O nás Pro dárce Pro dobrovolníky Kosovský deník Fotogalerie Odkazy
Tirana Diary 10 June 1999

Tirana 10 June 1999

"I have seen them !!", our French guest comes running into our office, "I have seen them on pictures taken out of airplanes, the Serbian army is pulling out of Kosova". There is a kind of hurray spirit among our Kosovars in the office, at last something is happening, what it means nobody really knows, but something is moving. Our French friend says that he has just seen the first photos of long convoys of the Yugoslav army on the French embassy, they are running away, like dogs with the tails between their legs, he says. The peace treaty has finally been signed and, hearing these stories, the first promises seem to be kept.

The other promise, that the Yugoslav army will give maps noting where they have been placing landmines, will be a bit harder. Considering the experiences of Croatia and Bosnia I don't really believe that the Yugoslav army knows themselves for 100% sure where they have been digging in those things anyway. Apart from the fact that some mines will change their place themselves, through the rain, through animals, etc. And the Yugoslav army is not the only one which has been laying landmines. The white eagles will have been very active with it as well as far as I know.

Lots of Kosovars are happy that is seems to be over now, and that it is going this way, rather than that the UCK has taken the country. The UCK might be popular among the Kosovars and Albanians, but there is also a big group which is not so happy with them. And those people are happy now that it wasn't the UCK winning battles that liberated Kosov@, since young men who refused to go fighting would have been getting a lot of problems upon returning to Kosov@. Like it is happening in Bosnia already, those people who weren't there during the war, since they were refugees abroad - especially the young men among them - are looked down at in Bosnia. They are not real good Bosnians, since they didn't stay and fight for the freedom of their land. The same thing would have happened in Kosov@ if the UCK would have been the final liberator - in fact, probably it will happen anyway. It depends a bit on the politicians which are now going to form the new Kosovar parliament.

The Albanian government has issued a special declaration to all the humanitarian international NGO's in the country. It declares that all NGO's should realise that they have not only made committments to the refugees, but also to Albania. And that they should not, in the upcoming days, take their things and run off to Kosov@, as this would create a huge financial disaster in Albania and it would eventually end up in an unstable situation, like in 1997. Each organisation should realise this, as at this moment the international humanitarian organisations together are by far the biggest employers in the country, bigger even than the government it seems, and they are for sure the biggest money machine in the country. However bad it may sound, the crisis in Kosov@ is good for the economy of Albania, if it wouldn't have happened not so many NGO's would have arrived here, and with their investments some money has gone into the Albania economy.

It may sound strange, but although the war is over in Kosov@, and the French soldiers will go there tomorrow (our French friend will join them, he goes to Kukes tommorrow, and the day after into Kosov@), we are still continuing the planning of our activities. Although I believe that from each family soon somebody will go to Kosov@ to see how their house has been destroyed, or what is left over from the farm, I don't believe that the big exodus will start before the summer is over. So the refugees will stay in Albania the next few months for sure, and some will even stay here much longer. So I was running around Tirana again, from one organisation to the other. We are finalising some deals with camp management organisations in order to be sure that when more and more volunteers are coming we also have the working places for them. There is work enough, but also a lot of organisations who need to prove to their donors (or themselves) that they can do everything.

I was at the UNICEF meeting today, it was said that this meeting about Child Friendly Spaces is becoming the central meeting for all organisations who are busy with social activities. The UNICEF spokesmen said that a lot has happened since the war in Croatia, there there was almost only one organisation doing this work, he looked at me and said "Suncokret", whereas now there are almost 40 here in Albania who say that they are specialists. But it is not so easy, he continues, as just saying that you are doing it. It needs a lot of human resources. Social work in camps means bringing new ideas all the time and fresh people, since otherwise it will die by itself. See for example the social activity center in the Olympia camp in Tirana, seven weeks ago people started there with full creativity, now the tents are standing empty for a month already because the whole group is burnt-out. So before announcing that your organisation is going to take care about social activities see if your organisation is powerful enough to guarantee a certain length in time.

The summer schools are not always going as well as the Albanian newspapers had announced two days ago. At several places there are really big problems. Rather than the announced 150.000 pupils in schools, it is more like 80.000 pupils which are actually getting education, but nobody really knows at this moment. Some organisations told about how they have to pay Albanian teachers their full wages for them to stay at home to give room for the Kosovar teachers to teach. It is necessary that Kosovar teachers are teaching since otherwise the Kosovarian wouldn't send their kids to the schools. In places were only Albanians are teaching, the schools get boycotted by the Kosovarian.

Furthermore it was announced that the plan of UNICEF to create Child Friendly Spaces has been taken over by the Albanian Government and has been implemented by law. From now on every organisation which wants to organise a refugee camp should implement on this camp a child friendly space, otherwise their camp will not be considered an official refugee camp by the goverment. But Wolf said, "don't worry, those who don't have a child friendly space yet, I don't think that the police will come by in the coming days and arrest you". Although you never know here in Albania.

In the evening the Democratic party organised a huge demonstration in front of the cultural palace on Skenderbeg square to celebrate the peace treaty, they demonstrated against the Russian participation in the peace-keeping forces and for an independent Kosov@. The Albanian Democratic Party may have been organising it, but is was far from their manifestation, I estimate that almost 20.000 people came, among whom not many Albanians, almost only Kosovars, (there are, more or less, a little over 100.000 Kosovars in Tirana at this moment). Lots of little children, prams, and women carrying their little kids in their arms. Lots of young guys also who where wounded, UCK soldiers. Strange enough it seems mostly to be the underhalf of the right arm which is wounded. I saw at least 30 or 40 who had their underarm in plaster, I wonder how something like that happens.

For our female translator it was the first time that she saw UCK fighters in real. Of course the UCK was heavily presenting themselves here, although the army in a way doesn't exist anymore, by signing the peace treaty they also promised to dismantle themselves. Some UCK fighters with the nice red barrets standing proudly next to the boxes on the "stage". Out of the boxes the known patriotic songs, the national anthem and the songs which where forbidden by the Serbian authorities in Kosov@, but everybody knew them anyway. In front of the stage hunderds of small and adolescent boys, shouting loudly "UCK, UCK", "NATO, NATO", "KOSOVA, KOSOVA", both their arms making the victory signs high up in the air.

The Democratic Party has distributed Albanian, American, European and NATO flags among the first ten rows of people, which are swinging strongly on the rhythm of the music. They handed out signboards, saying "Only Nato in Kosovo", "Thank you Klinton&Bler", "No Russian in Kosovo", "Back to a free Kosova", which are jumping up and down as well. From the stage a young girl ("Thats my neighbours daughter from Pristina" our female translator said surprised) read out a very fanatic poem, talking about the heroic deads of UCK and its heroes on the battlefield. I don't really like this fanatic nationalism which is mostly spread around the children, they are the most fanatic supporters of UCK. At this moment in Beograd probably the same is happening, but the other way round. I am wondering how these fanatic feelings will be cooled down again in the coming months, years. If the war is really over, there is nothing to fight for anymore anyway.

For the Kosovars this was a big party and a big reunion, lots of people saw each other for the first time in months, everywhere you saw people who kissed each other welcome and had tears in their eyes. I am wondering what happened tonight in other places in Europe.

wam :-)

ps I will be in Vlora the next few days, so probably the next diary entry will not come before sunday.

ps2 By the way, during that big demonstration a group of Kosovars all dressed up in yellow t-shirts where busy to spread information booklets in Albanian about the Scientology Church (do I spell the name right ?), so they arrived as well, and are trying to convert their piece of the pie.

wam :-)