It's all over for Yugoslavia, declares Kostunica

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The Independent Online

Vojislav Kostunica, the new Yugoslav president, was welcomed into the heart of the EU yesterday, and used his position on the international stage to announce plans to change his country's name, writes Stephen Castle.

Vojislav Kostunica, the new Yugoslav president, was welcomed into the heart of the EU yesterday, and used his position on the international stage to announce plans to change his country's name, writes Stephen Castle.

Given an emotional welcome at a summit in Biarritz, Mr Kostunica showed no sign of being over-awed, claiming his country's place "as part of the democratic family of Europe" and promising that the new Serbia will be a "guarantor of peace" in the Balkans.

"The name Yugoslavia is not appropriate for the country we are living in," he said, suggesting instead the Federation of Serbia and Montenegro, and proposing a referendum in both territories to decide the issue.

The offer was not extended to Kosovo, although Mr Kostunica recognised the province's status under the UN. He even kept open the option of co-operation with the war crime tribunal in the Hague, although this "cannot be the number one priority" for a devastated country.

Mr Kostunica came across as confident of his ability to consolidate power, arguing that the "position of Milosevic and his entourage has never been so weak".

EU leaders approved an emergency aid package for winter fuel and reconstruction of hospitals and bridges. Mr Kostunica confessed that the country was so run-down that it was difficult to identify the priorities for aid.

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