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Kosovo and NATO Summit Outcome

Kosovo and NATO Summit Outcome

NATO Press Conference on Kosovo and Outcome of NATO Summit given by Secretary General Javier Solana. Brussels, Wednesday, 28 April 1999.

Mr. Shea: The Secretary General is here to brief you on Kosovo and the outcome of the Washington summit. The military briefing will be later on, as you know, at 4.30, you have been informed about that already. But I will ask first the Secretary General to give you a read-out of the Washington summit from our perspective and thereafter he will take your questions.

Secretary General: I am pleased to see you back here in the more familiar front of Brussels, some of you. As you know, we have worked hard and very successfully in Washington and I am grateful to you for all your efforts you have done, all those who have accompanied us to Washington.

What I would like to do today is to put the summit conclusions into perspective and to take a look at them from the perspective also of the Kosovo crisis. I think I would not exaggerate if I said that the Washington summit has been a turning point in NATO's history, it is so that NATO is building for the future and that we are making the alliance fit a much broader spectrum of security tasks for the 21st century. The new strategic concept will give NATO the ability to shape the international security agenda.

The process of open door, the enlargement of the Alliance, will remain a vital part of NATO's evolution. I would like to emphasise that the door of NATO will stay open and we will help the candidate countries to prepare more actively for the day when they will be ready to join us. In the same way we will promote a wide ranging partnership with other countries into the Euro-Atlantic area.

Our successful meetings in Washington with our partners clearly demonstrated how strong these links are becoming. In Washington, as you know, we also set out an agenda for the further development of the European security and defence identity that will complete the work following from our decisions that were taken in Berlin in the summer of 1996. We also set out a perspective as to how NATO and the European Union can work together to build the European security and defence identity of the future in a transatlantic context and in a way which will involve all our lives.

But let me now turn to the major topics related to Kosovo. The Washington summit showed after 5 weeks of Operation Allied Force that NATO is more united and is more determined than ever. Let me say once again that we do not only proclaim principles but we are prepared to defend those principles, otherwise we would not be able to ensure that Europe will begin the 21st century as a peaceful and stable continent.

We have three key strengths that I would like to emphasise to you. First, the alliance is as I said rock solid and we have the international community behind us. Last Sunday, as you know, our partners in the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council joined us in Washington. All of these countries have different backgrounds, different cultures and even religions some of them, gave complete support to what we are doing. They understand very well why we have been forced to act and they want us to continue to do it until we prevail. I had the opportunity to meet with many of the leaders of our partner countries on a bilateral basis and I felt their solidarity directly. Let me say that for instance President Shevardnadze of Georgia has expressed that support yet again publicly in his speech to the Council of Europe yesterday.

But in addition to the meeting of the Euro-Atlantic Council we had a very important summit, and I would like to underline it, with the 7 countries neighbouring Yugoslavia. They also gave us their full support. Living next door to Milosevic they understand probably better than anybody else how important it is that NATO stood up to the policies of Milosevic's government. They know that our success is vital to their future, to their security and to their stability. They are giving us a good deal of practical support, as you know, for instance overflight rights, transit rights and agreeing to host our forces on their territories. But of course we are also helping them. Our troops are helping them to deal with the refugee crisis. NATO countries are providing financial and other support, and NATO has reassured that it would not allow to be threatened or attacked by Yugoslavia.

But let me tell you that the second reason why I am confident that we will prevail is that we have clear objectives which alone can bring a lasting peace to the region. That is why we are insisting on these objectives because we know that anything else would represent merely a temporary and untenable outcome. At the same time NATO is not only interested - and I would like to underline this again - in winning the conflict, we also want to build a lasting peace and lasting stability on the region that will follow it.

In Washington we set out a vision of a … Europe that would be at peace, that would be stable, that would be prosperous and increasingly integrated into the European mainstream. We will work hand in hand with the other institutions to achieve this vision, to make it a reality.

