KOSOVO CONFLICT CHRONOLOGY: SEPTEMBER 1998-MARCH 1999
CRS Report for Congress
Kosovo Conflict Chronology:
September 1998 - March 1999
April 6, 1999
Specialist in International Relations
Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division
Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress
This report chronicles major events regarding the violent conflict in Kosovo, a region in Serbia
with a majority ethnic Albanian population, from September 1998 through March 1999.
During this period, a cease-fire was brokered in October 1998, but was frequently violated
by both sides. In mid-January 1999, a massacre of ethnic Albanian civilians by Serbian police
prompted renewed international attention to the Kosovo problem, and led to peace talks in
February and March. NATO planned to deploy a peacekeeping force in Kosovo once an
agreement was reached. Continued Serbian rejection of the agreement led NATO to launch
an extended air strike campaign against Yugoslav targets on March 24. Air strikes did not
deter Serb forces from their onslaught in Kosovo, driving hundreds of thousands of refugees
into neighboring countries. Other CRS reports relating to this topic include CRS Issue Brief
98041, Kosovo and U.S. Policy, CRS Issue Brief 93056, Bosnia and Kosovo: U.S. Military
Operations, and CRS Report 98-752, Kosovo Conflict Chronology: January-August 1998.
This report will not be updated.
Kosovo Conflict Chronology: September 1998 -
Kosovo is a province in southern Serbia with a majority Albanian population that
seeks independence. Long-simmering tensions between the Serbian government
authorities and the ethnic Albanian majority in Kosovo erupted into large-scale
violence beginning in February 1998. An October 1998 agreement brokered by U.S.
envoy Richard Holbrooke with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, and backed
by the threat of NATO air strikes, achieved a brief pause in the fighting. A January
1999 massacre of ethnic Albanian civilians in Racak prompted renewed international
focus on the situation in Kosovo and on negotiations to resolve the conflict. By this
time, an estimated 2,000 persons, mainly ethnic Albanians, had been killed and over
Negotiations opened in Rambouillet, France, in early February 1999. The
Rambouillet accords would provide for a three-year interim agreement on democratic
self-government for the people of Kosovo. The accords would establish political
institutions and offices in Kosovo, free elections, and human rights provisions. A
NATO military force would ensure compliance with the accords and provide a secure
environment. The United States pledged to contribute up to 4,000 troops to a
NATO-led peacekeeping force, a smaller share than in the NATO force in Bosnia.
Kosovo would not achieve independence from Serbia under the accords; however, at
the end of the three year period, an international conference would determine a
mechanism for a final settlement for Kosovo.
In contrast to earlier expectations, the Kosovar Albanian delegation retained
objections to aspects of the accords and refused to sign the agreement during the
Rambouillet conference. It finally signed the agreement on March 18, after the
conference briefly reconvened in Paris. In spite of numerous international missions
to Belgrade by western officials, including U.S. envoy Holbrooke, President Milosevic
continued to refuse to consider the deployment of NATO troops on Serbian territory
and instead mobilized greater numbers of troops in Kosovo.
On March 24, NATO launched Operation “Allied Force,” an extensive air strike
campaign against Yugoslav military targets. The air operation aimed to deter Serbian
attacks on Kosovo and to reduce Belgrade’s military capabilities. In a national
address, President Clinton stated that ending the Kosovo tragedy was both a “moral
imperative” and important to U.S. national interests. However, Yugoslav and Serb
forces stepped up their ethnic cleansing campaigns to drive out ethnic Albanians,
creating a refugee and humanitarian crisis affecting neighboring states. By the end of
the month, some observers questioned whether additional measures, such as the
introduction of ground troops, should be considered.
This report provides a chronology of major events related to the conflict in
Kosovo from September 1998 through March 1999. It continues from an earlier CRS
Report, Kosovo Conflict Chronology: January - August 1998. A map is included.
