PRESS REPORTS AND REACTIONS ON
AIRLIE CONFERENCE

AIRLIE DECLARATION


INTERNATIONAL PRESS REPORTS

AFP, Serbs, Albanian Kosovar Leaders declare "Pact Against Violence"
AFP, Serb, Albanian Kosovar Leaders Issue Landmark Joint Statement
Reuters, Kosovo Albanians, Moderate Serbs Vow to Cooperate
AP, Albanians, Serbs Seek Tolerance


OFFICIAL PRESS BRIEFING
Ambassador Menzies Brief on Airlie Declaration


Kosovo Reactions on Airlie Declaration

THAÇI: POSITIVE TURN IN RELATIONS IN KOSOVO
ARTEMIJE: KEY MOMENT FOR DEMOCRATIC AND MULTIETHNIC KOSOVO
IVANOVIC: THIS STATEMENT IS NOTHING SPECIAL
TRAJKOVIC: SERB DELEGATION DIDN'T REPRESENT SERB INTERESTS


Serbs, Albanian Kosovar leaders declare
"Pact against Violence"


WASHINGTON, July 24 (AFP) - Three days of talks between Kosovo
Serbs and ethnic Albanians ended with both sides declaring a "Pact
against Violence," the US State Department and the private US
Institute of Peace said Monday.
The first intensive face-to-face discussions between ethnic
Albanian and Serb Kosovars facilitated by the institute were aimed
at getting the two sides working toward a multi-ethnic society in
Kosovo, still torn by ethnic violence.
Participants who concluded the session Sunday agreed to respect
the outcome of upcoming "free and fair" municipal elections,
cooperate in identifying perpetrators of crime and to urge their
respective communities to surrender illegal arms, the institute said
in a statement.
They also agreed to counter Yugoslav President Slobodan
Milosevic's influence in Kosovo and to dissolve any illegitimate
governing and security structures, the statement said.
According to Serbian Orthodox Bishop Artmije Radosavljevic, a
joint leader of the Serb delegation, the pact is the first positive
document reached in talks between Serbs and Albanians in 100 years,
the statement said.
The round-table talks -- initiated by the US State Department
and organized by the Institute of Peace -- began early Friday and
ended at 11:00 p.m. Sunday (0300 GMT Monday), a spokeswoman for the
institute said.
Delegates included General Agim Ceku, ex-Kosovo Liberation Army
(KLA) head who is now leading its civilian successor the Kosovo
Protection Corps, as well as leaders of the two main ethnic Albanian
parties, Hashim Thaci and Ibrahim Rugova.
The Serb delegation is led by Rada Trajkovic as well as Bishop
Radosavljevic of the Serbian National Council (SNV). Some 40 Kosovo
Serbs and ethnic Albanians participated.
The "Airlie Declaration," named after the Airlie House,
Warrenton, Virginia location where the talks were held, will be
available from the US State Department at 10:00 a.m. (1400 GMT)
Tuesday.
It will fully outline commitments made by both sides and is
expected to contain details of the role both Serbs and ethnic
Albanians want the international community to play in Kosovo.
"Although agreements were difficult and hard-won, the spirit in
which they approached each other was nothing short of remarkable,"
Institute of Peace executive vice president Harriet Hentges said.
She told AFP the talks had allowed for an "open, difficult but
constructive exchange about some of the pain they felt, some of the
anger."
"Recriminations were there but also a very keen listening about
what the other was saying," added Hentges, who was vice chair of the
meeting.
"There was genuine appreciation of the suffering that each
community has experienced and that is a very important beginning, a
very important first step.
"When people come out of a warring conflict situation such as
these people you have to be realistic what your goals are," she
said.
"We didn't have preset ideas" for how the talks would go,
Hentges added. "We wanted the ideas to come from them. We wanted an
open dialogue, some commitment to concrete steps. We got both of
those."


