WED, 04 JAN 1995 18:55:26 GMT
Apropos the regulation on asylum seekers of the Government of the FRY
Summary: Not long ago, the Government of the FRY issued Instructions on entering the newly-established Yugoslavia which introduces ruthless discrimination against its own citizens. Many believe that this is a measure which continues ethnic cleansing, and even makes it legal. Who cannot enter the FRY - those who have sought asylum in the countries they are staying in; persons with passports of some of the seceded republics of former Yugoslavia; persons with the former Yugoslav passport, but whose residence is outside the territory of the FRY; and persons with Croatian or Bosnian passports. The regulation is primarily aimed against Kosovo Albanians as an attempt to prevent their mass return into the country, against Sandzak Muslims and Vojvodina Hungarians, but against citizens of Serbian or Montenegrin nationality, as well, whose return could cause a change in the electorate.
Although the Federal Government issued "Special Instructions on the Possibility of Entering Yugoslavia" in the midst of last month, introducing in this way extremely ruthless discrimination against its own citizens and violating fundamental human rights, so far there were no reactions of the democratically oriented public.
The Government which did not bother to turn its head, least of all to become concerned, when its citizens headlong fled the country, with this decree which is comparable to the one from the days of the yellow ribbons, obviously wishes to prevent the return of these very citizens. Based on that, some tend to conclude that this is a continuation of ethnic cleansing, in other words its legalization.
According to these instructions "Persons who were in proceedings of seeking asylum in countries where they are staying; those who possess the passport with serial numbers of seceded republics of former SFRY; holders of Yugoslav passports (persons of Muslim and Croatian nationality) whose residences entered into the passports are outside the territory of the FRY; holders of Croatian passports and persons who have Muslim, i.e. passports of the so-called Bosnia & Herzegovina, shall not be allowed to enter the FRY".
Rade Ratkovic, member of the Presidency of the Montenegrin Helsinki Committee, comments on this: "While all the serious countries of the world take care of their citizens wherever they are, these instructions are actually a drastic violation of human rights, because this is discrimination against citizens by their own country. Western countries are trying to return the refugees to their homes, but this regime shows, like so many times before, that it does not wish to correspond with the world, but introduces sanctions against its own citizens. This is clearly a case of illegal and immoral limitations of rights of a large number of citizens".
The Federal Government has issued these instructions, as its representatives say, in order to "prevent mass entrance of false asylum seekers into the country". The Government is, namely, concerned about the fact that the countries of Western Europe where, according to its knowledge, "over 200 thousand of false asylum seekers are staying, out of which 95 per cent are Albanians", are now trying to return these citizens of Serbia and Montenegro to their homes.
Mehmed Hajrizi, member of the Presidency of the Democratic Alliance of Kosovo, says that they have learnt about this decision of the Government which prevents the return of the refugees from the press, and adds: "it seems at first sight that these bans and recommendations are administrative in nature, but essentially they are of a profound political nature and a function of ethnic cleansing of Kosovo. It is a well known fact that many Albanians have fled from Kosovo due to everyday police repression and torture, in order to avoid going to war, due to unemployment, etc. Now these people are forbidden to return to their homes, while on the other side, colonization of Kosovo by several hundred Serbs is proclaimed, who are mostly refugees from the space of former Yugoslavia. Therefore, it is quite clear that this decision of the Government is aimed at changing the ethnic composition of the population in Kosovo".
While the Federal Government operates with the datum of about 200 thousand Albanians from Serbia and Montenegro who have sought asylum abroad, the Albanian "alternative" claims that the figure is considerably larger. In one of the past volumes of "Monitor", Redzep Qosja, member of the Academy of Sciences and Arts, stressed that only under Milosevic's rule, over 600 thousand Albanians emigrated from Kosovo. Should this be correct, the question here is - are the Serbian authorities, this time through the Federal Government, trying to conceal the true number of emigrated Albanians?
"It is evident that such restrictive regulations about the return, as the Government says, of false asylum seekers, affects Kosovo Albanians and Sandzak Muslims the most, and even Vojvodina Hungarians", Rasim Ljajic, Secretary General of the Party of Democratic Action from Sandzak, says, and then adds: "In the past two and a half years, we believe, about 70 thousand people temporarily emigrated, and a part of them asked for temporary residence permits, the so-called 'duldung". The provision of this decision that citizens of the FRY (Muslims and Croats) who are citizens of the FRY and have Yugoslav passports, but addresses in them which are outside its territory, also certifies that the intention of the government is to change the demographic composition.
