KFOR Press Conference
by General Sir Mike Jackson
General Jackson: .on us by the United Nations and
to see this process of demilitarisation through whilst doing our utmost
to maintain the peace and security for all Kosovo citizens. Very soon,
therefore, KFOR will be the only military security presence here and that's
how it should be and that I know is the objective enshrined within the
United Nations Security Council resolution.
I also look forward to the integration of the Russian contingent within
my unified command as we set about the next phase of our task. As you
all know, we have the requisite high-level political agreement on the
terms of the deployment of the Russian contingent and I await the final
formal approval in the very near future.
So it has come a conclusion, today marks a turning point in KFOR's mission.
I emphasise once again that we are here to establish a climate of peace
and security for all the people of Kosovo. I hope that all - and I would
stress that word "all" - who have left in fear will return and I am encouraged
by movements into Kosovo of refugees of more than one ethnic background.
I would repeat what I have said before, that KFOR will be robust but
fair, it will be even-handed in its dealings with all sections of the
community whatever their background to ensure that we do achieve a safe
and secure environment for everybody.
Finally, I would just like to say a word of thanks to many people who
have helped in reaching the agreement, not only this one but in the past.
I have a very good friend and colleague, Lt. General John Reith, who did
much work with the UCK to achieve this undertaking during negotiations
in Albania. Can I also pay tribute to the gentleman on my right, Senor
Sergio de Mello, the interim Special Representative, whose advice to me
as I was required to consult him under the terms of the UNHCR, has been
extremely valuable. Senor de Mello and myself will continue to co-operate
closely as required by the Security Council resolution as we pass from
this first phase of KFOR's operation to the next.
That is all I want to say, we are now both of us very happy to take
Questions & Answers
Question (Norwegian Broadcasting): General Jackson,
with respect to the necessity of harmonising the motivation of the Russians
in KFOR and also with respect to the Serb side of this settlement, how
crucial would you say it is that UCK complies with what you have agreed
General Jackson: I make no qualification about compliance
whether it is the Russian contingent or anybody else's contingent; they
have made an undertaking, they have signed it, they have given it to me
and I have received it, it is as simple as that. They must now - and I
am sure they will - uphold what they have undertaken to do.
Question (ITN): General, yesterday we filmed ethnic
Albanians looting and burning a Serb village while your NATO troops stood
by and watched. How are Serbs who saw those pictures expected to believe
your promise to be both robust and even-handed?
General Jackson: Let me deal with the particular first.
It was an incident which obviously I much regret, it should not have happened,
we have taken some measures to make sure that it doesn't happen again.
I have said before that no organisation is perfect and on that occasion
we fell short of what I would have wanted so having got that out of the
way, I would say to any Serb observer that this was not an intention by
us - far from it - and there are many examples I think of where KFOR has
taken firm action to ensure that Serb minority villages or whatever have
been protected and I think we need to keep it in proportion.
General Jackson: As to your first point, I think I
have answered that.
Regarding the command-and-control of the UCK, that of course is a matter
for them, not for me but on the other hand, I expect all members of the
UCK to uphold the undertaking which their leaders have presented to me,
that is for them.
As to the length of KFOR's duration, we know perfectly well that the
demilitarisation programme takes 90 days so we are here for 90 days, I
can assure you of that! (laughter) Thereafter, judgements will have to
be made about future political progress, stability, all of those things
but don't write down that I am saying we are going home in 91 days because
I have not said that! We are here for some time to come, I am sure of
Mark Laity (BBC): There has been comment that the application
of a crackdown on the KLA has been different in different sectors, that
the Italian and Germans have been less robust than for instance the British
and the Americans. Now that the agreement is in force, is there going
to be a tougher stance all round on the KLA? Secondly, are you taking
any specific measures, for instance extra guards in Serb areas, to try
and encourage them to stay?
