12 April 1999Future political status of Kosovo
Political Affairs Committee
Rapporteurs: Mr András Bársony, Hungary, Socialist Group and
Mr Peter Bloetzer, Switzerland, Group of the European People’s Party
1. The present report was established on 19 March 1999, as a follow-up to the parliamentary colloquium on the future political status of Kosovo organised on 12 March 1999 in Paris by the Political Affairs Committee. Consequently, it does not take into account the launching of the operation "Allied Force" against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, nor of its political and humanitarian consequences. Nevertheless, the Committee decided, during its meeting of 31 March 1999, to approve in as such this document, as an information report, in order to inform members of the Assembly of work in this domain.
2. On the eve, the Standing Committee adopted Resolution 1182 (1999) and Recommendation 1400 (1999) on the crisis in Kosovo and the situation in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, on the basis of a text submitted by the Political Affairs Committee.
3. The Political Affairs Committee will examine at its next meeting in Paris on 16 April 1999 a new report on the crisis in Kosovo and the situation in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, which will be submitted during the April 1999 part-session.
4. Since the beginning of the crisis, the situation in Kosovo and in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in general has been a subject of constant concern for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and its Political Affairs Committee. Six debates concerning the situation in this country have been held since the beginning of 1998, the latest one in January 1999.
5. In view of the intensification of the violence and the radicalisation of both camps, the international community, represented by the Contact Group, decided to convoke the Yugoslav parties, including the Serbs and the Albanians, to a round of negotiations held from 6 to 23 February 1999 in Rambouillet. After the elaboration of an interim agreement for peace and self-government in Kosovo by the representatives of the Contact Group, the parties met again in Paris on 15 March 1999.
6. This Agreement in fact goes entirely in the sense of the recommendations formulated by the Parliamentary Assembly concerning the political solution of the conflict in Kosovo, as well as those made by other international organisations. The rapporteurs consider that the Parliamentary Assembly should be unanimous in calling for the signature and application of this Agreement without delay. The Albanian party having signed on 18 March 1999, it has become essential to put pressure on the Yugoslav and Serbian parties to do the same.
7. In this context, a colloquium was organised on 12 March 1999 in Paris by the Political Affairs Committee with a view to promoting dialogue between different political forces in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) and, by this means, to encourage the acceptance of the interim agreement, and help bring a peaceful solution to the Kosovo conflict.
8. In this information report, the rapporteurs recall the positions adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly on the different aspects of the Kosovo conflict, present a summary of the interim agreement and of the debates in the above-mentioned colloquium. They consider that these elements are essential for the formulation of proposals to put to the Assembly.
II. Position of the Parliamentary Assembly on the crisis in Kosovo and the situation in the FRY
9. The Assembly called for an immediate cease-fire and the creation of conditions for refugees and displaced persons to return and considered that international observers should accede to all parts of Kosovo to evaluate the situation and make an investigation of violations of human rights [Rec. 1384 (1998)]. The Assembly considered that the escalation in the violence was attributable in the first place to the policy of President Milosevic [Rec. 1376 (1998)]. The Assembly considered that security on the whole territory of Kosovo was a pre-condition for the resumption of negotiations on the future political status of Kosovo [Rec. 1376 (1998)]. The Assembly also invited the FRY authorities to reduce its military presence to the minimum necessary for keeping public order and controlling its borders [Rec. 1376 (1998)].
10. The Assembly firmly condemned the massacre of Racak and asked for those responsible of this crime to be prosecuted [Rec. 1397 (1999)]. The Assembly asked for an independent investigation to be carry out of the events in the Drenica region [Rec. 1360 (1998)].
3. Refugees and displaced persons
11. The Assembly considered that priority must be given to the protection and assistance to refugees and displaced persons, supported the efforts made by the UNHCR and the ICRC and invited the member states to collect funds [Rec. 1397 (1999)]. The Assembly also recommended to the member states not to expel asylum seekers from the region [Rec. 1397 (1999)]. The Assembly considered that the Yugoslav and Serbian authorities must create the conditions for the return of refugees and displaced persons to their homes [Rec. 1385 (1999)]. It also underlined that a humanitarian aid should not be a substitute for a political solution [Rec. 1385 (1999)].
