EU leaders agree to rewrite their script for Kosovo

Europe yesterday agreed to revamp its faltering efforts to revitalise the Balkans, giving a new role to its top foreign policy supremos and offering economic enticements to countries in the region to embrace Western reforms.

"We are going to open a new page," said Javier Solana, Europe's high representative for foreign policy, who, with Chris Patten, Europe's external affairs commissioner, was given the task of increasing Europe's impact.

The promises came as the Nato secretary general, Lord Robertson of Port Ellen, admitted the international community was not doing enough in Kosovo to secure a lasting peace in which ethnic minorities were safe. "I am more than ever convinced that Nato's action was not only the right thing to do but that it was the only thing to do," he said. "I also know that the job is only half done. The conflict may be over but the peace is still to be won."

Lord Robertson and General Wesley Clark, Nato's supreme commander in Europe, cancelled a planned trip to Mitrovica yesterday, the divided city in the north of Kosovo which is the province's most serious flashpoint.

Lord Robertson denied suggestions that the trip had been cancelled because of security concerns. He called on all sides to forget the years of bitterness and take the "chance to break with the past". But he admitted that Serb leaders from Kosovo had declined to meet him.

On the first anniversary of the start of Nato's bombing campaign, European leaders meeting in Lisbon moved to stave off mounting criticism of the West's efforts in the Balkans by admitting the need to bolster their efforts. Tony Blair said the new measures "will allow us to get a better grip on that situation" which is in Europe's "back yard".

EU leaders said it was up to Europe to play "the central role" in supporting Kosovo, and agreed on the need for working "in a much more co-ordinated, coherent fashion".

Yesterday's action followed a controversial report by Mr Solana and Mr Patten - both of whom have recently visited South-eastern Europe - which was highly critical of Europe's efforts. Their joint document concluded that the West is having "considerable difficulties" in Kosovo, that ethnic violence is "at high levels" and that the UN's administration is dogged by "insufficient personnel and resources".

Now Mr Solana and Mr Patten have been asked to come up with a new and concrete set of proposals including measures to increase trade concessions offered to all Balkan countries except Serbia, and to step up assistance to Montenegro.

However heads of government sidestepped a proposal by the president of the European Commission, Romano Prodi, to grant another 5.5bn euros (£3.5bn) in aid in the 2001-2006 period.

With President Slobodan Milosevic's grip over Yugoslavia seen as the fundamental obstacle to progress in the Balkans, Europe repeated its plea to the Serbian people to "take their future into their own hands", to cast off their current leadership and "join the European family".

Brussels plans to step up economic assistance to Serbia's neighbours in the hope that President Milosevic will be ringed by pro-Western countries with rising living standards.

In Mitrovica yesterday, Nato peace-keepers tacked up signs to mark out a neutral zone on the northern, Serb-controlled side of the main bridge in the heart of the city.

The Nato-declared "confidence zone" now reaches from the southern, ethnic Albanian side of the main bridge across the Ibar river, to the opposite, Serb-controlled, bank. Serbs in northern Mitrovica are meant to allow free passage and communication between areas held by Serbs and ethnic Albanians.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
general electionThis quiz matches undecided voters with the best party for them
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen starred in the big screen adaptation of Austen's novel in 2005
tvStar says studios are forcing actors to get buff for period roles
Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge show their newly-born daughter, their second child, to the media outside the Lindo Wing at St Mary's Hospital in central London, on 2 May 2015.
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Ashdown Group: Part-time Payroll Officer - Yorkshire - Professional Services

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful professional services firm is lo...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before