Albanian Daily News
Belgrade, Moscow accuse West of cleansing Serbs from Kosovo

Feb 25, 2000

BELGRADE - Yugoslavia and Russia have accused the West of working with Albanians to drive the last remaining Serbs out of Kosovo, in the wake of recent incidents in the divided town of Mitrovica.

Yugoslav authorities returned the ball to NATO’s court after they were accused of stirring up the trouble in Mitrovica, saying that sending American troops into the northern Serbian sector of the town was a deliberate provocation that could only cause apprehension among Serb residents.

According to Yugoslavia’s ambassador to the United Nations, a big Albanian demonstration in the town on Monday was sponsored by Albanian separatists, and by KFOR.

"The latest dramatic events in Mitrovica were sponsored by KFOR members as well as Albanian terrorists, because of their arrogant behaviour and their brutal searches of Serbian houses," Jovanovic said in a protest letter to the Security Council.

Many Mitrovica Serbs have complained that US and German KFOR troops used unnecessary force and caused damage during a search for arms at the weekend.

Jovanovic said the "arrogant" action by KFOR American troops was intended to frighten remaining Serbs in the northern sector "in order to drive them out of Kosovo."

Monday’s demonstration by tens of thousands of Albanians against the de facto partition of Mitrovica was part of the same scenario, the ambassador said.

"Obviously this attack was intended to drive the Serbs and other non-Albanians from Mitrovica," Jovanovic said.

The Albanians wanted to complete "the ethnic cleansing of non-Albanians who are living in isolated enclaves," Jovanovic said, adding that the objective was to hive off Kosovo from Yugoslavia.

The Russian foreign ministry said Wednesday it was "very alarmed" by the UN pledge to prevent the partition of Mitrovica along ethnic lines.

UN administrator Mario Marcone said Wednesday that Albanians who were forced to flee the Serbian sector of the town would be encouraged to return to their homes, many of which have been occupied by Serbs.

But the Russian ministry said: "This over hasty step risks causing a new explosion of violence and another wave of refugees. The northern area of Kosovo could be ‘cleansed’ of Serbs like so many other towns and regions such as Prishtina and Peja.

"It is becoming more and more obvious that KFOR and the UN mission are incapable of bringing the violence in the region to an end and assure a minimum standard of safety for the Serbian population."

The ministry also said "Albanian extremists" were entirely responsible for the deterioration in the situation in Kosovo, while KFOR had done nothing to control them.

Original article