NATO ACTION AGAINST SERBIAN MILITARY TARGETS PROMPTS DIVERGENT VIEWS AS SECURITY COUNCIL HOLDS URGENT MEETING ON SITUATION IN KOSOVO19990324 NATO Strikes Condemned by Some as Unilateral Use of Force Violating UN Charter, Supported by Others as Action to Prevent Humanitarian Catastrophe
The Security Council this afternoon held an urgent meeting on the situation in Kosovo as forces of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) began a wave of strikes against Serbian military targets.
Some States condemned the strikes as a unilateral use of force and a blatant violation of the United Nations Charter, while others said the action would prevent a humanitarian catastrophe resulting from Serbian attacks on Kosovar Albanians.
The representative of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia said NATO had today been "unmasked", when it ceased to be a defensive military alliance and launched an act of the most brutal and unprovoked aggression. By bombing the cities and towns of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, NATO had become the "air force and mercenary of the terrorist Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA)". His country had been attacked because it had used its sovereign right to fight terrorism and prevent the secession of a part of its territory which had always belonged to Serbia and Yugoslavia.
Warning that "the virus of a unilateral approach could spread", the representative of the Russian Federation said the Council alone should decide the means to maintain or restore international security. NATO's attempt to enter the twenty-first century in the uniform of an international gendarme set a dangerous precedent. The Russian Federation would review its relations with the Alliance. Those who had embarked on the military venture bore complete responsibility for its consequences, he warned.
China's representative said it opposed the use or threat of use of force in international affairs, power politics of the "strong bullying the weak", and interference in the internal affairs of others -- under whatever pretext or in whatever form.
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The representative of the United States said his country and its allies had begun military action with the greatest reluctance, but had to respond to Belgrade's brutal persecution of Kosovar Albanians. Belgrade's indiscriminate use of force and excessive military build-up foreshadowed a tragedy of immense proportions.
Peace in Europe was at stake today, France's representative said. The Belgrade authorities must be convinced that the only possible way to settle the crisis was to halt their military offensive and accept the framework defined by the Rambouillet agreements.
Europe could not tolerate a humanitarian catastrophe in its midst, the representative of Germany said, speaking for the Council of Europe. The countries of the European Union were under a moral obligation to ensure that indiscriminate behaviour and violence were not repeated and that the thousands of refugees and displaced persons could return to their homes.
When diplomacy failed, "do we react with more words?", the representative of the United Kingdom asked. Despite repeated diplomatic efforts, President Milosevic had refused to engage seriously in negotiations on an agreement. His failure to meet the demands of the international community had resulted in a humanitarian catastrophe. "We have taken this action with regret, in order to save lives", he stressed.
Also speaking this afternoon were the representatives of Canada, Slovenia, Bahrain, Gambia, Netherlands, Brazil, Malaysia, Namibia, Gabon, Argentina, United Kingdom, Belarus, India, Albania and Bosnia Herzegovina.
The meeting, which began at 5:52 p.m., adjourned at 8 p.m.
Council Work Programme
The Security Council convened an urgent meeting this afternoon at the request of the Russian Federation in a letter addressed to its President, dated 24 March (document S/1999/320), calling for the meeting "to consider an extremely dangerous situation caused by the unilateral military action of NATO members against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia".
SERGEY LAVROV (Russian Federation) expressed outrage at the use of force against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Throughout the weeks, when those threats had been made, the Russian Federation had repeatedly warned about the long-term consequences of settling the situation in that manner. Those who were involved in the use of force, which violated the United Nations Charter and occurred without the Council's authorization, must realize the serious responsibility they bore.
The members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) must remember that they were members of the United Nations and therefore obliged to be guided by the Charter, including Article 103, which emphasized that Charter obligations took precedence over all others, he said.
Attempts to justify strikes as preventing humanitarian catastrophe were not recognized by international law, he said. The use of unilateral force would lead to a situation with devastating humanitarian consequences. No considerations of any kind could serve to justify aggression. Violations of law could only be combated on the solid basis of the law.
Attempts to apply other standards to international law and disregard other laws created a dangerous precedent, he said. The virus of a unilateral approach could spread. Given the fact that NATO had decided to use force in Kosovo, its assurances that the Alliance was prepared to cooperate in the interests of common European security had to be questioned. His country would draw conclusions on relations with the entity based on events.
