EU tries to prevent further fragmentation of Yugoslavia

The EU’s high representative for foreign policy,
Javier Solana, held talks with Yugoslav officials on 17
December in an attempt to prevent a final break-up of the
federation. Serbia’s smaller partner in the federation,
Montenegro, wants to break away from Yugoslavia despite the
opposition of half of its population.

EU officials hope that negotiations between Serbia and
Montenegro, scheduled to continue until the end of
February, will prevent the final break-up.

“The EU is committed that a federation
is a better solution,” Mr Solana told his interlocutors in
Belgrade. He warned the Montenegrins that “those who think
that a break-up would bring them closer to Europe are
wrong”. He urged the two republics to reach a solution for
their problems in the framework of a reformed federation by
the end of February.

Montenegro is planning an independence
referendum for April 2002. Montenegrin President Milo
Djukanovic said that the referendum would go ahead despite
the re-launching of the talks that broke off in
October.

Serbia agrees with the EU and US
position that a reworked federation is a better solution
for the region as the two republics share the same language
and nationality. The EU and the US fear that a new
fragmentation of the Balkans could lead to more secessions
and violence elsewhere in the region, particularly in areas
where Albanian minorities live.

 

The EU has set up a stabilisation and association process
in order to promote relations between the countries of the
Western Balkans. It aims at stabilising the region, torn by
a decade of ethnic wars, and restore co-operation among the
Balkan countries by giving them a prospect of joining the
European integration process.

 

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