In 1989, when the Serbian government revoked Kosovo's status as an autonomous province within the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, political analysts and activists in that country and abroad anticipated deterioration. "A lit fuse," "a powder keg," and other clichés were used to describe the prospect of armed conflict in the province and the country.

The danger became more apparent with each passing year, even though the wars that engulfed the other parts of the former Yugoslavia did not spill over into Kosovo. Serbian government oppression against Kosovar Albanians intensified and, seeing no potential for improvement, the ethnic Albanians gradually lost faith in the nonviolent politics that they had pursued since 1990. By late 1996, a previously unknown guerrilla group called the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) began coordinating attacks against the Serbian police. The government responded with indiscriminate force and the downward cycle of violence had begun.

Despite the repeated warning signs during the decade, the international community failed to stop a predictable conflict. Short-term and piecemeal political tactics took precedence over long-term strategic policy. Divisions and competition between governments and international bodies made unified action weak and directionless-characteristics that the Milosevic government craftily exploited.

Serious and unified international engagement came only after the conflict had deteriorated into full-scale war. Faced with limited options at that point, the West chose military action by NATO-the so-called "humanitarian intervention" in 1999.

Taking advantage of the NATO bombing, Serbian and Yugoslav forces "ethnically cleansed" more than 850,000 Kosovar Albanians, and killed thousands more. The NATO bombing eventually forced government troops out of the province, but not before serious war crimes had been committed-atrocities which continue to poison Kosovo's post-war environment.

The pages of graphic human rights testimony in this report are one result of the West's failures in dealing with this foreseeable crisis. The large-scale expulsions and killings of Serbs and Albanians, even after the entry of NATO into Kosovo, provide a crucial lesson: left unattended, government oppression and human rights abuses, especially against minority populations, can easily produce violent confrontations that result in more serious abuse. Put another way, genuine and lasting stability in the Balkans is impossible without democratic governments respectful of human rights.

There have been many debates over what the international community could have done to stop Kosovo's violence. One fact is clear: the international community could have implemented creative economic and political measures designed to halt the Yugoslav government's abusive behavior against civilians. The cost of such measures would surely have been less than that of NATO's intervention and the subsequent U.N. mission in Kosovo.

What follows is a chronology of Kosovo's downward spiral and the international community's missed opportunities.

Brief History of the Kosovo Conflict

One must go back centuries to address fully the relationship between Albanians and Serbs and their struggles in Kosovo. Both consider the province central to their cultures and political well-being, and have proven willing to fight for control of the region. Keeping Kosovo and its historic sites a part of Serbia has become a centerpiece of Serbian nationalist policy. Violent confrontations have marked the area's history, although Albanians and Serbs have also fought as allies on occasion. Mutual accusations of atrocities in the Balkan Wars, World War I, and World War II, as well as battles long before, cloud the region's history.

While this background is central to understanding the conflict, and the region's history plays an important role in contemporary affairs, historical debates are secondary to the more recent developments that influenced the Kosovo war. Selective versions of history and past grievances provided fertile ground for opportunistic politicians in the 1980s and 1990s to exploit the fears and frustrations of Albanians and Serbs. History was abused by aggressive nationalist politicians who benefited by promoting hatred, xenophobia, militarization and, ultimately, war.

Kosovo in the Socialist Federal _Republic of Yugoslavia

After World War II, the federal constitution defined ethnic Albanians in Yugoslavia as a "nationality" rather than a constituent

"nation," despite being the third largest ethnic group in the country. This was a status distinct from that of the other major ethnic groups in the country-Serbs, Croats, Bosnians, Slovenes, and Macedonians. Still, Yugoslavia provided a semblance of minority rights to all ethnic groups in the name of socialist "brotherhood and unity."

Kosovo was the poorest region in Yugoslavia. With the exception of the bountiful Trepca mines, most of the province is agricultural. Poverty and underdevelopment among all ethnic groups in Kosovo exacerbated tensions. Some improvements came after student demonstrations in the late sixties, such as increased public investment, the opening of a university in Pristina, and the recruitment of Kosovar Albanians into the local administration.

Endeavoring to strike a better balance among the country's competing ethnic groups-and to check the power of Serbia within the federation-Yugoslav leader Josip Broz Tito orchestrated a new constitution in 1974 to provide two regions in Serbia with more autonomy: Kosovo and Vojvodina (with a large ethnic Hungarian population). Although they did not achieve the status of federal republics like Bosnia, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Slovenia, the two provinces were declared "autonomous regions," which gave them representation in the federal presidency alongside Yugoslavia's republics, as well as their own central banks, separate police, regional parliaments and governments. Ethnic Albanians were brought into some of the ruling elite's inner circles.

Ethnic Albanians, who made up approximately 74 percent of the Kosovo population in 1971, took most key positions of power in Kosovo and controlled the education system, judiciary, and police, albeit under control of Tito and the Communist Party, which was the dominant political force in the country. The Albanian-language university in Pristina, opened in 1970, was promoted by the authorities.

Kosovo's autonomy was never embraced by a wide sector of the Serbian ruling elite, which viewed it as a threat to Serbia's interests and sovereignty. Autonomy for Kosovo and Vojvodina, some argued, had diluted Serbia's power in Yugoslavia. Criticism was muted during the seventies, but began to mount after Tito's death in 1980. The following year, ethnic Albanians, led by university students initially discontented with bad food and poor dormitory conditions, took to the streets to demand higher wages, greater freedom of expression, the release of political prisoners, and republic status for Kosovo within Yugoslavia. Their demonstrations were dispersed forcibly by the Yugoslav Army and federal police, resulting in a number of ethnic Albanian deaths and numerous arrests over the ensuing months. Some political prisoners from that time, together with young men who fled Kosovo to avoid arrest, later formed the radical emigre groups in Western Europe that evolved fifteen years later into the KLA.1 A new ethnic Albanian communist leadership was installed by Belgrade. From 1981 on, pressure grew in Serbian political circles to rein in what was viewed as a growing "Albanian secessionism."

Treatment of Non-ethnic Albanians

Throughout the late 1970s and 1980s, Kosovo's Serbs complained of harassment and discrimination by the ethnic Albanian population and leadership, with the intention, Serbs claimed, of driving them from the province. According to a report submitted to the influential Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts in 1988, more than 20,000 ethnic Serbs moved out of Kosovo in the years 1981-1987.2 Albanians claim that Serbs left for economic reasons because Kosovo remained Yugoslavia's poorest province.

Ethnic Serbs and other minorities, such as Turks and Roma, were subjected to harassment, intimidation, and sometimes violence by extremist members of the ethnic Albanian majority. The government in Kosovo, run by ethnic Albanians, did not take adequate steps to investigate these abuses or to protect Kosovo's minorities against them.3

At the same time, the ethnic Albanian population was consistently growing with Kosovar Albanians having the highest birthrate in Europe, resulting in what the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts called, "heavy pressure not only on available resources, but also on other ethnic groups."4

The Rise of Serbian Nationalism

The mid- and late-eighties were marked by a distinct rise in Serbian nationalism, especially among Serbs living outside of Serbia proper, who felt increasingly isolated and threatened by the nationalism that was rising around them in Croatia, Bosnia, and Kosovo. The most vocal were Serbs in Kosovo who complained about their mistreatment at the hands of ethnic Albanians.

In September 1986, a document from the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts was published that addressed "the Serbian question" in Yugoslavia. Known as the Memorandum, the document attacked Serbian politicians for doing nothing in the face of threats, attacks, and even "genocide" against the Serbs of Kosovo. Among other inflammatory claims, the Memorandum stated:

The physical, political, legal, and cultural genocide of the Serbian population of Kosovo and Metohija is a worse historical defeat than any experienced in the liberation wars waged by Serbia from the First Serbian Uprising in 1804 to the uprising of 1941.5

Criticized by then-Serbian President Ivan Stambolic, the Memorandum reflected a common, albeit unspoken, sentiment among the Serb populace. With communism failing as an ideology, Serb politicians began to harness this discontent for their own political means.

No politician understood this better than Slobodan Milosevic, by that time communist party chief of Serbia. A communist apparachik and Stambolic protegé, Milosevic grasped the potency of fear and nationalism to fuel his own rise to power.

On April 24, 1987, Milosevic was sent to address a crowd of Kosovo Serbs in Kosovo Polje who were protesting maltreatment by Albanians. He rallied the demonstrators with the exhortation that: "No one should dare to beat you!" The phrase was repeated frequently on the Serbian state television that was under Milosevic's control and became a rallying cry for Serbian nationalists. Making the conversion from communist to nationalist, Milosevic continued:

You should stay here. This is your land. These are your houses. Your meadows and gardens. Your memories. You shouldn't abandon your land just because it's difficult to live, because you are pressured by injustice and degradation. It was never part of the Serbian and Montenegrin character to give up in the face of obstacles, to demobilize when it's time to fight . . . You should stay here for the sake of your ancestors and descendants. Otherwise your ancestors would be defiled and descendants disappointed. But I don't suggest that you stay, endure, and tolerate a situation you're not satisfied with. On the contrary, you should change it with the rest of the progressive people here, in Serbia and in Yugoslavia.6

With determined precision, Milosevic used his new found nationalist populism to eliminate political opponents, including Stambolic.7 The state media, especially the Serbian Radio and Television (RTS), purposefully spread misinformation on abuses against Serbs in Kosovo, including the rape of Serbian women, and campaigned to promote negative images of Albanians. Over the next two years, massive gatherings were held in Yugoslavia called the "Rallies of Truth" in which Milosevic invoked Serb glory and demanded constitutional changes to revoke Kosovo's autonomy. In one such rally, Milosevic said:

We shall win the battle for Kosovo regardless of the obstacles facing us inside and outside the country. We shall win despite the fact that Serbia's enemies outside the country are plotting against it, along with those in the country. We tell them that we enter every battle_._._._with the aim of winning it.8

Ethnic Albanians organized their own strikes and public protests against the growing restrictions and repression in the province. Unlike the rallies in Serbia proper, the Albanian demonstrations were often broken up by force, and many ethnic Albanians were arrested. On November 17, 1988, the Kosovo communist party leadership was dismissed. A few days later, Kosovar Albanian miners went on strike at the Trepca mines near the town of Kosovska Mitrovica. On November 25, the Federal Parliament passed constitutional amendments that paved the way for changes to the Serbian _constitution. Azem Vllasi, the communist party chief of Kosovo and then the leading ethnic Albanian politician at the Yugoslav federal level, was dismissed.

