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November 26, 1995
. Vreme News Digest Agency No 217

The Price of Kosovo

Certain Kosovo circles are of the opinion that Serbia, i.e. its political leadership, is not so interested in "resolving" its relations with the local population, the majority of which are ethnic Albanians. An argument for this thesis is that, since the disintegration of the former Yugoslavia, Kosovo has cost the current Yugoslavia very much. On the one hand, the economy, including the mines and other strategic branches, has been considerably enervated by the dismissal of ethnic Albanian workers. If one also bears in mind the large number of those who had quit in protest, the major impact of sanctions on these parts and the strong police and army concentration in these parts, Yugoslavia's investment in Kosovo stands at millions of dollars.

Many experts have tried to make an authentic review of Kosovo's resources, but it seems that the most serious research was made by two Kosovo economists: Aziz Abrashi and Burhan Kavaia. Those well-informed about Kosovo probably remember the two men, who had headed major Kosovo companies for a long time; they managed the Trepca complex at the time Yugoslavia faced its the gravest political crisis.

In their study, Abrashi and Kavaia concluded that "Kosovo, although small, has enough natural resources". First, they claim, Kosovo boasts energy resources, such as lignite, the reserves of which were estimated at around 200 million tons in the 1950-1960 research. Later research confirmed that the reserves amounted to 800 million tons and represented the basis for the strip mines Dobro selo and Belacevac and the mine Mhadzer babus. The thermo-electric plant with the capacity of 1478 kW, a 41-MW heating plant, gasification facilities producing 80,000 MBN of gas a year and a dry-kiln processing 1,250,000 of coal of various granulation were simultaneously built in the vicinity of these mines. Chemical plants were also built near the power facilities. Ninety percent of the lignite is now used in the production of electricity. The latest research proved that lignite reserves stand at around 14 billion 237 million tons which equals 2296 million tons of petroleum. The overall value of the energy resources and coal exploitation facilities, the facilities for the production of electricity, gas, artificial fertilizers and other accompanying industries, amounts to 232.5 billion dollars.

When talking about power, one should include the water resources and the facilities built to exploit them, experts underscore. The hydro-electric power plants, alone, are worth 50 million dollars.

However, Kosovo's greatest wealth is in its mines, which had been discovered a long time ago and exploited by many a conqueror. The list of non-ferrous metal reserves is headed by lead, zinc, potassium, bismuth, silver, gold and other rare metals, e.g. gallium. All one needs to recall is that non-ferrous metals from Kosovo accounted for one-fourth of ex-Yugoslavia's exports in the fifties.

The lead and zinc reserves induced the construction of plants for their processing and metallurgical plants in Kosovska Mitrovica, Stari Trg, Kisnica, Ajvalija, Novo Brdo, Leposavic, Belo Brdo, etc. The reserves of minerals of non-ferrous metals of the A, B, C1 and C2 categories are estimated to stand at 200 million tons. According to the London Stock of Exchange, their value stands at 20 billion dollars. The plants enable the processing of two million tons of ore a year. Ferronickel mines hold a special place among Kosovo's resources. They had been researched for a long time and the research have confirmed that their reserves stand at 21 million tons. This prompted the opening of mines and the construction of a metallurgical plant in Glogovac. The value of the reserves of this metal and the production facilities is estimated at around 3 billion dollars. Non-metal reserves are also extremely important. Out of 24 types of non-metals in Kosovo, only 17 have been subjected to geological research. The exploitation of these resources, the value of which is estimated at 7.9 billion dollars, has begun only a short while ago.

Kosovo also boasts many forests. On 31 May 1985, forests covered 448,000 hectares of Kosovo land and the value of this natural resource is estimated at 7 billion dollars. On the other hand, the facilities built to process the wood, along with their accompanying facilities and infrastructure, are valued at one billion dollars. Kosovo has a lot of arable land, as well. According to the study, it is worth around 120 billion dollars.



From One Prison to Another


When Krajina refugees arrived in early August in Valjevo the senior officials of the ruling party, all its commissariats and commissioners in the multitude of headquarters were full of love and solidarity for their banished brothers, but in words alone. It was different in reality. The refugees who were able to serve the army were rounded up and taken to Manjec, to be the guerrilla of Milan Martic. Although they refused to go, most of them ended up in Eastern Slavonija and Baranja. Their families were sent to Vojvodina or Kosovo. Few of them had remained in Serbia proper until they received their resettlement locations.

Valjevo officially took in around 4,000 refugees from Krajina. Most of them were talked into moving on to Kosovo; 1,000 were accommodated in villages, in abandoned houses and country homes still under construction. A lot of these houses lacked doors and window panes. Not to mention electricity or water.

Sixty of them are living in an auxiliary building of the firm Poljoplod (which fattens calves) on Valjevo's outskirts. There are eleven children, the rest are old people over 60, most of them invalids. First they took away their able-bodied family members, and then they came with buses, to take them to Kosovo. As these sixty people are unable to work, they refused. They were forced to stay. How do they live now? In a one-floor prefabricated building. The bathroom and toilet are outside. The clothes are dried outside. The outside temperature is below zero. So is the temperature inside the building, as there is no heating. The rooms are two by three meters. Six square meters. Metal bunk beds. Their things are in sacks; thingamajigs serving no purpose lie in heaps. Six people live on six square meters. Three meals. Sandwiches or the likes for breakfast and dinner. They get nothing but food. The hall between the rooms is long. The people are huddled in groups. Milos Tepsa from Benkovac says "There is no underwear, it is cold. What can we do? There is no money, no cigarettes. No pension, they say 'You worked in Croatia'. What should I return to? Everything's demolished. Nothing will come out of that. They wanted us to go to Kosovo. Buses came. We are old, invalids, what would we do in Kosovo? I've had enough of war, for five years, and now I'm supposed to go there where police has to protect me. I'd rather kill myself than go to Kosovo."

Stevo Djakovic from Glina, also an old man, joins him, "I was in prison in Croatia, I'm in prison again. I am lying in the cold, my legs are all swollen up, there is no heating. They promised this and that, but nothing has come. I'm waiting to die, but God won't take me." Resignation everywhere. They shake their heads. Ten of them share a shaving razor, they say. They wish they could at least play chess, light a cigarette But all they can do is sit and stare at each other. Jovan Pavos from Golubic near Glina wants to say something, but there is a lump in his throat from excitement, he cannot say a word.

Nevenka Stancevic, middle-aged, from Knin. Two school-children, her husband is somewhere near Vukovar. Questions without answers. "What should I think about, I have nothing to hope for." Dusanka Prodanic from Glina, four children, husband killed in action. She points at her youngest - just a baby. The ones who go to school often do not have enough to buy "paper glue, a pencil, drawing paper." They have no money at all. The nearby villagers lent her a portable heater, because of the baby. Biljana Korda, a high-school student, lives shares her room with five other people. She lacks half of the textbooks she needs. She wonders how she can study - six of them in a small, cold room.

The National University building in Valjevska Kamenica is being renovated for these refugees. Actually, they will be moved to its large hall, which had accommodated the refugees who were sent on to Kosovo. A Swiss foundation secured the money for the reconstruction. But, who knows what will come out of it, for the Refugee Commissariat is setting the priorities, a humanitarian officer tells us. And the money goes through the Commissariat. The state has so far shown it has other priorities.

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