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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 37, May 1999

The War Over Kosovo: Diplomatic Developments

Yugoslav Acceptance of European Union/Russian Peace Plan, 3 June

Indictment of President Milosevic, 27 May

Article by Russian Special Envoy Viktor Chernomyrdin, 27 May

Bombing of the Chinese Embassy, 7 May

  • Chinese Government Statement, 8 May
  • Chinese Foreign Ministry Announcement, 10 May
  • UN Reaction
  • NATO Reaction
  • US Reaction
G-8 General Principles for a Political Solution, 6 May

Yugoslav Acceptance of European Union/Russian Peace Plan, 3 June

Editor's note: on 3 June, the following peace plan, presented to the Yugoslav authorities in Belgrade by Russia's Special Envoy Viktor Chernomyrdin and European Union (EU) Envoy Martti Ahtisaari, the Finnish President, was accepted by both the Serbian Parliament and the leadership of President Milosevic. It was quickly made clear by NATO that air strikes would continue until a detailed arrangement concerning the withdrawal of Serb forces from Kosovo, to be drawn up by NATO military officials on the basis of the timetable set out in the footnote to the peace plan, had been fully accepted by Yugoslav military representatives. In addition, the peace plan was to be established as the will of the international community in the form of a UN Security Council resolution. See next issue for reaction to the 3 June breakthrough and details and coverage of subsequent developments; see also our website Special Feature on the conflict.

"In order to move forward toward solving the Kosovo crisis, an agreement should be reached on the following principles:

  1. Imminent and verifiable end to violence and repression of Kosovo.
  2. Verifiable withdrawal from Kosovo of military, police and paramilitary forces according to a quick timetable.
  3. Deployment in Kosovo, under UN auspices, of efficient international civilian and security presences which would act as can be decided according to Chapter 7 of the UN Charter and be capable of guaranteeing fulfillment of joint goals.
  4. International security presence, with an essential NATO participation, must be deployed under a unified control and command and authorized to secure safe environment for all the residents in Kosovo and enable the safe return of the displaced persons and refugees to their homes.
  5. Establishment of an interim administration for Kosovo...which the UN Security Council will decide and under which the people of Kosovo will enjoy substantial autonomy within the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The interim administration will secure transitional authority during the time (for the) interim democratic and self-governing institutions, (establish) conditions for peaceful and normal life of all citizens of Kosovo.
  6. After the withdrawal, an agreed number of Serb personnel will be allowed to return to perform the following duties: liaison with the international civilian mission and international security presence, marking mine fields, maintaining a presence at places of Serb heritage, maintaining a presence at key border crossings.
  7. Safe and free return of all refugees and the displaced under the supervision of UNHCR and undisturbed access for humanitarian organizations to Kosovo.
  8. Political process directed at reaching interim political agreement which would secure essential autonomy for Kosovo, with full taking into consideration of the Rambouillet agreement, the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and other States in the region as well as demilitarization of the Kosovo Liberation Army. The talks between the sides about the solution should not delay or disrupt establishment of the democratic self-governing institutions.
  9. General approach to the economic development of the crisis region. That would include carrying out a pact of stability for southeastern Europe, wide international participation in order to advance democracy and economic prosperity, and stability and regional cooperation.
  10. The end of military activities will depend on acceptance of the listed principles and simultaneous agreement with other previously identified elements which are identified in the footnote below. Then a military-technical agreement will be agreed which will among other things specify additional modalities, including the role and function of the Yugoslav, i.e. Serb, personnel in Kosovo.
  11. The process of withdrawal includes a phased, detailed timetable and the marking of a buffer zone in Serbia behind which the troops will withdraw.
  12. The returning personnel: The equipment of the returning personnel, the range of their functional responsibilities, the timetable for their return, determination of the geographic zones of their activity, the rules guiding their relations with the international security presence and the international civilian mission.
Footnote. Other required elements: Fast and precise timetable for the withdrawal, which means, for instance: seven days to end the withdrawal; pulling out of weapons of air defense from the zone of the mutual security of 25 kilometers within 48 hours; return of the personnel to fulfill the four duties will be carried out under the supervision of the international security presence and will be limited to a small agreed number - hundreds, not thousands.

Suspension of military actions will happen after the beginning of the withdrawal which can be verified. Discussion about the military-technical agreement and its reaching will not prolong the agreed period for the withdrawal."

Source: The Associated Press (AP), 3 June - AP translation from the Serbian text approved by the Parliament.


