|Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Remarks following G-8 Ministerial Meeting, German Federal Guest House
Bonn, Germany, May 6, 1999
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I want to begin by thanking the German Government for hosting this very productive meeting of the G-8 Foreign Ministers. As economic, diplomatic and democratic leaders, each of our nations has a stake in securing peace and stability in the Balkans. And each has an important role to play in our efforts toward that goal.
We agree on the fundamentals. At the end of the 20th Century, we cannot allow ethnic cleansing to succeed and aggression to pay dividends in the heart of Europe.
Today our nations have agreed on what Belgrade must do to bring the conflict to an end. Security forces must withdraw, permitting refugees to return. Belgrade must accept an international military presence. And the people of Kosovo must gain the democratic self-government they seek.
As you know, our nations have had differing views on the kind of military presence that will be required. Today we have reached a common position in favor of an effective international security presence to give Kosovars the confidence they need to go home and to rebuild. This must mean a strong military force, with NATO at its core.
In the days ahead, we will build on this agreement to develop a more detailed proposal for such a force.
We will also begin preparing international post-conflict support for civilian areas such as reconstruction, public administration and human rights monitoring. We expect the OSCE, working with other institutions, to take a leading role in this effort.
As our nations have a responsibility to lead in seeking peace, we must also lead in helping Serbia's neighbors as they struggle to care for refugees, cope with economic dislocation and face down Milosevic's threats. The nations represented here are already doing a great deal -- but we must all find ways to do more.
We have also agreed that the G-8 must make it a priority to support longer-term efforts to bring Southeast Europe -- including, eventually, a democratic Serbia -- into the continent's mainstream.
As President Clinton has said, our struggle may be a long one. The key to its end lies in Belgrade, not in Washington, Moscow or Bonn. But we will not falter, and we will not be divided. For by standing together, as we do and did today, our nations offer an alternate vision to Milosevic's campaign of terror, tyranny and vicious intolerance.
We are united in urging Belgrade to choose a future of integration, not destruction; and together, we will do all that we can to make that future a reality.
I will now take your questions.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, the statement today does not mention the phrase "NATO at its core." I wonder whether that is a disappointment for the United States, and the allies as well. And secondly, regarding the insistence on NATO playing a central role in a peacekeeping force, would the United States find it acceptable that some member countries that have not taken a lead role in the bombing campaign be the NATO representatives; in other words, if the United States and, say, Britain, did not send troops into Kosovo as part of this force?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Let me put today's activity into the proper context. I think some of you were with me when I was in Oslo and met with Foreign Minister Ivanov, at which time we talked about trying to get agreement on the five principles that we have kept repeating to each other. Which is, an end to the violence; the importance of withdrawal of Serb forces; the return of the refugees; the introduction of an international security presence; and political settlement.
If you will remember, at that particular meeting I said that I had managed to get general agreement from the Russians -- from Foreign Minister Ivanov -- to four of the five principles. The significance of today's meeting is that the G-8, within the G-8 context, the Russians came on to the fifth principle. So I believe that this meeting has been a step forward. This was not a NATO meeting. So I think that it needs to be viewed as a step forward within the context I described, which is the Russians have now come on board on these general principles which include -- and this was very carefully worded -- an international civil and security presence. One reporter earlier had said was it one thing, no, two different presences and they have to be capable of guaranteeing the achievement of common objectives. I won't go through this all again, but basically it is evident that it has to be robust and be able to play its role. We all believe it has to be a military force, and believe and have stated, did in the meeting and will continue to state, that it has to have NATO at its core.
Now, when you ask whether other countries can represent NATO or that the U.S. and Great Britain cannot, that is not acceptable -- not for reasons of theology, but because of practical facts. And that is that part of what has to happen is that the Kosovar refugees have to be comfortable enough to come home and they have to be demilitarized, and that will not happen if the United States is not part of the operation. Plus, our leadership role in NATO requires us to be present in this kind of an operation, with NATO at its core.
