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 You are in: Under Secretary for Political Affairs > From the Under Secretary > Remarks > 2003 Under Secretary for Political Affairs Remarks

Press Availability in Macedonia

Marc Grossman, Under Secretary for Political Affairs
Government Building
Skopje, Macedonia
November 6, 2003

Released by the U.S.Embassy Macedonia


UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Thank you very much for coming here this morning. My name is Marc Grossman. I am the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, and of course you know Ambassador Butler. I really appreciate the fact that you would all take time this morning to visit with us. I want before I do anything else to thank our Macedonian hosts for the wonderful program that they have put together today. I had the chance to see many of the leaders here and I very much appreciate it. I also want to take a moment to recognize and to thank Ambassador Butler and the outstanding team that we have here representing the United States of America. We admire what they do, we admire their service and we thank them, here in front of you, in public. As many of you know I have been on a trip these past few days, the purpose of which is to remind people of the importance of the Balkans to the United States of America. On Tuesday I had a chance in Brussels to consult the North Atlantic Council on an idea, on a plan, that we hope will accelerate the process of Euro-Atlantic integration of the Balkans and to bring this region into a vision that we share, a vision of Europe whole, free and at peace. After ten years of diplomatic, military, economic engagement and commitment in this region I believe we have established what I would call a self-sustaining progress in the Balkans. Think about what we have accomplished. We stopped the war in Bosnia, we prevented a humanitarian catastrophe in Kosovo and defused a conflict here in Macedonia. I had a chance today to tell the President and the Prime Minister again how much we support the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of Macedonia.

We want to bring the Balkans into Europe, not just for you, but so also we can hasten the day we have stable, peaceful and multi-ethnic democracies. The other purpose of this trip was to try to focus attention on a Contact Group strategy in support of the UN Secretary General Special Representative in Kosovo, former Finnish Prime Minister Holkeri, that we think will take a major step towards accelerating progress in Kosovo. And that is what has become known as the "review date" strategy. That strategy focuses Kosovars on achieving specific, clear and measurable standards. I think it is important for people in Macedonia to hear one after another what those standards are -- functioning democratic institutions, the rule of law, freedom of movement for all communities, safe return and reintegration of Internally Displaced People and refugees, a market economy, property rights, dialogue with Belgrade, an appropriate size of the Kosovo Protection Corps, which would include minority participation. So we support the efforts of the Special Representative of the Secretary General to put out these standards and to have people meet them. The proposition we made was that there would be an evaluation of Kosovo's progress towards these UN standards in mid-2005 and even earlier if progress is sufficient. If Kosovo meets the standards we would begin a process to determine Kosovo's future status. If progress is insufficient, then we would have to set another date further out in the future. The Contact Group, the United Nations, all would work regularly to make this progress possible. We do not believe that you can discuss Kosovo's future status until it meets the standards. Everyone, the United States, Macedonia, the United Nations, people in the region have a role to play in this endeavor, and so we ask the people and the Government of Macedonia to keep focused on reform here to support Kosovo's achievement of the standards and Macedonia's full implementation of the Framework Agreement.

I also had a chance this morning in my meeting with the Prime Minister to tell him how much our Vice-President's Office is pleased to confirm a meeting between Vice-President Cheney and the Macedonian Prime Minister for November 25 in Washington. It is the first such visit since June of 1998. The Office of the Vice-President says that this meeting will highlight the fact that our two countries share a close partnership in advancing peace and stability in southeastern Europe as well as in the Global War on Terrorism in which our soldiers are serving side-by-side. This visit is recognition of the excellent bilateral relationship between our two countries. I thank you very much for listening to me and I would be very glad to take a few questions.

QUESTION:: Yesterday in Belgrade you brought some kind of a plan for Kosovo, which, as you said, was the key issue for regional stability. Have you brought anything here in Macedonia today?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: I brought here today exactly the same thing that I brought to NATO in Brussels, to Belgrade and to Kosovo. And that is a plan and an idea from the Contact Group to support the UN standards, to have clear standards, to have definable standards, to have measurable standards. And if those standards were met by mid-2005 we would be prepared to begin a process of determining Kosovo's final status. And I have said exactly the same thing in Brussels, in Belgrade, in Pristina and in Skopje today.

QUESTION: Where do you find Macedonia in that plan?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Obviously the Government of Macedonia would have to speak for itself. But if you ask me, I felt that the people I met here today were very supportive of the idea that clear, measurable standards will help us make progress in Kosovo and I appreciate that.

QUESTION:: How do you plan specifically to help Macedonia to become a member of NATO?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: First, we have been great supporters of NATO expansion, and we have shown by our record that we are prepared to help those countries that are interested in NATO membership. The way we do so is through very specific ways. First, I believe that Macedonia's participation in the Adriatic Charter, which was signed, as you know with Secretary Powell will help towards NATO integration. I know that Ambassador Butler has been involved with the Government here to talk about defense reform. I know that we have had visitors here from NATO to talk about the specific things that are required in terms of the Membership Action Plan. And I may also say that for us, the participation of Macedonia in crisis like Afghanistan or Iraq is also extremely important. For us the fact that Macedonian troops serve with distinction in Iraq is a very important thing. I do not say that it is a criteria for NATO membership, but it shows your seriousness about being a producer of security, not just a consumer of security.

QUESTION: Can you guarantee that a Greater Kosovo will not trigger aspirations for a bigger state among Albanians in the region?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: I think Sir, it is important to step back for a moment and recognize that we are not here discussing the independence of Kosovo; we are not here discussing any of the possibilities of a future status of Kosovo. We are here to discuss standards; and we are here to discuss the implementation of standards, and we are here to discuss an idea that if those standards are met in the middle of 2005 we could begin a discussion of Kosovo's final status. So, what I have found is that people are interested in standards precisely because standards are a stabilizing policy, standards are a stabilizing question, and if Kosovars meet these standards, it will be a very big plus for the region.

QUESTION: Secretary of State Colin Powell during the signing of the Adriatic Charter in May in Tirana stated that Macedonian companies would be involved in the reconstruction of Iraq. So far there is no sign. Do you know if any Macedonian companies will be involved in the reconstruction of Iraq in the near future?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: I don't know all of the specific details. Perhaps Ambassador Butler might give you a further answer but what is key here is that we have worked very hard to make sure that the reconstruction project in Iraq is an open one and a transparent one and that bids and contracts and companies are open for countries around the world. So, if there is a company that bids, I know that it will get fair treatment; I know it will get open treatment and I hope that many Macedonian companies will wish to participate in this very important effort. Thank you all very much

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