The KosovaPress reports that follow in transcript record a Kosovar Albanian view of events from June 24 and 25 as Kosovars returned to their battle scarred republic. (See earlier transcripts in KosovaPress - The KLA And The Path To Peace (2) and KosovaPress - The KLA And The Path To Peace (1))
KosovaPress news agency reported from inside Kosovo throughout the period of air-strikes and was almost the only source of news from inside Kosovo during the period. (See also…Scoop Gold -Category: Miscellaneous Option: Military and Defence Issues for Kosovapress transcripts during the war.)
KosovaPress is a Kosovar Albanian press agency and is aligned to the KLA. Interestingly the KLA's views on disarmament are not surprisingly a little different than NATO's.
KosovaPress is available at http://www.kosovapress.com/
Clark: Russia will not have a sector in Kosova
June 25, (Kosovapress)
"Die Welt" interviewed on June 24, 1999 the Commander of NATO forces, General Clark.
Die Welt: General Clark, not all KLA troops want to hand in their weapons. What kind of threat could the KLA be to NATO if it decides to oppose its troops?
Clark: The future role of the KLA will depend largely on political events. Among the many fundamental differences between the mission in Kosova and Bosnia is that NATO troops in Bosnia came after an agreement between all parties. Some of those who fought for the KLA will be part of the future police force. The rest will seek to play a political role in Kosova's future.
Die Welt: In the first phase of the KFOR mission tensions persist between Albanians and Serbs and two British soldiers were killed by an explosion. Do you now believe there is need to change your initial plans?
Clark: The first phase of KFOR's operation has met much success. Yugoslav army and police units have left the region and the KLA has agreed to begin to demilitarize. With great delicacy we are entering a situation in which there is danger of meeting with armed paramilitaries, irregular civilians who do not wish to hand in their weapons and who want to continue the war.
Die Welt: What can KFOR do to prevent clashes between the two sides?
Clark: KFOR must take a firm stance without compromise that will react evenly to acts of violence. KFOR troops must react strongly against all armed irregulars and arrest those that warrant it, especially those who fail to cooperate and refuse to give up their weapons. A large number have already been arrested by KFOR troops.
Die Welt: When will KFOR take full control of Kosova?
Clark: We still have a time period of 30 days in which time all troops should arrive in the region. There will be around 56,000 troops at the height of the mission.
Die Welt: Russia will not have its own sector in Kosova and their troops will be under NATO command. Is this arrangement realistic in Kosova?
Clark: This will depend on how the modalities of Russian participation in NATO sectors will be realized in our peace keeping mission. It will take several weeks before all the details of the Russian troop deployment will be discussed. Only then can we begin to judge the value of their participation.
Die Welt: Do you see after the introduction of Russian troops the danger of a partition of Kosova?
Clark: I do not think this danger is serious.
Die Welt: Has NATO more information about the other mass graves and other places of mass murder?
Clark: There have been only inspections. If we think that KFOR forces have only been able to reach a fraction of Kosova, we have unfortunately more to do in the tragic discovery of more sites.
Die Welt: Is operation "Allied Force" a model for future intervention in political and military crisis?
Clark: "Allied Force" was a success. The operation was executed in a professional manner with great diplomatic discipline. In the end, NATO persuaded Yugoslavia to desist from its police through air strikes.
Die Welt: Has NATO learned from the experience in Bosnia?
Clark: NATO has firstly learned that continued air strikes that intensify can accomplish political goals. Secondly, NATO has learned that it should keep forces in neighboring countries as it struggle to find a cease-fire in a neighboring conflict. They should be ready to march into the region of crisis to limit the effects of the conflict if a political solution is not at hand.
It is important to mention that "Allied Force" lasted four times longer than the campaign in Bosnia and struck more vital military targets. When the Dayton agreement was signed, the first units of NATO entered Bosnia six or seven days later. It took some months until peace-keeping troops were completely deployed. In Kosova the introduction of peace-keeping troops began more quickly and hence will be more effective.
Die Welt: Is there a future for Milosevic?
Clark: We dare not make any illusions: the behavior of Milosevic leads us to expect that he can one more time attempt to legitimate his power in Serbia. He, therefore, will attempt to begin a new round of ethnic cleansing. There are still a few potential targets in Yugoslavia.
