08 June 1999

Kosovo war: NATO reneging on accord terms

8 June 1999
The Times of India


NATO reneging on accord terms

By Siddharth Varadarajan

NEW DELHI: The peace agreement accepted by the Yugoslav government last
week may be ambiguous in some respects, but it is explicit on
one point: the international force which enters Kosovo must be
under UN authority and must be mandated by a UN Security
Council resolution --and not by NATO.

However, Yugoslav generals who turned up for negotiations with
NATO's Lt-Gen Michael Jackson at the Yugoslav-Macedonian
border town of Blace over the weekend were presented with a
plan for rapid entry of NATO troops into Kosovo even before
any UN resolution is passed. They were told to sign on pain of an
intensification of NATO's 75-day bombing campaign.

Some NATO officials have spoken of British paratroopers taking
control of Pristina airport within hours of the first Serb troop
withdrawals. NATO has also announced that Lt-Gen Jackson is
to command the international peacekeeping force, this again
before the composition of the force is even discussed in the
Security Council.

At the `military-technical' negotiations in Blace -- which NATO
generals insisted were not negotiations but the presentation of a
de facto instrument of surrender to the Yugoslav side -- a
detailed blueprint for the withdrawal of Serb forces was handed
over. But the Russian observer present, Lt-Gen Yevgeny
Barmianchev, pointed out that there was no question of a troop
pull-out --or of entry by NATO troops -- before a UN resolution
is passed. The talks broke down and even though liaison
meetings will continue at a lower level, the action has now shifted
to the political level.

Foreign ministers from the G-7 countries and Russia are meeting
in Bonn to draft an appropriate UN resolution. Despite the
centrality of the UN in the agreement Belgrade signed on to,
NATO evidently wants little more than official UN endorsement
for its original demands. As opposition in Russia mounts to the
terms of last week's deal, Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin has
publicly disowned his government's envoy, Viktor Chernomyrdin,
for granting too many concessions to NATO.

En route to Bonn, British foreign secretary Robin Cook said:
``We will know today to what extent Russia is willing to work
with us to give us the UN resolution that would give the authority
of the UN to the package we have negotiated''.

But NATO will have to do more than persuade Russia to cooperate. China
has all along insisted that the bombing must stop before any resolution
is discussed in the Security Council. And if Russia continues to insist
that a resolution must precede the entry of NATO troops into Kosovo,
then something will have to give. NATO will either have to stop the
bombing or bring the requisite pressure to bear on both Moscow and
Beijing. The next few days will clearly be crucial.

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