BELGRADE, Yugoslavia -- Former Yugoslav Vice President Fadil Hoxha, an ethnic Albanian under pressure for suggesting Serbian women were whores, admitted Saturday his remarks were distasteful.
In a written statement, Hoxa said he was 'making sort of a joke' when he said a year ago that authorities should tolerate the 'liberal' behavior of waitresses in Kosovo's privately owned inns to decrease the number of rape cases in the province.
Hoxha said he 'can understand the justified and sharp reaction of the public, especially women. My reference was distasteful.'
'Yet I did not believe I would be misunderstood,' Hoxha said. 'I did not mean it to be anything nationalistic,' he said of the remarks that were first published last week.
About 4,000 women of Serbian and Montenegrin ethnic groups marched peacefully Friday in Pristina, the capital of Yugoslavia's troubled Kosovo province, protesting Hoxha's comments on how to solve the problem of rape in Kosovo.
'We are not whores, we are mothers and sisters of the sons of Serbia and Yugoslavia. ... We want freedom,' said placards carried by women during the 3 hour protest march.
The demonstrators protested a rape attempt in a Pristina primary school earlier this month and Hoxha's remarks, which were made at a luncheon for Kosovo's reserve military command in Prizren, south of Pristina, on Oct. 26, 1986.
Hoxha discussed at the luncheon how to solve the problem of rape in Kosovo, where the population of 1.6 million is nearly 80 percent ethnic Albanian.
He said the number of rapes in Kosovo could be decreased if 'Serbian and other women who wish' would be tolerated in their 'immoral' activities in private inns.
Hoxha said Albanian women would not agree to do such things and that was why 'women from outside' should be brought to Kosovo, Yugoslav newspapers said last week.
Hoxha, 77, a veteran communist leader and close aide of late President Josip Broz Tito, was a member of the Yugoslav collectivestate leadership in 1979-84, when he held for one year the rotating office of vice president.