June 22, 1998 - Bosnia switched to a new convertible currency: the Bosnian Mark. The new currency will be linked with the German mark and their value will rise and fall accordingly. It is backed up by 130 million German marks (US$ 73 million). Within two to three weeks the Bosnian people must exchange their four local currencies for Bosnian marks. The Bosnian Serb half used the Yugoslav dinar. Regions under Bosnian Croats control used the Croatian kuna, while areas under Muslim control used the Bosnian Dinar. The German mark was the only currency accepted across the country.

June 23, 1998 - A NATO soldier and a Bosnian civilian employed by the peace force died when their armored vehicle slipped off the road and overturned in northwestern Bosnia. Four people suffered minor injuries. This was the 83rd SFOR soldier to die since 1995.

June 28, 1998 - The International Criminal Tribunal started probing work at one of the mass graves in Hodzici. The Forensic Team is preparing to investigate approximately 10 suspect secondary mass grave sites in the Hodzici area, west of Zvornik. It is believed that bodies were moved from the original mass graves to these secondary sites in Hodzici in an effort to hide evidence of the crimes that were committed following the fall of Srebrenica.

Recently, ICTY investigators confirmed the existence of 12 secondary mass grave sites along the Cancari Road.

July 3, 1998 - A remote-controlled bomb exploded in a Serb residential area of Kosovo's capital. The bomb damaged several cars, but no injuries were reported. Yugoslav fighter jets repeatedly flew low over Pristina, repeating a tactic of the past few days that ethnic Albanians say is an attempt to intimidate them.

Serb forces broke a two-week rebel siege of a strategic town in the secessionist Kosovo province, freeing scores of Serb villagers and policemen.

July 5, 1998 - US mediator Richard Holbrooke tried to persuade both Serbs and ethnic Albanians to set aside their deep differences over the future of Kosovo and concentrate on a cease-fire. Yesterday he met with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic on the same issue. The Serbs and Albanians were urges to accept moderate leader Ibrahim Rugova but the militants have refused. US envoy Gelbard sharply criticized the Yugoslav government.

July 7, 1998 - The US congress released a report stating that in order to maintain a fragile peace in Bosnia it will be necessary to maintain a substantial NATO-led force — including US troops — for some time. The US congress has always been reluctant to provide funding for the operations. For the current operations of SFOR no deadline has been set, a mistake that Clinton did not want to make a second time. The mission has cost the United States $10 billion so far. "A substantial NATO-led force is still needed to provide security for the civil aspects of the operation. (...) It will likely be some time" before the goals set in the Dayton Peace Agreement are met.

July 8, 1998 - After Sarajevo and Banja-Luka Mostar is the third airport to be re-opened to civilians since the outbreak of the war in 1992. Until now, only NATO flights were allowed. The European Union and NATO helped reconstructing the airport but local officials could then not agree on who would run the airport since it lies both on Bosnian Croat as well as Muslim territory. Carlos Westendorp appointed a seven-member body of three Muslims, three Croats and one international chairman to run the airport for the next six months.

In the mean time, fighting in Kosovo is intensifying.

July 9, 1998 - A secondary mass grave exhumation in the Hodzici area will start tomorrow. It is the fifth exhumation of this year and the site is one of about 22 mass graves identified until now. Thus far the remains of about 230 persons have been exhumed.

July 10, 1998 - Four children in one week have been killed by mines and other explosives left strewn over Bosnia after its 3 1/2-year-war. More than 1,000 people have been killed or injured by mines, says the UN Mine Action Center. They estimate that about three million mines were planted before the war ended in 1995. Only about 50,000 have been removed or deactivated in the past two years.

The city of Berlin has expelled 74 refugees to Bosnia after they refused to return home voluntarily. Berlin was criticized by church officials. The expulsions took place under an agreement with the Bosnian government that provides for Bosnian war refugees to return home in exchange for German help in rebuilding the war-torn nation. About 350,000 refugees were taken in by Germany - - of which about 200,000 still remain.

July 11, 1998 - Serb forces attacked a suburb of Ludja, Kosovo's second-largest city. They tried to cut rebel supply lines from neighboring Albania. Lodja is reputed to be a key weapons smuggling point for the Kosovo Liberation Army. The offensive against Lodja was the second this week.

The United States and European powers want the KLA to accept the leadership of moderate politician Ibrahim Rugova, who has disavowed violence.

July 14, 1998 - With the Sarajevo Declaration, signed February 3, 1998, the return of 20,000 refugees to Sarajevo was agreed. Until July 1, 876 minorities have returned, of which 477 Serbs, 365 Croats, and 34 others. These poor results have led to the decision of the US government, specifically USAID to stop municipal infrastructure projects in Sarajevo worth $5 million dollars. Additionally, the European Commission has decided not to use $15 million worth of aid designated for Sarajevo.

July 16, 1998 - Serb police raided the headquarters of Democratic League of Kosovo, Kosovos largest ethnic Albanian party, seizing documents. The Serb police said in a statement that the raid "prevented an attempt to constitute the so-called parliament of the Republic of Kosovo." The fact that police waited until the meeting was over suggested the government was not seriously attempting to muzzle Rugova — whom the US and the Europeans see as the Albanian leader most acceptable to head future peace talks with the government, reported the Washington Post.

NATO secretary-general Janvier Solana said NATO is ready to use military force in Kosovo if it would help lead to a diplomatic solution to the crisis. He stressed the solution has to be a diplomatic one, but he said it might be necessary to "use the capabilities we have". Last month he threatened to bomb the forces of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic if they did not halt their attacks on Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority. The Greek defense minister, Akis Tsohatzopoulos, warned earlier that threats of NATO military intervention in the Serbian province of Kosovo are encouraging secession and union with Albania, and that would be "intolerable."

July 21, 1998 - The fifth exhumation at a secondary mass grave in Hodzici, west of Zvornik, has been completed. Remains of approximately 60 persons were found, along with clothing, shoes and personal effects. Some of the bodies were found with hands bound behind their backs and cloth across their eyes. The total count from five exhumation sites is approximately 300 bodies exhumed.

July 22, 1998 - SFOR detained two individuals believed to be indicted for war crimes by the war crimes tribunal ICTY.

July 23, 1998 - Robert Gelbard — the US president's special representative for conflicts in the Balkans — said the Kosovo conflict has "entered a new and potentially more dangerous phase" because Milosevic has refused to stop his forces in the province as the Kosovo Albanian resistance movement rapidly grows. Gelbard demanded that Milosevic pull back his forces and initiate talks with Kosovo Albanian leaders for a political settlement and cease-fire as well as other concessions. Until then, severe political and economic sanctions will continue, as will a growing threat of military action, Gelbard said. NATO planning is almost complete, he said. (Washington Post)

July 24, 1998 - US envoy Christopher Hill met with ethnic Albanian leader Ibrahim Rugova to explore ways to reach a cease-fire and arrange talks with the government on Kosovo's future. It was an attempt to reconcile the Albanians and Serbs. The situation is delicate since heavy fighting broke out near Orahovac, 30 miles southwest of the capital Prestina. Thousands of civilians have left for KLA controlled areas, because it is difficult to get food and medicine.

July 25, 1998 - Fights broke out along the main highway between the capital Prestina and Pec — about 45 miles west near the Albanian border. It is said the actions were intended to secure communication and transportation links. Milosevic has offered to restore autonomy, which he withdrew in 1989, but opposes independence - - the goal of the KLA.

The US has dropped plans for a raid to arrest Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic. The Times reported the plans so far has cost $100 million but were dropped because the US fears the capture would inflame the Serbs. Also, French officers are reluctant to assist — Karadzic resides in the French-controlled area. Last summer, a French officer has met secretly with the war criminal. (See news April 23, 1998.) American officials believed that the French officer may have leaked plans about the military operation to the fugitive Serb leader, endangering the troops involved.

