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 You are in: Under Secretary for Political Affairs > Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs > Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs Releases > Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs Remarks > 2003 > September

Statement on Serbia and Montenegro

William D. Montgomery, U.S. Ambassador to Serbia and Montenegro
Statement to the OSCE Permanent Council
Vienna, Austria
September 25, 2003

Released by the U.S. Mission to the OSCE

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would like to thank our Ambassador to the OSCE, Ambassador Minikes, for giving me the opportunity to speak before you today. I am very happy to be here with Ambassador Massari and Ambassador Barrett. I think it highlights the close cooperation among the international community in Serbia and Montenegro.

The United States fully supports the priorities and activities of the OSCE Mission in Serbia and Montenegro. The OSCE has proved to be a valuable partner in reforming the former Yugoslav institutions and, more recently, helping to build the new state of Serbia and Montenegro.

I use the word "partner" because the relationship between the OSCE Mission and the Serbian and Montenegrin authorities has been extremely cooperative and we hope that this level of cooperation and trust will continue to our mutual benefit.

Our priorities in Serbia and Montenegro mirror many of the issues highlighted by Ambassador Massari and Ambassador Barrett. We agree that the fight against corruption is critical. Democratic institutions, such as Parliament, must operate transparently and according to the rule of law so that they are trusted by, and responsive to, the people. Recent military reforms are a significant step in the right direction and deserve our collective full support. The Broadcasting Commission, however, remains problematic, as the other speakers have pointed out.

Equally important is full cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. While progress has been made, we urge Serbia and Montenegro, and all other governments in the region, to fulfill their international obligation to comply fully with the tribunal and to actively seek, the arrest and transfer of at-large indictees, including Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic, to The Hague.

We share Ambassador Massari's concern about the upcoming Presidential elections in Serbia. We regret that the Serbian Parliament failed to pass a new law on elections that eliminates the 50 percent voter turnout requirement before the new elections were called. It will be very, very unfortunate if this leads to yet another failed presidential election.

In Southern Serbia, the OSCE has been an effective moderator for peace and stability. We condemn the recent acts of violence in the strongest terms. The United States applauds the commitment and dedication of all those who will not be dissuaded from pursuing a multiethnic, democratic society. We cannot permit the extremists to prevail. We welcome the fact that, despite some setbacks, significant progress has been made in South Serbia. In all of the major developments, from the creation of a multiethnic police force to free and fair municipal elections, the OSCE has played a critical positive role.

We also share Ambassador Massari's concern about the political climate in Montenegro. We urge the opposition to return to Parliament and to participate in the democratic process. By boycotting, the Montenegrin opposition is not serving its constituents, but rather, it's helping to further polarize the political process in Montenegro. The OSCE can and should continue to monitor the situation and support dialogue between the ruling coalition and the opposition.

In closing, Mr. Chairman, the United States would like to underline that the partnership between OSCE and Serbia and Montenegro is more important than ever before. During this difficult period of transition, we hope our partnership will continue to grow and develop. We fully support the work of the Mission and we pledge our full commitment to Serbia and Montenegro's integration into the Euro-Atlantic institutions.

Mr. Chairman, in closing, let me thank the dedicated stuff members of OSCE Mission in Serbia and Montenegro for their service and commitment

Thank you.

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