CEOL - YU army, police will return to Kosovo

BELGRADE, Dec 27, 1999 -- (Reuters) The Yugoslav army and police, together with the Serb people who had fled Kosovo, will "certainly" return to the Serbian province, by force if necessary, a Yugoslav army general said Sunday in a reported carried by the Tanjug news agency.

General Vladimir Lazarevic, the commander of the Pristina corps based in the Kosovar capital before Belgrade's troops were forced to withdraw from the province in mid-June after NATO's air campaign, said his units "will, without fail, return to Kosovo," Tanjug reported.

And Serbian Interior Minister Vlajko Stojiljkovic told retired police officers that his units were "ready to return" to Kosovo, Tanjug said.

General Lazarevic said there were three possibilities for a return of Belgrade troops to the province.

One of them could involve the use of force, he warned.

"It is possible to expect that Russia, and especially China, would use their veto right on a decision to extend the mandate of KFOR and UNMIK," Lazarevic said.

Another possibility was a "program to include" soldiers of the Yugoslav army into the international forces, he said.

"The latest option, which I hope as a citizen and soldier will not come, is that Yugoslavia would be forced to use all means and troops for return to Kosovo in a bid to prevent further genocide on the Serb people there," Lazarevic said.

Under a military agreement struck between NATO and Belgrade in June, a small, lightly armed contingent of Yugoslav soldiers and police is to return to Kosovo to guard culturally sensitive sites and Yugoslavia's borders.

But Belgrade, accusing Western officials of being biased against Kosovo's Serbian population, of which an estimated 300,000 have fled since June, has increased demands for a return of its security forces to Kosovo.

That call received strong backing from Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev on a visit to Yugoslavia last week.

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