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The BBC's Orla Guerin
"Moscow wants to prove it can move with the times"
 real 56k

Friday, 27 October, 2000, 18:27 GMT 19:27 UK
Yugoslavia seeks return to UN
Kostunica (left) and Putin
Kostunica was warmly welcomed by President Putin
Yugoslavia's new government has requested membership of the United Nations - a move which could bring an end to Belgrade's current twilight status within the world body.

The request came as President Vojislav Kostunica visited Moscow, where President Vladimir Putin expressed support for the new Belgrade government.

The international community is obliged to do everything to restore the country's economy

President Putin
"The secretary-general received a letter this morning from President Kostunica where he requests admission of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to the UN," UN spokesman Manoel de Almeida e Silva said.

Yugoslavia has was a founder member of the UN in 1945, but its status has been uncertain since the republics of Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Macedonia seceded from the federation in 1992.

The UN Security Council ruled that rump Yugoslavia could not inherit the old Yugoslavia's UN membership, and Belgrade must reapply to be re-admitted.

The previous Yugoslav Government, led by Slobodan Milosevic, did not re-apply, and its representative at the UN was not allowed to sit in the assembly.

Russian relations

President Kostunica and President Putin met on Friday, during the Yugoslav leader's brief first state visit to Moscow.

Slobodan Milosevic voting in September elections
Milosevic: Did not seek readmission to UN
Mr Putin said Russia had agreed to resume gas supplies to Yugoslavia, and urged other countries to help rebuild the Balkan country's shattered economy.

Russian gas supplies to Yugoslavia had been cut off earlier this year because of unpaid bills totalling more than $400m.

The two leaders also said in a joint statement that Kosovo, where most of the population is ethnic Albanian, must remain part of Yugoslavia.

Mr Kostunica's visit to Russia - his fourth foreign trip since becoming president this month - is his most sensitive so far, because of Moscow's staunch support for former President Slobodan Milosevic.

The joint statement gave no details of the energy deal, which Yugoslavia urgently needs with winter fast approaching.

President Vojislav Kostunica
President Kostunica's most sensitive visit so far

He made a point of praising Mr Kostunica for orchestrating a peaceful transition and leading Yugoslavia out of international isolation.

Making up

BBC Russian affairs analyst Stephen Dalziel says the visit is "a fine example of how pragmatism often triumphs in international diplomacy".

Mr Putin and the Russian parliament were quick to accept the result given out by Slobodan Milosevic's camp, following the Yugoslav presidential election on 24 September.

Belgrade's old regime accepted that Mr Kostunica had come first, but said he had not achieved the necessary 50% plus one vote.

Moscow has taken up Yugoslavia's cause ever since Mr Kostunica's election was confirmed, calling for the scrapping of all sanctions imposed on the country by the international community.

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See also:

20 Oct 00 | Europe
Belgrade changes worry Kosovo
19 Oct 00 | Europe
Serbia's unfinished revolution
19 Oct 00 | Europe
Yugoslavia to join security body
16 Oct 00 | Europe
Deal breaks Serbia deadlock
27 Oct 00 | Europe
Kosovo solution a long way off
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