CEOL - YU: Crashed UN Flight Violated Sovereignty

UNITED NATIONS, Nov 18, 1999 -- (Reuters) Yugoslavia has offered condolences on the crash of a U.N. plane in Kosovo last Friday in which all 24 people aboard were killed but said flights over the Serb province violated Yugoslav sovereignty.

Yugoslavia has repeatedly protested that various actions by the U.N. administration of Kosovo - including the opening of the airport at Pristina, the provincial capital - usurp prerogatives of the Belgrade government.

In a letter to the president of the Security Council circulated on Wednesday, Yugoslav U.N. envoy Vladislav Jovanovic conveyed "the commiseration " of his government over the crash, in which 21 staff of U.N. agencies and aid organizations and three crew were killed.

He said the cause would be established through an investigation, but added that "regrettably, flights to Kosovo...are operated in violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia," contrary to a June Security Council resolution.

This was a reference to the resolution that authorized the establishment of a U.N. administration for Kosovo and the entry of a NATO-led force, while reaffirming the commitment of all states to Yugoslavia's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The resolution followed an 11-week NATO bombing campaign against Yugoslavia that led to the withdrawal from Kosovo of Yugoslav troops who had been oppressing the province's ethnic Albanian majority.

Jovanovic said flights to Kosovo specifically disregarded "air traffic norms and regulations for the implementation of which" Yugoslavia was responsible under relevant international agreements.

Recalling that Yugoslavia, on a number of occasions, had "called for its sovereign rights to be respected in its entire air space," he said his government "requests the United Nations civil and security presence in bring their flight operations into accord with the international air traffic obligations and competencies" of Yugoslavia.

The plane, a twin turbo-prop ATR-42, crashed on its way to Pristina from Rome. The plane broke apart but there was no explanation for the crash.

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