CEOL
Milosevic says UN should leave Kosovo

BELGRADE, Feb 18, 2000 -- (Reuters) Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic lashed out at the U.N.-led administration of Kosovo on Thursday and said international peacekeepers should leave.

He denounced the international community's mission in the southern Serbian province as shameful and a total fiasco and said it should be ended as soon as possible.

"...our state bodies should take over their competences in Kosovo," Milosevic told a congress of his Socialist party.

"Contrary to them, we are capable of guaranteeing the citizens of Kosovo and Metohija peace and security, freedom and equality without anyone's help," Milosevic said, using the Serbian name for the province.

Senior party officials earlier accused Kosovo's U.N.-led administration and NATO-led peacekeepers of failing to protect Serbs and other non-Albanians in Kosovo.

"Kosovo and Metohija has been, is and will always be Serbia," Socialist party Secretary-General Gorica Gajevic said. "Our state bodies will return to Kosovo and Metohija."

Gajevic said the NATO-led KFOR peacekeeping force and the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) "would do best for Kosovo if they left immediately."

"That would be their sole and real contribution to the solution of the crisis," she said.

Zivorad Igic, head of the party's Kosovo branch, accused U.N. administrator Bernard Kouchner of cooperating with ethnic Albanian "terrorists" and of working towards the "Albanianisation of Kosovo."

"Since June last year, more than 350,000 people have been driven out of Kosovo, 260,000 of whom were Serbs and Montenegrins. Tens of thousands of non-Albanian homes have been destroyed," Igic said.

Milosevic lost control of the province, seen as a cradle of Serbian culture, with the arrival of NATO-led peacekeepers last June following 11-weeks of alliance air strikes to halt Belgrade's repression of Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority.

The province - still legally part of Yugoslavia - has continued to be plagued by violence, with a recent upsurge over the last two weeks in the ethnically-divided town of Kosovska Mitrovica.




Original article