Did USA Reject Balkan Peace?
|January 9, 2007||Posted by Staff under Archive, Progress Report, The Progress Report|
Op-Ed by FAIR Suggests USA May Have Rejected Peace
WAS A PEACEFUL KOSOVO SOLUTION REJECTED BY U.S.?
(Publisher’s note — this inquiry, by Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), raises an interesting question. It appears that Yugoslavia agreed to allow foreign troops to monitor peace, but that the USA insisted on NATO troops. How many billions of tax dollars are we going to spend killing Yugoslav people just because we like NATO troops better than UN troops? You’ll have to make up your own mind on this one. Then spread the word.)
Since the beginning of the NATO attack on Yugoslavia, the war has been presented by the media as the consequence of Yugoslavia’s stubborn refusal to settle for any reasonable peace plan, in particular its rejection of plans for an international security force to implement a peace plan in Kosovo.
An article in the April 14 New York Times stated that Yugoslavian President Milosevic “has absolutely refused to entertain an outside force in Kosovo, arguing that the province is sovereign territory of Serbia and Yugoslavia.”
Negotiations between the Serb and Albanian delegations at the Rambouillet meeting in France ended with Yugoslavia’s rejection of the agreement adopted, after much prodding, by the Albanian party.
But is that the whole story? On February 21, the Yugoslavs assented to the terms of the political portion of the Rambouillet agreement. Their rejection stemmed from their opposition to the requirement that 28,000 NATO troops be stationed in Kosovo to oversee the implementation of the accord. This military clause, requiring NATO troops, was inserted without the knowledge of the Russian representatives, who opposed the provision.
By the close of the first round of the Rambouillet talks in late February, Serb President Milan Milutinovic had already declared Serbia’s willingness to to discuss “an international presence in Kosovo” to monitor the implementation of the accords. On February 21, Madeleine Albright responded by insisting that “We accept nothing less than a complete agreement, including a NATO-led force.”
On March 23, the day before the NATO bombing began, the Serbian parliament adopted a resolution again rejecting the military portion of the accords, but expressing willingness to review the “range and character of an international presence” in Kosovo. According to the Toronto Star’s correspondent in Belgrade on March 24, “There have been hints Serbia might ultimately accept a U.N. force.”
But the U.S. appears to have been unwilling to consider any option other than NATO troops. At a March 24 State Department press briefing, spokesman James Rubin was asked about this development:
QUESTION: Was there any follow-up to the Serbian Assembly’s yesterday? They had a two-pronged decision. One was to not allow NATO troops to come in; but the second part was to say they would consider an international force if all of the Kosovo ethnic groups agreed to some kind of a peace plan. It was an ambiguous collection of resolutions. Did anybody try to pursue that and find out what was the meaning of that?
MR. RUBIN: Ambassador Holbrooke was in Belgrade, discussed these matters extensively with President Milosevic, left with the conclusion that he was not prepared to engage seriously on the two relevant subjects. I think the decision of the Serb Parliament opposing military-led implementation was the message that most people received from the parliamentary debate. I’m not aware that people saw any silver linings.
QUESTION: But there was a second message, as well; there was a second resolution.
MR. RUBIN: I am aware that there was work done, but I’m not aware that anybody in this building regarded it as a silver lining.
In other words, the State Department was aware that the Serbian parliament expressed openness to an “international presence,” but this was not seen as a “silver lining,” apparently because only a NATO force was acceptable to the U.S.
Those who support the bombing of Yugoslavia argue that all peaceful options for arriving at a settlement in Kosovo had been exhausted. Journalists need to do more reporting on the Rambouillet process to see if that in fact was the case.
FAIR suggests this action: Please contact local and national media and call on them to report on the U.S. State Department’s insistence that only a NATO-led force in Kosovo could keep the peace there. Did this position make it more or less likely that the rights of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo would be protected?
You can contact the New York Times at:
Andrew Rosenthal– Foreign Editor
Contact information for other media outlets can be found at:
For more information on media coverage of the war in Yugoslavia, see http://www.fair.org/international/yugoslavia.html .
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