|Updated: 20-Sep-2004||NATO Speeches|
17 Sept. 2004
NATO Secretary General, Mr. Jaap de Hoop Scheffer
De Hoop Scheffer: Thank you. Let me start by saying that I bid a warm welcome, of course, to Mr. Soren Jessen-Petersen. Pledged him the full NATO support in his very challenging mission. We have great trust in his mission. KFOR is there, KFOR is there to stay. KFOR will not only have the same troop level, but KFOR will increase the troop level to approximately 20,000 for the election period so that the sign is also given for the KFOR and NATO commitment.
Of course, Kosovo is entering a very crucial period. The elections in October and what comes after the elections, the moment of evaluation in the middle of next year. We hope, of course, that the elections to be held in Kosovo, that in the elections all Kosovars will participate. Also very much the Kosovar Serbs. Elections are a moment for every single citizen to express his will, so I think it's of the utmost importance that the elections will be a success.
Also, so as to give Mr. Jessen-Petersen the opportunity to take his responsibilities as, let's say with the UN who is the leader of the political process. So in other words, support, for my part, NATO will continue to work with the international community and with the other actors, let's not forget the European Union, to see that progress can be made in Kosovo. And let me finish by saying that I will trust, with all his experience in the Balkans, that Soren Jessen-Petersen will be successful.
Thank you very much.
Soren Jessen-Petersen (Special Representative of the UN Secretary of State in Kosovo): Than you very much, Secretary General. First of all, it's evident it's been a very good opportunity to meet with the NATO Secretary General, to hear from the NATO Secretary General, as you did now, that KFOR is there, will remain there, and will be around, as we enter this very, very critical period in Kosovo.
I have said before, will say it here, that security is the basis for everything that we do now and will do over the next six, nine months. Having a secure environment is absolutely key and therefore with KFOR on the ground, with KFOR, let me say, like UNMIK, lessons learned from March, which we both have looked at, I think we have now both on the KFOR and the UNMIK side, with the involvement of the provisional institutions, because they also have to assume more responsibility for security down there, I think we are in a situation where we can say to everybody, including the minorities, we have a secure environment, go and vote, and also I trust that we have a secure environment that will allow us to move the process forward.
It is, as the Secretary General said, absolutely critical that we have fair and free elections, calm and peaceful. Kosovo Serbs must participate because they must be part of the dialogue moving Kosovo forward. And following that will follow a very intense period, taking us to mid-2005, reviewing standards implementation, and in case of a positive assessment, embarking on the process of status talks. Much is at stake. Much is at stake. Everybody must take part in that dialogue, including the Kosovo Serbs.
And for the basis of everything is security. That's why it's been very important for me to be here today, very important to receive the words of support, continued support and the continuing important role of Kosovo on the ground.
So I thank you very much Secretary General for those words of support, and also a commitment to stay the course, stay that course in very close coordination with UNMIK. I am working on a daily basis, very closely with the commander of KFOR and our two institutions are working very closely together. That is important.
Moderator: Questions, one, two, three.
Q: Augustin Palokaj from (inaudible). Do you think... Question for Secretary General and for Mr. Petersen at the same time. Do you think there isn't political obstacle for Serbs to participate in elections and not security issue only? And how do you think that you will resolve this? Because it is clear that Belgrade long time ago advised them not to participate and now you are trying to convince Belgrade that Belgrade has to convince Kosovo Serbs to participate. Don't you think that this is wrong way and you should discuss it with the Kosovar Serbs directly?
Soren Jessen-Petersen: Well, let me make clear first of all that I am discussing this with the Kosovo Serbs every day. Already on my first day in Pristina I met with the Kosovo Serbs and I've been meeting with them very, very... on a very regular basis.
However, you know, I know that the Kosovo Serbs are, unfortunately, waiting for a signal from Belgrade. That is why I also have to discuss this with Belgrade and have been doing it, again, on a very, very regular basis, both visits to Belgrade and also on the telephone, letters, etc.
Security is a real issue. I am, however, satisfied that thanks to all the measures taken by KFOR, by UNMIK, and KFOR and UNMIK together, we have today conditions which are such that it shouldn't be an obstacle for Kosovo Serb participation.
Secondly, Kosovo Serbs are worried, and so is Belgrade, about institutional guarantees. Again, we have many of those institution guarantees in place. Again, it should not be an obstacle.
We have also said we are prepared to listen to Belgrade on their ideas on decentralization, but we are doing it on the basis of the decentralization plan developed in Pristina by the authorities in Pristina and the process will be a Pristina-driven one.
