Thursday 6 April 2000Ties with YU defended
The CARE Australia chairman, Mr Malcolm Fraser, yesterday defended Australia's decision to become the first nation to appoint a new ambassador to Yugoslavia since President Slobodan Milosevic was indicted as a war criminal.
North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and European Union countries were angered by Australia's replacement this week of Mr Chris Lamb with a former ambassador to Bangladesh, Mr Charles Stuart, ABC radio said yesterday.
Mr Fraser rejected speculation that Australia's maintenance of high-level diplomatic relations was part of a deal that secured the release of three CARE aid workers who were jailed last year during the war over Kosovo.
"There is no truth in that speculation at all," Mr Fraser told the ABC. "The Government had already said we were going to keep our embassy open."
A spokesman for the Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr Alexander Downer, said: "We have an ambassador there because we have a large Australian Serbian community and we recognise states, not governments."