by NATO Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller at NATO HQ KFOR
MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. The Deputy Secretary General of NATO, her Excellency Ms. Rose Gottemoeller, will address a brief statement prior to giving you the floor for your questions. Your Excellency, you have the floor.
ROSE GOTTEMOELLER (Deputy Secretary General of NATO): Thank you so much. Good afternoon everyone. Sorry to keep you waiting a while, we've had a very busy day so far today. I'm very glad to be visiting KFOR together with NATO ambassadors and our partners. So far today we have met with COM KFOR, our NATO capacity building team here in Kosovo headed by General Hoffmann, Mr. Berisha, who is responsible for the Kosovo Security Forces, and representatives of the UN, EU, and OSCE. I am looking forward later this afternoon to meeting with Mr. Thaci as well.
Our visit is a sign of NATO's commitment to Kosovo and to peace and stability in the Western Balkans. We are here to thank our troops for the outstanding job that they are doing. For 18 years, NATO has been working to keep Kosovo and this region safe. KFOR is a success story for the alliance and for all of our partners. By the way, we are here not only with NATO allies but with a number of NATO partners who work here in KFOR. It has contributed to the progressive normalization of the security situation in the region, and NATO's commitment to KFOR remains a key element of our efforts to project stability in this region.
Security and stability is important to the security and stability of the whole of Europe. We acknowledge the progress that has been made, especially lately, on the security situation, but we have also seen setbacks, as you around the room will recognize. We are aware of the many challenges that Kosovo faces. KFOR will remain in Kosovo as long as is necessary. We will not leave until our task is completed.
So with that, Ladies and Gentlemen, let me open the floor to your questions.
MODERATOR: Yes, I think we have a question from Klan Kosova TV, Mr. Besnik Tahiri.
BESNIK TAHIRI (Klan Kosova TV): Ms. Gottemoeller, I have two questions for you exactly. The first one, can you tell us did you tackle the transformation of KSF to the Kosovo Army in the meetings that you have today? And can you tell us what exactly, what is your thought about that? Is this going to happen soon, or if not will the constitutional changes with NATO going to give the green light to Kosovo government, to Kosovo officials to have the transformation according to a law that was proposed from President Thaci?
And the second question is about we all know that the KSF, Kosovo Security Force, cannot go to the north of Kosovo without NATO's permission. Is this about to change soon, and how? Thank you.
ROSE GOTTEMOELLER: Thank you very much for your questions. Of course, it being a confidential session this morning I won't go into any detail. We discussed a lot of issues that have to do with the security of Kosovo and stability and security across the region. We did among all of those topics address the question of transformation, and I wanted to stress for you today a message that you also heard when the Secretary General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, was visiting here in February of this very year. He said at that time that transformation of the Kosovo Security Forces is a matter for Kosovo authorities to decide, it's a Kosovo matter, but on the other hand extraordinarily important that that transformation should be carried out according to proper constitutional procedures, and I want to underscore and really emphasize that message once again.
Now, as to your second question, this is again a matter that is one that has been a longstanding issue, and I think it would be best for me to really underscore that it is being worked in responsible ways and will continue to be a subject that will have to be tackled in a kind of step by step way. So I really think that there's not much more to be said about that at this moment.
MODERATOR: Any other question? Your Excellency, thank you very much.
ROSE GOTTEMOELLER: Thank you.
MODERATOR: And thanks for being here in Kosovo.
ROSE GOTTEMOELLER: My pleasure. Thank you all very, very much.