|<<<-- DJ Yugoslav President Criticizes NATO's Air Strikes --|
BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (AP)--Yugoslavia's pro-democratic president criticized
Friday NATO allies for the 78-day airstrikes against Yugoslavia but pledged
cooperation with the alliance.
"We must remember all victims and horrors of NATO's bombing," said Yugoslav
President Vojislav Kostunica in a statement marking March 24 - Remembrance Day -
on which NATO launched its air attacks in 1999 to force former president
Slobodan Milosevic to end violence against ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.
Kostunica and his 18-party reformist coalition replaced Milosevic last October
and relations between NATO and the Balkan country have improved since then.
Kostunica said that 1,500 civilians, including 81 children and hundreds of
policemen and soldiers, were killed during the airstrikes, and much of
Yugoslavia's infrastructure was destroyed.
But the president, a moderate nationalist, called also for closer ties with
the alliance: "Our future lies in the cooperation with the international
community and NATO."
He also said that the "cooperation will be much easier if all accept the truth
that NATO bombs mainly killed Serbs, but also Albanian women and children."
Kostunica referred to the accidental air attacks on two convoys of Albanian
civilians in Kosovo in 1999 when dozens of people were killed and wounded.
He added that "Yugoslavia's young democracy" will try to preserve the
multi-ethnic state and prevent "new suffering and wars."
"But wrong moves and evading the truth can only contribute to new
catastrophes. We need help, not stumbling blocks." >>>