Serbs, Albanian Kosovar leaders issue
landmark joint statement

Stephen Collinson

WASHINGTON, July 25 (AFP) - A landmark joint declaration by
Kosovo Serbs and ethnic Albanians issued Tuesday betrayed a deep
schism over planned municipal polls in October, despite a joint
pledge to strive for a multi-ethnic society.
In the Airlie Declaration, framed in three days of talks in
Virginia, negotiators across the ethnic divide split on the
mechanics of reconciliation and on the future status of the
strife-torn Yugoslav province.
But in what officials here called a good start to a "long
journey" towards a peaceful future in the southern province, they
agreed to work for the speedy development of democracy, a free press
and to fight violence.
"Perhaps the most difficult decision in a peace process is the
choice to meet the other and to work together," said Ambassador John
Menzies, a special advisor to the US president and secretary of
state on Kosovo.
"At this meeting the participants crossed that threshold."
Menzies said the declaration, issued by the State Department on
Tuesday, was the result of a productive but emotionally difficult
dialogue between representatives of the two communities, which
touched upon deep suffering "but also talk of reconciliation."
Three days of talks involving 39 prominent members of the
Albanian and Kosovar communities organised by the United States
Institute for Peace and the State Department ended late Sunday.
Despite deep differences, both sides agreed that democracy was
the best hope for a peaceful future in the province.
"The development of democracy in Kosovo deserves the highest
priority, and all participants agreed that free elections are a key
element in this process," the declaration read.
But while broadly agreeing on the need for polls, the two sides
differed sharply on detailed arrangements for the municipal
elections due in October.
"Albanian representatives insisted on full participation by the
Serb community in registration and voting," said the declaration.
"They noted that participation in the electoral process would
provide evidence of Serbian commitment to a free and democratic
Kosovo."
But Serbian leaders believe conditions in Kosovo had not yet
stabilised sufficiently for Serbs to play a full part in the polls.
"The Serbian community does not have full freedom of living and
movement, while many others remain displaced outside Kosovo," the
declaration warned.
Much of the minority Serbian community has so far refused to
register to vote in the October poll, claiming it would legitimise
ethnic Albanian demands for an independent state.
More than one million ethnic Albanians have signed up to vote in
the first polls to be held since the NATO-led KFOR peacekeeping
force and United Nations administration for Kosovo arrived in the
province in June last year.
The Airlie Declaration was the product of the first intensive
face-to-face talks between ethnic Albanians and Serb Kosovars
organised by the State Department and the private United States
Institute for Peace.
Round-table talks took place at the historic Airlie House
residence in Warrenton, Virginia some 60 miles (100 kilometers) west
of Washington.
The Serb delegation was led by Rada Trajkovic and Bishop Artmije
Radosavljevic of the Serbian National Council (SNV).
Other delegates included General Agim Ceku, ex-Kosovo Liberation
Army (KLA) head who is now leading its civilian successor, the
Kosovo Protection Corps, as well as leaders of the two main ethnic
Albanian parties, Hashim Thaci and Ibrahim Rugova.


Kosovo Albanians, moderate Serbs vow to cooperate

PRISTINA, Yugoslavia, July 26 (Reuters) - Leaders of Kosovo
Albanians and moderate Serbs in the province have reached a
landmark agreement calling for joint efforts to stop violence and
help refugees return.

The text of a joint declaration reached in talks in the United
States was received by Reuters and published in the Kosovo
media on Wednesday.

"Despite existing disagreements, the conference at Airlie House is
of historic significance," the Serb delegation, led by Archbishop
Artemije and Rado Trajkovic, said in a separate statement.

They said the meeting in Virginia, organised by the U.S. Institute for
Peace, was "perhaps the first serious and constructive meeting
of a relatively large number of the Serb and the Albanian people".

A more radical Serb group based in the divided northern Kosovo
city of Kosovska Mitrovica opposes rapprochement with the
Albanians and it is unclear how much support each group enjoys
among the province's embittered Serb minority.

The Albanian delegation included Hashim Thaqi, former leader of
the Kosovo Liberation Army guerrilla group who now heads
the Democratic Party of Kosovo, and Ibrahim Rugova, leader of the
more moderate Democratic League of Kosovo.

The joint declaration said the two sides would launch a joint
campaign against violence ahead of municipal elections scheduled
for October.

Fewer than 1,000 ethnic Serbs have registered for the vote out of
the 80,000-100,000 estimated to be still living in the province. Most
Serb leaders have said Serbs should boycott the vote while
attacks on them by ethnic Albanians continue.

The moderate Serb leaders represented in the U.S. talks said
that while it would be hard for most Serbs to cast their votes,
they would accept Serb nominees expected to be
appointed to municipal councils by Kosovo's U.N. governor
Bernard Kouchner after the vote.

Some 180,000 Kosovo Serbs have fled Kosovo since NATO
and the U.N. took over the running of the province in June
last year, amid a wave of Albanian revenge attacks for past
Serb repression.

DECLARATION ADMITS DEEP DIVIDE

The declaration said that before the election the signatories would
work to "to convince the citizens that the time for reintegration has
come", seek the release of hostages and try to eliminate
ethnic hatred, especially among children.

Both communities would be urged to surrender all illegal
weapons and disband illegal armed groups.

The NATO-led KFOR peacekeeping force and UNMIK,
the U.N. administration in Kosovo, should do more to
maintain law and order because "the level of security and freedom
of movement in Kosovo today is not acceptable", the document
said.

Refugees should be encouraged to return and UNMIK and KFOR
should do more to ensure their safety.

"Some of the wounds are so fresh and so deep that they make
it difficult to proceed without more time for healing...more reaching
out to one another," it added.


