Solana concerned over Kosovo Serbs' treatment

BRUSSELS, Jun 8, 2000 -- (Reuters) European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana on Wednesday criticized the way Serbs in Kosovo were being treated and said it could not be tolerated.

"In Kosovo, all the minorities are not being respected. The Serb community in Kosovo has been treated in a manner that cannot be tolerated," Solana told reporters in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki.

There has been increased violence against Kosovo's Serb community recently, about a year after NATO-led forces entered the Yugoslav province and established a United Nations administration.

Solana met Serb opposition leaders on the sidelines of an informal meeting of southeast European foreign ministers on the Balkans Stability Pact.

"We must cooperate with the civil society in Yugoslavia... the change of the political situation in Serbia is the responsibility of the people of Serbia," he said.

Asked whether lifting sanctions would help the opposition in their campaign against Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, Solana said they had a very specific purpose.

"(Milosevic) is a crook. Look how they make money, how their son is a multimillionaire. We don't want (Milosevic) to take a flight to Miami with the money he has gathered," he said.

Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou said re-integrating a democratic Yugoslavia into the region was fundamental for its stability.

"Without Yugoslavia, the black hole in the area continues to exist. So Yugoslavia must be quickly integrated and we must support democratic procedures," he said. "Stability in our region means we must all abide by some fundamental principles."

Only a handful of foreign ministers attended the meeting, with most interested countries sending deputy ministers.

The Stability Pact, launched by President Bill Clinton and other Western leaders last July in Sarajevo, is meant to help struggling Balkan countries get back on their feet.

But there has been criticism over how slow it has been in gaining pledges of economic help, as well as collecting and distributing the much needed funds.

Stability Pact special coordinator Bodo Hombach urged potential investors to come to the region, saying opportunities outweighed risks.

"There are more opportunities than risks," he said. "There is stability in the area and for the first time there is regional cooperation."

The meeting examined ways to boost the democratization process in the region, economic reconstruction and security and immigration issues, including fighting crime and corruption.

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