appeal of 6 April
with utmost seriousness. The Executive Committee of the IHF,
which met in New York on 8.-9. May, discussed your Appeal at
length. It should be mentioned that the protection of human rights
defenders and civic activists in Serbia are one of our main
messages to decision makers and media in Europe, and that we
have initiated support campaigns and letters for Serbian
independents and intellectuals.

However, we are deeply disturbed that the Appeal of 6 April -- and
subsequent open letters and appeals from intellectuals in
Belgrade -- reflects a view of the Kosovo crisis to which we
cannot subscribe, and we feel a need to clarify our position on
these issues. The Kosovo Albanians who have arrived in Albania,
Macedonia and Montenegro have been extensively interviewed
by members of various Helsinki committees, as well as by
news media. Their stories confirm beyond any reasonable doubt
that they were driven from their homes by Serbian police and
paramilitary forces; that seemingly thousands have been
systematically killed, maimed, raped and robbed. This is
ethnic  cleansing on a horrific scale. Neither the NATO bombing
campaign nor military actions by the Kosovo Liberation Army are
responsible for the "unprecedented exodus" which you describe.
Based on the extensive information we have collected about the
catastrophe in Kosovo, we consider it intellectualy and morally
unsound to equate these campaigns.

We respect your lonely and courageous struggle for democratization
in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, a struggle we have supported
for years. But unfortunately -- and we would  very much like to be
mistaken in this -- it seems to us that hardly any of your fellow
citizens have supported a just settlement to the Kosovo issue, and
that the crisis has been caught in a downward spiral of radicalization
for many years. Thus when you say that "NATO military intervention
has undermined all results we have achieved," one must ask if these
results were of such a scope and significance to bring hope that
the plight of Kosovo could be relieved by peaceful means.

As the Rambouillet negotiations came to a close, it seemed clear
to us that there was no such hope of a political settlement. The
regime scorned international -- and domestic -- pressure aimed at
a peaceful solution, and went ahead with the preparations for
the campaign which is currently unfolding in Kosovo. Faced with
preparations for grave crimes, how should one respond? That was
the dilemma faced by the international community in March, and
in our view you also should recognize -- even though you do not
support it -- that, in principle, the NATO intervention was not
an arbitrary act of aggression.

We are in sympathy with your extremely difficult situation, but
we cannot agree with the conclusions you have drawn as to who
bears primary responsibility for improving it. It is our view
that your appeal should properly be addressed to the FRY and
Serbian authorities which bear the responsibility for systematic
and grave crimes of war and crimes against humanity in Kosovo,
and for the dangers you, as members of the civil sector in Serbia,
are currently facing.

We express our solidarity with you. Also, we acknowledge the
sacrifices you must make, and the dilemmas and paradoxes you
are faced with as victims of a government whose policies you
cannot support, and bearing the costs attached to efforts to make
that government act in accordance with civilized standards. It
is our hope and aim that the enormous responsibility the NATO
states have taken on by initiating the military intervention, will
entail a far more whole-hearted support of the civil sector in
the Serbian society, which more than ever, is crucial to Serbia's
restoration into Europe. Unless the western states recognize the
need for this kind of policy, it will be difficult to describe the
current NATO actions as a humanitarian intervention.

We will soon face new challenges. This letter is meant to open
a dialogue on what we can do together to preserve the independent
forces in the Serbian society in order that they may resurface
after the war. We would very much welcome your recommendations
as to how we, from the outside, should address the new situation
and how we can continue to support you in your current plight.


Aaron Rhodes                         Bjorn Engesland
Executive Director                   Secretary General

on behalf of the                     The Norwegian Helsinki Committee
Executive Committee of the IHF:
Ludmilla Alexeyeva
Ulrich Fischer
Stein-Ivar Aarsfther
Sonja Biserko
Holly Cartner
Bjorn Engesland
Krassimir Kanev
Andrzej Rzeplinski

______________________

APPEAL BY THE BELGRADE NON-GOVERNMENTAL
ORGANIZATIONS

Deeply disturbed by NATO destruction of our country and the
ordeal of Kosovo Albanians, we, the representatives of
non-governmental organizations and Trade Union Confederation
"Nezavisnost" (Independence), strongly demand from all those
responsible for this tragedy to immediately create ground for
the renewal of the peace process.

