Albanian Daily News
OSCE 'defeated' in Kosovo

Albanian Economic Tribune - Dec 31, 1999

OSLO - After a year scarred by warring in Kosovo, the head of Europe’s foremost security group said that OSCE came out "defeated" from the Kosovar conflict.

Knut Vollebaek, the outgoing chairman of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), said that conflicts in Kosovo and the breakaway Russian republic of Chechnya have taken most of the OSCE’s attention in 1999.

"I think it’s fair to say that Kosovo... (spells) defeats for the OSCE," Vollebaek, who is also Norway’s Foreign Minister, said in a year-end interview. Norway hands the OSCE chairmanship to Austria on January 1.

"At the same time I don’t think this means the OSCE is obsolete or useless. But I think it’s a challenge to us to try to develop early warning and preventive diplomacy much more."

Norway’s top-selling daily Verdens Gang said the OSCE, whose decisions demand consensus among members, was being sidelined by the European Union. "Vollebaek has done a good job but the OSCE just lacks the clout to get much done," a diplomat said.

Vollebaek said that OSCE successes this year include helping Albania recover from a plunge to near-anarchy in 1997.

Vollebaek said his toughest decision in 1999 was to pull out 1,400 unarmed OSCE observers from Kosovo in March, days before NATO began its air war against Yugoslavia.

[URL may be different next day if article is archived]