Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and G-8 Foreign Ministers
Press Conference following their meeting
Cologne, Germany, June 8, 1999
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
FOREIGN MINISTER FISCHER: (In German; through interpreter) I would like to tell you about the results of the meeting of the foreign ministers of the G-8 for the preparation of the draft of a UN Security Council resolution for the completion of the war in Kosovo.
After hours of talk and negotiations yesterday and today, which took place in a very cooperative way, we finally succeeded today to agree to a common, a shared resolution draft. So I would like to thank all my colleagues who were working on this. So I would like to thank all the foreign ministers, Mr. Cook and everybody else involved -- Lamberto Dini and so on. We finally achieved a real breakthrough by getting to agree on a draft for a UN Security Council resolution.
One of the most important elements is a cease-fire on the basis of the return of all refugees, which is guaranteed by an international peacekeeping force. Now we have agreed on this draft. We also can go on with the technical agreements, which can be done by the people in charge on the basis of the draft -- the text that we have hammered out.
On this basis, the military and technical agreement can also be concluded. The commissioner of the European Union in charge has said that the World Bank and the EU are willing to talk about Kosovo so that we can go on with a real reconstruction.
Let me summarize once again. We have managed a very decisive, progressive step forward. Now New York is the next place where decision will have to be taken, and then the military and technological administrative side will have to be covered as well. Then the withdrawal of the forces is a very important point, and then, on that basis, we might get a Security Council resolution which will lead to an international force being stationed in Kosovo, which was already outlined in the Chernomyrdin-Ahtisaari agreement. We also have an annex for our draft resolution.
So I would like to thank everybody involved once again. Today what we managed to do in Cologne is not only a very good result, but also a very good day for the peace in Kosovo. Thank you very much.
QUESTION: Mr. Minister, if indeed the eight of you are calling for all Serb troops to depart. There's a report from Belgrade that the Serbs intend to keep troops on the border, in fact, to determine who can come back into the country. Now, we were told there can only be a symbolic presence of a few hundred. There have been references to the religious sites. Will the Serbs be able to have troops on the border?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Let me start this. First of all, the Serbs will in no way be able to control who goes back into Kosovo. Those people whose identity papers were removed have in fact been reissued identity papers by UNHCR. So there is no way that the Serbs can control entry. There may be a few Serbs on the border, but as observers; not in any shape or form -- be able to control access to and from Kosovo.
FOREIGN SECRETARY COOK: Can I just add to that? We have made clear in our text that the responsibility for the return of the refugees will lie with the civil international presence. So it will be they who will manage the return of refugees, and also of the hundreds of thousands of displaced persons inside Kosovo, back to their homes.
There may be a small, symbolic Serb presence on the border, but under the supervision of the international military presence.
I am very pleased with our work over the last two days, because what we have done is basically translate into this resolution the peace package that President Ahtisaari put to Belgrade and that Belgrade accepted. It has not been re-negotiated in any shape or form.
QUESTION: (In German; through interpreter) I have to ask different people than yesterday.
QUESTION: (In German; through interpreter) Mr. Fischer, could you perhaps tell us a few details about the agreement? For instance, what about the international force: Which will be the command structure?
FOREIGN MINISTER FISCHER: ( In German; through interpreter) The technical details still have to be discussed between those who will be participating. We will have a unified command structure, and this will be on the basis of a Chapter 7 resolution concerning Kosovo, and the tasks in this resolution.
So there will also be NATO forces in the international force; that is clear. So we discussed the things as far as we could today.
QUESTION: (In German; through interpreter) Minister Fischer, I wanted to know what happens about the KLA. Is there anything binding? Mrs. Albright met the Kosovo Albanians this morning. Are there any definite things you can say about the disarmament of the KLA -- anything binding?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I met with Kosovar Albanian leaders this morning, including Mr. Thaci. They assured me that they would live up to the commitments that they have made: that the KLA would, in fact, demilitarize. They are looking forward to playing a part in the political life of Kosovo.
QUESTION: (In German; through interpreter) A question to the Russian Foreign Minister Ivanov. Could you tell us which compromise made it possible for you to agree?
