Press AvailabilityMarc Grossman, Under Secretary for Political Affairs
Belgrade, Serbia and Montenegro
November 5, 2003
Released by the U.S. Embassy Belgrade
(Begin approximately 12:45)
UNDERSECRETARY GROSSMAN: Thank you very much. Thank you all for coming here. I hope that you recognize behind me representatives of the Contact Group, ambassadors and representatives here from Belgrade. I am very glad that they are here with me. Before I do anything else, let me first of all thank our hosts, the government here for the very good program I have had these past couple of days. I arrived as you know last night and had the chance to see the Prime Minister. And this morning I had a chance to see Minister Covic; I called on the Foreign Minister, and I called on the Defense Minister. And I thank them all for their time. I also want to take a minute to pay special tribute to Ambassador Montgomery and his team, who represent the United States so ably here in this capital. We appreciate what they do, and we value what they do.
Yesterday in Brussels, I had a chance to consult the North Atlantic Council on the desire of all NATO countries to bring the Balkans closer, faster, into Europe and into Euro-Atlantic institutions. Our vision is a vision of Europe whole, free and at peace. And I think it is fair to say that after ten years of military, diplomatic, economic commitment, that we have established a foundation for what I would call self-sustaining progress, in democracy and economy, in the Balkans. We want to bring the Balkans into Europe. We want to bring the Balkans into Europe, not just for your benefit, but so that we can hasten the day when we will be able to leave behind stable, peaceful, multi-ethnic democracies.
One of the topics that I raised here in my visit to Belgrade was the question of Kosovo because we believe that getting Kosovo right is key to having the Balkans integrated into Europe and into Euro-Atlantic structures. So I took the opportunity of being here to report to our hosts on a plan that has been adopted by the Contact Group but that will take, I believe, a major step toward addressing this very important issue of Kosovo. You all have seen I think, the Contact Groupís strategy to focus Kosovars on achieving standards. Not talking about standards or debating about standards, but achieving standards. What are those standards? Functioning democratic institutions; the rule of law; freedom of movement for all communities; safe return and the re-integration of internally displaced people and refugees; a market economy; property rights; dialogue with Belgrade; appropriate size of the Kosovo Protection Force, which includes minority participation. You will recognize, I think in all of these categories, that our job is to support the U.N. Secretary Generalís Special Representative, former Prime Minister Holkeri. He has the responsibility to develop these standards and to see that people meet them and the job of all of ours is to support him in that regard. We admire what he does and we want to support him.
The third thing that I will say about standards is that theyíre really not new. Foreign Minister Svilanovic this morning told me that he has been giving interviews for some months about the need for people to meet specific standards. The proposal is that once these standards are set and the standards are met, that there will be an evaluation of Kosovoís progress towards U.N. standards in mid-2005 and earlier if sufficient progress is made. If the standards are met, we would be prepared to begin a process to determine Kosovoís future status. Itís very important for you also to report if progress is insufficient, then we would be prepared to set another date. And the Contact Group, and the United Nations, and all the other parties who are interested, will meet regularly to make sure that there is progress towards these standards. We cannot address Kosovoís future status until the standards are met. And to keep the focus on these standards, we will not make decisions on the process or the outcome of any future status until the standards are met.
As I said, thatís an important part of this visit, but I want to end by reminding you of the other purpose, which is to make sure that we accelerate Serbia and Montenegroís connection to the Euro-Atlantic institutions. We have a role to play in making that happen. So last week, Secretary Powell restored normal trade relations with Serbia and Montenegro, underscoring our strong support for reform in this country. And the people of Serbia and Montenegro, and the Government of Serbia and Montenegro, have responsibilities here as well. More reform and cooperation with The Hague Tribunal will make it possible to make this move more quickly to Euro-Atlantic institutions. We are committed to that and we are committed to that support.
I apologize for the length of this statement, but this is a very important time for all of us to work together in the Balkans. Iíll be very glad to take any questions anybody may have.
QUESTION: Dubravka Savic, Belgrade daily newspaper ďVecernje novosti.Ē My question is on Kosovo. We just learned that the date is set, itís 2005. My question is - Are there any platforms from the Contact Group on future status of Kosovo, as we learned that something already exists, something like intended within Serbia and Montenegro not to [inaudible] new special status for minorities in Kosovo, for the Serbs?
UNDERSECRETARY GROSSMAN: : I think as you report this, itís extremely important that you answer the question that you posed, which is a date for what? And so, when you say to me, a date is set, I say to you, thereís no date set. What we are saying is, there need to be standards that are set, there need to be standards that are met, and that if those standards are met, we are prepared to review progress in mid-2005, thatís what the date is about. So I want you all, as you report this, to report this clearly. None of us here is saying that thereís a date to begin anything, a date to end anything, a date to decide anything, other than whether progress is being made. I think thatís really important.
The second part of your question is also important, and that is, as I said in my statement, we have made no decision Ė none Ė about what is the future status of Kosovo. And we donít see how we can make such a decision until there are standards, and until these standards are met and reviewed. And if we were to decide now on some future status, I think we would miss the opportunity to have standards be met because everybody would jump over that debate and look to something else. So, I hope that as you report this, you report it in its context, which is specific, clear standards, support for the United Nations, and support for former Prime Minister Holkeri and support for a review of progress on those standards in mid-2005. That is the substance and the totality of what it is that weíre proposing.
OK, yes, please.
QUESTION: Inaudible (key words: establishing standards, mandate of Contact group, independence of Kosovo)
QUESTION: It is not clear what the standards are. I mean what has to be achieved in those standards?
UNDERSECRETARY GROSSMAN: The Secretary Generalís Special Representative is working on those standards. He hopes to present them to the United Nations Security Council soon. I am actually on my way now to visit him and I hope to have conversation with him about those standards. One of the messages that I will bring to him is that all of the people Iíve met here, are essentially in favor of this ďstandards before statusĒ proposal, as long as the standards are specific. And that is one of the messages that I will convey to our friend, the former Prime Minister of Finland, who as I say, our job is very much to support him.
Thank you all very much, I appreciate it.