The most powerful military, political and economic powers of the
world are for two weeks incessantly killing people and destroying
not only military but also civilian objects, blowing up bridges,
rail tracks, factories, heating plants, warehouses and basins... At
the same time, in fear of the bombing campaign and military actions
by the regime and KLA, hundreds of thousands of Kosovo Albanians,
in an unprecedented exodus, forced to leave their devastated
homes and look for salvation in the tragedy and uncertainty of
fleeing.

It is obvious that this is a road to catastrophe, and the peaceful and
fair solution to the Kosovo problem, through international mediation
we have supported for years, is now more distant than ever.

The past activities of our organizations in the field of
democratization, development of civil society and acceptance of
FR Yugoslavia into all international institutions have been under
constant pressure and intimidation by the Serbian regime.

We, as members of civil society associations have courageously
and rationally fought against war and nationalistic propaganda and
in support of human rights. We emphasize that we have always
raised our voices against the repression against Kosovo Albanians
and demanded the respect of their liberties and guarantees for their
rights. We have also requested the return of the autonomy of
Kosovo. We stress that the only connection and co-operation of
Serbs and Albanians during all these years have been preserved
among civil society institutions.

NATO military intervention has undermined all results we have
achieved and endangered the very survival of the civil sector
in Serbia.

Faced with the tragic situation we have found ourselves in, and
in the name of human ideas and values, as well as in accordance
with all our past activities, we are demanding:
- immediate stop to the bombing campaign and all armed movements;
- resuming of the peace process with international mediation at the
   regional (Balkan) and European level, as well as in the framework
   of the United Nations;
- share of the responsibility between the European Union and Russia,
   and their contribution to the peaceful solution of the crisis;
- end of the ethnic cleansing process and immediate return of
   all refugees;
- support to the citizens of FR Yugoslavia to preserve peace and
   stability, solve serious consequences of the refugee catastrophe
   and resume with the democratic processes that are underway;
- we demand that the Serbian and international media inform the public
   in a professional manner and not spur media war, incite inter-ethnic
   hatred, create irrational public opinion and glorify force as the
   ultimate accomplishment of the human mind.

We cannot meet those demands by ourselves. We expect from you to support
our demands and in your initiatives and actions help their implementation.

Association of Citizens for Democracy

Belgrade Circle

Belgrade Women Studies Center

Center for Democracy and Free Elections

Center for Transition to Democracy - TOD

Civic Initiatives

EKO Center

European Movement in Serbia

Forum for Ethnic Relations

Group 484

Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia

NEZAVISNOST Trade Union Confederation

The Student Union of Yugoslavia

Union for Truth About Anti-Fascist Resistance

VIN - Weekly Video News

Women in Black

YU Lawyers' Committee for Human Rights


Belgrade, 6 April 1999

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Date: Thu, 20 May 1999 08:34:32 +0200 (CEST)
From: Geert Lovink <geert {AT} xs4all.nl>
Subject: (fwd) IWPR's Balkan Crisis Report, No. 34, 18 May 1999

Date: Tue, 18 May 1999 06:10:38 +0100
From: Tony Borden <tony {AT} iwpr.net>

WELCOME TO IWPR'S BALKAN CRISIS REPORT, NO. 34, 18 May 1999

THE WITCH HUNT CONTINUES. While the police, it seems, have been unable to
turn up any leads in the murder of one editor, new attacks in the media
have been launched against other opposition figures.

REMNANTS OF AN OPPOSITION. During the winter of 1996-97 Serbia's
opposition appeared on the verge of ousting Slobodan Milosevic.
Those days are long gone.

*****************************************************

THE WITCH HUNT CONTINUES

While the police, it seems, have been unable to turn up any leads in the
murder of one editor, new attacks in the media have been launched against
other opposition figures.

By a journalist in Belgrade

Judging by official rhetoric and the accolades heaped on regime reporters,
it seems that the state of Serbian journalism has never been healthier or
more patriotic. Thus while the killing of renegade media mogul Slavko
Curuvija remains unsolved, the state media have launched new attacks on
other key opposition figures.

Belgrade media and political analysts interpret the killing and the failure
of the police investigation as a warning to all potential opponents of the
regime of what awaits them if they dare challenge Yugoslav President
Slobodan Milosevic. Moreover, they fear that the regime will maintain
today's heavily-censored and jingoistic journalistic scene even after the
bombing campaign is over.

