Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 63

The preconditions Milosevic set in the Belgrade talks, as laid out by Primakov, were clearly unacceptable to the West. Schroeder specifically rejected Milosevic’s demand for an end to NATO attacks on Yugoslavia. Schroeder also made clear that what the international community expects from Milosevic is “the withdrawal of Yugoslav military and paramilitary forces from Kosovo (AP, March 30). In Washington the reaction was much the same. U.S. President Bill Clinton said that the NATO allies were united in their outrage over Serb atrocities in Kosovo and that the air war against Yugoslavia would continue. He made no mention of the Yugoslav peace offer delivered to Primakov (Reuters, AP, March 30).

Clinton also made another statement which is likely to be greeted with anger in Moscow–as well as in Belgrade. The U.S. president warned that Belgrade’s slaughter of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo could actually increase support around the world for an independent Kosovo (AP, March 30). Although Western leaders have demanded increased autonomy for Kosovo, the population of which is predominantly ethnic Albanian, they have been careful to specify that they do not support the granting of independence to the rebellious Serbian province. Clinton’s remark yesterday is presumably intended to raise the stakes in the contest over Kosovo, and to threaten Yugoslav and Serbian authorities with the loss not only of their military machine, but of a province that is of historical importance to the Serb people. Moscow has joined with Belgrade in defending Serbia’s right to continued sovereignty over Kosovo, and will undoubtedly react with alarm to any challenge to that right.