|For Immediate Release||September 30, 1999|
Thank you, very much, Dick Solomon. I am grateful to you and to theU.S. Institute of Peace for having me here today. Please forgive me ifI was a few minutes late. I was trying to leave for the speech, butmembers of my staff only wanted to talk about which actor played them inlast night's episode of "The West Wing." No one played me, apparently,despite the fact that, as I understand it, the episode involved aforeign terrorist act. Maybe that's just as well, considering howHollywood has presented national security advisers recently: A stuffedshirt in "The Peacemaker." An egomaniac killed off in "Air Force One."A self-promoter in "Contact." A zealot in "Murder at 1600." I can'timagine who the model was for these characters, but let me stress thateach of these movies was in process before I assumed this job.
Let me congratulate the Institute on your 15th anniversary and for allthe valuable work you have done to strengthen peace around the world.Just a few weeks ago, you hosted a remarkable discussion, bringingtogether a diverse group of Kosovar Albanian leaders, skillfullyassisting as they fashioned a declaration of principles for a democraticsociety.
Today I want to talk to you about the effort to build peace in Kosovo,how we're doing, and why. Kosovo is mostly out of the headlines now --but it must not be out of our thoughts.
On the morning of June 10th, President Clinton received word that Serbforces had begun their withdrawal from Kosovo. Soon after, he announcedthat NATO had suspended the air campaign against Serbia. He thanked ourtroops for their skill and bravery. He expressed pride that we hadachieved our goals -- Serb forces out, a NATO-led force in, refugees toreturn -- and that we did so in a way that advanced other importantnational interests: maintaining NATO unity; preventing the collapse ofnew democracies in southeast Europe; keeping Russia engaged in reachingpeace. But the President made clear that it was not time to rest. "Wehave a moment of hope," he said. "Now ... we have to finish the job andbuild the peace."
As the President recognized, it is no simple task to create securityfrom the ashes of violent tyranny ... to build self-government where forso long there had been repression ... to foster tolerance afterunspeakable intolerance. And we have seen all of those obstacles sincethe end of the conflict. Some ethnic Albanians, still burning withanger over the atrocities committed by Serb forces, have engaged indeplorable acts of violence, such as the grenade attack two days ago atan outdoor market crowded with Serbs. Many Serbs have fled Kosovo, somewith exiting Serb forces and others since. There have been some armedconfrontations between Kosovars and KFOR, the international securityforce. And the effort to transform the Kosovo Liberation Army into apositive component of a new democratic society has been painstaking.
But, in the face of these challenges, we already have come a greatdistance. Kosovo now is engaged in a struggle of rebirth, no longer astruggle with death. The people have a future again. We have anopportunity to move from success on the battlefield to lasting victoryin meeting the goals for which we fought, in Kosovo and in southeastEurope as a whole.
Having won the war, we must not now lose the peace. Protecting ournational interests requires us not only to act in a crisis, but to takeadvantage of the opportunity our military success created to preventfuture crises. Victory will not come until Kosovo and southeast Europeare so tightly integrated into the rest of Europe that another war isinconceivable.
Let me try to capture the dimensions of this challenge by brieflydescribing Kosovo's troubled past. Keep in mind that no living residentof Kosovo has ever seen genuine democracy or broad prosperity in theprovince. In this century, Kosovo has been dominated by one repressiveregime after another, and a mainly agricultural economy has done littleto lift people from poverty. Kosovo has experienced extended periods ofpeace in modern times, but there has been no tradition of strongintegration among Kosovo's ethnic groups -- at best, there was uneasycoexistence.
Conditions greatly worsened a decade ago, when Milosevic stripped Kosovoof its autonomy; stripped the Kosovar Albanians of their jobs; strippedtheir children of the right to study in their own language. Then, inearly 1998, after a decade of non-violent resistance to Serb oppressiongave way to the KLA's armed resistance, Serb forces sharply intensifiedtheir violence, murdering civilians, driving Kosovars from their homes.Finally, early this year, as we and the Europeans struggled to obtainpeace, Belgrade systematically planned for all-out war -- and thenlaunched its campaign to rid the land of its ethnic Albanians, dead oralive.
