Kosovo Albanians welcome Clinton, Albright 20 years after NATO intervention

1 / 3
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)
2 / 3
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)
3 / 3
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

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.


Tokyo sees biggest rise in coronavirus cases in two months

Updated 52 min 2 sec ago

Tokyo sees biggest rise in coronavirus cases in two months

  • About 70 percent of cases on Thursday were among people in their 20s and 30s

TOKYO: Tokyo confirmed 107 new coronavirus infections on Thursday, its highest daily tally in two months, but Japan’s chief cabinet secretary said there was no need to reintroduce a state of emergency.
The Japanese capital, with 14 million people, had initially sought to hold new daily cases at fewer than 20 after the government lifted the state of emergency on May 25, only to see its tally consistently exceed 50 over the past week.
Tokyo’s daily count last rose above 100 on May 2. On Wednesday, it confirmed 67 new cases.
Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said about 70 percent of cases on Thursday were among people in their 20s and 30s.
“It’s really unpleasant that it is increasing somewhat. I’d like to ask all Tokyo residents and everyone at businesses for their cooperation to prevent that,” she said.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters he didn’t think there was a need for a fresh state of emergency.
“We’ll continue to pay attention to the infection situation in the area with a sense of urgency, and work to both prevent spreading of infection and support economic activity,” he said.
Officials have also said the medical system can handle existing infections and that increased testing partly explains the rise in confirmed cases.
Despite more cases in Tokyo, Japan, with about 19,000 cases and 976 deaths, has reported a lower overall rate of infection than many countries.
More than 10.7 million people have been reported to be infected by the coronavirus globally and over 515,000 have died, according to a Reuters tally.
This week, Tokyo said it would move away from numerical targets in favor of more reliance on expert advice to rein in the virus and avert more economic damage.