28 Jan. 1999
Statement to the Press
by NATO Secretary General, Dr. Javier Solana
Good Evening Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to make the following statement on behalf of the North Atlantic Council:
- NATO fully supports the early conclusion of a political settlement under the mediation of the Contact Group, which will provide an enhanced status for Kosovo, preserve the territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and protect the rights of all ethnic groups.
- The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia authorities must immediately bring the Yugoslav Army and the Special Police force levels, posture and actions into strict compliance with their commitments to NATO on 25 October 1998 and end the excessive and disproportionate use of force in accordance with these commitments. All Kosovar armed elements must immediately cease hostilities and any provocative actions, including hostage taking. All parties must end violence and pursue their goals by peaceful means only.
- The appropriate authorities in Belgrade and representatives of the Kosovo Albanian leadership must agree to the proposals to be issued by the Contact Group for completing an interim political settlement within the timeframe to be established.
- NATO demands that the parties to the conflict in Kosovo cooperate fully with the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe Verification Mission, ensure the security of its personnel and provide full freedom of movement and lift all restrictions on institutions monitoring the situation in Kosovo. We demand that the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia authorities fully respect all commitments undertaken in relation to the Organisation of Security and Cooperation in Europe, and ensure that Ambassador Walker is able to continue to carry out his responsibilities fully as Head of the Kosovo Verification Mission.
- NATO fully supports and shares the demands of the international community that the parties must cooperate fully with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia including by granting immediate and unrestricted access to its representatives to carry out their investigation of the Racak massacre and by ensuring the safety of its personnel. We also demand that the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia authorities take immediate steps to ensure that those responsible for the massacre are brought to justice.
- We reaffirm our support to international efforts to bring peace to Kosovo and to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe, including by the Security Council of the United Nations, Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the European Union, the countries of the region, and the current efforts of the Contact Group. NATO stands ready to act and rules out no option to ensure full respect by both sides of the demands of the international community, and in particular observance of all relevant Security Council Resolutions. NATO is also intensively studying how to support measures to curb arms smuggling into Kosovo. It calls upon the international community, particularly neighbouring countries, to take all necessary steps to prevent the smuggling of arms and will work with other international bodies to this end.
- In addition to the measures implemented last week, the North Atlantic Council has decided to increase its military preparedness to ensure that the demands of the international community are met. The North Atlantic Council will follow developments closely and will decide on further measures in the light of both parties' compliance with international commitments and requirements and their response to the Contact Group's demands.
That concludes the statement of the North Atlantic Council.
I would like to add for my own part that we are at a critical turning point in the Kosovo crisis. The next few days will be decisive. What we have seen in Yugoslavia during the past decade is that it is very difficult to stop internal conflicts if the international community is not willing to use force -- and when all other means have failed. We may be reaching that limit, once again, in the Former Yugoslavia.
The Contact Group meeting in London tomorrow will launch an important initiative. It will be fully backed by NATO's military capabilities. We are ready to act, if necessary. The parties must seize this opportunity. It is the only way to overcome the Kosovo conflict and prevent a humanitarian catastrophe. The entire international community has come together to push for a diplomatic solution. You have seen from the visit of the United Nations Secretary General to NATO earlier today that the United Nations shares our determination and objectives. In this endeavour, NATO has a key role to play and will make a full contribution - but the parties must finally face up to their responsibilities. We will keep them under strong pressure until they do so. The North Atlantic Council will be meeting round the clock and we will be ready to take further measures as the situation develops.