Gunned down just in front of his home a few days into NATO's bombing
campaign with 15 bullets in the back, Curuvija, the founder and owner of
the daily Dnevni Telegraf and weekly Evropljanin, had been an influential
member of Serbian society, an insider critical of the regime and the course
Milosevic had set for Serbia. Even before the official investigation was
launched, however, the authorities ruled out the possibility that this
crime may have been politically motivated.

Although the police refused to follow up any leads pointing to a political
assassination, the Belgrade daily tabloid Politika Ekspres was happy to
describe the murder as a "contract killing". In a commentary read out on
state television, the newspaper also named Curuvija as someone responsible
for the bombing of Serbia and appealed to patriotic elements to settle
scores with other "traitors" of his ilk.

The killing and the commentary have been more effective than any censorship
or reporting instructions from the Interior Ministry in bringing would-be
critical editors and journalists into line, reaffirming in their minds the
risks inherent in their profession.

Those individuals who have tried to build independent media in Serbia
during the past decade wonder how in current conditions and whatever
emerges after the war they can ensure that views other than those of the
state are aired; that journalists are protected; and that laws brought in
during the state of emergency are not abused to settle scores with the
handful of opposition political activists.

These have become burning issues since state television turned against what
it terms the "fifth column" of internal traitors, personified by the
opposition politicians Zoran Djindjic and Vuk Obradovic, leaders of the
Democratic and Social Democratic Parties, respectively, as a result of
statements they allegedly made to foreign media.

Television viewers do not know what Djindjic and Obradovic actually said,
since the statements themselves have not been broadcast. They are just
aware of the interpretation of the statements presented by state
television, one which both Djindjic and Obradovic reject.

According to the television commentary, the electorate have turned their
backs on Djindjic and Obradovic who "cannot grasp what is left from their
so-called democratic opposition, that walked the streets of Belgrade two
years ago under American and German flags". As a result, state television
alleges, they are encouraging NATO to maintain its bombing campaign.

The commentary continued: "Some leaders of the so-called democratic
opposition, after returning from abroad, suddenly found themselves in
modest shelters in Podgorica, as was the case with Zoran Djindjic, ready to
offer their services when NATO has completed its democracy of bombing."

Djindjic is calling for three more weeks of bombing, the commentary
alleged, by which time he believes that the country will be completely
destroyed. Moreover, Djindjic already sees himself as the new post-war
president of Yugoslavia. "Is the destruction of the country, the price that
he is prepared to pay for being a presidential candidate?" state television
concluded.

Obradovic, a former general, is, according to the same commentary, no "less
co-operative" in his relations with NATO. He too would be delighted, the
commentary alleged, to see the deployment NATO troops in Kosovo.

Seen in conjunction with the on-going attacks on Montenegrin President Milo
Djukanovic, the perennial target of Serbian media anger, the witch hunt may
not be over.

The author is an independent journalist in Belgrade.


REMNANTS OF AN OPPOSITION

During the winter of 1996-97 Serbia's opposition appeared on the verge of
ousting Slobodan Milosevic. Those days are long gone.

By a journalist in Belgrade

Despite international hopes that an internal opposition would emerge in
Serbia to topple the regime of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, the
handful of opposition figures are more marginalised than ever.

Two and a half years the three most prominent opposition leaders--Zoran
Djindjic of the Democratic Party, Vuk Draskovic of the Serb Movement for
Renewal (SPO) and Vesna Pesic of the Civic Alliance of Serbia
(GSS)--marched together as members of the Zajedno (together) coalition in
daily street protests against the Milosevic regime. Now their support
appears to have all but disappeared.

The biggest loser is Zoran Djindjic, the former mayor of Belgrade. Before
the beginning of the NATO bombing campaign, he predicted that the regime
would use it as a pretext to turn on the internal opposition. Yet he has
failed to find a way to turn what was a correct prognosis into political
capital.

In practice, the popularity and influence of Djindjic's Democratic Party,
which advocates a programme of integration with Western Europe, has been on
the wane since Djindjic decided it should boycott Serbia's last
parliamentary elections.

In the absence of parliamentary representation, the party has been ignored
by the media. Its residual influence is limited to the handful of
municipalities which it continues to control, despite the disintegration of
the Zajedno coalition and Djindjic's falling out with Draskovic.

