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Yugoslavia: G7 And Russia To Seek Kosovo Solution

Bonn, 4 May 1999 (RFE/RL) - The German Foreign Ministry says the foreign ministers of the Group of Seven (G7) major industrial nations plus Russia will meet in Bonn on Thursday to discuss solutions to the Kosovo crisis. A German Foreign Ministry spokesman said the ground for the meeting was laid during talks yesterday between officials of the G7 countries and Russia. Meanwhile, the UN refugee agency said today it was planning to re-direct a portion of the Kosovo refugees pushed into Macedonia to Albania in an effort to help ease pressure on the Macedonian government.

But Kris Janowski, a spokesman for the UNHCR, said in Geneva the operation would be undertaken as "a last resort" to ease the pressure on Skopje. The spokesman insisted that the operation would be conducted on a purely voluntary basis.

Janowski said the latest figures in the exodus from Kosovo indicated that Serb forces were pushing most Kosovo refugees toward Macedonia in full knowledge that the Macedonian government is extremely worried about the influx. The UNHCR said some 11,000 refugees had poured yesterday into Macedonia -- the largest single number in weeks, thus raising already strong fears of destabilization of the country. By contrast, only 700 Kosovo refugees arrived yesterday in Albania.

Macedonia has already taken in more than 200,000 refugees, which now account for about 10 percent of its 2.2 million population. Albania, however, has taken in nearly 400,000 refugees and is itself swamped. Over 27,000 refugees have already been flown out of Macedonia to other European countries in an evacuation which began a month ago.