Updated: 26 October 1999 KFOR Press Updates


22 Oct. 1999

Remarks to the Press

by Secretary General, Lord Robertson

I am very happy to be in Pristina, together with the Ambassadors of the North Atlantic Council. The news about the day-to-day challenges we face here often obscures the amount of progress that has already been made.

Less than 150 days ago, ethnic cleansing was still going on. Hundreds of refugees had been driven from their homes. Today the refugees are back. Rebuilding is occurring. The first steps to a peaceful future are being taken.

We had good meetings with the UN Special Representative, Dr. Kouchner, the Commander of KFOR, Gen Reinhardt, senior representatives of other international organisations and agencies, and local political leaders.

I would like to congratulate Dr. Kouchner for the excellent job he and the civilian organisations are doing as they take over civil responsibilities from KFOR.

In our meetings, I stressed that NATO remains fully committed to maintaining security and supporting the international community's efforts to rebuild the province.

Having reached strength of over 45,000 troops, KFOR is carrying out its mandate under UN Security Council Resolution 1244 in a robust and evenhanded manner. NATO's troops are doing a superb job, under the most difficult of conditions. We are also grateful to the 13 non-NATO nations that have contributed personnel troops to KFOR, and to the others that intend to do so soon.

Let me stress this point on behalf of all the countries contributing to KFOR: We are committed to seeing that the job here will be done.

I would like to note that amongst these KFOR contributions are some 3,600 Russian troops working side-by-side with NATO. They have demonstrated their professionalism and even-handedness and are co-operating well with other KFOR contributors.

In our meetings with local political leaders, I stressed that all parties must co-operate fully with the UN and KFOR. This includes full co-operation with the International Criminal Tribunal in bringing war criminals to justice. There can be no lasting peace without justice.

Let me add that it is crucial that the people of Kosovo allow the court system to work. Vigilante justice is no justice, but only a return to violence.

Let me also stress that the UCK has been demilitarised and disbanded. A new civil Kosovo Protection Corps is being established to perform civilian tasks such as reconstruction and winterisation. The KPC is multi-ethnic and under the day-to-day oversight of KFOR. It is essential that all Kosovo leaders make the Kosovo Protection Corps a success.

Let me emphasise that there will only be one Kosovo Protection Corps and it will be multi-ethnic. I am particularly pleased that the KPC officers that recent went to France for initial training included representatives of all the ethnic groups in Kosovo. This is the way forward - and it is the only way forward.

Finally, I want to stress the message that I left with the local political leaders I met today. The leaders of all the ethnic groups must show the way in creating a new climate of reconciliation and tolerance. The ethnic groups in Kosovo must work together. There is no other way.

Respect for human rights is one of the reasons NATO intervened in Kosovo in the first place. Those who have been able to return should not repeat the injustice that has been done to them.

The hatred of the past must not be allowed to drive the politics of the future. Because if they do, every ethnic community in Kosovo will be the loser.

NATO intervened in Kosovo to stop Milosevic from creating a single-ethnic state. NATO will not stand by and see the creation of a single-ethnic Kosovo.

Question: Are you satisfied that KFOR troops and the brigade areas are doing everything possible to protect ethnic minorities and the question for Dr Kouchner, are you satisfied ............... (Inaudible)

Lord Robertson: Well the answer to the question is absolutely straightforward. Yes I am confident that our energies are being directed to building a multi-ethnic Kosovo that they are protecting the minorities inside this country just as NATO set out to protect the majority population from what was happening to their area this year. It is the function of KFOR to create that safe and secure environment and the briefings that I've had and the long journey that I spent this morning with Gen Reinhardt driving up from Skopje has convinced me that we've got here a leader of strength and professionalism but also of dedication and a dedication to making sure that there is security for all the groups inside Kosovo.

