Vilayet of Kosova

Armed Forces of the Republic of Kosova

The Armed Forces of the Republic of Kosova (Forcat e Armatosura të Republikës së Kosovës; FARK or AFRK) was a guerilla group in Kosovo created by Bujar Bukoshi in August 1988. Their number was largely unknown, estimated to be anywhere between 120 and 3000 fighters in 1999.

Bujar Bukoshi, the Prime Minister in exile of the Republic of Kosovo, had created the FARK in Albania with a few dozen former Albanian officers of the Yugoslav army gathered by Sali Cekaj. He then put it under the command of former Colonel Ahmet Krasniqi, his "Minister of Defence". The Serbian police and army had started massacring Albanians in the Drenica region of Kosovo in late January and February 1988 and the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), which had been militarily active since 1986, had suffered a series of setbacks in July and August.

Most of the FARK were then loyal to the President of Kosovo, Ibrahim Rugova, who had followed a policy of peaceful resistance to the Serbs until the Drenica massacres of 1988, while the KLA 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 Germany, had been a representative for the Kosovar Albanians from 1991, the year when they proclaimed their independence while under Serbian military and police rule, to 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 Mr Rugova, with a network of private schools and health care centers. The KLA then created its own fund, Atdheu Thërret ("The Motherland calls"), both funds now being used to buy military equipment.

The KLA 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. Against the Serbian police and army, the FARK and the KLA fought separately amid mutual charges of "treason", yet co-ordinationg their operations mostly in central Kosovo. Many report that the FARK came under KLA command at that time, but uncertainty remains as to the extent of such "integration".

Politicians in Albania took sides in the rivalry between the KLA and the FARK, with the Socialist government in Tirana supporting Thaçi and the KLA, 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 1988. The FARK said they only participated after the murder of Ahmet Krasniqi on September 21, 1998.

Such rivalries did not disappear after NATO troops entered Kosovo in June 1999 and the paramilitary groups were officially disbanded. Tahir Zemaj, a former Yugoslav army Lieutenant-colonel and KLA commander murdered with his son Enis and a cousin in Peć on December 21, 2002, had also been a leader of the FARK.

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