on 2 October 2001
at the NATO Press Centre in Skopje
(Technical difficulties prevented us
from recording the entire news briefing. Our apologies.)
of Major Tim Dunne:
Good morning ladies and gentlemen, welcome to today's
news briefing. First of all, over night shot reports:
We have two to report, one at 21:30 last night, and in
the area of Lipkovo, there was a drive-by shooting, but
we have assessed this as not against any targets, it was
just a drive-by shooting into the air.
And sometime after this, there was another shooting in
the Zelino area, again, against no target. And following
yesterday's news briefing there were some questions regarding
information we had about a shooting at the police check
points, we made an inquiry and we issued a clarification
yesterday afternoon. For those who may not have read the
clarification, I will read it now:
Following questions this morning about reported attacks
on police positions in the Tetovo area the APIC said it
had no information on the incident, but would follow-up
the questions and report back. We can now add the following
Our observer teams in the area did record a small number
of gunshots in the Tetovo area late last night, followed
by a short burst of automatic gunfire, (about x20). The
timing and approximate location appears to correlate with
a report from the Ministry of Interior police that shots
were fired at two of their checkpoints in the cemetery
area of Tetovo, and that they briefly returned fire.
Due to darkness and the geographic location of our observer
team we cannot verify the police report, but liaison teams
are following up the incident. The MoI report on the incident
was passed on to NATO through normal channels, but unfortunately
had not reached us in time for the briefing. We would
strongly condemn any attack on police positions.
That concludes our clarification for yesterday. Going
on with today's information:
Yesterday a farmer picked up or disturbed a piece of
unexploded ordinance, which exploded and seriously injured
him and less seriously injured one other.
of Mark Laity:
[...] over plans for the return into the conflict zones.
We did make progress but there will be further meetings
today. These regular meetings indicate how keen we are
to get this process moving and the atmosphere at this
meetings is good, we are cooperating well over some difficult
issues. That's it for me and I'm open to your questions.
1: Could you give us an information about the
exact number of TFH soldiers that have departed already?
Dunne: I would have to get a calculator in
order to that. If you want to wait until after the briefing,
I will get that for you. It should only take a few moments.
Laity: We will try and get that for tomorrow.
There is an overlap because some of the troops that have
been working for TFH will change their function and become
part of TFF. Although this will be within the total figure
of some 700 additional troops to KFOR Rear's normal total.
2: Mr. Laity, since you mentioned that there
are discussions and regular meetings ongoing, can you
tell us at what level they are being conducted, who is
participating on behalf of the , MOD, MoI and also from
the NATO side?
Laity: They happen at various levels. So, for
instance, yesterday's meeting was at a middle-ranking
level, colonel-brigadier level, other main meetings involved
the state secretaries, and other officials of equivalent
rank. Normally, we would characterize them as meetings
at the expert level. The practical level of people that
would actually have to implement the return to the former
conflict zones. Sometimes they also involve specialist
sub-groups, for instance on media, but there is usually
one meeting a day and they involve representatives of
EU, UNCHR, OSCE, NATO.
3: What are the difficult issues that need
to be solved?
Laity: On a technical level, it's a multi-phase
plan, which involves a preparation phase, for instance
an information campaign, and assessment of utilities and
things like this, but also we need to agree and discuss
on deciding which zones are low-risk to be entered first,
medium risk to be entered later and high-risk to be entered
last. And the timing of the phasing, we need to agree
in which order, but how long between each phase. These
are quite technical issues and of course they are not
always discussed at this level, and how they are affected
by other bigger strategic issues. For instance, amnesty
and the implementation or the voting to approve the Framework
Because these are all connected with the confidence building
process. And both of those issues are critical in the
area of confidence building. And in particular of course,
amnesty. Because the issue of amnesty will have a critical
impact on how the return of police forces is viewed by
those who are in the former conflict zones.
So, it is hard to understate the importance of a quick
amnesty in order to facilitate the fast return of the
Macedonian security forces and particularly the police,
to the former conflict zones. And obviously, on the wider
level, the Framework Agreement is a signal to everybody
that we can have a different kind of future, in which
all sectors of the society can feel confident that things
are going to continue to improve. But, as I said, the
technical agreements are often more practical than mundane.
We need to get these details and these practicalities
right because they are critical to success. In a fragile
situation, small incidents can have great consequences.
4: What about the issue of the kidnapped persons.
You may be aware that the families have been received
yesterday by Parliament Speaker Andov and President Trajkovski
and this whole issue might have a negative effect on the
voting in favor of the Agreement. What is your comment
We've had the issue of conditionality before.
