02 February 2006

Serb leaders appeal for peace after Kosovo president's death

AFP, Web posted at: 1/22/2006 3:13:25


BELGRADE: Serb leaders appealed for peace and for dialogue with Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority over the future status of the province to continue after the death yesterday of its president, Ibrahim Rugova.


"It is of utmost importance for Kosovo institutions to preserve peace in the province," said moderate politician Oliver Ivanovic, as quoted by Serbia's state-run Tanjug news agency.


However, he warned Kosovo's minority Serbs to be "cautious," and called on international officials in the province to "preserve peace and prevent possible unrest," Tanjug quoted him as saying.


Another Serb leader, Momcilo Trajkovic, offered his condolences to Rugova's family, but said his death "represents the end of the fanatic separatist movement aimed at creating an independent Kosovo."


"I hope that, despite Rugova's death, the dialogue between Serbs and Albanians (on the future status of Kosovo) will continue and will be wound up with the respect of international principles," said Trajkovic, who heads a small Serb party.


Milan Ivanovic, a nationalist Serb leader, warned that Rugova's death would "result in a power struggle among ethnic Albanian leaders."


"Rugova was a man with a certain democratic potential and a man who has never been accused of doing anything illegal," Ivanovic said. "Kosovo Albanians' position is weaker after the death of their president," Ivanovic said.