Sarajevo; 2 July (RFE/RL) - NATO Secretary General Javier Solana says the alliance will not tolerate any aggressive action in Montenegro by Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. Talking to correspondents in the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo today, Solana said NATO was prepared to act to stop any potential action by Belgrade. He did not give any details.
Solana also urged authorities in Bosnia-Herzegovina to speed up the return to a normal civil society. He called for a speedier return of refugees to their homes this year and a 30 percent cut in military expenditures. Solana said the stability pact for southeastern Europe now being developed by the international community would offer many opportunities for Bosnia. A summit on the stability pact is to be held in Sarajevo on July 30.
Speaking later in Salzburg, Austria, Solana issued a strong defense of NATO's action against Yugoslavia. Speaking at the close of the 4th annual Central and Eastern European Economic Summit, Solana said NATO had achieved three key things -- the withdrawal of Serbian forces from Kosovo, the introduction of an international peackeeping force, and the guarantee of a political settlement for a self-government of Kosovar people within the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Solana added that NATO had acted, in his words, "always and only" in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions.
Our correspondent in Salzburg reports Solana was responding to sharp criticism leveled by Russian Duma member Grigorii Yavlinsky (Yabloko Movement), who was also a panel member at today's closing plenary. Yavlinsky, who was seated directly beside Solana, captured the audience's attention when he said NATO had not only killed innocent people in the name of Albanians, but had since claimed
a moral victory in the spirit of human rights and democratic principles.
Yavlinsky said that all kinds of international laws were broken by NATO in its bombing campaign against Yugoslavia. As Yavlinsky put it, "spirit is the spirit, but the law is the law." Yavlinsky said he would prefer NATO to follow international laws in the future. In a level of debate not seen during the past three days, Solana again took the floor and said the real question was why Russia did not sign on to the Security Council resolutions in March that called for the withdrawal of Serbian forces, the introduction of a peacekeeping force, and the guarantee of a political settlement.
Had Russia joined the resolutions then, Solana said, the bombing might have been averted. Still, Solana admitted Yavlinsky was right in one sense in saying that NATO had failed. He said "a military action is always a failure of diplomacy."