Serbian Unity Congress press release

Jonathan Clarke (
Fri, 08 May 1998 17:14:03 -0400

Following is the text of our press release on international mediation on
Kosovo also a copy of our letter to President Clinton about Kosovo.

May 6, 1998


In an open letter to the people of Serbia released by its Belgrade office
on May 6, 1998, the Serbian Unity Congress called for acceptance of
international mediation for Kosovo. The letter stated:

"The Serbian Unity Congress has adopted strong public positions in support
of United States and Serbian interests in Kosovo and Metohija. Our
statements are displayed on our web site:

We have condemned terrorist violence initiated by the Kosovo Albanians,
highlighted Serbian and Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) efforts to
initiate dialogue, protested one-sided anti-Serb actions and statements by
the Administration, and argued vigorously against sanctions as
counterproductive to the settlement process. Furthermore, we have conducted
an active information campaign with the Administration, the United States
Congress, the American media, and the Contact Group to inform them of the
true facts of the situation.

We can thus hold our heads high in our actions in defense of Serbian interests.

Events, however, have now reached a point of no return. The decision by the
Contact Group meeting in Rome on April 29 to impose new sanctions on
Yugoslavia in the absence of FRY agreement to accept international mediation
has brought matters to a make-or-break head. Serbian interests hang in the
balance. A wrong move will condemn our people to further isolation,
impoverishment, and desperation.

We have considered the Contact Group's latest statement carefully. We
regard this as a significant advance over their March 25 statement and are
glad to note that many of our arguments about balance, terrorism, sanctions,
and sovereignty seem to have carried some weight.

Based on our reading of the Rome statement, our strong feeling is that
international mediation represents the least bad option facing the Serbs and
that it should therefore be accepted forthwith. We do not believe that
international mediation conflicts with our view that in international law
Kosovo is an unalienable part of Serbia and that in law Kosovo is an
internal Serbian responsibility. In fact, international mediation is quite
common in the situations involving internal disputes. Senator George
Mitchell, for example, of the United States has just successfully mediated a
settlement in Northern Ireland, a constituent part of the United Kingdom. In
Cyprus international mediation is an integral part of efforts to solve the
Cyprus problem. We note that Mr. Igor Ivanov, the Deputy Foreign Minister of
the Russian Federation, one of Serbia's closest supporters within the
Contact Group, is due to visit Belgrade on May 5 to advise the FRY to accept
international mediation.

In Kosovo itself international mediators have already been useful as
evidenced by the recent Education Agreement brokered by the Italian Sant'
Egidio Society.

In our views, the strong vote in the referendum concludes the
constitutional argument about international mediation. There is no doubt
about where Serbs in the Motherland and the Diaspora stand on that issue.
But the time has now come for pragmatism and flexibility. The facts are that
the international community is deeply involved in the Kosovo question and
will not go away.

Further, the international community has made a sensible proposal that
former Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez of Spain should act on its behalf. He
should know the issues well and is a responsible figure. His mission would
not be conflict with the referendum decision. We believe that he can be
trusted to make sensible recommendations that will respect Serbian
sovereignty over Kosovo. We note the explicit language in the Contact
Group's statement of April 29 rejecting independence for Kosovo (paragraph
2), respecting territorial integrity (paragraph 3) and refraining from
seeking to impose any particular outcome (paragraph 4). In other words, the
Contact Group's proposal preserves Serbian prerogatives and options.

We strongly urge that the FRY and Serbian governments accept OSCE
involvement under Mr. Gonzalez. To do so would pave the way for Serbia's
reintegration into the world community, for international investment, and
for a better life for all Serbs. This positive outlook is guaranteed by the
Contact Group (paragraph 8).

The alternative is a hellish vision of increasing isolation and alienation.
Serbia's friends and supporters in the Contact Group and the wider
international community will desert it, leaving the nation open to the
severest aggression by its enemies. This is an untenable prospect under
which Serbs would suffer drastic consequences.

In an ideal world, Kosovo would be settled by internal agreement. But we do
not live in an ideal world. The international community is already heavily
involved. Furthermore, international mediation does not involve a sacrifice
of principle. Serbian acceptance would constitute enlightened self-interest.
As the Northern Ireland and Cyprus situations show, there are plenty of
examples of international involvement in internal problems. There are
already precedents in Kosovo. The way ahead is clear. The unambiguous
Serbian interest is to accept international mediation on the basis of the
Contact Group's proposal and on the strict understanding that the Contact
Group will react with a reversal of sanctions and integration of FRY into
international organizations as set out in paragraphs 8 and 9. A timetable
for the latter actions might be requested.

Action on these lines represents the way out of the crisis."

May 7, 1998
President William J Clinton,
The White House,
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

On behalf of the members of the Serbian Unity Congress, I am writing to
register my concern about your remarks about Kosovo during the May 6 press
conference with Prime Minister Prodi. The SUC shares your concern about the
highly volatile situation in Kosovo. We have strongly and publicly called
for all sides to accept international mediation in the form of the Gonzalez
mission. I enclose a copy of our statement this effect.

Against this dangerous background, your remarks that "we must and will be
ready to substantially turn up the pressure on Belgrade should it keep
blocking the search for a political solution, or revert to indiscriminate
force" are potentially destabilizing. They give the impression that one
side, Belgrade, is exclusively responsible for delay. As is well known, this
is not the case. The Serbian government, including a representative from the
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, has sent repeated delegations to Pristina in
vain attempts to open a dialogue. The Kosovo Albanian side has boycotted
these offers.

At the same time, as Ambassador Gelbard stated in his remarks to the Senate
Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Europe on 6 May, "the violent activities
of the Kosovo Liberation Army have heightened insecurity among Serbs."
Today, there are gruesome reports of new terrorist tortures and killings.

Unfortunately, your remarks will allow the Kosovo Albanians to calculate
that Washington is on their side against the Serbs. This will encourage them
to an ever more intransigent demands. The chance for peace will slip away.
The crucial lesson from the Bosnian tragedy is the need to avoid
oversimplification. The issues in Kosovo are extremely complex. No side has
a monopoly of virtue. Demonizing one side and favoring the other will lead
to mistaken policy and damage to U.S. interests.

I urge the Administration to adhere to a more even-handed approach.


Dr. Vojin Joksimovich
406 Hidden Hills Lane,
Escondido, CA 92029-6827
cc: Secretary of State Madeleine Albright
Jonathan Clarke
tel (202) 785-8430
fax (202) 466-4089