Serbs in Kosovo welcome Kostunica as president


TIRANA, Albania, Oct. 6 -- Serb leaders in Kosovo welcomed Vojislav Kostunica as President of Yugoslavia, considering him a hope for solving their problems. Meanwhile Albanians in Kosovo, Albania, and south Serbia welcome Slobodan Milosevic move, considering Kostunica more nationalist than Milosevic. "Milosevic ended, this is the beginning of a new era, a democratic and peaceful era," said Serb Father Sava Janic, a member of Serb National Council in Gracanica and also a member of Kosovo Administrative Council. Oliver Ivanovic, a Serb leader in north Mitrovica, who had strongly supported Kostunica in his area, agreed with Janic saying: " Milosevic epoch is over and now the international community would not have any excuse to refuse the dialog with Belgrade about Kosovo." "Serbs position in Kosovo will be better, at last the government (in Belgrade) could fight for our rights," says Janic, adding that Belgrade could not fight for Serbs because the government has been led by a war criminal, Milosevic. Bernard Kouchner, head of the UN administration in Kosovo is ready to contact the new government in Belgrade, says Andrea Angeli, a UN spokesman in Pristine, the capital of province under the UN administration since June last year. Kouchner " welcomes with joy changing in Belgrade" and he was ready to contact with the new government there to solve some main problems such as the Albanian prisoners in Serb prisons and missing people, an UNMIK statement says on Friday. However Kouchner e made clear his mission "will continue to implement the resolution 1244 of the UN Security Council preparing a substantial autonomy for Kosovo."

Albanian leaders in Kosovo and Albania are skeptical about Kostunica's stand towards the Kosovo issues and their aspiration to have an independent Kosovo, considering him some times worse than Milosevic. Kosovo Albanians speaking to the BBC say nothing will change under Kostunica: "Milosevic and Kostunica want the same bloodshed for us," says a man while a woman adds," it would be the same thing, because Serbs are similar about Kosovo." They have seen Kostunica's picture in 1998 with a gun in his hands in Kosovo, when the Serb army attacked and fire upon their homes. They know Kostunica supported Serb war in Bosnia and Croatia while opposing the Dayton Peace Agreement that forced the Serb army to withdraw from occupied Muslim areas in Bosnia. Also they remind that Kostunica has denounced last years NATO air strikes against Yugoslavia. "He (Kostunica) has been known as nationalist and without having any difference with Milosevic," says Naim Jerliu, deputy leader of Democratic league of Kosovo. "Kostunica and Milosevic are both a production of Serb nationalist extremism and both support a greater Serbia," said Jakup Krasniqi, Secretary general of the Albanian Democratic Party in Kosovo. However the main Kosovo leaders, Hashim Thaci, Ibrahim Rugova and Ramush Haradinaj seem to be more careful, keeping silence about Kostunica. More optimistic is, , dominated by ethnic Albanians. "We do not have any concrete things from Serb opposition platform about our issues, but we hope the trend would be positive if Kostunica wants to integrate his people in Europe," says Riza Halimi, Presevo commune mayor in south Serbia. Rexhep Meidani, the President of Albania, welcomed the change in Belgrade, saying he is, "expecting a new Kostunica attitude toward new realities, which already exist in Montenegro, Kosovo and to condemn Serb genocide in Kosovo."NEWLN:


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