July 29, 1998 - The radio station Radio Serb Sarajevo has been taken over by Bosnian Serb police, following a two day strike by employees protesting the government's decision to fire hardline editors. The pro-western Bosnian Serb government dismissed 16 editors of the radio station, controlled by indicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic. Momcilo Krajisnik, one of the three-man presidentship, condemned the action, calling it illegal and unconstitutional.

Fourty-five days before the elections "the election campaign has officially started in!Bosnia-Herzegovina," SRT News Banja Luka reports. A meeting took place between OSCE representatives and directors of press and media in Banja Luka. However, none of the dilemmas have been solved.

Several Bosniak houses were bombed in the village of Pljesevac near Stolac, a few hours before the scheduled return of 70 Bosnians.

July 30, 1998 - Brcko citizens protested in front of the city hall against the fact that some houses have been marked for the return of Bosnian families in nearby Klanac, where 300 Serb refugee families reside.

About 350 SFOR Special Forces soldiers should arrive to Sarajevo on August 3 in order to reinforce present SFOR forces and to contribute to the overall peace situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

August 1, 1998 - In the custody of the international war crimes Tribunal in The Netherlands Milan Kovacevic — accused of atrocities during the Bosnian war — died in his cell of a heart attack. His trial has started July 6 and it was the first trial specifically dealing with genocide.

August 4, 1998 - The Clinton administration says NATO has approved contingency plans to use firepower against advancing Serb forces in Kosovo. It is not clear what can trigger NATO action — it could be a threat to persuade Milosevic. However, NATO bombardments helped drive Milosevic and the Yugoslav Republic into negotiations to end an ethnic war in Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1995.

August 6, 1998 - Serb forces performed offensive actions against separatist fighters in Kosovo, despite a new US warning of Western military intervention in the troubled Serbianprovince. Serb forces were shelling villages.

European Union monitors who visited the site at Orahovac, 30 miles southwest of Pristina, said they found no evidence of mass graves.

International forensic experts have exhumed 70 new bodies in the former eastern enclave of Srebrenica. UN spokesman Ivanko said the international forensic experts have exhumed more than 400 bodies in several mass graves between Zvornik and Srebrenica.

August 7, 1998 - Serb forces overran the former Albanian rebel headquarters in central Kosovo. In Likovac, Serb troops moved from house to house, clearing out the last pockets of resistance in the village and setting fire to Albanian houses and haystacks. The UN estimates roughly 200,000 people have fled to Kosovo's woods and hills. Many are lacking water and food.

The US announced that hundreds of marines are to participate in NATO military exercises in neighboring Albania and Macedonia, starting with an exercise that begins in Albania on 17 August.

(No updates available between August 8 and September 11 — STP.)

September 11, 1998 - Zeljko Ivankovic — a Sarajevo writer and philosopher — was quoted in The Washington Post saying "Bosnia-Herzegovina is the first international colony in history", referring to the international influences in the country. The presence of international troops, international organization of elections, foreign currencies on price lists, an license plate and a new currency forced upon the country. It seems somewhat ironic, since without the international help and pressure the country seems not be able to fix what they broke themselves in the first place.

After the elections of 1996, very little was achieved because the ethnic wartime leaders who rarely agreed on anything. The international community allowed Westendorp to impose decisions when the three-member presidency deadlocked.

September 12, 1998 - Bosnia's second post-war national election started. In the first post-war election in 1996 and in a local ballot last year, the ruling hard-line parties lost significant support among most Bosnians. But ethnic nationalist sentiments still remain strong.

Dutch 42 MechBat
[Image: Defensiekrant]
September 1998: Dutch soldiers of
42 MechBat during the elections

September 14, 1998 - Bosnia's second elections for national leaders since the end of the war have been called a success by international officials by the lack of unrest, the 78 percent turnout and the participation of more parties. At stake are the 3 positions on the joint Bosnian presidency as well as seats in the national and local parliaments.

September 17, 1998 - Two extremist parties accused the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) of deliberately delaying preliminary results because of the hard-liners' strong showing. Nikola Poplasen, who ran for the presidency of the Serb-run entity against the Western-backed current president Biljana Plavsic, warned of protests if results were not published soon. International officials denied the accusations. In Banja Luka, the prime minister of the Bosnian Serb republic, Milorad Dodik, said: "We will demand that in the next municipal elections ... a permanent election commission is formed, while OSCE would only be a monitor."

September 18, 1998 - Initial indications are that extreme nationalist Nikola Poplasen has defeated the US favorite, Bosnian Serb President Biljana Plavsic. During a visit to Bosnia, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said the US only would assist those who help implement the 1995 Dayton peace accords that ended Bosnia's 3 1/2-year war.

September 19, 1998 - The United States will continue to provide aid to the Bosnian Serbs as long as their elected president is committed to a peaceful Bosnia — though a defeat of Plavsic would be a setback for the US.

September 21, 1998 - Election officials have indicated that nationalist Nikola Poplasen defeated President Biljana Plavsic, the American favorite.

September 22, 1998 - Yugoslav and Serb forces launched a fierce offensive on the last remaining stronghold of ethnic Albanian separatists. The attack was centered on an area northwest and southwest of the provincial capital of Pristina. Four guerrilla-held villages were taken and many rebels were killed. Ethnic Albanian residents from at least 12 additional villages were forced to flee into nearby forests.

German foreign minister Klaus Kinkel and Austrian foreign minister Wolfgang Schlussel placed most blame on Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic. Some European nations insisted that actions by NATO have to be approved by the UN, which is unlikely because of Russia's attitude towards the matter (Russia opposed any threat or use of force).

The UN Security Council demanded a cease fire in the region and is expected to adopt a resolution.

September 23, 1998 - US president Clinton seems to be more convinced that military activities must be stepped up: "The United States and its allies are moving NATO activities from the planning stage to readiness to act."

September 24, 1998 - After the adoption of a UN resolution NATO has been requested by the UN to prepare for air strikes, unless Yugoslav president Milosevic ends his attacks against the Kosovo Liberation Army. A tough UN resolution was followed by NATO's "activation warning" of phased air strikes and cruise missile attacks. The use of force, however, requires further decisions, said NATO secretary-general Janvier Solana.

NATOs Supreme Allied Commander Europe General Wesley Clark said it will take "just a very few days" to line up the necessary forces to begin a military operation under the activation warning. The three candidate members, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic, who will be welcomed into the NATO fold next April, have also said they are prepared to participate in the Kosovo operation. Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said Russia strongly opposes any foreign military intervention in Kosovo.

Serb security forces, backed by armed Serb civilians, have formed a ring around the province's central region of Drenica. West of the Pristina — provincial capital — Serbs with black ski masks and machine guns wait in ambush for guerrillas flushed out by tank and artillery fire.

In Prestina Sabri Hamiti — close aide of Kosovo's main ethnic Albanian political figure Ibrahim Rugova — has been shot and is seriously wounded. It is said this could be a warning from more radical Albanian fractions to the leader not to demand anything less than total independence for Kosovo. Rugova is ready to start negotiations.

September 25, 1998 - The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) confirmed that Nikola Poplasen defeated Biljana Plavsic for president of the Bosnian Serb republic. His victory is considered a humiliation by the international community.

September 26, 1998 - A Balkan peace force has been established, consisting of 9 countries: United States, Italy, Turkey and Greece (NATO member states) and Macedonia, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Rumania and Albania. Its primary role is not a military one but rather a humanitarian one, similar to UN multinational peace keeping forces. The ministers of Defense also discussed NATO planning for a possible strike in Kosovo against Yugoslav army troops and Serbian police troops.

