Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Conference on Yugoslav Crisis Tests EC Resolve This Weekend's EC-Sponsored Peace Conference Aims at Ending Violence in Yugoslavia, but Has Sparked New Disagreements among Europeans. YUGOSLAVIA PEACE TALKS

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Conference on Yugoslav Crisis Tests EC Resolve This Weekend's EC-Sponsored Peace Conference Aims at Ending Violence in Yugoslavia, but Has Sparked New Disagreements among Europeans. YUGOSLAVIA PEACE TALKS

Article excerpt

IN opening an international conference this weekend on the crisis in Yugoslavia, the European Community faces tests that go beyond the stated goal of settling the territorial claims tearing apart the country.

That goal will be difficult enough in itself. Despite the EC-sponsored agreement signed Sept. 2 by all six Yugoslav republics to a cease-fire and a commitment to settle border disputes through negotiation, the war in the Republic of Croatia has only worsened this week.

Serbian guerrillas, backed by the Serb-dominated Yugoslav federal Army, reportedly gained control of nearly a quarter of the republic's eastern section, where much of Croatia's 12 percent Serb minority lives. The death toll in more than two months of fighting is approaching 400.

For the European Community, the stakes in the Yugoslav crisis are particularly high. Despite the fact that they have the backing of the 35-member Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), the EC will be trying to resolve virtually on its own an explosive international crisis.

The conference, set to begin Saturday at The Hague, will also provide a test of political cooperation among the EC's 12 members. EC officials openly wonder if their own negotiations toward a tighter political union will be stalled by the Yugoslav distraction, or goaded on by a deepening realization of the international role that will be expected of the EC in the future.

EC Commission President Jacques Delors in recent weeks has taken to describing the Community facing the Yugolslav crisis as "an adolescent taking on an adult problem." For Mr. Delors, the EC needs new rules so that it can work more quickly, at deeper levels of cooperation.

Others favor a go-slow response on political integration, emphasizing what the Community has accomplished under its current system. As one British official says, "Given the very difficult circumstances of a civil war, the 12 have performed quite well, and that suggests to us that the Community's system of foreign policy cooperation works sufficiently as it is right now. …

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