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26.2.2002 Goran Svilanovic,
Jugoslavian Federatiivisen Tasavallan ulkoasiainministeri: New Yugoslav Foreign Policy - Priorities, Challenges and Achievements

Mr. Goran Svilanovic, Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs H.E.
New Yugoslav Foreign Policy - Priorities, Challenges and Achievements
26.2.2002

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure to me to have the opportunity to address the audience in The Paasikivi Society. For all of us, who have been thinking during the last ten years, what kind of foreign policy new Yugoslavia is supposed to conduct and how to define a new concept of our national interests and our adjustment to changes in Europe and in the world, the Finnish foreign policy after the World War II was always inspiring and interesting. The concept and realization of Finnish policy was expressed by the activities of such political leaders, like Paasikivi and Kekkonen. They found the formula to defend interests of the country which was located in the nearest neighborhood of one superpower, to have good relations with it and to develop simultaneously those social values, that Finland committed to and to protect its own independence. The circumstances are quite different today, but the Finnish policy, known as the Paasikivi -Kekkonen line, remains one of the most original contributions to the international relations in the XX century. Although the concrete solutions from the Finnish praxis hardly can be applied to the accurate situation, the approach in evaluating country's position and the adjustment of its policy to the real situation and own capabilities remains the principle that can be applied in numerous cases, and it seems to me, in our case as well.

After the elections in Yugoslavia, our foreign policy has undergone major changes. Their basic goal have been: to create external, international conditions as favorable as possible for domestic changes and reforms. Of course, in any State, foreign policy is an extension of the domestic one. In the present-day world, in conditions of democratization of political relations and technological and information revolution, the line between domestic and foreign policy becomes relative. However, it seems to me that there are not many countries in which foreign and domestic policy are so inter-dependent as in Yugoslavia.

In the end of 2000, we didn't witness only a mere replacement of the regime after elections. An entire historic period came to an end - marked by the break-up of the former State, wars, a huge number of victims and refugees, sanctions and international isolation and country's economic lagging behind. The new authorities were faced with a two major tasks:

-to eliminate the consequences of the policies of the former regime that brought
the country to this difficult position, and
-to create the foundations of a new political and economic system.

We needed to build foundations of a completely new system. Actually, some ten years ago, the former Yugoslavia was closer to the Western European integrations, than any Eastern European country. In the meantime, considerable amount of time and energy had been wasted.

The new Yugoslav foreign policy had to undertake, quickly and resolutely, the necessary steps to remove the most serious consequences of the former policy. In other words, to end the country's international isolation. The FR of Yugoslavia became a member of almost all international organizations such as the United Nations, OSCE, international financial institutions, etc. The new Government restored diplomatic relations with: the United States of America, Great Britain, Germany, France and neighboring Albania. It established for the first time diplomatic relations with two former Yugoslav republics: Slovenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. `Most importantly, Yugoslavia is committed to act as a factor of stability in the region and to avoid by all means becoming a security risk. The crisis in the Balkans is not over yet - as can be seen from the developments in Macedonia - however, the wars and conflicts are behind us, and in the future we want only to seek solutions rather than to be part of new problems.

I would like to highlight two concrete goals of our foreign policy in particular. The first one is getting closer to the European integration processes, which ultimately implies the EU membership. This is a goal that may be realized in ten years or so, with the first step being the conclusion of the Stabilization and Association Agreement with the EU. We shall have to face many political and social consequences of radical reforms. There is simply no other way, because any delays or simulation of necessary reforms would amount to disaster. Consequently, for us the EU is not only - or not even primarily - a foreign policy goal. It is a criterion and engine for political and economic changes in our country.

The other foreign policy priority includes the normalization and improvement of our relations with neighboring countries. The security of any State starts at its borders. We cannot seek EU membership and good relations with great powers unless we resolve the problems with our neighbors. The previous period left a heavy burden behind. Some of our neighbors are States that some ten years ago were in a common State with us. With them, we are already gradually resolving a series of problems that emerged during the disintegration of the former Yugoslavia. These are the problems that directly affect millions of people - the issue of citizenship, visas, inheritance, pensions, bank accounts. The most difficult of all issues is surely the return of refugees - the FRY has the greatest number of them in Europe.

In many aspects, the situation is today much better than it used to be we reached many inter-State agreements - with Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Slovenia. People travel easier than before, the contacts have been established in economic, cultural and other fields. Nevertheless, we are still in the initial stages in trying to overcome mistrust and the consequences of the past.

The normalization of relations with our neighbors has yet another very serious internal political, but moral dimension for us as well - a need to face all that had been done in the wars and conflicts on our behalf - including the committed war crimes. Although there is no collective guilt, there is a responsibility of all and everyone to face the facts. Failing' o do so, we shall not be able to build a normal country and to take our place in Europe.

All of the above are concrete and visible goals of our foreign policy. Practically, the first stage of consolidating our foreign. position is over. However, we still face a task that is perhaps not so visible or obvious but it is of crucial ' importance to us. It has to do with a need to introduce a new foreign policy concept of Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia has found itself in a situation to be in confrontation with almost entire international community because the political leaders at that time could not - or did not - understand that the "cold war" was over and that contemporary international relations were undergoing fundamental changes, turning previous adversaries into partners. The radical changes in Eastern Europe have not been a result of various scenarios and conspiracies. What happened was that the social system in these countries suffered a historical failure. The fundamental principles of a political and economic system developed in Western Europe have today been embraced in former socialist countries - parliamentary democracy, multi-party system, rule of law, market economy. East-West conflict is over. It does not imply that the relations between - for example - Western Europe and Russia are in full harmony -evidently, there are going to be some disagreements in the future as well - but these are the problems among partners, not among enemies.

