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UNITED NATIONS INTERIM ADMINISTRATION MISSION IN KOSOVO

21 September 1999

TRANSCRIPT OF BRIEFING NOTES PRESS BRIEFING BY SRSG BERNARD KOUCHNER AND KFOR COMMANDER GENERAL MIKE JACKSON

KFOR Press Center : Pristina

SRSG Bernard Kouchner :

It is a good day for us. This is not an end, but a beginning.

Demilitarization is not necessarily accomplished by simply dismantling military structures and collecting soldiers’arms. The concept of completing demilitarization through the transformation of former fighting forces is well established in peacekeeping practice, and it became an integral part of the Kosovo peace process as a result of the KLA Undertaking on Demilitarization and Transformation presented to KFOR Commander Mike Jackson in June.

In close consultation with UNMIK, KFOR subsequently developed a concept for a civilian, disciplined, uniformed and multi-ethnic emergency response service closely modeled on the SÚcuritÚ Civile of France that could provide needed emergency and other specialized services, while absorbing substantial KLA manpower and redirecting its aspirations. Yesterday, I signed UNMIK Regulation 1999/8 authorizing the establishment of such a service, the Kosovo Protection Corps.

The Corps will provide disaster response services, including for major fires, and industrial accidents or spills; perform search and rescue; provide a capacity for humanitarian assistance in isolated areas; assist in demining; and contribute to rebuilding infrastructure and communities.

The Corps will consist of up to 3,000 active and 2,000 reserve member who will be recruited and screened on an individual basis, in much the same manner as the Kosovo Police Corps. At least ten percent of the Corps will consist of minorities. Members of the Corps cannot hold public office or actively engage in political affairs, and are prohibited from involvement in law enforcement or the maintenance of public order.

KFOR will provide day-to-day supervision of the Corps under policies and priorities established by UNMIK. A transition period of at least 60 days will be required to stand-up the Corps. These preparations include the processing of applications, the procurement of basic equipment and the development of training programs. Taking into account among other things his enormous contribution to the successful demilitarization of the KLA, I have appointed Agim Ceku as Current Commander of the Kosovo Protection Corps.

I look to him to lead the new members of the Corps in the footsteps of Cincinnatus, the model citizen-soldier of ancient Rome -- who left his plow standing in the field to answer the call to arms … and at the end of the war refused all honors in order to return to his civic duties.

This story of the brave and honorable citizen-soldier has been repeated in virtually every nation represented in KFOR and UNMIK, including my own. Over the centuries, we all have learned that the price of liberty is constant vigilance and readiness to sacrifice. But we have also learned that there is a time for everything, including a time for arms and a time for tools.

This is the time to build Kosovo, to build democracy.

 

KFOR Commander Mike Jackson :

It’s 92 days ago that the UCK voluntarily declared a timetable in which it would demilitarize in accordance with the requirements of UN Security Council Resolution 1244. This declaration was made in the form of an Undertaking for Demilitarization and Transformation which was presented to me by Mr. Thaci on the 21 of June. It contained a series of deadlines that the UCK was to meet leading up to the full demilitarization by midnight on the 19th of September. At 9:30 p.m. yesterday evening, in accordance with the terms of that undertaking, Gen. Ceku presented me with a signed declaration stating that the UCK had complied fully with the requirements of the Security Council Resolution. And I can confirm that I am satisfied that the requirements have indeed been met, obligations to demilitarize have been carried out, and that I’ve accepted Gen. Ceku’s declaration of compliance and so inform the Special Representative of the Secretary-General.

In passing I note that under now KFOR secure control, are over 10,000 weapons and 5 million rounds of ammunition.

I do not underestimate the effort, both physical and not to be forgotten, emotional, that this has taken. But it has been necessary. Conditions of repression here in Kosovo that forged the UCK have gone. The security of Kosovo is now the responsibility of KFOR alone, and one that KFOR exercises with great diligence. So the whole and successful demilitarization of the UCK marks the end of one era. But as Dr. Kouchner has already made very clear, it heralds the beginning of another. So the process of demilitarization is now complete, and the process of transformation, that second part of the Undertaking, can now begin.

Last night also marked the full acceptance of the transformation process by the UCK, in the manner again which Dr. Kouchner has already described. I would also like here to offer my thanks to the Supreme Allied Commander-Europe General Clark, who came down yesterday to help the final negotiations which led to the transformation process. I would also like to thank to the Institute of Migration, the IOM, who have done great work alongside KFOR in the transformation process and will be hard at work over the next few days. I believe very strongly that the Kosovo Protection Corps offers those members of the UCK who fought for Kosovo the opportunity if they so wish to join in and help rebuild Kosovo for coming generations. It will not necessarily be easy, but it will be certainly worthwhile. I have no doubt that under the leadership of Gen. Ceku, it will work.

