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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Les extrémistes kosovars à l’affût

by Jean-Arnault Dérens

Europe: Kosovar Extremists are Lying in Wait

Translated Friday 9 March 2007, by John O’Neil

Kosovo: The paralysis of negotiations on the province’s future status could support independence activists with a variety of origins including some racketeers.

Pristina, Special Report

On 10 February, thousands of supporters of the Vetëvendosja ("Self-Determination")movement demonstrated on the streets of Pristina against UN Special Envoy Martti Ahtisaari’s proposals. The police force violently brought down the demonstration. Two dead and more than eighty wounded. Kosovo’s Interior Minister Fatmir Rexhepi gave his resignation, but the leader of the Vetëvendosja movement, Albin Kurti, was kept in detention.

Who are these extremists in the Kosovar independence struggle really?

Albin Kurti, a student leader during the 1990s, arrested in the Spring of 1999 and held for almost three years in Serbia, is a "professional activist." Vetëvendosja’s "guru" is none other than Adem Demaçi, the pioneer of Albanian nationalism, who spent nearly thirty years of his life in Serb prisons. In the 1970s, Adem Demaçi founded numerous clandestine groups who were linked less to Albanian nationalism than with the authoritarian Marxism-Leninism in force in Enver Hoxha’s Albania.

Adem Demaçi, at eighty years old,has found new youthfulness with Albin Kurti. Vetëvendosja’s two leaders deny being "Antiserb." However, according to them the will of the Serbs, "five percent of the population", cannot oppose the will of the "Albanian ninety-five percent." They even more violently reject any form of international supervision, stigmatizing the antidemocratic character of the current UN mission.

Kurti and Demaçi are not "ethnic nationalists," but in their quest for self-determination, they have to rely on partners who perhaps do not share their idealism. They have only one contact in the Kosovo Parliament, Emrush Xhemaili, the single deputy of the Popular Movement of Kosovo (LPK). The LPK was primarily established in the Albanian diaspora in Switzerland which gave rise to the Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK).

Many UCK veterans, organized in various veterans organizations, took part in the 10 February demonstration. Many of these veterans, the majority under age 30, dream of going to battle once again. Some are linked to the nebulous Albanian National army (AKSH), a guerilla group that appeared in Kosovo and in Macedonia in 2003. Actually, the various groups who claim ties to the AKSH are primarily running a protection racket. Their military capacities are limited, but other major players are biding their time. Thus, the former president of the Parliament, Nexhat Daci, created his own political party in January, after having left the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK). Daci allied himself with Gani Geci, an old order UCK commander who maintains very important networks in the Drenica area.

If the resolution of Kosovo’s status is drawn out for too long or moves in an unsatisfactory direction for the ethnic Albanians, the concurrence between the young, mostly student militants of Vetëvendosja and the veterans networks could produce explosive results.

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