Updated: 20 Septrember 1999 KFOR Press Updates


20 Sept. 1999

KFOR Press Statement

by Major Roland Lavoie, KFOR Spokesperson

First, one must acknowledge that over 10,000 UCK weapons are now held in Secure Weapons Storage Sites. KFOR now has full control of these sites into which all the UCK weapons have been placed. These contain nearly 9,000 small arms, over 800 machine-guns, 300 anti tank weapons and 178 mortars. Over 27,000 hand-grenades, 1,200 mines and over 1,000 kg of explosives have been handed in along with nearly 5-1/2 million rounds of assorted ammunition.

Clearly, this is quite an achievement for which UCK members, under the leadership of Gen. Ceku, have to be credited for. They respected their word and in handing in their weapons, contributed significantly to the overall security of the region. The disarmament aspects of demilitarization required by the Undertaking are complete, exactly 100 days after the arrival of KFOR in Kosovo.

But another important and fundamental matter remains to be dealt with in order to fully respect the spirit and the letter of the UN Security Council Resolution 1244.

During last night's discussions it was not possible to come to an agreement with Mr. Thaci on the need for a strict weapons regime for the Kosovo Corps. Commander KFOR with the agreement of the Special Representative of the Secretary General has granted a 48-hour extension to the deadline to allow Mr. Thaci to reconsider his position. In the meantime the IOM recruiting process for the Kosovo Corps continues.

Now let's have a look at the situation in the brigades over the last 24 hours.

In Vitina, in Multinational Brigade East yesterday morning, a 62 -year old Serbian man was shot and suffered minor flesh wounds. He was taken to Camp Bondsteel and the attack is now under investigation.

A Polish KFOR soldier suffered back injures yesterday afternoon, when a personnel carrier rolled over 8 km southwest of Urosevac. The soldier was sent to hospital, and subsequently released and sent back to his unit. Also a road traffic accident involving a German personnel carrier and a Macedonian vehicle near Kacanic. Occupants of the civilian car were only slightly hurt.

Twelve men wearing uniforms and UCK badges were escorted back to their assembly area by KFOR soldiers in Gnjilane yesterday afternoon. In a separate incident, a man armed with a pistol was spotted near an UCK assembly area yesterday, but he left immediately when KFOR were sent to stop him.

In Multinational Brigade Centre, yesterday afternoon, at KFOR patrol discovered an unoccupied observation post. The post contained several weapons and other equipment, which were then confiscated. Military Police are investigating and it is not known at this moment who might have been using this post.

Four unidentified bodies were found north of the village Lapusnik, at 18:00 hrs yesterday. Investigations are underway.

In Multinational Brigade South, KFOR soldiers arrested a man suspected of murder in Prizren yesterday. He is believed to have killed the man who was found on September 18th in Landovica.

Yesterday at 21:30 hrs, at the secure weapon storage site near Suva Reka, a total of 17 AK-47s, 30 carabines, two hunting rifles and six light machine guns were handed in.

In the village Ratkovac yesterday evening, KFOR troops arrested seven Albanians for possession of two AK-47s and one recoilless rifle. They were detained for questioning.

A convoy of 50 trucks filled with construction materials will arrive in Prizren tonight and will later be unloaded in Landovica. The donation is coming from the German Company Mühl AG, and the trucks will stay in Kosovo as part of the donation.

A house near the Multinational Brigade West headquarters was searched yesterday. Weapons and ammunitions were found and confiscated along with Serbian uniforms and two license plates. KFOR soldiers also conducted several other weapons seizures in the area, where weapons and ammunition were confiscated.

Multinational Brigade North reported no significant incidents yesterday.

