The Federal Government adopted a platform for the talks of Yugoslav Fore ign Minister Zivadin Jovanovic in Zagreb on Aug. 18 with his Croatian co unterpart Mate Granic.
The Yugoslav Government decided at a session on Thursday, chaired by Pri me Minister Momir Bulatovic, to set up seven new custom-houses and 31 cus toms branch offices. The new custom-houses will be located in Surcin, Pan cevo, Sabac, Vranje, Bor, Krusevac, and Pec.
This is a realization of the Federal Government option to strengthen the material, technical and staff structure of the Federal Customs Administr ation and improve trade control and prevent smuggling, in particular of a rms, cigarettes, and unsafe food and drugs.
On the occasion of the tragic bus crash in Bioca near Podgorica, the Fed eral Government expressed its condolences to the families of the killed p assengers and decided to provide aid to the families of the killed passen gers and to those injured in this accident and the one which took place n ear Novi Sad earlier this month.
The Yugoslav Government decided to send six million dinars' worth (6 din ars = 1 D-mark, 1998) of humanitarian aid to China because of the disas trous floods in its central and eastern provinces in the past two months.
OSCE Spokesman for Croatia Mark Thomson has told a press conference that the return of Serb refugees to Croatia is losing swing. Speaking about p roblems, Thomson said that the majority of housing commissions had not be en given clearly defined instructions and that authorities in some parts of the Srem-Baranja region as well as Zadar, Split and Obrovac did not s how the will to set up housing commissions. Thomson said that the intimid ation of Serbs in Baranja and eastern Slavonia continued.
UNHCR Spokesman Anrej Mahecic said that since June 26, the Croatian Refu gees Committee had received 9,840 repatriation requests from Serbs who wi sh to return to their homes. A total of 413 Serbs returned home outside o rganised actions in this period.
A U.N. civilian police spokeswoman said that Serb repatriates and those who had remained in Croatia were still the target of violence. In the pas t two weeks alone, there were 74 incidents in the territory UNTAES had co ntrolled until January 15.
Mahecic said that 70 Serbs would return to the regions of Knin, Sisak an d Karlovac on Thursday.
The Bosnian Serb news agency SRNA stopped work at about 4 p.m. on Thursd ay on the orders of the Information Ministry of the (Bosnian Serb, 1998) Republika Srpska. The SRNA editorial board announced that SRNA had stoppe d broadcasting after being told by Minister of Information Rajko Vasic ea rlier in the day that it should close down pending a session of the news Agency's Board of Governors.
To do otherwise would be considered to be the result of the influence of incompetent bodies and centres of power and that its work was under unau thorised control, which should necessitate legal action, Vasic said.
The Information Ministry decided on Wednesday to close down the only new s agency in the Republika Srpska pending the Board of Governors' session. The Government decision has been condemned by the Republika Srpska Journ alists' Association and trade union.
Vasic said the decision had been motivated by the misquoting of Republik a Srpska President Biljana Plavsic at the memorial service for the murder ed chief of public security in Serb Sarajevo Srdjan Knezevic, in order to minimise the horror of the terrorist attack.
Vasic said that another reason for the closure was SRNA's reluctance to carry important Ministry statements and its giving more space to the mayo r of (the Republika Srpska's biggest city of, 1998) Banja Luka than to th e President of the Republika Srpska.
Republika Srpska Premier Milorad Dodik said here on Thursday that the po litical and security situation in the Republika Srpska was destabilising, due to the election campaign among other things.
Dodik quoted the Republika Srpska Government, which on Thursday held a c losed-door session, as saying that the security situation in the Republik a Srpska had deteriorated following the murder of Srpsko Sarajevo Public Security Centre deputy head Srdjan Knezevic last week.
He said that the Government had supported a statement by Republika Srpsk a Interior Minister Milovan Stankovic describing Bosnian Serb member of t he Bosnia-Herzegovina Presidency Momcilo Krajisnik as the inspirer of Kne zevic's murder.
He said that Government officials would on Monday meet with political pa rty representatives in order to reach an agreement on the norms and codes of behaviour during the election campaign.
The Croatian Government has approved the opening of a Yugoslav consulate general in the eastern Croatian town of Vukovar, Zagreb media said Thurs day, quoting a statement from a closed Government session chaired by Depu ty Premier and Foreign Minister Mate Granic.
Independent Democratic Serb Party President Vojislav Stanimirovic told t oday's edition of the Zagreb daily Jutarnji List that the so-called consu lar days held in Vukovar twice monthly had been insufficient to meet the objective needs of Serbs in Baranja and Eastern Slavonija.