So there are still a couple of considerations, but I'm confident that within the next few days we will get a positive signal that will allow the Kosovo Serbs to participate. It is crucial, as I said earlier, that they are part of this dialogue taking Kosovo forward. They must participate. We want them to participate. That is the most important point.
De Hoop Scheffer: I can only echo what the Special Representative has just said. NATO's roles is indeed, and I've been there a couple of times myself during my relatively brief tenure, is of course also to convince the Kosovo Serbs when we are there in direct contacts, but also deliver exactly the same political message in Belgrade as Mr. Jessen-Petersen has just said. So we're not only in total agreement, but when it say that NATO wants to be actively related to the process it's exactly by delivering these messages, which I have done when I was in Belgrade just shortly before the holiday break.
Q: Mme Mouradian Radio France International. A question for Secretary General. Mr. Petersen, as the representative of NATO invited in Europe by Kofi Annan to hear the opinion and the recommendation about the standards. Now we know there are a different view about the standards; the ambassador of Norway made another report. So can you explain to us what are the recommendations of the NATO? Are you in favour of this to give a priority to some standards or not?
De Hoop Scheffer: NATO is responsibility... KFOR's responsible for security. And we, of course, following very closely the political process. And we want to be involved in that political process. But it's not up to NATO. In other words, also not up to me, although of course NATO will be represented in New York. Ambassador Serry will go to New York to represent it. It's not up to me and to us here and now, let's say, to say this would be NATO's angle for the political process. I would like to leave responsibilities where they are, and that is in the first place with the Special Representative of the Secretary General, and NATO has the obligation, as I said in my introduction, through KFOR, to provide the environment, the secure and stable environment for the elections, very important, for the participation of all people in Kosovo. That's NATO's role.
At the same time, of course, having KFOR on the ground in Kosovo, NATO is not only interested in the political process, but is, through Ambassador Serry, of course, also involved in. But let's distinguish the direct responsibilities.
Q: (inaudible)... News Agency. Question both to Mr. Petersen and Secretary General. I'm wondering about lessons to be learned. What kind of changes should be made in both tactics and objectives of KFOR troops in Kosovo just to prevent further violence in the province? Thank you.
De Hoop Scheffer: Well, I think what has been done since March... Of course, KFOR performed very well in March, but there were too many national caveats, so-called caveats. So a lot of these caveats have been removed and I'm going on to plead for the removal of more caveats.
And you know, as I've just said, and you've heard, that in the election period, which is, of course, a crucial and critical period, KFOR will be close to 20,000 strong so KFOR will be very much up to standard and be there to let's say act if what hopefully will not take place if there would be another eruption of violence or ethnic hatred. But I certainly do not hope that's the case, but KFOR is there.
Q: Yeah, (inaudible)... News Agency. Mr. Jessen-Petersen, you say today that there are two different things. One is participation of Serb and all people in Kosovo in the elections, but the other is the question of decentralization. But I think that one commenting for that is absolutely security. You insisted and NATO insisted on that.
So letting lessons learned from March events, in the past Secretary General, Mr. Solana, Mr. Patten, Ministers of NATO, European Union insisted on the most important thing is that responsibles for the March violence should be, must be brought to the justice. For the moment it seems that it's something that it's functioning very bad and Serbian political leaders yesterday said that practically nobody was brought to justice for the moment.
So this is not the problem only for Serbian communities. Problem for all Kosovo society and the institutions.
Soren Jessen-Petersen: Let me say first of all that you are not very well informed. Since March 270 persons have been arrested who were involved in the violence. Among those, 54 of the so-called ringleaders have been arrested. Indictments have been taken out already on 17 of those. So the judicial process is taking its course, and it will continue.
On the less important incidents, but still part of the violence, local... All these ring leaders have been conducted by international justices and it's on the way. Then there are a little more than 200 minor incidents, but still important, where local judicial institutions have been in charge. More than 100 of those have already received prison sentences and the others are on the way.
So it is not right to say that nothing has been done. In fact, a lot has been done. It is on the way and it will be continued until all justice has been done. Rest assured.
Let me just add to that, shortly after the March violence there was a tragic(?) killing of Serbs in Gracanica. The local police, KPS, moved in and immediately arrested two Albanians and that process is also on the way. I think it has just been started in court.
So both in response to the March events, the statistics are very clear, justice is on the way, by international and local judges on the ring leaders and others, and the subsequent events. And I'm very pleased to say, only one! I mean, we are talking about six months, we are talking of a crime rate that is far below, with all due respect to my Swedish friend, for example, Stockholm.
But the important thing is that justice
is being done, and it is happening. So
get in touch
you all the
statistics in writing, and then you will
not have to ask that question next time.