Written Answers. - Kosovo Crisis.

Frances Fitzgerald

Question:

201 Ms Fitzgerald asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the Government's response and interventions in relation to the situation in Kosovo; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1574/99]

John Gormley

Question:

203 Mr. Gormley asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the discussions, if any, he has had with his European counterparts in relation to the escalating violence in Kosovo; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1680/99]

John Gormley

Question:

204 Mr. Gormley asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the representations, if any, his Department has made to the Serbian Government in relation to the refusal to allow access to Kosovo to the International War Crimes Tribunal Prosecutor, Ms Louise Arbour; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1681/99]

John Gormley

Question:

205 Mr. Gormley asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the discussions, if any, he has had with the UN Secretary General, Mr. Kofi Annan, in relation to the worsening situation in Kosovo; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1682/99]

I propose to answer Questions Nos. 201, 203, 204 and 205 together.

The massacre of 45 Kosovar Albanians at Racak on 15 January has been universally condemned for its barbarity and senselessness. In addition to the tragic loss of life, it has seriously raised tensions in Kosovo and further undermined the efforts of those who are trying to bring about a peaceful solution. In addition, the subsequent actions of the authorities in Belgrade, in declaring the Head of the Kosovo Verification Mission (KVM), Ambassador Walker,persona non grata and their order to expel him, as well as their refusal to grant entry to the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal in order to investigate the massacre have compounded the gravity of the situation and posed a serious challenge to the will of the international community.

The international community has reacted speedily. The United Nations Security Council unanimously condemned the massacre and called for a reversal of the decisions taken by Belgrade in relation to the expulsion order against the Head of the KVM and the refusal to grant entry to the Chief Prosecutor of the Tribunal. Similarly within the EU there were also immediate consultations, as a result of which the German Presi dency conveyed to the authorities in Belgrade our united response of shock and outrage at the Racak massacre. The Presidency further made clear our insistence that Belgrade co-operate fully with the KVM, including by withdrawing the expulsion order against Ambassador Walker, and with the International Tribunal, by allowing the Chief Prosecutor to carry out in Kosovo the necessary investigations.
The way forward for a peaceful solution in Kosovo has been clearly spelled out in several resolutions of the United Nations Security Council. Compliance by both sides with the terms and demands of these resolutions would provide a real cease-fire and an environment in which political negotiations leading to autonomy for Kosovo could take place. It would also be possible to start reconstruction and avoid the fear of new movements of refugees and displaced persons. The Security Council has also endorsed the work of the KVM and the right of the International Tribunal to investigate atrocities within the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The Secretary General of the United Nations has a special role in reporting on the status of compliance with these resolutions.
I therefore availed of the visit to Ireland last week of the United Nations Secretary General to discuss the most recent events in Kosovo and to assure him of our support in his own efforts. While in Dublin the Secretary General was endeavouring to persuade Belgrade to reverse their two decisions of the KVM and the International Tribunal. I urged upon him the need to ensure the safety of the personnal with KVM.
The latest position is that Belgrade has frozen rather than rescinded its decision in respect of Ambassador Walker, but has made no change in respect of its refusing entry to the Chief Prosecutor of the International Tribunal. This in my view is not acceptable and international pressure must be maintained on Belgrade until there is a satisfactory outcome.
I discussed these issues most recently with my EU colleagues at the General Affairs Council on Monday. I reiterated my outrage at the Racak massacre. I further called for the admission of the Chief Prosecutor as a matter of urgency. I also stressed the need for mutually reinforcing actions by the various international fora in addressing the situation in Kosovo. Ultimately any lasting solution for Kosovo must be found through negotiation. Therefore I stressed my support for the negotiating process on the basis of the proposals put forward by the international mediators, Ambassadors Hill and Petritsch, which have been endorsed by the EU and the Contact Group of six countries. If negotiations are to start, it will be necessary for the Kosovar Albanian side to display responsibility and to form a broad based and truly representative team. This is something which they have not been able to do up to the present. I hope that they will now be able to find this sense of purpose and responsibility.
In order to maintain pressure as necessary on the sides, we also decided to step up work on the strengthening of sanctions against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia on the one hand, as well as to play our part in stopping the flow of money and weapons to Kosovo armed groups, on the other.
Ireland, through its participation in the Verification Mission, will continue to contribute to the international efforts on the ground in Kosovo. We shall also continue to participate actively in deliberations at international fora of which we are members, notably the EU and the OSCE.
The massacre at Racak is a sad and tragic indication of how the already bad situation in Kosovo can rapidly deteriorate. But it also focuses attention on the urgency of action. I would hope that out of the tragedy of Racak, the parties to the conflict, aided and supported by the international community, will now find a new sense of purpose to work peacefully towards a solution.