|Updated: 29-May-2001||NATO Press Releases|
(2001)075 24 May 2001
by the Secretary General
I strongly condemn recent actions by extremist groups in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (1) in particular their continued presence in several occupied villages and their attacks on government security forces. Their actions are imposing grave risk and hardship on the very people whose rights they claim to support. The regrettable casualties and damage caused by their conflict with government forces is the direct result of their unjustified occupation of towns and villages in the north of the country.
We must be very clear that the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (1) is an established and well functioning democracy. It has recently formed a grand coalition involving the major ethnic Albanian political parties. This coalition is engaged in a broad-based effort to seek democratic solutions to the countrys problems. I support these efforts and urge the government to continue to find ways of addressing the legitimate concerns of its public Slav, Albanian and others through democratic political means. There is no justification none for any citizens of this nation to take up arms against the government.
The future of the nation can only be decided by democratically elected individuals, working through this peaceful political process. The international community will only work with these legitimate political representatives not armed extremists. The men of violence, such as the leaders of the so-called NLA, have no place in this process. They have no democratic legitimacy, and thus no place at the negotiating table. They cannot achieve with the bullet what can only be addressed through the ballot.
I strongly urge those who are practicing violence to demilitarise and hand over their weapons. The major demilitarisation and peaceful process now unfolding in southern Serbia stands out as a clear example that the path of violence has no future. There can be no military solution to the problems in the region. I also urge the ethnic Albanian diaspora who may be financing and supporting the men of violence to cease their fundraising and instead embrace and support the democratic political process.
I urge the government to continue to exercise military restraint and minimise civilian casualties as it seeks to contain the crisis. From all my contacts with the President Trajkovski and members of his national unity government, I have no doubt of their resolve to take the necessary steps needed to assure a just and stable future for all of their citizens. They have my full support.