Serb anger at UN's 'passivity'

September 3, 1999

The international community has failed to prevent Serbian academics and students from being "driven out of their homes and expelled from Kosovo", Jagos Zelenovic, rector of the Belgrade-backed Serb-language Pristina University wrote in an open letter of protest at the "passivity" of the UN and other agencies.

Over 90 per cent of Serbian academics and students have been forced to flee, he said. But repeated appeals to the UN Civilian Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and the Nato-led Kosovo Force (K-For) have "fallen on deaf ears".

In June, Serbian education minister Jovo Todorovic said the authorities were doing everything to help the Serbs "survive and stay in the province". He said money would be allocated to develop and repair the university in Pristina and other colleges, and that teachers in Kosovo would receive higher wages than their counterparts in the rest of Serbia as an incentive for them to stay.

Professor Zelenovic, who was until recently minister for development, science and environment in the Yugoslav federal government, appealed to the joint education commission of UNMIK, and to the UN Special Representative, Bernard Kouchner, to "make bigger efforts for the unimpeded work of Pristina University".

Kosovar Albanian academics moved quickly to reclaim the university. But they insist the Serbs would be welcome to stay on.

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