26 April 1999
Crisis in Kosovo and situation in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
Political Affairs Committee
Rapporteurs : Mr András Bársony, Hungary, Socialist Group and
Mr Peter Bloetzer, Switzerland, Group of the European People’s Party
When the talks in Rambouillet and Paris on the status of Kosovo failed to reach a diplomatic solution, the Atlantic Alliance, which had clearly threatened the Yugoslav authorities with airstrikes if they persisted in their policy of confrontation with the international community, launched Operation « Allied Force » against Yugoslavia. Since the airstrikes started, the humanitarian and economic situation in the whole Balkans area has seriously worsened. The deportation and massacre of the Albanian population of Kosovo have continued, while countries neighbouring Yugoslavia are also suffering the consequences of the war. Despite the destruction inflicted on it and despite diplomatic pressures, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia has continued to defy the international community. Initiatives for peace in Kosovo have been put forward with a view to achieving stability and democracy in the FRY. While NATO was preparing to celebrate its 50th anniversary, the procedure for a peace settlement had still not been resolved.
I. Draft recommendation
1. The Assembly reiterates its Recommendations 1384 (1998), 1397 (1999), 1400 (1999) and Resolution 1182 (1999) on the crisis in Kosovo and the situation in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY).
2. It recalls that the provisions of UN Security Council Resolutions 1160 (1998), 1199 (1998) and 1203 (1998) and the principles of the Rambouillet Interim Agreement are the basis for a solution to the crisis in Kosovo.
3. The Assembly reiterates its regret that, due to the uncompromising attitude of the Serb and Yugoslav authorities and the inability of the United Nations Security Council to force them to abide by its relevant Resolutions, diplomacy could not put an end to the criminal policy of President Milosevic and resort to force became inevitable.
4. The Assembly recalls that the NATO decision to take limited military action against FRY was aimed at preventing the already existing human tragedy in Kosovo from worsening and to bring the FRY authorities to sign the Rambouillet Interim Agreement.
5. So far the military action taken by NATO has not succeeded in stopping the humanitarian tragedy in the region. Since the beginning of the air strikes, the Serb authorities have accelerated ethnic cleansing of Kosovo and increased the risk of spill-over of the crisis into neighbouring countries and of a long war that will destabilise the southern Balkan region even further.
6. The Assembly strongly condemns the policy of systematic ethnic cleansing carried out by the Yugoslav military and Serb paramilitary forces in Kosovo which has led to the destruction of whole villages, the killing of innocent civilians and the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of persons to neighbouring countries.
7. The Assembly holds President Milosevic, the Yugoslav and the Serb leadership responsible for these crimes against humanity.
8. It demands that those responsible for these criminal acts be brought before the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). The governments possessing evidence of criminal acts should immediately hand it over to the ICTY.
9. The Assembly recalls that only democratic reforms implemented throughout the FRY and the functioning of a democratic political system, the rule of law and the protection of human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to national minorities, can open the way for gradual and conditional integration of the country into the international community.
10. The position of the Government of Montenegro in the current conflict and its will to continue the democratic reforms despite the threats by the Serbian authorities should enjoy the full support of the international community.
11. The initiatives taken by the United Nations Secretary General and the European Union in seeking to solve the conflict by diplomatic means deserve the Assembly’s full support.
12. The Assembly expresses the hope that the peace initiatives undertaken by the Russian authorities will result in an acceptable political solution to the conflict.
13. The Assembly demands that the Council of Europe, as a pan-European organisation, which according to its statute aims to protect human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to national minorities, pluralistic democracy and the rule of law, should play a more active role in finding a political solution to the crisis.
14. The Assembly notes the lack of unanimity between the Council of Europe member States on the use of force in the search for a solution to the conflict.
15. Therefore, the Assembly recommends that the Committee of Ministers:
i. make full use of its pan-European nature in order to narrow the gap between its member States on the ways to end the conflict;
ii. ensure that the Council of Europe make available its experience and its resources in its fields of competence in all international efforts to solve the crisis and to overcome its consequences and be associated in negotiations on the future political status of Kosovo ;
iii. decide at its next meeting in Budapest to allocate, as an exceptional measure, the unspent balance of the 1998 budget to finance specific activities aimed at assisting refugees and facilitating their return;
iv. urgently adopt a global long-term stability programme for the Balkan region;
v. involve the Council of Europe in programmes for reconstruction of the war torn region, in particular by jointly organising with the EU and OSCE and the financial institutions, such as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank, a conference including all countries in the region;
vi. express its support to the Government and the people of Montenegro in their efforts to stay out of the crisis and in building democratic institutions;
vii. open a Council of Europe Secretariat office in “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” in order to help that country overcome the difficulties it is facing due to the conflict in Kosovo;
viii. revise the mandate of the Council of Europe Secretariat office in Albania in order to allow its participation in humanitarian activities, as well as in building of democratic institutions in Kosovo ;
ix. urge the Serb and Yugoslav authorities:
a. to implement in full and without delay the UN Security Council Resolutions 1160 (1998), 1199 (1998) and 1203 (1998);
b. to withdraw Yugoslav troops and Serb military forces from Kosovo and to put an end to the ethnic cleansing and the destruction of houses and property;
c. to accept the deployment of an international armed peace keeping force to ensure the return of refugees and other displaced persons and the respect of human rights in Kosovo ;
d. to accept diplomatic efforts with a view to achieving a comprehensive political solution to the conflict in Kosovo, based on broad autonomy for this territory within FRY.
