Updated: 21-Nov-2001 Week of 23-29 June 1999

23 June 1999

An ethnic Albanian refugee girl holds on to a box of humanitarian aid.
(Belga photo)

Of the almost 1 million ethnic Albanian refugees who have fled Kosovo, nearly half have already returned home. In Albania, work continues to improve the main supply routes, to maintain refugee camps and to prepare for the repatriation of refugees. Co-ordination work continues with non-governmental organisations for the scheduled hand-over of certain camps and the repatriation plan for refugees. The United Nations has started to organise convoys from camps in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (1) to areas of Pristina which are considered reasonably safe.

Serbs living in the province of Kosovo fear retaliation from the ethnic Kosovar Albanians. NATO Secretary General, Dr Javier Solana, has made an appeal to them to "give peace a chance". He declared that KFOR forces "will do their very best to ensure the safety and security of everyone in Kosovo, regardless of their ethnic, religious or cultural background."

British KFOR troops disembark at Salonica, Greece, for deployment to Kosovo. (Belga photo)

KFOR is continuing its deployment into Kosovo. Its role is to create secure conditions to enable the international community under the leadership of the UN:

  • to rebuild Kosovo;
  • to re-establish law and order;
  • to ensure the safe return of refugees to their homes;
  • to promote social and economic reconstruction;
  • and to support the full investigation of all war crimes and atrocities.

On 21 June, the UCK gave a written undertaking to demilitarise and cooperate with NATO forces. So far, the terms of this agreement have been respected by the UCK.

NATO Secretary General visited Pristina on 24 June where he met with Kosovar Albanian leaders, Mr. Hauzai and Mr. Tahiri, UCK leaders, Mr. Thaci and Mr. Surroi, and Kosovar Serb leaders, Mr. Artimije and Mr. Trajkovic. During the visit, he reiterated NATO's determination to uphold values -democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law- which the Alliance has been defending for 50 years.

Dr Javier Solana also stated that more troops from NATO and non-NATO countries are still arriving in Kosovo. Following the agreement signed in Helsinki between the US State Department and the Russian Ministry of Defence on Russian participation in KFOR, Russian troops are also arriving in Pristina.

Additional information:

1. Turkey recognises the Republic of Macedonia with its constitutional name.

23 June 1999
President of Armenia at NATO HQ

On 23 June, the President of Armenia, Mr. Robert Kocharian, came to NATO HQ to meet with the Secretary General, Dr Javier Solana. They discussed matters of interest to both NATO and Armenia, including regional cooperation and Armenia's participation in Partnership for Peace and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council.

Additional information:

24 June 1999
NATO-Ukraine cooperation

A seminar on perspectives of cooperation between NATO and Ukraine took place in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on 24 June. A total of around 70 journalists, academics, students and local government representatives gathered to discuss further cooperation between NATO and Ukraine, NATO's role in Kosovo and the outlook for security in the Balkans. The seminar was organised by the non-governmental organisation: "Democratic Transformations of Ukraine" and was co-sponsored by NATO.

26 June 1999
NATO at the Threshold of the New Millenium

This year, the General Assembly of the Atlantic Association of Young Political Leaders was held, for the first time, in a partner country on 26-30 June. It was organised in Sofia, Bulgaria, by the Bulgarian Euro-Atlantic Youth Club, in cooperation with the Atlantic Club of Bulgaria on the theme: "NATO at the Threshold of the New Millenium". Organised within the framework of NATO's 50th anniversary celebrations, the Assembly brought together some 200 international participants from NATO and non-NATO countries, including the President of Bulgaria, H. E. Petar Stoyanov, other high-level government and military officials, and NATO representatives.

28 June 1999
Joint NATO-WEU Council

Representatives from NATO and from the Western European Union (WEU) met at WEU headquarters in Brussels on 28 June. They discussed the ongoing cooperation between both organisations and the development of a European Security and Defence Identity (ESDI). The aim of ESDI is to enable European-led operations with NATO assets and to rebalance roles and responsibilities between Europe and North America. Also discussed was the situation in Kosovo and stability in the Balkans.

29 June 1999
The first Partnership for Peace (PfP) Training Centre opens in Ankara, Turkey.