Viewing cable 06PRISTINA427
Title: KOSOVO: NON-SERB MINORITIES AMBIVALENT ABOUT

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
06PRISTINA4272006-05-18 15:55:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Pristina
VZCZCXRO9669
OO RUEHAST
DE RUEHPS #0427/01 1381555
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 181555Z MAY 06
FM USOFFICE PRISTINA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6125
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0687
RHMFISS/CDR USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK
RHFMIUU/AFSOUTH NAPLES IT
RHMFIUU/CDR TF FALCON
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RUEPGEA/CDR650THMIGP SHAPE BE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC
RUFOANA/USNIC PRISTINA SR
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 PRISTINA 000427 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR DRL, INL, EUR/SCE, AND EUR/SSA, NSC FOR BRAUN, 
USUN FOR DREW SCHUFLETOWSKI, USOSCE FOR STEVE STEGER 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINR KDEM UNMIK YI
SUBJECT: KOSOVO: NON-SERB MINORITIES AMBIVALENT ABOUT 
DECENTRALIZATION, WARY OF MANIPULATIONS IN STATUS TALKS 
 
PRISTINA 00000427  001.2 OF 003 
 
 
Summary 
------- 
 
¶1. (SBU)  Kosovo's non-Serb minority leaders are glad to be 
involved in the status negotiations in Vienna and generally 
pleased with the work of the Communities Consultative 
Council, but are concerned about what they see as Belgrade's 
efforts to manipulate non-Serb minority issues for its own 
advantage in status talks.  Most non-Serb minority leaders 
were emphatic in recent meetings about wanting to decide on 
the creation of predominantly minority municipalities through 
discussions with Kosovar leaders in Pristina rather than 
through negotiations with Belgrade, but were concerned about 
the impact of redistricting on the minorities left behind in 
even-more-predominantly Albanian areas.  END SUMMARY. 
 
Minority Government Members Blast Belgrade's "Manipulations" 
-------------------------------------------- --------------- 
 
¶2. (SBU)  In meetings with poloff during May 11-12, 
representatives of the Turkish and Bosniak "Six Plus" 
coalition, consisting of the Kosovo Democratic Turkish Party 
(KDTP) and the Bosniak coalition Vakat, were concerned about 
what they regard as Belgrade's attempts to "manipulate" 
non-Serb minority issues.  Prizren deputy mayors Ercan Spat 
(KDTP) and Cemailj Kurtisi (Vakat), KDTP President and Kosovo 
Assembly Presidency member Mahir Yagcilar, and Health 
Minister Sadik Idrizi--who also has represented non-Serb 
minorities at the decentralization talks in Vienna--stressed 
that the Belgrade team's recent forays into non-Serb minority 
issues, and especially its inclusion of a Gorani 
representative on its delegation to the last meeting in 
Vienna, put minorities in Kosovo in an awkward position by 
implying that non-Serb minorities look to Belgrade to defend 
them and by usurping the authority of Kosovo's elected 
non-Serb minority representatives to represent their own 
constituents.  The Six Plus leaders told poloff they have 
their own legitimate representatives, and can best represent 
themselves without manipulations from outside.  Xhevdet 
Neziraj, a Kosovo Assembly member and President of Kosovo's 
ethnic Egyptian party, the New Initiative for a Democratic 
Kosovo (IRDK), which is part of Kosovo's governing coalition 
by virtue of its membership in the Alliance for the Future of 
Kosovo's (AAK) parliamentary group, made similar points to 
poloff in a May 17 meeting. 
 