While the NATO air strikes have made conditions worse for all political
opposition, Djindjic has also not done himself any favours. He failed to
condemn the NATO "aggression" immediately, a sine qua non for a Serbian
politician during the war, and he made a couple of careless remarks to
Western reporters, saying that he is ready to become Yugoslav president
after the war--a statement the regime media has used to demonise him.

Rumours that Djindjic has fled the country abound. Worse still, state
television has targeted both him and Vuk Obradovic, the former general who
heads the Social-Democratic Party, labelling them traitors.

Djindjic's public endorsement of a European solution for Serbia and the
Balkans does not win him any popularity in the current climate. However,
political analysts note, Djindjic may be successfully positioning himself
as the man to deal with the West, depending on the outcome of the war.
Already fluent in German, it is said that he is intensively studying
English.

In spite of a brief and unsuccessful period in government, Draskovic and
his SPO remain the most powerful opposition force in Serbia.

Many potential opposition voters are critical of Draskovic for his role in
the disintegration of the Zajedno coalition and the way in which he sold
out to Milosevic by joining the government. But Draskovic can always count
on support a hard core of loyalists attracted by his personal charisma.

Many of his critics viewed his January elevation to the post of deputy
prime minister as a betrayal of all opposition ideals. But even for them,
Draskovic's recent performance, being bounced out of the government for
publicly urging political compromise with the West, has helped him redeem
himself. Nevertheless, most analysts view him as too unreliable an ally and
too immature a politician to lead Serbs to the democratic future his
rhetoric promises.

The third and smallest party in the Zajedno coalition, the GSS, should
emerge from the current conflict with its patriotic credentials enhanced,
even though the party opposed the earlier wars in both Croatia and Bosnia
and thus got used to accusations of betraying the national interest long
ago.

The change in public perception of the GSS does not reflect any about-face
in party policy, but the fact that party president Goran Svilanovic is
currently in uniform, having been mobilised in the wake of the bombing
campaign. This is in marked contrast to the three political parties in
government--Milosevic's Socialists, his wife Mira Markovic's United
Yugoslav Left and Vojislav Seselj's Radicals--who have largely managed to
keep their members out of the army.

Svilanovic succeeded Vesna Pesic as head of the GSS just days before the
air strikes were launched when Pesic moved to the United States. As yet,
however, he remains largely unknown and the party has never commanded much
support from the electorate.

The profile of Vuk Obradovic, leader of the Social-Democratic Party, has
grown in the course of the war as a result of the attacks on him in the
regime media for comments he allegedly made to foreign journalists.
Although his party is the youngest of Serbia's opposition parties and has
only fought one election, it is now well-known across the country, albeit
for the wrong reasons.

By contrast, Nebojsa Covic, leader of the Democratic Alternative and a
former mayor of Belgrade, appears to have disappeared from public life
since the beginning of the NATO bombing campaign, a fact which may count
against him after the war.

Vojislav Kostunica's Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) is the only
opposition party which, for some reason, has access to state media,
including Radio-Television Serbia, but is yet to express any opinion about
Serbia's post-war political configuration.

In its public statements, the DSS has focused instead on insisting that the
mandate of the future international mission in Kosovo should be precisely
defined, so as to avoid a situation akin to that "in Republika Srpska,
where the jurisdictions of the mission would be above the civilian
authorities."

Parties representing the interests of Serbia's ethnic minorities--the
Alliance of Hungarians in Vojvodina (SVM) and the Democratic Alliance of
Vojvodina Hungarians, and the ethnic Muslim Sandzak Coalition--have decided
to keep a low profile for the duration of the war.

As SVM leader and mayor of Subotica Jozef Kasa says: "When the bombs are
falling, it is not appropriate to talk about self-rule."

The author is an independent journalist in Belgrade.

IWPR'S BALKAN CRISIS REPORT, NO. 34

-- ### --
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Date: Thu, 20 May 1999 08:30:39 +0200 (CEST)
From: Geert Lovink <geert {AT} xs4all.nl>
Subject: (fwd) IWPR's Balkan Crisis Report, No. 35, 19 May 1999

Date: Wed, 19 May 1999 09:58:16 +0100
From: Tony Borden <tony {AT} iwpr.net>

WELCOME TO IWPR'S BALKAN CRISIS REPORT, NO. 35, 19 May 1999

CONTROLLING THE STRUGGLE. Kosovo Albanians are still unable to form a
unified front. But as Fron Nazi reports from Tirana, the balance of power
has clearly shifted to the KLA, leaving Rugova effectively a private envoy.