Let me say from the point of view of NATO what is the role that we would like to play. We will establish a consultative forum to discuss security issues with the countries of the region. We are going to meet with them on the 19+1 format. We will promote regional cooperation with the Euro- Atlantic Partnership Council and we will use the resources of PfP - Policy For Peace - to give them more direct and focused assistance in addressing their security concerns. I would like to emphasise that we also welcome the proposals of the European Union to convene a conference on a stability pact for the south east of Europe in the second part of the month of May. The Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the European Union have also agreed to consider ways towards strengthening their relations with Albania and with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

As you know, I had the opportunity on Monday to meet with the Directors of the World Bank and the IMF. Both institutions, and the G7, stand ready to offer their financial help and practical advice to the countries of this region.

But I would like to send a clear message also to the Serbian people. The Serbian people can also be part of this vision if they so wish. Our quarrel, as I have said so many times, is not with them but with the government of Milosevic, a government which has ruined the Yugoslav economy and made Yugoslavia a pariah state in the international community. The Serb people deserve an alternative, a vision of a democratic Serbia integrated in this scheme that I just outlined into the rest of Europe and enjoy the same benefits of cooperation and integration of the other countries of the region. I would like to insist that we will offer them such an alternative and I hope that the people of Serbia will grasp it.

Let me say that the third and final reason why I am confident is that our campaign is working. SACEUR was with you yesterday and set out for you the achievements of the air campaign so far. I will not repeat what he said. Let me just say that at the Washington Summit we decided to intensify the air campaign. At the same time, as you know, we are continuing to deal with the humanitarian situation. Our forces continue to work in very close relationship with UNHCR and with all the international agencies. They are transporting refugees from their border areas, helping to build refugee camps and delivering much needed assistance and medical supplies.

In Washington we sent a very clear and simple message to Milosevic that we are going to prevail. Milosevic can end our air campaign only by accepting the key objectives of the international community. Meanwhile he bears, and will continue to bear, the full responsibility for what is happening to his country today.

Let me finish by saying that NATO has come back from Washington in a united and in a very strong position. In the days ahead we will translate this unity and this strength into concrete achievements and we will not let up in our pressure until Kosovo is at peace and the region can look to a brighter future according to the scheme that we are working on.

Thank you very much. I am ready to take your questions.

Question: Secretary General, was the unity that you gained at Washington in part because you left deliberately some issues unresolved, such as in particular the end game, the circumstances under which you will use ground troops, and to what degree are you still in effect giving President Milosevic a veto over you because you are insisting in not putting in ground troops until somebody agrees to allow them in?

Secretary General: As I made very clear before we left Brussels to Washington, the military authorities are considering all the options, no options, they say, out of the table. No decision has been taken about any other strategy than the strategy that you have now, which is the air campaign strategy. But as I said, the military authorities are reviewing and up-dating all the options, including the option that you have mentioned. You remember very well because I think it was your Prime Minister talking from this very podium, answering the same question you posed to him, when he said President Milosevic will not have a veto on what we do, and not a veto on anything, including the question you asked about. Therefore we will continue, our strategy is clear, but at the same time of course we are up-dating all our previous assessments.

Question: There is obviously a flurry of diplomatic activity now and in coming days, do you see anything at all in that that would pass for promising? And on another front, out of Belgrade there have been these mixed signals among parts of Milosevic's government, in one way or the other, that has indicated some mixed messages. Is there anything at all that you would consider to be promising coming out of there?

Secretary General: As you know, there is some activity in the coming hours, in the coming days, which I think is something also important that comes out of Washington. From Washington comes two lines of action, very clear: one is from the military point of view, unity and determination on the military line; and also all the possible movements that are taking place now in the diplomatic field.

We have said from the very beginning that this military campaign had an end and an end towards a diplomatic end. Let me say that the activity which has taken place in the last few days, I have been in contact with all the leaders that have been in Moscow, when all the bilateral meetings have taken place outside Moscow, there have been several of them, I can report to you that the Prime Minister of Sweden, who just returned from Washington, he had a very good exchange of ideas both with Mr. Chernomyrdin and with Mr. Primakov. Still there are points on which we are separated, but I think some progress has been made. The same I think will be said of the visit of Mr. Talbott who is at this very moment in Berlin talking with the President of the European Union, with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Germany, and let me just tell you that he will be here with us tomorrow at 11.00 I think, he will be here with us in the Council. I just had a long talk on the phone with Mr. Kofi Annan who is heading towards Moscow in the coming hours, probably now is already flying, and I do hope also that he will be able to make some progress. But still, as I said, there are distance which separate us from some positions in relation to the Russians, but we are making progress. I would like to say that also.

