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04 July, 1998
Greece yesterday placed full backing behind Kosovo Albanian leader Ibrahim Rugova, and called on Yugoslavia to agree to full self-administration for its troubled Kosovo province.
It also criticized Western efforts for rapprochement with the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), which is fighting for independence from Yugoslavia.
National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, in statements in Thessaloniki, urged Mr. Rugova to "proceed directly with the establishment of a government".
He also called on Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic to proceed to an "agreed, integral self-administration for Kosovo", reiterating that Greece was "opposed to Kosovo independence of self-determination".
Addressing newly-graduated cadets of the Military School, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said, regarding the KLA, that "those who use violence and terrorism to advance human rights are not useful, and on the contrary compromise those who have dealings with them, unless they (the latter) have secured a commitment (from the former) to refrain from the use of violence and military action".
Mr. Tsohatzopoulos stressed that Greece's position on the Kosovo problem was "crystal clear", adding that the crisis could not be solved through military means but in a "political, peaceful, diplomatic" manner by granting "the broadest possible autonomy to Kosovo".
"We believe that, in tandem with the commencement of peace talks, Rugova should be supported by the international public opinion to proceed directly in the establishment of a government, institutions, infrastructures and everything else that comprise, in action, an integral self-administration of all levels", Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said.
Such a move, he added, would "upgrade Rugova himself and his role, with a simultaneous obligatory abandonment of arms by the so-called Liberation Movement and its subordination to the political leadership".
Source: Athens News Agency