Political methods had not been exhausted, he stated, demanding immediate cessation of military action. Today, his President had said the Council alone could decide which measures should be taken regarding maintaining or restoring international security. The Charter of the United Nations and the founding act on relations between the Russian Federation and NATO had been violated. A dangerous precedent had been set in the Alliance's attempt to enter the twenty-first century in the uniform of an international gendarme. His leadership would be reviewing its relations with NATO.
He appealed to the leaders of the members of NATO to put an end to the military venture which threatened lives. The quicker negotiations were
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resumed, the sooner the international community could find a political solution. Those who had embarked on the military venture bore complete responsibility for the consequences. The Russian Federation would take whatever measures were needed.
PETER BURLEIGH (United States) said the current situation in Kosovo was of grave concern to all. The United States and its allies had begun military action only with the greatest reluctance. But it believed it was necessary to respond to Belgrade's brutal persecution of Kosovar Albanians, violations of international law, excessive and indiscriminate use of force, refusal to negotiate to resolve the issue peacefully, and recent military build-up in Kosovo, all of which foreshadowed a humanitarian catastrophe of immense proportions. Today's action had begun to avert humanitarian catastrophe and to deter further aggressions and repression in Kosovo.
He said Serb forces numbering 40,000 were now in action in and around Kosovo. Further, 30,000 Kosovars had fled their homes since 19 March. As a result of Serb action in the last five weeks, there had been more than 60,000 new refugees and displaced persons. The total number of displaced persons was approaching a quarter of a million. Repressive Serb action in Kosovo had already resulted in cross-border activity in Albania, Bosnia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Recent actions by Belgrade also constituted a threat to the safety of international observers and humanitarian workers in Kosovo.
Security Council resolutions 1199 (1998) and 1203 (1998) recognized that the situation in Kosovo constituted a threat to peace and security in the region and invoked Chapter VII of the Charter, he said. In its resolution 1199, the Council had demanded that Serbian forces take immediate steps to improve the humanitarian situation and avert the impending humanitarian catastrophe. In October 1998, Belgrade had entered into agreements and understandings with NATO and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to verify its compliance with Security Council demands, particularly on reduction of security forces, cooperation with international observers, cooperation with humanitarian relief agencies and negotiations on a political settlement for substantial autonomy. Belgrade had refused to comply. The actions of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia also violated its commitments under the Helsinki Final Act, as well as its obligations under international law of human rights. Belgrade's actions in Kosovo could not be dismissed as an internal matter.
The United States was mindful that violations of the ceasefire and provocations by the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) had also contributed to the situation, he said. However, it was Belgrade's systematic policy of undermining last October's agreements and thwarting all diplomatic efforts to resolve the situation which had prevented a peaceful solution and led to today's action.
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In that context, he said the United States believed that the NATO action was justified and necessary to stop the violence and prevent an even greater humanitarian disaster.
ROBERT R. FOWLER (Canada) said Security Council resolutions 1199 (1998) and 1203 (1998), and the October agreements between the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the OSCE and NATO imposed clear legal obligations on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to respect a ceasefire, protect its civilian population and limit the deployment of its security forces in Kosovo. An important element of those agreements was the creation of a Verification Mission under the auspices of the OSCE. Its purpose was not only to monitor the ceasefire, but also to build confidence.
He said that most recently, the parties had been convened at an international peace conference in Rambouillet, France, where they had been urged to give up their maximalist positions and accept an honourable compromise for peace. Ultimately, the Kosovars had demonstrated courage and vision by signing the Rambouillet Peace Agreement. The only hold-out was the Yugoslav President who had refused to move from his utterly intransigent position. Unfortunately, the intensive and extensive diplomatic efforts of the international community did not succeed. The looming humanitarian disaster caused by President Slobodan Milosevic's refusal to accept any peaceful compromise left the international community with very few options. Everyday, the situation worsened, and it was the civilians who suffered. As long as it remained unresolved, the conflict in Kosovo threatened to precipitate a far larger humanitarian disaster and destabilize the entire region.
Canada's preference had always been for a diplomatic solution and the diplomatic track had been given every chance to succeed, he said. NATO's objectives were to avert a humanitarian crisis. The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia must comply with its obligations, including respect for a ceasefire, an end to violence against the civilian population and full observance of limits on its security forces as agreed on 25 October 1998. Humanitarian considerations had underpinned their action. They could not simply stand by while innocents were murdered, an entire population was displaced, villages were burned and looted, and a population was denied its basic rights merely because the people concerned did not belong to the "right" ethnic group. Canada remained deeply concerned about further atrocities, and those responsible should be aware that they would be held accountable.
