12 Apr. 1999

Statement by the Secretary General following the meeting of the North Atlantic Council

Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen,
Mesdames et Messieurs bonjour,

Nous venons de terminer une runion trs importante des Ministres des Affaires trangres allis, que nous avons entirement consacre l'examen de la situation au Kosovo.

La crise du Kosovo constitue une tape dcisive dans la dfinition de notre vision d'une nouvelle Europe au sein de laquelle les droits de l'homme, les valeurs dmocratiques et l'tat de droit prvaudront.

Aujourd'hui, nous avons valu la situation au Kosovo et les progrs que nous avons faits dans la conduite de l'opration "Force Allie". Tous les pays de l'OTAN ont exprim leur indignation face au nettoyage ethnique entrepris par les forces de scurit yougoslaves au Kosovo et aux expulsions forces d'une grande partie de la population.

Nous avons rappel notre dtermination mettre un terme ces pratiques barbares. Le dpeuplement systmatique du Kosovo ne pourra perdurer. Le nettoyage ethnique sera stopp et la paix sera finalement rtablie au Kosovo. Nos oprations ariennes se poursuivront aussi longtemps que ncessaire, jusqu' ce que nous ayons russi convaincre le Prsident Milosevic d'accepter nos objectifs.

Let me remind you what these objectives are:

  • a verifiable stop to all military action and the immediate ending of violence and repression;

  • the withdrawal from Kosovo of the Yugoslav military, police and paramilitary forces;

  • the stationing in Kosovo of an international military presence;

  • the unconditional and safe return of all refugees and displaced persons;

  • credible assurance of Milosevic's willingness to work on the basis of the Rambouillet Accords towards a political solution for Kosovo in conformity with International Law and the Charter of the United Nations.

Our air operations are taking a heavy toll of President Milosevic's army and security forces. We are tightening the screw on those forces in Kosovo which are responsible for repressing civilians. Our operations are effective. They are being carried out according to the moral and professional standards that you would expect from NATO. We have lost no pilots and we have kept collateral damage to a minimum.

We have the political will and the resources to maintain our military pressure until Milosevic backs down. But I want to stress once again; NATO is not at war with Yugoslavia. Our quarrel is not with the Yugoslav people but with a government and a military force that are abusing their people in violation of all accepted norms of human rights.

We condemn the cynical use of refugees by Belgrade as a means of destabilizing other countries in the region. We are determined that this tactic shall not succeed - and it has not succeeded.

We have held consultations with Albania and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. We have assured these countries that we will respond to any challenges by Yugoslavia to their security stemming from the presence of NATO forces and their activities on their territories.

At the same time we have mobilized our military resources to assist the international humanitarian relief operations in the region. NATO forces in the Former Yugoslav of Macedonia have constructed emergency accommodation for refugees and have cared for the refugees. NATO troops are also being deployed to Albania to support the humanitarian efforts there and to assist the Albanian authorities in providing a secure environment for them.

But as we deal with one humanitarian challenge, we are also aware that there is another - inside Kosovo itself. We are deeply concerned at the fate of all the displaced people there who are facing hunger and exhaustion. This is another major humanitarian crisis in the making and we are urgently considering whether there are ways in which we might be able to help.

It is Milosevic who has caused this humanitarian crisis. He planned it and started to carry it out well before NATO took the decision to act. However, NATO has been in the forefront of international efforts to solve this humanitarian crisis. Not only are we trying to stop Milosevic's brutality. We have also taken care of his victims. We will not forget these inhumane acts. Milosevic and his commanders will be held accountable for their actions.

Today we also expressed concern regarding the situation in Montenegro. We have reaffirmed our support for President Djukanovic. Any move against him and his government will have grave consequences for President Milosevic.

Finally, it is important that we begin to look beyond the crisis in Kosovo. The countries of the Former Yugoslavia and their neighbours must be brought into the European mainstream.

They must all be able to enjoy the same peace, security and prosperity as the other countries of Europe.

The years of confrontation must come to an end in southeastern Europe or there will be no future for its peoples.

Today we confirmed that we will play a full part in a comprehensive approach to stabilize this region. Such an approach which should address the political, economic, security and humanitarian aspects must involve a number of institutions but NATO will have its role to play. There are already several initiatives from the EU and individual Allies. We will see how we can use the resources of our Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council and the model of the Partnership for Peace to make NATO's contribution.

A democratic Yugoslavia - whose people have a normal relationship with their neighbours in the Balkans - will have its place in our vision.

So my conclusion after today's meeting is clear: Milosevic is losing and he knows so.

NATO is united. We have justice and right on our side. We will prevail.

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