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07 February 2002

Transcript: U.S. on Conflict Prevention, Upcoming Elections in S. Serbia

(Amb. Minikes at OSCE Feb. 7; also discusses Kosovo, FYR Macedonia)
(670)
U.S. Permanent Representative to the OSCE Stephan Minikes
congratulated the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia February 7 on its
progress in implementing reforms and addressing ethnic issues,
particularly its successful conflict prevention efforts and the
announcement of elections in Southern Serbia.
"We hope all citizens, and especially ethnic Albanians, will
participate fully in the spring municipal elections, and in the
political process as a whole," Minikes told the Organization for
Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Permanent Council in Vienna.
He commended Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Nebojsa Covic for the
"constructive role" he has played in seeking a solution to the
problems in Southern Serbia, Kosovo and the Former Yugoslav Republic
of Macedonia.
Minikes noted that while there are differences in the situations in
Southern Serbia and in northern Macedonia, there are also "common
lessons to be learned. These include the need for compromise and
moderation on both sides, the importance of the international
community's long-term engagement, and the absolute necessity of
confidence-building measures including legally binding amnesty."
Following is a transcript of Minikes' remarks:
(begin transcript)
U.S. Mission to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in
Europe
Vienna
February 7, 2002
STATEMENT ON THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF YUGOSLAVIA
Delivered by Ambassador Stephan M. Minikes to the Permanent Council
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I would like to join others in welcoming Minister Covic and Minister
Ljajic to the Permanent Council.
Your presence here today gives us the opportunity to congratulate you
on Yugoslavia's tremendous progress in the past year.
It is exciting to see Yugoslavia moving so decisively to implement
reforms, address ethnic issues, and rejoin the world community.
There is no better illustration of this than Southern Serbia.
Southern Serbia stands out as an excellent example of conflict
prevention. Stability in Southern Serbia will do much to calm the
region as a whole.
Minister Covic, this success in Southern Serbia is a credit to your
leadership and personal engagement. We hope you will continue to stay
actively involved as the Covic Plan progresses towards full
implementation.
The announcement of elections in Southern Serbia represents an
enormous step forward. We look forward to assisting in any way
possible.
We hope all citizens, and especially ethnic Albanians, will
participate fully in the spring municipal elections, and in the
political process as a whole.
It is important that all citizens of Yugoslavia be truly committed to
change by democratic means. Voting - and serving in the government -
show a willingness to be loyal citizens and to further one's political
goals peacefully.
We wish you all success as you continue your path to reform.
Minister Covic, we also welcome the constructive role you have played
regarding Kosovo. We welcome your direct engagement with UNMIK [United
Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo] to help ensure that
the UNMIK-FRY Common Document is fully implemented.
Long-term peace, stability, and democracy in Kosovo depend upon
meaningful, near-term progress on safe and sustainable returns of
ethnic minorities, on determining the fate of the missing, fully
resolving the issue of political prisoners and on improving conditions
for ethnic minorities there.
We will encourage the OSCE Mission in Kosovo to continue to support
UNMIK in that dialogue.
We also take positive note of your efforts to offer useful advice
regarding past events in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
There are clear differences in the causes and consequences of the
events in Southern Serbia and in northern Macedonia. But there are
also common lessons to be learned.
These include the need for compromise and moderation on both sides,
the importance of the international community's long-term engagement,
and the absolute necessity of confidence-building measures including
legally binding amnesty.
As in Southern Serbia, we hope that all sides in Macedonia have chosen
the path of peace and reconciliation. We reaffirm our commitment to
remain engaged in both and we welcome the role that you have played in
each.
Thank you.
(end transcript)
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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