On February 20, 1989, the Trepca miners struck again, demanding the reinstatement of the Kosovo party leaders. The government deployed the army and imposed "special measures" on the region, which amounted to a form of martial law. An atmosphere of fear prevailed in the province, especially among ethnic Albanian political leaders and intellectuals. The other Yugoslav republics, especially Slovenia, began to protest Serbia's aggressive nationalism.

After a massive pro-Milosevic rally in Belgrade, Vllasi was arrested on March 2.9 Three weeks later, a new Serbian constitution was announced. The Kosovo assembly-mostly ethnic Albanians but under direct pressure from Belgrade-accepted the proposed changes to the Serbian constitution which returned authority to Belgrade.

While Belgrade celebrated, Kosovar Albanians vehemently protested the changes. On March 28, 1989, riot police opened fire on a protesting crowd, killing at least twenty-four persons. Although government forces may have come under attack, the state's response was indiscriminate and excessive. A joint report by Helsinki Watch and the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights at the time found that there was "no justification for firing with automatic weapons on the assembled crowds."10

Riding an ever stronger wave of nationalism, Slobodan Milosevic was elected president of Serbia on May 8, 1989, a post he held for the next eight years, until he was elected president of Yugoslavia on July 23, 1997-the position he held until October 2000.

In July 1989, the Serbian parliament passed the Law on the Restriction of Property Transactions, the first in a series of laws that severely discriminated against ethnic Albanians in Kosovo. The law forbade Albanians to sell real estate without the approval of a special state commission run by the Serbian Ministry of Finance. On March 30, 1990, the Serbian government adopted a new program that laid the ideological foundation for the government's policy in Kosovo. Ironically called, "The Program for the Realization of Peace, Freedom, Equality, Democracy, and Prosperity of the Socialist Autonomous Province of Kosovo," the program stated:

The autonomy of Kosovo may not serve as an excuse or reason for the malfunctioning of the legal state and possible repetition of nationalistic and separatist unrest and persistent inter-ethnic tension. It may not be misused in pursuit of unacceptable and unfeasible goals: prevention of the return of Serbs and Montenegrins, displaced under pressure, and all the others who wish to come and live in Kosovo, and especially for any further emigration of Serbs and Montenegrins and secession of a part of the territory of the Republic-the state of Serbia so as to constitute a new state within or without Yugoslavia.11

Kosovo in the 1990s

The Revocation of Kosovo's Autonomy

On July 2, 1990, ethnic Albanian members of Kosovo's politically gutted assembly declared Kosovo's independence. Two months later, on September 7, members of the parliament, which had been dissolved on July 5, met secretly and adopted a new constitution of the Republic of Kosova. A clandestine government and legislature were elected. Three weeks later, on September 28, the Serb Assembly promulgated the new Serbian constitution that formally revoked the autonomous status of both Kosovo and Voj-_vodina.

The new Serbian constitution was important because, by formally revoking the autonomy of Kosovo and Vojvodina, Serbia assumed two additional seats in the eight-member Yugoslav presidency. In coalition with its partner Montenegro, the "Serbian Block" controlled half of the federal body.

In September 1991, Kosovar Albanians held an unofficial referendum on independence. Ethnic Albanians voted overwhelmingly for independence from Yugoslavia. The Yugoslav government refused to recognize the results. Only the government in Albania, at that time still ruled by the communist party, recognized Kosovo's independence.12

Human Rights Abuses in the 1990s

Kosovo became a police state run by Belgrade. A strong Serb military presence, justified by the need to fight "Albanian secessionists," committed ongoing human rights abuses. Police violence, arbitrary detentions, and torture were common. Ethnic Albanians were arrested, detained, prosecuted, and imprisoned solely on the basis of their ethnicity, political beliefs, or membership in organizations or institutions that were banned or looked upon with disfavor by the Serbian government.13

Hundreds of thousands of ethnic Albanians were fired from government institutions and state-run enterprises under a series of discriminatory laws. Already in August 1990, the Serbian parliament had abolished the independence of the Kosovo educational system and instituted a new curriculum to be administered centrally from Belgrade. Albanian teachers were forced to sign a loyalty oath; those who refused were dismissed. Throughout 1990, the government closed most of the Albanian-language schools and, in January 1991, it stopped paying most Albanian high school teachers. By October 1991, all Albanian teachers had been fired; only fifteen Albanian professors remained at the university in Pristina, and they all taught in Serbian.

The deliberate economic and social marginalization of ethnic Albanians forced the emigration of an estimated 350,000 Albanians from the province over the next seven years. While Albanians were being forced to leave, Milosevic's government provided incentives and encouraged the settlement of Serbs in the region. In 1996, 16,000 Serb refugees from Bosnia and Croatia were settled in Kosovo, sometimes against their will.14

The Yugoslav government maintained that the military presence and legal measures were necessary for two reasons: to protect Kosovo's minority populations-principally Serbs and Montenegrins-and to contain the Albanian successionist movement. Such a movement, the government argued, would seek Kosovo's independence from Yugoslavia, and possible unification with neighboring Albania. The government's actions with regard to both concerns were extreme and produced violations of human rights.

Albanian Non-Violence and the Parallel State

Kosovar Albanians responded to the revocation of autonomy by creating their own parallel state which was, based on the September 1991 referendum, declared independent from Yugoslavia. Albanian deputies of the dissolved parliament established "underground" institutions of government, and Kosovar Albanians refused to recognize the Serbian state.

A parallel system of private schools was set up with donated funds and taxes. For eight years, Albanian school children and university students attended classes in private homes, empty businesses, and abandoned school buildings. Teachers, students, and administrators in the private schools were routinely harassed, detained, and beaten by the police and security forces. Funds collected for educational purposes were sometimes confiscated by the police.

Underground parliamentary elections on May 24, 1992, established the three-year-old Democratic League of Kosova (Lidhja Demokratike te Kosoves, or LDK) as the strongest ethnic Albanian party and a previously little-known literary figure, Ibrahim Rugova, was named president. The LDK expanded the parallel system and established structures to collect taxes from Albanians in Kosovo and from the ever-growing diaspora community.15 Rugova and a prime minister, Bujar Bukoshi, represented the "Kosova Republic" abroad.

The revocation of Kosovo's autonomy and the subsequent abuses garnered little response from the international community, which was increasingly preoccupied with the growing conflict in Slovenia, Croatia, and then Bosnia. In the summer of 1992, the Conference for Security and Cooperation in Europe (now the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)) sent missions to Kosovo, Vojvodina, and Sandzak, but the missions were forced to leave in July 1993 when the Yugoslav government refused to renew the mandate.

In December 1992, after Serbian special police forces had enforced rule in Kosovo, U.S. President George Bush issued what became known as the "Christmas Warning." Bush reportedly wrote, in a letter to President Milosevic, that the U.S. would be "prepared to employ military force" in the event of conflict in Kosovo caused by Serbian action-a warning that was repeated by President Clinton when he came to office a few months later.16 Kosovar Albanians interpreted the warnings as a message that the U.S. would come to their defense.

Largely out of a realistic assessment of ethnic Albanians' military capabilities, the LDK declined offers from the Croatian and Bosnian leadership to open another military front against Serbia.17 While calling for Kosovo's independence, the LDK preached nonconfrontation and urged Albanians to support the parallel structures.

The exception was an attempt in 1992 and 1993 to set up a Kosovar Ministry of Defense, with its own forces made up mostly of former policemen. The Serbian police crushed the nascent group through large-scale arrests in 1993, and no armed movement was discernible again until the emergence of the KLA in 1996.

The United States and West European governments strongly encouraged ethnic Albanians to pursue a moderate approach, fearing that a conflict in Kosovo would spin out of control and engulf the region. The primary goal was to avoid a conflagration in Kosovo, and non-confrontation, the West believed, was the best way to achieve this.

Rugova was identified as the prime advocate of this moderate line and received the unconditional support of Western governments, especially the United States. He was frequently invited for high level meetings in Washington and West European capitals which greatly boosted his popularity among the strongly pro-Western Kosovar Albanian public. At the same time, however, Western governments never expressed support for Kosovo's independence, although most Kosovar Albanians believed the West did so.18

In some respects, Rugova and Milosevic derived benefits from each other. Milosevic tolerated Rugova because Rugova allowed the Kosovar Albanians an outlet for their frustrations and a public expression of their political will, while his nonconfrontational policies excluded a challenge to Serbian rule over the province. Albanians also continued paying taxes to the Serbian government. At the same time, Milosevic's repressive policies helped justify the Albanians' drive for independence.19 The West was comfortable with this arrangement because it helped guarantee the status-quo. Human rights abuses continued, but Kosovo stayed off the front pages while the West was dealing with the fighting in Croatia and Bosnia.

At the same time, West European governments and the U.S. were providing strong financial and political support to the government of Sali Berisha in Albania, partly because Berisha supported Rugova and promised not to meddle in the affairs of Kosovo or Macedonia. Unqualified support for Berisha, despite his clear pattern of human rights violations against Albanian citizens, greatly contributed to the eventual destabilization of Albania which, in turn, negatively affected Kosovo.20

Meanwhile, thousands of Kosovar Albanian men were leaving Kosovo for the United States and Western Europe due to ongoing persecution or fear of being drafted into the Yugoslav Army. Many of these disenfranchised young men abroad and in Kosovo, without education or steady employment, later joined the insurgency.