The Croatian Government will probably open a consulate general in the no rthern Serbian town of Subotica, on a basis of reciprocity.
Serbian police, who on Wednesday neutralised terrorists in the village o f Glodjane, northeast of Decane, had to fight for nearly every house in t he village, because ethnic Albanian terrorists had turned it into a well- defended stronghold, participants in the operation told Tanjug on Thursda y.
The village was surrounded by trenches, had a large number of bunkers, u nderground passages and other fortification facilities and the houses wer e equipped for long-term fighting.
After neutralising the terrorists, police found large quantities of arms , ammunition and grenades, communication device and medical equipment in the village.
The so-called Liberation Army of Kosovo had its regional headquarters in Glodjane, which it used to plan and carry out numerous attacks at police stations and civilians passing along the Decane-Djakovica road.
Police neutralised the two most important strongolds of the so-called li beration army of Kosovo near the left-hand side of the Decane-Djakovica r oad and expelled terrorists from the Metohija plain. The remaining routed groups are hiding in the woods or hamlets. The left-hand side of the Dec ane-Djakovica road is nearly completely safe, after inhabitants of nine l ocal villages voluntarily gave up arms the terrorists had given them. Et hnic Albanians from other villages in the Djakovica and Decani regions ar e expected to do the same, since the stronghold in Glodjane is crushed an d terrorists are in panic because the majority of their leaders and merce naries have fled to Albania.
Yugoslav Deputy Prime Minister Nikola Sainovic said late on Thursday tha t a decision by ethnic Albanians in the Yugoslav Republic of Serbia's Kos ovo- Metohija Province to name a negotiating team was a "wise move of ethn ic Albanian political parties as it is certain that the existing problem s cannot be resolved through violence but only through a constructive dia logue."
Speaking in a Serbian Radio Television (RTS, 1998) news program, Sainovi c called for an immediate resumption of talks, saying that a state delega tion had been fully prepared for this for months now.
He said that the future of Kosovo-Metohija lied in peace, equality and t olerance rather than in conflicts and isolation.
Sainovic said that solutions should be based on the principle of equalit y of all the people and also on the equality of all ethnic communities in Kosovo-Metohija.
The state makes a clear distinction between ethnic Albanians and terrori st gangs and it will do its utmost to re-affirm people's interests and pu t a stop to terrorist operation which jeopardize the lives, property and safety of all the people living in Kosovo-Metohija, said Sainovic.
The Kosovo and Metohija towns of Pec, Decani and Istok have had no power supply for four days due to a damage to a 110-kW transmission line that cannot be repaired because of repeated attacks by ethnic Albanian terrori sts on Power Industry workers, Power Industry director for Pec Radoslav Vlahovic told Tanjug on Thursday. On Wednesday, the workers tried to repa ir the transmission line at Rudnik that has been out of operation for mor e than a month but had to leave their work unfinished for security reason s.
Istok and Decani have no electricity at all, while in Pec only major fac ilities have electricity. It is still uncertain when electricity will rea ch the homes of about 300,000 people living in the three towns.
The situation in Serbia's Kosovo and Metohija (Kosmet, 1998) Province is still complex because of activities by ethnic Albanian terrorists, and t he state organs are stepping up the necessary activities, state organs c oordinator in Kosmet Andreja Milosavljevic told Radio Yugoslavia on Thurs day.
Police in Kosmet are forced to defend themselves while protecting the po pulation from provocative actions by ethnic Albanian terrorists, he said.
One of the biggest problems in the Province is that large numbers of cit izens have temporarily left their homes, said Milosavljevic. Most of them have moved to towns where it is safer, and some of them, mostly ethnic A lbanians, have gone to the woods, but there are not too many such familie s, so that it is not a major problem, he said.
A relatively small part of the population have gone to other parts of Se rbia, or to Montenegro and northern Albania.
Milosavljevic said one of the key tasks of state organs was to secure th e return of these people. "Our objective is that everyone returns to thei r homes," he said. "We have achieved good results in this, as very many e thnic Albanians are returning to their villages," he said.
He specified that this was the situation in the municipalities of Glogov ac, Orahovac and Suva Reka, as well as in the villages of Ada and Belacev ac near Pristina.
"We expect that things will also return to normal in Malisevo and its vi cinity, where there are many displaced persons because of actions by ethn ic Albanian terrorist bands," he said.
