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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 With Albanian Acting Foreign Minister Hajdaraga

Marc Grossman, Under Secretary for Political Affairs
Tirana, Albania
November 6, 2003

ACTING FOREIGN MINISTER HAJDARAGA: Today I have the honor and special pleasure to welcome to Albania the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Marc Grossman, and at the same time I give him the floor.

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Thank you very much.

Let me first of all thank all of you for taking time to visit with us this evening, and may I thank the Minister and all of those we have seen--the President, the Prime Minister--here in Tirana today. We are grateful for your hospitality. May I also take the opportunity, here in public, to pay tribute to Ambassador Jeffrey and the outstanding team of Americans that we have representing us in Albania. We admire what they do; we support them. Mr. Minister, I have had the chance with both the President and Prime Minister to thank Albania for its efforts in the global war on terrorism, for your deployments in Iraq, to the ISAF to Afghanistan, and to Bosnia.

Mr. Minister, you know that on Tuesday in Brussels I had a chance to consult the North Atlantic Council on a plan to accelerate the process of Euro-Atlantic integration for the Balkans and to remind people that the vision we have is for a Europe whole, free, and at peace. As I reported to the President and the Prime Minister, I think that after ten years of military, economic, and political commitment, we have established a foundation for self-sustaining progress in the Balkans. And Albania is a very important model in this regard. When you consider that we stopped a war in Bosnia, we prevented a humanitarian catastrophe in Kosovo, and we defused the conflict in Macedonia. Our goal is to bring the Balkans into Europe and to hasten the day when we will have stable, peaceful, and multiethnic democracies.

I reported to the President, the Prime Minister, and to the Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs that I came to discuss a Contact Group strategy that we hope will be a major step toward these goals by addressing the issue of Kosovo. The goal of this plan is to support the United Nations Secretary General Special Representative Mr. Holkeri in Pristina. Over the past few days, this has become known as the "Review Date strategy," and I think it is important for people in Albania to hear the standards that we are trying to support for the people of Kosovo. We want Kosovars to focus on these eight standards: functioning democratic institutions; the rule of law; freedom of movement for all citizens; safe return and reintegration of internally displaced people and refugees; market economy; property rights; dialogue with Belgrade; and the appropriate size of the Kosovo protection force, to include minority representation. And all of these are efforts, as I said, to support former PM Holkeri in his effort.

We believe that there should be an evaluation of Kosovo's progress towards UN standards in the middle of 2005, and even earlier if sufficient progress is made. If Kosovo meets these standards, we will begin a process to determine Kosovo's future status. If progress, on the other hand, is insufficient, we would set another date. The Contact Group, the United Nations, all of us involved, will try to assess progress and help the Kosovars achieve these goals. We cannot however, begin to consider Kosovo's future status until it meets the standards.

All of us--Albanians, Americans--have a role to play in this process. We ask that the Government and the people of Albania support the review date strategy, support direct dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, and continue your strong commitment to reform here in your country, including the fight against crime. Together with your partners of the Adriatic Charter, Macedonia and Croatia--and I hope some day Serbia and Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina--we believe we can fulfill this goal of a Europe whole, free, and at peace. I thank you for listening to me, and I thank you, Mr. Acting FM, for this opportunity.

ACTING FOREIGN MINISTER HAJDARAGA: Honorable Mr. Grossman, honorable Ambassador Jeffrey, honorable reporters. Allow me now, after the meeting, to make this statement on behalf of the Albanian government. In the meeting we held today between Mr. Nano and Mr. Grossman, we discussed primarily the political situation and developments in the region, as well as the situation in Kosovo and its future.

The stance of the Albanian government with regard to Kosovo is already known to all: it stands for the full respect of UNSCR 1244 and for achieving the standards set forth by UNMIK and endorsed by the UNSC before discussions about Kosovo's final status begin.

The Albanian government will continue to play a positive and moderating role in relations with the countries of the region. It will enhance collaboration and will continue to promote good, neighborly relations. This is the only path that the countries of the region should follow to integrate fully into European and Euro-Atlantic structures.

We agree with the stance put forward by Mr. Grossman on the part of the U.S. administration that the solution of the Kosovo problem would enable the countries of the region to approach better the realization of their aims and to integrate fully into NATO and the EU.

The new plan of standards will be specified concretely in terms of time; they will be specific and measurable steps. The fulfillment of standards that involve the establishment of functioning democratic institutions, the rule of law, freedom of movement, return and reintegration of displaced persons, development of the economy, property rights and respect for minority rights, will call for the collaboration of UNMIK and the Kosovo provisional institutions. It will also enable the evaluation of progress to be made by members of the Contact Group, of which the US is a member.

