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Yugoslavia: China, Russia Threaten To Block UN Kosovo Resolution

  • Joe Lauria



United Nations, 9 June 1999 (RFE/RL) -- The draft resolution that would bring peace to Kosovo was discussed behind closed doors by the UN Security Council Tuesday, but China and Russia said they will block adoption until NATO bombing ends.

NATO remains adamant that won't happen until a verifiable withdrawal of Serbian forces from the disputed province begins. Thus the focus shifted to military talks between NATO and Serbian military officials that resumed Tuesday night in Macedonia on a NATO blueprint for Serbian withdrawal.

China, which did not participate in drafting the resolution with the G-7 plus Russia foreign ministers in Germany, objected to two points in the language of the text that will create a 50,000-strong international peace force for Kosovo.

China's deputy permanent UN representative, Shen Guofang, said Beijing objected to a reference to Chapter 7 of the UN charter which would allow the peacekeepers to use force and to mention of the International Tribunal at The Hague, which last week indicted Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. Shen said the indictment was "politically motivated, so we cannot accept that."

Diplomats also said China again raised the issue of the bombing of its embassy in Belgrade by NATO forces in talks with American officials at the UN. China wants better answers from Washington in a public report on the incident.

"This is a very serious matter and we are asking that we have bilateral contacts with the United States," Shen said. "We hope that we can get the results of the investigation."

But the main sticking point to passage of the resolution remains Beijing's and Moscow's demand for a halt to NATO bombing raids, which escalated Tuesday. Both Russia and China hold veto power on the council.

"By adopting the resolution we cannot give justification to NATO for the further bombing of Yugoslavia," Shen said. "Only after the Security Council receives confirmation that NATO stops bombing can we take action in the council. The Security Council is not a rubber stamp."

Russia's UN envoy, Sergei Lavrov, said: "No resolution can be seriously discussed or adopted until the bombing is stopped."

Western diplomats said a possible scenario for ending the 76-day air war would be for Serbia to sign the military agreement, followed by a verifiable withdrawal of Serbian troops, a halt in the bombing and a UN vote immediately after that.

Jeremy Greenstock, Britain's UN ambassador said: "The military agreement and the beginnings of the implementation of that agreement will have to be made simultaneous with the passing of the resolution. If there is a synchronization of all these things, then it looks as though China will be supportive of the resolution."

Greenstock noted that Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari, the European Union's Kosovo negotiator, was in Beijing to try to get Chinese support for the resolution.

The council was not expected to meet again until Wednesday after the Chinese delegation receives instructions from Beijing on how to proceed. "Time is of the essence and we hope we can reach agreement as soon as possible but at the same time we hope we can take care of all of (our) concerns," China's Shen said.

The resolution creates the international peacekeeping force -- composed of NATO and Russian troops -- that will enter Kosovo as Serbia begins its withdrawal. The text does not spell out the force's command structure, which is still being discussed between NATO and Moscow.

The resolution says the peacekeepers role will include "deterring renewed hostilities, maintaining and where necessary enforcing a ceasefire, ensuring the withdrawal and preventing the return into Kosovo of [Yugoslav} military, police and paramilitary forces."

The draft resolution says only a handful of Serbian troops will be let back in to protect religious and cultural sites. The peacekeepers will also demilitarize Albanian rebels and "establish a secure environment in which refugees and displaced persons can return home in safety."

The resolution also sets up an interim UN civilian administration for the province whose task will be to "oversee the development of provisional democratic self-governing institutions" for Kosovo. The civilian and military force has one-year mandate with the possibility of renewal by the council.
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