NATO ON TRIAL INDEX PAGE

3 TWO KEY EVENTS IN THE PREPARATION OF PUBLIC OPINION FOR THE BOMBING

A - Racak - What Members of Parliament were told and not told

    The Racak “ massacre” - a media event to start a war

    Racak as presented to Parliament - Parliament misled

    The forensic evidence

    Hasty, inexpert, and questionable interpretation of Racak evidence

    What Parliament was not told about Racak - Parliament misled

    What Parliament was not told about the experience of Serbs - Parliament misled

    Serb restraint not reported to Parliament - parliament misled

    Eye witness accounts - important discrepancies

    Another possibility

    Who was to gain from the public display of the victims?

B - The Rambouillet public relations charade

    An unsatisfactory basis for talks

    Was it true the Mr Milosevic would not negotiate ?

    The wrong people negotiating

    Biassed mediators

    NATO’s determination to make the Rambouillet negotiations fail

    Rambouillet negotiating procedure illegal under international law

    A basic rule of civilised countries

    Whose interest was NATO determined to fight for?

    Who was intransigent? Reasons for continuing talking, reasons to prepare for war

    The winning ploy - an “agreement” that could never be signed

          The secret Rambouillet document the world needed to see

 

A - Racak - What Members of Parliament were told and not told

The Racak “ massacre” - a media event to start a war

The US Senate Republican Policy Committee understood very well how manufactured events could be used to influence public opinion because they had observed similar events in Bosnia being used to vilify the Serbs and manipulate the UN, “justifying” punitive measures against the Serbs. As we showed in point one above, this committee actually predicted an event like the “Racak massacre.” It was only a matter of time before the luckless victims would be chosen to play a role in history. The intense worldwide media coverage occurred, as predicted, and politicians denounced it, as predicted, to sell the bombing of Yugoslavia.

Javier Solana, Secretary General of NATO, in the first NATO statement after the event, set the tone for subsequent NATO actions and for the attitude of western media - a consistent attitude of outrage and one-sided blame. On Sunday 17 January he said “The Council condemns the massacre of Kosovar Albanians that was carried out in the village of Racak last Friday. This represents a flagrant violation of international law.” He went on to make a series of demands which, by implication, the so-called massacre justified. The last demand was for both sides to begin negotiations. Without any sense of irony he said, “NATO condemns all acts of violence.”

In justifying the bombing of Yugoslavia President Clinton told the world's press: "We should remember what happened in the village of Racak.” Tony Blair, in his speech to Parliament to justify the bombing referred to “the massacre at Racak.” German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, approving German military participation abroad for the first
time since World War Two, stated: "Racak was the turning point for me."

The basic facts

The event was the killing of “45 men” - Kosovo Albanians - in Racak in Kosovo on Friday 15 January 1999. The bodies were shown to teams of reporters, camera-men, and the OSCE Kosovo Verification Mission, by the KLA, the next morning. Everyone present would know that this would make headline news around the world and suggest again the viciousness of the Serbs. And once again it would evoke enormous sympathy for the “innocent” Kosovo Albanians whose behaviour in the preceding hours might not be reported.

Within hours off the “discovery” of the bodies the leader of the KVM, William Walker, (6) held a press conference in Pristina which was only a few miles away, and without further investigation announced his conclusions. “The facts, as verified by KVM, include evidence of arbitrary detention, extra-judicial killings, and the mutilation of unarmed civilians of Albanian ethnic origin in the village of Racak by MUP and VJ.” (MUP and VJ are the Yugoslav police and army) This statement has, in part, been proven to be untrue (the mutilation), and in part could not be concluded from a brief look at the bodies (evidence of arbitrary detention and extra-judicial killing). The reliability of Walker’s evidence is therefore immediately questionable.

Nevertheless, whoever killed these people and in whatever circumstances the event was a shocking act of violence and deeply regrettable.

Racak as presented to Parliament - Parliament misled

Robin Cook reported the event to Parliament on Monday 18 January. Without an official investigation he was able to say with absolute certainty how the victims were killed and by whom. His reporting was unduly hasty, biassed, inaccurate, and racially motivated. Its purpose was to present the Serbs, who were involved in a two sided conflict, as the sole aggressor and ones who targeted innocent civilians.

