by Keith Nordstrom
BY CRAIG BORGES / SUN CHRONICLE STAFF
You can pretty much count
on more tragic news to come out of Kosovo over the summer.
NATO and KFOR officials are to decide soon, possibly this
week, whether to relax what military officials call the
Ground Safety Zone, or GSZ.
The GSZ was established
all around Kosovo in 1999 following NATO's defeat of the
Serb army. NATO declared the approximately 3-mile-wide strip
of land, which actually is in Serbia proper, off limits
to Serb troops. The strip was designed as a buffer zone
to keep the Yugo army and NATO peacekeepers away from each
other. Rebels groups that would like to see a greater Albania,
or at least an independent Kosovo, quickly established a
stronghold in the zone, using it as a safe haven to conduct
lightning strikes against both the Serbs and Macedonia to
the southeast. The zone was also put to good use in other
areas of Kosovo by smugglers who run black markets.
Over the past year the zone
has been relaxed, in phases, leaving only the strip bordering
Military officials here
at Camp Bondsteel say that area, too, could be relaxed as
early as this month. Officials fear that the many ethnic
Albanian rebel groups operating out of the zone will cause
problems once the Serbs move back in and fighting between
rebels and Serb soldiers is a very real threat.
up with the many political and rebel groups seeking to establish
a foothold in Kosovo can get tiring. Keeping up with the
groups' many acronyms isn't easy either.
During the 1999 war, the
only rebel group that mattered was the Kosovo Liberation
Army (KLA in English or UCK in Albanian).
The KLA has since dissolved,
or at least its former leader, Hashim Thaqi has pulled a
Yassar Arafat/Gerry Adams, going the political route and
leading the Kosovo Democratic Party, or PDK.
Since the KLA's demise,
a number of other rebel groups seeking a greater Albania
or independent Kosovo, have grown.
The groups include the National
Liberation Army (NLA), which claims most of its members
are citizens of Macedonia who want a greater Kosovo; the
Liberation Army of Presevo, Medvedja and Bujanovac (UCPMB),
which seeks an independent Kosovo, free from Serbia and
the umbrella called Yugoslavia; and various other splinter
groups unhappy with the NLA, the UCPMB or both. Nothing's
ever easy in the Balkans.
Most soldiers, like everyone
else, enjoy publicity. They want their families to know
the hard work they're doing out here in Kosovo. It doesn't
matter much if the reporters aren't from their state or
A couple of Spanish soldiers
visiting Camp Bondsteel the other day requested a clipping
of a story in which they are mentioned in The Sun Chronicle.
Please send it to us in Madrid, they asked, and photos,
too. A copy will be in the mail by next week.
Dr. Gregory Quick's father-in-law
is Gene Conley, former Milwaukee Braves and Boston Celtics
player. Conley played for the Milwaukee Braves in the 1950s
as well as the Boston Celtics. Quick, a colonel with the
U.S. Army Reserve's 399th Combat Support Hospital stationed
here in Kosovo, said Conley retired to Foxboro.