Blackpool, England; 1 October 1998 (RFE/RL) - Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair said today that it has become clear diplomatic efforts will not end violence in Serbia's Kosovo province. NATO Secretary General Javier Solana said on a visit to Baku today that NATO "is prepared to act" with plans complete and forces ready. Kosovo will be the subject of an emergency session of the UN Security Council later today. It was called by Britain, which today took over the council's chairmanship.
Blair was speaking at a conference of his ruling Labour Party in the city of
Blackpool. He said he wanted to put together the best possible group of nations
to press Belgrade to end its crackdown in Kosovo. Earlier, British Foreign
Secretary Robin Cook said his country is ready to take part in possible NATO air
Blair and Cook condemned the reported massacre of some 30 ethnic-Albanian
civilians in Kosovo in two separate incidents in recent days. Belgrade has
denied its forces were involved. The U.S. and other governments have also
condemned the reported massacres. German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel today
said "the patience of the international community is exhausted."
It remains unclear whether NATO members are prepared to undertake operations in
Kosovo without a mandate from the UN Security Council. Two of the five permanent
members on the Security Council -- Russia and China -- have opposed the use
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Vladimir Rakhmanin today said the use of
force without UN approval would worsen the situation in the region and damage
the United Nations.
In Kosovo, the pro-Belgrade Serbian Media Center today said that five Yugoslav
soldiers had been killed in a clash with unidentified assailants on the Albanian
border. The center said the incident occured yesterday and that mortar and
machine gun fire had come from Albanian territory. The Albanian Interior
Ministry confirmed fighting had taken place near the border, but denied any
firing had come from its territory.