Diplomatic efforts to advance the Kosovo peace process moved forward on several different fronts yesterday. The key development was an agreement reached in Kumanovo, Macedonia between senior NATO and Yugoslav military representatives. The accord, finalized only after arduous negotiations, sets out the timetable and other details connected to the withdrawal of Serb police, military and paramilitary forces from Kosovo. The signing of the Kumanovo agreement, in turn, opens the way for the UN Security Council to approve a resolution–one spelling out the terms of the Kosovo peace settlement–which was drafted earlier this week by Russia and the G-7 countries. Security Council members examined the draft resolution yesterday, and were expected to vote on it in the next day or two. In Moscow, finally, preparations were underway yesterday for a meeting today between Russian and U.S. military experts. They will discuss how Russian troops can be made a part of the international security force in Kosovo. U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott, in Moscow for talks on the broader Kosovo settlement, may also join the military consultations.
The negotiations surrounding the broader Kosovo peace deal have been extraordinarily complex, and a number of details still need to be worked out. Diplomats suggested yesterday, however, that, if all goes smoothly, events should unfold roughly as follows. The NATO military alliance will verify–possibly even today–that Belgrade has begun its military retreat from Kosovo. That decision will trigger a suspension in NATO’s air attacks against Yugoslavia. The bombing halt, in turn, will permit the UN Security Council to approve the peace resolution drafted by Russia and the G-7 countries. International troops–presumably composed in large part of NATO forces–will then begin deploying to Kosovo. There they will seek to quickly make the province secure for the return of more than 800,000 ethnic Albanian refugees (International Herald Tribune, June 10; AP, Reuters, June 9).
The sequence of proposed events may indeed go smoothly. The last NATO airstrike was reportedly made yesterday evening, several hours before the accord was reached. The stage has been set as well for the deployment of NATO forces in Kosovo: U.S. troops landed in northern Greece this morning, and convoys apparently began departing for Macedonia immediately. Further, also this morning, possible Yugoslav preparations for withdrawal of its troops (empty trucks and vehicles going into Kosovo) seemed to be in evidence (AP, June 10).
…BUT PROBLEMS LOOM. ”