18 June 1999
The Situation In and Around Kosovo
issued at the Extraordinary Meeting of Foreign and Defence Ministers of the North Atlantic Council
held at NATO Headquarters Brussels on 18 June 1999
- In Kosovo the will of the international community has prevailed by achieving the withdrawal of FRY security forces, thus bringing to an end the brutal campaign of repression and ethnic cleansing. NATO has played a vital role in achieving this outcome. The Alliance pays tribute to the men and women of Operation Allied Force for the courage and commitment they have displayed.
- NATO's objectives, which are those of the international community, are unchanged: the complete withdrawal of FRY military, police and para-military forces from Kosovo; an end to all violence; the unconditional and safe return of all refugees and displaced persons and unhindered access to them by humanitarian aid organisations; and the establishment of a political framework agreement based on the Rambouillet accords. NATO is determined to fulfil its promise that the people of Kosovo can return to their homes and live in security and without fear. Allies are appalled by the mounting evidence of atrocities committed in Kosovo. They are cooperating actively with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in order to bring to justice those responsible for atrocities and war crimes. A durable peace in Kosovo must be founded on justice and the rule of law.
- To achieve these objectives, KFOR, with NATO at its core, is deploying rapidly into Kosovo, as authorised by the UN Security Council acting under Chapter VII of the UN Charter.
- The Alliance is determined to help create a peaceful, multi-ethnic and democratic Kosovo within the FRY. KFOR will operate in an impartial and even-handed manner in carrying out its mandate. NATO will help the people of Kosovo build democratic institutions and a civil society based on respect for the human rights of all Kosovars on an equal basis, regardless of their ethnic or religious background. As the first, immediate steps in reaching this goal, NATO expects:
- the FRY authorities to complete the full withdrawal of their security forces in accordance with the timetable set out in the Military Technical Agreement between NATO and the FRY;
- the KLA and other armed groups in Kosovo to cooperate fully with KFOR, refrain from any violence and particularly any provocations against departing Serb forces, avoid any actions which would impede the establishment of the UN-led civil administration, fulfil their obligations for demilitarisation under UNSCR 1244, and respect the human rights of all peoples in Kosovo.
KFOR will not tolerate any challenges to its authority or intimidation of any of the people of Kosovo.
The Alliance welcomes the commitments made by its Partners and other interested nations to participate in KFOR.
NATO looks forward to the participation of the Russian Federation in KFOR within a unified chain of command. Allies are confident that arrangements will be found that will allow Russian and NATO forces to work together to bring peace and stability to all peoples in Kosovo. NATO and its member countries remain ready to resume consultations and full cooperation in the framework of the NATO-Russia Founding Act.
KFOR will work to create a secure environment in which the UN-led civil administration and international agencies can work unhindered. NATO welcomes the early establishment of the UN Interim Administration in Kosovo (UNMIK) and intends to cooperate closely with it together with the OSCE and the EU. Allies call upon all peoples of Kosovo to recognise the authority of and cooperate fully with UNMIK. The Alliance is assisting the UNHCR and non-governmental organisations in the return of refugees and displaced persons to their homes. Allies will be cooperating closely with the UN Mine Action Service and other international organisations and NGOs on mine awareness and clearance activities, with the aim of ensuring a safe environment for the return of refugees and for the conduct of the civil mission. Allies look forward to cooperating closely with all these organisations in bringing lasting peace and security to Kosovo.
The Alliance reiterates the great importance attached by Heads of State and Government in Washington to the stability of Montenegro's democratically elected government.
Stability in South Eastern Europe is a priority for member governments. The Alliance will not allow the Belgrade regime to destabilise the neighbouring states of the FRY. Belgrade's actions have inflicted enormous hardship on the countries of the region. NATO pays tribute in particular to the governments of Albania and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia for their handling of the massive influx of refugees. NATO also expresses its appreciation to the governments of Bulgaria and Romania for the support they have given to preserving stability in the region. The Alliance will work with all Partner countries to address the problems of the region. Allies are cooperating through NATO's initiative for South Eastern Europe to support the nations of this region in forging a better future based on democracy, justice, security cooperation, economic development and integration. NATO supports the EU Stabilisation Pact for South East Europe and the regional cooperation efforts of the countries in the region. The objective of a stable South Eastern Europe cannot be assured until the FRY achieves democracy and respects the rights of all minorities, including those in Vojvodina and Sandjak.
In the Washington Declaration, Allied Heads of State and Government reaffirmed their commitment to the principles of democracy, human rights and the rule of law on which the Alliance is founded and expressed their vision for the Alliance of the 21st century. NATO's actions in Kosovo are an expression of this commitment and vision.