Documents still being destroyed: Liberation of Kosovo

Public Records

KOSOVO'S FORMER Serbian governor is reported to be shipping out and destroying documents, in a move that threatens hundreds of thousands of refugees' plans to reclaim their property and rebuild their lives.

On Monday a member of the UN mission in Kosovo, whose task is to oversee all civilian aspects of life in the province, saw workers shredding documents in the Pristina administration building still run by Zoran Andjelkovic, leader of the temporary executive council of Kosovo and Metohija (the Serbian name for the province).

The UN has still not yet secured buildings in Pristina housing public records - birth, death and marriage certificates, property deeds, nationality papers and the like - which in Kosovo carry a significant political weight. Yesterday morning, a large lorry marked Yugoslavia Speditiones Nis was parked up against a wall of the building, ready for loading. Asked what the workers were doing, one replied: "We are just removing material, paper material."

UN officials in Pristina and New York are concerned about K-For's delay in securing public buildings. "The question is, what has been destroyed in the past 48 hours? What has been lost already?" asked one member of the UN mission.

Some officials have argued against confronting Mr Andjelkovic for fear of antagonising the Serbian administration.

This attitude worries veterans of the UN's Bosnian operation, where the UN mission frequently deferred to the Serbs, only prolonging and worsening the inevitable conflict between Belgrade and the Western powers. One UN official said yesterday that "concern was expressed" to Mr Andjelkovic. But given the Serbian authorities' track record in Kosovo, stronger action may be required to secure the archives.

Mr Andjelkovic yesterday denied that his staff were destroying papers. "No, all documents are preserved," he said. "We did not let Bosnia and Croatia be repeated, to burn the documents proving the Serbian population existed here."

In the administration building a new "information centre" has been set up, staffed by men in red boiler suits marked "Centre for Peace and Tolerance", a Belgrade-based organisation completely unknown until now. The job now is to record Serbian complaints of crime and intimidation and pass them to K-For.

Mr Andjelkovic, who works below a large photograph of President Slobodan Milosevic, was in unusually conciliatory mood yesterday. He warned of Albanian "criminal gangs" but said he was prepared to surrender his office (decorated with two large Yugoslav and Serbian flags) to the head of the temporary UN administration.

The UN mission in Kosovo faces a Herculean task in building a fair and legitimate administration in a very short time. "You cannot parachute in a bureaucracy and management in the way that you can parachute in troops," said Kevin Kennedy, a UN spokesman.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea