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Macedonia warns of danger if southeast Europe left out of NATO.
Macedonia has warned NATO against leaving southeastern European countries in the cold during the next round of enlargement, saying such a prospect would be dangerous for Europe.
Speaking at a meeting Friday of foreign ministers from 10 central and eastern European countries, Macedonian Foreign Minister Slobodan Casule said the wars in the Balkans throughout the 1990s had shown the need for greater integration of Europe to enhance security.
Casule called on NATO not to "leave aside southeastern European countries in the alliance's next round of expansion because creating new divisions within Europe would constitute a growing danger."
Macedonia signed an agreement in August 2001 to end an ethnic Albanian revolt that threatened to plunge the Balkans country into war.
Casule's remarks were echoed by Slovenia's Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel who said "the stability of this region could contribute to the stability in Europe."
The meeting held eight months before a NATO summit in Prague to decide on admitting new members was attended by the foreign ministers of Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.
Nine candidate states hope to be invited to join next year. Croatia, while not an official candidate, also hopes to join the alliance in the coming years.
"We are committed to extending cooperation between countries applying for membership in NATO, and, more particularly, to NATO member-countries," Casule said.
NATO and EU representatives, as well as the foreign ministers of the Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Poland and Turkey also attended the conference.
Speaking on behalf of the ten NATO hopefuls, Casule expresed "very high hopes" that the candidate countries will be invited to join NATO at the November summit.
In a joint statement, the 10 ministers "reaffirmed their joint strategic vision for Europe: united, free and in peace. The enlargement of NATO is part of this vision."
They condemned terrorism and pledged to carve out an "active role" for themselves in the anti-terror coalition formed after the September 11 attacks in the United States.
The ministers pledged to intensify "their efforts for cooperation in fight against terrorism and its financial connections with organized crime, illegal trade of drugs, people and weapons."
US Promises Cash to Macedonia As a Reward for Amnesty Law.
the Washington Times
By Nicholas Kralev
The United States yesterday praised Macedonia for giving amnesty to ethnic Albanian rebels and promised a "significant" aid package for the former Yugoslav republic at an international donors conference on Tuesday.
The amnesty law passed on Thursday removes the last hurdle to implementing a peace accord brokered last summer by the United States and the European Union and signed in the Macedonian town of Ohrid.
Washington said yesterday it "commends Macedonia's political leadership" for the law's passage and called on all Macedonians "to support and advance peace" and "reject forcefully any that advocate a recourse to violence."
"The United States looks forward to the March 12 international donors conference for Macedonia and to making a significant contribution to international efforts to help Macedonia fully implement the Framework Agreement," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said in a statement.
The new law, to which nationalists in parliament had objected for months, encourages the Albanian rebels to come out of their highland strongholds and reintegrate into society. It effectively frees from prosecution several thousand insurgents who took up arms against government forces last year to fight for greater rights.
The amnesty covers crimes such as high treason, mutiny, armed rebellion and conspiracy against the state. But any war crimes committed during the conflict will be investigated by the International War Crimes Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague.
The rebels welcomed the amnesty yesterday and said it would lead to stability and confidence building between the Slav majority and Albanian minority.
"This is a great step for peace," Hajrulla Misini, a former rebel commander known by his nom de guerre, Shpati, was quoted by Reuters news agency as saying. "I see no reason anymore for armed conflict in Macedonia."
NATO, which extended the mandate of its 1,000-strong peacekeeping force in the tiny Balkan country for another three months last month at the government's request, also hailed the parliament's vote.
George Robertson, the alliance's secretary-general, said in Brussels that the amnesty was "critical" for lasting peace. He also noted that Macedonia could continue to count on NATO's support in the future.
Javier Solana, the European Union's foreign and defense policy chief, called the amnesty "courageous" and said it shows "the will of the authorities and the citizens to close the chapter of crisis and conflict."
Macedonia has applied to join NATO but is largely seen as one of the candidates that will be left out of the second round of expansion at the Prague summit in November.
*This article is based in part on wire service reports.
DIVIDING OF MACEDONIA LEADS TO SEVERE BLOODSHED.