Nikola Poplasen is the newly elected president for the Serb part of Bosnia. During the 3 1/2 year war he acted as a paramilitary commander and supporter of war crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic. Poplasen has said Dayton never envisioned the same kind of single state for Bosnia's Serbs, Croats and Muslims as the US and other Western countries insist it does. However, he also said that the Dayton peace agreement will be implemented to the letter, but nothing more and nothing less. He also intends to forge closer ties to Serbia, while adhering to democratic rules.

September 27, 1998 - Serbian forces started new attacks in the south of Kosovo, some 30 miles southwest of Prestina. Albanian rebels just regrouped in that area. It has been estimated that some 15,000 civilians have evacuated the area. Earlier, Yugoslav president Milosevic has granted some degree of autonomy to the province, his troops continue to battle.

SFOR detained Stevan Todorov, indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal. During the war he served as the Chief of Police for Bosanski Samac between 13 June 1992 and 29 July 1992 and as such is accused of willfully killing, causing great suffering, cruel treatment, inhumane acts, inhumane treatment, rape and torture. NATO Secretary-General Solana said this arrest serves as yet another warning to all those indicted for war crimes who are still at large.

A former police chief in Bosanski Samac in northern Bosnia during the 1992-95 ethnic war, Todorovic was in charge of detention camps where Muslims and Croats were beaten, tortured, raped and killed on a daily basis, according to his indictment.

He was charged with torture, murder and deportation as war crimes and crimes against humanity.

September 30, 1998 - In Kosovo residents of Golubovac said Serb forces surrounded a pocket of refugees on Sep 26 and singled out at least 13 men to kill. They pointed to saucer-sized pools of dried blood and empty cartridges in front of a fence where they said the refugees were shot.

An earthquake with a magnitude of 5.7 occurred in Belgrade and other parts of the Balkans. The quake was centered near Cacak, 55 miles south of Belgrade and shut off electricity and rattled buildings.

October 1, 1998 - The chance of NATO air strikes against military targets in Kosovo has increased after reports on massacres of ethnic Albanian civilians. In a report that has not yet been confirmed independently the Kosovo Information Center said the bodies of 12 males were discovered in the Suva Reka region, 30 miles southwest of Prestina. However, days ago journalists and human right watchers said they have seen 18 mutilated bodies killed last week in Obrija (Drenica region).

October 2, 1998 - Pope John Paul II arrived in Croatia for a three day visit.

With the threat of NATO air strikes becoming more realistic Serb authorities scrambled to show that they are complying with the demand of the UN to withdraw troops from Kosovo. Because the Serbs claim that media reports on Kosovo are always wrong UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan was invited to visit, an offer he turned down. The US and the United Kingdom warned Milosevic strongly for a possible intervention while Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov still strongly opposes any military intervention in the region. Russia said it might cease cooperation with NATO forces if NATO intervenes in Kosovo. Hundreds of people have died since February 1998, and about 275,000 have been driven from their homes. Canada, Britain, Norway, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and Portugal have already announced to send warplanes. The Daily Telegraph quoted the FRY deputy Prime Minister Vojislav Seselj saying "NATO won't dare to bomb us."

The International Herald Tribune points out Milosevic is aware of the time the West needs to come to a decision on a possible intervention in Kosovo and that when they do they will take sides. The newspaper states it has been a clear strategy of the KLA to provoke the Serbs into killing civilians which, in turn, would produce predictable newspaper articles calling for the West do to something. A single air strike will not bring a solution to the problem and could even be counter-productive. An air strike might also be accompanied by a land campaign to be effective.

A series of four hand grenade explosions outside Muslim houses in Tasovcici — 60 miles south of Sarajevo — killed one Muslim and injured three others. About 40 Muslim families have returned to their homes in the Croat-dominated region the past days.

October 3, 1998 - The Clinton administration found broad support in congress for NATO air strikes aimed at protecting civilians in Kosovo.

October 5, 1998 - The aim of any allied mission would be to stop Milosevic in his relentless crackdown on the ethnic Albanian population of Kosovo. NATO does not support ethnic Albanian aspirations for independence. Some military experts have been saying an air attack will not present NATO with any substantial military advantage. Jane's Defence Weekly has said targets most likely to get hit are air defense and command and control centers — hitting heavy artillery on the ground is not part of the NATO plans. The Washington Post reports: "The most likely scenario is phased air attacks, starting with targets like air defense and radar in order to protect the NATO forces themselves, followed by a period of negotiations, then more strikes."

October 7, 1998 - Richard Holbrooke met with Milosvic in an attempt to overcome the differences in the crisis in Kosovo. In a statement Yugoslavia accused foreign governments of a media campaign against Yugoslavia. Britain, France and Germany all recommended their citizens leave Yugoslavia. Canada has already evacuated all nonessential diplomatic staff and their families from its Belgrade embassy, and US officials said dependents of its embassy employees would soon be evacuated.

An anonymous NATO official claimed the Yugoslav army still has 14,000 army troops in Kosovo plus an additional 11,000 special military and anti-terrorist police. This is roughly half the total in all of Yugoslavia.

October 8, 1998 - Foreign embassy staff (US, Australia, United Kingdom) left Bulgrade in case NATO starts attacks. US envoy Richard Holbrooke briefed US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in Brussels on the outcome of talks with Yugoslav president Milosevic. Holbrooke was ordered to return to Belgrade.

Again, Albright demanded unconditional compliance with UN demands and again, Milosevic insisted he already has — but ethnic Albanians driven into the hills say otherwise. Meanwhile, troops and police in Kosovo are digging in for the winter, especially along the roads to Pristina. Russia and China still strongly oppose any military intervention by NATO but Albright and other US officials said if a decision is taken to strike the Serbs the Russians will not be able to stop it. Germany is not fully in favor of military action and Italian premier Romano Prodi has said the time is not right for air strikes in Yugoslavia. If Italy does not want to participate in strikes against Kosovo it could mean NATO would not be able to use Italian air bases.

Many intellectuals, dissidents and businessmen in Yugoslavia say that NATO air strikes are even more likely to produce the opposite effect, by provoking a wave of nationalism that would strengthen Milosevic. Miodrag Perisic, vice president of the Democratic Party was quoted saying: "It will provide the instrument [Milosevic needs] for the final extermination of the last islands of opposition."

Many Yugoslavs have been panic-buying food, causing shortages on flour, sugar and other staples. In the mean while Milosevic has ordered independent media to stop broadcasting foreign media programs.

Though many Western countries are repulsed by Serb actions in Kosovo and the heavy toll on civilians it is generally said that the KLA is not the heroic army of freedom fighters, they too are responsible for abuse in the province. The Human Rights Watch in New York said the KLA has "violated the laws of war by (...) the taking of civilian hostages and by summary executions."

Ethnic Albanian rebels fighting for independence for Kosovo declared a unilateral cease-fire putting more pressure on Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to end his crackdown.

October 9, 1998 - A mass grave has been found in Glumina, near Zvornik, containing victims of the 1992-95 war, believed to be Muslim men killed in 1992. So far, 160 bodies have been found but there might be as many as 300. Amor Masovic, head of the state commission for missing persons said the bodies — most of them in military bags — were well preserved, making identification easier. In the war's worst atrocity, Serb forces in 1995 massacred thousands of Moslims near Srebrenica (30 km southeast of Zvornik).

Dutch 42 MechBat
[Image: New York Times]
October 9, 1998: US soldier at mass
grave in Donja Glumna where 160
bodies were exhumed so far

US envoy Richard Holbrooke tried again to persuade president Milosevic to accept Western terms for Kosovo. NATO allies are not all convinced of military intervention. Italy and Greece, amongst others, are reluctant to get involved in military action without a UN mandate. NATO may get all of its 16 member states on the same line, so far it failed to convince Russia. Holbrooke also pressed for a international monitoring force to check compliance by Yugoslavia. But Serbian and Yugoslav governments seemed to disagree.

