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Tuesday, July 27, 1999 Published at 16:16 GMT 17:16 UK


Business: The Economy

The scale of destruction

Tension between Serb and Kosovo Albanian workers is hampering reconstruction

By Nils Blythe reporting from Kosovo for BBC1's Business Breakfast

Rebuilding the Balkans
It is called damage assessment - teams of experts roaming all over Kosovo analysing what needs doing to get the country up and running again.

One such team has come to look at what financial assistance can be given to a coal mine which employs 1,400 people.


[ image: Most plants in Kosovo are suffering from neglect]
Most plants in Kosovo are suffering from neglect
The mine and nearby power stations are being supervised by Major Joe Fuller of the Royal Engineers.

He has been trying to create an environment in which both Serb and ethnic Albanian workers will come back to work.

"At the moment everyone wants to come back to work. If they can get in and contribute to something and actually have a job, that is very important to them - though soon we'll have to give them some money as well," Major Fuller said.

Tension among workers

But after what has happened, tension between Serb and ethnic Albanian workers is inevitably present.


[ image: Donors stand accused of not sending money quickly enough to get Kosovo moving]
Donors stand accused of not sending money quickly enough to get Kosovo moving
The mine's manager has come back to a job he was forced out of years ago by Serbs and says that working together will not be easy.

"It will be difficult. About 30 workers from the mine have been killed during the conflict. But we are trying to work things out and do what we can to resolve the problems," said manager Asllan Kastrati.

The mine is not in regular production, but the workers are keen to demonstrate that it can still produce coal.

Chronic neglect

Though not badly damaged by the war, like most major industrial plants in Kosovo, it is suffering from chronic neglect.


Nils Blythe travelled with 'damage assessors' to see just how much it will cost to rebuild Kosovo's infrastructure
"It needs - to use the common phrase - a kick-start. Some assistance, perhaps £2m or £3m to get some spares going into it. And then a look at the long term to see if they can continue production," said damage assessor Frank Price.

So far, most of the rebuilding work in Kosovo consists of assessing the damage.

But when all the lists and surveys are completed, the serious business of getting money to where it is needed will begin.

And already there are serious questions about how much will available and how quickly it will arrive here.

Money and expertise

The mine is one of hundreds of sites being assessed by a task force from the European Commission.

The EU has said it will provide a £1bn over three years to help rebuild housing, utilities and industry.

The EU is looking to national governments in Europe and around the world to contribute at least another £1bn.

And they are already trying to head off the accusation that reconstruction money always arrives too slowly.

As well as money, Kosovo will need outside expertise to get back on its feet.

The mines near Pristina serve giant power stations, which were shut down by the war.

The workforce still turn up every day, and according to the Task Force for the Reconstruction of Kosovo which is overseeing attempts to get the stations restarted, there have been plenty of other visitors.

But while the interest may be there, the funds to overhaul the power station have yet to materialise.

In the meantime, the power station workers head home day after day without any power being produced.

The money and expertise needed to get the power stations running again has been promised from abroad. For the workers here they cannot arrive too soon.



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