The Kosovo that existed before KFOR troops arrived on June 12 was aliving nightmare -- the debris, living and dead, of a crime againsthumanity. Having ended this nightmare, we have been working every daysince to meet the clear goals of the international community for thefuture:
First, a fully deployed KFOR must establish a secure environment acrossthe province.
Second, all of the Kosovo residents displaced by the conflict who wishto return should be able to do so, including, over time, the ethnicSerbs who have left.
Third, there must be sufficient humanitarian aid to sustain the peopleand help them rebuild their homes and resume productive lives.
Fourth, the United Nations must establish an effective civiladministration to carry out government functions for a transitionperiod.
Fifth, we must aid the people of Kosovo in establishing self-governmentand building a democratic society where the rights of minority groupmembers are protected.
Finally, Kosovo's ultimate status must be decided peacefully, with theparticipation of its people.
How is it going? There are problems, but a little over 100 days intothis effort, there has been considerably more progress than mostAmericans realize.
KFOR is fully deployed, with some 41,000 troops from more than 20countries. There have been occasional confrontations between its troopsand Kosovo residents, but security has significantly improved and KFORhas the cooperation and respect of the great majority of Kosovo'speople. Russian troops have played a constructive role, helping to keepthe peace, standing up to violence, including from Serbs, maintainingimpartiality.
KFOR's success in creating stability has allowed the return of over800,000 Kosovar Albanian refugees -- more than 8 in 10 -- and allowedhundreds of thousands more who had been hiding in Kosovo's hills to comehome to their villages. But they have returned to a shattered land.They have had to face the agony of loved ones lost. Many found theirhomes and businesses destroyed, their wells polluted, their schools andhospitals razed by Milosevic's attacks.
The UN and relief agencies are working with the people of Kosovo torebuild homes. Some 50,000 houses are beyond repair, another 50,000severely damaged. The strategy now underway will give each family atleast one warm, dry room through the spring. The UN is alsorevitalizing Kosovo's energy sector, so residents will be ensuredelectricity and heat this winter.
Rehabilitation of hospitals and clinics is moving forward. The UN andthe World Health Organization are working with local officials toimmunize 240,000 children against disease. International teams alreadyhave cleared more than a million square meters of land for mines,including 3000 homes and 500 schools. 350 Kosovo residents areundergoing training to join demining efforts.
Kosovo's children are back at school. Mail service has been restored.Farmlands are alive with tractors and livestock. Factories and storesare back in business. Radio-Television Kosovo will resume broadcastingthis month, with participation by Serbs as well as ethnic Albanians. Ifyou walked down the streets of Pristina or Pec or Prizren today, youwould hear the sounds of hammers, building and repairing, and peoplegathered in the cafes and squares.
There are many ways in which life in Kosovo remains far from normal, butin all these ways, life for the vast majority of Kosovo's peopleactually is more normal than before the war. At last, children arelearning in their own language; parents are going back to their jobs;citizens are shaping their own future. This is not a return to thefrightening twilight of the past, but the birth of something new inKosovo: it is freedom.
The UN's civil administration, under France's Bernard Kouchner, formerlyhead of Doctors Without Borders, and America's Jock Covey, has deployedfar more quickly than previous missions, such as Bosnia or Cambodia.
Nearly 300 UN professional staff are in place, and the UN Mission is inevery part of Kosovo.
Already, it has laid the groundwork for institutions of self-government.It has begun to build a local court system, with some 50 Kosovoresidents, including Serbs, serving as justice officials. Courts arefunctioning in Pristina and Prizren, and two mobile courts hearemergency cases. More than 1000 international police officers arealready in Kosovo, with 2000 more expected soon. Their work is showingresults: Crime, particularly arson, has steadily declined, thoughviolence continues. Kosovo's police academy will graduate its firstclass of 168 cadets next month, the start of a local force that we hopewill have 3000 officers by next September. As in Bosnia, capable policewill allow us to draw down peacekeeping troops as time goes on.
Kosovo residents are drafting the legal framework for Kosovo's economy.UN authorities are collecting sales and excise taxes and customs duties,a first step toward building banking and fiscal systems.
