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Ministry for Foreign Affairs

Meeting of the North Atlantic Council

NATO Summit in Washington: Meeting of the North Atlantic Council, April 23, 1999

Statement by H.E. Halldór Ásgrímsson, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iceland


- On the refugee issue, I agree with Madeleine Albright that we should, to the extent possible, keep the refugees in the region, with a view to eventually resettling them in their own homes or place of origin.

- We ourselves have made it clear that the families we have given refuge will be helped to return to the region at a time of their own choosing.

- The key question remains, of course, how we can best help those who have been evacuated to distant places or have remained in the camps, to return to some kind of normal life ? in security and peace.

- Clearly, this will not be the responsibility of only NATO. To stabilize the region will require a substantial economic component. Various organizations should be involved ? and as Knut and many others have mentioned ? the OSCE should have a lead role in fostering the habits of democracy and peaceful dialogue. Since no one has mentioned the Council of Europe, let met point out that the forming of constitutional norms and the rule of law will be an important component of the reconstruction effort ? and here the Council of Europe should play a significant role.

- Lastly, I welcome the EU's initiative of holding a conference on the Balkans. Such a conference is timely, despite the continuation of the conflict, in light of the immense complexities that will need to be addressed. We would hope for all NATO countries to be invited.

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