Chronology .................................................... 1
Map ......................................................... 19
Kosovo Conflict Chronology:
September 1998 - March 1999
09/02/98--U.S. Balkans envoy Christopher Hill, the U.S. Ambassador to
Macedonia, after meeting separately with the Serbian government and leaders of the
Kosovo Albanians, reported that the two sides were in general agreement on a basic
autonomy peace framework that would postpone final settlement of the legal status2
of Kosovo for an interim period of about three years.
--In Moscow, U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Russian
Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov issued a joint statement demanding an end to the
attacks in Kosovo and a start to an intensified negotiation process.
09/03/98 --Fighting between Serbian police and ethnic Albanian separatists was
reported in several areas in Kosovo. Near Prizren, in southern Kosovo, local
journalists reported that 35 Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) rebels and five Serbian
policemen were killed.
09/06/98--Speaking at the end of a two-day mission to Kosovo, U.S. Assistant
Secretary of State John Shattuck, traveling with former U.S. presidential candidate
Bob Dole, reported that they had seen “horrendous human rights violations, violations
of humanitarian law, and acts of punitive destruction on a massive scale.”
09/10/98--NATO and Partnership for Peace (PFP) countries began a week-long
training exercise in Macedonia, Cooperative Best Effort 98. The exercise focused on
training infantry in a peacekeeping scenario. Over 26 countries participated.
09/16/98--At a news conference, President Clinton stated that the United States
and its allies should move forthrightly to avert a humanitarian disaster in Kosovo,
Sources for this chronology include news wire service reports, press releases and briefings1
from international organizations and government agencies, major U.S. newspapers and journal
articles, the Foreign Broadcast Information Service, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
reports, and the Facts on File World News Digest. For additional background and analysis
on events in Kosovo and U.S. policy, see CRS Issue Brief 98041, Kosovo and U.S. Policy,
Kosovo (Kosova in Albanian) is a province within Serbia. Following the dissolution of the2
former Yugoslavia in 1991, the republics of Serbia and Montenegro in 1992 formed the
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY); this entity has not been formally recognized by the
citing the estimated 50,000-100,000 displaced persons in Kosovo without shelter for
the upcoming winter.
09/18/98--The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said that about
10,000 additional persons had fled their homes as a result of Serb attacks on about
one dozen Kosovo villages north of Pristina.
09/22/98--Serbian police authorities announced the start of a major offensive
against the Albanian separatist guerillas in the northern part of Kosovo.
--U.S. envoy Hill visited the Kosovo countryside south of Pristina and
reported no signs of displaced persons returning to shelter. In contrast, Serbian
President Milan Milutinovic, after his own tour of the province, stated that “life was
normal” in Kosovo.
09/23/98--The U.N. Security Council passed Resolution 1199 on the situation
in Kosovo by a vote of 14 in favor, 0 against, with China abstaining. Acting under
Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter (dealing with threats to peace and acts of
aggression), Security Council members demanded that all parties cease hostilities
immediately and take steps to improve the humanitarian situation on the ground.
They called upon the Serbian and Albanian parties to enter immediately into a
dialogue on a negotiated political solution. The resolution made four demands on
Belgrade: cease hostilities against the civilian population and withdraw security units
used for civilian repression; enable international monitoring in Kosovo; facilitate
refugee returns; and make progress on reaching a dialogue with the Albanian parties.
The resolution did not threaten force or impose new sanctions on Serbia.
--In Kosovo, Yugoslav army units continued a tank and artillery
offensive on villages to the north of Pristina.
09/26/98--In the town of Gornje Obrinje, west of Pristina, Serbian police units
were believed to have killed about 19 ethnic Albanians, mainly women and children,
belonging to a single family clan. The act was considered to be in retaliation for the
killing of seven Serb policemen by Albanian guerrillas in the same area. Additional
deaths were reported in other villages in the Drenica region. The killings prompted
expressions of outrage in many countries.