REFUGEE HEAT RISING. While the aid agencies are running out of cash,
tensions in the refugee camps in Macedonia are increasing. Iso Rusi
in Skopje reports.

*****************************************************

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 <tony {AT} iwpr.net>.

The project is supported by the European Commission, Swedish International
Development and Cooperation Agency, MacArthur Foundation, Press Now and the
Carnegie Corporation. IWPR also acknowledges general support from the Ford
Foundation.

For further details on this project and other information services and
media programmes, visit IWPR's Website: <www.iwpr.net>.

Editor: Anthony Borden. Assistant Editing: Christopher Bennett, Alan Davis.
Internet Editor: Rohan Jayasekera. Translation by Alban Mitrushi.

"Balkan Crisis Report" is produced under IWPR's Balkan Crisis Information
Project. The project seeks to contribute to regional and international
understanding of the regional crisis and prospects for resolution.

The Institute for War & Peace Reporting (IWPR) is a London-based
independent non-profit organisation supporting regional media and
democratic change.

Lancaster House, 33 Islington High Street, London N1 9LH, United Kingdom
Tel: (44 171) 713 7130; Fax: (44 171) 713 7140 E-mail:info {AT} iwpr.org.uk;
Web: www.iwpr.net

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 <www.iwpr.net>.

*****************************************************

CONTROLLING THE STRUGGLE

Kosovo Albanians are still unable to form a unified front. But the balance
of power has clearly shifted to the KLA, leaving Rugova nearly a private
envoy.

By Fron Nazi in Tirana

Despite the war in Kosovo, the province's ethnic Albanian leaders have
failed to form a united front. Yet authority has clearly shifted from
the pre-war elite to the leaders of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA).

During the first month-and-a-half of NATO bombing, Ibrahim Rugova,
the 54-year-old pacifist and long-time undisputed leader of Kosovo's
Albanians, was effectively under house arrest. In his absence,
a provisional, ethnic Albanian government for Kosovo was formed,
dominated by the KLA.

As a result, those who--both inside and outside the country--led
resistance to Serb rule for the best part of a decade after the removal
of Kosovo's autonomy in 1989 appear increasingly marginalised. Allowed
to leave Yugoslavia, Rugova, is now touring European capitals in what
amounts to a private capacity.

"The provisional government led by Hashim Thaci is recognised both
by the Albanian government and the ethnic Albanian party in Macedonia,
the Democratic Party of the Albanians," asserts a KLA representative
in Tirana.

A week earlier the Albanian parliament officially passed a resolution
recognising Thaci's provisional government.

"Recognition of Thaci's government is based on an agreement reached
in Rambouillet," said Prec Zogaj, an adviser to the Albanian President.

At the Rambouillet peace talks Western leaders looked to 29-year-old Thaci
to form a new government. Under the terms of the peace accords, a new
ethnic Albanian government was to be formed comprising the KLA, Rugova's
Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) and Rexhep Qosaj's United Democratic
Movement (LBD). In the event, one ministry in the provisional government
was left vacant for the LDK.

While the Albanian government recognises Thaci's provisional government,
the country's largest opposition group, the Democratic Party of former
President Sali Berisha, has refused to follow suit, on account of its
alleged Marxist-Leninist leanings.

The Democratic Party has boycotted the Albanian parliament since the
May 1997 elections, which it accuses the ruling Socialist Party of fixing.

Berisha and his party say that the only representatives of Kosovo's
Albanians they recognise are Rugova and Bujar Bukoshi, his long-term prime
minister in exile and the man responsible for collecting "taxes" from
ethnic Albanians working in western Europe. This is because the two men
have mandates based on democratic elections, Berisha told a press
conference in Tirana recently.

Rugova and the LDK were, indeed, victorious in underground elections held
in March 1998. However, these polls, the second to have taken place in the
1990s, were effectively boycotted by most other political parties, which
deemed them inappropriate after the outbreak of fighting in the province.

In an attempt to help build fences between rival Albanian factions, Arben
Xhaferi, the president of Macedonia's Democratic Party of Albanians, and
a partner in the Macedonian government, paid a unexpected one-day visit
to Albania. Xhaferi met with the Albanian government leadership, the
KLA Spokesman, Jakup Krasniqi and Berisha.

