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13 April, 1999
Foreign Minister George Papandreou yesterday expressed satisfaction over the response proposals for a political settlement to the Kosovo crisis met with at the meeting of NATO member-states' foreign ministers.
He said the decision not to use the alliance's ground forces still holds and consent was also reached both on the promotion of diplomatic solutions, with the contribution of Russia, and the safeguarding of Yugoslavia's present borders.
A joint communique by the foreign ministers of NATO's 19 member-states stressed that NATO bombings will be continued until (Yugoslav President Slobodan) Milosevic responds to the international community's demands, which are:
- an end in a reliable way to all military activity and all acts of violence and repression
- the withdrawal of all forces (military, paramilitary and police) from Kosovo
- acceptance of an international military presence in Kosovo
- acceptance of the return of all refugees and the granting of permission for humanitarian aid to reach its destination
- and the rendering of reliable proof of his intention to cooperate on the basis of the Rambouillet agreements for the shaping of a draft political agreement in harmony with international law and the UN Charter.
The communique places responsibility for the crisis entirely on Mr. Milosevic, whose forces "created a human disaster for Kosovar civilians on a wide scale, rendering NATO's intervention necessary and justified", while also mentioning that he should be accountable to justice for these crimes.
"NATO's military action against Yugoslavia is based on the international community's political targets for peace, the coexistence of all ethnic groups and democracy. For a Kosovo where all the people will be able to live with security and enjoy freedoms and human rights on the basis of equality," it said.
The German proposal for the deployment of an international force in the region by the OSCE and not NATO was also discussed at the meeting, while the idea of resuming initiatives in the framework of the UN and the Security Council, supported by France in particular, also met with a response.
Saying that these thoughts, which still remain issues open to discussion, also reflect Greek views, Mr. Papandreou proposed the shaping of a European Union and NATO policy for the region which will not be limited to the handling of crises but which will constitute a prospect for development and restructuring, both for Yugoslavia and Kosovo and the Balkans in general, in which Greece could play a leading role.
Mr. Papandreou made special reference to the Balkan initiative in which Greece, Romania and Bulgaria are participating, and hopes Turkey will participate as well, with the target of a greater rapprochement in the region to Euroatlantic structures.
"We hope the day of peace and substantive European prospect for the Balkans will come soon," Mr. Papandreou said, underlining Greece's role in promoting the new aspects of an overall and long-term peaceful development of the region.
Albright on Greek role:
US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright praised Greece's role in the region and the rendering of humanitarian aid at a press conference she gave at the end of the meeting.
"The Greeks have helped us and they will help more," she said.
Referring to the climate of consensus prevailing at the meeting, she focused in particular on her meeting with Mr. Papandreou on the sidelines of the meeting and to Greece's role in the region.
Mr. Papandreou said Greece's role is not limited to its contribution to overcoming the crisis but extends to the next day as well, as a force of peace in the region.
Source: Athens News Agency