Russia joined with other UN Security Council members yesterday in approving a statement which both condemned the recent massacre of forty-five ethnic Albanians in Kosovo and called for an immediate and full investigation of the tragedy. The council statement also urged the Yugoslav government to rescind a decision–taken yesterday–expelling U.S. diplomat William Walker from Yugoslavia. Walker is head of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s peace mission in Yugoslavia.
Continuing differences among security council members over policy toward Yugoslavia, however, and Russia’s long-standing support for Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, were apparently responsible for ensuring that yesterday’s statement was weaker than some members had wanted. Noticeably absent from the statement was any mention of Belgrade’s culpability for the massacre. The statement also made no mention of Belgrade’s decision yesterday to forbid chief UN war crimes prosecutor Louise Arbour from entering Yugoslavia to investigate the crime.
Security Council members, who met yesterday in an emergency session, will reportedly convene again today in an effort to reach agreement on a more strongly worded statement. In so doing, they will also need to consider several other defiant acts which Yugoslav authorities carried out yesterday. These included Milosevic’s refusal to meet with NATO supreme military commander General Wesley Clark and General Klaus Naumann of NATO’s military committee; the Yugoslav forces’ launch of new attacks on Racak, the village where the ethnic Albanian civilians were murdered on January 15; and a reported Serbian police action to remove many of the corpses from Racak (International and Russian agencies, January 18).
…CONTINUES TO SHIELD BELGRADE FROM CRITICISM.