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Friday, April 16, 1999 Published at 16:26 GMT 17:26 UK

Letter from Belgrade: Part II

A resident of Belgrade writes a second letter for BBC News Online about life in the city at war with Nato:

Kosovo: Special Report
As Nato attacks continue, Belgrade is still holding on - or so it seems.

Although the general outpouring of patriotism is still strong and Serbs are traditionally proud of their endurance, the fact that the country is now half-devastated and that the economy will take decades to recover would make any sensible person worried and subdued. Was it all worth it?

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This is a question no one dares ask, at least not in public. Forget the factories, forget the airports and heating plants. Call me a heretic and a traitor, but I was raised to believe that nothing is more important than human life and now I get the feeling that not one civilian casualty was worth sacrificing for all the dozens of Kosovo's monasteries and churches.

Needless to add, this is not the general opinion of my compatriots: the majority of Serbia's population would give their lives for Kosovo.

Therefore Nato sending in the ground troops would be one of the biggest strategic mistakes in the history of our century.

If some Serbs were reluctant to go and chase the Albanians out, there is not a single person I know who would not be more than glad to go down there and charge into battle, hatchets and cutlery in hands (since all other weapons will be destroyed by then) against the disorientated Western soldiers.

It was them, not the Albanians who destroyed their country.

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Nato's insistence on continuing with air-raids in order to "change Milosevic's mind" now seems absolutely trivial and ridiculous: people are left without their homes and Milosevic is still having a ball in his royal residence in Belgrade's posh quarter, Dedinje, chatting with numerous guests from abroad.

In bombing Yugoslavia's bridges, Nato has thoughtlessly burnt the proverbial bridges for the Serbian people too.

Everybody knows that we never enjoyed living in a democratic society, but the order that we are yet to encounter seems more frightening than anything we've ever experienced.

The future is terror: the state's main enemies now are the independent media and its journalists - as we have seen, the punishment for a difference in opinion in Serbia is death. (The editor- in-chief of the independent daily Dnevni Telegraf was shot dead in front of his house, Al Capone-style).

There is no going back, panic has finally become fully justifiable.

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01 Apr 99 | Kosovo
Letter from Belgrade

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