Read the Military Kosovo Agreement !

TFF PressInfo 58

March 18, 1999


"The military provisions in the Kosovo Agreement on the table in Paris has nothing to do with peacekeeping. Neither the civilian nor the military provisions will help bring about peace among Serbs and Albanians. It will further antagonize the 10 million citizens of Yugoslavia and the international community. There is simply nothing in it for the Yugoslavs and that's why I am deeply afraid that we are likely to see something very bad happen very soon. This whole affair has nothing to do with violence prevention, the appropriate term would be: peace-prevention.

Leading media, commentators, scholars and diplomats join in condemning the Yugoslav side in the Paris talks on Kosovo and thus legitimate subsequent NATO bombing and de facto NATO control over the territory. Who can be so ungrateful, stubborn or scoundrelly to refuse an offer of peace? However, no one asks: what does the Kosovo Agreement in Paris, the "peace" plan, actually contain?

I don't think this is necessarily deliberate," says Dr. Jan Oberg, head of TFF's conflict-mitigation team in ex-Yugoslavia since 1991. "Rather, it proves that professional knowledge about conflict-resolution, negotiation, mediation and peace politics in general is virtually non-existing in the international discourse and media.

When someone presents an economic plan, economists can discuss its pros and cons. When a document is presented as a "peace" plan, everyone takes it for granted as such without even asking: What's in it? What are the weak and the strong aspects? Why seems one side to say yes and the other no? Will its implementation help the parties to live in peace? What kind of peace, if any?

I have studied the early versions of the Agreement and the version of February 23. The document has undergone remarkable changes over time. My hypothesis is simple: this document has been adapted to be acceptable to the Albanian delegates to such an extent that the Yugoslav side - ready to accept the political parts at an earlier stage - now find the changed document unacceptable both in terms of political and military aspects. Why this change? Because worst case for the international community would be Yugoslavia saying yes and the Albanians saying no.

Did your media tell you that the document does not even mention KLA, the Kosovo (Albanian) Liberation Army? It it called "Other Forces" throughout the Agreement. You may wonder how parties can be held accountable if they are not mentioned by name or actor in the document. Worse, could it be that there is a KLA, or a fraction of it, that is not represented at Paris and will NOT feel bound by this document?"

Jan Oberg is puzzled: "As you will see below, the text gives plenty of arguments for FRY President Milosevic to say no thanks, and for Yugoslavia to mobilize and feel threatened, humiliated, isolated and misunderstood. It will weld together everybody in Yugoslavia behind President Milosevic policies - which is the opposite of what the international community says it wants. However, could it be that Milosevic anyhow says yes, last minute? In spite of his mastery of brinkmanship, I don't find that likely anymore. If however he does, he will sell that move to the people by saying that that was needed to save the country from being bombed and then keep most of the provisions of the Agreement secret or reinterpret them via loyal media for the vast majority of citizens in Yugoslavia.

You see, no state wants to have foreign masters and sign a blind date," says TFF's director. "If the international wanted Yugoslavia to say yes, why is the maximum NATO presence in the sovereign state of Yugoslavia not mentioned? Why is the 25.000 to 30.000 troops circulating in the media? What is this figure based on? It's way more than is necessary to secure the implementation of this Agreement IF signed by both sides in good faith. In Eastern Slavonia, the United Nations robust military forces of 5.000 disarmed some 17.000 Serb regular troops as well as Serb and Croatian paramilitaries.

So, either 30.000 NATO troops + 10.000 in Macedonia and some 300 fighter planes around the country is a) a show of force before NATO's 50th Anniversary, b) a fighting force to secure occupation of Kosovo if Yugoslavia says no, or c) a force that is aimed, sooner or later, to move into other trouble spots such as the Voivodina province and Sandzak, leading to the de facto dissolution of present Yugoslavia."

Here follows some examples of what I see as highly problematic provisions in the February 23 Agreement text: 

• In the document NATO is welcomed by the Parties to help ensure compliance by establishing a force - KFOR - which may be composed of ground, air, and maritime units from NATO and non-NATO countries; neither the maximum number nor the countries is specified; KFOR is headed by a Commander, COMKFOR, and is subject to the direction and political control of the North Atlantic Council.

• The UN plays no role except that the Security Council is "invited" to pass a resolution endorsing the Agreement - which can be seen as a gross humiliation of the classical peacekeeper with much longer experience and a highly successful mission in neighbouring Macedonia.

• NATO shall control the use of airspace over Kosovo.

• All aircraft, radars, surface-to-air missiles and anti-aircraft artillery in Kosovo shall be relocated immediately to Serbia proper; as KLA does not possess aircraft this provision is aimed to prevent Yugoslavia from threatening NATO forces.

• A 5 kilometer Border Zone shall be set up around Kosovo including with the rest of FRY and the border marked on the ground; apart from border guards there shall be no soldiers on the border.