II. Explanatory memorandum by MM. Bársony and Bloetzer
Chronology of events from 6 February to 23 April 1999
6. Negotiations opened in Rambouillet (France), convened by the Contact Group with a view to reaching an interim agreement on “substantial autonomy” for Kosovo. Both Serbs and Kosovars accepted the plan in outline. Belgrade rejected the deployment of any international force in Kosovo and the Albanians adhered to their demand for a referendum on independence.
14. The Americans, represented by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, decided to put pressure on the Serbian and Kosovar representatives negotiating in Rambouillet, and threatened military intervention in Kosovo. British Prime Minister Tony Blair confirmed that he was willing to send British troops to Kosovo if the Serbs and Kosovars reached a peace agreement.
15. Serbs and Kosovars were given a final six-day time limit for reaching agreement on Kosovo, following the first, unproductive week of talks in Rambouillet.
17. US Defence Secretary William Cohen ordered warplanes to be deployed within 48 hours in readiness for air strikes on Yugoslavia. The Russian Foreign Affairs Minister, Igor Ivanov, said that Russia would consider sending troops to Kosovo if asked to do so by Belgrade. A number of experts and politicians in Belgrade expressed the view that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic had no option but to accept the international community’s proposals. Despite a lighting visit to Belgrade by American mediator Ambassador Christopher Hill on 16 February, President Milosevic rejected any international military presence in Kosovo in the event of the Rambouillet talks producing an agreement.
NATO approved an operational contingency plan for the deployment of a 26,000 strong international peace-keeping force in Kosovo (to be known as KFOR, or Kosovo Force).
18. The West intensified its pressure on President Milosevic, now facing the threat of air strikes.
19. Western countries rely on their military power to maintain peace efforts in Kosovo set up in Rambouillet, against the determination of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. Milosevic declared that Yugoslavia would not give up Kosovo, even under threat of bombing, nor would it accept the foreign occupation of that part of its territory.
21. The Contact Group extended by 75 hours the deadline for the Serbian and Albanian sides to reach agreement on a peace plan for Kosovo, thus giving them until 3 pm on Tuesday 23 February.
21-22. American Secretary of State Madeleine Albright negotiated in person with the Kosovar Albanian representatives in Rambouillet.
23. With two-and-a-half hours to go before the deadline in the negotiations, the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) proposed a two-week cease-fire to enable it to present a draft agreement to its activists. The deadline given to the Serbian and Kosovar negotiators expired without agreement on the Contact Group’s peace plan. The Contact Group issued a statement of conclusions on the Rambouillet conference. No agreement had in fact been reached, and the parties were to meet again on 15 March.
24. The KLA decided to form a provisional government in Kosovo.
2. Adem Demaçi, political leader of the KLA’s hard-line faction, resigned.
12. The Political Affairs Committee of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly held a colloquium in Paris on the future political status of Kosovo. Delegates included party representatives from across the political spectrum in Yugoslavia, and the European Union’s negotiator in Rambouillet, Ambassador Wolfgang Petritsch, attended.
15. The Kosovo peace talks resumed in Paris but Western countries were pessimistic about their chances of success and the Contact Group on former Yugoslavia, which sponsored them, intended to keep this round of negotiations brief. The Kosovar Albanian delegation at the Paris talks said that it was ready to sign the draft peace agreement drawn up by the international community. The European Union’s mediator, Ambassador Wolfgang Petritsch, said that the Serbian delegation at the talks was backtracking on certain points of the international draft agreement.
16. The Albanian delegation accused the Serbs of trying to delay and stall the peace process.
17. Continuing clashes in Kosovo between the KLA and Yugoslav forces. Reinforcement of the Yugoslav military build-up at the border with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
18. Albanian representatives signed the autonomy proposal for the province of Kosovo; the Serbs refused to sign. The Paris meeting was again adjourned to give the Serbs further time to think.
19. The Serbian delegation announced a proposal to sign a multi-ethnic agreement on the self-government of Kosovo.
President Clinton said that the United States and NATO were in readiness to strike at Serbian targets.
20. The 1,400 or so OSCE Verification Mission members left Kosovo for the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Serb security forces and the Yugoslav army stepped up their operations against the KLA in the Drenica area.
21. In Pristina, four Serb police officers died in the deadliest shootout to occur in the Kosovo capital since the beginning of the conflict.
22. Two attacks on Albanian cafes in Pristina claimed two lives.
23. Fighting continued in Kosovo for the fourth day in succession. Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov reasserted Russia's firm opposition to any NATO strike, and decided to postpone his trip to the United States until the last minute because of "imminent" NATO strikes. The American envoy Richard Holbrooke said that his talks in Belgrade with President Milosevic had achieved nothing.
Following this unsuccessful outcome, NATO Secretary General Javier Solana issued the order to carry out air strikes on Serbian military targets in Yugoslavia as the fourth consecutive day of fighting continued in Kosovo. Several countries including the United States closed their embassies in Belgrade.
24. NATO attacks commenced as a direct result of Belgrade's refusal to sign the Kosovo peace agreements. Carried out in two separate raids, they hit forty or more sites near Belgrade. NATO gave an assurance of help to Yugoslavia's neighbours if it should threaten them. President Milosevic declared his country's continuing attachment to a peaceful settlement of the crisis.
25-26. Second NATO offensive, considered more severe.
27. The Serbs reacted to the NATO strikes with repressive action against the Albanians by driving them from their homes.
28. NATO announced that phase two of the "Allied Force" operation against Yugoslavia had commenced; it involved an intensification of raids on concentrations of troops and war material.
