Rumsfeld: Balkans Still Need Peacekeeping Troops
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
THESSALONIKI, Greece, June 6, 2001 Troops will be needed for peacekeeping duties in the Balkans for the foreseeable future, said Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld here June 6.
The secretary arrived in this Aegean Sea port city June 5 to attend the Southeastern Europe Defense Ministerial with officials from Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Italy, Romania, Slovenia, Turkey and Greece. Ukraine is participating as an observer.
Rumsfeld and Greek National Defense Minister Akis Tsokhatzopoulos fielded reporters' questions at a June 6 morning press conference.
Rumsfeld replied: "Oh, certainly," when asked if he was convinced a continued need existed for peacekeeping forces in Kosovo and Bosnia. However, he added, peacekeepers shouldn't be patrolling the Balkans forever.
"The intention of all the nations that have troops in the Balkans is that over a period of time the parties on the ground will sort through their differences in a peaceful and constructive way," he said. Presumably, they would then create a stable, durable society, he noted.
"There was no question that the SFOR (Bosnia) and KFOR (Kosovo) forces … are making a very valuable contribution to the stability in the region," Rumsfeld remarked. "Our interest is peace and stability in the region and finding ways to do it in the most effective and constructive possible way."