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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
07BELGRADE27
2007-01-10 16:31:00
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Embassy Belgrade
Cable title:  

PM KOSTUNICA'S OUTRAGE OVER BABIN MOST

Tags:   PREL  PHUM  PGOV  KBTS  SR  YI 
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PP RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHBW #0027/01 0101631
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 101631Z JAN 07
FM AMEMBASSY BELGRADE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0044
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC 1278
RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK
RHMFISS/CDR USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RXFEAA/HQ AFSOUTH NAPLES IT
						UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BELGRADE 000027 

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PHUM PGOV KBTS SR YI
SUBJECT: PM KOSTUNICA'S OUTRAGE OVER BABIN MOST
INCIDENT


UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BELGRADE 000027

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PHUM PGOV KBTS SR YI
SUBJECT: PM KOSTUNICA'S OUTRAGE OVER BABIN MOST
INCIDENT



1. (SBU) SUMMARY: PM Kostunica expressed to Contact
Group (CG) Ambassadors 1/9/07 his deep concern over
the alleged mistreatment of K-Serbs in Babin Most by
ethnic Albanian KPS officers earlier this month.
Displaying strong emotion, the PM stood by his earlier
public assertion that the Babin Most incidents
represented the latest phase in a campaign by the KPS
and international community to "ethnically cleanse"
Serbs from Kosovo. Unless perpetrators of the alleged
beatings were punished, he warned that this incident
could spark a wave of anti-Serb violence similar to
the events of March 2004. The UK and US cautioned the
PM to refrain from inflammatory language that would
only serve to make his dire prophecies more likely to
happen. END SUMMARY


2. (SBU) PM Kostunica called in CG chiefs of mission
1/9 to express consternation over the Babin Most
events. The previous day, he (and President Tadic)
had met with the family of a Babin Most Serb (Srecko
Simic) who claimed to have been beaten by 50 K-
Albanian KPS officers while handcuffed. Kostunica,
citing Simic's description of events, also alleged to
the CG reps that Simic had been beaten until "almost
dead," that UN police observed the entire incident but
did not intervene, and that only K-Serb houses (i.e.,
no K-Albanian houses) in the vicinity were targeted
for searches. Kostunica noted that KPS, after
detaining Simic in Pristina, released him,
acknowledging that Simic was not a suspect in the
shooting death of the KPS officer that prompted the
KPS searches in Babin Most. The PM did acknowledge,
and expressed gratitude, for the response of DSRSG
Schook, who quickly sent a vehicle to Babin Most to
provide security for the Simic family.


3. (SBU) Kostunica characterized the Babin Most
incidents as only the latest event in a long-running
campaign to cleanse Kosovo of Serbs. Following his
meeting with the Simic family on 1/8 (during which the
Simic's said they planned to leave Kosovo), the PM
issued an impassioned public condemnation of the
"bestial" behavior of the KPS officers. In that

statement, the PM also charged the KPS, UNMIK, and
international community of "participating in ...an
attempt to expel Serbs from Kosovo or ethnic
cleansing." The fact that the arrest and beating of
Simic happened at Orthodox Christmastime was intended
to frighten the Serb community of Kosovo, he asserted.


4. (SBU) The PM called repeatedly for the KPS
perpetrators of the alleged mistreatment of Babin Most
Serbs to be punished, arguing that such an outcome
represented the only way to calm inter-ethnic tensions
in Kosovo. If there were no arrests in this case (as
there had not been in the long line of Albanian-on-
Serb crimes going back to March 2004 and before, he
said), he feared the outbreak of another wave of anti-
Serb violence. After all, he argued, the March 2004
violence against Serbs had been sparked by unfounded
rumors that Serbs had inflicted violence on Albanians.
(Comment: His implication was that the KPS actions in
Babin Most created the impression that Serbs killed
the KPS policeman, a notion that could prompt
Albanians to seek vengeance on Serbs throughout
Kosovo. End Comment)


5. (SBU) Following a series of largely non-substantive
interventions, the UK Ambassador, speaking on
instructions, averred that the preliminary results
from the ongoing UN investigation sharply differed
from the version of events described by the PM. He
described as "regrettable" the PM's references to
"torture and ethnic cleansing" and appealed to the GOS
leadership to avoid inflammatory language. The Charge
also rejected the PM's insinuation that the
international community wanted to see Serbs expelled
from Kosovo, expressing particular concern over the
PM's allegations of an international campaign of
"ethnic cleansing" in Kosovo. Inflammatory rhetoric
from Belgrade would just make it more likely that the
PM's fears of a repeat of March 2004 would be
realized. Charge also pointed to the USG's strong
support for efforts to improve security and
decentralization in Kosovo. Drawing on information
provided by USOP and the UN, Charge urged the PM not
to jump to conclusions about the circumstances of the

BELGRADE 00000027 002 OF 002


case and to allow the investigations to proceed.


6. (SBU) The PM responded emotionally and refused to
back away from his use of the term "ethnic cleansing,"
noting that "two-thirds of Serbs have already been
forced to leave Kosovo." He said he would be the
first to condemn Serb-on-Albanian violence, but the
fact is that "all ethnically-motivated crimes seem to
happen against Serbs." He agreed that the
investigations needed to proceed, but he held out
little hope -- based upon past experience -- that
there would be any result implicating K-Albanians in
the mistreatment of Serbs.


7. (SBU) COMMENT: This is by no means the first time
that the PM has expressed his outrage to IC reps over
the treatment of K-Serbs. The fact that Serbia is in
an election campaign, that the Ahtisaari visit is
approaching, and that he had met personally with Simic
family certainly contributed to the PM's decision to
convoke the CG over this issue and to use fiery public
rhetoric. That said, of the numerous incidents
involving Serbs over the last few years, the Babin
Most events -- at least as described by the UN --
seems to be an unlikely cause celebre. First of all,
the police actions occurred against the backdrop of
the killing of an ethnic Albanian police officer in
the vicinity of a predominantly Serb community.
Secondly, we have seen no strong evidence that any
Serbs suffered substantial physical harm. We
interpret the PM's actions as an effort to demonstrate
-- to the domestic and international audience -- that
Serbs would not be able to live safely in a state
dominated by Albanians.

MOORE