NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana praised Switzerland’s contribution to international peace efforts in Kosovo and said he was optimistic that the disarming of Kosovar rebels would be concluded on schedule.This content was published on September 16, 1999 - 13:57
NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana praised Switzerland’s contribution to international peace efforts in Kosovo and said he was optimistic that the disarming of Kosovar rebels would be concluded on schedule.
Solana made the comment after talks with Swiss Defence Minister Adolf Ogi (right) and Foreign Minister Joseph Deiss in Berne on Thursday. The discussions mainly addressed reconstruction efforts in post-war Kosovo and NATO’s Partnership for Peace Programme.
Wrapping up his official visit to the Swiss capital, Solana thanked Ogi for deploying up to 160 troops in the Serb province, where the mostly unarmed Swiss soldiers will provide predominantly logistical support for an Austrian KFOR contingent.
A Swiss advance team is already in the Suva Reka region in Kosovo and the main body of the Swiss company, known as Swisscoy, will be deployed by October 9.
The secretary-general said he was confident that the Kosovo Liberation Army would hand in their weapons by the September 20 deadline, which was agreed by ethnic Albanian leaders and NATO peacekeepers in June.
Deiss said he was pleased to hear that NATO’s disarmament and demilitarisation plan was on track.
He also welcomed Solana’s announcement that NATO planned to step up relations with members of its Partnership for Peace Programme, which includes Switzerland.
Deiss said he had assured Solana that Switzerland would step up its efforts in promoting human rights, demining operations and efforts to curb the spread of firearms.
Solana’s visit was the last in his capacity as NATO secretary-general as he will soon take up his new job as the European Union’s representative for security and foreign policy representative.
Ogi said the Swiss government was looking forward to continuing talks with Solana as “Mr. Europe” and invited him to come back soon.
Switzerland and the EU have signed a series of bilateral accords which still have to be ratified by the parliaments of Switzerland and all EU member states.
The accords include a broad range of economic, social and cultural agreements that would move Switzerland closer than ever to the EU.
From staff and wire reports.
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