¶3.  (SBU)  Idrizi noted that Belgrade's opening of the 
non-Serb minority municipality issue at the May 4-5 
negotiation session had put him in an awkward position, since 
the agreement among Kosovo's non-Serb minorities to settle 
decentralization issues in Pristina without involving 
Belgrade had left him without a mandate to negotiate the 
issue with Belgrade.  He also emphasized that his own party 
won the largest number of Gorani/Bosniak votes in Dragas 
municipality, the population center of the Gorani community 
and the territory of Belgrade's proposed Gorani municipality, 
and so contended that he is the legitimate representative of 
Gorani interests.  Denouncing what he characterized as 
Belgrade's attempt to establish an entity structure, Idrizi 
argued that the Belgrade proposal to make his home region of 
Gora into a separate municipality would be detrimental to the 
interests of his fellow Gorani, since the re-creation of the 
Gora municipality--created in the Milosevic era and abolished 
in 1999--would alienate ethnic Albanians.  He argued instead 
for the creation of two municipal subunits, one predominantly 
ethnic Albanian and the other predominantly Gorani, that 
would both have Dragas town as their municipal center. 
Neziraj similarly noted that the Belgrade proposal for a Roma 
municipality in Mitrovica had never been raised by the Kosovo 
Assembly Roma representative, either in Kosovo institutions 
or in the deliberations of the Communities Consultative 
Council, and criticized the move by Belgrade as an attempt to 
"manipulate" vulnerable communities. 
 
Gorani Community Divided, Concerned 
----------------------------------- 
 
 
PRISTINA 00000427  002.2 OF 003 
 
 
¶4.  (SBU)  The Gorani community is divided over how best to 
represent its interests in the Vienna talks more broadly. 
Some Gorani, like Idrizi, consider the Gorani to be a subset 
of (or at least related to) the broader Bosniak community, 
and tend to see the community's interests as best served by 
closer relations with Kosovo's Bosniaks and ethnic Albanians. 
 The Citizens' Initiative of Gora (GIG), led by Rustem Ibisi, 
tends to be somewhat closer to Belgrade but is internally 
divided on its approach to the negotiations; Ibisi has long 
voiced concern that the Gorani are ignored by Pristina and 
their interests poorly served by its institutions, but also 
is worried that the party should not cooperate too closely 
with Serbian authorities for fear of further eroding the 
Goranis' already rocky relations with ethnic Albanians.  A 
member of the GIG executive board told polfsn that Ibisi did 
not endorse the participation in negotiations of Jasim Isaki, 
the Gorani representative on the Belgrade team (though he 
does support a Gorani municipality), but that the executive 
board had done so in order to prevent the appointment of a 
more controversial figure such as Ibro Vait, who has lived in 
Belgrade since his participation on the Serbian delegation to 
the Rambouillet negotiations in 1999.  The executive board 
chairman said that the GIG was keeping Isaki on a short 
leash, requiring him to report back to the executive board 
and not sign any documents without its approval. 
 
Minorities Ambivalent on Decentralization 
----------------------------------------- 
 
¶5.  (SBU)  Kosovo's non-Serb minorities have voiced mixed 
views of decentralization.  All strongly favor some means of 
increasing the local role in self-government and their own 
communities' influence over local issues, but they are 
divided and uncertain over the best means of doing so due to 
demographic concerns and party politics.  Yagcilar, Idrizi, 
and the KDTP and Vakat leaders in Prizren noted that the 
predominantly Turkish municipality pilot project of Mamusa 
has been a mixed blessing; the residents of Mamusa are 
pleased at their increased self-government, but Turks in 
Prizren town now are more isolated as a smaller minority in a 
more predominantly Albanian municipality.  The Turks' long 
history in Prizren and good relations with their neighbors 
have insulated them from any particularly negative 
consequences of this isolation, but their leaders worry that 
the reduced percentage of Turks may jeopardize their ability 
to use the Turkish language for official interactions and 
their ability to achieve critical mass for purposes such as 
Turkish-language education.  Vakat leaders voiced similar 
concerns, noting that Bosniak leaders had proposed the 
creation of a municipality in Prizren's Zupa valley, centered 
in the town of Recane, that would include 13-15,000 people 
with an ethnic composition of 80 percent Bosniaks, 15 percent 
Albanians, four percent Serbs, and one percent Turks.  They 
are concerned, however, that the inclusion of 70 percent of 
Prizren's Bosniaks in such a municipality would leave the 
other 30 percent isolated and vulnerable to emigration or 
assimilation with Albanians. 
 