QUESTION---VOICE OF AMERICA: Mr. Grossman, the purpose of your visit to the Balkans was to sound out the stance of countries in the region regarding the definition of status of Kosovo. You are now about to end the tour--there is one more place to go, Sarajevo--one more country, what were the responses you got in the course of your tour? Were they negative or positive responses?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Thank you for that question. I think the best responses so far come from my colleague here in Albania. We appreciate what he had to say. It is this kind of strong support for this effort, which, I think, will encourage others to also make a positive one. All of the other people involved--in Belgrade, Pristina, Skopje--will obviously, sir, have to speak for themselves. But I come away from these few days thinking that the idea of standards before status is something people are very interested in. The NATO Council was very positive. I believe the conversations I had in Belgrade were very worthwhile. I believe that the Secretary General's Special Representative knows that our job is to support him. The people I met in Pristina felt that standards would help them. Again, I believe people in Skopje this morning were interested in what we had to say and were focused on results. As I said, I am very grateful for the Acting Foreign Minister's vote of confidence here this evening.

QUESTION--TELEVISION KOSOVO: A question for Mr. Grossman: The impression has been created recently that the proposal put forward--"standards before status"--has not yielded any tangible results. How do you think the standards can be achieved if the Kosovo provisional institutions are deprived of the right to exercise to their rights and powers in the most sensitive areas of life, like security, defense, and international relations?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN:  First, sir, I think you set a very high standard. I think to say on Thursday afternoon that this policy hasn't produced any results when we've been at this since Tuesday morning is slightly unfair. The other reason I think it's a little premature to say this is a barrier is that Mr. Holkeri hasn't put out the standards yet. So although I'm able, as the Acting Minister was, to give you the headings of those standards, what will be absolutely key is that the standards be specific, that they be well-defined, that they be measurable, that we know who is responsible for them, and that they have some dates on them. So I would ask you, with all respect, to make your judgment after the standards have been published, after people in Kosovo and Belgrade have a chance to react to them, and after we give people a little bit of time to recognize what an incentive this is. I had a chance last night to meet with a number of members of the PISG, and I felt that they recognized that there is a relationship between meeting standards and moving forward to consider Kosovo’s future status as they wish to try to improve the lives of the people in Kosovo.

QUESTION--TVA: I have a question for you, Mr. Grossman. What did you ask from the Albanian authorities after meeting with the President and the Prime Minister, given the fact that you have stated in your statement that the time limit for Kosovo remains in a way 2005? And one question for Mr. Hajdaraga.: What guarantees did you provide to Mr. Grossman regarding the Albanian authorities' commitment to ensuring stability in region?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Let me first of all talk about the middle one of your questions, which is: What is this date all about? I think it is important, as you report about this date, that you recognize what it is and what it is not. This date is the date on which we believe it will be useful to judge whether people have met the standards. It is not a date to decide the future status of Kosovo. It is possible that it will be the date to begin that conversation, but that depends on whether people meet standards or not. So I hope you will all be careful as you report the question of the date.

If you ask me what I requested of the Albanian government, I asked that the Albanian government’s commitment to a Europe whole, free, and at peace, be stated in just the very important way the Acting Minister has done. In addition, I asked that the Albanian government, if it wishes--and because of this statement I believe it does so--also be prepared to support real standards. And I believe that the Acting Minister's statement speaks for itself. As to guarantees, what we are arguing and we are saying is that stability in the Balkans will be greatly enhanced by the commitment to these standards and people meeting these standards, and that stability in the Balkans will be greatly enhanced, as the Acting Minister said, by a clear vision for the countries and people of the Balkans to join European institutions and Euro-Atlantic institutions. So, we are in this together. And what we are in together is a policy to bring the Balkans successfully back into Europe. And if we can achieve that, I believe there will be no better guarantee for stability.

ACTING FOREIGN MINISTER HAJDARAGA: If you allow me to reiterate again the commitment of the Albanian government, I am here to do that, without wishing to say more than what the statement of the Albanian government says, and to express my appreciation for the very enthusiastic words that Mr. Grossman gave in relation to Albanian foreign policy. I consider his comments about the statement of the Albanian government as an assessment of the constructive and moderate policy followed by Albanian in the region and also an encouragement to move along this road--a road that will ensure for Albania better cooperation in the region and better integration into the Euro-Atlantic structures and NATO. Regarding the stand of the Albanian government on Kosovo--it is known, and we will continue to abide by resolution 1244 of the Security Council, we will cooperate closely with UNMIK, we will consolidate our relations of friendship with countries in the region--including Serbia and Montenegro--we will enhance cooperation with Kosovo as well so that under the administration of UNMIK it develops stability and security to meet the standards, which will make possible discussion of the determination of its status in 2005. Only after it has met the standards, which will be measurable and concrete, only then can we talk about starting negotiations in 2005 about status. Before we get there, it is necessary to have close cooperation among all political factors in Kosovo and outside Kosovo, among the Kosovo factors and UNMIK, between UNMIK and the countries of the region. And, I can assure you that, as envisioned, the Contact Group will play a major role in this plan.

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