DANILO TÜRK (Slovenia) said his country regretted that the developments in Kosovo had brought the international community to the point when all diplomatic means had been exhausted, and military action had become inevitable. The comprehensive and constant endeavours of the international community to achieve a diplomatic solution to the crisis and to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe had yielded no results. He emphasized that the
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tragedy was the result and consequence of the erroneous policy of the Belgrade regime alone.
Slovenia had all along supported a peaceful solution to the Kosovo problem that would include broad autonomy of Kosovo with due respect for the internationally recognized borders of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, he said. Slovenia had, through its Prime Minister, actively engaged in the efforts of the international community to achieve that aim. It had supported the agreement prepared by the Contact Group on the basis of the results of extensive discussions with the parties during the second half of 1998. Unfortunately, the efforts of the international community had been in vain since the Belgrade regime was not ready to agree to a political solution of the crisis.
Recently, the military action against the civilian population had further escalated, and had become more violent, causing even greater humanitarian catastrophe, he said. The situation represented a case of massive violation of the relevant Security Council resolutions, in particular resolution 1199 of 23 September 1998. The threat to international peace and security in the region was looming large. It was deplorable that the Security Council had to meet to discuss the consequences of systematic and brutal violations of its resolutions.
Slovenia regretted the fact that not all permanent members of the Council were willing to act in accordance with their special responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. It was its expectation and belief that the action under way would be carried out within the substantive parameters established by the relevant Council resolutions. It was Slovenia's hope that a peace agreement on Kosovo would be reached in the shortest possible time. It would actively support the endeavours of the international community to achieve a mutually acceptable solution under international supervision.
JASSIM MOHAMMED BUALLAY (Bahrain) said his delegation regretted the recent developments which had led to the use of military force. The international community had long called for the peaceful settlement of the crisis through serious and productive dialogue. But the authorities in Belgrade had insisted on pursuing a policy of repression against the Kosovo Albanian community. It seemed they did not want the Balkan region to enjoy peace and stability. The problem had become extremely serious and threatened to become a humanitarian catastrophe.
His delegation hoped the authorities of Belgrade would return to their senses, and obey the dictates of logic and reason, he said. They must return to a serious and constructive dialogue, committing to relevant Council resolutions and to ending the conflict in Kosovo.
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BABOUCARR-BLAISE ISMAILA JAGNE (Gambia) said his country was attached to the sacrosanct principle of the peaceful settlement of dispute as enshrined in the Organization's Charter. Throughout last year, the international community had devoted great effort to find a peaceful settlement, but many opportunities had been missed, while the onslaught against the ethnic community in Kosovo had remained unabated. The international community had called on the authorities time and again to settle the dispute peacefully, but to no avail.
His delegation could not remain indifferent to the situation of the Kosovar Albanians, he said. Thousands of refugees and displaced persons had been generated by the practices of the Belgrade authorities. He regretted that today's events had had to occur. The Council had primary responsibility for international peace and security, but at times the exigencies of a situation demanded decisive and immediate action. The events in Kosovo deserved such treatment. The action of today could have been avoided. Further action could still be prevented; he called for efforts in that regard before it was too late.
ARNOLD PETER VAN WALSUM (Netherlands) said his country had participated in and assumed responsibility for the present situation because there was no other solution. That decision was not taken lightly, but with conviction. The responsibility for the NATO action lay squarely with President Milosevic, who was responsible for the large-scale violations of the October agreements with OSCE and NATO. It was his recourse to violence in Kosovo which had finally convinced his country that the impending humanitarian catastrophe could not be averted by peaceful means.
In some capitals, his country's determination to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe in Kosovo had apparent been underestimated, he went on. A country or an alliance compelled to take up arms to avert such a humanitarian catastrophe would always prefer to base its action on a specific Security Council resolution. The Secretary-General was right when he said in his statement to the press that the Council should be involved in any decision to resort to force. In light of the rigid interpretation by one or two members that such a resolution was not attainable, his country could not sit back and let that humanitarian catastrophe occur.
He said that in such a situation he would act on the legal basis available, which was more than adequate. The Netherlands had been deeply involved in events in the former Yugoslavia since the break-up of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in June 1991. In spite of that, it had accepted a situation in which the leading role was played by a Contact Group in which Russia was an important member. Its acceptance of that arrangement was always based on the assumption that Russia had so much influence in Belgrade that it could persuade President Milosevic to accept a reasonable solution.