In the initial phase one, vote, there was a suggestion
that there should be conditions set before people voted
for the Agreement. And the very firm view at the time
was that there is no conditionality. When the agreement
was signed there was no conditions set for it. And the
same issue applies to amnesty. When the President wrote
his letter, made his statement which was supported by
the Government, where was no 'ifs' in that statement.
Clearly, one can appreciate the strength of feelings of
those who have people who are missing. But, that does
not mean that there can be conditionality on unrelated
issues. The amnesty issue and the signing of the Framework
Agreement is about the future of whole of Macedonia. That
process is a process that people have pledged, so there
can be no linkages, it would be unfair to the whole of
Macedonia which benefits as a whole for the return in
the former conflict zones. So bringing in of conditionality
would be a breach of the commitment already made. And
there was no conditionality set when these things were
agreed or stated. It is up to other people how they vote,
but there is no question that there was no conditionality
5: Do you have the impression that the parliament,
and the MPS are distancing more and more from the Framework
Agreement and the Plan of President Trajkovski. Do you
think that we are coming to a dead-end?
My opinion on that is irrelevant. I was stating the situation
as it is up to MPs what they do. We are not going to interfere
in the sovereignty of Parliament. I was merely pointing
out the logical consequences. If you decide not to have
an amnesty, there will be consequences. If people vote
against the Framework Agreement, there will also be consequences.
People have to understand what those possible consequences
are and live with them. But I would not never dream of
telling an MP how he should or should not vote. But we
all know that the question of the Amnesty and the Framework
Agreement charted the way ahead. So, if there is no amnesty
and no framework agreement, what is the way ahead? That
is a choice that lies before the MPs. And I repeat, with
some emphasis, it is their choice, not mine.
6: Do you have any information regarding the
The best people to speak to on this are the Red Cross.
The first point to make is that we do not refer to those
as kidnapped persons, because we do not know their faith.
We refer to them as missing people, because were they
kidnapped? Are they dead? Merely missing? We do not know.
The information that the Red Cross is giving out is that
there are in fact 12 missing Macedonians. And 5 missing
Albanians. And we just do not know the faith of any of
them at present. Ali Ahmeti has been questioned both by
NATO and in meetings with other international organizations.
He has emphasized repeatedly that he does not know what
happened to them, but that they are not detained. Those
were his words, not ours. We just don't know. I think
that is very easy for anyone to understand the agony and
the grief of the families of the 17 people who are missing.
But it is to avoid more than 17 families having further
agony and grief, that we need to get this peace process
concluded. We do not want the 17 families in agony and
grief but we do not want it to be 117 or 1017. The Framework
Agreement, the amnesty, the return of the DPs, and the
return of Macedonian authority over its whole territory,
that is what we want so that the 17 people who were grieving
will be the last.
The reality about an amnesty is that if you are an ex
NLA member who has committed illegal acts by taking up
arms then you at present will be fearful of arrest. So
how you view a policeman. Quit possibly as a threat and
we wish to avoid that. So the return of people in former
conflict zones is meant to be confidence enhancing not
fear inducing. The commitment made by President Trajkovski
and supported by the government of doing an amnesty where
the only exclusion was war crimes subject to ITFWC jurisdiction
was a feature in giving people confidence to hand in their
weapons. It has been stated publicly by the ex NLA that
that amnesty was a major reason for giving the confidence
to give up their weapons. So if there is no amnesty then
there will be fear on their side, and people who are fearful
nervous do stupid things. You ask me what will happen
if there is no amnesty. And the real answer is I don't
know. Because we're all uncertain. What I would say is
I would ask you if you have committed an illegal act and
a policeman comes near what would you do. And so the answer
is I don't know. But the problem is we are in a situation
where we need certainty and confidence; we need to know
with some confidence what is going to happen when people
return to former conflict zones. I there is an amnesty
we can predict with some confidence. And I prefer certainty
to uncertainity, and I know there are many people in the
government who feel the same because they've said so publicly.
(second part): Ok, the second question is that
you keep mentioning trust building however two days ago
minister Buckovski stated that there are training camps
in Albania, how do you think this will influence the further
Well there seems to be some debate over the training camps
clearly. And this is a matter between Macedonia and Albania.
But clearly the NLA said it's disbanded the best available
evidence that we have are suggesting this is right. But
clearly they must stay disbanded. It's over. They've got
to stay disbanded. Now this does not mean that there will
not be individuals who behave badly. We know that Albania
itself has security problems. We know Kosovo has security
problems but we are here talking about Macedonia. And
there are views that NLA has done the right thing and
must stay doing the right thing. There was never any sympathy
for the NLA on the part of NATO, never. It was necessary
at the request of the government for us to deal with them
as intermediates. But if, we had never sympathy before,
if they would turn to arms now, then our view of them
would be even harsher if that is possible. They've done
the right by disbanding and they must stay disbanded.