December 14, 1998: ‘Massacre’ in Kosovo

On December 14, 1998 the Kosovo Liberation Army attacked Serbs in the Panda Cafe in Pec, killing six and wounding 15.

PEC,KOSOVO – The immediate aftermath of the Cold War brought so much promise to so many in Eastern Europe: that hope was never completely met.

Do you remember the Cold War? I feel I need to ask that question since the so-called ‘end’ of it was three decades ago and there are many alive today who have no memory of it. No recollection of what it was like when two sides – the Soviet Union (USSR) and its allies and the United States (US) and its supporters – faced off (with nuclear weapons) in a contest to dominate the post WWII world.

Kinda sad I think. Then again, my career in Canadian intelligence began during the Cold War so I guess it means a little more to me.

Nevertheless, we all know how it ended: with the US ‘victory and the dissolution of the USSR and its vassal states in Eastern Europe. Much to the chagrin of the post-USSR Russian Federation, many of its erstwhile ‘allies‘ joined NATO and even the EU! And then there was the ‘former’ Yugoslavia, very much an odd polity at the best of times but more in the Soviet ambit than the Western one.

And you thought this area was bad under me? (Photo: Public Domain)

Since those days Yugoslavia has undergone a nasty civil war as the composite parts all went their separate ways. The mixing of populations over decades has nonetheless complicated the new political reality in the region.

Take Kosovo for example.

The small state broke off from Serbia in 2008 and now has received recognition from 97 other nations. Relations with its former masters are not good, in part due to the large Serbian population which still resides there. Tensions have led to attacks on communities, and even to the rise of terrorist groups.

On this day in 1998

The Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) attacked Serbs in the Panda Cafe in Pec, killing six and wounding 15. The KLA never claimed the massacre and six Albanians who were arrested at the time and subsequently tortured, were acquitted at trial.

All the incidents that threaten stability and lead to violence are lamentable…but the one that we find appalling beyond words is what appears to be a wanton attack on a group of primarily teenagers in the Panda bar in Pec.

US Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke

And the violence in the Balkans continues to this day. Serbs kill Bosnians. Albanians kill Serbs. And so on and so on. Gee, I wonder if anyone misses Tito?

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By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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