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Caring for Civilians in the Kosovo War

The health of the population in Kosovo is in jeopardy as the fighting there continues. We speak with Keith Ursel, the Doctors Without Borders coordinator of the mobile clinic program. During the day, temperatures rise to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The mobile team has gone to treat several thousand people hiding in the Kosovo hills. The refugees have no shelter, very little food or drinking water.


Other segments from the episode on August 13, 1998

Fresh Air with Terry Gross, August 13, 1998: Interview with Keith Ursel; Interview with Miranda Vickers; Review of a Tanglewood performance of Elliott Carter's music.


Date: AUGUST 13, 1998
Time: 12:00
Tran: 081301np.217
Head: Health in Kosovo
Sect: News; International
Time: 12:06

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Marty Moss-Coane sitting in for Terry Gross.

It was hoped that the Dayton Peace Accord would bring an end to the fighting in the former Yugoslavia. But if you watch the news, you'll once again see images of battle, with thousands of people fleeing their villages. This fighting is in Kosovo, and though it's a province in the Republic of Serbia, only 10 percent of its population is Serbian. The other 90 percent is ethnic Albanian Muslims.

Serbia and Montenegro are the only two republics that remain in Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia's President Slobodan Milosevic is a Serb and a champion of Serbian interests. So when the Albanian Muslims in Kosovo declared Kosovo to be an independent state and formed the Kosovo Liberation Army, Milosevic sent the Yugoslav army out to stop them. The fighting has forced more than 100,000 people to flee their homes.

Later on today's program, we'll hear about the history that led to the current situation in Kosovo and it's larger significance to the whole region. But first, we called the international humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders, who are in Kosovo trying to help the people who have left their homes. I spoke with Keith Ursel, who was coordinating their effort. He told me what he's seen in Kosovo.

KEITH URSEL, COORDINATOR, MOBILE CLINIC PROGRAM, DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS: The situation appears to be getting a little more dire in the last week or so, because we have found people have been living in the bush, completely in the rough, now for a couple of weeks. So we're finding people are getting more and more ill.

MOSS-COANE: And how do you find those people living in the bush?

URSEL: That's a very good question. It's extremely difficult. The people are living in the bush, number one, for protection. It's simply the only place to go. It's the only place for them to live now. And two, it's their only security, if they can hide. Though because they're hiding, of course, makes it more difficult for us to access them.

MOSS-COANE: Are they afraid of you and your team?

URSEL: Sometimes. It's very unfortunate, but as we drive in, we can actually see people running away, and running to hide in the forest when they hear our vehicles coming. But when they get to know us, and -- then it gets much better. But initially, they are afraid.

MOSS-COANE: What are you finding about the health of the people of Kosovo? How has the fighting impacted their well-being, their state of health?

URSEL: Well, first, we have found people that have been seriously injured with war wounds; with shell fragments; with bullet wounds. And some of these people, for example a 65-year-old man walks 16 kilometers after he had been shot through the upper-left chest. So we do find people with serious injuries.

MOSS-COANE: And what about the state of health -- there are a number of reports about malnutrition and dehydration. Have you found that as well?

URSEL: We have certainly found dehydration, and we have found that secondary to diarrhea. Because the people are living in the bush, the water supplies are most likely contaminated. We have found a lot of diarrhea and now a lot of skin infections and chest infections. Of course, these would all lead to dehydration, especially under this heat.

MOSS-COANE: Are you able to provide anything to help clean up contaminated water?

URSEL: Well we have two full-time water engineers and another expert in from Brussels, and we have visiting areas and we do chlorination of water supplies. Also, we pass out basically jerry cans during -- plastic jerry cans with chlorination tablets. So we're attacking that from a number of different ways; from chlorinating city supply, plus individuals.

MOSS-COANE: In dealing with someone with wounds from fighting, what can you and your team do? Are you able to actually patch them up?

URSEL: OK, we go with -- up to four land cruisers with a full mobile, basically a mobile clinic inside the vehicles that we will set up in a building. We have a surgeon with us and a minimum of two doctors and two nurses and some other assistants. So we can -- although we can't perform surgery in the field, we can certainly stabilize and then transport to a surgical facility.

MOSS-COANE: Where do you send these people? Where is it safe to go?

URSEL: There are a variety of surgical facilities within basically the area controlled by the Albanians.

MOSS-COANE: Is that a safe place to go?

URSEL: Traditionally, they have been safe, but recently we have -- we know of a couple of these hospitals that have been attacked, and the patients have had to move.

MOSS-COANE: And do these hospitals have enough medical supplies to perform an operation?

