Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic

Letter of the Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic to the UN Security Council regarding the Province of Kosovo and Metohija.

February 6, 2003

Ladies and gentlemen:

Sincerely concerned by the development of events in Kosovo, with the wish that we jointly contribute to establishing lasting regional stability, with full respect for all rights and complete implementation of international resolutions and standards, I wish to acquaint you with some dilemmas and problems facing the democratic government in Belgrade in connection with this problem:

1) Resolution 1244 establishes that:

- international community officials assume all authority in Kosovo until a final solution is found;
- indication that the final solution will consist of "substantial autonomy" for Kosovo;
- affirmation of the sovereignty of Serbia and Montenegro throughout its territory, including Kosovo;
- definition of the return of expelled persons as a priority; and
- announcement of the return of a contingent of security forces of Serbia and Montenegro.

2) What is happening on the ground does not correspond with the Security Council plan and the consequences are threatening to destabilize Serbia and the Balkans.

International organizations (KFOR and UNMIK) are gradually transferring the authority taken from Serbia and Yugoslavia and given to them by Resolution 1244 to local structures. The ultimate result is that, at some point in time, Kosovo institutions will have the full authority of a sovereign state, lacking only international recognition. There can be no discussion here regarding any kind of autonomy but only about the condition under which independence will be ascertained. If the sovereignty of a state is expressed primarily through its security structures (army, border), then what is being implemented in kosovo.netpletely abolishes the sovereignty of Serbia and Montenegro. Military authority is being transferred to the Kosovo Protection Corps, police authority to the local police, and there is no mention at all of Serbia and Montenegro officials assuming authority for Kosovo?s borders with neighboring countries.

There is neither intention nor plan to fulfil the provision of the Resolution regarding the return of a contingent of Serbia and Montenegro security forces.

Consequently, it is impossible for expelled Serbs to return (less than 2% have done so in three and one-half years) as the Albanians do not want them in their future independent state and the Serbs themselves do not consider it safe to return to a territory which may become an independent Albanian state.

3) The consequence of this unfolding of events is, first of all, the loss of credibility of the democratic world, as well as of the democratic government in Belgrade. If things are happening on the ground which are completely contrary to the most important international documents, they strengthen those forces which claim that the international community is unprincipled and biased. This weakens the position of reform forces in Serbia, which continuously insist upon respect for international responsibilities and integration of our country into the international community.

What can be concluded about the authority of the international community if not one of its demands with respect to the rights of the state of Serbia and Montenegro has been achieved: the problem of Kosovo has not been solved by "autonomy", the expelled Serbs have not returned, the contingent of army and police has not returned, the sovereignty of Serbia and Montenegro has not been affirmed?

The justified criticism which can be heard among our citizens is that democratic Serbia is not getting better international treatment with respect to solving the Kosovo problem than it got before it became democratic.

In addition, Kosovo?s silent slipping toward independence is threatening to destabilize the entire region. The situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Macedonia may be seriously disrupted in the event of this scenario which today, unfortunately, is the only one being given a chance.

4) Therefore, it is the last opportunity for this serious prejudicing of the final solution to be stopped, for us to return to the plan of Resolution 1244 and to again define the path toward its authentic implementation.

The first condition for this is to immediately initiate serious talks regarding the inclusion of Serbia, and Serbia and Montenegro, in all important decisions relating to the future status of Kosovo, and which are now already being made. First and foremost, this applies to security issues (army and police, border control), judicial and economic order, the relations of the central government in Belgrade and the government in Pristina, the relations of Pristina toward the Serb community in Kosovo, the relations of Belgrade toward the Serb community in Kosovo, etc. It is essential to set a date for the return of a security contingent of the mother country, as foreseen by Resolution 1244, because this is a gesture by which the sincerity of the international community in judged in Serbia, and Serbia and Montenegro. In addition, this act would give psychological encouragement to the few remaining Serbs in Kosovo and, unquestionably, speed up the return of expelled Serbs. Since the existing rights of Serbs and other non-Albanian residents defined in the Provisional Constitutional Framework have not resulted in the return of the expelled nor in a greater feeling of security among the few Serbs who have not been expelled, it is obvious that those rights need to be reinforced and made more effective. Therefore, I believe it is essential for the Serbs in Kosovo be recognized as a national community realizing its rights through self-administration, integrated into the judicial-political order of Kosovo but with effective collective rights, not only individual ones. I wish to remind that such solutions have been implemented in other places where ethnic problems exist, e.g., Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, South Tyrol, and the Aaland Islands; more accurately, everywhere except in Kosovo and Metohija. The Rambouillet peace plan foresees such a solution and it is explicitly called for in Resolution 1244 in the discussion on the final status of Kosovo. I know that these proposals will be met with the criticism that the Albanian side will never agree to them. However, the question is whether the wishes of only one side may be taken into account in resolving the thorny problem of Kosovo? And what kind of consequences for the stability of the region can this have?

You will agree that only a solution which acknowledges the interests of both sides can be stable and lasting.

Respected ladies and gentlemen,

I am very concerned by what is happening in connection with Kosovo and Metohija, and even more so but what I see happening in the immediate future. All those who believe that this will pass without dramatic consequences are wrong. My basic interest, as well as the interest of the reform government in Belgrade, is to preserve the stability of the region and provide for effective protection of human rights in order to be able to successfully solve accumulated economic problems to reduce the great poverty of our population and to fulfil conditions for European integration as soon as possible. All these ambitious goals can be destroyed if a healthy compromise is not sought without delay with respect to solving the problem of Kosovo recognizing the legitimate interests of Serbia, and Serbia and Montenegro, and of the Serb national community in Kosovo and Metohija.

Because of the great importance this issue has for the entire Balkans and for the international community, I look forward to your attention and support.

Zoran Djindjic
Premier of the Republic of Serbia

(Translation by S. Lazovic, KDN)