A Russian deputy foreign minister was quoted yesterday as saying that Yugoslavia may now be ready to accept foreign mediation in an effort to resolve the escalating crisis in Kosovo. The remarks by Igor Ivanov followed talks in Belgrade with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and other Yugoslav leaders. According to Ivanov, Milosevic is “seriously considering” withdrawing his opposition to participation by an OSCE mission in talks between Belgrade and Kosovar Albanian leaders. In resisting international mediation, authorities in Belgrade have to date described Kosovo as an internal affair of Yugoslavia. Ivanov suggested that Belgrade might now be willing to finesse that issue. He said that the OSCE mission “would not be a third part in the talks but simply the ‘helping hand’ in establishing talks between Belgrade and Kosovo political party leaders.” Kosovo Albanians have refused to negotiate over the status of their province without outside mediation. (Reuter, May 6)
The latest developments in Belgrade follow an April 29 decision by the international Contact Group–currently Russia, the United States, France, Germany, Britain and Italy–to impose fresh sanctions on Yugoslavia. The Group also threatened–in the event that Belgrade failed to open unconditional talks with Kosovo leaders–to place a ban on foreign investments in Yugoslavia by May 9. The purported easing in Belgrade’s stance is said to have been occasioned in part by calls from within Yugoslavia to begin the talks and thus avoid the new sanctions.
… CONTINUES TO BACK YUGOSLAV LEADERSHIP.