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Monday, July 26, 1999 Published at 17:44 GMT 18:44 UK

World: Europe

Can K-For control Kosovo?

Blown up: Kosovo Albanians allegedly destroyed this Djakovica church

Kosovo: 198 murders, 840 lootings and 573 arson attacks in six weeks. Is this the mark of a province under control?

According to the peacekeeping force K-For, yes.

Kosovo: Special Report
As many international observers predicted, the fate of the two communities in Kosovo has turned on its head.

Kosovo Albanians, the persecuted, are returning to their homes. Those they see as their tormentors, the Serbs, have become the persecuted.

According to the latest statistics, one Serb is being murdered on average every 24 hours.

But K-For figures show that the situation appears to be getting better - if only because there are 35,000 troops keeping the communities apart.

Both of Kosovo's key bodies, K-For and the UN-mandated civilian administration, insist that they have made made "remarkable" progress.

Belgrade's media has taken a different line. In its reporting of the Gracko massacre it accused the West of double standards and of a "subdued" repsonse because the victims had been Serbs.

General Sir Mike Jackson of K-For: "Without doubt, we are making progress"
K-For is currently charged with carrying out the role of policing the province and one of its key tasks has been to stabilise the regional capital Pristina and its surrounding area, the most volatile part of the province.

In the six weeks since the refugees returned there have been 122 murders, 500 lootings and 341 arson attacks.

Although the week-by-week trend is downward, the Gracko massacre like the Racak massacre of Kosovo Albanians earlier in the year, may serve to concentrate minds on the sheer effort that will be needed to bring peace to the region.

[ image:  ]
At least 80,000 Serbs have fled the province and Bernard Kouchner, head of the UN civilian administration, will tell the upcoming international donor conference in Sarajevo that he needs at least $35m to run Kosovo until the end of the year.

One of the most pressing problems remains the training of new police officers.

Around 180 international officers will train the first recruits to the new 6,000-strong police force and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe is setting up emergency courts.

Daan Everts, the OSCE head in Pristina, told the BBC that the plans to train and introduce the new police force were well advanced.

"We have made a lot of headway," said Mr Everts. "We expect that by the middle of August we will have the police academy ready to take on trainees.

"We have moved to appoint emergency judges and ... we are aiming to have an ombudsman system by September."

Daan Everts of the OSCE: "We have made a lot of headway"
Mr Everts said that the security situation would also be improved by other initiatives including re-establishing free broadcasting media based in Pristina and establishing a proper magistrates system.

However, he conceded that normalising the province's administration including elections would take a long time.

"My answer is [it will happen] when conditions allow," said Mr Everts.

"We have to get back to a situation of relative normality and stability for such a major event to take place.

"I am certain it won't be this year."


Nevertheless, tension remains appallingly high.

[ image:  ]
In the north, Mitrovica has joined the infamous international list of cities to have been divided along ethnic or political lines.

Serb and Albanian communities are inhabiting the two parts of the city divided by the river.

K-For troops monitor the bridge between the two. One of the most serious incidents yet saw around 150 Serbs and half as many Kosovo Albanians throwing stones at each other.

Kosovo Albanians have attacked Romany communities, accusing them of assisting the Serbs during the conflict.

On 14 and 15 July, seven Roma houses were burned down and others were vandalised and looted in Landovica, 10 km north of Prizren.

[ image:  ]
A further 600 Roma have sought refuge from Kosovo Albanian revenge attacks in a school and a warehouse in Mitrovica.

Sebs say that elderly members of the community, the least likely to have been involved in the killings, are being forced from their homes.

In Orahovac, the town where Serb units are thought to have planned several horrific attacks against Kosovo Albanian villages, Serbs have bitterly complained of being unprotected.


Speaking to the BBC's Today programme, K-For commander General Sir Mike Jackson accepted that K-For's main task remained keeping the two communities apart.

[ image: Gen Jackson: Situation not perfect
Gen Jackson: Situation not perfect "by a long way"
"I am not trying to detract from the horror of [Friday's event] but in the round we are making, without doubt, substantial progress.

"It is not perfect by a long way. But when you compare where we were six weeks ago the fact that almost three quarters of a million refugees have felt that they are able to come back is a measure of trust in what we are doing.

"Reconciliation is not at the top of some people's agendas.

"It is our job to do the very best we can to minimise any incidents of revenge."

Perhaps the most chilling symbol of the reverse in fortunes in Kosovo can be seen in two monasteries.

During the conflict, Serb orthodox monks at Decani, near Pec, offered refuge to Kosovo Albanians who had been fleeing for the lives.

Now members of their fellow monstery near Prizren are sheltering more than 180 Serbs, all of them too afraid to return to the city.

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