Hardline Serbs denounce moderates' move

PRISTINA, Jun 26, 2000 -- (Reuters) Hardline Serbs on Monday rejected a decision of the Serb National Council (SNC) of Kosovo to resume cooperation with the United Nations in the restive province. Instead they vowed to set up their own rival council in the Serbian province now effectively under international rule and where ethnic Albanians are in the majority. Special Representative Bernard Kouchner, who heads the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), welcomed the SNC's decision on Sunday to rejoin the IAC (Interim Administration Council) and KTC (Kosovo Transitional Council) after walking out two weeks ago. "This courageous action will allow the Kosovo Serb representatives to once again play their rightful role in building a democratic, peaceful and tolerant Kosovo," he said. But influential Kosovo Serb leader Momcilo Trajkovic, one of the 83 SNC delegates at Sunday's meeting and one of only four who opposed the cooperation decision and walked out, said the moderate majority was being misled. "I am not against cooperation with the international community - I know it is inevitable - but I am opposed to cooperation with Bernard Kouchner, who is working for the Albanian side," he told the independent Belgrade agency Beta. Marko Jaksic, SNC vice-president for northern Kosovo, who boycotted Sunday's meeting, also denounced the decision. "(Moderate SNC figures) Bishop Artemije, Father Sava Janjic and a group of people around them are behaving like employees of the American administration. Together with the mercenary Kouchner they want to form a new state in Kosovo," he told reporters. Vuko Antonijevic, another hard-line SNC member, said the people around Bishop Artemije did not even represent the interests of Serbs from Gracanica, the town where the meeting as held, let alone those of all Kosovo. Delegates at Sunday's meeting agreed to cooperate in exchange for an understanding on stronger measures to protect Kosovo's minority Serbs. The SNC council was preceded by a serious outbreak of violence against international aid workers in Serb-held areas of the divided town of Mitrovica on Wednesday and by the trashing of UN offices in Strpce - also Serb-held - on Friday night. International observers noted that such outbreaks occurred regularly before SNC meetings, in an apparent attempt to influence their decisions. On Monday, an UNMIK statement denounced the Serb violence in unusually frank terms, saying: "it was clear...that the events in Strpce were well coordinated and organized by persons not from the area."

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