Dimitrij Rupel Comments the Progress of the Peace Conference on Yugoslavia

Ljubljana, 13 September - Slovenia's Foreign Minister dr. Dimitrij Rupel, who is currently attending the Peace Conference on Yugoslavia in The Hague, informed Radio Slovenia in a conversation over the telephone that the Slovene delegation met with Lord Carrington this morning. This is one of a series of meetings that the conference chairman is to have with the delegations of all the republics. A plenary session was held in the afternoon, at which the achievements of the conference so far were discussed and the future course of action decided upon. When asked which republic stands to gain the most from the Peace Conference, Minister Rupel replied that such questions are premature. There is no particular scenario for the development of events, he said. The most important aim of the Slovene delegation is to defend the achievements of Slovene independence, the Republic's emancipatory acts and the steps already taken in this process, as well as to convey a precise presentation of the interests it represents. Dr. Rupel agrees with Lord Carrington's assessment that Slovenia is not the main actor in this drama. The main issue is the conflict between Croatia and Serbia, which also ties in with the problem of the protection of the rights of ethnic minorities, regarding which Slovenia has a very clear conscience. Dr. Rupel stressed that we must not set our hopes too high concerning the Conference's achievements during the first few days. No doubt, almost everybody has already asked themselves whether the Conference is capable of stopping the bloodshed and the hostilities. Dr. Rupel believed that Lord Carrington, with his prestige and as an authority on the matter, could have much to say on this topic and hoped he would make a statement to the public already today. Of course, Lord Carrington has no exclusive powers to stop the fighting, Dr. Rupel said and assessed that not even the European Community has the right levers to stop the fighting, so that the Conference should be seen more as a means of furnishing the warring parties with elbow-room to reach an agreement than as a means of actively and thoroughly influencing the course of events. With the instruments at its disposal, the Conference will ensure a kind of fair procedure by means of which peace could be established, but Dr. Rupel does not believe that it can in any way put a halt to the armed clashes or intervene in events. To the journalist's comment that there has, during the last week or so, been no evidence of any significant changes in Europe's policy and America's readiness to intervene, dr. Rupel replied that at this moment, nobody abroad would care to meddle in our extremely complex relations. This conference will clarify some of the basic issues for many in Europe, he said, adding that he received the impression that Europe is prepared to provide the necessary conditions for negotiations, but is not prepared to play the role of deliverer. That is something we will have to do ourselves and Slovenia does not pose the main problem in the matter. The question is also whether our expectations regarding European intervention are not exaggerated. This is also why dr. Rupel warned that all parties interested in the establishment of peace - these being all the inhabitants of Yugoslavia, above all the Croatians and no doubt also the Serbs - must find the right cards for this game that will lead us to success. The Croatian side is faced with a difficult task in finding such aces, but the Serbian side, also, is not invulnerable, concluded dr. Dimitrij Rupel.

© STA, 1991