Accessibility links

Breaking News

Yugoslavia: Parliament Votes To Send Delegation To Peace Talks

Belgrade, 4 February 1999 (RFE/RL) - The Serbian parliament passed a resolution today calling on the government to send a delegation to peace talks with Kosovo Albanians in France on Saturday. The parliamentary debate opened today, just two days before a deadline to attend talks or face NATO air strikes. The separatist leaders of Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority have already agreed to attend the talks at Rambouillet near Paris starting Saturday.

The secretary-general of President Slobodan Milosevic's Socialist Party, Gorica Gajevic, called on parliament to accept the invitation "to defend Kosovo as a vital state and national interest of Serbia and Yugoslavia."

Gajevic says Kosovo must remain within Serbia and NATO troops would not be allowed to secure any kind of autonomy arrangement for the ethnic Albanian-dominated province.

Ultra-nationalist Vojislav Seselj, leader of the Socialists' main coalition partner the Radical Party, says his party will not send delegates, but that it understands the attempt to avoid international condemnation.

U.S. envoy Chris Hill, who has led the drive for a settlement, says he expects both federal and Serbian delegates to attend the French talks and that Milosevic must be tied to a settlement. The Serbian and Yugoslav governments are expected to meet after the vote.

Reuters says peace proposals that will be on the table at Rambouillet call for a virtual end to direct Serbian control of Kosovo and offer the ethnic Albanian majority broad autonomy within the Yugoslav federation.