Updated: 07-May-2002 NATO Press Releases

30 May 2001

Joint Press Statement
on the Western Balkans

by the EU Presidency
and the NATO Secretary General

The Foreign Ministers of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and of the European Union met in Budapest today to discuss issues of common concern related to European security.

The Ministers focussed in particular on the situation in the Balkans where both NATO and the EU are heavily engaged through complementary measures to enhance security, stability and regional cooperation, in close cooperation with individual governments and key international actors in the region.

Ministers noted with appreciation the visible progress that has been achieved over the last few months in restoring peace and stability to the area. Ministers highlighted the landmark political changes in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and welcomed the new democratic leadership’s commitment to cooperation with the International Community which paved the way for a comprehensive approach to solving many of the region’s remaining problems. Ministers reiterated their commitment to assisting the new government in Belgrade with its ambitious reform efforts and noted their expectation that the new government would meet its international obligations, including full cooperation with the ICTY. They also welcomed the peaceful developments in the Presevo Valley area and urged both parties to follow through on the implementation of the Serb-Albanian police force. Joint efforts by NATO and the EU in facilitating a peaceful outcome to the problems in Southern Serbia were characterised as a model for future close cooperation.

Ministers expressed particular concern over the highly volatile political and security situation in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (1) and condemned continued extremist activities in the country. They heard a report from the EU High Representative, Dr Javier Solana, on his visits to Skopje on 28 and 29 May 2001, and welcomed the statement by the four party leaders agreed with him on 29 May on the resumption of the dialogue. EU and NATO Ministers agreed that the status of the Prizren document of 22 May 2001 was no longer relevant. Ministers reaffirmed that the international community will work only with the legitimate political representatives and not with armed extremists or their representatives. There can be no place at the table for those who have taken up arms against this democratic government.

Ministers reaffirmed their continued commitment to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country. They called for an immediate end to violence and for any response to the armed extremists to be proportionate and to show the maximum possible concern for the safety of civilian lives. Ministers demanded that the armed extremists lay down their arms and withdraw immediately. They also called for rapid provision of humanitarian assistance to the villages affected by the violence.

Ministers strongly supported the broad coalition government and supported an effective inclusion of all parties in the decision making process. They praised the closely coordinated efforts by the EU High Representative, Dr Javier Solana, and the NATO Secretary General, Lord Robertson, to contain violence, promote peace and support the government. They urged significant, concrete achievements from the inter-ethnic dialogue before the NATO and EU Heads of State and Government meetings to be held in the coming weeks.

Ministers affirmed their commitment to continue the close cooperation and consultation process between NATO and the EU with a view to addressing common challenges in the region.

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

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