Updated: 09-May-2001 NATO Press Releases

(2001) 041

21 March 2001

by the Secretary General on the situation in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (1)

The North Atlantic Council has today approved a further package of measures designed to enhance stability in the Southern Balkans and demonstrate its firm support for the multi-ethnic government of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (1). NATO is absolutely committed in its support of the government in Skopje as it faces the challenge of extremist groups, whose violent activities we totally condemn. We reject any attempt at the forcible changing of borders. We stand fully behind the sovereignty, stability, and the territorial integrity of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (1).

Since the attacks in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (1) began, KFOR has taken a number of steps to improve border security, to further ensure Kosovo cannot be used as a base for attacks into neighbouring areas. We have sent extra troops to the border area and increased patrolling to improve our ability to detect, disrupt and deter any flow of men and material from Kosovo to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (1). A further review has shown such activities can be further increased, and more troops will now be sent to the border area. The North Atlantic Council has also endorsed the need for further troops for KFOR, which is doing a magnificent job despite a greatly increased workload, and being severely stretched.

Our co-operation with the government in Skopje will also be further strengthened. We have already improved military co-ordination, and the exchange of military information, but following a series of high-level visits we have now decided to send a senior representative, Ambassador Hans-Joerg Eiff, to supplement the existing NATO Liaison Officer based in Skopje. His presence is an indication of the importance we place on supporting the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (1). We also now have a military liaison team based in the Ministry of Defence in Skopje, and that will be run by a senior NATO military officer. NATO has also endorsed the call for direct bilateral assistance by NATO Allies to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (1), and will work to co-ordinate such bilateral efforts both in Brussels and on the ground in Skopje.

I am confident the array of measures now in place or underway will have a significant impact on the security situation. They are also being done in full co-operation with other organisations, such as the EU, OSCE and UN and this co-ordinated response is an indication of the international determination to support stability in the region.

What is needed now is restraint and cool judgment. Firmness in the face of attacks should be matched by political action to ensure the men of violence are not allowed the opportunity to polarise the situation. Ultimately, the solution to problems in the area can only be found through political means. Maintaining the solidarity of all ethnic communities is the best way to ensure the defeat of extremist groups.

My message is that we are determined that the men of violence will not succeed. There is now an unparalleled opportunity for stability in the region. I call upon all political leaders, but especially in Kosovo and the ethnic Albanian communities in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (1), to condemn violence unreservedly, and work to end it. In this regard, I welcome the very strong statement made by Albanian Prime Minister Meta. The international community has put immense effort into defending minorities against repression, and it will not accept extremists undermining the immense progress that has been made in giving the whole Balkans a better future.

1. Turkey recognizes the Republic of Macedonia with its constitutional name.

+32 (0)2 707 50 41
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B-1110 Brussels/Bruxelles

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