Kosovo rebels wary of peace agreement
June 4, 1999
Web posted at: 7:50 p.m. EDT (2350 GMT)
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Although Belgrade has signaled it will allow international peacekeepers into Kosovo to protect hundreds of thousands of returning refugees -- as well as Serb civilians -- ethnic Albanian rebels expressed concern Friday over how the peace plan would be implemented.
Russia and NATO must still work out details about which countries will contribute to the Kosovo force and who will maintain command. But the rebel Kosovo Liberation Army said refugees would be too afraid to return to areas controlled by Russian forces, adding that some 12,000 Russian volunteers and mercenaries had fought alongside Yugoslav forces in Kosovo.
"If there is either a single Serb or a single Russian there ... nobody will go back," said Kosovo provisional government spokesman Shinasi Rama. "The people will go where the United States forces and NATO forces will go."
U.S. and NATO officials have said that the KLA must demilitarize once Yugoslav and Serb forces withdraw from the province. KLA leaders said they will honor a cease-fire with Yugoslavia, but insist they will retain some light weapons, potentially leaving angry, armed Kosovars as a challenge to the international force's mission of keeping the peace in Kosovo.
"I think people don't realize how ... this expulsion -- the rapidity with which it happened and the brutality with which it happened -- radicalized the whole population and especially the younger generation," said Susan Woodward of the Brookings Institution.
However, U.S. State Department Spokesman James Rubin said the KLA would not interfere with the peace deal. "We believe and we have confidence that, at the end of the day, if indeed the Serb forces fully withdraw and the NATO peacekeeping forces enter, that we will be able to cooperate constructively with the KLA," Rubin told reporters.
Many Kosovar Albanians feel the peace plan falls far short of their goals.
"We believe that we deserve independence, with the suffering our people have gone through. We do not see how we can live with the Serbs in the same state," Rama said.
One of the primary concerns of Kosovo's ethnic Albanians is the fact that the peace plan gives the U.N. Security Council the job of deciding on Kosovo's interim government. They worry that the Russians or Chinese might use their vetoes to prevent strong Kosovo self-rule.
"The Russians and the Chinese will use their veto to make sure that there is an alphabet soup of organizations running Kosovo," said Paul Williams, an attorney for the Kosovo provincial government.
"This alphabet soup will be very ineffectual and will provide an opportunity for the Serbian regime to continue in a sense their unsettling of the population of Kosovo and the slow partitioning of Kosovo, (a policy) they have been pursuing in Bosnia as well," he said.
Correspondent David Ensor and Reuters contributed to this report.
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Federal Republic of Yugoslavia official site
Kesovo and Metohija facts
Serbia Ministry of Information
Serbia Now! News
Kosova Crisis Center
Kosovo - from Albanian.com
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
Doctors without borders
U.S. Agency for International Development (Kosovo aid)
Doctors of the World
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
ReliefWeb: Home page
The Jewish Agency for Israel
Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty
Independent Yugoslav radio stations B92
Institute for War and Peace Reporting
United States Information Agency - Kosovo Crisis
Expanded list of related sites on Kosovo
1997 view of Kosovo from space - Eurimage
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