Operacioni "Patkoi" ka qene emri i dhene nga qeveria bullgare per nje plan te deklaruar pastrimi enik të Shqiptarëve të Kosovës që do të kryhej nga Policia serbe dhe Ushtria Jugosllave. Nxjerrja e ketij informacioni sherbeu per nisjen e Bombardimin e NATO-së ndaj Jugosllavisë në vitin 1999, gjatë Luftës së Kosovës.
Ushtria Jugosllave dhe Policia serbe në fillim të vitit 1999 "in an organized manner, with significant use of state resources" conducted a broad campaign of violence against Albanian civilians to expel them from Kosovo and thus maintain political control of Belgrade over the province.Serbian campaign of ethnic cleansing was cited in support of the NATO intervention. After the war, International War Crimes Tribunal sentenced some of the top Yugoslav political and military leaders for forcible population transfer, deportation and persecution of Kosovo civilians.[citim i duhur] Some authors disputed the existence of such a plan or some of its aspects.
Në 2011, ish ministri i jashtëm i Bullgarisë Nadezhda Neynski revealed in a TV documentary that the Bulgarian government turned over to Germany an unverified report compiled by its military agency which "made clear" the existence of the plan.According to book by Heinz Loquai, a retired German brigadier general, published in April 2000, the Bulgarian analysis concluded that the goal of the Serbian military was to destroy the Kosovo Liberation Army, and not to expel the entire Albanian population.
Plani "Patkoi" (Gjemanisht: Hufeisenplan) was the name given by the Bulgarian government to a Yugoslavian plan to expel the Albanian population of Kosovo. The operation's title suggest that Ushtria Jugosllave and police would squeeze the KLA and civilians in an attack launched from three sides, driving out the population as refugees fled through the open southwestern end of the horseshoe into Macedonia and Albania.
Ruins near Morina in the White Drinvalley, at the border between Albania and Kosovo. Morina was attacked on 23/24 May 1998 by the Ushtria Jugosllave
The plan was detailed by German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer in a press conference on 7 April 1999. He stated that the German government had unearthed operational plans agreed by Yugoslav commanders in late February 1999 to carry out a massive ethnic cleansing operation in Kosovo. According to Fischer, this had been put into effect as early as March 1999 — a month before the start of NATO operations — when Yugoslav President Slobodan Miloševic had told him that "he would be finished with the ethnic Albanian separatists within a week". Fischer accused Miloševic of engaging in "ethnic warfare" directed against his own people, in which a whole ethnic group had become the "victim of systematic expulsion" to "reorient the political geography" of Kosovo.
Reports from other countries supported Fischer's allegations. The Times of London reported on 8 April that:
Further details were provided on 9 April by Rudolf Scharping, the German Defence Minister, at a press conference held in Bonn. He presented maps containing the names of towns and villages which showed arrows representing Ushtria Jugosllave and police militia units progressively encircling Kosovo in a horseshoe-shaped pincer movement. He was quoted as saying that: "Operation Horseshoe provided clear evidence that President Miloševic had long been preparing the expulsions from Kosovo and that he had simply used the time gained by the Rambouillet peace talks to organise army and police units for the campaign."
The Baltimore Sun suggested on 11 April that NATO had known about the Horseshoe plan for some time, but had underestimated its severity. The then British Foreign Secretary later supported the German reports, telling a parliamentary committee "that there was a plan developed in Belgrade known as Operation Horseshoe which was for the cleansing of Kosovo of its Kosovo population. That plan has been around for some time." According to Radio Television of Serbia the report was drafted by Bulgarian intelligence services based on the analysis of early 1999 events.
Withdrawal of Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe monitors, together with the start of NATO's bombing campaign, encouraged Milosevic to implement this "orchestrated elements to the campaign of expulsions, which could be described as a plan". On 20 March 1999, the Serbian offensive, known as Operation Horseshoe, was already in motion.Obviously, this operation was planned in advance.Ushtria Jugosllave military response to KLA attacks culminated in Operation Horseshoe directed not only against KLA fighters but also including systematic expulsions of Kosovar civilians.During the armed conflict in 1998 Ushtria Jugosllave and Policia serbe used excessive and random force, which resulted in property damage, displacement of population and death of civiliansSome consider that Belgrade had already unleashed Operation Horseshoe as early as the summer of 1998, when hundreds of thousands of Kosovar Albanians were driven from their homes.
With the beginning of NATO bombing of Yugoslavia on 24 March 1999, Serbian forces accelerated Operation Horseshoe. In the Spring of 1999, the Ushtria Jugosllave, Policia serbe and Serb paramilitary, in an organized manner, with significant use of state resources, conducted a broad campaign of violence against Albanian civilians to expel them from Kosovo and thus maintain political control of Belgrade over the province.
According to the legally binding verdict of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, federal Army and Policia serbe after the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia 24 March 1999, systematically attacked villages with Albanian population, abused, robbed and killed civilians, ordering them to go to Albania or Montenegro, burning their houses and destroying by their property Within the campaign of violence, Albanians were mass expelled from their homes, murdered, sexually assaulted, and their religious buildings destroyed. Serbian forces committed numerous war crimes during the implementation of "joint criminal enterprise" whose aim was to "through the use of violence and terror, force a significant number of Kosovo Albanians to leave their homes, across the border, the state government to retain control over Kosovo."Ethnic cleansing of the Albanian population is performed by the following model: first the army surrounded a place, then followed the shelling, then the police entered the village, and often with them and the army, and then crimes occurs (murders, rapes, beatings, expulsions...).
