Whether the Serbian-Kosovo war is a political or religious, one thing stands behind it: the Violence Between Serbia and Kosovo. From crimes committed in the eastern part of Kosovo to the violence in the rest of the country, there is plenty of reason for the two sides to fight.
- Serbs feel betrayed by the Yugoslav government.
- NATO allies resisted forceful measures against the Bosnian Serbs
- Crimes in the eastern part of Kosovo
- UNPROFOR has recruited some Albanian lawyers to serve as defense counsel
- UNHCR and OSCE have primary responsibility for the protection of displaced minorities
Serbs feel betrayed by the Yugoslav government.
During the last three years Violence Between Serbia and Kosovo has increased and Serbs have been systematically targeted by the Yugoslav government. Human Rights Watch has documented systematic efforts to drive them from their homes. This includes widespread arson, looting, intimidation, and sexual harassment in mixed communities.
A recent Human Rights Watch study visited several villages in the Klina municipality, including Pec, Belo Polje, and Istok. These villages had significant Serbs living in them before March 1999. However, most of the Serb population has been expelled, leaving only a few remaining residents.
The town of Slivovo, a small village in the middle of the region, has seen a rash of killings. The Serbian Orthodox Church in the city reports that thirty Serbs were killed in June and July. These deaths appear to result from a purge of Kosovo’s Serb population.
In addition to the dozens of reported Serb deaths, there have been many other security incidents in Lipljan and other towns in the province. These incidents may be connected to the Yugoslav government’s efforts to force the Serbs out of their homes.
Some of the incidents include the murder of Malaca Miric, a thirty-five-year-old ethnic Albanian woman, by two men in Belo Polje on June 26. Others have included the death of Filip Kosic, a 46-year-old Serb.
The KLA, an armed group responsible for numerous human rights violations in Kosovo, has also been active in the area. There is a heavy presence of KLA soldiers in the town of Drenovac.
On the other hand, Serbs and Roma have been driven out of their homes by fear and intimidation. In Pristina, where there are many displaced Serbs, armed men in civilian clothing have been known to visit the Serbs in their neighborhood. In addition to the violence, some displaced Serbs have received threatening telephone calls.
NATO allies resisted forceful measures against the Bosnian Serbs
During the summer of 1995, NATO allies were reluctant to implement forceful measures against the Bosnian Serbs. The Clinton administration had been trying to forge a consensus on a strategy for over two years.
The United States had decided to adopt a military track, but allied capitals were skeptical. They felt that the army track was only helpful if a strong force was on the ground.
The National Security Adviser, Anthony Lake, was charged with forging a new strategy. The key to a successful strategy in Bosnia was to link diplomacy and force.
The Clinton administration’s policy on Bosnia consisted of a combination of pressure on the Pale government to change its mind and pressure on allies to maintain the United Nations’ presence in Bosnia. Local and regional actors are the main threat to the country’s sovereignty.
The ‘ethnic cleansing’ strategy involved mass expulsions and imprisonment and was used to drive Muslims from the territory. The Dayton Peace Agreement was initiated in 1996. Since that time, Bosnian Croat nationalist politicians have continued to attack the territorial integrity of the country.
Russia plays a significant role as a spoiler in the Balkans. It has limited economic leverage but intends to subvert Western political initiatives in the region. It has threatened to use its veto at the UN Security Council. It also has a large and growing military presence.
In the end, the Clinton administration decided to take a decisive step to resolve the Bosnian conflict. They sent a national security adviser to convince allies to accept a new strategy.
The paper outlined an “endgame” strategy for Bosnia. The idea was to forge a comprehensive plan and then rely on the threat of significant force to force the Pale government to negotiate a peace agreement.
Crimes in the eastern part of Kosovo
Throughout eastern Kosovo, killings, kidnappings, and the expulsion of Serbs and Roma appear to result from an internal ethnic Albanian conflict. While the Serbian and NATO governments have publicly condemned the abuses against Serbs, there is little evidence of a commitment to a tolerant Kosovo.
The report includes interviews with KLA members and victims of abuse, as well as local officials and international representatives. It also examines the role of civilians in the Albanian conflict.
