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Yugoslavia: NATO Leader Warns Both Sides In Kosovo

Brussels, 29 December 1998 (RFE/RL) - NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana today warned both Serbian authorities and ethnic Albanian rebels that the Alliance is ready to use force if security conditions continue to worsen in Serbia's Kosovo province. Solana urged both sides to maintain a ceasefire, and not to undermine it. He said he is monitoring the situation closely and is in close contact with his military chiefs and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

His comments come after four days of fighting in the north of the province, the worst since the ceasefire was reached in October. Yesterday and today, however, the area has reportedly been quiet.

The political representative of the ethnic Albanian Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK), Adem Demaci, said in Pristina today that his side is still prepared to give the ceasefire a chance. But he says the UCK will respond to attacks by Serbian security forces.

The recent upsurge in violence has put in question the continued presence of hundreds of unarmed OSCE observers. The OSCE chairman, Polish Foreign Minister Bronislaw Geremek, has said the OSCE would have to reconsider its monitoring role in Kosovo if violence continues. However, a further hundred observers are today on their way to Kosovo, which would bring the observer corps there to a strength of 700.