08/06/1998 19:31:44 FOCUS-West warns Milosevic on Kosovo
By Jeremy Gaunt
BELGRADE, Aug 6 (Reuters) - The United States warned Yugoslavia on Thursday
to stop a Serbian offensive in Kosovo, while the European Union demanded that
Belgrade cooperate with an investigation into an alleged ethnic massacre.
NATO and U.S. Defence Department officials formally announced a series of
planned military exercises in Albania next week, painting them as another
reminder to Belgrade of the West's military might.
As United Nations aid workers moved deep into the hills of Kosovo with food
and provisions for tens of thousands of refugees camped there, fighting in the
province appeared to have eased from recent levels.
There were reports of only sporadic clashes between Serbian forces and
ethnic Albanian separatists. Western observers, however, again reported
incidents of burning houses in villages left empty by residents who had fled to
The Albanian Foreign Ministry in Tirana accused Serbian forces of conducting
"ethnic cleansing" while Albania's parliament called on the West to intervene
Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and visiting Russian Deputy Foreign
Minister Nikolai Afansyevsky said they wanted a political solution and steps to
be taken to bring Kosovo refugees home, according to the official Yugoslav news
Kosovo Serbs, a group whose plight has been overshadowed by that of their
ethnic Albanian counterparts, protested in Pristina for the return of as many as
171 relatives allegedly abducted by Kosovo Liberation army (KLA) guerrillas.
In Washington, the State Department said Secretary of State Madeleine
Albright had let Milosevic know through diplomatic channels that Serbia's recent
actions in Kosovo were "unacceptable" and increased the chances of NATO
Serbian security forces launched a fierce offensive more than a week ago
against KLA guerrillas demanding independence for Kosovo, a Serbian province
with a 90 percent ethnic Albanian majority.
They failed to let up even after Milosevic had promised the EU that it was
A U.S. Defence Department spokesman said the NATO excercises next week
should be a sign to Milosevic of the ability of the West to move quickly.
The West, however, has appeared divided about how to deal with Milosevic and
Austria, the EU president, reacting to reports in one of its newspapers of
mass graves of more than 500 ethnic Albanians in the central Kosovo town of
Orahovac, said it wanted Yugoslavia to grant forensic scientists access to the
EU observers who visited the site on Wednesday found no immediate evidence
of mass graves but said they were not sure how many people were buried there.
Serbian officials said they were the graves of 40 KLA fighters.
"We want to say to the Serbs, let the experts in so that you can then prove
that such mass graves do not exist," an Austrian spokesman said.
Die Presse, one of the newspapers that published the report on Wednesday,
said it stuck by its story and again quoted eyewitnesses to the alleged mass
In the hills of western Kosovo itself, U.N. aid workers brought 13 trucks of
provisions to refugees huddled in the hills and woods.
In Lapcevo, convoy trucks unloaded several tonnes of wheat flour, hundreds
of food parcels, hygienic and sanitary items, disinfectants, detergent, baby
clothes and toys including teddy bears "to keep the kids' morale up".
On the way to Lapcevo, the convoy stopped in Malisevo, a town untouched a
week ago when it was seen by reporters after it had been overrun by Serbian
A Reuters reporter accompanying the convoy on Thursday said the town was now
uninhabitable -- a wreck of looted and burned houses and businesses.