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The present state of affairs, however, should convince every delegation that diplomatic means of finding a solution were now exhausted, he said. As stated by the Secretary-General, diplomacy had failed, but there were times when the use of force might be legitimate in the pursuit of peace. The Netherlands felt this was such a time.
ENIO CORDEIRO (Brazil) said his Government regretted that the escalation of tension had resulted in recourse to military actions.
ALAIN DEJAMMET (France) said that due to the tragic lessons that had occurred in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Contact Group had mobilized early in Kosovo. That action was aimed at putting an end to violence by the parties and arriving at a comprehensive settlement of the conflict. The Security Council had also endorsed those concerns, and had indicated in its relevant resolutions that it was acting under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter. It had affirmed in resolution 1199 and 1203 that the deterioration of the Kosovo situation threatened regional peace and security.
He said that through resolution 1199, the Council had demanded of the Belgrade authorities an immediate end to the hostilities and the maintenance of a ceasefire, as well as immediate measures to avert imminent catastrophe. It had also demanded that they put an end to all actions by security forces affecting civilians, and order their withdrawal. They were also called upon to make rapid progress, in the framework of dialogue, towards a political solution. The Council had demanded that existing agreements be applied promptly and in their entirety by the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Those included commitments and obligations of a precise nature, yet those were not respected by Belgrade, despite every effort to prompt it to do so. Thus, those efforts had been exhausted.
Over recent weeks, he said the world had witnessed, together with an absence of flexibility in negotiating, a heightening of tension and confrontation, and an amassing of powerful offensive means by the Yugoslav army. That had inspired fear in a community of two million people. What was at stake today was peace -- peace in Europe, and also human rights. The Belgrade authorities must be convinced that the only possible way to settle the Kosovo crisis was to halt their military offensive and accept the framework defined by the Rambouillet agreements.
HASMY AGAM (Malaysia) said the continuing crisis in Kosovo had caused tremendous hardship and sufferings to the civilian population in the province. The continued repressive actions on the part of the Yugoslav security forces against the Kosovar Albanian community had led to tragic humanitarian consequences.
The Security Council had supported the peace process initiated by the Contact Group back in January, which was designed to settle the crisis in
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Kosovo through peaceful means, he said. The Malaysian delegation could not fail to express its appreciation for the strenuous efforts made by the Contact Group members, and in particular those that were later resumed to bring about the success of the peace negotiations in Rambouillet. Unfortunately, the outcome of the negotiations was not as the international community had expected. Yugoslavia continued to reject the Rambouillet Accords, and had rebuffed all efforts to change its mind, while the Kosovar Albanian side had put its signature on it.
His delegation believed that the crisis in Kosovo could have been resolved through dialogue and negotiations, he said. Clearly, the Kosovar Albanian side had demonstrated good faith and political will, but not the Yugoslav authorities. As a matter of principle, Malaysia did not favour the use or threat of use of force to resolve any conflict situation, regardless of where it occurred. If it was necessary, the sanction of the Security Council, which had primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, should be sought. The international community could not afford to stand idly by, given the dimension of the violence on the ground and worsening humanitarian conditions in Kosovo, in the wake of the repressive military actions carried out by the Serbian and Yugoslav authorities.
The Malaysian delegation would have wished that the Kosovo crisis was dealt with directly by the Security Council, he said. It was regrettable that given the divisions in the Council on the subject it had not been able to address the issue in a meaningful way. Malaysia was extremely concerned about the situation on the ground. Yugoslavia was likely to unleash their preponderant military might upon the poorly-armed Albanian Kosovars in retaliation. If that happened, the humanitarian impact on the Kosovar civilian population would be enormous and tragic indeed. That aspect of the problem must be immediately addressed by the international community and the Security Council.
MARTIN ANDJABA (Namibia) said the degree of brutality, the massacre of civilians, kidnappings and the wanton destruction of property continued to take place. The international community had been aiming for peace; more violence and destruction could not create peace. The Council had on numerous occasions expressed that peaceful means should be used. That view had been conveyed even as recently as 19 March. Military action against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was not the solution. The implications of such action might go beyond that country and threaten the peace and security of the region. He appealed for immediate cessation of military action and an exhaustive search to resolve the issue through political means.
DENIS DANGUE REWAKA (Gabon) said it was regrettable that condemnations and appeals to search for political solutions had not been heeded. He would have hoped that the Contact Group would continue to bring its authority to bear to compel the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to sign the Rambouillet
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agreements, which gave rise to hope for peaceful settlement. His Government was in principle against the use of force in the settlement of political disputes.