¶6.  (SBU)  Idrizi and Neziraj also pointed out that 
demographics, particularly the wide but shallow distribution 
of some minority communities, make the creation of 
predominantly minority municipalities difficult.  Idrizi 
pointed out that Vitomirica--the hometown of rival Bosniak 
politician Numan Balic, who wants it to become a 
municipality--is only 46 percent Bosniak, according to UNHCR. 
 A majority-minority municipality could be created by 
including nearby Serb villages of Siga and Brestovik, but the 
municipality's long-term non-Albanian majority would still be 
in doubt.  Neziraj noted that the same pattern applies to the 
Egyptian community, which is geographically dispersed and 
would not be certain to form a majority even in the proposed 
"Egyptian" municipality of Rugova e Hasit in 
Gjakova/Djakovica municipality.  Neziraj, an economist, 
further doubted that majority-Egyptian municipalities would 
be in the Egyptian community's interest (or in the interest 
of other communities with similar economic difficulties and 
geographic dispersement, such as the Roma and Ashkali), since 
 
PRISTINA 00000427  003.2 OF 003 
 
 
the communities tend to live in poor areas of predominantly 
Albanian towns and would face both districting and economic 
challenges to the viability of municipalities. 
 
¶7.  (SBU)  For these reasons, the Six Plus and IRDK leaders 
unanimously favored the creation of a system of 
decentralization that would create multiple submunicipal 
units in existing municipalities to bring some governing 
functions closer to citizens while avoiding splitting off 
minorities from existing municipalities.  "What we need is 
full integration, not separation," stressed Neziraj.  The Six 
Plus leaders noted that such a system would allow the sharing 
of some functions--for instance, high schools--among minority 
members in different submunicipal units while allowing 
greater local-level governance. 
 
Next Steps at Vienna Talks:  Representation by Expertise 
---------------------------  --------------------------- 
 
¶8.  (SBU)  The community leaders told poloff that Idrizi's 
tenure on the Vienna team was specific to the issue of 
decentralization and that they intended to choose different 
representatives to represent them on different issues.  They 
noted that some minority representatives, such as Democratic 
Ashkali Party of Kosovo (PDAK) leader Sabit Rrahmani and 
Party of Democratic Action (SDA) leader Numan Balic, had 
argued that the non-Serb minority government and opposition 
parties should alternate in sending representatives, but most 
of the non-Serb minority leaders preferred to choose 
representatives for each issue based on their expertise. 
They noted that Yagcilar would be the representative at 
upcoming discussions of minority protections and 
constitutional issues, and Neziraj, an economist, would 
represent them at any future economic discussions. 
 
 
Mostly Content with Communities Consultative Council, Though 
Some Criticisms Remain 
------------------------------- --------------------- 
----------------------------- 
 
¶9.  (SBU)  The minority leaders unanimously characterized the 
Communities Consultative Council chaired by Veton Surroi and 
its April meeting in Durres, Albania as positive steps, 
though some criticized the lack of greater feedback to the 
Council from the Unity Team.  Leaders from each of the 
communities also noted that Balic had been a divisive force 
on the Council in that he tended to hijack discussions of 
important issues to try to score points against rivals on the 
fractious Kosovar Bosniak political scene.  That said, all 
intended to continue to participate and respected Surroi's 
willingness to take on the issue, though they hoped the 
Council would function more smoothly in the future. 
 
¶10.  (SBU)  COMMENT.  Kosovo minority leaders are glad to be 
involved in the negotiations process, especially to have a 
representative in the Vienna negotiations, and are anxious to 
ensure that their communities' unique interests do not get 
lost in the shuffle or, worse, exploited for the political 
purposes of others as the Kosovar and Serbian delegations 
stake out their opposing positions.  They strongly favor 
decentralization but would prefer a system of municipal 
subunits that would not sever small populations of their 
communities from larger community population centers.  Most 
prefer to decide decentralization issues within Kosovo and to 
avoid addressing their communities' particular interests in 
discussions with Belgrade, though some vulnerable 
communities--the Gorani in particular--feel marginalized and 
are divided over what strategy to adopt to improve their 
situation.  END COMMENT. 
 
¶11.  (U)  Post clears this cable in its entirety for passage 
to UN Special Representative Ahtisaari. 
GOLDBERG