In a meeting with US president Bill Clinton German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder stated he would back NATO intervention. He warned Milosevic not to count on Germany refusing to act against them. Joschka Fischer — Germany's Foreign Minister to be — said full authorization can not be expected until Schröder is sworn in on October 27. Outgoing German Chancellor Helmut Kohl already has offered 14 Tornado aircraft.

October 11, 1998 - Six USAF B-52 bombers arrived in the UK and A-10 anti-tank planes were transferred from Germany to Italy while negotiations are still going on. A total of 430 NATO military planes are ready or will be ready at short notice. The biggest obstacle for Holbrooke seems to be an international monitoring mission in Kosovo to check compliance with UN Security Council Resolution 1199. The Romanian government in Bucharest agreed to allow NATO to use its airspace in "unpredictable situations" if NATO starts air strikes.

US spy satellite information showed the Serbia's air force dispersing to caves and bunkers. Only a fraction of Serbia's 65 MiG-21s and 15 MiG-29s remain at their air bases. NATO's biggest worry might be the Serb air defense system, a remainder of the Cold War. Defense analysts predicted that NATO likely would first use Tomahawk cruise missiles against fixed Yugoslavian air defense systems. B-2 Stealth bombers and F-117 Stealth fighters might then be sent in. In response to NATO strikes in 1995, Bosnian Serbs shot down one French Mirage 2000 with a single SA-7 missile and an American F-16 with a direct hit by SA-6.

While Milosevic is claiming compliance with UN demands, the US is putting more and more pressure on Milosevic to allow a verification team to check compliance since Milosevic has broken his promises in the past.

October 12, 1998 - Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic agreed Monday to withdraw his forces from Kosovo, begin peace negotiations with separatist ethnic Albanians and allow 2,000 international observers into the troubled Serb province. US president Bill Clinton said NATO agreed earlier to hold off on air strikes for four days so that a team of international inspectors could verify that Milosevic has indeed met the UN Security Council demands to put an end to the violence in Kosovo. But Holbrooke warned that "we're not out of the emergency yet". Milosevic has always said the Kosovo matter is an internal matter that needs to be solved without interference of other countries. US president Clinton welcomed Milosevic' last- minute change of attitude but warned that "commitments are not compliance." He added that the "Balkan graveyards are filled with President Milosevic's broken promises."

Richard Holbrooke
[Image: New York Times]
US envoy Richard Holbrooke

In the mean time, NATO is ready for air strikes after the 16 member nations set a four-day deadline. After meetings in Brussels Holbrooke returned to Belgrade to meet Milosevic. The NATO authorization of air strikes transferred command over the airplanes and military equipment necessary for an air strike to Supreme Allied Commander Wesley K. Clark. Italy authorized the use of its military bases for any NATO raid, while the (outgoing) German government said it intends to allow German warplanes to participate in any attack. The French defense minister Alain Richard said his country would provide around 40 aircraft for possible airstrikes.

When NATO indeed starts air strikes in Kosovo Russia will be unable to ratify the START II treaty (nuclear arms reduction), said Russia's defense minister. Also, when air strikes will take place Russia is likely to support Yugoslavia.

Croatia's defense minister Andrija Hebrang resigned unexpectedly. According to US ambassador William Dale Montgomery his resignation was a result of his attempt to replace two associates, considered hard-liners who oppose any reform that would decrease the influence of the military. Apparently, President Franjo Tudjman rejected the plans. This raised fear that hard-liners were taking control of the military.

Compliance with UN Security Council resolution demands:

  • Immediate halt to all hostilities in Kosovo.
  • Withdrawal of forces and heavy armaments to levels before the crackdown began Feb. 28 in the Serbian province.
  • Allowing unhindered work by humanitarian organizations.
  • Cooperating with the International War Crimes Tribunal on investigating allegations of war crimes.
  • Helping refugees' return to their homes.
  • Starting serious talks with ethnic Albanians on self-rule.
  • Allowing a 2,000-member international monitoring force into Kosovo to verify that Yugoslavia is keeping its word.

October 14, 1998 - US president Clinton said to be pleased with the agreement on Kosovo. "We will not rely on what President Milosevic says, but what he does for the whole world to see." The same day NATO announced Milosevic was not meeting international demands. A number of Yugoslav forces remain dug in, including a Serb police unit. Officials warned that air strikes were still possible.

American, Canadian and European diplomats returned today to begin forming the ground monitor force. The diplomats had been working as observers in Kosovo since July but were evacuated last week for fear of Serb reprisals if NATO attacked. The US embassy in Sarajevo authorized US officials to the Serb-held half of Bosnia.

President Slobodan Milosevic's government has outlined a plan for a separate parliament in autonomy-minded Kosovo, taking the first steps to comply with a deal to avert air strikes by NATO. The plan calls for local elections in Kosovo for 1999. This seems a step towards compliance. However, Milosevic also cracked down on his Serb opponents by silencing two Belgrade newspapers critical of his government. Serbian police stormed the offices of Dnevni Telegraf and Danas, pushing out reporters and editors. The International Press Institute in Vienna, Austria, condemned the action as a violation of the UN Declaration of Human Rights.

The Bosnian Croat Dario Kordic — on trial before the International Tribunal in The Netherlands — pleaded innocent on nine new counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Last year he pleaded innocent on 13 related charges.

October 15, 1998 - NATO and the Serb army agreed on spy planes overflying Kosovo to monitor compliance in withdrawing the troops from Kosovo. NATO Secretary-General warned Milosevic: "I would send a very clear message. And that is that the solution to the problem is not signing papers but to comply with agreements that have been achieved."

In Vienna, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) agreed to establish a 2,000-member "ground verification mission" — unarmed observers to verify Milosevic is complying with the UN demands. Contributions will mainly come from the United States, United Kingdom, France, Russia, Italy and Germany.

The UN police monitoring mission in Croatia's tense eastern region ended after six years. First UN troops in Eastern Slavonia were deployed to back a cease-fire agreement between government forces and minority rebel Serbs in 1992.

October 16, 1998 - In Belgrade, NATO's Supreme Allied Commander for Europe, Gen Wesley Clark, and Yugoslav Army Chief-of-Staff Gen Momcilo Perisic signed an air surveillance accord to make sure the Yugoslav president pulls his forces out of Kosovo and allow up to 300,000 refugees to return to their homes. According to NATO, Milosevic still has considerable numbers of troops and police forces in Kosovo.

Gen Wesley Clark
[Image: CNN]
NATO SACEUR Gen Wesley Clark

OSCE chairman Bronislaw Geremek — the Polish foreign minister — arrived Friday to sign the ground verification agreement with Yugoslav Foreign Minister Zivadin Jovanovic. It was the second agreement signed within two days.

NATO extended the deadline until October 27, 1998, for Yugoslav president Milosevic to withdraw his troops from Kosovo. The earlier deadline was set before Saturday October 17, 1998 at 0300 GMT. The official reason for this was to give Milosevic and the peace process more time after this week's steps towards compliance. However, NATO forces remain standby. It is for the first time in its 50-year history that NATO threatened to breach the territory of a sovereign nation.

In an article for the Associated Press journalist Jeffrey Ulbrich wrote it is not clear how the team of 2,000 unarmed ground verifiers under the responsibility of the OSCE will be established, how experienced they will be, where they will operate, where they will stay, and who is going to pay. It will be a matter of weeks before winter sets in and it is not clear what will happen with the 300,000 ethnic Albanian refugees that are unwilling or unable to return to their homes. What is clear is that the team will be led by an American, possibly assisted by a Russian. So far, governments have promised 800 volunteers, but no one knows how soon they can get deployed in Kosovo. US Congress does not seem to be willing to send ground troops to Kosovo.

