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Letter from President McDonald to Foreign Ministers Vedrine and Cook concerning the Kosovo Negotiations at Rambouillet, France.

Press Release · Communiqué de presse

(Exclusively for the use of the media. Not an official document)


The Hague, 23 February 1999




Please find below the text of the letter sent yesterday to the Foreign Ministers of France and the United Kingdom:

22 February 1999


In recent days I have received worrying reports concerning the progress of negotiations at the Kosovo peace talks at Rambouillet, France. I have been advised that the text currently under consideration by the parties does not contain provisions that would require them to recognise the competence of the International Tribunal (Tribunal) or to take specific measures to co-operate
with the Tribunal. Rather, I understand that under the current draft of the agreement, the parties would sign only a general provision on co-operation.

Considering the attitude of the Government of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (F.R.Y.) to the Tribunal, as demonstrated by its record of non-co-operation with and obstructionism of Tribunal requests and orders, in my judgement, such a generic provision is not sufficient to ensure that the Tribunal will be able to discharge its mandate. As you are aware, since March 1998 both the
Security Council and Contact Group have repeatedly reaffirmed that mandate with respect to Kosovo. The repeated refusal of the Government of the F.R.Y. to obey the will of the international community by recognising the competence of the Tribunal and facilitating its activities therefore renders it imperative that the agreement’s provisions concerning the Tribunal make explicit
reference to its legal right to access to Kosovo and to conduct investigative activities there.

I know of the commitment of France and the United Kingdom to an effective Tribunal. We cannot allow the authority of the Tribunal to be ignored or to be dismissed by omitting recognition of mandatory Chapter VII obligations in the agreement. I fear, therefore, that if there is not express reference to the matters I have mentioned, it could be well construed that, by omission, there
is a tacit agreement that the Tribunal may be ignored. I urge you to use your influence as co-chair of the peace talks not to allow this to occur.

It is axiomatic that there can be no peace without justice. Thus, any agreement that fails to bind explicitly the Government of the F.R.Y. and the Kosovar Albanians to specific forms of co-operation, risks being perceived as sacrificing the principles on which the Tribunal is founded for short-term political interest.

Accept Excellency, the assurance of my highest consideration.

Gabrielle Kirk McDonald