Milosavljevic also spoke about the many abducted persons in Kosmet. He s aid ethnic Albanian terrorists had abducted about 130 civilians, mostly S erbs, but also ethnic Albanians loyal to the Serb state, several Gypsies and Muslims, and one Macedonian.
These are all farmers who had been working their fields, workers abducte d from buses, forests, postmen, he said. They are civilians who have noth ing to do with the actions against the terrorists, said Milosavljevic.
"We do not know if they are alive or where they are. We are doing everyt hing possible, and yet we cannot be satified with the achieved results," he said.
Speaking about cooperation with the International Committee of the Red C ross regarding the abducted persons, he said a series of talks had been h eld with this organization, and with the UNHCR and foreign diplomats.
Representatives of these organizations always said they were working on this problem, trying to establish contact with the respective persons, bu t nothing has been done, said Milosavljevic.
Chief of Yugoslav Mission to the United Nations Vladislav Jovanovic has said that a U.N. Security Council statement following its session on the situation in Kosovo-Metohija reflects the current balance of power in the Council, which prevents a clear and unambigous condemnation of terroris m in this Serbian Province.
In an interview with the BBC, Jovanovic said that such a balance of powe r prevented a clear and unambigous condemnation of terrorism and separati sm and also covered up the essence of the problem.
He also said that due to such a balance of power, an equation mark was b eing put between state bodies and terrorists, which also covered up the f act that this situation had been caused solely by terrorist actions by ar med groups of ethnic Albanians in the Province and also by those coming f rom Albania.
According to Jovanovic, the Security Council statement was too soft in r eferring to terrorists and to Albania, although their activities were in full swing, aiming to jeopardize not only the territories of Yugoslavia a nd Serbia, but also the lives of all the people living there.
Jovanovic said the statement did not even mention Albania, the main sour ce of a series of aggressive action against Serbia and Yugoslavia. He als o said that Albania was allowing armed groups and armament unhampered acr oss the border.
On the other hand, the statement voiced some incorrect opinions, such as stressing that some kind of a Serbian police offensive was allegedly und erway in Kosovo-Metohija, while the truth is that this is only a lawful r esponse to terrorist attacks and provocations, said Jovanovic.
He said that U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, regrettably, became the victim of a media campaign whose motive was to present Yugoslavia and Ser bia in a very unfavorable light in this situation.
There is no "scorched earth policy" on the part of Yugoslavia and Serbia 2E There are no action against civilians, Serbs, ethnic Albanians or oth ers. The only activity currently underway is that against terrorist force s and their strongholds and this must not be referred to in any other way 2E Any resorting to other qualifications would, in fact, imply an impart ial, if not even biased protection of terrorists and their strongholds, J ovanovic said.
We expect the U.N. Security Council to rise to the level of the so-calle d world government, to debate and make decisions based on facts, principl es and application of an equal treatment to all cases. Unfortunately, thi s cannot be said of its treatement of Kosovo-Metohija, Serbia and Yugosla via. There are terrorist activities and separatist movements all over the world and even in our immediate vicinity, but never before has the Secur ity Council voiced its interest in these issues or tried to discuss them,
Ethnic Albanians' leader in Serbia's Kosovo-Metohija Province announced late on Thursday the composition of his five-man team for talks with nego tiators of Yugoslavia and its republic of Serbia. In the presence of U.S 2E Ambassador to Macedonia Christopher Hill and Ambassadors of the other five "Contact Group" states in Belgrade, Ibrahim Rugova named Fehmi Agan i, Edita Tahiri, Fatmir Sejdiu, Iliaz Kurteshi and Tadej Rodiqi as his ne gotiating team.
Rugova said that Vice President of the Parliamentary Party of Kosovo Baj ram Kasumi and Secretary of the ethnic Albanian Democratic Movement Mehme d Hajriz had refused to sit on the team.
Representatives of the terrorist organisation calling itself the Kosovo Liberation Army (OVK, 1998) are not on the team.
Ambassador Hill, speaking on behalf of the foreign representatives, said that they were there to give full support to the new ethnic Albanian tea m of negotiators, because the negotiators were willing to resume the peac e process. Addressing especially the ethnic Albanians in Kosovo-Metohija, Hill said that the new team had been set up to represent their interests , end the violence and create conditions for a just settlement of the Pro vince's problems.
He asked those who had refused to join Rugova's team to reserve their ju dgement and allow the negotiating process to go forward. He reiterated th at the problem could not be solved by military means and by force.
He said that experts from the United States would be helping Rugova's te am over the next few days to find the best possible solution for Kosovo-M etohija.