URSEL: They're varied and they're scattered, but frequently they do run short of equipment, absolutely.

MOSS-COANE: In the work that you're doing and once you find people that are on the run that have fled from the fighting, which people are at most risk? Is it the young? Is it the old? What is it?

URSEL: We find the elderly are definitely at the -- the biggest risk group right now. A lot of -- everybody's resources are towards helping their young. They're certainly great with their children. And we're finding the elderly that suffer from chronic infections -- as this is the European -- or chronic diseases. As this is a European country, they're used to European standards of medicines and treatment. Suddenly, that's taken away from them and they become pretty sick pretty quick.

MOSS-COANE: Do you find people are dying then?

URSEL: Yes. We have noticed fresh graves and we've spoken to people in villages and they've said that some died recently because they didn't have their blood pressure medicines, for example. And one lady died of that recently that we know of. And the diabetics, now, are extremely frightened.

MOSS-COANE: What about young children? What about babies? I'm thinking even of women giving birth in the hills.

URSEL: We have come across that. We have come across woman as they're giving birth, or others on the road. We'd stop and we'd assist. Yes, this is a problem. There's about 10,000 babies a month born in this part of the country, and access -- if you're on one side of the frontline, you simply cannot cross the lines to get to maternity centers. So there is a lot of basically village women assisting other women in delivering.

MOSS-COANE: I know that the war has been very intense, or the fighting has been very intense in the last couple of months. Have you found people dealing with the stress of fighting, and that's actually having an impact on their health?

URSEL: Absolutely. There is no question. There is no question that stress plays a major role in the health of these people. It makes any physical condition they have much, much worse; any disease. One of the big items they ask us for is some form of, they think there's a magic pill or some kind of antidepressant that they can take, which there really isn't.

So the mental health of these people has definitely deteriorated.

MOSS-COANE: What can you and your team do for them?

URSEL: Well, to be honest, in an emergency phase of a conflict, it's quite limited. There are some medicines that can be given for very acute, almost psychosis, when they're suffering from war -- from a trauma of seeing their village attacked, and then running from it. But it is limited in this phase of the war.

MOSS-COANE: Are you able to talk with these refugees -- with these people -- about their plight?

URSEL: Certainly we do. What we do is we try to get testimonials from the people, and it's actually quite difficult taking these -- taking these testimonials from these people, to listen to their stories of their villages.

Today, we took a testimonial from a lady who said she had been gone for two weeks from her house. And I asked if she'd gone back. And she pointed to the hill -- and we were watching her village burn today as it was shelled in the morning. So these people are talking about their villages being destroyed, and atrocities. And it is very difficult to listen to their stories, but we certainly -- we do and we record them.

MOSS-COANE: How much have you had to navigate and negotiate between warring, fighting parties in Kosovo?

URSEL: A daily basis. We'll go through up to 12 checkpoints a day. I think that was our record in the last couple of months. Each checkpoint is -- they check our documents, our passports. They check our vehicles. Sometimes we have to open up all our boxes. They search -- they search us. And then you cross the frontlines, and the other side -- and they also do the similar process.

So you can take literally hours and hours to get through to the people on a daily basis. And sometimes we're actually refused, and then we're turned around and sent back home.

MOSS-COANE: Refused for what reason?

URSEL: We don't know. We were told -- it's -- frequently we're told "we have orders." The police will say "we have orders. You can't go any further." And that -- when we tried to ask -- and this is frontline that these things are tense. Sometimes we just simply cannot get into it anymore.

MOSS-COANE: Just how critical is the situation in Kosovo?

URSEL: Well, it's bad. There are some bad problems here, and we fear it could go either way in a hurry. If it suddenly starts raining here and its gets cool, then we're going to see -- we're gonna see a lot of deaths, certainly increased number of deaths if it suddenly gets rainy and cool; or if the fighting suddenly explodes in areas where these refugees seethe out of their basically safe havens.

MOSS-COANE: Have you worked in other conflicted parts of the world?

URSEL: Sure. I've been in the Somali refugee camps; been in Bosnia a couple of times; Chechnya; Sri Lanka -- a number of different conflicts throughout the world, yes.

MOSS-COANE: Is there a way of comparing what you're seeing in Kosovo to these other parts of the world where you've also been?

URSEL: The situation seems similar to the early days of Bosnia, in the way of having to stand there and watch villages burn and people being sent out into the forest. So it's quite similar. There's a lot of similarities to Bosnia. Some of the heavy fighting with all the heavy army equipment looks like the war in Afghanistan.

So yes, there -- unfortunately, there are a lot of similarities to other conflicts.

