YU banned from UN Council Balkans debate

UNITED NATIONS, Jun 24, 2000 -- (Reuters) The Security Council took the unusual step of excluding Yugoslavia's UN envoy from a debate on the Balkans on Friday, prompting Russia's ambassador to walk out of the council chamber.

U.S. ambassador Richard Holbrooke led the challenge on grounds that the Yugoslav leadership, including President Slobodan Milosevic, was under indictment by a UN tribunal for alleged crimes committed during last year's Kosovo crisis.

"It would be inappropriate to allow the representative of this government to use this council in a discussion of where we stand on Kosovo," he said.

Yugoslavia's envoy Vladislav Jovanovic has spoken to the council before on Balkan issues but apparently has not asked to do so since the indictments handed down by the Hague-based tribunal in May 1999.

The vote was four in favor, seven against and four abstentions in the 15-member council on a motion to allow Jovanovic to speak. Under Security Council rules, procedural matters take a majority vote, with permanent members, such as Russia, the United States, Britain, China and France, unable to use their veto power.

Voting in favor were Russia, China, Ukraine and Namibia; those against were the United States, Britain, France, the Netherlands, Bangladesh, Malaysia and Canada; abstaining were Mali, Tunisia, Argentina and Jamaica.

Russian ambassador Sergei Lavrov left his seat and walked out of the council session shortly after the vote was taken.

"Yugoslavia has a right to participate. It is a country whose interests are directly affected by this question," Lavrov told the council.

"To discuss the Balkan problem without Yugoslavia is nonsense," he said, adding that the tribunal, which indicted Milosevic and others, was being used as a political instrument.

"Even a defendant has a right to defend his or her position," he said.

The council was listening to speeches from Carl Bildt, the former Swedish prime minister who serves as a UN envoy for the Balkans, and Javier Solana, the former head of NATO and now the secretary-general of a European Union council on a common foreign policy.

Original article