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Monday, November 2, 2009

Kosovo unveils Clinton's statue

Bill Clinton is greeted by cheering crowds at his statue

Former US President Bill Clinton has attended the unveiling of a statue of himself in Kosovo's capital Pristina.

The 3.5m (11 ft) bronze statue was inaugurated at Bill Clinton Boulevard - to loud cheers of thousands of ethnic Albanians.

Many of them regard Mr Clinton as a hero for launching Nato's air bombing campaign to drive Yugoslavia's troops out of the Serbian province in 1999.

Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Belgrade last year.

The move was supported by the US and many Western powers, but a number of countries - including China and Russia - still regard Kosovo as part of Serbia.

'Big statue'

Mr Clinton waved to the crowds as the red cover was pulled off from the statue on Sunday.


"I never expected that anywhere, someone would make such a big statue of me," Mr Clinton was quoted as saying by the Associated Press news agency.

The statue portrays the former president with his left arm raised while holding documents bearing the date when Nato started its air campaign against Yugoslavia - 24 March 1999.

At the time Yugoslav forces of the late President Slobodan Milosevic were attempting to suppress an ethnic Albanian insurgency in Kosovo.

The 78-day bombing forced the Yugoslav army to leave, placing Kosovo under UN administration.

But Mr Clinton's statue is unlikely to be revered by the Serbs who see Washington as the driving force behind a plan to tear away Serbia's cherished southern province, the BBC's Mark Lowen in Belgrade says.