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Yugoslavia: OSCE Warns Against Referendum

Vienna, 9 April 1998 (RFE/RL) -- The Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE) has warned Yugoslavia that the proposed referendum on Kosovo could worsen the situation there.

A statement issued by OSCE's governing troika -- the foreign ministers of Poland, Norway and Denmark -- after a meeting in Warsaw yesterday said the referendum "could have a disruptive effect on an already inflamed situation."

The OSCE leaders said that by taking this step, the Yugoslav authorities "are contradicting their own publicly declared strong wish to become a fully-integrated member of the OSCE community". Yugoslavia has been suspended from the OSCE July 1992 for opening the civil war.

The OSCE said it was disturbed by reports of the continued presence in Kosovo of the Serbian special police force and called for their immediate withdrawal. They statement expressed deep concern over recent reports of further violence and urged both sides to use the utmost restraint.

The Ministers welcomed the beginning of implementation of the new Education Agreement and encouraged both sides to move the process forward "quickly and in a constructive way."

The OSCE leaders renewed their call for an unconditional dialogue between the Yugoslav and Serb authorities and the leadership of the Kosovar Albanians. They also renewed an OSCE proposal for an outside representative or representatives to join the dialogue. In OSCE's view, outside participation will provide an "essential contribution" to the dialogue.

OSCE has proposed former Spanish prime minister Felipe Gonzalez to lead a mission to Kosovo as a representative of OSCE and the European Union. The Belgrade authorities have not accepted his mission. Yesterday's meeting urged them to do so without further delay.

The OSCE statement expressed appreciation for what they called "the moderate and constructive approach" adopted by the neighboring countries, Albania and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and reviewed the steps which are being undertaken by the OSCE to contribute to the prevention of any spillover from the Kosovo conflict.

The OSCE also called on the Yugoslav authorities to reinstate the OSCE's long-term missions in Kosovo, Sandjak and Vojvodina. The missions were deployed in August 1992 but were withdrawn in June 1993 at the insistence of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.