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Yugoslavia: EU Pledges Conditional Support For Belgrade

Belgrade, 8 February 2001 (RFE/RL) -- A European Union delegation had what it called "fruitful, constructive and frank" talks with the new Yugoslav leaders in Belgrade today. The talks included President Vojislav Kostunica, Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic, and Foreign Minister Goran Svilanovic. Solana's delegation to Belgrade included EU external relations commissioner Chris Patten and Foreign Minister Anna Lindh of Sweden, the current EU president.

Lindh said the two sides discussed "what the EU can do for Yugoslavia." But at the same time, the EU "clearly expressed" what it expects of Belgrade.

On that point, Lindh said there's a need for comprehensive economic reform, a need to repeal restrictive legislation, to release ethnic Albanian prisoners and to cooperate fully with the International War Crimes Tribunal.

Lindh said such cooperation includes the extradition of former President Slobodan Milosevic, indicted for war crimes.

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana told journalists that Yugoslavia now has an opportunity to have a "European perspective," and be part of the "European family."

Djindjic said aid from the EU this year totals some $450 million. The plan also opens -- for the first time -- the possibility for talks with ethnic Albanian rebels. But the daily Politika today also calls for "international mediators" in the talks. "Politika" says the plan says the international community should convince the Albanians to "abandon any idea of autonomy in southern Serbia, or a special status" for the region. The plan calls such demands "unacceptable, unworkable and unjust."

Angry Serbs staged a protest against Solana as he held talks in Belgrade today with Kostunica.

Some 100 protesters chanted anti-Solana slogans outside the government building where Solana and other members of a senior EU delegation were meeting with Kostunica. Police detained one of the protest organizers.

The protesters accuse Solana -- who was NATO's secretary-general during the alliance's 1999 bombing campaign over the Kosovo crisis -- of crimes against the Yugoslav people.