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Friday, 20 October, 2000, 21:36 GMT 22:36 UK
Row over Kostunica's Bosnia visit
Petritsch and Kostunica
Kostunica should go to Sarajevo, says Petritsch (right)
By Paul Wood in Belgrade

The new Yugoslav President, Vojislav Kostunica, has sparked a political row by arranging a visit to the Bosnian Serb republic.

He will go the south-western town of Trebinje to attend the burial of the remains of the Serb nationalist poet, Jovan Ducic, who died in exile in the United States in 1943.

President Kostunica has moved to try to calm the diplomatic row over his upcoming visit by calling it a private trip.

But he's facing new allegations of breaching protocol - and at a very sensitive time when Bosnia prepares for presidential and parliamentary elections.

Objections

The Bosnian Foreign Ministry in Sarajevo has already registered its objections to the visit.


I have no intentions of making a political demonstration out of a religious and cultural event

President Kostunica
Now they have been joined by the international community's top official in Bosnia, Wolfgang Petritsch, who says Mr Kostunica should be going instead to the capital, Sarajevo.

He urged the Yugoslav president to remember there was an election campaign and not to give the impression of siding with any one candidate.

Mr Kostunica had earlier tried to mollify the Bosnians by writing to the foreign minister: "I have no intentions of making a political demonstration out of a religious and cultural event."

Bosnia and Yugoslavia don't yet have diplomatic relations and in perhaps the most important part of the letter, President Kostunica said he was looking forward to establishing such formal links.

He also said that although many issues remained outstanding after the end of the war in 1995, these would be resolved completely in accordance with the Dayton agreements.

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See also:

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New judges sworn in in Kosovo
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