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Solana Says Time's Running Out

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

VIENNA, Austria, June 29, 1998 – Time is running out for Serb President Slobodan Milosevic. It's time to stop the violence in Kosovo, Secretary General Javier Solana said here June 21.

"We have to put an end to this outrage," Solana said at the 15th NATO Workshop here. "We have not got much time left," he told about 200 allies and partners attending a four-day conference focused on countering NATO security threats.

NATO military authorities currently are planning military options in case diplomatic efforts to find a peaceful solution fail. These options include deploying NATO troops to the region to prevent the crisis from spreading to neighboring countries. In his speech, Solana stressed that while NATO seeks a peaceful solution, no military option has been ruled out.

Calling Kosovo NATO's most urgent challenge, Solana said Europe "will not find lasting peace and stability if the Balkans remain volatile." He said NATO helped "break the fateful cycle of violence" in Bosnia, and declared allied and partner forces will not leave Bosnia before the job is done. Kosovo may require similar action from the 16 nation security alliance, Solana said.

"Like in Bosnia," Solana said, "it is the parties themselves who are ultimately responsible for their future. But if the violence continues, then the international community must take action and help create the conditions for serious negotiations toward such a political settlement."

NATO stands ready to do its part, Solana said, as demonstrated by the air exercise conducted June 15 when 84 NATO combat and support planes demonstrated NATO's ability to rapidly project air power to the region. The United Nations, the Organization for Security Cooperation in Europe and other institutions also "must play their full part in preventing another Bosnia," Solana said.

About 300 ethnic Albanians have died, and tens of thousands have left their homes as a result of the violence in Kosovo, the southern province of Serbia, which along with the province of Montenegro makes up the Former Republic of Yugoslavia.

Ethnic Albanians make up about 90 percent of Kosovo's two million people. The province received special autonomous status in 1974 that, among other things, gave it separate political representation in the federal Yugoslav government. When Yugoslavia dissolved in 1989, Serb officials revoked Kosovo's autonomy, sparking a move toward independence.

Since March, the Kosovo Liberation Army has clashed with Serb special police forces Milosevic deployed to squelch guerrilla activity. So far, talks between Milosevic and ethnic-Albanian leader Ibrahim Rugova have been unproductive. Russia's diplomatic efforts to ease the crisis fell short of the international community's desire for a peaceful resolution.

Richard Holbrooke, recently selected as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, carried a message to the region June 23 urging Milosevic to withdraw his special police from Kosovo. The message was from a contact group composed of representatives from Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Russia and the United States.

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