On the situation in Kosovo

1999-03-25 - Vaclav Havel


Yesterday towards evening, the North Atlantic Alliance began its attacks against military objectives in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

It is such an important event in the history of the Alliance that it deserves a commentary.

I understand the contemporary attacks not only as a reaction to the latest events in Kosovo, but also to the long-time continual behavior of Milosevic's regime, who either played a main role in most of the conflicts in the territory of the former Yugoslavia or stood in the background. Now he has turned against the inhabitants of his own State - the Kosovo Albanians - to whom he first withdrew their autonomy, for years limited their freedoms, and to whom he then applied a policy of ethnic purges and so has provoked a mass exodus and a humanitarian catastrophe. Tens of thousands of people, including women and children, suffer in the mountains without food or shelter.

The international community, namely the Alliance, decided not to watch silently any longer. Therefore, a peace conference was called at Rambouillet, the aim of which was to find a political solution. However, President Milosevic refused to sign the peace agreement, resisted against the entire democratic world, who then had no other choice left, in the interest of the protection of human lives and stopping human suffering, than to intervene. I understand this solution to be extreme but, due to the given circumstances, quite necessary.

The Czech Republic, as a member of the North Atlantic Alliance, is aware of its commitments resulting from its membership.

Unfortunately, President Milosevic misused the chance to avoid NATO's air attacks. However, he still has a possibility to renew the discussions and to prevent further escalation of the conflict. In order to renew the discussions it is, however, unconditionally necessary that the Yugoslavian president agree to the conditions of the international community and accept the peace agreement reached at Rambouillet.

I am not without hope that the regime of Milosevic - face to face with the decisive attitude of the democratic world - will become reasonable and will cease the policy which is directed against the Serbian nation.