Activities - Comments

The following are original notes from the Press Conference of Zivadin Jovanovic, Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs of Federal Republic of Yugoslavia , held on September 28th, 1999, at the United Nations’ Headquarters in New York:

28 September 1999
Press Conference
28 September 1999

Press Briefing

"Under auspices of the United Nations, a terrorist organization, namely, the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), had been able to officially advocate separatism and disrespect for international borders as its objectives”, said Zivadin Jovanovic, Foreign Minister of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, at a Headquarters press conference this morning. "This situation is setting a very dangerous precedent for the support of terrorism and separatism in the world", he emphasized. The so-called transformation of the KLA into the "Kosovo Protection Force" was a mockery. It was a terrorist organization that needed to be dismantled and disarmed. Continued support for it would only result in the propagation of more terrorism and destabilization.

The Secretary-General's Special Representative in Kosovo, Bernard Kouchner , had been acting more as a representative of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) than that of the United Nations, Mr. Jovanovic said. He had been introducing decrees and decisions in violation of the territorial integrity of the federal Republic. Furthermore, Mr. Kouchner had introduced foreign currency and customs into Mr. Jovanovic's country, which clearly violated the principle of sovereignty.

The Secretary-General had reaffirmed that it was necessary to respect fully and implement Security Council resolution 1244 (1999) on Kosovo and Metohija, he said. He had supported the territorial integrity of Serbia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, as well as advocating for a wider approach to the problem of humanitarian assistance.

The Foreign Minister said that the NATO aggression on his country had set up a very dangerous precedent for the use of force without any approval of the Security Council, which was the most important international body in the world for peace and security. It had been done in violation of the Charter and basic principles of international law, he emphasized. Such a precedent was damaging not only to his country, but to the United Nations and to international public law.

The international community had stressed the need to resolve situation in Kosovo and Metohija through political and peaceful means, such as a dialogue within the framework of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of his country, Mr. Jovanovic told correspondents from the UN headquarters. Such a dialogue must be based on respect for the multi-ethnic and multi- religious character of Province of Kosovo and Metohija. The international community had condemned the failure to respect his country's international borders. "All of my colleagues present here at the General UN Assembly whom I met, in one way or another, have condemned the violation of Security Council resolution 1244", he added.
Yugoslav Press Conference - 2 - 28 September 1999

After the arrival of the Kosovo Security Force (KFOR) and of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), the ethnic cleansing of about 250,000 Serbs and other non-Albanians from Kosovo and Metohija had been forced to abandon their homes and leave the Province, he said. In addition, more than 400 Serbian civilians have been killed, more than 500 kidnapped, and more than 600 wounded since the deployment of KFOR and UNMIK. Also, about 135 medieval Christian-ortodox monasteries and churches had been destroyed. "In the light of ethnic cleansing, terrorism and destruction, one cannot speak of a successful implementation of the Security Council resolution, but must rather be profoundly concerned of the systematic violation of its provisions", he said. Only faithful, correct and complete implementation of resolution 1244 could lead to peace and security in that region.

In his country, there were 700,000 refugees from the former Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina and from Croatia who were not permitted to return to their homes. In addition, there were more than 250,000 displaced Serbs and people from who had been forced out of Kosovo and Metohija. At this stage, his country took care of about a million refugees and displaced persons. It cared for all of those people even under the current sanctions and economic embargo. He hoped for the international community's support for the lifting of both.

After NATO's attack, his country had suffered enormous damages which amounted to $100 billion. Bridges, houses, towns, railways, hospitals, schools, cultural institutions, heating systems, electric supply lines had been damaged or destroyed.

"In addition to violating the basic principles of international law, NATO had used inhumane armaments such as depleted uranium, casket bombs and many others", he said. Furthermore, NATO's target had been civilians, the civilian economy and civilian infrastructure. As the NATO aggression was clear illegal act against peace and humanity, that Alliance is bound by international law to pay war damages to his country. Most United Nations Member States had, in one way or another, condemned NATO's violation of international law.

In response to a correspondent's question on the Kosovo Transitional Council, Mr. Jovanovic said that it had not been formed by bringing together legitimate representatives of various national communities living in the Province of Kosovo and Metohija. The Secretary-General's Representative, Bernard Kouchner, had himself voluntarily chosen a few Serbs to represent Serb and Montenegrin communities who had no public support from either one.

What did the United Nations need to do to implement resolution 1244 efficiently? Mr. Jovanovic replied that his country expected the Security Council to correct "all the deviations and breaches" of that resolution. "We expect a more clear-cut, energetic Security Council engagement in order to protect its own credibility. It is crucial that UN SC directs UNMIC and KFOR to guarantee necessary conditions for urgent free and safe return of 250.000 displaced Serbs and other non-Albanians to their homes in Kosovo and Metohija", he said.

Yugoslav Press Conference - 3 - 28 September 1999

In response to a question on Russia's role in the Security Council, Mr. Jovanovic said it continued to play a constructive role regarding Kosovo and Metohija. He expected that Russia would play an important role in making sure that resolution 1244 was implemented fully and with precision. In addition, Russia supported his country's economic reconstruction.

Had he asked to speak at Security Council's meetings? a correspondent wished to know. Mr. Jovanovic replied that some of his expectations had met with a "policy of blocking".

Was it true that he had encountered trouble in getting a United States visa to come to the United Nations? Mr. Jovanovic answered that there had been a two-day delay in getting his visa. In addition, three Yugoslav journalists who had planned to attend the UN General Assembly session had applied for United States visas in August and not received them yet. "No one should be deprived of performing his professional rights and duties during the General Assembly. Preventing journalist to inform their public on the work of the world most important forum is breach of the right to information and could not be justified. Yugoslav public has a particular right to be fully informed as issues related to Kosovo and Metohija are given priority at the Assembly", he emphasized.

Asked whether he had any limits on his movements around New York, Mr. Jovanovic replied that he could not travel more than 10 blocks from his hotel. The latter limitation had been written on his visa. "We have not come here to harm anybody, but to spread understanding and tolerance", he said. In spite of the limitations he had encountered, however, he did have full access to whomever he wanted to see and to good security personnel, he added.
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28 September 1999

1From January 1998 to November 2000.
2UN Special Representative and Head of UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo and Metohija (UNMIK) from Julay 15th, 1999 to January 21st, 2001.