October 17, 1998 - A NATO spokesman said there was evidence the Serb troops and police remain in Kosovo at levels considered above those permitted. Some army troops have been leaving, spotted by a television crew. The UN and the International Red Cross said many of the refugees are afraid to return home because they believe Serb forces are still hidden near Albanian villages. Some of them reported Serb troops opening fire at night to intimidate them.

NATO started its aerial surveillance mission by sending American U-2 planes high over Kosovo. The operation is code named Eagle Eye. Also, an advance team of 8 members for a 2,000-strong monitoring force arrived and 16 more are expected to arrive on Oct, 18. The OSCE hopes to have a sizable number of monitors in Kosovo within two weeks. Only one day after NATO granted Milosevic 10 more days to reach full compliance new attacks were reported but Western officials say the Yugoslav government is gradually complying with international demands. The aerial surveillance showed significant pullbacks from Kosovo.

The UN has started an overhaul on Bosnia's judiciary system to reduce political influence. Some laws have to be amended and judges and prosecutors have to become independent.

Three Serb policemen were found killed in Orlate — 20 miles southwest of the provincial capital of Pristina — after what their colleagues said was a grenade attack by the Kosovo Liberation Army.

October 18, 1998 - US and NATO officials reported significant pullbacks by Yugoslav forces in Kosovo in recent days but they also say that the number of forces remaining exceeds the levels agreed with. United Democratic Movement (supporting the KLA) spokesman Hydajet Hyseni said "There is no real withdrawal of Serb armed forces from Kosovo, let alone demilitarization of Kosovo." New attacks have been reported in Kosovo, putting new urgency into implementing the agreement.

The KLA rejected the agreement Milosevic reached with Holbrooke. Despite a cease-fire it declared earlier, the KLA stepped up attacks. The Serb Media Center in Pristina reported more than a dozen.

October 19, 1998 - Two relief convoys organized by the UNHCR were canceled. The convoys were supposed to go to Klina streoc, near the scene where three Serb policemen were killed and two others injured in a KLA rebel attack.

October 20, 1998 - UN relief convoys suspended earlier were resumed. Other convoys were also resumed, including convoys of Mercy Corps International and other humanitarian groups sending 150 tons of food, clothing, mattresses and other items to the southwestern Kosovo town of Djinovce.

October 21, 1998 - After talks with SACEUR Gen Wesley Clark, US envoy Christoffer Hill and Slobodan Milosevic on Oct.20, Milosevic commented that he remains committed to peace in Kosovo. However, he still has not withdrawn his special police forces as agreed on October 12 after air strikes by NATO were put on hold. A new deadline was set to October 27. British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook warned Milosevic not to make the mistake of imagining the world will forget its commitment. Other Western officials have speculated that the new deadline will be pushed back again.

It has been reported that many refugees have returned to their homes, but leave at night again for temporary settlements, fearing shelling. Despite the fact that the cease-fire is generally holding, the KLA resumed hit-and-run attacks on Serb police troops. The KLA accuses the Serbs of attacking and shelling villages. Many Western officials have condemned the activities of the KLA and have warned the rebels not to provoke Serb forces into actions that would increase the risk of NATO air attacks. US State Department spokesman James Rubin said it would be a mistake for the KLA to consider NATO its air force, it would not be accepted by the US.

British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook ruled out negotiations with independence-seeking ethnic Albanian rebels in Kosovo. "We cannot get into negotiating a separate track with people who have the guns." The West considers moderate ethnic Albanian leader Ibrahim Rugova the legitimate representative of the Kosovo Albanians. Total independence for Kosovo is not very likely, since would trigger similar demands by ethnic Albanian communities in Macedonia and elsewhere in the southern Balkans.

Carlos Westendorp said NATO forces should remain in Bosnia throughout next year. The presence of troops over the next two years will be vital, he said. Every six month NATO reviews troops strength as agreed earlier. Westendorp said a cutdown on troops is not an option.

October 22, 1998 - The French foreign minister Hubert Vedrine warned Milosevic to pull out more troops. "The withdrawal of forces is very advanced, but that is not enough." The Yugoslav president still has not complied with international demands, though pro-Milosevic newspapers report that only troops that were in Kosovo before the crackdown started are still there. The daily "Vecernje novosti" wrote Serbian forces are "securing settlements that have been bastions of Albanian terrorists." The ethnic Albanians must also consent to political negotiations, but many remain reluctant to give up their goal of outright independence. International observers in Kosovo said they heard increased tank and artillery fire in some areas, after three days of relative calm.

Some unnamed diplomats say NATO has four options once the 27 October deadline for Milosevic has been reached. These include (1) military intervention, (2) giving Milosevic an additional reprieve and a new deadline, (3) maintaining the threat of air strikes but without a deadline, or (4) removing the threat of air strikes entirely. The diplomats expect that the 3rd option is the most likely one. On October 23 top NATO officials will discuss the options.

A group of Serbian computer hackers declared war against Internet sites that are anti-Serb. The removed some Albanian sites and said they intended to go for the NATO site.

A forensic team begun exhuming a mass grave in the Sanski Most area of northwest Bosnia. The grave contains at least 70 bodies.

October 23, 1998 - NATO experts inspected the Macedonian military airfield at Kumanovo — northeast of Skopje — as a possible base for 100 to 150 personnel. NATO needs the facility to support its aerial surveillance mission over Kosovo and the 2,000 unarmed civilian monitors.

October 24, 1998 - General Klaus Naumann — chairman of NATO’s military committee — and General Wesley Clark — Supreme Allied Commander Europe — met with Milosevic to deliver explicit demands.

  • Withdrawal of Yugoslav forces and police units to levels before the crackdown began.
  • Remove heavy weapons out of Kosovo.
  • Respect a cease-fire.

Milosevic — claiming he complied with all demands — withdrew some troops but parked army units just outside Kosovo and put police in winterized outposts with heavy weapons still trained on villages. "We are still far from what we consider to be adequate, satisfactory compliance. We expect more, a lot more, by Tuesday’s deadline," a NATO official told the press. It is generally expected that the deadline will be pushed back a second time.

Though China and Russia oppose, the Security Council examined a draft resolution considering an endorsement of the Kosovo peace accord and enforcement by NATO. It requests NATO "to take appropriate steps to ensure their full implementation." The real resolution — if accepted by the permanent members — will possibly be toned down. China opposes the "steps" NATO is authorized to take.

In Belgrade a court fined both editors and publishers of an independent newspaper US$260,000 — to be paid in full within 24 hours — for criticizing Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic.

October 25, 1998 - Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and National Security Adviser Sandy Berger said that Milosevic has not met UN demands and is not withdrawing his paramilitary police forces from Kosovo.

October 27, 1998 - NATO officials agreed in Brussels that Milosevic had sufficiently complied with UN demands to withdraw troops from Kosovo. NATO agreed to "suspend indefinitely its threat to launch air strikes" against Serbia. Milosevic was given a deadline of 7 p.m. local time on October 27 to pull back his army and paramilitary police forces or face the possibility of air strikes.

Madeleine Albright said "we are maintaining our threat of force and not letting our guard down." She noted that 400 NATO aircraft will remain on indefinite alert for possible air strikes if the alliance concludes that Milosevic has sent his forces back into Kosova.

US unmanned Predator surveillance planes stationed at the Taszar military air base in southwestern Hungary may conduct surveillance flights over Kosova.

October 28, 1998 - The chances of war in the Balkans region were more than 60 percent, Richard Holbrooke said.

