Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Low Graphics

Monday, March 15, 1999 Published at 20:33 GMT

World: Europe

Analysis: Pressure mounts on Belgrade

Robin Cook and Hubert Vedrine arrive for the talks

By South East Europe analyst Gabriel Partos

During last month's peace talks at Rambouillet near Paris 14 out of the 15 members of the Kosovar Albanian negotiating team were reportedly prepared to sign the peace plan on offer.

Kosovo Section
The plan gives extensive autonomy to the mainly ethnic Albanian-inhabited province of Kosovo.

But there was one crucial exception.

He was Hashim Thaci, the delegation's leader, who is also the most high-ranking official representing the ethnic Albanian guerrilla force, the Kosovo Liberation Army, the KLA.

[ image: The KLA's decision to sign will put pressure on Belgrade]
The KLA's decision to sign will put pressure on Belgrade
The ethnic Albanians left Rambouillet with a vaguely-worded promise that after two weeks of consultations back home, they would sign the peace plan. The deadline came and went last week.

The delay suggested that hardline KLA commanders were unwilling to agree to a deal that envisages the disarming of their force but does not specifically mention a referendum on independence in three years' time - as demanded by most Kosovar Albanians.

The delay in signing up may also have had to do with posturing since at no stage could the ethnic Albanian side realistically expect the Contact Group to yield on either of these two key issues.

Now the Kosovar Albanians have told the British and French foreign ministers, Robin Cook and Hubert Vedrine, who are chairing the peace talks, that the ethnic Albanian team is ready to initial the accords at any time.

Not good news for Belgrade

The Kosovar Albanians' move has been welcomed by Mr Cook and Mr Vedrine as very good news. But not so for Belgrade.

[ image: Clashes have undermined hopes for an agreement]
Clashes have undermined hopes for an agreement
It was the ethnic Albanians who let Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic off the hook at Rambouillet by their reluctance to agree formally to the peace plan.

Now that they've finally come round to point of signing it, Belgrade is certain to feel the heat of international pressure.

Serbia remains adamant that it will not allow a Nato-led multinational force to be deployed in Kosovo to help implement the peace deal.

That opposition to the peacekeepers was reiterated on the eve of the second round of talks by the head of the Serbian delegation, Ratko Markovic.

But Belgrade's resistance to the plan is now likely to be tested by intense diplomatic pressure. And once the ethnic Albanian signatures are on the document, that diplomatic persuasion will be accompanied by a more credible threat of possible Nato air strikes against Serbian targets if Belgrade refuses to give in.

Air strikes still avoidable

President Milosevic may still believe he can drag out the negotiations. He's hoping to exploit the continuing divisions within the Contact Group where the Russians remain strongly opposed to the use of force, as advocated by the Americans.

Several European Nato members are also extremely reluctant to launch air strikes against Serbia. Such attacks can yet be avoided if Belgrade gives way.

In the meantime, the Kosovar Albanians' acceptance of the deal may signal the beginning of really serious negotiations with Mr Milosevic.

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia

Relevant Stories

11 Mar 99 | Europe
Renewed fighting in Kosovo

11 Mar 99 | Europe
Kosovo talks hit stalemate

Internet Links

Serbian Ministry of Information

Kosovo Information Centre

Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

Violence greets Clinton visit

Russian forces pound Grozny

EU fraud: a billion dollar bill

Next steps for peace

Cardinal may face loan-shark charges

From Business
Vodafone takeover battle heats up

Trans-Turkish pipeline deal signed

French party seeks new leader

Jube tube debut

Athens riots for Clinton visit

UN envoy discusses Chechnya in Moscow

Solana new Western European Union chief

Moldova's PM-designate withdraws

Chechen government welcomes summit

In pictures: Clinton's violent welcome

Georgia protests over Russian 'attack'

UN chief: No Chechen 'catastrophe'

New arms control treaty for Europe

From Business
Mannesmann fights back

EU fraud -- a billion-dollar bill

New moves in Spain's terror scandal

EU allows labelling of British beef

UN seeks more security in Chechnya

Athens riots for Clinton visit

Russia's media war over Chechnya

Homeless suffer as quake toll rises

Analysis: East-West relations must shift