“The bodies had been shot in the head or neck in what looks like an execution. Those who had been killed appeared to be of all ages, including grey-haired old men. None of the bodies were wearing uniform. . . It is simply not credible that those who were killed were the casualties of a military conflict. . . This was a war crime. . . Those who led the massacre in Racak must bear full responsibility . . .We once again face a humanitarian crisis as a result of Serb repression in Kosovo.”

The forensic evidence

Teams of forensic pathologists from Yugoslavia, Belorussia and Finland carried out autopsies at Pristina University. The Yugoslavian pathologists had done their work under the observation of the Belorussian pathologists. The Finnish experts carried out ten autopsies, observed fourteen more, and carried out an external examination of the remaining sixteen bodies that had been examined by the Yugoslav team.

The victims consisted of one female; one boy under 15; 3 males reckoned to be over 65; the average age approximately 43 years. They had all died of gunshot wounds, with “no other significant injuries.” There were “no signs of post mortem mutilation,” most died from several shots fired from a variety of directions mainly to the chest region. Three died from a single shot to the head. The weapons were guessed to be small calibre assault rifles capable of sustained firing.

Hasty, inexpert, and questionable interpretation of Racak evidence

Those killed may indeed have been the victims of a massacre, but the evidence is not very convincing, and it is not proved that the Serbs were responsible.

Dr Helen Ranta, leader of the Finnish forensic team strongly suspected that the bodies had been arranged to look like a massacre and said so in the full report of the forensic evidence. Unfortunately this uncensored report has never been published. On Germany’s Main TV channel, ARD, in February 2001 she said she was “conscious that one could say that the whole scene in this small valley was arranged. Because this is actually a possibility. This conclusion was included in our first investigation report, and also in our later forensic investigations, which we made in November 1999 directly in Racak. And we passed on this conclusion directly to the Court of Justice in The Hague.” (7)

Dr Ranta appeared at a press conference in Pristina with William Walker. She said, in her German TV interview, that it was Walker’s decision to talk about a “massacre,” but she deliberately avoided using such an expression.

What Parliament was not told about Racak - Parliament misled

It was well known to Mr Cook that a battle took place at Racak on 15 January. He had the report of the Chief of Operations of the OSCE, the British soldier, Major-General John Drewienkiewicz. In the confident knowledge that they were legitimately responding to KLA violence the Serbs had notified their intentions to OSCE monitors in advance and invited an Associated Press team to video the action. (8) OSCE monitors observed the battle from a hilltop, and went into the village immediately after the battle finished at approximately 3.30pm on 15 January. Robin Cook did not mention that a battle had taken place and that the dead may have been victims of the fighting in Racak itself or in the woods around the village.

Hashim Thaci, the KLA leader, said about Racak. "A ferocious struggle took place. We suffered heavy losses, but so did the Serbs . . . a key KLA unit was based in the area." (BBC interview.) The event was reported as a battle by Agencie France Presse, Reuters, and Associated Press.

Robin Cook did not tell parliament of Serb deaths caused by the KLA in Racak that day, or that many KLA village militia often did not wear uniforms, or that the KLA was well known for killing Albanian civilians who opposed their methods. A UN report in December 1998, only a month before the Racak killings, said that activists from the pacifist LDK party of Ibrahim Rugova had been arbitrarily arrested by the KLA and executed. (Young women also served in the KLA.) It did not occur to Robin Cook to make out a case that the Serbs who were killed that day were the victims of a war crime.

What Parliament was not told about the experience of Serbs - Parliament misled

With a Kosovo Albanian population that dare not inform on the KLA few options were open to the Serbs to identify KLA killers and stop the KLA violence. The Serbs faced an army that mingled with a civilian population. Shelling KLA strongholds was indeed brutal, but what alternative approaches were available to the Yugoslav police to protect the Serb community from the aggression of the KLA? And why did the Yugoslav police choose this particular time to try to destroy a key KLA unit in Racak?

