Toronto/Pristina; 21 September 1999 (RFE/RL) - NATO Secretary
General Javier Solana has praised yesterday's agreement to transform the Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK) into a civilian corps. Solana called the agreement "a milestone" for ongoing peace implementation efforts by the international community in Kosovo. He made the remark in Toronto, where a meeting of NATO defense ministers begins today. He said the UCK's demilitarization is only the beginning of a larger effort to promote reconciliation in Kosovo. Leaders of the UCK and the NATO-led peacekeeping force signed the agreement late last night. Agim Ceku, the military chief of the UCK, and political leader Hashim Thaci, signed after talks with General Wesley Clark, NATO's top commander in Europe, NATO Kosovo force (KFOR) commander General Michael Jackson, and Bernard Kouchner, the UN chief in Kosovo. Under the agreement, the UCK will transform itself into a 5,000-member Kosovo Protection Corps under the command of Ceku. The KFOR commander will supervise the new corps, which will perform humanitarian and rescue missions. UCK commanders want the new corps to be the basis for the future national army of an independent Kosovo.