Albanians, Serbs Seek Tolerance

By George Gedda
Associated Press Writer
Tuesday, July 25, 2000; 9:28 p.m. EDT

WASHINGTON -- A group of Kosovo Albanians and Serbs met for three days at a
retreat outside Washington and agreed on the need to promote tolerance and
condemn violence in their deeply divided homeland.

Serbian Bishop Artemije Radosavljevic called the document agreed to by the
parties the first positive declaration reached by Serb and Albanian communities in 100
years.

The July 21-23 conclave was organized the State Department and the U.S.
Institute of Peace, a government-backed think tank.

It was the first time that Kosovo leaders directly discussed their divisions
and on how to overcome them. There were 25 Kosovo Albanians and 14 Kosovo Serbs
represented at the talks.

The province remains painfully divided more than a year after the U.S.-led
air war over Yugoslavia ended, and after the arrival of the United Nations and the
NATO-led peacekeeping force. Their efforts to forge a united Kosovo have made
little headway.

Ambassador John Menzies, director of the State Department Office of Kosovo
Implementation, told a news conference Tuesday the participants showed
tremendous courage by their attendance at the event.

"Perhaps the most difficult decision in a peace process is the choice to
meet the other, and to work together," he said.

"At this meeting, the participants crossed that threshold. The event featured a
productive, useful and yet emotional and difficult dialogue among the
participants."

The parties agreed to launch a new initiative - a "Campaign Against Violence."

According to a joint declaration, it will include efforts to promote tolerance,
condemn violence, prevent negative exploitation of ethnic issues and enable "the
physical integration and political participation by all."

The campaign "will include a Day Against Violence on a date set by the Kosovo
Transitional Council," the declaration said.

It added that Kosovo leaders from the two main ethnic groups will visit local
communities throughout the province to promote the campaign and seek to
convince people that the time for reintegration has come.

The agreement also cited the need for democratic development of the province and
a for a free news media.

All agreed that the media "can and should work together to prevent violence and
promote coexistence," the declaration said.


Washington File 27 July 2000

Transcript: Ambassador Menzies Briefs on Airlie Declaration

(Declaration by Kosovar Albanians, Serbs at Virginia meeting) (4,400)

Ambassador John Menzies, director of the Office of Kosovo Implementation
at the State Department, briefed reporters on the Joint Declaration
signed by representatives of the Kosovar Albanian and Serb communities
following a conference at Airlie House in Warrenton, Virginia July 23.
Also speaking at the briefing were Harriet Hentges, executive vice
president of the United States Institute of Peace, which sponsored the
conference, and Daniel Serwer, director of the Balkans Initiative.
The Airlie Declaration cites specific steps "toward building a
peaceful accommodation" in Kosovo and commits both sides to cooperate in
the areas of elections, media, civil society, security, and refugee
returns. It also announces a new initiative -- a "Pact Against Violence"
-- to condemn violence, promote tolerance, prevent negative exploitation
of ethnic issues, and enable the physical integration and political
participation of all the inhabitants of Kosovo.
"This conference did, in fact, provide the first opportunity since
the war for a broad group of representatives of Serb and Albanian
communities to meet face to face," Menzies said at the July 25 briefing.
"The declaration is a very good start, but it is a beginning only. The
dialogue begun at Airlie House will have to continue in Kosovo. Both
sides understand this, and the Department endorses this effort."

Following is the State Department transcript of the briefing:

(begin transcript)

U.S. Department of State
Washington, D.C.
July 25, 2000

AMBASSADOR JOHN MENZIES, DIRECTOR OF THE OFFICE OF KOSOVO IMPLEMENTATION, AND OTHERS

BRIEFING ON KOSOVO LEADERS' "PACT AGAINST VIOLENCE" DECLARATION

MR. REEKER: Good morning, and welcome to the State Department. We are
very pleased this morning to have Ambassador John Menzies, as well
representatives from the U.S. Institute of Peace, to give this briefing
on the "Pact Against Violence" Declaration from Kosovo Albanian and
Kosovo Serb leaders who participated in the USIP-facilitated workshop at
Airlie House in Warrenton, Virginia, this past weekend.
I am going to turn the podium over to Tom Switzer from the Policy
and Public Affairs Office of the Bureau of European Affairs, who can
just run you through this morning's program and introduce Ambassador
Menzies.

MR. SWITZER: Thanks, Phil. Good morning. This morning's program will be
an off-camera, on-record briefing, as Phil stated, reading out and
summarizing the declaration resulting from the workshop of Kosovar
leaders held in the Airlie House in Warrenton, Virginia. I might mention
that this is intended as a press event and not therefore subject to
questions by anyone except journalists present.
I think without further ado we'll introduce Ambassador John
Menzies, who will make opening statements, then we will pass the podium
to our guests from the Institute of Peace who will make further
comments, and then take questions from you on the floor.

Ambassador Menzies.

