RFE/RL News on Kosovo
Meeting in London on 29 January, the foreign ministers of the international Contact Group approved an ultimatum to the Belgrade authorities and the Kosovar leadership to agree to attend talks in Rambouillet, France, by 6 February. The two sides would then have up to two weeks to reach a political agreement on the province's future. The Contact Group threatened military action against those who reject the ultimatum (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 January 1999). On 30 January in Brussels, the NATO Council authorized Secretary-General Javier Solana to issue orders for air strikes should either side not comply. In New York, the UN Security Council endorsed the Contact Group's statement. PM
WESTERN LEADERS ISSUE WARNINGS
In Washington on 29 January, U.S. President Bill Clinton urged the Serbs and Kosovars to accept the Contact Group's terms, which, he said, are the best alternative to a war that neither side can win. Two days later, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright added that "our strategy of diplomacy backed by the threat of force is the only way to ensure that both sides halt the violence and come immediately to the negotiating table." In London, Vice President Al Gore noted that Washington has not yet made a decision on whether to commit ground troops to help enforce an eventual settlement. He nonetheless added that "the central point is that NATO will back up its demand with force if [Yugoslav President Slobodan] Milosevic does not keep the agreement." British Prime Minister Tony Blair said that the Contact Group's statement reflects "a new momentum in [the] process" of reaching a settlement. PM
MILOSEVIC NON-COMMITTAL ON ULTIMATUM
Milosevic told Cook in Belgrade on 30 January that he needs "several days" to consider his reply to the Contact Group. The state-run Tanjug news agency quoted Milosevic as saying that the problem "must be solved peacefully, within Serbia and with the participation of representatives of all ethnic groups" in the province. Belgrade has long insisted that any conference on Kosova must take place in Serbia because Kosova "is an internal part of Serbia." The Serbian authorities have also insisted that any talks include representatives of often tiny ethnic minorities, which, observers suggest, is aimed at diluting the political power of the 90 percent ethnic Albanian majority. On 31 January, the pro- Milosevic daily "Politika" published the Contact Group's statement, which some observers argued was a sign that Milosevic intends to agree to the Rambouillet talks. PM
MIXED SIGNALS FROM KOSOVARS
Shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova and leading journalist Veton Surroi told Cook in Skopje on 30 January that they will attend the talks. Adem Demaci, who is the political spokesman for the Kosova Liberation Army, and Rexhep Qosja, who is a prominent nationalist leader, said that they need more time to study the proposal. Demaci and other UCK representatives stressed that talks "organized in a rush" could lead nowhere. Meanwhile in Prishtina, spokesmen for students on a hunger strike appealed on 31 January to all Kosovar political leaders to sink their differences and adopt a united stand. PM
WHAT HAPPENED AT ROGOVA?
British General John Drewienkiewicz, who is deputy head of the OSCE monitoring mission in Kosova, said in Prishtina on 30 January that at least five of the 24 Kosovars killed at Rogova between Prizren and Gjakova the previous day were elderly peasants in civilian clothes. OSCE monitors noted that only three of the victims wore UCK uniforms. The monitors called on Finnish pathologists already in Prishtina to examine bodies from the Recak massacre to investigate the deaths in Rogova. Serbian spokesmen charged that the 24 Kosovars were "terrorists" killed in battle. PM
MACEDONIA MAY HOST ADDITIONAL NATO TROOPS
Foreign Minister Aleksandar Dimitrov told Cook in Skopje on 30 January that his country is ready to provide support not only for the NATO force already stationed in that country but also "for the possible second arrival of forces," AP reported. Dimitrov noted that additional troops could not only assist in any evacuation of OSCE civilian monitors from Kosova but also "serve some other possible solutions if there's no peaceful solution and the Contact Group plan fails." Serbia has repeatedly threatened Macedonia with unspecified consequences for hosting the NATO troops, even though Milosevic approved their presence near Serbia's borders in his agreement with U.S. special envoy Richard Holbrooke in October. Macedonia sees close cooperation with NATO as a means to anchor itself in Euro-Atlantic structures. PM
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