The U.N. Security Council has condemned the latest outbreak of ethnic violence in Kosovo. The Council held an emergency session on the matter.
Serbia and Montenegro's Foreign Minister Goran Svilanovic rushed to New York Thursday to address a hastily called Security Council meeting. He charged that the past two days of violence is evidence of a campaign of ethnic cleansing by Kosovo Albanian extremists. "Serbian population suffered a purge, the object of which was the ethnic cleansing from Kosovo," he said.
In an impassioned plea to the Security Council, Mr. Svilanovic blamed NATO and U.N. forces for failing to quell what he described as the worst ethnic violence in Kosovo since the end of the civil war nearly five years ago. He said Kosovo's Serbian minority is living in fear. "To Serbs, signal is there is no life for them in the province and they should leave," he said.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan was among a long list of speakers before the Council. He called on both sides to refrain from violence. But he singled out Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority.
"Allow me, in particular," he said, "to remind the leaders of the Kosovo Albanian community that as the largest ethnic group, they have a responsibility to protect and promote the rights of all people within Kosovo, particularly its minorities."
Mr. Annan described as shameful and inexcusable the attacks on churches and cemeteries in Kosovo, as well as retaliatory attacks against mosques in other parts of Serbia and Montenegro.
German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer also addressed the meeting, calling for leaders on both sides to show political courage to halt the violence. "There will be no impunity for the perpetrators," he said. "Now is the time for responsible Kosovo-Albanian and Kosovo Serb politicians to appear together before the people of Kosovo and defend democratic values against anarchy and mayhem."
The Council members responded with a statement calling the violence in Kosovo unacceptable, and demanding that perpetrators be brought to justice. It also condemned the attacks on NATO and U.N. personnel.
The statement coincided with word from the Kosovo town of Mitrovica that U.N. staff had been evacuated.
The ethnic violence began in Mitrovica this week following reports that Serbian children had chased three Albanian boys into an icy river. Two of the boys drowned.