29. The situation on the ground severely worsened as thousands of refugees flooded into Albania and Montenegro and "ethnic cleansing" operations proceeded in Kosovo on a hitherto unequalled scale.
30. Negotiations between the Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov and the Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic ended in failure. NATO rejected out of hand the Yugoslav President's proposals conveyed by the Russian Prime Minister and expressed determination to continue the strikes. Slobodan Milosevic proposed in particular to "begin reducing" the presence of Serb forces in Kosovo if the NATO strikes stopped, an offer deemed "most unsatisfactory" by the Western countries. President Yeltsin gave an assurance that Russia would not be dragged into the Kosovo conflict, but condemned what he called NATO's attempts to take the place of the UN and the OSCE in imposing solutions in Europe by force.
The Standing Committee, meeting in Rome, adopted Resolution 1182 (1999) condemning all ethnic cleansing and stressing the importance of the right of all inhabitants of Kosovo to return to their homes.
31. NATO accused the Serbs of firing on large numbers of refugees with heavy weapons and decided to step up the bombardments. Three American soldiers were posted missing in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The flow of Kosovo Albanian refugees continued. According to one of its deputy Prime Ministers, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia was already sheltering over 22,000 refugees when it lacked the capability to take more than 20,000. Albania, the OSCE reported, already harboured over 100,000 Kosovars. President Chirac called for a meeting to be convened under the aegis of the German EU Presidency to help the refugees from Kosovo.
1. Meeting between Mr Milosevic and the Kosovar leader Ibrahim Rugova; pictures shown on Serb television. Javier Solana expressed doubts about Mr Rugova's freedom of movement. Serb television broadcast a picture of three men presented as captured American soldiers. NATO denounced this as a serious act, as the three were UN blue helmets who had been on border protection duty for the past three years. A meeting between the European Union Troika and the foreign ministers of the countries in the region, attended by the Council of Europe, took place at Petersberg (Germany).
2. A Russian vessel, the Liman, sailed from Sevastopol for the Adriatic. The Yugoslav authorities announced that the case of the three American soldiers captured on 31 March in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia was under investigation. Mr Clinton reacted immediately by saying that he held Milosevic personally responsible for the safety of the three men.
3. NATO ordered the dispatch of a force to Albania to ensure the delivery of humanitarian aid to the refugees. NATO declared that their return would not be possible without protection on the ground. NATO bombed central Belgrade for the first time, destroying the headquarters of the Serb and Yugoslav Interior Ministries.
4. The French Minister for Co-operation, Charles Josselin, said that France would propose the setting up of a "Balkans Committee" to the International Monetary Fund for rendering assistance to the neighbouring countries taking in refugees from Kosovo. The American aircraft carrier "Theodore Roosevelt", bound for the Persian Gulf, was diverted to take part in operations against Yugoslavia. US President Clinton decided to deploy "Apache" helicopters in Kosovo to deal with Serbian tanks. Several international agencies including the Council of Europe met at NATO headquarters in Brussels to co-ordinate the humanitarian aid to be delivered to the refugees.
5. NATO announced that the air strikes were being intensified and that resistance by the Kosovo Liberation Army was now confined to a few pockets in the west of the province. The evacuation of some Kosovar refugees to Turkey and Norway marked the beginning of an airlift for their removal. Since the commencement of the NATO strikes, as many as 400, 000 people had fled from Kosovo or were massed at its borders, according to an estimate by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
6. Emma Bonnino, the EU Commissioner for humanitarian aid, expressed strong reservations about the transfer of refugees to countries not adjacent to Kosovo. The first groups of Kosovar refugees began to leave the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia for Turkey and Norway. Errors in the bombing of Aleksinac (south of Belgrade) cause deaths and injuries among the civilian population. Russian President Boris Yeltsin called the NATO raids on Belgrade "barbaric". Macedonia's Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski expressed grave anxiety over the repercussions of the Kosovo crisis on his country. The President of Montenegro, Milo Djukanovic, called for a halt to the bombing and accused Slobodan Milosevic of pursuing a catastrophic policy to save his absolute power. The Yugoslav Government declared a unilateral cease-fire in Kosovo for the Orthodox Easter celebrations, dismissed as meaningless in a joint statement by the German, US, French, Italian and UK foreign ministers.
7. NATO rejected as unsatisfactory the unilateral cease-fire offered by Belgrade and kept up its attacks. The huge Albanian refugee camp formed at the Macedonian border post of Blace was by this stage completely empty. The Yugoslav forces closed the Morina border crossing through which Kosovar refugees had been entering Albania since 27 March; Yugoslav servicemen had reportedly told refugees waiting there that they could go back home. The Contact Group on the former Yugoslavia met at the German Embassy in Brussels. There was mounting evidence of atrocities committed by the Serbs in Kosovo on a scale possibly exceeding the Bosnia massacres, according to American Defence Secretary William Cohen. He met with representatives of the 19 NATO member countries at the organisation's headquarters in Brussels.
8. NATO commenced its third week of air strikes over the territory of Yugoslavia whose borders were closed, cutting off the flood of refugees. EU foreign ministers met in Luxembourg with their counterparts from countries bordering on Kosovo and with the representatives of international organisations including the Council of Europe. The European Union decided to give absolute priority to retention in situ of the refugees sheltering in the neighbouring countries, chiefly Albania and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The European Union's foreign ministers adopted a joint statement referring to the NATO operation in Yugoslavia as necessary and justified and laying the entire blame on Slobodan Milosevic for its launch on 24 March.
