Updated: 10-Sep-2003 NATO Speeches


9 Sept. 2003

Press point

by NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson and Mr. Harri Holkeri, the new Head of the UN Mission in Kosovo

LORD ROBERTSON (NATO Secretary General): ...see you all again. After the summer, this is a sort of christening visit for Mr. Holkeri here in his new capacity and he has been warmly welcomed. And I have said very clearly, on behalf of NATO, that we stand firmly with him and the job that he has been asked to do by the Secretary General of the United Nations.

We, like him, deplore the violence of the summer which is unacceptable and indefensible. We too would want to identify and isolate and to imprison those who perpetrate that violence and undermine safety and security in Kosovo. What they do is not just involve themselves in this violent criminality, but they put road blocks in the way of Kosovo joining the European family of nations. And that is clearly something that is in nobody's interest at all.

Of course, there is a political future that has to be discussed. The future status of Kosovo is on people's minds, but it's not yet on the United Nations' agenda. Standards have to be established, and we strongly support the new special representative as we supported the last ones in saying it's standards before status. And clearly, progress can only be made if people are willing to establish the standards of decency and the values that we stand for before any great debate can take place.

Organised crime and extremism are the enemies of people in Kosovo today: genuine road blocks on the way to European integration. And the use of inflammatory language by people in the area simply raises the temperature and produces no good results at all. It fuels the violence that we've seen and which must be marginalised.

So, the UN Special Representative has got a big task, but Mr. Holkeri has a very long political pedigree. And I've just discovered that we share one critical background fact and that is that we're both sons of police officers. So, we have a common interest in law and order wherever it is as well.
Anyway, I'll turn it over to you now.

HARRI HOLKERI (Head of the UN Mission in Kosovo): Thank you, Sir. Ladies and gentlemen, it was very easy to find that we are speaking the same language. I do not just only mean English, I mean the same political language with the Secretary General. We have the same values and same goals. NATO... KFOR in Kosovo, and UNMIK on the civilian side, having the responsibility for the administration. We are working closely together and here in Brussels, I had an opportunity to get an impression that we still are going to continue in the same manner.

The security situation in Kosovo could be better and it needs joint efforts on both sides to be improved. But we have had already some horrible incidents during my time, but at the same time, we are, together with KFOR more determined to solve these problems.

The future of Kosovo can never be based on use of violence. The people who are involved are very few in my mind. The amount of extremists is not very high, but you only need one finger to trigger a bullet and that is why a lot of work must be done on the ground.

And what we are inviting is the co-operation of the local people. Without their support, it will be very difficult to get the perpetrators into justice, but with the co-operation with KFOR and UNMIK police and the local people, we will build that part of a democratic society. I mean the rule of law and the better future for ordinary people to live in their own area.

So, Mr. Secretary General, I'm ready for some questions if needed. But one more time, I want to thank you for the treatment I got. When I'm returning back tomorrow to Pristina, I know that the whole international community, including NATO and U.S. and the European Union, plus the Russian preparation are using the same security language.

MODERATOR (Mark Laity): Thank you. Questions. The gentleman there please.

Q: I'm Augustin Palokaj from Koha Ditore and also the son of a former police officer.
Last night, I returned from Kosovo and I saw that people are feeling that they are not secure. It's the... ethnic violence is just few percentage of the violence there that gets attention, but people are being killed every way. And we have UNMIK press officers telling us that the statistics show the situation in Kosovo is more secure than in Sweden. So the facts that UNMIK is giving to journalists do not coincide with the situation on the ground, and I don't think anymore that UNMIK police is doing great job there. So, my question for Secretary General, for Mr. Holkeri, is what can NATO do to support more the security, civil security organisations like Kosovo Police Service and UNMIK Police because it's clear that without bigger NATO role, they are not able to fight organised crime in Kosovo. Thank you.

HOLKERI: What can NATO do?

ROBERTSON: (Laughs) Well, I think first of all, it's got to be made clear that NATO is there as the back-up to UNMIK in Kosovo. And ultimately the long-term future of security in Kosovo will depend on local institutions, and the Kosovo Police Service and on the local and judiciary as well.