Troop withdrawals from Kosovo are closely monitored. Richard Holbrooke warned that fighting may break out any time in Kosovo. NATO maintains its threat of force and international diplomats and observers are in Kosovo checking on Serbian compliance with the UN Security Council demands. Some 350 US troops are in Macedonia under the UN flag to guard against the Kosovo turmoil spilling over into other European countries. The intention is to establish a small rapid-deployment NATO force in Macedonia which primary role will be to extract members of the verification force from Kosovo in case of trouble.

October 29, 1998 - The Bosnian Serb Goran Jelisic pleaded guilty at the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal to killing 12 Muslims and Croats in 1992. He faces maximum life time prison term.

Many refugees in Kosovo returned to their homes following the withdrawal of most Serbian forces.

October 30, 1998 - The United States and European nations are pressing for substantial self-rule for the Kosovo Albanians, but under a formula that would keep them within President Slobodan Milosevic's Yugoslavia. It is not clear how much self-rule Kosovo should have.

The Associated Press reported only a small number of refugees have returned to their homes in Kosovo. Many Serbian police or military troops are still in the area.

November 1, 1998 - In Macedonia, the second rounds for parliamentary elections were held. The Social Democrats lost and prime minister Branko Crvenkovski will enter the opposition. Ljubco Georgievski — head of the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (VMRO-DPMNE) — and his coalition partner Vasil Tupurkovski — heading the Democratic Alternative (DA) — have begun talks aimed at forming a new government.

NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana told "Der Spiegel" of 1 November that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic should not forget that NATO can launch air strikes within 48 hours if the Atlantic alliance concludes he has not met his obligations to the international community.

November 2, 1998 - A Croat woman, Nada Sakic - age 76, has been accused of torturing inmates in the Stara Gradiska camp, part of the Jasenovac concentration camp complex, during 1942-1945. She was extradited from Argentina and has been accused of torturing tens of thousands Serbs, Jews, Gypsies and antifascist Croats. Her husband, Dinko Sakic, commanded the Jasenovac complex. He was extradited to Croatia from Argentina on June 18, 1998, and is awaiting trial in Zagreb, the capital.

November 3, 1998 - Parliamentary elections in Macedonia have been won by center-right conservatives. The coalition of VMRO-DPMNE and Democratic Alternative took 58 of 120 seats. NATO had plans to use Macedonia as a base to monitor the pullback of forces in Kosovo but it is uncertain that Macedonia will allow this. "We are against Macedonian territory being used for any kind of hostile activity against any of the neighboring countries," a party official said.

Two US pilots were slightly injured by a laser aimed at their UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter. The lasers appeared to be stronger than the pen-type lasers. It is assumed it was not an act of hostility. After the incident, pilots were required to wear protective glasses.

November 4, 1998 - At a briefing of the North Atlantic Council the subject of the length of the NATO mission in the Balkans has been brought up. Carlos Westendorp and UN special representative Elisabeth Rehn said it might be necessary to maintain present for several years.

Ultranationalist Nikola Poplasen — supporter of war crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic — was sworn in as president of the Bosnian Serb republic. He promised to stick to the Dayton Peace Agreement. Whether Milorad Dodik remains premier is unclear. Western officials have insisted that Dodik remains in post because he honors the Dayton agreement. However, Serb hardliners have accused him of betraying the Serb interests.

November 5, 1998 - Yugoslavia refused President of the UN war crimes tribunal Gabrielle Kirk McDonald to visit the Yugoslavian sites of alleged atrocities and interview witnesses there. She said this refusal was an example of Yugoslavia's "utter disregard for the norms of the international community. (...) With it, the Yugoslav government acted directly contrary to the UN Security Council Resolution."

US envoy Christopher Hill was positive about the situation in Kosovo. The OSCE said the first of a group of 46 verifiers was due to arrive next week. However, this does not mean that the violence has stopped altogether. France's defense minister, Alain Richard, said in Paris that France would provide up to half of the rapid intervention force (extraction force) of up to 1,800 troops assigned to protect the verifiers.

Carlos Westendorp has recommended the European Union to resume aid after it has been suspended in July 1998. Under pressure from international officials, the Sarajevo government signed an agreement in March pledging to help the return of up to 20,000 Bosnian Serbs and Croats to their prewar homes. Only a fraction of the refugees have returned but as Wetendorp said, it is "clear that return is happening."

European aid worth US$20 million for Sarajevo has been resumed. In June aid was suspended to force the authorities to speed up the process of repatriation of non-Muslim refugees. The number of non-Muslims returning to the capital is still disappointing.

November 6, 1998 - Five ethnic Albanians in Kosovo have been killed by Serb police. Ever since Milosevic (partially) complied with the UN demands, ethnic Albanians have been attacked by Serb police troops. Albanian rebels have also launched attacks, mostly on police targets. Despite these incidents, international observers say the situation has improved.

November 7, 1998 - The newspaper Dnevni Telegraf appeared again in Belgrade shops, after it had been banned some weeks ago. Some 60,000 copies were sold.

November 9, 1998 - US embassador David Scheffer viewed the bodies of two Serb policemen that were executed in Kosovo. The policemen disappeared Nov 6, the same day the Serb police killed 5 Albanian guerrillas. The cease-fire is violated by both the Serbs and the Albanian rebels. Many ethnic Albanians are hiding in the mountains and do not intend to return to their villages unless the Serb police has disappeared. With the winter approaching they could face exposure to harsher winter weather expected soon.

November 10, 1998 - The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said its office in Shkodra, 50 miles north of Tirana, Albania , had been looted of computers and other equipment. The crowd — protesting against the arrest of three men — also fired shots in the air.

November 12, 1998 - The Yugoslav government will not allow further transfer of dinars to the Republika Srpska until the Bosnian government adjusts their exchange rate from 7.5 to the official 6 dinars.

Up to 100 ethnic Albanians were taken hostage by Serb civilians trying to force the release of two people who disappeared Nov 11 in the central Drenica region.

November 13, 1998 - UNHCR spokesmen in Geneva said that earlier this week Serbian forces surrounded a town near Prizren and told the 2,400 residents the police would burn their houses if they did not surrender their weapons immediately. UNHCR also reported that 60 percent of the houses have been destroyed.

Armed Serb civilians swapped hostages with ethnic Albanian guerrillas. From Nov 12 on, armed Serbs seized as many as 100 Kosovo Albanians by stopping vehicles on a road from neighboring Montenegro

In Mlecane, witnesses said Serb police fired on a group of ethnic Albanian men and children, killing a 40-year-old man. A Yugoslav soldier was killed on the road connecting Pristina and Prizren and two others were wounded.

NATO ambassadors approved plans for a French-commanded stand-by rapid reaction force (Joint Guarantor) to extract unarmed civilians monitoring the peace deal in Kosovo should they come under threat.

November 14, 1998 - NATO forces expelled top Serbian policeman Vojislav Seselj that strongly opposes ethnic coexistence. NATO was empowered by the Office of the High Representative.

November 16, 1998 - In Macedonia, new elections were held in seven areas because of minor irregularities in the previous two rounds. According to unofficial results the center-right coalition of VMRO-DPMNE and Democratic Alternative said it now has 63 of 120 seats. The ex-Communists won two more seats, bringing their total to 23.

At the international War Crimes Tribunal one Bosnian Croat and two Muslims were convicted for murdering, torturing, and raping Serb prisoners at the Celebici camp in central Bosnia in 1992. It was for the first time since Nuremberg that superiors were held responsible for the crimes of their subordinates. Hazim Delic, a Muslim, was sentenced to 20 years, Esad Landzo to 15 years.

