Kosovars hail their heroine Albright

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The Independent Online
CHANTING her name, "Albright, Albright," a crowd of Kosovo Albanians gathered outside the United Nations building in the Kosovo capital, Pristina, yesterday to welcome US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who was visiting on her way to the stabilization pact summit to open today in Sarajevo.

While Kosovo Albanians count Ms Albright among their Western heroes who championed the Nato action that helped end a decade of harsh Serbian occupation here, Ms Albright used her visit to urge Kosovo's dwindling Serb population to stay on, despite revenge attacks which have fuelled the flight of more than 100,000 Serbs.

"The system here is set up in order to protect" minorities, she told a group of journalists. "We want them to stay."

On Wednesday, 14 Serbs killed last week were buried in their village of Gracko. Ms Albright made a point of meeting with the leading Serbian Orthodox religious official in Kosovo, Bishop Artemije, who had presided at their funeral.

She also held talks with the new UN special representative to Kosovo, former French health minister Bernard Kouchner, KFor commander, General Sir Mike Jackson, and with the leader of Kosovo's provisional government, and KLA leader, Hashim Thaci.

A group of Kosovo Albanians whose loved ones were taken as political prisoners back to Serbia also held a demonstration, urging Ms Albright and the international community to do more to free the more than 2,000 people still held by the Serbs.