09/28/98--Serbian Prime Minister Mirko Marjanovic claimed victory over the
Albanian guerrilla forces in Kosovo and announced that Serbian special police forces
would carry out a cease-fire and be withdrawn from the province. Hours later,
however, western diplomats reported heavy attacks by Serbian forces in southern
10/01/98--International media reported that several hundred Serbian police and
Yugoslav army troops were in the process of pulling out of Kosovo.
10/05/98--U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke returned to Belgrade to warn Yugoslav
President Milosevic that NATO air strikes were imminent if Yugoslavia continued to
refuse to comply with U.N. resolutions. Milosevic claimed that Yugoslavia was
already in compliance. Holbrooke met with Milosevic again the following day,
--In a report to the Security Council, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi
Annan strongly criticized Serbia’s use of terror and violence against Albanian
civilians. However, absent a significant U.N. presence on the ground, Annan stated
that he could not provide an independent assessment of Serb or Albanian compliance
with U.N. resolutions.
10/07/98--Richard Holbrooke held another round of talks with President
Milosevic in Belgrade, but reported no progress. Holbrooke then traveled to Brussels
to report to NATO. In Brussels, NATO officials stated that the alliance was prepared
to carry out air strikes against Serbia. In Washington, President Clinton directed the
U.S. representative to NATO to vote in favor of authorizing air strikes. Clinton
stated that NATO air strikes could only be avoided if Milosevic fully complied with
Britain, France, Russia, Germany, and Italy) in London, Contact Group foreign
ministers agreed to send U.S. envoy Holbrooke back to Belgrade for a last-ditch
effort to avert NATO air strikes. In Brussels, NATO ambassadors approved plans for
phased air operations in Yugoslavia, the final step prior to issuing the “activation
order” for air strikes. Many European states remained hesitant about authorizing the
use of force by NATO without specific authorization by the U.N. Security Council.
10/13/98--NATO gave the “activation order” to authorize air strikes against
Yugoslavia if President Milosevic did not withdraw his security forces from Kosovo
within four days. The order conferred authority to NATO SACEUR Gen. Wesley
Clark to launch air operations if international demands were not met.
--After several more hours of meetings with President Milosevic on
October 12 and October 13, U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke announced that Milosevic
had pledged full compliance with U.N. demands, including withdrawing army and
police forces, allowing refugees to return home, and providing access to aid
organizations. He also agreed to international ground and air verification of
Yugoslav compliance with U.N. resolutions on Kosovo. Holbrooke said that ground
compliance would be carried out by up to 2,000 “verifiers” provided by the
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Aerial verification
would be carried out by NATO non-combat reconnaissance flights. The accord
appeared to remove the immediate threat of NATO air strikes.
--The Serbian government issued a “unilateral statement” that outlined
a political framework and timetable for establishing an autonomous solution for
Kosovo. The statement emphasized that any solution for Kosovo must respect the
territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY).
The government pledged to hold free elections in Kosovo within nine months and to
devolve policing authorities to the local level.
10/15/98--Meeting in Paris, Contact Group representatives reviewed the
commitments made by President Milosevic and discussed plans for implementing the
observer missions and launching political negotiations.
--In Belgrade, NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana and SACEUR
Gen. Wesley Clark signed an agreement with President Milosevic to establish the
NATO/Kosovo Air Verification Mission, to be operated by NATO. The NATO
officials told Milosevic that they were “still far” from seeing full compliance by Serbia
on pulling back its forces from Kosovo. Solana said that 4,000-5,000 Yugoslav army
and 4,000 special police units needed to be withdrawn from the province for
Yugoslavia to be in compliance. He said that NATO remained ready and willing to
act if Milosevic’s obligations were not met.
10/16/98--NATO extended its deadline for Milosevic to pull back his forces from
Kosovo for an additional ten-day period, or until October 27. While compliance
remained unsatisfactory, NATO officials stated that evidence of partial compliance
warranted the extension of the deadline. Over 400 NATO aircraft stood ready to
engage in air operations.