November 18, 1998 - Serbia's president Milan Milutinovic rejected a US proposal for Kosovo's future, because it would give too much power to ethnic Albanians (90% of the population) in the province. He said Kosovo Albanians could have self-rule but must remain part of Serbia. This would give Kosovo its own parliament, government, judicial system and police. The US proposal of Christopher Hill, envisages almost no Serbian control in the province, while leaving it under the partial jurisdiction of Yugoslavia.

Macedonia's President Kiro Gligorov agreed to allow NATO force deployments to protect peace monitors in Kosovo. The French-led force includes tanks and helicopters.

Eight bodies, five Croats, two Bosniaks and one Serb, have been unearthed in Modrica, northern Bosnia. It is believed the bodies were killed in 1992.

November 19, 1998 - Yugoslavia announced that for the dinar the same exchange rate will be used as between the German mark and the Yugoslav dinar as used by the Belgrade authorities.

Human Rights Watch accused the Serbs of having used chemicals during the Bosnian war against the Mulsims. However, the US State Department said it believed teargas was used. During the attack on Srebrenica 35 survivors mentioned a colored cloud after Serb mortar attacks.

A survey showed that two-thirds of the Croats believe it is time for a new government. President Franjo Tudjman's ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) only had the support of 21 percent of respondents, the same percentage as the opposition Social Democrats, the former Communists.

November 20, 1998 - Two Serb policemen were killed in Kosovo when guerrillas opened fire with an anti-tank round and small arms. Ethnic Albanians were accused of the ambush. The United States accused both Serbs and ethnic Albanians in Kosovo of violating the cease-fire.

Doboj bridge
[Image: NATO]
November 21, 1998: New Doboj bridge
was opened by SFOR Commander
Gen Montgomery Meigs

November 21, 1998 - Serbia published its own peace proposal for Kosovo, envisaging a form of self-rule but keeping the province firmly within Serbia. Earlier, Serbian President Milan Milutinovic rejected a US proposal because it would give too much power to the Albanians. The plan calls for an interim three-year agreement giving the province "broad self-rule." It also calls for elections in Kosovo within 9 months.

In the mean time, violence does not cease, despite the cease-fire. Albanian rebels ambushed a Serb police vehicle, killing two policemen and severely wounding three others. According to the Serb media Center, guerrillas fired an anti-tank round into the vehicle of policemen. The action could not be independently confirmed.

November 25, 1998 - Serbia's top negotiator for Kosovo warned today that any peace agreement involving independence for the Serb province would ultimately lead to a war. Ethnic Albanians said the may accept the US proposal, even though it does not meet their demands. The rebels seem to back down from earlier KLA demands for a complete withdrawal of army and police from Kosovo before talks could start.

November 26, 1998 - A Bosnian Serb forensic team exhumed 10 bodies at a Sarajevo cemetery. There could be up to 150-200 bodies. The Muslim Commission for Missing Persons said it exhumed bodies of 18 Muslim war victims near Nevesinje, about 45 miles south of Sarajevo. Approximately 1,700 bodies have been exhumed from 250 sites in total this year. There are still 20,000 people listed as missing.

NATO military planners have recommended reductions of the Bosnia force currently present. The current troops strength is approximately 30,000 troops. Every six months the force is subject to a review. Carlos Westendorp said the force needs to be present for two more years.

As a "small but very important gesture," ethnic Albanian rebels freed two journalists from the Yugoslav state news agency whom they abducted on October 18, 1998. They also released two ethnic Albanian politicians who had been held since October 30, 1998.

November 27, 1998 - The first post-communist constitution was approved by a huge majority of voters in a referendum held last week. The new constitution outlines civil, democratic and human rights.

November 30, 1998 - Kosovo guerrillas seem to be prepared to postpone their goal of full independence. However, they want assurances before accepting any US peace plan, rebel spokesman Adem Demaci said.

Americans and Europe fear independence for Kosovo would lead to similar demands by other ethnic Albanian communities elsewhere in the Balkans.

December 1, 1998 - A shipment of nine million newly minted coins — manufactured by London's Royal Mint — reached Bosnia. These were the first since the summer when the new currency Konvertibilna Marka was introduced. It is valued at one German mark.

December 2, 1998 - Radislav Krstic, a Serb general, was detained by US NATO troops without incidents. He is accused of taking part, both personally and through his troops, in the massacre of thousands of Muslims after Bosnian Serbs took over the UN safe haven of Srebrenica in eastern Bosnia in July 1995. The War Crimes Tribunal has indicted him in October secretly and charged him with genocide, crimes against humanity and grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions on the treatment of civilians during war. Krstic is believed to be a close associate of Mladic — who is also convicted by the Tribunal. Krstic was transferred to The Netherlands immediately.

In a statement, Westendorp said those indicted by the war crimes tribunal must be transferred to its custody to answer charges against them. He also said UN prosecutors estimated that there were still 25 publicly indicted war crimes suspects at liberty in the Serb republic. So far Bosnian Serb authorities had failed to hand them over to the tribunal, which it is obliged to do under the US-brokered Dayton peace treaty that ended the 1992-95 war between Bosnian Moslems, Croats and Serbs.

December 3, 1998 - Serb sources reported that Yugoslav border guards killed eight ethnic Albanian rebels near Prizren.

Over the past ten days Serb forensic experts have recovered 81 bodies from cemeteries in Sarajevo. About 200,000 people were killed in the 3 1/2 year Bosnian war that ended in 1995 with the U.S.-sponsored Dayton peace agreement. An additional 20,000 went missing and are feared dead.

December 4, 1998 - Despite the reaction of a KLA political representative earlier, Kosovo rebels refused to accept anything else but independence. With this, they reject a key element of a US proposal. Violence may be escalating in Kosovo. A woman was reported killed in a clash. Yugoslav border guards reportedly shot at 10 ethnic Albanians who tried to cross illegally into Yugoslavia from Albania. Over the last three days 13 people have been killed. Hundreds of people were killed and up to 300,000 were left homeless after Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic launched a crackdown last February

Russia criticized the arrest of Krstic on December 2, 1998. They claimed the case should have been handled without NATO interference. However, without this kind of interference it is not likely that any of the persons indicted by the war crimes tribunal would ever have been put to trial.

December 5, 1998 - The arrest of Radislav Krstic Dec 2, triggered violence elsewhere. An SFOR spokesman and two members of the European Community Monitor Mission had been "roughed up" during the demonstration in Vlasenica and a UN vehicle was damaged in an explosion.

December 6, 1998 - Kosovo rebels accused Serb forces of launching unprovoked attacks in the shooting deaths of more than a dozen ethnic Albanians in the past few days. The KLA claims that the killings of three ethnic Albanians by unidentified assailants in Pristina and eight KLA fighters by border guards on the Albanian border were Serb ambushes.

The OSCE now has some 500 of 2,000 unarmed verifiers in Kosovo. About 700 French NATO troops were expected in neighboring Macedonia as part of the rapid-reaction force being established there. About 180 personnel were already on hand doing preparatory work for the French-led backup force, which is to total about 1,500.

December 8, 1998 - The Kosovo rebels rejected the latest peace plan by Christoffer Hill. Rebel spokesman Adem Demaci said the plan was unacceptable because it doesn't envisage what will happen to the rebel Kosovo Liberation Army if it was adopted.

December 9, 1998 - Chrisoffer Hill returned to the Balkans from Washington and met for several hours with ethnic Albanian negotiators in Pristina. Wolfgang Petritsch from the EU joined Hill.

December 10, 1998 - Anto Furundzija — a Bosnian Croat paramilitary commander — was convicted by the war crimes tribunal of war crimes today for failing to prevent a subordinate from raping a Muslim woman in 1993.

Serb police in an armored personnel carrier blocked a team of 19 forensics experts from Finland from carrying out the first exhumations of massacre victims in Kosovo at a hill near Gornje Obrinje (25 miles west of Prestina) that is believed to contain the bodies of 22 ethnic Albanians massacred by Serb troops in September 1998.