AMBASSADOR MENZIES: Good morning. At the outset I would like to thank
the United States Institute of Peace for its groundbreaking work in the
Balkans and for chairing this conference and for the successful outcome
which it has achieved. I would also like to thank the participants who
showed tremendous courage and presence of mind and heart by their
attendance at this event and expressed a desire to move forward.
This conference did, in fact, provide the first opportunity since
the war for a broad group of representatives of Serb and Albanian
communities to meet face to face. Perhaps the most difficult decision in
a peace process is the choice to meet the other and to work together. At
this meeting, the participants crossed that threshold. The event
featured a productive, useful, and yet emotional and difficult dialogue
among the participants. There was talk of suffering and of guilt. There
were accusations, but there was also talk of reconciliation and the way
forward. And it is a joint way forward that was discussed.
After an arduous, sometimes contentious process, there was a
declaration upon which the participants agreed. The declaration is a
very good start, but it is a beginning only. The dialogue begun at
Airlie House will have to continue in Kosovo. Both sides understand
this, and the Department endorses this effort.
As you can see, the declaration commits both sides to cooperate in
the areas of elections, media, civil society, security, and returns. I
will allow USIP to go into greater detail on the declaration.
More important than the declaration itself is the dialogue which
took place. It was profound, it was heartfelt -- the discussions took
place on very painful issues that are very present. During the breaks,
Albanians and Serbs did not separate, but mingled and continued the
discussions begun in the sessions.
Early in the process, the Chair underscored the fact that the group
needed to be truthful. We wanted no empty posturing; we wanted no empty
paper, no empty programs. A philosopher of this century writes, "The
truth is what joins us together, and truth has its origin in
communication." The communication process begun here, we hope, will
create a new truth for the people of Kosovo.
I would like to relinquish the podium at this point to Harriet
Hentges, the Executive Vice President of the United States Institute of
Peace, and to Daniel Serwer, who is the Director of the Balkans
Initiative.

Harriet.

DR. HENTGES: Thank you, John. Our objective in undertaking this
dialogue, this workshop, is to help create the necessary conditions for
peace-building in a post-conflict society. This is the first -- this is
the fourth in a series specifically with this -- with these communities.
We do it in other contexts, but this was indeed an ambitious first step
in dialogue. We do this this morning to help the press and the general
public better understand the complexities of peace building and the
particular situations under which these dialogues took place.
I think it's useful to comment on three aspects of the dialogue.
The first is the atmosphere. As John has indicated, they were difficult
but they were also open, workable, constructive. It was clear that the
wounds are still raw. That is to be expected. It would be surprising to
all of us if they were not.
The process. A great deal of exchange, learning, a deepened
understanding of the wounds on each side. Some of the participants used
phrases - historic, surprising, gratifying, difficult.
The results. There was agreement on some concrete steps in four
areas. In elections, it will be clear from the declaration that they
agreed to disagree. Again, this should not be surprising, and their
differences are laid out in the declaration. At the same time, they did
agree to accept the results of the election subject to a certification
by the Special Representative of the Secretary General that the
elections were free and fair. And as you know, this happens after
elections, not before.
There was a recognition that a building of civil society, a
strengthening of civil society, was required and is a necessary element
of building democracy in Kosovo. And they agreed that ways had to be
found to build that civil society.
There were also discussions about the media, which they understood
to be crucial to democratic development, and there were a number of
representatives of the media there. And they had an open and I think one
might say cordial discussion of issues in which they agreed. Differences
surely, but certainly they pledged to professionalize the journalism
field and profession within Kosovo.
And the major issue, of course, relates to security. Both sides
recognize that a pact against violence was required, and they pledged
themselves to that. They had also agreed that it would be important to
highlight and make more visual that pact, and so they pledged a campaign
against violence that would begin with a Day Against Violence. And I
believe that the UN in Kosovo will be supportive and helpful to them in
this regard.
They also called on the international community to do its part to
increase the security, and there are specific recommendations which you
will find in the declaration. And I urge you to look at the full text of
the declaration. It is only two and a half pages long, but it is
precise, and they spent a great deal of time and attention on the words.
Those of us who were involved have committed to work with them to
implement these, and I'd like to thank the State Department for their
role in not only requesting us to do this, but supporting it step by
step. It was a very happy collaboration, and we are grateful
specifically to John Menzies, but also to Chris Dell, Head of the Chief
of Mission in Kosovo, Phil Kaplan here at the State Department, and a
number of the press people. We felt truly partners in this.
And I also want to note with great appreciation the participants.
They were indeed a pleasure to work with; they were inspiring, and they
are committed, and for that we should give them a great deal of credit.
I'd like to make it available to questions. I do want to note that
Daniel Serwer, who heads our Balkans Initiative and who was the
spearhead behind this, is also available for questions. And, Dan, I
don't know if you want to make a statement before questions, but thank
you.

