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Yugoslavia: NATO Plans For Possible Deployments To Albania, Macedonia

Luxembourg, 28 May 1998 (RFE/RL) - NATO foreign ministers, meeting in Luxembourg today, ordered military experts to plan for possible "preventive deployments" in Albania and Macedonia in the event the Kosovo crisis further escalates. The foreign ministers of NATO's 16 member countries issued a statement saying the planned deployments were part of steps aimed at promoting security and stability in Albania and Macedonia.

Other steps include helping both countries patrol their borders with Yugoslavia, a NATO land-air joint military exercise in Albania, and enlargement of a scheduled joint exercise in Macedonia.

U.S. and Nordic troops are deployed in Macedonia as UN peacekeers along the border with Albania and Yugoslavia.

The NATO ministers say they hope diplomatic efforts to encourage talks between the Serbian authorities and ethnic Albanian leaders in Kosovo will bring a negotiated settlement.

The NATO ministers say Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic has a "special responsibility" to achieve a political solution with Kosovo's ethnic Albanians. But they emphasize that this should give Kosovo enhanced political status, not independence, and should preserve Yugoslavia's political integrity.

The NATO ministers also approved plans to keep the alliance-led force of 34,000 troops in Bosnia at current strength beyond the mandate's June expiration date -- at least until September elections.