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BY Jim Cosgrove
ROME—The Vatican has begun mediation efforts in Serbia aimed at ensuring a peaceful solution to the unrest in the region. Spanish-born Archbishop Santos Abril, the papal ambassador, was received earlier this month in Belgrade by President Slobodan Milosevic to discuss solutions to the country's multitude of problems.
No outsiders took part in the meeting, but sources close to Milosevic said the nuncio spoke very candidly, indicating how some presidential decisions, including declaring the elections null, were seen inside the country and in the international community as abuses of power. Archbishop Abril recalled that the opposition has chosen the path of peace and that the international community wants Milosevic to resolve the tense situation with those same means.
Presently, the Church's greatest concern is the possibility of an outbreak of conflict in Serbia and Macedonia and the fear that the Dayton peace agreement will be broken. “It is impossible to know what might happen, but I am praying that it will not come to bloodshed,” Archbishop Franc Perko of Belgrade said. “This would be inevitable if the Dayton agreements were broken and if, as a result, Bosnia were divided.”
Archbishop Santos Abril told the Register that Milosevic has two possibilities of action: “The first, and I consider it very unlikely, is the use of force by using the police who are on his side. However, there would be a great danger of civil war. The other possibility is to find an agreement with the opposition. This is the easiest solution, in part because the West is pressing in this direction. The West wants to keep Milosevic in power because it sees in the Serbian leader a guarantee for respecting the peace agreements for Bosnia.” (J. Colina Diez)