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18 March, 1998
National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos yesterday stressed the need for Europe to undertake a unified initiative regarding the Kosovo crisis in the direction of a new balance, recognizing the human rights of the province's Albanians within the framework of New Yugoslavia.
Mr. Tsohatzopoulos was speaking yesterday at the opening of the West European Union's (WEU) special session on the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Brussels Treaty.
He called on Europe to send a clear message to Kosovo's ethnic Albanian leadership in support of their autonomy but not the independence of the province, while at the same time point out to that community the need to begin an unconditional dialogue with Belgrade immediately.
The WEU's session got underway at its headquarters in Brussels with addresses by Mr. Tsohatzopoulos, who chairs the WEU council during the present six-month period, Belgian Foreign Minister Eric Derycke and the WEU's Secretary General Jose Cutilheiro.
Mr. Tsohatzopoulos, whose address focused on "The WEU's mission in the new framework of European security", referred to the background leading to the founding of the WEU and to its present role.
"In eastern and particularly in southeastern Europe crises are multiplying and are succeeding each other. After the crisis in Bosnia, we had the crisis in Albania and while these two crises have not been ultimately overcome, the crisis in Kosovo has already started. In the first two of the above crises, the EU and consequently the WEU were unable to play the role corresponding to them and which all were expecting of them. They were neither able to avert them nor to stop them in time with suitable political initiatives. What will happen with the third crisis which has already started and which is threatening Europe? Will Europe be able to play its role this time?" Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said.
"The continuation of joint efforts for the successful accession of the WEU to the new European security framework will depend on the decisions which we will take in the immediate future and the solutions which we will give on crucial and multifaceted is sues related to the development and utilization of the defense capabilities of Europe, as well as the determination of the peoples of Europe to undertake their own share of responsibility at a political, economic and military level on joint collective security and defense," he added.
Source: Athens News Agency