The Downward Cycle of Violence

A crucial shift came after the Dayton conference in December 1995 that stopped the fighting in Bosnia. Kosovar Albanians were not invited to the conference, and Kosovo was kept off of the agenda. This left many Kosovar Albanians with the impression that the West had forgotten the Kosovo issue and that their peaceful approach was not working. Furthermore, with international recognition for the new borders of the Republika Srpska, Albanians understood that the international community responded to the facts on the ground rather than high-minded principles of nonviolence-not the force of argument but the argument of force.21

In early 1996, the first organized violence took place against Serbian civilians and police. Although individual attacks had occurred before then, the first coordinated attack occurred on February 11, when grenades were thrown at the gates of Serbian refugee camps in Pristina, Mitrovica, Pec, Suva Reka, and Vucitrn. No one was injured.

On April 21, 1996, an ethnic Albanian student, Armend Daci, was shot and killed in Pristina by a local Serb who reportedly thought Daci was breaking into his car. The next day, four assassinations of Serbs took place within one hour.22 That same night, in the village of Stimlje (Shtimje), policeman Miljenko Bucic was killed, and a police car was attacked by machine gun on the road between Mitrovica and Pec, killing a Serbian woman who was in custody. Revenge for the Daci killing was generally considered the motive for these attacks, but post-war interviews with KLA leaders revealed that the April 22 actions had been planned in advance.23

In this climate of increasing violence, Milosevic allowed the U.S. government to open a U.S. Information Agency office in Pristina, which was welcomed warmly by Kosovar Albanians as a sign of increased American involvement. The office, considered wrongly by some Albanians as an embassy, was announced in early February and opened in July 1996.

Violent attacks on Serbian police continued throughout the summer and fall of 1996, resulting in four deaths and two injuries.24 Kosovar Albanian leaders and Serbian officials both denied any involvement in the violence and accused the other side of provoking conflict. Rugova, unconvincingly, claimed that the attacks were committed by the Serbian secret police in order to provoke retaliation against Albanians.

Meanwhile, a previously unknown organization called the Kosovo Liberation Army claimed responsibility for the attacks. In letters faxed to the media, the group criticized the "passive" approach of the ethnic Albanian leadership and promised to continue their attacks until Kosovo was free from Serbian rule.

By mid-1996, there was a clear pattern of arbitrary and indiscriminate retaliation by the Serbian police and special security forces against ethnic Albanians who lived in the areas where KLA attacks were taking place. Police broke into private homes without warrants and detained ethnic Albanians, often abusing them physically. Many individuals traveling through the areas of suspected KLA activity were stopped, interrogated and beaten. In October, the police arrested forty-five ethnic Albanians who, they claimed, were involved in the attacks.25

In the West, Milosevic continued to be viewed as a necessary partner for regional stability because of the Dayton Accords. The concern in Washington and West European capitals was that Milosevic should not be challenged on Kosovo because he was needed to implement the accords. Fear of attacks on Western soldiers deployed in Bosnia to monitor and enforce the agreement reinforced the West's reluctance to alter the status-quo in Kosovo. Human rights abuses were deemed acceptable in the name of regional stability.

At the same time, the Western military presence in Bosnia was unwilling to arrest the leading individuals indicted for war crimes by the U.N.'s war crimes tribunal, notably Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and General Ratko Mladic. Their arrest might have sent a message that the West would not tolerate further violent and abusive behavior in the Balkans, deterring Serbian forces from atrocities in Kosovo.

The next important political development came on September 1, 1996, when Rugova and Milosevic signed a much-heralded education agreement that envisaged unconditional return to Albanian-language schools for ethnic Albanian pupils, students, and teachers.26 The details were to be worked out by a joint commission of three Serbs and three Albanians. Despite the international fanfare, the agreement was never implemented, and ethnic Albanian pupils remained locked out of most school buildings. The harassment, beatings, and arrests of ethnic Albanian teachers and school administrators continued.

The failure of the education agreement to bring any concrete improvements in the daily lives of Kosovar Albanians was a serious blow to Rugova's peaceful politics. Ethnic Albanians were losing faith in his increasingly empty promises that the West would help. The inability or unwillingness of the West to reward Albanians' patience and nonviolence with concrete improvements, such as in education, helped push the community closer to the military option.

On September 31, 1996, the U.N. lifted sanctions on Yugoslavia that had been in place since May 1992, and many European states upgraded diplomatic relations with Yugoslavia. European Union countries began to reestablish diplomatic relations with Belgrade-broken during the war in Bosnia. France, Italy, and Greece restored a high level of economic relations.

The main exception was the U.S. insistence on maintaining the so-called "outer wall" of sanctions, which, most importantly, kept Yugoslavia out of international financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. The sanctions were to stay in place, the U.S. government said, until, among other things, the Kosovo issue was resolved.27

Human rights abuses in the province intensified toward the end of 1996 as the government attempted to weed out the growing insurgency. Police acted with near total impunity as they maltreated, and occasionally killed, ethnic Albanians. Police abuse generally took three basic forms: random beatings on the streets and other public places, targeted attacks against politically active ethnic Albanians, or arbitrary retaliation for KLA attacks on Serbian policemen.28

Publicly, the Serbian government continued to deny that human rights violations existed and officials defended the need to protect the sovereignty of the state. In July 1996, Serbian Deputy Minister of Information Rade Drobac told Human Rights Watch: "The situation of human rights is excellent in Kosovo. Albanians have more rights than anywhere in the world."29 At the same time, ethnic Albanians did not drop their demand for full independence, and the KLA continued its attacks.

The international community was trapped on the one hand by its general desire to stop the Serbian government's violations and a distaste for Kosovo's potential independence on the other. An independent Kosovo, it was argued, would join Albania and, eventually, the Western part of Macedonia, which is predominantly inhabited by ethnic Albanians. In the very least, an independent Kosovo would disrupt the delicate balance between ethnic Macedonians and ethnic Albanians in Macedonia, considered a young and fragile state.30 Most Western governments also feared the precedent that Kosovo's independence would set for ethnic separatist movements in other countries, such as those of the Basques and Corsicans.

To tread the middle line, the international community called for increased minority rights in Kosovo and encouraged dialogue between Serbs and Albanians through a variety of channels. A political settlement on autonomy within Yugoslavia, the West hoped, was still attainable, despite the escalating violence and abuse.

At the end of 1996, the political scene inside Serbia changed. In municipal elections on November 17, opposition parties won in fourteen of Serbia's nineteen largest cities. The government declared "unspecified irregularities" in those areas where the ruling party had lost, sparking eighty-eight days of peaceful demonstrations by opposition party supporters and students, some of which were broken up forcibly by the police.31 The government recognized the election results on February 22, 1997, but it did so without losing power on the national scene. Internal bickering and power struggles quickly weakened the opposition's power and support.

Although most western governments criticized the 1996 electoral violations and the ensuing police abuse, many states continued welcoming Yugoslavia back into the international community. In April 1997, the European Union offered Yugoslavia preferential trade status-which grants a country beneficial conditions when trading with E.U. states-despite the ongoing abuses in Kosovo. On May 15, the European Commission approved an aid package to Yugoslavia worth U.S. $112 million. Such concessions squandered a prime source of leverage that the international community had to press for improvements in Milosevic's human rights record, repression in Kosovo, and the government's compliance with the Dayton Accords.

Growth of the Kosovo Liberation Army

The KLA continued its attacks against Serbian policemen and civilians in early 1997, especially in the more rural areas, although the group's size, structure, and leadership remained a mystery. The insurgency's impact was limited by restricted access to arms.

This changed with the dramatic 1997 events in Albania. By March, the so-called "pyramid schemes" (linked with money laundering and other illegal activities) that the Albanian government had allowed to flourish collapsed, creating mayhem throughout the country. In the ensuing lawlessness, weapons depots were looted and, in some cases, opened by the government. More than 100,000 small arms, mostly Kalashnikov automatic rifles, as well as some heavier weapons, were readily available for prices as low as fifty German Marks. Many of these arms found their way across the northern border into Kosovo.

By late 1997, the central region of Drenica was known among ethnic Albanians as "liberated territory" because of the strong KLA presence. Serbian police only ventured into the area during the day.

The still-loosely organized guerrillas made their first public appearance on November 28, 1997, at the funeral of a Kosovar Albanian teacher, Halit Gecaj, who was killed by a stray bullet during fighting with Serb police in the village of Lausa (Llaushe). In front of an estimated 20,000 mourners, three masked and uniformed KLA fighters, two of whom reportedly took off their masks, addressed the crowd.32

Around this time, Kosovar Albanian students began organizing peaceful demonstrations in Kosovo's cities to demand the implementation of the 1996 education agreement and the reopening of the Albanian-language university. Some of the nonviolent protests were broken up forcibly by the police. For many people, Albanians and Serbs, the peaceful student movement was the last chance to avoid an outright armed conflict in the province.

The international community condemned the rising state violence in Kosovo while stressing its respect for the territorial integrity of Yugoslavia. At the same time, most West European governments, as well as the U.S., condemned as "terrorist actions" the KLA attacks. A February 1998 statement of the Contact Group on former Yugoslavia-comprised of the U.S., Germany, France, Russia, Italy, and the U.K.-stated:

The Contact Group reaffirmed its commitment to uphold human rights values, and their condemnation of both violent repression of non-violent expressions of political views, including peaceful demonstrations, as well as terrorist actions, including those of the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army.33

In late February, President Clinton's special representative, Robert Gelbard, visited Yugoslavia to address, among other issues, the brewing Kosovo crisis. During a press conference in Pristina on February 22, he declared that "the UCK [KLA] is a terrorist group by its actions. I used to be responsible for counter-terrorist policy in the American government. I know them when I see them."34

Gelbard reiterated his condemnation of the KLA in a Belgrade press conference the next day, and also announced some concessions to the Yugoslav government due to cooperation in Bosnia. Consistent with the view that Milosevic was a necessary ally for the implementation of the Dayton Accords, Gelbard said that the U.S. had been "particularly encouraged by the support that we received from President Milosevic," although, Gelbard added, "we still have a large number of areas where there are differences in views." In order to encourage "further positive movement," Gelbard announced that the U.S. was upgrading diplomatic relations with Yugoslavia, that Yugoslavia could open a consulate in the U.S., that Yugoslavia had been invited to join the Southeast European Cooperative Initiative, and that Yugoslav airlines (JAT) had regained landing rights in the U.S. Regarding Kosovo, Gelbard said:

The great majority of this violence we attribute to the police, but we are tremendously disturbed and also condemn very strongly the unacceptable violence done by terrorist groups in Kosovo and particularly the UCK-the Kosovo Liberation Army. This is without any question a terrorist group. I refuse to accept any kind of excuses. Having worked for years on counterterrorist activity, I know very well that to look at a terrorist group, to define it, you strip away the rhetoric and just look at actions. And the actions of this group speak for themselves.35

Gelbard later retracted the allegation about the KLA, and the group was never placed on the U.S. government's list of terrorist organizations.36 At the time, however, some analysts interpreted the U.S. statement as a green light for Milosevic to begin a counter-insurgency campaign.