Indictment of President Milosevic, 27 May

Statement by Louise Arbour, Chief Processor at the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, The Hague, 27 May 1999

"On 22 May, I presented an indictment for confirmation against Slobodan Milosevic and four others, charging them with crimes against humanity - specifically murder, deportation and persecutions - and with violations of the laws and customs of war. The indictment was confirmed by a judge of this tribunal on 24 May. ... The following accused are jointly indicted:

  • Slobodan Milosevic, President of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia;
  • Milan Milutinovic, President of the Republic of Serbia;
  • Nikola Sainovic, Deputy Prime Minister of the FRY;
  • Dragoljub Ojdanic, Chief of the General Staff of the armed forces of the FRY; and
  • Vlajko Stojiljkovic, Minister of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Serbia.
... The present indictment is based exclusively on crimes committed since the beginning of 1999 in Kosovo. We are continuing to develop an evidentiary base upon which I believe we will be able to expand upon the present charges. ...

I believe that it is an extraordinary achievement for us to have brought to successful confirmation an indictment against the five accused for crimes of this magnitude committed since the beginning of this year.

Finally, I am mindful of the impact that this indictment may have on the peace process in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. I am confident that the product of our work will make a major contribution to a lasting peace, not only in Kosovo, but in the whole region in which we have jurisdiction. No credible, lasting peace can be built upon impunity and injustice. The refusal to bring war criminals to account would be an affront to those who obey the law, and a betrayal of those who rely on it for their life and security.

Although the accused are entitled to the benefit of the presumption of innocence, the evidence upon which this indictment was confirmed raises serious questions about their suitability to be the guarantors of any deal, let alone a peace agreement."

Source: The Guardian, 28 May.


Article by Russian Special Envoy Viktor Chernomyrdin, 27 May

'Impossible to Talk Peace With Bombs Falling', The Washington Post, 27 May 1999

"I deem it necessary to express my opinion on the Kosovo situation as the warfare escalates and the danger grows of a shift to ground operations, which would be even bloodier and more destructive. I also want to comment on certain ideas put forward by President Clinton in his contribution of May 16 to the New York Times.

In particular, I am anxious to express my opinion of his premise that 'Russia is now helping to work out a way for Belgrade to meet our conditions,' and that NATO's strategy can 'strengthen, not weaken, our fundamental interest in a long-term, positive relationship with Russia.'

In fact, Russia has taken upon itself to mediate between Belgrade and NATO not because it is eager to help NATO implement its strategies, which aim at Slobodan Milosevic's capitulation and the de facto establishment of a NATO protectorate over Kosovo. These NATO goals run counter to Russia's stance, which calls for the introduction of UN forces into Kosovo with Yugoslavia's sovereignty and territorial integrity intact.

Moreover, the new NATO strategy, the first practical instance of which we are witnessing in Yugoslavia, has led to a serious deterioration in Russia-US contacts. I will be so bold as to say it has set them back by several decades. Recent opinion polls back this up. Before the air raids, 57 percent of Russians were positively disposed toward the United States, with 28 percent hostile. The raids reversed those numbers to 14 percent positive and 72 percent negative. Sixty-three percent of Russians blame NATO for unleashing the conflict, while only 6 percent blame Yugoslavia.

These attitudes result not so much from so-called Slavic fraternity as because a sovereign country is being bombed - with bombing seen as a way to resolve a domestic conflict. This approach clashes with international law, the Helsinki agreements and the entire world order that took shape after World War II.

The damage done by the Yugoslavia war to Russian-US relations is nowhere greater than on the moral plane. During the years of reform, a majority of Russians formed a view of the United States as a genuine democracy, truly concerned about human rights, offering a universal standard worthy of emulation.

But just as Soviet tanks trampling on the Prague Spring of 1968 finally shattered the myth of the socialist regime's merits, so the United States lost its moral right to be regarded as a leader of the free democratic world when its bombs shattered the ideals of liberty and democracy in Yugoslavia. We can only regret that it is feeding the arguments of Communists and radical nationalists, who have always viewed NATO as aggressive, have demanded skyrocketing defense expenditures and have backed isolationist policies for Russia.

Now that raids against military targets have evidently proven pointless, NATO's armed force has moved to massive destruction of civilian infrastructure - in particular, electric transmission lines, water pipes and factories. Are thousands of innocent people to be killed because of one man's blunders? Is an entire country to be razed? Is one to assume that air raids can win a war?

