THU, 18 FEB 1999 20:36:22 GMT
AIM Podgorica, 17 February, 1999
(For AIM Podgorica by correspondent from Pristina)
That which is happening in rural environments in Kosovo, if elements and intensity of combats are taken into account: the number of participants, victims, the degree of devastation, displaced persons, attention of the media, negotiations, etc., can be said to be a guerilla war. However, that which is happening in cities, two explosions and six bombing attacks just in Pristina and Urosevac in the past month (at least until the moment this text is being written), has the form of classical terrorism. Four persons have been killed so far, all of them ethnic Albanians, while between 20 and 30 citizens of different ethnic origin have been seriously or lightly wounded. The only thing that is evident is that perpetrators of these attacks do not choose locations and time for their bombing actions, but obviously the explosions do not choose victims either. Since there is no such thing as an explosive which kills only one ethnic group, it turns out that protagonists of the urban terrorist campaign are enemies of both the Serbs and the Albanians, and all the other citizens of Kosovo.
The question which can be heard often is whether a party, a group, is behind all that, or is it the result of unorganised and unplanned activities of "accidental partners", because the victims are also accidental (at least when speaking of planted exploives)? It is no news any more that both parties accuse each other, although there are also those who believe that the conflicting parties share responsibility if assumed that it is all in fact a logical chain of retailiation. If a cafe where Serbs gather is attacked, they have no doubts that perpetrators are the Albanians and other way round. Nobody cares to even consider that this might not be true.
The bombing actions have a special significance if observed in the light of the current conference on transitional status of Kosovo in Rambouillet. The urban bombing campaign has started at the height of peace negotiations in France. Even if the the series of planted explosives were accidental by nature, or a series of acts of revenge, although some of them were quite professionally carried out, it is a fact that they fit into a certain scheme the consequences of which are the following:
- Fear among ordinary people which is especially evident at twilight, when streets are literally deserted, and half empty bars close early. Many of bars which remain open until late at night have their own private armed "guards" who watch from a dark angle or a car parked in the shadow. They charge 5 to 10 German marks per "watch".
- Increase of tensions at the moment when they should in fact be relieved in view of the negotiations, and creation of excess situations: revenge, pogroms, and similar.
- New divisions on ethnic grounds caused by interpretations of origin and motives and objectives of perpetrators of bombing attacks.
- Render OSCE Kosovo Verfication Mission (KVM) powerless faced with the new form of violence.
Whatever the motives and origin of protagonists of this urban terrorism, it is possible to explain what possible benefits both the Serb and the Albanian party (i.e. those who have an interest in these explosions and bombs) might draw from it. The Serbs could finally accuse the Albanians of "terrorism and ruthlessness in the struggle for their secessionist goals". As a cue for this thesis there are examples of typical reactions of the Serb population in Kosovo, among which the opinion which is quite popular is that the Albanians "are ready to trample on corpses of their own" just in order to reach their goal: independent Kosovo cleansed of the Serbs. This is the essence of distrust of the Serbs and the Montenegrins towards the Albanians. That is why the following question often arises: "If they (the Albanians) are so merciless to their own (liquidation of the disobedient and traitors, bloody revenge, etc.), what would they be ready to do to us?" A quite popular rumour was launched on the eve of the conference in Rambouillet in this sense that "the Albanians were preparing a new 'Markale', i.e. a mass killing of their ethnic compatriots in order to accuse the Serbs and provoke action of the NATO against the Serbs and in their favour". That is how the official Serbian policy interpreted the recent massacre in the villages of Racak and Stimlje. Creators of such speculations explain that this would be an immediate cause for interruption of activities of KVM in view of its powerlessness and its replacement with NATO forces.
The Albanians, on the other hand, interpret this as actions of Serbian secret service in the attempt to present the Albanians as terrorists and convince the West and the USA to proclaim OVK a terrorist organization and, by planting explosives in cafes and food stores, show that extremist Albanians are trying to prevent peace talks in Rambouillet, but also that among the victims of the attacks there is a large number of the Albanians loyal to the Serbian state and that there is no need for NATO troops to come to Kosovo, because the state can deal with terrorism.
However, this raises an illogical question: why would the presence of NATO troops in Kosovo be convenient for Kosovo Albanians and would it be convenient for all of them? Apart from the end of Serbian supremacy over the Albanians, presence of NATO troops in Kosovo would also mean the end of OVK. Would OVK consciously sacrifice itself just in order to stop Serb rule of Kosovo (and to enable the West to do it), it is highly questionable. It is possible to speculate that disarmament of OVK (after possible withdrawal of the Serbian forces) and presence of NATO soldiers would be convenient for the civilian political groups of Kosovo Albanians, but can that be said of OVK which without doubt wishes to be in control of developments. Some analysts believe that further presence of OVK after withdrawal of Serbian forces, would certainly threaten the position of civilian Albanian politicians in Kosovo who are closely linked to the West.
On the other hand, public opinion of Kosovo Albanians or ordinary people, simply and naively look upon the policy and diplomatic activities of Belgrade. Indeed, in view of the pro-NATO campaign of Vuk Draskovic who certainly is not speaking of his own accord, and statement of Milan Milutinovic at the press conference in Rambouillet that there was only one thing that would make Serbia accept NATO troops in Kosovo, "and that would be if it were a member of NATO", it is a question whether foreign troops in Kosovo are really absolutely unacceptable for Belgrade. The intention behind this latest political mutation of Belgrade regime is clear - solution od all problems - regardless of all that anti-Western public rhetoric of theirs. It should not be disregarded that Serbia, i.e. FRY in NATO would be convenient for the West, because this would be a way for it to outwit Moscow which is against spreading of this military alliance to the East by imperative urgency of this act for the sake of final establishment of order and peace in the Balkans, and "peace (as far as we know) has no alternative". Therefore, NATO forces in Kosovo would not be occupiers but "ours" (from the aspect of Belgrade political lobbies) which would be here to disarm OVK and protect Kosovo Serbs. But, whichever scenario is carried out, in the end it may turn out that OVK was just a bloody merchandise to bargain with in the triangle Washington - Belgrade - Moscow.
Where are Kosovo Albanians in all that, the ordinary, scared people and inhabitants of agonised Kosovo villages? It is logical that they too are expecting NATO as a guarantor of peaceful life and a way out of the destructive circle of provocations of OVK and retaliation of Serbian security forces and their tanks and cannons. NATO peace, PAX AMERICANA would be a better solution for Kosovo Albanians than spreading of chaos to neighbouring countries.
Finally, from the aspect of the latter, it is completely unimportant who and why is throwing bombs and planting explosives although many Kosovo Albanians believe it is done by Serbian secret service as a pretext for new tide of terror against them, terror motivated by "mini-Nazism" in the Serbian version. In any case, perhaps a student from Montenegro in Pristina is right when to the question who is throwing bombs he answers: "Those who know how!", and to the question why they are doing it, he says: "They are doing it because of money"!