Moderate Kosovar leader Rugova says war possible in Kosovo

April 14, 2000

(AFP) - Moderate Kosovar leader Ibrahim Rugova warned the Yugoslavian province could find itself again at war if it is not granted independence, in an interview with Der Spiegel magazine due to appear Monday.

The ethnic Albanian leader also backed the controversial notion of a "Greater Albania," raising the specter that violence might spill out of the breakaway province into neighboring countries.

Asked what would happen if the international community maintained its position that Kosovo must remain part of Yugoslavia, Rugova said: "Then, there will be a new war. All of us, the people of Kosovo, will take to the barricades."

Ethnic Albanians are the majority population in Kosovo.

He said that "All Albanians belong in a state. In Macedonia, there are 35 percent Albanians, also in Montenegro their number is increasing. We are a divided people."

Western officials have warned against what would become a greater Albania as a threat to regional stability and have said that Kosovo must remain part of Yugoslavia, that includes Serbia and Montenegro.

Rugova said the UN's resolution 1244 that gives Kosovo autonomy was a "compromise to end the war in Kosovo. But it does not exclude independence in the future. The door is open. Anything other than independence is unimaginable for us."

The UN-administered province has been rocked by revenge attacks on Serbs and other minority groups since NATO-led peacekeepers replaced the Yugoslavian forces responsible for massive repression of the ethnic Albanian majority.

Original article