Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

EC Leaders Seek More Coherent Role in Yugoslav Crisis

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

EC Leaders Seek More Coherent Role in Yugoslav Crisis

Article excerpt

WITH Yugoslavia's cease-fire holding precariously as the country slips toward a redrawing of its borders, the European Community is closer to calling an international conference on Yugoslavia's future.

Yugoslav authorities agreed last week to try to organize a national discussion of the country's future by today. But with no conference yet on the horizon, the task could fall to the EC.

Dutch Foreign Minister Hans van den Broeck said Monday in Brussels that if the Yugoslav presidency is unable to arrange for negotiations among all concerned parties this week, "it is perfectly possible that the 12 (EC countries) will be called upon to convene an international conference on Yugoslavia's future." The Netherlands currently holds the Community's revolving six-month presidency.

Confirming speculation that he wants to create a "greater Serbia" from parts of Yugoslavia, Serbia's President Slobodan Milosevic called this week for a new constitution that would lead to a smaller Yugoslavia grouping the country's Serbian populations. He has the backing of Montenegro and of some political groups in neighboring Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Mr. Milosevic's proposal chills Croatia's leaders, who fear their republic could face dismemberment at the hands of their stronger Serb neighbors. At the same time, however, it buoys Serb separatists holding large sections of Croatia after recent fighting.

The Serbian leadership is not opposed to the independence of Slovenia, the northern republic which declared its independence along with Croatia June 25. But it opposes Croatia's independence as long as it includes southern regions largely populated by Serbs.

Still smarting from accusations that it waited too long to take the Yugoslavian crisis seriously and that it then approached it with confused and hesitant signals, the EC is unlikely to wait long, in the event of a Yugoslav failure, before it moves to organize a conference.

"We will wait to around the 15th (of August) to see what happens," a spokesman for the Dutch Foreign Ministry said Tuesday. …

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