On the other camp, on the camp of Milosevic, well you know some of the signs which are coming from there, not only those which are very public because they have been during the weekend and yesterday and today making the first page in the newspapers, some statements, but the others not that important as far as the space they occupied in the newspapers. There is a statement also by the party of the wife of Mr. Milosevic and I think it should be considered with interest, let's see what it means at the end of today. And some rumours, which at this point are only rumours, of some house arrests of some important military people. So there are signs that things are moving, let's hope they are moving in the right direction and in the coming weeks we may have some positive news. At this point I cannot elaborate any further. Let us continue with the aims that we have, our military campaign, we are going to continue with the intensity that we have defined and with the determination that we have defined.

Let me say again that the fact that in Washington we have seen so many countries, some of them so different from the point of view of culture, history, religion, all of them behind us and understanding very well why we are doing it and giving all the support for us to prevail and to win.

Jake Lynch (Sky News): Secretary General, you talked about the fact that NATO action is based on putting principles into practice and clearly the principle which has been infringed here is the right of people to live undisturbed in their homes. You know, I'm sure, that there's another very large group of people whose right to do so was taken away from them in these troubles in the Balkans over the past few years, namely the Krajina Serbs many of whom still live in refugee camps inside Serbia having been expelled from their homes in very unpleasant circumstances as recently as four years ago.

In the wider settlement for the Balkans that you've been looking forward to, what can NATO promise to those people as a way to redress the injustice they've suffered in exactly the same way as the Kosovar Albanians are now suffering at the moment?

Secretary General: Evidently it goes back several years. From my personal experience, let me tell you something. You know I've been involved in the crisis in the Balkans since 1992, from the very beginning and in 1995 in very difficult moments, I was at that time the President of the Council of Ministers of the European Union so I knew very well what was going on. I put a lot of my personal life in this battle but I have so many sad experiences. Let me tell you what is very sad from my personal point of view:

It had to be, I think, about four months ago that the three Presidents of Bosnia, the three of them, got together in a restaurant for dinner for the first time because remember that Dayton was signed in 1995. I invited the three of them and it was first time that they got together in a restaurant and we started talking seriously about that issue so I have been concerned about that issue, I will continue to be concerned about that issue but it is not NATO who has to solve that issue. We will do our best but our institutions are not responsible for solving that refugee crisis which still is in the Balkans without any doubt. I would like to see a day after this plan that we are just beginning to set up, in which all these problems and others that you have not mentioned but that are there also, will be resolved. If we are able to do that, we will enter the 21st century not only with Kosovo reformed but with the Balkans in the right direction to look to the 21st century with a little bit more hope than many people there have had in the past.

Patricia: Secretary General, it has been suggested that there are many more NATO troops in the region than NATO is admitting to, as many as up to 10,000 more.

Secretary General: Do you mean in Albania or Fyrom?

Patricia: In Albania and in Fyrom and surrounding countries.

Secretary General: No, in Albania and Fyrom the figures are well known, they are transparent and if they were not transparent ….. would make it transparent, don't worry about that.

Linda: Mr. Secretary General, on the naval blockade it still has not been put in place yet. If the objective was to win over Milosevic as quickly as possible, why wasn't the naval blockade in place at the beginning of the air campaign or were there political considerations that made that impossible?

Secretary General: As you know, at this very moment the European Union has already an embargo, to that embargo the European countries have joined and all the countries of NATO which are not members of the European Union and many other countries that belong to the EAPC are already joining that embargo that will enter into force I think on Friday.

As far as NATO is concerned, as you know, the summit tasked the military authorities to look at all the possibilities to do it from a different point of view than the European Union has taken which is more on a voluntary basis and that tasking of the military authorities will be finalised in the coming hours and we will take a decision about that but we are moving and we are moving fast.

But let me underline because I think it is very important, the very close co-operation with the European Union that has taken that decision immediately and to which many countries that do not belong to the European Union have joined that embargo. That is a very important decision that manifests again that they are a broad community that goes beyond NATO, beyond the European Union, which are on the same wavelength trying to win this battle.