4. Acts of terrorism
12. The Assembly firmly condemned acts of terrorism committed by the UCK and other armed groups and invited the Albanian political forces in Kosovo to make pressure on the UCK to conform itself to international demands [Rec. 1397 (1999)]. The Assembly considered that those committing acts of terrorism should also be held responsible for the deterioration of the situation and of the blow to a peaceful solution of the conflict [Rec. 1376 (1998)].
5. Smuggling of arms
13. The Assembly recommended the deployment of international forces on the border between the FRY and Albania [Rec. 1397 (1999)].
6. International obligations
14. The Assembly asked the Yugoslav authorities to respect the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council, the Holbrooke-Milosevic agreement, as well as the agreements concluded between Yugoslavia and OSCE and NATO, otherwise the international organisations should take all measures necessary to ensure respect of these obligations [Rec. 1397 (1999)]. The Assembly considered that a positive attitude from the Yugoslav authorities would pave the way to the integration of the FRY within the international community [Rec. 1376 (1998)].
7. OSCE Kosovo verification mission
15. The Assembly asked the Yugoslav authorities and the Kosovar political forces to fully co-operate with this body [Rec. 1397 (1999)].
8. International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia (ICTY)
16. The Assembly asked the Yugoslav authorities to stop obstructing the works of the tribunal, asked for the persons responsible for crimes to be delivered to the tribunal [Rec. 1397 (1999)]. The Assembly recalled that the ICTY has the competence to investigate allegations of crimes against humanity committed in Kosovo [Rec. 1397 (1999)].
9. The Assembly’s political dialogue with the Yugoslav authorities
17. The Assembly considered that the Yugoslav authorities did not respect any of the Council of Europe’s principles and that maintaining this dialogue will depend on the respect of the Council of Europe’s recommendations by these authorities [Rec. 1397 (1999)]. The Assembly took act of the request for membership to the Council of Europe presented by the Yugoslav government on 18 March 1998, but stated that this request could be taken into consideration at the condition that the FRY respects the principles and the values of the Council of Europe [Rec. 1368 (1998)]. In its Rec. 1397 (1999), the Assembly recommended to the Committee of Ministers to envisage to send back the request for membership if the Yugoslav authorities continue not to respect their international obligations.
10. Political dialogue with the democratic opposition
18. The Assembly decided to pursue dialogue with democratic political forces and representatives of the civil society, attached to a peaceful settlement of the Kosovo crisis and to the democratic reforms within the FRY [Rec. 1397 (1999)].
11. Future political status of Kosovo
19. The Assembly requested both parties to begin negotiations [Rec. 1397 (1999)]. The Assembly considers that the political status of Kosovo must respect the territorial integrity of the FRY and be based on a substantial degree of autonomy, comprising an enhanced autonomy in the legislative, executive, judicial, public order, economic, educative and cultural fields, respect for rights of Serbs and other minorities and direct representation of Kosovo at the federal level [Rec. 1384 (1998)]. The Assembly is in favour of international guarantees preventing from return to the status quo or secession [Rec. 1384 (1998)]. The Assembly reiterated several times its proposal for help in the contacts between the Yugoslav authorities and the representatives of the Kosovo Albanians.
12. Democratic reforms within the FRY
20. The Assembly expressed concern regarding deterioration of the situation of human rights in Serbia, and particularly restrictions to freedom of expression imposed by the Serbian law on public information and the Serbian law on the universities [Rec. 1397 (1999)]. The Assembly considered that no long-lasting solution for Kosovo be possible in the absence of democratic reforms within the FRY [Rec. 1384 (1998)]. The Assembly welcomed the electoral victory of the reform parties in Montenegro and invited President Milosevic to engage a political dialogue with the new Montenegrin leaders [Rec. 1376 (1998)]. The Assembly encouraged the authorities to commit themselves to implement a reform programme according to the recommendations presented by Felipe Gonzalez in 1996 [Rec. 1376 (1998)]. The Assembly expressed concerns about the growing influence of the extremist parties within the FRY [Rec. 1368 (1998)].