QUESTION: Could one of you give us an idea of the demographic situation
in Kosovo: how many Serbs have left, how many are left in Kosovo, and
how many Kosovar Albanians there are, and finally how many live more or
less side by side, as in Mitrovica?

MR. SERWER: I don't think we're the best source of information on those
issues. I mean, I could give you numbers but they might not accord with
the numbers the UN has come to. I think it's best to check with the UN
Mission in Kosovo about those questions.

QUESTION: Is there an agreed-upon number of casualties, killed and
missing, since the start of hostilities?

MR. SERWER: Not to my knowledge.

DR. HENTGES: They did have extensive discussions on the number of
missing people who were still in prison, the kidnaped, and this is an
issue of grave concern to members of the community. And that number is
not precise.

QUESTION: Was there any discussion about the future status of Kosovo?

DR. HENTGES: (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: Why is that omitted from any of the declarations so far?

MR. SERWER: It's omitted because there's no agreement whatsoever on that
subject. They remain - no consensus in that direction. The issue was not
on the agenda. Of course, it's an overarching issue that affected the
discussion any number of times, and it's quite clear that there is no
agreement.
The philosophy of this event was that even disagreeing on that big
issue, that these are people who have to live in the same place, who
have to coexist, and that in order to do so they need to recognize that
there are areas they can work together in that are of mutual interest,
even if they can't agree on that big issue. And what the statement does
is to define those areas of mutual interest: security, elections, civil
society, return of refugees and displaced people.

DR. HENTGES: I would reinforce what Daniel said about it not being on
the agenda. The two co-chairs for this, Chairman Chester Crocker,
Chairman of our Board of Directors, and Steve Hadley, a member of our
board, in opening the session said that the question of final status -
that we were not there to discuss that, and so specifically took it off
the table. And that was an assumption of the session, not because it was
not of interest to them or anybody else, but that we wouldn't have
gotten anywhere. And we had not invited them to discuss that; we had not
selected them on that basis. So we just agreed that that was not a
subject of the agenda.

QUESTION: Then on a smaller subject, given that the language on Serb
returns -- maybe the State Department has to comment -- the State
Department had some sort of agreement with Bishop Artemije to support
Serb returns earlier this year which was -- well, it was rather vetoed
by the authorities in Kosovo. Does the State Department now feel that
they should go ahead with that Serb return program?

MR. SERWER: Work on that program has never stopped. We continue to make
progress. We're still investigating the options and the opportunities.
This event helped us gauge the preparedness of the people to work with
us on this project. So it is moving forward and more will be revealed
about it in due course.

QUESTION: Well, are there any specific numbers?

MR. SERWER: No.

AMBASSADOR MENZIES: If you read the text of the declaration, it makes
very clear that there is a need for adequate preparation for return of
refugees and displaced people; that the communities receiving them have
to be prepared to receive them.

QUESTION: The way the meetings have been described, it appears it was
perhaps a cathartic process for the parties to get together. Is that a
fair characterization? And how binding is the declaration? And what
expectation do you have that when the parties return to the civil
society, which you say has been fractured, that they will continue these
talks and that they will live up to the commitments they have given?

DR. HENGES: Those are three different questions. I think it was -- and
you are free to talk to the participants about that. They are here for
another day or so. And that will be very individual. I think that the
general tenor that would describe it is that they were all apprehensive
about coming together and sitting down face to face to discuss the
divisions and difficulties between them and how to overcome them.
They all recognized that there had been other sessions and that the
follow-up is terribly important to these, and sometimes the follow-up
happens in a way that we don't anticipate or that we don't necessarily
see. We did spend a great deal of time on their coming up with things
that they could agree on that they could work to implement. They and we
did not want empty words in this declaration, so if we were not able to
agree on something in the working groups or in the plenary we just
didn't address it.
This is a personal observation, and that is that I think that they
are committed to implementing this because they see it in their mutual
interest, not because they said it there at Airlie or not because the
State Department or the US Institute of Peace expects them to do it.
This was a classic facilitation where the issues and the discussion and
the conclusions come from the participants, not from the organizers. So
I think that this is an ambitious first step in dialogue, but it can
only be a first step and there are many little steps in between.

QUESTION: Voter registration finished a couple of days ago, and
obviously Serbs are not very well - haven't responded very well to that
registration. The outcome of elections, how would that reflect the fact
that they intend to build a multiethnic society when the largest
minority would not be represented, or at least not at all at the
ballots?

MR. SERWER: This is a subject on which they disagreed, the question of
participation in the elections. The disagreement is outlined clearly in
the document. So, too, is some degree of agreement about what to do
about that disagreement. And they noted that the Special Representative
of the Secretary General can make appointments and, with some reluctance
on the Albanian side, they recognized that that probably is the best
that can be done at this time.
So we have here an area where the best we could do is to clarify
the disagreement, and they were prepared to indicate what kind of
process would be needed to overcome the problem created by Serb
non-participation.

