H.E. Mr. Goran Svilanovic

Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia

at the 56th Session of the United Nations General Assembly

New York, 13 November 2001

Mr. President,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me begin by congratulating H.E. Mr. Han Seung-soo on his election as President of this General Assembly. Your sterling credentials, Mr. President, and vast experience are a firm guarantee that our proceedings will run smoothly and bear fruit.

I would also like to congratulate the United Nations and the Secretary-General on the Nobel Peace Prize. The award is the acknowledgment of the important role our Organization has in protecting world peace, promoting social progress and human rights, as well as of the successful leadership of the Secretary-General. This honour should be a strong encouragement for all of us to put even more effort in achieving the purposes of the United Nations.

Mr. President,

The terrorist attacks in New York and Washington on 11 September have affected not only the United States, but all of us. Once again we were painfully reminded that only together, with joint efforts, we can stand up to global challenges, such as terrorism.

Terrorism is a universal evil, a crime against humanity itself. It affects equally people of every religion, of every nationality, of every walk of life. We therefore did not hesitate to fully support all international actions against terrorism. In that context, it is particularly important to ensure the full implementation of Security Council resolution 1373 and all international conventions against terrorism. In the name of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia I have just signed the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism. Yugoslavia has also taken a series of domestic measures to combat terrorism and has coordinated its actions with other States.

Having been confronted with terrorism for quite some time itself, Yugoslavia is well aware of how difficult it is to fight this evil. It is not enough to prevent terrorist attacks and to capture and punish their perpetrators. It is even more important to deal with social causes of terrorism, in particular to address issues of poverty and the lack of opportunity. It is also vital to strengthen democracy and respect for human rights everywhere in the world. Poverty breeds anger, and if not channelled into democratic political process, anger can easily fuel extremism.

In this regard, the experience of Yugoslavia in dealing with terrorism in southern Serbia has showed that it is not sufficient to combat terrorism solely with security forces. We have therefore developed a comprehensive plan which, in addition to security measures, aims also at improving the economic situation in southern Serbia and reintegrating ethnic Albanians in the political process and State structures, especially at the local level. We implement this plan in cooperation with a number of international organizations and this joint effort has proved to be successful. At this very moment, we are successfully training multiethnic police as an important confidence-building measure.

 Mr. President,

All  this would not be possible without the victory of democratic forces in Yugoslavia last year. This democratic revolution showed the strong will of the Yugoslav people to live in a democratic society based on the rule of law, full respect for human and minority rights and sustainable market economy. It also showed their desire to live better lives in a more prosperous society, in peace with their neighbours and as a part of the European family of nations. In order to achieve these goals, Yugoslavia has started a process of comprehensive political and economic reforms over the last year.

At the same time, we have to deal with several pressing issues which are of crucial importance for the country. Foremost among these issues are the situation in Kosovo and Metohija, southern Serbia and the redefinition of the Yugoslav Federation. However, these questions do not concern Yugoslavia alone; they are also of vital political importance for the entire region of South East Europe. My Government has approached all of them in a constructive way and with a desire to find political solutions through dialogue in a democratic environment.

Mr. President,

Today, all countries in South East Europe have democratically elected governments and all strive to join European and Euro-Atlantic structures. At the same time, our region is still burdened with the legacy of ten years and a number of outstanding issues, the main of which is the position of national minorities. The problems of the region are interrelated and have thus to be addressed by broad regional action and with the help of the international community. The solutions to be achieved should enjoy region-wide support.

I believe that the precondition for dealing with the problems in the region is to fully respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all countries. It must be clearly said that the era of disintegration in the Balkans has come to an end. This will enable us to address the main problem of South East Europe - the status of national minorities - with less reservations and much more openly. Solving the minority issues, together with more economic cooperation and new confidente-building measures, is the way to achieve lasting stability and prosperity in the region. Such an approach will be in full concert with the wish of all countries in the region, including Yugoslavia, to join the European integration processes. In that context, Yugoslavia supports the process of stabilization and association, inaugurated by the European Union at the Zagreb Summit last year, as well as other regional initiatives.

Mr. President,

Kosovo and Metohija is the most pressing and immediate preoccupation of my Government. The Government of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia fully complies with Security Council resolution 1244 (1999). This is also what we rightly expect from others participating in its implementation.

Unfortunately, we are not satisfied with the situation in the field. There is no security for non-Albanians in Kosovo and Metohija, the return of expelled and displaced persons is difficult and slow and there is no progress with respect to the issue of missing persons. Nonetheless, we signed the Common Document with UNMIK, which should provide for comprehensive cooperation in the  implementation of Security Council resolution 1244 (1999). This enabled the President of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the Federal and Serbian Republican Governments to call on the Serbs of Kosovo and Metohija to take part in the elections. They did so fully convinced that participation in the elections is in the Serbs' best interest and that cooperation with the international community, particularly with UNMIK and KFOR, is the key for the solution of the situation in Kosovo and Metohija.

The elections in Kosovo and Metohija on 17 November are important indeed; yet, it is only after the elections that I expect that we commence even more extensive cooperation. This cooperation should be aimed at implementing Security Council resolution 1244 (1999) fully and at establishing democracy and promoting human rights in Kosovo and Metohija, with full respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. In that connection, my delegation welcomes the Statement of the President of the Security Council of 9 November 2001.

Mr. President,

I take this opportunity to affirm the support of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to the efforts of the United Nations, particularly those of the Secretary-General, aimed at strengthening the role and place of the world Organization in present-day international relations.

Recalling the conclusions of the Millennium session, we expect that the General Assembly, the main organ of the United Nations, function more effectively. At the same time, the Organization should be more efficient in order to address the challenges before us. The Security Council should adapt itself to the new relations in the international community.

We attach special significance to the international rule of law. It is of particular importance that all international crimes be punished before national and international courts. In that context, we firmly believe that the International Criminal Court should start its work as soon as possible. This is why my country has already ratified the Statute of Rome, establishing the Court.

Mr. President,

In conclusion, I would like to stress that grave challenges are before us. We have to take concerted action to deal with them. We have to be wise in how we act because that would determine the outlook of the international system for many years to come.