• Within 180 days "offensive" forces of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, FRY, shall be completely withdrawn to other locations in Serbia; the Border Guard is limited to 1500 members and up to 1000 C2 and logistics forces in predetermined cantonment sites. COMKFOR can require further reductions. This means that Yugoslavia can no longer decide for itself how it will defend the Kosovo part of the border around its territory. A maximum of 2500 Ministry of Interior forces shall be disarmed to have only civil police functions.

• Conspicuously, the Agreement holds no provisions as to prevent or reduce military activity in neighbouring countries such as Macedonia or Albania from where the KLA has operated, trained and received its supplies.

• Throughout the document there is no mention of KLA, the Kosovo (Albanian) Liberation Army. It comes under the designation "Other Forces." You may wonder how parties can be held accountable if they are not mentioned by name or actor in the document. Worse, could it be that there is a KLA, or a fraction of it, that is not represented at Paris and will NOT feel bound by this document?

• While there is a very substantial demilitarization of the Yugoslav forces, the KLA, or 'Other Forces,' must at the entry into force of the Agreement "PUBLICLY COMMIT THEMSELVES to demilitarize ON TERMS TO BE DETERMINED by COMKFOR, renounce violence, guarantee security of international personnel, and respect the international borders of FRY." (Our emphasis). In other words, the real commitment of the Albanian side comes AFTER the signature in Paris and what they shall demilitarize and how is a matter between them and the COMKFOR, later.

• It is true that, by signing, they commit themselves to refrain from hostile action and to complete demilitarization; 30 days after the agreement has entered into force all prohibited weapons shall be stored and they shall stop wearing uniforms.But the difference between demilitarization procedures for the two sides leaves the FRY without what it may reasonably require in terms of guarantees - whereas the Albanian side can be completely safe with the provisions for FRY demilitarization.

• It is emphasized twice: "COMKFOR WILL (our emphasis, in the future, that is) establish procedures for demilitarization and monitoring of Other Forces in Kosovo and for the further regulation of their activities..." Why are the exact procedures not stated in the document?

• While FRY forces and weapons shall be taken out of Kosovo, there is no mention that KLA/Other Forces weapons shall be taken out of the region to where at least some if it may have come from. KLA weapons will be brought to and registered in storage sites on the territory. Only Other Forces personnel 'not of local origin' shall be withdrawn.

• It is characteristic of the KLA that it is a military force and a structure of armed civilians; many Serb civilians have weapons, too. This problem is not addressed in the document which only mentions formal military Forces. Thus, localized violence and terrorist actions - so typical for the region - is outside the scope of the Agreement.

Article VIII of Chapter 7 deals with the Operations and Authority of the KFOR - mind you operating under strict respect for FRY sovereignty and territorial integrity: 

• KFOR will "operate without hindrance" and can take "all necessary steps" to ensure compliance by the Parties. Nothing is said about what defines NECESSARY steps and force. That is decided solely by NATO and its commanders.

• FRY, again, has no say over this force on its territory but must accept "that further directives from the North Atlantic Council may establish additional duties and responsibilities for the KFOR in implementing the Agreement." In other words, if the "international community" agrees to expand the authority and military power of NATO, no one can prevent it from doing so.

• "COMKFOR shall have the authority, without interference or permission of any Party, to do ALL (our emphasis) he judges necessary and proper, including the use of military force, to protect KFOR..." Likewise, he can order or bring about the cessation of any activity he judges to constitute a threat or potential threat to KFOR or any Party.

• NATO's commander furthermore has the sole authority to control the airspace over Kosovo and the airspace within 25 kilometers outward from the boundary of Kosovo with others parts of FRY.

• A Joint Military Commission is set up with Parties "to address any military complaints, questions, or problems that require resolution by the COMKFOR" - that is, not by common decision-making.

• To be sure, when disputes about the interpretation of the Agreement arise, "the KFOR Commander is the final authority in theater" - as is the Chief of Implementation Mission on the civilian side.

• When the document refers to "NATO" it can mean all kinds of forces "whether or not they are from a NATO member country and whether or not they are under NATO or national command and control." For the host country this is not exactly ideal; it's rather a blind date not knowing who you host or how many "guests" will arrive.

• As to the behaviour or performance of the international military forces: according to the Agreement they are not liable for any damages to public or private property that they may cause in the course of duties; NATO shall be immune from ALL legal process and "under all circumstances and at all times, shall be immune from the Parties jurisdiction." They are ensured free and unrestricted passage and unimpeded access throughout the FRY including airspace and territorial waters."

• In contrast to the UN elsewhere, NATO shall not pay anything to the host country. It is exempt from duties and taxes and shall pay no charges for navigation, landing etc. The Parties shall provide, free of costs, such public facilities as NATO shall require to prepare for and execute the operation.

• Finally, who is supposed to sign this Agreement? A representative for the FRY, for Serbia and "for Kosovo." Given the composition around the table this means that only civilian and military representatives of the Albanians in Kosovo - and no other communities in that province - will sign this future about their future.

Go to, "Highlight" or "Links" to find the Kosovo Interim Agreement!


© TFF 1999


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