Friday, January 29, 1999 Published at 13:34 GMT
Full text of Contact Group statement
The following is the full text of the statement issued by foreign ministers of the Contact Group - which comprises the US, Russia, Britain, France, Germany and Italy - after their meeting in London
1. Contact Group Ministers met in London on 29 January to consider the critical situation in Kosovo, which remains a threat to peace and security in the region, raising the prospect of a humanitarian catastrophe.
2. Despite the intensive efforts of the international community, violence remains a daily occurrence in Kosovo. Ministers unreservedly condemned the massacre of Kosovo Albanians at Racak which resulted in several thousand people fleeing their homes.
The escalation in violence - for which both Belgrade's security forces and the KLA are responsible - must be stopped. Repression of civilians by the security forces must end and those forces must be withdrawn.
Ministers of the Contact Group deplore the failure of the parties to make progress towards a political settlement, and cannot accept that this should permit the crisis to continue.
Time is of the essence in reaching a solution, and the Contact Group is therefore assuming its responsibility.
3. Ministers called on both sides to end the cycle of violence and to commit themselves to a process of negotiation leading to a political settlement.
To that end, the Contact Group:
4. The Contact Group demanded that the parties seize this opportunity to reach a settlement offering peace to the people of Kosovo.
The Contact Group praised the present role of the OSCE Kosovo Verification Mission in working to reduce tensions in Kosovo and create the conditions for political dialogue, and recognised the continuing role of the KVM.
The Contact Group recognised that continuing international engagement would be necessary to help parties implement a settlement and rebuild the shattered province. It required that the parties accept the level and nature of international presence deemed appropriate by the international community.
5. In the meantime, the Contact Group demands that the FRY:
6. The Contact Group emphasised that compliance with SCRs 1160, 1199 and 1203 applied equally to the Kosovo Albanians. It condemned all provocations by the UCK which could only fuel the cycle of violence, and insisted that all hostages should be released.
The Contact Group believes that the framework it has set out meets the legitimate aspirations of the Kosovo Albanians and demanded that their leaders rally behind negotiations to reach a settlement and end provocative actions which would impede the political process.
7. The Contact Group asked Robin Cook to travel to Belgrade and Pristina to transmit these messages to the parties.
8. The future of the people of Kosovo is in the hands of the leaders in Belgrade and Kosovo. They must commit themselves now to complete the negotiations on a political settlement within 21 days to bring peace to Kosovo.
The Contact Group will hold both sides accountable if they fail to take the opportunity now offered to them, just as the Group stands ready to work with both sides to realise the benefits for them of a peaceful solution.