United Nations, 15 September 2000 (RFE/RL) - Russia has joined the leading western powers in urging Yugoslavia to respect democratic norms in its upcoming presidential and legislative elections. The call came at a meeting of foreign ministers of the six-nation Balkan contact group yesterday in New York. It was the first meeting of the group (which also includes the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, and Italy) since February 1999, before NATO's air war against Yugoslavia over the Kosovo crisis. Russia strongly opposed NATO's action in that conflict.
The ministers said in a joint statement that they would evaluate the September 24 Yugoslav polls on the basis of internationally recognized standards. The Yugoslav government has rejected allowing international monitors from Western countries to observe the elections.
In Kosovo yesterday, supporters of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's re-election bid hurled stones and other objects at his strongest rival in the election. Opposition candidate Vojislav Kostunica said he had been hit in the face and leg.