Skip Navigation LinksCSL home > Library > Document



Kosovo one year on-Achievement and Challenge

32 pages, pdf
 Download Back


Kosovo one year on-Achievement and Challenge

Publisher: LORD ROBERTSON OF PORT ELLEN Secretary General of NATO

Volume: 32 pages, pdf


A year ago, NATO launched its airpower to end the repressio n in Kosovo - and succeeded. In the blizzard of words that has followed it is easy to overlook that simple fact. Much is still misunderstood about what happened. Now is an appropriate time to look back on what NATO did during the conflict, to review what KFOR has achieved since, and to look ahead. The risks were high - NATO faced many problems - and the price was high. But as the Alliance promised at the time, Serb forces are out, KFOR is in, and the refugees are home. However, there should be no illusions - the task remaining is formidable.

The crisis was a long time in the making and cannot be solved in a year. While an enormous amount has been achieved - often unheralded - no-one can be satisfied with the current situation. But for those who have doubts, the simple answer is to look at the alternatives. The OSCE report, Kosovo/Kosova As Seen, As Told, makes what happened appallingly clear, painting a shocking picture of a planned campaign of violence against Kosovar Albanian civilians. No-one was safe it says, “There is chilling evidence of the murderous targeting of children, with the aim of terrorizing and punishing adults and communities.” If NATO had not acted, then that spiral of violence would have intensified, and the death toll escalated. There would now be many hundreds of thousands of refugees, with neighbouring countries under pressure and the whole region destabilised. Critics, including those who now criticise NATO for what it has done, would be condemning the Alliance for what it had not done.

 he challenge now, and by no means just for NATO, is to complete the job. The air campaign and entry of KFOR have created a platform to build upon, but that requires resources and continuing commitment, or there is a risk that hard-won success could drift away. The people of Kosovo, and their leaders, must also seize the opportunities presented, or risk losing the goodwill and backing of the international community. It is ethnic hatred that has brought disaster in the past, and however hard, however bitter the memories, it must be set aside if the future is to be truly different. It was Edmund Burke who said that for evil to triumph it is only necessary for good men to do nothing. In March last year, NATO’s 19 nations acted. The following is my personal reflection on Kosovo one year on.