Albanian Daily News - Nov 19

Canada Pledges Aid for Reintegration of Former KLA

Albanian Economic Tribune

PRISHTINA - Canadian Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy made a brief stop-over in Kosovo Wednesday, pledging his country’s financial support for projects including the reintegration of former rebel guerrillas.

"Failure to pay attention to their special circumstances could have a destabilising effect on an already fragile society," he said in a statement pledging 150,000 Canadian dollars ($100,000) to helping former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) fighters. The KLA was transformed in September into a civilian force that is helping clean up the post-war Serbian province.

The project was just part of an aid package worth 100 million Canadian dollars (68 million US) passed by the Canadian government at the start of November.

Axworthy, who opened a Canadian office with consular duties here, also promised aid to help pay for United Nations staff, education and health facilities, social assistance and backing for the local media, including a 25,000 Canadian dollar grant to the Albanian-language daily Koha Ditore.

The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) will also provide one million Canadian dollars to buy fuel for heating the capital, which is plagued by frequent power outages.

Canada has some 1,400 peacekeeping troops stationed in Kosovo, most of whom will be rotated to Bosnia next year, leaving around 100 deployed here.

During NATO’s March-June air campaign to drive Serbian troops out of Kosovo, Canada pledged an initial 70,000 million Canadian dollars to aid the province and took in some 7,000 refugees, of whom around 1,500 have since returned.

Axworthy also paid tribute to Canadian aid worker Dan Rowan, who died when a UN plane flying from Rome to Prishtina crashed into a hill in northern Kosovo Friday, killing all 24 people on board.

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