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[KDN] AFP New Year in Kosovo, Albanians celebrate freedom

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  • Snezana Lazovic
    New Year in Kosovo, Albanians celebrate freedom PRISTINA, Jan 1 (AFP) - Thousands of ethnic Albanians flocked into Kosovo s capital Pristina Saturday to
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 1, 2000
      New Year in Kosovo, Albanians celebrate freedom

      PRISTINA, Jan 1 (AFP) - Thousands of ethnic Albanians flocked
      into Kosovo's capital Pristina Saturday to celebrate a New Year free
      of Yugoslav troops, while families of Albanians imprisoned in
      Belgrade called for their release.
      City inhabitants had erected a stage in front of the national
      theatre, from where families of those who have been imprisoned by
      Serbia or disappeared launched an appeal to the Belgrade government
      for their return.
      Bernard Kouchner, head of the UN administration which has run
      Kosovo since a NATO bombing campaign forced Yugoslav troops out of
      the province in June, promised he would do everything in his power
      to get a reply from Belgrade.
      Amid falling snow, young ethnic Albanians celebrated the
      province's relative freedom from Yugoslavia.
      "Last year it was dreadful, we could not go out. The Serbs were
      treating us like animals," said Ilir, 22.
      Earlier Friday, Kouchner travelled to the divided town of
      Kosovska Mitrovica to urge the town's Serb and Albanian residents to
      live in harmony.
      "Believe me, Mitrovica will be a unified town ... but give us
      time," Kouchner told residents in remarks on the bridge which
      divides the Serbian and Albanian areas and which has been a frequent
      scene of clashes between the two communities.
      But Serbs and Albanians laughed off his plea.
      "I don't believe him when he talks about reuniting the town,"
      said Petar, a 21-year-old Serb.
      "You just have to look at what he has done for us until now, he
      keeps breaking resolution 1244," he said, referring to the UN
      security council resolution that promised substantial autonomy to
      Kosovo, but within Yugoslavia.
      Albanian passerby Mexhat Adani said Albanians had "a lot of
      hope" in Kouchner, but did not want Serbs to stay in the town.
      "They do not deserve (to stay), not after all the crimes they
      have committed," he said.
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