Viewing cable 07PRISTINA711
Title: KOSOVO: VIOLENCE OVER PROPERTY SALES LEAVE NORTH

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
07PRISTINA7112007-10-01 14:04:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Pristina
VZCZCXRO3341
OO RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHPS #0711/01 2741404
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 011404Z OCT 07
FM USOFFICE PRISTINA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7729
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 1295
RHMFISS/CDR USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK PRIORITY
RHFMISS/AFSOUTH NAPLES IT PRIORITY
RHMFISS/CDR TF FALCON PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEPGEA/CDR650THMIGP SHAPE BE PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC PRIORITY
RUFOANA/USNIC PRISTINA SR PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 PRISTINA 000711 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR, EUR/SCE, DRL, INL, AND S/WCI, NSC FOR BRAUN, 
USUN FOR DREW SCHUFLETOWSKI, USOSCE FOR STEVE STEGER, OPDAT 
FOR ACKER 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/11/2017 
TAGS: PGOV KJUS KCRM EAID KDEM UNMIK YI
SUBJECT: KOSOVO: VIOLENCE OVER PROPERTY SALES LEAVE NORTH 
MITROVICA'S LITTLE BOSNIA NEIGHBORHOOD ON EDGE 
 
Classified By: COM TINA KAIDANOW FOR REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D) 
 
¶1. (C) SUMMARY:  The multiethnic north Mitrovica neighborhood 
of Little Bosnia, or Bosniak Mahalla, is on edge as a result 
of a series of recent criminal incidents, including 
explosions, an arson attack and newly-planted unexploded 
ordnance (UXO).  The incidents date back to January 2007 and 
appear to be related to property sales in the area.  Despite 
a Kosovo Police Service (KPS) special task force 
investigating the incidents, police are unable -- or, more 
likely, unwilling -- to solve the crimes or determine exactly 
who is behind them.  Clues point to both Kosovo Albanians who 
want to discourage their brethren from selling properties to 
Serbs, and to Kosovo Serbs who want to create a climate of 
fear that will make Kosovo Albanians more willing to sell and 
leave north Mitrovica.  USOP sources believe the Belgrade's 
Coordination Center for Kosovo and Metohija (CCK) is behind 
the property sales and may be playing a role in the criminal 
incidents.  One source also believes the Serbian Ministry of 
Interior Police (MUP) may be involved.  To date, there have 
been no fatalities or injuries related to the incidents in 
Little Bosnia, but the situation merits close attention.  END 
SUMMARY. 
 
Little Bosnia -- one of the last multiethnic areas in 
northern Kosovo 
 
¶2. (C) Little Bosnia, or Bosniak Mahalla, is one of the last 
multiethnic communities in predominantly Serbian northern 
Kosovo and is no stranger to inter-ethnic violence.  A small 
north Mitrovica neighborhood straddling the Ibar River, 
Little Bosnia is home to Kosovo Serbs, Kosovo Albanians and 
Bosniaks.  The International Crisis Group (ICG) reports that 
the neighborhood's Kosovo Albanians, estimated to number 
around 1,000, are segregated from Kosovo Serbs on a street by 
street basis and connected to their Kosovo Albanian brethren 
in the south by a small footbridge and one traffic bridge. 
UNMIK police and Kosovo Police Service (KPS) officers tell us 
that the so-called Serb "bridgewatchers" and plain-clothed 
Serbian Ministry of Interior Police (MUP) carefully monitor 
the Kosovo Albanians' north-south movements from observation 
posts near the bridges. 
 
