The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the Republic of Serbia have been defined in their Constitutions as states of equal citizens. The rights of the members of national minorities in the FRY have been guaranteed and are in accordance with the international documents in the field, such as: the Framework Convention of the Council of Europe on the protection of national minorities which has been accepted and honoured by the governments of Serbia and of the FRY.

The problem of Kosovo and Metohija arises from the fact that many of these rights are not exercised as well as from the fact that the obligations of the members of the national minorities under Articles 20 and 21 of the Council of Europe Convention implying loyalty of these members to the state in which they live, have not been complied with.

The reason for such a behaviour of part of the members of the Albanian national minority are to be looked in the fear caused by threats and blackmail by the leaders of separatism and terrorism. This has been proved beyond any doubt by the fact that more than a half of the terrorist victims in Kosovo and Metohija were the members of the Albanian ethnic community. Their only "sin" was that they had been loyal to Serbia as their own state.

The governments of the FRY and the Republic of Serbia cannot be responsible for the non-exercise of the rights guaranteed by the Constitution and laws.

The separatist leadership has publicly proclaimed secession of Kosovo as its goal. They have thus ignored the positions of all major international factors that separatism cannot enjoy support, that the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Serbia and of the FRY must be respected. That leadership rejects dialogue for finding a solution to the specific problems within Serbia - they stand by the position "all or nothing"! While the region of the former Yugoslavia is stabilizing owing to an enormous contribution made also by the FRY and as the implementation of the Dayton/Paris Agreement moves forward, the separatist leadership aided by some foreign circles is doing all it can to create an atmosphere of tension and instability. It is on this basis that demands are made to put pressure on the FRY and to internationalize the issue. In these circumstances a certain number of extremist leaders have elected terrorism as a means achieving their aims while the others have not disassociated themselves in that respect.

In peace and harmony: In its policy the government of Serbia makes a clear distinction between the overwhelming majority of the members of the Albanian ethnic community who live and work normally and who want to exercise their legitimate rights in peace and harmony with the other citizens of Serbia and Yugoslavia, on the one hand, and the separatist leaders giving false hopes and deceiving but actually offering backwardness, uncertainty and poverty, on the other.

Terrorism: In the period from 1991 to 5 March 1998, 200 terrorist attacks have been launched (in 1996 - 31 attacks, in 1997 - 55 attacks and in 1998 -86 attacks). In the period since 1994, Albanian terrorists have attacked members of the Albanian ethnic community. In 1996 they killed four police officers, in 1997 one, and in 1998 five police officers. Also, in 1996 six civilians were killed, in 1997 - ten, and in 1998 eight of them.

On 28 February 1998, four police officers were ambushed and killed; in the defensive operation, 16 terrorists were shot to death and 9 of them were imprisoned and taken into custody.

On 5 March 1998, in the village of Donje Prekaze, a terrorist base was taken out along with 25 terrorists including their leader Adem Ja{ari. Before launching its attack on the terrorist base, the police called them to surrender and asked all the civilians, women and children to leave the base. The call was heeded by some 30 members of the Albanian ethnic community.

It is clear that terrorism and terrorists have no common interests with the other members of the Albanian ethnic community and that they are doing an enormous damage to that community causing its suffering and direct human losses.

Demonstrations: On 2 March, the demonstrations held in Priština were not peaceful as can be seen from the TV footage of the event (stone throwing, window smashing); they were not notified according to the law (probably because of the boycott of the state institutions or precisely to provoke police response). And more importantly, those were the demonstrations in defence of terrorism and separatism. Whether the police have acted in all aspects as they should have, it is a matter for the competent authorities in Serbia to determine and not for someone else from the outside. Who decides in other countries how many horses, dogs, water cannon, tear gas and other means of riot control should be used against protestors?

Dialogue: The government of Serbia has always been and remains open to all specific issues related to the position and exercise of the rights of ethnic minorities in Kosovo and Metohija and in the Republic as a whole to be solved through dialogue and within Serbia. A lot of effort has been made in seeking generally acceptable solutions for the implementation of the 1996 Agreement on the normalization of education. After the Agreement was signed, it took Rugova six months to appoint his three representatives in the 3+3 group.

Primary education as a whole and over 90% of secondary education in the Albanian language function normally. As far as the government of the Republic of Serbia is concerned, there exist no obstacles to full normalization even of university education. Its attitude to this problem is a positive one. (About 1,200 ethnic Albanians are studying even now at the University in Priština.)

Local government: A new law on local government has been drafted. It contains many new solutions including a bicameral assembly in Kosovo and Metohija to prevent overruling of any part of the population and to guarantee equality in decision-making on many issues of importance for the development and improvement of the quality of life of all citizens regardless of their ethnic origin. It is a fact that a large number of ethnic Albanians do not object to their status within Serbia and Yugoslavia irrespective of whether they live in Kosovo and Metohija or in other places (e.g. some 80,000 members of the Albanian ethnic community normally live and work in Belgrade).

