NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told Belgrade based daily Politika that peace and stability in Kosovo has been a priority for this alliance for past 20 years and that the UN mandate for the NATO peacekeeping mission remains unchanged.
“For this region, a stable Kosovo is important. For 20 years, peace and stability in Kosovo is a priority for NATO. The mandate of the UN for our KFOR peacekeeping mission remains unchanged, “Stoltenberg said in an interview with Politika on June 10 and added that KFOR continue to work on “a safe and secure environment in Kosovo for the benefit of all the people who live there.”
Stoltenberg said that the bombing of the FRY in 1999 was not taken lightly, and that history showed that had been legitimate and necessary.
“Bearing in mind the crisis that has fuelled the use of force by NATO has not been taken lightly. It has never been. And history has shown that it was necessary and legitimate because it stopped violence, and refugees could have returned home,” said the Secretary General Alliance.
The NATO mission, KFOR, under the UN mandate, has helped to create a safe and secure environment in Kosovo for all, including Serbian community, Stoltenberg said.
He said that he knows that NATO continues to provoke controversy in Serbia and that many still have painful memories of the air campaign that ended on June 10, 1999.
He repeated what he said in October last year when he visited Serbia – that this campaign had never been directed against the Serb people, on the contrary, that the aim was to protect civilians in the wider region by stopping the actions of Slobodan Milosevic’s regime, which the international community condemned.
Stoltenberg said that one should not forget the past, but that it should be left behind.
“That’s what NATO and Serbia are doing through partnership, which is useful both for NATO, Serbia and the wider region,” Stoltenberg said, pointing out the developed cooperation with Serbia, which begins from security sector reform to disaster relief and disposal of surplus ammunition.
Stoltenberg also stressed that NATO fully respects the policy of Serbia’s military neutrality.
“As Austria, Sweden and Finland demonstrate, neutrality and partnership with NATO are not mutually exclusive. Our partnership is good for Serbia, good for the Western Balkans and good for NATO,” said the Alliance’s secretary general.