Recent incidents leave Little Bosnia residents on edge 
 
¶3. (C) A recent series of incidents, including grenade 
attacks, unexploded hand grenades, and arson, have 
contributed to inter-ethnic tension in Little Bosnia.  The 
first incident occurred on January 19 when an unexploded hand 
grenade was found at mid-day on Nemanjina Street.  Two months 
later, on March 23, a hand grenade exploded in a home 
belonging to a Kosovo Serb on Oslobodjenje Street, causing 
material damages; a second unexploded grenade was found at 
the scene of the crime.  Four days later, an explosion 
damaged three civilian vehicles on the same street.  After a 
brief lull, Kosovo Albanian children found explosive devices 
in a yard on June 24.  KFOR dismantled and removed them 
before they could cause any damage.  Less than a month later, 
shortly after midnight on July 13, an unknown suspect threw a 
hand grenade into the yard of a Bosniak KPS officer's home on 
Nemanjina Street.  Minor material damage occurred to the 
windows, entrance door and facade of the home.  Finally, on 
July 17, a Kosovo Serb reported a fire set by unknown 
suspects on Nemanjina Street.  Police reported finding an 
Albanian language newspaper, plastic bottles and a metal 
stick at the scene.  There were no injuries or fatalities in 
any of the incidents, leading police and international 
officials in Mitrovica to conclude that they likely meant to 
frighten residents. 
 
Property sales appear to be the motive 
 
¶4. (C) The fact that the attacks have targeted all three 
ethnic groups' property makes identification of any single 
motive difficult.  The emerging consensus among international 
community representatives, police and residents in north 
 
PRISTINA 00000711  002 OF 003 
 
 
Mitrovica is that the attacks may be linked to property 
sales.  In the last year, Albanians increasingly have been 
selling properties in Little Bosnia to Serbs.  The last few 
months have seen a marked increase in both sales and prices 
(see below), and significant progress in the construction of 
new apartment buildings north of the Ibar, built on 
properties recently sold to Serbs by Albanian owners.  On 
August 2, PM Ceku called on Albanians living in the area not 
to sell their properties until final status resolution, 
appealing to them to have a larger "national consciousness." 
Ceku's words came two days after the Kosovo Assembly debated 
"illegal construction" in Bosniak Mahala. 
 
Albanians fear loss of the north 
 
¶5. (C) The interest that Ceku and the Assembly are showing in 
the Little Bosnia incidents reflects the intense fear many 
Kosovo Albanians have of losing the north and their desire to 
protect this small Albanian Mitrovica foothold north of the 
Ibar.  USOP's UNMIK Police and KPS contacts in the north 
believe Kosovo Albanians, angry with their brethren for 
selling to Serbs, may be behind at least some of the attacks. 
 Democratic League of Dardania (LDD) caucus leader Ramadan 
Kelmendi has been especially vocal about Kosovo Serbs buying 
up Kosovo Albanian property in Little Bosnia, rarely missing 
an opportunity to raise the issue on the Assembly floor.  On 
July 17, a group calling itself the "Council of (the) Bosnian 
Neighborhood" drew up a list of 18 Kosovo Albanians who "sold 
property to the Serbian Government" and posted it in Little 
Bosnia.  It included an appeal "to all the citizens of 
Mitrovica and Kosovo to keep away from (those) individuals" 
and for "the institutions of Kosovo (to) desist from offering 
them any assistance."  The group apparently approached UNMIK 
before distributing the list, and was warned not to do so by 
the UNMIK Deputy Regional Representative in Mitrovica; UNMIK 
quickly removed the list.  UNMIK and OSCE representatives 
told USOP they believe Kelmendi was behind this. 
 
CCK likely bankrolling the purchases 
 
¶6. (C) Many of USOP's contacts in the north suspect the 
Serbian Government may be behind the buying of Kosovo 
Albanian properties and of orchestrating at least some of the 
attacks.  KPS Lt. Col. Ergin Medic, a Bosniak who lives in 
north Mitrovica, alleges that the Coordination Center for 
Kosovo (CCK) is behind the housing purchases and that 
"cleansing Little Bosnia is a priority for them."  He said 
the CCK believes it has cleansed the Three Towers and Coca 
Cola Hill areas, two other multiethnic neighborhoods in north 
Mitrovica, to an "acceptable level" of about 20 percent 
Kosovo Albanians. 
 