Kosovo's political and civic leaders have been meeting in a KosovoTransitional Council, which will lay the groundwork for local autonomy.Regrettably, its Serb members resigned last week, and we must work tobring them back to this important body soon. Meanwhile, the UN beginsregistering citizens tomorrow, as a step toward free elections, likelyto be next year.
All-in-all, we are on track in rebuilding physical structures andbuilding new political structures. But that won't guarantee a stableKosovo. We must also address three fundamental, interconnected, anddifficult challenges: channeling the energy of former KLA members intobuilding a just society; protecting the safety of all groups in Kosovo;and encouraging a democratic Serbia that will allow Serbs and Kosovarsalike to determine their future peacefully. The three challengesembrace a single one: keeping a brutal past from engulfing a hopefulfuture.
First, we must see that ex-KLA members work with us in building astrong, democratic Kosovo. The task of integrating former rebels intothe political process is not, of course, unique to Kosovo. We have seenit accomplished successfully in places like El Salvador and Nicaragua.But here the challenge is different, for the old order has been sweptaway, and some former KLA may think they are better off without theinternational community.
That is why the agreement reached last week to end the KLA and form theKosovo Protection Corps is an important step, critical to preventingformation of an active, obstructionist rebel underground. The new corpswill work on reconstruction and humanitarian assistance, not armedresistance. The agreement sharply limits the number of self-defenseweapons available to them and caps their full-time membership.
Most former KLA now appear ready to assume roles in a democratic Kosovo-- as part of the new corps, or in the new local police, as members ofpolitical parties, or seizing opportunities to study and work that theywere long denied. This will isolate those who, hardened by life under abrutal and corrupt tyranny, would prefer a future where violence andintolerance carry the day.
Fostering such a climate is essential if we are to address the secondchallenge I noted: protecting the security of all Kosovo's people,including the Serbs and other minorities, so those who have left willsee the possibility of returning. Today, most Kosovar Albanians canenjoy their lives after ten years of oppression, though there continueto be Kosovar victims of violence by Serbs. At the same time the Serbminority is suffering. About half of the 200,000 Kosovo Serbs havefled. Many who have stayed live in fear. Serbs have been harassed andassaulted and murdered.
We must be clear: NATO did not fight in Kosovo for one ethnic group overanother. We fought for a stable, peaceful Europe -- and for theprinciple that no people should be destroyed or driven out because oftheir ethnicity or faith. The violence and terror we have seen againstKosovo's Serbs does not match the scale of Milosevic's rampage. But itis no less contemptible. And we have told Kosovar Albanian leaders thatif they fail to oppose it, they will lose the support of theinternational community.
Ending the cycles of hate and revenge also will require, I believe, avigorous commitment to seeing justice done. More than 200 atrocitysites have been identified. In the short-term, focusing on war crimesmay create some more polarization. But if the people of Kosovo see thatthere can be justice through law, they will be less likely to seekjustice through vengeance.
Still, in the end, despite all of the work we are doing in Kosovo, astable and enduring peace in the Balkans is impossible without atransition to democracy in Serbia.
Milosevic continues to stoke conflict. Serb paramilitary violence inKosovo has persisted, particularly in areas bordering the rest ofSerbia. There has been continued Serb pressure on Montenegro.
And Milosevic continues to violently suppress the Serb people.Yesterday's contemptible attacks on peaceful demonstrators in Belgradeshows Milosevic's desperation, his fear that forces of democracy willturn the tide. After all the suffering Milosevic has caused the Serbpeople, he can no longer beat them into submission. His brutality ishelping to unite opposition forces. They are meeting today in Belgradeto try to forge a common strategy.
Only by uniting can they bring change. We are seeking to promote unity... aiding democratic opposition parties, civic and student groups,unions and independent media ... broadcasting honest news into Serbia... targeting economic sanctions at Milosevic and his corrupt cronies.And we will continue the war crimes investigations until there isjustice.