FOREIGN MINISTER IVANOV: (In Russian; through interpreter) Any agreement is a compromise. We have one principal compromise, which is to end the war and to make for a political settlement. This is the basis for our agreements.
QUESTION: A question for Foreign Minister Ivanov. Does this agreement of today now mean that your country -- 100 percent for sure -- is going to support this resolution?
FOREIGN MINISTER IVANOV: (In Russian; through interpreter) We worked out this draft together today. We came to a unanimously agreed text, and we shall certainly support this text at the Security Council as well.
QUESTION: (In Russian; through interpreter) How will the problem of Russian military presence in the peace force be settled?
FOREIGN MINISTER IVANOV: (In Russian; through interpreter) As Joschka Fischer, my colleague, put it, the resolution settles the principles, the foundations. And we have now to work out the format and the mandate which are tied to this international presence for security. This will then settle our attitude.
QUESTION: At what point does this resolution come into force? Is it after a Serb withdrawal? And does it contain any prohibition on future military action, either by NATO or Serbia?
FOREIGN MINISTER FISCHER: Robin, BBC: It's yours.
FOREIGN SECRETARY COOK: He was bored hearing from me; I think he wanted to hear from you, Joschka.
As well as going through the text, we gave considerable discussion to how we sequence the various steps that are necessary to reach a completion of the peace process. We will now, today, transmit this text to our colleagues in New York, and will work with all the members of the Security Council on this text, to complete our agreement on the working here, with which we are satisfied.
However, we respect the fact that there are members of the Security Council who do not wish to adopt a Security Council resolution until there's an end to the military campaign. Therefore, having got agreement to the text, we will stop just short of the adoption and we will then proceed with the work that needs to be done in Kosovo on the agreement of the military technical agreement, on the verifiable withdrawal of the Serb forces, and on the suspension of the military campaign by NATO, which follows the start of verifiable withdrawal. At that point, it will then be possible to complete the formality of adopting the resolution, but we have effectively done the work to create the resolution over the past 24 hours.
This enables us to escape from the stalemate that we had, on which way to make forward on the peace track. We can now proceed; we believe we can proceed rapidly, and we hope that all these various steps can be taken quickly within a matter of the next few days. That will enable us then to a resolution in force when the international security presence enters Kosovo.
QUESTION: Can you tell us, please, whether a reference to the International War Crimes Tribunal is in the text? And also, for Foreign Minister Cook, you say that you are escaping the stalemate; in fact, many of the main issues haven't been resolved. You're not merely postponing it to a later date?
FOREIGN MINISTER AXWORTHY: Perhaps I can follow up on my corporation of origin here. There is two mentions -- both in the preamble -- where we call it the International Tribunal as a creature of the Security Council. More substantively, in Article XIV, there is a demand that all parties cooperate with the work of the International Tribunal, including the security presence itself, so that there can be a clear accordance with the work that has to go on.
So I think we're very pleased that we've been able to establish the positioning of the Tribunal, and the work that it has to do with the full cooperation of all the parties for this agreement.
QUESTION: (In Russian; through interpreter) To what extent are you satisfied with this present text; and if not completely, then can you name the points which you are satisfied and not satisfied with? And secondly, a second issue: When will the Security Council be called to discuss this resolution?
FOREIGN MINISTER IVANOV: (In Russian; through interpreter) This sort of document hardly ever satisfies those who take part in the negotiations. The important point is that this document should allow us to achieve the objectives that we had, which is to stop the war in the Balkans. If we achieve that in the nearest future, then we can be satisfied with this resolution.
The resolution also anticipates a very considerable amount of work for rebuilding the region, for developing an international presence which will allow a safe return of the refugees and a return of normal life to the country.
So I believe that now there's no point in saying what I am more or less satisfied with. The important thing is, when this resolution is adopted, that it should be implemented in the interest of peace in the Balkans.
FOREIGN SECRETARY COOK: Let me talk about the escape from the stalemate. At the weekend we got ourselves caught in a position in which we could not get ahead with the implementation of the Ahtisaari package unless there was a Security Council resolution. On the other hand, we could not get a Security Council resolution unless there was implementation of the Ahtisaari package. We were trapped revolving around that circle.
