November 30th 2007 02:54:49 AM
Earlier this month the Centre for SouthEast European Studies reported the following:
BELGRADE, Serbia — KFOR has seized uniforms bearing emblems of the Serbian Army (VS), which were allegedly to be used by a paramilitary group to stage fake incidents in Kosovo and on the border with Macedonia, Serbian Army General Mladjen Cirkovic said on Saturday (November 3rd). He said that he had warned KFOR about the threat of paramilitary group attacks and that KFOR is pursuing the matter. “We give KFOR information, they check it. That’s how recently, following one of our tip-offs, a number of Serbian army uniforms were confiscated,” Cirkovic said, adding that the VS will not tolerate any provocations in the region. The VS also said they expect international forces led by NATO to protect Serbs and other non-Albanian civilians in Kosovo if violence breaks out during the ongoing status talks. KFOR representatives insist they will respond to any threat that might arise. (Source: SETimes)
This wouldn’t be the first time that Albanians attempted to impersonate Serbs while staging attacks.
At the same time, NATO is continuing to disarm Kosovo Serbs while threatening the Serbian government about “interfering” with Kosovo, so that non-Albanians in Kosovo will as usual be incapacitated from defending themselves when all hell breaks loose next month. From Balkan Insight:
NATO and the UN police in Kosovo are reportedly planning to tighten their control over the predominantly-Serb north, if Kosovo declares its independence after talks on its future end next month.
The action would be aimed at preventing Serb-run areas from joining Serbia, in case Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian-dominated parliament proclaims independence, once the current phase of talks on the UN-administered territory’s status are concluded on December 10, an international diplomat told Balkan Insight on Monday.
The UN police and the NATO-led KFOR peacekeepers “are planning to take over Serb-run Kosovo police stations” in the ethnically-divided city of Mitrovica, the neighbouring municipality of Zvecan and the towns of Zubin Potok and Leposavic, the Belgrade-based diplomat said on condition of anonymity.
“KFOR will also gradually seal the border between Kosovo’s north and Serbia. After completing that action, KFOR will mount a series of raids aimed at discovering weapons caches in Serb communities and at arresting potential troublemakers,” the source said.
So this way Serbs and other non-Albanians will have nowhere to run, and will be forced to be at the mercy of the new Albanian state. Meanwhile, here’s whom KFOR will not be disarming and arresting, as per usual. No “troublemakers” here:
Kosovo political leaders on Thursday expressed a concern over the alleged appearance of paramilitary groups in Serbia’s breakaway province…Kosovo television late on Wednesday showed a masked armed group in black uniforms patrolling a highway and stopping automobiles.
A masked man told the television they were members of the Albanian National Army (ANA), which the United Nations administration in Kosovo (UNMIK) has classified a terrorist organisation.
Bertrand Boneau, a spokesman for the international forces in Kosovo (KFOR) said he knew nothing about paramilitary groups there, except what he saw on television. But he added that KFOR would deal decisively with any paramilitary groups in the province.
An outlawed paramilitary group stoked tensions in Kosovo by threatening to fight Serbia amid international efforts to resolve the province’s political future. Footage aired by Kosovo’s public broadcaster on Wednesday showed a dozen armed men in black fatigues and ski masks brandishing emblems of the outlawed Albanian National Army.
Kosovo’s prime minister warned the group was going against the province’s U.N. supervised institutions and was tainting the province’s efforts of concluding the issue through internationally mediated talks.
“Kosovo has its own security structures,” Agim Ceku said. “The appearance of such individuals does not send a good message on Kosovo’s behalf.”
Not much is known about the clandestine group, which claims to be working to unify all Balkan territories inhabited by ethnic Albanians. It has claimed responsibility for several attacks in Macedonia, southern Serbia and Kosovo over several years, including the bombing of a bridge used by minority Serbs in northern Kosovo.
