Nato's Clark urges Albanian restraint in Serbia

TIRANA, Feb 22, 2000 -- (Reuters) NATO's military chief asked Albanian leaders on Monday to use their influence to stop ethnic Albanians in southern Serbia from being drawn into a conflict there.

U.S Army General Wesley Clark, NATO's supreme commander in Europe, told Kosovo Albanian leader Hashim Thaci and Macedonia's ethnic Albanian leader Arben Xhaferri he was worried about the Bujanovac-Presevo-Medveda region on the border with Kosovo.

"Clark was deeply worried about the possibility of a conflict breaking out in Presevo and Bujanovac," Xhaferri told Reuters after the one-hour meeting.

NATO Secretary-General George Robertson said earlier on Monday the Western military alliance was monitoring a Yugoslav troop build-up in ethnic Albanian areas of southern Serbia and would not tolerate a fresh conflict.

The NATO general had identified "romantic adventurism" among the 100,000 ethnic Albanians in the area, who might react to Serb provocation.

"They are suffering under the Serbian repression and (might want) to fight openly but they do not calculate the destructive effects of Albanian romanticism in the global perspective," Xhaferri said. "And then the victim might be Kosovo."

"He asked us to use our influence as much as we can... and to urge Albanians not to fall victim of Serb 'sirens'."

"Leave Milosevic to me," Xhaferri quoted Clark as saying.

Ethnic Albanians in Bujanovac-Presevo-Medveda say they are being driven out of the area while Serb authorities say they face Albanian terrorism.

Original article