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Would You Sign This Agreement??

By Dr. Ronald L Hatchett,
Director, Center for International Studies,
The University of St. Thomas

The primary justification for our military strikes against Yugoslavia is its refusal to sign the Kosovo peace agreement put forward by the U.S. and its allies at Rambouillet France. The President told us that the Albanians chose peace by signing the agreement even though "they did not get everything they wanted." The Serbs, he said, refused to negotiate, even though the agreement left Kosovo as part of Yugoslavia.

However, as in several other instances over the past months, the President is telling us only part of the story. Most Americans assume that the deal we put together at Rambouillet was even handed, offering advantage to neither side, but including the core concerns of both Albanians and Serbs alike. But few of us have taken the time to look at the actual agreement the President is condemning the Serbs for not signing. I urge you to do so.

The Agreement is available in its entirety on the Internet at www.transnational.org, or in a U.S. State Department summary at www.usia.gov.

Take a look at it and you will see that the "peace plan" actually gives the Albanians precisely what they want: de facto independence now, with guaranteed de jure independence in three years. For the Serbs, signing the Rambouillet agreement would actually be signing away all Serbian sovereignty over Kosovo immediately.

Under the agreement,

"Kosovo will have a President, a 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 5 kilometers border zone)."

"Serb security forces [police] will withdraw completely from Kosovo except for a limited number of border police (active only within a 5 kilometers 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 role 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 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."

For the Kosovo Albanians, the Rambouillet agreement gives then total control over the province immediately. The only sacrifice required of them is to wait three years before the arrangements are made legally permanent.

For the Serbs, the Rambouillet agreement means that immediately upon signing they lose all sovereignty over Kosovo. Total political control would be in the hands of the Albanians and the NATO Civilian Implementation Mission. Yugoslav laws would no longer apply in Kosovo. Neither would Yugoslavia be able to exercise police powers in Kosovo. After three years, these arrangements would be made permanent by the "will of the people" -- not the people of the whole country of Yugoslavia of which Kosovo is supposedly a part, but only by the will of the people of Kosovo, who are mainly Albanians.

The Yugoslavian delegation at Rambouillet agreed to give the Albanians autonomy in Kosovo -- control over their day to day lives including religious, education, and health care systems, and local government operations. But they tried to negotiate changes to preserve the right of the Yugoslav federal government to determine economic and foreign policy , for Yugoslav national law to continue to apply in Kosovo, and for any international presence in Kosovo to be limited to observation and advice, not control.

The Serbian negotiating efforts were summarily dismissed and the Serbs were told they had only two choices: sign the agreement as written, or face NATO bombing.

What would you have done if you were on the Serb delegation?


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