Thaci presents list of demands

PRISTINA, Jul 6, 2000 -- (AFP) Hashim Thaci, former political leader of the Kosovo Liberation Army, issued a list of demands Wednesday which he said must be met before his party could return to the province's UN-led joint administration.

Talking at a news conference at the headquarters of the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK), Thaci said Kosovo's UN administrator Bernard Kouchner had gone behind his back in striking a deal with Serbian representatives but this was not the only reason for his party's decision to boycott the administration.

"The signing of this accord is only the latest in a series of problems we have had with the United Nations," he said. "We have other issues to address."

The PDK and other ethnic Albanian politicians have warned that the letter of understanding signed by Kouchner and the leader of the Serbian National Council (SNV) Bishop Artemije Radosavljevic was the first step towards the "cantonisation" of Kosovo.

The letter provides for local administrative centres and unarmed neighbourhood watch patrols to improve living conditions and security in Serbian areas of Kosovo. It was a precondition of the SNV ending its own boycott of the administration.

Thaci attacked the document and demanded that the United Nations mission (UNMIK) and Kosovo's multinational peacekeeping force (KFOR) do more to prevent the "violation" of Kosovar territory.

"Kosovo has its own territory, and this territory has been violated and continues to be violated. KFOR and UNMIK have been slow to resolve these problems," he said, giving as an example the northern Kosovo town of Kosovska Mitrovica.

KFOR and UNMIK should end the division of Mitrovica into Serbian and ethnic Albanian sectors as a sign of their determination to maintain the territorial integrity of Kosovo, Thaci said.

The PDK had come up with its own plan for the reunification of Mitrovica, Thaci said, but it had been ignored by UNMIK and it had become a forbidden topic at meetings of the administration.

In addition to the territorial question Thaci demanded a settlement be reached to pay pensions to injured KLA veterans, the families of guerrillas killed in action and to the elderly.

He also called for more local Kosovars to be recruited into the Kosovo Police Service (KPS), which polices the province alongside UNMIK's multinational police force.

Under the deal signed with the UN to disarm and abolish the KLA half of the KPS's officers were to be former guerrillas, he said, but this had not been the case.

Aside from the list of seven demands to be presented to UNMIK, Thaci also called for increased security on Kosovo's borders with Montenegro and Serbia to prevent contraband and "political instability" and for action against Serbian spies and paramilitaries who he claimed were destabilizing the province.

The PDK would continue to refuse to take part in meetings of the Interim Administrative Council, the executive body of Kosovo's administration, until progress had been made on these issues, Thaci said.

Nadia Younes, UNMIK's chief spokeswoman, earlier told reporters that Kouchner would meet Thaci on Friday to discuss the boycott but that the letter of understanding signed with the SNV would not be renegotiated.

Original article