Tuesday, June 25, 1996


Solution for Kosovo - Autonomy

Emphasizing she does not support unrealistic demands for Kosovo's independence, special UN envoy for human rights advocates full autonomy of this region "within Yugoslav Constitution."

S. Bisevac in Belgrade

Solution for the Serbo-Albanian relations and the Kosovo problem could be a full autonomy of Kosovo, according to Elizabeth Renn, "of course, within Yugoslav Constitution." Following the talks with Slobodan Milosevic and Margit Savovic, Renn added that the international community does not support "unrealistic" demands for Kosovo's independence.

"I am concerned about the situation in Kosovo, which has deteriorated since my visit last November," Elizabeth Renn stated, supporting her claim with statistics on police terror, and also the data on murders of the policemen in this region. "I believe it is time for both sides to take steps toward initiating a dialogue, in which the international community should help them. We cannot allow another war in this part of Europe," underscored Ms. Renn, adding that the president Milosevic agreed with her on the need for establishing mutual understanding in Kosovo.

Asked whether she sees herself as a mediator in prospective Serbian-Albanian talks, and if she had been offered that post by Milosevic, Renn answered negatively. "I believe I could be of service as a contact person, since I feel that people on different sides have trust in me. During my stay in Kosovo, I was approached by mundane people, asking me to help them in overcoming the problems," said Renn.

In addition to Kosovo, special attention in the talks between Renn and Milosevic was accorded to Sandzak and the problem of Moslems exiled from the villages around Priboj, near the border with Bosnia. Serbian president, according to Elizabeth Renn, promised that the situation in that border area will soon "clear up," and the conditions be made for return of Moslems from Sandzak to their homes. "At this stage, it is unnecessary to form international commissions about Sandzak, but it remains to be seen where the situation will develop from here," the special UN envoy added.

After the talks with Milosevic and Savovic, Elizabeth Renn left for Vojvodina. Visits to Novi Sad and Subotica are part of her regular itinerary through ex-Yugoslavia, but the situation there is not alarming, according to Renn. During this visit, she will also travel to Eastern Slavonia. Her next visit to SR Yugoslavia is expected at the beginning of August. Renn plans then to visit Krajina, Montenegro, and possibly Albania.

Margit Savovic, Minister for Minorities in the Federal government, addressed the journalists after Elizabeth Renn. Savovic turned to the UN envoy's remark on Kosovo's autonomy, proclaiming that this region "already has autonomy, and it is just a question of Albanian participation in the elections." As for Elizabeth Renn's claims about the police terror, Savovic stated that "such data do not exist in our office, although we cannot a priori exclude the possibility of individual offenses." But even the Minister Savovic said that it is necessary to "make a step ahead" in inter-ethnic relations in Kosovo, especially in the areas of health and education.

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