Solana calls for 'democratic shock' in Kosovo

PRISTINA, Mar 15, 2000 -- (Reuters) The European Union's top foreign policy and security official, Javier Solana, urged ethnic Albanians in Kosovo Tuesday to forego violence and have faith in planned local elections to pursue their hopes for democracy in the Serbian province.

Solana told a press briefing that a poll due to be held in the fall would hopefully give "a democratic shock to Kosovo," which has seen a sharp rise in violence recently between the ethnic Albanian majority and the Serb minority.

Solana, echoing appeals made earlier this week by visiting US officials, also called on Albanians to halt armed incursions into southern Serbia.

"Violence should not be accepted by anybody," he said, adding that "minorities have to be protected and that is very important."

Solana said he hoped that Kosovo's future would follow a path leading to European integration, but stressed that "leaders of this community have to behave according to the values, the principles that the international community deserves."

Solana's visit came on the heels of a tour here by US State Department spokesman James Rubin and national security official Christopher Hill, both of whom repeatedly urged ethnic Albanian leaders to act against extremists responsible for a series of attacks on Serbs in recent weeks.

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