While the KLA has condemned these abuses, the leadership has not clarified whether they committed abuses against Serbs without sanction. There are allegations that the administration has ordered local KLA units to harass Serbs, and some may have been implicated in abuses against ethnic Albanians.
In the past few weeks, two elderly Serb men were murdered in Prizren. A third was killed inside a Serb home on the second floor. A fourth Serb, Milco Stosic, was injured in an attack. The family says he was taken to a hospital in Pristina.
There have been reports of extensive violence against Serbs and Roma in Prizren and attacks on Orthodox religious sites. There have also been numerous grenade attacks on Serb-owned properties.
Human Rights Watch observed many KLA soldiers in the town of Istok. Many KLA members were seen approaching homes and asking for money and arms. There are reports of widespread looting of Serb and Roma property.
There are rumors that the KLA has ordered many Serbs to leave the country. Some have stayed in Serb or Roma enclaves under KFOR protection, while others have fled for concrete reasons.
UNPROFOR has recruited some Albanian lawyers to serve as defense counsel
During the first ten months of its mandate, UNPROFOR was criticized for not fulfilling its tasks. The United Nations civilian police have done little to prevent discrimination and human rights abuse.
A group of civilian and military personnel assessed the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina and prepared possible deployments of UNPROFOR. The Secretary-General reported to the Security Council on June 29.
A cease-fire agreement involved the placement of heavy weapons under the control of UNPROFOR and a monitoring role by UNPROFOR troops.
It also allowed for the redeployment of UNPROFOR observers from Croatia to UNPAs in Bosnia. The Security Council demanded strict observance of all relevant Security Council resolutions and asked parties to cooperate with the Steering Committee.
In April, fighting between Bosnian Serbs and Bosnian Croats continued, with approximately 30 or 40 people dying every day from exposure or starvation. In Gaza, the humanitarian situation continued to deteriorate. The international community exerted solid political pressure on both sides.
A decision was made to increase the size of UNPROFOR by 75 military observers. This was preceded by a decision to deploy a group of 40 military observers to the Mostar region of Bosnia on April 30.
The same month, three aircraft dropped bombs on two villages east of Srebrenica. The UNPROFOR Force Commander reported that he had deployed about 170 troops in Srebrenica. However, he could not determine who owned the aircraft. The local Serb authorities felt betrayed by UNPROFOR.
In addition, a cease-fire agreement was reached between the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Agreement provided for the establishment of seven sites where heavy weapons would be placed under UNPROFOR control.
UNHCR and OSCE have primary responsibility for the protection of displaced minorities
Throughout Serbia and Kosovo, many ethnic minorities face violence and threats to their lives. This has led to the displacement of many people. It is imperative to understand the situation and the potential responses.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) protects displaced minorities in Kosovo. It provides information on the return environment and advocates for international burden-sharing. In addition, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has a vital role in monitoring human rights in Kosovo.
According to recent reports, the KLA is linked to some of the most severe incidents of violence. Members of the KLA have been documented committing abuses against Kosovar Albanians.
In addition, the KLA has been implicated in expelling Serbs from their homes. The OSCE field staff has gathered information from both primary and secondary sources.
As a result, many Serb and Roma families have left their homes. In some cases, the families have taken shelter in other villages in the region.
Others continue to live peacefully in mixed communities. The prevailing insecurity is a barrier to integration. In addition, several individuals have special needs. They lack support in collective centers.
Some of the violence against Serbs and Roma has been reported as an effort to expel them from Kosovo. The International Committee of the Red Cross and Human Rights Watch have documented a pattern of abuses against Serbs and Roma.
Some of the perpetrators have been ethnic Albanian civilians. They have allegedly participated in the looting and burning of Serb property and violent attacks against their neighbors.
The OSCE has established the Ad Hoc Task Force on Minorities to coordinate protection efforts on the ground. The Task Force has already released the first assessment report on the treatment of Serbs and Roma.
It has also met with Serb and Roma leaders to improve relations between the two groups. However, its effectiveness in the field has yet to be thoroughly tested.