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Yugoslavia: British Foreign Secretary Defends Montenegro

London, 24 June 1999 (RFE/RL) - British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said today that NATO remains determined that democracy survives in Montenegro. Speaking in Macedonia, where he is visiting Stenkovec refugee camp and is later to meet government officials, Cook said that NATO would monitor the situation in Montenegro to make sure that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic does not undermine democracy there. Cook called Milosevic "a serial nationalist," who used Serbian nationalism to keep himself in power.

The pro-western government of Montenegro, a junior republic in the Yugoslav Federation, has been increasingly pushing for a break with Milosevic-ruled Belgrade.

Meanwhile, The two men who directed the air war against Yugoslavia, NATO Supreme Commander General Wesley Clark and Secretary-General Javier Solana, made their first visit to Kosovo today to review the alliance's peacekeeping mission following the deployment of NATO-led KFOR troops in the Yugoslav province.

After arriving by helicopter, Clark and Solana went into meetings with NATO's Kosovo commander, Lieutenant General Sir Michael Jackson. The two NATO leaders also planned to talk with members of Kosovo's ethnic Albanian and Serbian communities.

Responding to questions by reporters, Clark said in Pristina that the evidence of mass graves "confirms" that atrocities had been committed in Kosovo and that NATO was right to enter into the conflict there.

Meanwhile, in Washington, veteran U.S. diplomat Richard Holbrooke says the tragedy of Serbia is that it lacks a recognized opposition leader around whom the people could rally.

Holbrooke made the comment today during a hearing held by the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee considering his nomination as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. The position requires Senate confirmation.

Holbrooke told the panel that Serbia does not have an opposition leader such as those who towered over South Korea of the 1990s or the Philippines in the 1980s. He said a strong opposition figure with clear moral authority is needed to provide a challenge to Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's autocratic rule.

Holbrooke also said that the situation in Kosovo is more tense today than it was in Bosnia following the end of the war there.

On the United Nations, Holbrooke has promised the committee that the overhaul of inefficient U.N. practices will be his highest priority if confirmed as ambassador.