--FRY and OSCE representatives signed an agreement establishing a
2,000-strong Kosovo Verification Mission (KVM) in Kosovo. OSCE later appointed
U.S. diplomat William Walker to head the KVM.
10/17/98--UCK units reportedly killed three Serbian police officers in central
Kosovo. In response, Belgrade deployed two armored army units to the region,
with Russia and China abstaining. Acting under Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter, the
Security Council endorsed the verification agreements made by the FRY with NATO
and the OSCE. It demanded that the FRY and Kosovo Albanian leadership comply
with previous U.N. resolutions and cooperate fully with the international verification
missions. It called on the FRY to implement its commitment to complete negotiations
on a framework for a political settlement by November 2.
10/26/98--International media sources reported that thousands of Yugoslav
interior ministry troops were heading out of Kosovo. The withdrawals came after
more meetings between Yugoslav leaders and NATO officials on October 24 and 25.
President Milosevic reportedly agreed to withdraw 4,500 interior ministry troops and
to order two-thirds of Yugoslav army units to their garrisons.
NATO suspended its immediate threat of ordering air strikes on Serbia when the
ultimatum expired. However, NATO Secretary-General Solana announced that
NATO would maintain its activation order for air strikes and remain prepared to carry
out air operations. State Department officials later said that about 4,000 Serbian
special police forces had withdrawn from Kosovo, leaving about 10,000 special
police, roughly the same amount that was in the province before February 1998.
About 4,000 Yugoslav army forces had also withdrawn, leaving about 13,000 in
Kosovo. By this time, roughly 150 OSCE monitors had arrived in Kosovo.
Humanitarian agencies reported that thousands of the 280,000 total number of
refugees were beginning to return to their homes.
11/02/98--A draft of the interim autonomy plan presented by Ambassador Hill
was rejected President Milosevic, ethnic Albanian leaders, and representatives of
Kosovo’s Serb minority. The Milosevic-Holbrooke agreement from mid-October
reportedly set a November 2 deadline for reaching agreement on an autonomy deal.
11/05/98--Yugoslav President Milosevic barred U.N. war crimes investigators
from entering Kosovo. The U.N. investigation team was to look into specific
allegations of war crimes committed by both the Serbian and Albanian sides in
Kosovo. U.N. tribunal and NATO officials harshly criticized Belgrade’s position.
11/11/98--OSCE KVM leader William Walker arrived in Kosovo. Roughly 200
KVM verifiers were in place in Kosovo by this time. Serbian police units returned to
villages in the Drenica region, allegedly in response to KLA attacks on Serbian police
11/13/98--UNHCR estimated that over 100,000 persons remained displaced in
Kosovo, while about 65,000 had returned to their homes. In addition, an estimated
45,000 Kosovo Albanians were in Montenegro; 20,000 elsewhere in Serbia; 20,000
in Albania; and over 50,000 in various western European countries. However,
UNHCR estimated that no group remained completely without shelter in the forests,
as had been the case prior to the cease-fire.
with China abstaining, regarding cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal
for the Former Yugoslavia. Resolution 1207 condemned the FRY’s failure to comply
with U.N. demands on full cooperation with the Tribunal. The resolution also
condemned the FRY for failing to arrest and transfer three individuals indicted by the
11/18/98--A Serbian delegation led by President Milan Milutinovic arrived in
Pristina in order to begin talks with Kosovo Albanian leaders. Key Albanian leaders,
including Ibrahim Rugova and members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA),
stayed away, claiming that the meeting was a propaganda ploy by Belgrade. The
meeting followed weeks of shuttle diplomacy by U.S. envoy Chris Hill and EU envoy
Wolfgang Petritsch, the Austrian ambassador to Belgrade.
