bosnia report
New Series No. 3 March - May 1998
The Massacre at Likoshani
by Tom Walker reporting from Prishtina

A Senior Roman Catholic priest who has spent the past two years mediating in Kosovo was yesterday jeered and insulted by Serbian teenagers as he presented an 'agreement' for a joint education system, in theory allowing Albanians back into state classrooms after an absence of seven years.

In a sad reflection of the ethnic hatred poisoning every aspect of life in Kosovo, the mild-mannered Mgr Vicenzo Paglia was heckled and virtually manhandled from the stage of Prishtina University's library auditorium.

Security staff told him that his announcement of a compromise with the Albanians was interrupting a Serb poetry class; in front of him a ten-year-old gave the three-fingered Chetnik salute.

Ranks of teenagers then shouted down the Italian: 'Get out of here, garbage, take care of problems in your own country. There is no way this will happen here.' It was an ignominious end to an announcement supposedly setting Kosovo on the road to reconciliation, after three weeks of bloodshed.

An hour later, Radivoje Papovic, Rector of Prishtina University, gave his verdict on Albanians being allowed to study in state facilities in their own tongue. Speaking to 10,000 Serb students massed before his office, Dr Papovic said: 'This is a Serb university and it will stay Serbian. The signature of this agreement embarrasses the nation.'

Serbian flags were unfurled and the crowd shouted 'treason, treason'. The rector, who was injured by a car bomb last year, was not finished. 'We all know Albanians are not the best minority', he said. 'They are here with us in our place, and they must know that.'

Mgr Paglia has been the mediator with a so-called '3+3' group of Albanians and Serbs since 1996, when Slobodan MiloÐevic approved a resolution for Kosovo's educational apartheid, responsible for driving the 90 per cent Albanian population into a parallel system of self-funded education in private houses.

After two years of snail-paced talks, the outcome hardly gives room for optimism: Serbs will use university c1assrooms in the mornings, Albanians in the afternoons. All faculties will be phased into the system by the end of June, and Albanians will also have access to dormitories and dining rooms by the end of September.

The agreement noted still unresolved problems in the 'normalization' of the edu- cation system þ including matters of finance, management, common language, curriculums, diplomas and the status of university employees.

The St Egidio Organization, sanctioned by the Vatican and an experienced mediator in ethnic and religious quarrels around the globe, will remain in Serbia to oversee the implementation of its work, a process many diplomats fear is doomed to failure.

In the west of Kosovo's Drenica region yesterday, a people now at war with the Serb securityÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÔ forces was educating its youngsters. In a painfully cold school building in Siceva, where all roads to the outside world of Serbia are blocked by barricades of boulders, a class of 11-year-olds was given its essay topic for the week: 'Drenica, symbol of resistance.'

This report appeared in The Times on 24 March 1998


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