Stephen Debbs (BRT): Secretary General, could you be somewhat more specific on the diplomatic progress that you alluded to that has been made, for instance in the talk between Mr. Talbott and the Russians? And secondly, ….

Secretary General: Let me answer the first one. I will not be more specific because I can't and I shouldn't.

Stephen Debbs (BRT): OK. The Belgian Foreign Minister is on his own initiative travelling to Moscow next Monday. Were you informed of that before it was announced today?

Secretary General: No, I am not informed of all the ministers' travels, they have complicated agendas, I would not keep in mind so many travels. It is very difficult to find a foreign minister one day in his own country.

Carol: Mr. Secretary General, concerning the future military presence in Kosovo which would allow the refugees to return, where is NATO willing to compromise, does it have to be NATO-led, having a NATO core, a UN mandate or what, please?

Secretary General: I think that the best manner to answer your question because you will understand it very well is by saying the following:

We have a model, a model which has worked very well and that has inside many different elements which is the model we have in Bosnia. In Bosnia, we have NATO countries, non-NATO countries, Russia, Ukraine etc. and it is working to my mind very efficiently. We stopped a war, we are able to guarantee the environment of security there. That could be a model in which we can construct the architecture of the international presence in Kosovo also. That could be a model, I don't say it would be exactly the same but that I think is a good model which we should maintain as close as possible because it has been very successful.

Dominique: Monsieur le Secrétaire Général, deux questions en français pour Radio France Internationale. Comment parler d'unité entre alliés alors que les sujets qui fâchent sont nombreux et notamment la mise en œuvre d'un embargo pétrolier ou plutôt d'un blocus pétrolier contre la Yougoslavie sans résolution du Conseil de Sécurité des Nations Unies et puis une deuxième question ; il y a quinze jours trois semaines vous nous annonciez que les experts militaires de l'Alliance travaillaient sur les moyens de venir en aide aux personnes déplacées à l'intérieur du Kosovo. Depuis trois semaines leur situation a empiré, on parle de gens qui meurent de faim maintenant, qu'avez -vous donc comme proposition concrète à faire pour aider ces gens ?

Le Secrétaire Général: Sur la question du pétrole; c'est vrai comme je viens de dire que les autorités militaires sont en train de terminer l'analyse pour savoir nous pouvons le faire mais en même temps comme je viens de le dire aussi l'Union européenne de laquelle beaucoup de pays de l'OTAN font partie ont bien travaillé pour mettre en œuvre l'embargo sur le pétrole donc je crois qu'il n'y a pas de différence entre-nous, il y a des possibilités d'analyser les travaux des comités militaires dans les prochaines heures. La question de déplacer ? Comme vous savez la question est très difficile nous avons déjà parlé sur cela. La question de parachutage qui a été dans les journaux et dans les opinions publiques et les opinions des hommes politiques différents. La question de parachutage est très difficile, nous sommes en train de faire tous les efforts pour essayer de trouver un mécanisme sûr pour les pilotes qui en même temps pour parachuter l'aide humanitaire au sol. Mais je vais vous dire c'est très très difficile; ce sera la première fois qu'une question comme ça sera mise en œuvre et je crois que dans les prochains jours nous pourrons dire quelque chose sur ça mais en même temps vous savez qu'il y a des organisations non gouvernementales, en particulier, d Athènes qui sont en train d'entrer vers Pristina pour distribuer l'aide humanitaire donc nous continuons nos efforts du point de vue militaire ainsi que la coopération avec les agences humanitaires. Mais Dominique, je vais insister, c'est très difficile vous le savez bien et il y a des exemples dans l'histoire dans lequel les parachutages ne fonctionnaient pas, nous voulons faire des manœuvres qui fonctionnent. Et c'est mieux d'avoir le temps pour les faire fonctionner que faire des improvisations sans succès. 

Federico Filby, Il Giornale: Monsieur le Secrétaire Général, hier le Général Clarke a dit qu'un blocus naval sur le pétrole devrait pouvoir aussi avoir une menace de la force pour être convaincant. Quelle serait d'après vous la base légale d'un tel blocus ?

