By DENNIS REDMONTAlbright urges European leaders to expedite KFOR police training
VENICE, Italy (March 18, 2000) - Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on Saturday urged European governments to speed up training of police forces to replace the international military contingent in the face of a deteriorating situation in Kosovo.
Old models of peacekeeping do not work, and well-trained civilian police are needed to handle crowd control, disarming of agitators and searches for hidden weapons, Albright said.
"It is essential that national civil police move in. It is untenable to ask the military to continue to serve this civilian function," Albright said.
Making a brief stop along the way to join President Clinton's trip to India, Albright delivered her remarks to an audience that included Italian Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini, ministers from Germany, Egypt, Poland, Denmark and Portugal, international business leaders and diplomats. Copies of her speech were made available to reporters afterward.
Responding to recent bickering with the alliance, Albright said interim arrangements for Kosovo's autonomy are needed to "prevent a sense of drift in Kosovo's political life."
Albright appealed to Europe to increase funding for peacekeeping and raise the number of policemen promised at the end of the NATO bombing campaign, which ended the 18-month Serb crackdown. Only 3,000 international police out of the 4,700 requested have been deployed, she said.
Peacekeepers have clashed with ethnic Albanians and Serbs in the northern Kosovo city of Kosovska Mitrovica. U.S. troops earlier this week launched a series of raids to seize weapons from ethnic Albanian guerrillas in the U.S.-patrolled eastern part of Kosovo.
While France and Italy pledged to add 1,100 soldiers to their forces to stem the unrest, the U.S. Defense Department has been unwilling to increase the level of U.S. troops, now at 5,300, already in Kosovo.
The NATO-led Kosovo Force, or KFOR, has so far fielded 37,000 of a projected force of 50,000.