General Jackson: On the first part of your question,
Mark, you wouldn't expect me in any way to accept the premise behind your
question that in some ways this force is divided. We had a very difficult
period from arrival until the undertaking by the KLA was finalised early
this morning and I think you will appreciate that. We had a clear document
on which to operate with the Yugoslav forces, there was not such a document
with the KLA and therefore the instructions which I gave were to handle
whatever situation you were confronted with on a basically common sense
basis, a rough and ready basis, because there was nothing else. I am not
going to second-guess the judgement of the local commander on the ground,
I certainly can't be everywhere at once and nor can anybody else.
What was the second part of your question?
Mark Laity: That there was also some concern by some
Serb areas that they didn't have specific KFOR protection. I was wondering
are you actually concentrating on trying to have a KFOR presence in those
General Jackson: I think actions speak louder than
words and if you have hovering around potential flashpoints I would
be extremely surprised.
Eve Connors (Voice Of America): You mentioned that
in the agreement there were some details about a political role for the
KLA. Could you expand on that a little bit?
General Jackson: No, I didn't say anything about a
political role, I said an aspiration, a political aspiration and I think
I will leave it at that. You can read for yourself what the text says,
it is not for me, I am a soldier, I will make certain that the political
aspiration is presented to the appropriate international community to
which it is addressed if you look at the text.
Michael Evans (The Times): If the Serbs make a further
request to come back into Kosovo to pick up more damaged tanks or whatever,
will you give them permission?
General Jackson: I will look at that on a case-by-case
basis. We do know, not through any intention to be non-compliant, that
there is some equipment not being taken out. Don't forget the complexity
and the enormity of the task which the VJ has to complete, it would be
quite a problem for any army and I am not surprised that there is some
equipment left about. We actually made some special arrangements yesterday
to get a couple of convoys in to pick up some of that which was achieved
although not all of it and I will look at it in due course and we will
look after it in the meantime. It is not an issue.
Question (Independent, London): General, can you give
us some details about the verification procedure which will be used to
ensure that the KLA does comply and secondly, have you got any indication
at all of whether or not the rank and file of UCK are happy with the agreement?
General Jackson: As for the mechanics of it first of
all, as I think I found myself saying a week or so ago, I do urge you
to read the document which will answer many of your questions. There are
some very clear time-lines laid down by which certain things must be done
and we shall verify that they are done, it is as simple as that.
As to your second question, I think already answered that actually.
This is a matter for the leadership of the KLA, they have signed an undertaking,
they must now make sure that all members of the KLA deliver that undertaking.
Question (The Washington Post): Granted we haven't
had a chance to read the text yet but one point sticks out from what you
said and I wonder if perhaps you could explain what exactly "the storage
of weapons" means? Does that mean you can put them away in your closet
and bring them out another day?
General Jackson: No, it is storage sites nominated
and agreed with us.
Question (BBC): What was the KFOR's attitude towards
personal weapons held by individual KLA members, pistons, hunting rifles
- some of them will no doubt regard their Kalashnikoffs as pistol weapons
- and will there be weapon searches carried out by KFOR in villages or
will it just be a case of stopping people when they come down the main
General Jackson: When you read the fine print of the
agreement, you will see that pistols are not covered in the agreement
and neither are non-automatic, long-barrelled weapons such as a shotgun
or a hunting rifle.
We will be carrying out weapon searches and obviously we will checking
that the agreement is being upheld, it is really as simple as that, but
Senor de Mello probably will wish to comment on this question of residual
weapons some of which of course will be completely legally held with a
firearms certificate for the perfectly usual purposes of hunting or whatever.
Sergio De Mello: I would like to add a word on that
which stems from our meeting here yesterday in this very room.
I may not have told you that one of the first regulations that I shall
issue - jointly I hope with General Mike - is on the acquisition, possession
and bearing of small arms. We have to impose a very strict control over
all types of weapons, including pistols.
General Jackson: I would just repeat what I said a
moment ago that the undertaking does not cover that category of weapon.
Question (New York Times): Could you tell us who you
negotiated in the UCK, did you negotiate directly with Thaci, were there
any other commanders there and are you convinced that all the commanders
are on board in this case and who in the UCK did you actually talk to?
General Jackson: The vast majority of the negotiations
were done by Lt. General John Reith in Albania, who commands AFOR and
we had a session last night to finish it off.
Same Questioner: Are all the UCK on board in this agreement,
were they all there, were they negotiating?
General Jackson: I can assure that to the best of my
knowledge great pains were gone to during the negotiations to make sure
certainly that all the zone commanders were consulted and brought into
Question: A question about returning Serb refugees.
Have you had any negotiations with the Serb authorities for the return
of large numbers of Serb refugees? Secondly, it has been estimated that
Milosevic may forcibly move up to 50,000 of the refugees who are in Serbia
back into Kosovo and would you see that as a sort of destabilisation tactic?
General Jackson: Let me deal with the question of returning
Serb refugees. We have seen in the last 48 hours I think a figure of about
2,000 and on one particular occasion Mr. Voyavic (phon), who is the Deputy
Foreign Minister of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, specifically asked
me to escort them from the border to Pristina and given the volatility
of the situation I agreed without precedent to do that so that is one
I have no knowledge of the story or thought that lies behind the second
part of your question, I simply have no knowledge of that at all.
Question (The Guardian): What is the latest from Mitrovica,
Sir, and what can KFOR to stop finding itself in the middle of two communities
and ending up reinforcing the division of the town?
General Jackson: Mitrovica is not alone in that you
have an interface there between two communities. The important thing is
to lower the tension wherever. I don't want to be specific, it is really
difficult for me to talk about individual cases of which I don't always
have full knowledge but the principle here is to lower tension and that
may mean a physical presence until things settle down and on which I do
believe day by day we shall see progress.
Question (Associated Press Services): Is this agreement
what you need to do your job, Mr. de Dello?
Senor De Mello: Let me take the opportunity of your
question to say that yesterday was a very important day, the total withdrawal
of VJ forces is a success and I think the government of the FRY deserves
congratulations for adhering strictly to the agreement that General Jackson
signed with them in Komanovo on 10th June.
Secondly, we are indeed happy with the undertaking by the KLA. We have
been consulted on the requirements for the demilitarisation of the KLA
which are vital to the success of both our tasks here and particularly
the fact that they will be all assembled within .. days. As I told you
yesterday, I intend to start deploying the international police force
as from the end of next week and it is essential that our policemen take
over the police stations that are at presently occupied by UCK fighters
and that they are able to conduct their work together with KFOR soldiers
in the streets of main urban areas as well as on the main roads of this
province and the agreement provides for that so we are quite satisfied
with the terms for the demilitarisation of the UCK, we count on them,
on their wisdom and sense of responsibility to adhere themselves strictly
to the contents of that agreement and will certainly do our best to contribute
to the success of the agreement under the leadership of General Jackson
whom I wish to congratulate because this was not easy to obtain.
General Jackson: If I may, I would just like to make
two points. I have heard one or two people already calling this document
an agreement. It is not. Can we be utterly clear about that? It is a unilateral
undertaking by the leadership of the UCK and if you look at the end of
the document you will see the way in which the signature blocks are arranged.
It is very important that this is properly understood. It is their undertaking
under the terms of the UNSCR which "demands" the demilitarisation. My
signature acknowledges that I have received the document, I acknowledge
its receipt, it is not a form of agreement between KFOR and the UCK as
the military-technical agreement was. I do want to make it clear that
it is a unilateral undertaking by them to do that which is demanded of
them by the United Nations Security Council.
My second point is that I already paid tribute to my soldiers but they
are doing a remarkably difficult job as best they can and as cheerfully
and as helpfully as they can. I have already said that we don't always
get things as right as perhaps we would wish but I would ask you just
to reflect that credit should also be given to those who are risking their
lives to achieve what we are about and that is my soldiers and if you
will just bear that in mind I would be very grateful.