III. Interim agreement for peace and self-government in Kosovo
21. An interim agreement for peace and self-government for Kosovo has been reached by the negotiations held in Rambouillet from 6 to 23 February 1999. It is based on the ten points which the Contact Group had agreed upon at its meeting in London on 29 January 1999. The parties to this agreement (Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Republic of Serbia and Kosovo) shall sign it when the negotiations will resume in France on 15 March 1999 under the auspices of the Contact Group and the European Union. On 15 March 1999, the Kosovo delegation declared its intention to sign the text. This signing took place on 18 March 1999.
1. The international community and Kosovo
22. The provisions of the Agreement are divided into eight chapters (constitution, police and public civil security, conduct and supervision of the elections, economic issues, implementation I, ombudsman, implementation II, final clauses). The provisions which do not fit into these categories have been regrouped into a part at the beginning of the Agreement entitled "framework". This part numerates a series of confidence-building measures which shall be applied as soon as the Agreement is signed.
23. The police and civil public security (Chapter 2) are the responsibility of the Implementation Mission of the OSCE. The head of the Mission will be able to take binding directives to parties in the fields of police and civil security. The liberty of movement is guaranteed on the whole territory of Kosovo. Communal police units shall be organised. An administration for penal justice, an interim police academy, a commission for criminal justice will be created. Until its programmed withdrawal, the Ministry of Interior Police shall continue to assume the functions of civil police. The government of FRY shall continue to assume the border control. Any person arrested in Kosovo shall be brought to the jurisdiction of a Court in Kosovo.
24. Elections (Chapter 3) will be held in the nine months following the entry into force of the agreement and will be supervised by the OSCE. A list of voters will be established by a Central Election Commission established by the OSCE. The federal authorities shall organise a population census of Kosovo under the supervision of the OSCE and with the participation of the authorities of Kosovo as soon as the OSCE decide that the conditions have been met.
25. The agreement also contains provisions concerning economic issues (Chapter 4). The European Commission is in charge of organising a conference of donors during the month following the entry into force of the agreement. The international community will take care of the emergency humanitarian and economic assistance.
26. The agreement provides for the implementation of a civil volet (Chapter 5). The OSCE will establish, in cooperation with the European Union, an Implementation Mission in Kosovo. The responsibilities and powers of the KVM and its chief will be transferred to the Implementation Mission and its chief. A Joint Commission will be created. It will be the central mechanism in charge of the monitoring and the coordination of the implementation of the civil volet. It will be composed of the chief of the Mission, a representative of the Federation, a representative of Serbia, a representative of each national community, a representative of the President of the Assembly of Kosovo and a representative of the President of Kosovo. The chief of the Implementation Mission will also be the President of the Joint Commission. The Joint Commission will operate on the basis of consensus, but if a consensus cannot be reached, the President of the Joint Commission will take the decision. The chief of the Mission will be able to establish a Joint Council of Kosovo, composed of representatives of national communities, and local councils, composed of representatives of national communities of the locality where the council has been established. The chief of the Mission will supervise and direct the civil aspects of the agreement. The laws and regulations will remain in force until they are changed ; those incompatible with the agreement will be void. Martial law will be abolished. The institutions will remain in power until they are replaced by the organs established in the application of this agreement. The chief of the Mission will take the necessary measures to the development and functioning of independent media.
27. The agreement provides for the implementation of a military volet (Chapter 7). The Security Council shall give its backing to the creation of a military force which will be sent to the region to help to implement the agreement. NATO will establish and deploy this force (KFOR) composed of units of NATO and non-member countries, and placed under the direction and political control of the Atlantic Council. Other countries will be able to participate in the implementation of the agreement, subject to an agreement between those states and NATO. Detailed provisions will govern : the cessation of hostilities, the redeployment, the withdrawal and the demilitarisation of military forces (Yugoslav Army forces, Ministry of Interior Police forces and other forces), notifications, operations and authority of the KFOR, border control, control of air movements, Joint Military Commission, the release of prisoners, the co-operation with other entities implied in the implementation of the agreement. The date of activation of the KFOR will be decided by the NATO.