NATO Secretary General Javier Solana said that NATO was considering introducing a more ground-based operation to weaken Mr Milosevic's military and police repression machine. The head of the Kosovo "government" in exile, Bujar Bukoshi, said that some Kosovo Albanians were being used by the Serb forces as human shields against the NATO air strikes. Thousands of people had likewise been placed on three bridges in Belgrade and Novi Sad to "protect" them from NATO raids, it was reported. The American State Department spokesman James Rubin referred to the Kosovo peace agreement reached at Rambouillet outdated as such, but not its principles - deployment of an international peace-keeping force, withdrawal of Serb forces and self-determination for the people of Kosovo.
9. Russian President Boris Yeltsin appealed to the Western countries not to force Russia into military action, and warned against the risks of a world war. France considered that Russia must be reckoned within seeking a solution for Kosovo. The Macedonian authorities continued evacuating Kosovar refugees to third countries, chiefly Germany, Turkey, Norway and Switzerland. NATO struck at Serb armoured columns in Kosovo. German foreign minister Joschka Fischer did not rule out the eventual dispatch by NATO of ground forces to Kosovo. Fighting broke out at the border between Albania and Yugoslavia. The Council of Europe decided by a unanimous vote of the Ministers' Deputies to implement emergency measures for aiding civilian victims, Serbs included, of the conflict in Kosovo. The Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan launched an appeal to the Yugloslav authorities for them to immediately cease their intimidation tactics and their expulsion of civilians, and to terminate all paramilitary and military activities in Kosovo, and withdraw their forces, and accept unconditionally the return of the refugees and all displaced persons to their homes, and that they accept the deployment of an international military force which would ensure the return of the refugees under safe conditions, and that humanitarian aid will be carried out freely, and allow the international community to ensure that these obligations are respected.
12. The Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the 19 countries of NATO met in Brussels to discuss the implementation of the operations, and evaluate the humanitarian situation and to find either a political and/or military solution to end the conflict, with the use of ground forces in Kosovo, with or without the consentment of the Yugoslav authorities. The Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Alliance established 5 conditions for President Slobodan Milosevic to end the strikes:
- a verifiable end of all offensive action and repression,
- the withdrawal of military and paramilitary troops and Serbian police in Kosovo,
- the immediate implementation of the return of the refugees,
- the establishment of a political framework based on the Rambouillet agreement,
- the deployment of an international security force.
The French Minister of Foreign Affairs called for a trusteeship of the international community in Kosovo. The Security General of NATO declared that the Yugoslav President "is losing, and he knows that he is losing", and maintains that the Allies have "Justice and Law" on their side.
The Yugoslav Parliament voted in favour of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia's adhesion to the Union of Russia and Belarus. President Slobodan Milosevic declared that Yugoslavia's decision to adhere to the Union of Russia and Belarus constitutes a "great historical step on the road to integration, and the reinforcement of stability, safety and peace". The President of Montenegro, Milo Djukanovic would not accept the adhesion of Yugoslavia to the Union of Russia and Belarus. Milo Djukanovic pointed out that Slobodan Milosevic is a "man of the past", and is optimistic about the stability in Montenegro, while recognising the attempts at destabilisation carried out by the Yugoslav President, and former President of Montenegro, Momir Bulatovic.
The Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan offered his assistance to try to end the conflict in Kosovo. The Albanian President, Rexhep Mejdani reconfirmed his support of the Marshall plan for the Balkans and pointed out the "catastrophic" situation in his country.
13. The British Minister of Foreign Affairs, Robin Cook, reconfirmed that Russia is "welcome" to participate in a multinational force deployed in Kosovo, if there is a peace agreement, while at the same time reconfirming that in the case of Russian participation in a multinational force, NATO should make this the hard core. The Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Igor Ivanov and the American Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright met in Oslo (Norway) for the first time since the strikes against Yugoslavia in an attempt to calm the tension between the two countries after President Eltsine's threats. The two Ministers agreed to continue their diplomatic efforts to reach a diplomatic settlement, but did not agree on the form of an international military presence in Kosovo.
The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia claims its "rapid accession" to NATO. There have been renewed outbreaks between the KLA and Serbian forces. The Secretary General of NATO, Javier Solana declared that at the end of the conflict a global plan for restructuring Yugoslavia should be set up and that Europe needs to enter the 21st century, respecting democratic values which have already been laid out. Germany advocates the establishment in Kosovo of an international interim authority which would be under the control of the security Council of the United Nations implemented by a mandate to replace Serbian military and paramilitary forces as well as the police. The Danish Prime Minister, Poul Nyrup Rasmussen stated "the deployment of NATO troops in Kosovo is inevitable"; on the eve, Javier Solana had declared that ground intervention would be necessary and that it had already been planned to guarantee the security of all the citizens of Kosovo after a cease-fire.
NATO implemented its operation "Allied Harbour" for the refugees of Kosovo by sending 8,000 soldiers to Albania, due to the growing tension between the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Albania.
The Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry claimed to be in possession of multiple indications that American aid to the KLA independence fighters had been increased in defiance of the United Nations embargo on arms supplies to Yugoslavia. The Chinese Prime Minister Zhu Rongji expressed doubts as to the reality of ethnic cleansing by the Serbs in Kosovo, while restating Beijing's policy on non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries.
