CEOL - EU, US pledge to work for change in YU

WASHINGTON, Dec 19, 1999 -- (>Reuters) The United States and the European Union said on Friday they would continue to push for democratic change in Yugoslavia and work with various forces to promote such change.

In a joint statement following a meeting between President Bill Clinton and an EU delegation led by European Commission President Romano Prodi and Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari, the two vowed to keep up their presence and efforts for change in the Balkans.

"We agree on the central importance of promoting democratic change in Yugoslavia and will remain engaged in enhancing the security of the region until that happens," the statement said.

Forces from EU nations and the United States are among the KFOR peacekeeping troops deployed in Kosovo for about six months since NATO-led troops occupied Kosovo following an 11-week bombing campaign of Yugoslavia.

The United States and European Union said they will keep working with pro-democracy opposition leaders in Yugoslavia and the Western-leaning government of Montenegro, which along with Serbia makes up the Yugoslav federation.

"We support the efforts of the freely elected government of Montenegro to advance political and economic reform within the FRY (Federal Republic of Yugoslavia)," the statement said.

It reaffirmed efforts by NATO's KFOR and the United Nation's civilian administration to set the foundations for an effective administration in the southern Serbian province.

The statement said the United States and European Union also hoped to see democratic change in Croatia, where politicians are readying to replace the late President Franjo Tudjman.

"We call upon Croatia to take steps to ensure that its parliamentary and presidential election processes are free and fair, in accordance with democratic principles and OSCE (Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe) standards," the statement said.

The communiqué also applauded efforts by southeastern European countries to improve their investment climate, fight corruption, control arms and weapons of mass destruction and advance democracy and human rights throughout the region.

"We intend to work closely with southeastern Europe to take full advantage of the opportunity before us at the verge of a new century to forge greater stability and advance the region's integration into the euro-Atlantic mainstream."

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