Tensions run high in southern Serbia

NATO special envoy Pieter Feith is in Bujanovac, southern Serbia, to broker talks between the Yugoslav authorities and the Albanian extremists. Tensions run high, with both sides accusing each other of provocation. The Yugoslav authorities demand the return of four Serb civilians and two Yugoslav Army soldiers. Milovan Coguric, the Belgrade representative in the talks, stated that talks will only resume when the Albanians have let them go. The Albanians claim the return of three Albanians arrested by the Yugoslav police. The UCPMB Commander, Sefcet Musliu, said that his side will not begin talks until the Serbian forces “leave Albanian houses in the village of Lucane”. It has been reported from the press centre in Bujanovac that the Albanian extremists have threatened to kill their captives if the Albanian prisoners are not exchanged. There have been numerous incidents involving armed Albanians in the enclave of Presevo-Medveja-Bujanovac since a ceasefire was signed by both sides earlier this year. Meanwhile in neighbouring Kosovo, 98 uniformed Albanians have been arrested by UNMIK, according to reports from UNMIK Pristina headquarters. Most of those arrested were in the area of Prizren on the Macedonian frontier.

TIMOTHY BANCROFT-HINCHEY, PRAVDA.Ru, LISBON