Kosovo Albanians welcome Clinton, Albright 20 years after NATO intervention

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Former US President Bill Clinton applauds during the inauguration of the monument of Madeleine Albright at the 20th anniversary of the Deployment of NATO Troops in Kosovo, in Pristina. (Reuters)
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Former US President Bill Clinton, Madeleine Albright, and President of Kosovo Hashim Thaci, walk during the 20th anniversary of the Deployment of NATO Troops in Kosovo, in Pristina. (Reuters)
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Former US President Bill Clinton, Madeleine Albright, and President of Kosovo Hashim Thaci, walk during the 20th anniversary of the Deployment of NATO Troops in Kosovo, in Pristina. (Reuters)
Updated 12 June 2019
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Kosovo Albanians welcome Clinton, Albright 20 years after NATO intervention

  • Clinton, 72, and Albright, 82, were greeted like rock stars in the Kosovo capital Pristina where a statue of Albright was unveiled in the city center for the occasion
  • Majority-Albanian Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, nine years after NATO air strikes ended Belgrade’s repressive grip on the territory

PRISTINA: Thousands of Kosovo Albanians turned out on Wednesday to welcome back former US president Bill Clinton and his ex-top diplomat Madeleine Albright 20 years after they helped engineer the NATO air war that ousted Serbian forces.
Clinton, 72, and Albright, 82, were greeted like rock stars in the Kosovo capital Pristina where a statue of Albright was unveiled in the city center for the occasion, joining one of Clinton erected earlier on a boulevard named after him.
Majority-Albanian Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, nine years after NATO air strikes ended Belgrade’s repressive grip on the territory following a brutal counter-insurgency campaign by Serbian security forces.
“I love this country and it will always be one of the greatest honors of my life to have stood with you against ethnic cleansing (by Serbian forces) and for freedom,” Clinton told thousands gathered in sweltering heat in downtown Pristina.
Marking the 20th anniversary of NATO peacekeeping troops entering Kosovo after Serbian forces left, Kosovo President Hashim Thaci awarded Clinton and Albright medals of freedom “for the liberty he brought to us and the peace to entire region.”
Clinton and Albright were the most outspoken proponents of NATO intervention to halt killings of Kosovar civilians by Serbian forces as part of Belgrade’s 1998-99 crackdown on a Kosovo Albanian guerrilla uprising.
“I was watching the NATO planes from the window of my apartment in Pristina during the war and I was praying to God and the USA; I had no other hope,” said Gani Kelmendi, 78, as he waited in the crowd for Clinton to appear.
“I remember the moment when in my village the Serb army was getting out and French soldiers were coming in. I could not believe my eyes,” said Fetah Berisha, 67, who considers Clinton Kosovo’s “savior.”
But the end of fighting brought about by NATO’s intervention has not brought true peace to the southern Balkan region.
Belgrade has still not recognized independent Kosovo more than a decade after more than 110 other countries did and, backed by its main ally Russia, is blocking Pristina’s bid for membership of the United Nations.
Tensions rose anew six months ago when Kosovo introduced a 100 percent tax on goods imported from Serbia and warned it would keep them until Belgrade recognized its independence.
The European Union has warned Kosovo and Serbia that they will not advance toward wished-for membership unless they reach an agreement to normalize relations.


Libyan navy says it intercepted 91 Europe-bound migrants

Updated 16 June 2019
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Libyan navy says it intercepted 91 Europe-bound migrants

  • Libya became a major conduit for African migrants and refugees fleeing to Europe
  • An official said the migrants were given humanitarian and medical aid and then taken to a refugee camp in Tripoli

CAIRO: Libya’s coast guard says it has intercepted a rubber vessel carrying 91 Europe-bound migrants, including women and children, off the country’s Mediterranean coast.
Spokesman Ayoub Gassim said Sunday that three women and two children were among the African migrants intercepted a day earlier off the coast of the western town of Garaboli, 60 kilometers (37 miles) east of the capital, Tripoli.
He says the migrants were given humanitarian and medical aid and then taken to a refugee camp in Tripoli.
Libya became a major conduit for African migrants and refugees fleeing to Europe after the 2011 uprising that ousted and killed longtime ruler Muammar Qaddafi.
Libyan authorities have stepped up efforts to stem the flow of migrants, with European assistance.