June 24, 2000UN envoy seeks break from Milosevic
PODGORICA, Yugoslavia (AP) -- Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's regime should no longer represent Montenegro at the United Nations, the foreign minister from the junior republic in the Yugoslav federation said Saturday.
Speaking from New York, where he attended an open session of the U.N. Security Council on Friday, Montenegrin Foreign Minister Branko Lukovac told reporters he hopes international powers will support the pro-Western republic's position on the matter.
"We have submitted a document to the United Nations claiming Serbia should no longer be allowed to represent Montenegrin policies and interests here," Lukovac told the Vijesti and Pobijeda newspapers in the Montenegrin capital, Podgorica.
Montenegro enjoys independence from Belgrade in all but name. But its reformist leadership, bitterly opposed to Milosevic, has refrained from declaring full independence, fearing a possible armed conflict with Milosevic's supporters. And Serbia, the larger republic and Milosevic's power base, has retained dominance over Montenegro in Yugoslav embassies abroad as well as in its seat at the U.N.
Pro-Milosevic media in Serbia on Saturday blasted the Montenegrin document circulated at the U.N. as a "serpent's egg." A chief Milosevic ally in Montenegro, Predrag Bulatovic, declared Lukovac's move "a shameful act ... aimed primarily at breaking up Yugoslavia."
In comments carried by Dan, a pro-Milosevic daily, Bulatovic warned that "such behavior directly influences peace and stability" in Montenegro. He said his party would raise the issue at the next session of Montenegro's parliament Tuesday.
At the Friday session of the Security Council, Yugoslavia was banned from participating in a debate on the Balkans after U.S. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke urged council members to exclude Yugoslav envoy Vladislav Jovanovic. Holbrooke said Jovanovic "represents a government whose senior leadership has been indicted for war crimes."
Milosevic and his four top aides were indicted last May by the U.N. war crimes tribunal at The Hague for atrocities in Kosovo, Serbia's southern province dominated by ethnic Albanians.
The exclusion of the Yugoslav envoy prompted a walkout by Russia's U.N. ambassador. A subsequent walkout by China's deputy ambassador further complicated the session. Both countries have remained supportive of Yugoslavia and opposed to NATO's bombing campaign last year.
Montenegro's Lukovac, who attended the Security Council session in an informal capacity, said he met Friday with Holbrooke, who "reiterated the U.S. stand that Montenegro's stability and security were of U.S. interest."
"We shall continue our endeavors to have our viewpoints heard in the U.N.," Lukovac said. "The international community has supported our peaceful role in the region -- we therefore expect it to stand by our struggle to voice our own policies and stands."