MOSS-COANE: Do you imagine yourself being there for some time now?

URSEL: I think there's no question. You know, as an emergency coordinator, I'll be here for a while, yes.

MOSS-COANE: Well, I wish you best of luck and I thank you very much for joining us today on FRESH AIR.

URSEL: OK. Well, thank you and hope to talk to you again soon.

MOSS-COANE: Keith Ursel coordinates the mobile clinic program for Doctors Without Borders in Kosovo.

This is FRESH AIR.

This is a rush transcript. This copy may not
be in its final form and may be updated.


Dateline: Marty Moss-Coane, Washington, DC
Guest: Keith Ursel
High: The health of the population in Kosovo is in jeopardy as the fighting there continues. We speak with Keith Ursel, the Doctors Without Borders coordinator of the mobile clinic program. During the day, temperatures rise to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The mobile team has gone to treat several thousand people hiding in the Kosovo hills. The refugees have no shelter and very little food or drinking water.
Spec: War; Violence; Health and Medicine
Please note, this is not the final feed of record
Copy: Content and programming copyright 1998 WHYY, Inc. All rights reserved. Transcribed by FDCH, Inc. under license from WHYY, Inc. Formatting copyright 1998 FDCH, Inc. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to WHYY, Inc. This transcript may not be reproduced in whole or in part without prior written permission.
End-Story: Health in Kosovo
Date: AUGUST 13, 1998
Time: 12:00
Tran: 081302NP.217
Head: Situation in Kosovo
Sect: News; International
Time: 12:22

MARTY MOSS-COANE, HOST: With us now is British historian Miranda Vickers. She has written extensively on the Albanian people. Her latest book is "Between Serb and Albanian: A History of Kosovo."

Vickers just returned this week from Kosovo, Albanian and Montenegro, where she was working as the Albanian analyst for the International Crisis Group, an organization which was set up after the Dayton Accord.

I asked her what effects she saw from the fighting.

MIRANDA VICKERS, HISTORIAN; ALBANIAN ANALYST, INTERNATIONAL CRISIS GROUP; AUTHOR, "BETWEEN SERB AND ALBANIAN: A HISTORY OF KOSOVO": Well, I've been visiting quite frequently since the outbreak of the present crisis in March this year -- after the Drenica massacre. And I've noticed, as far as the Albanians are concerned, a distinct change in mood. After Drenica, they were -- the Albanian population of Kosovo was pretty sure that the international community would intervene on their behalf in some way or another, fairly quickly. Whereas the Serbs felt -- they felt the international community had no right to intervene on their behalf.

And so the two communities have viewed this so diametrically in opposite stances. The Albanians have become very disillusioned because there hasn't been any international intervention on their behalf. And the Serbs are quietly feeling that the international community is actually backing them in some way by allowing Milosevic to pursue his attacks on Albanian villages.

MOSS-COANE: There have been reports from people like -- or organizations like Doctors Without Borders that there are many refugees now, many of them fleeing for the hills, and that their condition is really quite critical. What did you observe?

VICKERS: Well yes, I found bedraggled groups of Albanian families with what livestock they could actually rescue from their smashed villages, and heading for the hills where they have a certain amount of food available, but they have very little water. And several babies have been born up there. The conditions are frightfully inadequate for newborn children and for the elderly, but at least the temperatures are so warm that people can sleep out at night, at the moment, without risking dying.

But in about two months time, the temperature will dramatically change, and we'll get the beginning of the horrendous Balkan winters, which are absolutely ferocious; where the snow settles in that region for three to four months, and then an enormous thaw occurs in which the area is completely engulfed by mud.

So we do have a potential humanitarian crisis if this isn't -- the situation isn't resolved before winter and these people are allowed back to their homes.

MOSS-COANE: If these refugees then went back to their villages, what would they find?

VICKERS: Well, we don't see in Kosovo the mass -- the mass destruction that we saw in Bosnia, where whole villages were completely annihilated and razed to the ground. What we're seeing is several houses being torched, as a sort of example. The Serbs are in a very vitriolic mood when they take over these villages, and this is one way that they show their domination.

But they have been trying to encourage Albanians to return. Some -- a few have managed to return, but those that do are asked to report to police stations immediately. Now, this is -- this is the concern that the international community has about what happens in these police cells, because the women and children are separated from the men. The men go to the police stations, and several of them are returned back home beaten up -- severely beaten up.

Now, this is no way to encourage people to return to their homes.

MOSS-COANE: Is this an organized campaign? Or do you think this is a disorganized campaign -- on one hand, encouraging people to come home, and on the other hand threatening them or beating them when they do?

