NATO is continuing its air campaign against military targets in
the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) in order to put an end
to the violent actions initiated by President Milosevic's forces
and to stop the humanitarian disaster which is taking place in the
region. So far, more than 430,000 deportees have flowed into neighbouring
countries since 24 March 1999, to find refuge from the Serb Army
and special police units.
The Alliance is providing assistance to tens of thousands of refugees
who have been driven from their homes. Individual NATO member countries
are temporarily taking in refugees and organising airlifts.
NATO forces already in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
(1) - the ARRC: the Allied Command Europe (ACE) Rapid Reaction Corps-
have set up a "tented city" to assist thousands of refugees
coming over the border. Food, medical supplies and a water purification
plant have already been supplied. The Allies are also airlifting
relief supplies into refugee camps in Albania. Plans are moving
ahead for the NATO military to deploy a forward headquarters in
Albania to support efforts by the UNHCR and other organisations.
NATO has opened up a relief supply route for helicopters between
Tirana and Kukes on the border.
This week, NATO's Deputy Secretary General, Ambassador Sergio Balanzino,
travelled to the region to meet with the former Yugoslav Republic
of Macedonia (1) Government and the Commander of the
Alliance's ACE Rapid Reaction Corps, General Sir Michael Jackson,
to assess the refugee situation. He also went to Romania, Bulgaria
and Albania for consultations with senior Government Ministers,
and visited a refugee camp in Kukes (Albania).
NATO remains committed to its ultimate objective of supporting
the diplomatic efforts of the international community to find a
political solution to this crisis. The unilateral cease-fire proposed
by FRY and the Government of Serbia is insufficient. Before a cease-fire
can be considered, NATO Secretary General, Dr Javier Solana, has
stated that President Milosevic must meet the demands set out by
the international community: a peaceful multi-ethnic democratic
Kosovo in which all its people live in security. This would mean
the return of all refugees and therefore the deployment of an international
security presence, the withdrawal of Serb military, police and paramilitary
forces, and putting into place of a political framework for Kosovo
on the basis of the Rambouillet Accords.
1. Turkey recognises the Republic of Macedonia
with its constitutional name.