PODUJEVO, Serbia (Reuters) - Kosovo Albanians plan to honor their "savior" Bill Clinton by erecting a statue of the former United States president in the capital of Serbia's breakaway province.
The three-meter (10-foot) tall monument is still under construction in a studio in Podujevo north of Pristina.
"He is our savior. He saved us from extermination," sculptor Izeir Mustafa told Reuters. "I was thrilled by the work because I know what he did for us."
Kosovo has been under U.N. administration since 1999 after 78 days of NATO bombing ousted Serb troops who had killed some 10,000 ethnic Albanians in an 18-month counter-insurgency war against Albanian separatist guerrillas.
Ninety percent of Kosovo's 2 million people are ethnic Albanians. They expect to get their own state in the coming months with U.S. and European Union support, despite the opposition of Serbia and its main ally, Russia.
Clinton, as leader of the NATO alliance, is seen as the man who decided to bomb Serbia to force the late strongman Slobodan Milosevic to withdraw his forces from Kosovo, effectively handing victory to the Kosovo Liberation Army.
Pristina already has a road named after him, graced by a 12-metre (25 foot) tall mural of the former president. Pristina municipal authorities say they expect to erect the statue somewhere along Clinton Boulevard later this summer.
Mustafa has several more days to work before he bronzes the sculpture of Clinton, after which he will turn his attention to another soon-to-be former Western leader. . "I definitely will do a statue of (British Prime Minister) Tony Blair," he said. "He saved us as well".