VICKERS: Well, it's very hard to imagine the logic behind it because it's hard to understand the logic in going to the effort of encouraging Albanians to come home to their villages, which is what the international community are asking the Yugoslav authorities to do; and then on the other hand making it virtually impossible for them to be guaranteed a secure, safe passage once they get there.

MOSS-COANE: Do you know how many refugees there are? -- because the numbers go from 100,000 to something like 230,000.

VICKERS: Well, the latest estimates from the United Nations refugee organizations are 167,000 registered refugees in Albania and Montenegro, as well as Kosovo.

MOSS-COANE: When you speak to refugees, whether Albanian or Serbian, who do they blame? Who do they hold responsible for the condition of their republic?

VICKERS: The Albanians blame equally the regime of Slobodan Milosevic, but also the international community for allowing their plight to be ignored for the last six to seven years. When the Yugoslav state broke up, there were numerous conferences on the future of -- status of Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia, but no mention at all of Kosovo. Kosovo was ignored at the London conference in 1992 on the former Yugoslavia, and also again at the Dayton Agreement. Kosovo was not mentioned. And therefore the Albanians put the blame fair and squarely on the international community for not having brought Milosevic into line, and helped them in their cause of self-determination.

The Serbs, on the other hand, blame the Albanians and also the Albanian government, which is quite mistaken, for agitating -- helping the Kosovars to agitate and amass arms, which they say the Albanian government and army allowed them to take from Albania following the uprising there last year when so many thousands of weapons were looted from army barracks.

MOSS-COANE: But why do you think the -- the world community or the international community has -- has in a sense not done for Kosovo what it's done for other republics?

VICKERS: Well, it there were to be changes of border, the -- if there was to be an independent Republic of Kosovo, that would have a distinct impact on the neighboring state of Macedonia, which has a very large Albanian minority, bordering around 30 percent, roughly, of the population, who want -- and are ethnic. They have the strong kinship ties with the people of Kosovo, and would dearly love to be united with the people of Kosovo.

And this would really seriously destabilize the Macedonian State, in which case Greece and Turkey, who have strong interests in seeing maintenance of the status quo in Macedonia, would have to become involved. Needless to say, the Albanian government in Tirana would have to take a stand somewhere that there would be any unification with this new independent State of Kosovo, which would mean altering the borders of the new Albanian -- of the Albanian state. And this would bring into question what to do with the Albanian population of Montenegro.

So you see, it's a very far-reaching problem. It affects every -- the question about the independence of Kosovo affects every single neighboring country.

MOSS-COANE: At the Dayton Accords, which were signed back in 1995, it brought an end to the conflict in Bosnia, but it didn't bring an end to the fighting in Kosovo. And in a sense, Kosovo was really never discussed, and no decision was made about its future at Dayton Accords.

What impact did that have on the people of Kosovo?

VICKERS: Well, the people of Kosovo themselves, why the population became increasingly frustrated, but still maintained faith in Ibrahim Rugova's ability to urge -- participate in sort of a dialogue process that would achieve greater degrees of autonomy for the Albanians. But in the diaspora, in the large Kosovo diaspora of Albanians in Germany and Switzerland and Brussels, the mood was quite different. They became increasingly impatient and it is really from this diaspora that we've seen the emergence of the -- what the Serbs call the terrorist activity.

It was just a few months after Dayton, in February, 1996, that we saw the very first actions on behalf of the KLA, the Kosovo Liberation Army, when they attacked refugee camps of Cryena (ph) Serbs in northern Kosovo, and announced to the BBC Albanian Section here in London that they were and up and running guerrilla force dedicated to the liberation and independence of Kosovo, and calling themselves "uchika" (ph) -- the Kosovo Liberation Army.

MOSS-COANE: British historian Miranda Vickers. Her latest book is "Between Serb and Albanian: A History of Kosovo." She'll be back with us to talk more about the conflict in Kosovo in the second half of the show.

I'm Marty Moss-Coane and this is FRESH AIR.


This is FRESH AIR. I'm Marty Moss-Coane in for Terry Gross.

We've been talking with Miranda Vickers about the fighting in Kosovo. More than 100,000 Kosovars have fled their villages due to the fighting between the Kosovo Liberation Army, the KLA, and the Yugoslav government forces. Vickers just returned from Kosovo, Albania, and Montenegro, where she was working as an Albanian analyst for the International Crisis Group, which was set up after the Dayton Peace Accord. She's also the author of "Between Serb and Albanian: A History of Kosovo."