Die Welt: Will he be punished for the crimes he committed?
Clark: I am convinced that everyone of those who have been accused will one day stand before the Hague Tribunal, including Slobodan Milosevic.
German find mass graves in Kosova
June 25, (Kosovapress)
At least 40 mass graves have been discovered in the German sector of Kosovo, German Defence Minister Rudolf Scharping has disclosed.
Scharping said Serb forces had not buried bodies together but spread them over wide areas and sought to destroy the evidence by the setting bodies alight.
Meanwhile, NATO offisials report one Italian soldier and 14 local civilians were killed in clashes in Kosovo in the last 24 hours.
Eyewitness: Investigating the killings
June 25, (Kosovapress)
The British investigators are hoping to prove massacre did take place in the village of Krusha e Madhe.
Without a proof, it would be impossible to take an evidential prosecution case before the court in the Hague. There are indeed bodies and they have been badly burned. The team is told some have been dragged away by dogs.
Detective Chief Superintended John Bunn from Scotland Yard says: "The information varies from witness to witness, but what we are going to try is examine the scene and try corroborate the eyewitness account".
One Kosova Albanian who had lived next door to the site says he escaped and then returned to the village.
"There were 28 men in my family; 25 escaped. When I returned I saw two dead bodies in the street, one in that house, two others in my neighbour's house. One man had his head split open and half was missing", he says.
At a second site on farmland on the edge of the village, a larger massacre site has been cordoned off.
Here the team is preparing for its vital but distressing task. The delegation is made up of specialists in pathology and forensic science, including 12 police.
"The main thing is to record everything that is on the crime scene, photograph it and then take each step, one at a time, very, very slowly", Mr.Bunn says.
Solana: ``We have to do everything to liberate the Kosovar prisoners in Serbia"
Paris, June 25, (Kosovapress)
The Secretary General of NATO, Javier Solana affirmed Thursday morning the determination of the allies to liberate the Kosovar prisoners taken to Serbia. The writer Ismail Kadare has drawned the attention of French President Jacques Chirac of the situation of between 2000 and 3000 Kosovars taken to Serbia as political prisoners.
``If this is the case, we must to all that is possible to liberate these prisoners," which includes going to look for them" underlined Javier Solana to Europe-1.
Evoking the promise of the United States to provide information what will permit the arrest of War Criminals, including President Milosevic, the Secretary General of NATO declared that the international community is "obliged to arrest war criminals and deliever them to the international Tribunal."
According to Solana, "Serb society must choose between the future and the past, Milosevic is the past."
Serb Civilians throw bombs in the center of Peja
Pejë, June 24, (Kosovapress)
Yesterday a group of Serb civilians from the forth floor of a building threw a number of bombs on Albanian civilians who were walking the streets below. The attack severely injured Agron Shala (aged 30) from Peja and an unidentified 16 year old who was lightly injured.
According to Dr. Sefedin Burrit, Agron Shala is interned in the Peja hospital and is waiting evacuation to the hospital in Prishtina. From preliminary inspection, the doctor suggested that Mr. Shala may have also been hit by a sniper's bullet. There is no report of whether or not the Italian Forces abducted the Serb's guilty of this attack.
Victims of Serb Massacres found in local Water Source
Gllogoc, June 24, (Kosovapress)
For three months in the water pit of the Bajraktara ward near the factory of Ferronik, the bodies of three members of the Bajraktari family lay. These three were executed on March 28 by Serb soldiers and thrown into this water collection area.
According to a family member, Mustafë Bajraktaraj, Hasan and Ekrem Bajraktari as well as Shaban Krasniqi, from Zhilivoda were among those found in the pit.
As of yet, no experts have visited the site which was selected by the Serbs in attempt to hide their crime. Wells are a common place to find victims of Serb policies for they spoil the water source as well as make it difficult to gather evidence against those who committed the crime.
Peja's hospital gets reorganized
Pejë, June 24, (Kosovapress)
According to Dr. Sefedin Burrit, chief health care provider for the Peja region, the Peja hospital for the last five days has been fully operational. Many of the Albanian personnel of this hospital who were evicted by Serb forces three months ago have come back, unfortunately, many have also been killed and are missed.