"All this political bickering between the Albanians is deflecting
attention from the war and the real criminal-[Yugoslav President Slobodan]
Milosevic," said Xhaferi, who wishes to unite all Albanian political
leaders under the slogan: "This is a war against Albanian ethnicity".

However, although Xhaferi commands respect among all Albanian political
leaders, his intervention has so far failed to resolve differences among
Berisha, Rugova and Bukoshi, on the one hand, and Tirana, Tetovo and
the KLA, on the other.

The division in Kosovo's political leadership led to the creation of a
second Kosovo Albanian army, the Armed Forces of the Republic of Kosova
(FARK), loyal to Bukoshi. However, sources in the field play down the
differences and say that as fighting between Serbs and Albanians
intensified, FARK has come under the command of the KLA.

According to a KLA soldier who just returned from the front: "In Kosova
there is only one army and only one enemy."

"The respective commanders of FARK and the KLA are united once again
in Kosova. We don't want to know about politics. We want guns, bullets,
bread and water," the soldier said.

In the past two weeks the KLA says it has pushed 15 kilometres inside
Kosovo. Faced with an increase of volunteers in need of military training
and faced with need to change their strategy from defence to offence,
the KLA appointed Agim Ceku as the new military commander.

Ceku commanded Croatian forces in Croatia and Bosnia, and speculation
about his role has focused on his involvement in Operation Storm,
the Croatia action in 1995 which retook the Krajina and resulted in a
massive wave of Serbian refugees. Certainly, the KLA expects him to
contribute military and organisational expertise to the current fight.

Fron Nazi is a senior editor with the Institute for War & Peace Reporting.


REFUGEE HEAT RISING

While the aid agencies are running out of cash, tensions in the refugee
camps in Macedonia are increasing.

By Iso Rusi in Skopje

As the plight of the Kosovo Albanian refugees falls off the world's front
pages, their ordeal continues in over-crowded camps in Macedonia. Away
from the media spotlight in the scorching heat of the Macedonian summer,
tensions are high and resources low.

The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR),
in both Geneva and Skopje, says that it is running out of cash to care for
the 241,000 Kosovo refugees who have fled to Macedonia and warns of the
possibility of unrest in the packed.

Despite high-profile visits to refugee camps by a string of celebrities,
including NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana, US First Lady Hilary
Clinton, and actors Vanessa Redgrave and Roger Moore, the refugees' needs
are outstripping the resources allocated to meet them.

According to Ron Redmond, the UNHCR spokesman in Skopje, of a promised
$143 million, about half has been received and spent. He said that unless
new sources of money were found in the coming weeks, his agency would
not have the means to look after the basic needs of the Kosovo Albanians
in the camps.

In the Stenkovec camp near Skopje, which is home to 65,000 refugees,
Aruvasi Patel of the UNHCR says that as a result of the conditions in
the camps, tensions have been running high for many weeks.

The camp was originally constructed by NATO troops who remained there to
maintain order for the first month and a half. Since then the Macedonian
police have taken over responsibility for security.

In the first large-scale demonstration within the camp, which took place
last week, some 2,000 refugees gathered to chant "NATO, NATO" and
"KLA, KLA". The demonstration was organised in protest at the arrest
by Macedonian police of one of the camp's residents.

The refugee, Milaim Gashi, says that he was talking with some relatives
when the police seized him and his friend and took them to a police
station out of the camp for questioning. The Macedonian authorities say
that the refugee had wanted to leave the camp and that his detention
was a routine police matter.

Since the demonstration, tensions within the camp have eased as the
Macedonian authorities have worked to accommodate the many of the
refugees' demands. They have promised to deploy more ethnic Albanian
police; to patrol in a more discrete manner; and to introduce a stricter
regime at the entrance, including measures to restrict journalists'
access to the camp.

The Macedonian-language media, which failed to report the demonstration
at the time, have commented that the unrest was organised from the outside
and accused the refugees of abusing Macedonia's hospitality.

A senior official from the Foreign Ministry attributed the unrest in the
camps to "the frustration of the refugees at the living conditions in the
camps, the inactivity of the refugees, and their understandable desire
to get out ." Already one month earlier, the tent cities were reported to
be "on the verge of rioting" as a result of the over-crowded conditions.