14. United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan met NATO Secretary General Javier Solana in Brussels, together with the Heads of State and Government of the European Union, in an extraordinary European Summit. The Union's Heads of State and Government supported the UN Secretary General's initiative for a political solution in Kosovo, expected to receive the approval of the United Nations Security Council. The terms of the initiative were an immediate end to all acts of violence, withdrawal from Kosovo of all Serbian military forces, special police and irregular units, deployment of an international force, and return of the refugees and all displaced persons. The plan was described as constructive by the State Department in Washington. The German Foreign Affairs Minister, during the EU summit, disclosed a peace plan for Kosovo giving UN Secretary General Kofi Annan a major role and involving Russia. One of the main points of the plan was that if the government of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic began withdrawing military and paramilitary forces from Kosovo, NATO would suspend its air strikes for 24 hours. If Belgrade withdrew its forces within a specified time, the strikes could be halted. A transitional administration mandated by the UN, not a protectorate, would then be set up in Kosovo.
The peace plan prepared by Bonn envisaged a number of stages:
a. Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the G-8 countries agree on a package of measures which should be embodied in a UN Security Council resolution:
- the time of withdrawal of Serb military, paramilitary and police forces from Kosovo
- concurrent cessation of hostilities by the KLA, to remain in the positions then held
- formation of an international peace-keeping force
- the earliest possible commencement of work by the aid organisations in Kosovo;
- return of the expellees and refugees to Kosovo as soon as the Serbian troops evacuate the territory;
- setting-up of a UN-mandated transitional administration for Kosovo pending a final political settlement.
b. The United Nations Security Council considers the plan and adopts a resolution, if possible, the same day.
c. The text of the resolution is transmitted to Belgrade. If the Yugoslav forces begin withdrawing form Kosovo, NATO air strikes are to be suspended for 24 hours. The truce may be extended for the duration of their withdrawal. If the withdrawal is completed within a specified time, the strikes will be lastingly suspended.
d. NATO establishes military control over and outside Kosovo. The rules for sending in its troops are to be determined.
e. International aid organisations begin operating in Kosovo upon the arrival of the first members of the international peace-keeping force.
f. The refugees return to Kosovo immediately the withdrawal of Serb forces becomes effective. Commencement of initial reconstruction measures.
At the EU summit in Brussels, Greece set forth the principles of a Greek initiative to stabilise the Balkans complementing that of the German Presidency and consisting of "three fundamental pillars": promotion of security in the region, to include respect for territorial integrity of the FRY and democracy, protection of human rights and minorities, and development with substantial investments.
The United States described the German proposals for peace in Kosovo as constructive, but stressed that NATO bombardments would continue until Belgrade accepted conditions set by NATO. NATO supported the German efforts for peace in Kosovo. Turkey announced its wish to join the Contact Group on the former Yugoslavia as "an important country in the region and a NATO member".
The President of Belarus, Alexandre Lukashenko, went to Belgrade in his capacity as President of the Supreme Council of the Belarus-Russia Union; according to Mr Lukashenko, Mr Milosevic was ready to accept the deployment in Kosovo of civilian observers from countries "not involved in aggression against Yugoslavia"", but they must not be armed. The Kremlin clearly expressed its reluctancy over the possibility of Yugoslavia joining the Belarus-Russia Union, stressing that union with Yugoslavia have the risk of "dragging Russia into the military conflict". Former Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomirdyn was appointed by President Boris Yeltsin as his special representative to Yugoslavia.
The Interior Minister of Montenegro, Vukasin Maras, warned against the danger of civil war if the Yugoslav army was used in an attempt to overthrow the Montenegrin government. Yugoslavia and NATO blamed each other for the attack on two refugee convoys in western Kosovo. The United Nations Security Council expressed its deep preoccupation over the humanitarian situation in Kosovo and the neighbouring countries, but did not discuss a political solution. The "Club de Paris" examined the French proposal for a two year moratorium on the debts of Albania and "the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia". Two members of the KLA were received at the Quai d'Orsay in Paris.
According to the latest UNHCR estimate, approximately 640 000 refugees had fled Kosovo since the start of the crisis.
The European Commission proposed to make special financial aid available to Member States taking in refugees from Kosovo. The US President asked Congress for supplementary emergency funds for the military campaign; according to the leader of the Senate Republican majority (opposition), NATO's conflict with Yugoslavia had so far cost the United States 70-100 million dollars per day.
15. NATO admitted to having bombed civilian vehicles in Kosovo, plainly its worst blunder since the Allied Force Operation was launched. NATO Secretary General Javier Solana said that the Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic is responsible for this tragedy. The Yugoslav officials spoke of two refugee columns hit, with 75 dead and 26 seriously injured. According to a report by the Yugoslav authorities, NATO bombardments had taken a toll of a thousand civilian lives and many thousands of other casualties, the damage being estimated at 100 billion dollars. Since 24 March, NATO had showered Yugoslavia with over 1 500 missiles and 5 000 tonnes of explosives.
US President Bill Clinton reiterated his opposition to an independent Kosovo; the solution would depend on establishing a democratic regime in Belgrade. Montenegro demanded a halt to NATO bombing and urged Belgrade to restart the Kosovo peace process. French Defence Minister Alain Richard said that "the continued weakening" of Yugoslavia by air strikes was "the shortest way to a political solution", which "could be settled by the United Nations without awaiting agreement from the Yugoslav sid".
China accused NATO of having caused a humanitarian disaster in Kosovo and again appealed to the Allies to end military operations against Yugoslavia.
Russian Defence Minister Igor Sergeiev accused NATO of preparing a ground operation in Yugoslavia. Russian Foreign Affairs Minister Igor Ivanov asserted that it was incorrect to speak of ethnic cleansing in Kosovo and that its entire population was suffering. He also demanded an end to the NATO military operation and the resumption of political talks, explaining that Russia sought an agreement which would allow:
- the refugees' return to their homes;
- a truce to restore calm;
- achievement of a political agreement like the one outlined at Rambouillet, giving Kosovo a political status within Yugoslavia.
