13 Oct. 1998

Transcript of the Press Conference

by Secretary General, Dr. Javier Solana

Secretary General: A few hours ago we were briefed by Ambassador Holbrooke on his efforts to resolve the crisis in Kosovo. Ambassador Holbrooke reported that there has been progress. He stressed that this progress was largely due to the pressure of the Alliance in the last few days and that we have to maintain this pressure in order to ensure that this process continues to move forward.

In response, just a few moments ago, the North Atlantic Council decided to issue activation orders - ACTORDs - for both a phased air campaign in Yugoslavia and limited air operations. The execution of the limited air operations will begin no earlier than 96 hours from today. We hope that this period will allow time for the negotiations to bear fruit.

We took this decision after a thorough review of the situation in Kosovo. The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia has still not complied fully with UNSCR 1199 in a way that can be verified.

Even at this late hour, I still believe diplomacy can succeed and the use of military force can be avoided. The responsibility is on President Milosevic's shoulders. He knows what he has to do.

Spokesman: Secretary General, thank you very much, we have some questions. Yes, Gyorgy Foris please.

Hungarian TV: In case the activation order goes to the implementation phase and military action takes place, how does NATO intend to assure the security of the neighbouring countries and of those countries who are participating, but, for the time being, do not have the benefit of the common umbrella of NATO?

Secretary General: Well, we are very grateful, logically, for the solidarity and support of partners, which is another example of how the security of partners and that of the Alliance are difficult to separate, impossible to separate as a matter of fact. Any threat to the security of partners will be viewed with the utmost seriousness and will be met with an appropriate response.


BBC: Secretary General, are you dismayed at all that it looks as though there won`t be actually armed NATO troops in Kosovo monitoring President Milosevic's compliance, and that the job looks set to be left to unarmed civilian observers ?

Secretary General: No, I am not dismayed at all. The mechanism of verification is at this moment still in the process of being finalised in the negotiation. I do think it is an appropriate mechanism of verification. The role that NATO is going to play, is still not finally decided, but probably NATO will have a very important role in the verification by air. But, as I said, we haven't finalized the negotiating process.

New York Times: Secretary General, you said 96 hours from today. That means October 13th, does it?

Secretary General: That means that it will be no earlier than that date.

SACEUR will issue the ACTORD later on in the morning, and therefore, yes, not earlier than 96 hours afterwards.

New York Times: Earlier some diplomats here were talking about 48 hours. Why the doubling of the time?

Secretary General: Well, 48 hours, as you know, is the time that is required from a military-technical point of view. After the briefing we heard today from Ambassador Holbrooke and his team, after the discussion in the Council with him, after analysing the problems, we want to give a longer chance to the process of negotiating.

Washington Post: Mr. Secretary General, can you describe precisely, what are the remaining sticking points just simply to get these promises signed, or are there still matters to be negotiated?

Secretary General: This is something you should ask the negotiating team, not me, but I can tell you that we must still achieve agreement in the compliance and in the verification field.

Berliner Zeitung: Secretary General, how have NATO nations viewed the chance of having something like 2,000 unarmed men actually verify what President Milosevic has agreed to, and have NATO nations given any indication that they would be willing to contribute men to that unarmed OSCE mission?

Secretary General: Sure. Yes, I think that the majority of the NATO nations will contribute. All of them are part of the OSCE and therefore, probably I cannot speak for all of them in the OSCE matter, but I'm sure that the majority of them would contribute, yes.

ITAR-TASS News Agency: Secretary General, have you taken into account the Russian position, the negative position of the military strikes on Yugoslavia?

Secretary General: Yes, of course. As you know, we are working together with our Russian friends, and not only through the PJC. Let me remind you that we had a troika meeting this afternoon. We are also cooperating through the other mechanisms like the Contact Group, and the Security Council. We have the same aim, we have the same goal to have a good agreement which is in compliance with the UN Security Council Resolution 1199. Everybody has to pressure on. Maximum pressure. We from our side and the Russians from theirs.

NN: What did NATO, what did Mr Holbrooke offer to Mr Milosevic in return for his acceptance of OSCE observers, and could you say when NATO will decide if it can deploy ground troops or not ?

Secretary General: Let me answer the first question. If you were to ask that question to Ambassador Holbrooke, he would say nothing. Therefore, I will say nothing. And to the second question, at this moment, NATO is not thinking about deploying troops on the ground.

NN: Mr Secretary General, if we come to implement this decision, how are you going to formally inform the government concerned that you will launch an attack on this sovereign state and, excuse me for asking legal questions, but will there be a formal declaration of war ?

Secretary General: Well, this is not a declaration of war. The Allies believe that in the particular circumstances with respect to the present crisis in Kosovo as described in UNSC Resolution 1199, there are legitimate grounds for the Alliance to threaten, and if necessary, to use force.

BBC: Secretary General, you said no earlier than 96 hours. Is there a maximum time which you will wait? Will you be trying to maintain some kind of threat of air action or other threat even if there is an agreement through the use of air power which is also being used for reconnaissance?

Secretary General: You see, the situation is very fluid. I wouldn't like to talk about what is going to happen after 4 days or 96 hours. But what we have decided today is what we have decided today, and we will follow very closely the developments on the ground and how the negotiations are moving forward. We will be in permanent contact with Ambassador Holbrooke and his team to evaluate together the situation.

 [ Go to Speeches Menu ]  [ Go to Homepage ]