Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 224

As a result of lobbying by the Russian delegation, the OSCE’s annual ministerial conference yesterday issued a statement on Kosovo which blamed neither Yugoslav nor Serb authorities for violence in the war-torn republic. The conference instead issued a bland statement deploring the suffering in Kosovo while urging all sides in the conflict to stop fighting and resolve their differences by peaceful means (International news agencies, December 3).

The compromise statement resolved a dispute between the Russian and Albanian delegations. The Russian group, led by Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, reportedly wanted the statement to avoid any reference fixing the blame for the bloodshed in Kosovo on either Yugoslav or Serbian authorities. One conference source was quoted as saying that the “Russians don’t want to upset their friends in Belgrade.”

Albanian Foreign Minister Paskal Milo, in turn, had said that his country could not accept a statement which allocated blame for the conflict equally between the Belgrade authorities and Kosovo’s ethnic Albanians. He also complained that the draft statement did not specifically name ethnic Albanians as the principle victims of the violence in Kosovo. The Albanian position reportedly enjoyed the general support of conference participants (Reuters, December 3).

Yesterday’s developments in Oslo were but the latest reflection of Moscow’s ongoing support for Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. In remarks to the OSCE gathering on December 2 (see yesterday’s Monitor), Ivanov urged that Yugoslavia be allowed to participate fully in OSCE deliberations on the Kosovo issue. “The mission of [the OSCE] is doing extremely responsible work in Kosovo, and close cooperation between the OSCE and Yugoslavia’s leadership is necessary,” Ivanov was quoted as saying. He also suggested that the OSCE should designate a time frame for Belgrade’s reentry into the organization (Russian agencies, December 2). Yugoslavia has been excluded from the OSCE since 1992.