DR. HENTGES: Let me add something on that. There isn't a difference over
the role of elections, or the need for them. The difference was over the
conditions existing now for elections. And that's where they noted their
differences, and the differences are noted in the declaration. I don't
think there's anything wrong with differences being noted. That is part
of the dialogue.

QUESTION: I don't believe that the entire Serb community was represented
in this meeting, from what I read previously, so do you and they feel
that they can actually institute some of the things that were talked
about, and if, for instance, the Serbs from Mitrovica chose not to
attend, can they speak for the entire Serb community?

MR. SERWER: I don't think either Albanians or Serbs necessarily thought
that they could speak for everybody in their communities. On the Serb
side, I would say a narrower spectrum was represented because on that
side the spectrum of people willing to engage in this kind of dialogue
productively is narrower. And nobody is making a claim to represent
everyone. And I must say the explicit assumption of the discussions --
they were not discussions between delegations, but among individuals,
and they were actually seated at the tables, mixed in alphabetical order
except in one case where we made a mistake in the alphabetical order.
Also in the working groups they were in alphabetical order. These were
not delegations per se; they were individuals, and they represented that
part of their communities that is willing to engage in this kind of deep
dialogue.

QUESTION: Could you explain a little bit more what you mean by the
Secretary General making appointments? I'm not up on that.

MR SERWER: This is outlined here on Page 2. They noted the authority of
the Special Representative of the Secretary General to make appointments
to municipal councils. All agreed that such appointees should be from
the municipalities to which they are appointed. The Albanians at the
Airlie meeting made clear that this point of alternative was not
optimal; they were prepared to accept appointed Serb representatives.
So you have here an obviously reluctant agreement on the procedure,
but an agreement nevertheless on the procedure. Yes, and it's based --
this is all based in Security Council Resolution 1244.

QUESTION: How will the declaration affect mutual participation in Mr.
Kouchner's council?

DR. HENTGES: Well, we hope positively. In fact, one of the participants
said to me, they've worked together, or they've met -- they've been in
the same room under the council. They've now established some
relationships that are constructive, and so my hope would be that that
better understanding, that exchange of views, would ease that. And that
is our general approach in this, that we are doing this parallel to and
not separate from, even in the follow-up, we're looking at existing
institutions to strengthen those through a process like this, not to
create separate vehicles of communication that would compete.

QUESTION: Did they talk about this specifically?

DR. HENTGES: Not in the sessions that I remember, but certainly around
the edges. Certainly I heard the phrase throughout the couple of days,
but I don't remember a specific --

MR. SERWER: What I heard was that this event will improve the atmosphere
among them, including in the context of the UN institutions.

QUESTION: I notice that you have about 30 participants or so --

DR. HENTGES: I think there were 39.

QUESTION: Thirty-nine? Were they equally divided? I guess they couldn't
be.

DR. HENTGES: No, I think it was 16 and 23?

MR. SERWER: Something like that.

DR. HENTGES: I'd have to count.

MR. SERWER: We'd have to count. But it was about one-third Serb,
two-thirds Albanian.

QUESTION: I wonder, from Ambassador Menzies, why or if the U.S. still
supports this election since, for one reason or another, the OSCE and
the UN have not created a condition in which any of the Serbs of any
consequence want to participate in it.

AMBASSADOR MENZIES: We support the election because we believe it's
essential to the establishment of a democracy in the region, and we're
not convinced that you can not have a good election -- between now and
October, that you can't prepare for that. We are pushing ahead, together
with the international organizations involved - with UNMIK, with OSCE -
and we've committed a lot of time and effort to assure that the
elections can take place.
In terms of the participation, we believe that the elections should
be held. We want everyone to participate, but some will decide not to
participate, as inevitably in democracies that is the case. There are
provisions -- and you see that other people at Airlie House, people were
considering that as a possibility as well and were endorsing one of the
approaches that can be taken by the representative of the Secretary
General should that be the case. We believe the elections are
indispensable. We are going to continue to press that they be held in a
timely manner.

QUESTION: Do you see no point in delaying to try to create a greater
willingness of Serbs to participate?

AMBASSADOR MENZIES: We don't believe that the delays will necessarily
achieve that. Simply forestalling elections will not necessarily do
that. We are trying to create the conditions on the ground that will
entice people to participate, that will make it possible. Whether those
conditions will be perfect or not remains to be seen. I doubt that they
will, as the case may be. We do not believe that the elections should be
stalled for that reason either. We are going to prepare the very best
that is possible for these elections and the process will be fair and
open, as it has been, and we believe the elections will be good. So the
delays will achieve nothing from our standpoint along those lines
necessarily.

MR. SERWER: I wonder if I could add that my understanding of the views
that are expressed in the declaration of the Serbs who were there was
that they are not asking for postponement of the elections. They are
asking for better conditions before they can participate.

