Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Low Graphics

Thursday, May 6, 1999 Published at 19:18 GMT 20:18 UK

World: Europe

Rugova calls for peace force

Mr Rugova (left) with Mr D'Alema (right) in Rome

The moderate Kosovo Albanian leader Ibrahim Rugova has called for Serb forces to leave and an international peacekeeping force that includes Nato to be deployed in Kosovo.

Kosovo: Special Report
In his first public comments since leaving Yugoslavia, Mr Rugova said: "The first thing is to re-establish security in Kosovo with international help so all can return."

"There is a chance. I'm optimistic. I'm more optimistic because we now have full international support," he said at a news conference with Italian Prime Minister Massimo D'Alema.

David Willey: Mr Rugova was evenhanded in his comments
"The entire population is looking for a peaceful solution including the KLA."

Mr Rugova, who is known as the Gandhi of the Balkans, has led a long campaign of peaceful resistance to Belgrade rule and is opposed to the KLA's armed struggle.

In Tirana, a KLA spokesman said the organisation was suspicious of Mr Rugova's peace efforts and repeated that it would not disarm even if a peace deal was reached with Belgrade.

Mr Rugova has been staying with members of his family at a tightly guarded 17th-century villa inside a park in Rome, since he was unexpectedly allowed to leave Yugoslavia on Wednesday.

He was previously said to have been under house arrest in the Kosovo capital, Pristina.

BBC Rome Correspondent David Willey says the conundrum of whether Mr Rugova was under such duress in Belgrade that he called for an end to Nato airstrikes remained unanswered at the Rome news conference.

'Positive development'

United States President Bill Clinton welcomed Mr Rugova's release as a "positive development".

[ image: Controversial photocall: Rugova and Milosevic in April]
Controversial photocall: Rugova and Milosevic in April
The US Balkan envoy, Christopher Hill, is travelling to Italy to meet Mr Rugova.

Libya's newly-appointed special envoy for Yugoslavia, Mohammed Ahmed Sherif, is also planning to meet the Kosovar leader.

According to the UK Defence Secretary, George Robertson, Mr Rugova has thanked the UK and Nato for their support, in a phone call to Foreign Secretary Robin Cook.

Long in the forefront of the Kosovo Albanians' struggle for independence, Mr Rugova was elected president of the self-declared Kosovo Republic, in a semi-underground vote.

His moderate, pacifist views have drawn criticism from the Kosovo Liberation Army, which is attempting to secure Kosovo's self-rule by force of arms.

Why the release?

Questions are being asked about Mr Milosevic's motives in freeing Mr Rugova to go to Italy.

Commentators are suggesting that with the G8 group of industrialised countries meeting to discuss the Balkan crisis, Mr Milosevic was trying to raise hopes that he is ready to negotiate.

Italian Government sources say Mr Rugova's journey to Italy was arranged after a personal telephone call from President Milosevic to the Italian Foreign Minister, Lamberto Dini.

Anti-US attacks

Meanwhile, sporadic anti-US attacks are reported in various parts of Italy.

A petrol bomb was thrown at a McDonald's restaurant, while a private car belonging to a US airman working at the Aviano air base in northern Italy was destroyed by fire.

Although the Italian Government continues to support Nato bombing, public opinion is growing increasingly restive.

Italy, despite providing the main springboard for Nato attacks, remains the only Nato country taking part in the bombing to keep its embassy in Belgrade open and working normally.

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia

Relevant Stories

05 May 99 | Kosovo
Ibrahim Rugova: Pacifist at the crossroads

28 Apr 99 | Europe
Rugova signs Kosovo deal

05 Apr 99 | Europe
Rugova wants bombing to stop

04 Apr 99 | Europe
Rugova 'under house arrest'

31 Mar 99 | Europe
Kosovo Albanian leader 'alive and well'

Internet Links


UNHCR Kosovo news

Kosovo Crisis Centre

Serbian Ministry of Information

Italian Foreign Ministry

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

Violence greets Clinton visit

Russian forces pound Grozny

EU fraud: a billion dollar bill

Next steps for peace

Cardinal may face loan-shark charges

From Business
Vodafone takeover battle heats up

Trans-Turkish pipeline deal signed

French party seeks new leader

Jube tube debut

Athens riots for Clinton visit

UN envoy discusses Chechnya in Moscow

Solana new Western European Union chief

Moldova's PM-designate withdraws

Chechen government welcomes summit

In pictures: Clinton's violent welcome

Georgia protests over Russian 'attack'

UN chief: No Chechen 'catastrophe'

New arms control treaty for Europe

From Business
Mannesmann fights back

EU fraud -- a billion-dollar bill

New moves in Spain's terror scandal

EU allows labelling of British beef

UN seeks more security in Chechnya

Athens riots for Clinton visit

Russia's media war over Chechnya

Homeless suffer as quake toll rises

Analysis: East-West relations must shift