REPORT OF THE SECRETARY GENERAL
“THE SITUATION IN KOSOVO”
TO THE TWENTY-SIXTH SESSION OF THE ISLAMIC CONFERENCE OF FOREIGN MINISTERS
OUAGADOUGOU – BURKINA FASO, 28 JUNE – 1 JULY 1999
The item was incorporated in the agenda of the OIC Eight Summit held in Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran on December 1997.
2. Kosova comprising an area of 30,000 sq.km. with a population of about 2.1 million is situated within the territory of Serbia-Montenegro along the border with Albania. About 90 per cent of the population of Kosova consist of Albanian Muslims.
3. The Serbian authorities are engaged in settling Serbian refugees from the Krajina region of Croatia in Kosova. More than sixty thousand Serb Police and Army officers have been sent to Kosova to oversee a state of martial law in the area, which intensifies the conflict in the Balkan area.
4. The local Albanian population has steadfastly pursued a policy of peaceful resistance to Serbian rule forming an unofficial government in 1991 and boycotting Serbian institutions. This has fuelled ethnic tensions considerably. The resort to increasingly repressive measures by the Serbian authorities has caused thousands of Albanians to gradually flee Kosova.
5. Serb nationalists have been urging President Milosevic to colonize the Province of Kosova and create an ethnic Serb counterweight to the 1.8 million Albanians who form the overwhelming majority there. In 1989, President Milosevic abrogated the former Constitution of Yugoslavia and transformed Kosova, which previously enjoyed the status of an autonomous Province into a simple region of Serbia.
6. The Balkan countries have warned the Serbian Government against colonizing Kosova. They also expressed the fear that the situation in Kosova could create conditions for an extension of the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina’s south-wards. The Serb refugees in Kosova are part of an old Serbian plan for Greater Serbia and the specific aim is to change the ethnic composition in the area.
7. The Eighth Islamic Summit Conference ( Session of Dignity, Dialogue, Participation), held in Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, in December 1997, in resolution 18 / 8 –P ( IS ) strongly condemned the large-scale repression, measures of discrimination and violations of human rights against the defenseless Albanian population committed by authorities of Federal Republic of Yugoslavia ( Serbia and Montenegro), aimed at forcing Albanians to leave their land. They called on the international community to take necessary measures to bring to an immediate end all human rights violations against Albanians in Kosova, and revoke all discriminatory legislation, in particular that which has entered into force since 1989.
8. The Twenty-fifth Session of the Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers (Session for a better future for the Peoples of the Islamic Ummah), held in Doha, State of Qatar in March 1998, in resolution 19 / 25 – P , reaffirmed its firm rejection of the haphazard use of armed forces against civilians in Kosova and called for an immediate halt to such actions and immediate withdrawal from the civilian areas. They called for the setting up of genuinely democratic institutions in Kosova, including the creation of a Parliament, government and judiciary body as the best means of protecting the human, political and national rights of Muslims of various ethnic origins in Kosova and preventing the escalation of conflict in addition to reopening all the educational, cultural and scientific institutions releasing all political prisoners in Kosova and opening an internationally brokered dialogue with Muslims of all ethnic origins in Kosova.
9. The Secretary General went to Sarajevo on an official visit in June 1998, at the invitation of H.E. President Alija Izetbegovic. During his visit the Secretary General, issued a Press Statement on Kosova and called on the International Community to take immediate action to prevent escalation of tension in Kosova. In this regard, the Secretary General stated that the OIC was following the serious situation in Kosova, with deep concern and that the international community should draw lessons from the genocide perpetrated against Muslims in Bosnia, and take immediate action to prevent the recurrence of another disaster in this sensitive region of the world. The Secretary General indicated that the OIC would support any action taken by the international community in this respect.
10. The Coordination Meeting of Foreign Ministers of the OIC Member States held in New York on 1 October 1998, issued a declaration on Kosova and expressed its full solidarity with the inhabitants of the Kosova province. The meeting strongly condemned the policy of ethnic cleansing pursued by the Serbian Government against the inhabitants of the province. It decided to mandate the OIC Contact Group on Bosnia and Herzegovina to also follow up the situation in Kosova.
11. The Islamic Group at the United Nations issued a statement on Kosova on 26 January 1999, and expressed deep shock and anger over the Racak massacre, which was reminiscent of the widespread crimes of genocide and ethnic cleansing witnessed in Bosnia and Herzegovina , and strongly condemned the massacre of innocent civilians and ongoing Serbian policy of ethnic cleansing in Kosova. The Islamic Group expressed its full solidarity with the people of Kosova.
12. The Charge d’affairs of the Permanent Mission of the State of Qatar to the United Nations, New York, Chairman of the Islamic Group addressed two letters to the President of the Security Council and the United Nations Secretary General on the situation in Kosova.
13. The Organization of the Islamic Conferences has followed the peace negotiations on Kosovo which were held in Rambouillet (France) in February and March 1999, and expressed support for the peace project proposed by the Summit calling for the self-autonomy of the province of Kosovo.
14. The OIC Secretary General strongly condemned the ethnic cleansing campaigns and the policy of emptying the province of Kosovo of its original citizens which the Serb regime has resorted to after the collapse of the Rambouillet talks due to its own intransigence and rejection of peaceful solutions.
15. The Secretary General has carried out deligent contacts and consultations with the OIC Chairmanship with a view to evolving a united Islamic stand in support of the brother Muslims in Kosovo. These consultations led to the invitation to a Ministerial level Meeting of the Contact Group on Kosovo.
16. The Secretary General submitted an exhaustive report to the Contact Group’s Ministerial level Meeting held in Geneva on 7 April 1999 including proposal for a working agenda in the humanitarian and political fields.
17. The Contact Group’s Ministerial level Meeting issued a declaration it reiterating the Kosovo people’s right to political self-determination and condemned ethnic cleansing policy led by the Serb. It called for the withdrawal of the Serb forces from the province and for the signing of the Rambouillet agreement. The meeting also expressed its regret over the Security Council’s failure to fulfill its role in the preservation of peace and security in the Balkans.
18. The Ministerial Meeting decided to set up a Committee comprised of the representatives of the Member States of Contact Group in Geneva to coordinate the humanitarian assistance extended by the OIC Member States to the Kosovo refugees, and liaise with international humanitarian organizations active in this field. The meeting urged all Member States to extend generous assistance to their brethren in Kosovo.
19. The meeting decided to liaise with all the parties concerned with the achievement of a lasting and equitable peace, and to set up a high-level committee to follow up these contacts.
20. The Secretary General affirms that the General Secretariat will give particular attention to the situation in Kosovo and nobilize all its efforts and the Member States’ potential in support of the people of Kosovo until the achievement of peace and their voluntary return to their homeland.
21. The Secretary General submits the present report to the Twenty-sixth Session of the Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers for consideration and appropriate decision.