Serbia + 1 more

Press Conference by Federal Republic of Yugoslavia

"Whoever pretends and claims that the situation in Kosovo and Metohija is improving is painting a rosy picture and is trying to colour the real situation", Vladislav Jovanovic, Chargé d'Affaires of the Permanent Mission of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia told correspondents at a Headquarters press conference today
By doing so, Mr. Jovanovic continued, they were helping Albanian separatists and terrorists to continue their policy of systematic ethnic cleansing in the province, and the systematic eradication of all spiritual and other roots of the Serbs and others in that area.

Mr. Jovanovic said that a number of reports from international organizations, including the latest ones from the Secretary-General, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and Amnesty International, were very alarming. They were full of warnings that implementation of the terms of Security Council resolution 1244 (1999) was far from being fulfilled, and that security, the provision of a safe environment, public order, freedom of movement, and the return of Serbian and other refugees to Kosovo and Metohija were all lagging behind objectives and the mandate.

Mr. Jovanovic went on to say that since the deployment of the international military and civilian security presence in the province there had been 3,688 terrorist acts and other forms of violence against Serbs and Montenegrins, Albanians who did not support separatism and terrorism and other ethnic groups, including Muslims, Turks and others.

Most of the nearly 800 people who had been killed were Serbs, although some Albanians and others were included in that figure, Mr. Jovanovic said. There were 600 wounded and nearly 700 abducted or missing persons. In the last 10 days alone, 10 persons had lost their lives in a very brutal way. Six of them were members of Moslem families, three were Serbs who had returned from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to Kosovo, and one was a Serbian women found dead outside of a village. In addition to that, there was a heinous incident involving the rape and killing of an 11 year old Albanian girl on 13 January.

He said the mandate of the international presence in Kosovo was very clear. One of the elements of the mandate was the establishment of secure conditions, to allow the unimpeded and safe return of all refugees. While nearly all Albanian refugees had returned, the return of the 350,000 Serbian and other refugees who had been forced to leave Kosovo was not assured at all. Another element was ensuring a safe environment and public order. Yet another element was the preservation of the multi-ethnic and multicultural character of the province.

Those elements, Mr. Jovanovic continued, were the preconditions for the United Nations Mission in Kosovo to perform its basic civilian and administrative function, and for allowing political negotiations to start between the Yugoslav/Serbian Government and the representatives of all the ethnic communities in the province. However, the mandate, instead of being fulfilled, had been deliberately pushed aside and new types of activity substituted.

The sovereignty of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia had been systematically and provocatively undermined and challenged, he stated. In that regard, he specifically cited the introduction of 25 regulations by Bernard Kouchner, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Kosovo. "Almost all of them constitute a direct attack against the sovereignty of Yugoslavia", he said. "All of them are an integral part of a conspiracy to separate the province from Serbian Yugoslavia and, thus, help Albanians separatist terrorists to achieve their goal of independence and the destruction of Serbian Yugoslavia".

"We have informed the Security Council and the Secretary-General about the steady deterioration of the situation for Serbs and other non-Albanians in more than 40 letters", Mr. Jovanovic added. Those letters provided evidence, and requested immediate and appropriate measures to be taken to stop such a development and to ensure the implementation of the basic provisions of 1244. Unfortunately, there had not been any follow-up, as yet.

He went on to say that one permanent member of the Council was systematically opposed to any mention of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. That position directly opposed resolution 1244, the cornerstone of which was the guarantee of Yugoslav sovereignty and territorial integrity over Kosovo.

In addition to that, he reminded correspondents that during the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) aggression, Yugoslav media systems and other corresponding technical facilities were systematically destroyed. All of that was done in violation of a number of international documents and agreements. Postal links to Yugoslavia had been suspended, as had broadcasts from the country's satellite system. That war against the truth, "the Yugoslav version of the truth", and the country's mass media was being continued after the war by the United Nations Interim Administration in Kosovo (UNMIK), and more precisely by Mr. Kouchner.

Mr. Jovanovic said telecommunication and postal traffic were denied to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Its sovereignty in that field was openly challenged. Jamming the broadcasts of Yugoslav radio stations, which legally operated on allocated frequencies, was an everyday practice. Broadcasts of Yugoslav radio and television stations, were suspended by EUTELSAT in yet another example of accomplices of international organizations carrying out illegal acts against his country.

As a result of such activities, Mr. Jovanovic continued, Serbs living in Kosovo and Metohija were cut off from any news in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Newspapers from the country could not be found in the province. Only Albanians were entitled to the right to be informed, and to give and receive information. Only Albanians enjoyed the special privilege of getting financial and other assistance in order to develop their own activities in that field.

Cultural heritage and monuments, such as churches and chapels were being systematically destroyed, desecrated and vandalized, Mr. Jovanovic continued. Even monks and priests were being ill-treated. There was no religious freedom for Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija. There were a lot of cases of Serbs who needed to be hospitalized, but even that privilege was not extended to them. Almost everywhere in the province, the Serbs who remained had to live in very difficult conditions. They lived in ghetto enclaves and did not leave their homes to buy even basic provisions, because they feared for their lives. When they did venture to leave their houses they could do so only if accompanied by the international force -- KFOR -- if those personnel were willing.

He said the international presence had failed in executing its mandate. If there was no urgent action by the Security Council and the Secretary-General to promptly and comprehensively improve the situation, the whole peacekeeping operation in the province would be in very serious jeopardy. It would only be a matter of time before it crumbled. "We do not know what will happen after that", he warned.

A correspondent asked Mr. Jovanovic whether he was contesting the Secretary- General's report, which he claimed had painted a "rosy picture of Kosovo". Mr. Jovanovic said the objection to the report had been not so much to the facts, but to the conclusions drawn from those facts. Even the evidence in the report was sufficient grounds for drawing different conclusions. Although the report recognized that Serbs were living in difficult conditions and faced threats, intimidation, harassment and occasional killings, there was no mention of the side that was responsible for those conditions. Albanians, the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) and other terrorist groups, instead of being named as perpetrators, were avoided.

In addition, he continued, the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia over Kosovo was not mentioned. That was the umbrella element of resolution 1244 (1999). There was also no mention of the 350,000 expelled people and their living conditions outside of the province. Neither was it referred to by its proper name - a humanitarian catastrophe. There was also no mention of the entry of 200,000 foreigners, who had entered Kosovo because of the absence of any real border protection and who were the members of various criminal gangs.

As a result, Mr. Jovanovic continued, the population of Pristina had doubled since the pre-war situation. Half of those new arrivals were residents of Albania and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Kosovo was now the main centre of international crime, including drug trafficking, white slavery, and arms trafficking. All of that was done without much intervention by those who were charged with controlling the province.

"We cannot say the situation is improving", he said, especially when Mr. Kouchner had done everything to detach the province from Serbian Yugoslavia. "We expect the Secretariat to start thinking about the implementation of resolution 1244 as it stands", he said. The text did not give Mr. Kouchner any mandate to act outside of it and to assist the objectives, aims and strategies of the Albanian terrorists. They had never abandoned their goal of either independence for the province or annexation by Albania. In addition, none of the perpetrators of crimes against Serbs and other non-Albanians had been brought to justice, up to now.