Robertson urges Balkan governments to press on with reforms BNN - 2003/9/5
NATO will continue to maintain security in the Balkans but governments there must do their part to make the stabilization of their region irreversible, the alliance Secretary General George Robertson said Friday.
"We are determined to continue our essential role in maintaining peace and security for as long that we are needed ...we are neither packing up nor pulling out," Robertson told an international conference on shaping a common security agenda in Southeast Europe that Sofia is hosting.
"But while the international community certainly has a role to play, outside support will not succeed if the domestic situation of the countries in the region is not conducive to progress," he said.
Robertson said political leadership will be essential for tackling the major problems of the region including economic stagnation, corruption, outdated military structures.
He also urged Balkan governments to abide by their international obligations and cooperate with their neighbors.
Robertson said that areas, which NATO will "watch carefully" in Serbia-Montenegro include cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia in the Hague, Netherlands, and restructuring of the armed forces.
He said Bosnia and Herzegovina need to reform their forces and create an effective state-level democratic and civilian command and control structures.
As major challenges to NATO applicants Albania, Croatia and Macedonia he listed judicial reform, combatting organized crime and corruption and abiding by international commitments.
The two-day Sofia conference is being attended by top defense and security officials in the region including the defense ministers of Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Romania, Turkey.
Discussions are focusing on dangers to regional security as terrorism, organized crime, illegal traffic and corruption.
The meeting is organized by the Sofia-based non-government Center for the Study of Democracy and the German Social Democratic foundation Friedrich Ebert.