Our efforts to promote democracy in Serbia and Kosovo are part of alarger effort to strengthen democracy, opportunity and integrationacross southeast Europe. We advanced this work over the summer whenPresident Clinton and leaders from more than 35 other nations cametogether in Sarajevo -- a city once firmly in the grip of war andatrocities -- to launch the Stability Pact, a framework for a betterfuture for the region.
There are those who say the only solution to the region's ethnicproblems is to redraw its borders around ethnically-based states. Somewant to partition Kosovo into separate zones. We rejected that solutionin Bosnia. And we reject it in Kosovo. Partition would be a disaster,uprooting people into ethnic cantons, causing more bloodshed, suffering,and anger.
The people of Kosovo should never again be ruled by Milosevic or hisilk. But as the President has said, the last thing the Balkans needs ismore Balkanization. That is why we do not support independence.
But that is not a decision to be made now. Indeed, trying to forceresolution would only disrupt and endanger the difficult and fundamentalwork we now face: Helping the people of Kosovo live in safety anddignity ... build democratic institutions that are inclusive and protectminorities ... and create an economy that can sustain their people. Inthe future, Kosovo's status will be decided with the participation ofits residents and the international community. We should not assumewhat the outcome of that process will be, because it will depend in parton events we cannot predict today, including Serbia's progress towarddemocracy and Southeast Europe's progress toward integration.
Ultimately, Kosovo's future depends on the people who live there. Ihave talked today about our responsibilities, but let me say somethingmore about theirs.
The international community expects the Kosovar Albanians to doeverything possible to encourage Serbs to return to the KosovoTransitional Council, to participate in the police force, the courts,and other institutions of government. Public statements to this effectwould be good, but concrete actions are also necessary.
Kosovo's Albanians must accept that Russian troops are an integral partof KFOR and have proved themselves able and impartial in fulfillingtheir duties. We expect the blockade of the city of Orahovac -- whichethnic Albanians have maintained since August to keep Russian troopsfrom entering -- to be lifted. And the Kosovar Protection Corps mustserve all Kosovo's communities, including Serbs.
Meanwhile, Kosovo's Serbs must understand that partition is not in thecards. Threats to create a parallel government or armed forces mustcease. They must work to resolve the stand-off in Mitrovica, whereSerbs and ethnic Albanians repeatedly have clashed.
The people of Kosovo -- Serbs, Albanians, and others -- must struggleagainst the cycles of hate. They must stop occupying each other'shouses, confronting each other in the street, destroying each other'sproperty, and inflicting on each other brutal acts of ethnic violence.We cannot expect Kosovo to achieve a state of multiethnic harmony anytime soon. But Kosovo should be a place where people of every ethnicgroup can live their lives without fear.
The people of Kosovo must take responsibility. And as Kosovo and theinternational community continue on the path of progress, it isessential that the United States walk with them.
Some in Congress question why our country should participate in thiswork. I think the reason is clear: Building democracy, opportunity andstability in Kosovo and the region is strongly in America's nationalinterest. We have a historic opportunity to finish the work we havebeen doing over the past decade: building a peaceful, undivided,democratic Europe. Integrating the Balkans and southeast Europe intoEurope's mainstream -- just as we did with Central Europe over the lastdecade -- will make it far less likely that our troops will be asked tofight another, costlier European war down the road. We must not settlefor a victory in combat but let the larger prize of a safer, betterEurope slip away.
This effort will require funding. The European Union has committed toprovide the lion's share for Kosovo's reconstruction and for southeastEurope. It must meet that commitment. But the United States must meetour responsibilities as well. For the people of Kosovo, for people ofthe region, the United States is a powerful symbol of hope and resolve.
We want to work with the Congress, with members in both parties who seethat our prosperity and security at home depends in great measure on ourability to solve critical problems overseas -- and that a wiseinvestment now can save money -- and lives -- down the road.
Americans should be proud of what we stood for and what we achieved inthe Kosovo conflict. We and our allies reversed a campaign of ethnicterror -- and created an enormous opportunity to make a safer world. Itwould be tragic if we squandered this hard-won opportunity. We owe itto the troops who fought so courageously -- and to our children -- tofinish the job and build a lasting peace.
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U.S. Institute for Peace, September 30, 1999