December 10, 2004 Serbia Accuses Kosovo Prime Minister of War Crimes, Suspends Talks Washington, D.C. - Serbia has withdrawn from U.N.-mediated talks with ethnic-Albanian Kosovo officials to protest the election of former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) commander Ramush Haradinaj to the office of Kosovo prime minister, alleging that he committed war crimes during the province's 1998-1999 war between the KLA and Serb security forces. Serb Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica described the election of Haradinaj as a "political provocation." Serbia's suspension of the Vienna talks, which began in the Austrian capital in 2003 to discuss practical issues such as the province's trade and energy policies, is a blow to U.S. and European hopes that the discussions could clear the way for negotiations on Kosovo's future status, which U.N. officials say should begin in mid-2005. Last held in September, the Vienna talks marked the first official contact between senior Serb politicians and pro-independence Kosovar Albanians since relations between the two collapsed prior to the war. Haradinaj was elected prime minister by Kosovo's ethnic-Albanian-dominated parliament on December 3, following the formation of a coalition government between President Ibrahim Rugova's Democratic League of Kosovo, which won 45 percent of the vote in the October 23 elections, and Haradinaj's Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, which came in third with 8 percent. Haradinaj, who predicted that Kosovo would be sovereign within 12 months, asserted that Pristina should remain engaged in the talks and offered to open a dialogue with the Serb government at any time, either in Belgrade or in Pristina. Serb Justice Minister Zoran Stojkovic, stated that, if Haradinaj came to Belgrade, he would be arrested by authorities, since he is wanted by Serbia's judiciary on 108 counts alleging that war crimes were perpetrated by him, including ordering the torture, rape, and murder of Serb civilians, and killing several of them himself. Serb authorities have reportedly provided evidence to the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague concerning their allegations and insist that Haradinaj be indicted by the court. U.N. war crimes investigators have questioned him twice on his role during the war, but no charges have been brought by them. Haradinaj, who denied any involvement in war crimes, asserted that Serbia fabricated evidence against him. He indicated, however, that he would surrender if indicted by The Hague. The Serb government demanded that the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) annul the election of Haradinaj, but UNMIK head Soren Jessen-Petersen rejected the appeal, stating that the man was elected "in full conformity with democratic and constitutional principles." Kosovar Serb officials announced that they would discontinue all cooperation and affiliation with the institutions of the government of Kosovo and regard Belgrade's plan for the decentralization of the province as the only document that offers a viable political solution for Kosovo, which is still legally part of Serbia. Serb President Boris Tadic said their decision would only further endanger the interests of Kosovar Serbs, even though the election of Haradinaj was "unacceptable." In a separate development, U.S. Ambassador at Large for War Crimes Issues, Pierre-Richard Prosper, stated that Serbia's lack of cooperation with The Hague was jeopardizing plans to conclude the work of the court by 2010 as stipulated by the U.N. Security Council and said its lifespan might have to be extended. "There is zero cooperation" on the part of Belgrade, Prosper said, asserting that Prime Minister Kostunica was the chief obstacle to this cooperation, which is mandated by the Security Council. November 19, 2004 Kosovar Albanians on Trial in The Hague for First Time Washington, D.C. - Three former members of the now-disbanded Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), arrested in early 2003, went on trial at the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague on November 15, marking the first time any Albanians from Kosovo have been tried at the court. Fatmir Limaj, Haradin Bala, and Isak Musliu are accused of killing a total of 35 Serb civilians and ethnic Albanians who were suspected of collaborating with Serbs during the 1998-1999 conflict in Kosovo. The tribunal's chief prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte, has said the international community and the local authorities in Kosovo have failed to cooperate sufficiently in her investigation of alleged crimes committed by the KLA. Del Ponte said she would issue a new indictment against KLA leaders before the end of 2004. In a separate development, Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader met in Belgrade on November 15 with President of Serbia and Montenegro Svetozar Marovic and Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica, marking the first visit by a Croatian head of government to Serbia for more than a decade. The leaders pledged to work together to promote their countries' memberships in the European Union and to normalize bilateral relations. October 29, 2004 Rugova's Party Leads in Kosovo Vote Amid Serb Boycott Washington, D.C. - Progress toward establishing a functioning multi-ethnic society in Kosovo was thwarted when less than one percent of the province's 80,000 Serbs voted in the October 23 parliamentary elections that gave a 45.4 percent plurality to the pro-independence Democratic League of Kosovo of President Ibrahim Rugova, an ethnic Albanian. Only 53 percent of the province's 1.3 million eligible voters cast ballots. Rugova, who stated that he hoped to lead Kosovo to independence, began conducting negotiations toward forming a governing coalition. His two main ethnic Albanian rival parties, which were founded by guerrilla leaders of the now-disbanded Kosovo Liberation Army, came in second and third. Hashim Thaci's Democratic Party of Kosovo received 28.8 percent, while Ramush Haradinaj's Alliance for the Future of Kosovo garnered 8.3 percent. Although 10 of the 120 seats in Kosovo's assembly have been set aside for Serbs, the legitimacy of these Serb representatives will be in question since the seats will be filled through appointments. The head of the U.N. Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), Soeren Jessen-Petersen, has called for the greatest possible participation of Serbs in the government going into 2005, when talks on the final status of Kosovo are expected to begin. Ten other parliamentary seats are apportioned to other minorities, including two for Turks and four for Bosnians. If the province achieves progress on the "standards before status" benchmarks established by the United Nations, which include freedom of movement for Serbs and other minorities, talks between the government of Kosovo and the U.N. and the EU on the province's final status may begin in mid-2005. The Kosovar Serbs maintain that Kosovo should remain part of Serbia, while the ethnic Albanians seek independence. Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica and the Serbian Orthodox Church had both called on the Kosovar Serbs to boycott the elections, while some Serb voters stated that death threats and other forms of intimidation had prevented them from going to the polls. Jessen-Petersen stated that Serbs had "had their democratic right to vote hijacked" due to interference from outside Kosovo. Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Miroljub Labus urged political parties in Serbia to open discussions concerning the final status of Kosovo, stating that the elections indicated that Kosovar Serbs were not ready to participate in these discussions. October 22, 2004 Milosevic Loyalists Seek Serb President's Impeachment Over Kosovar Vote Washington, D.C. - The ultra-nationalist Serbian Radical Party, which holds the largest block of seats in the Serb parliament, and Milosevic's Socialist Party submitted a motion to the parliament calling for the impeachment of Serb President Boris Tadic for urging Kosovar Serbs to participate in Kosovo's October 23 parliamentary elections. The two parties asserted that Tadic had overstepped his legal powers and had violated Serbia's constitution when he called on the Serbs in Kosovo to vote in order to have their voices heard in the rebuilding of the province. About 80,000 of Kosovo's 2 million inhabitants are Serbs. A total of 104 lawmakers from the two parties filed the motion, which would require the support of two-thirds of the 250 members of parliament to pass. Then, at least half of all Serb voters would have to endorse the measure in a nationwide referendum. The motion has little chance of passing since the pro-reform parties in the governing coalition have said they will not support it. Serb Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica, who called on the Kosovar Serbs to boycott the October 23 elections, citing security problems, denounced Tadic's appeal for them to vote and criticized the United Nations for ignoring his own plan to decentralize local power in the province. Most Serbs are expected to stay away from the polls. The parliamentary elections in Kosovo will be the second in the province since it was placed under U.N. administration in June 1999, with voters choosing representatives for a 120-seat assembly. While the assembly has the power to pass laws in certain areas, ultimate authority in the province rests with the U.N. Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). The head of UNMIK, Soeren Jessen-Petersen, urged all Serbs in Kosovo to vote so they can become part of the institutions of the province, where the unemployment rate is 35 to 55 percent, according to the IMF. State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said the United States welcomed Tadic's call for Kosovar Serbs to take part in the elections, noting that the Serb community's participation was the best way to "ensure that its concerns are addressed." During a visit to Pristina four days before the polling, Solomon Passy, the current chairman of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and Bulgaria's foreign minister, urged all Kosovars to take part in the elections. October 8, 2004 War Crimes Tribunal Transfers Case to Serbia, Urges Arrests of Suspects Washington, D.C. - Carla del Ponte, chief U.N. prosecutor at the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague, has, for the first time, transferred one of the tribunal's cases to Serbia to be tried in a special court established in Belgrade last year to try war crimes cases. Del Ponte stated that the move signaled good cooperation between the tribunal and the Serbian judiciary. The decision was announced the first week of October by del Ponte in Belgrade, where she said she had conducted "very fruitful" talks with Serbian chief war crimes prosecutor Vladimir Vukcevic. She stated that the tribunal intended to transfer all war crimes cases for which indictments had yet to be issued to the Serbian judicial system, along with documents regarding unfinished investigations relating to these cases, beginning in 2005. In talks with political officials of Serbia and the federal government of Serbia and Montenegro, del Ponte raised problems concerning the Serbian government's lack of cooperation with The Hague. She noted that she would be looking for signs of progress in this cooperation when preparing a report for the U.N. Security Council at the end of November on the republic's willingness to work with the tribunal. Del Ponte repeated her demands for the arrest and extradition of some 20 war crimes suspects believed by the tribunal to be in Serbia, including Bosnian Serb army commander Ratko Mladic and four senior Serb army and police generals. Del Ponte repeated her assertion that Mladic was still hiding in Serbia under the protection of certain members of the Serbian military. Serbian Interior Minister Dragan Jocic said police were conducting an intensive investigation concerning his whereabouts, which the government has said are unknown. According to Jocic, the government was also proceeding as planned to follow up on its receipt of the arrest warrants against the four generals, one of whom has agreed to voluntarily turn himself in, while the other four have refused to appear in court to receive their indictment documentation. The Hague prosecutor said Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica had promised Belgrade's full cooperation with the tribunal, although that cooperation had not previously progressed, despite a cut in U.S. aid to the republic earlier this year in protest. Kostunica, who has repeatedly asked del Ponte for a transfer of trials from the tribunal to Serbian courts, has asserted that the tribunal is biased against Serbs and that cooperation with it must be weighed against the importance of maintaining "political stability" in Serbia. Del Ponte was in Belgrade to attend a conference, the first of its kind, to review Serbia's shortcomings in dealing with war crimes dating to the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s. It was organized by the Belgrade-based Humanitarian Law Center with support from the Council of Europe. On September 30, U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Marc Grossman and Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues Pierre-Richard Prosper, during a visit to Belgrade, told Serb officials that they risked a return to international isolation if war crimes suspects were not arrested and extradited to The Hague. Richard Dicker of the New York-based Human Rights Watch stated that Serbia's cooperation with the tribunal in 2004 had been "dismal." October 8, 2004 Local Serb Elections Consolidate Strong Rivalry Between Democrats and Nationalists Washington, D.C. - In the run-off vote of the first local elections since the fall of the Milosevic regime in October 2000, the pro-reform Democratic Party (DS) and the ultra-nationalist Serbian Radical Party (SRS) of Milosevic loyalists ran close races in Belgrade and Novi Sad, the capital of Vojvodina province and the second-largest Serb city, resulting in a narrow DS victory in the Serb capital and one by the SRS in Novi Sad. Overall, the four reformist parties of the ruling coalition under Serb Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica won at least 29 municipalities, while the DS, which is in the opposition in the Serb parliament, took 24. The SRS and Milosevic's Socialist Party of Serbia (SRS), the second main nationalist party, each secured 19 municipalities. Nationalist candidates did particularly well in the southern part of Serbia near Kosovo and in the poorer central provinces. In Belgrade, the Democratic Party candidate for the powerful post of mayor, Nenad Bogdanovic, took 50.3 percent of the vote, while the Serbian Radical Party's Aleksandar Vucic received 48.3 percent. In Novi Sad, the SRS candidate, Maja Gojkovic, defeated the outgoing mayor from the Democratic Party by only 695 votes, with a final tally of 50.3 to 49.7 percent. Although the Serbian Radical Party, which governed Serbia together with Milosevic, won the largest percentage of the vote in Serbia's December 2003 parliamentary elections, it was unable to form a coalition since no pro-reform party would join ranks with it. The strong showing by the Serbian Radical Party in the municipal elections has been attributed by some to the low voter turnout, about 30 percent, with the percentage of votes for the party's candidates remaining comparable to previous elections. Others have attributed it to displeasure over the slow pace of reforms to reduce poverty since Milosevic left office or a reaction against international efforts to promote closer cooperation between Belgrade and the war crimes tribunal, since the SRS has spoken out firmly against the extradition of war crimes suspects to the court. Advances by hard-liners in Serbia are viewed as having a negative impact on its efforts to integrate into the European Union and NATO, a goal pursued by the reformists in office since 2000. The showing of the SRS in the municipal elections could put them in a position to do well in the elections for the federal parliament of Serbia and Montenegro expected in February 2005. Serbian Finance Minister Mladjan Dinkic stated that a revival of Milosevic's Socialists and their ally, the Serbian Radical Party, was "a certainty" if pro-reform parties continued to bicker and failed to reunite. September 24, 2004 Reformers and Nationalists Battle It Out In Local Elections Washington, D.C. - In Serbia's local elections on September 19, candidates of the pro-reform Democratic Party (DS) of Serbian President Boris Tadic and those of the ultra-nationalist Serbian Radical Party (SRS) led by war crimes suspect Vojislav Seselj, awaiting trial in The Hague, emerged as the front runners in the majority of the municipalities. A number of municipalities, including the mayoral races in Belgrade and Novi Sad, prepared for run-off elections on October 3. The DS led in most urban areas, while the SRS dominated in rural communities and in the northern province of Vojvodina. In many municipalities, coalitions were formed between the pro-reform parties. The elections for the municipal leaders and town councils in 148 municipalities, the first since former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic was defeated in October 2000, were viewed as an important step in Serbia's attempts to consolidate its democratic reform following the fall of Milosevic's regime. The turnout was 35 percent, the lowest in the past seven years. Tadic's Democratic Party seeks to bring Serbia closer to NATO and the European Union. The Serbian Radical Party, once allied with Milosevic, vocally opposes Western reforms, is suspicious of foreign direct investment, and continues to call for a Greater Serbia that would include parts of Bosnia and Croatia. It became the strongest single party in the Serb parliament following the December 2003 parliamentary elections, but it was unable to form a government. Due to a new law granting more self rule to local communities, the mayor of Belgrade is now the third most influential official in Serbia after the republic's prime minister and president. DS candidate Nenad Bogdanovic won about 33 percent of the mayoral vote in Belgrade, followed by Aleksandar Vucic of the SRS, who received about 29 percent. Zoran Drakulic, the candidate of Serb Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica's Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS), won 15 percent of the vote. In Novi Sad, the capital of Vojvodina, where 15 percent of the population is ethnic Hungarian, a candidate of the Serbian Radical Party took 42 percent of the vote for mayor, nine points more than that received by the Democratic Party's candidate. The European Parliament on September 16 accused the Serbian government of ignoring attacks against the ethnic Hungarian minority in Vojvodina and passed a non-binding resolution calling for a halt to this violence. Citing the desecration of tombstones, the proliferation of anti-Hungarian graffiti, the burning of the Hungarian flag, and a police attack on a mayor representing the minority, the Parliament called for an investigation of the incidents and the prosecution of those participating in the violence. On September 14, President Tadic assured Hungarian President Ferenc Madl, who was visiting Belgrade, that the Serbian government was taking seriously all reported incidents of violence against the province's ethnic Hungarian minority. Tadic said he had asked for a police investigation into the incidents. Prior to Madl's visit, Hungary had called on EU foreign ministers to intervene to prevent further attacks. September 17, 2004 NATO-Led Kosovo Force Boosted for Province’s Elections Washington, D.C. - Some 2,000 troops from France, Germany, and Italy will reinforce the 18,000-member KFOR peacekeeping force in Kosovo during the province’s parliamentary elections on October 23 and the month preceding the polls, which the Kosovar Serb minority has threatened to boycott. Both KFOR’s French commander, Gen. Yves de Kermabon, and the head of the U.N. Interim Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), Soeren Jessen-Petersen, stated that ensuring a secure environment for the elections was a primary concern. KFOR and UNMIK were criticized for failing to prevent two days of anti-Serb riots in Kosovo in March 2004 staged by the province’s ethnic Albanian majority, which resulted in 19 deaths and the destruction of some 800 Serb houses, churches, and monasteries. On September 15, the U.N. said international prosecutors in Kosovo had charged four men and one juvenile in separate cases of anti-Serb violence related to the burning of a Serb Orthodox church during the March riots and the drive-by killing of a Serb teenager in June 2004. While Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica has accused the international community of failing to provide adequate protection for the Kosovar Serbs and has urged them to boycott the elections, Jessen-Petersen has called on the Serb minority to take part in the elections, asserting that a boycott of the vote will exclude them from future discussions on the final status of Kosovo. September 10, 2004 EU Will Deal with the Two Republics Separately on Economic Harmonization Washington, D.C. - The European Union announced that it would deal separately with the republics of Serbia and Montenegro, which comprise a loose federal union, in its efforts to harmonize their economic criteria with those of the EU as part of preparations for a single Stabilization and Association Agreement between the union and the bloc. The agreement is considered a first step toward integration into the European Union. Foreign Minister Bernard Bot of the Netherlands, which currently holds the rotating EU presidency, said, "The EU continues to strongly endorse the existence of the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro but wants to be realistic when it comes to practical issues." He said the decision to pursue this "twin track" approach, made at an EU foreign ministers meeting on September 4, was aimed at preventing Serbia and Montenegro from lagging behind in the Stabilization and Association process. European Union External Relations Commissioner Chris Patten said the republics' "complete disagreement about the harmonization of tariffs" and their lack of progress in promoting a common trade policy had contributed to the EU's decision. Serbia and Montenegro each manage their own economic affairs, tax collection, and government spending, and have different currencies. The republics will be offered separate trade tariffs by EU governments in an attempt to encourage agricultural and industrial exports from the republics, where economic output is about half the 1990 level and unemployment stands at more than 30 percent. Both the Serbian and Montenegrin governments welcomed the European Union's decision. September 3, 2004 War Crimes Tribunal Appoints Counsel for Milosevic, Who Blames West, NATO for Collapse of Yugoslavia Washington, D.C. - U.N. judges at the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague asked the court to appoint defense lawyers to represent former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic at his trial in order to avoid further delays in the proceedings because of his ill health. Milosevic, who has insisted on representing himself since the trial began in February 2002, called the decision, made two days after he launched his long-postponed defense, “a scandal.” Calling the war crimes charges against him “a mutilation of justice” and his trial “a farce,” Milosevic opened his defense by accusing the West, NATO, Kosovar Albanian drug gangs, Islamic militants, and the Vatican of contributing to the break-up of the former Yugoslavia. NATO, he said, had intervened in Kosovo in 1999 in order to exploit the region’s natural resources of cobalt, lead, and nickel, as well as its power plants. Milosevic challenged the prosecution’s allegations that he had encouraged Serb nationalism and had been responsible for the wars in the Balkans in the 1990s. He stated that the Croatian authorities had caused the war in Croatia in the early part of the decade and Serbs had, therefore, acted in self-defense, a factor that led Belgrade to assist the Serbian people in both Croatia and Bosnia. Serbs had not planned to create a greater Serbia, he said. Milosevic accused former Bosnian president Alija Izetbegovic of planning to eliminate the Serbs in order to create an Islamic state with the help of Middle Eastern fundamentalists. He also accused former U.S. president Bill Clinton of supporting the separatist Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), describing its members as “Islamist terrorists,” and suggested that this support laid the foundations for the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The former Serb president, who was extradited to the international war crimes tribunal in June 2001, faces 66 counts of war crimes allegedly committed in Croatia, Bosnia, and Kosovo during the 1990s. August 27, 2004 U.N. Kosovo Mission Chief Calls for Greater Urgency in Determining Province's Status Washington, D.C. - Soren Jessen-Petersen, a Danish national, became the new head of the U.N. Interim Administration in Kosovo (UNMIK) for one year on August 16, pledging to lead the process of resolving the final status of the Serbian province "with a greater sense of urgency." "There is a limit to how long you can keep a place in limbo," Jessen-Petersen, a former EU envoy to F.Y.R. Macedonia, said, adding that there will be no stability in the western Balkans unless the status of Kosovo is resolved. The United Nations has said that, in mid-2005, it will determine whether enough progress has been made by local leaders on eight standards of minority rights, democracy, and the rule of law to enable final status talks to move forward. Jessen-Petersen stated that he was looking at ways to accelerate implementation of the standards, which were laid out under the U.N.'s "standards before status" policy. The new UNMIK chief, who replaced Harri Holkeri, a former Finnish prime minister, who resigned as chief in May, noted that security must be established in the province before status talks can begin. Jessen-Petersen also stated that he would transfer more powers from UNMIK to the institutions of Kosovo's government, dominated by representatives of the ethnic Albanian majority, which comprises 90 percent of the province's population of 1.9 million. In addition, he will attempt to convince Kosovo's Serb minority to vote in the province's October 23 parliamentary elections, the second such elections since UNMIK took over the administration of the province in June 1999. The Serbian government has urged Kosovo's Serb minority to boycott the elections to protest the U.N.'s apparent rejection of Belgrade's decentralization proposal to grant Kosovar Serbs more autonomy. Following some 18 months of negotiations between UNMIK and the Council of Europe, Jessen-Petersen and the secretary general of the Council of Europe, Walter Schwimmer, signed two agreements that will provide frameworks for the monitoring of human rights protections in the province. The new UNMIK chief also requested greater OSCE involvement in the democratization of Kosovo. Jessen-Petersen, Kosovo Prime Minister Bajram Rexhepi, and the representative of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in the province jointly launched a project aimed at creating jobs and encouraging employers to hire more young people in order to reduce the 55 percent unemployment rate in Kosovo, where donor aid has dropped 70 percent since 2001. A report to U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan by Norway's ambassador to NATO, Kai Eide, recommends that "serious exploratory discussion" of Kosovo's future status be undertaken by the United Nations beginning in the fall of 2004. Annan asked Eide to study how to improve the U.N. mission in Kosovo after ethnic Albanians rioted in March killing 19 people and injuring some 900. July 30, 2004 Third Report in July Condemns International Handling of March Kosovo Riots Washington, D.C. - Human Rights Watch released a report on July 26 accusing United Nations police and the NATO-led KFOR peacekeeping force in Kosovo of failing "catastrophically" to protect minorities during a wave of interethnic violence in the province in March. Nineteen people were killed and 900 injured, while over 550 homes were burned, during attacks by ethnic Albanians on the Serb minority. The report followed a July 8 study by Amnesty International that arrived at the same conclusion and a mid-July report by the Ombudsperson Institution in Kosovo, a branch of the U.N. Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), stating that the U.N. and Kosovo’s local authorities have not achieved even a minimal level of protection of rights and freedoms, particularly for the province’s Serb minority. Human Rights Watch stated that UNMIK, which operates a 3,500-member police force, and the 18,000 NATO-led troops in the KFOR peacekeeping force had not coordinated their response to the violence. Its report called for the deployment of more peacekeepers and police personnel in Kosovo to ward off future ethnic clashes, while demanding that the diverse foreign forces in the province be brought under a more unified command. The organization also stated that the international community in Kosovo was in "absolute denial about its own failures" in the province. UNMIK said the Human Rights Watch report did not appreciate the challenge that the violence had posed to KFOR and the police, while a KFOR spokesman stated that the report did "not pay any respect to the efforts of the soldiers," who, he said, "quickly stabilized the situation." July 23, 2004 Serb President, in U.S., Reaffirms Belgrade's Intent to Cooperate with Hague Washington, D.C. - Secretary of State Colin Powell urged Serb President Boris Tadic, during his first official visit abroad since his June 27 election, to promote the arrest and transfer of war crimes suspects to the international tribunal in The Hague. Powell indicated that Belgrade and Washington had to do everything they could to collectively bring former Bosnian Serb army commander Ratko Mladic, a top war crimes fugitive, to justice. U.S. Ambassador-At-Large for War Crimes Pierre Prosper, who also met with Tadic, said the capture of Mladic would open the possibility that other war crimes suspects, including four Serb army and police generals, could be tried before local courts. Tadic told the officials that Serbia was prepared to meet its international obligations with respect to the tribunal in order to stabilize its relations with the United States and the international community. He said everyone who had been indicted by the U.N. court would be sent to The Hague and Belgrade was doing all it could to assist in finding Mladic, despite allegations by tribunal officials that Serbia had previously helped him avoid prosecution. Powell said the United States wanted to work with Serbia and Montenegro as it pursues its goal of becoming part of NATO's Partnership for Peace, a stepping-stone to membership in the alliance, and as it seeks entry into the European Union. Tadic said the integration of the country into Euro-Atlantic institutions was a pre-condition for resolving security problems in the Balkans, including Kosovo. In their discussions on Kosovo, Powell emphasized Washington's support for "standards before status," the achievement of eight benchmarks that include human rights improvements and democratization, laid out by the United Nations, before the final status of Kosovo can be discussed. Tadic said he supported this process. Tadic also stated that the plan proposed by the Serbian parliament for the decentralization of Kosovo could provide a good framework for a solution in the province, asserting that independence for Kosovo would be "unacceptable." He noted that the situation in Kosovo had been "fragile" since the March 2004 wave of violence, and he said he wanted to do everything he could to promote a dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina and to provide security for the province's Serb minority. The Serb president emphasized to U.S. officials that Serbia needed more direct foreign investments in the Serbian economy and the creation of more jobs. While in Washington, Tadic also met with Vice President Richard Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, members of Congress, and World Bank officials. Dejan Milenkovic, a top suspect in the March 2003 assassination of Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic, was arrested in Thessaloniki, Greece, on July 16 and is being held at the city's police headquarters. He is currently being tried in absentia in Belgrade in a trial involving a total of 13 people charged with Djindjic's murder. The Serb government is expected to request Milenkovic's extradition. July 23, 2004 NATO Head Urges Serb Cooperation with Hague to Promote Alliance Ties Washington, D.C. - NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, during a visit to Belgrade, called on the leaders of Serbia and Montenegro to cooperate with the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague if it wants to satisfy the alliance's membership requirements. Belgrade is hoping to join NATO's Partnership for Peace, a key step toward membership in the alliance. In addition, Scheffer said the country must drop its lawsuit against eight member nations of NATO in the International Court of Justice over the alliance's bombing of Yugoslavia during the 1999 Kosovo war, in order to promote closer ties with NATO. Following talks with Ben Bot, the foreign minister of the Netherlands, which currently holds the EU presidency, Foreign Minister of Serbia and Montenegro Vuk Draskovic said he would propose that the lawsuit be dropped. "There can be no partnership within Europe on the basis of lawsuits," Draskovic said. The secretary general said NATO leaders had given a "really clear signal" at the alliance's June summit in Istanbul that they would like to see Serbia and Montenegro become a member of the alliance. He called on Belgrade to continue to work toward military reform. The chief U.N. prosecutor at The Hague, Carla Del Ponte, accused Belgrade authorities of missing an opportunity to arrest war crimes suspect Goran Hadzic, a former Croatian Serb leader accused of actions committed in 1992-1993 in eastern Slavonia, Croatia, on July 13. Although the indictment of Hadzic was forwarded to the Serb Internal Affairs Ministry that morning, Del Ponte said, he was able to escape from the house in which he was staying in the Serbian city of Novi Sad later in the day, 17 hours before Serb police had been ordered by a local judge to arrest him. Del Ponte asserted that Hadzic's escape constituted the second example this year of a war crimes suspect's disappearance just hours after authorities received warrants for their arrest. The prosecutor stated that she would be forced to ask the tribunal's president to report Serbia and Montenegro to the U.N. Security Council for lack of cooperation with the tribunal over the issue. Serb Police Minister Dragan Jocic denied that there had been negligence on the part of the police force in dealing with Hadzic. Serbian Human Rights Minister Rasim Ljajic, who has been named the head of the new Serbia and Montenegro government committee in charge of overseeing the extradition of war crimes suspects to The Hague, stated that he had received death threats. Ljajic asserted that the country should focus on the capture of former Bosnian Serb military commander Ratko Mladic, whom Del Ponte maintains is in Serbia. Serbia and Montenegro Defense Minister Prvoslav Davinic stated that Belgrade needed to find and extradite Mladic or prove that he is not hiding in Serbia and Montenegro. Del Ponte asserts that 15 war crimes suspects are within Serbia and Montenegro. At least three of the four Serb army and police generals sought by the tribunal are living more or less freely in Belgrade. In an appearance on a Serb television program, one of the generals, Gen. Vladimir Lazarevic, stated that his extradition or that of the other generals, would be treasonous, would betray the memory of fallen Serbs, and would provide amnesty with regard to all war crimes committed against Serbs. A senior official of Serbia's Socialist Party reiterated the party's intent to withdraw support in parliament for Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica's minority government if any Serbian citizen is extradited to The Hague. July 16, 2004 Kosovo Assembly Challenges Authority of U.N. Mission Washington, D.C. - In defiance of the United Nations, which drafted the 2001 Constitutional Framework establishing Kosovo's provisional government and parliament, and alone holds the mandate to change it, ethnic Albanian lawmakers in the Kosovo Assembly voted on July 8 to amend the document through provisions that included the right to call a referendum on the province's independence from Serbia. In an attempt to dilute the exclusive authority of the U.N. Interim Administration in Kosovo (UNMIK) over public security, international relations, and the judicial system, other amendments transferred some of the U.N.'s authority in these areas to Kosovo's ethnic-Albanian dominated government by adding six ministries to the government, including those dealing with internal affairs and justice. The acting head of UNMIK, Charles Brayshaw, rejected the amendments, stating that only the United Nations had the authority, under Resolution 1244 of 1999, to make changes in the Constitutional Framework and sign them into law. Brayshaw urged the members of the Assembly to work toward achieving the benchmarks known as "standards before status," laid out by UNMIK in April 2002, which must be met before the province's status can be determined. The standards are establishing functioning democratic institutions, the rule of law, freedom of movement, the return of refugees, economic progress, respect for property rights, dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade, and a properly constituted Kosovo Protection Corps. UNMIK officials said the Assembly could propose changes in competencies that did not fall within the powers reserved for the U.N. mission, stating that the mission was open to discussing proposals for such changes if they were submitted in accordance with the provisions of the Constitutional Framework. The minority Serb deputies were not present in the Assembly during the voting on the amendments, since they began boycotting the proceedings of the body earlier this year. Other minorities in the Assembly, including the Roma and Bosniaks, did not support the amendments. An annual report issued in mid-July by the Ombudsperson Institution in Kosovo, a branch of UNMIK, stated that the U.N. and the local authorities that have run Kosovo for the past five years have not achieved even a minimal level of protection of rights and freedoms, particularly for the province's Serb minority. The report lays much of the blame for the human rights shortcomings in Kosovo on the international community's failure to resolve the province's final status. A July 8 report compiled by Amnesty International (AI) charged that KFOR peacekeepers in Kosovo and UNMIK authorities failed to protect minorities during the March 17-19, 2004 outbreak of violence that left 19 people dead and more than 900 injured, mostly Serbs. The report said a lack of coordination between NATO and the U.N. was partially responsible for the high casualty toll that took place after ethnic Albanians attacked minority Serbs, and there appeared to have been "no contingency planning." AI concluded that, five years after the international community assumed control of Kosovo, "minorities remain as vulnerable as ever" and continuing uncertainty over the province's final status exacerbates interethnic tensions. July 16, 2004 Montenegro Chooses New National Symbols Washington, D.C. - The parliament of the republic of Montenegro, which along with the republic of Serbia makes up the loose union of Serbia and Montenegro established in February 2003, voted to adopt a new flag, a national anthem, and a national day. The move was viewed as part of an effort toward Montenegro's independence from Serbia. Parliament Speaker Ranko Krivokapic stated that, for the first time in history, Montenegro had "all three symbols of a nation," adding that "the road to Montenegro's independence is irrevocable." July 13, designated as the republic's national day, marks the date in 1878 when major powers at the Berlin Congress recognized Montenegro as an independent country, as a weakened Ottoman Empire retreated from the region. Parliament re-introduced the flag that was used in Montenegro from 1878 until 1918 when it lost its independence and joined the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenians, which became socialist Yugoslavia after World War Two. An old folk song was approved as a national anthem. A March 14, 2002 agreement between the republics of Serbia and Montenegro, brokered by the European Union, laid the groundwork for the replacement of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia with the union of Serbia and Montenegro. The agreement said that, “upon the expiration of a three-year period,” the republics of Serbia and Montenegro “shall be entitled to instituting proceedings for a change of the state status, that is, withdrawal from the state union.” July 16, 2004 Greek Support for Belgrade's EU Aspirations Washington, D.C. - Greek Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis, attending the July 11 swearing-in ceremony of Serbia's new reformist president Boris Tadic in Belgrade, told the incoming president that Greece would continue to support the efforts of Serbia and Montenegro to join the European Union and NATO, while also furthering bilateral relations with the country. Molyviatis stated that Tadic's assumption of the Serb presidency was "a significant step" toward the entry of Serbia and Montenegro into the European Union and other European institutions. While attending a meeting of the EU General Affairs Council in Brussels, the minister said the European Union must send Belgrade "a positive message" by reinforcing its European prospects and integration into Euro-Atlantic institutions, in view of Tadic's pro-democracy, pro-European agenda. Upon taking office, Tadic said Serbia's leaders "must know our national priorities: they are our intentions to join the European Union." He stated that the republic's cooperation with the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague was "a crucial precondition for all Euro-Atlantic integration and confirms our dedication to European values." In a joint statement on July 12, the European Union foreign ministers said the election of Tadic "confirms the commitment of the Serbian people to reforms and to [Serbia's] European future." The ministers also called on the democratic forces in Serbia and Montenegro to work together to accelerate political and economic reforms, as well as cooperation with the war crimes tribunal. "Concrete progress [in the reform process] would allow the European Union to complete a feasibility study to open talks in view of an association and stabilization agreement" with Serbia and Montenegro, the statement said. July 10, 2004 Milosevic's Health Prompts Reassessment of War Crimes Trial Procedure Washington, D.C. - Reaching a new plateau in the trial of former Yugoslav president and war crimes suspect Slobodan Milosevic, the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague has questioned whether Milosevic's poor health will allow him to continue acting as his own lawyer, while one of the defense counsels appointed by the court to protect the Serb's interests has raised the issue of whether he is well enough to stand trial at all. Milosevic, who suffers from high blood pressure and heart problems, went on trial in February 2002 for more than 60 charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity during the conflicts in Bosnia, Croatia, and Kosovo. Since then, 66 trial days have been lost due to his ill health. Following the February 2004 conclusion of the prosecution's case, Milosevic began working on his own defense, for which he has been allotted 150 trial days. On July 6, the day he was scheduled to begin his defense, he was too sick to appear in court. The following day, the tribunal's judges said there was no evidence that he was too ill to continue standing trial over the long term, but they ordered court officials to appoint counsel to represent him, if necessary. Milosevic, 62, has repeatedly stated his unwillingness to have any lawyers represent him. The trial will resume on July 14 for a week to permit Milosevic to complete his opening statement, confined to four hours, and start calling witnesses before it goes into recess until August 31. Prior to July 14, he will undergo additional tests to establish his ability to conduct his own defense. July 10, 2004 U.S. Renews Pressure on Serbia to Extradite War Crimes Suspects Washington, D.C. - U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Marc Grossman, on a July 7 visit to Belgrade, said Serbia must extradite war crimes suspects currently in the republic to the international tribunal in The Hague, particularly former Bosnian Serb army commander Ratko Mladic and four generals, or jeopardize its movement toward Euro-Atlantic integration. Washington's renewed pressure on Serbia to cooperate more closely with the war crimes tribunal took place less than two weeks after Boris Tadic, a pro-Western, pro-reform candidate, was elected president of Serbia. The international community has stipulated that further cooperation with The Hague is a key condition for financial and political aid to Serbia. Grossman stated that the United States would support prosecution of the four generals, including former army chief of staff Nebojsa Pavkovic, and other war crimes suspects by Serbian courts if Belgrade delivered Mladic to The Hague. Serbian officials have rejected allegations by U.N. war crimes prosecutor Carla Del Ponte that Mladic remains in Serbia. An opinion poll published on July 6 indicated that 57 percent of Serbs oppose extradition of the four generals. The day after Grossman's visit, the government of Serbia and Montenegro established a new special council on cooperation with the war crimes tribunal, stating that full cooperation with the court was a top political priority. It urged the new council, which is comprised of top officials from both Montenegro and Serbia, to take immediate action to meet the country's obligations to the tribunal. July 2, 2004 New Serb President Vows Move Toward EU, Cooperation with War Crimes Tribunal Washington, D.C. - Boris Tadic, the pro-Western reformist leader of the Democratic Party of the late Serb prime minister Zoran Djindjic, was elected president of Serbia on June 27, defeating the ultra-nationalist candidate, Tomislav Nikolic. Tadic won 53.5 percent of the vote, while Nikolic polled 45.1 percent, with a turnout of about 49 percent. Nikolic is a member of the Serbian Radical Party, which holds the largest single block of seats in the Serb parliament and is led by war crimes suspect Vojislav Seselj, on trial at the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague. Nikolic, who expresses a "dream of a Greater Serbia," received the most votes in the first election round on June 13, but did not garner the 50 percent of the vote required to be named president in that round. Tadic's victory was welcomed by the European Union and the United States, as he pledged to promote greater integration into Europe and said Serbia should take action to extradite war crimes indictees to The Hague. Tadic called for new efforts to track down Ratko Mladic, the former commander of the Bosnian Serb Army, sought by the tribunal, which maintains that the fugitive is in Serbia Four days after the election of Tadic, the Foreign Ministry of Serbia and Montenegro submitted U.N. war crimes indictments against four generals to a Belgrade court, initiating a process that may lead to their extradition to The Hague. The suspects, former police chiefs Sreten Lukic and Vlastimir Djordjevic, and retired army generals Nebojsa Pavkovic and Vladimir Lazarevic, are among at least 15 war crimes indictees that Chief U.N. war crimes prosecutor Carla Del Ponte said spend most of their time in Serbia and Montenegro. Serbia and Montenegro President Svetozar Marovic stated that the country was ready to extradite the four generals, noting that Mladic was no longer hiding in Serbia. Referring to Tadic's victory, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said, "The people of Serbia have clearly expressed their desire for a European future for Serbia. The EU stands ready to help them to achieve this objective." The U.S. government stated that Serbs had "clearly chosen the path that will lead Serbia to the Euro-Atlantic integration and institutions where it belongs," noting that Belgrade must "intensify its efforts to fulfill its international obligations." Washington, which withheld economic aid to Serbia on March 31 because of Belgrade's insufficient cooperation with The Hague, said it would "explore the new opportunities . . . to assist Serbia." Tadic will be working with a minority coalition government led by Serbia's conservative prime minister, Vojislav Kostunica, the head of the Democratic Party of Serbia, who has stated that cooperation with the war crimes tribunal is not one of his priorities for Serbia. The Kostunica government has the parliamentary support of Slobodan Milosevic's Socialist Party of Serbia. Kostunica's party has been locked in a power struggle with Tadic's party, which is not part of the coalition, for several years. Serbia has been without an elected president since the term of indicted war crimes suspect Milan Milutinovic expired in January 2003. The results of three presidential elections since then have been declared invalid due to voter turnout lower than 50 percent. The 50-percent turnout requirement was abolished prior to the June 13 election. June 18, 2004 Extreme Nationalist Candidate Leads in First Round of Serbian Presidential Election Washington, D.C. - Tomislav Nikolic, a candidate of the Serbian Radical Party, led by indicted war crimes suspect Vojislav Seselj, took the lead over pro-Western candidate Boris Tadic in the first round of the presidential election in Serbia on June 13, opening the possibility that he could win the race in the June 27 runoff election. Tadic, the former defense minister of Serbia and Montenegro and the leader of the Democratic Party of the late Serbian prime minister, Zoran Djindjic, received 27.3 percent of the vote, compared to 30.6 percent for Nikolic, who has talked of aligning Serbia, not with Brussels, but with a "Moscow-Beijing" axis. Seselj, currently on trial at the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague, said his party would never abandon its aim of creating a Greater Serbia taking in most of Bosnia and Croatia. Dragan Marsicanin, the deputy leader of Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica's Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS), came in fourth with 13.3 percent. Kostunica, who regards Tadic's Democratic Party as the DSS's bitter rival, refrained from publicly supporting Tadic in the second round until June 16, when it was announced that the DSS would join the other parties of the governing coalition in backing the former defense minister. The Democratic Party is not part of the current Serbian government. The June 13 election was the fourth attempt to elect a Serb president over the last 18 months. The results of the three previous presidential elections were declared invalid because voter turnout was less than 50 percent. The January 27 vote will produce a president since the 50-percent turnout requirement has been abolished. Although the office of president carries largely ceremonial powers, a Nikolic victory on June 27 could bring down the pro-Western minority government, drive away foreign investors, and stall badly needed aid from Western financial institutions at a time when Serbia is seeking greater integration with Euro-Atlantic institutions. An opinion poll taken prior to the June 13 election indicated that, in a Tadic-Nikolic runoff, Tadic would receive 53 percent and Nikolic would garner 47 percent, but the margin of error places the two candidates in a dead heat in the run-up to the June 27 balloting. May 28, 2004 Serbia and Montenegro's President Makes Landmark Visit to Croatia Washington, D.C. - In the first visit to Zagreb by a president of Yugoslavia or Serbia and Montenegro since Croatia declared its independence in 1991, Serbia and Montenegro President Svetozar Marovic and Croatian President Stjepan Mesic pledged to strengthen bilateral relations and cooperate in achieving European integration for their respective countries. Bilateral relations have improved markedly since reformers replaced nationalists in the leadership of both nations in 2000, including a visit by Mesic to Belgrade last year, during which both presidents apologized for "all the evils" committed by their countries during the 1991-1995 Balkan wars. During his May 24 visit, Marovic voiced support for Croatia's move toward EU candidacy, stating that it was "a good example that is an encouragement and a responsibility for all of us." Croatia hopes to be named a candidate at the bloc's summit in June, following the European Commission's recommendation in April that the EU open accession negotiations with Zagreb. A protocol signed by Croatia's Minister for European Integration, Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic, and Serbia's Minister for International Affairs, Predrag Ivanovic, will promote bilateral cooperation in the harmonization of the countries' laws with EU standards and set up joint working groups that will exchange information and tackle a variety of EU integration issues. Marovic and Mesic also expressed a desire to promote the return of ethnic Serb refugees who fled Croatia during the Balkan wars, resolve related property matters, and address the missing person issue to further stability in the region. According to the U.N., about 100,000 of the 280,000 Serbs who left Croatia have returned. The two leaders agreed that 42 Serbs currently imprisoned in Croatia would be transferred to Serbia, where they would complete their sentences. Other issues discussed were a bilateral free-trade agreement to be implemented in July, the continuation of visa-free travel between the two countries, and border disputes. The leaders announced that bilateral diplomatic contacts between their capitals would be intensified, including visits by Serbia and Montenegro Defense Minister Prvoslav Davinic to Zagreb and Croatian Foreign Minister Miomir Zuzul to Belgrade the week of May 24. May 28, 2004 Holkeri Resigns as Head of Kosovo's U.N. Mission Washington, D.C. - Hans Holkeri, the head of the U.N. Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), resigned May 25 due to ill health after holding the job for less than one year. The 67-year-old former Finnish prime minister was the fourth person to serve in the position since June 1999, when the United Nations assumed administration of the Serbian province. Holkeri, appointed in July 2003, was criticized for his handling of the March 2004 clashes in the province between Albanians and ethnic Serbs that left 19 people dead and 900 injured, the worst outbreak of violence since June 1999. His one-year mandate would have expired in August. State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher stated that, under Holkeri's tenure, there had been substantial progress in Kosovo's effort to achieve a multi-ethnic democracy and a "real dialogue with Belgrade over practical issues was launched." In addition, he said, "standards before status," the democratic and human rights benchmarks that must be achieved before the final status of the province can be addressed, were developed and released. Boucher said these had all been important milestones in Kosovo's development. Until U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan appoints a successor, UNMIK will be headed by Holkeri's acting deputy, Charles Brayshaw. May 14, 2004 Foreign Minister Presents Kosovo Decentralization Proposal to U.S. Officials Washington, D.C. - The foreign minister of Serbia and Montenegro, Vuk Draskovic, met with Secretary of State Colin Powell in Washington to present the Serbian government's proposal for decentralization in Kosovo, which calls for granting Serb villages and enclaves "high-level" autonomy and a system of security that will encourage the 200,000 Serbs that fled the province in 1999 to return. Serbs now comprise 6 to 8 percent of Kosovo's population of about 1.9 million. According to the plan, an "Autonomous Serb Community" would be established in Kosovo through a U.N. Security Council resolution. Five Serb regions would be created with their own police, judiciary, and social organizations. Representatives of Serbia and Montenegro would join officials of UNMIK, the interim U.N. administration in Kosovo; Kosovar Albanians; and Kosovar Serbs in carrying out the process of setting up the Community. Draskovic, in his discussion with Powell, also urged the United States "to eliminate the consequences of ethnic cleansing" against Serbs in Kosovo that have occurred since the U.N. took over administration of the province in June 1999. He asked the U.S. to pressure the Security Council to assist Kosovar Serbs in the same way the international community helped Kosovar Albanians escape the repression of Slobodan Milosevic's regime before June 1999. In addition to the 200,000 Serbs that fled Kosovo, 40,000 Serb homes in the province have been destroyed and 150 Orthodox Christian churches and monasteries have been damaged or destroyed, he stated. The minister said Serbia must cooperate more fully with the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague immediately to promote the restoration of the "traditional historical links" between Belgrade and Washington. He said Powell had made it clear that there would be no further U.S. aid to Belgrade unless there were sufficient cooperation between Serbia and the tribunal, with the top priority being the arrest of former Bosnian Serb army commander Ratko Mladic, who is believed to be in Serbia. In addition, Draskovic said, Belgrade "needs the U.S. to act as an honest broker to solve the Kosovo problem." The proposal for the Autonomous Serb Community was passed by Serbia's parliament in response to the March violence in Kosovo that killed 19 people, injured more than 1,000, and forced thousands of the remaining Serbs from their homes. The head of UNMIK, Harri Holkeri, referred to the violence as "the most serious setback to UNMIK's efforts of the last five years." Holkeri added that "it challenged the sustainability of the international community's efforts to build a multi-ethnic Kosovo where all citizens could live in peace and security." Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica and Holkeri have agreed that talks should begin on the proposed Serbian plan, while European Commissioner for External Relations Chris Patten, on a trip to Belgrade, said the plan was a good starting point for negotiations on Kosovo. Holkeri stated, however, that there was a wide gap between the proposals of UNMIK for the province and those of the Serbian government. Kosovo Prime Minister Bajram Rexhepi stated that Kosovar Albanians would never accept decentralization in the province based on ethnic principles, while a spokesman for Kosovo President Ibrahim Rugova said decentralization could be addressed after Kosovo gained independence. Draskovic stated that establishing security for Kosovar Serbs and eliminating the consequences of ethnic cleansing for this minority community constituted the cornerstone of "standards before status," the rule of law, economic, and human rights benchmarks that the United Nations says must be achieved in Kosovo before its final status can be negotiated. The Security Council has urged the resumption of direct dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade. Draskovic said the governments of Serbia and Serbia and Montenegro are both ready to resume such a dialogue. During his U.S. visit, Draskovic also presented Serbia's proposal for decentralization and minority protection in Kosovo in meetings with Deputy National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley; Senator Richard Lugar (R-Indiana), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; Representative Christopher Smith (R-New Jersey), the co-chairman of the United States Helsinki Commission; and Senator Chuck Hegel (R-Nebraska), who is also on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. May 10, 2004 Chief Suspect Behind Djindjic Assassination Surrenders Washington, D.C. - Milorad Lukovic, believed to be the mastermind behind the March 2003 assassination of Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic, surrendered to Serbian authorities in Belgrade after evading capture for more than a year. The former commander of the Red Berets, a special operations unit of the Serbian secret police, has been linked to a Belgrade mafia group called the Zemun Clan, which is accused of planning and carrying out the murder of Djindjic in order to thwart the anti-crime reform he was undertaking and bring down his government. Known as "Legija," Lukovic has already been on trial in absentia for six months in a Belgrade court for the killing of the prime minister, along with 13 alleged co-conspirators. April 2, 2004 U.S. Suspends Economic Aid to Serbia Washington, D.C. - Washington has decided to withhold the last $25 million of a $100 million assistance package for Serbia established three years ago, citing its belief that Belgrade is not fully cooperating with the United Nations international war crimes tribunal in The Hague. State Department spokesman Adam Ereli stated that Secretary of State Colin Powell was prepared to review the decision if Serbia extradited a number of war crimes suspects to the tribunal, particularly former Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic, who is believed to be hiding in Serbia. Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica has said that handing over war crimes suspects to The Hague is not one of his government's priorities. April 2, 2004 U.S. Reaffirms Commitment to Kosovo Peace Process Following Violence Washington, D.C. - On a March 30 visit to Kosovo two weeks after a wave of violence killed 19 people and displaced some 3,600 Serbs, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Marc Grossman reaffirmed the international community's dedication to the vision of a multi-ethnic Kosovo and the plan to implement "standards before status." The eight standards were first enumerated by the U.N. in spring 2002 to promote the achievement of benchmarks that must be established before the final status of the Serbian province can be considered. In December 2003, the U.N. drew up a more detailed outline of the standards, which are establishing functioning democratic institutions, the rule of law, freedom of movement, refugee returns, economic progress, respect for property rights, dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade, and a properly constituted Kosovo Protection Corps. (see attachement) Stating that the March 17-18 violence was unacceptable and must not be repeated, the undersecretary said the United States was prepared to promote the ongoing dialogue on decentralization in the province, which is envisaged in the U.N. implementation plan for Kosovo but has not been clearly defined. This decentralization would be expected to involve Serbs to a greater extent at the local level in matters such as health care, education, and security services, and would not promote the "cantonization," or division, of the province along ethnic lines. Following the March violence, Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica reiterated the Serb government's call for decentralization in Kosovo. Kosovo Prime Minister Bajram Rexhepi, who condemned the anti-Serb violence, said his Albanian-dominated government was committed to achieving the eight standards by mid-2005, the date set for review of progress toward implementing them, in order to facilitate the launching of talks on the final status of Kosovo. Rexhepi's government has earmarked $6.1 million to reconstruct more than 800 houses, 29 churches and monasteries, and numerous public buildings damaged or destroyed during the March wave of violence. On March 31, Harri Holkeri, the head of the U.N. Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), presented the Kosovo Standards Implementation Plan detailing specifically what local authorities must do to achieve the standards, while also setting a timeline for implementing each standard. (see attachment) Holkeri also set up a review body to examine the U.N. mission's response to the violence and issue recommendations on how to react more effectively to future crises. In Grossman's meeting in Belgrade with the head of the Serbian government's Coordinating Center for Kosovo, Nebojsa Covic, the Serb official said he doubted that it would be possible to create a multi-ethnic Kosovo and achieve the standards before personal safety for all citizens in the province had been secured. He advocated dividing the province along ethnic lines. March 26, 2004 EU Rejects Kostunica's Call for Autonomous Serb Regions in Kosovo Washington, D.C. - EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana rebuffed a proposal by Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica that separate regions for Serbs, or "cantons," be established in Albanian-dominated Kosovo to ensure the security of the province's Serb minority and ward off the type of violence that erupted over a two-day period in mid-March, killing at least 28 people and injuring more than 600 from both communities. Solana told Kostunica, during the Serb leader's visit to Brussels, that his goal was to further the security of the Kosovar Serb community of about 100,000 within a multi-ethnic society. In a meeting with European Commission President Romano Prodi concerning the worst outbreak of violence in the province since it came under U.N. administration in 1999, Kostunica called for the decentralization of the administrative structure of the Serbian province to give Kosovar Serbs autonomous status within their enclaves. He asserted that such an arrangement would have no bearing on the final status of Kosovo, but was necessary to guarantee the safety of Serbs due to what he called "inadequate" measures on the part of the U.N. and NATO to protect the Serb population. Stating that the EU wanted to strengthen its ties with Belgrade, Prodi urged Kostunica and his government to actively work toward diffusing tensions in Kosovo. Kosovo President Ibrahim Rugova reiterated his call for Kosovo's independence from Serbia, asserting that only independence could bring peace, as well as accelerated economic development. The U.N. demands that a number of democratic standards be in place before negotiations on the final status of the province can begin, if possible by mid-2005. The week following the wave of violence, during which Albanians burned churches and houses, driving some 3,600 Serbs and other non-Albanians from their homes, Solana visited the province along with EU External Affairs Commissioner Chris Patten to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the start of the NATO bombing campaign that led to the withdrawal of Serbian forces from Kosovo. While in Kosovo, the EU officials examined ways of improving the safety of the Serb minority and promoting a resumption of the recently-initiated dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade. Solana stated that Kosovar Albanian political parties must purge themselves of extremists suspected of helping to foment anti-Serb violence. The week after the riots, which began when Albanians blamed Serbs for the deaths of three Albanian boys who drowned in a river in the divided northern town of Kosovska Mitrovica, a U.N. policeman from Ghana and his Kosovar Albanian partner were killed near the village of Luzane, north of Pristina. In addition, two French peacekeepers were wounded in a grenade attack in Kosovska Mitrovica. As a result of the violence, the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, Italy, and other NATO allies rushed in a total of 2,000 troops to reinforce the 18,500-member KFOR peacekeeping force and 10,000 U.N. and local police. Sixty-one KFOR soldiers and 55 police officers were wounded in the riots. The situation posed a potential setback in Washington's efforts to reduce the number of U.S. peacekeepers in the Balkans in order to redeploy them to Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. Greece appealed to the Albanians and Serbs of Kosovo to hold talks on the future of the province. Foreign Ministry spokesman Giorgios Koumoutsakos said dialogue between the two ethnic groups constituted the only means of solving the complicated problems of the province. Greece, as a Balkan country and an EU member, he said, was prepared to help substantially in the economic development and stability of Kosovo. Macedonian Prime Minister Branko Crvenkovski said there was "no indication that the events in Kosovo could spill over into Macedonia," three years after it experienced its own ethnic conflict. Albanian Prime Minister Fatos Nano said the unrest in Kosovo was "the result of keeping alive parallel administrative or paramilitary structures that continue to support ethnic isolation or promote new waves of [ethnic] cleansing in order to divide Kosovo." Bulgarian Foreign Minister Solomon Passy, who is serving as chairman-in-office of the OSCE under Bulgaria's 2004 presidency of the organization, stated that the violence in Kosovo had set back the process of resolving Kosovo's final status. He called on NATO to consider deploying more troops to the province. The violence in Kosovo was accompanied by the burning of two mosques and the destruction of an Islamic center in cities in Serbia. March 12, 2004 Serbian Court Tries First Major War Crimes Case Washington, D.C. - Serbia has begun trying its first major war crimes case in a special court established in Belgrade in June 2003 to handle the trials of war crimes suspects locally. The case, dating to 1991, involves six Serbs accused of executing 192 Croats who had taken refuge in a hospital in Vukovar, Croatia. The trial is seen as a critical test of the Serbian government's ability to try lower-level war crimes cases at home, with the permission and monitoring of the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague, instead of at the U.N. tribunal. The accused face maximum sentences of up to 20 years if convicted. Three officers of the former Yugoslav People's Army, who allegedly ordered or permitted the executions of the Croats to take place, are being tried in The Hague. March 5, 2004 Kostunica Names New Cabinet Washington, D.C. - Presenting the 18-member cabinet of his minority government to parliament for approval, Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica pledged to promote the membership of Serbia and Montenegro in the European Union, establish the rule of law, fight corruption, and work to prevent Kosovo from declaring independence, while also calling for the division, or cantonization, of the province along ethnic lines to enhance the security of its Serb population. Although the reformist coalition of Kostunica's Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS), Miroljub Labus's G17 Plus, and Vuk Draskovic's Serbian Renewal Movement/New Serbia alliance are dependent upon the votes of the ultra-nationalist Socialist Party of Slobodan Milosevic in parliament to achieve a majority, no Socialists have been named to cabinet posts. Kostunica's party has nine posts, the G17 Plus holds four, and four portfolios went to Draskovic's alliance. Labus was appointed the only deputy prime minister and is in charge of European integration. Both Labus, who served as Yugoslav deputy prime minister when Kostunica was Yugoslav president, and the G17's Mladjan Dinkic, who has become Serbian finance minister, are highly respected economists. Dinkic formerly served as the governor of the National Bank of Serbia, the republic's central bank. Kostunica reiterated his view that Serbia's new government would seek to have war crimes suspects indicted by the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague tried before domestic courts and would attempt to make arrangements with the tribunal to have those convicted in The Hague serve their sentences in Serbia. In the past, the tribunal has stated that it would only allow mid- and low-level cases to be transferred back to Serbian courts. Some 15 Serbs indicted by the tribunal are believed to be in Serbia. A senior official of the Socialist Party, Milorad Vucelic, stated that the party would "immediately work on bringing down the government" if it extradited more Serbs to The Hague. Vucelic also said that a second condition for the party's support of the government would be that "those who kidnapped Milosevic and illegally sent him to The Hague be put on trial." Zoran Djindjic, Serbia's late prime minister, engineered the extradition of Milosevic to The Hague in June 2001 with the cooperation of Serbia's security forces. Kostunica, then president of Yugoslavia, has always maintained that the extradition was unconstitutional. The U.S. Congress has specified that former Bosnian military chief Ratko Mladic, a top war crimes suspect sought by the tribunal, should be arrested and extradited to the court by March 31 if Belgrade is to receive $100 million in U.S. aid allocated for fiscal year 2004. Prosecutors at the tribunal claim that Mladic is in Serbia. Pierre-Richard Prosper, U.S. Ambassador-At-Large for War Crimes Issues, stated that the Serbian government's reluctance to cooperate with the tribunal may jeopardize the U.S. aid package. "The level of cooperation at this moment is not satisfactory," he said. Prosper noted that Washington was concerned about statements coming out of Belgrade that gave the impression the government was in the process of "making a U-turn." U.S. Ambassador to NATO Nicholas Burns stated that Serbia and Montenegro would not be able to join the alliance's Partnership for Peace (PfP) as long as Mladic remained at large. Belgrade had been hoping to join the PfP, considered a stepping stone to membership in NATO, at the alliance's summit in Istanbul in June. February 27, 2004 Serbian Government Formed With Support of Ultra-Nationalist Socialists Washington, D.C. - The leader of the conservative Democratic Party of Serbia, Vojislav Kostunica, was named Serbian prime minister, following the formation of a minority coalition that will depend on the parliamentary support of the ultra-nationalist Socialist Party, whose leader officially remains indicted war crimes suspect Slobodan Milosevic. The move ended a deadlock in cobbling together a government that began after parliamentary elections were held on December 28, but it put into question the prospects for a stable, lasting coalition. The pro-democracy coalition of three parties sought the support of the Socialists after the Democratic Party (DP) of former prime ministers Zoran Djindjic and Zoran Zivkovic withdrew its initial commitment to take part in the coalition, leaving it without a majority in parliament. The DP, which will remain the main center-left force in Serbia despite its absence from the government, is now led by Boris Tadic, the defense minister of Serbia and Montenegro, who is viewed as a moderate. In the new government, Kostunica’s party will be joined by the G17 Plus of liberal economist Miroljub Labus and the Serbian Renewal Movement/New Serbia alliance, led by Vuk Draskovic, a former deputy prime minister. These three groupings will have 109 deputies in the 250-member parliament. The backing of the Socialist Party’s 22 deputies will give the government a majority, though the Socialists will not take an active part in the new cabinet. Officials in the United States and the European Union, as well as investors, have expressed concern over the pivotal role the Socialists will play in the minority government. EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said it would cause the government to experience difficulty in its political and economic relations with the international community. Serbia has come under international pressure to continue handing over Serb war crimes suspects to the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague, a key condition for Western aid. Kostunica stated that he was against extraditing four Serbian generals indicted last year by the tribunal, saying he might negotiate with the court to allow Serbia’s courts to try them. Serbia has been operating on interim financing because parliament has not yet passed the 2004 budget due to the long delay in forming a government. The World Bank issued a list of 40 laws it said Serbia must adopt before the end of the year if it wanted to receive badly needed international donor aid. It gave the Serb parliament one month to pass 10 of the laws, including those concerning the budget, business registration, bankruptcy, value-added tax, and energy. February 20, 2004 U.S. Seeks Expanded Economic Cooperation with Belgrade Washington, D.C. - Undersecretary of State for Economic, Business, and Agricultural Affairs Alan P. Larson said the United States was eager to expand and strengthen its relationship with Belgrade but, to do this, it was essential that Serbia emerge from its period of political uncertainty "with a clear, firm recommitment to this partnership." The undersecretary's remark was a reference to the deadlock in forming a Serbian government, which has continued since the December 28 parliamentary elections. Larson noted that Serbia's political leaders must "overcome the divisiveness that has inhibited the pace of badly needed economic reforms" in order to achieve the success realized by countries such as Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary. He also cited the need for Belgrade's full cooperation with the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague. The undersecretary stated that, in view of Washington's decision to restore Normal Trade Relations (NTR) with Belgrade in December 2003, the U.S. is taking the steps necessary to initiate a formal review of Serbia and Montenegro's possible eligibility for greater trade benefits. February 13, 2004 U.N. Targets "Standards Before Status" Process as Core Goal Washington, D.C. - Harri Holkeri, the head of the U.N. mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), told the Security Council during a February 6 briefing that implementation of the eight benchmarks that must be met before the question of the final status of Kosovo can be addressed constituted the "core political project" for UNMIK. The process of achieving these benchmarks, or standards, laid out by UNMIK in April 2002, is known as "standards before status." The issues comprising the standards are establishing functioning democratic institutions, the rule of law, freedom of movement, the return of refugees, economic progress, respect for property rights, dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade, and a properly constituted Kosovo Protection Corps. Holkeri said the most urgent task was to produce an implementation work plan that would clearly define the actions necessary to achieve the standards. He noted that he was disappointed that no Serb representatives had participated in the working groups discussing the implementation of the standards. Holkeri added that the Serbs' concern that the standards process was prejudging Kosovo's future status and was undermining Security Council Resolution 1244, which authorized Kosovo's international interim administration in June 1999, was "wholly unfounded." He stated that the Serbs' perception that their interests would be sidelined during the implementation of the standards was not accurate. Zeljko Perovic, the assistant foreign minister of Serbia and Montenegro, said that the Albanian-dominated Provisional Institutions of Self-Government in Kosovo did not want to create conditions for the meaningful involvement of the Kosovo Serb community in the political life of the province. In addition, he said, UNMIK had not succeeded in creating these conditions. He noted that Serb representatives did not see how they could influence the formulation of the work plan for implementing the standards, so they had not participated in the working groups. A review of the progress made toward meeting the standards is expected to take place mid-2005. February 13, 2004 Hague Tribunal Alleges that Karadzic is in Serbia Washington, D.C. - The Serbian government denied allegations by U.N. chief war crimes prosecutor Carla del Ponte that top war crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic, the former Bosnian Serb leader, is living in Belgrade. It was the first time a senior tribunal official had said that Karadzic was in the Serbian capital. Serbia's caretaker prime minister, Zoran Zivkovic, said del Ponte had never given information or any other kind of help that would lead to locating or capturing Karadzic or former Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic, whom the prosecutor has, in the past, also said lives in Serbia. Belgrade has denied that Mladic is in Serbia. Del Ponte stated that cooperation between the Serbian government and the tribunal in tracking down war crimes fugitives was "frozen," noting that about 15 fugitives were still at large in Serbia. She referred to Belgrade as a "safe haven" for war crimes fugitives. In March, the U.S. Congress is expected to decide whether Serbia will receive annual United States aid worth about $100 million. The decision is conditional on the Serb government's cooperation with the tribunal. January 30, 2004 Pro-Reform Coalition Formed in Serbia Washington, D.C. - Following a month-long deadlock in attempts to form a government in Serbia, the republic’s four pro-democracy reform parties have agreed to establish a coalition that will be represented by 146 of the 250 seats in parliament. The new coalition brings together the conservative Democratic Party of Serbia led by former Yugoslav president Vojislav Kostunica, the Democratic Party of caretaker prime minister Zoran Zivkovic, the G-17 Plus of economist Miroljub Labus, and the Serbian Renewal Movement-New Serbia alliance headed by former Yugoslav deputy prime minister Vuk Draskovic. Kostunica is expected to be named prime minister. Discussions are continuing to work out the details of the coalition agreement, including the composition of the cabinet and the appointment of the speaker of parliament, who will also serve as acting president of Serbia until new presidential elections are held. The extreme nationalist Serbian Radical Party, led by indicted war crimes suspect Vojislav Seselj, who awaits trial at the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague, and Slobodan Milosevic’s Socialist Party of Serbia will comprise the opposition, with a total of 104 seats. The Serbian Radical Party, with 82 seats, has the largest representation in parliament. Parliamentary elections were held in Serbia on December 28. December 30, 2003 Hardline Nationalists Emerge as Strong Force in Serbian Parliament Washington, D.C. - Two extreme nationalist parties, led by indicted war crimes suspects Slobodan Milosevic and Vojislav Seselj, took a combined 41 percent of the seats in the Serbian parliament in the republic's December 28 elections, presenting a strong opposition bloc that could hinder reform efforts by four pro-democracy parties expected to form a government. These parties won 59 percent of the seats. The party winning the most parliamentary seats, 81, was the Serbian Radical Party of Seselj, who is in custody at the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague, but not yet on trial. Milosevic's Socialist Party of Serbia won 21 seats. The former Yugoslav president has been on trial at the tribunal since February 2002. Though Milosevic and Seselj were both parliamentary candidates, neither will be able to take his seat. The party garnering the second-largest number of seats, 52, was the conservative Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) led by former Yugoslav president Vojislav Kostunica, who succeeded Milosevic. The party pulled out of the post-Milosevic Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS) reform coalition following policy differences with its other parties, particularly the coalition's lead party, the centrist Democratic Party, currently headed by the recent Serbian prime minister, Zoran Zivkovic. DOS dissolved in November 2003 following months of internal feuding. Kostunica's DSS is expected to play the lead role in forming a pro-democracy government. This will necessitate fence-mending with the Democratic Party, the third-largest vote-getter, with 38 seats, and negotiating with the two other centrist, pro-democracy parliamentary groups: the G-17 Plus of economist Miroljub Labus, with 34 seats, and the Serbian Renewal Movement-New Serbia alliance headed by former Yugoslav deputy prime minister Vuk Draskovic, with 23 seats. The latter alliance supports restoration of the monarchy. Kostunica, who is considered the most likely new prime minister, favors a slower pace for reforms, particularly economic changes, than that advocated by Zivkovic and the late Serbian prime minister Zoran Djindjic, fearing their social impact. There is speculation that international pressure on Belgrade for the extradition of indicted war crimes suspects to The Hague contributed to the strong turnout for the Serbian Radical Party, which tripled its number of seats in parliament. Other possible factors were the political infighting that characterized the DOS coalition government, disappointment with the results of Western-oriented economic and political changes in the republic, where unemployment stands at 30 percent, and alleged government corruption. The Serbian Radical Party has openly called for a "Greater Serbia" and has pledged to cut diplomatic ties with Croatia, its wartime rival in the 1990s. In addition, it has vowed not to extradite to The Hague the two most-wanted war crimes suspects: former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and wartime commander of the Bosnian Serb army Ratko Mladic. December 19, 2003 Former NATO Commander Wesley Clark Testifies at Milosevic's Trial Washington, D.C. - Retired General Wesley Clark, the commander of NATO when the alliance bombed Serbia in 1999 in an attempt to halt the repression of Kosovar Albanians by Serb forces, testified on December 15 and 16 at former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic's trial at the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague. Gen. Clark told the tribunal that Milosevic knew in advance that Bosnian Serbs planned to carry out mass killings of Muslims in Srebrenica in 1995, testimony that prosecutors said was crucial to their case against the former Yugoslav president. They said they wanted to prove that he had "command responsibility" for "ethnic cleansing." Both Milosevic and wartime Bosnian Serb army commander Ratko Mladic, who is still at large, are charged with the Srebrenica massacre. Gen. Clark spent more than 100 hours over a period of about four years in meetings with Milosevic, culminating with his participation in talks attempting to persuade Serbia to end its 1998-1999 campaign against Kosovar Albanians. He discussed the Srebrenica massacre with Milosevic a month after it happened and worked on the negotiating team that drew up the 1995 Dayton accords ending the war in Bosnia. The general, who is a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, presented his testimony behind closed doors under strict conditions agreed upon by the tribunal and Washington. The U.S. allowed him to testify on condition that American officials would be able to review the recording and transcript of the testimony before it was made public so that they could ask the court to suppress any information considered to be harmful to U.S. security interests. In addition, the public gallery was cleared, and television monitors and the Internet broadcast were turned off. Milosevic has been on trial since February 2002, charged with genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes in Croatia, Bosnia, and Kosovo in the 1990s. December 19, 2003 Privatization Moves Forward in Kosovo Washington, D.C. - The first four contracts to privatize publicly owned companies in Kosovo, referred to as "Socially Owned Enterprises," have been approved by the board of directors of the Kosovo Trust Agency (KTA), the entity appointed by the U.N. interim administration in the Serbian province to handle the privatization process. In addition, the board asked the KTA to negotiate 13 other privatization contracts so that they can be signed. Nineteen enterprises will also be newly offered for privatization. The measures taken by the KTA's board of directors constitute a major step forward in Kosovo's economic development and transformation into a market economy. December 12, 2003 U.N. Releases Road Map for Reform Standards in Kosovo Washington, D.C. - The head of the U.N. interim administration in Kosovo (UNMIK), Harri Holkeri, unveiled a document setting the standards that must be met in areas such as the return of ethnic minority refugees, human rights, economic reform, and the rule of law before the final status of the Serbian province can be considered. The progress made in achieving these standards will be reviewed by the U.N. in mid-2005 to determine Kosovo's readiness to open talks about its final status. The province's Albanian majority seeks independence from Serbia, while the minority Serbs want to see it remain part of the republic. The Serbian government declared the document "unacceptable in its current form as a way to solve the Kosovo crisis," adding that "essentially none of the objections and suggestions" made by Belgrade had been "seriously considered." The standards, it said, did not guarantee security for the people of Kosovo. Key amendments proposed by Belgrade involved the protection of Serbia's cultural heritage in the province, the dissolution of the Kosovo Protection Corps, refugee returns, property restitution, and privatization. The majority Albanian leadership in Kosovo stated that the standards in the document could not be achieved under current Serbian laws in effect in the province. The day after the standards were announced, the Kosovo Assembly voted to repeal all legislation on Kosovo passed by the Serbian parliament from March 1989 until June 1999, during the rule of former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic, stating that this legislation was discriminatory and lacked legitimacy. Holkeri overturned the decision, stating that such a move was "not within the jurisdiction" of the Kosovo Assembly. A spokeswoman for the U.N. interim administration said that determining which laws apply in Kosovo is the sole responsibility of the head of UNMIK. December 5, 2003 Milosevic, Seselj to Run in Serb Parliamentary Elections Washington, D.C. - Former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic, currently on trial in The Hague on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity in Croatia, Bosnia, and Kosovo, will run in Serbia's parliamentary elections on December 28 at the top of his party's slate. Milosevic was defeated as Yugoslav president in the September 2000 elections. Milosevic will be the second prominent detainee of the international war crimes tribunal to run for the Serbian parliament, following the candidacy of ultra-nationalist Radical Party leader Vojislav Seselj, whose trial has not yet begun. Seselj, accused of war crimes in Bosnia and Croatia, will also head the list of his party, whose candidate, Tomislav Nikolic, received the most votes in the November 16 Serbian presidential election, which was annulled due to insufficient voter turnout. There are no legal obstacles to the candidacies of these indictees, since they have been charged for crimes but have not yet been convicted. However, they cannot assume elective office if they are in detention at the tribunal. The head of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly, Peter Schieder, expressed concern over the presence of indicted war crimes suspects among Serbia's parliamentary candidates. He said the fact that these indictees head their parties' election tickets sends a negative message to the international community and “encourages a groundswell of nationalism and conflict.” The parliamentary elections pose the first challenge to the reform parties that defeated Milosevic in 2000. The Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS) reform coalition disbanded in November following 18 months of infighting. November 24, 2003 Third Attempt to Elect Serb President Fails in Lead-Up to Parliamentary Elections Washington, D.C. - The failure of Serbia's November 16 attempt to elect a president, the third annulled presidential election in 13 months due to voter turnout under 50 percent, was significant not only because it reflected continued voter apathy, but also because the front-runner was a nationalist, anti-Western ally of former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic rather than a pro-reform candidate. Radical Party deputy leader Tomislav Nikolic, receiving 46.2 percent of the vote, is a protégé of Vojislav Seselj, the founder of the party, which was previously in a coalition with Milosevic's Socialist Party of Serbia. Seselj is in jail in The Hague awaiting trial on war crimes charges at the international tribunal. The Radical Party opposes cooperation with the tribunal and with NATO. Dragoljub Micunovic, the speaker of the federal parliament of Serbia and Montenegro who was backed by the pro-Western, pro-reform 18-party Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS) coalition that has governed Serbia for the last three years, garnered 35.4 percent of the vote. Previous high-profile presidential candidates of the main opposition parties, former Yugoslav president Vojislav Kostunica of the Democratic Party of Serbia and Miroljub Labus, the leader of the G17 Plus party, did not run and called for a boycott of the election, stating that early parliamentary elections should be scheduled instead due to the infighting and allegations of corruption within the DOS coalition. Kostunica had been the front-runner in both the October 2002 and the December 2002 failed presidential elections, while Labus had polled the second-largest number of votes in both. Although the call for a boycott by Kostunica and Labus may have kept more moderate voters from going to the polls, Nikolic's strong showing was jarring to the pro-reform forces in Serbia and to Western countries backing the republic's reform process a little more than a month before the Serbian parliamentary elections on December 28, one year ahead of schedule. The elections were called on November 13, when the Serb parliament was dissolved after the defection of two minor parties from DOS left the coalition without a majority. Following the poor showing of the DOS-backed candidate in the presidential election, the grouping, which has held together precariously since defeating Milosevic in October 2000, announced that it was disbanding. The dissolution of parliament also caused Acting Serb President Natasa Micic, the parliament speaker, to step down. The absence of a Serb president leaves the federal Supreme Defense Council of Serbia and Montenegro, which governs the country's military, without one of its three core members. The core members of the Council are the president of Serbia and Montenegro, the Serbian president, and the Montenegrin president. The Council also holds broader sessions, which are attended by the minister of defense of Serbia and Montenegro, the chief of staff of the military, and the prime ministers of both republics. The Council was established following the formation of the loose union of Serbia and Montenegro in February 2003, when civilian control of the military was implemented. It has overseen significant progress in the reform of the country's military. Serbia's last elected president was Milan Milutinovic. He assumed office while Milosevic was the president of Yugoslavia and surrendered to The Hague on war crimes charges following the expiration of his term on December 29, 2002, when Micic took over as acting president. Milutinovic, as an indicted war crimes suspect, carried out practically no presidential duties from the time of Milosevic's ouster in October 2000 until he left office. A fourth presidential election cannot be held until a new Serb parliament is in place at the end of December. November 18, 2003 Donor Co-ordination Meeting for the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro Brussels - Co-Chaired by the European Commission and the World Bank Chairs’ Conclusions Representatives from 37 countries and 14 international organisations met in Brussels November 18, 2003 for a Donor Co-ordination meeting for the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro. This meeting was convened by the European Commission and the World Bank in the context of their overall donor co-ordination responsibilities for South East Europe. The meeting was co-chaired by Mr. Reinhard Priebe, Director, Western Balkans, European Commission and Ms. Orsalia Kalantzopoulos, Country Director and Regional Co-ordinator for Southeast Europe, the World Bank. The delegation from Serbia and Montenegro was led by Mr. Branko Lukovac, Minister for External Economic Relations, and included for the Republic of Serbia Mr. Goran Pitic, Minister of International Economic Relations, Mr. Bozidar Djelic, Minister of Finance and Economy, Ms. Gordana Matkovic, Minister for Social Affairs and Mr. Ozren Tosic, Commissioner for Refugees and Displaced Persons of Serbia; for the Republic of Montenegro Ms. Slavica Milacic, Minister of Foreign Economic Relations and European Integration, Mr. Slavoljub Stjepovic, Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, Mr. Slobodan Backovic, Minister of Science and Education. The meeting heard and discussed presentations by Serbia and Montenegro, the European Commission, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund on the progress achieved in stabilising the political and economic situation and on the challenges ahead in sustaining a viable reform path towards EU integration. Participants congratulated the authorities on the significant progress achieved to date and their commitment to continue with the implementation of the reform agenda. While noting that some momentum has been lost during the past 18 months, they urged the authorities to stay on track. Donors reaffirmed their readiness to strongly support Serbia and Montenegro on the path of democratic and economic reform and EU integration. They recalled that a stable institutional framework is the key to enhancing economic development and to attracting investments. They encouraged all political parties to demonstrate a high degree of responsibility to ensure that the current political situation does not become an obstacle to the acceleration of the reform process. The political framework Since the launch of the Economic Recovery and Transition Program (ERTP) at the donor conference of June 2001, the constitutional framework of Serbia and Montenegro has changed. Following the adoption of the Constitutional Charter, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia became the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro. The authorities confirmed that the relations of Serbia and Montenegro with the European Union are a high priority on their political and economic agenda. The European Commission is assessing the readiness of Serbia and Montenegro to negotiate a Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the European Union. This will include a review of the full and continued respect for political conditions - democratic standards and institutions, the rule of law and fight against corruption and organised crime, respect of human rights, full respect of international obligations and co-operation with the International Crime Tribunal for Yugoslavia (ICTY), and the need for further market economy reforms, including the implementation of the Internal Market and Trade Action Plan, necessary to create a single economic space. It was also recalled that a contractual relationship requires the State Union to be an efficient and credible international interlocutor. The authorities reaffirmed their commitment to enhancing institutions at all levels of the new State Union so as to make further progress on democratisation and rule of law and in sustainable economic and social reforms. Economic stabilisation and reform Major progress has been achieved in recovering growth and stabilising the economy, thus providing a solid basis for social and economic development. Since 2000, GDP has grown by a cumulative 13%. Inflation has been reduced from 115% to 8 %. External debt was cut from 130% of annual GDP to 75%. A recent IMF staff mission found that the end-September fiscal, credit and external targets have been observed. It also reached preliminary agreement on most aspects of a program for 2004. However, early elections in Serbia will delay completion of the next review, under the 2002-05 Extended Arrangement. Despite those substantial improvements, Serbia and Montenegro’s external financing needs will remain large over the medium term. Privatisation proceeds in 2004 are expected to be sharply lower than in 2003, and financing needs - to be met by external grants and loans from official creditors, excluding purchases from the Fund - are estimated at about US$ 1.0 billion, of which US$ 0.3 billion would be in the form of balance of payments/budgetary support. The authorities should continue their efforts to reach agreement with remaining creditors on terms comparable to those granted by the Paris Club. Progress in almost all areas of the ERTP has been substantial while proceeding at a different pace in each of the two Republics. Key steps were taken towards establishing a market oriented economy with commendable speed; these included price and trade liberalisation, tax reform, higher utility tariffs, an improved business climate, and improved labour laws. Physical infrastructure is being upgraded and the management of the energy, transport and telecom sector is being strengthened. The banking sector successfully underwent major restructuring and there is improved Central Bank supervision. On the social side, new education laws have been passed in both Republics and Serbia is also moving ahead with decentralising the delivery of education services. Both Republics have also adopted important new laws that work to restore the sustainability of the current state pension systems. Looking ahead, reform efforts need to be intensified to ensure achievement of the far reaching institutional and economic reform agenda related to the Stabilisation and Association Process and to promote growth and reduce poverty. Accelerated reform of the public sector and judicial reform are among the most urgent priorities. The Poverty Reduction Strategy provides a comprehensive approach to reduce poverty, increase the well being of the people of Serbia and Montenegro and promote economic growth. Reforms of the country’s health, education and social safety net systems were also identified among the key challenges of the near future necessary to tackle poverty, unemployment, and exclusion and refugee issues directly while also strengthening the country’s economic base to generate more and better paid opportunities for the future. Donor assistance and co-ordination issues The meeting heard presentations on the implementation of international assistance, on achievements and remaining challenges. The needs estimated under the 2001-2004 ERTP amounted to € 4.6 billion. It was noted with satisfaction that some € 3.5 billion will have been committed by the end of 2003 and that it is expected that during 2004 the overall donor commitments in support of Serbia and Montenegro could reach an additional € 1.1 billion. Several donors underlined the need for better donor co-ordination and harmonisation to assure that funds being allocated were used in the best possible way. They referred to the useful technical meetings that had been organised by the governments prior to this meeting. Donors urged the governments to continue to arrange technical meetings covering the various sectors possibly on a quarterly basis. For more information visit www.europa.eu.int November 14, 2003 Post-Milosevic Reform Government in Serbia Collapses Washington, D.C. - Serbia's government said parliamentary elections would be held on December 28, one year ahead of schedule, after the defection of two minor parties in the ruling Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS) coalition ended its parliamentary majority. The collapse of the coalition, which came to power in late 2000 after the defeat of former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic in elections, occurred following an 18-month period of infighting among DOS politicians that had stalled the republic's reform agenda. Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Zivkovic, whose Democratic Party is the largest grouping in DOS, took office following the assassination of Zoran Djindjic in March 2003. The party has been plagued by corruption scandals and internal feuding between two rival groups. November 14, 2003 Accelerated Cooperation with Sofia to Combat Organized Crime, Trafficking Washington, D.C. - During the first visit of a Bulgarian head of state to Belgrade in 35 years, President Georgi Parvanov and Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Zivkovic agreed to improve cooperation between the border police on the common frontier between Bulgaria and Serbia and Montenegro in order to combat organized crime, illegal trafficking, and terrorism. They stated that the two countries would exchange police representatives to further this goal in the interests of promoting regional stability. As part of the intensification of relations between Belgrade and Sofia, the leaders also agreed that economic and trade cooperation should be boosted, which would necessitate the facilitation of movement across the border between Bulgaria and Serbia and Montenegro. Parvanov stated that Bulgarian business people were interested in investing in the privatization of public enterprises in its western neighbor. The leaders also pledged to work toward improving the highway network between the two countries and discussed a possible increase in the transit of Russian natural gas to Serbia through Bulgaria. The Serbian prime minister said Belgrade would like to call upon the experiences of EU candidate Bulgaria during Sofia’s preparations for accession to the bloc, as Serbia and Montenegro looks toward Euro-Atlantic integration. Zivkovic and Parvanov discussed the status of the 50,000-member ethnic Bulgarian minority in eastern Serbia and decided that Belgrade and Sofia would jointly apply for EU financial aid to improve this community’s economic situation. Parvanov also raised the issue of increasing Bulgarian language classes in the schools in eastern Serbia and called for allowing radio and television broadcasts in Bulgarian in the region. The Bulgarian president also met with other officials, including Svetozar Marovic, the president of Serbia and Montenegro; Montenegrin President Filip Vujanovic; and Goran Svilanovic, the foreign minister of Serbia and Montenegro. Sofia and Belgrade were at odds during the Cold War, and ties between them worsened under former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic, when Bulgaria allowed NATO to use its airspace during the bombing of Serbia. November 14, 2003 Apologies to Bosnia for Belgrade's Actions During War Washington, D.C. - During a visit to Sarajevo, the president of Serbia and Montenegro, Svetozar Marovic, issued an apology to the Bosnian people for actions committed by Belgrade during the 1992-1995 war. It was the first such apology by a Belgrade official to the Bosnian government and was made three years after Marovic's predecessor, Vojislav Kostunica, visited Sarajevo. After meeting with the country's three-man presidency, Marovic stated that he wanted to apologize "for any evil or disaster that anyone from Serbia and Montenegro caused to anyone in Bosnia-Herzegovina." He added that “there were injustices, evil, and killings, but we both need to be brave to say that we are ready to forgive and go forward.” Bosnia is suing Belgrade at the International Court of Justice over the war, in which about 250,000 Bosnian citizens, mostly civilians, were killed. In September, Marovic and his Croatian counterpart, Stipe Mesic, issued reciprocal apologies for actions committed by Serbs and Croats in the 1991-1995 war between Belgrade and Zagreb. November 7, 2003 U.S. Restores Normal Trade Relations with Belgrade Washington, D.C. - Secretary of State Colin Powell signed a decision restoring normal trade relations between Washington and Belgrade that were revoked in 1992 in response to former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic's campaign of ethnic cleansing and human rights abuses in Bosnia that was carried out by the Bosnian Serb army and Serb paramilitary forces. The decision will go into effect in early December. The restoration of normal trade relations status to Serbia and Montenegro is based on the transformation in its relationship with Bosnia and the fact that it has adopted a foreign policy rooted in cooperation and partnership with its neighboring countries and the international community. In addition, the country has begun to implement tough measures to promote economic recovery following a decade of sanctions. Powell's decision is aimed at emphasizing Washington's support for these reforms and encouraging economic growth in the country, where the unemployment rate is 28 percent, as a key component of maintaining stability in the Balkans. Trade between Washington and Belgrade has continued since 1992, but 40-percent tariffs have been paid on goods exported to the United States by Belgrade during this period. These tariffs will be reduced considerably under normal trade relations status. In 2002, Belgrade's exports to the United States were valued at $9.5 million, up from $2.2 million in 2000, the year Milosevic left office. In 2002, the United States exported goods valued at $78 million to Belgrade, up from $30 million in 2000. October 31, 2003 Germany Promotes EU Course, Economic Relations in Belgrade, Zagreb Washington, D.C. - German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's late October trip to Serbia and Montenegro and Croatia to offer support for their European Union aspirations, promote economic relations with Berlin, and urge greater cooperation with the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague marked the first visit by a German head of government to the two countries since 1985. The Serbia and Montenegro leg of the trip was aimed at overcoming any hostility that is still felt in Belgrade toward Germany for its immediate support for the declarations of independence from the former Yugoslavia by Croatia and Bosnia in 1991 and 1992, respectively. In talks with Serbia and Montenegro President Svetozar Marovic, Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Zivkovic, and Montenegrin President Filip Vujanovic, Schroeder pledged Berlin's support for Belgrade's integration into the European Union and called for an agreement between Brussels and Serbia and Montenegro as soon as possible to indicate that the country is moving toward membership in the bloc. Schroeder stressed the importance of Belgrade's efforts to consolidate democracy and encouraged its leaders to establish the necessary legal framework for foreign investment and continue the privatization process. Marovic and Schroeder opened the first meeting of the Economic Council of Serbia and Montenegro and Germany, aimed at strengthening bilateral cooperation in banking and finance, the transport and energy sectors, public infrastructure, and tourism. The chairman of the German Chamber of Industry and Commerce, Martin Knapp, stated that the two countries had already signed memoranda of understanding concerning railway cooperation and the upgrading of a hydroelectric power plant in Serbia. The German economy minister will visit Belgrade in spring 2004 to further bilateral economic and trade relations. The German government has also financed the purchase of computer equipment, valued at about $930,000, by the Serbian Interior Ministry for use in its fight against organized crime, part of a process of reform that Belgrade is carrying out with the Mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to Serbia and Montenegro. In Croatia, the chancellor praised the progress made since a pro-European government took over from nationalists four years ago, but he emphasized that Zagreb's progress toward EU membership depended on its commitment to democracy, the rule of law, respect for human and minority rights, and cooperation with The Hague. Croatia applied for entry into the bloc in February 2003. In spring 2004, the EU is expected to decide whether it will be named a candidate. October 31, 2003 Military Cooperation Between Belgrade and Sofia Launched Washington, D.C. - The late October visit of Bulgarian Army Chief of Staff Gen. Nikola Kolev to Belgrade for meetings with his Serbia and Montenegro counterpart, Gen. Branko Krga, marked the first visit of a high-level Bulgarian military delegation to Belgrade since the early 1990s. The Bulgarian government granted NATO the use of Bulgarian airspace during its 1999 bombing campaign against Yugoslavia, resulting in strained relations between Sofia and the government of former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic. The two generals discussed the ongoing reform of the militaries in both countries. Gen. Kolev expressed the support of Bulgaria, which will become a NATO member in 2004, for Serbia and Montenegro's aspirations to join the alliance's Partnership for Peace (PfP) and offered Sofia's help in PfP membership preparations. In addition, he told Gen. Krga that Sofia was ready to share its experiences with Belgrade concerning the training, equipment, and logistical support required for preparing contingents from Serbia and Montenegro for participation in peacekeeping missions. Bulgarian forces are currently participating in the peacekeeping forces in Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia, and Kosovo. Serbia and Montenegro currently has two officers in East Timor and three in Liberia serving as military observers. In addition, a six-member medical team from Serbia and Montenegro is serving with the U.N. in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Belgrade has also offered to send troops and police to Afghanistan. October 24, 2003 Belgrade Protests New War Crimes Indictments Against Generals Washington, D.C. - The Serbian government denounced new indictments against four top Serbian generals by the U.N. international war crimes tribunal in The Hague, maintaining that the tribunal, in announcing the indictments, had not considered the fragile state of the government as it faces presidential elections in November and an imminent vote of no confidence in parliament that could precipitate early parliamentary elections. The no-confidence vote, to be held the week of October 27, was called by the opposition, comprised of nationalists, including those loyal to former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic, and parties that have defected from the governing coalition. Those indicted by the tribunal for planning "a deliberate and widespread or systematic campaign of terror and violence directed at Kosovo Albanian civilians" were Sreten Lukic, the current director of public security in Serbia's Interior Ministry, who led the regular uniformed police in Kosovo during the war; the former armed forces chief of staff, Nebojsa Pavkovic; the former commander of the Yugoslav Army's Pristina Corps, Vladimir Lazarevic; and Lukic's predecessor as public security chief, Vlastimir Djordjevic. All of the men live in Serbia and Montenegro, with the exception of Djordjevic, who is believed to have fled to Russia following Milosevic's ouster in October 2000. The tribunal stated that, with these indictments, the court had completed its indictments against members of the Serbian armed forces and police who were linked to war crimes in Kosovo. Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Zivkovic said that U.N. chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte and the late Zoran Djindjic, Zivkovic's predecessor, had agreed that no more indictments for war crimes would be issued in Serbia based on the principle of command responsibility, a claim denied by the tribunal. In reference to the new indictments, Zivkovic said that "one should not expect quick reactions like arrests and extraditions from our side." Zivkovic said he regarded the indictments as "a blow to reform in Serbia," in view of the current domestic political situation, and had refused to accept them from Del Ponte during her recent trip to Belgrade. The prime minister called Lukic "a real professional," who had proved his commitment to reform. Serbian Interior Minister Dusan Mihajlovic said Lukic was his "right-hand man" in reforming the police and "the hero" of the police crackdown that followed the March assassination of Djindjic. Though Serbia and Montenegro Foreign Minister Goran Svilanovic had said he expected the tribunal to allow Serbia to try the generals in a Belgrade court established specifically to handle war crimes cases, the tribunal ruled out the possibility of their standing trial in Serbia and insisted that the government extradite them to The Hague. A tribunal spokesman said that, according to a U.N. Security Council resolution adopted in August, only lower- and middle-ranking war crimes suspects can be tried in Belgrade. Svilanovic said he believed there was a chance the cases could be transferred to Belgrade if Serbian authorities "focus their attention" on tracking down the two fugitives most wanted by the tribunal, Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic and his army chief Ratko Mladic. U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues Pierre-Richard Prosper also stated that the arrest and extradition of Mladic would raise the possibility of the generals being tried before Serbian courts. Prosper noted that Belgrade's failure to arrest Mladic was the chief "obstacle" to better relations with The Hague. Zivkovic stated that the arrest of Mladic was a "priority." He noted that police operations in pursuit of Mladic had been continuing for the past two years, including one that was carried out, in response to an anonymous tip-off, two days after the tribunal announced the indictments against the generals. October 17, 2003 Pristina, Belgrade Move Forward on Tackling Daily Kosovo Problems Washington, D.C. - Delegations representing the Kosovo and Serb governments agreed at an October 14 meeting in Vienna to establish working groups to discuss the return of 180,000 Serb refugees to Kosovo, the fate of 3,700 primarily-Albanian missing persons, and the improvement of the power supply, transport, and communications in the Serbian province. The move was a major breakthrough toward reconciliation between the two sides following a four-year absence of dialogue between them. The ethnically-mixed working groups will begin meeting in November, with their sessions alternating between Pristina and Belgrade. The reports of the committees will be submitted to Harri Holkeri, the head of the U.N. administration in Kosovo (UNMIK), who chaired the Vienna meeting. The representatives at the meeting read prepared speeches rather than engaging in direct talks and declined to shake hands prior to the session though seated at one table. In the speeches, each side took a stand on whether Kosovo should be independent or remain part of Serbia, although a discussion on the final status of the province was deliberately omitted from the agenda for the meeting. The president of Kosovo, Ibrahim Rugova, stated that “my country, Kosovo, wants to become part of the European Union and NATO,” adding that “this means a democratic, peaceful, and independent Kosovo.” The president of Kosovo’s assembly, Nexhat Daci, who accompanied Rugova, said that “the independence of Kosovo is an irreversible process.” Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Nebojsa Covic, the head of Belgrade’s Coordination Center for Kosovo, indicated that Serbia recognized Kosovo as “one of its parts,” stating that “there can be no dialogue if it is not clear to everyone that we are not talking as representatives of two states.” He noted that the status of Kosovo should only be discussed after daily life in the province improved in accordance with the provisions of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1244, which established the presence of UNMIK in the province in June 1999. Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Zivkovic was the second member of the Serb delegation, which protested the fact that the Pristina delegation did not include representatives of Kosovo’s Serb and Turkish communities. The Pristina delegation had been expected to include a Serb, Kosovo Returns Coordinator Milorad Todorovic, and a Turk, Health Minister Resmija Mumdziu. When Kosovo Prime Minister Bajram Rexhepi refused to take part in the meeting, Holkeri removed both of them from the delegation, maintaining that the predominantly ethnic-Albanian Kosovo government could not be represented solely by members of the province’s ethnic minorities. Others attending the meeting included NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson, EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana, Chairman-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, and representatives of the Contact Group on the former Yugoslavia, which is made up of the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, and Russia. Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel formally opened the meeting. Solana described the Vienna meeting as a significant step toward improving stability in the Balkans. International mediators have emphasized that the final status of Kosovo will be determined by the U.N. Security Council. October 17, 2003 Greek President Supports Belgrade’s EU Prospects, Bilateral Economic Cooperation Washington, D.C. - Greek President Kostis Stephanopoulos, during the first official visit of a Greek head of state to Belgrade in 23 years, stated that the prospects for the integration of Serbia and Montenegro into the European Union were “a political given and a geostrategic necessity.” The entry of all the countries of southeastern Europe into the European Union would eliminate the characterization of the region as “a powder keg,” he said. Only then, he stated, would stability prevail, leading to improved living standards for the people of the region. Stephanopoulos, who was accompanied by Deputy Foreign Minister Andreas Loverdos and 50 business people from Greece, called for the further strengthening of business and investment cooperation between entrepreneurs from the two countries, noting that cooperative ventures in the transport and communications sectors were already underway. By investing in Serbia and Montenegro and contributing to its economic growth, he stated, Greek business people were working toward Greece’s national interests since the process would promote Belgrade’s progress toward EU membership. The Greek president’s visit included talks with Serbia and Montenegro President Svetozar Marovic, Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Zivkovic, Montenegrin Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic, Acting Serbian President Natasa Micic, and Montenegrin President Filip Vujanovic. Stephanopoulos presented an address before the parliament of Serbia and Montenegro and inaugurated a Greek-Serbian business forum. October 3, 2003 First Convictions Under Belgrade's Special War Crimes Prosecutor Washington, D.C. - Four former Serb paramilitary soldiers were convicted on war crimes charges in a Belgrade court, the first such convictions in the Serb capital since the republic’s parliament appointed a special war crimes prosecutor in July to demonstrate Serbia’s commitment to cooperating with the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague. In a trial that began in January, the paramilitaries, who belonged to a group known as the "Avengers," were found guilty of abducting and murdering 16 Muslims during the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia. Milan Lukic and Oliver Krsmanovic, in hiding and tried in absentia, were each sentenced to 20 years in prison, while the two who appeared in court, Djordje Sevic and Dragutin Dragicevic, will be jailed for 15 and 20 years, respectively. About 10 war crimes cases have been tried in Serbia over the last year. The process is expected to be enhanced through the mandate of the office of the special prosecutor, which is working on a witness protection program to enable witnesses to testify while protecting their identity and is helping to ensure that unbiased judges are chosen to handle these types of cases. Chief international war crimes prosecutor Carla Del Ponte has said that some of the trials of those indicted for war crimes in the former Yugoslavia should be carried out by Serbia’s judiciary, particularly the less high-profile cases. September 26, 2003 Milosevic Indicted in Belgrade for Murder, Attempted Assassination Washington, D.C. - Former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic has been indicted by a special prosecutor in Belgrade for ordering the August 2000 murder of Ivan Stambolic, a former president of Serbia, and a failed assassination attempt in June 2000 against Vuk Draskovic, the leader of the Serbian Renewal Movement, a leading anti-Milosevic, pro-reform party in the late 1990s. The indictments were based on evidence that emerged during the Serb government’s investigation into the March killing of Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic. Milosevic, charged with 66 counts of war crimes by the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague for acts committed in connection with the wars in Croatia, Bosnia, and Kosovo in the 1990s, has been on trial at the tribunal since February 2002. Nine others were also charged with the murder of Stambolic, who was considering running against Milosevic in the October 2000 presidential election, in which Milosevic was defeated by Vojislav Kostunica. They included former special police commander Milorad “Legija” Lukovic, a fugitive who was the alleged mastermind behind the assassination of Djindjic; the former Serbian state security chief Radomir Markovic and his deputy Milorad Bracanovic; and former army chief of staff Nebojsa Pavkovic. Markovic is already serving a jail sentence in connection with the deaths of four of Draskovic’s associates in a staged car crash in October 1999, in which the opposition leader suffered only minor injuries. Stambolic disappeared while jogging in a Belgrade park. His remains were not found until March 2003 in a wooded area in northern Serbia. Police said he had been kidnapped and executed by five members of the JSO, a special paramilitary unit under the command of Lukovic, which was established under Milosevic and disbanded after Djindjic’s murder. It remains to be determined whether Milosevic will be sent back to Belgrade to stand trial on these charges following the end of his trial in The Hague, which is expected to continue through 2007. September 26, 2003 Kosovo-Serbia Talks Could Begin in October Washington, D.C. - Representatives of the governments in Belgrade and Pristina are expected to meet in Vienna in mid-October for the first direct talks on Kosovo between the two sides since the U.N. took over the administration of the Serbian province in June 1999. Serbia and Montenegro Foreign Minister Goran Svilanovic stated that Serbia, whose parliament adopted a declaration in August reaffirming the republic’s sovereignty over Kosovo, was preparing for the talks. The ethnic Albanian leadership of Kosovo, which has called for the independence of Kosovo, has reluctantly agreed to participate in the talks. The discussions will focus on transportation and communications, electricity, missing persons, and the return of refugees to Kosovo, and will not address the issue of the final status of the Serbian province. The venue, timeframe, and groundwork for the discussions have been worked out by Harri Holkeri, the head of the U.N. administration in Kosovo (UNMIK), and endorsed by the six-nation Contact Group on the former Yugoslavia, whose backing represents key international pressure for reconciliation between Belgrade and Pristina. The members of the Group are the United States, Russia, France, Germany, Britain, and Italy. Holkeri, who will chair the discussions, plans to meet with representatives of the Kosovo and Serb governments to determine the composition of their delegations. Both Svilanovic and Holkeri said they expected the Kosovo delegation to include Serbs from within the province’s government. A statement by the Contact Group called on Kosovar and Serb representatives to work toward practical steps to improve the quality of life in Kosovo. It emphasized the need to deal with “standards before status,” establishing a fully functioning government and building trust and reconciliation between the Serb and Albanian communities in Kosovo before addressing the final status issue. In a speech on September 11, 2003, to the Kosovo parliament, European Commissioner for External Relations Chris Patten stated that the final status of Kosovo was not a subject for discussion at this time, but he urged Belgrade and Pristina to hold a dialogue on matters that impact the everyday lives of the province’s citizens. Holkeri indicated that he would announce a starting date for the talks, which he said should be attended by representatives of the Contact Group, the EU, and NATO, after consulting with European Union officials. Following initial discussions between high-level delegations, working groups of technical experts will hold parallel meetings to address the various issues covered. Talks between the Kosovo and Serb governments had been expected to begin this summer, but they were delayed due to heightened tension in the province stemming from a spate of violence that included the killing of two Serb teenagers. September 12, 2003 Zagreb, Belgrade Exchange Apologies for War Actions in Landmark Visit Washington, D.C. - During the visit of Croatian President Stipe Mesic to Belgrade, the first by a head of state of Croatia to the capital since the country declared independence from Yugoslavia 12 years ago, he and the president of Serbia and Montenegro, Svetozar Marovic, exchanged reciprocal apologies for actions committed by the two countries during the 1991-1995 war between them. Marovic stated that he wanted "to apologize for all the evils any citizen of Serbia and Montenegro has committed against any citizen of Croatia." Mesic's response was that he also apologized "to all those who have suffered pain or damage at any time from citizens of Croatia who misused or acted against the law." Some 20,000 people died during the war, and over 250,000 were displaced from their homes. Since 2000, when former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic was defeated in elections, Belgrade and the reformist government that came to power the previous year in Zagreb have been working toward the normalization of bilateral relations, a key element for both countries in their preparations for meeting requirements for European Union membership. During his visit to Belgrade, Mesic also discussed regional cooperation and prospects for membership in the EU and NATO with Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Zivkovic, Serbian Minister of Finance and Economy Bozidar Djelic, and senior officials from Montenegro. Zivkovic stated that the abolition of visas for those traveling between the two countries had laid the basis for accelerated bilateral cooperation. The officials also talked about promoting the repatriation of ethnic Serbs who fled Croatia during the war. September 5, 2003 Ethnic Tensions Heightened by Kosovo, Presevo Valley Violence Washington, D.C. - There has been an upsurge of violence in Kosovo and the Presevo Valley in southern Serbia in recent weeks, heightening tensions between Serbs and ethnic Albanians in these regions. In Kosovo, a Serb man died on August 31 from wounds sustained when a hand grenade exploded outside a shop in the village of Cernica, some two weeks after two Serb teenagers were killed by gunfire near Gorazdevac while swimming in a river. Five others were injured in the grenade attack. There have been no arrests or claims of responsibility in either case. The attack in Cernica occurred as the U.N. administration and NATO peacekeepers began their latest amnesty campaign to allow Kosovar civilians to surrender their illegally-held weapons without fear of prosecution. The last such amnesty took place in March 2002. A recent U.N. report concluded that civilians in Kosovo hold up to 460,000 weapons. In the predominantly Albanian region of southern Serbia, in late August, two explosions occurred in the town of Presevo, injuring two people. The incidents capped a series of attacks viewed as the worst wave of violence in the region since the May 2001 peace agreement ending a six-month conflict between Serb security forces and the Liberation Army of Presevo, Medvedja, and Bujanovac (UCPMB), an ethnic Albanian guerrilla group. As part of the accord, the UCPMB agreed to disband. The Albanian National Army (ANA) claimed responsibility for two of the attacks in southern Serbia, which did not result in injuries: the firing of mortars at a Serb military base near Dobrosin and shots aimed at a police checkpoint near Konculj. The ANA is a shadowy group whose members are believed to be former guerrillas of the National Liberation Army (NLA) -- an ethnic Albanian group that fought Macedonian security forces for six months in 2001 -- and former members of the UCPMB and the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), which was dissolved in 1999 following the takeover of Kosovo by the U.N. administration. (See related story in Country Updates, Macedonia, "Ethnic Tensions in North Bring Fears of Renewed Fighting," September 5, 2003.) August 28, 2003 Serbia Declares Kosovo Indivisible Part of Republic Washington, D.C. - The Serbian parliament unanimously adopted a declaration reaffirming the republic's sovereignty over Kosovo, which has been administered by the United Nations since June 1999 under U.N. Security Council Resolution 1244. The declaration urged full respect for Resolution 1244, which guarantees Kosovo "substantial autonomy within the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia," now called Serbia and Montenegro. The province officially remains part of Serbia. The Kosovar Albanian leadership, which has called for Kosovo's independence, said the declaration would increase tensions in the province. The U.N. maintains that the future status of Kosovo, unresolved after more than four years, will be decided only by the Security Council at an undetermined time. The declaration is expected to serve as the basis for the Serbian position in Western-backed talks between leaders in Belgrade and Pristina, which may begin later this year. The talks were proposed by the European Union for July, but a spate of shootings and bombings against Serbs, ethnic Albanians, and U.N. police in Kosovo put them on hold. Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Zivkovic stated that his government was prepared to open discussions with the Kosovo government of Prime Minister Bajram Rexhepi "within weeks." August 28, 2003 NATO Exercise in Kosovo, Bosnia Reinforces Regional Security Capability Washington, D.C. - Over 6,000 reserve forces from NATO and partner countries began a month-long annual exercise in Kosovo and Bosnia that reflects the alliance’s commitment to maintaining stability in the Balkan region. During "Dynamic Response 2003," held from August 26 to September 24, the reserve forces are working with the 24,000 troops in the KFOR peacekeeping force in Kosovo and the 13,000 soldiers in the SFOR force in Bosnia to fine-tune NATO's ability to reinforce these existing NATO-led operations on short notice. The exercise includes maneuvers to familiarize the reserve forces with the local terrain and to train soldiers for tasks such as manning checkpoints, conducting patrols, and carrying out search operations. The multi-national reserve units are arriving by air and over land routes, and they are being integrated into the command and control structures of KFOR and SFOR. These units are capable of performing a range of military operations, including airborne, amphibious, air assault, and combined arms -- infantry, armor, and artillery -- maneuvers. The exercise sends a clear message to potential troublemakers in the area that NATO is strengthening its readiness to reinforce its troop presence in the region rapidly if a crisis occurs. August 28, 2003 Belgrade Indicts 44 Individuals Responsible for Djindjic's Assassination Washington, D.C. - As part of the Serbian government's crackdown on organized crime, Belgrade issued indictments against 44 people suspected of conspiring to carry out the March assassination of Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic or taking part in the murder. The trial of the suspects is expected to begin by the end of October. The prime suspect indicted in the conspiracy to kill Djindjic was Milorad "Legija" Lukovic -- the former commander of the Red Berets paramilitary unit under former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic and a member of the Zemun criminal gang -- who is still at large. Those indicted also included the former deputy commander of the Red Berets, whom police said had confessed to firing the shot that killed the prime minister. The case against another suspect in the killing, Serbia's ultra-nationalist leader Vojislav Seselj, will be reviewed separately since Seselj, an ally of Milosevic, surrendered to the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague shortly before the assassination. More than 11,000 people were detained during a 40-day state of emergency in Serbia that followed the killing. The Serbian government also adopted a commission report citing numerous lapses in security around Djindjic at the time of his death and ordered the Interior Ministry to take action against those responsible. A number of senior security officials were dismissed following release of the report, including the official commanding the unit responsible for Serbian government security, the officer in charge of the government headquarters outside which Djindjic was slain, and a local police chief. The commission, which investigated the murder, stated that the prime suspects in the killing may have been helped by informants linked to organized crime inside the government. The report indicated that Lukovic had maintained close ties with the Interior Ministry and Serbia's intelligence agency, and it recommended internal inquiries into the activities of both agencies. August 22, 2003 Special U.N. Session Addresses Kosovo Violence Washington, D.C. - At a special session of the U.N. Security Council requested by Belgrade to discuss a recent upsurge in ethnic violence in Kosovo, Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Nebojsa Covic accused the U.N. interim administration (UNMIK), the NATO-led peacekeeping force, and the U.N. police personnel in the province of inadequate protection of the Serb minority and insufficient punishment of Albanian extremists. Covic, who is the top official in the Serbian government dealing with Kosovo, appealed to the new administrator of UNMIK, former Finnish prime minister Harri Holkeri, to take urgent measures to build a tolerant, multi-ethnic community in the province. The deputy prime minister called for a full investigation into the 3,000-member Kosovo Protection Corps, the U.N.-backed civilian emergency unit that includes former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) guerrillas, the Kosovar Albanians who fought Serb security forces in 1998 and 1999. He alleged that there was a link between the Corps and the Albanian National Army (ANA), which has claimed responsibility for attacks in Macedonia, Kosovo, and the Presevo Valley in southern Serbia. In April, one member of the Corps was implicated in the bombing of a railway bridge near Zvecan in Kosovo, for which the ANA took responsibility. As part of a 14-point Serb government plan to deal with the Kosovo violence, Covic also recommended fully disarming the province, increasing patrols by peacekeepers, establishing a witness protection program for those willing to testify in criminal cases, and working toward closer cooperation between security forces in Kosovo and those in the rest of the region. Belgrade requested the special session of the Security Council following the August 13 killings of two teenage Serb boys and the wounding of four others by gunfire as they swam in a river near the Serb enclave of Gorazdevac in Kosovo. On August 18, a 45-year-old Serb man died after being shot while fishing a week earlier near the village of Skulanovo. No arrests have been made in connection with either case. During the session, the Council members condemned the attacks, calling for greater efforts to build a multi-ethnic Kosovo, and expressed support for the investigations into the incidents by UNMIK. They voiced concern that the violence will undermine proposals to start talks between the Kosovar Albanians and Serb authorities in Belgrade. U.S. Ambassador to Serbia and Montenegro William Montgomery stated that the killings of the teenagers were "designed to end any chance of reconciliation" in Kosovo. Following the slaying of the youths, for which the Serbian government declared a day of mourning, a number of attacks on Kosovar Albanians occurred, including the beating of several individuals as they passed through the Serb enclave of Gracanica, hand grenade attacks on an Albanian home in the Serb region of Lucane, and four bombs in the Albanian section of the divided town of Kosovska Mitrovica in northern Kosovo. The United Nations states that 921 people have been killed in Kosovo since the 1998-1999 conflict ended in June 1999, including 269 Serbs. Serb police in Belgrade place the number of Serbs killed since then at 991. U.N. police arrested a 21-year-old Kosovar Serb in the village of Slatina in northern Kosovo on suspicion of killing Satish Menon, an Indian officer serving in UNMIK’s police force, in early August. August 15, 2003 Belgrade Drafts Proposal on Future of Kosovo Washington, D.C. - For the first time since former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic left office in 2000, the Serbian government has formally laid out its position on the future of Kosovo, which remains a province of Serbia under U.N. Security Council Resolution 1244. The document proposes substantial autonomy for the province within the federation of Serbia and Montenegro, and rejects calls for its independence. The proposal will be submitted to the Serbian parliament for discussion and passage when lawmakers reconvene after the summer recess. The government stated that progress toward establishing a multi-ethnic society in Kosovo since the U.N. interim administration (UNMIK) took control of the province in June 1999 has been unsatisfactory and marked by ethnic discrimination. It called for a greater role for Belgrade in protecting the rights of Serbs and other ethnic groups in Kosovo. The proposal recommended that Serbia work with international organizations to draw up a plan that will give substantial autonomy to Kosovo after a multi-ethnic democracy, characterized by the rule of law and ethnic tolerance, has been established. Although the United Nations says that the future status of Kosovo will be determined by the Security Council, UNMIK has been making efforts to lay the groundwork for talks between Serbian authorities and representatives of Kosovo’s administration run by its ethnic Albanian majority, which is calling for the province’s complete independence from Serbia. In mid-August, Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Zivkovic and Deputy Prime Minister Nebojsa Covic, who is in charge of Belgrade’s policies on Kosovo, went to the province to attend the funerals of two teenage Serbian boys killed by unidentified assailants while swimming in a river near Zahac, 37 miles west of Pristina. It was the highest-level Serbian government visit to Kosovo since UNMIK took charge of the province. The boys, who were 13 and 19 years old, were from the Serbian enclave of Gorazdevac. Fewer than 100,000 Serbs remain in Kosovo and are living in enclaves protected by NATO-led peacekeepers. The U.N. has offered a reward of $56,000 for information leading to the arrest of those responsible for the murders. The implications of the killings are due to be discussed the week of August 18 at a special session of the Security Council requested by Serbia. August 15, 2003 Dismissal of Generals a Significant Move Toward Army Reform Washington, D.C. - With an eye on eventual NATO membership, the government of Serbia and Montenegro dismissed 16 of its most senior generals who had served under Milosevic. The broadest shake-up in the military's top brass since the former Yugoslav president left office in 2000 was part of the process of working toward the country's goals of restructuring the army to bring it under tighter civilian control and qualifying for membership in NATO's Partnership for Peace as a prelude to possible entry into the alliance. The government is also planning to cut the armed forces from 78,000 to 50,000 in line with an alliance requirement that militaries be streamlined. The government of Serbia and Montenegro has also approved the participation of its troops in peacekeeping missions under the auspices of the United Nations, another move that is expected to enhance the country's chances of joining Partnership for Peace. Secretary of State Colin Powell confirmed that Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Zivkovic had offered to send some 1,000 troops to Iraq, though only as part of a U.N. peacekeeping force, while he was visiting Washington at the beginning of August. Powell stated that the offer "shows a responsible attitude on the part of the Serbian leadership" and was "a new maturity that was welcomed." Zivkovic noted that Belgrade's potential "participation in peace missions signifies that the army, which yesterday was being accused of having committed war crimes, is completely reformed." He also said that the country's contribution to U.N. missions throughout the world would re-establish Belgrade's international ties that were severed under Milosevic's administration. The foreign minister of Serbia and Montenegro, Goran Svilanovic, stated that the U.N. envoy to Liberia, Jacques Klein, had asked Belgrade to contribute troops to the U.N. mission being set up in the west African country. August 8, 2003 Kosovo's Largest Heroin Cache Headed for Western Europe Washington, D.C. - U.N. police seized 40 pounds of heroin found in a private residence in Kosovo, the largest single cache of the drug discovered in the province since the U.N. administration was installed in June 1999. They said Kosovo was the transit route for the drugs, valued at $920,000, which originated in southwest Asia and were to be sold in western Europe. Three ethnic Albanians were arrested in connection with the drug stash in the village of Komogllave-Ferizaj, about 15 miles south of Pristina, while the search continued for a fourth suspect. In 2002, police seized about 20 pounds of narcotics, primarily heroin and marijuana, in Kosovo. August 8, 2003 First Fatality in U.N. Police Force in Kosovo Washington, D.C. - Gunmen who staged a roadside ambush near the northern Kosovar town of Leposavic killed an Indian officer of the U.N. police force in Kosovo. The death of 43-year-old Satish Menon was the first fatality in the 4,450-member force since it was deployed in the province in 1999 to help establish the rule of law under the U.N. interim administration (UNMIK). More than 50 countries are represented in the force. The attack on Menon, who was traveling in a marked U.N. police vehicle, took place in an area populated by both Serbs and ethnic Albanians. No one has claimed responsibility for the killing. The police offered a reward of some $56,000 for information leading to the arrest of those who committed the murder. Although the police said they did not know who was behind the act, local media placed the blame on either Serb or Albanian gangs. There has been a series of attacks on U.N. institutions in Kosovo since the July convictions of four former members of the now-disbanded Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) on war crimes charges. In addition, in the mainly ethnic Albanian western town of Pec, automatic-weapons fire directed at a parked car with four male passengers killed one of the men as well as two girls who were passing by. Two of the other passengers and a shop owner were injured. August 8, 2003 EU Membership to Be Promoted Washington, D.C. - A new Council for European Integration has been appointed by the Serbia and Montenegro Council of Ministers to coordinate and monitor the reform process required for the country's potential membership in the European Union. President of Serbia and Montenegro Svetozar Marovic stated that integration into Europe was the country's top priority. Officials in Belgrade have expressed the hope that the country can sign a Stabilization and Association Agreement with the EU by the end of the year, considered a first step toward possible membership in the bloc. The republics of Serbia and Montenegro are also aiming at setting up a unified customs body by the end of August, an EU demand that will help accelerate integration into the bloc. The nine-member Council for promoting integration into the EU, which will meet once a month, will be chaired by Marovic and will include Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Zivkovic, Montenegrin Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic, and ministers from both republics who deal with foreign affairs, international economic relations, and European integration and finance. In early August, the European Union allocated $39.6 million in aid to Serbia and Montenegro for economic reforms and stabilization. An additional $34 million in credit is expected in late August. The funds are part of a $147.4 million EU package approved for the country in November 2002, of which $34 million in aid and $11.3 million in credit have already been dispersed. Ninety percent of the funds will go to Serbia, and ten percent will go to Montenegro. In addition, the IMF has approved $140 million in two installments to Serbia and Montenegro as part of a three-year credit agreement that will boost the hard currency reserves of the central bank, the National Bank of Serbia. The IMF commended the country for its economic reforms, including a new law that will strengthen the central bank's credibility, protect its independence, and improve its accountability and internal controls. August 1, 2003 Serb Prime Minister in Washington for Talks Washington, D.C. - After a meeting with Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Zivkovic and Serbia and Montenegro Foreign Minister Goran Svilanovic in Washington, Secretary of State Colin Powell praised the officials for the implementation of substantial reforms, particularly in the judiciary and the economy, following the March assassination of former Serbian prime minister Zoran Djindjic. He also commended them for the solid cooperation between Serbia and Montenegro and the United States in the war against terrorism. The State Department's Ambassador at Large for War Crimes Issues, Pierre-Richard Prosper, said the authorities in Belgrade were cooperating satisfactorily with the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague. Zivkovic confirmed to Prosper that war crimes fugitive Ratko Mladic, the former commander of the Bosnian Serb army, would be arrested if he were found in Serbia and would be extradited to the tribunal. The officials also discussed cooperation between Washington and the Serbian government concerning the new Serbian war crimes court in Belgrade, which is expected to begin operating in September. In talks with Powell, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, and other U.S. officials, Zivkovic and Svilanovic called on the Bush administration to support the integration of Serbia and Montenegro into international institutions and the normalization of bilateral trade relations, which requires congressional legislation. Details of potential trade relations were also discussed with Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard Lugar and other leading members of Congress. The officials from Belgrade also expressed the hope that Serbia and Montenegro would become a member of NATO's Partnership for Peace by the beginning of 2004. In discussions concerning Kosovo, Zivkovic said the future status of the province must be the result of an agreement between Belgrade, Pristina, the United States, the European Union, and the United Nations. Outreach to U.S. businesses interested in investing in Serbia and Montenegro included a meeting at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and a working lunch with representatives of over 20 American companies, hosted by U.S. Steel. In a meeting with a delegation from Bechtel, which is in charge of the reconstruction of Iraq, Zivkovic presented proposals by Serbian firms that would like to participate in the rebuilding of the country, an eventuality that is supported by U.S. officials. In addition, the prime minister met with representatives of Morgan Stanley, Boeing, and Deloitte&Touche to discuss possible investment opportunities. He stated that Boeing officials were scheduled to visit Belgrade this fall to pursue the issue. July 28, 2003 Violence Erupts Following KLA War Crimes Verdicts Washington, D.C. - Attacks on the U.N.-run police and judiciary in Kosovo followed the unprecedented conviction of four former members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) for war crimes by a panel of three U.N.-appointed international judges in Pristina. One person died and five were injured in the ethnically divided northern town of Kosovska Mitrovica when two hand grenades were thrown near a police station used by U.N. and local policemen. Four U.N. vehicles were damaged in the blasts. In Pristina, in almost simultaneous attacks, an anti-tank rocket hit the district courthouse and a grenade exploded under a police vehicle outside a nearby police station. Other incidents included a grenade attack on a second courthouse; shots fired at the house belonging to Kosovo's parliamentary speaker; an explosion near a police station 25 miles north of Pristina in Podujevo, which was the command post of one of those found guilty; and damage to a dozen other police cars in various parts of the province. These attacks caused no injuries. Rustem Mustafa, a senior officer in the now-disbanded KLA, and three of his associates were given prison sentences ranging from 5 to 17 years for crimes against civilians that included murder, illegal detention, inhumane treatment, and torture of ethnic Albanians suspected of collaboration with Serb authorities. Mustafa, known as Remi, will serve 17 years for ordering the murders of five Kosovar Albanians and failing to prevent illegal detention during the conflict. Nazif Mehmeti was sentenced to 13 years, Latif Gashi to 10, and Naim Kadriu to 5. The verdicts marked the first convictions of members of the ethnic Albanian guerrilla movement on war crimes charges since the NATO campaign against Serb forces ended in June 1999. U.N. police and NATO-led peacekeepers arrested the four in August 2002. July 28, 2003 Belgrade Moves Ahead on War Crimes Prosecution Washington, D.C. - Serbia's parliament appointed a special war crimes prosecutor in anticipation of Belgrade's establishment of a war crimes court, which is expected to begin its first trials in September. The international war crimes tribunal in The Hague has told the Serbian government that it will hand over some of its low-profile cases against Serbs to the new Belgrade court. A limited number of Serbs have been tried for war crimes in Belgrade up to now. The Serb government will also authorize a special police unit to deal exclusively with the apprehension of war crimes suspects. Sixteen key Serb suspects remain at large. The government of Serbia and Montenegro has offered to assist NATO in tracking down top war crimes fugitive, Ratko Mladic, the commander of the Bosnian Serb army during the war in Bosnia. Serbia and Montenegro President Svetozar Marovic has also signaled that Belgrade would be ready to discuss its lawsuit against NATO nations for the 1999 air campaign, which the alliance insists must be dropped before the country can join NATO's Partnership for Peace. In a meeting between Marovic and EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana in Brussels, the European Union warned Belgrade that political infighting over reforms could slow efforts by Serbia and Montenegro to work toward EU membership. In September, following the approval of an economic harmonization plan by the country's federal parliament, the European Commission expects to begin a feasibility study on the eventual membership of the country in the bloc. July 3, 2003 Key War Crimes Suspect Extradited to The Hague Washington, D.C. - The Serbian government has extradited a high-profile war crimes suspect, former Yugoslav Army colonel Veselin Sljivancanin, to the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague, two weeks after authorities arrested him in Belgrade. He was indicted by the tribunal for the killing of more than 200 civilians in Croatia in 1991. (See Country Updates, Serbia and Montenegro, "U.S. Releases Aid After Key War Crimes Arrest," June 20, 2003.) In addition, a Bosnian Serb, Zeljko Meakic, accused by the tribunal of genocide while he was in charge of the Omarska detention camp where Bosnian Muslims were held during the 1992-1995 Bosnian war, surrendered to Serbian police. Omarska was one of three main Serb-run camps in northwestern Bosnia at the start of the war between Bosnia’s Serbs, Muslims, and Croats. The Serbian parliament has also voted to set up a special court in Belgrade to try war crimes suspects. June 27, 2003 Talks Expected Between Belgrade and Pristina on Kosovo Standards Washington, D.C. - Serbia and Kosovo have both agreed to an EU proposal at the bloc’s June summit that the Serbian government and the leadership of Kosovo conduct their first direct talks since the Serbian province became a U.N. protectorate in June 1999. The timing, venue, and agenda for the talks, which are backed by the United States, have not yet been determined. The representatives at the talks will not touch on the future status of the Serbian province and the Kosovar Albanian demand for its independence. The international community has made it clear that talks concerning Kosovo’s final status are not welcome at this time. The United States has long encouraged Pristina and Belgrade to begin talking by discussing the resolution of technical issues that would improve the lives of the inhabitants of Kosovo, including matters concerning insurance, license plates, transportation, and customs, while putting off talks on broader political issues such as security, the return of ethnic Serbs, and the final status of the province. June 20, 2003 U.S. Releases Aid After Key War Crimes Arrest Washington, D.C. - Secretary of State Colin Powell determined on June 16 that Serbia and Montenegro had cooperated with the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague and that the country was eligible to receive the more than $50 million remaining from the $110 million in U.S. aid allocated to Belgrade this year. Key to his decision was the arrest of top war crimes suspect Veselin Sljivancanin by Serbian authorities on June 13 in an apartment building in Belgrade. Sljivancanin, a retired colonel in the Yugoslav Army, was indicted in 1995 by the tribunal for complicity in the 1991 massacre of 200 Croat and other non-Serb civilians in Vukovar, Croatia. The two other suspects of the so-called “Vukovar Three” accused of responsibility for the killings, Miroslav Radic and Mile Mrksic, have already surrendered to The Hague. During a 10-hour standoff leading to the arrest of Sljivancanin, police clashed with hundreds of his hardline nationalist supporters, resulting in the injury of at least 30 protestors and more than 50 policemen. The decision enabled the U.S. to continue funding assistance programs in Serbia and Montenegro designed to foster stability, promote democracy, and further the country’s integration into Euro-Atlantic institutions. Washington had set June 15 as a deadline for the country to cooperate with the tribunal or risk losing financial aid. State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher said the U.S. expected both Serbia and Montenegro and the Republic of Serbia to take further actions to fully meet their obligation to arrest and transfer all indictees to the tribunal, including wartime Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and Bosnian Serb army commander Ratko Mladic. Three Serbian men indicted by the tribunal, including the former chief of Serbia’s state security service, Jovica Stanisic, have been sent by Serbia to The Hague in the past month. Karadzic is believed to be hiding in the Serbian-controlled part of Bosnia, and authorities in Serbia say they have no information on Mladic’s whereabouts. (For more information see U.S. Department of State's Press Releases and Daily Press Briefings.) June 13, 2003 Criticism from U.S., OSCE, U.N. on Handling of Sex Trafficking Case Washington, D.C. - The United States, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and U.N. human rights monitors sharply criticized Montenegro for closing a lengthy investigation into a sex trafficking network that allegedly involved some of the republic’s top officials. The U.S. stated that it was deeply disappointed that the case had been closed without issuing any indictments or holding a trial, as it appeared to be uncovering “substantial information about the sex trafficking industry.” Washington also said it frowned upon attempts by Montenegrin officials to publicly discredit the woman at the center of the case, a Moldovan who stated that she had been offered work in Podgorica, only to be held against her will at a brothel in the Montenegrin capital. The government of Montenegro stated that the investigation had been carried out in accordance with the laws of the republic and those of Europe. It has repeatedly denied involvement in any smuggling activity. The United States called upon Podgorica to accelerate judicial reform and intensify its fight against trade in human beings. June 6, 2003 U.S. Lifts Designation of State of Emergency Leading to Belgrade Sanctions Washington, D.C. - Citing the "strong commitment to political and economic reform" by the government of Serbia and Montenegro, President Bush formally terminated the U.S. designation of a state of emergency in Yugoslavia declared by the White House in 1992 and 1998, which led to the imposition of sanctions against the country during the Milosevic era. Through an executive order issued in late May, Bush stated that the circumstances that had led to the designation had been significantly altered through the peaceful transition to democracy and other positive developments in Serbia and Montenegro. In 2001, President Clinton lifted the sanctions that had been imposed on the government of Yugoslavia and the governments of the republics of Serbia and Montenegro. However, visa bans and sanctions against the financial assets of individuals in Yugoslavia and the countries that emerged out of the former Yugoslavia remained in place. These individuals include Slobodan Milosevic and his associates, those indicted by the international war crimes tribunal, and those who are considered a threat to international stabilization efforts in the Western Balkans through acts such as the obstruction of the implementation of the 2001 Ohrid agreement, which ended the conflict in Macedonia; U.N. Security Council Resolution 1244 relating to Kosovo, following the 1999 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia; and the 1995 Dayton accords that ended the war in Bosnia. June 6, 2003 Serbs Killed in Kosovo in Worst Attack in Two Years Washington, D.C. - In the worst attack against the Serb minority in Kosovo since early 2001, an elderly Serb couple and their son were killed in their home in the town of Obilic, near Pristina, at a time when preparations were being made for the return of 20 Serb families to the town. The head of the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), Michael Steiner, offered a $59,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of those involved in the murders. The 80,000 Serbs remaining in Kosovo continue to live primarily in enclaves that are protected by the NATO-led KFOR peacekeeping force. In February 2001, 11 Serbs were killed in a bomb attack on a bus in Kosovo. Governing authority in Kosovo is gradually being transferred from UNMIK to the province's temporary institutions, dominated by the ethnic Albanian majority. The process is being carried out by a council co-chaired by Steiner and Kosovo Prime Minister Bajram Rexhepi. Of the council's 14 members from both the Kosovo government and UNMIK, one seat is reserved for a Kosovar Serb, but Serbs have boycotted the council because of their opposition to the transfer of power to the institutions. In late May, these institutions took over 19 policy areas under the ministries of agriculture, environment and spatial planning, finance, health, public service, and culture. Twenty-five competencies remain to be transferred to the institutions. The powers reserved for UNMIK include those related to security, foreign relations, the protection of minority rights, and energy. On May 15, the Kosovo parliament approved the “Resolution on the Struggle for Liberation and Independence,” which declares that the 1998-1999 conflict in Kosovo was a war for the liberation of the Serbian province. The body's 22 Serb lawmakers walked out of the session to protest the inclusion of the resolution in the parliamentary agenda and its passage by their majority Albanian colleagues. The EU's foreign policy and security chief, Javier Solana, stated that he hoped the Kosovar Albanian leadership, which plans to attend the meeting between EU and Balkan leaders during the June 20-21 EU summit in Thessaloniki, would begin talks with the Serbian government while they were in the northern Greek city. Steiner also called on Kosovo's leaders to establish official contact with Belgrade in Thessaloniki, noting that their presence at the meeting did not signal any change in the status of Kosovo as a province of Serbia. June 6, 2003 Serbian Crackdown on Human Rights Violators Washington, D.C. - The Serbian parliament passed a law that will make public officials who have committed human rights violations accountable for their actions. The law will apply to officials currently in office and those taking office over the next 10 years, whose actions will be examined by a nine-member committee composed of three Supreme Court justices, three legal experts, the Deputy Public Prosecutor, and two parliamentary deputies trained in law. The committee members, to be proposed by the speaker of the Serbian parliament, will be appointed by the parliament by the end of July. The officials that are found guilty of human rights violations will be dismissed from their posts and banned from running for public office for five years. May 30, 2003 Massive Arrests Linked to Vukovar Massacre Washington, D.C. - Serbian police arrested 23 people suspected of being involved in a 1991 massacre of over 200 men in the Croatian town of Vukovar, following receipt of documents concerning the case from chief U.N. war crimes prosecutor Carla Del Ponte during a recent visit to Belgrade. Already in the hands of the war crimes tribunal in The Hague are Miroslav Radic and Mile Mrksic, two of the three former Yugoslav army officers indicted by the tribunal for allegedly taking some 260 Croat civilians and prisoners of war from Vukovar Hospital and transporting them to a farm building in Ovcara, where they were killed. The third, Veselin Sljivancanin, is believed to be in hiding in Serbia and is being sought by Serbian authorities. The former head of Serbia's special police, Franko Simatovic, accused of war crimes in Croatia and Bosnia, has surrendered voluntarily to the war crimes tribunal. Simatovic, the founder and first commander of Serbia’s special operations unit, the Red Berets, was arrested and charged by Serbian authorities in the crackdown following the assassination of Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic in March. May 23, 2003 War Crimes Tribunal Cooperation Key to Partnership for Peace Membership Washington, D.C. - Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Zivkovic stated that all accused war criminals in Serbia would be arrested and delivered to the international war crimes tribunal in the Hague by the end of 2003 in order to ensure the entry of Serbia and Montenegro into NATO’s Partnership for Peace program, seen as a step toward full membership in the alliance. NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson made it clear that full cooperation with the tribunal, including the arrest of war crimes fugitive Ratko Mladic, was a critical condition for the country’s participation in Partnership for Peace. Zivkovic stated that Mladic will be arrested if he is found to be in Serbia. Mladic, the Bosnian Serb wartime military commander, and Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic are the tribunal’s most wanted suspects. Karadzic is believed to be in the Serb-controlled part of Bosnia. Other key conditions for the entry of Serbia and Montenegro into Partnership for Peace are reform of the army, the breaking of links with the Bosnian Serb army, and a withdrawal of charges that Belgrade pressed before the International Court of Justice against the 19 NATO countries that participated in the 1999 air strikes against Yugoslavia. Chief war crimes prosecutor Carla del Ponte visited Belgrade to urge the government to track down Mladic and over a dozen other war crimes suspects, stating that the tribunal’s information places Mladic in Serbia. She stated that she would be willing to transfer some of the lower-profile war crimes cases to Belgrade for trial. Del Ponte also asked Serbian authorities to hand over about 150 documents in military archives that are linked to the case against former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic, on trial in The Hague since 2002. In mid-May, the Serbian government extradited Miroslav Radic, a former Yugoslav army officer accused of war crimes in Croatia, to the tribunal. Radic gave himself up to Serbian authorities. May 16, 2003 Pro-Independence President Takes Office in Montenegro Washington, D.C. - The newly elected president of Montenegro, Filip Vujanovic, said he would hold a referendum in three years to let the Montenegrin people decide if they wanted the smaller of the two republics that make up the loose union of Serbia and Montenegro to become independent. Stating that he backed independence, he said he would schedule the referendum even if the union, finalized in February 2003 through an EU-brokered agreement, proved to be working well. Serbia also has the right to hold an independence referendum in 2006 under the agreement. In addition, Vujanovic, the speaker of parliament and the candidate of the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists, led by Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic, said one of his main priorities during his five-year term would be working toward membership in the European Union. Vujanovic is a close ally of Djukanovic, who also supports Montenegrin independence although he negotiated the new union that replaced the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Vujanovic served as prime minister of Montenegro from 1998 to 2000. The post of president has been vacant since November 2002, when Djukanovic stepped down to become prime minister. The results of two presidential elections in December and February, in which Vujanovic was the overwhelming front-runner, were declared invalid because the 50-percent turnout requirement was not met. To avoid another failed election, the Montenegrin parliament removed the related article from the electoral law on the recommendation of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). With voter turnout for the May 11 election at 48 percent of the republic's 458,000 eligible voters, Vujanovic received 64.2 percent of the votes cast. Miodrag Zivkovic, the leader of the pro-independence Liberal Alliance, which opposes the union agreement and calls for immediate moves toward Montenegrin independence, received about 30 percent. Montenegro's main opposition, an anti-independence coalition that was once allied with former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic and is led by the Socialist People's Party, failed to agree on a joint candidate and boycotted this election, as well as the two previous inconclusive elections. Opinion polls have indicated that sentiment in Montenegro for and against independence is roughly 50-50. May 16, 2003 Information on Army’s Contact with Top War Crimes Suspects Emerges Washington, D.C. - The defense minister of Serbia and Montenegro, Boris Tadic, stated that the country’s army has had contact with two of the most wanted war crimes fugitives during the last year. Its last contact with Bosnian Serb wartime army commander Ratko Mladic, he said, was on May 15, 2002, while former Yugoslav army officer Veselin Sljivancanin had appeared at an army barracks in Serbia on January 16, 2003. The information stemmed from an investigation ordered by Tadic, who assumed office in March. The aim of the probe was to determine whether the army was still in contact with Mladic, wanted by the international war crimes tribunal for involvement in the 1995 massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica, and Sljivancanin, indicted for war crimes for the killing of 200 civilians in Vukovar, Croatia, in 1991. The chief prosecutor of the tribunal, Carla del Ponte, has repeatedly accused Serbian military authorities of providing shelter for Mladic. They have previously denied any knowledge of his whereabouts. The handover of Mladic and Sljivancanin to the tribunal are key conditions for the entry of Serbia and Montenegro into NATO’s Partnership for Peace program. Tadic has pledged to share information on any known movements of the fugitives with NATO. Washington has made the release of $110 million in U.S. aid contingent on the ability of Serbia and Montenegro to step up cooperation with the tribunal by a June 15 deadline set by the U.S. government. May 9, 2003 Bush Authorizes U.S. Defense Assistance President Bush has authorized the U.S. government to provide defense assistance to Serbia and Montenegro to encourage the continued reform of its military and the strengthening of its democratic institutions as a stabilizing factor in southeastern Europe. The White House said the decision followed “significant steps” by Serbia and Montenegro to promote military reform, improve its cooperation with the international war crimes tribunal, and combat organized crime following the assassination of Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic. The federal government of Serbia and Montenegro has agreed to place the military’s central command under the Defense Ministry in order to shift the country’s armed forces to civilian control. In addition, the Counterintelligence Service has been transferred to civilian control by placing it under the ministry. Previously, the ministry was responsible primarily for military finances and procurement. Some Milosevic-era generals were also forced into retirement. The Defense Ministry has also ordered all soldiers and military personnel to report sightings of war crimes suspects sought by the international war crimes tribunal and to arrest them where possible, including high-profile fugitive Ratko Mladic, the former commander of the Bosnian Serb army. Defense Minister Boris Tadic stated that the order was aimed at defusing allegations that the military was harboring war crimes fugitives, adding that an investigation into the claims had begun. A manhunt has been launched for retired Col. Veselin Sljivancanin, charged by the tribunal of allegedly taking part in the 1991 execution of more than 200 civilians near the Croatian city of Vukovar. NATO welcomed the government’s moves, which are considered important steps toward the country’s goal of being included in the alliance’s Partnership for Peace program, and offered to send a group of advisors to assist with Serbia and Montenegro’s military reform. April 25, 2003 Serbia's State of Emergency Ends The Serbian government lifted a 42-day state of emergency imposed following the March assassination of Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic, stating police had determined that 12 people ordered, organized, and carried out the murder as part of a wider plot to overthrow Djindjic's government. The government said key suspects in the case still remained at large, including former paramilitary commander Milorad Lukovic, a.k.a. Legija. The sweep for underworld figures resulted in the detention of some 4,500 people and the filing of charges against 3,700 of those detained, including charges for 15 murders, eight abductions, and about 200 cases of drug trafficking. Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Zivkovic stated that Belgrade had only begun to crack down on the organized crime that had flourished under former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic and would continue its campaign, while also cooperating with the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague. Capt. Miroslav Radic, a former Yugoslav army officer wanted on war crimes charges for his alleged role in a 1991 massacre in Vukovar during the Croatian war, turned himself in to Serbian authorities. April 25, 2003 Alleged Leader of Albanian National Army Arrested in Kosovo Washington, D.C. - The KFOR peacekeeping force in Kosovo arrested former ethnic Albanian guerrilla Sefket Musliu following Interpol's issuing of an international warrant for his arrest. Interpol acted on charges of assault, extortion, and illegal possession of arms against Musliu by the Serbian Ministry of Interior, which considers him to be the leader of the shadowy Albanian National Army (ANA). The ANA, which claims to have units both in Serbia's Presevo Valley and in Macedonia, was placed on a list of terrorist organizations on April 16 by the U.N. mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) after the group claimed responsibility for an explosion that damaged a key railway bridge in northern Kosovo linking the province with the rest of Serbia. UNMIK has arrested a total of four men in connection with the attack, which killed two people. The ANA asserts that it is fighting for a Greater Albania in the Balkans and is opposed to the peace agreements in both Macedonia and the Presevo Valley. Musliu was the head of the now-disbanded and outlawed Liberation Army of Presevo, Bujanovac, and Medvedja (UCPMB), which led a 16-month insurgency against Serbian forces in 2000 and 2001 in an attempt to annex the Presevo Valley to Kosovo, sparking fears of a broader Balkan conflict. The group agreed to disband in May 2001 under a NATO-brokered peace agreement in return for greater rights for the ethnic Albanian community in the valley, including the formation of a multi-ethnic police force and a pledge to hold local elections in 2002 in order to increase Albanian political representation. In February 2003, the ANA claimed responsibility for the death of a Serb policeman and the wounding of two others when their vehicle hit a landmine in the Presevo Valley. The incident took place after police had detained seven ethnic Albanians and had seized arms in a raid on two Albanian villages. These actions were sparked by the killing of an ethnic Albanian secret police officer, which was blamed by Serb officials on former UCPMB guerrillas. Musliu, who had become a municipal leader in the Presevo Valley town of Bujanovac, denied that he was involved in the killing of the secret police officer. He urged the international community to increase its presence in the valley to ensure implementation of the peace agreement, stating that violent incidents in the region could escalate. The ANA, which has claimed responsibility for attacks on police in Macedonia and the Presevo Valley, is believed to unite former fighters of the UCPMB; the now-disbanded National Liberation Army (NLA), which fought a seven-month insurgency in Macedonia against government forces until a peace accord was reached in August 2001; and the now-disbanded Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), which fought Serb forces in Kosovo prior to the entry of KFOR into the province in June 1999. April 18, 2003 Key Karadzic Ally Detained in Anti-Crime Crackdown Washington, D.C. - As the crackdown on organized crime in Serbia continued, Serbian police arrested a wealthy businessman from the Bosnian Serb Republic, cited by U.N. High Representative in Bosnia Paddy Ashdown as being a key financier of war crimes fugitive Radovan Karadzic and other war crimes indictees. In March, Ashdown froze the financial assets of Momcilo Mandic both in Bosnia and abroad for his alleged involvement in a network that has helped Karadzic, the former president of the Bosnian Serb Republic, remain at large for almost eight years. Mandic, who said he had not been in contact with Karadzic since 1994, served as deputy interior minister and justice minister in the Bosnian Serb Republic prior to 1993, when he moved to Belgrade. He is believed to have had connections with the Red Berets, a Serbian paramilitary unit accused by police of involvement in the assassination of Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic. As part of an aggressive campaign to arrest crime figures and war criminals, Serbian police also detained two Serbs suspected of involvement in the killing of some 200 non-Serbs near the Croatian town of Vukovar in 1991. The federal parliament endorsed the recommendation of the Serbian government by voting to abolish a law that blocked extradition of war crimes suspects wanted by the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague after the law came into force in April 2002. The move cleared the way for the transfer of all those indicted by the tribunal regardless of the dates of the indictments. The abolished law, criticized by chief war crimes prosecutor Carla Del Ponte, stated that any suspect indicted after April 2002 would be tried in domestic courts. The tribunal is expected to issue up to seven new indictments against nationals of Serbia and Montenegro. The Council of Europe, which Serbia and Montenegro joined in early April, and human rights groups have criticized the Serb parliament's decision to approve legislation that allows police to detain criminal suspects for up to 60 days, rather than 30 days, without charges or judicial control as long as the state of emergency imposed after Djindjic's murder remains in effect. Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Zivkovic said the measure was needed to help prosecute crime bosses, paramilitary leaders, and others allegedly involved in Djindjic's killing. A recent public opinion survey indicated that 73 percent of Serbs back the government's state of emergency and its campaign against organized crime. In addition, the Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS), the coalition government dominated by the late prime minister's Democratic Party, is enjoying higher ratings than at any time since it took power in January 2001. The Democratic Party, now led by Zivkovic, has close to 50 percent support, as opposed to 12 percent in December 2002 and 38 percent on the eve of Djindjic's death on March 12. Zivkovic stated that new parliamentary elections would not be held until the end of 2003, when the government's term expires. April 11, 2003 Arests Exceed 8,000 as State of Emergency Continues Washington, D.C. - As part of the detention of more than 8,000 people in the hunt for suspects responsible for the assassination of Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic, Serb authorities have arrested two close associates of Vojislav Kostunica, when he served as Yugoslav president, for alleged links to the Zemun mafia clan, which is suspected of having carried out the murder. They are the first officials close to Kostunica to be arrested. The head of the Yugoslav army intelligence service until March, Lt.-Gen. Aco Tomic, and Kostunica's former security advisor, Rade Bulatovic, were taken into custody on the basis of evidence that they had had meetings and “agreements” with the prime suspects in Djindjic's slaying, Milan Lukovic, a.k.a. Legija, and Dusan Spasojevic, who were both in leadership positions in the Zemun clan. While Spasojevic was killed by police when he resisted arrest, Lukovic remains at large. Kostunica's Democratic Party of Serbia rejected the allegations against Tomic and Bulatovic. In 2002, Djindjic demanded that Tomic be removed from his position for allegedly spying on Djindjic's government. Kostunica rejected the demand as he praised Tomic for his professional skills. Serb authorities also arrested a former Croatian Serb leader, Borislav Mikelic, for establishing ties between Zemun and hardliners in the Bosnian Serb Republic believed to have been instrumental in the plot to kill Djindjic. Mikelic served as prime minister of the self-declared rebel Serb mini-state, the Republic of Srpska Krajina, in wartime Croatia. In addition, they arrested Legija's attorney, Slobodan Milivojevic, and the former deputy chief of the Serbian secret police, Milorad Bracanovic, believed to be a close associate of Legija and the mastermind of abductions and assassinations of people who opposed former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic. Serbian Interior Minister Dusan Mihajlovic stated that most of the perpetrators of Djindjic's assassination were in prison and had confessed to their roles in the action, including the man suspected of having fired shots at the prime minister. As the state of emergency continues, more than 2,000 of the 8,000 rounded up following Djindjic's killing remain in custody, and over 800 have been charged. The new Serbian prime minister, Zoran Zivkovic, suggested that the state of emergency should be lifted by the end of April. Serbian Justice Minister Vladan Batic stated that the investigation had revealed a plot to topple Djindjic's reformist, pro-democratic government through a coup and replace it with nationalist allies of Milosevic. April 4, 2003 U.S. Encourages Serbian Crackdown on Underworld, War Criminals Washington, D.C. - During a visit to Belgrade, Secretary of State Colin Powell underscored Washington's commitment to assist Serbia's crackdown on organized crime, war criminals, and political extremism in the wake of the March 12 assassination of Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic, as well as government efforts to continue Djindjic's reform agenda. In addition, Powell demonstrated U.S. support for Serbia's attempts to overcome obstacles to its integration into Euro-Atlantic institutions and work toward the region's long-term stability and economic growth. Powell was the most senior U.S. official to visit Belgrade since NATO's U.S.-led bombing campaign against Yugoslavia in 1999. His visit, at a time when the United States is fully engaged in the Iraq war, signaled recognition by Washington that the murder of Djindjic, the first European leader to be assassinated since Swedish Prime Minister Olaf Palme in 1986, could be a potentially destabilizing factor in the region, when Belgrade's movement toward democratization needs the greatest support. Powell visited Djindjic's widow to express his condolences. Meeting with Svetozar Marovic, the president of Serbia and Montenegro, and Zoran Zivkovic, who succeeded Djindjic, Powell urged the officials to expand efforts to arrest war crimes indictees and extradite them to the international tribunal in The Hague. Washington has made the release of $110 million in U.S. aid contingent on Serbia's ability to step up cooperation with the tribunal by a June 15 deadline set by the U.S. government. Zivkovic pledged to intensify cooperation with The Hague. Serbia's government has agreed to abolish a law that has impeded the extradition of suspected war criminals to the tribunal. Under the law, Serbia can extradite to The Hague only those who were indicted before the law came into force in April 2002. The proposed change, which must be approved by the Serbian parliament and the federal parliament of Serbia and Montenegro, will allow suspects indicted after that date to be extradited for alleged atrocities committed during the Balkan wars of the 1990s, rather than having them tried by domestic courts. It will also provide for the extradition of other suspects charged by the tribunal in the future. Among the 3,000 people detained by Serbian authorities for suspected links to Djindjic's murder has been a Yugoslav army chief of staff under former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic, General Nebojsa Pavkovic, who remained in the position until 2002. Two top suspects in the murder, both leaders of the Zemun mafia clan, were killed after opening fire on police who were trying to arrest them. Police are issuing an international warrant for the arrest of Milosevic's wife, Mirjana Markovic, who is alleged, along with her husband, to have been involved in the killing of Milosevic's predecessor as Serbia's president, Ivan Stambolic, nearly three years ago. She is believed to have gone to Russia in late February to join her son, Marko Milosevic, who fled Serbia after being accused of having links to underworld gangs. March 28, 2003 Crackdown on Serbian Underworld Figures Continues Washington, D.C. - Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Zivkovic stated that most of the people thought to be involved in the assassination of his predecessor, Zoran Djindjic, had been arrested, including the sniper suspected of killing him. The sniper suspect, Zvezdan Jovanovic, is the deputy commander of an elite special police unit, the Special Operations Unit, known as the Red Berets, which was formed by former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic and has close links to criminal networks. Two other senior members of the unit are also in custody. Despite police questioning of more than 3,500 suspects from the Serbian underworld since the March 12 assassination, the top two suspects believed to have masterminded the murder remain at large, including Milorad Lukovic, or Legija, the former commander of the Red Berets and the alleged leader of the Zemun mafia clan, believed to be behind the killing. Police have seized large quantities of guns, ammunition, and narcotics belonging to Zemun, while also demolishing a headquarters of the gang in a Belgrade suburb. Over 1,000 of those arrested in the sweep for suspects connected to Djindjic's murder remain in custody, and about 400 charges have been brought in conjunction with the slaying and earlier criminal activities. Those detained include Serbian secret service agents and policemen. Trials are expected to begin the first week in April. The Serbian government announced that it would disband the Red Berets as part of its crackdown on war criminals and underworld gangs. Some of the members will be arrested, while others will be transferred to other police units or dismissed. In addition, the Supreme Defense Council of the new government of Serbia and Montenegro has dismissed the country's hard-line military security chief, General Aco Tomic. This is part of a larger move toward removing top military figures seen as major stumbling blocks toward cooperation with the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague, which is a precondition for Belgrade's integration into NATO's Partnership for Peace and international institutions. The Council is comprised of the president of Serbia and Montenegro, the acting presidents of the republics of Serbia and Montenegro, and the federal defense minister. The federal defense minister stated that an investigation would be conducted into whether the military had been involved in protecting indicted war criminals sought by the tribunal. March 28, 2003 Union Invited to Join Council of Europe The Council of Europe, an intergovernmental organization that protects human rights, democracy, and the rule of law, has invited Serbia and Montenegro to join its ranks as the 45th member. The accession ceremony will take place on April 3 in Strasbourg during the session of the Council's Parliamentary Assembly. Any European state can become a member of the Council of Europe if it accepts the principle of the rule of law and guarantees human rights and fundamental freedoms to all of its inhabitants. Membership is viewed as an early stepping stone toward entry into the European Union. A post-accession cooperation and monitoring program has been established to assist Serbia and Montenegro in fulfilling its commitments to the organization. The country applied for membership in November 2000, when it was officially known as the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. March 21, 2003 New Prime Minister Pledges to Continue Reforms Zoran Zivkovic, the pro-West reformer who replaced assassinated Serbian prime minister Zoran Djindjic, pledged to continue the reforms initiated by Djindjic and promote membership in the Council of Europe, NATO's Partnership for Peace, and the European Union. Zivkovic stated that Serbia would continue to cooperate with the international war crimes tribunal to bring those indicted to justice and would proceed with the war on organized crime launched by Djindjic. However, Zivkovic could be forced into parliamentary elections before he has time to make progress in accomplishing the reforms. The new prime minister, a close ally of Djindjic and the deputy leader of his Democratic Party, was elected by the Serbian parliament. Under the government of former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic, Zivkovic served as the mayor of Serbia's third-largest city, Nis, and was an outspoken opponent of Milosevic. He was appointed federal interior minister one month after Milosevic left office in October 2000. Since Djindjic's March 12 assassination, over 1,000 people have been taken into custody in a massive crackdown on the Serbian underworld figures of the Zemun clan, which has been blamed by the Serbian government for the murder. The clan is composed of crime bosses, drug traffickers, and paramilitary figures dating to the Milosevic era. Key arrests have included two key members of Zemun, a deputy public prosecutor, Milosevic's former chief of state security, the founder of the Red Berets special police unit, and the widow of the late warlord Zelkjko Raznatovic, known as Arkan. In addition, the Serbian parliament has approved the forced retirement of 35 judges, including seven Supreme Court justices, accusing the judiciary of failing to prosecute underworld figures who planned the killing of Djindjic. Zivkovic said the state of emergency imposed after Djindjic was gunned down could continue through April, although he added that the length of the emergency period would depend on the time needed to crack down on organized crime. The state of emergency allows police to carry out arrests without warrants and keep suspects in detention up to 30 days without filing charges. It also calls for curbs on the media, with two publications being closed down for publishing reports considered damaging to the investigation. EU officials said that Serbia and Montenegro is unlikely to join the European Union until 2010 at the earliest due to the control of much of the economy by mafia-style groups dating back to the communist era. The average monthly salary is about $140 in Belgrade and about $100 outside the capital. One-fifth of Serbians live on $1 a day or less. Privatization has resulted in high numbers of layoffs. However, Council of Europe Secretary General Walter Schwimmer stated that there would be no obstacles impeding the rapid accession of Serbia and Montenegro to the Council of Europe. Washington has made the extradition by June 15 of Ratko Mladic, the former commander of the Bosnian Serb army, to the war crimes tribunal a condition of a new installment of U.S. financial support for Serbia, and the EU has threatened to impose economic sanctions unless Belgrade steps up its cooperation with the tribunal. The parliament of Serbia and Montenegro elected the union's first five-member Council of Ministers to handle its joint foreign and defense policy, internal and external economic relations, and human and minority rights. The ministers included close allies of Djindjic, such as Goran Svilanovic, the former Yugoslav foreign minister, as foreign minister and Boris Tadic, the former Yugoslav minister of telecommunications, as defense minister. March 14, 2003 Serbian Prime Minister Assassinated Washington, D.C. - The Serbian government blamed a Belgrade underworld group accused of dozens of other murders and kidnappings for the shooting death of Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic on March 12, the day his cabinet was to sign warrants for the arrest of its leader and other key members. The government said that, despite more than 70 arrests in connection with the murder, key members of the group believed to be behind the act, the Zemun mafia clan, were still at large. They include Milorad Lukovic, also known as Legija, the leader of the group and the former head of the Red Berets, Serbia's most feared paramilitary police unit under former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic. A member of the Zemun clan was arrested after he tried to drive a truck into Djindjic's motorcade on February 21, an act that was considered an assassination attempt. Djindjic was not hurt in the incident. Following the death of Djindjic, the most senior politician to be killed in a series of murders of public figures in Serbia over the past three years, the government imposed a state of emergency. Police functions were assigned to the army, rigid controls were imposed on the news media, and all bus, rail, and plane traffic out of Belgrade was halted. Djindjic, a pro-West reformer who played a key role in the overthrow and arrest of Milosevic and engineered his extradition to the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague in 2001, announced a crackdown in early February on the organized crime gangs that had flourished under Milosevic and stepped up cooperation with the tribunal. He told Western envoys that he would try to arrest the former Bosnian Serb army commander, Ratko Mladic, considered the second-most-wanted fugitive by the tribunal after Radovan Karadzic, the former political leader of the Bosnian Serbs. Mladic is believed to be in Serbia and enjoying the protection of the military. In addition, Djindjic brought about the prosecution of Milosevic's political aides for corruption. Djindjic had made enemies at home among ousted communist and nationalist leaders since his election in February 2001 and had low public opinion ratings because of the financial hardships caused by his economic reforms. However, his reform agenda, which included the introduction of market-oriented economic changes and the beginnings of the integration of the country into Europe, had won the support of the United States and other Western governments, and had led to a sizeable infusion of Western economic aid. Djindjic had also called for the return of Serb troops to Kosovo and the transformation of Kosovo into a federation in which Serbs and Albanians would have equal status. His death leaves no clear successor to carry on his reforms and has led to fears of a resurgence of the nationalist elements of the Milosevic era, which are still powerful in the military, paramilitaries, secret police, and underworld gangs. Zoran Zivkovic, the deputy head of Djindjic's Democratic Party, the largest party in the ruling Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS) coalition, is considered the strongest candidate for prime minister, who will be elected by the Serbian parliament. A staunch opponent of Milosevic, he was formerly Yugoslavia's Minister of Police and the mayor of Nis, one of the first Serbian cities to be governed by the democratic opposition following the local elections in 1996. Although Vojislav Kostunica of the Democratic Party of Serbia remains Serbia's most popular politician, he is not a member of parliament and could only be considered for the position of prime minister if new elections are called. He was Djindjic's principal ally in the movement that overthrew Milosevic, and he succeeded Milosevic as president of Yugoslavia. Although Kostunica has been a defender of the rule of law and has promoted Serbia's democratization, he has favored a more cautious approach to tackling organized crime and corruption than Djindjic has. Kostunica feuded with Djindjic over the pace of reforms, leading to a split in the DOS coalition they co-led after Kostunica's party pulled out. Kostunica resigned from his position as Yugoslav president in early March, when the country was restructured into the looser federation of Serbia and Montenegro, abolishing the old Yugoslavia. Kostunica has, at times, taken nationalistic, anti-Western positions, such as his criticism of the work of the international war crimes tribunal and its demand for greater Serb cooperation in extraditing indicted war criminals believed to be within its borders to The Hague. He opposed Milosevic's extradition to the tribunal, citing the need for a law authorizing his transfer. Deputy Prime Minister Nebosja Covic of the Democratic Alternative Party, one of the smaller parties in the DOS coalition, has been appointed acting prime minister and is a possible candidate for the position. As the deputy minister responsible for Belgrade's dealings with Kosovo, he is considered a good crisis manager, but, because his party is small, he could have difficulty obtaining the required support in parliament for his candidacy. March 14, 2003 President of New Union of Serbia and Montenegro Elected Svetozar Marovic, a Montenegrin who was elected on March 7 as the president of Serbia and Montenegro by the new union's parliament, vowed to implement full cooperation with the international war crimes tribunal, move the nation toward closer integration with the European Union, and carry out a sweeping reform of the army in order to place it under civilian control. The deputy leader of Montenegro's Democratic Party of Socialists, the pro-independence party of Montenegrin Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic, was the only presidential candidate under consideration by the 126-member parliament composed of 91 members from Serbia and 35 from Montenegro. The support of more than half of each state's representatives, elected in early March by the parliaments of the two states, was required for Marovic to win. Marovic, who has been serving as the chairman of the committee on foreign relations of Montenegro's parliament, is considered a moderate. He said he would distance himself from what he called the nationalist policies of former Yugoslav president Vojislav Kostunica. The president will also act as prime minister of Serbia and Montenegro and will preside over a five-member council of ministers. The ministries of defense, foreign affairs, and human and minority rights will be headed by Serbs, while the portfolios for external and internal economic relations will be held by Montenegrins. Most powers will now be held by the two states. Under the new constitutional charter, both Serbia and Montenegro have the right to hold independence referenda in three years. February 21, 2003 First Kosovar Albanians Transferred to War Crimes Tribunal Washington, D.C. - Four former members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) have been arrested and transferred to the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague, following indictments by the court for alleged atrocities committed during the 1998-1999 war against Serb forces. They are the first Kosovar Albanians to face war crimes charges at the tribunal. Three of the men were taken into custody by the NATO-led KFOR peacekeeping force in Kosovo and the fourth was captured in a ski resort in Slovenia. Fatmir Limaj, a member of the Kosovo assembly and a close ally of former KLA commander Hashim Thaci, is the highest ranking of the suspects, which also include Haradin Bala, Isak Musliu, and Agim Murtezi. The charges against the four include the beating, torture, and murder of a number of the 35 Serb and Albanian civilians they detained in a KLA prison camp in mid-1998. February 7, 2003 Yugoslavia Replaced by Loose Union of Serbia and Montenegro Washington, D.C. - The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, consisting of the republics of Serbia and Montenegro, has changed its name to "Serbia and Montenegro," inaugurating a less binding union of two "member states." Either state has the option of withdrawing from the union in three years through the holding of a referendum if it wishes to do so. If both states chose not to hold independence referendums at that time, the terms of the union will remain in effect. The Yugoslav federal parliament voted to adopt a new constitution that gives greater autonomy to both Serbia and Montenegro, and it ratified previous decisions by the parliaments of both republics to endorse the new legal charter. Kosovo remains formally an autonomous province of Serbia. The Serbian and Montenegrin legislatures will handle all of their state matters separately, except for defense, foreign affairs, and general economic planning, which will be carried out jointly under a president in Belgrade, which will remain the capital of the country. The current national army will stay intact. Serbia's official currency will remain the dinar, while Montenegro will continue to use the euro. By mid-February, each state must pass laws on the election of deputies to the new 126-member parliament of Serbia and Montenegro. In addition, the current Yugoslav president, Vojislav Kostunica, must set a date, expected to be in March, for elections to choose deputies for this parliament. At the first session of parliament, the lawmakers will elect a president of the new union, as Kostunica steps down. The new relationship between Serbia and Montenegro was brokered in March 2002 by the European Union's foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, reflecting the West's fear that a complete divorce between Serbia and Montenegro and a further redrawing of Balkan borders would lead to regional instability. The country that was formally named Yugoslavia in 1929 was first formed in 1918 as the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes. February 7, 2003 Belgrade Asks to Send Troops Back to Kosovo Washington, D.C. - Serbian President Zoran Djindjic asked NATO's commander for southern Europe, Admiral Gregory Johnson, to facilitate the return of about 1,000 Serb soldiers to Kosovo, arguing that the troops would fill a possible security vacuum if NATO decided to pull some of its troops out of the province as a result of a war against Iraq. Yugoslav and Serb troops pulled out of Kosovo in accordance with U.N. Security Council Resolution 1244, adopted in June 1999. The resolution ended NATO air strikes against Yugoslavia, defined the conditions for an end to the conflict in Kosovo, and established the mandates for the U.N. interim administration mission and the NATO-led KFOR peacekeeping force in the province. In addition, Resolution 1244 stated that "an agreed number of Yugoslav and Serb military and police personnel will be permitted to return to Kosovo" to provide "liaison with the international civil mission and the international security presence," mark and clear minefields, maintain a presence at sites reflecting Serb cultural heritage, and maintain a presence at key border crossings. The resolution did not set a specific date for the return of the personnel or designate the number that would be allowed back into the province. Although there are no immediate plans to reduce the number of troops in KFOR, currently 30,000, a spokesman for the force stated that the number of troops could be reduced by about half by the end of 2003 if security in the province continued to improve. The spokesman said there was no necessity for forces other than those in KFOR in Kosovo. A senior advisor to Kosovo's prime minister, Bajram Rexhepi, stated that the return of Serb forces to Kosovo would destabilize the region. Djindjic expressed concern that international officials in Kosovo might turn certain security duties over to local institutions without consulting authorities in Serbia, affecting, in turn, the final status of the province, which has not yet been determined. January 24, 2003 U.S. Says Aid Contingent on Arrests of War Crimes Suspects Washington, D.C. - The U.S. Department of State's Ambassador for War Crimes Issues, Pierre-Richard Prosper, told Belgrade that it risks losing U.S. financial aid if it does not turn over three key war crimes suspects to the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague by March 31, when Secretary of State Colin Powell will authorize release of the funds. Congressional approval of the administration's request for $110 million in assistance for the Yugoslav and Serbian governments, as well as $25 million for Montenegro, for fiscal year 2003 is still pending. On a visit to Yugoslavia, Prosper said Washington expected Belgrade to arrest former Bosnian Serb army leader Ratko Mladic and two Serbs -- Veselin Sljivancanin and Miroslav Radic -- associated with alleged war crimes in the Croatian town of Vukovar. Yugoslav Foreign Minister Goran Svilanovic stated that authorities needed help from the U.S. and the international community to track down and arrest the three fugitives. January 24, 2003 Serb President Surrenders to War Crimes Tribunal Former Serb president Milan Milutinovic turned himself over voluntarily to the war crimes tribunal, where he faces charges of responsibility for the killing of hundreds of Kosovar Albanians and the forced expulsion of 800,000 others from Kosovo in 1998 and 1999. With his arrival in The Hague, all five senior Yugoslav officials indicted for atrocities in the Serbian province have been accounted for. Former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic, former Yugoslav army chief of staff Dragoljub Ojdanic, and Milosevic aide Nikola Sainovic are in custody at the tribunal. Former Serbian police commander Vlajko Stojilkovic committed suicide in April 2002. Milosevic has been on trial since February 2002. Twenty other war crimes suspects sought by the tribunal are still at large in Yugoslavia. When Milosevic was ousted in October 2000, Milutinovic, indicted in 1999, remained the president of Serbia under diplomatic immunity until his five-year term ended on December 29, 2002. January 17, 2003 Bosnia Protests Serbian Prime Minister's Remarks on Balkan Borders Washington, D.C. - Citing continued Kosovar Albanian insistence on independence for Kosovo, Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic threatened to demand a new Dayton conference for the purpose of determining the borders in the region. The final status of Kosovo is still undetermined under U.N. Security Council Resolution 1244, issued in June 1999 at the end of the Kosovo war. The resolution authorized the presence of the U.N. interim administration and the KFOR peacekeeping force in the Serbian province. Negotiations in Dayton, Ohio, in 1995 produced the Dayton accords, which ended the Bosnian war and brought recognition of Bosnia's sovereignty by its neighbors, including Serbia. The Bosnian Foreign Ministry issued a statement condemning Djindjic's remarks, which also appeared to question the long-term future of Bosnia's borders. Djindjic's office responded by stating that the Serbian government respected the Dayton accords, which guarantee Bosnia's sovereignty, but it expected the same guarantees for Serbia regarding Kosovo. Yugoslavia's official policy is that it will not be time to discuss the final status of Kosovo until certain provisions of Resolution 1244 are fulfilled, including establishing guarantees for the security of Serbs in Kosovo, achieving further progress in implementing the rule of law, and moving forward toward greater institution-building. January 10, 2003 Former High-Level KLA Leader Killed in Kosovo Washington, D.C. -- In one of the most serious acts of violence in many months, Tahir Zemaj, a former commander in the now-disbanded Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) and reportedly an advisor to Kosovo's president, Ibrahim Rugova, was killed in a drive-by shooting in the Serbian province. In addition to Zemaj, who had been the target of several other assassination attempts over the last two years, unidentified assailants killed his son and nephew, who were sitting in a parked car with him in the town of Pec, 50 miles west of Pristina. Zemaj, a regional chief of Rugova's Democratic League of Kosovo, had commanded a faction of the KLA called the Armed Forces of the Republic of Kosovo (FARK). FARK had been allied with Rugova's party and was financed by the Kosovo government in exile of Bujar Bukoshi with an income tax it collected from members of the Kosovar Albanian diaspora. Hashim Thaci, currently the head of the Democratic Party of Kosovo and a member of Kosovo's assembly, commanded the main wing of the KLA, which was close to Albania's socialist government. There was speculation that Zemaj's murder could be linked to his recent appearance as a witness at a trial conducted by the U.N. interim administration in Kosovo, in which five former KLA members were convicted of the unlawful detention and killings of four FARK fighters in 1999. January 3, 2003 Low Turnout Results in Failed Montenegro, Serbia Elections Washington, D.C. - Low voter turnout invalidated Montenegro's December 22 presidential election just two weeks after a second attempt to elect a president of Serbia was pronounced inconclusive for the same reason. In both Yugoslav republics, a 50 percent minimum turnout is required to elect a president. Filip Vujanovic, Montenegro's speaker of parliament and former prime minister, won about 84 percent of the votes cast by 46 percent of the republic's electorate. Vujanovic is a member of the Democratic Party of Socialists, which leads the ruling coalition that has an absolute majority in parliament. He campaigned on working vigorously toward EU and NATO membership for a Montenegro that would be separated from Serbia. Vujanovic is a close ally of former Montenegrin president Milo Djukanovicwho resigned in November to become prime minister following his coalition's victory in the October parliamentary elections. In March 2002, Djukanovicalong with the leaders of Serbia and Yugoslavia, signed an agreement replacing the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia with a loose federation to be named "Serbia and Montenegro but he has made it clear that he favors the independence of Montenegro in three years, when, under the agreement, each republic can hold an independence referendum, an option also favored by Vujanovic. The new federation is expected to be in place by the end of January 2003. The low voter turnout in Montenegro was attributed primarily to an election boycott by the main opposition Socialist People's Party (SNP), which did not field a candidate, following its heavy defeat in the parliamentary elections. SNP opposes breaking up the federation between Montenegro and Serbia. In Serbia's two presidential elections, held on October 14 and December 8, the current president of Yugoslavia, Vojislav Kostunica, won the most votes, but both elections were invalidated because the minimum 50 percent turnout was not achieved. Voter apathy in Serbia was largely attributed to disillusionment with slow economic and social reforms, high unemployment, and a continual power struggle between Kostunica and Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic. Kostunica's post as Yugoslav president will be abolished when the new union of Serbia and Montenegro goes into effect. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has recommended that Serbia and Montenegro amend their election laws to eliminate the minimum turnout requirement. A repeat of the Montenegro election is expected in early February, while a new date for the Serbia election will be announced on February 8. January 3, 2003 Acting President Appointed in Serbia, Milutinovic Extradition Nears The speaker of the Serbian parliament, Natasa Micic, was appointed acting president of Serbia when President Milan Milutinovic's term expired on December 29. Since former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic was defeated in 2000, Milutinovic has been an inactive president due to his status as an indicted war criminal sought by the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague, in conjunction with actions concerning Kosovo, but he remained in office under diplomatic immunity. Yugoslav Foreign Minister Goran Svilanovic said he expected Milutinovic to be arrested after the Orthodox Christmas on January 7 and extradited to the tribunal if he fails to surrender to the court voluntarily. November 12, 2002 Low Serb Turnout in Kosovo's Elections Hinders Ethnic Reconciliation Washington, D.C. - The low Serb turnout in Kosovo's second municipal elections was a setback to the hopes of the international community that the polls would result in greater Serb representation in local government and less pronounced ethnic division throughout the province three years after coming under the control of the United Nations and NATO. Kosovar Serbs, who represent about 10 percent of the province's population of 2 million, boycotted the first municipal elections in October 2000, although they participated in the November 2001 elections for Kosovo's assembly, where they hold 22 of the 120 seats. As a result of this year's October 26 elections to choose mayors and 920 councilors for local assemblies in 30 towns and cities, the Democratic League of Kosovo of President Ibrahim Rugova won an outright majority or will govern as part of a coalition in more than half of the municipalities, including the capital, Pristina. The Democratic Party of Kosovo of former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) political leader Hashim Thaci placed second, while the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, led by Ramush Haridinaj, a former KLA commander, placed third. The outcome mirrored the placement of these three ethnic Albanian parties in the November 2001 elections for Kosovo's assembly. Ballots were cast by only 30 percent of the estimated 90,000 Serbs still in Kosovo and by about 14 percent of some 120,000 Kosovar Serbs living outside of the province in Serbia and Montenegro. Hard-line Serb leaders within the province had called on the minority to vote only in municipalities where they formed a majority. Serbs, therefore, won majorities in four towns that are predominantly Serbian. Kosovar Serb leaders said that the U.N. administration had not taken adequate steps to improve the living conditions of Serbs in the province. The governments of Yugoslavia and Serbia, however, had urged the Kosovar Serbs to participate widely in the elections. Most of the Kosovar Serbs live in enclaves protected by troops of the NATO-led KFOR peacekeeping force. Ethnic Albanians, who comprise 90 percent of Kosovo's population, have run the province's local assemblies almost entirely by themselves since the first municipal elections. Councilors serve four-year terms in the assemblies, which are supervised by the U.N. administration. In the coming years, the U.N. intends to gradually turn over increased responsibility to the assemblies, which handle daily affairs involving issues such as schools, utilities, and roads. Although the elections were carried out without major incident, Uke Bytyci, the ethnic Albanian mayor of the town of Suva Reka and a senior official of the Democratic League of Kosovo, was killed, along with two of his aides, by supporters of another ethnic Albanian party. October 25, 2002 Forces for Eventual Independence Win Montenegro's Parliamentary Elections Washington, D.C. - Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic's pro-independence coalition secured an absolute parliamentary majority in the republic's October 20 elections, defeating a pro-Yugoslav grouping, led by allies of former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic, which had campaigned on preserving close ties with Serbia. The strong showing by Djukanovic's forces boosts his bargaining position in seeking a less-centralized federal administration to run a common defense and foreign policy, as he and Serbian officials resume negotiations to finalize details of the constitution that will be the basis for the new EU-brokered looser federation of Serbia and Montenegro. Although the Montenegrin president has agreed to cooperate with Serbia within the framework of the new federation over the next three years, under an agreement signed in March, he has indicated that he favors independence for the republic at the end of that period, when both Serbia and Montenegro will have the option of holding referendums to break away from the federation. Djukanovic's Democratic List for a European Montenegro won 39 seats in the 75-seat parliament, while the pro-Yugoslav, three-party Coalition for Change led by Predrag Bulatovic took 30. A group representing the 7-percent ethnic Albanian minority won two seats. Four seats went to the radically pro-independence Liberal Alliance, whose withdrawal from the government in May to protest the EU-brokered federation agreement had forced early elections after only 18 months in power. Djukanovic said he would invite the ethnic Albanian group to become part of the new government. October 25, 2002 Belgrade Investigates Serb Firm's Involvement in Iraqi Warplane Refurbishment Washington, D.C. - Belgrade responded quickly to U.S. allegations that Yugoimport, a state-owned company in Yugoslavia, was assisting in the sale of engine parts for Iraqi Soviet-built MiG warplanes by ordering an investigation into the matter and by firing a government official and the director of the firm. On the basis of evidence gathered by SFOR peacekeeping troops concerning Orao, a state-owned aviation plant in the Serb-run part of Bosnia, the U.S. accused the Bosnian firm of cooperating with Yugoimport to export the parts to Iraq via Belgrade. The evidence also indicated that Orao had sent technicians to Baghdad to help service the planes. Such activity violates the United Nations arms embargo against Iraq and the obligation of the Bosnian Serb Republic, under the Dayton peace accords, to inform SFOR regarding any military export activities it is undertaking. The Yugoslav government dismissed Ivan Djokic, a deputy defense minister in charge of arms trading, and Jovan Cekovic, the head of Yugoimport, charging them with responsibility for the shipments. It also ordered Yugoimport to close its Baghdad office. U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher stated that no information had been found indicating any involvement of the Yugoslav and Bosnian governments, or the participation of Bosnian Serb authorities, in the warplane refurbishment. Yugoslavia hopes to be admitted to NATO's Partnership for Peace (PFP) program at the alliance's summit in Prague in November. Membership in PFP provides the best preparation for countries interested in becoming NATO members. October 11, 2002 U.S. Writes Off Part of Belgrade's Debt Washington, D.C. - The U.S. government has forgiven two-thirds of Yugoslavia's debt to Washington as a signal of support for economic reforms carried out by the country's pro-Western leadership since the October 2000 ouster of former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic. An agreement signed by U.S. Ambassador to Yugoslavia William Montgomery and Yugoslav Foreign Minister Goran Svilanovic writes off $353.7 million, or 66 percent, of Belgrade's $589.4 million debt to the U.S. Washington still has not released frozen Yugoslav assets resulting from international sanctions imposed during the Milosevic era. August 30, 2002 Kostunica to Face Djindjic-Backed Candidate in Presidential Election Washington, D.C. - In a move that is expected to deepen the rift between Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica and Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic, Kostunica announced that he would run for the Serb presidency in the September 29 election, becoming the main challenger to the candidacy of Yugoslav Deputy Prime Minister Miroljub Labus, backed by Djindjic. Labus, a 55-year-old pro-Western economist and member of Djindjic’s Democratic Party, has promoted free-market reforms that are critical to attracting foreign investment and has been instrumental in restoring Yugoslavia’s relations with the IMF and World Bank. He favors fast-track privatization of state companies, while Kostunica, a 58-year-old jurist who takes a more nationalistic stance, favors a slower transition to a market economy to lessen its impact on unemployment, which now stands at 35 percent. The political feud between Kostunica and the pro-Western Djindjic began in June 2001 when the Yugoslav president objected to the Djindjic-engineered extradition of former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic to the international war crimes tribunal at The Hague. Kostunica and Djindjic were previously allies within the coalition that ousted Milosevic in October 2000, but they have since clashed over a range of economic and legal reforms, in addition to Kostunica’s ongoing reluctance to cooperate with the tribunal. The Kostunica-Djindjic rift escalated in late July when allies of Djindjic kicked Kostunica’s Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) out of the ruling DOS coalition and stripped DSS of its 45 parliamentary seats in the 250-seat Serbian legislative body, replacing them with those loyal to the Serb prime minister’s government. DSS had launched a boycott of the Serbian parliament in June to protest the sacking by DOS of 21 of the party’s deputies on grounds that they had failed to be present for parliamentary debates on key reforms and had, therefore, prevented the passage of the reforms. DOS decided to formally expel Kostunica’s party from the coalition after a court overturned the June decision to sack DSS deputies. As a result of the constitutional changes underway in the establishment of a loose confederation of the republics of Serbia and Montenegro that will take Yugoslavia’s place, greater power will be given to the Serb president, while it is unclear how much power the president of the new union will have. A victory for Kostunica in the Serb presidential race would put him in a position to curb Djindjic’s attempts to implement market reforms and increase cooperation with the West. Kostunica has stated that, if elected, he will call early parliamentary elections in Serbia in an effort to unseat the ruling coalition. Believing that Kostunica would not be able to become a candidate for the Serb presidency while serving as Yugoslav president, Djindjic had backed moving the Serb presidential election from January 2003, when the current presidential mandate expires, to September 2002. The current Serb president, Milan Milutinovic, has been indicted by the war crimes tribunal for his role in the war in Kosovo, but the Serb government has cited his political immunity as the reason for not extraditing him to The Hague. Milutinovic will, therefore, serve out his term until January 2003, a factor that encouraged Kostunica to run for the position. It is believed that international pressure will result in the establishment of the new union of Serbia and Montenegro by then, which would do away with the position currently held by Kostunica. August 16, 2002 U.N. Police Arrest Leading Kosovar Albanians for Past Violence Washington, D.C. - Two Kosovar Albanian senior commanders in the now-disbanded Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) were arrested in mid-August by U.N. police, the latest in a number of detentions of former KLA members in recent months. Ramush Haradinaj, the leader of the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK), Kosovo's third-largest ethnic Albanian political party, and the most high-profile figure in the series of arrests, was accused of involvement in a shooting death in 2000. Rustem Mustafa was arrested on suspicion of the torture and murder of at least five illegally detained people during the 1998-1999 conflict in Kosovo. In 2001, Mustafa was dismissed from the Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC), established to deal with civilian emergencies after NATO-led peacekeepers entered the province, because he had been included on a U.S. list of 22 ethnic Albanians believed by Washington to be a threat to peace in the Balkans. He was also among those accused of involvement in the ethnic Albanian insurgency in F.Y.R. Macedonia that began in February 2001. Haradinaj's brother Daut and five more former KLA guerrillas were arrested in July for rocket and machine-gun attacks against a Kosovar Albanian family that supported a rival rebel faction. June 14, 2002 Tribunal Reveals Neighbors Role in Milosevic Financial Network Washington, D.C. - A report by prosecutors at the international war crimes tribunal at The Hague stated that former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic's money-laundering operation extended to over 50 countries, including Cyprus and Greece. The funds originated primarily in the Yugoslav customs department and were used to make illegal arms purchases and to buy other goods affected by international sanctions against Belgrade. Milosevic's financial network involved numerous individual and company bank accounts, including screen companies operated by foreign banks in Cyprus and Greece. Some funds were funneled out of Serbia through various Yugoslav government departments and some were channeled through Yugoslav banks, particularly Beogradska Bank. May 24, 2002 U.S. Lifts Freeze on Financial Aid Washington, D.C. - Secretary of State Colin Powell lifted a seven-week freeze on $40 million in U.S. aid to Yugoslavia this year, citing Belgrade’s improved cooperation with the international war crimes tribunal at The Hague. The decision, announced on May 21 during a visit by Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic to Washington, also opened the way for the U.S. Treasury to release about $300 million in Yugoslav assets that were frozen as part of U.S. sanctions against Yugoslavia for Slobodan Milosevic’s role in the Balkan wars over the last decade, a resumption of U.S. support for loans to Belgrade by international financial institutions, and steps toward establishing normal bilateral trade relations. The expected moves will improve the climate for U.S. investment in Yugoslavia. Powell said Belgrade’s previous insufficient cooperation with the tribunal had been reversed through the passage of a Yugoslav law providing a legal framework for extraditions to the tribunal, the release of about 150 Kosovar Albanian political prisoners who had been incarcerated in Serbia, the facilitation of the voluntary surrender of six indicted war crimes suspects to the court, and indictments issued to those who are outside the jurisdiction of the tribunal. Although at least 18 war crimes suspects remain at large, Belgrade has said they will face arrest if they do not turn themselves in. Yugoslav officials have also pledged to turn over all but a few documents related to the tribunal’s indictments and assist in locating witnesses called by the court. May 2002 War Crimes Tribunal:Serbian Cooperation Unsatisfactory The international war crimes tribunal at The