Updated: 2 June 1999 Speeches


1 June 1999

Transcript of Press Conference

by the Secretary General of NATO, Mr Javier Solana, and the Prime Minister of Slovenia, Mr Janaz Vrnorsak in Brussels

Secretary General: Good afternoon. It is for me a great pleasure to receive today once again here in NATO the Prime Minister of Slovenia an old friend. As you can imagine we have talked about basically two main issues: the bilateral relationship between NATO and Slovenia. Let me say that we are very pleased on how the relationship is going. Slovenia is as you know a very close PFP member. He has participated already on what was the programme that was brought out of the Washington Summit a membership action plan and as time goes by Slovenia is closer and closer a party to NATO. That is what we want to do, to keep on working so that Slovenia becomes closer and closer to the Alliance.

Let me also say that we have evaluated together the situation in the region, in particular in Kosovo, but not only in Kosovo. We have analysed the four main elements of this tragedy that we have at this point: the military component; the air campaign; and also the preparation for the deployment of the force of Kfor, a peacekeeping force to guarantee the security of Kosovo; and also the return of the refugees. We have talked about the humanitarian situation, and how much we can work together in order to help on that Thirdly we have analysed the diplomatic initiatives which as you know are taking place at this very moment and in the coming days, and we both hope that these diplomatic initiatives will bear fruit, and that at the end of this process a solution can be found on the terms that the international community has presented so far. And I would also like to underline that we have worked together to make an analysis about what we can do together for the region.

As you know, the European Union, NATO and other organisations are launching a Stability Pact for the region. Of course, Slovenia is not part of any problem, but in Slovenia with their generosity is being part of the solution. And the advice of Slovenia, the co-operation of Slovenia, the advice of the Prime Minister which, as you know, has been involved in the crisis of Kosovo for some years already, it is very very important for us and very valuable for us. So we want very much to see Slovenia involved, not from the problem side, but from the solution side, to find together a mechanism to look into the 21st century with the region, with the Balkans, which are stable in part of the mainstream, also of the European construction. And for that the help, the advice and the co-operation of Slovenia and of the Prime Minister is basic for NATO, and if I may say it is also very important for me personally, because as I said before, we have constructed a very profound friendship in the years that we have been together.

So, Prime Minister, thank you very much once again for being here. Thank you for your co-operation, thank you for your advice for this long time that we have been able to discuss together important problems which are on your agenda and which are on my agenda. Thank you very much once again.

Mr Vrnorsak: Thank you. I would basically say the same. We have had a very intensive, very I think interesting discussion, I should say brain-storming on the situation. There is nothing that concerns at this moment directly Slovenia and NATO but we feel somehow responsible also, and we would like to see a solution soon, and we try to participate and we try to work together with our friend Javier and others in solving this complex situation and problem.

So basically I have intensive relationships with most European leaders and also American leaders and this kind of consultation also during the last two days. I met yesterday Chancellor Schroeder and some other German politicians and this morning also Strobe Talbott in Bonn, so this is also some kind of process of exchanging views and brainstorming since we would all like to see soon, I think, the end of this situation which is certainly very difficult for everybody. We would like to start soon the process of construction, to start some Pact of Stability for south east Europe and to do something positive, not just to be involved in a war. So I hope that this present round of diplomatic efforts, consultations which is going on these days will bring some result.

So my estimation is that there should be some result now in these days, otherwise I think some basic rethinking will be needed and some basic decisions will have to be undertaken in the near future. So I hope that there will be a diplomatic solution of the problem and that we can then build together the stability and the new future for south-east of Europe. Slovenia here I think is a good example of political stability and economic success, an example that can also be some lead for other countries in the region since Slovenia is becoming quite soon a member of the EU, so it is here a part. We think that also the others could and should follow. So thank you.

Slovenian TV: Mr Secretary General, can you elaborate a little bit more on the future role of Slovenia in the Group of Seven neighbouring countries of Yugoslavia, if there is any concrete role?

Secretary General: Well, Slovenia is not a neighbouring country as such, it is a close country, but not a neighbouring country, and we would like Slovenia to participate as a country that can give, as the Prime Minister said, advice and co-operation. If you would allow me to say on a personal note something. As you probably know, the Prime Minister has written a very interesting book on the region. I had the opportunity of reading it in two different languages and it is a lot with the experience accumulated in the leadership of your country, it is a lot what you can do to help the other countries which want to participate, the countries that belong to NATO, that belong to the European Union, but they dont have such a profound and accumulated experience, there is a lot you can do to help us to find a way, to find an appropriate way. As the Prime Minister has said, the path that Slovenia has taken in the last year, has been a very, very positive path, and if the rest of the countries can take a path similar to that of rationality, of politically democratic institutions, of economic rigour and of reconstruction of the basic institutions, we would be today in a much, much better situation all over the region.

Question: Secretary, Could you just in your words be a bit more specific what you expect from your trip tomorrow to Belgrade to accomplish?

Secretary General: Well, let me first wait for what happens today, tonight. I do hope there will be a position of the different participants, in particular Russia and the representative of the European Union, and the representative of the United States, a closer position of what the position that may bring together to Belgrade could be. But I do not expect for tomorrow any other thing that Milosevic will accept the simple conditions, and they are very simple conditions to accept, by the international community that would be presented by Mr Ahtisaari, as representative of the European Union, that is what I would expect and that is what I hope.

Question: Prime Minister, I would like to know whether you have expressed any concern to the Secretary General about the possible consequences on the region of NATO military action against Yugoslavia, and what kind of contribution Slovenia is willing to provide to NATO within the Kfor? And if I may add a question to the Secretary General, what kind of advice have you received from Slovenia?

Mr Vrnorsak: We are all concerned about the consequences in the region. It is clear that the economic situation in some countries in not easy. The neighbouring countries are all having certain economic problems. Slovenia is not affected, not being directly a member and also otherwise in a different economic situation. But I would put this in a broader context. Of course we understand why this is happening and it is very important also for the future that this will be resolved in an adequate way. So, it is not just about the present day, but it will be a precedent for the present, for the future developments in the world, so we think it is important to find good solutions, although it is difficult for some countries at this moment, certainly also for the peoples of the region. About the specific participation in the Peace Implementation Force, there are technical discussions going on also between Slovenia and NATO experts about this.

Secretary General: You asked me about the result of the advice that I have received from the Prime Minister. I will tell you that parts of the advice can be made public and others if you will allow me I will keep it for myself not to share with you publicly.

Let me say something about what I can share with you publicly. Two things I think have been very important to me. One, the support on the strategy that NATO is carrying on now, the strategy which has two parallel lines: the military activity, but also at the same time the support of the diplomatic initiatives. We have to maintain that strategy, continue to maintain it with tenacity, with perseverance. And second, as far as the medium term is concerned, I share very much what he has told me that it is very important to send a very clear message to the Serbian people. The Serbian people should know that once this conflict is over, and once Serbia is a country like the rest of the countries in the region, the possibilities that they may have with the Stabilisation Plan will be very significant. And this is a message which we continually try to send also to the Serbian people, that we want to come to them also for the reconstruction of the region, and the only thing they have to do is to behave from a democratic point of view, from a political point of view, as the countries of the region do, and that is, I think, a very important message that we want already before the conflict is over to send to the people of Serbia.

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