¶7. (C) Medic outlined a very elaborate CCK operation to buy 
up Kosovo Albanian properties in Little Bosnia and construct 
in their place new buildings containing Serbian state 
institutions and apartments for "loyal Serbs."  He said 
Telekom Serbia (PTT) and the CCK's Economic Team for Kosovo 
will soon place their Kosovo headquarters in Little Bosnia as 
a result of this effort.  According to Medic, CCK has 
established a unit, headed by Slavisa Stanic, to handle the 
property purchases, with five to seven staff members, mostly 
doing legal and administrative work and researching Kosovo 
Albanian properties.  ICOPT representative in North Mitrovica 
James Nunan also related a conversation illustrating the 
organized, systematic nature of the operation.  While talking 
with an unnamed (but influential) CCK figure, Nunan asked him 
"How can you buy out all the Albanians?  There must be 3,000 
of them living there," to which his interlocutor responded, 
"No, there are 995, and we know their names, addresses, and 
phone numbers." 
 
¶8.  (C) Medic claimed that a special CCK unit takes 
applications for housing in newly-built apartments, 
evaluating and ranking them based on need (number of 
children, other property owned, etc.).  However, in reality, 
the bridgewatchers, MUP members and other "loyal Serbs" 
 
PRISTINA 00000711  003 OF 003 
 
 
receive preferential treatment.  Medic says this unit may 
also include several Kosovo Albanians, who make initial 
contact with Kosovo Albanian property owners and offer them 
at least fair market value for the property.  Reports on 
prices are often anecdotal, but telling:  Major Guy Snauwaert 
of Belgian KFOR recently told poloff that one Albanian-owned 
apartment sold for 350,000 euros, a fantastic sum in a 
neighborhood where most sales average 50,000 euros.  (NOTE: 
Medic believes the CCK is offering about 500 euros per square 
meter.  END NOTE.)  Medic added that the money to purchase 
the properties comes from the Belgrade-based Komercialna 
Banka's Kosovo branch, then goes to Stanic.  Stanic pays the 
Kosovo Albanians in cash and the transactions are registered 
through the UNMIK court in Zubin Potok.  They avoid the 
Mitrovica Court because it is largely Kosovo Albanian and is 
outside the influence of hard-line Association of Serb 
Municipalities and Settlements (ASMS) co-founder and northern 
strongman Marko Jaksic. 
 
MUP may be behind the attacks 
 
¶9. (C) Medic also said many believe the MUP are behind the 
attacks, and that the police are unlikely to conduct a very 
thorough investigation into the attacks because KPS Mitrovica 
North Station Commander Milija Milosevic, whose special task 
force is in charge of the investigation, is a suspected MUP 
officer.  Medic also told USOP that the KPS questioned Milan 
Ivanovic's son a few months ago in relation to the grenade 
attacks, which was confirmed by UNMIK civpol and Amcit 
Randall Darty, currently acting Mitrovica regional commander. 
 (NOTE: Ivanovic is the E.O.-listed director of the large 
Serbian state-run parallel hospital in north Mitrovica, 
deputy mayor of Zvecan, co-founder of the ASMS, and chairman 
of the Mitrovica branch of the Serbian National Council 
(SNC).  END NOTE.) 
 
¶10. (C) COMMENT: The recent incidents and efforts to buy out 
Kosovo Albanian property holders in Little Bosnia appear to 
confirm suspicions that the CCK is expanding and reinforcing 
the soft partition that already exists in the north.  While 
the attacks appear to be designed more to intimidate than to 
harm, it could be just a matter of time before someone is 
seriously wounded or killed.  This situation has already 
caused Kosovo Albanian leaders to react with emotion and may 
well have influenced some to respond with retaliatory 
violence.  USOP will closely monitor developments in Little 
Bosnia and continue to urge the two sides to refrain from any 
actions which might escalate tensions in north Mitrovica. 
End comment. 
KAIDANOW