FERNANDO PETRELLA (Argentina) said the NATO attacks taking place at that very moment were a source of concern to his Government, which was guided by the principle of the peaceful settlement of disputes. He regretted that Belgrade's intransigence had led to the result that no member of the Council wanted. He reiterated the need for strict compliance with Council resolutions. Yesterday, his Government had issue a communique emphasizing the need to create conditions needed for a lasting peace, based on principles of territorial integrity, greater autonomy for Kosovo and the protection of minorities.
His Government profoundly regretted the suffering of the civilian population and the victims that might result from this situation, but responsibility lay with the Belgrade Government, since the military actions were being aimed at averting a humanitarian catastrophe. He appealed to the Government to take the path of negotiation.
Sir JEREMY GREENSTOCK (United Kingdom) said President Milosevic had chosen to use brute force against a peaceful population. "Where was the outrage in that?", he asked. The Security Council, NATO, the OSCE, the Contact Group, and the United Nations had sought over the past year to persuade Belgrade to end the suffering it had caused and agree to a political settlement with the Kosovo Albanians, providing for a substantial degree of self-government, while respecting the territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The Council had called on Belgrade to end actions against civilians and withdraw security forces responsible for repression, to cooperate with organizations engaged in humanitarian relief, and to pursue a negotiated settlement. But Belgrade had rejected those demands.
When diplomacy failed, "do we react with more words?", he asked. Despite repeated diplomatic efforts, President Milosevic had refused to engage seriously in negotiations on an agreement. His failure to meet the demands of the international community had resulted in a humanitarian catastrophe.
"We have taken this action with regret, in order to save lives", he said. It would be directed towards disrupting the violent attacks being committed by the Serb security forces and weakening their ability to create a humanitarian catastrophe. In the longer term, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, whose mandate extended to Kosovo, would hold those responsible for violations of international humanitarian law accountable for their actions.
The action being taken was legal, he continued. It was justified as an exceptional measure to prevent an overwhelming humanitarian catastrophe.
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Under the present circumstances, there was convincing evidence that such a catastrophe was imminent. Renewed acts of repression by the authorities of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia would cause further loss of civilian life and lead to displacement of the civilian population on a large scale and in hostile conditions.
Every means short of force had been tried to avert this situation, he said. In such circumstances, and as an exceptional measure on grounds of overwhelmingly humanitarian necessity, military intervention was legally justifiable. The force now proposed was directed exclusively to averting a humanitarian catastrophe, and was the minimum judged necessary for that purpose.
While the focus today was the crisis in Kosovo, Belgrade should be under no illusion that "we have taken our eye off the ball elsewhere in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia", he said, adding that "we are watching Serb behaviour closely in relation to Montenegro". His Government had noted with dismay that the Federal Telecommunications Ministry, backed by police, raided Radio B92 on 24 March, closed the station and detained its editor-in-chief. It condemned that act aimed at further reducing the right of free speech in Serbia.
He appealed to the Kosovo Albanians to remain on the path of peace they had chosen by signing the Rambouillet Accords in their entirety on 18 March. They should show restraint in coming days. To the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, he said it was not too late to show at any time that they were ready to meet the international community's demands, and he urged them to do so.
QIN HUASUN (China) said that the launching of military strikes by NATO, with the United States at the lead, against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia had seriously exacerbated the situation in the Balkans. That act, taken today, amounted to a blatant violation of the United Nations Charter, as well as the accepted norms in international law. The Chinese Government strongly opposed such an act.
The question of Kosovo, being an internal matter of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, should be solved by the parties concerned in that country among themselves, he said. Settlement of the Kosovo issue should be based on the respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and guarantee of the legitimate rights and interests of all the ethnic groups in the Kosovo area.
Recently, the parties concerned had worked actively for a political settlement of the crisis, he said. His country had always stood for a peaceful settlement of disputes through negotiations and was opposed to the use of or the threat of use of force in international affairs, or power
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politics of the "strong bullying the weak". It opposed interference in the internal affairs of other States, under whatever pretext or in whatever form.
He said it had always been the position of the Chinese Government that, according to the United Nations Charter, it was the Security Council that shouldered the primary responsibility for maintaining peace and security. It was only the Council that could determine any situation threatening international peace and security and take actions accordingly. He was firmly opposed to any acts violating that principle and challenging the Council's authority.
