8 Dec. 1998
Statement on Kosovo
Meeting of the North Atlantic Council
in Foreign Ministers Session
- NATO's aim has been to contribute to international efforts to stop the humanitarian crisis in Kosovo, end the violence there and bring about a lasting political settlement. NATO's decisions in October made a crucial contribution to the withdrawal of forces of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) from Kosovo and helped to avert a humanitarian disaster. The Alliance's enhanced state of military readiness continues.
- The security situation in Kosovo remains of great concern to us. Since the beginning of November, violent incidents provoked in some cases by Serbian security forces and in others by armed Kosovar elements have increased tension. These incidents show that both the Belgrade authorities and the armed Kosovar elements have failed to comply fully with the requirements set out in UN Security Council Resolutions 1160, 1199 and 1203. We call upon the armed Kosovar elements to cease and desist from provocative actions and we call upon the FRY and Serbian authorities to reduce the number and visibility of MUP special police in Kosovo and abstain from intimidating behaviour.
- We insist that both sides maintain scrupulously the ceasefire and comply fully with the UN Security Council resolutions. We also expect them to facilitate the war crimes investigations by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). In this connection, we deplore the denial of visas to ICTY investigators. Continued violence between FRY and Serbian forces and armed Kosovar elements jeopardises prospects for a political settlement for which an opportunity now exists.
- We remain firmly convinced that the problems of Kosovo can only be resolved through a process of open and unconditional dialogue between the authorities in Belgrade and representatives of the Kosovar leadership. We therefore strongly urge all parties to move rapidly in a spirit of compromise and accommodation to conclude the negotiating process led by Ambassador Hill in which they are engaged. We reaffirm our support for a political solution which provides an enhanced status for Kosovo, a substantially greater degree of autonomy and meaningful self-administration, and which preserves the territorial integrity of the FRY, and safeguards the human and civil rights of all inhabitants of Kosovo, whatever their ethnic origin. We believe that stability in Kosovo is linked to the democratisation of the FRY and we support those who are genuinely engaged in that process. In this regard, we condemn recent actions taken by President Milosevic to suppress the independent media and political pluralism in Serbia. We welcome the steps the Government of Montenegro has taken to protect the independent media, promote democratic reforms and ensure respect for the rights of all its citizens.
- We will continue the Alliance's air verification mission, Operation "Eagle Eye", in accordance with the agreement between the FRY and NATO, and communicate periodically to the UN Secretary-General NATO's views on compliance.
- We intend to cooperate fully with the OSCE Kosovo Verification Mission (KVM). The security and safety of the OSCE verifiers is of the utmost importance to us. We call on the FRY government to meet its responsibilities in this regard, as set out in UNSCRs 1199 and 1203 and the OSCE-FRY agreement of 16th October. We expect the FRY and Serbian authorities, as well as the Kosovar communities, to cooperate fully with the OSCE KVM, in particular by respecting its freedom of movement and right of access and by ensuring that its personnel are not subject to the threat or use of force or interference of any kind. We also expect the FRY and Serbian authorities to continue to allow unhindered access to international relief organisations including by issuing the necessary visas.
- The North Atlantic Council has authorised an Activation Order (ACTORD) for a NATO-led Extraction Force, Operation "Joint Guarantor". We will quickly deploy the standing elements of this force in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (1) to provide the ability to withdraw personnel of the OSCE KVM in an emergency. We greatly appreciate the cooperation and support of the authorities of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia for providing facilities for the basing of NATO forces.
- We welcome the willingness of Partner countries to join with NATO in contributing to the solution of the Kosovo crisis either by participating in the NATO-led air verification mission or by offering the use of their airspace or other facilities in support of NATO's efforts. We will continue to consult closely with all Partner countries on the Alliance's actions in respect of the Kosovo crisis.
Turkey recognises the Republic of Macedonia with its constitutional name.