Rambouillet Agreement

Rambouillet Agreement

The Rambouillet Agreement is the name of a proposed peace agreement between then-Yugoslavia and a delegation representing the ethnic-Albanian majority population of Kosovo. It was drafted by NATO and named for Chateau Rambouillet, where it was initially proposed. The significance of the agreement lies in the fact that Yugoslavia refused to accept it, which NATO used as justification to start the Kosovo War.

The proposed agreement contained provisions for Kosovo's autonomy that went further than the Serb government wanted to go. Another controversial point was the secret Appendix B that among others stated that:

NATO personnel shall enjoy, together with their vehicles, vessels, aircraft, and equipment, free and unrestricted passage and unimpeded access throughout the FRY including associated airspace and territorial waters. This shall include, but not be limited to, the right of bivouac, maneuver, billet, and utilization of any areas or facilities as required for support, training, and operations.

After the war the International Independent Inquiry on Kosovo led by Richard Goldstone investigated the Appendix issue and concluded that it had by accident been copied from other peacekeeping agreements like that for Bosnia. However, the British Lord Gilbert, defence minister of state said in an inquiry by a House committee "I think the terms put to Milošević at Rambouillet were absolutely intolerable; how could he possibly accept them; it was quite deliberate".Fact|date=June 2008

The full text of the Rambouillet Agreement can be found at the [http://www.state.gov/www/regions/eur/ksvo_rambouillet_text.html State Department] .

The Serbian Parliament [http://www.serbia-info.com/news/1999-03/24/10030.html responded] on March 23, 1999 to the agreement with a sharp criticism. Though it agreed that Kosovo should be given autonomy, it stated that it would prefer the incursion of the United Nations over that of NATO, accusing the "separatist-terrorist delegation of ethnic Albanians" of:

[avoiding] direct talks as it did not give up its separatist goals: to use autonomy as a means for establishing a 'state within a state'; to secure occupation of Serbia through the implementation of the political agreement; to create an ethnically pure Kosovo-Metohija under the pretext of protecting human rights and democracy; and to secure the secession of Kosovo-Metohija from Serbia with the help of their patrons and through an international protectorate and referendum.Fact|date=June 2008

The Rambouillet Agreement was important for the debate about Kosovo War. However, the whole agreement (including the piece quoted above) was not revealed to the public until several months had passed after the beginning of the war and mainstream media reporters seldom if ever were aware of its contents.Fact|date=June 2008 However, the agreement was leaked onto the Internet about the time when the war started and many non-mainstream reporters and NGO activists were referring to it in their commentaries on war.


The biggest problem for both sides was that the Contact Group's non-negotiable principles were mutually unacceptable. The Albanians were unwilling to accept a solution that would retain Kosovo as part of Serbia. The Serbs did not want to see the pre-1990 status quo restored, and were implacably opposed to any international role in the governance of the province. The negotiations thus became a somewhat cynical game of musical chairs, each side trying to avoid being blamed for the breakdown of the talks.Fact|date=June 2008 To add to the farce, the NATO Contact Group countries were desperate to avoid having to make good on their threat of force—Greece and Italy were strongly opposed to the whole idea and there was vigorous opposition to military action in every NATO country. Consequently, when the talks failed to achieve an agreement by the original deadline of 19 February, they were extended by another month.

The two paragraphs above, however, are partially contradicted by the historical evidence. In particular, the [http://www.ohr.int/other-doc/contact-g/default.asp?content_id=3560 statement] by the co-chairmen on the 23 February 1999 that the negotiations "have led to a consensus on substantial autonomy for Kosovo, including on mechanisms for free and fair elections to democratic institutions, for the governance of Kosovo, for the protection of human rights and the rights of members of national communities; and for the establishment of a fair judicial system". They went on to say that "a political framework is now in place" leaving the further work of finalizing "the implementation Chapters of the Agreement, including the modalities of the invited international civilian and military presence in Kosovo".

