Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 63

Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov yesterday hailed the results of talks conducted in Belgrade between a high-level Russian government delegation and Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. Primakov described a series of pledges which he had won from Milosevic, and suggested that the Russian diplomatic initiative marked a first step in a process which could bring peace to the Balkans and a quick end to NATO air strikes on Yugoslavia. Western leaders were far less impressed, however. Both in Bonn, to which Primakov traveled after his talks in Belgrade, and in Washington, the reaction to Primakov’s mission was sharply negative. German and U.S. leaders said that Milosevic had in no way met Western demands for an end to the bloody Serb crackdown in Kosovo. They also said that the NATO air strikes on Yugoslavia would continue.

Primakov traveled to Belgrade for talks with Milosevic on the orders of Russian President Boris Yeltsin. He was accompanied by the Russian defense and foreign ministers, and by several key intelligence officials. Moscow, which has objected furiously to the NATO military campaign against Belgrade, had portrayed the diplomatic initiative as a peacemaking mission aimed at bringing an end to the hostilities in Yugoslavia. Following the six-hour negotiating session in Belgrade, Primakov traveled on to Bonn, where he briefed German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. Germany currently holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, and Schroeder met with Primakov on its behalf.

In Bonn, Primakov reiterated Moscow’s opposition to the NATO bombing campaign against Yugoslavia and urged Western leaders to make use of the Russian diplomatic initiative in order to bring peace to Kosovo. He said that he had won several pledges from Milosevic. These included one to return to the negotiating table, another to reduce the presence of Yugoslav military forces in Kosovo and a third to create the conditions for the return of refugees who have fled from Kosovo (Itar-Tass, March 30).