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World - Europe

Amid criticism of leaders, Yugoslavs lift state of war



 MILITARY PLAN:
Focus on
Kosovo
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CNN's Jim Clancy looks at the debate in Yugoslav parliament (June 24)
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 IN-DEPTH SPECIAL:
Focus on Kosovo
 

NATO leader Solana receives rousing reception in Pristina

June 25, 1999
Web posted at: 2:13 a.m. EST (0713 GMT)


In this story:

Solana urges Serbs, Albanians to show tolerance

Bodies found at Pristina University

Retaliation reported against Serbs in Kosovo

U.S. offers $5 million reward for war criminals

RELATED STORIES, SITES icon



BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (CNN) -- The Yugoslav parliament voted overwhelmingly Thursday to lift the state of war declared in March after NATO began its bombing campaign.

The proceedings, however, were not televised to the Yugoslav people. It soon became apparent why, as speaker after speaker called on the government to tell the people that the war was lost, that Kosovo was in the hands of NATO and that Serbs in Kosovo had no protection from the rebel Kosovo Liberation Army.

When the head of Yugoslavia's national bank told parliament that the economy was in good shape and that people had confidence, one lawmaker said it was too much to make Yugoslavs listen to such fairy tales after enduring years of war and sanctions.

Also Thursday, NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana received a rousing reception during his first visit to Kosovo, accompanied by NATO Supreme Commander Gen. Wesley Clark and the head of the KFOR peacekeeping force, Lt. Gen. Mike Jackson.

As the three walked through a bombed-out area of central Pristina, surveying buildings that had collapsed under NATO bombs, several hundred ethnic Albanians surrounded them, clapping and chanting, "NATO! NATO!"

One elderly man in a traditional conical white hat gave Solana a kiss on the cheek and a big hug as tears streamed down his face.

"I never knew how I would see this. But I'm very moved, very moved," Solana said.

Solana urges Serbs, Albanians to show tolerance

At a news conference, Solana urged both ethnic Albanians and Serbs on Thursday to put aside their hatred and rebuild the war-shattered Yugoslav province.

"Peace is more than the end of violence. Peace is more than just a cease-fire," Solana said. "It's a culture of democracy and a culture of tolerance. That is what we must build together in Kosovo."

Solana urged Serbs fearing retribution from ethnic Albanians to remain in Kosovo, saying peacekeepers will protect them.

"Now KFOR's role is to provide a secure environment for the rebuilding of Kosovo, for the re-establishment of law and order, the safe return of all refugees to their homes, for social and economic reconstruction and for (the investigation of) war crimes and atrocities," Solana said.

Solana and Clark met with both Serb and ethnic Albanian representatives in Pristina, including Hashim Thaci, political leader of the KLA.

Solana said he told Serb political and religious leaders: "There is no need for anyone to leave Kosovo. KFOR will look after you. Stay and give peace a chance."

Bodies found at Pristina University

But even as Solana was trying to reassure Serbs, three men, including a Serb professor, were found dead in the economics department at the Serb-run Pristina University. A university dean said the men appeared to have been beaten and shot.

Meanwhile, tensions were running high at the local hospital, where an ethnic Albanian doctor told CNN that Albanian staff members were uneasy because Serb staff members are carrying weapons.

A shoot-out between Serbs and Albanians in the hospital left two staff members wounded. The incident began when an ethnic Albanian family returned to their apartment in Pristina and found it occupied by Serbs, triggering a gun battle that left at least one person dead and another injured. When the two families met again in the emergency ward, another gun battle broke out.

Retaliation reported against Serbs in Kosovo

In Pristina, British soldiers swarmed around the commercial center of the Kosovo capital late Thursday in an attempt to curb looting. During the 78-day NATO air bombardment, ethnic Albanians fleeing to nearby countries spoke of Serbs looting Albanian-owned businesses.

Now that Yugoslav forces have left the province under an international peace plan, ethnic Albanians are seeking revenge.