I asked Vickers how the KLA recruit their soldiers.

VICKERS: They have no shortage of recruits from the diaspora -- European diaspora -- and also from the people themselves who are in Kosovo -- the men and boys in the villages who want to defend their land. And some of these recruits have actually no wider ambitions or intentions, other than protecting the very homes and fields and livestock and families that they have.

It's -- those -- the organizers of the KLA are mainly from the diaspora. They have been getting quite large sums of money donated to them by -- in fundraising events during the last year. They hold regular meetings here in London and throughout Europe and in America, where vast sums of money are donated by wealthy Albanians -- Kosovar Albanians, not Albanians from Albania.

But as regards their tactics, they have more -- their weapons supply is somewhat erratic. They have more Kolashnikovs (ph) probably than they know what to do with, having bought up an awful lot of Albania's surplus Kolashnikov supply, which were looted, as I said earlier, from -- during the uprising in Albania last year. But what they need, really, is hard -- military hardware; much more sophisticated weaponry. They can't fight tanks and the military might of the Yugoslav army with Kolashnikovs.

And here we have -- we have a problem. They are in effect going to be very useful as a guerrilla army, but not as a standing army. They don't need any more recruits. What the KLA really need is more money to buy more sophisticated weaponry, such as anti-aircraft guns et cetera. And it's this phase of the struggle which I think they're going to have to aim for because they have achieved singularly nothing, really, in the last five years -- five months of struggle. They have not managed to capture one single important town, albeit for a few hours or a day. And so they have to rethink their strategy.

MOSS-COANE: Does the Kosovo Liberation Army have the support of the Albanians in Kosovo?

VICKERS: Yes. It's become now more of a peoples army, and this is -- as the more of this drags on, and the more paralysis we see -- inaction on behalf of the international community on how to deal with this crisis -- we're seeing this large swathe of territory being blitzed through by the Yugoslav army. Refugees -- people just up and moving, and have -- naturally, they're going to support the only people they can see who can defend them, and that's not the passive Albanian politicians in Pristina, and Ibrahim Rugova. These are the commanders with the weapons who, although they're disunited, they are -- wherever they can be found, they present a form of sanctuary and safety to the people who are fleeing.

MOSS-COANE: This -- this crisis -- this conflict in Kosovo -- is this a greater threat to the Balkan regions and even beyond than the fighting, the war in the former Yugoslavia?

VICKERS: Well yes, because however awful and dreadful the fighting was in Bosnia, it could be contained. As I said previously, this -- this cannot be contained if it's allowed -- if it spills into Macedonia. It's already affecting the ethnic balance in Montenegro, and causing great disruption in northern Albania where in particular, the Kosovars do sympathize with the former ex-President Sali Berisha (ph) who was overthrown in the revolution last year.

The -- one key factor in all of this is that the Kosovar, as a whole, that's the KLA leadership, the diaspora, and people in Kosovo, have very little regard for the government in Tirana of Fatas Nanu (ph), who they see as a communist, although he represents a socialist party. They see that as the reformed Communist Party, and believe that the foreign policy of Tirana, of Albania is being dictated by Athens, rather than by -- for -- for Albanian -- the help of Kosovar Albanians.

So there is a lot of distrust there. This -- this conflict has got to be contained. Otherwise, the entire southern Balkan region is likely to erupt.

MOSS-COANE: Let me go to the year 1991, and that was the year that Albanians in Kosovo declared independence. And it's the year that they also elected a president, Ibrahim Rugova. What was their vision for their country? Was it a completely Albanian country? A country that then would create a kind of pan-Albanian state?

VICKERS: Yes. The parallel state which they set up, they didn't imagine would have to last for more than a year or so at the most, while they were waiting for international recognition. But they believed also that the historic moment had come where they could unify all the Albanian peoples of the Balkans into what they call not a greater Albania, but what Albanians terms as an ethnic Albania -- that is, an Albania that includes all those of -- belonging to the ethnic Albanian nation who live in the former Yugoslavia and Albania, and a small region of northern Greece, which the Albanians called Chamborea (ph).

MOSS-COANE: Was there room for Kosovo Serbs in this vision for a country?

VICKERS: Well, yes, in the manifesto -- the Constitution of the newly declared Republic of Kosovo, there was a clause giving rights to the minority -- Montenegrin and Serb minority who would remain in the province, along with the Turkish and Muslim minorities. These rights were going to be safeguarded under constitutional law. And as far as the Abanians were concerned, they would have achieved their self-determination, but with international guarantees of their sovereignty, but also international guarantees that the Slav minority would also be protected in this state.

