Press Release
22 April 1999


Washington Rebuffs Turkish Fear Over Russian Missiles for Cyprus

Greek Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos told a conference in Washington, DC today that NATO bears some responsibility the lack of success in finding a political solution for the Kosovo war. The Minister said that NATO had failed to understand the difference between a political process and making ultimatums. The Minister also said that the search for a political solution to the crisis is not being pursued sufficiently.

Speaking at a conference Securing Peace in Europe, the Minister said, "I am afraid that through the overemphasis on the military threat, and the direct recourse to bombing, the result has been that the policy of military power seems to prevail without the parallel intensive and flexible attempt at a political solution. The initial attempt by Russia, as well as the second one by Germany were not sufficiently supported and the difference between a political process of solution and an inflexible ultimatum was not understood. The result was the strengthening not only of Belgrade's intransigence, but also the coming together of the Serbs around Milosevic's leadership, who chose to disregard the bombing, militarize Kosovo, and at the same time practice ethnic cleansing against the Albanian population of Kosovo."

Questioned about NATO bombing tactics the Minister added that there could only be a political, not a military solution in the province. He said that Greece has "... the position that, in the Kosovo problem, a political solution is necessary and a military solution is not possible."

The Minister also spoke on the need for a UN mandate for NATO out of area operations, saying that NATO should not act without the authority of the UN Security Council behind it. Minister Tsohatzopoulos said "NATO should incorporate the international legality, not replace it. It is therefore imperative that NATO's actions be based on UN principles and decisions. It is imperative that NATO's wider activities be based on a mandate by the Security Council."

For further information, contact Dan Plesch at 202-438-6180 or Julie Smith at 202-438-6188