A serious incident took place on Saturday night in Leposavic, northern Kosovo, between Serb civilians and Belgian forces from the NATO Kfor peacekeeping force. The incident was provoked by the imprisonment of a Serb by Kfor forces. The NATO barracks were surrounded by a furious group of Serb civilians, who have accused NATO of favouring the Albanians and discriminating against the Serbs. In the middle of the disturbance, Belgian soldiers in the NATO force opened fire, killing one civilian (Milan Jokovic, 20 years old) outright and seriously wounding another (Mladen Obradovic, 19), while a third civilian (Trifun Milenkovic, 42) died of a heart attack. Meanwhile in southern Serbia, the Albanian terrorist group UЗPMB continues to launch attacks on Serbian targets from their strongholds deep within Kosovo. NATO has proved useless in controlling the Albanians and the case was taken to the United Nations Organization, which has decided to launch a series of “debates” on the issue. The Yugoslav and Serbian authorities have decided to launch a massive operation against these terrorists, in case the UNO does not manage to react. Judging from past experience, it would seem better to launch this operation now, because waiting for the United Nations Organization to perform, when unauthorized to do so by NATO, is a lost cause. The situation in the Balkans can be blamed fair and square on NATO. In a gross error of judgement, a very serious miscalculation of the situation was made when it was decided to enter Kosovo, sovereign territory of the state of Yugoslavia, freeing the Albanian eagle to fly all over the Balkans, something which 500 years of history had been trying to prevent. The incidents of last weekend were certainly not premeditated murder by NATO troops, but rather acts by frightened young soldiers, out of their element and too deeply involved in conflicts and cultures which have nothing to do with them. Nobody expects NATO to understand the Balkans, but nobody asked them to intervene. What is totally unacceptable is that civilians have to pay the price of death for demonstrating against the terrorists who are destroying their country and stealing their livelihoods.
Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey Pravda.Ru Lisbon