Lord Robertson Clarifies Misused Photo by Russian Media while in Kosovo

 Former NATO Secretary General, Lord George Robertson, recently revealed how a photo of him playing with children in Poklek, a village in Drenas, Kosovo, was misused by Russian media. In an interview on the show "KallxoPërnime," Robertson recounted the incident that occurred in 2000 during a visit to a school in Poklek.

Video screenshot of Robertson while speaking to the "KallxoPërnime"
 Video screenshot of Robertson while speaking to the "KallxoPërnime" show
Robertson explained that the visit coincided with "Red Nose Day," a humorous charity event celebrated in the UK. The children in Poklek had asked him to wear a clown nose to join in the fun. However, Russian media later published the photo, alleging that Robertson was mocking the victims of the bombing.

"It was the first anniversary of the bombings in 2000. I had just assumed the role of Secretary General. Poklek was a village attacked by Serbian paramilitaries, where 20 children were killed in their homes. We were there to honor their memory. But it happened to be 'Red Nose Day' in the UK, and the children were wearing clown noses to lift their spirits. They wanted us to join them," Robertson explained.

You can see George Robertson with clone nose, photo modified by Russian media
He emphasized that the Russian media's portrayal of the event was intended to ridicule NATO. "You can be both humorous and serious. The children had endured terrible events, and they are the future of the country. So, I participated in the light-hearted activity alongside Generals Reinhardt and Wesley Clark. Yet, Russian media published the photos as if we were mocking the victims," Robertson said.

Twenty-four years after the incident, Robertson stands by his actions. He shared that he has since revisited the school in Poklek, where students presented him with a painting that now hangs in his parliamentary office.

"I have been back to that school, and they gave me a painting depicting flowers over the bones of the slain. It hangs in my office as a reminder. I tell all visitors to look at it, and I will mention it in my speech before the parade. It left me with both bad memories and hope," he said.

Robertson described the events in Poklek as a "horrible history but with a glimmer of hope when the children laughed with us on that day."

Twenty-five years ago, on June 12, 1999, NATO peacekeeping troops entered Kosovo following a 78-day aerial campaign against Serbian military and police targets. Their entry marked the end of the war that had started in 1998 between the Kosovo Liberation Army and Serbian occupying forces.

NATO's intervention was formalized by the Kumanovo Agreement, signed on June 9, 1999, by Serbian officials and NATO authorities led by British General Mike Jackson. The agreement compelled Serbia to withdraw all police and military forces from Kosovo.

Lord George Robertson served as NATO Secretary General from 1999 to 2003 and was also the UK Secretary of Defence under Prime Minister Tony Blair. For his significant contributions to Kosovo's freedom, he was awarded the "Golden Freedom Medal" by former Kosovo President Ibrahim Rugova. In 2019, he was also honored with the "Skanderbeg" medal by former Albanian President Ilir Meta.
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