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May 7, 1996
. Vreme News Digest Agency No 239
Interview: Fehmi Agani, Kosovo Democratic Alliance deputy leader

We Lack the Courage of Milosevic

by Perica Vucinic

That was the latest of a series of bloody incidents in Kosovo in which seven people (mainly Serbs) died and six were wounded. Police sources said the explosion that killed and injured the boys happened because they were playing with the bomb. Sources close to the leaders of the Kosovo Albanians are ready to accept that version of events but wonder where the bomb came from.

The mistrust among Serbs and Albanians in Kosovo is proverbial. But the prevailing impression is that they share a fear of the series of automatic weapon and bomb attacks. They fear that every explosion could renew the forgotten comparison of Kosovo with the Balkan powder keg. The match for that fuse could have been the series of attacks on Serb civilians and the police when five people were killed in almost simultaneous attacks in Decani, Pec, Stimlje and Kosovska Mitrovica in the space of an hour.

VREME asked Fehmi Agani, deputy leader of the Kosovo Democratic Alliance (LDK), if the latest events in Kosovo give rise to his fears if there is a system in them or are they just a series of unfortunate coincidences?

AGANI: "Those events show there is reason for fear. If we could believe at first that the death of a student Armend Daqi was a tragic accident, which does not excuse the killer or authorities, the other killings and events indicate an "evil" system and cannot be explained as coincidence or accident."

The Albanian national block is speculating that there are some dissatisfied groups in Kosovo which the LDK can't control. Would you comment that?

"That isn't just speculation. The series of events, primarily the obvious delay in solving the Kosovo problem in the period after Dayton when we expected a quick solution and in a situation when Serbia is keeping all sources of tension open, are increasing the dissatisfaction of the Albanians and their mistrust as well as a positive peaceful outcome. I can't say if that dissatisfaction has been organized. In any case, the LDK is still the basic political power and it can't control all dissatisfaction especially the behavior of the Serbian authorities which is the main cause of the crisis and tension in Kosovo. If, for example, the Serbian management of the market place in Pristina sets taxes at 10 times the rates in Belgrade who can control the justified dissatisfaction and revolt?"

There is also speculation that the attacks are a response to LDK failures. Do you know of any organized groups and what might their political goals be?

"So far we have no reliable information who organized the attacks so we don't know if they were Albanians or not. Experience shows that we have to be cautious in reaching conclusions. Until we know who committed those attacks we can't discuss their goals or motives."

Will the LDK redefine its strategy and national goals?

"The LDK won't have to redefine its strategy or national goals. But as the political movement of Albanians it will have to look into its methods and means. It seems that more active forms of resistance to violence, within the peaceful option, and a more courageous approach to creating and expanding institutions for an independent Kosovo, with inevitable risks, are necessary."

Aren't the ethnic Albanian political leaders promising their people too much when they promise an independent Kosovo?

"Given the breakup of former Yugoslavia, any other demand would not be natural. The other choices were wasted already. We know Serbia's reply to Albanian demands to make Kosovo equal to constitutionally and politically to other parts of Yugoslavia. In 1981-89, ethnic Albanians got 20,000 years in prison and they lost their autonomy! The same response came in 1988-89 for demands to sustain the existing autonomy! What other demand could have been made in 1991!

The demand for an independent Kosovo has a wider historic meaning.

Regardless of the outcome of the current stage in resolving the Kosovo issue, to the Albanians the key issue is the fact that their choice is independence and that this third Yugoslavia was constituted without them and against them as a state that was imposed on them. I think independent Kosovo is more a demand of the people and a determination than a political promise."

The international community insists that Kosovo is an integral part of Serbia and the FRY. Your party and the Albanian political leaders are ignoring that stand. Do you think that the insisting of the international community is not true or do you believe that things can happen regardless of what it wants?

"I don't think the insisting of the international community isn't true and we can't afford to ignore it. We don't believe that an outcome that runs counter to its will is possible. But I am surprised by your claim that the international community insists that Kosovo is a part of Serbia. There have been claims to that effect but I think they stem from a lack of knowledge of the situation since Kosovo was not part of Serbia when it had autonomy. The last two resolutions in Strasbourg and Brussels made no mention of Kosovo as part of Serbia and they didn't support independent Kosovo. We are grateful to the international community for its support although it does not meet our demands. We will try to get more support and we won't even think of declaring war on the international community. We lack the courage of Milosevic!"

In what way and under which conditions and when could there be a practical political dialogue between the Albanian political leaders and Serbia authorities?

"A dialogue, in the presence of the international community naturally, could happen at any time and with no conditions. However we need, not as conditions but a prerequisites, certain changes such as an end to repression and the freeing of political prisoners, a greater international presence and unblocking of facilities. Official Serbia is working on eliminating the conditions to resolve the Kosovo issue, seeking a solution to legalize the existing situation and is not prepared to find a way out of the crisis. This is not encouraging but it is a fact."

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