The Chinese Government strongly called for an immediate cessation of the military attacks by NATO against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, he said. China called on the international community and the parties concerned in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to make concerted efforts to stabilize the situation as soon as possible and defuse the crisis so as to bring peace back to the Balkan region at an early date.
In a second intervention during the debate, Mr. LAVROV (Russian Federation) said references had been made to the fact that the Contact Group (of which the Russian Federation was a member) had supported the entire Kosovo peace package. He stressed that the military component of that package had been discussed without the participation of the Russian Federation. Its partners in the Contact Group had chosen to prepare that aspect behind the back of the Russian Federation.
He said some Council members had also stated during the debate that due to the position of one or two permanent members it had not been possible for the Security Council to fulfil its duties. The Russian Federation, he stated, had not been approached with the text of any draft resolution on a settlement of the crisis in Kosovo.
VLADISLAV JOVANOVIC (Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) said that today a unilateral act of the most brutal and unprovoked aggression had been taken against his country -- a sovereign and independent State and former member of the United Nations. His country had not threatened any other country, or regional peace and security; it had been attacked because it had sought to solve an internal problem and had used its sovereign right to fight terrorism and prevent the secession of a part of its territory, which had always belonged to Serbia and Yugoslavia.
He said that the decision to attack an independent country had been taken outside the Security Council, the sole body responsible under the United Nations Charter to maintain international peace and security. That blatant aggression was a flagrant violation of the basic principles of the Charter and was in direct contravention of its Article 53, paragraph 1, which stated that
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no enforcement action should be taken under regional arrangements or by regional agencies without the Council's authorization.
Today, "NATO was unmasked", he said. It ceased to be a defensive military alliance and became an aggressive military alliance -- disregarding its own statute, the United Nations Charter, and the structure of the OSCE, as well as the system of international relations, based on respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of States -- by bombing massively and indiscriminately the cities and towns in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. NATO had become the air force and mercenary of the terrorist KLA. The United State and NATO must assume full responsibility for all consequences of their act of open aggression, both foreseeable and unforeseeable.
By committing the aggression against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, NATO had trampled upon international law and the fundamental principles of international relations, endangering world peace and security in the most irresponsible and criminal way, he said. That was why his Government had requested, on the basis of Chapter VII of the Charter, an urgent meeting of the Security Council. It expected and requested that the Council would take immediate action to strongly condemn and stop the aggression against his country, and to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity. Until that happened, his country had no alternative but to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity by all means at its disposal, in accordance with Article 51 of the United Nations Charter.
He said the NATO attacks were taken against his country only because Yugoslavia, as a sovereign and independent State, had refused to allow foreign troops to occupy its territory and to reduce its sovereignty. The excuse for that NATO action was the alleged refusal of his country to sign the so-called agreement, which had never been endorsed by all members of the Contact Group, nor negotiated with his country. The meetings in France were not negotiations about the autonomy of Kosovo/Metohija, but a crude and unprecedented attempt to impose a solution clearly endorsing the separatist objectives, under pressure, blackmail and threat of the use of force.
He said his Government "was and is ready" to find a political solution. It gave that an absolute priority, but it could not agree to a secession of Kosovo/Metohija, whether immediately or after the interim period of three years. His delegation had submitted a document on autonomy and genuine self- government on the basis of the 10 principles agreed by the Contact Group. That document was signed by all members of his delegation, and was fully in line with the highest European standards related to human rights, democracy and multi-ethnicity. As in the past, it remained committed to a reasonable political settlement to the problem, which would respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Serbia and Yugoslavia, and guarantee the equality of rights of all citizens and national communities residing there.
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If the Security Council did not protect a Member State against that aggression, it would undermine the entire system of international peace and security "as we know it", he said. The question of the Council's credibility remained. NATO air strikes had already resulted in heavy destruction and great loss of human life. If that aggression was not stopped immediately and unconditionally, its consequences for world peace would be catastrophic.
He called on Council members to act swiftly and in accordance with the Charter and condemn that act of aggression and take appropriate measures to stop it immediately and unambiguously so that all problems could be resolved by political means. His Government extended an urgent appeal to all States to categorically oppose the current NATO and United States aggression against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. If the aggression was not stopped, the precedent of such unpunished aggression would, sooner or later, lead to aggression against a number of other smaller and medium-sized countries. The United Nations was at a crossroads; he hoped it would choose the right path.
