Updated: 27-Mar-2003 Transcripts


Press Briefing

held on 15 January 2003
at the NATO Press Centre in Skopje

Statement of Craign Ratcliff:

Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to today’s press conference. I will be very brief, I think the focus is more on Irena today than it on Wolfgang and me. Certainly, because I have the opportunity to go first, I would like to say: welcome back and happy New Year. I hope everybody had two good Christmases and two good New Years. Certainly, I hope the break was good, it was good for us to get reoriented. For NATO, it suffices to say that the transition from “Fox” to NATO Headquarters Skopje and the new mission has been very smooth. One of the question over the last couple of weeks has been – has it gone well and how they are doing. Although there were fewer liaison monitoring teams out there in the former crisis area, they are very well integrated in the communities in which they live, and they are continuing to work hard as they did before to be integrated and on the ground, observing, and helping to support the monitors, and the Government in tensions in the former crisis areas. I think one of the questions everybody has is – how many people are out there. That, of course, I cannot tell you, but it is about 22-23 teams that are out there in the area – it is an approximate number. But, I think overall, the message is that it has gone very well, and we are very pleased with how it has gone so far. At this point I think it is appropriate to turn over to Wolfgang.

Statement of Wolfgang Greven:

OK. Thanks a lot. First of all, I whish you all a happy New Year, and I think for all of us that we will have peace on earth, not only in this country, but in other areas as well. So, I think at least what we can do is pray for it a little bit. Then, if you remember when I came in September, this nice young man on my right was welcoming an old face. Now, I would like for him to be welcomed in the same club, because just a couple of days ago he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel of the US Army reserve, and those people usually look at me have an old face. So, Craig, congratulations again, I think you deserve it. Then, I would like to draw attention to a new project we are running in the Tetovo region. This is a school newspaper called “Point”. It is put together by a team of approximately 40 Macedonian, Albanian and Turkish boys and girls by all six of the city’s high schools, who work together in teams writing articles, taking photos, drawing cartoons, collaborating in graphic design and, finally, in the distribution. With OSCE project management, the eight-page “Point” paper will come out every two weeks, with a print run of 10,500. Let us hope that the newspaper would soon have a Turkish edition as well. The project is being funded by the OSCE Media Development Unit, and IOM’s confidence building initiative. The first edition will come out on 20 January, and if you are interested in more details, please do not hesitate to contact us, maybe you want to see this editors’ team, maybe some are your future colleagues. And finally, just a tip for you and for your agenda – OSCE is planning another off-record meeting with you, the media. It is dated Tuesday, 4 February, at 11 o’clock in La Caffe down town, and your partner in this off-record, and I really want to quote that, meeting will be Victor Ulum. He is our head of the Rule of Law Sector we have in OSCE. We would be grateful if you could, and I will say it again, contact most charming Ida, whether you will attend this or not, but we will give out a written invitation as well. And last, but not least, I would like to introduce to you Victor Poljakov. Victor, if you could shortly raise up, please. Very funny, but nice guy we have now in the media section at OSCE, and he is originally from Estonia. So, do not be afraid if you call us and get him on the phone. OK, that is all I have. Irena.

Statement of Irena Guzelova:

Good morning everyone. As you already know, the EU High Representative Javier Solana will be arriving in Macedonia this afternoon. He is arriving following a short trip to Sarajevo. He will be meeting with signatories of the Ohrid Agreement and with main political leaders. The purpose of his visit is to highlight two things – he will be discussing two major things. Obviously, he will be talking about the further implementation of the Framework Agreement, he will urge and push for rapid and full implementation of the Framework Agreement, and continued constructive support from all the leaders. He will urge all signatories to stick to their commitments, and encourage a follow-up of December’s meeting between the signatories. Secondly, he will discuss the possible take-over of the international security presence by EU forces. That is following the agreement between EU and NATO, which was reached in December, which grants EU access to NATO capabilities. Any take-over will happen with close cooperation with the Macedonian authorities as well as with NATO. As with the current mission, the final aim would be to help contribute towards a peaceful and prosperous Macedonia, where an international military presence will no longer be needed. So, this is roughly his agenda: he will be arriving in Skopje at the airport at 3:30 this afternoon. His first meeting is with President Trajkovski at round about 4 o’clock. He will then be meeting with Prime Minister Branko Crvenkovski; he then meets Ali Ahmeti; then Arben Xhaferi, Abdurahman Aliti, that is separately, one after the other; and then with Georgievski. And there will be a press point at round about 8:30 this evening at the presidency.

We were hoping today would be quick. I guess we are open to any questions you may have at this time. OK, I did not think so, you have a bigger fish to fry. I was told not to say this, but I did want to say something personal. I have had the opportunity to attend four weddings while I was in Macedonia. I think most of you know one of them was mine. But this is just a sort of example how integrated actually the representative on the stage are into your community. Those are the happier things, but an example is – today we have to leave early; a relative of a member of the APIC staff passed away recently. So, as you leave today, let us appreciate what we have, our families and our relatives, and we will take off immediately after you guys leave, to pay our respects to her family. There are happy things in life and, despite the sad things, my time in Macedonia has been very full of life and very enriching. This is one of the sadder moments, but I appreciate being involved. Thank you. So, you guys have a good day.