So when this presence is put together, it will have some of the NATO countries that have not -- or the way they are described, more neutral countries. But also I would suggest it will probably have Russians as a part of it the way that they have participated in Bosnia and a number of other countries. So it will be a Chapter 7 and it will have NATO at its core, and it will have other countries associated with it.
QUESTION: What is your sense of the next steps and also of the timing? Is it basically going to be up to the G-8 political directors -- that is, Contact Group expanded to include Japan and Canada -- that is going to carry this? And then there has been talk in the last couple of days that the refugees might not get back until next spring. Is that your sense? Is this being pushed down the road?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: First of all, I think that what we are trying to do is move as rapidly as possible, being very much aware of the difficult conditions the refugees are experiencing. I am having a little trouble, having just gotten through winter, to think about winter again. But clearly, we are very cognizant of the seasons, and want to move this rapidly as we can.
I believe that there are a number of ways of dealing with this. I think that, obviously, there is a NATO group that will continue to elaborate on the principles; the G-8 will take part in different ways. I think the thing that we found useful in the last few weeks is not to be so rigid about which group really undertakes the work, but keep moving the process forward. We found very useful Mr. Chernomyrdin's trip to Washington after he had been to a variety of places, including Belgrade. So we are going to use a variety of available means to keep pressing the issue forward in the appropriate forum.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, I wonder how critical your meeting this morning with Foreign Minister Ivanov was to coming up with these five resolutions.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I'd like to take all the credit, right? But I think that what has been important is that we have kept in very close contact with the Russians. I talk to Foreign Minister Ivanov practically every day and I think that our meeting today was a culmination of a number of conversations that we have had and, obviously, the work of the other foreign ministers and directors. We have all been working as a group and I think we all express our views to each other very frequently and clearly. As I said, I speak with Foreign Minister Ivanov all the time. Today we had a fairly long meeting and went over a number of issues and talked about how our work together would proceed.
QUESTION: You talk about withdrawal from Kosovo of military police and paramilitary forces. Does that specifically mean the complete withdrawal of those forces?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: It is the U.S. position that all forces need to be withdrawn.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, can you tell us when you think the United Nations Security Council could table this resolution? And could you elaborate a little bit on your discussion with Dr. Rugova? Has he clarified his position on NATO's actions?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: First of all, again, I think that we will move for a Security Council resolution as quickly as we can. It is very hard to predict when that will be or how long it will take once it is there. As someone who is used to that line of work, I can tell you that one of the things I learned was never to predict about the timing of a Security Council resolution.
When I spoke with Dr. Rugova this morning, he said that -- as I said -- he supported all five of the conditions that NATO had laid out and felt positive about what NATO was doing. But as I understand it, he is going to have his own press conference a little later, and I don't want to put words in his mouth. But he was pleased to be out, and seemed to be very pleased to be having this conversation. I had asked yesterday that Ambassador Chris Hill, who knows him very well, fly to Rome to speak with him; and he did spend quite a lot of time with him. But I had the conversation that I described and said that we would stay in very close touch, but I think he should speak his own words.
QUESTION: As you mentioned, today was a step forward for NATO, but there seems to be some concessions that NATO has made toward Russia. There is not a sign of NATO at its core, and there is the interim agreement and also the civil force has been entered, the civil part of the security negotiation has been entered. Is this also a step forward for Russia since NATO did make some concessions as well?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I don't see it as NATO making concessions. As I said, I think you need to see this as a building process. Clearly, the NATO countries had a set of declarations that were made at the NATO summit and that is what 19 NATO countries did.
At the same time, we've been having this parallel process of bringing other countries into it and so I see it the other way; which is that we have come to a wider agreement with the Russians, and frankly, I don't see this as a zero-sum game. I see the fact that the Russians are trying to deal with this issue and I see -- for me -- this was not concessions; this was a building process.
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