15 Oct. 1998

Press Points

by Secretary General, Dr. Javier Solana

I have come to Belgrade today, accompanied by the Chairman of the Military Committee, General Naumann, and SACEUR, General Clark, to deliver a simple but strong message to President Milosevic. He must comply fully and immediately with the requirements of the UN Security Council Resolution 1199.

Three weeks have elapsed since that Resolution was adopted but still we are far from seeing the full compliance that the international community demands. I have told President Milosevic about the many army and special police units that, according to our information, remain in Kosovo even though their barracks are outside Kosovo territory. These units must be withdrawn immediately.

Let there be no doubt: we will keep the situation in Kosovo under the closest scrutiny. NATO will maintain its pressure until we have evidence that compliance has been fully achieved. We will remain ready and willing to act if these obligations are not met. NATO prefers compliance to conflict.

We have just signed with the government of this country an agreement to establish a NATO/Kosovo air verification regime, to be operated by NATO. We intend to begin implementation in the very near future. Along with the OSCE mission on the ground in Kosovo, NATO's role will be crucial in verifying that President Milosevic intends to keep his word and to help stabilize the situation in Kosovo.

I also made clear to President Milosevic that we expect the full cooperation of the Yugoslav government in carrying out the agreement on the air verification regime over Kosovo strictly. Any attack or hostile intent against our NATO verification aircraft will have the gravest consequences.

We also expect the full cooperation of the Yugoslav authorities, including its security forces, with both the NATO and the OSCE verification missions.

I want to emphasize that the agreement that we have signed today and the agreement that the OSCE will sign shortly are not the end of the story. They are but the first step in ending the conflict in Kosovo and in relieving the urgent humanitarian situation. These agreements represent an opportunity for the leaders of Yugoslavia to solve problems in a peaceful and more constructive way. I urge President Milosevic and the Kosovar Albanians not to squander this opportunity.

Finally, I would like to address a few words to the peoples of Yugoslavia. There has been too much suffering, too much intolerance and too much violence in this country and this region over the past few years. Much of this has been caused by political leaders who have misused their political power. And the closure of independent newspapers is the latest one. Apart from the terrible human tragedy, the result is that Yugoslavia has been increasingly isolated from the European democratic family of nations. I urge you to open a new chapter in your history and to work for solutions through dialogue and reconciliation. The Alliance is there to help you in this endeavour; but you too must accept your responsibility and look to the future.

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