INTERVIEW MIA - FORUM: Misha Glenny
You are considered as one of the best western experts for the Balkans. So, which are the most significant matters that the Balkan is facing at the moment, including the problems of each country that may complicate the regional perspective?
Upon calming of tensions in Macedonia since the signing of the Ohrid accord, and after the events of September 11, "the outer world" has forgotten the Balkans. It may be understood as an approach, according to which "the situation is rather good there are not mass killings among the Balkan people anymore." It is true that there is no armed conflict or civil war on the Balkans at the moment, for the first time after one decade. This is a very good and encouraging sign. But, the process of reconstruction, development and reconciliation has just started. If one review the main economic and social indicators, it will be clear that the region is far behind the developed countries. The pressure on those governments, which are committed to carry out reforms, is even more increased by the unpleasant economic and political objectives, imposed to them by various international institutions, such as the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission, the US Congress...All former communist countries, particularly those that merged from the former Yugoslavia (without Slovenia) and naturally Albania, are rather week countries, where governance cannot be completely established, citizens' needs cannot be met, and are in hopeless lack of resources to provide public law and order. All of these may be easily noticed. Wherever you turn, you will see failures in the public administration, but also alienating between the common people and political elite, that should represent those people, and an open symbiosis of criminal groups with corrupted state servants. Introduction of "hard" programs that demand economic reconstruction (including dismissal of a great number of employees in time of high unemployment rate) is a hard achieving objective, particularly in a period when economic ties and ties among various ethnic communities have been broken by the wars in the former Yugoslavia.
Such problems cannot be solved without an international infrastructure and other assistance, primarily by the European Union. In addition, both EU and the Southeast European region are confused in regard with what kind of assistance is needed, how it should be allocated, and even further-about the general strategy on the region's integration into the EU.
The Balkan people may not agree, but the method for establishing of regional cooperation is very important, i.e. developing of a strategy that will encourage all of the communities, states and territories to put themselves above the current chaotic situation. I think that such strategy should be offered by the region itself - as the problems it has been facing are common problems and it will be easier if the region finds the language that all of its communities will understand than to communicate in a political language, served to them by an outsider.
What is the best strategy for fighting against corruption and criminals in the Balkans? You claim that these Balkan problems are frequently part of European agenda?
Corruption and crime in the Balkans are just symptoms of one disease. They are not the root of the regions' social and political malfunctioning and not a congenital problem. The fact that some members of the Balkan nations are very successful criminals is part of the tradition, which also is a symptom of one disease-insufficient development. In its current reincarnation, the Mafia is very enlarged and well situated due to various subjective political reasons. The initial momentum refers to the wars and looting, followed by the UN sanctions, imposed over part of dissolved Yugoslavia and of Greece over Macedonia. Consolidating of the Mafia is also a result of the increased gap between the European Union and Balkan countries in regard with the wealth and living standard. Unlike other conflict areas, the Balkan borders with the EU, the biggest and richest consumers' paradise in the world. As EU has failed to create something, which in the Union is called "The Europe Fortress", penetrating in this market has been unexpected gift from heaven for the Albanian, Serbian, Montenegrin, Bosnian, Croatian and Macedonian Mafia. The profit they make at the European market brought a spectacular wealth to Balkan mobsters for a very short period. This is the "hidden" Balkan response to the Western Europe excluding policy towards the Sout Europe, conducted for the last 120 years, which is organic and cannot be stopped easily. It is also hard for detection, as such wealth is unequally divided. Accordingly, despite the fact that some groups and individuals are rolling in money, the benefits do not reach the population, except some limited amounts that provide maintaining of the corrupted hierarchy.
The combat against these criminal interests is additionally obstructed in time of conflicts and disintegration of the societies. Challenging of various sovereignties leads to "hardening" of borders and "conservation" of the customs procedures, enabling to the custom services to become part of the state corrupted hierarchy.
Three elements are necessary for carrying out of a successful strategy against this very difficult problem. The first one refers to improving of the legal economic activities, in particular "an attack" on "see" of unemployment. The second element is serious police activity in thwarting of criminal activities, both at home and in transborder areas (this requires a detailed revision of custom regulations in the region). Finally, mobilization of the civil society, i.e. citizens against the criminal brotherhoods is crucial and most difficult to achieve.
