NATO's Top Commander says KLA demilitarization on track
September 1, 1999
From CNN Producer Chris Wallace
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- NATO's supreme commander Gen. Wesley Clark said Tuesday the demilitarization of the Kosovo Liberation Army is on track and he is optimistic about the return of a multi-ethnic Kosovo.
Shortly after NATO's bomb campaign against Yugoslavia ended and peacekeepers entered Kosovo in June, nearly 80 percent of Kosovo's Serbs fled the war-torn province, fearing retribution from the hundreds of thousands of returning Kosovar Albanians.
In remarks to the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), a Washington think-tank, Clark said some Serbs are now returning to Kosovo and the exodus of Serbs has basically stopped.
"Some are coming back now. So we've had a period of two months of settling out and it's been a painful and unfortunate period," he said.
The Supreme Allied Commander Europe said the international community must be as strong now as ever in Kosovo. International bodies, such as NATO, the European Union, the United Nations and others, must prove that a multi-ethnic Kosovo is a valid and achievable goal.
Clark said he sees no other path for the Kosovars: "It has to be this way, and these people have to be a part of modern Europe. That's what they want to do and I believe they will achieve that status."
Incidents of violence have gone down in the last couple weeks, Clark said, adding that KLA disarmament is "very much on track."
Still, there could be problems ahead: "We're looking ahead anxiously to the 90-day point with the completion of the 90-day program ... There's a great deal of work to be done to build the institutions there to assure we do have a climate of security."
Clark spent some time outlining the lessons he learned while heading the 19-nation military alliance. Clark says NATO is the only international military force that could have accomplished this mission.
He said Operation Allied Force showed that in some cases, diplomacy backed by economic sanctions simply is not enough to get a job done. The airstrikes were evidence of the need, Clark said, of backing up diplomacy with the actual use of force.
Clark was told in late July that his tour as NATO's top commander would end early next year, months before his term was expected to end. Clark has privately protested the move to no avail.
Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Jeanne Kirkpatrick and former Secretary of State Alexander Haig were in attendance at the AEI event. Also attending were representatives from the embassies of the Russian Federation, China, Albania, Turkey, Germany and others.
About seven anti-nato demonstrators wielding signs that said "Clark/KLA War Criminals" shouted at Clark as he left the building with conservative commentator William Kristol.
Serbia is no haven for Kosovar Serb refugees
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