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Thursday, March 5, 1998 Published at 23:02 GMT

World: Europe

EU 'gravely concerned' over Serbian action
image: [ One of 25 killed in the violence in Kosovo over the weekend ]
One of 25 killed in the violence in Kosovo over the weekend

The British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, who is representing the European Union, has returned empty-handed from his meeting with the Yugoslav president, Slobodan Milosevic.

Nick Hardwick of the British Council for Refugees: "We are scared about what's happening" (3'00")
He called for greater autonomy for Kosovo and an end to the violence there, but said he was not leaving Belgrade more hopeful than when he arrived.

[ image: Robin Cook:
Robin Cook: "redouble diplomatic efforts"
"The solution to the crisis in Kosovo is not going to be met by policing actions," Mr Cook said. "We expect firm action on terrorism, but within the law - not above it."

Mr Cook's urge for restraint went unheeded. On Thursday, Serbian troops launched a police operation against ethnic Albanians in the troubled province, killing at least 20 people.

Mr Cook said violence could "all too easily spill over" the borders of Yugoslavia, which groups Serbia and Montenegro.

Foreign Secretary Robin Cook says there is only one way to isolate "terrorists" (0'26")
He also stressed the international community could not stand by while Belgrade used "repressive" police measures and said the way to isolate "terrorists" was to meet the "legitimate demands of the majority of decent, moderate, peaceful people."

Preferred option

Restoring the province's autonomy seems to be the preferred option of both the European Union (EU) and the United States.

The BBC's Nenad Sebak comments on Robin Cook's mission (2'41")
A BBC correspondent in Pristina, Nenad Sebak, says the ethnic Albanians seek greater US involvement in the region. He told the BBC World Service's Europe Today programme that the ethnic Albanians were not convinced the EU had the necessary muscle to solve their problems.

Kosovo's autonomous status was revoked in 1989 by Mr Milosevic, provoking a campaign of civil disobedience against rule from Belgrade by the ethnic Albanian majority.

Radmila Milantajevic says the situation can be solved (15")
The Serbian Information Minister, Radmila Milantajevic, told BBC World Service's Newsday programme that limited autonomy for the region was a possibility, but that there would have to be conditions.

International concern

Foreign ministers of the six-nation Contact Group on the former Yugoslavia are holding emergency talks on the Kosovo crisis on Monday. It will be the group's first emergency meeting since the end of the Bosnian war.

[ image: Milosevic: urged to restore Kosovo's autonomy.]
Milosevic: urged to restore Kosovo's autonomy.
Mr Cook said they would "have to consider what steps to take next" if President Milosevic proved unreceptive. Serbia is already suffering under economic sanctions.

Balkan countries are also pressing for talks about Kosovo after the violence. The Albanian Prime Minister, Fatos Nano, asked neighbouring Greece to mediate in the dispute.

On Thursday, Albania's Foreign Minister Pascal Milo urged the United States and Europe to intervene to avert a new war in the Balkans.

On a visit to Paris he argued that President Milosevic was as dangerous as Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and must be treated accordingly.

"I trust in a joint US and European diplomatic initiative to resolve the crisis.

"We have a Saddam Hussein in the Balkans called Milosevic, who must be treated the same way."

A spokesman for the Greek government said Kosovo would be central to the visit to Belgrade by the Greek foreign minister on Friday.

Macedonia, Turkey and Bulgaria have also joined in urging talks.


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