Updated: 27-Jul-2000 NATO Press Releases

(2000) 077

27 July 2000

Statement by the Secretary General of NATO
The Rt. Hon. Lord Robertson of Port Ellen

Regarding the Airlie House Declaration by
Prominent Kosovar Albanians and Serbs

I welcome the Airlie Declaration as an important step towards reconciliation between all of Kosovo's ethnic groups, which is the only way the province will be able to recover from the scars of war and build a stable future.

The joint condemnation of violence and the commitment that Serbs and Albanians will campaign together against ethnic violence and hatred is especially important. As I have repeatedly stated on my visits to the province, the political leaders of Kosovo must show true leadership by speaking out publicly against ethnic hatred and urging the creation of a democratic, tolerant society. I look forward to seeing the declaration put into practice.

The declaration states that the two communities are only at the start of a long journey, and that the wounds of the recent past are too deep to do more than begin the process of vitally needed reconciliation. But that process must begin. By recognising the need to go forward by working together, the signatories of this declaration are setting a vital example for others to follow.

This commitment to reconciliation and to building a better future stands in stark contrast to President Milosevic's continuing efforts to promote and exploit ethnic division. NATO will stand firm in Kosovo in support of peace and reconciliation. We will not allow Milosevic or any of the ethnic groups within Kosovo to plunge the region back into the horrific violence it suffered a year and a half ago.

NATO is watching not only in Kosovo, but in Montenegro as well. The Djukanovic government is committed to democratic practice, ethnic tolerance, and co-operation with Montenegro's neighbours and the international community. On the contrary, Milosevic's past adventures have only brought disaster and decline to Serbia. NATO has already shown its determination and strength of will, and that is something President Milosevic should always keep in mind.


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