2. The sharing of responsibilities between the FRY, Serbia and Kosovo
28. The sharing of responsibilities between the FRY, the Republic of Serbia and Kosovo appears in the Agreement. It was not possible to base this sharing on the Yugoslav constitutional order, in view of the imprecision of the Constitution of the FRY in this respect, and the lack of confidence of the Kosovo Albanians in the impartiality of the organs of the FRY responsible for interpreting the Constitution. The responsibilities of the FRY appear to be limited to the maintenance of a common market, defence, foreign affairs and monetary policy. The Yugoslav legislation will continue to play an important role in Kosovo so long as the laws and regulations at present in force have not been replaced by decisions emanating from the competent bodies. The responsibilities of the Republic of Serbia are limited to the organisation of the elections at Republic level and the provision of public services to the persons concerned. Formally, Kosovo continues to be part of the Republic of Serbia.3. The internal structures of Kosovo
29. A draft constitution is included in the agreement (Chapter 1). Kosovo is endowed with proper legislative, executive and judiciary organs. The Constitution enumerates competences which come under the Federation, the Republic of Serbia, Kosovo and the communes, which are the local territorial units. The different national communities, including those of relatively lower importance, are guaranteed a representation within the organs of the State and the administration ; they have their own representative institutions. The persons subject to prosecutions and indictments by the ICTY cannot hold any office. The Assembly is comprised of 120 members elected for a term of three years. The President of the Assembly can not have the same nationality as the President of Kosovo. The President of Kosovo is elected for a three years term by the Assembly. The government is composed of a Prime Minister and ministers, including at least one representative of each national community. A function of chief prosecutor is established. Kosovo is endowed with a Constitutional Court, a Supreme Court, district and municipal tribunals. The citizens of Kosovo enjoy the rights and freedoms enshrined in the European Convention for Human Rights. They elect 10 deputies to the Citizens’ Chamber of the Federation, and 20 deputies to the Assembly of Serbia. Kosovo shall have representatives within the federal government, Serbia’s government, the federal Constitutional Court, the federal Court and the Supreme Court of Serbia, which will be chosen by these authorities. The Assembly will be able to amend the Constitution by a two thirds majority.
30. An ombudsman (Chapter 6) will be named, nominated by the President and elected by the Assembly of Kosovo for a non renewable three year term from a list of candidates proposed by the President of the European Court of Human Rights. He will neither be able to have the nationality of a successor State of the former Yugoslavia, nor of a neighbouring country.
4. The final settlement
31. The agreement submitted to the parties should be adopted without modifications, it will not be able to be modified before its signature. Once it has been signed, the agreement can be modified if proposed changes receive the approval of all parties (but the amendments to the Constitution will be subject to a particular procedure). Three years after the entry into force of this text, an international conference shall meet to determine a mechanism for final settlement for Kosovo, on the basis of the wishes of the people and the openion of the relevant authorities.
32. The interim agreement for peace and self-government in Kosovo concretises the idea of an international protectorate for Kosovo. It would appear difficult to predict, at present, whether a massive international presence, although contributing to the pacification of the region, will be capable of bringing democracy to the FRY (reference may be made in this regard to the example of Bosnia and Herzegovina, whose progress along the path of democracy is laborious to say the least).
IV. Summary of the debates of the parliamentary colloquium on the future political status of Kosovo (Paris, 12 March 1999)
33. The debates of this colloquium concerned the proposals made by the Contact Group and taken up in the Agreement for peace and self-government in Kosovo. Its aim was to encourage the parties concerned to accept these proposals and to promote dialogue between different political forces of the FRY with a view to establishing the democratic stabilisation of this country.
34. A little over a dozen political parties from the FRY were represented at this colloquium, and were able to express their views. The international community was represented by the European Union negotiator at the Rambouillet Meeting, Mr Petritsch, ambassadors of the Contact Group member countries, a representative of the OSCE, a representative of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe and a Representative of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe.