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright stated that both the Serbian and Kosovo
Albanian sides continued to violate the cease-fire. She said that President Milosevic
was increasing rather than decreasing the number of Serbian special police (MUP)
forces in Kosovo. On this day, the KLA allegedly killed two Serbian policemen in an
ambush of a police vehicle.
11/21/98--The Serbian government released a draft peace plan for Kosovo as a
counter-proposal to the version presented by Ambassador Hill. The Serbian counter-
plan was reportedly formulated as a result of talks between the Serbian government
and minority groups in Kosovo, excluding the Kosovo Albanians.
11/24/98--FRY President Milosevic fired Yugoslav Army Chief of Staff General
Momcilo Perisic. The move, just weeks after Milosevic had fired the head of the state
security services, was viewed by analysts as another step in Milosevic’s effort to quell
potential internal dissent to his policies.
12/01/98--U.S. State Department spokesman Jamie Rubin pronounced at a
regular press briefing that Yugoslav President Milosevic was “not simply part of the
problem,” but rather was “the problem,” and named him responsible for all of the
crises in the former Yugoslavia in recent years, including the crisis in Kosovo.
12/03/98--Ambassador Chris Hill presented a revised draft of the autonomy plan
for Kosovo to Serbian President Milutinovic in Belgrade, and to the ethnic Albanian
negotiating team in Pristina on the following day. Both sides later expressed
dissatisfaction with aspects of the plan.
--Meeting in Oslo, representatives of OSCE member states pledged to
commit unarmed observers to the OSCE’s Kosovo Verification Mission. About 500
verifiers were already in place in Kosovo.
--In three separate incidents, 12 persons were killed in clashes between
ethnic Albanians and Yugoslav forces, marking the worst deterioration of the October
case-fire to date.
12/04/98--NATO approved the creation of a small, over-the-horizon extraction
force to provide emergency security for the OSCE KVM mission. The roughly
12/07/98--Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Nikolic threatened to restart
a full offensive against the KLA if the rebel force did not stop its surprise attacks on
Serbian police units.
--Ethnic Albanian negotiators rejected the latest version of Ambassador
Hill’s interim autonomy plan. Serb negotiators also rejected the draft on the following
12/10/98--The OSCE-run Kosovo Verification Mission (KVM) was officially
launched in Kosovo, taking over for the Kosovo Diplomatic Observer Mission
(KDOM). U.S. Ambassador William Walker, heading the KVM, estimated that all
of the 2,000 unarmed KVM force would be in place by the end of January 1999.
--Serb officials and Albanian negotiators continued to object to the latest
version of the peace agreement to the U.S. and EU negotiators. The following day,
U.S. envoy Christopher Hill indicated that he would terminate the shuttle diplomacy
process between the two sides.
12/14/98--Yugoslav army troops ambushed a group of KLA members crossing
into Kosovo from Albania and reportedly seized from them a large quantity of
weaponry. The deadliest clash since the October cease-fire resulted in over 30 KLA
deaths. In a separate incident, Albanian gunmen killed six Serbs in a bar in the town
12/15/98--U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke returned to Belgrade to discuss with
President Milosevic options for reviving peace talks with the Kosovo Albanians. No
progress was reported after the talks.
12/17/98--Zvonko Bojanic, the Serbian Deputy Mayor of Kosovo, was
kidnapped and executed in a village near Pristina. KLA representatives denied
responsibility for the act, but the attack was reportedly carried out by persons wearing
KLA insignia. Fighting was also reported in several western Kosovo villages.
Yugoslav tanks and troops attacked an ethnic Albanian stronghold around Podujevo,
north of Pristina. The following day, KVM chief William Walker brokered a partial
pull-back of forces from both sides.
