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Press Briefing by Federal Republic of Yugoslavia

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Press Briefing - 20000307
The Charge d'Affaires a.i. of the Mission of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to the United Nations, Vladislav Jovanovic, told correspondents this morning at Headquarters that he had been prevented from addressing the Security Council yesterday during its discussion of the situation in Kosovo.

He said it was not the first time that this had happened. It was part of a policy of "blocking the Security Council from facing the full reality in the province and from taking adequate responsive measures" to restore peace, public order and legality in Kosovo. He said the province was now in a state of terror and intimidation against the Serbian and non-Albanian population.

Mr. Jovanovic also said the international force in Kosovo (KFOR) and the United Nations Interim Administration in Kosovo (UNMIK) had failed to comply with Security Council resolution 1244 (1999), and that nothing had been done to prevent armed terrorist groups from Albania and The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and other armed gangs from freely entering Kosovo to kill, persecute and expel Serbs, Romans and Slavic Moslems and others indiscriminately.

He said their one objective had been to cleanse the province of all non- Albanians and to prepare it for the creation of a greater Albania.

He said Albanian terrorists in northern Mitrovica had opened fire and thrown grenades against Serbs and KFOR personnel. As a result, 17 Serbs and four KFOR personnel had been wounded. The situation in the area was tense and very dangerous. There was also information that Albanian snipers were active against Serbian and KFOR targets. The deterioration of the situation was the "last drop" in a cup "already full of bitterness", he said.

He said the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNMIK, Bernard Kouchner, had, by dozens of regulations, almost entirely cut the Serbian province of Kosovo from Serbian-Yugoslav constitutional, legal, economic, customs, financial and banking systems. All of this had been done "under the flag of the United Nations, while the [Security Council] resolution had guaranteed the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Yugoslavia", he said.

He said the complete fiasco of both wings of the international presence in Kosovo was the direct result of the policy pursued from the beginning. That policy was not implementation of the resolution; rather, it involved creating a situation which could result in depriving Yugoslavia of its sovereignty. It could also create conditions for the realization of the independence of Kosovo as part of greater Albania, he added.

He said the Council had neither addressed the continued policy of ethnic cleansing and genocide against Serbs and other non-Albanians, nor the continued efforts to undermine and contest the sovereignty and territorial integrity of his country, which had been confirmed and guaranteed by resolution 1244 (1999). It had instead ignored them, concentrating on secondary issues such as procedural, financial and personnel matters.

He said the Secretary-General's report on Kosovo, as well as the statements of Dr. Kouchner and General Klaus Reinhardt, KFOR Commander, had not mentioned Yugoslavia, the host country, whose cooperation and consent had been prerequisites for the deployment of the international security and civilian presence in the province. Instead of stating clearly that what had been taking place in Kosovo and Metohija were genocide and ethnic cleansing, the Council had preferred the term "continued violence", without the culprits -- the terrorist Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) and other Albanian extremists -- being named, he said.

There had also been no reference to the agreed return of the Yugoslav army and police, as stipulated in the Security Council resolution, he went on to say. The unexplained and continued delay in addressing and implementing that provision had been understood by Albanian extremists and separatists as direct encouragement to continue their policy of ethnic cleansing and to create the conditions to one day proclaim independence. Those were key issues the Council had failed to address. There had also been "no condemnation of genocide, no invitation by Dr. Kouchner to the Security Council to visit the camps of the 350,000 exiled Serbs and others now displaced throughout Serbia", he added.

Facts should be used to address the situation in Kosovo, he said. Since the deployment of KFOR and UNMIK, more than 4,400 terrorist acts had been perpetrated by Albanian terrorists and other armed Albanian groups. Half of those attacks had been carried out against Serbian and other members of the non-Serbian civilian population in Kosovo since the arrival of the KFOR and UNMIK nine months previously. "This is the only case in the history of a peacekeeping operation of the United Nations that the United Nations flag has been used and abused for committing the heinous policy and practice of ethnic cleansing and genocide", he said.

He said 350,000 people had had to leave Kosovo, along with over 900 accused civilians and over 800 abducted Serbs and Romans. Houses, churches and monasteries had been completely burned down or seriously damaged. More than 350 Serbs had been kidnapped. Their whereabouts were unknown, but they were believed to be in Albania. There were also labour camps and detention camps in Albania which were not accessible to the International Committee of the Red Cross.

All those issues were the reality of Kosovo under the United Nations flag, which had not been dealt with by the Security Council, he said. He also said State and private property belonging to Serbs were being looted by Albanian terrorists. Foreign-owned enterprises such as Telecom and Trepca had also been usurped by Dr. Kouchner and UNMIK, he said. He also said the terrorist activities of the KLA were spilling over into other parts of Serbia.

Responding to questions, Mr. Jovanovic said there was no deadline or concrete promise for the return of Yugoslav soldiers and police to Kosovo, as mentioned in Security Council resolution 1244 (1999). The "policy of keeping the Government in the dark is still going on", he said. "We still don't know whether it will take place, if ever."

The need to protect the Yugoslav army and police from the Albanians had always been mentioned, he continued, stating, "This is self-accusation. It means an admission that they [KFOR and UNMIK] have failed to put the KLA and other armed groups under control". They had instead allowed themselves to be controlled by the KLA leadership.

On the question of local elections, Mr. Jovanovic said that their organization was the right of sovereign States. His Government was not opposed to them as such, but their objective should be determined. The decision to organize the elections had been made without reference to his country, the host nation. His Government firmly believed that the elections should be organized with guaranteed security and with the participation of all who lived in the territory where they would be held. His Government was opposed to the holding of elections in the present circumstances.

The return of 40,000 Serbs was an important matter, he said. He added that his Government was not opposed to participation of Serbs in any transitional administration. It was, however, opposed to the selection process of Serbs for such an administration. Serbs selected should be representative of the majority of Serbs and should not be favourites of the United States administration or any of the countries represented in UNMIK. Both Serbs in Kosovo and those expelled from the province should be represented.

Continuing, he noted that non-separatist Albanians were not represented. There were a lot of doubts about the enterprise. That was the reason why, personally, he could not see a Serb voluntarily participating in such a transitional administration.

Asked whether he was accusing Dr. Kouchner of bad faith, he said neither KFOR nor UNMIK had been able to guarantee the safe return of Serbs.