Le Secrétaire Général: Hier le Général Clarke vous a dit la réflexion qu'il a faite, le message qu'il a envoyé au Comité militaire pour l'étudier et on verra quelle est la réponse du Comité Militaire, pas seulement sur la base légale qui sera décision de caractère politique, de nature politique mais aussi du point de vue de la possibilité militaire de le faire donc le Comité Militaire est en train de travailler et nous fournira une réponse dans les prochaines heures, dans les prochains jours.

Doug: Secretary General, when you say that the people of Serbia are welcome to join democratic nations of Europe and to be part of the vision for the next century and so on, to a large extent to say that to people in this room you are preaching really to the converted, to most organizations represented here but are you at all satisfied that this message is getting through to the people of Serbia themselves, are they hearing this in Nis or Novi Sad or are they not hearing it? We heard of the command of solo aircraft, we haven't heard of it again, it doesn't seem to be working. Can you tell us what you are doing?

Secretary General: I hope that all these messages will be entering - or percolating if you will allow me to say that - into the people of Serbia and I think that the news that we are hearing from Serbia allows us to think that these messages percolated into the society slowly but percolated. But in any case I would like to emphasise in a very important manner that this message of NATO, of the European Union, of the OECE, of NGOs, of so many people that we want a future for the Balkans and in that future for the Balkans Serbia should have a place but of course a Serbia which is different to the Serbia of today, a Serbia which is democratic, that Serbia is an important country for the region, for the stability of the region, and should have a role to play.

Antonio: Secretary General, you have been talking to a lot of those countries in the area, you saw them in Washington but when we talk about the future of Kosovo there are not many words to be heard so what are the feelings of those countries? Is there any country over there who really wants to have an independent Kosovo except Albania and what are their main worries - Bulgaria, Macedonia, whatever?

Secretary General: You are talking about Bulgaria, Romania, those type of countries. Those countries, as you know, belong to the EAPC, therefore they work together in the EAPC meetings but they worked also together with us in the meeting with the neighbours.

I have to tell you that I was very impressed by the speeches of both the President of Bulgaria and the President of Romania, they are countries that are of the same religion as Serbia, they have a common history that goes time ago but they are absolutely determined to see that the situation that has been created by Milosevic never repeats again and that is not only for the Serbian people, it is important for them for their own security and therefore their speeches, the presentation, the statements they made go in that direction very clearly, they don't want to see that happening again in the neighbourhood of their countries and they know they are going to be neighbours with Serbia for many years to come, for ever, but they don't want to be neighbours with that Serbia, the Serbia that behaves like Milosevic behaves.

One of the ideas that they have very rooted in their hearts and in their minds is that in that part of Europe borders should not be changed, that is very important for them and is a statement that they made very clear. Too many changes in borders have taken place in that part of Europe to continue doing so.

John (Los Angeles Times): Secretary General, as you know, in Washington the NATO Heads of State and Government issued a declaration saying that it would not be enough to have victory in Kosovo to bring peace, there would also have to be justice assured and NATO at that time said that it would support the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in its efforts to get information that would lead to the prosecution of war crimes. In the light of Mrs. Arbour's upcoming visit to Washington which begins tonight, could you tell us what NATO has done already to get the relevant information to bring people to justice in Yugoslavia and what you plan to do in the future?

Secretary General: Judge Arbour, before going to Washington has been with me, as you know, not long ago. We had a very good conversation and we are going to help her as much as possible as we did in relation to Bosnia-Herzegovina but not only that. More important than what NATO as such collectively can do is what countries that belong to NATO can do. As you know, NATO does not have intelligence of its own, the intelligence that NATO has is the intelligence provided by the countries, therefore the individual NATO countries can contribute very much and I know that they are already contributing very much.

Let me say that Judge Arbour was very happy when she left this building and I am sure she will be very happy when she leaves Washington. As I happens, not two or three days I think, if I remember properly, she was in London talking also with the authorities in England and in France.

Jamie Shea: OK. Secretary General, thank you very much indeed and Ladies and Gentlemen thank you very much. The Secretary General will be back of course in due course and General Marani is here for the military update and I'll be back with him at 4.30 so thank you and see you very soon.

 

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Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
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