The 1998 Armed Conflict

The Drenica Massacres

Five days after Gelbard's comments, the Serbian government launched a major assault on the central Drenica valley, a stronghold of the KLA. On February 28 and March 1, responding to KLA ambushes of the police, special forces attacked two adjacent villages, Cirez (Qirez) and Likosane (Likoshane). On March 5, special police attacked the nearby village of Prekaz-home of Adem Jashari, a known KLA member. Jashari was killed along with his entire family, save an eleven year-old-girl.37 In total, eighty-three people lost their lives in the three attacks, including at least twenty-four women and children.38

Although the KLA engaged in combat during these attacks, Serbian special forces fired indiscriminately at women, children, and other noncombatants. Helicopters and military vehicles sprayed village rooftops with gunfire before police forces entered the village on foot, firing into private homes. A pregnant woman, Rukia Nebihi, was shot in the face, and four brothers from one family were killed, apparently while in police custody. Ten members of the Ahmeti family were summarily executed by the police.

The Serbian police denied any wrongdoing in the attacks and claimed they were pursuing "terrorists" who had attacked the police. A police spokesman denied the "lies and inventions" about indiscriminate attacks and excessive force carried by some local and foreign media and said "the police has never resorted to such methods and never will."39

These events in Drenica were a watershed in the Kosovo crisis. If the government's aim was to crush the nascent insurgency, it had the opposite effect: the brutal and indiscriminate attacks radicalized the ethnic Albanian population and swelled the ranks of the KLA. Many ethnic Albanians who had been committed to the nonviolent politics of Rugova or the peaceful student movement decided to join the KLA, in part because they viewed the armed insurgency as the only means of protection. The various armed families and regional KLA groups active in Kosovo up to that point began to merge as a more organized popular resistance took shape.

The Drenica massacres also marked the beginning of the Kosovo conflict in the terms of the laws of war. It was only after February 28, 1999, that the fighting clearly went beyond mere internal disturbances to become an internal armed conflict, a threshold which once passed obliges both government forces and armed insurgencies to respect basic protections of international humanitarian law-the rules of war. In particular, Article 3 common to the four Geneva Conventions of 1949, Protocol II to those conventions, and the customary rules of war would henceforth apply to the conduct of hostilities in Kosovo.

The significance of the Kosovo conflict being classified an "armed conflict" went beyond a mere invocation of standards. Once open conflict broke out, the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia over Kosovo began. Mandated to prosecute crimes against humanity and violations of the laws or customs of war in the territory of the former Yugoslavia, the tribunal, on March 10, stated that its jurisdiction "covers the recent violence in Kosovo," although tribunal investigators did not visit the province until four months later.40

As the conflict grew, so too did the insurgency. Money from the diaspora community that was previously given to the LDK was increasingly diverted to the fund of the KLA, known as Homeland Calling. Increasingly, Albanian men from Western Europe and later the U.S. joined the insurgency.

Role of the International Community

The killings in Drenica drew the attention of the international community, despite Yugoslav government pleadings that the conflict was an internal affair. The international community criticized the state's excessive violence in Drenica but took minimal steps beyond verbal condemnations. On March 2, State Department spokesman James Rubin said that the U.S. was "appalled by the recent violent incidents" and threatened that "the outer wall" of sanctions would stay in place until there was improvement in Kosovo. He also called on Kosovar Albanian leaders to "condemn terrorist action by the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army."41

Over the next seven months, notwithstanding continued state violence, threats of sanctions and other punitive measures were weakly, if ever, enforced. Concessions were granted after the slightest progress, after which Serbian commanders, under the command of Milosevic, would often order renewed violence.

On March 9, the Contact Group met in London and gave the FRY government ten days to meet a series of requirements, including: to withdraw the special police from Kosovo and cease actions against the civilian population by the security forces; to allow access for the ICRC and other humanitarian organizations as well as by representatives of the Contact Group and other diplomatic representatives; and to begin a process of dialogue with the Kosovar Albanian leadership.42 The Contact Group proclaimed that, if President Milosevic took those steps, it would reconsider the four punitive measures that it had adopted.43 If he failed to comply, the group would move to further international measures, including an asset freeze on FRY and Serbian government funds abroad.

In a parallel move, the U.S. State Department announced on March 13 that it was providing $1.075 million to support the investigations of the war crimes tribunal in Kosovo.44

Allowing ten days to slip to sixteen, the Contact Group met again on March 25. In the days prior to the March 25 meeting, the Milosevic government briefly reduced the police attacks in Kosovo and agreed to implement the education agreement, a long-standing demand of the international community and one of many needed confidence-building measures cited in the March 9 Contact Group statement. Though not enough to bring the Contact Group to lift its previously adopted measures, the FRY gestures kept the group from imposing new measures and bought Milosevic some time. The Contact Group agreed to meet again in four weeks to reassess the situation.45

On March 31, the Security Council passed resolution 1160 which condemned violence on all sides, called for a negotiated settlement, and imposed an arms embargo on Yugoslavia. In April 1998, Milosevic organized a popular referendum on whether there should be international mediation in the Kosovo conflict. The vote for no international involvement was overwhelming.

The Contact Group meeting of April 29 set in motion a new round of maneuvering between the international community and the FRY government. Finding that the conditions set on March 9 remained unfulfilled, the Contact Group decided to take steps to impose the asset freeze. The freeze, first threatened if Belgrade did not meet Contact Group conditions by March 19, was finally endorsed by the Contact Group a month and a half later. It was not implemented by the European Union until late June-plenty of time for the Yugoslav authorities to shelter any funds that might otherwise have been affected. The Contact Group also promised to pursue an investment ban if Milosevic did not meet new conditions by May 9.46 These new conditions were watered down from the March 9 ultimata, substituting a general call for "cessation of repression" for the earlier "withdraw the special police units," and dropping the demand for access for the ICRC and humanitarian organizations altogether. As Milosevic raised the level of violence, the international community lowered the bar he needed to clear to regain international acceptance.

During the second quarter of 1998, the KLA, called a "liberation movement" by most ethnic Albanians and a "terrorist organization" by the Yugoslav government, took loose control of an estimated 40 percent of Kosovo's territory, including the Drenica region and the area around Malisevo. KLA spokesmen, increasingly in the public eye, spoke of "liberating Pristina" and eventually Kosovo. Serb civilians in areas under KLA control were harassed or terrorized into leaving, by assaults, kidnaping, and sporadic killing.

In late April and early May, the KLA took control of the villages northeast of the main road running between Decani (Decane) and Djakovica, with a headquarters in Glodjane. Serbs were forced out of these villages and fled to Decani town, where inter-ethnic tensions increased sharply. The KLA appeared to be attempting to establish a corridor between Albania and Drenica.

In retrospect, some analysts believe that the Serbian police and Yugoslav army purposefully allowed the KLA to expand. Aware that the lightly armed and poorly organized insurgency could not hold territory, the security forces allowed the rebels to spread themselves too thin across a large swath of territory. Government forces did not attack, but positioned themselves, such as on the Suka Crmljanska hill near Lake Radonjic. Other analysts, however, believe that the rapid growth of the KLA caught the Serbian government by surprise.

After five days of intense shuttle diplomacy by U.S. Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke, Milosevic and Rugova agreed to meet on May 15 in Belgrade, together with four other Kosovar Albanian representatives.47 In a major concession to Milosevic, the meeting took place without the presence of foreign mediators, a long-time condition set by both the international community and the Kosovar Albanians. Milosevic agreed to continue negotiations and named a team to be headed by Ratko Markovic, Deputy Prime Minister of Serbia. After the meeting, Milosevic's office issued the following statement:

President Milosevic pointed out that it is only by political means-through a direct dialogue on the basis of principle-that peaceful, human, just and lasting solutions to the problems in Kosovo and Metohija can be found. These solutions should be based on the equality of all citizens and ethnic communities in Kosovo and Metohija.48

Considering this a "framework for dialogue and stabilization package," as stipulated in the April 29 Contact Group statement, the Milosevic-Rugova meeting caused the international community to ease the pressure. At the May 25 meeting of the European Union General Affairs Council, the foreign ministers of E.U. member states concluded that, in light of the Milosevic-Rugova meeting in Belgrade, "the proposed measure to stop new investment in Serbia would not be taken forward."49

That week Belgrade launched a major offensive along its border with Albania that involved serious breaches of international humanitarian law. Kosovo Albanians called off all negotiations in light of the offensive.

In the first known joint action between the Serbian special police and the Yugoslav Army, government forces attacked a string of towns and villages along the border with the specific intent of depopulating the region and ousting the KLA. Until then, the KLA had been receiving arms and fresh recruits from Albania. The Serbian offensive so soon after the meeting hurt Rugova's popularity among Albanians, but he was quickly brought to Washington, along with Bujar Bukoshi and independent publisher Veton Surroi, for a meeting with President Clinton to bolster his public image.50 The offensive was also another reminder of Milosevic's now-familiar tactics: talk peace and conduct war.51

Although there was clearly fighting between the government and the KLA, many villages from Pec in the north to Djakovica in the south were shelled indiscriminately without consideration for civilian lives. Noncombatants who fled the attacks were sometimes fired on by snipers, and a still undetermined number of people were taken into detention. In three cases, helicopters marked with the Red Cross emblem reportedly fired on civilians. Anti-personnel landmines were placed in strategic points along the border, as well as along the southern border with Macedonia. Most villages in the region were looted and systematically destroyed, and farmers' livestock was shot, to ensure that no one could return in the short run. Fifteen thousand people fled to Albania and an estimated 30,000 went north to Montenegro.52

Around the same time, Milosevic also took steps to consolidate his power in Serbia proper. In May 1998, the Serbian parliament passed a highly restrictive university law that marginalized independent or opposition-oriented academics. The government also continued its assault on the independent media by refusing broadcast licenses to some independent radio and television stations.53 Milosevic's political ally from Montenegro, Momir Bulatovic, was appointed Yugoslav prime minister.