SERGEI N. MARTYNOV, First Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Belarus, said his President had issued a statement earlier on NATO's decision to use military force. That use of force without a proper decision by the only competent international body -- the Security Council -- as well as the introduction of foreign military contingents against the will of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia qualified as acts of aggression. No reasoning presented by NATO could justify the unlawful use of military force and be deemed acceptable. Unlawful military action meant intentional disregard for the role of the Security Council in maintaining international peace and security. That meant obstructing and effectively destroying the decision- making system and ignoring the lessons of the war which the permanent members of the Council had vowed a generation ago to respect.
It was said today that diplomacy failed, but would the lethal use of force result in a just settlement in Yugoslavia? he asked. He called for an immediate cessation of the use of force against and in Yugoslavia, and restoration of the Council's Charter role in maintaining international peace and security. Even now the opportunities for renewing political and diplomatic dialogue must and could be found.
KAMALESH SHARMA (India) said the crisis could only be resolved through consultation and dialogue, and not through military action. The attacks clearly violated Article 53 of the United Nations Charter. No country, group or arrangement could take arbitrary and unilateral military action against others. That would mean a return to anarchy.
Article 2.7 of the Charter stipulated that nothing contained in it would "authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which were essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any State or shall require the Members to submit such matters to settlement under the present Charter", he recalled.
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Kosovo was recognized as part of the sovereign territory of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Under application of Article 2.7, the United Nations had no role in the settlement of domestic political problems of the country. The only exception would be application of enforcement measures under Chapter VII. But the attacks now taking place had not been authorized by the Council acting in that capacity and were therefore completely illegal.
Both international law and the Council's authority were being flouted by countries claiming to be champions of the rule of law, including some permanent members of the Council, whose principal interest should be to enhance, rather than undermine, the Council's paramountcy in the maintenance of international peace and security, he said. It was said that the attack would be called off if the Government of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia accepted what was described as NATO peacekeeping forces in its territory. In other forums, India -- and the entire membership of the Non-Aligned Movement -- had repeatedly said that the United Nations could not be forced to abdicate its role in peacekeeping and that a peacekeeping operation could not be deployed without the consent of the government concerned. A peacekeeping operation forced upon a reluctant government or population stood little chance of success.
The Alliance was trying to intimidate a government through unprovoked aggression to accept foreign military forces on its territory, he said. While there were several traditional descriptions for such coercion, peacekeeping was not one of them. In the interests of peace and security in the region, the arbitrary, unauthorized and illegal military action should be stopped immediately. Domestic political problems had to be settled peacefully by the parties concerned through consultation and dialogue. He urged NATO to immediately stop the military action against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and trusted that the Security Council would be able to exert its authority to bring about an early restoration of the peace that had been broken today.
DIETER KASTRUP (Germany), speaking on behalf of the Council of Europe, said it was deeply concerned about the failure of the mediation efforts undertaken by Ambassador Richard Holbrooke and the three Rambouillet process negotiators, Ambassadors Hill, Majorski and Perritsch with the President of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Slobodan Milosevic. The common objective of those efforts was to persuade the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to accept a ceasefire in Kosovo and a political solution to the conflict there, in order to stop a humanitarian catastrophe. Over a quarter of a million Kosovars were now homeless because of the repression carried out by Belgrade's security forces. Sixty-five thousand had been driven from their homes in the last month, and 25,000 since the peace talks broke down in Paris last Friday.
The international community had done its utmost to find a peaceful solution to the Kosovo conflict, he said. In Rambouillet, and most recently
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in Paris, intensive efforts had been made to negotiate an agreement for the self-government of Kosovo, which was fair to both parties to the conflict and which would ensure a peaceful future for Kosovo. The draft agreement, which was signed by the Kosovo Albanians in Paris, met those requirements on the basis of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Yugoslavia. It assured Kosovo a high degree of self-government, guaranteed the individual rights of all citizens of Kosovo, envisaged extensive rights for all national communities living in Kosovo and created the basis for the necessary reconstruction of the war-torn region.
He said the Yugoslav leadership under President Milosevic had persistently refused to engage seriously in the search for a political solution. On the threshold of the twenty-first century, Europe could not tolerate a humanitarian catastrophe in its midst. It could not permit that, in the middle of Europe, the predominant population of Kosovo was collectively deprived of its rights and subjected to grave human rights abuses. The countries of the European Union were under a moral obligation to ensure that indiscriminate behaviour and violence were not repeated. They had a duty to ensure the return to their homes of the hundreds of thousands of refugees and displaced persons. Aggression must not be rewarded. Those now persisting with the conflict in Kosovo should not forget that the mandate of the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia at The Hague covered Kosovo. They and their leaders would be held personally accountable for their actions.