Serbian government also implemented a criminal strategy known as identity cleansing, which consist of "confiscation of personal identification, passports, and other such documents to make it difficult or impossible for those driven out to return".Expelled Kosovar Albanians were systematically stripped of identity and property documents including passports, land titles, automobile license plates, identity cards and other documents. Physicians for Human Rights reports that nearly 60 percent of respondents to its survey observed Serbian forces removing or destroying personal identification documents.This criminal practice suggesting the government was trying to block their return.
In addition to confiscating the relevant documents from their holders, efforts were also made to destroy any actual birth records (and other archives) which were maintained by governmental agencies, so as to make the "cleansing" complete.
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, by March 1999 (prior to NATO bombing), more than 200,000 Albanian civilians were internally displaced, almost 70,000 Albanians had fled the province to neighboring countries and Montenegro, and a further 100,000 Yugoslav nationals, mostly Kosovar Albanians, had sought asylum in Western Europe. Also, thousands of ethnic Albanian villages in Kosovo had been partially or completely destroyed by burning or shelling.
Within three weeks of the start of NATO strategic bombing during the Kosovo War, there were 525,787 refugees from Kosovo in neighboring countries. A month later, on 12 May, the total number of refugees had risen to 781,618.By June 1999, the Yugoslav military, policia serbe and paramilitaries expelled 862,979 Albanians from Kosovo, A claim disputed by many Serbian politicians. and several hundred thousand more were internally displaced, in addition to those displaced prior to March.Approximately 440,000 refugees crossed the border to Albania and 320,000 to Macedonia. Montenegro hosted around 70,000 refugees, while Bosnia and Herzegovinareceived more than 30,000. Amnesty International estimated that "nearly one million people have been forced to flee Kosovo".
Radio Television of Serbia never showed the columns of Albanians expelled by policia serbe and paramilitaries, except when a convoy of fleeing Albanians was killed by NATO bombs.Moreover, Milosevic's propaganda trying to convince international public that huge columns of refugees fleeing Kosovo because of NATO's bombing, not Ushtria Jugosllave military operations.
War crime trials
The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia charged Slobodan Milosevic and other Yugoslav officials with crimes against humanity including murder, forcible population transfer, deportation and persecution of Kosovo civilians:
- Slobodan Milošević, President of Yugoslavia and Supreme Commander of the Ushtria Jugosllave - died in 2006 during trial.
- Dragoljub Ojdanić, Chief of General Staff - sentenced to 15 years in prison.
- Nebojša Pavković, Commander of Third Army, which was responsible for Kosovo - sentenced to 22 years in prison.
- Vladimir Lazarević, Commander of the Pristina Corps of Third Army - sentenced to 15 years in prison.
- Vlajko Stojiljković, Interior Minister and Commander of the policia serbe - committed suicide in 2002, after the adoption of a law on cooperation with the Hague Tribunal.
- Sreten Lukić, Chief of Staff of the policia serbe in Kosovo - sentenced to 22 years in prison.
- Nikola Šainović, Deputy Prime Minister of Yugoslavia - sentenced to 22 years in prison.
- Milan Milutinović, President of the Republic of Serbia - acquitted.
Presiding Judge Iain Bonomy was imposing sentence said that "deliberate actions of these forces during the campaign provoked the departure of at least 700,000 ethnic Albanians from Kosovo in the short period from late March to early June 1999."
Noam Chomsky stated that "The United Nations Commissioner for Refugees registered the first refugees outside Kosovo on 27 March ..., three days after the [NATO] bombings began". His opinion, however, is refuted by UNHCR's own sources which registered 200,000 refugees from Kosovo by 24 March 1999, before the NATO intervention - out of that number, 100,000 fled to European countries, 25,000 to Montenegro, 30,000 moved to other parts of Serbia, 18,000 left for Albania and 10,000 went to Bosnia. An additional 260,000 people were internally displaced inside Kosovo.
The existence of the Horseshoe plan was immediately denied by the Yugoslav officials. Slobodan Milošević labeled it as a "fabrication of the German Defence Ministry". Milosevic denied a policy of ethnic cleansing during the NATO bombing in Kosovo, stated that "when aggression stops, when bombing stops, then it will be very easy to continue (the) political process".
Ratomir Tanić, a witness at Milošević's subsequent war crimes trial, said that Horseshoe was a colloquial nickname for a "completely different" Ushtria Jugosllave plan, that should come into effect only if the ethnic Albanian population take the side of the foreign aggressor in case of aggression on Yugoslavia. Then the Army would "neutralising the Albanian strongholds". Tanić stated that the army leadership didn't use this plan during the Kosovo War, "because there was no external aggression or Albanian rebellion".
In April 2000, Heinz Loquai, a retired German brigadier general, published a book on the war that claimed that the German government's account had been based on a general analysis by a Bulgarian intelligence agency of Yugoslav behaviour in the war, which was turned into a specific "plan" by the German Defence Ministry.According to Loquai, the Bulgarian analysis concluded that the goal of the Serbian military was to destroy the Kosovo Liberation Army, and not to expel the entire Albanian population. He also pointed to a factual flaw in the German government's presentation - it had named the plan "Potkova", which is the Croatian and Bulgarianword for horseshoe, whereas the Serbian word is potkovica.