An Accord Agreed by All?
EFFECTIVE CONTROL of the media by the Clinton White House ensured that the prevailing opinion before the start of the NATO bombing campaign against Yugoslavia was that the Yugoslav Government had rejected all attempts to negotiate an agreement on the future of Kosovo. The so-called Rambouillet Accords had been offered to the Yugoslavs and rejected, leaving NATO no option but to start aerial bombardment on March 24, 1999. But that was far from the truth.
On March 15, 1999, meeting in Paris, the key parties to the problem had already reached and signed an "Agreement for Self-Government in Kosmet [Kosovo and Metohija]".
Strategic Policy has obtained a copy of the Agreement which was conducted under the auspices of the members of the Contact Group (and in light of the Contact Group ministerial meeting in London on January 29, 1999, pdf file) and the European Union. It recognizes "the need for democratic self-government in Kosmet, including full participation of the members of all national communities in political decision making".
The Paris Agreement had been the work of moderates and would have effec-tively blocked the KLA terrorist organization from achieving its goal: total secession of Kosovo and Metohija. It gave full internal autonomy to the Kosovars; a free press; unfettered access to international organizations; an independent assembly; an independent judiciary; full control over local (and locally appointed) police; and much more. What was important was that this was an agreement which satisfied all main communities in Kosovo.
With this already agreed, was there justification for a military attack?
The Agreement offers literally everything demanded by the Kosovo community except the demand by the KLA, which drafted the so-called Rambouillet Accords which were never discussed at all with the Yugoslav Government before being presented to it as ŕ fait accompli, two days after the ultimatum had been published as "the final agreement" in a KLA newspaper in Albania.
The Houston Chronicle on March 28, 1999, published an insightful article on the Kosovo situation. The article, by Dr Ronald L. Hatchett, Director of the Center for International Studies at the University of St. Thomas, was entitled Would You Sign This Agreement?, and dealt with the peace accord on Kosovo put forward by the US and its allies at Rambouillet, France.
The treaty which was put forward at the last minute was not what the Yugoslav Government had been told it would be. As a result, the Belgrade delegation had no option but to refuse to sign it, as was presumably the intention of US Secretary of State Madeline Albright.
The uncompleted Rambouillet Accords noted:
- "Kosovo will have a President, Prime Minister and Government, an Assembly, its own Supreme Court, Constitutional Court and other Courts and Prosecutors."
- "Kosovo will have the authority to make laws not subject to revision by Serbia or the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, including levying taxes, instituting programs of economic, scientific, technological, regional and social development, conducting foreign relations within its area of responsibility in the same manner as a Republic."
- "Yugoslav Army forces will withdraw completely from Kosovo, except for a limited border guard force (active only within a five kilometer border zone)."
- "Serb security forces [police] will withdraw completely from Kosovo except for a limited number of border police (active only within a five kilometer border zone)."
- "The parties invite NATO to deploy a military force (KFOR), which will be authorized to use necessary force to ensure compliance with the Accords."
- "The international community will play a rôle in ensuring that these provisions are carried out through a Civilian Implementation Mission (CIM) (appointed by NATO)."
- "The Chief of the CIM has the authority to issue binding directives to the Parties on all important matters as he sees fit, including appointing and removing officials and curtailing institutions."
- "Three years after the implementation of the Accords, an international meeting will be convened to determine a mechanism for a final settlement for Kosovo on the basis of the will of the people."
The Accords, had they been signed by the Yugoslav Government, would have meant an immediate effective removal of Kosovo from Yugoslavia. The Yugoslav delegation had been prepared to hand over autonomy to Kosovars in day-to-day matters, including religious, education and health care matters and local government operations.
The Yugoslav delegation, however, was told:
sign the "surprise" version of the Rambouillet Accords
face immediate NATO bombing.
And while Serbs within the Yugoslav Federation have no problem with granting a high degree even "an unparalleled degree", as one senior Yugoslav leader told this writer of autonomy to the Albanian-origin community in Kosovo, it is inconceivable that any Yugoslav leader would contemplate the kind of independence for Kosovo which was planned by the Rambouillet "agreement" which was unilaterally thrust on theYugoslavs in 1999.
It was absolutely known by the Clinton Administration that the wording of this ultimatum, which had been published two days before it was delivered to the Yugoslav delegation in Rambouillet in a KLA journal, was expressly designed to be rejected by Belgrade, thus providing the political excuse for the commencement of US-led NATO bombing of Yugoslavia.
The fact that all of the real parties to the Kosovo dispute had already, on March 15, 1999, signed an accord which would have given the requested autonomy was disregarded because the US supported only the KLA solution, knowing that it had "its" air force that is, the air forces of NATO to help enforce its will.
There was considerable under-estimation by the KLA and by the White House, however, of the determination of the Yugoslavs to resist such pressure.
If you were a Yugoslav (brave and defiant), would you have signed such an agreement?