Politics, World

Kosovo marks 20th anniversary of NATO intervention

Former US President Bill Clinton, former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright among scheduled speakers of event

Talha Öztürk   | 13.06.2019
Kosovo marks 20th anniversary of NATO intervention

BELGRADE, Serbia 

A Kosovo ceremony Wednesday marked the 20th anniversary of NATO's entry into Kosovo in the capital Pristina.

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former U.S. Army General Wesley Clark, who commanded the NATO forces during the bombing of then-Yugoslavia in 1999, were in the attendance of the event at the Skenderbeg Square.

Addressing the ceremony, Clinton voiced pride for standing by Kosovar people against the ethnic cleansing.

“79 day-long NATO airstrikes won the war, however, Kosovar people gained peace," said Clinton.

Also speaking at the ceremony, Albright said the war in Kosovo was to deal with barbaric murders and tyranny against democracy, but the Alliance was strong and determined.

"It was not an easy decision as you can imagine, we had a lot of discussions and President Clinton wanted to ensure that Kosovo was safe. On the eve of the bombing, he called me by the phone and told me 'Madeline, the planes were flying, we're doing the right thing,' and I told him, 'Yes, Mr. President, we are doing the right thing,' said Albright.

Kosovo President Hashim Thaci, for his part, said the U.S., the EU and NATO took “a great and remarkable step” in 1999.

As part of the celebrations, the "Walk for Freedom" took place with the attendance of senior foreign and domestic officials in Pristina's center.

NATO’s intervention in 1999 began with an air campaign against Serbia which was followed by a growing period of violence between the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) and Serbian forces.

The air campaign forced the withdrawal of Serbian forces in June 1999.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, but Belgrade insists the country remains part of Serbia. Since then, tensions have persisted between Kosovo’s ethnic-Albanian majority and a small Serb minority in the north.

Kosovo’s independence is recognized by over 100 countries, including the U.S., Britain, France, Germany and Turkey.

Serbia, Russia, and China are among the countries which have not yet recognized its independence.

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