Could it have been something to do with the continuing distress of the Serb community at a wave of killings of Serbs? Was there a strong feeling in the Serb community that something must be done to stop these killings? Neither Robin Cook nor Tony Blair, when speaking of the Racak killings, ever mentioned that 5,000 Serbs had attended the funeral of six Serb teenagers killed in the Panda café in Pec by the KLA on 14 December 1998. Surely this was a war crime. Why did Robin Cook and Tony Blair not report it to Parliament, summon both sides to negotiations and threaten to bomb Tirana, Washington, Berlin and London as the backers of the KLA?

Was Parliament told of the murder of the Serbian Mayor of Kosovo Polje on 18 December, or of 21 Serbs killed in Kosovo in the first eleven days of 1999? Why were these crimes condoned? Why was there no expression of outrage for these victims?

Serb restraint not reported to Parliament - parliament misled

The Serb population was crying out to be saved from the KLA, yet for a long time the Serb authorities did nothing. During this time the Kosovo Verification Mission observers repeatedly commended the Serbs for their restraint. "Irresponsible actions by the KLA are the main reason for a considerable increase of tension in Kosovo. …The reaction by Yugoslavian authorities to these KLA provocations has been up to this point very restrained." But the provocations had reached their limit.

Eye witness accounts - important discrepancies

An APTV camera team filmed much of the battle. Camera crews accompanied the Serb soldiers as they carried out house to house checks after the KLA had retreated. When the KVM monitors entered the village after the battle they found “nothing surprising”. No massacre was found on the day of the battle by villagers, KLA, monitors, reporters or camera crews. It is amazing that the villagers did not report to the monitors what they were to say the next day, namely that 45 of their men had been tortured and killed. If they had made such a report the monitors would without doubt have investigated their complaints and found the bodies and the evidence straight away.

The next day, and for Human Rights Watch investigators later, the villagers had detailed and consistent stories of what happened. Three elements of their consistent stories were proved to be untrue by the forensic investigation teams. Witnesses claimed twenty three men had been tortured before being shot, and that a girl had been killed by a grenade. Approximately thirty men were said to have been beaten with sticks and one was kicked in the head and was covered in blood before they were executed in a stable. It was claimed that one man was slashed on the chest. Another man “had his throat and half his face cut by a knife.”

The great variety of directions that the victims were shot from, including many low and many high angles makes the execution-in-a-stable story highly unlikely. As already mentioned, the forensic investigators found no evidence knife wounds, beating or torture of any kind. No victim was killed by a grenade.

Another possibility

It is possible that those who died had been killed in the fighting around the village, their bodies collected together during the night, and placed together in the gully above the village. The villagers were advised on the stories they should tell.

Who was to gain from the public display of the victims?

Whoever brought the bodies to Racak in the night, placing them in full public view, must have wanted wide attention for the killings. We must ask who stood to gain from public knowledge of these deaths. Certainly it was not the Serbs.

 

B - The Rambouillet public relations charade

The world was presented with negotiations staged at Rambouillet which purported to be a genuine attempt to resolve a bitter conflict which had been going on in Kosovo for half a century or more. (See Appendix 2) Most of those who prepared for the talks and most of the participants were trying to achieve a resolution to the dispute - unaware how their efforts were about to be manipulated. However, some of the key players, certainly including the US State Department, had no interest in a resolution of the problem and in fact were determined to bring about the failure of the talks. Their plan was to pose as sincere peacemakers whilst simultaneously sabotaging the process. The Rambouillet talks were an elaborate deception, a trick, a lie, and the purpose was to provide an excuse for bombing.

As noted earlier, James Rubin, US State Department spokesman, admitted in an article in the Financial Times, 7 October 2000, “Albright had given the Serbs a take it or leave it proposal they could never accept." The proposal was the non-negotiable demand that NATO forces be allowed to occupy the whole of Yugoslavia without restriction or time limit. (3) This proposal was not put before the people convened at Rambouillet till near the end of the talks when it appeared as a tiny item in a detailed military implementation appendix.

An unsatisfactory basis for talks

After Robin Cook had rushed to declare that the talks had failed he claimed that there was “a detailed peace plan which is fair to both sides.” - Parliament, 25 March 1999.

Neither the talks, nor the Rambouillet document were fair. From the outset, it was clear that the arrangements for the talks were misconceived - unreasonable, unjust, immoral, paternalistic, disrespectful to the participants, and the basis of them was illegal under international law.

Arbitrary time limit

Even though it became clear that extensions would be allowed, a timetable of only a fortnight to resolve a longstanding and highly complex dispute was totally unreasonable. The best that could have been arranged would have been a period of time set aside purely as the first stage of negotiations. A first step might have been an exploration of needs, hopes, fears, complaints, and suggestions of the two sides.

Was it true the Mr Milosevic would not negotiate?

Apparently it was necessary to threaten Mr Milosevic with bombing because otherwise he would not negotiate. However, it emerged in a speech to Parliament by Robin Cook on 18 January that Mr Milosevic could not be blamed for not negotiating. No Albanian team from Kosovo itself acceptable to Robin Cook could be formed, so in fact Mr Milosevic had no one to negotiate with. “The main obstacle has been the refusal of the Kosovo Liberation Army to take part in any team that includes Dr Rugova, the elected leader of the Kosovo Albanians.” Naturally the West would wish to have their own people represented in the talks, even though the Kosovo Albanians had rejected the KLA and, with a massive vote of support had declared themselves in favour of Ibrahim Rugova and his LDK party.

Earlier negotiations had, in fact, taken place. For example, on 23 March 1998 Mr Milosevic had offered talks with the Kosovo Albanians. This offer was rejected by the Albanians because they refused to talk without a foreign mediator present. It has been suggested that the Albanians may have feared assassination at the hands of the KLA for “talking to the enemy.” (9)

Nevertheless, talks began in Belgrade on 15 May 1998 with Mr Milosevic and Ibrahim Rugova and four of Mr Rugova’s colleagues. There were further talks on 22 May in Pristina.

Whilst in Washington where he met President Clinton, Ibrahim Rugova called off talks with Mr Milosevic because the Serbs had launched an offensive near Decani. This offensive was in response to nearly three months of attacks and provocation by the KLA. (10)

The wrong people negotiating

The KLA represented a tiny minority of opinion in Kosovo and had no support from the electorate. On 23 March 1998 Ibrahim Rugova, who preached a peaceful solution to the differences between the Albanian and Serb communities, was re-elected “president” with a 99% vote in an 88% turnout. The KLA had ordered Kosovo Albanians to boycott the elections. The vast majority of those voting agreed that they would accept any deal with the Serbs that Ibrahim Rugova negotiated. Ibrahim Rugova alone was justified in leading the Kosovo Albanian delegation. The organisers of the Rambouillet talks, by insisting on the lead role for the KLA, showed both a lack of respect for democracy and their support for terrorism.

It may be worth remembering that a considerable percentage of KLA men were neither natives nor residents of Kosovo (11) and they were not fighting to resolve problems in Kosovo, but to create a Greater Albania. (See Appedix 4) They were supplied, trained and supported by Albania, Germany, the US, and Britain. (12) Finance came from Albanian supporters in the West and from large scale organised crime involving drugs, extortion, and prostitution.

In the Kosovo team there should also have been representation of the Kosovo Serbs and other minorities who constituted nearly 20% of the population. (13)

 

And the organisers of these talks? Who was this handful of white politicians who styled themselves “the international community”? Surely, the international community is the people of the world, and its most representative body is the United Nations. But these people were acting outside the United Nations and international law by planning interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign state. They were unrepresentative of the people of the world and world opinion.

At Rambouillet the self-styled international community was primarily Madeleine Albright, US Secretary of State. She was the driving force behind the action against Yugoslavia. In her team were Robin Cook, Hubert Vedrine, James Rubin, Richard Holbrooke (who had supported the ethnic cleansing of 250,000 Serbs from the Krajina), Robert Dole (whose campaign fund had benefited from Albanian money), and Chris Hill. Other players included Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, and outgoing German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel (who had paid friendly visits to Albania), Wolfgang Petrisch, and the Russian, Boris Mayorski, who distanced himself from the outcome.