The policy of the Council of Europe was neither directed against the Yugoslav or Serb population nor against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia or the Republic of Serbia, he said. It was directed against the irresponsible policy of the Yugoslav leadership. President Milosevic must stop Serb aggression in Kosovo and sign the Rambouillet Accords.
AGIM NESHO (Albania) said the present moment was historical for the future of the Balkans, when the international community had intervened in order to stop the humanitarian catastrophe and the tragedy of torture, killings and burials in common graves. The Albanians of Kosovo, despite all that, had decided to respect the will of the international community and sign the Rambouillet agreement. For more than 10 years, the international community had not succeeded in organizing a common action to stop the Belgrade regime from creating a new and dangerous crisis in the heart of Europe.
He said his country totally supported NATO's military action, which was an action for regional peace and stability. It strongly supported today's action in the same way it had favoured a peaceful solution, which had not come. The international community had not declared war on Serbia -- that war had already existed. Rather, it had achieved the first step towards peace and security in the region and re-established the principle of human freedom. No country could pretend to ask for protection by the United Nations and the
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Security Council at the same time that it tried to bury the basic principle of peace, commit crimes against humanity and genocide against a people.
MUHAMED SACIRBEY (Bosnia and Herzegovina) said that military force was never a welcome option, but sometimes it was the best and only alternative of otherwise many bad options. It might be the only option available to save innocent lives. Of course, there was a better option, but despite the efforts of many, the Belgrade regime had "shut the door" on that alternative. He commended the tireless efforts of representatives of France, United Kingdom, and the United States and many others who had at least brought about the signing by one party to that conflict -- the Kosovar Albanians. Their tireless efforts should be encouraged.
Now Belgrade sought the sanctuary of the Security Council to hide its own blame, he said. A country that had unleashed its brutal war machine against its own civilians could not now cry victim when the international community stepped in to prevent further ethnic cleansing and genocide. A country most recently engaged in military aggression against its own neighbours, that had refused to adhere to international law and to numerous Security Council resolutions or to cooperate with the Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia could not now plea for the protection of the international community. That country had indeed turned morality, legality and United Nations principles "on its head".
He said that for those who disdained today's military steps, they should ask themselves whether more talks would have produced the desired result; so far ethnic cleansing had only worsened. The people of Bosnia and Herzegovina would still be suffering the consequences of war itself if no action had been taken in the fall of 1995. For three and one-half years, people had promoted talks, but throughout that time, war, genocide and ethnic cleansing continued. Only after aggression did diplomacy succeed. Peace was, in fact, achieved in his country, yet even the peace process was endangered by the continuing escalation of war and ethnic cleansing in Kosovo -- which were, once again, gaining the upper hand in the region.
It should nonetheless be remembered that today's military steps placed many lives in danger, he said. He prayed for the safety of those intervening to bring peace, and for the innocent Kosovar Albanians already endangered by Belgrade's military campaign and who were fleeing their homes. He also prayed for the overwhelming innocent Serbian population. Even as today's dramatic events unfolded, the Belgrade regime took final steps to shut down the remnants of free media, thereby bringing oppression to its height. It could not be ignored that today's military action also brought greater physical risk to all Serbian people. He hoped it would be short-lived and that the Serbian people, or by some miracle, the current leadership, would come to its senses.
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Mr. TÜRK (Slovenia), in a second intervention, said his delegation had listened carefully to the discussion, which was not an easy one. He had heard the categorical words of some regarding use of force. Sometimes force was used without explicit basis in Council resolutions. That might be different from the perfect world that all parties sought, but it was a reality.
Council resolutions 1199 and 1203 were applicable law in the case being discussed; the situation was defined as a threat to international peace and security in the region, he said. That meant the situation was defined as something other than the matter which was essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of a State. Therefore, Article 2.7 did not apply. The resolutions could be clearer; those who had participated in drafting them knew that the originals were intended to develop the Council's responsibility for maintaining international peace and security to a more complete extent. The different views of permanent members had prevented that. It was just one of several examples of an imperfect world.
The Council's responsibility for international peace and security was a primary responsibility, but not an exclusive responsibility, he stressed. It was up to the Council and its ability to develop policies which would make it work for the authority it had under the Charter, that the primacy it had under the Charter would be the reality of the United Nations.
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