EU visit to Belgrade fs France asks Unuted States to be more flexible

Belgrade received a visit from European Union representatives yesterday and preliminary talks were held on a number of issues. As France requests the United States to adopt a more flexible approach towards Yugoslavia, volunteers from Montenegro prepare to form a human shield around Milosevic’s residence to protect him. The Federal Foreign Minister Goran Svilanovic received the Swedish Migration and Asylum Minister, Maj-Inger Klingvall, the Belgian Interior Minister Antoine Duquesne and the EU Justice Commissioner, the Portuguese Antonio Vitorino. The agenda discussed consisted of questions relating to political asylum and illegal migration in the Balkans, liaison between police services and the control of organised crime, especially in the areas of drugs trafficking and arms smuggling. Meanwhile, French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine has stated that the USA should adopt a flexible approach towards Yugoslavia as the US Congress decides whether or not to concede financial aid. One of the conditions established previously was that Belgrade should begin to cooperate with the Hague International Court by 31st March. What they understand by this may be interpreted in a number of ways. If they expect ex-President Slobodan Milosevic to be handed over, such a scenario is highly improbable, at least for the time being. The Patriotic Alliance of Pljevlja, in northern Montenegro, has called on the people to travel to Belgrade to bolster the private army of supporters around Slobodan Milosevic’s residence. It will be remembered that recently claims were made in Serbia that 60,000 firearms had been distributed and that any attempt to hand Milosevic over to the Hague Court would spell civil war. On the other hand, several of Milosevic’s close collaborators have been arrested, the latest being Uros Suvakovic. The Socialist Party of Serbia has complained that the government alliance, Democratic Opposition of Serbia, is inventing charges against former Milosevic supporters to gain financial aid from abroad. It is important that the international community does not commit the mistake of attaching too much political leverage to its offers of financing. The situation in Belgrade, and in the Balkans in general, is tender at the moment and stipulating hastily-established dates is rather like drawing lines on maps. We have already seen the damage that caused, as was the case recently after foreign meddling in this troubled area. We hope the financial aid is not a poisoned gift. TIMOTHY BANCROFT-HINCHEY, PRAVDA.RU, LISBON

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