The European Parliament adopts a resolution calling for the commitment of a multinational ground force with a view to the return of the refugees throughout Kosovo, advocated instituting a protected humanitarian zone covering the whole of Kosovo, demanded that Slobodan Milosevic be tried by the International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague, reasserted Europe's need for a stability pact capable of ensuring a long-term process of political and economic stabilisation in the Balkans, stressed that peace had to be achieved by establishing democracy and rule of law in Yugoslavia, and demanded complete freedom of movement for Ibrahim Rugova.
French Foreign Affairs Minister Hubert Védrine expressed optimism over the chances of reaching a political settlement, pointing out that Russia and the West had still to agree on the nature of the international forces to be stationed in Kosovo. He added that the Rambouillet agreements needed amplification and adaptation in a number of respects, particularly regarding the refugee issue, that Kosovo must be autonomous but also placed under protection, and that the United Nations Security Council should be reinstated in its rightful role. Montenegro demanded a halt to the bombing and called on Belgrade to restart the Kosovo peace process. The Greek and Bulgarian Prime Ministers expressed their approval of the German plan for Balkan economic development to follow the end of war in Yugoslavia.
There was shelling on the border between Kosovo and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, without casualties. Boris Yeltsin's special representative for Yugoslavia, Viktor Chernomyrdin, supported Germany's new peace proposal for resolving the conflict in Kosovo. German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder was reserved before the members of parliament concerning the peace plan for Kosovo by Germany, and expressed readiness to meet Viktor Chernomyrdin. The World Bank announced that it was preparing aid worth 30 million dollars for Albania to finance its additional budgetary requirements and make up for its loss of revenue caused by the Kosovo crisis. The latest UNHCR estimate now stood at some 650 000 refugees from Kosovo since the start of the crisis.
16. NATO Secretary General Javier Solana called on Russia to resume its co-operation with NATO and said that the military operation would continue in Yugoslavia for as long as President Slobodan Milosevic refused to accept the demands of the international community. Macedonian President Kiro Gligorov considered that the existence of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia was in danger, and again rejected any idea of his country serving as a base for ground operations by NATO against the Yugoslav forces. The members of the Russian Duma overwhelmingly passed a resolution in favour of Yugoslavia's accession to the Belarus-Russia Union. Serbian President Milan Milutinovic received the moderate leader of the Albanian Kosovars, Ibrahim Rugova; he and Mr Rugova regarded "an end to the bombardments" in Yugoslavia as "a condition failing which the political process could not be fully achieved".
The President-designate of the European Commission, Romano Prodi, said that Europe should in future assume a major responsibility in the Balkans, while stressing that Russia should not be forgotten in a settlement of the conflict.
In its reply to the United Nations peace plan, the Yugoslav Government rejected as "unacceptable" the idea of an international force in Kosovo. US Defence Secretary William Cohen disclosed that a substantial number of American reservists would be called up to help NATO. The American State Department claimed to have convincing evidence of mass killings and mass graves in Kosovo.
Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic warned against the risks of setting the Balkans aflame, urging Belgrade to "accept peace initiatives" and NATO to discontinue its strikes. NATO foresees relief operations for the displaced persons within Kosovo.
The UNHCR spoke of "corridors of horror" with reference to the thousands of Kosovo Albanians going though a nightmare, and described the situation in Kosovo as extremely grim.
The Council of Europe Social Development Fund proposed making the international humanitarian organisations a donation specially intended for the Kosovo refugees in Albania and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
18. The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia was determined to prevent any KLA activity on its territory, according to its Interior Minister, who announced the seizure of large quantities of smuggled weapons in the country. The Pentagon announced that the specialised American Apache anti-tank helicopters would be deployed in Albania. The American State Department intended to ask Congress for a further 6 billion dollars to meet the general expenses arising from the conflict. French President Jacques Chirac suggested to Bill Clinton that a summit be organised in Washington at the end of the week between NATO and the countries neighbouring Yugoslavia, marking the 50th anniversary of the Alliance. Yugoslavia broke off diplomatic relations with Albania.
19. NATO acknowledged that it had hit two convoys containing civilian vehicles on 14 April in the south-west of Kosovo. NATO forces were carrying out new air operations over Yugoslavia, and had hit the government building in Voďvodine.
Yugoslav soldiers ordered the Montenegrin police to bring in the Deputy Prime Minister, Novak Kilibarda, who had refused to comply with summons from the Military Court: Mr Kilibarda is accused of having suggested to Montenegrins that they resist mobilisation, and of having claimed that the territory of Montenegro should not be used by the Yugoslav army in the event of conflict with international forces, which were neither an aggressive force nor a punishment attack. The Russian Defence Minister, Igor Sergeyev, said that the NATO strikes were hitting "Yugoslavia's economy, civilian targets, the energy sector, factories and telecommunications", but were not hitting military targets; in his opinion, NATO was actively preparing for a ground invasion. The Russian President's special envoy to Yugoslavia, Viktor Chernomyrdin, stressed the need to prevent NATO ground operations in the FRY. Javier Solana, NATO Secretary General, denied that there were plans to send ground troops from NATO countries into Kosovo. Nevertheless he said that the American "Apache" combat helicopters, which had been sent to reinforce NATO's air capability against Belgrade's troops in Kosovo, would arrive in Albania within the next few days and would begin operations at the beginning of the following week.
Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin had a telephone conversation during which the Russian President tried to convince his American counterpart of the inflexibility of the Yugoslav President, Slobadan Milosevic; he assured him that Russia would not intervene militarily in the conflict and that it would send no more ships to the region. The British Defence Minister, George Robertson, repeated that the West was "not giving military help" to the KLA, since this would be "a violation of the embargo" on arms supplies to Yugoslavia.
France hoped to restrict oil supplies to the FRY through a European Union decision, which would involve the countries bordering the FRY. The flow of Albanian Kosovars seeking refuge in Albania or the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia dried up after diplomatic relations were broken off between Belgrade and Tirana and the borders were closed, leading to new fears about the fate of thousands of displaced persons.
The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said that a register of all the Kosovar refugees who had arrived in Albania could be compiled in a minimum of eight weeks and identity cards provided. In collaboration with other international organisations, including the Council of Europe, the IOM was preparing a huge registration plan for the approximately 340,000 refugees who had arrived over the past few weeks, whose identification documents had been taken from them by Serb troops as they were crossing the border from Kosovo into Albania.
The UNHCR estimated that the number of refugees who had arrived in the region since the beginning of the Kosovo conflict, more than a year ago, was 735,000 people, of whom 564,000 had arrived since the beginning of the bombing campaign. Albania alone had been obliged to take in almost 400,000, and almost 150,000 had entered the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
NATO claimed to possess photographs of 43 sites in Kosovo which could be mass graves. For David Scheffer, American Ambassador at Large for War Crimes Issues, the number of deaths could be as high as tens of thousands, and the figure of 3,200 deaths put forward by NATO was a "very weak estimate". The observers from the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia claimed to have collected evidence of murders, rapes, destruction of assets, looting and expulsions in Kosovo, but said they did not have confirmation of mass executions or of the existence of mass graves.
20. The Russian Foreign Minster, Igor Ivanov, held meetings with members of the contact group on Kosovo from the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC), which was meeting in Moscow; the Russian Minister planned to discuss the KLA's actions with the OIC, and added that the most important thing was to prevent this explosive situation being exploited by extremist organisations for their own purposes. The Minister spoke out against the Allies' plans for an oil blockade against Yugoslavia.
The European Union could not reach agreement on an oil embargo against Yugoslavia on account of opposition from Greece and Italy. Alain Richard, the French Defence Minister, said that NATO was already preparing for the entry into the territory of a security force, which would be required to support a political solution.
The NATO countries committed themselves not to support the KLA's activities in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, in order not to destabilise that country. Russia ruled out the possibility of "breaking off its diplomatic relations with the major world powers" on account of the crisis in Yugoslavia. Albanian refugees from Kosovo arrived again at the borders of Albania and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, caught up in spite of itself in the turmoil of the war in Kosovo, was on the edge of economic collapse. The World Bank was preparing an emergency aid plan of 40 million dollars to support the Macedonian economy and organising a conference of donor countries in Paris on 5 May to try and draw up loans totalling between 50 and 100 million dollars.
A few days before the adoption of a new Strategic Concept for NATO, scheduled for 24 April, the United States and France disagreed over the section in the text referring to future NATO activities: France wished clear reference to be made to the supremacy of the United Nations, while the United States wished this mention to be as vague as possible.
Following a meeting with the Secretary General of NATO, the British Prime Minister Tony Blair stated that forces would be required on the ground to ensure that people could return to their homes, and that Mr Milosevic did not have the right to object to the dispatch of such a force.
The Italian Foreign Minister, Lamberto Dini, told the Chamber of Deputies in Rome that the United States "could not play the role of the policemen of the world, or hired soldiers for countries that were not prepared to assume their military responsibilities": Mr Dini argued for a greater role by the European Union in defence matters, claiming that the EU ought to assume a "political character".
NATO spokesman James Shea said that NATO had received reliable information on ethic cleansing operations by Serb forces in Montenegro. The Yugoslav army closed the only border-post between Montenegro and Croatia, in Debeli Brijeg. Several American senators, both Republican and Democrat, called for President Clinton to be authorised to use "all necessary force" in conducting the war in Yugoslavia. The American Secretary of State Madeleine Albright acknowledged that the Allies were so far losing the propaganda war with Belgrade.
The United Kingdom began to forward information gathered by its secret services on acts of violence committed by the Serbian police and military in Kosovo against Kosovo- Albanian civilians to the International Criminal Tribunal on the former Yugoslavia.
The Macedonian Foreign Minister, Aleksander Dimitrov, called on the countries of the European Union to receive more Kosovar-Albanian refugees than they had done to date: the EU member countries had promised to accept a total of 44,000 refugees, only 10,900 had so far been taken in, of which 10,000 had gone to Germany. Germany announced that it had made 500,000 dollars available to Mary Robinson, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, in order to collect information on abuses in Kosovo. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Sadako Ogato, asked the NATO member states and other countries to increase their aid on the ground, in view of the growing flood of refugees who had been forced to flee Kosovo by the ethnic cleansing, and urged political leaders to find a political solution to the Kosovo crisis. She also regretted NATO's refusal to provide her with information on refugees within Kosovo, which NATO had been able to gather through aerial surveillance.