There are important precedents in regard with solving of this problem. One of the most inspiring examples comes from Sicily - the Mafia fatherland. Upon murdering of investigative judges Govani Falcone and Paolo Borselino at the beginning of the nineties, mayor of Palermo Leoluka Orlando along with a group of local priests, succeeded to gain a very strong public support, and manage to defeat the local mafia, demonstrating the power of a civil society in a very spectacular manner.
What should EU do in solving of the Balkan developing and reconstructing problem?
In the last few months, Washington, burdened with some other more important problems, sent clear messages to Europeans, saying that the US sees SEE region as an European problem. For a long time, there has been a fair agreement that Europe should pay for the Balkan stabilization and reconstruction, while the political responsibility is to be shared between Washington and Brussels. It is clear now that Europe will have to bear the biggest part of the political responsibility.
So, all of a sudden Europe finds itself behind the wheel in the cockpit of this Balkan airplane, while a US co-pilot, deeply asleep, snores in the back seat. At the moment, our "pilot" friend from Brussels is thinking: "Great, All I have to do now is to look at the map and land at the Brussels Airport "Peace and Harmony" in several years. Wait, where did I put the map?... It was here somewhere... I am sure I have packed it, somewhere...
Now, Europe is facing an unpleasant truth-that it has taken a long and hard journey, forgetting the map at home, if it ever has one? Has anyone seen the European policy towards the Balkans somewhere? No, because it does not exist, i.e. let me be more specific - EU has no coherent policy for the Balkans. More so-EU slowly realizes the fact that it has no coherent policy for the Balkans at the moment when it is facing another huge project - its enlargement in dimensions never seen before, which may generate a great shock through the veins and arteries of one rather sclerotic organism.
What policy is at the EU's disposal? It has the Stabilization and Association process, defined by bilateral agreements with the aspirant countries for the EU membership. So far-so good. But, the EU is treating the region in the only why it knows, i.e. case by case, assuming it deals with existing and functional states. On the other hand, diversity of constitutional systems in the region and the great insecurity that hangs over all countries and territories that emerged from the former Yugoslavia, excluding Croatia and Slovenia, makes the "case by case" approach hard for implementing. For example, how could EU create mechanisms and institutions for the Kosovo integration, when no one knows who is the owner of a significant part of the province's property, what will be the province's future status, and also, as we found out ten days ago, which are its borderlines?
Simultaneously, the EU insists, although not very decisively, for the region to carry out a policy for internal integration, as part of its preparations for EU membership, making the SEE countries to compete and cooperate in the same time in order to become EU members on some unknown date in the future. Contours of the coherent political frame are lost in this confusion, still waiting to be drawn. While the frames are appearing slowly through the fog of the Brussels confusion, the situation in SEE is becoming rather troublesome. The Mafia problem is re-appearing. The EU member countries have finally understood that trafficking in cigarettes, drugs, women and illegal immigrants, who enter in EU via Balkan, by an assistance of the regional mafia network, is starting to affect their national revenues, and the security in regard of dividing of votes at elections, as the wright-wing parties again send clear signals that they use the immigration issue for collecting of a serious political capital. Therefore, some EU countries and politicians are weakening from their deep "winter sleep". The awakening is still unnoticeable, but after a while visible signs will appear for including of these problems in the agenda. In other words, the stabilization and association agreements and current EU programs for assistance in the Balkans, although created by good intention, are not sufficient to stop the chaos and crisis in the region. Despite the challenge for its own enlargement, the EU must raise the question on the SEE regional development, as its highest priority.
Do Americans intend to abandon the region and when? What will it mean for the EU-US relations after September 11?
