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Transcript of news conference, Coburg North Primary School, Melbourne

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JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, is there any initiative Australia can take over the situation in Yugoslavia?

PM: What I ’ve done today is to send a letter to the Secretary-General of the United Nations pointing out that despite the best efforts of the Europeans I think that the United Nations is going to have to consider how it can take some role in what is an escalating tragedy. I make the point that while it is true historically that the United Nations hasn't intruded itself in what has been regarded as the internal affairs of a member State, I point out that here we have a position where Yugoslavia in effect has ceased to exist. It's certainly not operating according to its Constitution. And secondly, we have a situation where the internal conflict there in what was the State of Yugoslavia is threatening, in a sense, the peace and security of its neighbouring States. I think those facts are relevant to take into account on the part of the Security Council and the United Nations generally. It will have to think very carefully about it. It'll have to formulate precisely what objectives it wants to set itself and how it will equip itself to deal with them. But I think that increasingly now there are indications around the world that what I've been saying for some time that the United Nations would have to move in is becoming more apparent. So

I ’ve asked the Secretary-General of the United Nations to consider just how that can be done.

JOURNALIST: What are the mechanics of the situation from here on? What happens now?

PM: What we're doing is to canvas the issues at the headquarters of the United Nations in New York. We've instructed our Ambassador to keep on doing that. I've also had instructions issued to our people in the capitals of the permanent five members of the Security Council to give them

a clear view of what we think ought to happen. That is that the United Nations should become seized of it. I had a long talk this morning with Prime Minister Mulroney of Canada on the phone. He shares exactly my view about it. He said that he identified with the initiatives that we were seeking to take to get the United Nations involved. I should make the point Peter, in saying all of this that none of it's meant to in any way play down or criticise the Europeans for


what they've attempted with great integrity, I believe, to do what they can. But as I feared and as I said earlier, I doubted that mere talk of their intervention in that way was going to work because the passions are so deep.

JOURNALIST: Have they failed?

PM: Well if the test of success is have they been able to stop the fighting the answer is no, they haven't been able to do that. But it was always going to be difficult given the, as I say, the passions that are involved and the deep

intensity of feelings and the long standing of them. So I don't think we should talk about the failure on the part of the Europeans. It was almost, in a sense, mission impossible.

JOURNALIST: Is there any precedent for a UN peace-keeping mediating role in a member State?

PM: No, not precisely like this. But as I ’ve said, I don't think that that should be used as an argument against the United Nations considering what it may be able to do for the two reasons I put. I repeat them. Yugoslavia is no longer

in existence in the form that it was a member State because it is not operating according to its Constitution. The use of the Yugoslav national army in the way it is being used is not in accordance with the Constitution and I doubt if there's any people in the world who would actually say now that Yugoslavia, as such, continues to exist. And secondly, as I say, what is happening there in the internal conflict

of what was Yugoslavia, is constituting a threat to the peace and security, I believe, of neighbouring States. I think these facts need to be taken into account by the United Nations.

JOURNALIST: Do you know any other countries that are taking the stand that you have and Canada is supporting?

PM: Just two days ago President Mitterand of France gave a vague indication, but nevertheless an indication, that he thought the time may be coming when there was a role for the United Nations and there is some evidence within Europe that they are coming to the conclusion that they are not capable of bringing this to a peaceable and peaceful resolution.

JOURNALIST: Mr Hawke, considering the many years of bitterness within Yugoslavia, what do you see as the ultimate solution?

PM: Well I think it's fairly clear from the actual decisions that have been taken from former constituent parts that they want independence, they want to form separate States. Now that is easily enough said but what the world has got to consider is the rights of minorities within existing geographical areas. So I think that what will need

to be done is to accept that there is very little likelihood of Yugoslavia, as we knew it, continuing to exist as one separate nation - that it is likely that there will be


separate States created. What the world has to do, it seems to me, is to basically recognise that fact but ensure, it seems to me, through some process of the United Nations that that is done now in a peaceable way and secondly in a way which ensures the protection of minorities within those new


JOURNALIST: Is the Australian Government considering recognising the independence of Croatia and Slovenia?

PM: What I've said all along is that the conditions are not right yet for such action of recognition. No nation has yet taken the decision that it would be helpful to take that

step. But I have said on behalf of the Government of Australia that when the conditions are appropriate we will be amongst the first to recognise them.

JOURNALIST: On the question of the dollar, do you think that the dollar is too high at the moment?

PM: I 've got nothing to add to what I said about that yesterday. I made a quite detailed exposition about that yesterday. I've got nothing to add to that.

JOURNALIST: Mr Hawke, what do you think about the developments in the Gulf now that the US has decided to deploy war planes to Saudi Arabia?

PM: I have not been briefed on the details of that deployment to which you refer. So I've got no comment about that.

JOURNALIST: On the question of Senator Button and John Kerin, ...?

PM: ... I'll be making a speech tonight. That'll cover that.