21. The building housing the headquarters of President Slobadan Milosevic's Serbian Socialist Party was hit by NATO air forces. The American Defence Secretary, William Cohen, confirmed that NATO intended to continue its air campaign against Yugoslavia and was not at this stage reconsidering its options regarding the deployment of ground troops in Kosovo. The French Foreign Minister Hubert Védrine thought that it was not NATO's task to manage the post-war situation, and argued in favour of a common European strategy to "bring the Balkans into Europe"; with regard to Kosovo, the Minister called for a protectorate, which could be entrusted by the United Nations Security Council to the European Union, assisted by the OSCE. Yugoslavia was still intent on resolving the Kosovo crisis unaided through dialogue between the State and all ethnic communities living in Kosovo. Tension mounted in Montenegro where Yugoslav troops had set up a checkpoint at the border with Croatia.
Croatia did not consider its security threatened by the incursion of Serbian troops into the demilitarised zone of the Prevlaka Peninsula. Two French NATO soldiers were wounded in an attack in the territory of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. President Slobodan Milosevic declared in an interview on an American channel that a political solution to the Kosovo crisis could not be reached until the bombing campaign stopped.
According to the IMO Director General, Brunson Mac Kinley, it would take several years to deal with the problems of the return of the Albanian Kosovar refugees. The European Union intended to grant 62 million euros to Albania and 13 million euros to Montenegro in economic aid. The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal, Louise Arbour, stated that she would have no hesitation in laying charges against the ruling elite in Yugoslavia. The German Government asked the other European countries to honour their undertaking to receive Kosovar refugees.
22. The United Kingdom expressed the view that any decision on deployment of ground troops should be taken in the North Atlantic Council, a body consisting of the 19 NATO members and normally meeting in Brussels. Shots were exchanged by Serbian forces and Albanian border guards. The Montenegro-Croatia border was functioning normally after its closure for two days by the Yugoslav army. The Yugoslav Prime Minister Mornir Bulatovic addressed an anti-NATO rally in Podgorica. The Turkish nationalist party, on the verge of assuming power, asked that Turkey be given a more active part in NATO action against Yugoslavia. The Russian special envoy to Yugoslavia, Viktor Chernomirdyn, had talks with President Slobodan Milosevic in an attempt to end the conflict between NATO and Yugoslavia over Kosovo.
NATO destroyed President Slobodan Milosevic's Belgrade residence, thought to be a presidential command post. The European Union stated the desire to back the German peace plan at the NATO 50th anniversary summit in Washington. Prime Minister Tony Blair in Chicago expounded his "new internationalism" doctrine. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan considered that the United Nations should be asked to issue a mandate for an international presence in Kosovo. The President of Georgia, Eduard Shevarnadze, proposed an immediate start to negotiations on the future status of Kosovo within Serbia. Albanian President Rexhep Mejdani and the American Secretary of State Madeleine Albright discussed the future of Kosovo; the Albanian President expressed opposition to the partitioning of Kosovo and support for some form of international protectorate.
23. The Serbian state television headquarters was destroyed by NATO strikes but continued broadcasting. President Slobodan Milosevic made a peace offer allowing an international presence in Kosovo under United Nations auspices. US President Bill Clinton and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair rejected the offer and stipulated that all NATO demands must be met. The leaders of the 19 NATO member countries opened a summit in Washington on the war in Yugoslavia, at the same time marking the 50th anniversary of the Atlantic Alliance. The Allies commenced the summit in disagreement over the question of sending in ground troops.
President Boris Yeltsin's special representative to Yugoslavia, Viktor Chernomirdyn, expressed readiness to meet NATO chiefs on Saturday to negotiate an end to the Kosovo conflict, and said he had reached agreement with Mr Milosevic on an international presence in Kosovo. French President Jacques Chirac said Slobodan Milosevic’s offer was “insufficient”. The European Union and NATO decided to impose a ban on deliveries of oil to Yugoslavia.
Reporting committee : Political Affairs Committee
Reference to committee : Doc. 7553, 7734, 7986, Res. 1146 (98), Ref 2082, 2154, 2158, 2251, 2303, 2355 et 2370 (requests for urgent procedures), Rec. 1400.
Budgetary implications for the Assembly : None
Draft recommendation unanimously adopted by the committee on 26 April 1999.
Members of the committee : Mr Ruffy (Chairman), Mrs Ojuland (Vice-Chairperson), Mr Toshev (Vice-Chairman). MM Arzilli, Atkinson, Bársony, Behrendt, Bergqvist, Björck, Blaauw, Bloetzer, Bühler, Daly (alternate: Mr Browne), Davis (alternate: Mr Taylor), Demetriou, Dokle, Domljan, Dreyfus-Schmidt, Fico (alternate: Mr Weiss), Gjellerod, Gligoroski, Glotov, Gül (alternate: Mr Akçali), Mrs Iotti (alternate: Mr. Evangelisti), Mr Iwinski, Mrs Kautto, MM Kirilov, Krzaklewski, Kuzmickas, Mrs Lentz-Cornette), MM Lopez Henares, Lupu, van der Maelen, Maginas, Manchulenko, Martinez, Medeiros Ferreira, Meier, Micheloyiannis, Mota Amaral, Mutman, Nallet (alternate: Mr Baumel, Vice-Chairman), Nedelciuc, Mrs Nemkova, MM Neuwirth, Oliynyk, Pahor, Palmitjavila Ribo (alternate: Mr Bonet Casas), Prusak, Mrs Ragnarsdottir, MM Schieder, Schwimmer, Schlotten, Selva, Sinka, Mrs Smith (alternate: Mrs Fyfe), Mrs Stanoiu, Mrs Stepová, MM Surjan, Thoresen, Timmermans, Urbain (alternate: MrBeaufays), Vella, Volcic, Zhebrovsky.
N.B. The names of the members who took part in the vote are printed in italics
Secretaries of the committee: Mr Kleijssen, Mr Sich, Mrs Ruotanen