Fires believed set by ethnic Albanians leveled Serb homes and much of the Gypsy quarter Thursday in the western Kosovo city of Pec. Serbs complained of an intensifying campaign of retaliation that was driving some from their homes.

The fires started before daybreak, and columns of smoke rose into the sky over the city throughout the day. A dozen homes burned by early evening, one in sight of a Serbian Orthodox monastery where the city's Serbs are taking shelter.

Gavrilo Gojkovic, a Serb in Pec, said Kosovo Liberation Army rebels pushed him from his home with guns and a knife at his back.

"This is Kosovo. You have no place here now," Gojkovic claimed the KLA fighters told him. Scores of Serbs sat in packed cars lined up outside the monastery, waiting for a NATO escort into neighboring Montenegro.

U.S. offers $5 million reward for war criminals

Also Thursday, the United States offered a reward of up to $5 million to anyone providing information leading to the capture of alleged war criminals in Yugoslavia, including Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.

State Department spokesman James Rubin said the money would go to "those who provide information that leads to the transfer of indicted war criminals" to the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague, Netherlands.

Clark blamed Milosevic for what Western leaders have described as a brutal campaign of "ethnic cleansing" to rid Kosovo of ethnic Albanians.

"He had the authority to stop everything that started. He started the slaughter on the ground, even before the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) verifiers had departed," Clark said.

"He had a well-organized plan and he pursued it in a criminal and certainly an inhumane and tragic manner," Clark added. "And now that everybody is on the ground here, we're finding more and more evidence of this."

Milosevic and four top Yugoslav and Serb officials have been charged with war crimes by a U.N. tribunal at The Hague.

Dozens of scientists and crime scene experts from the FBI arrived Wednesday in Kosovo to gather and identify evidence at two suspected war-crimes sites in Djakovica. The sites in western Kosovo are believed to contain 26 bodies.

Correspondents Jim Clancy and Charlayne Hunter-Gault contributed to this report.


RELATED STORIES:
European ministers 'appalled' by scenes of alleged Kosovo atrocities
June 23, 1999
U.S. Marines come under fire in Kosovo; gunman killed
June 23, 1999
U.S. warplanes come home
June 23, 1999
Kosovo conflict maims Albanian-American fighter
June 23, 1999
FBI team in Kosovo begins war crime investigation
June 23, 1999

RELATED SITES:
Yugoslavia:
  • Federal Republic of Yugoslavia official site
      • Kesovo and Metohija facts
  • Serbia Ministry of Information
  • Serbia Now! News

Kosovo:
  • Kosova Crisis Center
  • Kosovo - from Albanian.com

Military:
  • NATO official site
  • BosniaLINK - U.S. Dept. of Defense
  • U.S. Navy images from Operation Allied Force
  • U.K. Ministry of Defence - Kosovo news
  • U.K. Royal Air Force - Kosovo news
  • Jane's Defence - Kosovo Crisis


Resettlement Agencies Helping Kosovars in U.S.:
  • Church World Service
  • Episcopal Migration Ministries
  • Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society
  • Iowa Department of Human Services
  • International Rescue Committee
  • Immigration and Refugee Services of America
  • Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
  • United States Catholic Conference

Relief:
  • World Relief
  • Doctors without borders
  • U.S. Agency for International Development (Kosovo aid)
  • Doctors of the World
  • InterAction
  • International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
  • International Committee of the Red Cross
  • Kosovo Humanitarian Disaster Forces Hundreds of Thousands from their Homes
  • Catholic Relief Services
  • Kosovo Relief
  • ReliefWeb: Home page
  • The Jewish Agency for Israel
  • Mercy International
  • UNHCR


Media:
  • Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty
  • Independent Yugoslav radio stations B92
  • Institute for War and Peace Reporting
  • United States Information Agency - Kosovo Crisis

Other:
  • Expanded list of related sites on Kosovo
  • 1997 view of Kosovo from space - Eurimage
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