France distances itself from US
February 23, 2000
PARIS, Feb. 22 (Tanjug)- France distanced itself today from the statements of former U.S. envoy for the Balkans, U.S. ambassador to the UN, Richard Holbrook, who accused Serbs of provoking unrest in the town of Kosovska Mitrovica.
Disagreement with critics
Holbrook Monday cynically accused Belgrade of allegedly instigating riots north of the bridge across the Ibar in Kosovska Mitrovica. Holbrook obviously tried to draw attention away from the actual perpetrators of the riots, ethnic-Albanian terrorists, who are trying at all costs and with U.S. assistance to take over the northern, Serb part of the town. Kosovska Mitrovica is the center of the KFOR Sector North, which is under the French command. French KFOR troops were ten days ago targets of ethnic-Albanian snipers in an unprecedented attack on KFOR troops in the province.
Holbrook failed to say anything about it but did censure Serbs for protesting Sunday against the barbarian and brutal behaviour of KFOR troops during a search of Serbian homes and institutions.
"It is too early to know where the responsibilities in the field lie, as an investigation is yet to be conducted," French Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Anne Gazeau-Secret said.
Gazeau-Secret set out that France was for a "peaceful coexistence" of Serbs and ethnic Albanians in Kosovo and Metohija.
French Minister of Defence Allen Richar, who is today visiting Washington, confirmed that terrorist KLA still acts in Kosovo, and that's what causes troubles to KFOR.
Organized criminal is still present in Kosovo, structures of former KLA still exist, and that's why we have problems, said French Minister.
He will talk with the US officials about role and tasks of KFOR, since views of France on that issue are different from the US views.
France expressed deep disagreement with criticism of some western governments on French soldiers, who are "ineffective and pro-Serbian oriented". Such critics obviously served as a pretext to commit the reinforcement of both, the US and German KFOR contingents, which used the arrogant and brutal method of raid in Serbian part of the town.
French soldiers, who were in charge of peace maintenance in the region of Kosovska Mitrovica, were successfully carrying out their duties in many difficult situation, said Richar, defending decisive behaviour of his soldiers and rejecting accusations of some allies, especially USA.