This massacre and the quick informing of the international public opinion made
a turn in international politics. The international community began to
understand even more that there is a war going on in Kosovo. Although it was
very clear before, still, this massacre brought people together. It brought a
higher level of organization, and made the resistance more powerful. Compared
with others, this massacre echoed more. It was terrible; I experienced it
myself, because I visited the place. I was four or five kilometers away from
the place when the massacre happened.
After the summer offensive, the agreed cease-fire by Holbrooke happens. You
never signed that cease-fire. Why not?
That agreement had some positive effect. But still there were leaks in it,
because we were not consulted enough about the agreement The Yugoslav side did
not want us to sign the agreement. But because we wanted to contribute to a
quicker peace in Kosovo, we declared our restraint, a restraint that we
respected, although the Milosevic-Holbrooke agreement had unclear elements that
later were reflected after OSCE arrived here.
Do you think that the fact that you were not considered during this
agreement shows the international attitude towards the size and influence of
the KLA in that time?
At that time, things were still not defined. The international community
didn't have a clear idea of what was going to happen in Kosovo and how will
they behave. This was because there wasn't a real unity inside the political
and military structures of the international community.
Then came the winter offensive, which started Christmas night 1998, and
culminated with the massacre of Racak. Do you think they entered Racak and
killed 45 Albanians as revenge for the actions that KLA had taken on the
Serbian security forces?
All the Serbian forces in Kosovo were occupying forces in Kosovo. We were
continually defending ourselves from the attacks they made in specific regions
of Kosovo. In accordance to this, there is the case where we took nine Serb
soldiers as hostages in one region. I consider that a turning point, because
not only was the international community recognizing the KLA, but so was the
Yugoslav government. Eventually, they had to enter negotiations with us to
exchange prisoners of war. I think this was a turning point in recognizing
that the KLA is a credible force in Kosovo.
But during the Racak massacre, were there a lot of actions?
There were continuous confrontations, and I consider that it was really an
organized massacre. It was a massacre that influenced the international public
opinion a lot, and it clarified the positioning of the international community
about what should they really do in Kosovo.
Were you surprised, in the beginning, with the massive organizing of the
Rambouillet conference? Had you thought that maybe it would not be too
Speaking honestly, the Rambouillet conference in the beginning did not leave an
impression that it is that serious. But still, we were prepared. We presented
our opinions concerning what and where should we start. The first weakness of
the Rambouillet conference is that our proposal for reaching an agreement
between Albanian and Serbian party with the protectorate of the third
international party was not respected. We had accurate information.
. . . We presented our proposal for the cease-fire agreement, to be signed
first. Then we could discuss the peaceful agreement, because we were convinced
that a more aggressive confrontation would happen in Kosovo--and it actually
How did you value the reactions of Washington at that time?
The reactions were such that they were supporting the fact that we must consult
with the people in Kosovo. We must consult all the politicians and the
citizens of Kosovo, and we must not forget that I had about 20,000 armed people
in Kosovo who asked for explanations. I respect the duty I was given, though
this did not influence the situations created later.
NATO started the bombing, but it seemed like there was no success to finally
end the war. When was the moment that you believed that this might all
From the moment NATO made the decision to intervene, I believed that this was
a point of no return, and this war will be won by the KLA and NATO.
How important was the NATO bombing?
Without NATO bombing, the world shame would still have been going on in Kosovo.
Even bigger tragedies would be happening here. I'm glad that the world
understood. General Clark especially was very determined, and of course he had
the international political support, though I consider that we did our
important duty on the ground.
Did KLA had continuous contacts with NATO? What about specifications of the
I believe that NATO knew very well the positioning of Serbian troops in Kosovo.
Naturally, our contacts were official communications with political structures
of international community. The communications were in accordance with the
conditions and the reality created in Kosovo.
Did you ever directly contact General Clark, during the bombing?
We talked with people from political structures, but we don't exclude the
possibility that we have might have talked with military structures of NATO.
Was there any sort of strategic coordination that you could confirm?
KLA and NATO had the same goal--to get the Serbian troops out of Kosovo. This
common objective influenced the strengthening of our ground resistance and NATO
bombing. NATO had all the possibilities to find out about the positioning of
Serbian military forces in Kosovo.
For a long time, key people, like yourself, in the KLA leadership kept their
identities secret. You had fighting names. Why was there a need for such a
The Serbian Secret Service was very active and very professional in Kosovo. If
it wasn't for this secrecy, we wouldn't be successful. We weren't that
secretive after 1997, because we had decided to make an open war. So we all
were known by name. We waged a legal war, and we were all known for the public
Robert Gelbard, a state department special envoy for Kosovo, called you
That was a personal evaluation, and not a US evaluation.
How did you feel when your activity was called a terrorist
I wasn't too upset. It was a coordination of evaluations from Mr. Rugova, Mr.
Gelbard, and from Milosevic. At least, there was a parallel in those
How successful were the Yugoslav Army's attacks against the KLA?
There were successes of Yugoslav Army, but they were relative successes.
In what aspect were they successful?
I cannot speak of "success," because the Yugoslav army offensives were based on
killing and massacres of women and children--on complete destruction, looting
and burning--and not by confronting the regular forces of the KLA. So that we
would protect the civilians, we were often put in a situation to use tactical
withdrawal to save them.
Do you think that by attacking civilians, they achieved the goal of making
the KLA lose support among its people?
That was the objective-- a complete destruction of civilians, to cause fear and
panic and turn citizens of Kosovo against the KLA. On the contrary, this was
followed by a continuous growth, and even a more powerful KLA.
How do you value the definitive peace agreement -- KFOR entering Kosovo, and
the process of demilitarization of the KLA?
There will be other agreements signed in Kosovo, because it is an open process.
We will certainly have an agreement when the process of KLA transformation is
Do you think that it was a high price for the people to pay during the war?
Do you think it was worth it?
Well, the people who fight are meant to spill blood. There is no freedom
without blood, though we tried maximally to spill as little blood as
Do you think there was another way?
Without war, Serbia would have never left Kosovo.
how it was fought .
ethnic cleansing .
fighting for morals .
facts & figures .
tapes & transcripts .
web site copyright 1995-2014
WGBH educational foundation