Supporting the front line team was NATO, as represented by appointed ministers of NATO nations who made up the North Atlantic Council (NAC).

This is not an organisation very much concerned with democracy and human rights. If it were then it would not have Turkey, with its appalling human rights record, as a member, nor would it have the United States with its record of violent interference in the affairs of other nations, sometimes supporting oppressive regimes. If NATO had genuine concern for human rights it would have been working in 1999 to sort out its own disgraceful human rights problems.

Working in close consultation with NATO ministers was a more shadowy organisation: PJC, otherwise known as the Permanent Joint Council. This consists of NATO nations plus Russia. Ambassadors of PJC met on Wednesday 20 January 1999 to “review the rapidly deteriorating situation in Kosovo.” The NATO press release tells us, “They condemned the recent cycle of violence, including the massacre in the Racak area. . . NATO and Russia underscored that all parties to the conflict should immediately cease all acts of violence and open the path for a negotiated settlement.”

It was appointees of the 16 member nations of NATO who gave permission to the Secretary General of NATO, Dr Javier Solana to order the destruction of Yugoslavia “to avert a humanitarian catastrophe” if the negotiations at Rambouillet were thought to be unsatisfactory. They had no right to do this.

This authorisation, quite apart from the United Nations and international law, was illegal under the NATO treaty, and undemocratic. No NATO government had authorised their representatives to take aggressive action against another country. It was directly contrary to the terms of the NATO Treaty under which they were authorised to act. The treaty specifically states, “The parties undertake to refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force. . .” As a further irony, the NATO treaty, also states that the parties to it are determined “to safeguard democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law.”

At Javier Solana’s disposal were multi-billion pound resources, in the form of the greatest arsenal of destructive power the world has ever known, to wield as a threat against one negotiating team if it did not agree with NATO’s terms. Who funded these resources, and how answerable was this “international community” to the people who paid for all their power? What qualified the NATO Council to assume the role of the Almighty and decide the fate of nations?

Biassed mediators

The organisers of the talks should have acted as neutral mediators. In fact, they were backing the terrorist KLA as if the KLA represented the Kosovo Albanian people and as if they had no idea that a partisan approach was in any way wrong. (14)

Planned to justify bombing and military occupation

Those in charge of the talks should have sought genuine agreement. This was never their intention. From the outset, on 30 January 1999 when they summoned both sides to talks at Rambouillet, they made it plain that if one side did not agree to a document a huge bombing campaign would be mounted against it. (15) They should have been expressing a desire to succeed at all costs in order to prevent violence, not repeatedly expressing a determination to use violence if they failed to reach agreement. As suggested elsewhere, the NATO demand was a demand for submission not an attempt to reach an agreement. No true or lasting agreement is ever likely to be reached in such circumstances.

Above all else the US negotiators wanted to produce a convincing case for bombing Yugoslavia and put the blame for this on the Serbs. (16)

They wanted it to be seen that Mr Milosevic and the Yugoslav delegation were not interested in peace and that they alone were responsible for the “failure of the talks.” The US State Department and close friends were trying to convince the world of the astonishing idea that the Yugoslavs were therefore responsible for causing NATO to have to bomb Yugoslavia. In NATO countries they were tragically successful.

 

NATO’s determination to make the Rambouillet negotiations fail

For talks of this type to succeed the negotiators have to adopt an approach of dauntless optimism and unending patience. Rarely can such massive and expensive preparations have been made for the failure of talks. Rarely can talks of such wide international importance have been carried on with such a short and arbitrary and self-imposed time limit for completion.