We will inevitably over time reduce the number of troops in Kosovo because they are increasingly less relevant in a developing society. But we are committed to supporting UNMIK and supporting what the Special Representative is doing in the way of establishing safety and security for all of the people, whatever their background, in Kosovo today. And we will continue to do that, and that's partly what our discussion was today, but Mr. Holkeri, in close liaison with General Mini and his successor, will continue to face that minority who bring violence to the streets of Kosovo, and they will be dealt with robustly.

HOLKERI: And as far as UNMIK Police is concerned, no one can accept any killed person. The statistics may show that there are violence elsewhere in the world, but what we are aiming to is to make the area of Kosovo a safe place to live, to every Kosovo Albanian, to every Kosovo Serb or what the other minorities may be. That's the basic thing we are... we are working.

And our police forces, they are professionals but they really need the co-operation of the local people. It is easier and safer for the Kosovars and Serbs if they work together with police forces. And we have, of course, the local police which have taken a huge responsibility on certain areas. And that movement towards the increasing responsibility of the local police will continue.

MODERATOR: Okay. Further questions? Okay. Please indicate if you're the son or daughter of a police officer.


Q: Carmen Romero from the Spanish News Agency EFE. This is a question for Mr. Robertson. Yesterday, Mr. Robertson you said in The Hague that the Dutch foreign minister could be a good secretary general of NATO. I would like to know if you think that John Manley, it's the Canadian... is a good candidate to take over your post?



ROBERTSON: I was asked the question in The Hague yesterday, would Mr. de Hoop Scheffer make a good secretary general of NATO, and I said yes. That didn't mean to say that other people would not make a good candidate for NATO.
I think that there are a number of names swirling around of people who have not declared themselves who would be perfectly good, excellent secretaries general of NATO. And I don't want to raise those names all over again, but if you ask me the question, would John Manley make a good secretary general of NATO, of course he would.

Q: If I may follow-up. Do you think it should be an European because until now, I mean, all the secretary generals were European, I mean...
ROBERTSON: I don't have any views on that at all. I'm the Secretary General, I don't have a vote, I don't have a say. It's the nations who make the decision about that and whatever customs have been in the past, they can change if that's the way they want to go.

My primary concern is to make sure that they come to a decision quickly, establish a consensus quickly because I think the organisation needs the continuity of knowing who will take over for me on the 1st of January of next year. So, that is my principle priority.

So, they have a number of good people whose names are out there. I hope they will quickly make a choice and establish a consensus and appoint one of them.

MODERATOR: Okay? Okay. Gentleman there.

Q: A question for Mr. Holkeri. You just said you are coming back to Kosovo with the support of all the international community including NATO and European Union. So, having in mind that very difficult security situation in your region and in Kosovo, what will be your first concrete step? Thank you.

HOLKERI: In regard of...?

Q: Security situation.

HOLKERI: Security. I will have a talk with the police commander there that will be one of the first meetings I'm going to have.
And of course, I'm going to listen to recommendations, what he and his colleagues can make. And of course, I will have a discussion with the representatives of the KFOR as well. What kind of operational actions are available, it remains to be seen.

MODERATOR: Okay. Last question.

Q: Leon Bruneau, Agence France Presse. A question for the Secretary General if I may. Secretary Rumsfeld in Afghanistan, earlier this week, suggested that he would favour, the U.S. would favour an expansion of the ISAF mandate outside of Kabul. I'd like to hear what your thoughts on that are and if NATO is going to consider that seriously. Is there any timetable that NATO would consider seriously?

ROBERTSON: Well, it was pointed out to me today that Secretary Rumsfeld actually made that suggestion, I think, in Warsaw, last October, and merely repeated at the weekend. And, of course, even within the last weeks, it was the German foreign minister, Joschka Fischer, who first of all suggested that ISAF might extend its mandate outside of Kabul and include some of the Provisional Reconstruction Teams, especially the one that Germany is taking over.

So, this matter is being looked at inside NATO. You can't have a suggestion made by the German Foreign Minister and the American Secretary of Defense without taking that seriously. And we'll be looking for some military advice on how feasible that may be. We'll also be in contact with the United Nations because it cannot take place without a change to the existing mandate for ISAF.

But as you've probably been told, and here, we have a major seminar about Afghanistan that's been scheduled for next Monday, and we have a brainstorming by the permanent representatives later on in the week on the same subject.
So, Afghanistan is certainly very much on our agenda at the present moment and looking at the German --stroke-- American suggestion is almost certainly there. It's on the table.

MODERATOR: Okay. Thank you very much. Thank you.

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