Updated: 18-May-2005 NATO Speeches

Pristina, Kosovo

13 May 2005

Press conference

by NATO Secretary General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer
in Pristina, Kosovo

13/05/2005 - NATO
Press conference by NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer in Pristina (.MP3/4156Kb)

JAAP DE HOOP SCHEFFER (NATO Secretary General): Well good afternoon to all of you; it's very good to be back.

The North Atlantic Council is visiting Kosovo today, first of all to show NATO's continued political commitments to Kosovo and to its future and of course also to assist Kosovo's process in meeting the standards.

And we just finished the meeting with President Rugova and Prime Minister Kosumi and I think I can say that we have seen some encouraging signs in this respect. We realise there's still a lot to do but I must also stress that we have seen encouraging signs and that of course includes the participation of the Kosovo Serbs in the PIC(?); the cautious resumption of the Pristina-Belgrade Dialogue; and we have of course seen calm in Kosovo when the indictment of former Prime Minister Haradinaj came in--and I think I should commend the people here in Kosovo for that.

There should be no doubt on the hand I should add, of course the world is watching Kosovo as the standards evaluation come closer. As the Contact Group has said, neither the review of the standards nor the results is a foregone conclusion. If there is no more concrete progress than has been made in meeting the standards, the process of course always can be postponed.

I don't hope that it will, but it depends as I said on further progress made here by the relevant responsible people in Kosovo.

What is a key part of standards implementation? That is the protection of minorities, as is their participation in the PIC and both must be encouraged; decentralization must be taken forward; the political talks, as I mentioned them, between Pristina and Belgrade must also begin and must be talks on more than just technical matters. It goes without saying that any extremism or violence would set back the progress and will not be tolerated, cannot be tolerated and will not be tolerated.

Well regardless of any discussion of the evolution of the structure of KFOR there should be no doubt in anybody's mind that KFOR will retain its operational effectiveness and if I speak about commitments, I can also add that KFOR is here of course for the longer term to ensure security and stability. And you see (inaudible), you see le général De Kermabon at my side, to show the commitments of KFOR in establishing security and stability which is so important for the process I have just described.

This is a very important year for Kosovo but the test of course does not end this year. Kosovo must demonstrate political maturity that can and will endure into the future and that is what the international community will be assessing in the coming months but not only in the coming months also beyond the direct future.

So if I summarize my remarks, there is progress. There is a lot to be done, responsibilities are to be taken by the majority, by the minority, it's very important that the different political parties find a way of dealing with each other in a normal political way and then I think it is useful to repeat why NATO is here, why KFOR is here and it is just to make that process possible and to see that every citizen in Kosovo has the protection he or she needs and can live freely.

Thank you very much.

We are open to take your questions.

UNIDENTIFIED: Well it is time for your questions now, we have only a few minutes left for questions so please only one question, short (inaudible).

Q: (inaudible) ...can be a force to be reckoned with (inaudible). Do you think that 15,000 is too high a number currently and (inaudible) have by the end of the year?

DE HOOP SCHEFFER: KFOR is going to keep, as I said, its operational capability. That means that KFOR can do what it does and will be continuously in a position that it can do what it does. When I talk about restructuring of KFOR I do not mean to say reducing numbers, reducing troops. I mean to say that KFOR is keeping its operational capability as it is; and you may expect that from KFOR and I do expect that from KFOR.

Q: (inaudible)

DE HOOP SCHEFFER: (inaudible) I have just in fact mentioned- I have mentioned the jest of the conversation with President Rugova and Prime Minister Kosumi , so I should not I think repeat my statement there.

And yet you ask me about the minority and the Kosovo Serbs, I've also said that it is of great importance that they fully participate. I mean they have- they have the right for protection; they have the right that the minority realises that they need of course to live as freely as anybody in Kosovo.

At the same time I said the majority and minority they have of course, also a responsibility to make it happen, to make the standards evaluation process into a success. That cannot only be done by the majority and it cannot only be done by the minority and if I mention the minority and the Kosovo Serbs it's of course also very much important as I said that there is a serious Pristina-Belgrade Dialogue and that means that, of course also as we all know, I hope and I expect that in Belgrade the signs and the signals will be positive signs and positive signals as far as the process of standards evaluation is concerned and the participation of the Kosovo Serbs in this process.

It's a responsibility which has to be carried by all and you know and I know that KFOR, General De Kermabon has said it many times, it's about restoring confidence. That is why KFOR is here but it is a political process finally, restoring confidence, for which the politically responsible people are here and they are, of course, very important responsible people are President Rugova and Prime Minister Koizumi and the government but also the opposition. That's why I've said that it is so important that political parties are dealing with each other in a harmonious way.

Of course political parties will have differences of opinion, that is not a problem, that is what politics is all about. But in their political differences I would hope and expect that they act in a responsible way. That is what in my opinion and in NATO's opinion restoring confidence is all about and KFOR will do its jobs to make that possible.

UNIDENTIFIED: One last question.

Q: (inaudible) Sir, you have been saying something about the postponement of the (inaudible). ...what would be a clear way, what would be your clear position on the (inaudible) from this. What kind of punishments(?) and (inaudible).

DE HOOP SCHEFFER: It is about standards evaluation and as NATO Secretary General, I am not the SRSG, I am not Søren Jessen-Petersen. I think he's doing a great job by the way. He's doing a great job and he should get all the support he deserves and he'll get it from KFOR and from NATO. But this is up to him.

What I have said, what I've tried to say, is that it is of course of great importance that progress is made in the standards so that the standards evaluation which is nearing as you know, I mean, we're living in May and the end of May of course will be a very important moment, that the results as I sincerely hope would be very positive. It's not up to me to say what will happen if the result is not positive, the international community--including NATO of course--will have something to say about that, but let me leave the responsibilities where they belong and that is, in the first place, with Søren Jessen-Petersen.

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