By the June 9 meeting of E.U. foreign ministers, the pattern of deception could no longer be ignored. The ministers adopted the investment ban on Serbia, together with a declaration that stated:

President Milosevic bears a special responsibility as head of the FRY government for promoting a peaceful settlement to the problems of Kosovo. He should not believe that the international community will be taken in by talk of peace when the reality on the ground is ever greater repression. . . . The European Union remains ready to press ahead with other measures against Belgrade if the authorities there fail to halt their excessive use of force and to take the steps needed for genuine political progress. Furthermore, the E.U. encourages international security organizations to pursue their efforts in this respect and to consider all options, including those which would require an authorization by the [United Nations Security Council] under Chapter VII.54

On June 11, NATO defense ministers directed NATO military authorities to develop a range of options for "halting or disrupting a systematic campaign of violent repression and expulsion in Kosovo."55 As a demonstration of military might, NATO agreed to conduct air exercises over neighboring Albania and Macedonia. Exercise "Determined Falcon," carried out on June 15, was presented as a demonstration of NATO's "capability to project power rapidly into the region."56 Planes flew over Tirana, the Albanian capital, but not over North Albania where they would have been seen by Serbian forces and the KLA alike.

The June 12 Contact Group meeting reaffirmed the asset freeze and investment ban, with Russia in dissent and promised additional measures unless certain steps were taken immediately. These steps were essentially the same as those that were supposed to have been implemented within ten days of March 9, except that what had once been internationally mediated dialogue and then a "framework for dialogue and a stabilization package" had become "rapid progress in the dialogue with the Kosovar Albanian leadership."57

Taking advantage of the division between Russia and the other Contact Group members, Milosevic agreed to meet Russian president Boris Yeltsin on June 16. The Milosevic-Yeltsin meeting yielded Yugoslav commitments to continue talks with Kosovar Albanians, to commit no repressive actions against the peaceful population, to guarantee full freedom of movement on the whole territory of Kosovo, and to provide unimpeded access for humanitarian organizations. The joint statement between Milosevic and Yeltsin was honored in the breach, but it bought Milosevic time at a critical juncture, when NATO threats were stronger than they had been at any time up to that point.

One concrete result of the Yeltsin meeting was the creation of the Kosovo Diplomatic Observer Mission (KDOM), established on July 6, 1998, which was mandated to observe and report on freedom of movement and security conditions in Kosovo. Coordinated by the Contact Group ambassadors in Belgrade, the European Union Presidency (Austria), and the Chairman-in-Office of the OSCE (Poland), the mission consisted of three groups: U.S.-KDOM, Russian-KDOM, and EU-KDOM, each of which had teams traveling and monitoring throughout the province. By December 1998, KDOM had 400 personnel in Kosovo, many of them defense and intelligence experts.

KDOM members in the field began to establish contact with the KLA, such as a U.S.-KDOM outpost in the village of Dragobilje (Dragobil), where the KLA had a base of operations. The U.S. government also maintained public contact with the KLA in July as negotiators tried to sell a political settlement for "enhanced autonomy" within Yugoslavia.

While the first FRY government offensive partially dislodged the KLA along the border with Albania, the insurgents gained territory in other parts of Kosovo, especially around Malisevo. The rebels' growth throughout the spring dispelled thoughts of international military action as too likely to tip the balance in favor of Kosovo independence. Forceful KLA statements about "liberating Pristina" and even eventual unification with Albania made the international community even more reluctant to take any action that might be construed as supporting the insurgency.

Emboldened, the KLA's first major offensive began on July 19 when it attempted to capture the town of Orahovac. The offensive failed badly, as the police recaptured the town two days later, as well as the KLA stronghold of Malisevo. In the Orahovac fighting, at least forty-two ethnic Albanians were killed. Witnesses reported summary executions and the use of human shields by the police. An estimated forty Serbs also vanished during the brief time that the city was under KLA control, most of whom were still missing and are presumed to have been murdered as of August 2001 (see section below on KLA Abuses in 1998).

The government forces intensified their offensive throughout July, August, and September despite repeated promises from Milosevic that it had stopped. By mid-August, the government had retaken much of the territory previously held by the KLA. Unable to protect the civilian population, the KLA retreated into the hills of Drenica and some pockets in the west and south of Kosovo.

Government Abuses in 1998

The government offensive, which continued unabated despite the deployment of KDOM, was an apparent attempt to crush civilian support for the rebels. Government forces attacked civilians, systematically destroyed towns, and forced thousands of people to flee their homes. The police were repeatedly seen looting homes, destroying already abandoned villages, burning crops, and killing farm animals, as well as committing summary executions, all violations of the rules of war. The majority of those killed and injured were civilians. At least 250,000 people were displaced between May and September 1998, according to UNHCR, many of them women and children. The border region with Albania was particularly hard hit, but so were other areas of KLA activity, such as Drenica and the area around Orahovac.

The government restricted the ability of humanitarian aid agencies to assist the internally displaced. On various occasions, the police hindered access to needy populations, confiscated supplies, harassed, and even attacked humanitarian aid workers. The government justified the restricted access by arguing that some humanitarian organizations had distributed supplies, including arms, to the KLA.

The Yugoslav government also restricted the work of domestic and foreign journalists who sought to report the atrocities. Some ethnic Albanian journalists were threatened, detained, or beaten by the police. Independent radio and television stations in the Albanian language were denied licenses or, in one case, closed down.

The independent Serbian-language media was not exempt from state pressure. News wires, newspapers, and radio stations that attempted to report objectively on Kosovo were labeled "traitors" and threatened with legal action. A complex and contradictory legal framework in Serbia made it virtually impossible for independent radio or television stations to obtain a broadcast frequency.58 As was the case during the wars in Bosnia and Croatia, the state-run radio and television purposefully spread disinformation and promoted images of "the enemy" intended to inflame passions in the conflict.

The international media covering Kosovo also faced a number of restrictions on its work, starting with the denial of visas to critical journalists whom the state considered "anti-Serb." One journalist was declared persona non grata, and a few foreign journalists were beaten or fired upon by the police.

At least one hundred ethnic Albanians "disappeared" in Kosovo between February and October 1998, about half of whom were last seen in the custody of the police. The precise number was impossible to determine since the Yugoslav authorities refused to make public the number of people they had in detention, a problem that continued after the NATO bombing commenced in March 1999. In addition, some Albanians, considered "collaborators with the Serbs" were abducted by the KLA.

More than 500 ethnic Albanians were arrested and charged with committing "terrorist acts." In July and August, detained individuals increasingly included human rights activists, humanitarian aid workers, political party members, doctors, and lawyers, many of whom were physically abused. The use of torture against detainees was widespread, and at least six people died from abuse in prison.59

The Serbian and Yugoslav government offensive closed in late September with serious combat around Suva Reka and in the Drenica region. On September 27, KDOM observers discovered the bodies of twenty-one ethnic Albanian civilians executed in the forest near the village of Gornje Obrinje (Abri i Eperme). The next day, re-searchers from Human Rights Watch and journalists visited the site and documented the killings, as well as the execution of thirteen ethnic Albanian men in nearby Golubovac.60 The massacre galvanized world opinion and helped spark a new round of diplomatic negotiations led by the U.S.

KLA Abuses in 1998

The KLA also committed serious violations of international humanitarian law during this time, as well as in early 1999, including the taking of hostages and extrajudicial executions.61 On June 21, 2000, in Pristina, ICTY chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte announced that "five episodes" of alleged KLA crimes were under investigation by the tribunal.

In some villages in areas of KLA control, the rebels drove ethnic Serbs from their homes. In some cases, elderly Serbs stayed behind, either too old to flee or unwilling to abandon their homes. Some of these people went missing and are presumed dead. The KLA also attacked and killed or seized some ethnic Albanians and Roma whom it considered "collaborators" with the Yugoslav government.

According to the ICRC, ninety-seven Kosovo Serbs abducted in 1998 were still missing as of May 15, 2000.62 According to the Humanitarian Law Center, a highly respected Yugoslav human rights group, 103 Serbs went missing between January and August 1998, thirty-nine of whom were last seen in KLA custody. The center also documented the abductions of three Kosovar Albanians by the KLA.63

The KLA detained an estimated eighty-five Serbs during the offensive in Orahovac on July 19, 1998. Thirty-five of these people were subsequently released but the others remain unaccounted for at the time of this writing. According to the ICRC, thirty-nine Serbs went missing from the Orahovac municipality on July 17 and 18.64 On July 22, the KLA briefly took control of the Belacevac mine near Obilic. Nine Serbs were captured that day, and they remain on the ICRC's list of missing.

On September 9, the Serbian police announced that they had found a number of bodies of people reportedly killed by the KLA near Glodjane. By September 16, the authorities recovered thirty-four bodies, eleven of whom were identified, some of them as ethnic Albanians. Prior to that, the most serious reported KLA abuse involved the reported execution of twenty-two Serbian civilians in the village of Klecka, where in August the police claimed to have discovered human remains and a kiln used to cremate the bodies. The manner in which the allegations were made, however, raised serious questions about their validity.65

The KLA, slowly transforming from a disorganized guerrilla group into a more serious armed force, did not abide with their stated commitments to respect international law and the laws of war, and in public statements appeared not to recognize some of the basic principles of these norms. Indeed, executions were acknowledged and justified in the early months of the war. In an interview given to a Kosovo newspaper, KLA spokesman Jakup Krasniqi said:

[T]he KLA has never dealt with civilians, or only if they have been in the service of the army and the police and have done serious harm to the people and the Albanian national cause. There have been cases in which they have been kidnaped, but in this event they have been handed over to international organizations, of course when they have been innocent.

