> Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting
> Media analysis, critiques and news reports
> ACTION ALERT: WAS A PEACEFUL KOSOVO SOLUTION REJECTED BY U.S.?
> April 14, 1999
> Since the beginning of the NATO attack on Yugoslavia, the war has been
> presented by the media as the consequence of Yugoslavia's stubborn
> refusal to settle for any reasonable peace plan, in particular its
> rejection of plans for an international security force to implement a
> peace plan in Kosovo.
> An article in the April 14 New York Times stated that Yugoslavian
> President Milosevic "has absolutely refused to entertain an outside
> force in Kosovo, arguing that the province is sovereign territory of
> Serbia and Yugoslavia."
> Negotiations between the Serb and Albanian delegations at the
> Rambouillet meeting in France ended with Yugoslavia's rejection of the
> agreement adopted, after much prodding, by the Albanian party.
> But is that the whole story? On February 21, the Yugoslavs assented to
> the terms of the political portion of the Rambouillet agreement. Their
> rejection stemmed from their opposition to the requirement that 28,000
> NATO troops be stationed in Kosovo to oversee the implementation of
> the accord. This military clause, requiring NATO troops, was inserted
> without the knowledge of the Russian representatives, who opposed the
> By the close of the first round of the Rambouillet talks in late
> February, Serb President Milan Milutinovic had already declared
> Serbia's willingness to to discuss "an international presence in
> Kosovo" to monitor the implementation of the accords. On February 21,
> Madeleine Albright responded by insisting that "We accept nothing less
> than a complete agreement, including a NATO-led force."
> On March 23, the day before the NATO bombing began, the Serbian
> parliament adopted a resolution again rejecting the military portion
> of the accords, but expressing willingness to review the "range and
> character of an international presence" in Kosovo. According to the
> Toronto Star's correspondent in Belgrade on March 24, "There have been
> hints Serbia might ultimately accept a U.N. force."
> But the U.S. appears to have been unwilling to consider any option
> other than NATO troops. At a March 24 State Department press briefing,
> spokesman James Rubin was asked about this development:
> QUESTION: Was there any follow-up to the Serbian Assembly's yesterday?
> They had a two-pronged decision. One was to not allow NATO troops to
> come in; but the second part was to say they would consider an
> international force if all of the Kosovo ethnic groups agreed to some
> kind of a peace plan. It was an ambiguous collection of resolutions.
> Did anybody try to pursue that and find out what was the meaning of
> MR. RUBIN: Ambassador Holbrooke was in Belgrade, discussed these
> matters extensively with President Milosevic, left with the conclusion
> that he was not prepared to engage seriously on the two relevant
> subjects. I think the decision of the Serb Parliament opposing
> military-led implementation was the message that most people received
> from the parliamentary debate. I'm not aware that people saw any
> silver linings.
> QUESTION: But there was a second message, as well; there was a second
> MR. RUBIN: I am aware that there was work done, but I'm not aware
> that anybody in this building regarded it as a silver lining.
> In other words, the State Department was aware that the Serbian
> parliament expressed openness to an "international presence," but this
> was not seen as a "silver lining," apparently because only a NATO
> force was acceptable to the U.S.
> Those who support the bombing of Yugoslavia argue that all peaceful
> options for arriving at a settlement in Kosovo had been exhausted.
> Journalists need to do more reporting on the Rambouillet process to
> see if that in fact was the case.
> ACTION: Please contact local and national media and call on them to
> report on the U.S. State Department's insistence that only a NATO-led
> force in Kosovo could keep the peace there. Did this position make it
> more or less likely that the rights of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo
> would be protected?
> You can contact the New York Times at:
> Andrew Rosenthal-- Foreign Editor
> mailto:letters at nytimes.com; andyr at nytimes.com
> Contact information for other media outlets can be found at:
> For more information on media coverage of the war in Yugoslavia, see
> http://www.fair.org/international/yugoslavia.html .