Rugova: Halt to NATO bombings
PRISTINA, Yugoslavia, April 5 (AFP) - Moderate Kosovo Albanian
leader Ibrahim Rugova said Monday that NATO "bombings should be
halted" in Yugoslavia and called on Belgrade to be "more cooperative
with the international community."
Rugova was speaking with reporters after a meeting with the
Russian ambassador to Belgrade Yuri Kotov in his house in the Kosovo
"There should be an end to the situation in Kosovo, the bombing
should be stopped and monitoring put in," Rugova said in French,
without elaborating further.
"I hope this will be discussed on the international level. This
is not a question just for me. I am here without my people," he
Already last Wednesday, during a brief meeting with journalists
in his house in Pristina, Rugova had called on NATO to stop the air
raids and asked Belgrade to "cooperate."
Rugova said he had asked the Belgrade authorities to allow him
to go abroad.
"I told Kotov that I am interested in leaving Pristina to go to
Skopje (Macedonia) and other countries to contribute to the process
and stop the actual situation, because I am here without my
associates," Rugova said.
"I cannot work and contribute here in Pristina. I can do more
outside Kosovo ... I told Serbian authorities of this request. I am
waiting for a response," Rugova said.
Kotov said he had raised the issue with Yugoslav deputy premier
"Sainovic confirmed to me that your movements are free and that
they (the Yugoslav authorities) are concerned about your personal
security. I believe this situation will be solved," Kotov told
Asked whether he actually met with Yugoslav President Slobodan
Milosevic in Belgrade last Thursday -- a meeting shown on Serb
television and whose authenticity has been questioned -- Rugova
simply said, in English: "This is speculation. I was in Belgrade."
NATO officials had doubted that Rugova was at the meeting,
saying that the footage shown by the Serbian state television may
have been "two years old."
After Thurday's meeting, Milosevic and Rugova signed a joint
statement in which they committed themselve to solving the problem
in Kosovo by "political means," Serbian state television reported.
Rugova thanked the Russian ambassador for his "engagement on the
Kosovo issue" in the current circumstances which "are very
"A solution should be found to this situation. It is very
serious and I ask Belgrade to be more cooperative with the
international community," Rugova said.
He reiterated that the problem should be tackled politically,
adding: "Everything should be done to find a solution for all people
in the Balkans region and Kosovo."
Kotov said that the "Russian position is well-known."
"The bombing should be stopped immediately and (one should)
return to the political track, because ... the problem in Kosovo is
too complicated and cannot be resolved, except by political means,"
"I am very satisfied that Mr Rugova shares this opinion," he
The Russian government, Kotov said, "has made an official
decision to organise humanitarian aid to all the regions of
Yugoslavia, to send a hundred trucks with purely humanitarian aid."
"We are positive that Kosovo inhabitants should return," he
said, "but I also believe that returning under bombs, demands lot of
Kotov expresssed admiration for Rugova's courage in choosing to
remain in Kosovo.
Rugova's and Kotov's brief meeting with journalists was
organised by the Serb Information center in Pristina. Some 15
reporters, among them Greek, Turkish and Serbian television
journalists, were present.
Serbian television broadcast footage of the meeting, with a
brief report saying the Russian ambassador reaffirmed Moscow's
position that "the bombing should stop immediately and political
dialogue should be relaunched."
Kotov said "he was satisfied that Doctor Ibrahim Rugova has the
same view," the TV reported.
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