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Tuesday, 21 March, 2000, 21:05 GMT
Nato chief seeks Kosovo tolerance
K-For vehicles in Mitrovica
Robertson says a strong K-For presence is still needed
Nato Secretary-General George Robertson has warned the people of Kosovo that they could lose the backing of the international community if they fail to put ethnic hatred behind them.

Presenting a report called "Kosovo One Year On", he urged the province's ethnic Albanians to build a tolerant, multi-ethnic society.

George Robertson
Robertson: "The international community cannot leave the Kosovo job half-done"
"Ethnic hatred must be set aside if the future is to be truly different," he urged, calling on "all Kosovars to use this anniversary to stand back from the passions of the moment and to set about building that tolerant, multi-ethnic society".

The call comes amid growing tension in Kosovo ahead of the first anniversary of Nato air strikes on 24 March, with repeated clashes between Serbs and ethnic Albanians, especially in the divided town of Mitrovica.

Lord Robertson said the Nato campaign had been "just and necessary".

"In the blizzard of words that has followed it is easy to overlook that simple fact," the report says.

"Serb forces are out, K-For is in, and the refugees are home."

'Mission possible'

Lord Robertson renewed calls for more money and international police to restore law and order to the province.

K-For convoy
More K-For troops are required to deal with ethnic tension in the province
"The international community cannot leave the Kosovo job half-done," he said, indicating that he foresees a K-For presence in Kosovo for some time to come.

"This is mission possible, but it's going to call for patience perseverance and resources."

'Confidence zone'

Kosovo peacekeepers are launching new security measures in one of the province's most troubled and divided towns, Mitrovica.

Lord Robertson and Nato commander General Wesley Clark are due to visit the town on Friday.

A "confidence zone" is to be established in the town centre, where demonstrations, unauthorised parking and the use of unlicensed two-way radios will be banned.

K-For soldier
K-For has a large presence on the ground in towns like Mitrovica
The moves are designed to create a secure area around the central bridge between the Serb-dominated north and the ethnic Albanian south which has proved a flashpoint for ethnic tension in recent weeks.

On the Serbian side, self-appointed "bridgekeepers" equipped with two-way radios maintain constant surveillance of movement across the bridge.

The few ethnic Albanians remaining in the north say they find the bridgekeepers intimidating and accuse them of having illegal arms.

Many ethnic Albanians were forced out of the northern part of the town during rioting in early February.

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04 Mar 00 | From Our Own Correspondent
Mitrovica: K-For's hardest test
06 Dec 99 | Europe
Horrors of Kosovo revealed
15 Jun 99 | Europe
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