That would be the bridge bombing in which two of “Prime Minister” Agim Ceku’s Kosovo Police Service men were involved. Agim Ceku, of course, being the leader who at the moment is disavowing this armed, masked group. But back to the Balkan Insight report about “getting tough” in Kosovo:
Referring to the planned moves, the diplomat said that “through this action, KFOR will also send a message to Serbia’s leadership to stay out of meddling in Kosovo’s affairs.”
The diplomat added that “the Serbian military and police will get a clear message not even to think about moving forces closer to the Kosovo border.”
Meanwhile, an officer with KFOR confirmed to Balkan Insight that that peacekeepers were planning to carry out raids to discover weapons held illegally by members of the public, and that they will try to highlight those considered “troublemakers” in the north.
According to the diplomatic source, UNMIK and KFOR believe that “the pacification of northern Kosovo will also serve as a warning to Serbia not to try to flex its muscles” in its southern, predominantly-ethnic Albanian municipalities along the boundary with Macedonia and Kosovo.
So not only is Serbia to not “meddle” in its Kosovo province’s affairs — now it shouldn’t even flex its atrophied muscles in Serbia proper’s affairs, where Serb police have repeatedly discovered weapons caches and terrorist cells — and have been ambushed themselves. Soon Serbia won’t be “allowed” to meddle in Belgrade’s affairs either.
As for the disarming of Serbs amid a sea of heavily armed Albanians, here is a reminder of how KFOR rules apply to Kosovo’s second-class citizens, from Hiding Genocide in Kosovo:
As one source explains, the Serbs had very few guns to defend themselves with and those they had were kept in the house or some place nearby where they could be obtained quickly. At this stage Serb households expected an attack at any time. Thus, British KFOR searching houses for guns usually found them inside a Serb house. They almost never found them in Albanian houses because, not expecting to be attacked themselves, and usually being informed beforehand of searches by the Albanian interpreters [for KFOR], they could afford the luxury of hiding them more securely such as burying them in the garden.
…On numerous occasions, an “anonymous” Albanian would report that there were weapons in a specific Serbian house. Very soon afterwards, British KFOR would search that house and remove any offensive items, but later that night the Albanians would know the house was now “clean”, and the house could be torched, usually the same night…
Every Serb detained by KFOR in those days would end up in jail, often with no charges. A Serb man, who tried to defend his home against three armed Albanians, shot one of the attackers and was himself wounded on his doorstep. All four were put in custody, the Albanians being released the next day. The house was burned the same evening and the unlucky owner spent the next several years in Mitrovica prison without a court trial. In 2005 he was released without charges and left Kosovo. His house is now illegally occupied by the same Albanians who attacked him.
As for potential Serbian “troublemakers” in the north, Chris Deliso has a translation:
about 80,000 Albanians looking interestedly across the river at 10,000 Serbs… not good. Still, the latter could hold their own given that 1) they had weapons 2) NATO didn’t forcibly stop them.
Well not this time. NATO will ensure that the Serbs of Northern Mitrovica are as helpless as those in the rest of the province. In a March, 2000, piece titled “The Bridge Watchers”, former Rolling Stone and Wall St. Journal writer Charles Alverson, now based in Belgrade, introduces us to the “troublemakers” of Northern Mitrovica:
You hear the same thing over and over at the Dolce Vita cafe-bar on the northern (Serbian) side of the main bridge over the Ibar River. Srdjan, Drogoljub and Vlada will all tell you: ‘This is my job.’
Their job? Sitting in the Dolce Vita waiting for something to happen, waiting for the Ethnic Albanians to come across the Zapad (West) Bridge over the Ibar River to complete their avowed goal of ridding Mitrovica and Kosovo of Serbs. They’ve just about completed the process south of the river where there are perhaps only four Serbian families left in Mitrovica, all under very tight security from French KFOR soldiers. ‘That’s not going to happen here,’ says Dragoljub…
Srdjan, whose eyes are slightly manic behind round glasses, says that he can see his former apartment building from the Dolce Vita. ‘The Albanians came,’ he says, ‘hit my mother with an iron bar and took everything. Now, I am here.’