MOSS-COANE: Well, I want to talk some more, but first we have to take a short break. And our guest today is Miranda Vickers, and we're talking about Kosovo. She just returned from Kosovo. She's Albanian analyst for the International Crisis Group, and that was set up after the Dayton Accords. She's also a historian and a political analyst, and the author of a history of Kosovo called Between Serb and Albanian.

We'll be back after a short break. This is FRESH AIR.


MOSS-COANE: My guest is Miranda Vickers, and we're talking about Kosovo. She's written a book on the history of Kosovo called "Between Serb and Albanian."

What role has Slobodan Milosevic played in this conflict in Kosovo? And what do you hold him responsible for?

VICKERS: Well, it's generally regarded that Milosevic used the Kosovo issue to bring himself credibility and power within -- in the last days of the old Yugoslavia in 1989. He appeared on the anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo -- 600th anniversary -- where he gave a vitriolic speech, using the famous phrase "never again will you Serbs" -- words to the effect that never again will Serbs be downtrodden and maltreated. He would be their protector.

And no more -- the place where Serbs felt the most hard done by in the old Yugoslavia was in Kosovo, because of the status they were granted under the -- Tito's 1974 Constitution.

MOSS-COANE: So did he urge Serbs in Kosovo to rise up?

VICKERS: He -- not so much rise up, but he promised on their behalf to amend this Constitution, in fact repeal it completely, and bring Kosovo into the orbit of Serbia as a constituent of Serbia, not an autonomous province as it was under the 1974 Constitution; thus giving Belgrade, rather than Pristina, control over the affairs of the inhabitants of Kosovo.

MOSS-COANE: In talking about Kosovo, there are two million people that live there -- nine Albanians to one Serb. Have there been periods in the history of Kosovo when these groups have gotten along together? When they have been able to intermarry and in a sense see each other as part of the same destiny?

VICKERS: Yes, I mean ties have never been terribly close, but there was never the inter-ethnic strife we've seen this century -- in previous centuries. The ethnic troubles we've seen between Serbs and Albanians have been largely exacerbated towards the end of the last century, from 18 -- from the Crimean War, 1856 onwards, by the great powers of the day who were competing for supremacy in the region and using the various religious, socio-ethnic differences of the peoples of this part of the Ottoman Empire in order to achieve their own ambitions and goals.

And because under Ottoman rule, the millet (ph) system did help divide Christian from Muslim; Albanian from Serb et cetera. It was very easy for these great powers to exploit the differences and to exacerbate them. And we see this during the course of the Balkan Wars, the First World War, and the tensions that we've seen in the region ever since.

MOSS-COANE: How different, though, are these cultures? Give us an example.

VICKERS: Well, one of the first most obvious differences is in the fertility level. Albanians often in the villages can have 12, 13 children. It's quite common. Whereas Slavs, be they Serbs or Montenegrins, very rarely have more than two to three children. Therefore, it gives the impression of -- in Serbian villages, in Serbian areas -- of a much more orderly, tidier, neater environment. Whereas in the Albanian villages, there are just children everywhere, as far as you can see -- children of all ages running up and down.

And as anyone whose brought up children knows, that they do create a sort of aura of chaos, if you get an awful lot of children running around. And this is one -- it may sound superficial, but this is a distinction which Serbs, more than Albanians, actually bring up all the time. And because also in the Albanian villages their houses are spotlessly, scrupulously clean. But there isn't -- outside there isn't such a sense of civic awareness, as you'll see much more litter and dirt in the streets of Albanian houses. Whereas, as I've said, the people themselves and the homes are spotlessly clean.

And Serbs are always complaining that the filth and dirt and squalor of Albanian villages means it's just impossible for them to live there. They just don't want to live in that -- in those kind of conditions.

MOSS-COANE: We're talking about Kosovo today, and my guest is Miranda Vickers. She's the Albanian analyst for the International Crisis Group, which was set up after the Dayton Accords. She just returned from Kosovo, and she's the author of a book, a history of Kosovo called "Between Serb and Albanian."

Well, I know that NATO has been considering the use of military strikes, and haven't done so because they're not sure exactly how to direct those strikes. Would that move Milosevic, do you think, at all?

VICKERS: Well it's hard to say. It really does depend on where the strikes are, and what specific targets. But you see, the problem is this -- on the -- in a legal sense, the Yugoslav army is defending its territorial integrity.

MOSS-COANE: 'Cause it's a country, in a sense.