12/27/98--After a brief lull, fighting resumed in the Podujevo area. Kosovo
Albanian rebels attacked a Serbian police post and ambushed police units entering
Kosovo from outside the province. KVM monitors restored the local cease-fire the
01/08/99--The KLA took eight Yugoslav Army soldiers hostage near the
northern town of Podujevo. The Yugoslav Army reinforced its forces around the area
01/13/99--The eight Yugoslav Army soldiers were released by ethnic Albanian
guerrillas through an agreement reached with OSCE mediators. Although the terms
of the deal remained secret, western officials stated that the Yugoslav side had agreed
to release nine ethnic Albanian prisoners within ten days.
01/15/99--At least 45 ethnic Albanians, including women and children, were
found killed by close-range shootings in the village of Racak. KVM chief Walker
placed responsibility for the attack on Serbian security forces. The Serbian
government claimed that the police had returned fire on armed terrorists. OSCE
observers speculated that the massacre was in retaliation for the death of a Serbian
police officer. The massacre elicited many expressions of condemnation abroad.
President Clinton condemned the massacre of the civilians, calling it a deliberate and
indiscriminate act of murder.
01/17/99--NATO ambassadors held an emergency meeting in response to the
01/18/99--U.N. war crimes prosecutor Louise Arbour was denied entry into the
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia by Yugoslav guards on the border with Macedonia.
Arbour was en route to investigate the killings at Racak days earlier. Arbour returned
to the Hague two days later without visiting Kosovo.
--The Yugoslav government declared OSCE KVM chief Walker to be
persona non grata and demanded that he leave the territory of Yugoslavia within 48
hours. The government charged that Walker’s activities went beyond the mandate of
the KVM mission. In Racak, Serbian police removed the bodies of the more than 40
victims from a mosque and transferred them to Pristina for examination.
01/19/99--NATO Supreme Allied Commander Gen. Wesley Clark and Military
Committee chief Gen. Klaus Naumann held talks with President Milosevic in
Belgrade. They reportedly demanded that Milosevic uphold his October
commitments, including pulling back his forces from Kosovo, or face air strikes.
However, Milosevic rebuffed NATO’s threats of intervention, although he extended
the deadline for Ambassador Walker’s expulsion by an additional 24 hours.
--Yugoslav Army and Serbian police units attacked ethnic Albanian
villages around Racak for the third day.
--The U.N. Security Council issued a statement on Kosovo after holding
an emergency session at the request of Albania. The Council condemned the
massacre at Racak. It deplored Belgrade’s denial of access to U.N. prosecutor
Arbour. The Council expressed full support for the OSCE mission in Kosovo, now
with about 800 international verifiers.
01/21/99--Partially responding to international demands, President Milosevic
“froze” the expulsion order on OSCE chief Walker. The OSCE issued a report on
Racak that concluded that the killing of the unarmed ethnic Albanian civilians was
likely an act of revenge by Serbian forces.
01/22/99--Diplomats from the Contact Group in London announced that Contact
Group foreign ministers would meet the following week to endorse a draft peace
agreement and to call for the start of political negotiations. Officials said that shuttle
diplomacy was no longer effective and that talks should be brought to a higher profile.
01/23/99--Serbian authorities freed nine ethnic Albanian prisoners in return for
the release of eight Yugoslav Army soldiers some weeks earlier.
01/24/99--Writing in Newsweek magazine, KVM chief Walker repeated the
charge that the Racak victims were “unquestionably killed by units of the Serb
01/25/99--In Brussels, European Union foreign ministers continued to discuss
recent efforts to facilitate a political settlement. In Pristina, U.S. envoy Hill met with
ethnic Albanian leaders to press them to unite behind the Contact Group’s draft peace
01/26/99--For the first time, U.S. officials left open the possibility that the
Administration would consider sending U.S. troops to Kosovo as part of a
peacekeeping force. National Security Advisor Samual “Sandy” Berger stated that
although President Clinton was still opposed to sending U.S. troops to Kosovo, “no
decisions” had yet been made. Secretary of State Albright, meeting with Russian
Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, stated that peacekeeping options would be examined.
--In Presidential Determination No. 99-10, President Clinton authorized
up to $25 million in humanitarian assistance for refugees, displaced persons, and other
victims of the conflict in Kosovo.
