Armed Forces of the Republic of Kosovo
|Armed Forces of the Republic of Kosova
Forcat e Armatosura të Republikës së Kosovës
|Participant in Kosovo War|
|Active||1990 - 1998|
|Leaders||Tahir Zemaj †
Sali Çekaj †
The Armed Forces of the Republic of Kosovo (Albanian: Forcat e Armatosura të Republikës së Kosovës), or simply FARK or AFRK, was a paramilitary group in Kosovo and was created in 1998 as a military arm of the LDK, the main right-wing party in Kosovo, by Ibrahim Rugova and Bujar Bukoshi.
Bujar Bukoshi, the former Prime Minister in exile of the self-proclaimed "Republic of Kosova" from 1991 to 2000, created the FARK in Albania with a few dozen former Kosovo-Albanian officers of the former Yugoslav People's Army gathered by Sali Cekaj. He then put it under the command of former colonel Ahmet Krasniqi. Most of the FARK members were then loyal to the President of Kosovo, Ibrahim Rugova, while the bitter rival group UÇK was led by Hashim Thaçi, whom the apparent failure of that policy had made a credible alternative political leader.
Bujar Bukoshi, while spending most of his time in the city of Bonn in Germany, had been a representative for the Kosovo-Albanians from 1991, the year when they try to proclaimed their independence from Yugoslavia, till 1998. Then, on April 2, 1999, as Rugova had then been sidelined by recent developments, Hashim Thaçi proclaimed himself Prime Minister in his place, while Bukoshi refused to recognize him and hand over the funds he had received from the Albanian Diaspora in the West. As a representative of Rugova, Bukoshi received regular contributions from the diaspora for his "Republic of Kosova Fund" which had been spent to finance the parallel government of Kosovo under Rugova, with a network of private schools and health care centers. The UÇK then created its own fund, Atdheu Thërret ("The Motherland calls"), both funds now being used to buy military equipment.
The UÇK also tried to prevent recruitment into the FARK among the Albanians in Western Europe, and to attract them to its own centers of Durrës, Tirana and Kukës in Albania. For their goals, fought the FARK and the UÇK fought separately but also against each other. Politicians in Albania took sides in the rivalry between the UÇK and the FARK, with the Socialist government in Tirana supporting Thaçi and the UÇK, while the opposition Democratic Party of Sali Berisha supported the FARK. 30 members of the FARK were even jailed for taking part in violent anti-government demonstrations in Tirana in September 1998. The FARK said they only participated after the murder of Ahmet Krasniqi, a former FARK leader, on September 21, 1998.
FARK/LDK/ vs. UÇK/PDK
Numerous members of the FARK or LDK party were murdered during the rivalry with the UÇK, but also former members of the UÇK was assassinated. The number of victims during the rivalry is estimated currently at more than 1000. The perpetrators or instigators were mostly former senior UÇK leaders - after the war, they were almost exclusively integrated into civilian Kosovo Protection Corps, the successor to the UÇK. The command structure and composition, and even the coat of arms of the Kosovo Protection Corps is essentially identical with the officially disbanded UÇK. This also applies to their leader. First general was Agim Ceku, a former commander in chief of the UÇK. Some former UÇK members joined also to the Kosovo Police. The rivalries did not disappear after NATO troops entered Kosovo in June 1999 and the paramilitary groups were officially disbanded.
In December 2002, Daut Haradinaj, the brother of former UÇK leader Ramush Haradinaj, was sentenced with five other members of the UÇK by a UN court in Kosovo for his involvement in the kidnapping and murder of four former FARK and LDK party members. In the case against Daut Haradinaj previously testified Tahir Zemaj, a former FARK leader, as witness against Daut. Tahir Zemaj murdered in 2003 with his son Enis and nephew Hasan, had also been a leader of the FARK, in Peć, in the city of Ekrem Lukaj, financier of the former leaders of the UÇK, Ramush Haradinaj and Hashim Thaçi. Ramush Haradinaj was suspected of murder. In November 2003, Sebahate Tolaj und Isuf Haklaj were shot while driving to work. Both had served under Zemaj as FARK members.
In April 2005, days after Ramush Haradinaj surrendered to The Hague, Enver Haradinaj, another brother of Ramush Haradinaj was assassinated in a drive-by shootout in Kosovo, according to the UN security forces, there was a confrontation between rival Kosovo-Albanian clans. Presumably the long-standing feud between the Musaj clan and the Haradinaj clan. The Musaj family was prominent in the FARK during the late 1990s. Between 1998-99, the Haradinaj family, which originated from the Peć area in western Kosovo, was influential in the UÇK, became embroiled in a vendetta with the Musaj′s. Already in 2000, Ramush Haradinaj should have been involved in a gun battle with members of the Musaj family at their home in Strellc, also in western Kosovo. The Musajs allege that he ordered the murder of their brother and three others in 1999. The murder of Enver Haradinaj has evoked heated reached in Pro-UÇK parts of Kosovo. Reference to the FARC-rivaliy could not be excluded.
On June 3, 2005, Bardhyl Ajeti, a journalist on the Kosovar newspaper Bota Sot, was shot near Gnjilane. He later died. Bota Sot was close to LDK and Ajeti was a vocal critic of the post-war elite, most of whom were associated with the UÇK. Bardhyl Ajeti was not the only journalist of Bota Sot who was killed in Kosovo. Bekim Kastrati was killed on October 19, 2001 along with two other men who were riding in his car at the time in village Lauša near Pristina. Then, on July 12, 2005, two members of the Musaj family were killed in a drive-by shooting near Peć in western Kosovo. The Haradinaj-Musaj feud became emblematic of wider FARK-UÇK bloodletting.
On January 1, 2010, Bedri Krasniqi was sentenced to 27 years of imprisonment for the murder of two and attempted murder of one member of the Kosovo Police Service.