2. The Contact Group's proposals
35. The Contact Group's proposals were at the centre of the discussions at the colloquium. Mr Petritsch came to present the Rambouillet Agreement whose main points appear in Part III of this report. Mr Petritsch encouraged the signature of the Agreement by the Serbian and Kosovar representatives. The OSCE representative did likewise. Throughout the colloquium the words “dialogue” and “compromise” kept returning as a leitmotiv.
36. Dialogue should permit the parties to overcome the difficulties resulting from the Tito heritage. These difficulties may be identified as: definition of the status of the Republics and the autonomous Republics, definition of the status of the peoples constituting the RSFY, absence of a democratic culture, economic difficulties.
37. A compromise has to be found between all the communities wishing to live in the FRY. The integrity and sovereignty of the FRY being left intact by the Rambouillet Agreement, a feeling of common belonging should exist, and to achieve this there must be no discrimination of any kind between the ethnic groups of Yugoslav society.
38. The Serbian representatives at the colloquium were of the opinion that Serbia, in acceptant the peace plan proposed by the Contact Group, would concede to the Kosovo Albanians a greater degree of autonomy than the 1974 Constitution. They also stressed the fact that the final version of the interim agreement was not drafted in consultation with the Serbian delegation and should therefore be the subject of negotiation.
39. The Albanian side stressed the point that the interim agreement did not prejudice a final settlement. The Albanians wanted the control of the Kosovo economy to be in the hands of the autonomous government, while the Serbs called for support for a democratic economy in Kosovo and Metohija.
40. The rapporteurs consider that an international military presence on the ground is essential to ensure the effective implementation of the Agreement. However, the Serbian representatives reiterated Belgrade's refusal to accept foreign armed forces on their territory. Several participants, both government and opposition, sought to demonstrate that military intervention in the FRY would be a fundamental error, because it would destroy the possibility of democratic reforms. There would be reason to fear a military putsch in the FRY.
41. Russia's point of view was that there should be an agreement between all the parties, that the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the FRY must be preserved, that the self-government must take account of the interests of the national communities (and notably the Serbs), and that the protection of human rights and the rights of minorities must be protected. According to Moscow, Belgrade's agreement was essential for the deployment of foreign troops.
42. A question was raised regarding the legal nature of the interim agreement. According to one proposal, this treaty should be registered with the Secretary General of the United Nations, in accordance with the United Nations Charter. In the opinion of many, the ombudsman approach envisaged by the Agreement was not appropriate in the Kosovo context. Other points of disagreement concerned the threshold for the representation of national communities (fixed at 0.5%) and the methods used for counting the population.
43. An important role was entrusted to the OSCE for the implementation of the Agreement. The OSCE is shortly to hold a conference in Oslo on the implementation of the Agreement to examine the coordination between the international organisations and thus avoid duplication.
3. Democratic reforms within the FRY
44. The democratisation of the FRY will not be easy. The Serbian participants acknowledged the need to educate the people to democracy. According to them it was also necessary to abolish the sanctions imposed on the FRY and put an end to its diplomatic isolation by accepting it into the international institutions.
45. According to the participants, the Council of Europe could contribute to the democratisation of the FRY in three fields: institutions, the respect of human rights and local self-government. Similarly, the Council of Europe could offer its expertise and its instruments in the field of the protection of the rights of minorities. A redistribution of competences between the minorities was in fact essential. A multiethnic and democratic Serbia was the only one possible. A process of political and economic democratisation should begin immediately.
4. The status of the other regions and minorities
46. The Montenegrin participants said Montenegro did not participate in the Rambouillet negotiations and was not represented in Paris either. There was no doubt however that the talks concerned it too, as a member of the Yugoslav Federation. The attribution of republic status to Kosovo would have an impact on relations between Serbia and Montenegro, which risked finding itself marginalised or simply attached to Serbia. The two republics were in a situation that was not equitable, and it was Montenegro that suffered most from the sanctions imposed on the FRY.