The US policy is making a detailed revision of its own priorities after September 11. It seems that the US shows small interest in multilateral institutions, in which it is a member (for example NATO), or in those, in which it is not member, such as the EU. The US rather deals with separate governments, and not with large, unbeatable organizations, which may present an obstacle in introducing of certain policy. The Balkan is now at the bottom of the US list of political priorities. However, I see no signs that Washington intends to withdraw from the military base Bondsteel in Kosovo in the near future. Maybe the US will reduce its forces in Bosnia, but that will be logical and uncontroversial move. Since the small clashes that took place when General Wesley Clark was NATO Supreme Commander, the US is unwilling to take more active military role in Kosovo, being afraid of losses. I even think that the US troops in Bondsteel may turn in a base for supporting of the operations in Near East and Central Asia.
The tacit agreement between Washington and the EU, which I have already mentioned, on Europe's grater responsibility for stabilization of the Southeastern Europe - has already been presented in many interesting forms. For example, that the EU is going to overtake the control over the international police from the UN in Bosnia. When Paddy Eshdown will become UN High Representative in Bosnia, he will also take a position of the highest EU representative there. Afterwards, the EU will most probably take the overall responsibility over NATO monitoring mission to Macedonia. These are unnoticeable, but significant new developments in the region. This is also important for those who wish tp enhance the EU security role, seeing it as a chance to show that Europe is able to carry out significant initiatives, without the US assistance.
However, there is an impression that the European-US relations are burdened by a slight tension. Despite the European deep and sincere solidarity with the US after September 11, Europeans are now restrained, being afraid from a possible spreading of the war against terrorism. President Bush may hope for a support from London is he is going to decide to attack Iraq - but even Blair will not feel comfortable with such decision - but there will be no support from any other side.
You say that the EU should draw a new "map" for its approach towards the Balkans?
I've already said it is necessary. After the Kosovo campaign in 1999, the international community felt obliged to guarantee political and economic reconstruction of the Balkans. The EU, Russia and US, led by Germany, decided that the Stability Pact was the necessary magic formula. But despite that Pact's fascinating ingredients, who ever was in charge to mix them, forgot to add the "magic" spice. So, under Bodo Hombach's leadership, the Pact raised great expectations in the region, and than failed. If now, with new coordinator Erhard Busek, the Pact wishes to prosper, it should redefine its objectives and operations, and to forget its unhappy defined role to serve only as a coordinator of sombodyelse's donor funds, having none under own authority. The Pact may turn into organization, which in cooperation with the local political forces, will identify the bad designed polices, and than interpret the non-understandable languages of the EU political machinery and local policy in the region.
How do you look upon this year's perspective of Macedonia?
The previous year was pretty bad for Macedonia. I suppose when talking about Macedonia's perspectives, we should thank the lucky stars of reason that appeared in Albanians and Macedonians not to lead a total war. As everybody is aware, the country came to the verge of collapse and the possibility of a bloody civil war. Furthermore, I think that we are all aware that the war options still not dead.
Macedonia is not a perfect state. It does not satisfy all aspirations, not only referring to the ethnic communities. However, it is the only country that everyone has, so nobody should divide it, which would lead to a new circle of pointless bloodshed. The Ohrid agreement has largely contributed for the stabilisation of the country in the previous year and has allowed the politicians of all communities a little breathing space. But during my visit to Macedonia, I have acquired a strong impression that the "ship Macedonia" is still moving towards calmer waters. We should hope that "the crew" will use the "calm sea" to establish a course towards building of the state institutions and economic stabilisation. Unfortunately, even if their intentions are such, this journey could be even harder due to the fact that the steering wheel has been damaged in the past 2-3 years. Thus, I want to say that no serious politician of this country- whether it is Macedonian or Albanian- has no clue what the future brings. This is not because they have no vision of the future- few politicians in Europe have that vision- but because they do not know how will this whole thing end.
Concerning the politics, it is clear, we are waiting what will two things come out: first the elections, secondly, what will happen when Ali Ahmeti comes down from Sipkovica in order to engage in Macedonian political life. After many talks with different politicians, I have the impression that the inclusion of Ahmeti would bring consequences not only to politics of Macedonian Albanians, but in Macedonians too. In concern to the economy, it is a field where I cannot assist much. However, it seems to me that the country is inj a great crisis, which produces high percentages of unemployment, which induces the growth of the gray economy and crime. The political trajectory in the past two years has been such that nobody talked about the interests of the social groups, regardless of their ethnic belonging. It is necessary that politicians are made to engage into a dialog for creation of new jobs, health and education, transport etc., to turn themselves from the obsessive tie to the topics of hostility and differences.