First of all, all Serbian forces, whether the police, the military, or armed civilians, are our enemy. From the start, we had our own internal rules for our operations. These clearly lay down that the KLA recognizes the Geneva Conventions and the conventions governing the conduct of war, even though it has not been offered the chance of signing them, as it would have done. We do not go in for kidnaping. Even if some people have suffered, these have been more Albanian collaborators than Serbian civilians. We do not deal with civilians, and we return those whom we take as prisoners of war. A few days ago we handed over two Serbs originating from Croatia to the International Red Cross. Those we have kidnaped are either announced in a list or reported to be executed, but we do not behave in a base fashion like Serbia.66

The KLA's disregard for ethnic Albanian civilians is also striking. Villages declared "liberated" by the KLA were often smashed shortly thereafter by the Serbian security forces, who vented their anger on the civilians who did not retreat into the hills with the KLA. Ambushes of police or army checkpoints often provoked a response against the nearest village, if the KLA was based there or not. The pattern of KLA behavior suggests that the rebels, relying on the predictable aggressiveness and brutality of the Serbian forces, may have deliberately provoked attacks against ethnic Albanian civilians, since innocent victims would promote their cause and help bring the West, especially the United States, into the conflict. In the very least, the KLA understood the political benefit of civilian casualties.

Response of the International Community

The international response to the summer offensive was considerably weakened by persistent disunity within the international community. In the Security Council, China and Russia, both permanent members with veto power, maintained that the conflict was an internal matter for resolution by the Yugoslav authorities. This position effectively blocked a forceful Security Council response to the conflict.

A similar degree of disunity emerged in the Contact Group, where Russia in particular played the role of spoiler, although Russia's resistance was at times used by Western states as an excuse for their own inaction.

Throughout the Serbian and Yugoslav offensive, the international community condemned the government's abuses but took no steps to halt the ongoing offensive. Inaction by the West left the impression that it was tolerating the attacks against civilians, and may have been interpreted by Milosevic as a green light to continue. Advocates of inaction in the West presumed the offensive would drive the Kosovar Albanians to the negotiating table. As one Western official was quoted in the press, "There is a general recognition that the KLA was getting too big for its boots and needed to be taken down a peg or two before there can be negotiations."67

The U.S. position was aptly presented by Secretary of Defense William Cohen who said that NATO did "not want to see" Serbian or Yugoslav government troops attacking civilians or using disproportionate force, but that NATO did not want to take action that "could be construed as lending support, either moral or military, to those seeking independence," meaning the KLA.

Prior to September, the only measure adopted by the Security Council having any bite had been resolution 1160, passed on March 31, 1998, imposing an arms embargo on FRY, a position reached with China abstaining and only after repeated warnings by the Contact Group had been ignored. U.N. Security Council Resolution 1199, passed on September 23, 1998, (again with China abstaining), went further by condemning acts of violence committed in Kosovo, reaffirming the arms embargo and, under authority of Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter, demanding an immediate cessation of hostilities.68

Resolution 1199 also called upon the FRY and Kosovar Albanian leadership to enter into immediate and meaningful dialogue and demanded that FRY implement immediately the measures set out in the June 12 statement of the Contact Group. The resolution called on the president of FRY to implement his own commitments from the June 16 joint statement with Yeltsin, among other things, not to carry out any repressive actions against the peaceful population, to facilitate refugee return, and to ensure full access for the ICRC and UNHCR. The resolution also called on the government of FRY, the Kosovar Albanian leadership, and all others to cooperate fully with the prosecutor of the ICTY, and it underlined the need for FRY authorities to bring to justice members of security forces involved in mistreatment of civilians and the deliberate destruction of property. It stated that the Security Council would consider "further action and additional measures" if the measures demanded in its two resolutions were not taken. Porous borders, a well established Balkan arms market, and weak enforcement had kept the embargo from having any substantial impact on the ground.

On September 24, NATO took the first formal steps toward military intervention in Kosovo, issuing an "ACTWARN" for both a limited air option and a phased air campaign in Kosovo.69

The Deployment of the _Kosovo Verification Mission

The September 26 massacre in Gornje Obrinje, in which twenty-one members of one ethnic Albanian family were killed, garnered major media coverage in the West and catalyzed a more unified international response to the crisis. With winter approaching, international concern was also focused on the estimated 250,000 internally displaced ethnic Albanians.

U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke flew to Belgrade for talks with Milosevic. At the same time, after the Gornje Obrinje killings, the Serbian police and Yugoslav army wrapped up the summer offensive in the end of September and began a partial withdrawal from Kosovo. As one Serbian journalist wrote of the Gornje Obrinje massacre, government forces "slammed the door on the way out."70

With the offensive over, Milosevic had largely achieved his goals, and then granted Holbrooke some concessions: a cease-fire, NATO air surveillance to verify compliance with UN Security Council Resolution 1199, and the deployment of an observer mission from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) called the Kosovo Verification Mission (KVM). By January 1999, the KVM had 2,000 observers in the field, many of them westerners with military experience. Human rights officers were also deployed throughout the province to monitor, document, and publicly report on violations.71 A subsequent agreement brokered by NATO set the limit of Yugoslav Army and Serbian Ministry of Internal Affairs troops allowed in Kosovo. Hours before the deadline for meeting these limits, the Yugoslav government complied.

Around this time, other developments in Serbia had an impact on Kosovo. On November 3, Milosevic fired the Chief of the General Staff of the Yugoslav Army, Momcilo Perisic, and replaced him with a known loyalist, Gen. Dragoljub Ojdanic. Col. Gen. Nebojsa Pavkovic, commander of Pristina Corp, was promoted to commander of the Third Army, which had responsibility for southern Serbia and Kosovo. In late October, Milosevic dismissed the Yugoslav Air Force commander Col. Gen. Ljubisa Velickovic, and the chief of Serbia's security service, Jovica Stanisic, who had been a close confidant of Milosevic for the past seven years.72 Velickovic was replaced by Lt. Col. Gen. Spasoje Smiljanic. Stanisic was replaced by Radomir Markovic.

The precise reason for these dismissals remains unclear. Some analysts speculate that the individuals removed disagreed with government policy on Kosovo, fearing that Milosevic was heading into a direct conflict with the West. In particular, it was believed the Perisic had warned Milosevic against a direct confrontation with NATO (as well as having argued against a military deployment against Belgrade demonstrators in late 1996 and early 1997).73 The replacements were generally viewed as personally loyal to Milosevic and hardline, perhaps necessary for another offensive against the KLA.

Notwithstanding the KVM presence in Kosovo, late-October 1998 to March 1999 saw continued provocations by both government forces and the KLA. The KLA captured two Serbian journalists and nine Yugoslav Army soldiers during this time, all of whom were later released, and conducted periodic strikes on police and army posts-an apparent attempt to provoke the government into a response in front of international monitors. As KLA commanders later admitted, they used the calm from the monitors' presence to continue mobilization, training, and arms procurement.74

Serbian and Yugoslav forces also repositioned during this time. Gradually throughout January and February reinforcements and heavy armor made their way back into Kosovo, as detailed in the OSCE report on Kosovo, As Seen, As Told-Part I.75

On December 13, the army killed more than thirty ethnic Albanians along the border with Albania, ostensibly while they were smuggling in arms. On December 14, unidentified armed men attacked the Panda Cafe in the western city of Pec, killing six Serbian youths. On December 23, the army and police undertook military action against the KLA near Podujevo, in northern Kosovo, along the main road linking Pristina with Belgrade.

On February 25, the Yugoslav Army announced the beginning of "winter exercises" in the Vucitrn municipality, where the KLA had positions in the Cicavica mountains along the Mitrovica-Pristina road (based in the village of Pantina (Pantine)). Skirmishes were ongoing throughout February, as were KLA abductions of local Serbs. According to the OSCE report on Kosovo:

As armed engagements between Yugoslav/Serbian forces and the UCK continued in the areas of the "exercises," it became clear that these "exercises" had a strategic aim: for the VJ [the Yugoslav Army] to secure the main road and rail routes between Kosovska Mitrovca and Pristina by pushing the UCK back into their strongholds in the Cicavica mountains.76

In some cases, the "exercises" included the army's shelling of villages and the forced expulsion of noncombatants. Fighting between the army and KLA was ongoing as the OSCE left the Vucitrn area on March 19. According to U.S. General Wesley Clark, NATO thought Milosevic was "preparing for a spring offensive that would target KLA strongholds." No one expected the "wholesale deportation of the ethnic Albanian population."77

During the military buildup by all sides, the U.S. government was engaged in shuttle diplomacy to reach a political solution. U.S. Ambassador to Macedonia Chris Hill, working closely with Richard Holbrooke, continued work on draft plans that would provide Kosovo with substantial autonomy within Yugoslavia. Previous drafts were scuttled after they were leaked and published in a Kosovo-based newspaper, Koha Ditore.

A major turning point took place on January 15, 1999, when forty-five ethnic Albanians were killed in the village of Racak. Although the attack was possibly provoked by a KLA ambush that killed three Serbian policeman a few days before, government forces responded by shooting at civilians, torturing detainees, and committing summary executions.78

The massacre in Racak was well documented by the OSCE mission, and immediately condemned by the mission's head, U.S. diplomat William Walker. The Yugoslav government said that the Albanians were KLA fighters killed in combat, and threatened to expel Walker-labeled "a representative and a patron of separatism and terrorism"-from the country.79 On January 18, Chief Prosecutor Louise Arbour of the war crimes tribunal was denied entry into Kosovo, where she planned to investigate the Racak incident.

The Racak massacre provoked an outcry among the Western public and Western governments began consulting on ways to back up diplomacy with force. NATO increased its threats of military action if attacks on civilians did not stop.

