Kosovo Serbs sign deal with UN mission to increase security
The deal was a condition for the Serb Nation Council's (SNV) continued participation in the UN's joint administration, which they shunned for three weeks this month in protest at a spate of anti-Serb violence.
The text signed Thursday anticipates setting up a special security task force as part of the UNMIK police, which will tackle organised crime and which the Serbs say will also hit "ethnic Albanian terrorism".
It will also push for the recruitment of Serbs into the local Kosovo Police Service, the force being developed by the UN but which has so far recruited mainly ethnic Albanians, who make up the vast majority of Kosovo's population.
The document, signed by UNMIK head Bernard Kouchner and SNV leader Bishop Artemije Radosavljevic, also pledges one international prosecutor and two international judges in each district court to counter persistant claims of ethnic bias in the legal system.
It allows for increased efforts for the return of hundreds of thousands of Serb refugees, to locate missing persons in Kosovo after frequent unsolved kidnappings and to establish a committee to protect Serbian churches and monuments.
"I believe that after the signing of this document the situation of the Kosovo Serbs will be better than it is now," said Bishop Artemije.
Kouchner called on all communities, but especially the ethnic Albanians, to contribute to solving the violence in the Yugoslav province.
While stopping short of endorsing Serb claims that the widepsread violence is "ethnic Albnian terrorism", Kouchner said he believed that it was "sometimes organised, but not only by one side".
He blamed both ethnic Albanian and Serb extremists for trying to derail the progress of peace, and said real reconciliation was still a long way off.
The signing of the deal came as at least 14 Serb police officers of the KPS in the southern enclave of Strpce walked out of their jobs in protest at the UN administration's attitude to the Serbs, and in particular their response to the disappearance of a farmer last week.
Hundreds of Serbs trashed UN offices in the isolated Serb town after the farmer, whose body was later found beaten to death, disappeared. The Serbs accused the international security forces of being slow to repsond.
Another Serb farmer was also shot in the hand late Wednesday while out grazing his cattle in the village of Janina Voda near Pristina, UN police said.
In another attack, a grenade was lobbed on to the roof of a Serb house in the town of Obilic, just north of Pristina, causing minimal damage, police said.
Copyright (c) 2000 Agence France-Presse
Received by NewsEdge Insight: 06/29/2000 10:53:24
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