Do you think that Ali Ahmeti is a constructive factor of the internal Macedonian political scene?
Time will show. However, my instincts say "Yes, Ali Ahmei is shaped into a positive factor in the politics of this country".
How would future relations between the Serbs and the Albanians reflect on the Macedonian perspectives? In this context, how do you estimate Covic's role and which are the lessons that Macedonia can learn from him?
Macedonia is independent country with its own policy, but it would be na´ve if one believes that the events in the neighborhood have no influence over its stability and future. The cultural relations between the Albanians in Macedonia and the Albanians in Kosovo are very tight, although it does not mean that their problems are always identical. On the other hand, the relations between the Macedonians and the Serbs, or between the Macedonians and the Bulgarians represent a bizarre act of balance, where the wight is measured by the mutual understanding and suspicions. However, regarding the influence from Kosovo on Macedonia, strength does not necessary has to be used. Therefore, I believe that Nebojsa Covic's work in southern Serbia and the cooperation with Riza Halimi, as well as the participation of NATO and other international factors surpasses the modest territory of Presevo, Medvedja and Bujanovac. In the Balkans, there are not many specific examples of successful resolving of the conflicts in a manner where the settlements constitute long-term solutions for the crisis. (In this context, the solutions found in Dayton and Ohrid for example look to me like mechanical solutions that can bring short-term settlement, but no long-term stability). I like Covic's pragmatism because I think that it is based on the feeling that modernization is the only way out from the current situation.
On the other hand, I have doubts if the lessons from Presevo can be applied in Macedonia. In any case, we need to strive for a situation where all those who come from the former Yugoslavia ought to exchange information regarding the functionality of certain things. There is certain lack of will, especially from Croatia, for such a political cooperation, due to the fear from renewal of some Serb hegemony in the region - in which I personally do not believe.
Is there "Albanian issue" in the Balkans, and if there is how do you understand it?
Yes, there is "Albanian issue" in the Balkans, at least because of the fact that this is pretty large community in the southern Balkans. Some of them are populated in areas that have been causing historical tensions. They are mainly populated in the less developed regions in the southeast Balkans. This means that the Albanians from all areas, as well as their neighbors, face with political challenges. But still, this does not lead to the answer that this issue should be closed in tears!
The romantic meaning of Great Albania lives in the considerations and hopes of a small part of the Albanian intelligence - the attempts for making a huge political movement of this were unsuccessful so far and there are no chances for these to become successful, unless foreign powers decide to destabilize the region.
There are some sensitive issues related with the sovereignty which cannot be avoided for much longer - the final status of Kosovo is probably the most important of these issues. At this moment, the attempts for making some sort of infrastructure will be constantly undermined due to the lack of regime and property rights in the province. Perhaps something will be resolved differently now, under the influence of Mihael Steiner, who is one of the most persistent European diplomats.
I would not like to repeat that regardless how the political matters turn out between the Albanians themselves and between the Albanians and their neighbors, the key for peaceful resolving is consisted in development, development and only development. This is true for the entire region.
World Net Daily: Afghanistan In Europe?
By Aleksandar Pavic
BELGRADE – While former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic is being tried in The Hague for alleged war crimes committed during his campaign in Kosovo – a Serb effort many now characterize as anti-terrorist – Michael Steiner, the new chief of the U.N. administration in the Serbian Kosovo province has warned that Kosovo could find itself in an "Afghanistan-type situation" if the international community neglects the territory.
[Richard Holbrooke used the same comparison several days ago]
As reported by the Yugoslav Tanjug agency earlier in the week, Steiner said to the Madrid El Pais daily that "should joint efforts to stabilize the province prove unsuccessful, Kosovo could become a nest of organized crime and the Afghan peril would be imported into Europe."
