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Friday, October 8, 1999 Published at 10:11 GMT 11:11 UK

World: Europe

Gen Jackson leaves Kosovo

Jackson signed a demilitarisation agreement with KLA

General Sir Mike Jackson is stepping down on Friday as head of K-For, four months after he led the Nato-led force into Kosovo.

Kosovo: Special Report
"We have achieved what we set out to do," Gen Jackson said in a BBC interview on the eve of his departure.

"Kovoso is now a very different place indeed."

He will hand over to German General Klaus Reinhardt after seven months in the job, the first three of which were spent waiting in Macedonia for conditions to permit a landforce to move in.

The change of command will complete the transfer of Nato headquarters staff from Gen Jackson's Allied Rapid Reaction Corps to troops from the German commander's Land Forces Central Europe division.


[ image: Gen Jackson adopted a direct style at press conferences]
Gen Jackson adopted a direct style at press conferences
Looking back at his arrival in Kosovo, Gen Jackson said that the first achievement had been to get there, after the Nato air campaign.

The sudden Russian deployment from Sarajevo in a dispute over the command structure for the force led to a race for Pristina, with the Russians reaching the airport first.

"Things are now going pretty well on the whole," Gen Jackson said.

The BBC's John Leyne: "General Jackson is extremely popular among troops and Kosovo Albanians."
But he conceded that civil order had not yet been fully restored.

"It is unrealistic to expect everyone to be tolerant and forgiving in one day," he said.

"There are still too many incidents of crime based on ethnic hatred."

Political will

The BBC's Mark Laity: "It's now Serbs who need protection"
He stressed that the political dimension was now coming to the fore, and that without the political will to back change, there was a limit to what the military could do.

Gen Jackson said he did not believe the new Kosovo Protection Corps was a threat to Serbs, despite the fact that it was dominated by Kosovo Albanians.

He said that it was the best solution to the disarming of the Kosovo Liberation Army and concerns that armed elements might go underground.

[ image: With Prince Charles at Pristina airport]
With Prince Charles at Pristina airport
Despite the continuing problems in Kosovo, Gen Jackson said that the fact that 800,000 people who had been driven out of the province had been able to return home was a significant achievement in itself.

Gen Jackson said that it was vital that people were brought to justice for violence crimes.

Asked whether that would really be possible, he said: "I very much hope so, because without that the job of reconciliation is much more difficult."

Justice would be, he said, "a fundamental task".

New blood

Gen Reinhardt is the first German commander to take control of a Nato mission since Germany joined the alliance in 1955.

"We are there for all ethnic groups," Gen Reinhardt said.

He said his mission's top priority would be "creating the conditions for the United Nations to establish civilian administration, and winning the trust of the Kosovars".

Gen Jackson's parting view is that "memories are vivid".

"There is only one healer here and this is time, and I don't know how long it will take."

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