DAILY CATHOLIC     THURSDAY     June 10, 1999     vol. 10, no. 112

from a CATHOLIC perspective

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Holy See Applauds Return to Negotiations at U.N. Headquarters while Belgrade Archbishop says Serbs and Albanians share blame

          VATICAN CITY, JUN 9 (ZENIT).- In commenting on the meeting of the U.N. Security Council, which should adopt the resolution bringing peace to Yugoslavia, in its June 10 edition L'Osservatore Romano expresses the hope "that the arms will finally be silenced."

          But the Holy See newspaper is cautious. "Prudence prevents the announcement of peace, but the diplomatic work seems to be coming to an end with a peaceful solution to the grave crisis in Kosovo."

          From the very beginning, the Holy See maintained this was the only solution; that is, that negotiations return to the heart of the United Nations, respecting the norms of international law.

          On June 3, John Paul II met with U.N. secretary general, Kofi Annan, at the Pope's request, to encourage the U.N. to take its place as protagonist in the pacification of Kosovo. That same day, Holy See spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said the Holy Father stressed "the importance that the end of hostilities be accomplished under the aegis of the United Nations, that there be a simultaneous return of the refugees to the region of Kosovo, and that the help of an international peace force be accepted by all parts."

          Following the U.N. resolution, Kosovo will have a multinational force to protect it. The fundamental question continues to be dates. According to L'Osservatore Romano, both Russia and China, which have the veto power in the U.N., want NATO's bombing to stop before the adoption of the resolution. "There are important details that remain to be resolved, but the latest diplomatic statements are characterized by optimism," states the newspaper.

          The resolution will be adopted by the Security Council in virtue of article VII of the U.N. Charter, which authorizes the use of force in certain circumstances. The situation in Kosovo is defined as a threat to peace and stability in the world. This allows the international community to intervene in a conflict that Belgrade had described up to now as an internal question. Kosovo will be controlled by a temporary administration, under the authority of a representative of the U.N. secretary general.

          In the preamble, the draft of the resolution confirms the commitment to safeguard the territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, of which Kosovo forms a part. But, according to the United States, the door to independence is not being closed. In any event, the resolution only refers to restoration of the autonomy removed from Kosovo ten years ago by the then president of Serbia and current president of the Yugoslavian Federation -- Slobodan Milosevic.

          In spite of Russia's objections, the resolution requests that the multinational force give full cooperation to the International Criminal Court of The Hague in investigating war crimes of war and crimes against humanity in former Yugoslavia. As is well known, some days ago the Court accused Milosevic and four other influential Belgrade politicians and military men of such crimes.

          Meanwhile, from the Vatican in a related story by CWN, in an interview published by the Italian weekly Famiglia Cristiana, Archbishop Franc Perko of Belgrade argues that Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic is "not solely responsible" for the warfare in the Balkans. The archbishop also says that the deployment of an international peacekeeping force in Kosovo would be "a benefit for Serbia."

          In the Famiglia Cristiana interview, which appeared on the newsstands on June 9, Archbishop Perko says that he has high hopes for a compromise agreement that could end the fighting. Such a compromise, he continued, would be possible only if "all the parties involved-- the Serbs, the Albanians, and NATO-- are ready to make some sacrifices."

          The archbishop charged that "there are two sides responsible for the tragedy in the Balkans. The Serbian leadership, he said, has taken advantage of the "historical and spiritual ties" which Serbs feel toward Kosovo, in order to mount their offensive, since an independent Kosovo "is inconceivable to the Serbian citizen." On the other hand, he said, the ethnic Albanians of Kosovo had "exaggerated" the wrongs they have suffered under Serbian government, and because they began their own armed struggle for autonomy they should bear "part of the responsibility for the explosion of violence in the region." These facts have been submerged by the inflamed rhetoric surrounding the conflict, the archbishop noted. He cited the words of Pope John Paul II: "Truth is always the first casualty of war."

          Archbishop Perko has consistently argued in favor of an international peacekeeping presence in Kosovo; in fact he was once detained and questioned by Serbian authorities because of his strong public stand on that issue. "Only that sort of contingent could give the refugees the necessary confidence, and guarantee their security so that they can return to Kosovo." He added that only an international force would be able to disarm the Kosovo liberation fighters. In the absence of such intervention, he reasoned, Serbian troops in Kosovo would face the prospect of a long, costly conflict with Kosovar guerillas.

Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales and International Dossiers, Daily Dispatches and Features at ZENIT International News Agency. CWN, NE and ZENIT are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provide this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

June 10, 1999       volume 10, no. 112


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