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PRESS CONFERENCE BY PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF YUGOSLAVIA

Department of Public Information . News and Media Division . New York

16 September 1999

The Permanent Representative of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Vladislav Jovanovic, described the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) air campaign against his country earlier this year as a “crime against peace and humanity”, carried out against a “small State already weakened and impoverished by nine years of unjustified sanctions”.

Speaking at a Headquarters press conference to introduce the second volume of NATO Crimes in Yugoslavia -– Documentary Evidence, Mr. Jovanovic said children were among the main victims of the air strikes: “30 per cent of civilians killed [in the campaign] were children,” he said.

Mr. Jovanovic said his country’s ability to survive had been “seriously affected” by the air campaign, whose aim had been to “intimidate civilians, to crush them, to bring them to their knees and to make them accept the strategic interests of the United States and NATO in the region.”

The first volume of the official White Book on NATO aggression against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia had been published by the Yugoslav Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the end of May and covered the period from 24 March to 24 April 1999. The second volume, distributed to reporters at the press conference, covered 25 April to 10 June 1999.

Mr. Jovanovic said the books were important because they preserved a great deal of testimony about the “ugly policy” of the NATO allies against Yugoslavia. That policy had been premeditated and the Rambouillet agreement had been a farce. The decision to attack Yugoslavia had been taken a month before that accord was reached, Mr. Jovanovic said, adding that “the climax of the policy of demonization of the Serbs was reached on the eve of the aggression”.

The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was not against the American or other western peoples, only the policies of those countries against Yugoslavia, he said. Those responsible for those policies had to be brought to justice. And the evidence amassed in the two volumes of NATO Crimes in Yugoslavia could not be obliterated.

Mr. Jovanovic went on to say that a political and economic war against his country had been pursued even after the end of the military conflict. In addition, the current arrangements in Kosovo flouted the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Yugoslavia in violation of Security Council resolutions. They constituted thinly disguised sympathy and support for the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), which had never renounced its goal of independence.

In response to questions, Mr. Jovanovic said he greatly appreciated the recent statement by the Secretary-General on the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. This was in contrast to the attitude of some western nations.

The Nato-led security force in Kosovo (KFOR) was also acting in breach of the Military Technical Agreement by doing everything it could to encourage the KLA instead of disarming it, and was incorporating it into the mechanism of KFOR and the United Nations Interim Administration in Kosovo (UNMIK). However, Yugoslavia was willing to assist UNMIK in carrying out its functions.

Mr. Jovanovic said Yugoslavia would never give up its historical and legal rights in Kosovo and was keeping its options open for recovering them.

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