BELGRADE, June 8, 2006 (Tanjug news agency)
Tomorrow will be the seven-year anniversary of the signing of the Kumanovo Agreement and Saturday it will be seven years since the end of the bombing of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the establishment of an international protectorate over Kosovo and Metohija whose status according to the international community is expected to be resolved by the end of the year.
The official end of the bombing was preceded by the signing of the Military-Technical Agreement in Kumanovo between representatives of NATO, the Yugoslav Army and Serbian police.
On June 9, 1999 Generals Svetozar Marjanovic and Obrad Stevanovic and General Michael Jackson signed a document which ordered Yugoslav state defensive forces to withdraw from Kosovo and Metohija within a period of 11 days.
The bombing began on March 24 and the first projectiles fell at 7:45 p.m. in Pristina and the last on June 9 in the vicinity of the village of Bljac in Dragas municipality at 3:30 p.m.
The NATO air campaign lasted 79 days. The exact number of civil victims has not yet been determined; the number of approximately 2,000 civilians is cited while, according to official information, 1,002 members of the Yugoslav Army and police were killed.
Inflicted material damage is estimated at several tens of billions of dollars.
The first units of the Yugoslav Army began to withdraw from Kosovo and Metohija on June 10 in accordance with the Kumanovo Agreement. Later the same day the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1244, with China abstaining from voting, which legalized the arrival of international military forces, primarily from the NATO countries.
This document in several instances cites the Rambouillet Agreement, which was rejected by the Serbian side, which was one of the reasons why the bombing began.
The Security Council Resolution, which establishes an international “civil and security presences” in the province, emphasizes the commitment of all member states” of the world organization to “the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the other states of the region as set out in the Helsinki Final Act”.
At the same time, it calls for “substantial autonomy and meaningful self-administration for Kosovo”.
Since June 1999 to today approximately 60 percent of Serbs and other non-Albanians have been expelled from Kosovo and Metohija and they are still unable to return to their homes. Their houses have been destroyed or illegally occupied, their apartments moved into by force.
All cities in the province, with the exception of Kosovska Mitrovica, were ethnically cleansed seven years ago and remain so today.
About 150 monasteries and churches of the Serbian Orthodox Church have been destroyed and damaged.
In Kosovo even today there is no basic freedom of movement for the remaining Serbs and other non-Albanian community.
Direct negotiations between Belgrade and Pristina on the future status of Kosovo began at the end of February this year. So far six rounds of talks have been held, which concluded without significant results. Belgrade is advocating the essential autonomy of Kosovo within the framework of Serbia, giving priority to a consensual solution between legitimate representatives of Serbia and Kosovo provisional institutions, while Pristina insists on independence.