It took several days for the hospital to start to function. There is a need of doctors in particular, now that the hospital is clear of booby traps and is getting some supplies and equipment which were pillaged by Serb officials. The sectors which are now staffed: internal medicine, infective, paediatrics are still in need of specialists. The hospital is operational 24 hours a day. All this service is done using outdated medical equipment that survived the attacks of Serb personnel as they were leaving.
Dr. Burrit told his colleague at Doctors Without Borders, (DWB) that he hopes to establish medical services to all the surrounding villages in the near future with the help of DWB. DWB has provided doctors and has helped organized the initial efforts to establish service.
The lack of professional surgeons is reason for concern. Due to this shortage, patients are forced to be transferred to Gjakova. Concerning this shortage, Dr. Burrit appeals to all medical personnel to present themselves to the appropriate officials so that Peja's medical services can be properly organized.
More light is shed on the Massacre at Poterç të Epërm
Klinë, June 24, (Kosovapress)
During the Serb offensive on the village of Poterç i Epërm in the Klina district, they executed 11 Kosovar civilians and three Gypsies. According to eyewitnesses two of the victims were butchered with knifes while the rest were executed by gun shots. This act of cold blooded murder happened on March 29, the following is a list of those killed:
Zymer Haki Shala, aged 14
Milaim Islam Zeneli, aged 16
Nazmi Musli Zeneli, aged 17
Zenel Hajdin Zeneli, aged 21
Xhavit Hasan Smajli, aged 24
Ali Hasan Smajli, aged 29
Nuredin Sahit Gashi, aged 34
Milaim Sahit Gashi, aged 30
Musli Rexhep Zeneli, aged 52
Zenun Kamer Shala, aged 58
Binak Kamer Shala, aged 63
Metë Ymer Quni, aged 33
Ymer Quni, aged 62
Dem Kadria, aged 95
According to eyewitnesses, those guilty of this crime have been identified as the following Serbs: Radovan Kizic, from Poterç i Ulët, Milovan Stepic, from Drenoci as well as three from the Radojevic family, and Orlanic, from Poterçi i Epërm.
US Issues $5 Million bounty on Heads of War Criminals
Washington D.C., June 24, (Kosovapress)
United States State Department Spokesperson James Rubin reported the initiation of a State Department program to offer up to $5 million towards the capture of war criminals in the Former Yugoslavia. Rubin, reading a written statement from Madeline Albright, US Secretary of State, which annouced a reward to anyone who could provide information that would lead to the arrest of any indicted war criminal who would then be brought to trial at the War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague. The US State Department declared its determination to bring to justice those responsible for the massive number of atrocities committed in Kosova over the last year.
In a related matter, KFOR troops arrested today in Kosova a Serb suspected of taking part in the murder of dozens of Kosovar civilians last month. A KFOR official promised that this is the first of many arrests in the near future as a local police force begins to take shape.
Serb Secret Service agency behind explosions in Skopje
Shkup, June 23, (Kosovapress)
The explosion that took place in front of NATO's headquarters in the Macedonian capitol, was organized and carried out by Serbs who were assisted by Serb Secret Service agents, reported Macedonian Interior Minister in a news conference yesterday. The Serbs who exploded a device in front of NATO headquarters came from the village of Mershic in Skopje, and some were guards at the "Gazelle" shoe factory located in Skopje. The guards were ex-officers of the Yugoslav Army, had married Macedonian citizens and were actively recruiting Serb locals to conduct subversive acts throughout Macedonia.
Five of the accused have relations to the Serb Nationalist Party in Macedonia while a guard of the Shoe factory, who made the phone call claiming responsibility to the attack to local police, is on Macedonia's most-wanted list. The names of the accused have not been provided by the Ministry but it is understood they are all Serbs.
The Macedonian Interior Minister said officials arrested 10 people from Mershic and two others from the factory. Upon being arrested in their homes, it is reported police found 6 automatic weapons, 24 hand grenades, 13 cartridges and 586 rounds of ammunition.
