Immediately preceding this development, on Friday, Adem Demaci gave an interview to NIN in Pristina. He did not appear ill to the reporter, who he asked remove her shoes [in accordance with Muslim custom; a sign that the interview would not be a very short one]; he was instead relatively well disposed and cordial, even mentioning that he was due to talk that same day with the state secretary and the ambassador of Great Britain. The conversation began with his thoughts on the attempted putsch by Sali Berisha in Albania.
"The situation in Albania is fragile; in the struggle for power, people have been killed once more and we do not accept this means of seeking power, not only in Albania but anywhere in the world. Sali Berisha was in power for almost six years and he lost it. He had neither a proper army nor police force and that is why he fell. Now he attempted to take power from Fatos Nano."
Whom do the Kosovo Albanians support?
We support neither Berisha nor the existing system in Albania, which has neither a tradition nor the necessary political refinement. That is why I proposed that Mr. Meidani assume power with the assistance of the Albanian parliament and establish a technical government.
What kind of influence does the political situation in Albania have on events in Kosovo?
One should keep in mind that we did not start out to free ourselves from Serbian guardianship today or even yesterday but a long time ago without counting on receiving any great, significant assistance from Albania.
But it is through smuggling channels from Albania that most of the weapons for the KLA are arriving, is it not?
It isn't the only way. Whoever assumes power in Albania will not cut off those channels because the people of Albania feel our pain. Albanians do not consider the residents of Kosovo to be foreigners.
Are these people then not citizens of the Socialist Republic of Serbia and of the Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia?
Technically, yes, that is correct; but in essence, it is as I just told you.
Do Fatos Nano and his government support the KLA?
I have never personally met Mr. Fatos Nano and I cannot make any claims; I can only say that the Albanian people certainly support the KLA.
Did the KLA take part in the attempted revolt in Albania in any way?
We are not interested in weakening Albania because we need a peaceful Albania.
What are the relations of the KLA with the politicians in the Sandzak like? Is it possible that conflicts in Kosovo may spread to the Sandzak as well?
We maintain relations because all of us are cooking together in the same pot; however, they did not get involved during the war in Bosnia, even though it was their duty. I don't see why they should now help us.
Is the KLA in touch with the leadership of the BH Federation?
I am only a political representative and I do not know if the military side has such contacts.
How can it be that you do not know what the military side of the KLA is doing even though at the same time you claim that there are no divisions within it?
I represent the peaceful part of the KLA.
Just what do you mean by the peaceful part of the KLA? Doesn't the KLA emphasize armed conflict as its political goal?
The peaceful movement of the KLA is an attempt to resolve problems through political means. It is the older movement; the KLA itself was created recently after it became one hundred percent certain that the Serbian regime and our friends the Americans and the Europeans had no intention of rewarding us for remaining peaceful for so long.
What kind of a reward were you expecting?
That Serbia would accept us; and that the Americans and the Europeans would compel Serbia to accept the will of the Albanians expressed in the 1991 referendum. We waited until Dayton. Now it is clear that the world does not want us to be free.
So you were expecting a Republic of Kosovo?
Yes, a Republic of Kosovo, a completely sovereign, independent state; and when this did not materialize, the KLA was born.
Why, in your opinion, is the Hill-Milosevic agreement unacceptable?
The project of Mr. Hill is chock-full of vague concepts from which it is apparent that Kosovo must remain under Serbian sovereignty. We are being offered less than we had according to the 1974 Constitution. I have heard that Mr. Rugova also would not accept this agreement.
What would be an acceptable political minimum for the Albanians in order for negotiations to start?
That Serbia accept the results of the 1991 referendum.
And what is the KLA offering as a token of political goodwill in order for negotiations to commence?
If Serbia accepts the will of the Albanians from 1991, our fundamental willingness and cooperation in the future and that Serbs living in the Republic of Kosovo will be able to lead their lives as they see fit instead of being treated like an ethnic minority by the Albanians.
How much influence do you have on the KLA command?
We are in touch, we talk... I am in contact with the military side of the KLA through Jakup Krasniqi but I have no influence over what the military side is doing.
Who has influence? Rugova? Who controls this army which, at least officially, is without a supreme commander?
I don't know the answer to that; however, I do know that they have a supreme headquarters which directs military operations. Perhaps they have a supreme commander as well. The general agreement is that we will stay the course until the complete liberation of Kosovo: I through peaceful means, they through military means. They can neither control me in the military sense nor can I control them. Like the front and back of my hand, we represent the will of the Albanian people for freedom.