VICKER: That's right. Yugoslavia is an independent country, which is under threat from a secessionist terrorist organization. And that's the fact of it. That's the -- there's no country on Earth that would let terror -- just hand over territory to a terrorist group. The Albanians say they're not going into negotiations unless Milosevic's troops withdraw from the areas that they hold. Well, that would effectively hand over that territory for good to the KLA. Well, the international community cannot expect Milosevic to acquiesce to that.

Therefore, what's -- what pressure must be put on Milosevic is just to halt the destruction of the villages; to halt the harassment of those Albanians who are willing to return to their villages. We must get those people home before winter. It's -- there should be no reason why these villages need to be systematically razed to the ground, which at the moment they're not being done, but just a few -- a few houses being torched here and there. But this is enough to intimidate Albanians not to return.

MOSS-COANE: You say it's imperative for the international community to pull itself together and to address the problem. What leverage, though, does the international community have? And based on what you have described for us, what alternatives to they have to bring some kind of at least peace, and then some kind of resolution to the conflict?

VICKERS: Well, there's a reluctance, obviously, on behalf of not only the Americans, but the Europeans as well, to get bogged down yet further in the Balkans, because as we know the Dayton Accord isn't going too well, and things could fall apart in Bosnia as soon as any international community force has left. And Macedonia's already being propped up by a significant presence of American troops and EU border monitors et cetera.

This is an extremely difficult problem. If for -- the expense of all this has to be taken into account. I think it's been widely broadcast how expensive a deployment of troops in Northern Albania alone, and Macedonia along the border, would be because logistically the conditions are so bad that almost everything would have to be brought in from outside, and a continuous back up would -- it would be phenomenally expensive.

So these are the options the international community are having to weigh up, and you can understand their paralysis and hesitation and indecision. But on the other hand, unless -- in my opinion, unless the Albanian border is reinforced by troops fairly fast that that country itself will be the first to be destabilized, and then followed by Macedonia.

So I really feel that unless Milosevic can be told to stop -- to halt the actual -- to go -- OK, continue his offensive against individual KLA guerrilla groups, but to leave the villages intact, and to have international presence -- an international presence on the -- for the return in those villages, for when those villagers to return, and to guarantee their security and safety.

MOSS-COANE: And based on what you know about the region and your observations there, are you optimistic? Pessimistic?

VICKERS: I'm fairly pessimistic, really, because I think we're coming up to the elections in Macedonia pretty soon, and tensions there are literally at boiling point. The region is heavily armed. There are thousands of arms hidden away in Macedonia just ready to be used. The Albanian minority there are distinct -- feel distinctly oppressed, as they do -- there are some -- not as bad as the situation in Kosovo, but there are serious human rights abuses in Macedonia.

And it's -- the lid can't be kept on this boiling pot any longer. And that's -- I'm afraid we're not just talking about the problem in Kosovo. We're talking about the situation in Macedonia, which has, like Kosovo, been ignored and brushed under the carpet since everything was supposedly sorted out over Dayton. And I say Dayton itself is in a shaky, shaky position in Bosnia.

So I think we're -- this -- there needs to be an international conference on the future of the entire Southern Balkan region -- every single country; not to isolate Kosovars as a specific in this problem; or Macedonians as specific. This is a regional problem -- a serious regional problem for Europe.

MOSS-COANE: Miranda Vickers just returned from Kosovo, Albania and Montenegro, where she was working as an Albanian analyst for the International Crisis Group, which was set up after the Dayton Peace Accord. She's also the author of "Between Serb and Albanian: A History of Kosovo."

This is FRESH AIR.

This is a rush transcript. This copy may not
be in its final form and may be updated.


Dateline: Marty Moss-Coane, Washington, DC
Guest: Miranda Vickers
High: We discuss the situation in Kosovo with Miranda Vickers, Britain's leading historian of the Albanian people in general and Kosovo in particular. The conflict continues between Serbs and Albanians for control of the region. Vickers is an Albanian analyst for the International Crisis Group set up after the Dayton accords. Her new book is called "Between Serb and Albanian: A History of Kosovo." (Columbia University Press).
Spec: War; Peace; Violence; Europe
Please note, this is not the final feed of record
Copy: Content and programming copyright 1998 WHYY, Inc. All rights reserved. Transcribed by FDCH, Inc. under license from WHYY, Inc. Formatting copyright 1998 FDCH, Inc. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to WHYY, Inc. This transcript may not be reproduced in whole or in part without prior written permission.
End-Story: Situation in Kosovo
Date: AUGUST 13, 1998
Time: 12:00
Tran: 081303NP.217
Head: Composer Elliot Carter
Sect: Entertainment
Time: 12:52

MARTY MOSS-COANE, HOST: Composer Elliot Carter turns 90 on December 11, but his birthday is being celebrated all year long through recordings and performances. Music critic Lloyd Schwartz has just returned from Tanglewood where Carter was an honored guest at the Festival of Contemporary Music. Lloyd says Carter's most recent work is not only some of his best, but also some of his most youthful.