The right to their ethnic identity, language, culture and tradition has been guaranteed to all members of national minorities including the Albanian national minority in Kosovo and Metohija.

In Kosovo and Metohija and in Serbia as a whole, as well as in Yugoslavia, the citizens are guaranteed full equality in economic activity, both in the private and the public sector, the right of ownership, equal opportunities in employment, equal rights in health, education, culture, religion and equal access to the media.

Media: The right to receive and impart information in the languages of the national minorities including the Albanian national minority, is guaranteed under the Constitution and the laws. Fifty-two daily newspapers and weeklies as well as other periodicals in the Albanian language are published in Kosovo and Metohija. They have a circulation of over 2.5 million, which is much wider circulation than in all of Albania.

Members of national minorities are also guaranteed the right to free primary education in their own language, ethnic Albanians included.

Misconceptions: It transpires from the foregoing that the conceptions created and disseminated by certain media and lobbies that Kosovo and Metohija is about alleged violation of the human rights of ethnic Albanians, are absolutely without any foundation. They have only one goal - to encourage and achieve secession. Individual injudicious pronouncements in the well-known anti-Serb and anti-Yugoslav style are yet another illustration of a long-term involvement in support of separatism and terrorism in Kosovo and Metohija and of continued activities aimed at undermining the territorial integrity of Serbia and the FRY.

Drug mafia: Fabrication of false news, coupled with separatism and terrorism in Kosovo and Metohija, have been bankrolled by the Albanian drug barons. Certain politicians, lobbies, PR firms, and the media are not loathe to receiving the money earned by ruining the health of young people in Europe, the United States and Canada.

Current situation: Police are doing their regular duty of maintaining law and order. It is absolutely untrue that police have taken revenge, mistreated and killed civilians, raped women and the like. All these are falsehoods. They have always acted in defense of the law while respecting the rules of conduct for law enforcement officials.

The situation in Kosovo and Metohija is calm and under control. All economic, social and other activities including transport, operate normally. There are no military movements out of the ordinary nor any call-up. The task of the army is to protect the security of borders, as everywhere in the world.

There is no threat of destabilization. Police action was confined to the locality of Drenica which the terrorists tried to turn into a base under their control. That is now taken care of. The location was visited on 8 March by the diplomatic representatives of more than 40 countries and by a large group of foreign journalists. Clearly, there exists a possibility of isolated terrorist attacks.

Foreign ambassadors and heads of diplomatic missions, as well as foreign journalists, could see for themselves on their tour of the province that there were no scenes or any signs of activity that would differ from normal life and work. In the village of Donje Prekaze itself in police operations only a few houses were damaged and only those where the headquarters of terrorist leaders and, terrorists were housed. In particular, it was visible that surrounding houses and the other houses bore no scars, testifying to the fact that police carried out the attack against terrorists only.

The police action was only targeted at terrorists. The peace and public order have been maintained and the security of all citizens has increased.

The FRY and Serbia accept all provisions of the Framework Convention for the protection of national minorities, including the provision that minority rights are also subject to international cooperation.

However, the FRY is against attempts to internationalize the problem of Kosovo and Metohija and to impose solutions contrary to the constitutional arrangements and international standards. This represents interference in the internal affairs of Serbia and is therefore unacceptable. Application of double standards in relation to terrorism is inadmissible, if terrorism is to be fought effectively as a universal scourge. Attempts at equating terrorist attacks with defense against the attacks of terrorists, that is, legitimate police action to suppress these activities, to protect citizens against terror, that is to keep law and order, bring in confusion and support for terrorism that is impermissible and dangerous. To accept or minimize the danger of terrorism in Kosovo and Metohija by alleged police violence is leading nowhere.

Equating terrorism with legitimate police action to suppress it deliberately sows confusion and covers up support for terrorism and separatism.

What the FRY expects of other countries:

- Strong and unambiguous condemnation of terrorism;

- Pressure on the leaders of some members of the Albanian ethnic community to condemn terrorism in unambiguous terms and to abandon the publicly declared program of secession;

- Support to the principled position that all specific problems concerning the enjoyment of minority rights must be resolved through dialogue with Serbia and in accordance with international standards, i.e. the Council of Europe Framework Convention for the protection of minorities which the government of Serbia fully accepts and respects;

- Yes to cooperation on the exercise of minority rights but no to the imposition of solutions from outside and interference in the sovereign affairs of Serbia and the FRY;

- Rejection of the method of disinformation, artificial heightening of tension, application of double standards, attempts at internationalization and imposition of outside solutions;

- Support to the FRY as a constructive factor of the peace process, stability and development in the region, normalizing its status in international political, economic and financial organizations and institutions.

Federal Republic of Yugoslavia

Belgrade, March 9, 1998                                    Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs