Updated: 27 September 1999 KFOR Press Updates


27 Sept. 1999

KFOR Press Conference

by the NATO Secretary General Javier Solana

Good morning. I am delighted to be in Pristina again. You remember I was with you about three weeks ago. I will tell you my impression after having a very intense day yesterday - I spent the night here in Pristina - and having talked to many people. I think that we are working towards our common goal, the goal of peace and stability here in Kosovo. Let me remind you that KFOR has deployed 45,000 troops already and it is interesting to underline that for more than 25 Nations, which is something that I think that should never be forgotten, under the NATO lead and established a secure environment. The UN Mission in Kosovo is in place. The UCK has been demilitarised. The civilian Kosovo Protection Corps has been created and nearly Kosovar Albanian refugees have returned. As you know a transitional Council chaired by Dr Kouchner has been set as well the Joint Security (inaudible). Yesterday as you told you before, I had a very productive day of meetings with Dr Kouchner, with General Jackson, and with other Senior Representatives of the international organisations and agencies and Senior Political Leaders. I will have the opportunity today in the next hours to visit the Multinational Brigade WEST together with General Clark in Istok. I would like to once again, congratulate all the men and women of KFOR for the superb work they are doing in providing a secure environment for the people of Kosovo and for the UN international organisations. I would like today to thank particularly General Jackson for his leadership all along since he came here and the successful negotiation that led to the creation of the Kosovo Protection Corps. I would like to express my admiration and my gratitude to him and to all the people who work under his command. I would like also to pay my gratitude and admiration to Dr Kouchner for the outstanding work in rebuilding Kosovo.
But, let me touch on some specific points I would like to share with you today. I am very pleased to see the UCK has fully demilitarised in accordance with the requirements of The UN Security Council Resolution 1244. I am also very pleased to note that the former UCK have generally complied. I would however, remind all sections of the community that any found carrying illegal weapons or committing criminal acts will be dealt with in a severe manner by KFOR and by the International Police. Now the process of establishing of the Kosovo Protection Corps is fully underway. This Corps will play an important role in civilian emergency planning and reconstruction tasks for Kosovo. It will not be a police force and it will not be an army. KFOR and the UNMIK Police provide for all Kosovo security needs. This Corps will be disciplined and multi-ethnic. It will be a civil organisation without political affiliation and will operate under the day-to-day supervision of KFOR. I call on the members of the Kosovo society, especially the UCK former fighters, to see this opportunity to serve their population, which includes also ethnic Serbs, Albanians and others. The Kosovar Albanian political leaders should publicly reaffirm their commitment to build a multi-cultural and multi-ethnic society and we expect from them determined efforts in this direction. The people of Kosovo will not know peace and prosperity unless they seek reconciliation and co-operation with each other. The leaders of Kosovo will be held, in no doubt, responsible by future generations if they do not exercise their leadership and stop the spiralling violence and hatred.
I want to once again praise KFOR and all the 25 countries, which are involved and I'd like to say also specifically that I want to praise again on the behaviour of the Russian Forces under KFOR, for dedication and for their professionalism. Let me say that this is the last time that I will visit Kosovo in my current capacity as Secretary general of NATO. You can imagine that for me it means a lot. A good part of my 4 years tenure as Secretary General of NATO has been devoted to the Balkans and a good part devoted to Kosovo. You can imagine with what emotion I am here today in Pristina for the last time in this capacity. The challenges that lie ahead are immense. The tremendous tragedy of Kosovo has been lived by many of you and many of us, but I think with good will, with co-operation, with the visions of so many leaders here in Europe and in the world, the Head of the International Community, with all that, we will create the ingredients to create a new future for the population living here. You can be sure that I will continue in my new capacity as High Representative of Foreign and Security policy in the European Union, to engage which for me is part of my life already. I hope that my successor Lord Robinson, I am sure that he will continue with same commitment, with same engagement in order to achieve the same goals. I want to thank you, the members of the media for the co-operation you have given me in these years and these month and I can tell you that I will continue devoting part of my life to see this society reconstructed physically and for me which is more important morally. Kosovo has its place in this continent, which is Europe, and we would very much to see that happening soon. Once again thank you very, very much for co-operation and to you to all the people who have been with us in the last months, through very very difficult months. Thank you very much.

Question from the Washington Post: You were quoted in a wire services last week as telling reporters in Washington that Kosovar Albanians must give up their dream of independence. I'm wondering if that's a correct quote and if you could explain a little bit you reasoning for that statement, weather you have a concern that if Kosovo became independent, it might have a ripple effect elsewhere in Europe or elsewhere in the world perhaps even in your homeland.

Answer from Javier Solana - NATO Secretary General: Well, I don't know what quote you are mentioning. It seems to me that that I have been quoted in different reactions on the same day. But let me say what I think, you know my thinking. I do think very much and very deeply that we have a UN Security Council Resolution 1244 that I am obliged to comply. As the Secretary General of NATO I will do my best that every solution is complied by everybody. As the solution you know it very well, it talks about the political process and on that lines, I would like to see people in Kosovo continue working. I think that is as far as we can go as members of the International Community until the Security Council Resolution changes. I will defend that Resolution and I think everybody should abide by it. On to you, you have been accompanied me for many, many months and I will continue seeing you I hope.

Question from Reuters: Following on of my colleague's question, I think some US officials told him last week they regarded Kosovo independence as inevitable. Do you share that view, and if you don't, what can be done to stop that happening.

Answer from Javier Solana - NATO Secretary General: I don't know what officials from different countries have been saying or what they have expressed. I can tell you that I have been in New York these days and talked to many people you know in the UN, but also in the US government, and I haven't seen any change from the negotiations that I have just described in answering the previous question. That is what I have heard and that is what everybody continues working for.

Question from (inaudible) agency in Stokholm: The basis for the KFOR mission is to provide security for the whole society, the multi-ethnical society. But to keep these groups secure you have to keep them divided, how long will this paradox go on and how do you comment this.

Answer from Javier Solana - NATO Secretary General: Well, I feel its very important to have a sense of time. The situation is evolving, is evolving at a very fast past in the right direction, if you look at any other experiences not very far away from here and not for much time back. So I think we have to continue maintaining the spirit that KFOR is maintaining and I am sure that there will be overcoming of difficulties. But, we cannot intend to create a situation of absolute changed in 24 hours, that is impossible, and as I said, look around and you will see that the situation in Kosovo compared to other situations, is going faster and in a more solid manner that is what I would like to say. And thanks to a great extent to General Jackson, his people and to Dr Kouchner. Thank you very much I will see you soon.

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