47. According to the participants from Vojvodina, Vojvodina should return to the autonomous status it enjoyed under the 1974 Constitution. The main political forces of the region would be favourable to republic status for Vojvodina if Kosovo was given republic status. Vojvodina was inhabited by a majority of Serbs (60%), but had many minorities (Hungarian, Croat, Romanian, Slovak, Ruthenian), to the extent that this region had been called a miniature Yugoslavia within Yugoslavia itself. All these minorities should be accorded the same rights.
48. The representatives of Sandjak expressed their concern about the discrimination to which they were subject, and which they qualified as “ethnic cleansing”. The autonomous status of the municipality of Novi Pazar (capital of Sandjak) had been abolished, and the fate of the Sandjak Bosnians had not been settled by the Rambouillet Agreement.
49. Several Yugoslav parties represented at the colloquium invoked the 1974 Constitution to justify their claims or to refute those of others. As one participant pointed out however, this constitution was now obsolete, and furthermore it was anti-democratic.
50. The aim of the Rambouillet process is clear: to avoid any further bloodshed and to pacify a region that has become a hotbed of violence in Europe. As the Kosovo Albanians signed the interim agreement on 18 March 1999, the responsibility for peace now lies with the Serbian party.
51. The Council of Europe must support the acceptance and implementation of this Agreement by all the parties. However, it may be regretted that the Council of Europe is not mentioned anywhere in the Agreement. The implementation of the Agreement will be possible only with international aid, not in isolation. The Council of Europe, with all its experience, has particular competence in several of the fields cited in the Agreement, especially as regards the respect of human rights, the establishment of institutions, democratic self-government and cooperation with other international organisations.
52. The Parliamentary Assembly has always maintained that a lasting solution in Kosovo will not be possible without democratic reforms throughout the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The pluralist democratic system, the respect of human rights and the rule of law are the pillars on which the future of the peoples in this country must rest, whatever the institutional solution chosen. If there is a real will to apply these principles, the Council of Europe and its Parliamentary Assembly should be ready to offer their assistance so that the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia can become once more a fully accepted member of the European family.*
* *Reporting committee : Political Affairs Committee
Reference to committee : Ref. 2154, 2158, 2251, 2303 et 2355
Budgetary implications for the Assembly : none
Draft information report approved by the committee on 31 March 1999
Members of the Committee : Mr Ruffy (Chairman), Mrs Ojuland (Vice-Chairperson), Mr Toshev (Vice-Chairman), MM Arzilli (alternate: Mr Andreoli), Atkinson, Bársony, Behrendt, Bergqvist, Björck, Blaauw (alternate: Mrs Gelderbolm-Lankhout), MM Bloetzer, Bühler, Daly, Davis, Demetriou, Dokle, Domljan, Fico, Dreyfus-Schmidt, Fico, Gjellerod, Gligoroski, Glotov, Gül, Mrs Iotti (alternate: Mr Evangelisti), Mr Iwinski, Mrs Kautto, MM Kirilov, Krzaklewski, Kuzmickas, Mrs Lentz-Cornette (alternate: Mr Kollwelter), MM Lopez Henares, Lupu, van der Maelen (alternate: Mr Nothomb) Maginas, Martinez, Medeiros Ferreira, Meier (alternate: Mrs Wohlwend), MM Micheloyiannis, Mota Amaral (alternate: Mr Roseta), Mutman, Nallet (alternate: Baumel, Vice-Président), Nedelciuc, Mme Nemkova, MM Neuwirth (alternate: Mr Lemoine), Oliynyk, Pahor, Palmitjavila Ribo, Prusak, Mme Ragnarsdottir, MM Schieder, Schwimmer, Schlotten, Selva (alternate: Mr Turini), Sinka, Mme Smith, Mme Stanoiu, Mme Stepová, MM Surjan, Thoresen, Timmermans, Urbain (alternate: Mr Beaufays), Vella, Volcic, Zhebrovsky.
N.B. The names of the members who took part in the vote are printed in italics
Secretaries of the committee: Mr Kleijssen, Mr Sich, Mrs Ruotanen