I should like here to turn to the lessons of recent history. The US Air Force and the RAF dropped several hundred thousand bombs on Berlin, yet it took a Soviet Army offensive, with its toll of several hundred thousand lives, to seize the city. American air raids in Vietnam proved pointless, and the Russian Army suffered setbacks in Chechnya. Serbs see NATO and the Americans as aggressors against whom they are defending their native land. I do not think a ground war will be a success, and I am sure it will bring tremendous bloodshed.

Further, it will no longer be possible to thwart the proliferation of missiles and nuclear arms - another negative consequence of NATO's policy. Even the smallest of independent States will seek nuclear weapons and delivery vehicles to defend themselves after they see NATO's military machine in action. The danger of global instability looms, with more new wars and more victims.

More bombing makes it pointless to plan a return of refugees. What will they come back to - homes in debris, without electricity or water? Where will they find jobs, with half of all factories in ruins and the other half doomed to be bombed in due course? It is time for NATO countries to realize that more air raids will lead to a dead end. No fewer than half of the refugees are not eager to leave a prosperous Europe to return to a devastated Kosovo to live side by side with war-embittered Serbs. Of this, I am sure. Clearly, every hundred Kosovars will have to be indefinitely protected by one or two soldiers; that is how NATO's presence in Yugoslavia will become permanent.

Also, sooner or later NATO will be expected by the world community to pay Yugoslavia for damages, to compensate the bereaved families of innocent victims and to punish pilots who bombed civilians and their commanders who issued criminal orders.

Thus, the bloc is headed for a Pyrrhic victory, whether the conflict ends with the Serbs capitulating or in an invasion of Yugoslavia. The campaign will not achieve its main goals. Not all refugees will come back to Kosovo, which will remain in some form under Yugoslav jurisdiction, and many billions of dollars will be spent rebuilding the country from the ruins.

Now, a few words about the ethnic Albanian paramilitaries. They are essentially terrorist organizations. Of this, Russia is sure. They are making money chiefly from drug trafficking, with an annual turnover of $3 billion. As it maintains close contact with these paramilitaries and modernizes their weaponry, the West - directly or indirectly - encourages the emergence of a major new drug trafficking center in that part of the world. It also encourages the paramilitaries to extend their influence to neighboring countries. The Greater Albania motto may soon start to take hold. This will mean more bloodshed, more wars and more redrawings of borders.

The world has never in this decade been so close as now to the brink of nuclear war. I appeal to NATO leaders to show the courage to suspend the air raids, which would be the only correct move.

It is impossible to talk peace with bombs falling. This is clear now. So I deem it necessary to say that, unless the raids stop soon, I shall advise Russia's president to suspend Russian participation in the negotiating process, put an end to all military-technological cooperation with the United States and Western Europe, put off the ratification of START II and use Russia's veto as the United Nations debates a resolution on Yugoslavia.

On this, we shall find understanding from great powers such as China and India. Of this, I am sure."


Bombing of the Chinese Embassy, 7 May

Chinese Government Statement

'Statement of the Government of the People's Republic of China,' 8 May 1999

"At midnight, 7 May, 1999, the US-led NATO forces brazenly fired three missiles from different angles on the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The building of the embassy was seriously damaged and up to now two people have been confirmed dead, two missing and more than twenty others injured.

During over 40 days of wanton bombing against Yugoslavia, the US-led NATO forces have inflicted great numbers of casualties of innocent civilians. Now they have gone so far as to bomb the Chinese Embassy. This act by NATO is a wilful trampling on the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations as well as the basic norms governing international relations. This is rarely seen in the history of diplomacy.

The Chinese Government and people hereby express their utmost indignation and stern condemnation and lodge the strongest protest against this barbaric atrocity. The US-led NATO must bear all responsibilities arising therefrom. The Chinese Government reserves the right to take further actions on the matter."

Source: Chinese Embassy in Washington, http://www.china-embassy.org


Chinese Foreign Ministry Announcement

'China Decides to Postpone Contacts in Three Fields with US,' Statement by Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhu Bangzao, 10 May 1999

"In line with the spirit of the statement issued by the Government of the People's Republic of China and taking into account the current situation, the Chinese side has decided to postpone the high-level military contacts between the armed forces of China and the US; and postpone its consultations with the US in the fields of proliferation prevention, arms control and international security. The Chinese side has also decided to suspend its dialogue with the US in the sphere of human rights."

