Tokyo, 16 May 2000 (RFE/RL) - The UN special envoy to the Balkans, Carl Bildt, says Southeastern Europe could face the threat of new and devastating wars. In a speech at a conference in Tokyo, Bild said stability in the Balkans is still a distant goal despite a decade of diplomatic efforts. He said there might soon be a new chance to move towards a comprehensive political settlement in the region because Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's days in power could be numbered.
But he said that if this chance for peace fails, then there are sufficient negative factors to move the region "rapidly towards new and devastating wars."
Bildt said that as long as different parts of the international community cannot agree on the structures of stability in the region, it is futile to expect the different political forces in the Balkans to agree among themselves.
Meanwhile, Washington has praised some 20,000 demonstrators who attended a rally in Belgrade yesterday against Milosevic -- despite threats that they would be arrested.
U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the demonstrators were brave. He said the turnout in the face of growing repression shows that many people in Yugoslavia want a change of government.
Police in Novi Sad yesterday issued arrest warrants for two members of the student opposition group Otpor. The police claim the students were linked to the weekend killing of Bosko Perosevic, Vojvodina's provincial government chief and a key ally of Milosevic.
Police in Vojvodina also arrested 20 other student members of Otpor overnight in connection with the killing.
Zoran Djindjic, leader of the opposition Democracy Party, told RFE/RL last night that continued repression by Belgrade authorities on the children of Serbia will bring about the end of the Milosevic regime.