Indeed, the end result of the U.S. drive to weaken the Soviet Union in Afghanistan by supporting mujahedin warriors may well find its mirror in the ultimate outcome of the West's decision to support the terrorist Albanian KLA organization in Kosovo in the late 1990s, as part of a wider effort to remove Milosevic from power.
In one of the al-Qaida camps in Afghanistan, reports the Boston Herald's Don Feder, Americans found an application form from a Kosovo Albanian that read, "I have Kosovo Liberation Army experience against Serbs forces. … I recommend suicide operations against parks like Disney."
Yet, Western policy remains unchanged in the Balkans. In its latest turn, on March 7, under intense Western diplomatic pressure, the Macedonian government passed an amnesty law for Albanian terrorist forces. The BBC reports that the law "will apply to all guerillas who handed in their arms under a NATO-supervised weapons collection last year."
And, earlier in the week, Kosovo administrator Steiner promoted the installment of Bajram Rexhepi, an admitted member of the terrorist KLA, as the new prime minister of Kosovo, in what he referred to as an "historic occasion," as related by the Belgrade daily Glas Javnosti.
Senior Serbian and Yugoslav officials have voiced serious concern about Rexhepi's naming, citing reports of his involvement in the decapitation of a captured 19-year-old Yugoslav soldier on May 30, 1999, during the NATO bombing campaign of Yugoslavia.
Glas Javnosti reports that four captured KLA members have testified that Rexhepi, a surgeon, cut off the head of the young recruit, Ivan Milosevic, and that he had been known even in KLA circles as the "Terrorist Doctor."
Back in The Hague, Slobodan Milosevic continues to wage his own defense before the "War Crimes Tribunal" that he refuses to recognize, as the prosecution seeks to convict him of "genocide" and "crimes against humanity" for his Kosovo policy during the 1990s.
Yet, in the space of their two-and-a-half-year-old mandate in the Kosovo province, NATO troops and numerous forensic teams engaged by the tribunal have found a total of 2,108 bodies in all the "mass graves" that were reported to dot this territory with a violent recent past.
In the period between February and June 1998, the Pristina Corps HQ of the Yugoslav Army registered just 409 terrorist attacks – or over 80 per month, resulting in over 300 victims, civilian and military, of all nationalities. The Hague Tribunal has yet to indict a member of the KLA. At the same time, political parties spun off from the KLA have been awarded four of the 10 ministries in the new Kosovo government.
Milosevic himself stated during one point of last week's cross examination of Albanian witness Agron Berisa, that this was a "unique case of a court of law, even an illegal one, putting itself on the side of terrorism." In what has become a typical courtroom scene, Milosevic compelled the witness to change his testimony several times under intense questioning.
First Berisa claimed that the Serb police forcibly entered his house by breaking down the door, but soon after said that he opened the door himself and warned the policemen to behave themselves. Berisa also initially claimed that all had been quiet in his village of Suva Reka while the OSCE Observer Mission was present. However, he remained silent when Milosevic read an excerpt from the OSCE Mission's report, which stated that the KLA had been conducting a kidnapping and killing campaign in the area, targeting Albanians loyal to the Yugoslav state.
Another witness, Fehim Alshani, first claimed that the Albanians from his village had been exported to Albania, but his further testimony revealed that Yugoslav troops had actually "returned the villagers to their homes." Alshani also denied any knowledge of KLA activity prior to the NATO bombing in the spring of 1999, but shortly thereafter Milosevic forced him to admit that his son was a member of the KLA.
As the Milosevic trial has developed, U.S. officials have demonstrated outbursts of displeasure with the tribunal's work. U.S. War Crimes Ambassador Pierre Richard Prosper has been quoted as repeating earlier charges against the tribunal's "inadequate management of the various court proceedings, especially by certain individuals about whose professionalism questions may be raised." The tribunal's budget for this year is supposed to top $100 million, and the total amount spent since its inception in 1993 has been about $500 million.
The initial poor showing against Milosevic, who was supposed to have been the crown jewel of the tribunal's efforts to secure legitimacy, may be fueling NATO's latest efforts to hunt down the former Bosnian Serb leader, Radovan Karadzic. "I am convinced that there is a connection to The Hague and the fact that the trial against Milosevic may not be going so smoothly," said retired Canadian Gen. Lewis MacKenzie, former commander of the U.N. Mission in Bosnia in 1992, referring to last week's two failed attempts to catch Karadzic in an area just over 100 miles distant from the "new Afghanistan" in Kosovo.
