War in Yugoslavia
CNN - September 4, 1999
SAARISELKA, Finland (CNN) -- European Union foreign ministers remained divided Saturday over whether or how to ease sanctions against Yugoslavia, while peacekeepers in Kosovo investigated a bombing that left a Serb man dead.
A first day of talks in the Lapland ski resort of Saariselka ended Saturday with no agreement on how to help ordinary Serb citizens and the political opposition without easing the pressure on the government of President Slobodan Milosevic.
"I think we will see some good ideas, but as you have noticed already, the good ideas are difficult sometimes to put in practice," said Finnish Foreign Minister Tarja Halonen, the meeting's host.
Some countries want to allow oil deliveries to resume to municipalities controlled by the democratic opposition, because so many power stations were knocked out during the 78-day NATO bombing campaign against Yugoslavia. But Britain opposes easing the sanctions until Milosevic is out of power.
We want to see the people of Serbia join the modern, democratic Europe," British Foreign Minister Robin Cook said. "But to do that, they must also embrace the values and standards. That means they cannot have as their head of state someone who is an indicted war criminal."
An estimated 10,000 people, mostly civilians, died during Milosevic's 18-month crackdown on ethnic Albanian separatists in the Serbian province of Kosovo. The sanctions were imposed last year to punish Belgrade for its actions in Kosovo.
Serb opposition leaders urged the EU on Friday to drop the sanctions, arguing that they give Milosevic fodder for his campaign against the international community and his domestic political foes.
The EU officials also discussed other Balkan concerns, including the rise in organized crime -- particularly in Albania, which appears to be providing a safe haven for criminal groups. Diplomats said some member states want NATO-led peacekeepers to be tougher as they police the Kosovo-Albanian border, where gun-running, racketeering and smuggling is on the rise.
One dead in Kosovo blast
But even as discussions began in Finland, British peacekeepers and United Nations police in Kosovo were searching for clues Saturday after two explosions in the provincial capital Pristina killed one person and injured five others.
Authorities said the two blasts occurred late Friday. The first blast, which caused the fatality and all the injuries, took place on the third floor of a five-story residential building: It occurred outside the door of an elderly Serb man, killing him.
A British peacekeeper, Lt. Blair Hall, said the blast was "a vendetta action." About a half hour later, another explosion rocked a neighboring building, but no injuries were reported.
Tensions between ethnic Albanians and Serbs remain high despite the presence of the NATO-led peacekeepers, who arrived at the end of the war in June.
Last week, 15 bodies were found in the American sector of eastern Kosovo. They are believed to be those of Serbs, reportedly killed in late July, after the peacekeepers entered Kosovo.
Yugoslav forensic experts said they have been denied access to the remains.
Bodies from Bosnian war found
In neighboring Bosnia-Herzegovina, meanwhile, the bodies of 11 victims of that country's war were reportedly found Saturday.
Bosnian Serb radio reported that a forensic team has exhumed the remains of a group of people who appear to have been Serb civilians killed during the 1992-1995 war sparked by Bosnia's secession from the Yugoslav federation. The bodies were found in a cave.
The broadcast said the Commission for Missing Persons exhumed the bodies Friday near the town of Livno, about 65 miles (104 km) west of Sarajevo.
Earlier this week, the Muslim Commission for Missing Persons exhumed bodies of 56 Muslim and Croat war victims killed by Bosnian Serb units.
Some 24,000 people are still unaccounted for, nearly four years after the Bosnian war ended.