"We will do everything possible not to provoke any incidents but we must undertake measures such as the blocking of all roadways. Now they are of critical importance," says Ivanovic.
Reporter: Why did violence break out in Mitrovica at this very moment?
Ivanovic: It is obvious that the resolution of the problem in the south of Serbia, near Bujanovac, Presevo and Medvedja, is entering the final phase. It is also obvious that the Albanians cannot go on with the plan which they drew up. No one in the world, in Western Europe or America will support them in the idea of using force and weapons on the territory of a sovereign state in the attempt to establish parastate organs or territory, seeking some sort of special status. Therefore, as soon as the tension in the south of Serbia subsided in a sense, that is, as soon as the world made it clear that it would not support the armed actions of the Liberation Army of Presevo, Medvedja and Bujanovac, they were left with two options. First, to create a new crisis to draw attention away from that location and stay in the game for a while longer; and second, if they give up on those three municipalities in the south of Serbia, to "return" to the north of Kosovo and take over the four Serb municipalities there which would amount to a sort of compensation for them. The story about an exchange of territory, which was launched by Albanian politicians, has been kicked around for a long time. This would mean the exchange of the territories of Presevo, Bujanovac and Medvedja municipalities for Zvecan, Zubin Potok, Leposavic and the northern part of Kosovska Mitrovica. The plan is absolutely without sense because Serbia cannot exchange a part of its own territory for another part of its own territory and, fortunately, there are fewer and fewer advocates of this theory. There is one other aspect to the whole story - Tetovo and western Macedonia. About ten days ago they tested the reactions of the Macedonian police and army, as well as of the international public, with a series of incidents and the killing of a policeman because they have the idea of compensating for the north of Kosovo with western Macedonia.
How do you assess the behavior of the representatives of the international community in Kosovo and Mitrovica during the last few days, especially after last week's KFOR raid of the Council's offices?
Generally speaking, the international forces in this region are torn between two or three possible solutions. The first thing is that they obviously cannot build a multiethnic Kosovo because that is difficult with the Albanians. The Albanians do not accept the existence of Serbs in this region and have a hard time deciding to treat Serbs as equals in any respect. Their intentions are obvious: where it is necessary, they expel the Serbs by force, where they no longer need force they use kindness, so to speak - they buy their houses, atteempting to break up homogenous Serb areas. That has been very apparent in the last several months. We had a decrease in the number of murders and abductions but we also have the sale of Serb houses along the line marked by the Kosovo Polje-Mitrovica-Raska railway. By this they are actually preventing the return of the Serb refugees, which has been the topic of many recent discussion. We have created what I would say is a very good document called the Framework for Returns 2001. Actually, the return of Serbs is the best medicine for prevention of these extremist Albanian wishes. These returns will be organized with the help of international forces and will convince the Albanians that the international community no longer supports their idea of an ethically clean and independent Kosovo.
When are returns scheduled to begin?
With the first days of spring. One of the reasons behind the events in Mitrovica is also that Mitrovica will actually be the basis for returns of refugees and displaced persons. Unfortunately, there is still a lot of resistance in the international community and I can't get rid of the impression that it has the idea of getting the number of Serbs in Kosovo to below five percent in order to get rid of a big problem for itself - so it doesn't have to think about special status and separate rights for the Serbs. It talks about successful local elections, about elections for a Kosovo parliament and all this serves to hide the real failure of its mission.
What kind of contacts do you have with Albanian representatives?
It depends on what's on the daily agenda. I used to have occasional proper communications with them, we would exchange opinions on many issues but recently those contacts have stopped and it's no coincidence. While they existed, there was the possibility of presenting different opinions. When there is no dialog, it's easy to cause unrest. As soon as a lot of KFOR soldiers are hurt in that unrest, the Western countries are ready to immediately sign some kind of declarations with the Albanians, as was the case in this instance. They signed a joint declaration in which they ask for an extension of the confidence zone and the return of all Albanians. We don't have anything against that but we think that is not right that the 99.5 percent Albanians who are living in their homes are demanding the return of the remaining 0.5 percent while at the same time 200,000 Serbs, representing 70 percent of the total population of Kosovo, cannot return to their homes and it is not clear when they will be able to do so. That makes negotiations with representatives of the Albanian community almost impossible.