There is also mounting Western pressure on the Belgrade authorities to extradite more suspects to The Hague. The U.S. Congress has issued a March 31 deadline by which the Yugoslav government must prove its "cooperation" with the tribunal, or face the prospect of a cut-off in U.S. aid. This is fueling a new crisis in the already fragile ruling coalition that came to power in the wake of Milosevic's fall in October 2000.
The Yugoslav Constitution does not allow extradition of its citizens to be tried before another state. However, Western diplomats are pressuring Belgrade to accept the primacy of The Hague Tribunal Statute over Yugoslav law.
As bombs continue to fall on Afghanistan, as former terrorists are installed into political office in the Balkans while their former enemies are on trial or in hiding, the war on terrorism seems to take strange new twists and turns. It remains to be seen just how prescient Ambassador Steiner's warning that Kosovo will become an "Afghanistan-type situation" turns out to be.
Milosevic Cites FBI on al-Qaeda Presence in Kosovo.
Reality Macedonia - Yahoo! News
Former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic, on trial for war crimes here, produced an FBI document he said backed up his claim he was fighting al-Qaeda terrorists in Kosovo.
Milosevic is accused of murders, deportations and other atrocities as part of a campaign to carve out a Greater Serbia after the breakup of the former Yugoslavia in 1991.
As his trial wound up its fourth week, he returned to one of his chief defenses: that he was struggling against separatists and terrorists to hold a crumbling Yugoslav republic together.
"Neither the army nor the police have been implicated in war crimes," he told the UN tribunal.
Cross-examining Sabit Kadriu, a Kosovo human rights activist, Milosevic asked him what he knew about the activities of Osama Bin Laden, his al-Qaeda network and Islamic mujahedin fighters in Kosovo.
Milosevic contends the violence in the Serbian province was due to "terrorist" operations of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), which had outside support in its drive for independence.
Kadriu dismissed the one-time Serbian strongman's suggestions of Kosovo as a hotbed of terrorism, saying: "It's a fiction of your imagination."
Presiding Judge Richard May asked Milosevic where he was getting his information and the defendant waved a document he said was produced by the FBI last December documenting al-Qaeda and mujahedin activity in Kosovo.
The document was entered into evidence but no details were discussed.
Milosevic spent the day sparring with Kadriu in a cross-examination laced with political polemics that drew rebukes from the bench for both sides.
Clearly frustrated by the tribunal's efforts to rein in his questioning, Milosevic snapped back at May: "I'd like to ask you not to give me instructions, please."
Kadriu, a teacher and branch leader of the Council for the Defense of Human Rights and Freedoms, testified Thursday about Serb savagery in Kosovo, including massacres of Albanians, mutilations and public rapes in 1999.
But Milosevic came back with his own litany of atrocities he said were perpetrated on Serbian Kosovars.
He grilled Kadriu on alleged killings, burnings and rapes of Serbs as well as the destruction of their forests, orchards and cemeteries in the predominently Albanian province of Serbia.
"Do you know how many inhabitants of Kosovo, under pressure from Albanian violence, had to leave the province?" the Serbian nationalist thundered. "Do you know, or do you not know?"
Kadriu, who kept his eyes mostly turned from Milosevic but stole an occasional glance, denied such incidents.
"I have never heard of these things," he said. "Power was in the hands of Milosevic. Who would dare to do such things?"
Milosevic also challened testimony that the Albanians were subject to discrimination. He asserted, for instance, that nearly 236,000 Albanian chilren attended school in Kosovo in 1999 as opposed to 45,000 Serbs.
But Kadriu shot back: "The (Albanian) students were thrown out. They all studied outside the school buildings. Everybody knows that."
Milosevic is accused of orchestrating the deportations of some 800,000 ethnic Albanians and the murders of at least 900 in Kosovo.
He is facing charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo. If convicted he could be sentenced to life in prison.