Dr. Kouchner: I am not confident at all. We need money, without money it is impossible without. Enough money to build and rebuild the administration to go on election and to face not only the coming winter but the rest of the rehabilitation, rebuilding, etc.... We have alot of promises, pledged money, but if we have to pay starting and not salaries only the people coming back. For example the education system because this is the rehability if the school and of University etc.... till the month of October, beginning of November. You will note our many deutsche mark we are giving to any of them roughly this is around 200 marks a month for a teacher and at the end or the middle of December we will be without money so we need money from the nation, because United Nations (UN) program and United Nations involvement is nothing without the support of the nation. I will give you the figure of the budget, I have an appointment at six-o-clock roughly but this is just in the proximity roughly for this year and the next coming year, but we are far from the amount, very far.

Question: Inaudible

Lord Robertson: Can I first of all reinforce a point that GEN Reinhardt was making this morning, and that is that the level of violence inside Kosovo has dropped remarkably over the last few months and that is a satisfactory situation, because it reflect the very fine and robust attitude of KFOR to the violence and where that violence takes place. I was a supporter the air assaults that took place because it was designed to stop the systematic violence being perpetrated by one group against another group.

Ethnic cleansing on a systematic and fortifying level. What I'm seeing is that the various groups inside Kosovo appealed to registering this morning must be committed to creating a multi-ethnic Kosovo for all groups who call Kosovo their home so I'm not expressing disappointment all I'm saying is that they have obligations that they must take on. They are very considerable obligations and I hope that they are going to take them.

To answer your question first let me tell you that France was second largest contributor to the air campaign we had over 80 aircraft including some of their most modern aircraft the Mirage 2000, they committed an aircraft carrier to the campaign and with France's relationship to Serbia they carried enormous diplomatic weight. NATO as an alliance it operates on consensus we maintain that consensus and a strengthened resolve throughout the air campaign to prevail, France was an interval part of that consensus and resolve so I think that the leaders the political leaders of all of the nations at NATO deserve allot of credit for the success.

The bombing campaign was an integrated political military effort. It took not only the airmen but it took the top leaders in all of our countries to bring this campaign about and what we're seeing today as the Secretary General said is that all of NATO's conditions were met, a cease fire is in place, the Serb military police and paramilitaries are out, NATO is in, the refugees have returned, and so it was a success and the credit goes to the top for that.

Question: Inaudible

Lord Robertson: No I can't give you any information about that, Gen Reinhardt do you want to say something.

Gen. Reinhardt: Well as far as canalisation is concerned I think that Dr Kouchner and myself made it very clear that canalisation cannot be allowed in Mitrovica, some people don't say that this is not the pure area of Serbs only. There are 30 percent of Albanians, and 10 percent of other ethnic groups livinging northern part of Mitrovica. We are controlling the city with all our forces and I think we have a good grip on that. The normal day-to-day life in Mitrovica is much, much less tense than people pretend to show which we hope that we can down the demonstrations we were supposed to have a demonstration of some 20 thousand students on Monday which did not happen, by negotiating it out so I'm pretty optimistic that we can do more in this direction to get the tensions down.

Question: Inaudible

Lord Robertson: Well its up to Dr. Kouchner in many ways to answer that question, What I would say in relation to the bombing campaign is that when you come to Kosovo you see how accurate the bombing was the allegations that were made of random bombing and of huge collateral damage is contradicted by what you see with the evidence of your own eyes here and that big building beside the football dome, you can see precisely what we were about and that was attacking the military machine that was perpetrating the violence in Kosovo and I think that there was a lot of evidence here which I hope the media will show that was it was we did and how carefully we did it. Avoiding damage to civilians and civilian property downing contrasts to the damage being done by Milosevic troops and paramilitaries to civilians directly and to their property. The big instruction of this area is the commitment by the international community but it is in the hands not of NATO but, of the United Nations and Dr Kouchner.

Dr. Kouchner: I am never satisfied, we are on the good way, and we are on the good track if we are receiving complaints to be slow or not enough strong in a particular field Gen Reinhardt and I. Yes we agree we are too slow we want to be stronger but in fact I came close to 4 months now and the situation has changed tremendously and we are making progress including in this security area. Including if you see the rates of the of the attacks, the murders, the arsons, etc..... this is tremendously improving nut not enough I agree, So it would take a lot of time field-by-field to tell you our project but we are on, lets say we are improving.

Go to Homepage Go to Index