The Rambouillet Conference

Kosovar Albanians and Serbs were hastily summoned to a government chateau in Rambouillet, France, for negotiations between February 6 and 22, 1999. The British and French foreign ministers co-sponsored the talks, with negotiators from the U.S., Austria (as president of the E.U.) and Russia. A diverse delegation of Kosovar Albanians representing the various political forces elected Hashim Thaci, political leader of the KLA, as their spokesman. Milosevic refused to attend and sent Serbian president Milan Milutinovic to head a motley delegation of ethnically diverse but unimportant representatives from Kosovo-an attempt to demonstrate his multi-ethnic and tolerant approach to the province.

After two weeks, the negotiators presented both sides with an interim agreement that would have provided for substantial autonomy and self-government for Kosovo inside Yugoslavia, protected by a strong NATO presence on the ground. The final status of Kosovo was to be worked out in three year's time by an international conference.

The Serbian delegation refused to sign, stating that Kosovo was an integral part of Yugoslavia. Some parts of the accords were clearly of particular concern to the delegation, such as NATO's unrestricted access throughout Yugoslavia and NATO's authority to detain individuals.80 The Kosovar Albanian delegation, while more inclined to give support, said it needed approval from the regional commanders of the KLA-a reflection of the group's decentralized character. The conference was halted while Thaci returned to Kosovo to get the commanders' agreement. The conference reconvened in Paris on March 15. Three days later, under great pressure from the West, the Kosovar Albanian delegation signed.

Throughout the conference, Serbian and Yugoslav forces were observed positioning themselves around the Kosovo border with Serbia proper, a clear indication-coupled with the Serbian delegation's intransigence-that a military offensive was in preparation. According to the OSCE, "a significant build up of VJ forces" was taking place throughout Kosovo.81 Many observers believe that Milosevic never had any intention of signing an agreement; he simply used the time to further reinforce his troops, and he gained three weeks because of Thaci's need to consult commanders inside Kosovo.

Media reports later claimed that the Austrian government had warned NATO before the bombing that a large-scale Serbian offensive was in preparation. The allegation was repeated two weeks into the bombing by the German government, which said that Operation Horseshoe-a plan to expel Albanians from Kosovo-had been drafted six months prior to the air war.82 A retired brigadier general in the German Army, however, later stated that the claims of a plan were faked from a vague intelligence report in order to deflect growing criticism in Germany of the bombing.83

In anticipation of the NATO bombing and the deteriorating security situation, the OSCE's KVM mission withdrew from Kosovo on March 20. Although there had been fear the observers would be seized as hostages, government forces welcomed rather than hindered their withdrawal. That day, attacks against Kosovar Albanians began in parts of Kosovo, notably Drenica and the Llap region near Podujevo. Yugoslav soldiers, Serbian special police, paramilitaries, and armed irregulars poured into the province. With no local information, ethnic Albanian civilians sat waiting for the worst.

In a final effort to avoid bombing, U.S. special envoy Richard Holbrooke flew to Belgrade to meet Milosevic and threaten air strikes unless he signed the agreement. He left empty-handed on March 23 and, the next day, NATO air strikes commenced without awaiting approval from the United Nations Security Council.


Kosovo dominated the headlines in 1999, but the conflict was predictable as long ago as 1989. The international community failed to implement effective preventive measures, acting only after the crisis had evolved into an armed conflict.

Even after open conflict began, the international community failed to take meaningful steps to stop the serious abuses committed against civilians in Kosovo. Throughout 1998, the international community repeatedly failed to develop a unified position to resolve the conflict. Slobodan Milosevic used this lack of consensus to his advantage in a series of bilateral negotiations buying time to advance the campaign in Kosovo. Members of the international community took advantage of the disunity as well: pointing to each other as the excuse for inaction. When the international community sent a strong message of condemnation to the parties to the conflict, words and symbolic action proved meaningless, with deadlines postponed, conditions abandoned, and sanctions poorly enforced or withdrawn as abusive violence persisted.

In addition to concerns over the stability of Bosnia and supporting the Dayton Accords, the international community's approach to Kosovo was strongly influenced by its desire to avoid independence for the province. The redrawing of Yugoslav borders, it was (and still is) feared, might destabilize Montenegro, Bosnia and Macedonia, as well as encourage secessionist movements in other parts of Europe and around the world.

This is not a trivial concern. But the international community's interest in preserving international borders should not have been elevated above the imperative of halting abuses before they escalated into open warfare, leading to thousands of dead and many more displaced. If the international community wanted to promote territorial integrity in the Balkans, it should have pressed for the national unity that comes from respect for the rights of all citizens-a respect that had been sorely lacking in Kosovo as well as in other parts of the region. But seeking to preserve borders by tolerating serious abuses led to the regional instability that the international community was trying to avoid.

1 For a good description of the evolution of the KLA, see Tim Judah, Kosovo, War and Revenge (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2000).
2 Ruza Petrovic and Marina Blagojevic, Migration of Serbs and Montenegrins from Kosovo and Metohija, Serbian Academy of Science and Arts, June 7, 1988.
3 For details, see Helsinki Watch (now Human Rights Watch), Yugoslavia: Crisis in Kosovo, March 1990.
4 Petrovic and Blagojevic, Migration of Serbs and Montenegrins from Kosovo and Metohija.
5 Judah, Kosovo, War and Revenge, p. 49.
6 Laura Silber and Allan Little, Yugoslavia: The Death of a Nation, (New York: Penguin USA, 1995).
7 On August 25, 2000, Ivan Stambolic was abducted by unknown persons from the Kosutnjak Park in Belgrade. As of August 2001, his whereabouts remained unknown. Stambolic's family accused Milosevic and his wife, Mirjana Markovic, former Serbian Interior Minister Vlajko Stojiljkovic, and former State Security Chief Rade Markovic of organizing the abduction because they feared Stambolic would reenter politics.
8 Tim Judah, "Kosovo's Road to War," Survival, July 1, 1999.
9 After six months in prison, Vllasi was charged with "counter-revolutionary acts" on August 28, as well as culpability in the deaths of twenty-four ethnic Albanians who had been shot by Serbian police on March 28, 1989 (see below), even though he was in prison at the time. He was convicted, but released after approximately one year in prison. (See Helsinki Watch (now Human Rights Watch) and the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, Yugoslavia: Crisis in Kosovo, March 1990.)
10 Ibid., by Helsinki Watch and the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, Yugoslavia: Crisis in Kosovo, March 1990.
11 The Program for the Realization of Peace, Freedom, Equality, Democracy, and Prosperity of the Socialist Autonomous Province of Kosovo, item 6, Republic of Serbia, March 30, 1990
12 Under pressure from the West, Albania's support for Kosovo's independence ceased with the change of government in 1992.
13 For documentation on human rights abuses following the revocation of Kosovo's autonomy, see Human Rights Watch, "Human Rights Abuses of Non-Serbs in Kosovo, Sandzak and Vojvodina," A Human Rights Watch Report, vol. 6, no.6, October 1994, Human Rights Watch; Open Wounds: Human Rights Abuses in Kosovo, (New York: Human Rights Watch, 1994); Human Rights Watch, "Abuses Continue in the Former Yugoslavia: Serbia, Montenegro & Bosnia-Hercegovina," A Human Rights Watch Report, vol. 5, no. 11, July 1993; Helsinki Watch (now Human Rights Watch), "Human Rights Abuses in Kosovo," A Human Rights Watch Report, vol. 8, no. 63, October 1992; Human Rights in a Dissolving Yugoslavia, 1/91, Yugoslavia: Crisis in Kosovo, 3/90.
14 The Serbian government constructed settlements for relocated Serbs throughout Kosovo. Ethnic Albanians referred to the newcomers as "colonizers."
15 Kosovar Albanians were requested to pay the LDK three percent of their annual income.
16 Ivo H. Daalder, "Kosovo: Bosnia Deja Vu," Washington Post, April 17, 1998.
17 Judah, Kosovo: War and Revenge, p. 113.
18 In response to a Freedom of Information Act request, Human Rights Watch received an unclassified cable sent from the U.S. embassy in Belgrade on December 2, 1996, highlighting the "lack of awareness [among Albanians] that U.S. policy toward Kosovo does not, repeat not, support its independence." The public affairs officer who sent the cable was concerned that "98 percent of Albanians do not know that the U.S. does not support Kosovo's independence" and he called for more clarity on this position from Washington, especially in the programming of the Voice of America.
19 The LDK spurned offers to support Milosevic's opponents in elections, like Milan Panic in 1992, because they thought their goal of independence was more achievable with the internationally despised Milosevic in power. A similar trend was discernible in October 2000 when the Albanians feared the victory of Vojislav Kostunica would undercut their drive for independence.
20 For documentation of the abuses in Albania between 1992 and 1996, see Human Rights Watch, Human Rights in Post-communist Albania, May 1996. The destabilization of Albania culminated in the 1997 collapse of the so-called pyramid schemes, multi-million dollar financial scams, and resulting months of anarchy. Arms depots were looted throughout the country and tens of thousands of small arms made their way across the border into Kosovo.
21 The Dayton Agreement divided the former Yugoslav republic of Bosnia Hercegovina into two entities: Republika Srpska and the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. After large-scale ethnic cleansing during the war, Republika Srpska had an almost exclusively Serbian population.
22 Among those killed were Stana Radusinovic, a Serbian emigrant from Albania, and Blagoje Okulic, a Serbian refugee from Knin, who were killed while sitting in a Serb-owned cafe in the city of Decan. Two Serbian policemen, Zoran Dasic and Safet Kocan, were wounded.
23 Interview with former KLA commander of the Llap region Rrustem Mustafa (a.k.a . Remi), published in the Kosovo daily Zeri between April 21 and May 4, 2000.
24 On June 16, a Serbian policeman, Goran Mitrovic, was wounded by gunfire at the bus station in Podujevo. The next day, policeman Predrag Georgovic was shot dead in the village Sipolje (Shipol), while his colleague, Zoran Vujkovic, was wounded. The police station in the village of Luzane (Lluzhane) was also attacked. Then, on August 2, four police stations in Podujevo (Podujeve) and Pristina were attacked, but no one was hurt. Six days later, there were several explosions at a Serbian settlement being built near Decan (Decane).