NATO Commander Southern Europe — US Admiral Joseph Ellis — opened the base at Kumanovo (Macedonia) that will be home to the French-led 1,500-strong extraction force. He stressed that the Yugoslav authorities bear primary responsibility for the civilians' safety. Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski noted that NATO has agreed to steer to Macedonian firms business contracts relating to the force's stay in his country.

NATO Secretary General Janvier Solana stated that the decision has been made on the continued presence of NATO troops in the Balkans at the same level of strength for the next 6 months. After 6 months, NATO countries will analyze the situation to see how many forces have to be maintained in the region.

December 11, 1998 - Three ethnic Albanians were killed. Being loyal to the Serbian regime, they were shot while repairing a power station near the central town of Glogovac, a Serb newspaper reports.

A group of armed Serb civilians held six humanitarian workers hostage for three hours 18 miles south of Pristina, hoping to exchange them for Serb captives.

The Albanian side accused Serbs of preparing new offensives, claiming they had brought in new military and police reinforcements in the past week.

Kosovo Albanians are cautiously returning in greater numbers to damaged or abandoned homes, the Washington Post reports. Across Kosovo, other villages are slowly starting to revive after a quarter-million or more people fled during seven months of fighting between Serb forces and separatist rebels that killed hundreds.

December 12, 1998 - Plans to exhume massacre victims from a grave in a rebel-held part of Kosovo province may be dropped because of Serbian police resistance. On Dec.10, a Finnish team was denied access to a hill near Gornje Obrinje.

December 13, 1998 - The Yugoslav president Milosevic warned NATO that any attempt by the 1,700-troop French-led extraction force would be considered an act of aggression.

December 14, 1998 - Christoffer Hill renewed talks with ethnic Albanian negotiators. He feared resumption of fighting between Albanians and Serb forces in the spring. There were Serbian reports that Kosovo Albanian rebels and Yugoslav border guards clashed. This report was not independently confirmed.

Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which sent a team to the site, said 31 ethnic Albanians had been killed in an explosion of violence between Serbian forces and separatist rebels in Kosovo. It was the worst clash since an October truce. In another incident the OSCE sources said assailants opened fire in a Serb-run bar in the western Kosovo city of Pec, killing four Serbs and wounding five others.

December 17, 1998 - After a two-day meeting, the Bosnia Peace Implementation Council approved the blue print for a peace plan. A package of measures was set out for reforming the Bosnian economy, strengthening government institutions and encouraging the return of tens of thousands of refugees and displaced persons. The council comprises more than 40 countries and international organizations.

Carlos Westendorp, said that in general terms Bosnia's biggest problem in getting back on its feet is lingering ultra nationalism. "The mentality that led to the war is still there," he said. Leaders were urged to speed up sales of state assets to promote a market-oriented economy, set up a properly functioning capital market and banking system and fight corruption and tax evasion.

Serbian police launched a sweep today in Kosovo in the district of Pec where six Serbs were killed this week, arresting 11 people and killing two ethnic Albanian rebels in an ensuing firefight.

Serb police attacked a suspected rebel-controlled village in Kosovo, reportedly killing two ethnic Albanian fighters and arresting 34 in one of the worst battles in months. Serb forces said they had launched the assault to hunt for the killers of six Kosovo Serbs slain in a bar earlier.

December 18, 1998 - NATO Defense ministers agreed to reduce SFOR troops by 10% from 33,000 to 30,000 troops.

The body of a Serb mayor who was shot between the eyes was found dumped along a roadside. Yugoslav Deputy Premier Nikola Sainovic called the death of the district mayor of Kosovo Polje "one more attack on Serbia." KLA representative Adem Demaci denied the rebels were involved in the killing.

December 19, 1998 - The Washington Post reported that the Kosovo Liberation Army is increasingly visibly present and they reported rebel military activity across Kosovo. "The KLA has reshuffled its ranks to put professionally trained officers in key posts, instituted a draft, acquired satellite communications and put military police in many villages."

December 22, 1998 - Rival ethnic groups in Kosovo are now fighting over one of the country's cultural treasures — a 600-year-old Jewish holy book, reported the Washington Post.

Serb police carried out a sweep of a Kosovo Albanian stronghold in retaliation for the killing of one of their officers. Tank and heavy machine gun fire was heard from the direction of the nearby village of Dobrotin. According to the OSCE, there were no reports of direct fights.

December 23, 1998 - Canadian peacekeepers expelled the Croatian police from Martin Brod — about 150 miles west of Sarajevo — along the two countries' border, drawing an angry response from Croatia. The town was considered part of Bosnia before the 1991-95 war. Bosnia and Croatia are still negotiating over the border

NATO officials warned both sides in Kosovo against launching (more) attacks. Gen Clark referred to "increasingly aggressive Serb military and police activities."

The Serb Media Center said an unidentified gunman burst into an Albanian bar in Mitrovica and wounded two ethnic Albanians. Two Serbian police officers were wounded when separatists opened fire with machine guns in a Pristina suburb.

December 24, 1998 - A Serb assault on an Albanian rebel stronghold was condemned by the US State Department as unjustified. Serb T-55 tanks and troops struck Podujevo, triggering fierce fighting.

December 25, 1998 - Fighting erupted near the northern town of Podujevo — 20 miles north of the capital Pristina. At least one person was confirmed dead.

Russia warned the West against using force to halt the latest violence in Kosovo, warning that strikes against Serb forces would play into the hands of extremists in the region.

December 27, 1998 - Serbian police and Albanian rebels waged a fierce battle around guerrilla stronghold Obranca, exchanging fire with artillery, mortars and grenades. At least 10 ethnic Albanians have been reported killed.

December 28, 1998 - The head of the group questions whether the peace mission in Kosovo can continue without cooperation by the warring sides. In the past days, at least 14 people have been killed. A very fragile truce seemed to be holding — like many others in the past. More than 1,000 people have been killed since Milosevic began an offensive against the rebels in February 1998, and about 300,000 people have been driven from their homes. An Albanian spokesman warned that only a NATO military intervention could prevent further fighting in Kosovo.

Russian Foreign Minister Ignor Ivanov said the ethnic Albanians provoked the violence to derail negotiations on the province's future.

UN officials Monday tried to get food and supplies to civilians.

December 29, 1998 - A group of American senators urged their administration to arrange a deal that would let Yugoslav President Milosevic take refuge in a third country in exchange for peacefully handing over power.

About 100 more international monitors arrived in Kosovo. OSCE officials said they expect to have the full complement of 2,000 verifiers on the ground in the province next month.

NATO Secretary General Javier Solana urged the two sides fighting for control of the province "not to endanger the fragile security situation" and noted that the "activation order" authorizing NATO airstrikes remained in place.

December 30, 1998 - Yugoslav Foreign Minister Zivadin Jovanovic asked the United Nations to include the KLA in its list of terrorist groups, and crack down on their support network.

Serbia is running out of patience with ethnic Albanian rebels and suggested it could launch another large-scale action against them. Veljko Odalovic, the province's leading official, accused the Kosovo Liberation Army of taking advantage of an October truce to take over positions abandoned by withdrawing Serbian police and Yugoslav troops. He also accused the independence-seeking rebels of trying to frighten the minority Serbs into leaving Kosovo and create an ethnically pure Albanian land.

In a year-end message read on state television, Milosevic said he expected 1999 to lead to a "multi-ethnic Kosovo, based on the principles of equality for all." No one would be favored, "not the Serbs, but not the Albanians either." He again ruled out independence for Kosovo.

Source: NATO, UN, Associated Press, Washington Post, International Herald Tribune, Daily Telegraph, New York Times, CNN, Newsweek, Radio Free Europe, ABC News.