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Kosovo Serbs Protest Calls To Vote In Elections

13 October 2004 -- More than 1,000 Serbs used the visit of Swedish Foreign Minister Laila Freivalds to Belgrade today to protest international calls for ethnic Serbs in Kosovo to vote in elections scheduled there for 23 October.

Kosovo's decreasing Serb population has taken part in elections held since 1999, when a NATO bombing campaign wrested control of the Serbian province from Belgrade, leaving the province an international protectorate.

But Kosovo's Serbs have threatened to boycott the upcoming elections, citing a lack of security and attacks on Serbs by Kosovo's majority Albanian population.

Freivalds echoed statements made by other international diplomats, saying the only way for Serbs in Kosovo to be fairly represented is if they vote in elections.

The demonstrators in Belgrade rallied outside the building where Freivalds was meeting with top government officials from Serbia and Montenegro.