|Last update: 01-Dec-2003 8:05||NATO Update|
Lord Robertson discusses future cooperation
On the first ever visit by a NATO Secretary General to Belgrade, 26-27 November, Lord Robertson said NATO and Serbia must put the past behind and called for the handover of war criminals.
During the historic visit, Lord Robertson met with President Marovic, Foreign Minister Svilanovic, Defence Minister Tadic and Deputy Prime Minister Covic.
The talks focused on Serbia and Montenegro’s desire to join the Partnership for Peace programme, and the conditions that country must still fulfil, with Lord Robertson saying that this was no longer a question of “if”, but “when”. Lord Robertson also discussed Serbia and Montenegro’s offer to send troops to the NATO-led peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan.
On the second day of his visit, the Secretary General addressed the Military Academy in Belgrade, urging army commanders to leave the past behind and look to the future.
“I am not asking you here today to simply forget whatever grievances you might harbour. All I am asking you is to set them aside. To look ahead,” he added.
The Secretary General reiterated that a vital precondition for future cooperation remained the arrest and handover of indicted war criminal Ratko Mladic, who is believed to be hiding on the territory of Serbia and Montenegro.
Calling for reform in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Lord Robertson then travelled to Sarajevo for talks with the Commander of NATO-led peacekeeping force, the international community’s High Representative Lord Ashdown and the Bosnian Presidency.
He underlined the Alliance’s continuing commitment to Bosnia and Herzegovina, but called on the political leadership to move ahead with defence reform and the creation of a joint defence ministry, saying that this was a key precondition for Bosnia to become a NATO partner.