SECRETARY-GENERAL CALLS FOR UNCONDITIONAL RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS OF KOSOVO CITIZENS, IN STATEMENT TO NORTH ATLANTIC TREATY ORGANIZATION

SG/SM/6878
28 January 1999

SECRETARY-GENERAL CALLS FOR UNCONDITIONAL RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS OF KOSOVO CITIZENS, IN STATEMENT TO NORTH ATLANTIC TREATY ORGANIZATION

28 January 1999


Press Release
SG/SM/6878


SECRETARY-GENERAL CALLS FOR UNCONDITIONAL RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS OF KOSOVO CITIZENS, IN STATEMENT TO NORTH ATLANTIC TREATY ORGANIZATION

19990128 Kofi Annan Stresses Peaceful Negotiation Only Way to Resolve Kosovo Conflict

Following is the text of a statement made today by Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in Brussels:

Let me begin by saying how pleased I am to meet with you today. Ever since my time as Special Envoy to NATO, I have greatly valued the bonds between our two organizations. As we enter a new century of challenges and inevitable crises, it is critically important for us to draw on each other's strengths in pursuit of peace and security.

We must create a new architecture of preventive, pro-active policies for peace -- designed not for the wars of the past, but for those of the future. We must seek and find new ways to prevent instability from any source, even as we advance reconciliation in post-conflict societies to prevent the all-too frequent relapses into war and violence.

We must build on the remarkable cooperation between the United Nations and the Stabilization Force in Bosnia to further refine the combination of force and diplomacy that is the key to peace in the Balkans, as elsewhere. The success of the NATO-led mission operating under a United Nations mandate is surely a model for future endeavours. No one, however, can expect our future tasks to be easy in execution or brief in duration.

The bloody wars of the last decade have left us with no illusions about the difficulty of halting internal conflicts -- by reason or by force -- particularly against the wishes of the government of a sovereign State. But nor have they left us with any illusions about the need to use force, when all other means have failed. We may be reaching that limit, once again, in the former Yugoslavia.

I have looked forward to this meeting as an exchange of views, and so I will only briefly outline three areas of common interest that I believe will affect our relationship in the years to come.

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Let me begin with Kosovo. When I addressed the NATO conference in Rome last June, I expressed the hope that we were beginning to draw the right lessons from the experience in the Bosnian war -- about such critical factors as credibility, legitimacy and the morality of intervention and non-intervention. But I added that there is only one way in which we can prove that we have done this: by applying those lessons practically and emphatically where horror threatens.

Alas, horror no longer threatens. It is present, in the lives of hundreds of thousands of people of Kosovo, whose lives have been disrupted violently. And now, Racak has been added to the list of crimes against humanity committed in the former Yugoslavia.

I know that you and your member States are engaged in intense consultations -- in the Contact Group and elsewhere -- in order to restore the fragile agreement that halted the killings last time around and bring the parties to the negotiating table. Therefore, let me ask only that we all -- particularly those with capacity to act -- recall the lessons of Bosnia.

That means full and unconditional respect for human rights of all citizens in Kosovo; full and unconditional acceptance of peaceful negotiation as the only way to resolve the conflict in Kosovo; and full and unconditional respect for the authority of the United Nations War Crimes Tribunal throughout all of the territory of the Former Yugoslavia.

Ultimately, however, it means providing the people of Kosovo with the degree of autonomy that is consistent with their need to live lives free from terror and violence. What form such autonomy will take will depend not only on the wishes of the Kosovars, but also on the actions of the Yugoslav authorities. We can only hope that they, too, have learned the lessons of Bosnia.

Second, let me say that the cooperation between the United Nations and the Stabilization Force in Bosnia remains essential in its prospects for lasting peace. In every area -- from security to the return of refugees to restoring schools and roads and hospitals -- we are working together. Still, we need to ensure that International Police Task Force and Stabilization Force communication remains clear and effective, so that all threats to the peace can be contained in concert.

Let me conclude by congratulating you -- a bit early perhaps -- on the upcoming fiftieth anniversary of the alliance, and wish you all success in your deliberations on devising a new strategic concept for the next century. How you define your role, and where and how you decide to pursue it, is of vital interest to the United Nations, given the long tradition of cooperation and coordination between NATO and the United Nations in matters of war and peace. I look forward to hearing your views on this matter.

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For information media. Not an official record.