Italians, Portuguese demand better international response in Kosovo

ROME, Mar 18, 2000 -- (AFP) Italian and Portuguese leaders Friday called for stronger coordinated international action in Kosovo, where ethnic Albanian extremists and Serb police are ratcheting up tension.

Following talks here, Italy's Prime Minister Massimo D'Alema told reporters: "We have to strengthen international action in terms of both security and ethnic cohabitation."

His Portuguese counterpart, Antonio Guterres, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the 15-nation European Union, complained of "a deficit of strategy and coordination in international action in Kosovo."

The situation in Serbian province will be on the agenda at a special EU summit next week in Lisbon.

"We will have to make headway in Lisbon and decide on concrete action to be taken on the ground," Guterres said.

Recalling that the principal international aims for the region were stability plus democratic and economic development, D'Alema stressed the need for better coordination in reconstruction and development in Kosovo, and to analyse strategies to adopt towards Belgrade and the Kosovars.

"We are encountering obstacles, and now we have to see how we can overcome them," he added.

The EU High Representative for security and foreign affairs, Javier Solana -- the EU foreign policy coordinator who was NATO secretary-general during last year's Kosovo war -- was also at the Rome talks.

The NATO council in Brussels Wednesday ratified a decision to send two additional battalions of French and Italian troops, totaling about 1,100 soldiers, to reinforce the international KFOR peacekeeping force in the divided Kosovo town of Mitrovica.

Original article