The tilting of NATO towards the KLA organisation is chronicled in the [http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/static/events/panorama/transcripts/transcript_12_03_00.txt BBC Television "MORAL COMBAT : NATO AT WAR" program] . This happened despite the fact that General Klaus Naumann (Chairman of NATO Military Committee) stated that "Ambassador Walker stated in the NAC (North Atlantic Council) that the majority of violations was caused by the KLA".Fact|date=June 2008

In the end, on 18 March, 1999, the Albanian, American and British delegation signed what became known as the Rambouillet Accords while the Serbian and Russian delegations refused. The accords called for NATO administration of Kosovo as an autonomous province within Yugoslavia; a force of 30,000 NATO troops to maintain order in Kosovo; an unhindered right of passage for NATO troops on Yugoslav territory, including Kosovo; and immunity for NATO and its agents to Yugoslav law. The American and British delegations must have known that the new version would never be accepted by the Serbs or the Contact Group. These latter provisions were much the same as had been applied to Bosnia for the SFOR (Stabilisation Force) mission there.

While the accords did not fully satisfy the Albanians, they were much too radical for the Serbs, who responded by substituting a drastically revised text that even the Russians, traditional allies of the Serbs, found unacceptable. It sought to reopen the painstakingly negotiated political status of Kosovo and deleted all of the proposed implementation measures. Among many other changes in the proposed new version, it eliminated the entire chapter on humanitarian assistance and reconstruction, removed virtually all international oversight and dropped any mention of invoking "the will of the people [of Kosovo] " in determining the final status of the province. Even the word "peace" was deletedFact|date=August 2007.

Critics of the Kosovo war have claimed that the Serbian refusal was prompted by unacceptably broad terms in the access rights proposed for the NATO peacekeeping force. These would allow (in the words of the agreement's Appendix B) "free and unrestricted access throughout [Yugoslavia] including … the right of bivouac, maneuver, billet, and utilization of any areas or facilities as required for support, training and operations". This was based on standard UN peacekeeping agreements such as that in force in Bosnia, but would have given broader rights of access than were really needed, and onto the entire territory of Yugoslavia, not just the province. It has been claimed that Appendix B would have authorized what would amount to a NATO occupation of the whole of Yugoslavia, and that its presence in the accords was the cause of the breakdown of the talks. The chapter dealing with the Kosovan Economy was also equally revealing. It called for 'privatization of all Government assets'; this seems to be commensurate with the fact that around 372 centres of industries were bombed during the conflict, including many with no relevance to military means.

In commentary released to the press, ex-secretary of State Henry Kissinger declared that

Events proceeded rapidly after the failure at Rambouillet. The international monitors from the OSCE withdrew on March 22, for fear of the monitors' safety ahead of the anticipated NATO bombing campaign. On March 23, the Serbian assembly accepted the principle of autonomy for Kosovo [http://www.serbia-info.com/news/1999-03/24/10030.html] and non-military part of the agreement. But the Serbian side had objections to the military part of the Rambouillet agreement, appendix B in particular [http://www.state.gov/www/regions/eur/ksvo_rambouillet_text.html] , which it characterized as "NATO occupation". The full document was described "fraudulent" because the military part of the agreement was offered only at the very end of the talks without much possibility for negotiation, and because the other side, condemned in harshest terms as a "separatist–terrorist delegation", completely refused to meet delegation of FRY and negotiate directly during the Rambouillet talks at all. The following day, March 24, NATO bombing began.

External links

* [http://www.state.gov/www/regions/eur/ksvo_rambouillet_text.html Full text of Rambouillet Accords]
* [http://www.reliefweb.int/library/documents/thekosovoreport.htm Goldstone Report]
* [http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm199900/cmselect/cmdfence/347/0062005.htm Minutes of the British inquiry in the Kosovo war]
* [ The Rambouillet Accord: A Declaration of War Disguised as a Peace Agreement] , By Richard Becker, Western Regional Co-Director of the International Action Center

Further reading

Weller, Marc. [http://www.jstor.org/pss/2623341 The Rambouillet Conference on Kosovo] . "International Affairs (Royal Institute of International Affairs 1944-)", Vol. 75, No. 2 (Apr., 1999), pp. 211-251.

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