LLOYD SCHWARTZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC CRITIC: I went up to Elliot Carter after the east coast premier at Tanglewood of his clarinet concerto. I'd been particularly moved by the slow sections and I told Carter that I thought he wrote the best slow movements since Schubert. "I'm touched that you think so," he said. "But what about the fast movements? Those are good, too. They're a lot more work because there are so many more notes to write down."

For me, Carter's exhilarating extremes of tempo represent two different kinds of soul-searching -- one scurrying, frantic, or comic like a Keystone Kops chase; the other calm, eerie, more inward, even ecstatic. Each needs the other. Here's the amazing transition from the roller coaster presto of the clarinet concerto, which Carter wants the woodwinds to play as fast as possible. Then suddenly, we're in a slow movement for clarinet and strings, where time seems to stop.


That was from the performance of Elliot Carter's clarinet concerto that I heard at Tanglewood, played by Boston Symphony clarinetist Thomas Martin and a group of young Tanglewood fellows under the direction of Stefan Asbury (ph) -- maybe the perfect group to convey Carter's own astonishingly youthful energy.

Carter's 90th year has been a good one. He's in fine health and has been working hard. He's just completed his very first opera called "What Next?" which was inspired by the Jacques Tati comedy "Traffic." And because of his landmark birthday, his music is getting more performances in his own country after years of neglect.

I can remember back in the early '70s, waiting in the crowd trying to get into hear the Juilliard Quartet play the first Boston performance of Carter's Third String Quartet. The cultural climate is different now. Audiences have been seduced by the simplicities of minimalism. Music programs in our schools have dwindled.

They love Carter in Europe, though. "What Next?" will have its world premier next year in Berlin.

Despite Carter's reputation for difficulty, his new pieces are not hard to follow. Both the clarinet concerto and the Fifth String Quartet, which was also played at Tanglewood, are a series of character movements marked joking or tranquil or agitated. These alternate with more chaotic intervals, sometimes very brief, that recall or anticipate fragments from earlier or later sections. It's one-way music, Carter says -- expresses how the mind works.

He compares the witty, edgy opening of the Fifth String Quartet to something you might overhear at a rehearsal -- each player warming up or tuning up independently of the others. It's the ultimate democracy. Carter dedicated it to the Ardiddy (ph) Quartet who played it magnificently at Tanglewood. They might be even better on their new CD.


I wish I could play excerpts from all the recent Carter recordings, especially Charles Rosen (ph) playing Carter's complete solo piano music on Bridge Records; and on CPO, the dazzling Ensemble Contrasts from Germany
playing Carter's delicious and profound chamber music for winds.

Carter has been lucky with finding great performers who've loved his music. And the level of expertise keeps going up. What was challenging 20 years ago now seems almost effortless. The musicians are hearing not only the notes, but the music -- so we can hear it, too.

MOSS-COANE: Lloyd Schwartz is classical music critic for the Boston Phoenix. Elliot Carter celebrates his 90th birthday this year. He was honored at the recent Tanglewood Contemporary Music Festival.

For Terry Gross, I'm Marty Moss-Coane.

This is a rush transcript. This copy may not
be in its final form and may be updated.


Dateline: Marty Moss-Coane, Washington, DC
Guest: Lloyd Schwartz
High: Classical music critic Lloyd Schwartz just returned from Tanglewood, where composer Elliot Carter was a guest of honor at the Festival of Contemporary Music. Carter will be 90 on December 11, 1998, and his birthday has been celebrated all year long in recordings and performances. Schwartz has a review of the Tanglewood performance.
Spec: Art; Music Industry; Classical
Please note, this is not the final feed of record
Copy: Content and programming copyright 1998 WHYY, Inc. All rights reserved. Transcribed by FDCH, Inc. under license from WHYY, Inc. Formatting copyright 1998 FDCH, Inc. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to WHYY, Inc. This transcript may not be reproduced in whole or in part without prior written permission.
End-Story: Composer Elliot Carter
Date: AUGUST 13, 1998
Time: 12:00
Tran: 081304NP.217

This is a rush transcript. This copy may not
be in its final form and may be updated.



Please note, this is not the final feed of record
Transcripts are created on a rush deadline, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of Fresh Air interviews and reviews are the audio recordings of each segment.

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