On August 28, three grenades were thrown at the police station in Lolopak (Lollopak) near Pec, causing no casualties but substantial material damage. That same day, an inspector with the Serbian police, Ejup Bajgora, was killed by automatic gunfire near his home in Donje Ljupce (Lupqi i Poshtem) near Podujevo. Finally, on October 26, a Serbian police officer, inspector Milos Nikic, and an employment office employee, Dragan Rakic, were ambushed and killed by unknown attackers in the village of Surkis (Surkish) near Podujevo. See Human Rights Watch, "Persecution Persists: Human Rights Violations in Kosovo," A Human Rights Watch Report, vol. 8, no. 18, December 1996.
25 For a description of police violence in 1996, see Human Rights Watch, Persecution Persists.
26 The vaguely worded agreement called for "the normalization of the educational system of Kosovo for Albanian youth," and "the return of the Albanian students and teachers back to schools."
27 According to the U.S. government, the outer wall of sanctions was to stay in place until Yugoslavia met the following demands: compliance with the terms of the Dayton Accords, cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, regulated relations between the successor states of the former Yugoslavia and a restoration of civil and political rights in Kosovo. This position was emphasized on numerous occasions by European and U.S. diplomats.
28 See Human Rights Watch, Persecution Persists.
29 Human Rights Watch interview with Deputy Minister Rade Drobac, Belgrade, Yugoslavia, July 19, 1996.
30 U.N. peacekeepers had been stationed in Macedonia since 1991 to preserve the unity of the state, which is still seen as a vital buffer between competing countries in the southern Balkans. For information on human rights conditions in Macedonia, see Human Rights Watch, A Threat to Stability: Human Rights in Macedonia, (New York, Human Rights Watch, April 1996), and Human Rights Watch, Police Violence in Macedonia, (New York, Human Rights Watch, April 1998).
31 See Human Rights Watch, "Discouraging Democracy: Elections and Human Rights in Serbia," A Human Rights Watch Report, vol. 9, no. 11, September 1997.
32 The three fighters were Rexhep Selimi, Muje Krasniqi, and Daut Haradinaj.
33 Statement by the Contact Group on Kosovo, Moscow, February 25, 1998.
34 Press conference by U.S. Special Representative Robert S. Gelbard, Belgrade, Pristina, Serbia and Montenegro, February 22, 1998.
35 Press conference by U.S. Special Representative Robert S. Gelbard, Belgrade, Serbia and Montenegro, February 23, 1998. Gelbard repeated his condemnation of Albanian terrorist actions again on February 25 during an address at the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington.
36 For a list of organizations considered terrorist groups by the U.S. government, see:, March 2001.
37 Adem Jashari, a known KLA fighter who became a local hero and martyr after his death, had already been convicted in absentia by a Pristina court on July 11, 1997, for terrorist acts along with fourteen other ethnic Albanians, in a trial that clearly failed to conform to international standards. See press release, "Human Rights Watch/Helsinki Condemns Political Trial in Kosovo," July 15, 1997.
38 See Human Rights Watch, Humanitarian Law Violations in Kosovo, (New York: Human Rights Watch, 1998).
39 "Interior Ministry Spokesman Gives Press Conference," Tanjug, March 7, 1998.
40 The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, "Prosecutor's Statement Regarding the Tribunal's Jurisdiction Over Kosovo," The Hague, March 10, 1998.
41 Press Statement by James P. Rubin, U.S. Department of State Spokesman, March 2, 1998.
42 London Contact Group Meeting, March 9, 1998, Statement on Kosovo. Available at:, March 2001.
43 The Contact Group adopted four measures, although it did not specify how they were to be implemented: a) U.N. Security Council consideration of a comprehensive arms embargo against the FRY, including Kosovo; b) Refusal to supply equipment to the FRY which might be used for internal repression, or for terrorism; c) Denial of visas for senior FRY and Serbian representatives responsible for repressive action by FRY security forces in Kosovo; d) A moratorium on government-financed export credit support for trade and investment, including government financing for privatization, in Serbia.
44 On March 10, 1998, the prosecutor's office at the war crimes tribunal stated that the violence in Kosovo fell within its mandate.
45 Contact Group Statement on Kosovo, Bonn, March 25, 1998.
46 Contact Group Statement on Kosovo, Rome, April 29, 1998.
47 Members of the Kosovar Albanian group, known as the G5, were: Ibrahim Rugova, Pajazit Nushi (head of the Council for the Defense of Human Rights and Freedoms), Machmut Bakalli (former head of the Kosovo Communist Party), Fehmi Agani (leading member of the LDK, who was murdered by Serbian police during the NATO bombing), and Veton Surroi (publisher of the independent newspaper Koha Ditore).
48 Media Center Pristina, Dialogue not Separatism and Terrorism, Third Amended Edition, (Pristina: Media Centar Pristina, 1998), pp 96-97.
49 Conclusions of the European Union General Affairs Counsel, May 25, 1998.
50 In his book, Kosovo, War and Revenge, Tim Judah claims that Rugova was promised a meeting with Clinton in return for agreeing to meet Milosevic. Judah, Kosovo, War and Revenge, p. 154.
51 Negotiations foundered, largely because the Albanians, who had formed a larger group called the G15, refused to negotiate during an offensive that so severely affected civilians.
52 See Human Rights Watch, Humanitarian Law Violations in Kosovo.
53 For information on the university law, see Human Rights Watch, "Deepening Authoritarianism in Serbia: The Purge of the Universities," A Human Rights Watch Report, vol. 11, no. 2, January 1999. For information on the Serbian media, especially Serbia's broadcast media laws, see "Restrictions on the Broadcast Media in FR Yugoslavia," a September 1998 report by Free2000, the international committee to protect free press in Serbia that is affiliated with the Serbia-based Association of Independent Electronic Media (ANEM). See, March 2001.
54 Declaration by the European Union on Kosovo, Brussels, June 9, 1998.
55 Statement on Kosovo issued at the meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Defense Minister Session, Brussels, June 11, 1998.
56 Statement by NATO Secretary General Dr. Javier Solana on Exercise "Determined Falcon," Brussels, June 13, 1998.
57 Contact Group Statement on Kosovo, London, June 12, 1998.
58 See ANEM's website at:
59 See Humanitarian Law Center, Spotlight Report No. 28, January, 1999, and Human Rights Watch, Detentions and Abuse in Kosovo.
60 See Human Rights Watch, A Week of Terror in Drenica.
61 Ibid.
62 "Persons missing in relation to the events in Kosovo from January 1998," International Committee of the Red Cross, First Edition, May 2000.
63 Humanitarian Law Center, "Kosovo-Disappearances in Times of Armed Conflict," Spotlight Report No. 27, August 5, 1998.
64 See Human Rights Watch, "Humanitarian Law Violations in Kosovo."
65 For details of the Klecka case, see Human Rights Watch, "Humanitarian Law Violations in Kosovo."
In April 2000, two Kosovar Albanians, Luan and Bekim Mazreku, went on trial in Nis, Serbia, for allegedly executing Serbian civilians in Klecka. On May 30, their trials were indefinitely postponed and, as of September, there had been no verdict. See trial monitoring reports by the Serbia-based organization, Group 484, April 21 and September 20, 2000.
66 Koha Ditore, July 11, 1998.
67 Reuters, July 29, 1998.
68 U.N. Security Council Resolution 1199, September 23, 1998.
69 Statement NATO Secretary General Javier Solana, Vilamoura, Portugal, September 24, 1998.
70 Dejan Anastasijevic, "Slamming the Door," Vreme, no. 415, October 3, 1998.
71 The creation of a large-scale human rights department was an innovation for OSCE missions. The human rights findings during the KVM's mission, as well as during and after the NATO bombing, were later presented in two useful reports: OSCE/ODIHR, Kosovo: As Seen as Told, Parts I and II.
72 On the occasion of his dismissal, Stanisic issued a brief statement that included these lines: "The service under my leadership functioned in line with its constitutional and legal framework, and it was under the constant legal control of the Serbian Supreme Court. The service linked its activities and the responsibilities primarily to the institution of the Serbian president." BBC Worldwide Monitoring, "Text of statement issued by Serbian security chief on his dismissal," Source: Beta news agency, Belgrade, October 28, 1998.
73 Perisic, Chief of the Yugoslav Army General Staff from August 1993 to November 1998, was generally considered more inclined toward compromise with the West. For an interesting account of Perisic's negotiations with western military leaders, see "Serbs' Offensive Was Meticulously Planned," by R. Jeffrey Smith and William Drozdiak, April 11, 1999, The Washington Post. See also, "Vengeful After First Setbacks, Army Chose Unrepentant Force," by Michael R. Gordon and Thom Shanker, New York Times, May 29, 1999.
74 See the interview with former KLA commander of the Llap region Rrustem Mustafa (alias Remi), published in the Kosovo daily Zeri between April 21 and May 4, 2000. Commander Remi states, "The UCK [?] welcomed the [KVM] agreement, and in general it was profitable for us, for further mobilization, for the training of our soldiers, and for pulling our strength together so that we could continue the way that we had already started."
75 OSCE/ODIHR, Kosovo/Kosova: As Seen, As Told-Part I, pp 26-29.
76 OSCE/ODIHR, Kosovo/Kosova: As Seen, As Told-Part I, pp. 384.
77 Smith and Drozdiak, "Serbs' Offensive Was Meticulously Planned."
78 See Human Rights Watch, "Yugoslav Government War Crimes in Racak," A Human Rights Watch report, January 1999.
79 Statement by Serbian President Milan Milutinovic, Borba, January 18, 1999.
80 The Rambouillet Accords, Interim Agreement for Peace and Self-Government in Kosovo, February 23, 1999, Appendix B, paragraphs 8 and 21.
81 OSCE/ODIHR, Kosovo/Kosova: As Seen, As Told-Part I, p 27.
82 Press conference of German Foreign Minister Fischer, April 6, 1999, World Hall of the Foreign Office, and Tony Paterson, "Germany Gives Details of Covert Plan," Times (London), April 9, 1999.
83 John Goetz and Tom Walker, "Serbian Ethnic Cleansing Scare Was A Fake, Says General," Sunday Times, April 2, 2000.