The Meeting
Of The North

27 Oct. 1998


to the Press by NATO Secretary General Dr. Javier Solana

Two weeks ago, NATO issued an ACTORD for limited air operations and a phased air campaign against Yugoslavia. We took this decision in order to back up diplomatic efforts to achieve peace in Kosovo and open the way for a political solution to the crisis.

From the outset we have insisted on full and unconditional compliance by President Milosevic with United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1199 and 1203. Since the ACTORD was issued, we have continued to put President Milosevic under pressure. General Naumann, SACEUR and I have been to Belgrade to make it clear to him in person that he has no option but to comply. I have also written to President Milosevic twice to stress the gravity of the situation.

It is this pressure and our credible threat to use force which have changed the situation in Kosovo for the better. NATO's unity and resolve have forced the Yugoslav Special Police and military units to exercise restraint and reduce their intimidating presence in Kosovo. We have been able to reduce the level of violence significantly and to achieve a cease-fire which has held, despite some sporadic incidents.


This improvement in the security situation in Kosovo has first and foremost allowed an immediate improvement in the humanitarian situation. International relief organisations have re-started their operations in Kosovo. They now have unrestricted access for their convoys.. Thousands of displaced persons have returned to their villages. At the same time, the improvement in the security situation is creating the conditions for a meaningful political dialogue to begin between Belgrade and the Kosovar Albanians.

Over the past few days, NATO's aerial surveillance assets and the Kosovo Diplomatic Observer Mission have been verifying whether Mr. Milosevic's actions match the commitments he has made to us.

I am pleased to report that over the past 24 hours, over 4,000 members of the Special Police have been withdrawn from Kosovo. Police and military units that are normally based in Kosovo are now moving back in their barracks together with their heavy weapons. Check points have been dismantled. In addition, most police and military units that are normally based elsewhere in Yugoslavia have left Kosovo. The security forces are returning to the level they were at before the present crisis began.

Despite these substantial steps, NATO's objective remains to achieve full compliance with UNSC Resolutions 1199 and 1203. As a result, we have decided this evening to maintain the ACTORD for limited air operations. Its execution will be subject to a decision and assessments by the North Atlantic Council. We will also maintain our ACTORD for the phased air campaign and will continue our activities under Phase Zero. We have requested our Military Authorities to remain prepared to carry out these air operations should they be necessary and to maintain forces at appropriate readiness levels for the operations under both ACTORDs.

The North Atlantic Council will keep the situation in Kosovo under constant review. If we see evidence of substantial non compliance in the future with UNSC Resolution 1199, then we will be ready to use force. We know that President Milosevic only moves when he is presented with the credible threat of force. The burden of proof of compliance clearly rests with him.

The Kosovar Albanians must equally comply with the UNSC Resolutions and cooperate with the international community. I call on the Kosovar Albanian armed groups to maintain the ceasefire that they have declared.

Our immediate focus will now be on ensuring the effectiveness of the verification regime.

Our NATO verification flights over Kosovo are beginning. We welcome the possible association of Russia and other partner countries in NATO's air verification regime.

NATO and the OSCE have been working closely together to co-ordinate their activities in carrying out the verification mission. The Alliance is also expediting planning for a NATO force for the extraction of the OSCE verifiers on the ground in Kosovo. We welcome UNSC Resolution 1203 which endorses the establishment of the two verification missions.

Despite the progress we have made, this crisis is far from over. A lot of work remains to be done. It is high time that the two parties in the conflict understand that the international community will not tolerate a continuation of the status quo. There has been too much human suffering. Clearly, a political solution must be found. I urge both sides to take advantage of the opportunity that now exists to move the political process forward and to secure this unique opportunity to work for a better future for Kosovo, and also for Yugoslavia as a whole.

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