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Yugoslavia: Balkan Summit Countries Pledge To Build Common Future

Sarajevo, 30 July 1999 (RFE/RL) - Leaders of some 40 countries -- not including Yugoslavia -- today ended a summit in Sarajevo endorsing guidelines for implementing a so-called Stability Pact for the Balkans region. In a declaration, the participants expressed their strong wish that all of the countries of the Southeast European region work together in a spirit of solidarity through the Stability Pact to build a common, prosperous and secure future. They said they regretted that they were unable to invite Yugoslavia to the gathering as a full and equal partner, noting that all stability pact participants must respect the objectives of the pact, namely pluralism and democratic values combined with market-mechanism economics. They expressed hope that Yugoslavia will soon embrace the necessary changes.

The guidelines call for signatories to work toward regional agreements to overcome the causes of potential new conflicts. They also call for free and fair elections in the countries of the region and for politics based on the rule of law, respect for human rights and other freedoms.

Also envisaged are the expansion of free-market economies and trade to foster cooperation within the region and with the rest of Europe. Part of this is the establishment of free-trade areas to facilitate trade and economic expansion.

The summit stressed the need for a comprehensive struggle against organized crime, corruption and terrorism and the right of refugees to return to their homes.

Top Western leaders attending the summit included U.S. President Bill Clinton, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.

Official Serb media said today that the summit was aimed at dismembering Yugoslavia. The pro-government daily "Politika" dismissed the summit as political "blackmail" by nations that had joined in NATO's air campaign against Yugoslavia. There has been no comment from Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.

Meanwhile, Montenegro's President Milo Djukanovic asked participants at the summit not to abandon his country by helping only independent Balkan nations. Djukanovic said pro-western Montenegro -- the junior partner in the Yugoslav Federation -- has become a hostage of Milosevic's policies.