- Title: YUGOSLAVIA: ETHNIC ALBANIAN GUERRILLAS RELEASE EIGHT YUGOSLAV ARMY HOSTAGES.
- Date: 14th January 1999
- Summary: KOSOVSKA MITROVICA, SERBIA, YUGOSLAVIA (JANUARY 13, 1999) (REUTERS) 1. MV/PAN: HOSTAGES GETTING OUT OF ARMY JEEP, WALKING INTO BARRACKS 0.17 2. MV/PAN: HOSTAGES WALKING INTO BARRACKS, BEING HUGGED BY RELATIVES/CHILDREN 0.37 3. CU: HOSTAGE HUGGING WOMAN 0.50 4. MCU: HOSTAGE AND PARENTS HUGGING (2 SHOTS) 1.03 5. MCU/CU: HOSTAGE WITH CHILD (2 SHOTS) 1.21 6. MCU: HOSTAGE HUGGING SOLDIER 1.27 7. MCU: HOSTAGE AND RELATIVES 1.40 8. CU: HOSTAGE KISSING CHILD 1.45 9. GV/MV/CU: HOSTAGES POSING FOR GROUP PHOTOGRAPH (4 SHOTS) 2.16 Initials Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
- Embargoed: 29th January 1999 12:00
- Location: KOSOVSKA MITROVICA, SERBIA, YUGOSLAVIA
- Country: Yugoslavia
- Reuters ID: LVA57V9GTLAC8M2D6MOLZ77HDZ4S
- Story Text: Ethnic Albanian guerrillas of the Kosovo Liberation
Army freed eight Yugoslav army soldiers on Wednesday in an
11th-hour, OSCE- mediated deal, easing fears of a renewed war
in the region.
The soldiers arrived at the army barracks in Kosovska
Mitrovica, near the spot where they had been captured on
Friday, for an emotional reunion with their families.
"I am glad that everything is over," said Dragan
Jugovic on Wednesday (January 13) from the northern Serbian
province of Vojvodina as he was embraced by his wife and a
two-and-a-half year old daughter Dijana."Welcome home daddy,"
the girl said.
"The only thing that matters is that we are here," said
Ivan Kostic."I am the happiest woman in the world," said his
mother Jelena, fighting back tears.
The soldiers, after a debriefing by officers, then left
for a two-week holiday.Their term in the army ends in March.
The release of the soldiers averted a threatened assault
by the Yugoslav army to free its men, which would almost
certainly have ended the brittle ceasefire in Kosovo.
It came as a result of a concerted effort by international
mediators, hundreds of whom are being deloyed in Kosovo by the
Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
William Walker, head of its Kosovo Verification Mission,
U.S.peace mediator Chris Hill and European Union envoy
Wolfgang Petritsch held nearly five hours of talks with
guerrilla commanders at KLA headquarters in the western
village of Likovac on Wednesday.
At one point the talks were on the brink of collapse, but
in the end, Walker announced: "We are pleased that, as part of
a fair and balanced agreement, the KLA has released the
Conditions of the soldiers' release remained unclear.
"They have been released unconditionally according to the
demand of our authorities," a Yugoslav army officer told
reporters in Kosovska Mitrovica.
But a senior Western source said that the Yugoslav side
had agreed in exchange to free nine guerrillas arrested as
they tried to slip into Kosovo, a province of Serbia within
federal Yugoslavia, from neighbouring Albania last month.
The guerrillas might be released in nine or 10 days,
according to the Western official.The KLA had demanded their
release as a condition for freeing the Yugoslav soldiers.
"Ambassador Petritsch, Ambassador Hill and I have given
our guarantees to fulfill all the points that we've discussed
here today," Walker said without elaborating.
The success of talks was also likely to considerably boost
the image of the OSCE which was called on at short notice in
October to organise an unarmed verification mission for
The OSCE verifiers were originally meant to check on
Yugoslav and guerrilla compliance with United Nations demands
for a peaceful settlement to the ethnic Albanian struggle for
independence but they quickly got embroiled in acting as
mediator in truce-threatening disputes.
NATO hailed OSCE success.
"NATO welcomes the peaceful outcome of the hostage
crisis," a NATO source said in Brussels.
"We congratulate the OSCE for its robust and successful
negotiating effort during the last few days.And we hope
today's peaceful outcome could be a basis on which to build a
political solution in Kosovowith the cooperation of both
The EU's Petritsch, speaking in Likovac, said: "This is a
very important part of the confidence-building process".
"I am convinced the Yugoslav side will appreciate what has
happened, will appreciate the efforts of the international
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