To: TFF PressInfo # 56 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Rambouillet - A Process Analysis
From: Transnational Foundation TFF <email@example.com>
Date: Sat, 20 Feb 1999 01:08:19 +0200
P r e s s I n f o # 56
Saturday February 20, 1999 at 00:00
"The Plan being discussed at Rambouillet is a formalistic, legal document.
Its provisions may be needed, but it doesn't contain any ideas on how to
make peace among the citizens who are to live with it when implemented.
Their voice is not heard, their needs are not dealt with in the Plan. Most
of the delegates in Rambouillet are not representative of the citizens. The
"mediators" have no professional education as mediators. The idea that
Kosovo's problems can be solved in two weeks is absurd. Rambouillet
militates against all we know about human psychology and trust-building.
So, once again politics fool media and media fool world public opinion. And
people in Kosovo will have to wait for peace as long as the vagabonds in
Beckett's drama wait for Godot..." says Dr. Jan Oberg upon returning from
TFF's 34th mission to ex-Yugoslavia, this time to Skopje, Belgrade and the
troubled Kosovo province.
1. The preparation
When wars are fought thousands of trained soldiers are mobilised, highly
trained experts and sophisticated technologies activated. When peace is to
be created, the world lets one man - in the case of Kosovo, US ambassador
Christopher Hill with a few assistants - shuttle back and forth between
some of the parties. When Yugoslavia insisted on Kosovo being an integral
part of its territory and the Albanians insisted that it is their
independent state, ambassador Hill drew a line - not a circle or a ball -
and explained to them, not unlike a father to two quarrelling children:
"The compromise I allow you is 'self-government.' He thought that was fair,
that this would be in the interests of the parties. Thus, he and the
Contact Group set up the framework for the future of Kosovo's 1,5 million
or so inhabitants and the rest of Yugoslavia, around 10 million people.
Nobody ask THEM how they would like the future to be.
2. The process
Perhaps it is all too complex but there are not only the Serbian and
Yugoslav governments in Belgrade and the Albanians in Kosovo. Presumably,
15-20% of the people in Kosovo are NOT Albanians. The Kosovo Serbs have not
been given an opportunity to voice their independent opinion. Cynically
speaking, of course, that doesn't matter much because nobody, least of all
the 'conflict managers' in Rambouillet, expect them to stay in areas of
Kosovo under 'self-governing' Albanian majority rule. No Serbs live in
areas now controlled by KLA.
The fatal mistake was to believe that negotiations will create trust. They
won't. It works the other way: some trust-building must happen BEFORE
people meet at the negotiation table.
3. The threats
All this - predictably - did not work. The Contact group then issued
ultimatums and put NATO's prestige at stake: Come to Rambouillet, sign our
document, or face air-strikes. Air-strikes! ? Everyone knows, tacitly of
course, that that is exactly what KLA would like to see happen, because KLA
does not have the kind of installations - depots, airfields, ammunition
factories, air-defence systems and the like - so it can't be bombed. The
threat targets the Serb side only - which has not made them more willing to
Last autumn, ambassador Holbrooke forgot to tell the President Milosevic
that NATO would set up an "extraction force" in neighbouring Macedonia
aimed to intervene on Serbian soil and "extract" the 2000 OSCE "verifiers."
Yugoslavia sees that as an act of aggression. Incrementally, the Contact
Group and NATO then agreed that any agreement in Rambouillet would require
around 30.000 NATO ground troops on the territory of the sovereign state of
Yugoslavia which all the Group's member states recognised as the Federal
Republic of Yugoslavia, FRY, with Kosovo inside it - just a few years ago.
The message to Belgrade from the Contact Group and NATO is: "If you sign,
you'll get NATO ground troops. If you don't sign you'll get air-strikes and
NATO ground troops!" One should hardly expect that this sort of bullying
leads to trust, co-operation and compliance. It is not the first time the
international community threatens someone to sign a paper and then play it
surprised when that party is not in "full compliance." In short, NATO has
trapped itself: it can not back down from its demand to deploy ground
troops and it can not deploy them as a peace-keeper but only as an invasion
and occupation force.
4. The plan
The plan deals with government structure, territorial status, communes,
assemblies, competences, presidential matters, administration, courts,
ombudsman, human rights, councils, monitoring, police and security,
extradition of war criminals, law enforcement, crowd and traffic control,
police operations, border security, arrest and detention, elections. In
short, it is a fine legal document. But important dimension are absent.
There is nothing about postwar physical-economic reconstruction,
employment, investments, (better) schools, hospitals, theatres, or media.
There is no mention of local NGOs and civil society, of socio-psychological
healing, nothing about a truth commission, reconciliation, teaching the
young peace and conflict resolution, or training professionals and
politicians in negotiation. The local cultures are not mirrored anywhere in
the document. The role of women as peace-makers is forgotten. And the
specific problem of the very high proportion of children and youth below
the age of 20 is not even mentioned. There is nothing about peace zones,
alternative defence, new Balkan co-operative structures. There is no wider
framework, no awareness of this conflict's intimate connections with the
5. The delegates
The Serb delegation consist of some lawyers and party people from Belgrade
and virtually unknown representatives of various small minorities in the
region. Conspicuously, those who do represent the Kosovo Serbs such as
Momcilo Trajkovic, Father Sava, Bishop Artemije and those who have creative
ideas about future co-existence in Kosovo such as professor Batakovic -
were all left in the cold outside Rambouillet. Belgrade did not ask them to
join the delegation.