Minister Trajanov said that the arms were of Yugoslav make and were taken from Serbia to Macedonia as often has been the case in the past such as a resent discovered cache of two anti-tank mines, two "Zola" 4 automatic guns, detonators, and explosives that all have the finger print of Serb secret services for their make. It is known Serb agents in Macedonia received training to use these weapons.
Among the activities of this terrorist group was to distribute arms and explosives to others inside Macedonia in order to conduct attacks against NATO forces in Macedonia. The latest attack, said the minister, did not have any connection to anonymous phone calls made by a woman who claimed to be a member of the "Makedonaska Zora" organization.
British Foreign Minister visits Prishtina and Kosovars in Stenkovc Camp
Shkup, June 24, (Kosovapress)
British Foreign Minister, Robin Cook left last night Prishtina for Skopje where he this morning visited the Stenkovc refugee camp. After meeting with his Macedonian counterpart in Skopje and the Macedonian Prime Minister, Cook and his delegation spoke to reporters, saying:
"Throughout the morning I visited Kosovar refugees at the Stenkovc camp close to Skopje and can state that they are in good spirits and they will return to Kosova soon. Yesterday I visited Kosova and we will try and in fact we are obliged to speed up our help towards democracy and peace. At the end of war, this is a chance not only for Kosova but this region which will need to develop economically as well as democratically."
According to Cook, the role of the European Union is also to stabilze Macedonia which made a significant contribution to the efforts and deserves assistance.
"They were preoccupied for more than two months with the war in Kosova, now they will have to focus their efforts here," declared Macedonian Prime Minister, Lubsko Georgievski after speaking to Mr. Cook On the question of whether or not Serbia should be a recipient of aid as long as President Milosevic is in power, Georgievski agreed to the principle which demands democratic reform before any aid from the Western democracies can reach Belgrade.
Many areas still without humanitarian assistance
Istog, June 24, (Kosovapress)
Today thousands of deportees evicted by Serb forces are returning to their ruined communities in the Istog municipality. The initial problem is that there is no shelter for those returning due to the extensive damage caused by Serb forces. Returning residents are improvising with what they have and began producing bread at a make-shift bakery. Units of the KLA are attempting to clear out large areas of the mines and booby traps set by Serb forces in order to permit those waiting to return to start rebuilding. At the moment however, large numbers of people cannot be allowed to enter their homes. It is also reported that this area has yet to receive food or medical aid from the outside world and the KLA has voiced its concern to aid agencies who promised to arrive today with the first shipment.
Intensive efforts are being carried out in and around Prizren to normalize life
Prizren, June 24, (Kosovapress)
Prizren and its surrounding villages can breath more freely now as the situation begins to normalize.
The governing structures of the city are returning. The city has enough electricity and water and a number of bakeries are producing bread as citizens are getting a more regular supply of food. For five days the city hospital has been working at full capacity and the health services of the city are up and running. Sanitation services have also been recommenced and debris has begun to be cleared from city streets.
The single most difficult problem is finding people shelter because most homes have been ruined. It is thought that as a provisional solution, a camp should be erected to house temporarily deportees returning home.
These tasks are being conducted by the KLA who are also taking it upon themselves to clear the area of mines set by Serb forces.
The Rebirth of Gllogoc
Gllogoc, June 23, (Kosovapress)
Of the 72.000 inhabitants of Gllogoc and surrounding villages, more than 20,000 were deported to Albania and Macedonia and the rest were forced to flee into surrounding mountains. For the last two weeks a considerable part of this internally deported population have started to return from the mountains in which they hid at the height of Serb ethnic cleansing. They are returning to devastated homes and many are forced to live in their yards. Throughout the visits of "Kosovapress" in the town of Gllogoc and some surrounding villages there is evidence that life is slowly returning to what could be determined "normal."
In Gllogoc, local administrators have begun to organize health services and doctors and nurses have slowly returned to work in the emergency and paediatric wards of the local clinic. There is now a round-the-clock health service available in the town. Health service has also been returned to the villages of Komoran, Baicë and Gllanasellë. Izet Ibrahimi, responsible for organizing the rebirth of Gllogoc thinks that within two weeks, if more volunteers can be obtained, the town can resume complete civil order.
