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Historical overview Kosovo lies in southern Serbia and has a mixed population of which the majority are ethnic Albanians Until 1989 the region enjoyed a high degree of autonomy within the former Yugoslavia when Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic altered the status of the region removing its autonomy and bringing it under the direct control of Belgrade the Serbian capital The move was strenuously opposed by the Kosovar Albanians During 1998 open conflict between Serbian military and police forces and Kosovar Albanian forces resulted in the deaths of over 1500 Kosovar Albanians and forced 400000 people from their homes The international community became gravely concerned about the escalating conflict its humanitarian consequences and the risk of it spreading to other countries President Milosevics disregard for diplomatic efforts aimed at peacefully resolving the crisis and the destabilising role of militant Kosovar Albanianforces was also of concern On 12 June 1998 the North Atlantic Council meeting at Defence Minister level asked for the assessment of possible further measures that NATO might take with regard to the developing Kosovo Crisis This led to consideration of a large number of possible options On 13 October 1998 following a deterioration of the situation the NATO Council authorised Activation Orders for air strikes This move was designed to support diplomatic efforts to make the Milosevic regime withdraw forces from Kosovo cooperate in bringing an end to the violence and facilitate the return of refugees to their homes At the last moment following further diplomatic initiatives including visits to Belgrade by NATOs Secretary General Solana US Envoys Holbrooke and Hill The Chairman of NATOs Military Committee General Naumann and the Supreme Allied Commander Europe General Clark President Milosevic agreed to comply and the air strikes were called off UN Security Council Resolution 1199 among other things expresses deep concern about the excessive use of force
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