As concerning Sandzak, most of these people are in the region near the border of Bosnia. The decision of the Government is, therefore, primarily motivated by 'political' (demographic) reasons, and the intention of individual municipal authorities in Sandzak is to begin construction of apartment buildings exclussively for, as they state, personnel of Serbian nationality."
Andras Agoston, President of the Democratic Community of Vojvodina Hungarians, assesses that between 35 and 40 thousand Hungarians have emigrated from Vojvodina. "We are searching for this regulation for days now, but cannot find it. This is, obviously, an internal regulation. All we know about it is what we have read in the papers. We are expecting specific examples of its implementation, that is, people who will contact us, and then we will start specific action", Agoston says.
Although the authorities wish to present the special instructions issued by the Federal Government as an intention not to allow the return of asylum seekers - the Albanians, the decision is general, so one can conclude that it will not be implemented only against those who have no Serbian blood in their veins, but against those who are ideologically unapt too. For instance, the most prominent Montenegrin asylum seeker, the author Jevrem Brkovic, was granted asylum by Croatia. Should these instructions of the Government be strictly obeyed, he too, will be among those who will not be allowed to return to Montenegro, at least not until this regime is in power!
According to what Natasa Kandic, Director of the Fund of Humanitarian Law from Belgrade, says, these instructions of the Government are a case of violation of Constitutional provisions. She says that she has information that passports are being checked at Belgrade Airport, right after the passengers leave the plane.
"According to the behavior in practice, this shows that it is not just an isolated action, but a drastic change for the worse and a new course and attitude towards those who are returning. Instructions are an illegal means, and therefore, when a Government issues instructions and not laws, it has chosen illegal means" - Natasa Kandic concludes.
But, those who hold power in Serbia and Montenegro, seem to be concerned about the human rights of the asylum seekers, after all. The Federal Government thus, entrusted the Federal Ministry of the Exterior with the task "to inform the High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva and other competent international organizations about the attempts of mass return of false asylum seekers in order to instigate action to prevent forced deportation and violation of human rights of these people".
The principled Government, however, did not address the international organizations to take action against prevention of fundamental human right of each and every man - to be able to live in his country. Nevertheless, Milorad Ivanovic, Head of Consular Affairs Directorate of the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, stated that "the FRY does not wish to avoid its constitutional obligation to accept all its citizens". He also stressed that "the Yugoslav party was not capable of receiving, besides the 500 thousand refugees from parts of former Yugoslavia, an additional 200 thousand of false asylum seekers".
Mr. Ivanovic made it clear that the Yugosav party was negotiating with Switzerland and Sweden, and that it planned to talk with Germany as well, "expecting to get from them more details about the identity of persons who are coming and their property in Yugoslavia". In order to prevent the West from thinking that, God forbid, the "false asylum seekers" would be deprived of their property in their homeland, Ivanovic said that they wished to talk about the dynamics of arrival of "returnees" into the country. He, naturally, expected financial aid from the mentioned countries for it.
The return of an enormous number of asylum seekers into the country would doubtlessly change the present demographic composition of the population, especially in Kosovo, and return of emigrated Serbs, Montenegrins, Muslims, Hungarians and others, would change (significantly) the electorate in Serbia and Montenegro, because it would be only logical to assume that people who have left because of these authorities, would not vote for it. And a serious regime such as this one, would not forget such a large "trifle".
In making the choice between enormous financial expenses paid for Yugoslav asylum seekers (their accomodation, social aid, health services, and even employment) and there forced return home, the countries of the West have chosen the latter possibility; although they are, by doing it, questioning their own assessments that human rights are being violated in Serbia and Montenegro.
They can certainly find an excuse for their decision in the fact that they do not wish to be accomplices in ethnic cleansing carried out by Belgrade. But, it seems that they too are forgetting their principles for the sake of money.
Implementation of the "Special Instructions for Possibilities of Entering the FRY" began. That is why the statement made by Mr. Ivanovic is probably aimed at alleviating the reactions of foreign public.
Or, it might be interpreted as a message to the West that, should Belgrade be forced to change its decision, that same West will have to pay an extremely high price for it. SEKI RADONCIC
Seki Randoncic (AIM Podgorica)