Global Policy Forum

In Wake of New Violence,


By Katarina Kratovac

Associated Press
March 19, 1998

Pristina, Yugoslavia - With Serbia at risk of getting slapped with new sanctions Thursday, foreign ministers turned up the pressure on the Serb and ethnic Albanian sides to end weeks of tumult and bloodshed. Thousands of ethnic Albanians massed in the streets of Pristina for another peaceful protest against what they say is "Serbian terror and repression" in Kosovo. Dampening prospects for a diplomatic solution to the Kosovo crisis, ethnic Albanians blamed Serb police for another fatal shooting Wednesday.

Relatives of 46-year-old Qerim Muriqi say he apparently died of a chest wound after being shot by Serb police who fired on a crowd at a peaceful demonstration in Pec, 30 miles west of the Kosovo capital of Pristina. Kosovo's Serb information minister denied the assault, and police did not confirm it. The ethnic Albanians protesters in Pristina sat down on the street until noon, and then rang bells and keys to signal that an international deadline has expired and that Serbia should be punished. Dozens of Serb policemen in full riot gear watched the protest but did not intervene.

The United States and European countries have given Serbia until Thursday to withdraw special police from Kosovo and meet other requirements or face toughened international sanctions. At the United Nations, Security Council members circulated a resolution Wednesday to ban the sale of weapons to Yugoslavia. It wasn't clear when the 15-member council would vote. German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel and his French counterpart, Hubert Vedrine, arrived in the Yugoslav capital of Belgrade Thursday for talks with the Balkan's chief powerbroker, Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, and other Serb officials. Their report to a five-nation Contact Group, which will meet in Bonn on March 25, will decide if the United States and Europe approve more sanctions against Serb-led Yugoslavia for its crackdown on minority Kosovo Albanians.

Meanwhile, the top U.S. envoy for the region held talks Wednesday in Kosovo with ethnic Albanian leaders and mediators who had previously brought the two sides to agreement. Robert Gelbard said Kosovo Albanian leaders were "extremely serious about the need to move ahead rapidly on a political dialogue." Fehmi Agani, an aide to ethnic Albanian leader Ibrahim Rugova, said Thursday that the Serbian-Albanian talks are likely to start early next week. The Albanian side in recent days has spurned several Serb offers of talks.

In an attempt to blunt Western criticism, Serbian President Milan Milutinovic said he would guarantee that any outcome of talks would keep Kosovo within Serbia and grant the province a degree "of self-rule." This was the strongest offer yet to the Kosovo Albanians, but they are unlikely to accept it, as they have been seeking outright secession from Serbia. In a statement carried by state television in Belgrade, Milutinovic also indicated for the first time that Serbia would be prepared to accept mediation by the 54-nation Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe if Yugoslavia was readmitted as an OSCE member.

Kosovo is in the south of Serbia, the larger of two republics that make up the remainder of war-depleted Yugoslavia. More than 80 ethnic Albanians were killed earlier this month by Serbian police in retaliation for the killing of four Serb policeman on Feb. 28. Some 50 Serbs, including policemen, and ethnic Albanians loyal to authorities had been killed leading up to that point in attacks for which the clandestine Kosovo Liberation Army claimed responsibility. This month's police security sweep was aimed at wiping out the Kosovo Liberation Army, which advocates an armed struggle for independence. Ethnic Albanians represent 90 percent of the 2 million people in Kosovo, which Serbs rule with a large police and military presence.

More Information on Sanctions in the Case of Former Yugoslavia


FAIR USE NOTICE: This page contains copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Global Policy Forum distributes this material without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. We believe this constitutes a fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in 17 U.S.C § 107. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.