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Marc Grossman Press Availability in Kosovo

Press Availability in Kosovo

Marc Grossman, Under Secretary for Political Affairs U.S.Office Pristina, Kosovo March 29, 2004

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Thank you all very much for coming. My name is Marc Grossman. I am the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs. I apologize for keeping you waiting; we were just in what I would consider to be a very interesting and successful meeting with the PISG (Provisional Institutions of Self-Government). Let me make a short statement and then I ll be glad to answer a few questions. I came to Kosovo to add my voice to those of the NATO Secretary General, Representatives of the European Union, the Secretary General of United Nations and others to say that the recent violence in Kosovo is unacceptable and that it is a dead end for the people of Kosovo and for the people of the region. And to say with all of the clarity that I possibly can, that this violence must never be repeated. I came also, as you might imagine, to express again the condolences of our government to those who suffered injury, to those who died, and to those who lost property. Our hearts go out to the families for what they have suffered.

Those responsible for the deaths, for the injuries, for the devastation must be caught and must be brought to justice. I also want to pay tribute to those who were determined to stop the violence, and here I single out KFOR and UNMIK and leaders like Prime Minister Rexhepi, and also those leaders in Belgrade who called for calm. I particularly want to say how much we appreciate the actions of Prime Minister Rexhepi and his government to spend money and do some activity to now rebuild churches and homes.

I also came here to Kosovo to talk about the future.

As you all know better than I do, on the tenth of December, the United Nations issued the Standards for Kosovo and those Standards were endorsed by the UN Security Council. And the kind of Kosovo that we want is listed on the title page of that document. I think it s worth quoting. It says, A Kosovo where all, regardless of ethnic background, race or religion, are free to live work and travel without fear, hostility or danger, in which there is tolerance, justice and peace for everyone.

I will say that in all of my conversations today, I have been struck that in every single place I ve been, every person I have talked to, has said that they are committed to the standards and that they support them; that they want these Standards to be implemented; that they want United Nations Standards to be successful. I m very pleased to have heard this morning from the Special Representative of the Secretary General that the Standards Implementation Plan will be issued this week. It s important to be honest with each other here. The recent violence is clearly a set back to the vision that we had and also to the hope that we might be able to judge progress in mid 2005.

So the question is, What next? Are we stuck in this dead end? Or is there a will on behalf of the people here to move forward, to meet the vision in the UN Standards. I said to everyone today that it was very much in people s hands in Kosovo.

Finally, I came to Kosovo to say that if people in Kosovo have the will to move forward, that the United States is ready to help, and that the United States, with the participation of NATO, the European Union, and the United Nations is ready to help Kosovo succeed. And we want to explore ways so we might be able to do that more intensively. We want to know if there are ways to focus on priority areas within the standards. Are there ways to focus on more effective local government? Is there a way that local communities can have greater security and greater democracy? Is there a way to create more jobs through increased privatization and focus on the economy?

Five years ago, NATO acted to give people in Kosovo an opportunity to build a society of peace and prosperity and hope. Today people and leaders here must act and I would say they must act decisively and effectively to fashion a society that meets the Standards that are on the title page of the document that the United Nations has issued and that everyone endorses. If people here are ready to do that, then the United States is ready to help. And with that, I ll be glad to answer a few questions that anybody might have.

QUESTION: Mr. Grossman, do you feel that the political vacuum, that is institutional and status issues, could be one of the reasons that the people are frustrated?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: We ve talked a lot today about the question of frustration, and I will answer your question in this way. When I came here in November, people talked about the frustration that there were no clear standards. People talked about the frustration that there was no date on which to review those standards. So, in November, we came and we said there should be clear Standards and there are. We said there should be a date on which these Standards should be reviewed, or even earlier, if there were progress and that date now exists. So to me, this is not the cause for frustration. What we have now is clarity and if people will move forward with the tools that we have and the clarity that we have, I think we ll be able to create something here that follows the vision of the Standards and of course that vision, that kind of society, is one that the people in Kosovo want.

QUESTION: Mr. Grossman, did you have a chance to see any of the ruins that remained from last week s tragedy and if you did not, why?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Sir, we saw some last night on the way from the airport and I am scheduled also to see some on the way back this afternoon after this press conference.

QUESTION: What did you talk about in your meeting with the UN?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Well, what we ve talked about with the United Nations, were two things. First, the absolute unacceptability of attacks on everyone, including the United Nations, on KFOR, on CIVPOL. One of the reasons that I traveled today with the KFOR Commander, and also Admiral Johnson, was to show our solidarity in that regard. My own view is that the next important step that the UN Mission can take is one that they have committed to today, which is to put out the Standards plan this week. It seems to me that if you have the combination of the Standards from the tenth of December, and the plan going forward this week, then it is clear what people have to do. So the way to go forward here is that we all need to change the way we do business. And the way we re going to change the way we do business is to follow this Implementation Plan, which I m glad to say will arrive this week.

QUESTION: Is Independence still an option on the table for the final settlement of Kosovo?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: One of the things, it s interesting to me, that in my conversation today, what people are focused on here is recognizing that there was a terrible outbreak of violence, recognizing that it should never happen again, trying to figure out now how to repair that violence. Again I pay tribute to Prime Minister Rexhepi and his government for putting money toward reconstruction. People have talked to me about the importance of Standards and people have talked to me about the importance of implementation of Standards and I did not hear anybody talk today about specific futures. The reason is because people know, as I said in my statement, that the recent outbreak of violence makes any conversation about the future that much harder. So the job now, it seems to me, is for people to get some will to move forward and meet the point that we came here last November to try represent. That is still relevant.

QUESTION: Have any changes been made in the Implementation Plan for the Standards?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Well, since we haven t seen the Implementation Plan yet, I don t know the answer to the question; you will have to ask Mr. Holkeri. I think that what we have said today, that the most important news that Mr. Holkeri has given us, is it will come out this week. And when it comes out people will have to judge how it is. But I ll tell you, if it is as good a document as the Standards are, and if it s a way to meet the vision on the front page of those Standards -- and again I quoted them to you and I think they re really important -- then it ought to be quite a strong document.

QUESTION: Going to the earlier question, does it mean that Kosovo can return to the rule of Serbia again or to Serb authority?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Well again, I mean the conversation today was, Standards, implementation of Standards and that s where we re focused on.

QUESTION: Will the latest events affect the decision for the final status of Kosovo?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Well as I said in my statement, I think the recent violence is clearly a set back for that process. I mean, don t forget, when we came in November, we said to have clear standards, have transparent standards, work to meet those Standards and in the middle of early 2005 or even earlier, if there s progress, we ll make a judgment. And you know, I think the honest thing to say that job is harder today than it was two weeks ago. We should be honest about that. Okay, I ll take one last question.

QUESTION: Do you feel that with the number of security forces present in Kosovo, that the International Community could have managed better the situation of the 17th and 18th of March?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Everyone -- everyone -- the Prime Minister, UNMIK, NATO, KFOR, because they are responsible parties, will do a review of what happened. And we ll see where that takes us, but I would say to you that in my view, the effort that was made by KFOR, by the Civilian Police and by NATO in reinforcing KFOR was a great success and I have the greatest admiration for the men and women in uniform who came here and I think very effectively and very quickly quelled that violence. This was a violence obviously that should never have happened, a violence that should never happen again, but I think our men and women in uniform, and I don t mean Americans only, I mean NATO and KFOR and all of the people involved, did a magnificent job and they deserve our thanks.

Okay, thank you all very much. [End]

Released on April 1, 2004

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