 

Questions :

Question : On weapons, the statement says a limited number of weapons will be authorized for protection. Is this in addition to the 200 authorized, and how many will that be? The Albanian translation can be Kosovo Defence Corps, and the new logo is strikingly similar to the old UCK’s.

Jackson : Weapons could be a contentious issue. There will be 200 small arms available for routine site guarding. There will be a number of locations where the Corps is obviously based. I note the French Securite Civile does guard its own locations. This is an important factor. We are not yet into a fully peacetime security environment. I hope it comes quickly, but we’re not there yet. Therefore it is necessary for the Corps to have the ability to guard its own locations. There are also personnel who regard themselves at risk, and the reasons are pretty obvious for that. There is a very careful system which has been agreed with the Commissioner of the UNMIK police whereby individuals who feel themselves at risk , and we obviously need to acknowledge here the ex-leadership of the UCK who will be concerned. I cannot give you an exact figure , but I do assure you the weapons regime has been figured out so that everything, and I mean everything, will be very carefully controlled by my delegated powers from the Special Representative. We’ve been extremely careful here and I can assure you there is no question of unregulated weapons.

On the symbol of the new Corps, it is fair and honest to say that this was a matter of some difficulty when arranging the transformation. The reasons are obvious. Those who fought and died under a symbol which became to them one of great emotion and significance obviously wish to see some form of continuation of elements of it. I understand that. I’m a soldier in the British Army which has gone through many reorganizations, and symbols matter, and people do want to see a carry-over.

So I want to make it quite clear to you that I accept that emotional transfer and that something needs to recognize it. It was very difficult for the leadership of the UCK, some of whom will become members of the KPC, to accept for example that the double eagle symbol would not be suitable for the new structure which would be open to all citizens of Kosovo. But they have done so, and you will see that the central motif is a symbol of the geographical outline of Kosovo. As to the wording of the title of the new structure, again this was a matter of deep emotional significance to the ex-members of the UCK and a lot of hard work went into the selection of this. It has to be acceptable to the international community as a whole. I know there are two meanings to the word, but rest assured that in English the name of the new structure is the Kosovo Protection Corps.

Question : Can you give us more detail on the Serb paramilitary activity in the north of Kosovo, in the Mitrovica region, and what kind of threat this poses, also to the statements made recently by Serbian generals that they’re massing forces to send into Kosovo because KFOR is not protecting minorities.

Jackson : We’ve all heard some loud noises coming from Belgrade and elsewhere, but frankly there is no evidence whatsoever on the ground that these noises have any manifestation whatsoever. About paramilitaries, what is the definition of a paramilitary. If you mean illegal arms are being carried by unauthorized people who are committing criminal acts, I’m quite happy to answer the question on that basis: Yes, I accept that there are illegal arms in northern Mitrovica, but there are illegal arms throughout Kosovo and I shall continue with KFOR to reduce as sharply and quickly as possible that number of illegal arms. But I accept that Mitrovica is a particular problem. We are making progress. Weapons are being confiscated and arrests are being made.

Question : Could you say more about whether or not you’ve seen evidence whether Serb security forces are coming into Kosovo.

Jackson : I have no evidence of members of a formed organization from Yugoslavia or Serbia coming into Kosovo.

Question : So you do have evidence of individuals coming?

Jackson : The boundaries between Serbia and Kosovo are open. Remember what 1244 says about sovereignty arrangements. People can come and go subject to their obedience to law and order. It’s a difficult task to identify somebody who’s coming with malice of forethought and someone who’s going about his own business. We’re well aware of the problem, but there’s no evidence that members of official state organizations are involved.

Question : Why no number on arms retained for personal protection?

Jackson : Because the authority to carry that weapon is mine, and unauthorized carriage of weapons means confiscation. I assure you there are no weapons out there which are not under control.

Kouchner : Certainly no officials are coming as trouble-makers. But many unofficial ones are coming. We have discovered that some of the incidents have been organized and not only in Mitrovica. The number of people is certainly high, and we have to be very suspicious. Why are they coming? Because each incident, each attack and murder is a success for Milosevic. The reason why we are very tough in asking people of Kosovo to understand that, and to stop harassing and attacking minorities.

Jackson : To avoid another question on numbers….(reads from Statement of Principles) "No member of the KPC will be permitted to carry weapons of any kind unless authorized to do so by the Special Representative, who has authorized day –to-day supervision to me, and I can assure you the appropriate arrangements have been made.

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