SECURITY COUNCIL STRONGLY CONDEMNS MASSACRE OF KOSOVO ALBANIANS IN SOUTHERN KOSOVO

19 January 1999
SC/6628

SECURITY COUNCIL STRONGLY CONDEMNS MASSACRE OF KOSOVO ALBANIANS IN SOUTHERN KOSOVO

19 January 1999

Press ReleaseSC/6628

SECURITY COUNCIL STRONGLY CONDEMNS MASSACRE OF KOSOVO ALBANIANS IN SOUTHERN KOSOVO

19990119 Presidential Statement Deplores Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Decision to Refuse Access to Former Yugoslavia Tribunal Prosecutor

The Security Council this evening strongly condemned the massacre of Kosovo Albanians in the village of Racak in Southern Kosovo, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia on 15 January, as reported by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Kosovo Verification Mission. It noted with deep concern that the report of the Verification Mission stated that the victims were civilians, including women and at least one child.

In a statement read out by its President, Celso L. N. Amorim (Brazil), the Council noted that against clear advice from the Verification Mission, Serb forces had returned to Racak on 17 January 1999 and that fighting had broken out. The Council called upon the parties to immediately cease all acts of violence and to engage in talks on a lasting settlement, and strongly warned the "Kosovo Liberation Army" against actions which were contributing to tensions.

It noted the statement by the Head of the Kosovo Verification Mission that the responsibility for the massacre lay with Federal Republic of Yugoslavia security forces. It emphasized the need for an investigation of the facts and urgently called upon the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to work with the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and The Kosovo Verification Mission to ensure that those responsible were brought to justice.

Deploring the decision by Belgrade to declare Kosovo Verification Mission Head William Walker persona non grata, the Council reaffirmed its full support for Mr. Walker and for OSCE efforts to facilitate a peaceful settlement. It called upon Belgrade to rescind its decision and cooperate fully with Mr. Walker and the Verification Mission.

Also, the Council deplored the decision by the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to refuse access to the Prosecutor of the International Tribunal and called upon the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to cooperate fully with the Tribunal in carrying out an investigation in Kosovo, in line with its calls

for cooperation with the International Tribunal in resolutions 1160 (1998), 1199 (1998) and 1203 (1998).

The Council condemned the shooting of Verification Mission personnel on 15 January and all actions endangering international personnel. It reaffirmed its full commitment to the safety and security of Verification Mission personnel and reiterated its demands that the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the Kosovo Albanians cooperate fully with the Mission.

Considering all those events to be violations of its resolutions and of relevant agreements and commitments calling for restraint, the Council called on the parties to respect their commitments under the relevant resolutions. It reaffirmed its full support for international efforts to facilitate a peaceful settlement on the basis of equality for all citizens and ethnic communities in Kosovo and its commitment to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

The Security Council noted with concern the report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees that five and a half thousand civilians had fled the Racak area following the massacre, showing how rapidly a humanitarian crisis could again develop if steps were not taken by the parties to reduce tensions.

The meeting, which began at 10:16 p.m., was adjourned at 10:22 p.m.

Presidential Statement

The full text of the statement reads as follows:

"The Security Council strongly condemns the massacre of Kosovo Albanians in the village of Racak in Southern Kosovo, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, on 15 January 1999, as reported by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Kosovo Verification Mission (KVM). It notes with deep concern that the report of the KVM states that the victims were civilians, including women and at least one child. The Council also takes note of the statement by the Head of the KVM that the responsibility for the massacre lay with Federal Republic of Yugoslavia security forces, and that uniformed members of both the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia armed forces and Serbian special police had been involved. The Council emphasizes the need for an urgent and full investigation of the facts and urgently calls upon the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to work with the International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and KVM to ensure that those responsible are brought to justice.

"The Security Council deplores the decision by Belgrade to declare KVM Head of Mission Walker persona non grata and reaffirms its full support for Mr. Walker and the efforts of the OSCE to facilitate a peaceful settlement.

Security Council - 3 - Press Release SC/6628 3967th Meeting (Night) 19 January 1999

It calls upon Belgrade to rescind this decision and to cooperate fully with Mr. Walker and KVM.

"The Security Council deplores the decision by the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to refuse access to the prosecutor of the International Tribunal and calls upon the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to cooperate fully with the International Tribunal in carrying out an investigation in Kosovo, in line with the call for cooperation with the International Tribunal in its resolutions 1160 (1998) of 31 March 1998, 1199 (1998) of 23 September 1998 and 1203 (1998) of 24 October 1998.

"The Security Council notes that, against clear KVM advice, Serb forces returned to Racak on 17 January 1999 and that fighting broke out.

"The Security Council considers that the events in Racak constitute the latest in a series of threats to the efforts to settle this conflict through negotiation and peaceful means.

"The Security Council condemns the shooting of personnel of the KVM on 15 January 1999 and all actions endangering KVM and international personnel. It reaffirms its full commitment to the safety and security of the KVM personnel. It reiterates its demand that the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the Kosovo Albanians cooperate fully with the KVM.

"The Security Council calls upon the parties to cease immediately all acts of violence and to engage in talks on a lasting settlement.

"The Security Council also strongly warns the "Kosovo Liberation Army" against actions which are contributing to tensions.

"The Security Council considers all of these events to be violations of its resolutions and of relevant agreements and commitments calling for restraint. It calls upon all parties to respect fully their commitments under the relevant resolutions and affirms once again its full support for international efforts to facilitate a peaceful settlement on the basis of equality for all citizens and ethnic communities in Kosovo. The Council reaffirms its commitment to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

"The Security Council takes note with concern of the report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees that five and a half thousand civilians fled the Racak area following the massacre, showing how rapidly a humanitarian crisis could again develop if steps are not taken by the parties to reduce tensions.

"The Security Council will remain actively seized of the matter." * *** *

For information media. Not an official record.