QUESTION: I see that under the media section of the declaration
participants agreed to try to carry out responsible journalism. There
has been some recent incidents of reprisal journalism in Kosovo,
specifically by the Dita publication. I was wondering if there were any
representatives from that publication at the conference or if other
journalistic representatives were willing to make more solid commitments
toward reducing that level of reprisal journalism.

DR. HENTGES: Well, as the declaration indicates, the media that were
there recognize their role in reporting responsibly and that they have
an impact on the environment there. And they did pledge to create both
the environment and the commitments to have responsible journalism,
according to Western standards. They differ on what's the best perhaps
individually, not necessarily by community, about the best way to
proceed.
And I think there was a general recognition that the rule of law
governing this kind of environment is important, that you need a number
of conditions to be in place for responsible journalism to develop, and
that their own willingness to come together to discuss it, to discuss
codes of conduct, to look at how the standards are set and implemented
in other countries, they are well aware of this and discussed that. But
there was no one there from Dita.

QUESTION: What would be the next step in your efforts regarding the
obviously encouraging results in your trying to jumpstart the dialogue
between two sides? Do you see any possibility in the future that for
such a meeting somewhere in proper Kosovo?

DR. HENTGES: Well, follow-up was very important in the planning of this,
and thinking it through and talking to the participants about it. It
will take place in a variety of places. We had OSCE and UN and U.S.
Office of Pristina Representatives there. We have the State Department
there.
So some of that follow-up will take place there. Through the
generosity of a U.S. foundation, the Waite Family Foundation, each
participant was given a laptop computer. And that was meant to create
the capability to continue the dialogue. There were offers from within
the group to provide training to the others on an inter-ethnic basis.
There was an offer by one of the groups for providing Internet access
for those within Pristina. And the U.S. Institute of Peace will try to
nurture and foster that. That's not one specific event; that's an
ongoing thing.
The U.S. Institute of Peace does have a grants program that
facilitates and nurtures efforts on the ground, and we'll be looking for
ways to support that. Whether we have another meeting is something that
we need to look at once we evaluate this and see what's needed next.
The other thing is very important, I think. In June -- and I can
have Daniel Serwer expand on this -- we did do a meeting of, in a local
community in Gnjilane, of Serbs and Albanians that was a combination
facilitation and training in conflict resolution skills. And we have a
training program on this. We have, even before this meeting -- and we'll
continue to look at opportunities to do those kinds of things on the
ground. And we'll just have to assess the need for something like this
again.
I think the dialogue was good; I think there is potential from
this; but I think you also can recognize that it is very expensive in
terms of time and resources, for both the State Department and the
Institute, so you have to be sure that you will - that it is necessary,
and that there's a cost-benefit on this.
I think both the Institute and the individual participants can be
contacted. Cheryl Brown is in the back, from the Institute's press
office, and then Tom Switzer of the State Department, of course, can be
helpful.

MR. SERWER: Thank you all for coming.

(end transcript)
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)


KOSOVO REACTIONS ON AIRLIE DECLARATION

KOHA DITORE (Kosovo Albanian Daily)
27 July 2000

 

  • AIRLIE STATEMENT SUPPORTED BY MAJORITY OF RELEVANT FACTIONS
  • THAÇI: POSITIVE TURN IN RELATIONS IN KOSOVO
  • ARTEMIJE: KEY MOMENT FOR DEMOCRATIC AND MULTIETHNIC KOSOVO
  • IVANOVIC: THIS STATEMENT IS NOTHING SPECIAL
  • TRAJKOVIC: SERB DELEGATION DIDN'T REPRESENT SERB INTERESTS

AIRLIE STATEMENT SUPPORTED BY MAJORITY OF RELEVANT FACTIONS

Koha Ditore on pages one and two carried an overview of reactions on the
Conference on Kosovo held at Airlie House in Warrenton, Virginia and the
joint statement adopted by the participants of the Conference. In the
introduction to the report, the paper said that judged by the first
reactions, the Airlie House Statement was supported by the majority of
key factions for the stabilization of the situation in Kosovo. (Due to
length of the report, the summary is divided in five items that follow.)

THAÇI: POSITIVE TURN IN RELATIONS IN KOSOVO

In another interview with Voice of America, Hashim Thaçi, chairman of
the Kosovo Democratic Party (PDK), said that the meeting in Airlie House
was a positive turn in relations between Kosovo Albanians and Serbs. "I
believe that such meetings can be organized in Kosovo too. I am glad
that there is good will among Albanians to understand the problems of
Kosovo Serbs and I am glad that Serbs also started to accept the new
reality in Kosovo and more and more are distancing themselves from the
official Belgrade," said Thaçi.

Thaçi expressed his conviction that the future situation in Kosovo will
be better and more tolerant. However Thaçi pointed out there remain the
problems of the divided town of Mitrovica, the control of Kosovo borders
and the release of Albanian hostages from the Serbian prisons.

