FM: YU champions regional cooperation

MIJATOVAC, Jul 4, 2000 -- (BBC/Tanjug) Yugoslavia remains a champion of important initiatives for promoting neighborliness and regional cooperation in the best interests of the region's states and nations, according to Yugoslavia's foreign minister on Monday [3rd July].

Yugoslavia has proposed setting up a free trade zone in the Balkans, eliminating customs, administrative and all other barriers in the way of free movement of goods, people, services, scientific and cultural values, Zivadin Jovanovic said.

Jovanovic was speaking at Mijatovac, near Cuprija, east-central Serbia (Yugoslavia), where he opened to traffic a new bridge on the European E-75 highway between Belgrade and Nis to replace the old bridge demolished in last year's NATO aggression on Yugoslavia. It is natural for a country such as Yugoslavia, which is the greatest economic and political power in its region, and whose geopolitical position makes it a gateway to Europe, to pursue a principled policy of openness to equal cooperation, Jovanovic said.

"Matters of Yugoslavia's state and national interests, Balkan matters cannot be regulated in any kind of exclusive groups or clubs, whomever they might comprise.

"Yugoslavia resolutely condemns and denounces all behind-the-scenes games and the policy of fait accompli played and pursued at the expense of its national and state interests," he said.

"We wish to make this clear to all, especially to those who support separatism and terrorism in (Serbia's UN-run province of) Kosovo-Metohija and who enter into partnership with those involved in organized international crime in an effort to circumvent UN Resolution 1244 and avoid responsibility for the tragic consequences of their anti-Yugoslav and anti-European policy. The question of Kosovo-Metohija can be settled only within Serbia and with a full implementation of the relevant decisions of the UN Security Council.

"No other plans or intentions have any future, just as no kind of pressure, sanctions, tricks or subversion can sway our people from their course of defending their vital interests and their dignity. We are deeply convinced that the future of the Balkans lies in integration and cooperation. This is in the best interests of the nations in our region, it is also a contribution to Europe, its peace, stability and prosperity. Vassalage, submission to domination and hegemony have never been in the interests of the Balkan nations, nor can their future be based on this," Jovanovic said.

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