Contact Group statement on Yugoslavia

UNITED NATIONS, Sep 15, 2000 -- (Reuters) This is the full text of a statement released by the six-nation Contact Group on the former Yugoslavia after a meeting on Thursday:

At the invitation of Italy's Foreign Minister, Lamberto Dini, the Foreign Ministers of the Contact Group met in New York. The High Representative of the European Union and the Commissioner for Foreign Relations were also present. This was the first meeting of the Group in this format since February 1999.

The Contact Group Ministers reaffirmed their strong commitment to the full implementation of UNSCR 1244 in all its provisions, as the basis for the efforts of the international community in Kosovo, and their support for the efforts made by UNMIK and KFOR to achieve the goals set out in that Resolution. They took note that, despite significant difficulties, progress has been achieved in Kosovo over the last fifteen months and urged all parties to comply with all provisions of Resolution 1244. They welcomed the functioning of the Joint Interim Administrative Structure with the participation of all parties concerned. At the same time, they underlined that the security situation remains tense. They pledged to continue to work together on finding a solution to the ongoing problems in Kosovo, caused mainly by the persistence of unacceptable ethnic tensions.

The Ministers condemned the acts of violence still being committed, especially the recent ethnically-motivated crimes against members of the Serb community, including Serb children, and sent a strong warning to those responsible for perpetrating, or fanning such acts. They expressed their deep concern over the precarious situation of the non-Albanian communities in Kosovo and called particularly upon Kosovo Albanian politicians to promote tolerance and respect among all communities. This will enhance the prospect of the safe return of non-Albanian refugees and displaced persons. At the same time, the Ministers urged UNMIK and KFOR to make maximum effort to enhance protection. Everyone, regardless of ethnicity, should be able to live safely in Kosovo and build his or her future. The Group will promote and support initiatives aimed at achieving this goal.

The Contact Group noted that ensuring shared standards of democracy, pluralism and the rule of law is fundamental to stability and prosperity in Kosovo. The Ministers emphasized the importance that the upcoming municipal elections in Kosovo be thoroughly prepared and democratic, and thus they will be a major step toward democratization pursuant to Resolution 1244.

The Ministers look forward to a democratic FRY, so that it can be reintegrated in the international community and play its rightful part in contributing to the stability of the entire region. They recalled their concern about the motivation for and possible consequences of the revision of the FRY constitution and reiterated their call on the government in Belgrade to refrain from any action that would contribute to the further escalation of violence. They called on the opposition to continue to contribute to the peaceful democratic development of the FRY. They stressed that they will evaluate the elections in the FRY on the basis of internationally recognized standards.

The Ministers expressed their concern over the situation in and around Montenegro. They welcomed the continued consolidation of democracy in Montenegro, reiterated support for its democratically elected authorities and urged them to continue to practice restraint. They underlined the need to refrain from any threat or the use of force against Montenegro. The outstanding differences must be solved by political means, without actions that could raise tensions and further aggravate the already fragile situation in the country and with due respect to the territorial integrity of the FRY.

The Ministers agree to follow closely the situation in the region, with a view to a joint assessment, constant monitoring and the adoption of a line of conduct inspired by shared principles.

Contact Group officials will meet again shortly to assess the situation in the region.

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