Did the Serbs lose out?
After 10 weeks of Nato air strikes, Yugoslav officials and the
state-controlled media have presented the deal as a triumph. However, opposition
politicians have claimed the agreement is much worse for Serbia than that on offer at the
Rambouillet and Paris peace talks earlier in the year. The BBC's Southeast Europe Analyst, Gabriel Partos, compares the new deal with
the Rambouillet peace plan.
Q: Is Serbia pulling out more troops than Rambouillet required?
A: Rambouillet may have been formulated as an ultimatum - the key issues of military
implementation were non-negotiable - but it was not designed as a military surrender,
which the new deal resembles in many ways. Under Rambouillet, the Yugoslav army would have
had six months to stage an orderly withdrawal; and 2,500 troops would have been allowed to
stay on border control and related functions. The Serbian police would have had up to two
years to leave Kosovo, prior to the formation of a multi-ethnic community police. Now
Yugoslav and Serb forces will be required to beat a hasty retreat - a total withdrawal
from Kosovo within a week of the deal starting to be implemented. A few hundred personnel
may be allowed back at a later stage to carry out duties along the border and look after
Q: Is Serbia still opposed to the deployment of foreign troops on its territory?
A: Rambouillet envisaged the deployment of a Nato-led force, authorised by the UN Security
Council, to help guarantee peace and security. The new deal includes what's called
"essential Nato participation" under UN auspices but it is vague as to which
organisation would actually be in charge of the unified command structure. There's
expected to be a sizeable Russian contingent; and if it were to be deployed in its own
separate area, it might create conditions for some kind of partitioning of Kosovo. Nato
would want a structure that's similar to Bosnia where Nato and Russian peacekeepers have
worked well together.
Q: What about the size of the force?
A: The proposed size of implementation force has increased from 28,000 to around 50,000 to
deal with additional tasks made necessary by the recent bombing and fighting on the ground
- the return of refugees, mine-clearing and the rebuilding of essential bridges, roads and
Q: What will happen to the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA)?
A: Rambouillet set a four-month deadline for disarming the Kosovo Albanian fighters;
now there's still a requirement for the demilitarisation - but no timetable. However, with
a total Serbian withdrawal planned within a matter of days, peacekeepers already stationed
in Macedonia would have to move in straight away to prevent possible KLA revenge attacks
Q: Who will be in charge in Kosovo?
A: Rambouillet called for a nine-month interim administration to be run with the help
of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). This was meant to lead
to elections for Kosovo's new democratic institutions giving the province a considerable
degree of self-government, as demanded by the ethnic Albanian majority, while also
ensuring power-sharing and protection for minority communities, primarily the Serbs. The
new deal leaves the decision on the interim administration to the UN Security Council. But
it adds that the political process should take into full consideration the Rambouillet
accords. And the expectation is that the Rambouillet scheme is likely to determine the
shape of Kosovo's new institutions.
Q: What about Kosovo's future status?
A: Rambouillet was meant to be a three-year interim settlement after which an
international conference was expected to decide on Kosovo's long-term future, taking into
account the wishes of the local population. This was an implicit reference to a possible
referendum - long demanded by Kosovo Albanians who want independence for Kosovo - but it
did not mean in any way that the results of a referendum or public consultation would be
the only factor in deciding Kosovo's status. Rambouillet's preamble made a clear reference
to the international community's commitment to preserving Yugoslavia's territorial
integrity. The new deal reaffirms this commitment to Yugoslavia's borders; and it mentions
no deadline for sorting out Kosovo's future. But it may yet follow the Rambouillet
Q: What will happen to the refugees?
A: The new deal calls for the safe return of all refugees. Since Rambouillet nearly
900,000 Kosovo Albanians have fled abroad; many others
are displaced within Kosovo itself. The withdrawal of Serbian forces is expected to
encourage the Kosovo Albanians to return to their homes - though some of them feel
apprehensive about going back to areas where Russian troops are expected to be deployed.
Many of Kosovo's nearly 200,000-strong Serbian community may flee as Serbian forces pull
out of the province.
Q: Why has Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic accepted a deal that is much worse
A: Ten weeks of Nato air strikes on Yugoslavia have taken their toll. President
Milosevic may have hoped that Nato's unity would crack or that he might receive some
support from Russia. Neither of these expectations has come true. It may be easier to give
in now - after Serbia has shown it's prepared to resist a powerful enemy - than to have
done so without a fight. In any case, Serbian officials are trying to portray the deal as
a triumph, though this is hardly borne out by any comparison with the Rambouillet accords.
So the official line may not persuade many Serbs.