Brussels, 19 November 1998 (RFE/RL) - NATO warned today that both sides in the Kosovo conflict have contributed to rising tensions that threaten the fragile peace in the troubled southern Serbian province. A statement issued in Brussels by ambassadors from the 16 allies warned of what it called "a dangerous cycle of provocation." And it said both sides -- the Yugoslav government and ethnic Albanian separatists -- share the blame for what NATO called a "deteriorating security situation" in Kosovo.
The alliance urged both sides to observe the ceasefire, avoid provocations and move towards negotiations on a political settlement. The warning echoes comments earlier today from the European Union and U.S. envoys to Kosovo, who called for quick progress on reaching an accord between Belgrade and Kosovo Albanians on autonomy status.
The envoys also agreed that any accord should be accompanied by a program of economic reconstruction for Kosovo, the rapid deployment of local police and a public information campaign.
NATO suspended a threat of air strikes against Yugoslavia last month after Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic agreed to withdraw some troops from Kosovo and allow displaced ethnic Albanians to return to their homes. However, the search continues for a political solution that would satisfy the ethnic Albanians' demands for independence, as well as Serbia's desire to hold onto the region.