Updated: 24-May-2001 NATO Press Releases


24 May 2001

Statement by the Secretary General
Regarding the Return of Yugoslav and Serbian Forces to the Ground Safety Zone

As Yugoslav and Serbian security forces return today to Sector B of the Ground Safety Zone, I want to commend the restraint and commitment to a peaceful political process that has been demonstrated by both sides.

I welcome the demilitarisation and handing over to KFOR of major arms caches by the ethnic Albanian armed groups. This is a courageous step forward that will facilitate the addressing of ethnic grievances through democratic political means.

I also welcome the declaration of a general amnesty by Serbian authorities for those who took up arms. This is an essential step in the normalisation of Serb-Albanian relations in the region.

As the Yugoslav and Serbian forces now enter Sector B, I call on all parties to continue to act with moderation and avoid violent incidents. And I urge the parties to move ahead urgently with political dialogue aimed at addressing the legitimate concerns of the ethnic Albanian population of the region. This includes the rapid development of the multi-ethnic police force, the participation of ethnic Albanians in local government and civil service structures, the return of refugees, and the efforts to promote investment and development in the region.

The successful demilitarisation and peaceful return of government security forces in southern Serbia stands as an important example to other armed groups in the region particularly those in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (1). The path of violence is doomed to failure while the joining of a democratic political process is the only way forward in assuring the rights and addressing the concerns of the local population.

  1. Turkey recognises the Republic of Macedonia with its constituational name.
+32 (0)2 707 50 41
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B-1110 Brussels/Bruxelles

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