Former General marks 20 years since NATO forces arrived in Kosovo

Former General marks 20 years since NATO forces arrived in Kosovo
By Euronews
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General Wes Clark talked to Euronews about NATO marking 20 years in Kosovo.


NATO's ground troops arrived in Kosovo 20 years ago after the alliance ousted Serbian forces in a 78-day air campaign that ended one of Europe's most violent conflicts.

NATO still has a peacekeeping mission in the country, but the path to independence for Kosovo has been difficult.

Serbia still does not recognise Kosovo's independence even 20 years after Belgrade lost control of its former province.

Euronews' Tokunbo Salako spoke to former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Wesley Clark about the legacy of NATO's intervention.

"NATO used force as a last last last resort in the face of the ethnic cleansing to stop the ethnic cleansing and to force a diplomatic solution," Clark told Euronews from Pristina, Kosovo.

Clark was in Pristina, Kosovo for anniversary celebrations along with former US President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

"I remember the angst of the NATO ambassadors when it became clear that there was no alternative but to use force to bring Milošević back to the negotiating table," Clark continued.

Clark called the air campaign, entitled Operation Allied Force, "NATO's most successful operation" and defended NATO's decision to intervene in the conflict without a UN resolution.

He said that "technically" nations were authorised to deal with the refugee crisis and called the intervention the "use of diplomacy backed by force".

NATO's bombing campaign resulted in at least 500 civilian casualties, according to the non-profit Human Rights Watch which documented 90 separate incidents of civilian casualties in a report released in 2000.

Clark said that he sees hope for the future of the two countries, stating that "perhaps in a distant future after memories have faded, more progress can be made diplomatically".

But tensions between the two countries rose recently after police in Kosovo arrested Serbs in northern Kosovo as part of an anti-smuggling mission.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic described the NATO intervention this week as "the 19 most powerful countries attacking a small country committed to freedom," according to AFP.

Read more about the history of Serbia-Kosovo relations here and watch the full interview with Wesley Clark in the player above.

Additional sources • AFP

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