NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson
a great pleasure for me to welcome Dr.
Covic, Minister Svilanovic and Colonel
General Krstic at NATO today. Dr. Covic
met with the NATO Council for a frank
and open exchange on the situation in
on the visit of the Deputy Prime Minister
of the Republic of Serbia, Dr . Nebojsa
Since Dr Covic's first visit two
months ago, the situation has greatly
improved, in many ways due to the
constructive approach adopted by FRY
authorities based on dialogue and
a commitment to a political solution.
In that regard, the personal and
constructive engagement of Dr. Covic
must be highlighted. I acknowledge
the restraint shown by the FRY forces
but also urge the parties to continue
to comply with the cease-fire statement
signed on 12 March.
The Yugoslav Army has already re-entered
over 80% of the Ground Safety Zone
and representatives of the Albanian
and Serb communities are engaged in
a dialogue to discuss the implementation
of Confidence Building Measures.
I stress that both sides have to
demonstrate good will and adopt an
open attitude. Threats to withdraw
from talks are detrimental to the
interests of both communities. The
legitimate aspirations of the local
communities can only be achieved through
politics not violence.
It is NATO's hope that the right
conditions will exist for a re-opening
of the remaining sector of the GSZ
and NATO will proceed when there is
a consensus to do so. We are not constrained
by a time table, our motivation is
a settlement between the two communities.
Already, some trust-building measures
have been implemented and I congratulate
the Serbian authorities for their
commitment to ensure progress in that
respect. Trust cannot be achieved
overnight, so more needs to be done,
especially as we are now contemplating
the relaxation of the most sensitive
part of the GSZ.
In particular :
- the withdrawal of Yugoslav
Forces and the MUP from public
buildings such as schools must
be completed ;
- the constitution of a multi-ethnic
police force must proceed swiftly
- the conditions for the return
of refugees must exist ; and
- the issue of the amnesty for
Albanian fighters who will have
voluntarily laid down their weapons
must be tackled with determination.
Deputy Prime Minister Covic has told
us today of his commitment to these
principles and to progress on them.
The ethnic Albanian community must
isolate those who have chosen violence
as the instrument to pursue their
aspirations. Those who opted for violence
should be under no illusion : NATO
and the whole international community
will not tolerate violence.
NATO is ready to continue as a facilitator
between parties to achieve a long-term
settlement and I thank those who are
doing difficult work on the ground.
NATO's intention remains to abolish
the GSZ, and crucially to ensure that
all the people in the area enjoy full
rights and equal safety.
The visit of the Yugoslav delegation
today has been another important step
towards a safer, more just and more
stable Southeast Europe.