Source: Chinese Embassy in Washington, http://www.china-embassy.org


UN Reaction

Security Council Presidential Statement S/PRST/1999/12, delivered by Denis Dangue Rewaka (Gabon), 14 May 1999

"The Security Council recalls the press statement by the President on 8 May 1999 and expresses its deep distress and concern over the bombing of the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia on 7 May 1999, which has caused serious casualties and property damage. The Council expresses its deepest sympathy and profound condolences to the Chinese Government and families of the victims.

The Security Council expresses profound regrets over the bombing and deep sorrow for the loss of lives, injuries and property damage caused by the bombing, and notes that regrets and apologies were expressed for this tragedy by members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The Council, bearing in mind the Charter of the United Nations, reaffirms that the principle of the inviolability of diplomatic personnel and premises must be respected in all cases in accordance with internationally accepted norms.

The Security Council stresses the need for a complete and thorough investigation of the bombing by NATO. In this connection, it takes note of the fact that an investigation has been initiated by NATO and awaits the results of the investigation.

The Security Council will remain seized of the matter."


NATO Reaction

'North Atlantic Council statement,' 8 May 1999

"Following its meeting this afternoon the North Atlantic Council wishes to express its deep regret for the tragic bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade. The sincere sympathy and condolences of all members of the Alliance go to the victims, their families and the Chinese Government.

NATO never has, and never will, intentionally target civilians. Extraordinary care is taken to avoid damage to other than legitimate military and military-related targets. The bombing of the Chinese Embassy was a deeply regrettable mistake. ...

NATO will continue to pursue its goals: to stop the ethnic cleansing in Kosovo and ensure the Kosovars can return to their homes in peace and security. NATO is prepared to suspend its air strikes once Belgrade has unequivocally accepted the five key conditions set down by the North Atlantic Council for a peaceful settlement of the conflict.

NATO will continue to support all attempts at a diplomatic solution which respects these conditions. Our mistaken attack against the Chinese Embassy should not diminish or derail these efforts building on the results of the recent G-8 meeting."


US Reaction

'Joint Statement by Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen and CIA Director George J. Tenet,' 8 May 1999

"We deeply regret the loss of life and injuries from the bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade. The bombing was an error. Those involved in targeting mistakenly believed that the federal Directorate of Supply and Procurement was at the location that was hit. That military supply facility was the intended target, certainly not the Chinese Embassy.

NATO has conducted thousands of strikes against specific aim points in this air campaign to date, with a degree of precision and professionalism unparalleled in military history. We regret any loss to civilian life or other unintended damage, but there is no such thing as risk-free military operations.

We have been jointly examining this mistake over the intervening hours. It was the result of neither pilot nor mechanical error. Clearly, faulty information led to a mistake in the initial targeting of this facility. In addition, the extensive process in place used to select and validate targets did not correct this original error. A review of our procedures has convinced us that this was an anomaly that is unlikely to occur again. Therefore, NATO authorities intend to continue and intensify the air campaign. ..."

Source: Text - US deeply regrets bombing of Chinese Embassy, United States Information Service, 10 May.


G-8 General Principles for a Political Solution, 6 May

'General Principles of the Political Solution,' adopted by the Foreign Ministers of the G-8 (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, United Kingdom, United States), Petersburg, 6 May 1999

"1. The G-8 Foreign Ministers adopted the following general principles on the political solution to the Kosovo crisis:

  • Immediate and verifiable end of violence and repression in Kosovo;
  • Withdrawal from Kosovo of military, police and paramilitary forces;
  • Deployment in Kosovo of effective international civil and security presences, endorsed and adopted by the United Nations, capable of guaranteeing the achievement of the common objectives;
  • Establishment of an interim administration for Kosovo to be decided by the Security Council of the United Nations to ensure conditions for a peaceful and normal life for all inhabitants in Kosovo;
  • The safe and free return of all refugees and displaced persons and unimpeded access to Kosovo by humanitarian aid organizations;
  • A political process towards the establishment of an interim political framework agreement providing for a substantial self-government for Kosovo, taking full account of the Rambouillet accords and the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the other countries of the region, and the demilitarisation of the UCK [KLA - Kosovo Liberation Army];
  • Comprehensive approach to the economic development and stabilization of the crisis region.
2. In order to implement these principles the G-8 Foreign ministers instructed their Political Directors to prepare elements of a United Nations Security Council resolution.

3. The Political Directors will draw up a roadmap on further concrete steps towards a political solution to the Kosovo crisis.

4. The G-8 Presidency [Germany] will inform the Chinese Government on the results of today's meeting.

5. Foreign Ministers will reconvene in due time to review the progress which has been achieved up to that point."


© 1999 The Acronym Institute.

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