The previous regime of the FRY always expected that the East-West conflict is going to escalate again and formulated its strategy accordingly. Our new foreign policy proceeds from the opposite position - the relations in Europe have fundamentally changed and Yugoslavia tries to adjust to these changes as soon as possible.

International geo-strategic position of our country is today substantially different than that of the former Yugoslavia. The present-day Yugoslav State is considerably smaller both in terms of its territory and population. Moreover, Yugoslavia is no longer balancing on the dividing line between two military and political alliances.

Our present-day State has been burdened with grave internal difficulties and crippling economic situation and has less international relevance compared to the former Yugoslavia. This is a reality that has to be recognized by our political elite and citizens alike. Such country has to pursue a highly cautious and rational foreign policy, taking into account its true capabilities and potentials, without great aspirations, realistic in setting goals, clear in setting priorities. What we are dealing with is not merely revising the foreign policy situation we inherited but redefining entirely new approach, which is surely a very serious and long-term process.

The resolution of our foreign policy problems is being complicated by the fact that we are at the same time faced with very grave problems related to our internal development. First of all, the issue of the federal set-up of our country is still open. I am convinced that there are ways and means to preserve the common State. Evidently, Serbia and Montenegro will join the EU faster as a federal State than on an individual basis. It is necessary to reach a compromise and the Federal Government is ready to do so. We do not dispute the need for a substantial self-rule for Montenegro. Moreover, we think that it is still possible that such self-rule be incorporated in a broad common framework that would not harm but would promote the interests of both Serbia and Montenegro. In any case, a decision has to be made soon and it has to be clear. In doing so, the will of the citizens of Montenegro will have to be respected.

Our other serious problem is the situation in Kosovo and Metohija. We cannot possibly be satisfied with the position of non-Albanian population in the Province. UN Security Council resolution 1244 (1999) is not being implemented successfully enough. Nevertheless, we made huge efforts to encourage the Serb population from Kosovo and Metohija to take part in recently held elections. We know fully well that the situation we inherited is very difficult and may be improved with patience and gradually, by avoiding hasty decisions and passionate reactions. In that respect, Belgrade will continue to cooperate actively with the representatives of the international community, with UNMIK and KFOR. The participation of Serb and Montenegrin elected representatives in provincial self- government bodies will contribute to the creation of basic conditions for building multi- ethnic civil institutions. It will be a very long and complex process and its gradual progress should contribute to the resolution of the status of Kosovo and Metohija, and to the form and content of substantial autonomy of this Province within Serbia and Yugoslavia.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

On the basis of its own experience, and particularly in view of the events of 11 September 2001 in the USA, the FR of Yugoslavia shares the opinion and assessment that the present?day world is faced with more realistic threats than the threat of a nuclear war during the time of bloc divisions. The irreversible processes of globalization and integration are `coupled with new dangers that, paradoxically, have been helped by the present?day scientific, economic and technological development. One of such dangers is surely international terrorism. Yugoslavia fully supports the measures undertaken against it by the USA and other countries, as well as the efforts made in that connection within the United Nations, OSCE and other international organizations. We stand ready to extend our concrete support to such actions, to the extent we can. At the same time, we would like to warn of instances of terrorism in our region as well as of other forms of internationalized threat to the present-day world - crime, trafficking in human beings, drugs, uncontrolled proliferation of arms, etc. Political and economic stabilization of the Balkans will contribute to the containment of these activities. That is why we especially support regional cooperation.

In the year that just has started immediate tasks that we hopefully will achieve include:
-joining the Council of Europe - which will represent a special encouragement to
the profound internal changes,
-the membership in the "Partnership for Peace" -
as a first step to getting closer to Euro?Atlantic security structures.

Of course, the major issue of our foreign policy in the forthcoming period will remain to be our internal political and economic stabilization and consolidation, which is the main precondition for the realization of foreign policy goals. The cost of transition will certainly be huge but it will be even bigger if we delay it. It will be' extremely important that the democratic forces stay on the course of their common policy until the foundations of a new system are set in place and the reforms are made irreversible. The question of cooperation with the Hague tribunal will remain politically very sensitive in Serbia and Yugoslavia. However, the only realistic solution for us is full cooperation with the Tribunal, including extradition of indicted persons - not just because it is a precondition short of which our economic and social recovery will not be possible, but also because we have to face truth and the facts related to our past. Without that, there will be no political or moral recovery and our country will not be able to get its proper place in today's Europe.

Over the past year, Yugoslavia received very important political and economic support from many countries, without which the resolution of our problems would not be possible. In addition to leading political and economic powers and the European Union, we received great assistance from other European countries, especially from Nordic states. Our biggest contribution to the regional and European stability will be primarily the normalization and consolidation of the situation in the country and the resolution of internal problems. This is the best way to demonstrate to all those that helped us that they were right in doing so.