NYT - Yugoslavs decry Kosovo situation

December 26, 1999

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (AP) -- Yugoslavia's chief government prosecutor said Sunday that Kosovo was sliding into anarchy, and denounced NATO and the United Nations for letting it happen.

Vukasin Jokanovic said Kosovo, officially part of Serbia but as of this summer an international protectorate, has become a haven for drug trafficking and lawlessness.

``I am saying that Kosovo is now ruled by terrorists, criminals, narco cartels ... under the nose of (NATO-led) Kosovo Force and United Nations'' officials, Jokanovic was quoted as saying by the private Beta news agency.

Ethnic fighting between Kosovo's independence-minded ethnic Albanians and Serbs ended this summer with NATO intervention. Serb government troops were forced to pull out and hand over authority of the province to a joint NATO-U.N. peace mission.

Serbia's authorities have described the ethnic Albanian insurgents as ``terrorists,'' and said their independence movement was being financed by Kosovo Albanian expatriates involved in the drug trade and other crime in Western Europe and the United States.

Jokanovic also dismissed recent statements by international peace officials that ethnic violence was decreasing in the province.

``Technically, that is true, but (only) because the ethnic cleansing of Serbs in parts of Kosovo is nearly finished,'' Jokanovic said. He added that ``Serbia will not lose Kosovo.''

More than 100,000 Kosovo Serbs have left the province, fleeing revenge attacks by Kosovo Albanians.

Jokanovic, 60, himself born and raised in Kosovo, said his original home there was burned recently to the ground, as was a Serb Orthodox church.

He also said more than 250,000 cars, stolen in western Europe, have ended up in Kosovo.

Meanwhile, Serbia's interior minister, Vlajko Stojiljkovic, speaking Sunday to a gathering of retired police officers, said Serbian police were ``ready to return to Kosovo.''

Without giving specifics, Stojiljkovic said this was ``necessary to prevent a spreading of terrorism from Kosovo to other parts of Serbia.''

Also Sunday, a group of Serb civilians still living in the American-controlled town of Gnjilane in southeastern Kosovo, sent a petition to the peacekeepers, demanding better protection from the province's ethnic Albanian militants, Tanjug news agency reported.

The group of 50 Serbs protested what they called ``continuing harassment, looting, robbery'' and physical attacks against them.

The Serbs also demanded that peacekeepers establish more checkpoints in areas where ethnic violence and other acts aimed at forcing them out of the province have occurred.


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