Planning for the punishment bombing of Yugoslavia began in June and 1998. Actual rehearsals for the bombing took place in August and September 1998, six months before the start of the talks. (17)

Although the Yugoslavs were accused of intransigence it was a NATO side which sought to impose non-negotiable elements in the agreement. It was the NATO side which was intransigent - until, towards the end of the bombing, as an incentive to encourage the Serbs to stop fighting NATO, it gave way to having a UN force occupy Kosovo instead of a NATO force occupying the whole of Yugoslavia. (Effectively, of course, NATO reneged on this agreement and installed a NATO force in the name of the United Nations.)

Rambouillet negotiating procedure illegal under international law

Negotiation under duress is illegal under the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, article 52. It is contrary to the declared principles of the United Nations and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. The tactic was illegal, and immoral. The use of coercion signalled the negotiators’ lack of respect for the two sides that were in dispute and their determination to dominate the region.

An agreement reached under threat of force is likely to need an indefinitely sustained threat of force to keep it in operation. This has happened in Bosnia. There was clearly an intense desire on the part of NATO to occupy Kosovo and be the enforcers there for many years to come. That is why there was, in the Rambouillet document, an unwavering, non-negotiable condition that there should be a NATO-led “peace keeping” force allowed into Kosovo. (But see later.)

In Northern Ireland, as agreement develops between the parties, the number of troops present there are reduced. If there is agreement there is no need for military force. The peace between England and Scotland is not maintained by an occupation force of troops from either country or other countries.

A basic rule of civilised countries

In the civilised world, when it is decided that force must be used, the basic rule is that one uses the absolute minimum of force. How well does NATO’s threat of force against Yugoslavia square up to this rule?

It seems that the main concern of the negotiators was to terrify Yugoslavia with a threat unprecedented in the history of the world. No greater force has ever been assembled against a single country. The military might of the thirteen most powerful nations on earth, representing the combined populations of approximately 700 million people, was pitched against the resources of a poor country, now the poorest in Europe, with a population of only 11 million people.

Whose interest was NATO determined to fight for?

Bringing about a peaceful arrangement between the two sides was never likely to be improved by article 1, section 1 of chapter 4a of the Rambouillet document. This stated, “The economy of Kosovo shall function in accordance with free-market principles.” It would open up Kosovan business to purchase by outsiders. This requirement was inserted for the benefit of business interests within NATO countries. It reveals NATO as the military force of Western capitalism and its aim of expanding capitalism by military force. The bombing of Yugoslavia demonstrated new NATO colonialism in action. (See Control and exploitation of Kosovo in Appendix 1.)

Who was intransigent? Reasons for continuing talking, reasons to prepare for war

Robin Cook and Hubert Vedrine announced on 19 March 1999 that they had taken the decision “to suspend the talks, because there was no point in prolonging them while the Serb side was not negotiating in good faith.” This was the fatal signal that the bombing would now go ahead. An end of talking meant the start of bombing on behalf of the KLA and therefore in support of the KLA aim to take Kosovo from Serbia, make it independent and drive out the 250,000 Serb inhabitants. The Yugoslavs wished to continue the talks and said so in writing. (5) Mr Cook and M Vedrine might have anticipated Mr Milosevic’s response.

The winning ploy - an “agreement” that could never be signed

The now infamous requirement, in Appendix B of the document, that NATO forces should be allowed free and unrestricted access to the whole of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia for an indefinite period is possibly the most scandalous requirement ever to appear in an international document. As already stated, Madeleine Albright inserted this demand in the Rambouillet document in the certain knowledge that it could never be accepted by the Yugoslav delegation. (18)

No government, on simple request, would allow the military occupation of its country. Not only Mr Milosevic, but all sides of the Serbian Parliament could do no other than reject the preposterous demand and prepare themselves for the hideous consequences.

The secret Rambouillet document the world needed to see

Finally, to ensure that world opinion did not sympathise with the Yugoslavs in the face of this requirement, the negotiating team failed to deliver the text of the Rambouillet document both to elected representatives in NATO countries and the world media. They repeatedly stressed that the Yugoslavs would not accept a “peace keeping force” in Kosovo. When the decision for bombing was announced to the world only a tiny elite knew that the sticking points in the negotiations were not only that a NATO rather than UN force was demanded, but also the requirement for a NATO occupation of the whole of Yugoslavia.

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