According to Mr. Ibrahimi, Serb forces have destroyed 87% privately owned properties and 90% of publicly run structures. He requested more volunteers to help clean up the city left in utter shambles by Serbs. He added that the city can only function if it can be furnished with a reliable source of electricity. Locals have begun to work with KFOR units to help educate the population of the dangers of mines and booby-traps which litter the area through seminars and classes.
Workers prepare to return to Ferronik
Gllogoc, June 23, (Kosovapress)
Throughout the airstrikes of NATO on Serb forces in Kosova, the factory named Ferronik was often targeted. The location was used by Serb forces as a staging area, so after NATO attacks, the site was polluted with oil and destroyed equipment. "After an initial inspection of the damage there is hope that the damage can be repaired and if electrical current can be restored, and the factory can be used" English trained engineer, Behram Halilaj told Kosovapress after visiting the factory.
A considerable number of the past employees at Ferronik, with the support of local administrators in Gllogoc, decided that on June 28, they will return to their work place where they will decide how to revitalize this vital economic asset in Kosova. In relation to this, officials have appealed to all employees to follow the example of those at Ferronik and return to their work place as soon as possible in order to help begin the rebuilding of Kosova.
Bosnians send Assistance for Kosova
Mostar, June 23, (Kosovapress)
A Bosnian Woman's organization "Sumejja" located in Bijelo Polje in Mostar, in a joint project with the French organization A.E.S.R.N., UG "STOPE NADE" Mostar, Bijelo Polje and the Albanian organization called "ADEM JASHARI" from Mostar, on June 22nd gathered together 20 tons of aid for Kosovar deportees who were stationed in Gorazhda. The transport of this aid was co-ordinated with SFOR and CIMIC.
This is a joint effort organized by SUMEJJA and AESRN for victims from Kosova who were living in Bosnia during the war.
According to the secretary of the Group "Adem Jashari" in Mostar, Mr. Mustafë Sehmi, 850 Albanian refugees from Kosova lived in Mostar and 500 other were in Gorazhda.
Leader of the woman organization, "Sumejja" in Bijelo Polje, Saja Çoriq, plans to organize another convoy, said this aid demonstrates the collective pain Mostar has felt for Kosovars. She also expressed her appreciation for the assistance French forces of SFOR offered.
No humanitarian aid for Serbia until all detained Albanians are released from Serb prisons
Rome, June 23, (Kosovapress)
According to European Union officials and employees of numerous non-governmental organizations, there are thousands of abducted Kosovars who have been spirited into Serbia and are held hostage.
In light of this fact, the secretary of the Radical Party and a deputy in the European Parliament declared: "We make an urgent appeal to European Union and NATO officials to demand Serbia to free all those Kosovars who were taken hostage. Thus we today position ourselves with a full and never ending threat to Milosevic, that states until he sets free more than 3000 political prisoners and those other who have done nothing, we will not stop our antagonism. We demand from the European Community to send a clear message to Belgrade and the Serb leadership that if they do not free these people, they will not receive any money from Europe," said Oliver Dupuis, secretary of the Radical Party.
Serb Paramilitaries attempt to intimidate Kosovars in Uçë
Istog, June 23, (Kosovapress)
It is reported today that in the district of Istog, a large number of deportees have returned from forced exile in neighboring countries. Among those interviewed, they say their return, despite the dangers of mines and Serb snipers, is the only way they can assure they have a future in Kosova. After the KLA has controlled the city and its surrounding villages, it informed those waiting to claim their homes that the area was safe to return. The only serious problem, according to KLA commanders on the ground is the remnants of Serb Paramilitaries who took up positions in the villages of Zhakovë, Suhogerllë and Dërvodel and are attempting to intimidate with open threats, those Kosovars returning to the village of Uça. The KLA has promised to protect the inhabitants of the area from these men who have not returned to Serbia as demanded by the agreement between Belgrade and NATO.
Norway donates 700 Thousand Dollars to clear Kosova of Mines
Oslo, June 23, (Kosovapress)
Officials from a number of Norwegian Humanitarian Organizations have announced they will send 30 qualified professionals to help clear Kosova of mines. They are being sent as part of a government aid package of more than 5 million Kruna (700,000 dollars).