In the early days of the occupation, NATO admitted that they could not stop the Ethnic Albanians from killing Serbs or driving them from village after village, town after town, including Pristina, the capital of Kosovo. The Bridge Watch became Serbian Mitrovica’s first and last line of defense. Time after time, as KFOR (Kosovo Force) struggled to get a grip on the region, only the youths and men of the Serb rump of Mitrovica stood against total Albanisation of the city.
The other Sunday, a pleasant early spring afternoon was suddenly shattered when the Bridge Watchers saw three Albanian youths pass the KFOR sentries on Zapad Bridge, attain the north bank and begin taking photographs in front of the Dolce Vita. Orders were shouted into the Walkie Talkie, and twenty Serbian youths erupted from the Dolce Vita in hot pursuit of the Albanians who, taking fright, ran back on the bridge, past the French soldiers, to the south side.
The Serbs continued the pursuit, coming up against more KFOR soldiers brought up in reserve from the south side of the Ibar. Now, the Albanians were out of the equation. It was Serb versus KFOR, and things got heated. Within a very few minutes, there were as many as 150 Serbs confronting the young French soldiers of the Narbonnaise Regiment. Finally—according to a French public information officer—‘the situation began to look as if it might get out of control, and KFOR personnel fired many tear-gas grenades to restore order.’ …
According to Chief Superintendent Sven Larsen, UN police commander in Mitrovica, ‘The three Albanians had OSCE credentials, and an investigation is being conducted as to the legitimacy of those credentials and why they crossed the bridge.’
At the Fashion Club restaurant and pizzeria on the south side of the Ibar that night, where Albanian youths –and a few girls — flock the sidewalk with an excited buzz, Afrim, a dark-haired Ethnic Albanian teenager, says: ‘Today was only a test. There will be others, and eventually we will drive the Serbian bastards out of Kosovo entirely. Kosovo is Albanian.’
In Pristina, UNMIK officials are all too aware of the role of the Dolce Vita in the struggle to retain a significant Serbian presence in Kosovska Mitrovica and in Kosovo itself. Where elsewhere, Serbs huddle in tiny enclaves, their very existence guaranteed only by the might of KFOR, in Mitrovica the Serbs are ready and able to defend themselves.
‘We know them well,’ says the official, ‘and we may have to shut the Dolce Vita down if it becomes too much of a problem.’
Journalist and author Diana Johnstone in 2004 illuminated the situation:
[T]he victims of persecution and harassment, the children whose school buses are stoned, the old people who are beaten and whose houses are set on fire, the farmers who do not dare go out to cultivate their fields, the hundreds of thousands of refugees from “ethnic cleansing” … are Serbs. Or sometimes gypsies. Western media early on identified “the Serbs” as the enemies of “multi-ethnic society” and the perpetrators of “ethnic cleansing”. The curious result seems to be that the absence of Serbs is understood as the best guarantee of a multi-ethnic society. This, at any rate, is the logic of the attitude taken by the international community in regard to the Ibar valley region of Kosovo north of Mitrovica.
That area, which forms a sort of point reaching into central Serbia, is the largest remaining part of Kosovo where Serbs retain a traditional majority sufficient to defend themselves from Albanian intimidation. When, as happens from time to time, Albanian militants from the ethnically purified region south of the Ibar attempt to cross the river, they are stopped by Serb guards. In this situation, “international community” spokesmen almost invariably take the line that Serb extremists are standing in the way of “multi-ethnic” Kosovo. The fact is deliberately overlooked that, while a certain number of Albanians are still living in Serb-controlled northern Mitrovica, all Serbs and Rom[a] have been driven out of southern Mitrovica, and that if the Albanian activists were granted free access to the north, the probable result would be further ethnic cleansing of what remains of the Serb population.
Coming this December, courtesy of the free world.