Kosovo is out of bounds, Nato warns Belgrade

Saturday February 19, 2000

Tirana (AP) - The Nato secretary-general, Lord Robertson, yesterday warned the Serbian government to stay out of Kosovo, saying that Nato would remain in the province for as long as was necessary.

"No hot air from Belgrade is going to push Nato out of Kosovo," Lord Robertson said, following criticism of Nato by the Yugoslav president, Slobodan Milosevic, at this week's congress of his Socialist party of Serbia. "There may be quite a lot of stupid people in Belgrade but I don't think that there are people stupid enough to think that they can come back into Kosovo again," Lord Robertson said.

The former British defence secretary was in Tirana to meet with the Albanian prime minister, Ilir Meta, who told him that Albania would support a "democratic and multi-ethnic Kosovo".

"I am delighted that prime minister Meta is telling this region and the world that Albania is committed to a multi-ethnic Kosovo, where all the different groups of people have the right to live in peace and safety," Lord Robertson said after the meeting.

Mr Meta said he had assured Lord Robertson that "there is in Albania no wish to promote the idea of Greater Albania or any such concept".

Lord Robertson said K-For peacekeeping troops would be reinforced in the northern Kosovo town of Mitrovice due to ethnic violence. He said peacekeepers would not tolerate violence from either side.

In Washington, the supreme commander of Nato in Europe, General Wesley Clark, said he expected peacekeeping troops to stay in Bosnia and Kosovo for as long as President Milosevic remained in power.

Gen Clark told the US congress that Mr Milosevic must be tried on war crimes charges and Yugoslavia must become democratic before the Balkans conflicts are resolved.

Original article