Which one of the two sides of the KLA, that is, of the will for freedom, do you represent?
I wanted to say that both sides are very important and that Serbia cannot be convinced solely by peaceful means; similarly, I am convinced that military force alone cannot realize the will of the Albanians, that is, that despite everything we must negotiate.
The KLA has been decimated. Do the Albanians need to change their positions at this point?
The KLA has lost the compact territory which it formerly held; however, it has preserved its vital forces...
How many members does the KLA have right now?
I don't know.
Then how do you know that the vital forces of the KLA have been preserved?
It has between 10,000 and 30,000 men but this number varies because people are joining and leaving constantly.
Do you know how large the command structure is?
I don't know; and if I did know, it would be a military secret. However, I do know it is led by men who fought in Croatia and Bosnia and by former officers of the Yugoslav People's Army.
And are there any former prisoners in the KLA?
Yes, there are some but they are not in command positions.
The West has revealed that mercenaries from Islamic countries are also fighting in the KLA...
Believe me, none of them are in the KLA for the simple reason that we have so many freedom fighters that we cannot arm them all. It is true that there have been many offers; however, we did not accept them. It is common knowledge how sensitive the Americans are to these things.
The Americans are also sensitive to mass crimes such as those committed in Klecka and Glodjane, are they not?
I have concrete evidence that the KLA did not commit those crimes. According to lists which I was able to review and which I forwarded to the media, not a single child is missing despite what the Serbian media are claiming.
What concrete evidence do you have that the KLA did not commit these crimes?
What kind of evidence do the Serbs have? If foreign experts had been called in to investigate and had proven the whole thing was true, the KLA itself would have punished those who are guilty.
And did the Albanians carry out any such investigations?
I think that it is wrong to commit an injustice against anyone and I think that the Albanians can never win using such dirty methods and I know that the KLA supreme headquarters is explicitly opposed to such things.
What is the position of the KLA supreme headquarters on the abduction of civilians?
The KLA does not abduct people; if certain individuals were abducted by someone then it was outside the control of the supreme headquarters.
Isn't it rather unusual for an individual or for a group of individuals, for that matter, to abduct an entire village?
One needs to understand that the KLA is an organization which people join today and leave tomorrow and that it is difficult to control everything that happens. If a state such as Serbia, which has an enormous army and police force, can permit itself not to know the fate of 600 Albanians, how can one expect so much attention to minutiae from people who are creating an army in the bushes and grottoes?
You've said that in the future, the KLA will fight in a manner which will be more deadly for the Serbian regime. What type of battle were you referring to at the time?
Guerrilla warfare, World War II Partisan-style warfare.
It would be difficult to call the KLA style of fighting guerrilla warfare; one might be more apt to call them terrorists.
Terrorists are people who want to impose some sort of ideology or religion, or to take something that does not belong to them by force. People who are fighting for freedom cannot be terrorists.
Are civilian abductions not considered to be acts of terrorism?
Whoever claims that a national awakening, such as the one going on in Kosovo right now, is terrorism is either blind or has a hidden agenda, like the Serbian regime which is trying to declare the KLA to be terrorists. The Serbian people must understand that the Albanians in Kosovo were forced to fight against the Serbian regime.
But Serbian people are being killed in Kosovo, the same Serbian people whom you called "the beloved Serbian people" during the demonstrations in Serbia in the winter of 1997.
But they are not civilians. They are individuals belonging to the Serbian people who have joined the regime either for personal profit or out of conviction.
Do you also separate Albanians into those who are still in the KLA and those who are turning in their arms?
There are some Albanians who are turning in their arms but not many. They are credulous people who thought everything was over when Serbia struck back; then they stopped and said, Wait a minute... Which is normal for people. Not everyone can be a hero.
Do you consider Mr. Rugova to be credulous for believing that he can achieve an independent Kosovo without the KLA?
Mr. Rugova and I have the same goal but the difference is that Rugova places far more faith in the foreign factor and that he is not prepared to sacrifice anything nor to enter into dangerous waters.
What kind of dangerous waters?
To accept the KLA.
Perhaps Mr. Rugova does not aspire to be the supreme commander of a terrorist organization?
Then he should have said as much or, if that is what he truly thinks, to distance himself.
Are you saying that Mr. Rugova has some sort of connection with the KLA even though he denies it?
I'm not saying anything anymore.