|G-8 MINISTERS FIND AGREEMENT|
June 8, 1999
It took two days of negotiations in Cologne, Germany, but the foreign ministers of the G-8 nations agreed on the text of an United Nations resolution. Following their meeting, the ministers took questions on the proposal.
MR FISCHER: Ladies and gentlemen. I would like to give you the results of the G8 Foreign Ministers meeting, for the their preparation of a draft UN resolution to end the conflict in Kosovo. After several hours of discussion in a mainly co-operative climate, today we have managed to unite on a united agreement. And I would like to thank my colleagues, Madeleine Albright, Igor Ivanov, Hubert Vedrine, Axworthy, and I would like to thank them all who have taken part, and also Lamberto Dini yesterday. We managed here to achieve a real breakthrough.
We have managed to get a UN draft resolution. One of the main elements was the unlimited return of all the Kosovo refugees, and now that we have agreed on the draft resolution the way is free for a military and technical cooperation and it can be finalised on the basis of the UN draft resolution which we worked on. With these principles, this cooperation can be put together and finalised. Hans Van Den Broek took part, other players will be taking part in helping, to take part in a practical rebuilding.
Let me sum up. There has been important progress towards peace and now the next step is the UN in New York where we must work on getting together the principles for the military cooperation. There will be a stop to the bombing, there will be a robust peace troop put into place. I would like to once again thank all those who have taken part. This is not only a good result but also a very good day for peace in Kosovo.
Thank you very much
QUESTION: we were told there can only be a symbolic presence of a few hundred, there have been references to religious sites. Will the Serbs be able to have troops on the border?
MRS 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 the UNHCR and 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.
MR 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 and 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, and I am very pleased with our work over the last two days because what we have done is faithfully translate into this resolution the peace package that President Ahtisaari put to Belgrade and that Belgrade accepted. It has not been renegotiated in any shape or form.
QUESTION: (Not interpreted)
MR FISCHER: (Not interpreted)
QUESTION: 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?
MRS ALBRIGHT: I met with Kosovar Albanian leaders this morning, including Mr Thaqi. They assured me that they would live up to the commitments that they have made that the KLA would in fact demilitarise and they are looking forward to playing a part in the political life of Kosovo.
QUESTION: A question to Russian Foreign Minister Ivanov. Could you tell us which compromise made it possible for you to agree?
MR IVANOV: Any agreement is a compromise. We had one principal compromise which is to end the war and to make for a political settlement. This is the basis for our agreement.
QUESTION: Does this agreement of today now mean that your country, 100% for sure, supports this resolution?
MR IVANOV: We worked out this draft together today and we came to a unanimously agreed text and we shall certainly support this text at the Security Council as well.
QUESTION: How will the problem of Russian military presence in the peace force be settled?
MR IVANOV: 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 is tied to this international presence for security and 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?
MR COOK: 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 wording 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 is 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. And 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 and 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, and that will enable us then to have a resolution in force when the international security presence enters Kosovo.
MARGARET EVANS, CANADIAN BROADCASTING: Can you tell us please whether reference to the International War Crimes Tribunal is in the text? And also Foreign Minister Cook, you say that you are escaping the stalemate, in fact many of the main issues haven't been resolved, are you not merely postponing it to a later date?
MR AXWORTHY: Perhaps I can follow up on a cooperation of origin here. There are two mentions, both in the preamble where we recall that the International Tribunal is a creature of the Security Council; more substantively in Article 14 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 clear accordance with the work that has to go on. So I think we are very pleased that we have 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 to this agreement.
QUESTION: To the Russian Minister, to what extent are you satisfied with this present text? And if not completely, then can you name the points which you are satisfied with and not satisfied with? And secondly, when will the Security Council be called to discuss this resolution?
MR IVANOV: 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 is no point in saying what article we are more or less satisfied with. The important thing is when this resolution is adopted that it should be implemented in the interests of peace in the Balkans.
MR COOK: I was asked 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, and 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 to the peace process because we now have the text for the Security Council 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 and we have been 12 hours in negotiating this text and it has 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 us who in fact leads the international force?
MR FISCHER: All military questions are handed over to the United States - a tiny little country.
MR COOK: That is not in the resolution.
MRS ALBRIGHT: We have made very clear, it is in the appendix to this resolution that this has a NATO core and NATO will be the military leader. Could I also add, I think 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 co-ordination between the use of diplomacy and the use of force. And originally we had the use of force, 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. And I think that this has been an outstanding example of how force and diplomacy work together.
FINANCIAL TIMES: Mr Ivanov, do you agree that the military force will have NATO at its core and will be led by NATO?
MR IVANOV: I already answered this question, that 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 of the organisation, the objectives of the international security forces.
MR FISCHER: We started with the principles and we looked at the document that Talbott, Ahtisaari and Chernomyrdin drew up, and now we have got this very precise draft of the UN resolution which shows how much concrete progress we have 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, and 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 tried to guarantee this, that is 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.
CATHERINE HICKLEY, BLOOMBERG NEWS:
MR FISCHER: As the military speeches are led by a British General, I would say that the British Foreign Secretary should answer the question.
MR COOK: Delighted. 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.
MR FISCHER: 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.