Stenkovec is not the only camp overflowing with refugees. More than 30,000
refugees are also crammed into the newest camp at Cegrane, even though
the sanitary and water systems are yet to be completed.

The Macedonian government has repeatedly said that it did not wish to see
any new camps built. However, as a result of the overwhelming demand,
construction of new camps Cegrane 2 and Blace 2, as well as the
enlargement of existing camps to accommodate another 20,000 people,
have been announced.

The UNHCR also says that it wants to move 60,000 Kosovo Albanians from
Macedonia to Albania, where new camps will be built for them. However,
on the day the transfer was scheduled to begin, only 150 out of an
anticipated 600 refugees were willing to leave.

Otherwise, the airlift to countries out of the region continues, though
not in the numbers originally anticipated. Most days fewer than 1,000
people leave Macedonia by plane, even though the target is for 2,000
a day.

Just two weeks days ago, 15,000 refugees arrived in Macedonia in only
24 hours. Some 70,000 displaced Kosovo Albanians are believed to be
close to the border. Nowadays, however, only about a dozen refugees a day
are entering the country via the main Blace crossing.

Analysts speculate that the decline in numbers is the result of an
agreement between Macedonian and Serbian police to close the border
on the Yugoslav side and force refugees back into Kosovo. Murdered
Kosovo Albanian politician, Fehmi Agani, whose train from Pristina was
turned back at the Macedonian border, is believed to have been a victim
of this policy.

As evidence, analysts cite Macedonian President Kiro Gligorov's latest
correspondence with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. "The Republic
of Macedonia, and I personally, are trying to do everything in our power,
and in the interest of friendship between our people, to achieve peace
in the region," Gligorov wrote. He concluded: "Our position is firm:
no offensive action can be mounted from Macedonian territory against
any neighbour, including Yugoslavia."

Iso Rusi is a journalist with the Skopje weekly Fokus.

IWPR'S BALKAN CRISIS REPORT, NO. 35

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Date: Thu, 20 May 1999 10:03:49 +0200 (CEST)
From: Geert Lovink <geert {AT} xs4all.nl>
Subject: (fwd) Mihajlo Acimovic

Date: Mon, 17 May 1999 06:09:18 PDT
From: Mihajlo Acimovic <m_acimovic {AT} hotmail.com>

  The situation in Belgrade is stabilising. We now constantly have
electricity and water and things are starting to look brighter. The
strawberry and cherry prices have dropped from 30 Din to 15 Din in 3 days
so now we can afford something besides onions and green salad.

  People are looking hopefully at the peace talks. Even the kids from the
neighborhood have realised that war isn't much fun.

  No one will ever know how many albanians were killed by YU army, police
and paramilitary units in Kosovo and Metohija. I heard many bloody stories
and braggings about burned and bombed down villages. The usual recipy is
to bomb the village to the ground and then blame it on NATO. I heard
stories from Serbs who left Pristina and came to Belgrade that when the
troops surrounded the city, they surrounded albanian houses one by one and
entered them. They heard shots and cries from inside and they didn't see
any albanians come out alive, but they mostly didn't stick around such
places long enough to be sure.

The NATO and the Yu army are covering up most of each others losses. NATO
have hit several barracks in the first days of the bombing while the
troops were still in them. No one published a thing. They all know that.
One of those barracks was in Belgrade. The Yu high command is trying to
reduce official NATO air losses to a minimum, and it publishes info only
on those planes that have been seen to crash. I saw a site of some russian
claiming that Yu airforce made an air-raid on Tuzla airport in Bosnia in
broad daylight, destroying NATO aircraft on the ground.

The yugo army is constantly entering albanian territory, trying to push
the KLA/NATO forces and the refugees deeper into Albania.

About the peace concerts at Belgrade's Republic square and at Branko's
bridge, the musical bands were ORDERED to attend those or else the music
houses, which are all controlled by milosevic's gang would erase all their
original records and CD's. Also, I saw an incredible number of skinheads
attending them, some of which wanted to beat me because I was wearing an
antiwar t-shirt, but their leader stopped them.

Same goes for the "Spontaneous gatherings of citizens" on the bridges.
Most of those people come there because they were told they would be
sacked from their jobs if they didn't. The rest come because they want to
show themselves as loyal slaves to the master.

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