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Serbians angry at Trump family deal for site of NATO bombing


NEW DELHI: A historic bombed-out building in Belgrade, long seen as a symbol of the 1999 NATO strikes on Serbia, may soon become a luxury hotel funded by Donald Trump‘s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, leaving local residents in Serbia outraged.
Kushner, a former adviser to his father-in-law during his time as US president, recently confirmed his intentions to invest in luxury real estate projects in Serbia, including the site of the former Yugoslav army headquarters.
According to several reports, the Serbian government plans to transfer the building and its surrounding land to a company owned by Kushner.
The historic building will be replaced by three modern glass towers, located near the Serbian defense and foreign ministries.
Kushner’s company was granted a 99-year lease on the property at no cost.
The sale of this building holds significant value as it serves as a reminder of the 1999 US-led NATO bombing campaign that ended the conflict in Kosovo.
“Leaving it like this for another 200 years isn’t really a solution,” journalist Srdja Nikolic said.
“But I am against the idea of giving it as a gift to anyone, particularly to those who initiated what happened.”
The bombing, which began in 1999 without the approval of the UN Security Council, was aimed at ending Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic’s bloody crackdown on ethnic Albanian separatists in Kosovo.
It concluded in June of the same year with the retreat of Serbian forces from Kosovo, thereby ending a conflict that claimed the lives of over 13,000 individuals.
The ruined building “is evidence of the destruction of international law,” Nikolic said, “destroyed in 1999 by the trampling of the United Nations Charter, with false excuses.”
Even in ruins, the building “represents our struggle, a difficult period that we navigated and from which we emerged victorious”, said Sanja Handzic, a 28-year-old local dental technician.
Designated as a “cultural asset” by the Serbian government in 2005, the building formerly served as the headquarters of the Yugoslav army.
The official death toll resulting from the 11-week bombardment remains unverified.
Estimates vary from 500 fatalities, according to the NGO Human Rights Watch, to 2,500, as reported by Serbian officials.
( with input from agency)

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