The Albanian delegation is headed by KLA, the Kosovo Liberation Army, which
has no legitimate legal status in the independent republic of Kosova
created, as it was, to be a neutral state with no army and with open
borders. The establishment and activities of KLA was never endorsed by the
Kosovo-Albanian parliament or by President Rugova who, according to
Kosova's constitution and elections, is the legitimate leader of the
self-proclaimed republic. According to Serb sources, more of the KLA
delegates are indicted for murder and did not have legal papers upon their
departure for Rambouillet. Two intellectuals on the Albanian team represent
nobody but were allegedly invited by Ambassador Hill and Foreign Secretary
Cook - who did not invite similar people from the Serb side.
6. The mediators
The mediators are professional diplomats and ministers. There is no
evidence that any of them ever took as much as a week-end course in
conflict analysis, conflict psychology, creative conflict-resolution,
mediation, conflict-transformation, reconciliation, forgiveness. None of
them has a PhD in peace and conflict studies or related matters. If
Orthodox priests are not allowed in, the question is whether there is any
area expertise, anthropologists, Balkan experts present in Rambouillet.
=46inally - and not the least - it is all a men's game.
7. The timing
Who could believe that it would be done in one or maximum two weeks? Only
someone who has a) learnt nothing from the Dayton process in Ohio and the
Dayton process on the ground, b) is unable to see that Kosovo is a complex
problem, c) ignores the depth of people's problems and suffering for
decades or d) has another agenda - such as seeing NATO troops on the ground
before the Alliance's 50th anniversary in April.
8. The "negotiations"
The basics of the Plan is not negotiable. It's a fait accompli. An
anonymous U.S. State Department official said before the delegations
arrived that only 20% in the margins could be discussed.
9. The credits
Rambouillet is a stage where the conflicts inside EU and between EU and the
United States are played out. The basis for the document on the table is
the plan developed by US Ambassador Hill, and the conference is co-chaired
by France and England with a Russian mediator. U.S. Secretary of State,
Madam Albright, was elegantly granted the diplomatic 'victory' of bringing
the delegation leaders face-to-face for the first time in a week. If they
could not sit at the same table during the first week in Rambouillet, you
may wonder how they can, together, reach and implement an agreement.
10. The result
Most likely, the parties will sign the document, one way or another, with
reservations. However, KLA will not accept being disarmed and Belgrade will
not accept ground troops. No one wants to be first out as the 'bad guys.'
There may be secret deals or protocols. They will then also DE-SIGN the
document - i.e. tell the press and their fellow-citizens that they
interpret the difficult parts in their own particular way, no matter what
the others say and do. Both sides will say that "we did not yield" and "we
got what we wanted - if not right now, later." Only then begins the
implementation and the compliance games. Soon one or both sides will not be
"in compliance" and the bombs fall. If KLA refuses to sign, NATO has little
leverage. To disarm KLA it needs to get into Kosovo. This means bombing and
11. The morals
All this happens when the international community turns a blind eye to
Turkey's repeated incursions into a neighbouring state. In Algeria, 30
times more people have been killed than in Kosovo with no international
intervention. Tens of thousands have died in Africa with no bombings. No
legal, sovereign government anywhere with secessionist movements on its
territory would accept to be bombed for adhering to its status as
recognised state - least of all the West.
Director Oberg summarises: "The issue is NOT whether nasty wars and
genocide must be stopped. The issue is how it can be done. The issue is
whether the 'conflict managers' agenda is "clean" or they take advantage of
conflicts and human tragedies to cynically promote power politics - and,
thereby, prepare wars in the future (as argued in PressInfo 55). Conflicts
can be handled in many and different ways, the Dayton- and Rambouillet
method is certainly not the one one.
The international community lacks criteria - even a discussion - about good
versus bad conflict-management in the post-Cold War environment. Most
people only blame the conflicting parties if peace fails, but we must also
ask: Did we, the internationals, contribute to the conflicts in the first
place, historically? Who can serve as mediators without mixed motives and
hidden agendas? Are the peace plans we impose at all good? What can we
learn from earlier peace processes?
Rambouillet is absurd theatre. Professional peace-makers and mediators know
you cannot make peace that way. The whole process militates against what is
known about human psychology, trust and co-operation. But the media will
continue to call this type of theatre "peace negotiations" and thereby free
the international community from co-responsibility for the failure. The
poor, suffering citizens of Kosovo will have to wait for peace as long as
the vagabonds do for Godot in Samuel Beckett's classical drama," Jan Oberg
concludes twelve hours before the deadline at the castle.
=A9 TFF 1999
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