Statement from Mrs Daniela Rozgonova - UNMIK Spokesperson: Good morning. I know that you are all waiting for the big news. But before we get to that, I have some information items for you this morning. The UNMIK Customs Service is to begin operations on the border with Albania today. Collecting duties on goods imported into Kosovo through the Vrbnica border crossing. The opening is taking place today at 4 p.m. The UNMIK Customs Service began collecting custom fees from the 1st of September at the General Jankovic border crossing with Macedonia. It is - I would like to stress that - the UNMIK Customs is the only official customs in Kosovo. All revenues go into the Kosovo budget to be expended on items such as payment to public workers and restoration of public utilities and services. UNMIK currently employs 32 border crossing officials, 12 of whom will staff the Vrbnica crossing. Customs operations will begin at a third crossing point at Globocia on the Macedonian border in the near future. As you have probably all noticed, on Sunday September 19th at 7pm, Radio/Television Kosovo began its TV broadcasting by satellite. This is an important first step in establishing an independent public broadcasting service in Kosovo by offering an objective, unbiased and community- minded source of news and information. The initial phase of RTK, is a temporary measure to meet an immediate need to fill an information vacuum in Kosovo. Its daily transmissions are for 2 hours per day. For the time being, RTK is broadcasting in Serbian and Albanian. The next step will be to include programs in Turkish and other minority languages. The European Broadcasting Union has provided the technical support for RTK's launching. Apart from the international staff, there are 16 local staff as reporters and presenters and the training of local technicians has already begun. The government of Norway has provided a generous donation to make this project possible. I would like to inform you about the latest activities of the UNMIK Police. Within the last 3 days UNMIK Police arrested 2 people as murder suspects; one for kidnapping; one for intimidation and one for possession of illegal weapons. UNMIK Police's Central Criminal Investigation Unit is now reviewing over 180 cases of homicide. A murder was reported on Saturday at 0015 hours when 2 ethnic Serbs stopped a car on route Hawk near Jagranica. They shot and killed a passenger in the vehicle. The driver of the vehicle escaped by driving away. The initial investigation has indicated that the offence was crime related and not politically motivated. The suspects have not been apprehended. In Orahovac, an unidentified individual carried an unexploded rifle-grenade to the UNMIK Police Station. The explosive device was left on the steps of the building. KFOR provided security until the bomb-disposal unit arrived and recovered the device.

And now to the big news indeed: talks went on all of last night at the KFOR Headquarters between KLA leaders Hasaim Thaci and General Agim Ceku, KFOR Commander General Mike Jackson and Bernard Kouchner the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Kosovo. Although demilitarisation of the KLA took place as scheduled, the K+90 deadline which was at midnight last night, was extended to accommodate further talks on transformation. General Jackson made a statement at 0630 this morning on behalf of KFOR and UNMIK, which is available on the table outside.

Question from CBS: Where do the UN police have executive authority, is it only in Pristina, because when we've gone out to other areas, the police have expressed some frustration that they can't carry out their duties; that it will be at least one month before their able to do that.

Answer by Mrs Daniela Rozgonova - UNMIK Spokesperson: That's a good question indeed. In the Pristina region, indeed, the UNMIK police has all the authority to do everything by now. It's not the case in all the other regions though they are deployed already. It's a gradual process. I believe the next region where they will go into the new mode of getting all the powers, all the authorities, will be, I believe, Pec. And it will be gradually in all the regions.

Question from Reuters: What contacts if any, are planned for today to try to get things moving again on the demilitarisation, the transformation.

Answer by Major Roland Lavoie - KFOR Spokesman: Discussions will continue. There is now, as of yesterday midnight, a 48 hours delay. Obviously the key players will have to get a bit of sleep, but right after, the discussion will continue. That is for us, obviously, a very serious issue. We have the same aim however -- and this is a very good start -- which is to ensure the security of everybody here in Kosovo.

Follow-up question from Reuters: Can you say exactly who will be involved in (inaudible)

Answer by Major Roland Lavoie - KFOR Spokesman: At least the commander of KFOR. General Ceku has been the player so I do not see why he would not continue to be at the table, and I think Dr Kouchner will also be involved (confirmed by UNMIK).

Question from BBC: General Jackson's statement from this morning seems to suggest that the main difference now left in these talks is the number of weapons. Is that the case, is that the only difference left. And, can you give us an idea of the differences in figures that are being bandied around, you said 200 last week.

Answer by Major Roland Lavoie - KFOR Spokesman: It's a weapon regime. Weapon regime: what we mean by that is, on the one hand, yes the number of weapons and also all what is around that, I mean how you can access your weapons and how they will be delivered to you and under what conditions. The number that we have on the table is 200 weapons total, strictly for bodyguard functions for VIPs and also for protecting vital key institutions. They put on the table a number that will be closer to 400.

Question by Time magazine:
What happens if there is no agreement and there is no signing in the next 48 hours. Can KFOR continue or take this project on its own and carry up the Kosovo Corps without Thaci?

Answer by Major Roland Lavoie - KFOR Spokesman: I'm sure you can quite understand that I won't speculate into a lot of scenarios, but I could say however, in general terms, is that there's different reviews for demilitarisation and for transformation. Two of them have already started under the IOM, for resettlement programs and also under the Kosovo Police Service. As far as the Kosovo Corps is concerned, we are continuing to support the Corps. The IOM has started the recruiting and we will continue to support it to make sure that everybody could apply. Not only former members of the UCK could apply to the Corps, but also all other citizens in Kosovo. Obviously, however, we have to be realistic. One of the main objectives of this program was to involve also the UCK members who have been key players in the return of most of the population here in Kosovo. They deserve a worthwhile place in this society and the Kosovo Corps is a key element in the return to their civil life. So basically we don't want to have a conflictual approach. We really understand their concern however, but also we have a very firm position that we will continue to voice.

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