Another Obstacle on the Road to Peace Is Cleared

  • Share
  • Read Later
Is it finally over? After exhaustive negotiations, Yugoslav generals Wednesday night signed a detailed agreement on withdrawing their forces from Kosovo. The pact is expected to bring an end to NATO’s bombing -– Germany says that’s already effectively happened; NATO’s spokesman insists it’ll happen as soon as the Serbs hit the road. But even with international peacekeepers poised to enter the province and make it safe for returning refugees, the struggle for Kosovo may be far from over. "Experience tells us to expect Milosevic to do his utmost to stall, perhaps not withdrawing all of his forces and seeking loopholes in agreements to try and maintain whatever control he can over Kosovo," says TIME U.N. correspondent William Dowell. "He’ll try to create a situation where it’s hard for NATO to resume bombing and that President Clinton will simply let the issue slide."

The draft U.N. resolution setting out the Kosovo peace process was agreed to in negotiations among the G8 nations, but disagreements between Russia and the West resulted in a number of questions –- such as the command and composition of the peacekeeping force -– being left open. Such issues, along with the tortuous negotiations over an implementation agreement, signal the conflicts to come. "Even as the deal is being implemented, Belgrade will refer to the letter of the resolution in order to challenge NATO’s interpretations," says TIME Central Europe reporter Dejan Anastasijevic. "For example, they’re claiming the right to screen the returning refugees on the grounds that the agreement specifies continued Yugoslav control over Kosovo’s border crossings. So despite reaching agreement, NATO’s still going to have to show a lot of determination to realize its objectives in Kosovo." In other words, don't expect the peacekeepers home in time for the New Hampshire primary -- in 2004.

Discuss the issues >>