Speaking about the upcoming local elections in Kosovo, Thaçi said that
he is expecting the legalization of the political representation of
those who will win the most of the votes. "I expect the establishment of
legal institutions and a much more serious approach in resolution of
Kosovo problems, and in this regard the involvement of all Kosovo
residents in these institutions," said Thaçi.

Thaçi expressed his hope that Kosovo Serbs would get involved in the
second phase of population registration and together with Albanians will
take and share the responsibility for building a higher level of
legislative and executive institutions in Kosovo, including the new
Kosovo constitution. "We will have respective institutions and
stability, peace and democratic order will prevail in Kosovo. After
preparing the new Kosovo constitution, we will work in accordance with
this document and I believe that after the transitional period an
international conference could be organized in which Kosovo and its
citizens would have recognized the right to express their will through
referendum," said Thaçi.

ARTEMIJE: KEY MOMENT FOR DEMOCRATIC AND MULTIETHNIC KOSOVO

In yet another interview with Voice of America, Bishop Artemije, the
Kosovo Serb representative, assessed the Airlie meeting as a key moment
in the history of creating a democratic society and multiethnic
community in Kosovo. "Topics that were discussed were initially very
difficult, because viewpoints of the Serb and Albanian delegation were
very different. We needed time and a lot of goodwill to bring closer
these positions and to agree, something that resulted in this statement,
which for itself speaks on the success of these contacts," said
Artemije.

Artemije reportedly said that he hoped that the American Institute for
Peace, as the organizer of this Conference, will not allow for all this
to remain only in paper, but that situation will start to change and
life to improve, first of all for those Kosovo residents who are
threatened.

Artemije pointed out that there was much discussion on projects and
processes to create conditions for the return of all expelled persons
from Kosovo, as well as to find those missing and kidnapped. Artemije
added that the issue of Albanian prisoners currently held in Serbian
prisons was also considered.

Commenting on the fact that some leaders were not invited to the
Conference , Artemije said that the story on them representing nobody is
an old one. Artemije pointed out that the Serb delegation represented
the Serb National Council, as well as the Serb Regional National Council
in Mitrovica, adding that they represented all Kosovo Serbs. "I can only
say that only the remainders of Slobodan Milosevic' regime were not
represented, who are in all parts of Kosovo and don't recognize us. We
cannot and do not want to think about their complaints, but we will work
for what is good and in the benefit of our people, for our survival in
Kosovo and for the return of
expelled people in Kosovo," said Artemije.

IVANOVIC: THIS STATEMENT IS NOTHING SPECIAL

Oliver Ivanovic, leader of Mitrovica Serbs, in a statement with Reuters,
rejected the statement reached in the United States. Ivanovic said that
the statement was nothing special, adding that the weak representation
of Serbs yielded bad results.

In another statement with the Belgrade-based Beta news agency, Ivanovic
said that the composition of the Serb delegation was such that it wasn't
able to articulate the demands of Kosovo Serbs, to raise their problems
and interests and to propose and raise for discussion the appropriate
issues. "It seems that Serbs allowed the talks to take a different
direction, leaving aside even the insistence for implementation of UN
Security Council resolution 1244," said Ivanovic. Ivanovic reportedly
opposed the announcement for recognizing the election results in Kosovo,
saying that in principle this runs contrary to the interests of Kosovo
Serbs and reiterated his position that elections in Kosovo without the
Serbs cannot be legitimate.

TRAJKOVIC: SERB DELEGATION DIDN'T REPRESENT SERB INTERESTS

Momcilo Trajkovic, a Kosovo Serb leader who was not invited to the talks
in the United States, in an interview with Beta said that the Serb
delegation didn't represent the Kosovo Serb interests, but only their
personal positions. "Regardless of differences between Kosovo Serbs,
leaders of the north had to travel to Washington," said Trajkovic,
adding that the international community is repeating the mistakes made
in the past by Milosevic's regime, which gave a priority to loyal
Albanians.

Trajkovic reportedly accused the Serb delegation that -- by traveling to
Washington without the representatives of Kosovo's north -- they helped
the international community equalize Mitrovica Serbs with "Albanian
terrorists".

Trajkovic pointed out that the fact that resolution 1244 was not
mentioned in the statement signed by Serbs and Albanians is the
beginning of the process that could end in opening the issue of Kosovo's
independence. "It is very indicative that in parallel with talks in
Washington, the diplomatic offices of different countries are being
opened in Pristina," said Trajkovic.

Without further explanations, Trajkovic reportedly warned of new Serb
victims in Kosovo. "Although Bishop Artemije says that the meeting in
the United States was historic, he will be refuted by the first next
Serb victims. Our history is, unfortunately, catastrophic," said
Trajkovic.

END