Over the last 24 hours here, we have escaped from that circle. We have broken through the obstacles in the peace process, because we now have the text of a Security Council (resolution), which enables us to get on with implementing, on the ground, the Ahtisaari package. And, yes, we have solved a lot of the big problems. We've been 12 hours in the negotiation of this text, and it's produced a text that gets all of us on board behind a comprehensive peace process for Kosovo. That is good for the refugees, and it is good for peace throughout the region.
QUESTION: Where you said there will be a unified approach and a NATO component, could you tell who, in fact, leads the international force.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: (whispered) NATO.
FOREIGN MINISTER FISCHER: As in -- quick, Madeleine, follow up.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: No, I thought -- go ahead.
FOREIGN MINISTER FISCHER: All military questions are handed over to the United States.
A tiny little country.
FOREIGN SECRETARY COOK: That's not in the resolution.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: What, the United States?
FOREIGN SECRETARY COOK: That it had to do with the United States.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: We have made very clear, it is in the appendix to this resolution, that this has a NATO core and that NATO will be the military leader.
Could I also add: I think that what I have found very interesting about our 12 hours of negotiation, as Foreign Secretary Cook said, is that all along through this struggle, we have had a very useful coordination between the use of diplomacy and the use of force. Originally, we had the threat of the use of force in support of diplomacy; then we had the use of diplomacy in support of force. And I think in the last days, we are now where we are using diplomacy again in order to end the use of force. I think that this has been an outstanding example of how force and diplomacy work together.
QUESTION: Can I ask Mr. Ivanov if he agrees that the military force will have NATO at its core and will be led by NATO?
FOREIGN MINISTER IVANOV: (In Russian; through interpreter) I already answered this question. All the aspects tied to the international presence on security will be further discussed while developing the Security Council resolution. This is a subject for negotiations, and at the moment we are not going to settle the Russian participation in advance.
The important thing is that the resolution settles the principles, organization, the objectives of the international security process.
FOREIGN MINISTER FISCHER: (In German; through interpreter) We started with the Petersburg principles, and we looked at the document that Talbott, Ahtisaari, and Chernomyrdin drew up, and now we've got this very precise draft of the UN resolution, which shows how much concrete progress we've made.
Now, this is the basis for the military elements, as well as the civil elements, and the short-term return of refugees in a secure environment. We will also make sure that the weapons will cease firing. We will, in the middle term, in the long term, get a reintegration of all Kosovars of all ethnic origins, so that we have a substantial autonomy in the region as well, so that these people can have an influence on their future. We will also have material reconstruction, not only of Kosovo, but the whole region, so that the whole region is led towards Europe.
All these components are part of that resolution. But of course, as Madeleine Albright said, rightly, we were mainly using means of diplomacy in order to stop the killing and the ethnic cleansing, so that all refugees and displaced persons can go back home. We try to go into this step --that's the main point.
I think we have a wonderful basis now, due to this draft, to get to the final stages of the implementation later on. We already have experience in that region, how military forces are put together.
QUESTION: I just wanted to know if you could give any kind of rough time estimate for when the military negotiations will continue; and also the timeframe for a withdrawal and when you expect to adopt the resolution.
FOREIGN MINISTER FISCHER: (In German; through interpreter) As the military speeches are led by a British general, I would say that the British Foreign Secretary should answer the question.
FOREIGN SECRETARY COOK: Delighted, glad to. We can't give a categorical guarantee of when the process will be completed, because that is not entirely in our own hands; it is also in the hands of Belgrade.
Provided Belgrade cooperates, and is willing to make the same rapid speed that we want to make, then there is no reason why the remaining steps in the process could not be completed within days. We are willing to do that; we are willing to go ahead. Belgrade must now cooperate, not in meeting some new objectives, but in delivering on the objectives that it itself has accepted in the Ahtisaari package. If it will do that, then we can complete the steps that remain in front of us within a matter of days.
FOREIGN MINISTER FISCHER: (In German; through interpreter) I would like to thank everybody who worked for this success. And also I would like to thank President Yeltsin and President Clinton, who were our guardian angels.
Thank you very much.
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