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Voice of America, 00-03-25

Voice of America: Selected Articles Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Voice of America <gopher://>





    INTRO: It was one year ago this week that NATO began a bombing campaign against Yugoslavia. Tim Belay, who covered the aftermath of the conflict in Kosovo, has this look at how the province is faring today.

    TEXT: NATO Secretary-General George Robertson issued a stern warning to Kosovars on Friday, a year to the day after the launch of NATO's air war: Either promote peace or lose international support. Mr. Robertson says ethnic Albanian leaders have a responsibility to -- in his words -- promote a new vision and not play on old nightmares. Most of the more than 800-thousand refugees who fled during the bombing have returned home, but more than 100-thousand Serbs and members of other minorities have left the province in fear of ethnic Albanian revenge attacks. Secretary Robertson arrived five hours late and had to cancel a planned visit to Kosovska Mitrovica. The city in northern Kosovo has been the scene of violent ethnic clashes and fighting between local residents and international peacekeeping forces over the past few weeks. Selvete Gerxhaliu works in Kosovska Mitrovica as a legal assistant for a civil rights project. Ms. Gerxhaliu, a Kosovar Albanian, says reprisals against Serbs are somewhat justified in view of the suffering endured by the majority Albanian population of Kosovo.

    /// GERXHALIU ACT ///

    Many houses are burned. Many persons are disappeared. Nobody knows where they are. Maybe they are in jail in Serbia. Maybe they are in some mass graves which we don't know yet.

    /// END ACT ///

    Still, she says, she agrees with the message from Secretary-General Robertson about putting the past behind.

    /// GERXHALIU ACT ///

    I think that we must look in the future because we will not put in life again them -- our persons who are died, we cannot put in life again.

    /// END ACT ///

    Ms. Gerxhaliu says she thinks it will be possible eventually for Serbs and Albanians to live together in Kosovo, but she says the Serbs who left and are willing to return can only do so under the protection of heavily armed peacekeepers. Ms. Gerxhaliu stayed in Kosovo during last year's NATO bombing campaign. She says that while she thinks the bombing was needed, the alliance strategy of fighting Yugoslav forces only from the air simply took too long.

    /// GERXHALIU ACT ///

    To undertake that plan was necessary. It was more than necessary, considering the situation one year ago the plan was so slow. Seventy-nine days of bombing, and to live in Kosovo was a nightmare.

    /// END ACT ///

    Current international worries about the region center on the possibility of escalating ethnic conflict in the Presevo Valley of southern Serbia. It is home to about 70-thousand ethnic Albanians. NATO-led peacekeepers have expressed concern about recent clashes there between ethnic Albanian fighters and Yugoslav armed forces. Last week, the peacekeepers raided suspected training camps in Kosovo for guerrillas crossing into Serbia proper. (Signed)
    NEB/TB/ALW/JP 25-Mar-2000 14:14 PM EDT (25-Mar-2000 1914 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: In Northern Ireland, the council of the Ulster Unionist party -- which advocates continued union with Britain -- has voted to keep David Trimble as its leader, but only by a small margin. As V-O-A's Laurie Kassman reports from London, the outcome is expected to restrict Mr. Trimble's room for maneuver in achieving peace with the Irish Republican Army and its supporters who want independence from Britain.

    TEXT: Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble won 56 percent of the vote and so remains as head of the party. But his challenger, Reverend Martin Smyth gained nearly 44 percent of the vote, exceeding most expectations. Mr. Smyth has been an outspoken opponent to the 1998 Good Friday Peace Agreement. After the results were read out, some delegates shouted for Mr. Trimble to resign. The result of Saturday's poll shows the Unionist party is split nearly in half over its approach to the peace process. Historian Michael Foy says Mr. Trimble lost prestige in his own party when he agreed to share power with the Irish Republican Army's political wing, Sinn Fein, before the I-R-A disarmed. Mr. Trimble, he says, took a leap of faith that Sinn Fein leaders would persuade the paramilitaries to make a gesture toward disarmament, but they did not.

    /// FOY ACT ///

    Trimble undoubtedly has been damaged by his failure to establish on a permanent basis. He thought he made a deal with Sinn Fein and it fell through. No leader who does that kind of thing emerges undamaged in the eyes of his followers. That was a tremendous blow to his prestige.

    /// END ACT ///

    Unionist party dissidents now are sending a clear message to Mr. Trimble not to deviate from party policy. That policy says the Unionists should not participate in a power-sharing assembly with the Republicans until the Irish Republican Army starts to disarm. Mr. Trimble's room for maneuver in the peace process will be further restricted by Unionists' demands that participation in a power-sharing assembly also depends on retaining the name of Northern Ireland's police force. A special commission has recommended revamping and renaming the Royal Ulster Constabulary to de- politicize it. (Signed)
    NEB/LMK/ALW/JP 25-Mar-2000 08:38 AM EDT (25-Mar-2000 1338 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America
    Voice of America: Selected Articles Directory - Previous Article - Next Article
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