Saturday, July 31, 1999 Published at 10:55 GMT 11:55 UK
Blair: End ethnic hatred
A hero's welcome for Tony Blair
UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has made a strong appeal to the people of Kosovo to put their ethnic conflicts behind them.
"I am so proud to be here in Kosovo and proud to see you back in your homeland where you belong," he said.
"We fought in this conflict for a cause and that cause was justice. We fought for an end to ethnic cleansing. We fought for peace and security for all people in Kosovo.
"But now I believe we can see the chance for hope and confidence and prosperity for the future."
His address was repeatedly interrupted by the crowd chanting "Tony, Tony."
The prime minister's hardline stand against the Serbs during the recent Nato bombing campaign had earnt him the applause from the Kosovo Albanians.
Several thousand onlookers clapped as he went on a walkabout.
He stopped frequently to chat and shake hands with the crowd, some of whom showered him with flowers while others held up British flags.
Mr Blair also had talks with the political leader of the Kosovo Liberation Army, Hashim Thaci, and the moderate ethnic Albanian leader, Ibrahim Rugova, as well as with Serb representatives.
Ahead of his visit to Pristina, Mr Blair held breakfast talks with Macedonian Prime Minister Lubjco Georgievski in Skopje.
He was keen to reassure the Macedonians that the massive burden they have shouldered in playing host to thousands of Allied troops, will be repaid.
"As far as I'm concerned the promises that we made during the conflict when we urgently needed your help, are the promises we now must deliver with your help as required by people here in the region.
"I will work with you in partnership to achieve these goals." he said.
'A just cause'
On Friday night, Mr Blair met with British troops and praised their contribution to the peacekeeping force.
After talks with K-For's British commander, General Sir Mike Jackson, the prime minister told them: "It's a fantastic thing to be here, and to see what our troops here have achieved.
On Friday, Mr Blair also told crowds that the rest of the world should now "try to build a Kosovo which, in the end, will be a symbol of how the Balkans should be".
But he conceded: "There's an immense amount still to do. There will be difficulties along the way."
He reinforced Britain's pledge to send 100 police to Kosovo later this year to help restore an impartial civilian security presence.
Mr Blair said 60 officers would come from the Royal Ulster Constabulary. The RUC is the only UK police force to be routinely armed and has long experience of policing a divided community.
'No aid for Serbia'
Mr Blair's dramatic dash into Kosovo followed a visit earlier to the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo for a Balkan stability pact summit.
The summit adopted a declaration that set out guidelines to promote peace and stability in the region and called on the Yugoslav authorities to "embrace democratic change" or remain an outcast.
Mr Blair stressed that Serbia could expect no aid while President Milosevic remains in charge as an indicted war criminal.
Britain is to spend millions aiding democratic opposition parties in Serbia and encouraging an independent media there in a bid to hasten his departure.