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Rambouillet Agreement

Rambouillet Agreement

Negociating with the FRY: Chronology and Briefing paper (last updated: 7 May 1999). Source: French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Paris.

1/ Everything possible was done to get a political settlement on Kosovo

a) Between summer 1998 and March 1999, we made improvements to the draft interim agreement to make it acceptable to the two parties:

Before Rambouillet:

7 versions of the draft interim agreement were drawn up by Mr Hill and Mr O'Brien between September 1998 and January 1999 in the course of their shuttling between Belgrade and Pristina. These texts were discussed at length and amended by both parties.

They were also discussed, several times, by the Contact Group's experts. All our amendments were motivated by a concern to make the text acceptable to both parties (amendment clause in particular).

In Rambouillet

At our instigation, the political aspects of the draft were modified to take into account some fundamental concerns of the Serb party:

  • introduction of new references to the FRY's territorial integrity and sovereignty;
  • highlighting of the areas in which the FRY and Serbia will retain competence in Kosovo;
  • strengthening of the protection of national communities, in particular the Serb community.

Implementation chapter

- On 15 February, Mr Hill informally handed Mr Sainovic the military chapter (it was not given officially to the two delegations until 20 February 1999)

- Tripartite negotiations (French, British, Americans) conducted in the margins of Rambouillet led to improvements in the text: a more balanced timetable for withdrawal (balance between the withdrawal of Serb forces, demilitarization of the KLA and the establishment of a Communal Police force), an increase in the number of Yugoslav soldiers authorized to remain in Kosovo (raised at our request from 1,500 to 2,500 men).

After Rambouillet

In preparation for the resumption of the negotiations, informal discussions began between the French and British on possible ways of modifying the text to facilitate its acceptance by Belgrade: lower the high profile given to NATO in the text of the agreement and tone down anything in the document which might give the impression of a surrender. It was agreed that the negotiators could use these adjustments in their discussions with the parties, on condition that the latter indicated their willingness to negotiate by accepting at least the principle of the military deployment. b) Significant extensions to the deadline were granted

- 29 January 1999: the Contact Group Ministers summon the parties to Rambouillet to start negotiations on 6 February, with the direct involvement of the Contact Group. These negotiations are to be concluded within seven days.

- 14 February: the Contact Group, noting that progress has been made, grants the parties a second week of negotiations.

- 21 February: Mr Milutinovic states that he accepts the political agreement, subject to technical adjustments, but refuses to discuss the details of a civil and military presence. The Contact Group again extends the meeting for a final period of three days.

- 23 February: at the end of the Rambouillet meeting, the parties undertake to participate in a conference beginning on 15 March on all aspects of the agreement's implementation.

- 23 February - 15 March: unlike the Kosovar party, the Serb party, failing to make constructive use of this period, starts going back on the commitments made at Rambouillet.

- 15 March: the Kosovar delegation announces its readiness to sign the agreements in their entirety. At the request of the negotiators and Contact Group, the signing ceremony is postponed until 18 March so as not to hinder negotiations with the Serb party.

  • 19 March: immediately after the adjournment of the Paris meeting, the Contact Group agrees to "continue the dialogue with the Serbs provided that Belgrade signals a willingness to move".

c) The dialogue with Belgrade was never broken off

Throughout the Rambouillet process, the co-Chairmen demonstrated their total willingness to talk.

- 16 February: visit by Mr Hill and the French and British political directors to Belgrade.

- 27 February: the co-Chairmen send a letter to Mr Milosevic in which they remind him that the Yugoslav delegation agreed at Rambouillet to enter into a process scheduled to lead to a comprehensive settlement.

- Between 27 February and 15 March: the co-Chairmen confirm several times (joint statement of 5 March, Abidjan statement of 11 March) that the agreement must be signed by both parties.

- 1 and 2 March: visits to Belgrade and Pristina by Mr Hill and Mr Petritsch and the Chairman-in-Office of the OSCE, Mr Vollebaek.

- 8 March: Mr Fischer and Mr Van de Broek visit Belgrade.

- 10 March: Mr Holbrooke visits Belgrade.

- 19 March: (adjournment of the Paris meeting), the co-Chairmen send a letter to Mr Milosevic making it clear that it is not too late for him too to accept the Rambouillet Agreement and that, if he is ready to do so, the negotiators will be ready to respond to a signal from him.

Despite these efforts, the Serb delegation never showed any desire seriously to take part in the negotiation on the text of the draft agreement.

At the meeting in Avenue Kléber, the Serb delegation asked for the negotiations on the political aspects to be reopened, despite having accepted these in Rambouillet on 20 February, employed an increasing number of delaying tactics and challenged the rules of procedure.

Finally, the Serb delegation always refused to discuss matters to do with the implementation, including chapter five on the civil implementation which had nonetheless been accepted by all the Contact Group.

2/ Final result: a balanced text both on the political level and as regards the implementation

a) Political chapters

  • Kosovo is not an independent State and remains part of the FRY
  • The FRY's sovereignty and territorial integrity are reaffirmed as basic principles
  • The national communities have specific rights
  • A referendum at the end of the interim period is not ruled out, but nor is there explicit provision for one. On 19 March, the co-Chairmen wrote to Mr Thaqi, head of the Kosovar delegation, asking him to refrain from any provocative action.

b) Military chapter

  • The deployment of the force is based on the parties' consent.
  • There is a balance, as regards the timetable, between the demilitarization imposed on the Serb forces and that of the KLA. Under this timetable, 180 days after the agreement's entry into force (K-Day + 180), 2,500 Serb police and 2,500 Serb troops are to remain in Kosovo. The agreement implies completion of the KLA's demilitarization by K-Day + 120.
  • The linking of the gradual withdrawal (eventually total) of the MUP (interior ministry police) and establishment of a communal police force, under the KVM's authority, limits the risk of a security vacuum.

Maintaining 2,500 Yugoslav troops allows respect for the principle of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the FRY, which retains the manpower to control its borders with Albania and Macedonia.

 

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Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).

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