G-8 countries endorse Kosovo plan
Would have U.N.-backed force
May 6, 1999
KOENIGSWINTER, Germany (CNN) -- Foreign ministers of the Group of Eight countries have agreed on a peace proposal that calls for a "civil and security presence" in Kosovo, but reached no agreement about ending the air war against Yugoslavia.
G-8 ministers agreed to the plan in talks at Koenigswinter, outside Bonn, on Thursday. The proposed settlement is aimed at ending NATO's seven-week-old Balkan campaign.
"Today we have agreed on these principles. Much is left to do," German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said, but added, "There are differences of opinion on whether to stop the bombings."
In Belgrade, there was no formal response from Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, but Yugoslav government officials were putting out signals that they are ready to deal with NATO as long as the United Nations is the ultimate arbiter.
The plan would allow the safe return of hundreds of thousands of refugees who fled the strife-torn Serbian province; preserve the current borders of Yugoslavia and its neighboring states; and disarm the Kosovo Liberation Army -- the ethnic Albanian guerrilla movement that has fought for independence for Kosovo for more than a year. It would also set up a U.N. administration for Kosovo and a framework for autonomy.
The G-8 countries will soon present their plan to the U.N. Security Council for its authorization, which the plan is expected to receive.
"We have discussed the principles today," Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov added. "Now we will start to go to the practice."
U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said Russia's agreement was the most significant point of Thursday's proposal. In return for Russia's acceptance that a military force is needed in Kosovo, the agreement drops any reference to NATO's role in the proposed military contingent, dubbed "KFOR." But troops from NATO countries will make up the core of the force.
Refugees would not agree to return to the province without the protection of a peacekeeping force with "teeth," British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said.
"Those teeth will be supplied by the NATO countries," Cook said.
NATO sources tell CNN that they will retain the option to strike at all times during this process, to attack when threatened and to hit any targets they still perceive as "legitimate."
Vojislav Seselj, Yugoslavia's deputy prime minister, immediately rejected the plan in its current form. Seselj, the leader of the nationalist Radical Party, said Yugoslavia would never allow an international military contingent in Kosovo.
But Milosevic has the final say, and he has agreed in the past to allow a U.N.-led international presence in Kosovo. Government sources told CNN's Brent Sadler that Yugoslavia is ready to accept a military force if only 30 percent of it came from NATO countries. Russia would contribute 30 percent under the Yugoslav plan, and 40 percent would come from other countries.
Yugoslavia insists that the composition of any presence must be agreed upon in direct negotiations between Yugoslavia and the United Nations.
Russian envoy Viktor Chernomyrdin is expected to return to Yugoslavia at some point after the G-8 meeting to present the peace formula to Milosevic.
Thursday's talks were the first between G-8 member Russia and NATO powers, which make up most of the group, since the conflict began in late March. Albright said she expected the Russians to be included "in the way they have participated in Bosnia."
The international force will be set up under Chapter 7 of the U.N. charter, which allows a "robust" force and denies a veto to the host country.
"It will be a Chapter 7, and it will have NATO at its core, and it will have other countries associated with it," Albright said.
All Yugoslav troops and Serbian special police must withdraw from Kosovo under the agreement, she said.
Despite bad weather, NATO's strikes Wednesday and Thursday hit oil supplies in Nis and Pozega, in southern Serbia. Other strikes focused on airfields around Serbia, a missile site near Novi Sad and Yugoslav troops in Kosovo, said Maj. Gen. Walter Jertz, NATO's military spokesman. Bridges, roads and radio relay stations were pounded as well.
Jertz said long field duty, lack of sleep, poor food and fear of attacks are taking their toll on the morale of Yugoslav troops in Kosovo.
"As for commanders, they live with the growing knowledge that they are on the losing side," he added.
Jertz outlined a pattern of damage NATO has inflicted on Yugoslav forces. NATO attacks have cut all but one link across the Danube River in Belgrade, and only two other bridges remain standing over the river, he said.
NATO says all four major road and rail lines into Kosovo have been cut by allied attacks; about half the Yugoslav army's ammunition stocks have been destroyed; 70 percent of its oil supplies have been destroyed, and all of its refining capacity has been shut down.
NATO says its strikes have hit about 300 pieces of equipment, including tanks, trucks, armored troop carriers and artillery -- about 20 percent of what NATO estimates was in Kosovo. Jertz said the fielded forces are now dispersing into smaller units and digging in to protect their equipment.
"Far from moving with impunity, they can now move only furtively and with fear," he said.
Meanwhile, in Italy on Thursday , ethnic Albanian leader Ibrahim Rugova said he wants to go home -- but only when there is an international military force in Kosovo to protect returning refugees.
At a news conference in Rome, Rugova endorsed U.S. calls for NATO participation in an international peacekeeping force for Kosovo. He said all Kosovars were seeking a peaceful solution to the conflict, including the KLA.
But he avoided saying whether he supported the NATO bombing campaign. Nor did he say whether meetings he had held with Serb leaders had been conducted under duress.
Rugova also said Serb forces had to withdraw from Kosovo so that all ethnic Albanian refugees could return safely.
Rugova arrived in Italy unexpectedly Wednesday with members of his family. After NATO airstrikes began, he appeared occasionally on Serbian television with Yugoslav officials in events NATO dismissed as staged or faked.
The French-educated Rugova is the elected "president" of the self-declared Republic of Kosovo. A pacifist, he has never openly backed the KLA's armed uprising against Belgrade.
In Tirana, a KLA spokesman said the organization was suspicious of Rugova's peace efforts, and said it would not disarm even if a peace deal was reached with Belgrade.
Correspondents Ralph Begleiter and Alessio Vinci contributed to this report.
NATO attacks press on amid push for diplomatic breakthrough
Extensive list of Kosovo-related sites:
|Back to the top||
© 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.|
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.