Russian defence minister ends visit to YU

BELGRADE, December 25 (Itar-Tass) - Russian Defence Minister Igor Sergeyev ended his working visit to Yugoslavia and flew to Moscow on Saturday.

While summing up the results of his visit, Sergeyev expressed the hope that the Helsinki accords will be implemented and Russian peacekeepers will be able to enter Orahovac.

"The Orahovac issue was analysed in detail during my meetings with KFOR commander, General Klaus Reinhardt and German Defence Minister Rudolf Scharping. We are absolutely confident that we will implement the Helsinki accords in full," Sergeyev said.

Under the accords, Russian peacekeepers were to deploy in Orahovac in August, but Kosovo Albanians blocked roads and barred the Russians from joining Dutch peacekeepers in Orahovac under the pretext that the Russian contingent would be pro-Serb.

Albanians have now removed truck and tractor barricades from the roads, but warned that they would block all approaches to Orahovac if the Russian peacekeepers appeared.

Sergeyev commended Russian peacekeepers' performance in Kosovo.

"Only our Russian soldiers what Russian peacekeepers have done here," he noted.

Commenting on his meeting with Russian peacekeepers in Kosovo, Sergeyev told journalists that "these are well trained servicemen who understand their role and place in fulfilling a very complex and very important task for Russia -- implementing U.N. Security Council resolution 1244".

He said Russian servicemen are not only real pros but they are also good diplomats.

The minister said he was satisfied with his talks with Reinhardt and Scharping.

Reinhardt "made a very high assessment of the Russian peacekeepers. He objectively assesses the situation, and he does not have double standards," Sergeyev said.

"He has thoughts to resolve problems that exist today, and we see this. We assess the situation in Kosovo equally and objectively," he added.

Sergeyev said his meeting with Scharping was "very important and timely; a very large spectrum of matters of bilateral relations in military and military-technical fields was discussed".

The two ministers said also discussed the "future of the Russia-NATO Permanent Joint Council".

"Our thoughts largely coincided. I felt that the German side perceives Russia as an equal partner," he said.

http://www.tass.ru/english/template3.htmls?id=463281&p=0

[URL may be different next day if article is archived]