Hague demanded that Serbian President Milan Milutinovic and other high-profile indicted war crimes suspects surrender to the United Nations court without further delay. The Serbian government has maintained that Milutinovic, as the sitting president, is protected by immunity from arrest and extradition until the end of 2002, when his term expires. It has also argued that he cannot surrender to the war crimes tribunal before his term ends because it would result in early presidential elections in the republic. The tribunal does not recognize the immunity granted to Milutinovic by the Serbian government. Milutinovic, a close aide to former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic and a former Yugoslav foreign minister, was indicted on charges that he committed war crimes during the 1998-1999 Serb crackdown against ethnic Albanians in Kosovo. Although the Yugoslav parliament adopted a law in April that allows for the extradition of indicted war crimes suspects to the tribunal, Belgrade has not yet extradited any of the remaining suspects sought by The Hague, which include 10 Yugoslav citizens and 13 Croatians or Bosnian Serbs. However, the procedures for the arrests of those who are believed to be in Serbia have begun, and Serbian President Zoran Djindjic stated that most of the suspects would be sent to the tribunal by mid-May. Though indicted Bosnian Serb army commander Ratko Mladic is believed to be in Serbia, Djindjic stated that Serbian police would not arrest him because of fears of a violent public backlash, despite the urging of the tribunal's chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte to take him into custody. Although six suspects stated that they would surrender to the court, only three have voluntarily turned themselves over to The Hague, including two members of Milosevic's inner circle. One indictee has committed suicide. Del Ponte criticized the new law authorizing extraditions because it only applies to suspects who have already been publicly indicted by the tribunal. All future indictments by the tribunal must first pass through Yugoslav authorities. Del Ponte stated that genuine cooperation between Yugoslavia and The Hague would begin when Belgrade granted the tribunal full access to its state archives. However, the tribunal will not have access to all state documents, Belgrade officials said, and access will be determined on a case-by-case basis after reviewing each request by the court. Secret state files will remain sealed for 20 to 30 years. President Bush urged Yugoslavia, which has applied for membership in the Council of Europe, to cooperate more fully with the tribunal to facilitate Yugoslavia's integration into Europe. Washington continues to block $40 million in U.S. aid to Belgrade and withhold support for key international loans, including a $800 million IMF loan due for approval in May, because of what it views as insufficient progress in cooperating with the tribunal. May 2002 U.S. Praises Montenegro's Decision to Support Union with Serbia During an April visit of Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic to Washington, Secretary of State Colin Powell praised Djukanovic's decision to form a new union with Serbia, stating that the union agreement would facilitate the integration of Serbia and Montenegro into Europe and would promote stability in the Balkan region. The decision resulted in the resignation of Montenegrin Prime Minister Filip Vujanovic after unsuccessful attempts to preserve a coalition government that was divided over the issue of entering into the agreement with Serbia rather than holding a referendum this year on the independence of Montenegro, which had long been a goal of Djukanovic's. The split in the coalition occurred after the pro-independence Liberal Alliance Party and Social Democratic Party withdrew their support for the government in protest, leaving it without majority backing in parliament. About 55 percent of Montenegro's 800,000 inhabitants favor independence. With Vujanovic remaining as caretaker prime minister, Djukanovic has until mid-June to name a new prime minister, who will attempt to gain enough parliamentary support to form a cabinet. If the attempt fails, early parliamentary elections will be called in July or August. A recent poll indicated that Montenegro's opposition bloc, which was pro-Milosevic and still opposes independence from Serbia, has taken the lead over the president's bloc for the first time in years. The Montenegrin president stated that the EU-brokered union agreement does not meet the interests of Montenegro or Serbia, but he agreed to it as a compromise as a result of international pressure and will honor its provisions. He said that its success would be measured by the degree of harmonization that is achieved between the new entity—"Serbia and Montenegro"—and the European Union. The agreement permits both Serbia and Montenegro to hold independence referendums in three years. The agreement has been ratified by the parliaments of both Montenegro and Serbia, and a debate on the accord has begun in the Yugoslav federal parliament in Belgrade. April 2002 New Union of Serbia and Montenegro Replaces Yugoslavia The March agreement between Podgorica and Belgrade to annul the Yugoslav federation and reshape it as a looser union named Serbia and Montenegro gives both republics considerable autonomy in political and economic matters, with each republic having their own fiscal policies, currencies, and customs services. Both republics have the option of reconsidering the agreement and holding referendums on independence in three years. The republics remain linked through a shared union president, a unicameral parliament that will elect the president, a cabinet, and a Supreme Court in Belgrade. The cabinet will implement common policies concerning foreign affairs, defense, international and internal economic relations, particularly with respect to harmonizing the economic systems of the republics with that of the European Union, and the protection of minorities and human rights. The new union will have a single seat in international institutions, such as the United Nations, with representatives of the two entities rotating as heads of the missions. By agreeing to form the new union, Montenegro has more at stake politically than Serbia, which has long supported preservation of the Yugoslav federation. The union agreement ended Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic’s plans to hold an independence referendum by May 2002, placing in jeopardy the existence of Montenegro’s minority government, a two-party coalition that was able to gain a majority in the republic’s parliament only through the support of a small pro-independence party. That party, the Liberal Alliance, withdrew support for the governing coalition when Djukanovic agreed to the union proposal. The Socialist Democratic Party, which, along with Djukanovic’s Democratic Party of Socialists, makes up the ruling coalition, has declared that it will withdraw from the government as soon as the union agreement is ratified by the Montenegrin parliament. If a new coalition is not formed, early parliamentary elections will be called. In addition, Djukanovic will have to depend on the votes of parties that were supporters of former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic and favored preservation of the Yugoslav federation for ratification of the agreement. The Serbian, Montenegrin, and Yugoslav parliaments have until June to ratify the accord. These three parliaments will then appoint a constitutional commission that will draft a Constitutional Charter to serve as the legal framework for the new union. The accord was brokered by European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana. Both the European Union and the United States feared that Montenegrin independence would lead to further instability in the Balkans by stepping up demands by ethnic Albanians in Kosovo and F.Y.R. Macedonia, and Serbs in Bosnia, for statehood. The European Union has made it clear that a union of two republics would have a better chance of joining the bloc than two independent entities would. October 25, 2002 Forces for Eventual Independence Win Montenegro's Parliamentary Elections Washington, D.C. - Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic's pro-independence coalition secured an absolute parliamentary majority in the republic's October 20 elections, defeating a pro-Yugoslav grouping, led by allies of former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic, which had campaigned on preserving close ties with Serbia. The strong showing by Djukanovic's forces boosts his bargaining position in seeking a less-centralized federal administration to run a common defense and foreign policy, as he and Serbian officials resume negotiations to finalize details of the constitution that will be the basis for the new EU-brokered looser federation of Serbia and Montenegro. Although the Montenegrin president has agreed to cooperate with Serbia within the framework of the new federation over the next three years, under an agreement signed in March, he has indicated that he favors independence for the republic at the end of that period, when both Serbia and Montenegro will have the option of holding referendums to break away from the federation. Djukanovic's Democratic List for a European Montenegro won 39 seats in the 75-seat parliament, while the pro-Yugoslav, three-party Coalition for Change led by Predrag Bulatovic took 30. A group representing the 7-percent ethnic Albanian minority won two seats. Four seats went to the radically pro-independence Liberal Alliance, whose withdrawal from the government in May to protest the EU-brokered federation agreement had forced early elections after only 18 months in power. Djukanovic said he would invite the ethnic Albanian group to become part of the new government. October 25, 2002 Belgrade Investigates Serb Firm's Involvement in Iraqi Warplane Refurbishment Washington, D.C. - Belgrade responded quickly to U.S. allegations that Yugoimport, a state-owned company in Yugoslavia, was assisting in the sale of engine parts for Iraqi Soviet-built MiG warplanes by ordering an investigation into the matter and by firing a government official and the director of the firm. On the basis of evidence gathered by SFOR peacekeeping troops concerning Orao, a state-owned aviation plant in the Serb-run part of Bosnia, the U.S. accused the Bosnian firm of cooperating with Yugoimport to export the parts to Iraq via Belgrade. The evidence also indicated that Orao had sent technicians to Baghdad to help service the planes. Such activity violates the United Nations arms embargo against Iraq and the obligation of the Bosnian Serb Republic, under the Dayton peace accords, to inform SFOR regarding any military export activities it is undertaking. The Yugoslav government dismissed Ivan Djokic, a deputy defense minister in charge of arms trading, and Jovan Cekovic, the head of Yugoimport, charging them with responsibility for the shipments. It also ordered Yugoimport to close its Baghdad office. U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher stated that no information had been found indicating any involvement of the Yugoslav and Bosnian governments, or the participation of Bosnian Serb authorities, in the warplane refurbishment. Yugoslavia hopes to be admitted to NATO's Partnership for Peace (PFP) program at the alliance's summit in Prague in November. Membership in PFP provides the best preparation for countries interested in becoming NATO members. October 11, 2002 U.S. Writes Off Part of Belgrade's Debt Washington, D.C. - The U.S. government has forgiven two-thirds of Yugoslavia's debt to Washington as a signal of support for economic reforms carried out by the country's pro-Western leadership since the October 2000 ouster of former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic. An agreement signed by U.S. Ambassador to Yugoslavia William Montgomery and Yugoslav Foreign Minister Goran Svilanovic writes off $353.7 million, or 66 percent, of Belgrade's $589.4 million debt to the U.S. Washington still has not released frozen Yugoslav assets resulting from international sanctions imposed during the Milosevic era. August 30, 2002 Kostunica to Face Djindjic-Backed Candidate in Presidential Election Washington, D.C. - In a move that is expected to deepen the rift between Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica and Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic, Kostunica announced that he would run for the Serb presidency in the September 29 election, becoming the main challenger to the candidacy of Yugoslav Deputy Prime Minister Miroljub Labus, backed by Djindjic. Labus, a 55-year-old pro-Western economist and member of Djindjic’s Democratic Party, has promoted free-market reforms that are critical to attracting foreign investment and has been instrumental in restoring Yugoslavia’s relations with the IMF and World Bank. He favors fast-track privatization of state companies, while Kostunica, a 58-year-old jurist who takes a more nationalistic stance, favors a slower transition to a market economy to lessen its impact on unemployment, which now stands at 35 percent. The political feud between Kostunica and the pro-Western Djindjic began in June 2001 when the Yugoslav president objected to the Djindjic-engineered extradition of former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic to the international war crimes tribunal at The Hague. Kostunica and Djindjic were previously allies within the coalition that ousted Milosevic in October 2000, but they have since clashed over a range of economic and legal reforms, in addition to Kostunica’s ongoing reluctance to cooperate with the tribunal. The Kostunica-Djindjic rift escalated in late July when allies of Djindjic kicked Kostunica’s Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) out of the ruling DOS coalition and stripped DSS of its 45 parliamentary seats in the 250-seat Serbian legislative body, replacing them with those loyal to the Serb prime minister’s government. DSS had launched a boycott of the Serbian parliament in June to protest the sacking by DOS of 21 of the party’s deputies on grounds that they had failed to be present for parliamentary debates on key reforms and had, therefore, prevented the passage of the reforms. DOS decided to formally expel Kostunica’s party from the coalition after a court overturned the June decision to sack DSS deputies. As a result of the constitutional changes underway in the establishment of a loose confederation of the republics of Serbia and Montenegro that will take Yugoslavia’s place, greater power will be given to the Serb president, while it is unclear how much power the president of the new union will have. A victory for Kostunica in the Serb presidential race would put him in a position to curb Djindjic’s attempts to implement market reforms and increase cooperation with the West. Kostunica has stated that, if elected, he will call early parliamentary elections in Serbia in an effort to unseat the ruling coalition. Believing that Kostunica would not be able to become a candidate for the Serb presidency while serving as Yugoslav president, Djindjic had backed moving the Serb presidential election from January 2003, when the current presidential mandate expires, to September 2002. The current Serb president, Milan Milutinovic, has been indicted by the war crimes tribunal for his role in the war in Kosovo, but the Serb government has cited his political immunity as the reason for not extraditing him to The Hague. Milutinovic will, therefore, serve out his term until January 2003, a factor that encouraged Kostunica to run for the position. It is believed that international pressure will result in the establishment of the new union of Serbia and Montenegro by then, which would do away with the position currently held by Kostunica. August 16, 2002 U.N. Police Arrest Leading Kosovar Albanians for Past Violence Washington, D.C. - Two Kosovar Albanian senior commanders in the now-disbanded Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) were arrested in mid-August by U.N. police, the latest in a number of detentions of former KLA members in recent months. Ramush Haradinaj, the leader of the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK), Kosovo's third-largest ethnic Albanian political party, and the most high-profile figure in the series of arrests, was accused of involvement in a shooting death in 2000. Rustem Mustafa was arrested on suspicion of the torture and murder of at least five illegally detained people during the 1998-1999 conflict in Kosovo. In 2001, Mustafa was dismissed from the Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC), established to deal with civilian emergencies after NATO-led peacekeepers entered the province, because he had been included on a U.S. list of 22 ethnic Albanians believed by Washington to be a threat to peace in the Balkans. He was also among those accused of involvement in the ethnic Albanian insurgency in F.Y.R. Macedonia that began in February 2001. Haradinaj's brother Daut and five more former KLA guerrillas were arrested in July for rocket and machine-gun attacks against a Kosovar Albanian family that supported a rival rebel faction. June 14, 2002 Tribunal Reveals Neighbors Role in Milosevic Financial Network Washington, D.C. - A report by prosecutors at the international war crimes tribunal at The Hague stated that former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic's money-laundering operation extended to over 50 countries, including Cyprus and Greece. The funds originated primarily in the Yugoslav customs department and were used to make illegal arms purchases and to buy other goods affected by international sanctions against Belgrade. Milosevic's financial network involved numerous individual and company bank accounts, including screen companies operated by foreign banks in Cyprus and Greece. Some funds were funneled out of Serbia through various Yugoslav government departments and some were channeled through Yugoslav banks, particularly Beogradska Bank. May 24, 2002 U.S. Lifts Freeze on Financial Aid Washington, D.C. - Secretary of State Colin Powell lifted a seven-week freeze on $40 million in U.S. aid to Yugoslavia this year, citing Belgrade’s improved cooperation with the international war crimes tribunal at The Hague. The decision, announced on May 21 during a visit by Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic to Washington, also opened the way for the U.S. Treasury to release about $300 million in Yugoslav assets that were frozen as part of U.S. sanctions against Yugoslavia for Slobodan Milosevic’s role in the Balkan wars over the last decade, a resumption of U.S. support for loans to Belgrade by international financial institutions, and steps toward establishing normal bilateral trade relations. The expected moves will improve the climate for U.S. investment in Yugoslavia. Powell said Belgrade’s previous insufficient cooperation with the tribunal had been reversed through the passage of a Yugoslav law providing a legal framework for extraditions to the tribunal, the release of about 150 Kosovar Albanian political prisoners who had been incarcerated in Serbia, the facilitation of the voluntary surrender of six indicted war crimes suspects to the court, and indictments issued to those who are outside the jurisdiction of the tribunal. Although at least 18 war crimes suspects remain at large, Belgrade has said they will face arrest if they do not turn themselves in. Yugoslav officials have also pledged to turn over all but a few documents related to the tribunal’s indictments and assist in locating witnesses called by the court. May 2002 War Crimes Tribunal:Serbian Cooperation Unsatisfactory The international war crimes tribunal at The Hague demanded that Serbian President Milan Milutinovic and other high-profile indicted war crimes suspects surrender to the United Nations court without further delay. The Serbian government has maintained that Milutinovic, as the sitting president, is protected by immunity from arrest and extradition until the end of 2002, when his term expires. It has also argued that he cannot surrender to the war crimes tribunal before his term ends because it would result in early presidential elections in the republic. The tribunal does not recognize the immunity granted to Milutinovic by the Serbian government. Milutinovic, a close aide to former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic and a former Yugoslav foreign minister, was indicted on charges that he committed war crimes during the 1998-1999 Serb crackdown against ethnic Albanians in Kosovo. Although the Yugoslav parliament adopted a law in April that allows for the extradition of indicted war crimes suspects to the tribunal, Belgrade has not yet extradited any of the remaining suspects sought by The Hague, which include 10 Yugoslav citizens and 13 Croatians or Bosnian Serbs. However, the procedures for the arrests of those who are believed to be in Serbia have begun, and Serbian President Zoran Djindjic stated that most of the suspects would be sent to the tribunal by mid-May. Though indicted Bosnian Serb army commander Ratko Mladic is believed to be in Serbia, Djindjic stated that Serbian police would not arrest him because of fears of a violent public backlash, despite the urging of the tribunal's chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte to take him into custody. Although six suspects stated that they would surrender to the court, only three have voluntarily turned themselves over to The Hague, including two members of Milosevic's inner circle. One indictee has committed suicide. Del Ponte criticized the new law authorizing extraditions because it only applies to suspects who have already been publicly indicted by the tribunal. All future indictments by the tribunal must first pass through Yugoslav authorities. Del Ponte stated that genuine cooperation between Yugoslavia and The Hague would begin when Belgrade granted the tribunal full access to its state archives. However, the tribunal will not have access to all state documents, Belgrade officials said, and access will be determined on a case-by-case basis after reviewing each request by the court. Secret state files will remain sealed for 20 to 30 years. President Bush urged Yugoslavia, which has applied for membership in the Council of Europe, to cooperate more fully with the tribunal to facilitate Yugoslavia's integration into Europe. Washington continues to block $40 million in U.S. aid to Belgrade and withhold support for key international loans, including a $800 million IMF loan due for approval in May, because of what it views as insufficient progress in cooperating with the tribunal. May 2002 U.S. Praises Montenegro's Decision to Support Union with Serbia During an April visit of Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic to Washington, Secretary of State Colin Powell praised Djukanovic's decision to form a new union with Serbia, stating that the union agreement would facilitate the integration of Serbia and Montenegro into Europe and would promote stability in the Balkan region. The decision resulted in the resignation of Montenegrin Prime Minister Filip Vujanovic after unsuccessful attempts to preserve a coalition government that was divided over the issue of entering into the agreement with Serbia rather than holding a referendum this year on the independence of Montenegro, which had long been a goal of Djukanovic's. The split in the coalition occurred after the pro-independence Liberal Alliance Party and Social Democratic Party withdrew their support for the government in protest, leaving it without majority backing in parliament. About 55 percent of Montenegro's 800,000 inhabitants favor independence. With Vujanovic remaining as caretaker prime minister, Djukanovic has until mid-June to name a new prime minister, who will attempt to gain enough parliamentary support to form a cabinet. If the attempt fails, early parliamentary elections will be called in July or August. A recent poll indicated that Montenegro's opposition bloc, which was pro-Milosevic and still opposes independence from Serbia, has taken the lead over the president's bloc for the first time in years. The Montenegrin president stated that the EU-brokered union agreement does not meet the interests of Montenegro or Serbia, but he agreed to it as a compromise as a result of international pressure and will honor its provisions. He said that its success would be measured by the degree of harmonization that is achieved between the new entity—"Serbia and Montenegro"—and the European Union. The agreement permits both Serbia and Montenegro to hold independence referendums in three years. The agreement has been ratified by the parliaments of both Montenegro and Serbia, and a debate on the accord has begun in the Yugoslav federal parliament in Belgrade. April 2002 New Union of Serbia and Montenegro Replaces Yugoslavia The March agreement between Podgorica and Belgrade to annul the Yugoslav federation and reshape it as a looser union named Serbia and Montenegro gives both republics considerable autonomy in political and economic matters, with each republic having their own fiscal policies, currencies, and customs services. Both republics have the option of reconsidering the agreement and holding referendums on independence in three years. The republics remain linked through a shared union president, a unicameral parliament that will elect the president, a cabinet, and a Supreme Court in Belgrade. The cabinet will implement common policies concerning foreign affairs, defense, international and internal economic relations, particularly with respect to harmonizing the economic systems of the republics with that of the European Union, and the protection of minorities and human rights. The new union will have a single seat in international institutions, such as the United Nations, with representatives of the two entities rotating as heads of the missions. By agreeing to form the new union, Montenegro has more at stake politically than Serbia, which has long supported preservation of the Yugoslav federation. The union agreement ended Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic’s plans to hold an independence referendum by May 2002, placing in jeopardy the existence of Montenegro’s minority government, a two-party coalition that was able to gain a majority in the republic’s parliament only through the support of a small pro-independence party. That party, the Liberal Alliance, withdrew support for the governing coalition when Djukanovic agreed to the union proposal. The Socialist Democratic Party, which, along with Djukanovic’s Democratic Party of Socialists, makes up the ruling coalition, has declared that it will withdraw from the government as soon as the union agreement is ratified by the Montenegrin parliament. If a new coalition is not formed, early parliamentary elections will be called. In addition, Djukanovic will have to depend on the votes of parties that were supporters of former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic and favored preservation of the Yugoslav federation for ratification of the agreement. The Serbian, Montenegrin, and Yugoslav parliaments have until June to ratify the accord. These three parliaments will then appoint a constitutional commission that will draft a Constitutional Charter to serve as the legal framework for the new union. The accord was brokered by European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana. Both the European Union and the United States feared that Montenegrin independence would lead to further instability in the Balkans by stepping up demands by ethnic Albanians in Kosovo and F.Y.R. Macedonia, and Serbs in Bosnia, for statehood. The European Union has made it clear that a union of two republics would have a better chance of joining the bloc than two independent entities would. April 2002 Lack of Key Extraditions to Hague Freezes Serbia Aid The United States Congress froze $40 million in aid to Serbia on March 31 due to insufficient cooperation by Belgrade with the international war crimes tribunal at The Hague, including the lack of arrests and extraditions of high-profile war crimes suspects sought by the tribunal. The Yugoslav cabinet responded by endorsing the Serbian government’s decision to cooperate with the Hague tribunal, including allowing the court access to government archives that could aid war crimes investigations. Yugoslav politicians also went to work finalizing a draft law that would authorize the handover of suspects to the international war crimes tribunal. The Serbian prime minister, Zoran Djindjic, has been willing to extradite suspects to The Hague without such a law, but Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica has long insisted on enacting legislation to regulate cooperation with the tribunal. Hours before Washington’s deadline for freezing the aid, the Serbian Justice Ministry issued warrants for the arrest of four senior associates of Slobodan Milosevic, including Milan Milutinovic, the current Serbian president. The ministry announced that it expected the police to pursue the indictees, all sought for war crimes in Kosovo. The United States and the tribunal are also pressing Belgrade to surrender former Bosnian Serb military leader Ratko Mladic, believed to be in Serbia, to the court. They are also seeking its aid in the arrest of wartime Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, who is probably in Bosnia. Some 15 suspects indicted by the court remain at large in Serbia. Since last summer, certain steps taken by Belgrade have met some of Washington’s requirements for continued U.S. funding. They include the transfer of four lower-profile war crimes suspects to the Hague tribunal and the release of about 150 Kosovar Albanians held in Serbian jails since the Kosovo war to United Nations officials in Kosovo. Continued inaction concerning extraditions of war crimes suspects by Belgrade could result in the withdrawal of Washington’s support for assistance for Yugoslavia from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, which would be a blow to Serbia’s crippled economy. In March, the Yugoslav government agreed to an $800 million, three-year IMF loan program, a condition for a 66 percent cut in its $4.6 billion debt. April 2002 Kosovo Self-Government Underway Kosovo embarked on the task of building institutions of self-government after its assembly, elected in November 2001, ended a three-month deadlock over the formation of its first democratically elected government by electing Ibrahim Rugova president for a three-year term. Rugova, the leader of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), who had led the Kosovar Albanians’ non-violent resistance during a decade of rule by Slobodan Milosevic, said he would work toward the independence of Kosovo, advocated by the province’s three main ethnic Albanian political parties. Serbs, who hold 22 of the 120 seats in the assembly and will hold one ministerial post in the 10-member cabinet, continue to reject any option for Kosovo’s future other than association with Belgrade. Serbs in the Albanian-dominated southern part of Kosovo continue to live in enclaves protected by the NATO-led KFOR peacekeeping force. About 80,000 of the province’s 2 million people are Serbs. The stalemate in the assembly had stemmed primarily from Rugova’s initial refusal to appoint a prime minister from the party of his key rival, former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) leader Hashim Thaci, the head of the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK). The LDK, with 46 assembly seats, needed the support of the PDK’s 26 representatives in order to obtain the majority required for Rugova to be elected. Under the arrangement reached, the position of prime minister went to PDK member Bajram Rexhipi, rather than to Thaci. Rexhipi, a field doctor for the KLA during the 1999 war, is considered to be a moderate among the more radical members of the ex-guerrilla group. The new government, responsible for civil issues such as the economy, health care, and education, will govern alongside the U.N. administration and NATO, which will handle security matters. United Nations administrators retain overall control over the province, having the right to veto all decisions made by the assembly, which is not authorized to discuss the province’s final status. The United Nations Security Council resolution establishing the interim system in Kosovo left the issue of final status open. Under an agreement signed in 2001, Belgrade can express its views concerning Kosovo in a coordination body for the province, but it has no power over Kosovo’s internal affairs. The uncertainty concerning Kosovo’s future status will continue to discourage privatization and foreign investment, which are considered essential to reviving the province’s economy as foreign assistance begins to decline. Organized crime in Kosovo is increasingly problematic and remains to be tackled. March 2002 Milosevic on Trial: Only NATO, Albanians are Guilty The landmark trial of former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic, the first head of state to be charged with war crimes while in power, began in mid-February at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia at The Hague and is expected to last about two years. Milosevic is being tried in one single trial on charges filed in three indictments against him. The indictments cover 66 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Bosnia, Croatia, and Kosovo over the last decade, including the most serious crime, genocide, in Bosnia, involving the execution of more than 7,000 Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica. More than 200,000 were killed and more than 2 million were displaced from their homes during the three wars. The maximum sentence Milosevic can receive on any charge is life imprisonment. The trial opened with the Kosovo indictment. The prosecutors must prove that Milosevic either ordered atrocities against civilians or knew about war crimes committed by his subordinates and failed to prevent the crimes or punish the perpetrators. He is being advised outside the courtroom by Belgrade lawyers, and the tribunal’s judges have appointed three lawyers as “friends of the court” to ensure that he gets a fair trial. Milosevic, representing himself in the courtroom, said he wants nothing to do with the “friends of the court.” In his opening statement, Milosevic denied all responsibility for the atrocities in the three wars, saying that NATO and Western countries conspired to divide Yugoslavia. He said his actions in Kosovo were aimed at curbing terrorism by ethnic Albanian rebels and claimed a link between Osama bin Laden and the arming of Kosovar Albanians. Milosevic accused the United States of carrying out policies of genocide in the Balkans, citing civilian casualties during the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999 and lawlessness in Kosovo after the KFOR NATO-led peacekeeping force went into the Serbian province that year as examples. March 2002 EU Plan for Serbia-Montenegro Federation Proposed European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana has presented elements of a compromise package to the governments of Serbia and Montenegro in an attempt to prevent the Yugoslav federation from breaking apart. Solana began meeting with the two sides in December in an effort to end the deadlock over the future of the federation. Solana has proposed that Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic impose a five-year moratorium on a referendum for Montenegrin independence, which was planned for April or May. The proposals also include moving some of Yugoslavia’s federal ministries from Belgrade to Podgorica, the capital of Montenegro; having Serbia and Montenegro take turns occupying a single seat at the United Nations; and allowing Montenegro to have its own diplomatic and trade offices abroad. Under Solana’s package, Montenegro and Serbia, which would each retain considerable autonomy, would share a single system of defense, customs, and currency, and the name “Yugoslavia” would be replaced by a title that incorporates the names of both republics. Solana has said that Montenegro’s chances of joining the European Union would be improved if it remained in a federation with Serbia. The Serbian and Montenegrin governments are expected to make a decision concerning Solana’s proposals by the end of March. March 2002 Limited Autonomy Restored in Vojvodina The Serbian parliament voted in principle to restore some autonomous powers to the northern Serbian province of Vojvodina, expected to include more control over financial affairs, health care, and the local media. The autonomous status of the province was withdrawn by Milosevic when he rescinded the autonomy of Kosovo in 1989 as president of Serbia. Known as Serbia’s “breadbasket” because of its extensive wheat fields and home to Serbia’s oil industry, Vojvodina generated about 40 percent of the republic’s GDP of $14 billion last year. About 57 percent of the province’s 2 million people are Serbs, 17 percent are ethnic Hungarians, and the remaining inhabitants belong to 26 other ethnic groups, including Romanians, Slovaks, and Ruthenians. The region has avoided the armed conflicts that have plagued other multiethnic regions of the former Yugoslavia over the last decade. Sentiments for self-rule are pronounced in the province, rooted in its autonomy under the Austro-Hungarian Empire until 1918, while the rest of Serbia was ruled by the Ottoman Empire. Seeing Vojvodina as part of central Europe rather than the Balkans, some 70 percent of the province’s population supported a return of autonomy in a poll taken late last year. March 2002 Kosovo Impasse Delays Self-Rule Disagreements among the main ethnic Albanian political parties in Kosovo have deadlocked efforts to elect a president for the Serb province, delaying the measure of self-rule that was to be implemented following elections in November to choose a new 120-seat provincial assembly. In the elections, the Democratic League of Kosovo of moderate ethnic Albanian leader Ibrahim Rugova, with 47 assembly seats, failed to win the majority needed to govern alone. Subsequent negotiations with the second-largest party, the Democratic Party of former Kosovo Liberation Army head Hashim Thaqi, have failed to achieve a power-sharing arrangement. Rugova has failed to garner the number of votes he needed to win the presidency in three rounds of voting in the assembly since the elections took place. The Return Coalition, representing the Serbs, with 22 seats, could provide the support Rugova needs to win, but has declined to do so. Under U.N.-established rules, the president is to nominate a prime minister, who will head the government. As soon as the government is formed, the U.N. administration will hand over the day-to-day running of Kosovo to it, while retaining overall authority for the governing of the province. January/February 2002 EU Works to Prevent Yugoslav Break-Up Taking decisive action to prevent the final break-up of Yugoslavia, the European Union has begun mediating negotiations between Serbia and Montenegro in a last-ditch effort to find a way to preserve the Yugoslav federation before Montenegro holds an independence referendum in April. In December, Javier Solana, the EU’s high representative for security and foreign affairs, met with the two sides and persuaded them to come together under the guidance of EU representatives to draft measures proposing ways to reconfigure the federation. The negotiators, who are meeting in both Belgrade and Podgorica, are aiming to reach a conclusion on the matter by the end of February, when the status of the federation should be clarified ahead of Belgrade’s March talks with the IMF on negotiating economic restructuring funding. During talks in October, the two republics decided that they could not resolve their differences and that Montenegro should hold its referendum as soon as possible. In a meeting with Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic in November, Solana failed to persuade him to abandon plans for a spring referendum. The EU and the U.S. support the view of Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica and Serbian President Zoran Djindjic that a restructured federation under a new constitution would be preferable to separation, fearing that a redrawn map of the Balkans could provoke further separatism and violence in the region, especially in Kosovo and F.Y.R. Macedonia. They favor a loose federation with joint functions in areas such as foreign affairs and currency. Montenegro’s administration under Djukanovic is calling for two independent states that could form a yet-undefined union. January/February 2002 Milosevic War Crimes Trial to Begin in February The trial of former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic at the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague on charges of crimes against humanity for mass killings and expulsions of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo in 1999 is scheduled to begin on February 12. The date for his second trial on charges of genocide of Muslims and Croats in Bosnia in 1992-1995 and crimes against humanity in Croatia in 1991-1992 has not been established. Milosevic is seeking his own release and financial damages in a complaint filed in December against the Netherlands at the European Court of Human Rights, claiming that his arrest in Belgrade in April 2001, extradition to The Hague in June 2001, incarceration, and trial were violations of the European Convention on Human Rights. Milosevic has refused to enter a plea on the three indictments against him or appoint defense lawyers, saying that he does not recognize the tribunal’s authority. The judges entered pleas of not guilty on his behalf. The charges carry a maximum penalty of life in prison. January/February 2002 Dramatic Banking Reforms to Eliminate Insolvency Belgrade closed the four largest state-owned banks in January, marking the largest corporate closures in Serbia to date and a major step toward restructuring its debt-ridden financial sector. The closures of Beogradska Banka, Beobanka, Yugobanka, and Investbanka were required under terms of a World Bank program aimed at revamping Serbia’s badly managed banking system, where 21 of the 54 banks are insolvent. Serbian Finance Minister Bozidar Djelic stated that a rescue operation to bail out the banks, in the absence of foreign or domestic buyers, could have resulted in an economic crisis similar to that in Argentina, since such a move would have cost about one-third of Serbia’s $14 billion GDP in 2001. Government officials said household depositors and other domestic creditors would be compensated fully. The government will not compensate foreign creditors, including major Greek and Italian firms, which have granted $1.7 billion in loans to Yugoslav firms through the banks without state guarantees. About 8,500 bank employees lost their jobs as a result of the closures, with more than 1,000 of them staging peaceful protests. Half of the employees are expected to find new jobs in one of four new financial institutions that will take over the banks’ bad loans, many of which date back to the communist era. The official unemployment rate in Serbia is 30 percent, but it is estimated to be as high as 50 percent. There has been almost no foreign investment during the first year of Serbia’s transition into market-based reforms. Inflation was reduced from 112 percent in 2000 to 40 percent in 2001 through economic stabilization measures. The World Bank has followed the lead of the IMF by beginning to make significant loans to Serbia. An accord has been reached with the World Bank to restructure Belgrade’s $1.9 billion debt. November/December 2001 Velvet Divorce, Between Montenegro and Serbia Envisioned The Montenegrin government expects to hold a referendum on becoming an independent state by April, following agreement between Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic and Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica that efforts to reconfigure the current Yugoslav federation of Montenegro and Serbia had failed. Kostunica, whose position will be eliminated if the referendum passes, stated that both he and Djukanovic agreed that the Montenegrin people should decide as soon as possible whether they want Montenegro to break away from Serbia. Over the past year, as talks on salvaging the federation have continued, Kostunica and Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic have been opposed to its break-up. They now say that they will respect the will of the Montenegrin people and Serbians will not be consulted on the matter. Recent polls indicated that 55 percent of Montenegrins favored independence, while 45 percent were opposed. Djindjic said that uncertainty over the status of the federation has delayed long-awaited structural and economic reforms in Serbia. Montenegro and Serbia have essentially been functioning as two separate states for the past several years, with the Yugoslav army being the only federal institution that operates in both republics. The United States and the EU have consistently stated their support for a democratic Montenegro within a democratic Yugoslavia. November/December 2001 Kosovo Elections Herald Self-Government The Democratic League of Kosovo of moderate ethnic Albanian leader Ibrahim Rugova received 46 percent of the votes in province-wide elections for a legislative assembly, more than its two main rivals formed from the remnants of the disbanded Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), making it likely that Rugova will become Kosovo’s president. The Democratic Party of Kosovo, led by former KLA leader Hashim Thaci, won 26 percent, while former KLA commander Ramush Haradinaj’s Alliance for the Future of Kosovo received 8 percent. The Serbian single coalition of parties garnered 11 percent. The ethnic Albanian majority, which makes up about 95 percent of Kosovo’s 2 million inhabitants, will hold 89 of the assembly’s 120 seats. The assembly will elect the province’s president and government, in which one Serb and one member of another minority are guaranteed positions. International officials expressed satisfaction over the fact that the province’s 100,000-member Serb minority and tens of thousands of Kosovar Serbs that had fled to Yugoslavia participated in the elections, although, proportionally, their turnout was lower than that of the Albanians. The ten seats in the assembly that were reserved for Serbs would have been filled with appointees if the Serbs had boycotted the elections, as was the case when municipal elections were held in December 2000. As a result of their participation, Serbs will hold 21 seats. Ten seats are reserved for other minorities, mostly Roma, Turks, and Bosniaks. The assembly, which will govern Kosovo in conjunction with officials of the U.N. Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and NATO-led peacekeepers, is explicitly barred from voting on the issue of Kosovo’s independence. The U.N. has final authority over Kosovo, which is still legally part of Serbia, and will be able to veto all measures that appear to violate U.N. resolutions concerning the province. Ethnic Albanians viewed the election of the assembly as a first step toward the independence of Kosovo, while Serbs voted for a coalition with the declared aim of reintegrating the province into Serbia. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which ran the November 17 elections, said that about 65 percent of 1.25 million eligible voters had taken part in the violence-free elections. Kosovo has been a de facto international protectorate since June 1999, when NATO bombing ended the oppression of its ethnic Albanians by the regime of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. November/December 2001 Belgrade Urged Serbs to Vote in Kosovo In early November, Yugoslav President Kostunica urged Kosovar Serbs to vote in the Kosovo elections, concluding that any boycott of the polling by them would further marginalize their voice in the future of the province and make it more difficult to hinder moves toward independence from Serbia, opposed by the Yugoslav and Serbian leadership. Kostunica had previously opposed the participation of Serbs in the elections to protest the lack of progress in improving the security and living conditions of the members of this minority, who live primarily in NATO-guarded enclaves, and in promoting the return of some 180,000 Serbs who fled the province in 1999. Kostunica’s reversal followed the conclusion of an agreement between the Yugoslav leadership and UNMIK aimed at improving the security and living conditions of Kosovar Serbs and stating that the province’s final status would not be addressed by the new assembly. Kostunica said the agreement did not contain sufficient guarantees for Kosovar Serb security, but he was encouraged that discussions to improve these guarantees would continue. President Bush, French President Jacques Chirac, and British Prime Minister Tony Blair called on Yugoslavia to encourage Kosovar Serbs to vote, believing that a Serb boycott would undermine the legitimacy of Kosovo’s new institutions. November/December 2001 Serbia Reaffirms Support for War on Terrorism, Seeks Additional Aid During meetings in Washington with President Bush, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, and Secretary of State Colin Powell, Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic said Serbia and the Yugoslav government would continue to play a supporting role in the U.S.-led war on terrorism by sharing intelligence information gathered by Belgrade with Washington. Djindjic, accompanied by Serbian Finance Minister Bozidar Djelic, pressed the Bush administration to increase economic aid and debt relief to Serbia, in order to allow the republic to accelerate its economic reforms to correct problems such as a 30-35 percent inflation rate and an internal debt amounting to 142 percent of GDP. Washington is expected to provide Serbia with $115 million in economic aid in 2002, with additional help in debt relief. October 2001 Officials Send Condolences to U.S. Following Attacks Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica condemned the terrorist attacks against the United States, stating that they should be regarded as international in nature. In a letter to President Bush, Kostunica stated that terrorism, as the greatest evil of the modern world, could not be underestimated and must be eliminated. Both Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic and Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic condemned the attacks. Djindjic said that the Serbian government denounced any kind of violence used for political purposes and called for a determined global stance against terrorism and the use of force to achieve political goals. October 2001 Last Anti-Milosevic Sanctions Lifted in Yugoslavia The U.N. Security Council ended a ban on weapons sales to Yugoslavia imposed in March 1998 because of then-president Slobodan Milosevic's military campaign against the ethnic Albanian majority in Kosovo. It was the last in a series of international military and economic sanctions against Belgrade stemming from Milosevic's actions in Kosovo, which were halted by the 1999 NATO air war against Yugoslavia. The resolution to end the embargo was submitted by the United States, which noted that the Serbian government's June transfer of Milosevic to the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague had marked the final requirement for its repeal. Other steps Yugoslavia has taken have been working to improve the security situation along Kosovo's border and cooperating with human rights organizations and aid groups. France and Russia led the campaign to end the embargo. The Security Council's arms embargo against Yugoslavia resulting from the wars in Croatia and Bosnia was lifted in increments following the signing of the 1995 Dayton accords ending the Bosnian war, but it was re-imposed in 1998. The United States and European governments gradually began lifting diplomatic and economic sanctions they had imposed against Yugoslavia after Kostunica assumed the presidency of Yugoslavia last October. October 2001 Kosovo Prepares for November Elections As a first step toward interim national self-government, Kosovo, which is 90 percent ethnic Albanian, is preparing to elect members of a national assembly on November 17, although the province will remain under a U.N. administration in place since June 1999. The unicameral assembly of 120 members was established under a Constitutional Framework for Provisional Self-Government introduced in May by the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). The members of the assembly, who will take office in January 2002, will choose a president and a prime minister. While the constitutional framework grants responsibility to the new institutions of self-government in a broad range of areas, it gives the UNMIK chief ultimate authority over implementation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1244, which established the political framework for a solution to the Kosovo crisis, and sectors such as monetary policy, customs, law enforcement, and international agreements. While Serbs from Kosovo boycotted last year's municipal elections because of anti-Serb violence and the lack of security for this minority ethnic group, some 175,000 Kosovar Serbs have registered to vote in this year's elections at the urging of Yugoslav President Kostunica and Serbian Prime Minister Djindjic. The registrants are drawn from the 100,000 Serbs remaining in Kosovo and the 200,000 Serbs who fled to Montenegro and other parts of Serbia after NATO's air war, fearing revenge killings by ethnic Albanians. The OSCE, which is organizing the elections, has certified a Serb coalition of about 20 groups and parties that will name candidates. Serbs in Kosovo continue to live within enclaves, which are guarded by NATO-led KFOR peacekeepers, in the southern and central portions of the province. These Serbs are escorted by KFOR troops when they travel outside of the enclaves. The U.N. civilian administrators and police have largely left the Serb-dominated northern region because of attacks and threats. With ethnically-motivated violence against both Serbs and Albanians in Kosovo continuing to take place, few of the Serbs that fled the province have returned. August/September 2001 Bush Affirms U.S. to Maintain Regional Presence On a visit to Kosovo as part of a European tour, President George W. Bush reaffirmed recent pledges to European allies that the U.S. would not withdraw its troops from Kosovo or Bosnia "precipitously or unilaterally." U.S. and other peacekeepers came in together and will leave together, Bush told American soldiers at Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo. Bush said that considerable work remained to be done to secure peace in the region before the troops could leave, adding that the U.S. had a vital interest in promoting European stability. He stated that Washington's contribution to the peacekeeping effort was essential, both militarily and politically. The U.S. contributes 5,400 of NATO-led KFOR'S 42,500 troops in Kosovo. The size and permanent nature of Camp Bondsteel, the largest U.S. camp in the province, signals the probability that the U.S. commitment in Kosovo will be drawn out. The 1,000-acre complex, housing 4,000 troopsis the largest U.S. foreign base camp in the world since the Vietnam War. August/September 2001 Organized Crime Policies Trigger Serb Crisis The party of Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica withdrew its cabinet officials from the coalition government of Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic over dissatisfaction with the Serbian government's record on fighting organized crime. The action plunged the government into a political crisis that could result in early elections. The Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) did not, however, pull out of the ruling bloc, the pro-democracy 18-party Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS) grouping that has governed Serbia and has also comprised the federal ruling coalition since the ouster of former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic last October. The withdrawal of the DSS ministers was triggered by a row over the killing of a former secret police official hours after he visited Kostunica's office, reportedly to convey information linking senior government officials to organized crime. The DSS claimed that the official was killed to prevent him from divulging further information. The crisis was the culmination of a continuing power struggle between Kostunica and Djindjic, which surfaced when Djindjic engineered the June transfer of Milosevic to the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague. The move caused Kostunica to pull his party out of the DOS parliamentary group in both the Serbian and Yugoslav parliaments in protest. It also resulted in the resignation of the federal prime minister, Zoran Zizic, the leader of the Montenegrin Socialist People's Party (SNP), and the collapse of the federal government. Zizic was replaced by SNP member Dragisa Pesic, a Montenegrin economist and the finance minister in the outgoing administration. Pesic formed a new government that has an equal number of ministers from Serbia and Montenegro, unlike the outgoing government, in which Serbian ministers were in the majority. August/September 2001 Milosevic Challenging Legality of War Crimes Court, Extradition Milosevic, detained by the international war crimes tribunal since June, prepared pre-trial motions in his own defense asserting that the tribunal is an illegal body and that his extradition was illegal since it was carried out in defiance of a Yugoslav court order that the transfer be delayed. Milosevic, facing charges for mass killings and expulsions of Kosovar Albanians that took place while he was the president of Yugoslavia, stated that the tribunal's creation by the United Nations Security Council, rather than the General Assembly, renders it illegitimate. As a result, he did not intend to recognize it and argued that his case should be dismissed. The former Yugoslav leader cited a Dutch law that allows a person to contest his detention if, during his arrest, the laws of the country where the arrest took place were not respected. He claimed that the circumstances leading to his detention, which he referred to as kidnapping, violated Dutch and international law, as well as his own human rights, a claim that could be taken to the European Court of Human Rights. The International Committee to Defend Slobodan Milosevic, a support group of some 200 lawyers, academics, politicians, and writers, including former U.S. attorney general Ramsey Clark, has been providing him with legal counsel and campaigning to promote his exoneration. However, Milosevic, who holds a law degree, plans to conduct his own defense at his trial, which is not expected to begin until next year. In his initial appearance before the tribunal, the court entered a plea of innocence on his behalf after he refused to enter a plea. August/September 2001 Yugoslav Forces Fully Operational in Buffer Zone In an agreement signed by NATO and the Yugoslav army, NATO lifted all remaining restrictions on Yugoslav army operations in the three-mile-wide250buffer zone separating Kosovo from the rest of Yugoslavia. The zone was set up by KFOR in 1999when it entered the Serbian province. Although the Yugoslav military had gradually been introduced into all areas of the zone in an attempt to curb the activities of ethnic Albanian rebels in southern Serbia's Presevo Valley, restrictions on its range of movement, the number of soldiers permitted, and the scale of weaponry allowed in the area remained in force. The new agreement permits Yugoslav tanks and other heavy weaponry to be brought into the region, though the KFOR commander retains authority over the zone and can revoke the agreement. An ethnic Albanian guerrilla group known as the Liberation Army of Presevo, Medvedja, and Bujanovac (UCPMB), which had waged a 16-month insurgency in the Presevo Valley to annex the region to Kosovo, agreed in May to disarm under a NATO-brokered accord in return for political and economic measures benefiting the region's Albanian community. Since then, the valley has been largely peaceful, with the exception of an August attack that killed two Serb policemen and injured two others in the village of Muhovac. An ethnic Albanian rebel group calling itself the Albanian National Army (ANA) claimed responsibility for the attack, while a former UCPMB representative denied that his group was involved. (See F.Y.R. Macedonia section.) August/September 2001 Yugoslav Integration with EU Stepped Up The European Union and Yugoslavia set up a joint task force to prepare the country for a Stabilization and Association Agreement, a pact that facilitates trade links and closer relations between former communist countries and EU nations. The pact is seen as an initial step toward membership in the bloc. The task force will meet every few months to discuss harmonization of Yugoslavia's legal system, institutions, and public administration with EU standards. Other reforms will also be encouraged in the country's fiscal system and banking practices. July 2001 Milosevic Extradited to The Hague Amid Constitutional Wrangling Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic engineered the extradition of former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic to the International War Crimes Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague just one day before a donor's conference was to be held to raise money to rebuild Yugoslavia's battered economy. The extradition on June 28 was apparently carried out without the knowledge of Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica, who opposed Milosevic's early transfer to the tribunal. Djindjic relied on the police forces of Serbia, who are under his control, to carry out the physical transfer through a series of ruses and decoys. A Serbian police helicopter delivered Milosevic to a U.S. peacekeeping headquarters in Tuzla, Bosnia, from which a British military plane flew him to the Netherlands. In 1999, the tribunal charged Milosevic and four others in Serbia with ordering the killing of about 340 ethnic Albanians in Kosovo and the forced deportation of 740,000 that year. An additional indictment of Milosevic is being prepared for alleged crimes during the earlier conflicts in Bosnia and Croatia, which may include genocide. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of life in prison. Pretrial proceedings are expected to take up to a year, while the trial will last a minimum of one year. Kostunica, a longstanding critic of the tribunal, had agreed that Milosevic should eventually be extradited to The Hague, but he had insisted that a law be passed authorizing the transfer and first favored a trial at home on charges of corruption and abuse of power. Efforts to get a bill through the Yugoslav parliament authorizing the extradition of war crimes suspects failed, so Djindjic's cabinet passed a decree giving the go-ahead for such extraditions. Milosevic's lawyer appealed the decree to Yugoslavia's Federal Constitutional Court, whose Milosevic-era appointees suspended it pending consideration of its constitutionality. The Serb cabinet approved Milosevic's extradition on the basis of a provision in the Serbian constitution that allows the Serb government to overrule Yugoslav law if it is in Serbia's best interest. Ironically, the provision was added to the constitution by Milosevic in 1990, when he was president of Serbia. A modest crowd of several thousand Milosevic supporters rallied in Belgrade to protest the extradition, indicating diminished support for the former president and a largely apathetic response to his transfer. However, hours before the extradition, 77 Greek parliamentarians signed a petition, which was delivered to the Yugoslav Embassy in Athens, requesting that Milosevic not be sent to The Hague. Thirty-eight indicted war crimes suspects are still at large. Among them are four senior associates of Milosevic, including Serbian President Milan Milutinovic, who is still in office. More than 20 of the suspects are believed to be in the Bosnian Serb republic. July 2001 Massive Western Aid to Reconstruct Yugoslavia Western governments signaled their approval of Milosevic's extradition by pledging more than $1.28 billion in reconstruction aid to Yugoslavia at a donor's conference in Brussels the day after the former Yugoslav president was delivered to the war crimes tribunal. The U.S. and the European Union were the primary donors. The U.S., which promised Belgrade $181.6 million, nearly twice as much as originally planned, had led international pressure on the Yugoslav government to extradite Milosevic and had threatened to boycott the donor's conference if progress toward this goal were not forthcoming. The European Commission pledged about $480 million over and above offers made by individual EU member states. The overall donations exceeded the $1.25 billion that the European Commission and the World Bank had said would be required to begin rebuilding the Yugoslav economy following a decade of isolation through sanctions, corruption and mismanagement, and NATO's 1999 bombing campaign. An estimated $4 billion in foreign financial assistance will be needed by Yugoslavia over the next four years, necessitating three more aid conferences during that period. The government estimates that the NATO bombing resulted in damaged infrastructure estimated to cost over $29 billion to repair. A standby loan of $250 million has been approved by the IMF, while the World Bank has pledged about $150 million for this year, part of a $540 million package over a five-year period. Yugoslavia is also seeking U.S. support for private investment in the country, as well as cancellation of at least $8 billion of its $12 billion foreign debt. Unemployment stands at 30 percent, and the inflation rate is about 80 percent. The GDP is only about $8 billion, with an annual per capita income of about $800. Last year, all of southeastern Europe, including most of the Balkans, received only $3.2 billion in foreign investment. July 2001 Extradition Protest Triggers Yugoslav Government Collapse The extradition of Milosevic triggered the collapse of the Yugoslav government with the withdrawal of the Montenegrin Socialist People's Party (SNP), a former ally of Milosevic, from the ruling coalition to protest the action. The SNP had blocked passage of the extradition bill in parliament, and the party's ministers had also tried to prevent passage of the extradition decree by the government authorizing his transfer. Within a week, however, the SNP said it was ready to form a new administration with its previous partner, the 18-party Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS), which ousted Milosevic last October and brought President Kostunica to power. The DOS had entered into a coalition with the SNP in order to achieve a majority in the federal legislature. After Milosevic was sent to The Hague, SNP leader Zoran Zizic, appointed prime minister of Yugoslavia by Kostunica and approved by parliament, resigned from his position as head of government, taking five SNP cabinet members with him, and forcing the dissolution of the cabinet. The government was to remain in office in a caretaker capacity until a new one was formed. Zizic's departure did not affect Kostunica's position, since the Yugoslav president is directly elected, and there was no significant disruption in Yugoslav political life. Despite Montenegro's contemplation of independence from Serbia, the Yugoslav constitution still mandates that the federal prime minister must be a Montenegrin if the president is Serbian. The SNP favors the preservation of the Yugoslav federation, as does Kostunica. July 2001 Belgrade Political Leaders in Tug of War The transfer of Milosevic to The Hague also heightened longstanding tensions between Kostunica and Djindjicas Kostunica denounced the extradition as illegal and unconstitutional, pulled his party, the Democratic Party of Serbia, out of the DOS parliamentary group in both the Serbian and Yugoslav parliaments, and expressed his desire to have the governments on both levels shuffled. Kostunica's party made it clear that it was not withdrawing from the DOS, though strains in the coalition were evident. Although the decision had no immediate effect on the balance of power in the parliaments, it signaled the first crack in the DOS alliance of democratic reformers. May / June 2001 U.S. Pushes for Milosevic War Crimes Trial The United States continued to press for the extradition of former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic to the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague during the visit of Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica to Washington. The visit marked the first meeting between U.S. and Yugoslav leaders since NATO's bombing campaign to halt Belgrade's repression of Kosovar Albanians two years ago. President Bush, in talks with Kostunica, said that further aid to Belgrade beyond the $100 million the administration pledged for this year would be dependent on a commitment by the Yugoslav government to turn Milosevic, who is under arrest in the Yugoslav capital, over to The Hague to be tried for alleged crimes against humanity and violations of the laws and customs of war with respect to Kosovar Albanians in 1998 and 1999. Secretary of State Powell has made greater cooperation with the tribunal a condition for U.S. backing at a crucial June donor conference, organized by the World Bank and the European Commission. Belgrade hopes to raise at least $1 billion at the conference to rebuild its bankrupt economy and ward off hyperinflation. Although Kostunica continued to assert that he wanted Milosevic to be tried first in Yugoslavia for abuse of power and corruption, he did not rule out extraditing the former president to The Hague in the future or trying him for war crimes at home. Kostunica said he would facilitate and support legislation concerning cooperation with the war crimes court, which was expected to be debated by the parliament beginning in late May. He also urged Washington not to impose political conditions on financial assistance at a time when the new Belgrade government is still trying to establish basic legal and political institutions. A Yugoslav district court submitted the tribunal's indictment to Milosevic in his jail cell, but he refused to accept the document. His 30-day stay in jail in investigative custody that began April 1 has been extended until the end of June to give authorities more time to build a case against him at home. A Belgrade prosecutor has filed charges against the former manager of the French-Yugoslav Bank in Paris, Miodrag Zecevic, a close associate of Milosevic, for abuse of his official position. He was the first of Milosevic's associates to be charged with a crime domestically. Yugoslav military courts have also opened 24 cases involving soldiers suspected of war crimes in Kosovo. May / June 2001 Return of Yugoslav Troops Brings End to Presevo Rebellion A few days before Yugoslav troops moved into the Presevo Valley area of the buffer zone around Kosovo controlled by an ethnic Albanian guerrilla group, the guerrilla commander signed an agreement to disband the group by the end of May. The deployment in the region, authorized by NATO, completed the return of Yugoslav troops to all areas of the buffer zone. The agreement was brokered by NATO, which had earlier offered an amnesty to the members of the guerrilla group, the Liberation Army of Presevo, Medvedja, and Bujanovac (UCPMB), if they crossed into Kosovo and surrendered their weapons before the deployment occurred. Some 200 of the rebels had turned themselves in before the agreement was signed. The agreement stated that the UCPMB had achieved its aim of attracting international attention to the grievances of ethnic Albanians in the Presevo Valley and would now address the problems through politics. Belgrade has pledged to establish a multi-ethnic police force and end discrimination against Albanians in the region. The UCPMB, estimated at several-hundred strong, emerged in January 2000. About 50 people are believed to have been killed in clashes between the group and Serb police. May / June 2001 Montenegrin Independence Movement on Hold The outcome of the April 22 parliamentary elections and the month-long deadlock in forming a government that followed have made the prospect of holding a referendum on independence in Montenegro uncertain. Although Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic, who has spearheaded the movement toward independence, was re-elected, his "Victory is Montenegro's" coalition failed to win the two-thirds parliamentary majority needed to change the republic's status constitutionally. Djukanovic's bloc won 36 seats in the 77-member parliament, making it dependent on the pro-independence Liberal Alliance of Montenegro, which holds 6 seats, to establish a majority in parliament. After a month of negotiations among the parties, the Liberal Alliance agreed to back the formation of a minority government by the "Victory is Montenegro's" coalition, without actually joining the coalition. The opposition bloc, "Together for Yugoslavia," which opposes independence, won 33 seats. The election results constituted a clear signal that the republic is divided on the issue of independence and tempered Djukanovic's pre-election bid to hold an independence referendum as early as June 2001. After the elections, he stated that months of initiatives would precede a decision on holding a referendum, including a political dialogue with both Serbia and the international community, and talks among the parties in Montenegro. A referendum would require only a simple majority to pass. The West hopes that the election results will lead Djukanovic to postpone the referendum. The United States, the European Union, and the six-nation Contact Group on the former Yugoslavia, which includes the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, and Russia, oppose Montenegro's secession from the Yugoslav federation, fearing that it could cause further instability in the Balkans. The Contact Group warned Montenegro's government that it would lose political and financial support if it unilaterally moved toward independence. May / June 2001 Kosovo Elections to Grant Wider Autonomy The U.N. administration in Kosovo announced that province-wide elections would be held on November 17 in the Serbian province to choose members of a legislative assembly that will be the basis for provisional self-government. The elections will be a major step toward transferring authority to local Kosovars, giving the assembly powers in the health, education, and environmental sectors. The United Nation's chief administrator in Kosovo, Hans Haekkerup, will retain executive authority and will have the right to dissolve parliament. The U.N. will also retain authority over tax and budget policies, the judiciary, and the Kosovo Protection Corps, an emergency relief force comprised of former members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). Haekkerup, who has been drawing up a blueprint for Kosovo's government institutions in preparation for the elections, has ruled out including a referendum on independence in the plan, against the urging of the majority ethnic Albanians. The blueprint is not meant to determine Kosovo's final status, which still remains to be decided by the international community sometime in the future. May / June 2001 World Bank Readmission Renews Loan Opportunities Yugoslavia was readmitted to membership in the World Bank in May, eight years after being expelled for its involvement in the conflicts accompanying the federation's breakup. Belgrade will be eligible for $540 million in World Bank loans over a three-year period beginning July 1. Yugoslavia rejoined the IMF last December. Subject to the resolution of some problems with the Yugoslav budget, the IMF has pledged a $260 million stand-by loan to Belgrade. April 2001 Peaceful Milosevic Arrest Signals Diminished Support Former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic surrendered to Yugoslav authorities in Belgrade without a struggle on April 1. He was promised a fair trial and assured that his arrest was not linked to the extradition request of the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague. His surrender ended a tense 26-hour standoff at his villa between police commandos and about 20 of his security guards and armed supporters. A top aide to Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic and senior officials in Milosevic's Socialist Party played key roles in persuading the former president to give himself up. He was ordered detained for 30 days while under investigation for corruption and abuse of power during his 13-year rule. Although the government had once feared that Milosevic's supporters would incite violence in the Yugoslav capital if he were arrested, there was calm in the city when his arrival at Belgrade Central Prison was announced. The crowd of a few hundred Milosevic loyalists who had appeared at his villa during the standoff had dissipated by the time he surrendered. April 2001 More U.S. Aid Amid Concern Over Milosevic Extradition Efforts to arrest Milosevic began hours before a U.S. congressional deadline for the Yugoslav government to prove that it was cooperating with the war crimes tribunal or risk losing the second half of a $100 million U.S. aid package and Washington's endorsement of loans to Serbia by the IMF and World Bank. After the arrest, Washington indicated that the conditions had been satisfied, freeing the $50 million allocated to Belgrade. The United States also made it clear that pressure would continue for the extradition of Milosevic to the tribunal, which has indicted him for crimes against humanity and violations of the laws and customs of war for his actions in Kosovo. The tribunal also plans to file charges for crimes he allegedly committed during the wars in Croatia and Bosnia. Belgrade officials maintained that Milosevic should be tried in Yugoslavia before any extradition is considered. In addition to corruption and abuse of power, other domestic charges against him include embezzlement, causing damage to the Serbian economy, and ordering the murders of personal and political adversaries. Milosevic has admitted channeling state funds to Serbian forces fighting against the independence of Croatia and Bosnia. Authorities said that some of the criminal acts he is charged with carry the death penalty. Government officials said that, before Milosevic could be handed over to the tribunal, parliament must change a current law that prohibits extradition of Yugoslav nationals to foreign courts. A new law concerning extradition is expected to be enacted by the end of May. Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica has set up a 19-member truth and reconciliation commission in Belgrade, which includes writers, lawyers, historians, and theologians, to look into the causes of the wars in Yugoslavia over the past decade. April 2001 Yugoslav Troops to Buffer Zone Around Kosovo About 1,000 Yugoslav army soldiers have moved into most areas of the 3-mile buffer zone around Kosovo as part of a phased reopening of the zone to Serbian forces agreed to by NATO to discourage ethnic Albanians from using the zone as a staging ground for insurgencies. This includes the region in southern Serbia proper at the junction of its border with F.Y.R. Macedonia and Kosovo, part of an effort to prevent the movement of supplies and ethnic Albanian insurgents into F.Y.R. Macedonia to aid guerrillas of the National Liberation Army, who have clashed with the Macedonian army and police. The alliance has not yet allowed Yugoslav army forces to enter the section of the buffer zone that encompasses the contentious region of southeastern Serbia where the ethnic Albanian guerrillas of the Liberation Army of Presevo, Medvedja, and Bujanovac (UCPMB) have clashed with Serbian police over the past year. Negotiations between ethnic Albanians and Serb authorities in the region have been taking place in an attempt to end hostilities that have killed several dozen people. NATO has set conditions on the types of weaponry and equipment that the Yugoslav troops can bring into the buffer zone. Yugoslav army forces were excluded from the zone in 1999 when it was established by the NATO-led KFOR peacekeepers in Kosovo following their entry into the Serbian province. March 2001 NATO to Permit Serb Army Patrols Near Kosovo Border NATO Secretary General George Robertson said the alliance was prepared to implement a phased reduction of the three-mile buffer zone around Kosovo, which has been used as a safe haven by ethnic Albanian guerrillas of the Liberation Army of Presevo, Medvedja, and Bujanovac (UCPMB) in southern Serbia's Presevo Valley. The guerrillas' attacks against Serb police in their campaign to unite the region with Kosovo have resulted in the loss of about 30 lives over the past year, including at least 12 Serb police. The zone was established by NATO at the end of the allied bombing campaign against Yugoslavia in June 1999, in order to keep Serb forces away from the Kosovo boundary line as NATO-led peacekeepers (KFOR) arrived in the Serbian province. Only lightly armed Serb police are allowed in the zone. KFOR troops are not permitted to enter it. With the fall of the regime of former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic, the risk of a Serb attack on peacekeepers in Kosovo has greatly diminished. Robertson said the Yugoslav Army would be allowed back into the area now covered by the zone after precautionary measures had been taken and observers had been put in place to monitor its reintroduction into the area. Serbia will also be expected to quickly implement measures to restore confidence among ethnic Albanians in the Presevo Valley. March 2001 Yugoslav Offer to Restore Ethnic Albanian Rights, Representation In an attempt to end the ethnic Albanian insurgency in the Presevo Valley, the Serbian government has proposed a peace plan for the region's 70,000 to 100,000 ethnic Albanians. The plan includes a restoration of civil rights and the granting of representation in the governments, police structures, and judiciaries of the largely ethnic Albanian communities in the area. In addition, it offers ethnic Albanians representation in the Serbian government, which is now non-existent since Albanian parties boycotted December parliamentary elections in Serbia. The plan also includes a phased demilitarization of the southern Serbian region and the introduction of joint Albanian-Serb police patrols. An amnesty would be given to the ethnic Albanian rebels, and Belgrade would launch a program of economic development in the area. Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Nebojsa Covic, who authored the plan, and Yugoslav Foreign Minister Goran Svilanovic met with NATO officials in Brussels to discuss the plan's terms, which were approved by the governments of both Serbia and Yugoslavia. Secretary General Robertson welcomed the initiative as a constructive and encouraging basis for negotiations. The Serb officials also presented the plan to the OSCE and the European Union's Political and Security Committee, which both supported it. The European Union has agreed to increase the number of EU monitors in the Presevo Valley from 9 to 30. March 2001 Montenegro Inches Toward Independence Despite U.S., EU Warnings Despite opposition to the move by the United States and the European Union, the president of Montenegro, Milo Djukanovic, will hold a referendum on independence for the Yugoslav republic in June if his Democratic Party of Socialists wins early parliamentary elections on April 22. Djukanovic's term was not due to expire until May 2002. The West views the potential independence of Montenegro from the Yugoslav federation as a destabilizing factor in the Balkans, one that could result in a strong push for independence by Kosovar Albanians, which could encourage the ethnic Albanian minority in F.Y.R. Macedonia and the ethnic Serbs in Bosnia to attempt to break away. Firm United States opposition to a possible Montenegrin withdrawal from the Yugoslav federation was reiterated when Secretary of State Colin Powell refused to meet with Djukanovic while holding talks with Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic during the February visits of both officials to Washington. The United States increased its economic assistance to Montenegro from $55 million for fiscal year 2000 to $89 million for fiscal year 2001, making it clear that its assistance was being provided for the purpose of promoting civil society and democracy within a democratic Yugoslav federation. A late February poll revealed that more than 58 percent of Montenegrins favored independence from the Yugoslav federation. Nearly 26 percent wanted to remain part of Yugoslavia, while the rest did not express an opinion. The poll also placed Djukanovic and his party ahead of the pro-federation opposition. March 2001 Yugoslavia, Serbia, Montenegro Wrestle with Proposals Podgorica has proposed transforming the current federation of Montenegro and Serbia into a loose union of two internationally recognized independent states. The leaders of the Yugoslav and Serb governments have rejected the Montenegrin government's proposal and want to negotiate a new relationship between the two republics under the umbrella of the Yugoslav federation. Djukanovic has met with Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica and Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic to discuss the issue of Montenegro's status, but each side has adhered firmly to its established position. Djindjic has proposed that the Yugoslav federation be given a three-year trial period under the new democratic Yugoslav and Serb governments before deciding on the separation of the republics. In many respects, Montenegro is already de facto an independent state. It has its own foreign ministry and customs service, and has adopted the German mark as its legal currency, creating its own distinct economic system. The Yugoslav Army and federal flight control are the last two federal institutions still in place in the republic. In an apparent move to expand a federal presence in Montenegro, the Yugoslav government opened its first office in Podgorica, directly across from the Montenegrin government building. March 2001 Kosovo Violence Erupts Against Ethnic Serbs A bomb explosion under a NATO-escorted bus in Kosovo, which killed at least 11 Serb civilians riding in the bus, was a grim reminder that revenge attacks against the Serb minority by the ethnic Albanian majority in the province continue 20 months after the arrival of NATO-led peacekeepers. The attack, which also injured dozens of other passengers, occurred as NATO armored vehicles were escorting the bus to family gravesites in the village of Gracanica, which is near Pristina. The incident was the deadliest attack against Serbs in Kosovo since 13 Serb farmers were gunned down in a field south of Pristina in July 1999, just weeks after peacekeepers arrived in the province. In another recent incident, a sniper killed one passenger and wounded two children riding in a bus near the Kosovar Serb town of Strpce. Most of the 50,000 to 100,000 Serbs remaining in Kosovo live in specially guarded enclaves and move through the countryside only in convoys protected by peacekeepers. The upsurge of violence in Kosovo has paralleled the increase in the clashes between ethnic Albanian rebels and Serb forces across the border in the Presevo Valley. Ethnic Albanian guerrillas who fought for the independence of Kosovo see that goal slipping away as the U.S. and Europe court the new democratic government in Belgrade and some European donor nations reallocate their Kosovo funds to Serbia for 2002. Violence is being used to drive the remaining Serbs out of Kosovo and discourage the return of Serb refugees in order to weaken Belgrade's claim on the province. The town of Kosovska Mitrovica remains the Serbian province's most tense town, with ethnic Serbs living to the north of the Ibar River, which runs through the town, and ethnic Albanians living to the south. In February, more than 20 KFOR peacekeepers and some 35 civilians were injured in confrontations between ethnic Albanians and peacekeepers lasting several days, following the killing of an Albanian by a Serb. Two civilians died in the confrontations, one of the worst periods of violence in the divided town in months. January / February 2001 Flashpoint Hot in Southern Serbia Outbreaks of violence continued between ethnic Albanian rebels and Serbs in the buffer zone east of Kosovo despite a December agreement between the rebels and Belgrade, brokered by NATO-led KFOR peacekeepers in Kosovo, to end confrontations between the two sides. Belgrade warned that it would use force to expel the rebels from the zone if KFOR and U.N. officials in Kosovo did not stabilize the region. Supplies for the rebels, many of whom are former members of the Kosovo Liberation Army, have been coming from Kosovo, where peacekeepers have stepped up border patrols to curb the rebel activity. Serbia's Presevo Valley, part of the three-mile-wide buffer zone set up under the 1999 accords ending NATO's bombing of Yugoslavia, has been a potential flashpoint for the last year. It has been particularly volatile since November, when ethnic Albanians killed four Serb policemen and seized several villages during an upsurge in fighting, resulting in the movement of over 4,000 ethnic Albanians from the valley into Kosovo. There are concerns that a conflict similar to that which unfolded in Kosovo could re-occur in the region. Under the 1999 accords, Yugoslavia may station only local police with light arms in the zone, and KFOR is forbidden to enter it. This vacuum has allowed the 1,000 ethnic Albanian fighters of the Liberation Army of Presevo, Medvedja, and Bujanovac (UCPMB) to operate in the buffer zone. UCPMB was named after three predominantly ethnic Albanian towns in southern Serbia that the insurgents want united with Kosovo. The rebels say they are fighting against Serb persecution of ethnic Albanians in the region. Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica has called for narrowing the buffer zone to enable Yugoslav security forces to deal with the rebels. He has also demanded that a limited number of Yugoslav army troops be allowed to return to Kosovo, where the minority Serbian community continues to come under attack by ethnic Albanians. January / February 2001 Reformers Consolidating After Serbian Elections In December parliamentary elections in Serbia, reformists swept former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic's leftist coalition from power, consolidating the democratic revolution that began with Kostunica's victory over Milosevic in September. The Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS), the 18-party grouping that supported Kostunica's candidacy, won a two-thirds majority in the 250-seat Serbian parliament, taking 176 seats. Milosevic's Socialist Party of Serbia came in second with 14 percent, giving it 37 seats, while the Serbian Radical Party, former Milosevic supporters, took 23 seats and the ultra-nationalist Party of Serbian Unity, founded by slain paramilitary Zeljko "Arkan" Raznatovic, took 14 seats. Overall, nationalist parties were elected to 30 percent of the seats. The challenge for the new Serbian government, which holds the key levers of power in Yugoslavia, such as the media, the judiciary, and the police force, will be maintaining the unity of the coalition until the old framework of power is dismantled and the establishment of a market economy is underway. The formation of the government was expected toward the end of January. Prime Minister-Designate Zoran Djindjic, the leader of the Democratic Party, the largest party in the DOS, must work to overcome severe electricity shortages and rebuild an economy that has left the majority of Serbians in poverty. The annual inflation rate is 115 percent, and half of the labor force is officially unemployed. The government's chief objectives include dismantling Milosevic's security apparatus, establishing a free press and independent court system, and eliminating criminal gangs that have taken over the economy. Milosevic ally Milan Milutinovic, indicted for war crimes in Kosovo, remains president of Serbia, but the DOS victory has neutralized his power. January / February 2001 Stiff Opposition to Montenegro Confederation Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica and Serbian Prime Minister-Designate Zoran Djindjic are opposed to Podgorica's proposal that Montenegro and Serbia become independent states through referendums in each republic and then form a new looser alliance with shared responsibility for defense, foreign policy, a common market, and a single currency. Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic proposed that each state would be internationally recognized and have its own seat at the U.N., which is opposed by the U.S. and the EU. Kostunica responded to the Montenegrin proposal by presenting a plan for a reformed federation between the two republics, which would remain in an internationally recognized Yugoslav state. The republics would have joint responsibility for defense, foreign policy, an economic system, transport, communication, and the protection of basic rights and freedoms. In mid-January, Kostunica, Djinjic, and Djukanovic met in Belgrade to begin formal negotiations between Serbia and Montenegro on the future status of the republics, expected to take at least two months. Djukanovic said that Montenegro would hold an independence referendum by mid-2001 if talks with Belgrade failed. Djindjic said there would be no use of force to prevent Montenegro from seeking independence. January / February 2001 U.S.-Yugoslavia Snags on War Crimes Tribunal Yugoslav Foreign Minister Goran Svilanovic met with Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in Washington in early January, marking the first meeting between a Yugoslav foreign minister and a U.S. counterpart in eight years. Svilanovic was also the first Yugoslav minister to visit the U.S. since NATO's bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999. While pledging that Yugoslavia would work with the war crimes tribunal to bring Milosevic to justice, Slivanovic echoed suggestions by President Kostunica and other Yugoslav officials that he be tried in Belgrade for various crimes, including election fraud and corruption. However, Carla Del Ponte, chief prosecutor of the war crimes tribunal, is adamant that Milosevic be tried in The Hague for war crimes, although she admits that some hearings regarding the case could take place in Belgrade. Kostunica was scheduled to meet with Del Ponte during her visit to Belgrade on January 23. He has stated that he believed there were legal shortcomings concerning the tribunal and that extraditing Yugoslav war crimes suspects, including Milosevic, would violate the Yugoslav constitution. In mid-January, Kostunica drew criticism from the DOS when he met with Milosevic in his capacity as the leader of the Socialist Party of Serbia, the largest opposition party, reportedly to discuss Kosovo and Serbia's relations with Montenegro. Milosevic, who requested the meeting, was believed to be seeking guarantees that he not be extradited to The Hague. Belgrade's cooperation with the tribunal is one of the conditions the U.S. Congress has imposed on $100 million in aid set aside for Serbia in 2001 and on U.S. support for renewed lending to Serbia from international financial institutions. On March 31, the U.S. administration will rule on whether Serbia still qualifies for the aid. The U.S. has also asked Belgrade to release some 700 Kosovar Albanians, who have been jailed for political reasons in Serbian prisons since the Kosovo crisis. The day before leaving office, President Clinton lifted U.S. economic sanctions against Yugoslavia, which have barred U.S. companies from investing in or trading with the country since 1999. Washington announced a blacklist of 81 members of the former Milosevic regime, including Milosevic, who will be prevented from obtaining U.S. visas or carrying out economic transactions with American entities. November / December 2000 Transition Process Gathering Steam, Diminishing Opposition In a major victory for Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica's attempts to consolidate power in Belgrade, the Serbian parliament, dominated by loyalists of former president Slobodan Milosevic, will be dissolved and new parliamentary elections will be held on December 23, nearly a year ahead of schedule. The decisions followed the parliament's appointment of a transitional government in which Milosevic's Socialist Party of Serbia will share power with Kostunica's pro-democracy forces, including the Serbian Renewal Movement of Vuk Draskovic, until the elections are held. The elections will provide Kostunica's 18-party Democratic Opposition of Serbia a chance to win decisive control of the legislature of Serbia, the largest of the two Yugoslav republics and the main seat of power in the country. The transitional administration will focus primarily on addressing the urgent economic needs of the Serbian people. The power-sharing agreement made no mention of the future of Serbian President Milan Milutinovic, a close Milosevic ally who agreed to parliament's dissolution. Milutinovic has been indicted on war crimes charges. The agreement on a transitional government further distances Milosevic, who remains in Belgrade, from the Yugoslav centers of power and is crucial to the dismantling of the national power structure he dominated for more than a decade. November / December 2000 European, American Aid Shore Up Desperate Nation Western countries have recognized the need for immediate financial support for Serbia's devastated economy, hit by years of sanctions, state mismanagement, and the diversion of resources to fund military adventures. Serbian officials say they need about $500 million in energy, food, medicine, and pension support to survive the winter, requiring $2 million a day alone to pay for electricity and natural gas to eliminate prolonged power cuts. At the first international conference in Belgrade since the electoral defeat of Milosevic, held under the auspices of the European Union-sponsored Stability Pact, foreign donors pledged $428 million in emergency assistance. In addition, the European Union is providing an emergency aid package worth $173 million, including deliveries of fuel oil and diesel, electricity imports, spare parts for power stations, food, and medicine. Individual European nations, including Britain, Germany, Greece, Italy, and Norway, have also pledged to give emergency aid. The Clinton administration promised $45 million in emergency food aid to Serbia for the winter. Congress approved an aid package of $100 million to Serbia and $89 million to Montenegro, with the stipulation that the assistance will be cut off after April 1, 2001, if Belgrade does not assist in the apprehension of war-crimes suspects in the country. The war crimes tribunal has asked Yugoslavia to extradite Milosevic and four other top Yugoslav officials, whom it indicted last year. Kostunica said his government would permit the tribunal to re-open its office in Belgrade, closed since the Kosovo crisis, as soon as possible and would not hinder its investigators. The Yugoslav president said he would not hand Milosevic over to the tribunal but might put him on trial in Yugoslavia. Officials of the new government have raised the possibility of seeking his indictment on charges of electoral fraud. November / December 2000 Diplomatic Relations Restored with Western Countries, U.N. The United Nations accepted Yugoslavia's application to join the world body as a full member, ending Belgrade's diplomatic limbo that began in 1992 after the breakup of the old socialist federation. Milosevic had refused to reapply for membership after the United Nations ruled that the government of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia consisting of only Serbia and Montenegro could not assume the seat of the previous government in the General Assembly. As a result, Yugoslavia was barred from speaking or voting in General Assembly proceedings. The U.N. move was a setback for Montenegro, whose leadership had called for deferring any decision to readmit Yugoslavia to the organization until relations between the two republics are resolved. Yugoslavia was also admitted to the OSCE. In addition, the Yugoslav government restored diplomatic relations with the United States, Britain, France, and Germany, the four countries that led last year's NATO bombing campaign against Belgrade. Milosevic severed relations with these nations in March 1999 at the beginning of the alliance's air war. President Clinton lifted the U.S. oil embargo and flight ban against Yugoslavia in mid-October, shortly after the European Union ended parallel sanctions. The European Union has lifted a visa ban on several former close associates of Milosevic in consultation with Kostunica, while Washington has indicated that it might follow suit. November / December 2000 Regional Cooperation Assumes Full Dimension President Kostunica joined the leaders of eight other Balkan nations in Skopje for a summit aimed at charting a new era of multilateral and bilateral cooperation in the post-Milosevic era. The October meeting marked the return of Belgrade to regional diplomacy after two years of Serbian isolation brought about by the Kosovo crisis and the 1999 NATO bombing campaign. Five of the countries taking part in the meeting, Albania, Bulgaria, F.Y.R. Macedonia, Romania, and Turkey, have participated in several similar meetings since the first Balkan summit in Bulgaria in 1996. Milosevic attended only one regional summit, in Greece in 1997. Croatia and Bosnia attended the Skopje meeting as observers. Kostunica pledged to launch a dialogue with Yugoslavia's neighbors to promote regional cooperation after a decade of conflict. The statement was welcomed by Balkan countries, seeking regional stability to attract foreign aid and investments and promote membership in the EU and NATO. The Yugoslav president, a moderate Serb nationalist and strong critic of the NATO bombing, also met with U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Richard Holbrooke at the summit, an early symbolic move toward reconciliation with Washington. Also attending the summit was German official Bodo Hombach, who heads the Stability Pact for Southeastern Europe. Yugoslavia's exclusion from the pact has been a major obstacle to the program's full implementation in the Balkans. November / December 2000 Moderates Crush KLA Leaders The party of ethnic Albanian leader Ibrahim Rugova resoundingly defeated the party of Hashim Thaci, a hardline nationalist and former political leader of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), in municipal elections in Kosovo. Rugova, considered a force for moderation, immediately called for independence for the province, which still remains legally part of Serbia. Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica ruled out the possibility of independence and reasserted Belgrade's claim to sovereignty over the region. Although he said he would not recognize the results of the vote since Kosovar Serbs had not participated, he did hold open the possibility of exploratory discussions with Rugova. The elections for local councils by Kosovo's 2 million ethnic Albanians were the first held in Kosovo since it became a de facto United Nations protectorate in June 1999. In 27 municipalities, Rugova's Democratic Party of Kosovo (LDK) won 58 percent of the votes and 504 seats, while Thaci's Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) won 27.3 percent of the votes and 267 seats. AAK, the party of another ex-KLA commander, Ramush Haradinaj, considered an ultra-nationalist, received 7.7 percent and 71 seats. The election results were a blow to the legacy of the former KLA guerrillas, who have loosely controlled governments in 27 of 30 Kosovo municipalities since the end of the NATO bombing campaign in June 1999, despite the establishment of the U.N. interim administration in the province. For many Kosovar Albanians, the guerrillas emerged from the war as heroes, having taken on Serbian security forces in a conflict that ultimately broke Belgrade's grip on the province. However, the subsequent seizure of municipal offices, businesses, and properties by the ex-guerrillas alienated many Kosovars. Almost all of the 100,000 Serbs throughout the province boycotted the elections. Three municipalities in the north, populated only by Serbs, kept polling stations closed to protest post-war Albanian reprisals against Serbs and Gypsies. Nonetheless, Rugova's victory was seen as a boost for efforts by the United Nations to reconcile ethnic Albanians and Serbs. The literature professor said his party would protect minorities in Kosovo and foster cooperation across party and ethnic lines in the new municipal administrations. In 1989, when former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic rescinded Kosovo's substantial degree of autonomy and repressed the province's 90 percent ethnic Albanian majority, Rugova began leading the ethnic Albanians in a 10-year peaceful protest for independence. Ethnic Albanians elected him Kosovo's "president" in shadow polls in 1992 and 1998. The municipal elections were viewed as a precursor to next year's elections for a provincial leader and parliament, which are expected to negotiate Kosovo's final status with Belgrade and the U.N. Security Council. October 2000 Popular Uprising Forces Milosevic’s Resignation Opposition candidate Vojislav Kostunica was sworn in as Yugoslavia’s president on October 7 after Slobodan Milosevic resigned from the presidency, yielding to a bloodless popular revolt against him for denying Kostunica a victory in the election nearly two weeks earlier through falsification of the polling results. This milestone in Yugoslavia’s history ended 13 years of heavy-handed rule by a man held responsible for leading his country into four wars in which more than 200,000 people died. Milosevic had called a second round of voting for October 8 after the Federal Election Commission maintained that Kostunica, a 56-year-old constitutional lawyer and the candidate of a fragile 18-party coalition, the Democratic Opposition of Serbia, had won 46.4 percent of the vote and Milosevic 38.6 percent in the September 24 election. However, opposition leaders and independent monitors had contended that Kostunica, a moderate nationalist who promised democratic reform, had crossed the 50 percent threshold required to win in the first round by receiving 51.3 percent to the 36.2 percent garnered by Milosevic. Kostunica had said he would not participate in a second round of an election that he had already won. In addition to an escalating general strike that culminated in a mass uprising in Belgrade, Russia’s recognition of Kostunica’s victory and the Yugoslav Army’s decision to put its weight behind him were key to Milosevic’s surrender of power. His resignation took place hours after Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov flew to Belgrade and conveyed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s congratulations to Kostunica on his election victory. Ivanov then met with Milosevic to tell him that Moscow, a traditional ally of Serbia, was ending its support for him. In a televised statement, shortly after a ruling by the constitutional court declaring Kostunica the winner, Milosevic conceded defeat and said that he intended to play a role in his party, the Socialist Party of Serbia, after a rest from public life. Such an option is opposed by Washington. U.S. officials said they still wanted to see Milosevic stand trial at the United Nation’s International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia at The Hague, which indicted him last year for his actions in Kosovo. Carla del Ponte, the tribunal’s chief prosecutor, is also seeking to indict Milosevic on charges of genocide in Bosnia and Croatia. Kostunica, who met with Milosevic after securing the backing of the army, has said that he does not intend to arrest the former president for war crimes or extradite him to The Hague. He has criticized the tribunal as a tool of U.S. foreign policy and is a harsh critic of last year’s NATO bombing of Yugoslavia. The decision of police not to end a strike at the country’s largest coal mine at Kolubara was a critical turning point in the nationwide campaign of civil disobedience, which culminated in the takeover of the parliament building, state media, and other key institutions of power in Belgrade. Two people died and about 100 were injured in the demonstrations, in which the parliament building and the state television headquarters were set on fire as police made few serious attempts to intervene. It was the first time Yugoslavs had elected the country’s president directly, following the passage of constitutional amendments pushed through parliament by Milosevic. The amendments took the election out of the hands of the federal parliament and gave him what he thought would be an opportunity to bolster his support and extend his presidency. October 2000 EU Lifts Sanctions, Discusses Aid The European Union lifted key sanctions against Yugoslavia just two days after the inauguration of President Kostunica, fulfilling its pre-election pledge to reward the Serbian people if they ousted Milosevic as Yugoslavia’s president. The sanctions lifted were a ban on EU oil exports to Serbia and a ban on flights of the Yugoslav airline JAT to airports in EU countries, imposed in 1998 after Milosevic launched his offensive in Kosovo. The travel ban on Milosevic, his family, and close associates, and a freeze on assets they hold within the EU, will remain in force. The U.S. said it would soon lift some of its sanctions against Yugoslavia, which parallel those of the EU. An arms embargo imposed by the United Nations Security Council will be enforced until the Council decides to end it. Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine of France, which currently holds the rotating EU presidency, said Belgrade was being invited to join the EU stabilization and association process, a preliminary step toward EU membership. He traveled to Belgrade the day after the sanctions were lifted to brief Kostunica on prospects for EU financial aid. It is estimated that, over the next seven years, Yugoslavia needs about $4 billion to repair the damage inflicted during NATO’s bombing campaign. The EU said it would contribute half that amount. Washington views the Stability Pact for Southeastern Europe, administered by the European Commission and the World Bank, as the primary vehicle for channeling U.S. assistance to Serbia. Under Milosevic’s rule, Serbia has been excluded from the pact, concluded last year. The U.S. and the EU are also preparing to allow Yugoslavia to rejoin the IMF and the World Bank. With the collapse of the country’s unreformed, centrally planned economy as a result of war, corruption, and sanctions, inflation in Serbia stands at 50 percent, while the unemployment rate is 32 percent. There was a 20 percent contraction in the economy last year. The European Union lifted key sanctions against Yugoslavia just two days after the inauguration of President Kostunica, fulfilling its pre-election pledge to reward the Serbian people if they ousted Milosevic as Yugoslavia’s president. The sanctions lifted were a ban on EU oil exports to Serbia and a ban on flights of the Yugoslav airline JAT to airports in EU countries, imposed in 1998 after Milosevic launched his offensive in Kosovo. The travel ban on Milosevic, his family, and close associates, and a freeze on assets they hold within the EU, will remain in force. The U.S. said it would soon lift some of its sanctions against Yugoslavia, which parallel those of the EU. An arms embargo imposed by the United Nations Security Council will be enforced until the Council decides to end it. Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine of France, which currently holds the rotating EU presidency, said Belgrade was being invited to join the EU stabilization and association process, a preliminary step toward EU membership. He traveled to Belgrade the day after the sanctions were lifted to brief Kostunica on prospects for EU financial aid. It is estimated that, over the next seven years, Yugoslavia needs about $4 billion to repair the damage inflicted during NATO’s bombing campaign. The EU said it would contribute half that amount. Washington views the Stability Pact for Southeastern Europe, administered by the European Commission and the World Bank, as the primary vehicle for channeling U.S. assistance to Serbia. Under Milosevic’s rule, Serbia has been excluded from the pact, concluded last year. The U.S. and the EU are also preparing to allow Yugoslavia to rejoin the IMF and the World Bank. With the collapse of the country’s unreformed, centrally planned economy as a result of war, corruption, and sanctions, inflation in Serbia stands at 50 percent, while the unemployment rate is 32 percent. There was a 20 percent contraction in the economy last year. October 2000 Hopes for Improved Montenegro-Serbia Relations President Kostunica acted quickly to defuse tension between Serbia and Montenegro by lifting Serbia’s economic blockade against Montenegro and inviting Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic to meet with him in Belgrade, offering the prospect that relations between the two republics would be normalized. The meeting was expected to take place by mid-October. The lifting of the economic blockade, imposed last spring with Serbia’s installation of customs posts along the Serbian-Montenegrin border, will allow trade to resume between the two remaining Yugoslav republics and will help boost Montenegro’s flagging economy. Kostunica said during his presidential campaign that he favored revising the Yugoslav constitution in order to redefine the status and relationship of the two republics, making Montenegro more of an equal partner with Serbia. In August 1999, Djukanovic proposed replacing the Yugoslav federation with a loose confederation of two equal states under a new constitution. He also held out the possibility of holding an independence referendum if Serbia did not negotiate a new relationship between the republics. Milosevic refused to discuss Djukanovic’s proposal, but Montenegro did not hold the referendum. Montenegro’s ruling coalition boycotted the Yugoslav presidential and parliamentary elections after Milosevic amended the constitution’s electoral provisions to marginalize Podgorica’s participation in the federal government. About 20 percent of the electorate, those belonging to pro-Milosevic parties, took part in the elections. Podgorica had become increasingly isolated from Belgrade as Montenegro pursued democratic and economic reforms and distanced itself from Milosevic’s hardline policies. October 2000 Democratic Experiment in Kosovo Elections On October 28, the people of Kosovo will go to the polls to elect municipal officials in their first democratic, internationally supervised elections. The elections will largely be a contest between the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), led by Ibrahim Rugova, and the Party of Democratic Kosovo (PDK) headed by former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) guerrilla chief Hashim Thaci. Rugova, who was the “president” of the ethnic Albanian shadow government and the leader of the ethnic Albanian non-violent resistance to Serb dominance, is heavily favored. These elections to establish governing assemblies in 30 municipalities will be crucial to the process of creating a properly functioning system of local government in the Serbian province. They are also seen as a prelude to future elections, on an undetermined date, to choose officials that will lead Kosovo-wide political institutions, including a parliament and a presidency, for a transitional self-governing period. The Kosovars have been guaranteed substantial autonomy by the United Nations Security Council, but that autonomy has still not been defined and the province remains legally part of Serbia. While the new municipal governments will control public services, primary and secondary education, social services, and health care, the local police will remain under the authority of the U.N. to ensure that human and minority rights are protected. From 1989 until the end of the Kosovo war in June 1999, the ethnic Albanian majority was shut out of the province’s political process by Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and twice held unofficial elections to form a shadow government. Since June 1999, the U.N. interim administration has run the province, attempting to bring both ethnic Albanians and Serbs into the international community’s governing structures. One million ethnic Albanians, about 90 percent of the eligible population, and some 25 Albanian political parties and movements, all favoring an independent Kosovo, have registered to participate in the elections. The province’s Serb minority, about 100,000 people living primarily in enclaves, has overwhelmingly boycotted the registration process, with fewer than 1,000 Serbs signing up to vote. The Serbs say they will not take part in elections in the province until better security against revenge attacks by ethnic Albanians is provided and some 210,000 Serbs and other non-Albanians who fled the province after the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia ended last year are able to return. September 2000 Election Process Rigged to Prolong Milosevic Regime Within weeks of pushing new election laws through parliament that remove the one-term limit on his presidency, Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic quickly consolidated his hold on power by scheduling federal presidential and parliamentary elections on September 24, 10 months before the end of his four-year term in office. Local elections will be held only in Serbia on the same day. The move was designed to give the fragmented opposition minimum time to unify heading into the first popular election of a Yugoslav president under the new constitutional amendments. Previously, the president was elected by the federal parliament for one term with no possibility for re-election. Now, the president can be popularly elected to two four-year terms, giving Milosevic the ability to serve another eight years. The amendments also stipulate that the 40 deputies of the upper house of the federal parliament will be chosen through a popular election. The previous system authorized Montenegro's parliament to elect 20 deputies and Serbia's parliament to elect the other half. The introduction of popular elections for the federal president and deputies greatly diminishes the electoral influence of Montenegro, whose population of 650,000 is about one-twelfth that of Serbia, excluding Kosovo. The elections are being held at a time of high inflation in Serbia, estimated to reach 80 percent this year; an employment rate of about 68 percent, with only 10 percent of the republic's population working full time; and an average monthly salary of $72. The number of Serbs living in poverty has grown from 14 percent to 44 percent since July 1999. Milosevic has a strong hold on the media and support among the police and the Yugoslav Army. Human Rights Watch said that Serbian police had stepped up the use of violence against student activists and other government critics to a new and dangerous level. September 2000 Divided Opposition Facilitates Milosevic's Re-Election Odds Serbia's opposition parties have again failed to unite behind one candidate for the Yugoslav presidential election, reflecting continuing power struggles in their ranks and greatly strengthening Milosevic's chances of winning. Fifteen parties, including Zoran Djindjic's Democratic Party, have named Vojislav Kostunica, the leader of the Democratic Party of Serbia, as their candidate. The largest opposition party, the Serbian Renewal Movement led by Vuk Draskovich, as nominated Belgrade Mayor Vojislav Mihajlovic. The ultra-nationalist Radical Party, one of three parties in Milosevic's coalition, has proposed Yugoslav Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Nikolic as its candidate, siphoning off even more votes that might otherwise go to an opposition candidate. Opinion polls suggest that Kostunica, a moderate nationalist who favors democratic change, could defeat Milosevic if backed by a united opposition. September 2000 Montenegro to Boycott National Elections The Montenegrin government will boycott the Yugoslav presidential and parliamentary elections, despite the urging of Serb opposition leaders and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to persuade it to go to the polls. Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic maintains that the participation of the three-party ruling coalition in the elections would legitimize illegal constitutional amendments that destroyed the foundation of the Yugoslav federation and marginalized Podgorica's role in the federal process. The boycott will likely turn over the republic's 20 seats in the 40-seat upper house of the federal legislature and its 30 seats in the 138-seat lower house to pro-Milosevic parties. Djukanovic said the Montenegrin government, which will provide logistical support to the Serbian opposition leading up to the elections, will not prevent Montenegrins who wish to vote from doing so. Montenegro is not holding municipal elections in September. The boycott will work in Milosevic's favor, since the constitutional amendments passed by the Yugoslav parliament also revoked the requirement of a 50 percent voter turnout for elections to be valid. A presidential candidate can now win by a simple majority, regardless of turnout, marginalizing the effect of a boycott. Milosevic might use the Montenegrin government's refusal to participate in the elections as a pretext to move militarily against Podgorica. Some 60 Montenegrin intellectuals sent a letter to the U.N. asking for military monitors to prevent such an action, amid heightened tension between Yugoslav army units and Montenegrin police in the republic. September 2000 Presidential Candidate Slams U.S. Decision to Aid Serb Opposition Opposition candidate for Yugoslav president Vojislav Kostunica denounced the State Department's decision to open an office in Budapest to work with Serbian opposition parties in promoting a unified front against Milosevic. He said U.S. support would constitute interference in Yugoslavia's internal affairs, offering Milosevic an electoral wedge to exploit. The office, to be headed by U.S. Ambassador to Croatia William Montgomery, will provide a site for U.S. officials to meet with representatives of political parties, the media, and nongovernmental organizations in Serbia. September 2000 Lucrative Mining Complex at Stake in Kosovo The U.N. interim administration in Kosovo is hiring a French-Swedish-U.S. consortium of mining companies to repair and modernize the Trepca mining complex in northern Kosovo, which is key to the economic survival of the province. Control of Trepca's 40 mines and processing plants, which produce gold, silver, lead, zinc, and cadmium, has long been contested by Serbs and Albanians. The complex, north of the flashpoint town of Mitrovica, was the province's primary employer until last year, employing 600 ethnic Albanians and Serbs in one of Yugoslavia's leading export industries. The process of refurbishing the mines to enable them to produce commercially viable quantities of metals will take from one to three years. The EU will provide about $5 million for the $16 million project, while the remaining funds will be supplied by the U.S., France, Italy, the Netherlands, and Sweden. In August, 900 NATO-led KFOR peacekeepers took control of Serb-held parts of the mining region to shut down a lead smelter emitting fumes with a lead content 200 times greater than safety guidelines allow. The takeover gave the U.N. complete control of the mining region and will let it proceed with the refurbishing process. About 1,500 Kosovar Serbs protested the closure of the smelter, fearing that Serbs would be replaced by Albanians upon the plant's reopening, despite U.N. assurances to the contrary. KFOR has not asserted its authority forcefully in the Serb-dominated region north of Mitrovica up until now in order to avoid further strife at the town's Ibar River, the dividing line between the primarily ethnic-Albanian region of Kosovo to the south of the river and the last major urban concentration of Serbs in the province to the north. September 2000 U.S.-Launched Fund to Jumpstart Southeastern Europe Investment The Clinton administration has established a $150 million equity investment fund, managed by international financier George Soros, to promote business development, restructuring, and privatization in countries of southeastern Europe whose economies were affected by the Kosovo conflict. The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) will lend $100 million to the fund, and Soros Private Funds Management will invest $50 million of its own resources and Soros's personal funding. The fund will invest in companies dealing with a wide range of sectors, such as telecommunications, manufacturing, power generation and distribution, transportation, and consumer services, in Albania, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, F.Y.R. Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Slovenia, and Turkey. Kosovo is not participating in the fund because it does not yet have the necessary government structure. In addition, the U.S. and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development have created a $150 million trust fund to help small- and medium-sized businesses in the region. The U.S. is providing about 10 percent of the $6 billion in international aid committed to southeastern Europe this year through the European Union-sponsored Stability Pact for the region. European countries and institutions, as well as international financial institutions, are providing the rest. Some $2.3 billion of the funds have been pledged for over 200 "quick-start" projects, 50 of which are already underway. (See "The Balkan Stability Pact: A Crucial Test for Europe".) July / August 2000 Parliamentary “Coup” to Extend Milosevic Presidency In a move to extend his hold on power, Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic successfully pushed constitutional amendments through parliament that will allow him to run for re-election when his term expires in July 2001, opening the possibility that he could serve eight years longer than was previously legal. The amendments permit the president to be elected to a maximum of two terms by popular vote, a radical departure from the previous system that authorized the federal parliament to elect the president for a single four-year term, with no possibility of re-election. Although there is no guarantee that Milosevic will win a direct election amid signs of increasing unpopularity, his control of the media and state institutions and the deep divisions in the opposition give him a decisive advantage. Opinion polls indicate that he remains Serbia’s most popular politician. Milosevic must call federal and municipal elections by November, and it is believed that he might hold a presidential election at the same time to exploit the continued fragmentation of the opposition movement. Milosevic served two terms as Serbian president from 1989 to 1997 before he became the Yugoslav president. July / August 2000 Election Changes Deal Blow to Serbia-Montenegro Union The constitutional amendments enacted by the Yugoslav parliament sharply diminished the influence of Montenegro in the Yugoslav federation by also providing for the direct popular election of deputies in the upper house of the federal parliament and authorizing the federal parliament to appoint the Yugoslav cabinet ministers. Under the previous system, Montenegro’s parliament elected half of the 40 deputies in the upper house, while Serbia’s parliament elected the other half, guaranteeing Montenegro equal representation in the chamber. A direct election of the deputies will eliminate that balance since Montenegro has only 600,000 inhabitants compared with Serbia’s population of 10 million, a factor that will also give Serbia an overwhelming advantage in a direct presidential election. In addition, the Yugoslav cabinet ministers were previously chosen by Yugoslavia’s prime minister in consultation with the governments of both Montenegro and Serbia. The Montenegrin parliament passed a resolution indicating that Podgorica would not recognize any decisions of the federal parliament or federal government, following the passage of the amendments. Montenegrin officials said their passage rendered the Yugoslav federation effectively dead. However, they soft-peddled any hint that the amendments could cause Montenegro to break from Yugoslavia, an option the West fears would trigger military intervention in the republic by Milosevic. Montenegro said it would boycott federal elections conducted on the basis of the amendments. In 1998, the Milosevic government prevented representatives elected that year in Montenegro from being seated in the upper house of the federal parliament. Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic warned of the possibility of civil war, as long as Milosevic’s army units in the republic continued to stir tensions with Montenegrin police in preparation for a possible coup. July / August 2000 Anti-Terrorism Law to Repress Peaceful Opposition The Yugoslav parliament is expected to adopt a proposed anti-terrorism law, submitted by Milosevic’s cabinet, which will pave the way for a further crackdown against Serbia’s opposition parties and nongovernmental organizations. The law will apply in Montenegro as well. The draft law provides for broader police authority, changes in criminal court procedures, increased border control, and limitations on representation by lawyers. It will permit suspects to be held without charge for 30 days, compared with the three-day period stipulated under existing law, and foresees jail terms of at least five years for “acts that threaten constitutional order” or “threaten the territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.” The government leveled charges of anti-state activities and “terrorism” against peaceful opposition groups, particularly the student protest movement Otpor (Resistance), which has waged a campaign of street protests to force Milosevic to step down. With some 30,000 members, it is the only opposition group gaining appreciable public support. The Yugoslav Justice Ministry refused to register Otpor as an official organization, saying it had acted illegally and had called for the violent overthrow of the constitutional order. More than 400 Otpor activists were arrested in May and June. The Yugoslav government has already stepped up pressure against independent media and the opposition by closing down several television and radio stations, including the most important opposition television station in Serbia. July / August 2000 Serb Opposition Leader Wounded, Montenegrin President’s Aide Killed Vuk Draskovic, the leader of Serbia’s largest opposition party, the Serbian Renewal Movement, was shot and slightly wounded in his Montenegrin vacation home in June when gunmen fired through a window. After the Milosevic regime closed his party’s television station, Draskovic traveled to Montenegro and asked for protection from authorities before traveling to Moscow with other opposition politicians to seek the support of the Russian government. Draskovic accused Milosevic of instigating the assassination attempt. Draskovic also accused Milosevic of trying to kill him in fall 1999, when an accident involving a car carrying the opposition leader killed four of his aides. The June attempt on Draskovic’s life was the latest in a series of attacks against prominent figures in Yugoslavia with at least one being gunned down every month this year. It followed the shooting death of Goran Zugic, national security advisor to Montenegrin President Djukanovic, in front of his Podgorica home in late May. July / August 2000 Greece, Russia, U.S. Deny Talks on Milosevic Departure Greece and other Western countries, in addition to Russia, have reportedly been pursuing an initiative to persuade Milosevic to leave office with guarantees of asylum and retention of personal wealth. Athens, Washington, and Moscow have publicly denied that such an initiative is underway. There are no indications that Milosevic is considering an offer of a graceful exit. Analysts say that the Greek government’s reported involvement in such an initiative could stem from its assessment that Milosevic’s continued hold on power in Yugoslavia contributes to the perennial destabilization of the Balkan region, a situation that Greece, with its long northern border, finds untenable as it pursues the integration of the Balkans into European institutions. Athens has become increasingly vocal in its criticism of the Yugoslav government. However, it continues to oppose international economic sanctions against Yugoslavia as extremely harmful to Yugoslav citizens. Although Washington seeks a full-blown trial for Milosevic at the International Court of Justice, which has indicted him for the deaths and expulsion of ethnic Albanians during the war in Kosovo, it has been suggested that the U.S. would consider any proposal that removed him from Belgrade. The chief prosecutor of the war crimes tribunal, Carla Del Ponte, who has denied knowledge of any initiative for Milosevic’s withdrawal from Belgrade, said she would not retract the indictment against Milosevic and opposed any action to let him escape justice. Tribunal officials also said that any country offering safe haven to Milosevic would face international penalties and sanctions. Russia is considered the most likely country to provide safe haven to Milosevic. May / June 2000 Russian Embrace Causes New NATO Snag Moscow has taken steps to bolster the regime of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic by agreeing to provide financial aid to Belgrade and hosting Yugoslav Defense Minister Gen. Dragolub Ojdanic in defiance of an international warrant for his arrest as an indictee of the U.N. war crimes tribunal. As a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, Russia was obligated to detain him as a war crimes suspect during his May trip to Moscow. Gen. Ojdanic and Yugoslav Foreign Minister Zivadin Jovanovic visited Moscow within days of each other. Gen. Ojdanic held talks with Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev and Army Chief of Staff Anatoly Kvashnin on bilateral military cooperation and the situation in Kosovo, where Russian troops are serving in the NATO-led peacekeeping force. During Jovanovic's visit, Russia announced that it would grant a $102 million loan to the Yugoslav government and would sell $32 million worth of oil to Belgrade at a time when a Western oil embargo and economic sanctions are straining its economy. Russia opposed the NATO bombardment of Yugoslavia and considered it to be illegal because it was carried out without the approval of the Security Council. May / June 2000 Internal Tensions Fuel Top-Level Assassinations In the latest in a series of high-profile assassinations of members of Milosevic's socialist party, Bosko Perosevic, the head of the Vojvodina provincial government in northern Serbia, was killed at an agricultural fair in Novi Sad in May. Police said the gunman, who was arrested, was a member of the opposition movement Otpor (Resistance) and the Serbian Renewal Movement, the main opposition party. Authorities detained at least 20 Otpor activists for questioning, despite the denial of both opposition groups of involvement in the killing. The arrests capped the detainment of dozens of Otpor members over a several-week period in what appeared to be the beginning of a systematic crackdown on the movement, which has started waging a steady campaign of civil resistance to Milosevic's regime. The popularity and stature of Otpor, which began in 1998 as a student movement and broadened its base several months ago, seem to be rising in the midst of an array of opposition parties that have bickered and have failed to adequately mobilize the anti-Milosevic movement. The director of the state-owned Yugoslav Airlines, Zika Petrovic, was gunned down on a Belgrade street in April. The day of Petrovic's funeral, Zoran Uskokovic, a Belgrade underworld figure, was killed in a shoot-out by unknown assailants during a car chase through the city's suburbs. Uskokovic is believed to have masterminded the January murder of Zeljko Raznatovic, Serbia's top paramilitary leader and ultranationalist figure known as Arkan. Yugoslav Defense Minister Pavle Bulatovic was also killed in public in Belgrade earlier this year, and a top aide of Deputy Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Seselj was shot and seriously wounded in a gun attack. More than a dozen unsolved murders of prominent figures, including journalists and police officials, have occurred in Yugoslavia in the past few years. Western diplomats have speculated that the series of killings may indicate a settling of accounts among Serbia's underworld of political, paramilitary, and mob leaders, with the expansion of organized crime over the past decade, and could have been carried out by operatives wanting to eliminate possible witnesses against Milosevic, who has been indicted by the U.N. war crimes tribunal. Arkan was also wanted by the tribunal on charges of war crimes in Croatia and Bosnia. May / June 2000 Belgrade Protests Athens Meeting of Anti-Milosevic Opposition The Yugoslav government issued a strong protest to the Greek government over a conference of 90 Serbian opposition members and Kosovar Serb leaders in Athens, which was addressed by a high-level advisor to Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou. The Greek government said it had not contributed toward organizing the conference. Papandreou did not attend the conference, but he met with some of the conference participants at his office. He said Athens was in regular contact with both the Yugoslav government and opposition groups in an attempt to ease regional tension. The conference was the third meeting since November organized by exiled Crown Prince Aleksandr Karadjordjevic, the British-born son of the late King Petar of Yugoslavia, in an effort to unite the Serbian opposition against Milosevic. To achieve unity, opposition leaders are considering establishing a council chaired by the head of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Pavle, and the crown prince. Several conference participants met with James Dobbins, special advisor to President Clinton on Bosnia and Kosovo, while he was in Athens. Serbian opposition groups are funded largely by the U.S. and the EU. May / June 2000 U.S. Launches Kosovar Serb Resettlement The U.S. is planning a pilot project involving the resettlement of some 700 Serbs to Kosovo by the summer, despite the reservations of officials of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other Western officials who believe that security conditions are not yet in place to ensure that the refugees will be safe from ethnic Albanian revenge attacks. The Serbs will be protected by Spanish peacekeepers. The announcement of resettlement plans triggered demonstrations by thousands of ethnic Albanians, who said the Serbs would not be welcomed back until some 1,200 Kosovar Albanians in Serbian prisons are released, among other demands. The $5 million project will be the first coordinated effort to resettle a large number of some 200,000 Serbs and other minorities who have fled Kosovo, mainly to Serbia proper, since peacekeepers arrived in the Serbian province in June 1999. Some 50,000 remain in the province and are largely sealed off in guarded ghettos from ethnic Albanians. Serbs are still asking the UNHCR to evacuate them due to fears for their safety, as attacks or harassment against them and other minorities by Albanians continue. Washington is considering the northwestern town of Osojane, which would be reconstructed with U.S. funds, for the project. The plan seems to have the support of the local ethnic Albanian leadership, and U.S. officials believe the repatriations will promote the cooperation of the moderate Serb leadership in Kosovo with the U.N. and with ethnic Albanians. Yugoslavia May / June 2000 Montenegro Welcomes EU, Western Assistance The EU decided in May to provide $18 million of special budgetary assistance to Montenegro in support of Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic's pro-Western government, which is threatened with destabilization by Milosevic. The EU made it clear that the bloc would not support a move toward independence by Montenegro. Podgorica's economy, already harmed by Western sanctions against Serbia, has been further damaged by Serbia's economic blockade on Montenegro, imposed in March to prevent trade between the republics. Belgrade's actions, including the strengthening of the Yugoslav Army in Montenegro, have jeopardized Podgorica's possibilities for foreign investment and the resumption of tourism. Technical difficulties are holding up $55 million of guarantees for European Investment Bank lending to Montenegro. The U.S. gave Podgorica $55 million last year and will supply about $89 million this year through USAID and other programs, while the April donor meeting of the Stability Pact for Southeastern Europe pledged $65 million in aid to the republic. The EU donated $58 million in 1998-1999. March / April 2000 Ethnic Albanian Guerrillas Target Serb Territory The U.S. is sending 125 more soldiers to Kosovo for six months solely to patrol the 115-mile border area dividing the American sector of the province from the adjoining Presevo Valley in southeastern Serbia, where a potentially volatile situation has emerged with confrontations between a newly-formed ethnic Albanian militia and reinforced Serbian forces. There are already 5,900 U.S. troops in the KFOR peacekeeping force in Kosovo. A well-armed militia, which may be a splinter group of the recently disbanded Kosovo Liberation Army, is agitating for the independence of the Serb territory because of the region’s ethnic Albanian majority. The Liberation Army of Presevo, Medvedja, and Bujanovac (UCPMB) is named after three predominantly ethnic Albanian districts in the region. Since last June, some 7,000 of the 70,000 ethnic Albanians in the region have crossed over into Kosovo, reporting harassment and intimidation at the hands of the Serb security forces and police. UCPMB guerrillas, believed to number more than 500, have clashed with Serb forces, resulting in the death of at least 15 guerrillas and several Serb policemen. The UCPMB has been exploiting a three-mile demilitarized zone in Serbia along Kosovo’s eastern border to recruit and train rebels. U.S. forces in KFOR have seized arms and ammunition from staging areas and arms caches used by the militia in the eastern part of Kosovo. Despite a pledge by the militia, in the presence of U.S. diplomats, to end its insurgency, it is continuing training exercises in the demilitarized zone, which remains off-limits to NATO forces and the Yugoslav military. NATO fears that the attacks of the militia on Serb security forces could cause Serbia to begin military operations against the group, which could spark a new refugee crisis and embroil the alliance in a new war against Yugoslavia. March / April 2000 Milosevic’s Pressure on Montenegro Mounts U.S. General Wesley Clark, NATO’s Supreme Commander for Europe, said in March that Belgrade was preparing for possible military action against Montenegro and warned Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic not to take steps against the republic. Montenegro’s president, Milo Djukanovic, accused Milosevic of destabilizing the republic and planning to overthrow the government in Podgorica through the use of a new 1,000-member special military police unit that has been created within the contingent of the Yugoslav Army situated in the Montenegrin capital. Belgrade has also reinforced its troops along the Montenegro-Serbia border. Djukanovic said relations with Serbia were deteriorating, despite his government’s decision to allow the Yugoslav Army to join Montenegro’s police at border posts along the Kosovo frontier to help stop smuggling and terrorist activities emanating from the province. Under a strict trade and economic blockade imposed by Belgrade, Montenegro is facing increased shortages of food and medicine, and is experiencing a fall in production due to a lack of raw materials. With the holding of a referendum on independence postponed indefinitely at the recommendation of Western powers, Djukanovic continues to seek a workable relationship with Serbia The U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) has signed an agreement allowing OPIC-sponsored funds to be invested in projects in Montenegro. The European Investment Bank has also agreed to finance reconstruction work in the republic. Germany is providing investment guarantees for companies prepared to invest in Montenegro. March / April 2000 Ethnic Divide Between SerbsAlbanians Widens in Kosovo City NATO and the United States have accused the Milosevic government of being behind weeks of violence in the Kosovo city of Kosovska Mitrovica, pitting KFOR peacekeeping forces against the city’s Serbs who have called for a campaign of civil disobedience. NATO intelligence reports indicated that radio contact between police units in Serbia and the city’s Serbs have been detected, coinciding with stepped-up military movement by Serbian forces in the Kosovo border area. Peacekeepers continue to focus their efforts on facilitating movement across the main bridge over the Ibar River, which divides the Serbs on the northern side of the river from the Albanians on the southern side, in an effort to reunite the city. The number of Albanians living on the Serb-controlled side, under KFOR guard, has dwindled to a handful, while only 16 Serbs live on the Albanian side under constant guard. With its 50,000 Serbs, Mitrovica is home to Kosovo’s only remaining sizeable urban population of Serbs. KFOR has set up a “confidence zone” spanning the bridge, with checkpoints and barbed wire, to allow free passage between the two sides, which is opposed by the Serbs. In defiance of the peacekeepers, Serbs positioned their own guards on the bridge to prevent Albanians from crossing it, thwarting KFOR’s efforts toward reintegration. After some 15 Serbs, 16 peacekeepers, and several journalists were injured in riots that resulted from KFOR’s attempts to remove the Serb guards from the bridge, a compromise arrangement was reached allowing some Serb guards to join peacekeepers watching over the bridge. Without the compromise, the Serbs threatened to break off all cooperation with KFOR in the city. March / April 2000 Ethnic Serbs Agree to Join Kosovo Administration Leaders of Kosovo’s Serb minority have agreed to end a six-month boycott of the multiethnic institutions established by the U.N. interim administration in the province. Representatives sent to the institutions by Kosovo’s Serb National Council will discontinue their participation if they do not see progress in the establishment of tighter security measures for Kosovar Serbs and in efforts to facilitate the return of some 250,000 Serbs who fled Kosovo and provide housing for them. March / April 2000 Regional Aid Through Stability Pact Montenegro and Kosovo will be among the recipients of portions of $2.4 billion in economic aid pledged by international donors at a March conference in Brussels to raise money to implement the Stability Pact for Southeastern Europe. The Regional Funding Conference, organized by the World Bank and the European Commission, was the first conference to be held in support of the Stability Pact, established at the initiative of the European Union last year after the Kosovo war to revive Balkan economies and promote democratization in the region. It was attended by 47 countries and 36 international organizations. The money is being earmarked for so-called “quick-start” projects, primarily infrastructure projects with cross-border impact that can be started within a year in Montenegro, Kosovo, Albania, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, F.Y.R. Macedonia, and Romania. Priority projects involve upgrading roads, ports, airports, and bridges, improving water systems, expanding electricity and rail networks, carrying out de-mining, and assisting the return of refugees. Specific plans include road and port development in Montenegro, expansion of a border-crossing facility between F.Y.R. Macedonia and Kosovo, construction of a second bridge over the Danube River linking Bulgaria and Romania, rehabilitation of the Sofia airport, water projects in Albania, and demobilization of troops in Bosnia. The package also includes financial aid for Serbia, conditioned upon an end to Milosevic’s rule. Stability Pact officials urged the international community to provide more aid to the political opposition in Yugoslavia. March / April 2000 Serb Media Suppressed as Milosevic Prepares for Elections The Milosevic government in March conducted an unprecedented crackdown on independent media, particularly radio and television stations affiliated with municipal governments opposed to his hold on power. Although harassment and intimidation of the media have been occurring for years, the sweep was considered the worst in Yugoslavia in a decade. Stations were shut down for purported non-payment of fees and taxes, broadcast signals were jammed, frequency-use charges were arbitrarily jacked up, and heavy fines were imposed for politically unacceptable broadcasts and print content. Analysts believe the new hard-line approach is an attempt to silence Milosevic’s critics in the period leading up to local and federal elections scheduled for the end of the year. The media crackdown is expected to intensify as elections near. Many of Serbia’s independent media receive significant funding from outside donors. The political opposition remains weak, still unable to decide whether to offer a unified slate in the elections, despite attempts at unification early in the year. February 2000 Rising Serb-Albanian Violence in Kosovo Flashpoint The northern Kosovo city of Kosovska Mitrovica, a flashpoint between the primarily Serbian population in the northern half and ethnic Albanian citizens in the south, became in February the site of the deadliest armed confrontations between the two ethnic groups since international peacekeepers arrived in the province last June. Two weeks of violence in this city in the French-led military sector of Kosovo left at least 11 people dead and dozens injured, including 16 peacekeepers. It began with a Serb rampage on cafes and homes in apparent retaliation for the deaths of two Serbs and the wounding of three others when a rocket-propelled grenade struck a United Nations bus near the city. Some 40 ethnic Albanians were arrested on suspicion of involvement in the violence. Before NATO’s 11-week bombing campaign last spring, Albanians formed the majority in both northern and southern Mitrovica. During the February violence, about one-third of the 2,500 Albanians still living in the north among 11,000 Serbs fled to the southern half of the city to join the 90,000 Albanians there. February 2000 U.S. Secretary of State U.N. administrator Bernard Kouchner sent 300 international police officers to the city, while NATO officials dispatched British, Danish, Greek, and Italian troops from other military sectors of the province to reinforce the French contingent. Kouchner said that the U.N. would not give up its efforts to reconcile the two sides of the once ethnically-mixed city. Many believe that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic could be behind the violence in Mitrovica because of its strategic location. The region between the city and the Kosovo border to the north, a mineral-rich area, is primarily a Serb enclave that could become a breakaway entity in alliance with Belgrade, in the event Kosovo is partitioned. February 2000 Sanctions Eased to Bolster Serbian Opposition The EU suspended its flight embargo against Yugoslavia for six months. The ban will be reimposed if free and fair elections are not held in the country within this time period. The move was seen as an act of goodwill toward the Serbian opposition, which has called for an easing of sanctions and has taken steps toward adopting a common platform at Washington’s urging. Other sanctions, including an oil embargo and an investment and credit ban, were left intact, while the list of Milosevic supporters denied visas to travel to Europe was expanded and financial sanctions were tightened. In a separate development, following five months of talks between Yugoslavia and international civil aviation authorities, the airspace over Yugoslavia was reopened to Western airline flights for the first time since NATO’s bombing campaign. Yugoslav flight controllers have resumed the guidance of planes flying over Yugoslavia from central Europe to Greece, the Middle East, and North Africa, and will control about half of all flights over Bosnia at designated altitudes. February 2000 Political Economic Vise Squeezing Montenegro Montenegrin Prime Minister Filip Vujanovic, n a visit to Washington, pleaded for increased Western financial support to enable Yugoslavia’s junior republic to restructure its economy and put off a referendum for independence from the Yugoslav federation, which he fears could provoke a violent reaction from Milosevic. Montenegro’s economy is suffering from an economic blockade by Belgrade, a 50 percent unemployment rate, and the expense of housing 75,000 refugees from the conflicts in Croatia, Bosnia, and Kosovo. Podgorica also fears that Milosevic’s attempts to destabilize the republic economically and socially could accelerate. The Social Democrats, one of Montenegro’s ruling coalition partners, threatened to abandon the government and force its collapse unless an independence referendum is held soon. Washington and the EU are against Montenegrin independence, a factor that may ultimately prevent Podgorica from holding a referendum vote. They are encouraging the republic to redefine its relationship with Serbia within the existing federation. Last year, Podgorica proposed a loose confederal relationship with Serbia, a gesture largely ignored by Belgrade. A January poll carried out by the Center for Democracy and Human Rights in Podgorica indicated that 36 percent of Montenegro’s population backed independence, 33.5 percent favored remaining in a federation with Serbia, and 22.5 percent supported a redefined relationship between Serbia and Montenegro, such as a confederation. During Vujanovic’s visit to the U.S., USAID awarded Montenegro a $7 million grant to help fund pensions and other social programs. Washington has already earmarked a $40 million aid package for Montenegro this year. February 2000 Greece to Supply Electricity to Kosovo Greece’s state-controlled Public Power Corporation has agreed to supply Kosovo with 10 percent of its daily 600-megawatt power needs to help compensate for the disrepair of two of the three power plants in the province and the reduction in power formerly supplied by the heavily damaged electricity grid in the rest of Serbia. U.N. administrator Bernard Kouchner requested that Greece provide the electricity, to be considered humanitarian aid. It will reach Kosovo through Albania and F.Y.R. Macedonia, but the delivery is being held up by infrastructure problems in these countries. Greece has specified that the power is to be used only by Kosovo and not by Belgrade, with which it has close ties. Athens hopes that the supply of power to Kosovo will improve relations with the Kosovar Albanians, which were strained during the war because of Greek public solidarity with the Serbs. A Kosovo power plant is currently generating about 450 megawatts, while about 100 megawatts are being imported from Serbia, F.Y.R. Macedonia, and Albania. February 2000 Europeans Take Helm of KFOR NATO selected Eurocorps, a five-nation European military organization, to take over the command of the Kosovo International Security Force (KFOR) for a six-month period starting in April. The decision is seen as a boost to the EU’s efforts to create a European defense identity. The 45,000 force has been under NATO command since it was deployed in the Serbian province last June. Eurocorps, comprised of Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, and Spain, was created in 1992 by France and Germany to strengthen European military cooperation. It has a 1,200 staff and support battalion at its headquarters in the French city of Strasbourg, and could form the nucleus of a potential 60,000 European rapid reaction force, which EU leaders approved at their summit in Helsinki to lessen Europe’s dependence on NATO. January 2000 Serbia Takes First Military Step Against Montenegro Yugoslav troops and Montenegro’s police, controlled by the Montenegrin government, came close to conflict in early December during a tense standoff over control of the airport outside Podgorica, the Montenegrin capital. The week before the incident, Podgorica said it would appoint new airport management and assume control of the facility, whose ownership has long been disputed by both Podgorica and Belgrade. Half of the airport is a base for the Yugoslav military. The other half accommodates commercial flights and is run by the Yugoslav state airline, JAT. During the standoff, Yugoslav military trucks blocked the runway and troops took over the control tower, closing the airport for more than 12 hours before withdrawing. It was the first time Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic had deployed the military to quash Montenegro’s moves away from Belgrade’s control. The confrontation reflected the tension that has been building between Serbia and Montenegro since August, when Podgorica threatened to declare independence if Milosevic did not agree to reshape Yugoslavia’s two republics into a confederation that gives Podgorica greater autonomy over its economic, defense, and foreign policies. Talks on the matter between officials of the ruling parties in the two republics remain stalled. In his New Year’s message, Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic played down the threat of a referendum, an option that is opposed by the West. In recent months, Belgrade has been increasing the number of military police in Montenegro without Podgorica’s consent. The Montenegrin government does not recognize the federal government or the parliament in Belgrade. January 2000 Anti-Milosevic Militia Heightens Fear of Serb Civil War Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO) leader Vuk Draskovic announced that his party is forming a defense force to resist what he calls state-sponsored violence in Serbia. The move could escalate the tensions between the Milosevic regime and its opponents, and raise the possibility of civil war in Serbia. Draskovic accused the state security apparatus of organizing an October assassination attempt against him, involving a car crash in which he was injured and four of his aides were killed. The state authorities responded to Draskovic’s allegations by detaining his advisor, and issued court rulings and police summons against his party. The SPO formed an armed party militia in 1990, which later fought in Croatia, and is the only opposition party or group known to be creating a militia. Analysts are expressing concern that Milosevic is consolidating his personal power and moving toward complete authoritarian rule, a departure from the past when some dissent was tolerated. Milosevic, whose ruling Socialist Party of Serbia controls the Federal Assembly only with the backing of coalition partners, has recently dismissed judges, an unconstitutional move, and imposed heavy fines against independent media for criticizing his regime. In addition, the government has increased the rate of selective arrests and prosecutions to eliminate dissent. January 2000 Opposition Unites in Anti-Milosevic Strategy For the first time in more than two years, all of Serbia’s major opposition parties have agreed to join forces in their struggle to topple Milosevic. An agreement on a united strategy emerged during an early January meeting of representatives of 17 political parties, organized by Vuk Draskovic and his Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO). The only opposition figure that refused to sign the joint document was Momcilo Perisic, a former general and former head of the Yugoslav Army, who said he favored attempts to unseat Milosevic in the Yugoslav parliament. The document calls on Milosevic’s government to schedule early national and regional elections by the end of April. It also demands that the government end its “state terrorism” and abolish repressive laws concerning the control of the media and universities. The parties pledged to cooperate up to, during, and after the elections to enhance the chances of an opposition victory, and will launch a campaign of nationwide street protests in March if calls for early elections are ignored. Recent polls in Serbia have shown that a united opposition would win the elections. Serbia’s ruling parties have rejected talks on early elections at all levels, which were officially requested in parliament by the SPO. Local elections are currently due in the second half of 2000, with national elections scheduled for September 2001 and a presidential election set for December 2002. In a letter to leaders of the United States, the European Union, Russia, and China, the opposition demanded an immediate end to the ban on international air traffic and oil trade. The letter also called for other international sanctions against Serbia to be ended once Milosevic agrees to schedule elections. Also present at the meeting were prominent Kosovar Serbs, including Bishop Artemije, who opposed Milosevic’s policy in Kosovo. Since the end of the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in June, attempts by the opposition parties to unite in their anti-Milosevic strategy have failed. A wave of street protests lost its momentum because Draskovic refused to participate. The opposition forces have lost support due to the failure of Draskovic and Zoran Djindjic, head of the Democratic Party, which dominates the Alliance for Change, to overcome political and personal differences in the past. In mid-December, Western officials warned the SPO and the Alliance for Change that they had two months to form a joint strategy for unseating Milosevic or risk losing international support. January 2000 Greece, Italy Call for Serbian Elections, End of Embargo Greece and Italy backed Serbian opposition calls for early democratic elections in Serbia, with international guarantees for their transparency and an eventual lifting of the sanctions that have been imposed on the Yugoslav republic. Italian Prime Minister Massimo D’Alema, during a two-day official visit to Greece, joined Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis in urging the European Union and the United States to support efforts for Serbian democracy. Simitis said Greece had always supported the view that the embargo on Serbia, which includes sanctions in the fields of air transportation and the supply of natural gas, could not solve the region’s problems. January 2000 Serbian Opposition Cooperates on Western Aid Delivery Serbia’s main opposition groups have formed a joint commission with U.S. and EU representatives for the purpose of coordinating economic and humanitarian assistance to the democratic opposition in the republic, where a deepening economic crisis is leading to increased hardship. Under the EU’s Energy for Democracy program, designed to strengthen the Serbian opposition, 14 tankers with 350 tons of fuel arrived at the towns of Nis and Pirot, towns led by the opposition, despite a nearly two-week delay at the border by Yugoslav customs authorities. January 2000 China Provides Aid to Serbia China has signed an agreement to provide up to $300 million in financial assistance to Serbia, a move that will double Serbia’s foreign exchange reserves and bolster the flagging dinar. Serbia is expected to use the funds to import electricity and repair infrastructure damaged in the NATO air strikes. Yugoslav Foreign Minister Zivadin Jovanovic visited China in late December at the invitation of his Chinese counterpart Tang Jiaxuan. Jovanovic said he welcomed the participation of Chinese enterprises in Yugoslavia’s reconstruction. China opposed NATO’s bombing of Yugoslavia over Kosovo. During the campaign, NATO bombs destroyed the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade, killing three Chinese and wounding 27 others. The United States has paid $4.5 million to the victims and their families, and has agreed to pay $28 million in compensation to China for damage to the embassy. January 2000 U.N. Invites Ethnic Albanians, Serbs to Administer Kosovo The U.N. interim administration will begin sharing the duties of governing Kosovo with three Kosovar Albanian leaders by bringing them into a joint council that also has a seat reserved for a Kosovar Serb representative. The move is intended to bring stability to Kosovo and lead to the dissolution of ethnic Albanian shadow governments in the province, particularly the self-declared “provisional government” of Hashim Thaci, the former political head of the disbanded Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). The U.N. hopes to promote unity among the Kosovar Albanians in an effort to reduce revenge killings against Kosovar Serbs. U.N. administration head Bernard Kouchner signed an agreement in December creating the Interim Administrative Council with Thaci; Ibrahim Rugova of the Democratic League of Kosovo, who was elected “president” of the unrecognized Kosovo Republic in two unofficial referendums before the NATO air campaign; and Rexhep Qosja of the Unified Democratic Movement. The Kosovar Serbs have rejected Kouchner’s invitation to fill their seat on the council and say they will boycott the joint body, which they view as a step toward an independent, Albanian-run Kosovo. Kouchner remains in charge of the United Nations administration and will preside over the council, which will also include four members of the United Nations mission. Kouchner holds the right of veto over any of the Council’s decisions. As of January 31, the Council will propose policy and legislation for 14 administrative departments, each to be jointly headed by one United Nations official and one Kosovar, and it will serve as the governing body of the province until provincial elections can be held in the second half of 2000. Thaci and Rugova are to disband their alternative governments and move into the offices of the United Nations administration, as Kosovars take positions throughout the province alongside United Nations officials. It is hoped that the new arrangement will suppress the rivalry between the two ethnic Albanian leaders, which has hampered the United Nations’ efforts to establish a unified civilian administration. Rugova said he planned to retain the title of “president” of Kosovo until elections are held. January 2000 A human rights report released by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said more judicial resources and police were needed to end the climate of impunity associated with the violence against Serbs and other ethnic minorities in Kosovo, which resulted in 420 murders during the second half of 1999, but only four murder trials. U.N. administrator Kouchner announced that he would appoint 400 extra judges and prosecutors in the province to jumpstart the barely-functioning criminal justice system. In addition, he said Kosovo would have its own penal code, and laws would be re-enacted that existed before the province’s autonomy was taken away in 1989. Since the U.N. administration took over the governing of the province in June, ethnic Albanian judges and lawyers have refused to apply current Yugoslav and Serbian legislation, leading to paralysis of the court system. Kouchner said he had asked for 6,000 international police officers, but only about 4,000 had been authorized. Only 1,800, including 457 from the U.S., have arrived in Kosovo, a situation that has transformed the NATO-led, 45,000-member peacekeeping force into a law enforcement operation. Kouchner appealed to the international community to contribute more police to the province and to provide more money to end a severe funding shortage. Only a fraction of the $2 billion pledged by donor nations in early 1999 has arrived. Kouchner said a lack of funds had forced him to delay preparations for elections in Kosovo, which are expected to be held this year. If registration of the population begins by February, he stated, the earliest date for elections would be in September. December 1999 U.S. Plan to Promote Early Belgrade Elections The United States has decided to end its economic sanctions against Serbia as soon as free and fair elections are held in the Yugoslav republic, regardless of the outcome. The decision reverses Washington's earlier position that the sanctions, including an oil embargo and air-travel ban, would continue as long as Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic remained in power. In addition, Washington is supporting Europe's Energy for Democracy pilot program allowing $5 million worth of oil to be delivered to the southern Serbian cities of Nis and Pirot, which are governed by opponents of Milosevic. The U.S. initially opposed the program, an exception to the oil embargo, fearing it would alleviate public discontent with Milosevic. If it is clear that the fuel is not being siphoned off to Milosevic's government, the EU could extend the program to other regions of Serbia. Serbian opposition groups urged the U.S. to take these steps to enhance their chances of increasing popular pressure on Milosevic to call early elections. The steps were announced during a visit of a delegation of Serbian opposition figures to Washington. The opposition is asking the West to lift all sanctions against Yugoslavia, saying it would be the best way to help the country's democratic forces. Milosevic's term currently runs to 2002, while parliamentary elections are due in 2001. The risk taken by the U.S. is that it will have to lift its sanctions even if Milosevic is re-elected. Polls indicate that nearly 70 percent of voters seek a new government. The U.S. has allocated about $12 million dollars to Serbia's opposition since July. The Alliance for Change is promoting the idea of an opposition-run interim government to prepare the country for elections and wants it to be led by former Yugoslav central bank governor Dragoslav Avramovic. The proposal won support at the OSCE summit in Istanbul, to which Serbian opposition representatives were invited. Yugoslavia was expelled from the OSCE in 1992. In a surprise move, the Yugoslav parliament, dominated by the ruling leftist coalition, accepted the request of the Serbian Renewal Party, on behalf of the entire opposition, to debate the possibility of early parliamentary and presidential elections. The proposal was referred to a legal committee, and it could be weeks before it is reconsidered by parliament. Analysts said the best the opposition could hope for would be local elections during the first six months of 2000. However, parliament has passed a local government law aimed at minimizing opposition chances of holding on to municipal positions, won in 1996, in the next local elections. December 1999 More Attacks Against Kosovar Serbs and Minorities A joint report by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) warned that the continuing attacks by Kosovar Albanians on Serbs, Gypsies, and other minorities, such as Muslim Slavs and Croats, in Kosovo could cause international donors to cut back on funds provided to reconstruct the province. According to the report, there was growing evidence that the Kosovar Albanian leadership was behind the harassment and that moderate Albanians were subject to attack if they criticized the level of violence and spoke out in support of creating a multi-ethnic society. In the absence of a working judicial system, organized crime is on the rise. During a November trip to the province, including a visit with some of the 6,000 U.S. troops serving in the 42,000-member peacekeeping force, President Clinton urged all parties to work toward reconciliation and an end to the cycle of ethnic violence in the region. Mid-November figures released by NATO estimated that 379 people had been killed in Kosovo since peacekeepers took control of the province in June. Some 135 were Serbs and 145 were ethnic Albanians, with the rest being of other or unknown ethnic origins. Some 1,500 ethnic Albanians in the western city of Pec attacked a NATO-protected convoy of 155 Serbs leaving a protected Serb enclave in Orahovac for Montenegro. At least 18 people were injured and about 20 vehicles were destroyed. It was the worst incident of violence directed at a humanitarian convoy since June. In addition, a prominent Kosovar Serb politician, Momcilo Trajkovic, was wounded in his home by Albanian gunmen. As winter begins, the former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) fighters of Hashim Thaci's unofficial "provisional government," which operates alongside the U.N. administration, are reportedly evicting Serbs, ethnic Albanians, and Gypsies from their apartments in order to turn the apartments over to former KLA guerrillas or their families. The competition for housing has been made worse by the fact that only a fraction of the estimated 125,000 homes damaged in the war have been even partially rebuilt. Aid workers are attempting to insulate at least one room in each damaged house to provide winterized shelter for an estimated 300,000 people. A November donor conference of Western governments on Kosovo resulted in a pledge of $1 billion in aid for reconstruction next year but only $88 million, or half of what is needed, to cover the budget for the United Nations administration. December 1999 Kosovar Serb Isolation Triggering Added Tensions In another setback for the U.N.'s attempt to establish a multi-ethnic administration in Kosovo, representatives of the Kosovar Serb minority unilaterally formed a 49-member council to protect the Serb inhabitants of the province, work toward self-rule in the areas in which they are most concentrated, and provide a common Serb voice in contacts with the peacekeeping force and the international community. The council, called the Serb National Assembly, elected Bishop Artemije, the most senior member of the Orthodox church in Kosovo, as its president. The formation of the Serb National Assembly followed a Serb boycott of the Transitional Council, established by the U.N. to serve as the foundation for a multi-ethnic administration in the province. The boycott was a protest against placing former KLA commander Agim Ceku at the head of the Kosovo Protection Corps, a lightly armed civil defense force, which the Serbs see as the old KLA under a new name. The Kosovar Serbs reiterated their desire to form a separate Serb civilian corps and repeated their call for the cantonization of the province to formally isolate Serb enclaves as the only means to prevent the remaining 70,000 Serbs from leaving the province. The U.N. administration continues to reject both demands, even as the burning of Serbs' homes takes place almost daily. Western officials are concerned that a de facto partition of Kosovo is occurring at the northern town of Kosovska Mitrovica, 30 miles south of the Kosovo border. Due to violence between the Serbs north of the city's bridge and Albanians south of the bridge, peacekeepers have blocked access to the bridge and, along with U.N. officials, have confined their activities to the area south of the bridge. The situation enables the Milosevic government to assert its influence in the area between the northern part of the city and the Kosovo border, where many Serbs have regrouped. Montenegro Moves Toward Independent Currency In a move to protect the Montenegrin economy from the threat of hyperinflation in Serbia, now nearly 100 percent, the government of Montenegro decided to introduce the German mark in Yugoslavia's junior republic in November as a parallel currency alongside the weakening Yugoslav dinar. Since Montenegro accounts for only five percent of Yugoslavia's gross domestic product, the move is not expected to significantly affect the Serbian economy. However, the National Bank of Yugoslavia responded by halting transfers of funds by firms in Montenegro to accounts of firms in Serbia. Although Montenegro is considering holding a referendum on independence from the Yugoslav federation if it does not get more autonomy in the defense, foreign policy, and economy sectors, Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic was quick to dispel speculation that the monetary move was a prelude to independence. Djukanovic said he was trying to preserve the union with Serbia in the form of a restructured confederation, a goal that was discussed in talks between the ruling parties of both republics in late October without results. He said the introduction of the mark would relieve economic pressures on Podgorica and would allow a decision on the status of Montenegro to be put off until a later time. Immediately after declaring the introduction of the mark, Djukanovic went to Washington for talks with Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Secretary of Defense William Cohen, National Security Advisor Sandy Berger, and other officials. Albright said the United States would look for new ways to help Montenegro economically without aiding Belgrade. The U.S., which opposes an independent Montenegro, has committed $55 million to Podgorica this year and has exempted Montenegrin companies from sanctions imposed on Serbia for its involvement in Balkan wars over the last decade. Unemployment in Montenegro is estimated to be 80 percent. October 1999 - November 1999 Ethnic Albanians Lead New Kosovo Corps The NATO-led peacekeeping force and the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) have concluded an agreement to dissolve the rebel force and form a civilian emergency corps comprised of 3,000 active and 2,000 reserve members. Most members of the Kosovo Protection Corps are expected to be drawn from the pool of 10,000 ex-KLA fighters, while 10 percent of the corps' positions will be reserved for Kosovar Serbs and other minorities to maintain its multi-ethnic character. Led by former KLA military chief of staff Gen. Agim Ceku, the corps will assist in civilian emergencies and help rebuild Kosovo. The new commander of the peacekeeping force, German Gen. Klaus Reinhardt, will oversee the corps' daily operations. It will have 2,000 weapons. With the exception of 200, to be used only in self-defense by guards at the corps' installations, the weapons will be locked away on peacekeepers' bases. Some senior corps members will also be allowed to carry personal weapons for their own protection. The agreement to establish the force was preceded by the surrender of 10,000 arms by KLA guerrillas to peacekeepers, although substantial amounts of weaponry are still believed to be in the hands of ethnic Albanians and Serbs in Kosovo. The civilian force will be separate from the new Kosovo police service the U.N. is creating, which will absorb several thousand more ex-KLA fighters and is expected to have 4,000 members within two years. The majority of the recruits for the police force are ethnic Albanians, but 24 of the 200 selected in September for training by the OSCE are Serbs. While NATO officials stressed the civilian aspect of the Kosovo Protection Corps, the KLA said it regards the corps as the nucleus of a future army protecting an independent Kosovo, in defiance of the Western view that the province remain part of Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia and Russia accused NATO of failing to secure the KLA's genuine demobilization and disarmament, as required by the U.N. Security Council resolution outlining the peace terms for Kosovo. October 1999 - November 1999 Fears of Attacks Bring Serb Reaction Kosovar Serbs threatened to create their own defense force to provide security for their dwindling numbers in response to the KLA dominance of the new Kosovo Protection Corps. To protest the formation of the corps, Serbian representatives also resigned from Kosovo's multi-ethnic Transitional Council, which has been working with the U.N. Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) to administer the province and promote multi-ethnic structures. The Serb decision was a blow to international efforts to promote reconciliation in the province between ethnic Albanians and Serbs. International organizations have determined that an August estimate of 20,000 remaining Serbs in Kosovo was too low and have revised the estimate to nearly 100,000. This population, which once numbered 200,000 or 10 percent of the total pre-war Kosovo inhabitants, has become increasingly enclaved in five primary areas of the province to escape revenge killings and acts of violence by ethnic Albanians. The 11,000 gypsies in the province, regarded as siding with Serbs during the war and now persecuted by ethnic Albanians, are also increasingly moving toward the Serbian enclaves. In many villages where Serbians and ethnic Albanians are coexisting, violence perpetrated by both sides continues. The 50,000-member NATO-led peacekeeping force and the 1,500-strong international police force have been unable to completely stem the violence. One of the worst incidents was a grenade attack in a Serb market in the central town of Kosovo Polje, which killed two Serbs and wounded 47. Serbs staged a roadblock protest following the attack to demand better protection. In addition, the work of Russian peacekeeping troops, seen as allies of Kosovar Serbs, has been hampered by ethnic Albanian hostility. A KLA-organized group of ethnic Albanians blockaded the main approach to Orahovac in western Kosovo to prevent 750 Russian troops from replacing Dutch troops protecting 3,000 isolated Serbs. Russian peacekeepers have come under fire more often than other peacekeepers. The Kosovar Serbs have been pressuring the U.N. administration to formally partition the province by setting up five Serb cantons where Serbs formed the pre-war majority. The United States and its NATO allies, as well as the ethnic Albanians, strongly oppose resettlement and formal partition, which would be contrary to the alliance's goal of preserving the multi-ethnic fabric of the province. October 1999 - November 1999 Assertive KLA Moves Weaken U.N. Authority KLA political leader Hashim Thaci, the so-called prime minister of the self-styled provisional government of Kosovo, has stepped up public criticism of Bernard Kouchner, the U.N. interim administrator of the province, as the KLA and the U.N. maintain an uneasy coexistence. Thaci has complained that UNMIK has not allowed the KLA full participation in the process of administering Kosovo, a right asserted by the KLA because of its contribution to NATO's victory over Yugoslavia. The United Nations is attempting to avoid favoring one ethnic Albanian faction over another in planning the future of Kosovo. It convenes regular meetings of the Transitional Council, which incorporates a broad range of factions, including those of Thaci and Ibrahim Rugova, who also considers himself the leader of Kosovo. In practice, the KLA and its representatives continue to wield considerable power in most of the smaller towns and villages of Kosovo. Thaci has announced the formation of his own political party, the Progressive Party for the Renaissance of Kosovo, and has stated that the Kosovar Albanians want to be represented at the United Nations, reflecting their goal of the eventual independence of Kosovo. Although Yugoslavia officially retains sovereignty over Kosovo, UNMIK has replaced the Yugoslav dinar with the deutsche mark as the province's official currency. A customs system put in place by UNMIK at Kosovo's borders with Albania and F.Y.R. Macedonia funnels duties directly to the U.N. administration, rather than Belgrade. Both moves are seen as pushing Kosovo further away from Belgrade's rule. October 1999 - November 1999 Milosevic Opposition Slowly Crumbling Dozens of people in Belgrade were injured and dozens arrested as police dispersed nightly demonstrations demanding the resignation of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. The coalition organizing the rallies, the opposition Alliance for Change, insists it will continue the demonstrations until Milosevic steps down. The crowds in the capital ranged from 10,000 to 50,000, dashing the organizers' hopes that expected electricity and fuel shortages this winter would bring more people to the streets. The momentum that brought 100,000 people together in a mid-August protest in the capital appeared to have run out of steam. Recent polls indicate that up to 70 percent of Serbs are afraid to participate in demonstrations, fearing violence, arrest, or the loss of their jobs. Belgrade's issuing of long-overdue pensioners' checks and back pay for Yugoslav army reservists once deployed in Kosovo may have helped divide the opposition, which cannot offer a common strategy to galvanize public dissatisfaction with Milosevic. Vuk Draskovic, leader of the Serbian Renewal Movement, still refuses to join street protests calling for Milosevic's resignation, believing that early elections are the key to democratic reform. Zoran Djindjic, who heads the largest party in the Alliance for Change, believes that elections held while Milosevic is in power would be fraudulent. He is calling for Milosevic's resignation, to be followed by an interim government preceding elections. Sixty miles north of Belgrade, an opposition politician named Nenad Canak drew up to 10,000 demonstrators in a series of rallies in Novi Sad, a significant turnout for a city of 200,000 people in the Serbian province of Vojvodina, whose autonomy was ended by Milosevic in 1989, as in Kosovo. Canak has challenged the provincial government by forming a "transition government" for Vojvodina province, naming himself as "prime minister." Although his pronouncement was largely symbolic, the West is closely watching events in Vojvodina, considered a potential flashpoint if the province's 350,000-strong ethnic Hungarian minority, one-fifth of the province's population, should press for autonomy, provoking a Serbian nationalist backlash. October 1999 - November 1999 Montenegro Waffles on Independence Referendum In what appeared to be a stalling technique, Serbia's ruling party invited the ruling party of Montenegro for talks in late October regarding the future of Yugoslavia. They will take place nearly three months after the Montenegrin government threatened to hold a referendum on independence if Serbia failed to accept its proposal for the formation of a loose confederation of two equal states under a new constitution. Belgrade has attempted to move debate on the issue to the Yugoslav parliament, which Podgorica does not recognize, while Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic stresses that Montenegro wants to negotiate directly with the Serbian government. The mid-September deadline Djukanovic presented to Belgrade for considering Podgorica's proposal passed without any decisive action by the Montenegrin government toward independence. Djukanovic concedes that 40 percent of the Montenegrin people oppose independence. In a move expected to ease Podgorica's economic situation, the EU has exempted Montenegro, along with Kosovo, from the oil embargo imposed on Yugoslavia last year. August 1999 - September 1999 Kosovo Unease Grows with KLA Reprisal Attacks Revenge killings and other violence against the Serb minority of Kosovo by ethnic Albanians have resulted in the deaths of more than 100 Kosovar Serbs and an exodus of over 180,000, or 90 percent, of the pre-war Kosovar Serb population, numbering 200,000. Gunmen of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) are blamed by many Serb victims for the violence against them. The KLA leadership insists that the people carrying out the violence, as well as those shooting at peacekeepers, are not under KLA control. They add that NATO's disbanding and disarmament of the guerrilla army, to be completed by late September, renders it incapable of helping to prevent ethnic violence. Nearly all of the 860,000 ethnic Albanians that fled Kosovo during the war have returned, bringing the ethnic Albanian population to 1.6 million. The 35,000 NATO-led peacekeepers deployed in the province have been unable to stem the reprisal attacks in a volatile environment in which they have also come under increasing attack. The 3,600 Russian peacekeepers in the province, seen as allies of Serbia by ethnic Albanians, have been especially targeted. The Serb exodus is a setback for peacekeepers struggling to reconstruct a multi-ethnic society. The Serb population of Pristina has fallen from 20,000 to 2,000 in five months. Other Kosovar Serbs are relocating to Serb-majority enclaves. Thousands of gypsies have also left Kosovo after being victims of attacks, accused by ethnic Albanians of aiding Serbia in its repression against them. The security situation has been made worse by the delay in the deployment of the 3,100-member U.N. International Police Force, to be trained by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and fully in place by October. By mid-August, only 700 of these police had been deployed. The OSCE has begun recruiting local Serb and Albanian residents for a 3,000-member Kosovo Police Service, expected to be ready by spring 2000. At least 4,000 members of the KLA have applied for positions in the force. August 1999 - September 1999 KLA Usurps U.N. Civil Authority Since the end of the NATO air campaign against Yugoslavia, there has been tension between the new U.N. Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and those within the KLA who feel entitled to govern the province. The U.N. Security Council resolution implementing the Kosovo peace agreement stipulated that UNMIK would be the governing authority until provincial elections organized by the OSCE were held, possibly in nine months. At the same time, KLA leader Hashim Thaci declared himself the "prime minister" of the "provisional government" of Kosovo, and KLA members began to fill local leadership positions throughout the province, taking over municipal buildings and setting up ministries. In the absence of a strong international police presence, some KLA members began collecting taxes and customs payments. They also attempted to assume police powers, challenging the mandate of the peacekeeping force as the only legitimate security force. Thaci, who became prominent by representing the KLA at the failed Rambouillet talks in February, has said he will govern Kosovo until elections occur. Although he has promised to cooperate with UNMIK, he has not acknowledged its legal authority unconditionally, nor has his "provisional government" been recognized by UNMIK. Thaci bases his formation of a "provisional government" on an agreement reached at Rambouillet by a coalition of political parties stipulating that the KLA should lead any new government that emerged in Kosovo. Thaci has made it clear that the KLA seeks independence under the guidelines set up at Rambouillet, calling for a referendum on independence after a three-year transitional period, a provision that was deliberately omitted from the current U.N. mandate. He has also said the KLA intends to establish a defense force. UNMIK has brought in about 60 of the 1,000 experts needed in the province to set up a civil administration, judicial system, and police force. It will also oversee the institution-building efforts of the OSCE, the infrastructure reconstruction delegated to the EU, and the humanitarian aid activities of the UNHCR, which will be providing winterized shelter for some 500,000 of the returning refugees. UNMIK has established a 12-member transitional council of ethnic Serbs and Albanians, including the KLA, to give the political parties and ethnic groups of Kosovo an opportunity for input into the U.N.'s decision-making process concerning the emergence of a civil administration. Its formation is a critical step toward self-government in Kosovo under Yugoslav sovereignty. August 1999 - September 1999 Rugova Returns to Enlarge Kosovo Coalition Moderate ethnic Albanian leader Ibrahim Rugova has agreed to sit on the multi-ethnic transitional council set up by Kosovo's U.N. interim administration, ending his month-long boycott of the council. The move, following talks with Thaci, was seen as a positive step toward reconciliation between the two main ethnic Albanian political factions, the KLA and Rugova's Democratic League of Kosovo. The U.N. also sees Rugova's participation in the council as crucial to its efforts to establish broad support for its administration from the Kosovar Albanians. Rugova, who had gone to Italy during the NATO air campaign, remained in Rome for six weeks after the campaign ended, with the exception of one brief visit to Pristina. Western diplomats criticized him for his absence from Kosovo during the initial phase of building a civil administration and for his boycott of the council, which was in protest over the number of seats allotted to his party. Rugova was elected "President of the Republic of Kosovo" in two unrecognized elections under former Serbian rule over the past decade, and most ethnic Albanians still consider him to be their leader. But he has lost political stature to the KLA over the past year, with Thaci becoming the head of the ethnic Albanian delegation at Rambouillet. Rugova's popularity has also declined due to his stay in Italy and Serb television footage showing him meeting with Slobodan Milosevic during Milosevic's brutal campaign in Kosovo. Rugova said that fear for his family's safety forced him into meeting with Milosevic. August 1999 - September 1999 Montenegro Proposes New Confederation with Serbia Montenegro's pro-Western government has given Belgrade a mid-September deadline to consider its proposal for replacing the current Yugoslav federation, consisting of Serbia and Montenegro, with a loose confederation of two equal states under a new constitution. If Serbia rejects the proposal, Montenegro is expected to hold a referendum on independence this fall. In the proposed confederation, the existing two federal chambers, with equal representation in the upper house and a large Serbian majority in the lower house, would be transformed into a single chamber with an equal number of seats for the deputies of both republics. A joint council of ministers of up to six members would replace the current 23-member federal cabinet. Each republic would control its own foreign policy, army, and currency. Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic has sought more economic and political independence from Serbia since coming to power in 1997. Milosevic has refused to recognize the election of Djukanovic and appointed a bitter foe of his to the position of Yugoslav prime minister. The West has backed Montenegro for its democratic and economic reforms, although it opposes the republic's independence. The Montenegrin government has been promised international aid for post-Kosovo reconstruction, while Belgrade has been excluded from aid as long as Milosevic remains in power. August 1999 - September 1999 Anti-Milosevic Opposition Still Lacks Cohesion As the movement to topple Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic grows, the Serbian Orthodox Church has once again called on the Yugoslav leader to resign in favor of a transitional government of non-party experts that would prepare the ground for early elections. The appeal by the church's bishops represented a broader anti-Milosevic front than previous calls for his resignation by the church's governing body, which in the past had tended to remove itself from politics. Another boost to the opposition has been the announcement by the former army chief of staff that he will be forming a new political entity, the Movement for Democratic Serbia, aimed at removing Milosevic. General Momcilo Perisic was fired from his position by Milosevic in November 1998 for disagreeing with him on Kosovo policy. Perisic's movement, which may attract support from the military for the anti-Milosevic forces, will become one of several opposition groups that have been working toward Milosevic's ouster with little cohesion. The two main opposition forces are the Alliance for Change, which brings together 30 groups dominated by Zoran Djindjic of the Democratic Party, and the Serbian Renewal Party, led by former deputy prime minister Vuk Draskovic. They have been unwilling to cooperate in their efforts against Milosevic. The friction between Djindjic and Draskovic stems from different approaches on how to oust Milosevic, preventing them from unifying widespread discontent against the Yugoslav regime. The opposition movement has been fueled by economic hardship resulting from the international community's unwillingness to provide reconstruction aid to Serbia as long as Milosevic remains in power and from prior economic sanctions. A massive anti-Milosevic rally in Belgrade in mid-August attracted 150,000 protestors. It was the first rally in the capital since NATO's campaign against Yugoslavia ended, and it followed a month of almost daily protests in other areas of the country. The G-17 group of independent economists organized the rally and has been involved in the drafting of a Stability Pact for Serbia, along with an anonymous group of Serbian historians, legal experts, and writers. The pact calls for the resignation of Milosevic and establishes a blueprint for a one-year transitional government headed by technocrats. The U.S. has pledged $10 million toward efforts to unseat Milosevic. June 1999 - July 1999 Agreement Outlines Terms for Kosovo Peace As the NATO aerial bombardment of Yugoslavia entered its eleventh week on June 3, the Serbian Parliament approved a settlement calling for the withdrawal of all 40,000 Yugoslav and Serbian military and police forces from Kosovo, the ceding of control over the province to an international peacekeeping force and international administrators under U.N. auspices, and the return of nearly one million Kosovar Albanian refugees to their homes. Following the withdrawal of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic’s forces from Kosovo, fewer than 1,000 Serbian military personnel would be permitted to return to the province to serve as a symbol of Serbian and Yugoslav sovereignty over the region. They would mark and clear minefields, guard Orthodox Christian holy sites, and maintain a presence at key federal border crossings. The U.N. Security Council was to select an interim international civil authority, the U.N. Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), to supervise the running of Kosovo, the return of refugees, the establishment of new democratic institutions, and the holding of elections. Negotiations would be held to establish an interim political framework agreement providing for substantial autonomy within Yugoslavia. However, no mention was made in the agreement of a review of Kosovo’s autonomy and the holding of a referendum leading to independence after three years, which led the Serbs to reject the Rambouillet accord in February. The agreement allowed foreign troops to enter Kosovo under the auspices of the U.N., but not the rest of Yugoslavia. Milosevic rejected a provision of the Rambouillet accord that allowed foreign troops to move throughout the country. Although the June settlement stipulated that the force would be an international security presence with substantial NATO participation, European and U.S. officials immediately made it clear that they intended to place the troops under NATO command. The Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) was required to demilitarize, despite the lack of any inventory of soldiers, weapons, munitions, and other related military hardware. June 1999 - July 1999 NATO Peacekeepers In, Serb Forces Out The NATO-led peacekeeping force, referred to as KFOR (Kosovo Implementation Force), began entering Kosovo after the U.N. Security Council adopted a resolution ratifying the troop deployment and the establishment of an interim civil administration under U.N. auspices. It was feared that China, still angry over NATO’s accidental bombing of its embassy in Belgrade, would veto the resolution. Its decision to abstain allowed adoption of the resolution within hours of NATO’s suspension of the bombing on June 10. NATO did not seek U.N. backing for its air campaign against Yugoslavia since resolutions authorizing it would likely have been blocked by Security Council members Russia and China. By June 20, all Yugoslav and Serbian forces had met their deadline for pulling out of Kosovo. By the end of June, some 30,000 NATO peacekeeping forces had arrived in the province, divided into five sectors controlled by U.S., French, British, German, and Italian troops. These forces included about 5,000 of the 7,000 troops committed by the U.S. By the end of July, about 59,000 troops are expected to make up KFOR. NATO has obtained pledges of 44,000 troops from alliance countries, 3,600 from Russia, and 4,000 from other countries, such as Finland and Lithuania. The 13,000 British troops constitute the largest contingent in the force, and the KFOR commander is British Lt. Gen. Michael Jackson. In addition, UNMIK will deploy a 3,000-member international police force in Kosovo to help prevent the escalating threat of revenge killings. June 1999 - July 1999 Russian Troops Deployed in Post-War Kosovo The Russian troops in Kosovo will be divided among the peacekeeping sectors controlled by U.S., French, and German forces. In addition, about 750 Russian troops will take care of ground operations at the Pristina airport in the British sector. NATO personnel will handle flight plans and air control matters at the airport, which will be open to all countries participating in the force. Russia wanted its own sector, but NATO remained firmly opposed, dashing Moscow’s desire to play a more central role in peacekeeping plans. Moscow felt it deserved a position in the peacekeeping force equal to that of the major NATO powers since Russian envoy Victor Chernomyrdin had played a crucial role in persuading Milosevic to accept NATO’s terms for peace. NATO feared that Serb inhabitants of Kosovo would flock to a Russian sector, given the Russians’ close links with the Serb minority in the province, resulting in a Serbian stronghold and the de facto partition of the province. Initially, Russia insisted that it would not place its troops under direct NATO command. A solution was reached placing Russian forces within KFOR’s unified command structure but under the authority of 16 Russian liaison officers installed at each layer of the command structure. Some 1,300 Russian troops participate in a peacekeeping force in Bosnia that operates under a similar arrangement. The U.S. and Moscow came to an agreement on Russia’s participation in KFOR a week after 200 Russian troops surprised KFOR peacekeepers by suddenly entering Kosovo on June 12, about four hours ahead of alliance troops and before the Russian role in the mission had been defined by NATO. The Russian troops seized Pristina airport and blocked alliance peacekeepers from entering the facility, where KFOR had intended to establish its headquarters. The Russian troops had been part of the Bosnian peacekeeping force. June 1999 - July 1999 Future Unclear As KLA Begins Demilitarization The KLA signed a demilitarization pact with NATO hours after the last of the Yugoslav and Serbian forces in Kosovo pulled out of the province on June 20. The pact attempts to neutralize the KLA as a military force to allow KFOR to impose its control over the province. By the end of June, the KLA had met several deadlines in the gradual demilitarization process and was considered to be cooperating with the peacekeepers. When peacekeeping forces began arriving in Kosovo, they found that the KLA, whose ranks were estimated at 17,000 to 20,000, had taken control of towns and border crossings, and had set up checkpoints as Yugoslav and Serbian forces pulled out. KFOR had to intervene in numerous conflicts between KLA members and Serbian citizens, and was forced to confiscate hundreds of weapons from the guerrillas. The demilitarization agreement, signed by the KLA’s political head, Hashim Thaci, and KFOR commander Lt. Gen. Jackson, stipulated that the KLA would leave its checkpoints around the province within four days and halt any military or security activity unless it was approved by the peacekeepers. Within 30 days, the KLA was to store its heavy weapons in registered weapons storage sites to be verified by NATO. The guerrillas were given 90 days to disband as a uniformed force and complete the storage of automatic small weapons. They were allowed to keep pistols and non-automatic rifles for self-defense. At the insistence of the KLA, the agreement included a NATO pledge to consider letting the guerrillas form a provisional army for Kosovo modeled on the U.S. National Guard. The guerrillas said they would not agree to disarm unless the agreement included the pledge. The pact also offered special consideration to KLA fighters as recruits in the formation of the civilian administration and police force under U.N. supervision. NATO is gambling that the KLA commanders will focus on redefining the guerrilla army as a political, rather than a military entity, which will play a critical role in implementing the peace accord and ultimately in governing Kosovo. KLA representatives have said their goal is to become the army of an independent state of Kosovo. Severe doubts linger as to whether the KLA has any genuine interest in political autonomy, other than as the next step toward independence and perhaps consolidation into a Greater Albania. June 1999 - July 1999 Albanian and Kosovar Leaders Tangle over Tactics, Goals, Alliances Divisions in the Kosovar Albanian leadership have resulted in two ethnic Albanian “governments” in the Serbian province. A self-proclaimed provisional government is dominated by the KLA and led by Hashim Thaci, who headed the ethnic Albanian delegation at the unsuccessful peace talks with the Yugoslav government earlier this year in France. It is backed by the majority of Kosovar Albanians. The so-called Republic of Kosovoa shadow government run from German exile for the past eight years, is dominated by the moderate Democratic League of Kosovo. It is led by Prime Minister Bujar Bukoshi and President Ibrahim Rugova, whose longstanding advocacy of non-violence in the face of Serbian repression caused many Kosovar Albanians, who believed more active resistance against Belgrade was necessary, to shift their support for him to the KLA. Rugova has spurned Thaci’s offers to mend their divisions by forming a coalition government headed by the KLA. The political interests of Thaci, Rugova, and former Albanian President Sali Berisha, a key player in the Kosovo crisis, conflict more than they converge. The three agree that Kosovo must be independent. They disagree as to whether independence is an end in itself, or a step toward a Greater Albania. Berisha’s political supporters in northern Albania envision his return to power over a regional empire. Berisha was decisive in establishing the KLA by supplying it with arms smuggled into Kosovo from northern Albania. He wanted to achieve Kosovo independence and eventually a Greater Albania. Thaci successfully thwarted Berisha’s ambition of controlling the KLA by cultivating the support of Albanian Prime Minister Pandeli Majko. Majko helped move the KLA out from under Berisha’s influence to pursue his own dream of a Greater Albania. Rugova is struggling to maintain political viability after meeting with Milosevic, while under what his staff said was house arrest in Yugoslavia, as Serb forces carried out atrocities against his ethnic Albanian constituency. Rugova’s greatest strength lies in the Serb preference to negotiate Kosovo’s future, to the extent there is Serb partcipation, with a relative moderate, rather than with Berisha’s and Thaci’s maximalists in northern Albania and in the KLA. Berisha may seek to exploit the divisions between the political moderates and the battlefield guerrillas by courting Rugova as a counterpoint to Thaci, who remains outside Berisha’s control. June 1999 - July 1999 International Reconstruction Effort Gets Under Way The EU has pledged $500 million a year over the next three years for Kosovo reconstruction. Europe is expected to assume the bulk of the cost of rebuilding Kosovo since the U.S. bore the greater share of the cost of the campaign against Yugoslavia. Western officials say up to $30 billion may be needed over the next five years to shore up the infrastructure of southeastern Europe. The World Bank and the European Commission are coordinating international efforts to raise money for Balkan reconstruction. Under an EU-sponsored stability pact for southeastern Europe, financed by the EU, the U.S., and other countries, the EU proposes to offer stabilization and association agreements to Albania, Bosnia, Croatia, F.Y.R. Macedonia, and even Yugoslavia, if Belgrade establishes a democracy and market economy. The intent of this pact, signed in June by some 30 nations, including Russia, is to mount an international campaign to strengthen the region’s democratic institutions, reform its economies, promote the rule of law, and integrate its countries into the mainstream of the Euro-Atlantic community. At the June G-8 summit in Cologne, attended by the seven most industrialized nations and Russia, Russia made it clear that it wanted Serbia to receive international economic assistance to help it rebuild. The G-7 nations, the U.S., Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, and Japan, agreed that, while Milosevic remains in power, Serbia should receive only basic emergency humanitarian assistance, such as food, shelter, and medical care, and should receive no financial support for reconstruction. If Serbia is left out of the aid distribution, the economies of other countries in the region could be significantly impacted. Failure to clear the rubble of bombed bridges from the Danube River would result in the continued suspension of commercial traffic on the river, which is crucial to the economies of neighboring countries. June 1999 - July 1999 Kosovo Defeat Renews Call for Milosevic’s Resignation The influential Serbian Orthodox Church joined the opposition in calling for Milosevic’s resignation in mid-June, less than two weeks after the Kosovo peace settlement was reached. The move was a blow to his political future, already damaged by his indictment as a war criminal. Hard-line Deputy Prime Minister Vojislav Seselj and 15 ministers belonging to his ultranationalist Serbian Radical Party resigned from the government in mid-June to protest the withdrawal of Yugoslav and Serbian forces from Kosovo and the entry of NATO-led peacekeepers into the province. Although their resignations were rejected, the anti-western Seselj is believed to be positioning himself to challenge Milosevic. Despite the Serbian Parliament’s acceptance of the Kosovo peace plan, Seselj’s party, holding 82 of the 250 seats, voted against the plan. Former Deputy Prime Minister Vuk Draskovic, fired from the government in April for criticizing Milosevic’s Kosovo policy, has called for a new interim government, early elections, democratic reform, and a free press. At the end of June, the U.S.-backed Alliance for Change, a group of opposition parties, began organizing demonstrations across Serbia to promote early elections and democratic change, despite a government ban on public gatherings. About 10,000 demonstrators gathered in the central Serbian town of Cacak to demand Milosevic’s resignation. Widespread dissatisfaction with Milosevic is beginning to emerge as Serbians feel the crippling effects of the Kosovo crisis on the republic’s economy, already hit by sanctions imposed on Yugoslavia since 1992 for its role in the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia. Some 250,000 jobs are believed to have been lost in Serbia because of the war. The U.S. has offered a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to the transfer of Milosevic and other indicted Yugoslav war crimes suspects to the International Criminal Tribunal. The U.S. has also said it will step up efforts to destabilize Milosevic’s government by supporting the fragmented opposition and the independent media. June 1999 - July 1999 Serb Exodus from Kosovo Follows War By the end of June, up to 70,000 Serb civilians had fled Kosovo since Yugoslav and Serbian forces started withdrawing from the province. Some 50,000 went into Serbia, while 20,000 crossed over into Montenegro. An additional 50,000 Serbs moved out of Kosovo between March 1998 and March 1999 as Serbian forces battled the KLA. Aid workers estimate that less than 100,000 of the 200,000 Serbs living in Kosovo in early 1998 remain. This minority comprised 10 percent of a population of about 2 million. The Serbs fleeing in June feared reprisals from the KLA as the guerrillas filled the vacuum left by the retreating Yugoslav and Serbian forces, and from returning Kosovar Albanian refugees, some of whom sought revenge for the violence perpetrated during the ethnic cleansing campaign. The exodus of Serbs from Kosovo was met by appeals from the Yugoslav government to return to the province to defend their right to its land, the cultural and religious cradle of Serbia. The Serbian Orthodox Church and NATO, seeking to avoid an ethnically pure Kosovo, have also urged the Serbs to return to their homes. Belgrade has forced an undetermined number of the Serb refugees to return to the province. June 1999 - July 1999 Sandzak Muslims Seek Security in Bosnia Some 22,000 Slavic Muslims from the Sandzak enclave in southwestern Serbia have gone to Bosnia since the NATO bombing began. They feared that this Muslim-majority region could become the target of Ser-bian police repression similar to that carried out in Kosovo. Sandzakis arriving in Bosnia said that Yugoslav troops withdrawing from Kosovo, following the peace agreement, had moved into the Sandzak region, creating a tense situation. Some 80,000 Sandzakis had left the region before the bombing began. Although the 300,000 Muslims in this region of 420,000 inhabitants have been harassed by the Serb-dominated police force, they have not undergone the ethnic cleansing seen in Bosnia and Kosovo, and there is no evidence of forced expulsions from the area. But there have been allegations of human rights abuses in the region, including impeded political freedoms and uninvestigated murders. June 1999 - July 1999 Montenegro Eyeing Independence to Avoid Serb Control Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic said in June that Montenegro would try to remain in Yugoslavia but might hold a referendum on independence if Belgrade does not adopt democratic reforms and allow Podgorica considerable autonomy. The Movement for an Independent Montenegro, founded in May, said popular support for either independence or a confederation with Serbia had been growing in the republic with the increasing international isolation of the Milosevic regime since the Kosovo conflict ended. Djukanovic refused to join Serbia in its war against NATO and maintained a free press, despite Belgrade’s demands that the republic’s media be subject to military censorship. The Yugoslav Army troops in Montenegro, numbering 30,000 took control of the republic’s international borders to prevent men of military age from leaving Yugoslavia and to cut off supplies to the KLA. Analysts fear a civil war in the republic may be unavoidable. Milosevic’s supporters now comprise a more radicalized 20 to 30 percent of Montenegro’s electorate. April 1999 - May 1999 NATO Bombing Campaign Remains Inconclusive By mid-May, following nearly two months of NATO’s aerial bombardment of Yugoslavia, it was not clear whether the alliance could force Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to withdraw his forces from Kosovo while ruling out a ground offensive and the supply of arms to the Kosovo Liberation Army, and while choosing targets carefully to avoid civilian casualties. It was clear that the bombing campaign had failed to achieve a principal objective of preventing the ethnic cleansing of the people of Kosovo by Serbian forces, who successfully uprooted and deported nearly 1 million Kosovar Albanians. After more than 18,000 sorties, including 5,000 strike sorties, over Yugoslavia by nearly 900 NATO planes, the 40,000 Serbian forces within Kosovo were cut off but remained largely intact and able to move within the province. The alliance estimated that it had destroyed one-fourth of the tanks and heavy weapons deployed in the province. Heavily attacked air defenses remained a sufficient threat and prevented alliance aircraft from risking personnel losses by flying below 15,000 feet. Two major rail lines leading into Kosovo had been destroyed, along with half the roads into the province, and half of Kosovo’s ammunition stores had been hit. NATO said its campaign had inflicted heavy losses on the Yugoslav side. Belgrade’s ability to repair and maintain its military aircraft had been reduced by 70 percent. Ammunition production capacity was down by two-thirds. Both of the country’s oil refineries had been shut down, with two-thirds of military fuel reserves destroyed or severely damaged. An EU embargo on the sale of oil to Yugoslavia, effective May 1, was expected to shut down most of the flow of oil into the country. Most of the bridges over the Danube River had been rendered impassible. In addition, half of the Yugoslav Air Force had been destroyed. These achievements and the bombing of other strategic targets, such as government ministries, power plants, communications centers, television centers, and command bunkers, had not broken the ability of the Yugoslav Army to implement its 50-year training in tactics of concealing and dispersing weaponry, such as hiding military vehicles in tunnel complexes. In addition, there were no signs that the air campaign had caused any significant weakening of support for Milosevic within his military and political power base. April 1999 - May 1999 Emerging Russian Role in Intensified Diplomacy As President Clinton declared for the first time publicly in mid-May that he would consider sending ground combat troops into Kosovo, international diplomatic efforts for a political settlement to the conflict appeared to be accelerating. To encourage Russia’s position as an intermediary between Belgrade and the West, Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott met in Helsinki with Moscow’s special Balkans envoy Victor Chernomyrdin and Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari, who has been appointed the European Union’s special Kosovo envoy. Ahtisaari is emerging as a possible key mediator for the West in the Kosovo crisis, as Finland, a traditional buffer between Russia and the West, prepares to take over the rotating EU presidency in July. He was to accompany Chernomyrdin to Belgrade to persuade Milosevic to accept provisions of a Kosovo peace deal agreed to by Russia and the major industrialized nations at an early May meeting of foreign ministers of the Group of Eight in Bonn. In addition to Russia, the countries in the group are the U.S., Canada, Britain, France, Germany, and Italy, all NATO countries, and Japan. At the Bonn meeting, Russia and leading NATO countries agreed, in a statement, on a common approach to settling the crisis in Kosovo for the first time since it began in March 1998. Russia, a traditional patron and ally of the Serbs due to Slavic and Orthodox ties, has consistently opposed the alliance’s use of force in Yugoslavia and still calls for a halt to the bombing campaign. Despite Moscow’s initial anger at NATO for not informing the Russian government of its intention to launch the bombardment, Russia has remained a key player in diplomatic efforts to resolve the conflict as the one major power with open lines of communication to Milosevic’s regime. Russia shifted its position in Bonn by joining NATO to publicly endorse the deployment of an international security force in post-war Kosovo, which Milosevic has long rejected. Moscow’s move, which further isolated Milosevic, overcame a major sticking point in efforts to move the Kosovo peace process forward. April 1999 - May 1999 NATO Demands Scaled Back to Facilitate Negotiations In Bonn, in return for Russia's concession on the international security force, NATO agreed not to specify the alliance’s role in the peacekeeping entity that emerges in Kosovo or the categories of weaponry that will be available to the troops. The U.S. and its allies are now stating that NATO must provide the core of the force, which may include troops from Russia and other non-NATO countries, a semantic retreat from previous official alliance statements that the force be NATO-led. In addition, the alliance maintains that the force must be well-armed to guarantee the safety of returning refugees, ensure the withdrawal of government forces, and supervise the disarming of the KLA. In a departure from previous statements that the peacekeeping force must be unarmed, Milosevic has said that he would accept a U.N.-led force that was lightly armed for the purpose of self-defense, but he has consistently ruled out the inclusion of NATO members involved in the air campaign. NATO countries that have not participated in the bombing include Greece, Portugal, and the three new NATO states, Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic. April 1999 - May 1999 Russian, Chinese Sway Grow with U.N. Involvement The Bonn statement referred critical elements of a peace settlement to the United Nations, stipulating that the U.N. Security Council should determine the mandate of the peacekeeping force and should appoint the interim administration in Kosovo. It marked the first time the alliance had opened the door to a settlement brokered by the Security Council, where Russia and China, which joins Moscow in opposing the NATO air campaign, hold veto power. The statement also assigned representatives of the Group of Eight governments the task of drafting a Security Council resolution providing a framework for the points agreed upon, which could be the focus of the next major round of international diplomacy. Moscow has long maintained that the U.N. should play the leading role in solving the Kosovo crisis, as has China. Angry over the accidental bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade by NATO forces, China has said that the alliance must stop its bombardment before the U.N. can consider a peace plan for Kosovo, a stance that could delay Security Council proceedings toward a workable resolution. In addition, the issue of the composition and mandate of the international security force could slow progress on a future settlement. Other central issues left unresolved in the Bonn statement include the extent and timing of a withdrawal from Kosovo by Belgrade’s forces, the point at which the bombing would be halted, and whether a deal could be imposed without Milosevic's consent. April 1999 - May 1999 Anti-Bombing, Anti-Milosevic Policies Squeeze Serb Partner Montenegro, Serbia's sister republic in the Yugoslav federation, has criticized the NATO airstrikes in Yugoslavia but has refused to join Belgrade’s war effort against the alliance. It has been openly critical of Milosevic for his policy of ethnic cleansing in Kosovo and his refusal to negotiate a peaceful political solution with the West. The democratically elected government of Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic does not recognize the federal government in Belgrade because of its violations of Yugoslavia’s federal constitution. It has refused to comply with Belgrade’s request that it declare a state of war emergency to enable the Yugoslav Army to call reservists in the republic to active duty, take over broadcast outlets, and move its forces anywhere in the republic. The strongly pro-West, reformist government, which has threatened at times to hold a referendum on independence, has declared the republic’s neutrality in the conflict and has declined to break off relations with the U.S., Britain, France, and Germany as Belgrade has. It has tried to maintain open links with the West, which supports Djukanovic. The Montenegrin government has also been defiant toward other efforts by Belgrade to encroach upon the degree of self-government accorded the republic in the Yugoslav federation. There is a danger that Milosevic’s allies will attempt a coup against the government in Podgorica, which rejected demands by the Yugoslav Army to place 8,000 Montenegrin police under its control. In addition, the army has issued a warrant for the arrest of Montenegro’s deputy prime minister for criticizing the Yugoslav military, and it has attempted to censor the republic’s independent media. NATO has reluctantly bombed Yugoslav military installations and facilities in Montenegro, which has weakened popular support for Djukanovic’s pro-Western position. Pro-Belgrade demonstrators have been growing in number as the NATO air campaign continues and energizes Serbian nationalism. Only 13 percent of the population is Serb, but the 63 percent of Montenegro’s 635,000 inhabitants that call themselves Montenegrins has a strong traditional affinity with Serbia. About 7 percent of the republic’s population is ethnic Albanian and 10 percent is Muslim Slav, supporters of Djukanovic’s coalition. Deepening economic problems stemming from the air campaign could also drain support for the republic’s government. The severing of a rail link from Belgrade to the major Adriatic seaport of Bar by NATO-led peacekeepers in Bosnia to obstruct Yugoslav Army troop movement into Montenegro has made it harder for Montenegrin traders to reach Serbia, their largest market. The Yugoslav Army has closed Bar to all shipping, a move that is expected to produce shortages of raw materials for Montenegro and could increase tension between Podgorica and Belgrade. By mid-May, some 63,000 Kosovar Albanians had sought refuge in the republic, placing an additional burden on the economy. February 1999 - March 1999 NATO Begins Air Strikes Against Kosovo The U.S. and its NATO allies launched air strikes on military targets across Serbia on March 24 in an attempt to deter further attacks by Serb forces on Kosovo’s civilians and persuade Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to sign a peace agreement ending a year-long conflict between Serbs and separatist guerrillas of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). Some 2,000 people had been killed in the conflict and 400,000 had been left homeless when the strikes began. The campaign was the first NATO attack on a sovereign country in the 50-year history of the alliance. It represented a stunning reversal of events from a year ago. Then, U.S. officials charged the KLA with employing terrorist tactics to achieve independence from Yugoslavia and the prospect of NATO forces attacking a country embroiled in a civil war, and threatening neither the alliance nor any individual alliance member, was considered remote in the extreme. In the end, the chief Kosovar Albanian negotiator at the recent peace talks was Hashim Thaqi, a prominent KLA member and one of five KLA representatives on the 16-member ethnic Albanian team. Milosevic rejected a three-year interim peace accord that would give autonomy to Kosovo’s ethnic Albanians and authorize the deployment of up to 28,000 NATO troops in the Serbian province to monitor the settlement. The ethnic Albanian delegation, although still seeking eventual independence, signed the accord at the Paris peace talks in mid-March. Under the plan, the province would remain part of Serbia. The plan was brokered by the six-nation Contact Group, composed of the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, Italy, and Russia, during 17 days of talks at Rambouillet, France, in February. NATO has indicated that the air strikes will stop if Milosevic agrees to sign the accord. The NATO bombings, with the participation of 13 alliance nations, drew harsh condemnation from Russian President Boris Yeltsin, who ordered his nation to freeze its relations with NATO and sent Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov to Belgrade for talks with Milosevic on ending the hostilities. A few days before the bombing began, all 1,380 observers of the Kosovo Verification Mission, who were monitoring compliance with last October’s ceasefire under the auspices of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), were withdrawn from the province. February 1999 - March 1999 Greece Refrains from Joining Kosovo Bombing, Turkey Sends Aircraft Greek officials called for an early end to the bombing in Serbia and a resumption of diplomatic activity to secure a peaceful solution to the Kosovo conflict. Greece, the NATO member with the closest relations to Yugoslavia, based on political, cultural, and religious ties, has consistently opposed the use of force to end the conflict. Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou said the participation of countries in the region in military action against their neighbors would damage future cooperation in the area. As Greece prepares to join the European single currency in 2001, it is worried that its fiscal reforms could be undermined by regional instability and the immense cost of humanitarian relief for tens of thousands of Kosovar Albanian refugees expected to spill over from F.Y.R. Macedonia and Albania. Having already absorbed from 400,000 to 800,000 illegal Albanian immigrants in recent years, Athens was preparing to accept some of the refugee overflow from these nations. Greek government officials condemned the Serbian ethnic cleansing campaign against Kosovar Albanians and called for its immediate cessation. Several days into the war, Athens offered financial aid packages to both Albania and F.Y.R. Macedonia to assist the refugees and facilitate their return home in the event of a settlement. In addition, Papandreou called on his counterparts in the region to hold a meeting to address the escalating refugee problem. Before the bombing campaign in Serbia began, Greece had provided logistical support in helping transport some 10,000 NATO peacekeeping troops for Kosovo through the northern Aegean port of Thessaloniki. The troops are now stationed in F.Y.R. Macedonia pending a possible Kosovo peace agreement. Athens continued to facilitate the delivery of reinforcements for these troops, including military vehicles and supply containers, as the second week of the bombing began. Athens has indicated its desire to participate in a peacekeeping mission in Kosovo if the bombing campaign ends. However, Greece and Italy have proposed that a non-NATO peacekeeping force be deployed in Kosovo in place of the force assembled in F.Y.R. Macedonia and have suggested that a Russian contingent be included in it. Regional experts believe that Russia is in a unique position to persuade Milosevic to accept a non-NATO peacekeeping force if the Contact Group negotiators strengthen the peace accord provisions regarding the inviolability of Yugoslavia’s internationally recognized borders after the three-year interim period of the accord is over. Greek officials were joined by Turkey in welcoming Russian diplomatic efforts to end the NATO bombing campaign. Turkey has contributed 11 F-16 jet fighters to the air campaign and has indicated its readiness to send ground troops to Serbia as part of a NATO force, if necessary. Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem received a diplomatic note from Belgrade urging Ankara to change its position and end its support for the air strikes. Italy was the first NATO member to call for a halt to the bombing the day after it began. Both Italy and Greece have been walking tightropes in balancing their NATO obligations with domestic criticism from extremist circles.
Serbia and Montenegro
- Jul 7, 2011