No. 01/99 - Monday, 27 September 1999 - Page 3
What is KFOR?
(Text: Maj Haakon Haugsboe - Photo: Cpl Graham Spark, Cpl David Whittaker-Smith)
Film City: "There's absolute no reason for any kind of confrontation between KFOR and the ex-UCK", Lt Gen Sir Mike Jackson says, adding, "very much depends on the ex-UCK ". In this interview COMKFOR talks about his gratitude to his soldiers, and the future of peacekeeping forces in Kosovo.
KFOR Chronicle met Lt Gen Jackson in his office at KFOR HQ in Film City a few days after he, on behalf of the Kosovo Force, had signed the documents that confirmed the completion of the demilitarisation of the UCK, and the setting up of the Kosovo Protection Corps (TMK).
The original deadline for complete demilitarisation was extended by 48 hours, and the final signing ceremony took place on the evening of September 20.
"It is a good day for us. This is not an end, but a beginning," said the Special Representative of the Secretary General, Dr Bernard Kouchner, the day after, adding, "it's time to build Kosovo".
"Depends on them"
Though KFOR will be very involved in the activity of the TMK, making sure that their activities remain that, for which the protection corps is being formed, the soldiers on the ground will not have much day to day contact with the corps. "We will probably see less of them than we did of the former UCK," Jackson says.
"If we get this right, there's absolute no reason for any form of confrontation between KFOR and the ex-UCK. Because there'll be nothing to confront about. But very much depends on the their understanding, fully, not only have they transformed the organisation, but also they are transforming their culture and their approach. It [the Kosovo Protection Corps] must be multiethnic, it is very clear in the documentation. That will be difficult, but they have to do it. And it must be non-military, as said in the documentation. This will not necessarily be easy", says the commander.
Though "there's no reason why this project should not succeed", Jackson warns the new corps to not try to behave like the former UCK: "What it [the Kosovo Protection Corps] is designed to do, is to remove the tension, which the existence of the UCK inevitably had as the conflict ended. The tension with the international community, who were uncomfortable with this army, which had no legal existence. If the new protection corps tries to behave like the old UCK, then that tension will be back. That's up to them, and they've got to get it right. Because if they don't, the international community, I have no doubt, will refuse to accept that there's been a transformation of organisation and of attitude and approach."
Though every death of a soldier is tragic, and one is one too many, coming into Kosovo with his force, the commander was prepared for bigger loss of life, than has happened so far. Up until 24 September, the Commander has lost seven of his personnel, two of them in a mine accident. But none have died as a result of fighting.
"No General can to a thing without the soldiers who are there to implement what he wants to do. I'm very grateful, to every one of them," says the Commander.
"I was prepared for it to be worse. And I'm amazed we've only lost two on mines, but it shows the very professional standards the people have."
The Commander of the 24 nation multinational force is proud of, and impressed by, his 50,000 soldiers, striving to achieve the same objectives.
"I know that they work very hard and they're living in pretty unattractive conditions. I'm impressed, as always I am; by the soldier's ability to commit himself to the job he has, and do it to the best of his professional ability. I'm very grateful, to every one of them."
Lt Gen Ceku: "We will do our best"
Pristina: Until midnight on Tuesday 21 September, he was the Chief of Staff of the UCK. Now Agim Ceku is a Lieutenant General, and the Provincial Commander of the Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC). "We will give our help and contributions to ensure a secure environment for all citizens of Kosovo," Lt Gen Ceku says.
The former UCK Chief of Staff has been a key person during the 92 days since KFOR entered Kosovo, till the completion of the demilitarization and the building of the Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC). As the Commander of the KPC, Lt Gen Ceku will remain a key person in the effort of creating safe and secure conditions for the people of Kosovo.
The former UCK wanted a bigger armed unit in the new protection corps than KFOR and the UN were willing to give them. This was one of the central issues the last part of the negotiations, as the UCK wanted credibility for their effort during the war, and as much power as possible in the Kosovo society. "Of course the Undertaking was a very difficult step to take for us, knowing that the future of Kosovo can be assured only by co-operation with the international community," the Provincial Commander says.
"The mandate for the creation of the security conditions in Kosovo belongs to KFOR. We will give our help and contributions to ensure a secure environment for all citizens of Kosovo. We will do our best to help the Kosovo people in all fields, such as in reconstruction and humanitarian purposes," says Lt Gen Ceku.