Joint Press Release on the establishment of a Balkan Multinational Peace Force March 18, 1998 (Unofficial Translation)

As a follow-up to Turkey's proposal to establish a Balkan Multinational Peace Force, and in accordance with the Sofia Defence Ministerial follow-up measures and activities, the NATO/PfP countries, Albania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Romania and Turkey have participated in the Experts Meeting held in Ankara on 16-18 March 1998. United States and Slovenia were also present as observers in the said Meeting.

The participating nations have agreed in principle with the establishment of a Multinational Peace Force and had a round of first discussions on certain elements that could govern the process in the pursuance of this objective.

They have agreed with the basic principles that in accordance with the South Eastern Defence Ministerial process, the Force should be open to the participation of all able and willing countries in the region that would like to join this initiative at a later stage and that transparency should be adhered to at any stage of the follow-on work.

It has also been a widely shared principle by the participants that the Force should not be evaluated only within the Balkan context and that the Force, in principle, and contingent upon a case-by-case decision by the participating nations, will be available for NATO or WEU-led conflict prevention and other peace support operations which could be conducted through a mandate by either the UN or the OSCE.

During the Meeting the participating nations have expressed their views as to the location and formation of the proposed Force. In addition to Turkey's offer to host the HQ of the Force in Edirne, Bulgaria has also declared its readiness to host the HQ in Plovdiv.

Romania has offered to host the next meeting in Bucharest at a higher level to further substantiate the establishment of the Multinational Peace Force, to finalize the Draft Declaration of Intent, and to study the proposals tabled during this Meeting.

As to the name of the Force there has been a number of proposals by the participating nations. These proposals will also be discussed at the forthcoming meeting, along with the proposed locations for the HQ of the Multinational Peace Force during this Meeting, as well as issues pertaining to the Force such as financial, administrative, logistics and legal arrangements, and appropriate mechanisms for political and military consultations.