Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov used a television interview on June 21 to restate Moscow’s demand that the West pressure Kosovo Albanian leaders into beginning talks with Belgrade even though Yugoslav authorities have not yet withdrawn police and special forces from Kosovo. Primakov called the West’s approach to the Kosovo conflict one-sided. He backed Belgrade’s claim that its forces must remain in Kosovo both to fight terrorists and to ensure that no violence is perpetrated against ethnic Serbs in Kosovo. He proposed that a meeting of the Contact Group, scheduled for tomorrow, be postponed for a week. He urged the West to give Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic more time to withdraw his forces from Kosovo. He also accused the U.S. State Department of spreading misinformation about the situation in Kosovo in order to exacerbate tensions there. (Russian TV, June 21; Itar-Tass, June 22)
Primakov’s remarks came on the eve of yesterday’s consultations in Pristina, the capital of Kosovo, between Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Nikolai Afanasevsky and a senior Serb official. Afanasevsky also met later with Kosovo Albanian leader Ibrahim Rugova. Afanasevsky called for both sides to implement “as soon as possible” the agreement reached last week by Milosevic and Russian President Boris Yeltsin during talks in Moscow. (AP, June 22) Kosovo Albanians rejected that agreement–which called for them to enter into talks with Belgrade authorities–because Milosevic had refused to withdraw his forces from Kosovo. Meanwhile, Russian diplomats continued to make clear yesterday that they envision a major role for Moscow in any negotiations aimed at ending the bloodshed in Kosovo.
RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT TO UNVEIL CRISIS PROGRAM.