Letter: Plea for peace

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The Independent Culture
Plea for peace

Sir: As long-time activists for a democratic and anti-nationalist Serbia, who have chosen to remain in Yugoslavia during this moment of crisis and who want to see our country reintegrated into the community of nations, we strongly condemn the Nato bombings, which have hugely exacerbated violence in Kosovo, the ethnic cleansing of the Albanian population by any Yugoslav forces and the Kosovo Liberation Army's violence against the Serbs, moderate Albanians and others.

The humanitarian catastrophe in Kosovo - death, grief and extreme suffering for hundreds of thousands of Albanians, Serbs and others - has to be ended now. All refugees from Yugoslavia must immediately and unconditionally be allowed to return to their homes, their security and human rights guaranteed, and aid for reconstruction provided. Perpetrators of crimes against humanity, whoever they are, must be brought to justice.

The fighting between Serbian forces and KLA has to be stopped immediately in order to start a new round of negotiations. All sides must put aside their maximalist demands. There are (as in other numerous similar conflicts such as Northern Ireland) no quick and easy solutions. We all must be prepared for a long and painstaking process of negotiation and normalisation.

The bombing of Yugoslavia by Nato causes destruction and growing numbers of civilian victims (at least several hundred, maybe a thousand, by now). The final outcome will be the destruction of the economic and cultural foundations of Yugoslav society. If continued this conflict can escalate beyond Balkan borders and, if turned into land military operations, thousands of Nato and Yugoslav soldiers, as well as Albanian and Serbian civilians, will die in a futile war, as in Vietnam.

The democratic forces in Serbia have been weakened and the democratic reformist government of Montenegro threatened by Nato's attacks and by the regime's subsequent proclamation of the state of war, and now find themselves between Nato's hammer and the regime's anvil.

We appeal to all: President Milosevic, the representatives of the Kosovo Albanians, Nato, EU and US leaders to stop all military activities immediately and engage in the search for a political solution.