Albanian Daily News - Dec 17

Belgrade declares new council Illegal

Albanian Economic Tribune

BELGRADE - Belgrade dismissed as "legally invalid" on Thursday a decision by UN authorities and ethnic Albanian leaders in Kosovo to create a new governing council.

"Our state and our party consider as invalid and legally worthless any decision or concrete act which are not in accordance with the UN Security Council resolution" that ended the Kosovo conflict, said Ivica Dacic, a spokesman for Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic’s Socialist party (SPS).

Belgrade will also "demand the dismissal" of UN administrator Bernard Kouchner, who shepherded the new power-sharing accord, and establish his "criminal responsibility for a genocide of the non-Albanian population" in Kosovo, Dacic said.

Kouchner signed an accord Wednesday with three ethnic Albanian leaders setting up a body to bring local politicians into key institutions, but Kosovo Serbs refused to join in the new administration.

"It is clearly defined by the UN resolution that Kosovo is an entity within our state and we do not recognise any act which leads Kosovo in the opposite direction," Dacic said.

UN Security Resolution 1244 ended the NATO bombing campaign on Yugoslavia and put Kosovo under the UN administration. The resolution provides for substantial autonomy for Kosovo but not independence from Serbia.

The Serb National Council, a main Serb umbrella group in Kosovo, complained that it had not been consulted about the deal.

"With this agreement the Serbian side is again put in an unacceptable and dishonourable position," it added.

The Council, in a statement to the private Yugoslav news agency Beta, said Serbs would refuse to join the new administration unless the United Nations approves a long-standing Serb demand for self-governing entities in parts of Kosovo where Serbs form a majority. NATO and the United Nations have rejected the proposal, fearing it would lead to the partition of the province.

Dacic lashed out at the UN civilian administration in Kosovo (UNMIK) and Kouchner himself, saying that the latest decision showed their support for the "separatism" embraced by Kosovo ethnic Albanians.

The Yugoslav state agency Tanjug separately described Kouchner’s decision as the "most dangerous and the most perfidious act" of the UN administration.

With this accord, Kouchner has "committed numerous sins... and obviously violated the UN resolution which guarantees Yugoslav territorial integrity and sovereignty," the agency said.

Even if there were a Serb representative in the body, holding one of the four local posts in the new joint interim council, he would always be "outnumbered," the agency said.

By including Hashim Thaci of the former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) in the council, Kouchner and UNMIK "have legalised the KLA terrorists," it said.

The United Nations has also "legalised the intentions of Albanian separatists for a secession of Kosovo from Serbia and creation of Greater Albania" by appointing Ibrahim Rugova of the Democratic League for Kosovo and Rexhep Qosja of the Unified Democratic Movement to the council, it added.

A "similar attempt" was made by Italian fascist leader Benito "Mussolini with his Albanian allies during the World War II," the agency said.

"With all his force, Mussolini failed" to link Kosovo with neighbouring Albania, and it "is highly unlikely that Kouchner will succeed in a project of the secession of Kosovo" from Yugoslavia, the agency said.

Kouchner said the Serbs "are welcomed and we did not stop talking with them." He said the Kosovo Serbs must decide among themselves whether they want to participate.

In New York, Fred Eckhard, spokesman for UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, said the door to participation would remain open for the Serbs.

"Kosovo society has to include all the elements that were there before this conflict erupted," he said. "So we think it’s just a matter of time. We’ll keep inviting them to participate. There’s a seat reserved for them on this new entity, this new body, and we hope that they’ll eventually appoint someone to participate."

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