Updated: 23 April 1999 NATO Speeches


25 Apr. 1999

Statement to the Press

by NATO Secretary General, Dr. Javier Solana

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen,

We have had two meetings this morning.

The first was a meeting between NATO leaders and the seven countries which neighbour Yugoslavia.

These countries have all suffered hardship and difficulties because of the crisis in Kosovo. Two in particular, Albania and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia have had to cope with a massive influx of refugees. Their efforts to accommodate these refugees has been nothing short of heroic.

NATO has been in the forefront of the international efforts to solve the refugee crisis. Our forces in both the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Albania have built refugee camps, transported thousands of tons of food and medical supplies and provided transport to evacuate refugees to safer areas. We have demonstrated that we are standing by these countries and will not allow them to be destabilized as a result of Milosevic's ethnic cleansing.

We have also reassured the neighbouring countries that NATO has a direct and material interest in their security. We will not tolerate any threats against their security.

In return, the NATO allies are grateful for the support that the countries in the region have given us. Some have hosted NATO forces on their territories. Others have granted us access to their air space and logistic support. All of the leaders of the seven neighbouring countries reaffirmed their support for NATO's objectives to resolve the Kosovo crisis. They also fully share our resolve and determination to ensure that Belgrade's aggression is stopped and ethnic cleansing is reversed.

Our second meeting today was the Summit of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council.

Since our last EAPC Summit in Madrid two years ago, we have been forging ever closer ties between NATO and its 24 Partner countries. The presence of so many leaders here in Washington today demonstrates that our Partners share our Alliance's democratic values and want to build with us a new European Security Order based on cooperation, not confrontation.

A key topic of our discussions this morning was Kosovo. Our Partners all share our view that the violence resulting from nationalism and ethnic strive could not be tolerated in the Europe of the 21st century. Our Partners share our resolve and determination to put a stop to that violent conflict and to ensure that justice is upheld. Peace in Kosovo is important for stability in the entire Euro-Atlantic area and the support of our Partner countries for our political objectives in Kosovo demonstrates that we share the same values.

The EAPC and our Partnership for Peace have been one of the great success stories in Europe in recent years. They allow NATO and its Partners not only to consult together, but also to handle real security tasks, such as the participation of so many countries in our SFOR force in Bosnia.

Here today in Washington we have made our cooperation even more operational. We have enhanced our Partnership for Peace and we have endorsed a new framework for our cooperation in future peace support operations. This will enable our partners to be more directly involved in the planning and implementation of NATO-led peace support operations.

We can only achieve a stable and prosperous Euro-Atlantic area by working together. That is why the Heads of State and Government of over 40 countries have come to Washington today. This meeting is a powerful signal that it is the values of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council that are going to shape Europe in the 21st century.

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