01/27/99--Clinton Administration officials announced that the United States had
reached agreement with its allies on a two-track strategy to pursue at the January 29
meeting of the Contact Group. The agreed strategy was to press for immediate
negotiations on a political settlement while exercising a credible threat of military
force through NATO.
General Kofi Annan gave emphasis to the “lessons of Bosnia” and “the combination
of force and diplomacy that is the key to peace in the Balkans.” News media
interpreted Annan’s speech as an expression of support for NATO’s threat of force
to bring Serbia to peace negotiations.
--The North Atlantic Council decided to increase NATO’s military
preparedness for possible air operations. NATO Secretary-General Solana stated that
NATO stood “ready to act” and that no option was ruled out. NATO demanded that
both parties halt fighting and agree to the interim political settlement proposed by the
--The Washington Post reported that telephone intercepts by western
intelligence agencies revealed conversations between senior Serbian political and
military officials regarding the Racak massacre. Transcripts of the conversations
reportedly implicated top Serbian officials in the Racak killings themselves and in the
subsequent attempt to shield them from outside investigation.
01/29/99--After meeting in London, Foreign Ministers of the Contact Group
summoned representatives of the Serbian/FRY and Kosovo Albanian parties to attend
peace negotiations at Rambouillet, France, by February 6. The Contact Group stated
that the negotiations should conclude within seven days, with the possibility of a
second week’s extension. The Contact Group demanded that the FRY stop all
offensive actions in Kosovo, comply fully with relevant agreements and U.N.
resolutions, and cooperate fully with the OSCE and with the war crimes tribunal. The
Contact Group also condemned provocations by the KLA and demanded that the
Kosovo Albanians comply with relevant U.N. resolutions.
01/30/99--On behalf of the Contact Group, U.K. Foreign Secretary Robin Cook
met separately with Yugoslav and Kosovo Albanian leaders to urge them to heed the
Contact Group’s summons to peace talks at Rambouillet.
--The North Atlantic Council authorized the NATO Secretary-General
engage in air strikes against targets in the FRY. It reaffirmed NATO’s readiness to
engage in military operations and also expressed support for the political negotiations
set forth by the Contact Group. Regarding the KLA, NATO said it would take “all
appropriate measures” if the Kosovar Albanian side failed to comply with international
02/02/99--After holding a meeting among commanders, KLA leaders agreed to
participate in the Contact Group-sponsored talks. However, one influential Kosovo
Albanian leader, Adem Demaci, pleaded for a rejection of the negotiation proposal.
--Before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Director of Central
Intelligence George Tenet testified that spring was likely to bring more fighting in
Kosovo. He predicted that the violence would be bloodier than in the past year and
likely to broaden out to neighboring states.
02/03/99--Before the Senate Armed Services committee, Joint Chiefs of Staff
chairman Gen. Henry Shelton said that preliminary plans foresaw between 2,000 and
4,000 U.S. troops participating in a NATO force in Kosovo totaling up to 30,000
troops. Defense Secretary William Cohen stated that U.S. participation in such a
force was necessary in the eyes of the European allies and of the Kosovo Albanian
02/04/99--In separate addresses, President Clinton and Secretary of State
Albright provided arguments in favor of U.S. participation in a future NATO
peacekeeping force in Kosovo. Secretary Albright stated that the United States had
a fundamental interest in peace and stability in southeastern Europe. She said that
violent conflict in that region had no natural borders and could easily spread to other
states and affect NATO allies. President Clinton said that the time to stop the conflict
in Kosovo was now, before it spread.
--The Yugoslav government agreed to attend peace talks at Rambouillet
scheduled to begin two days later. However, the Serbian parliament approved a
statement that said it did “not accept the presence of foreign soldiers on our
02/06/99--French President Jacques Chirac opened the Kosovo peace conference
opened at a 14 century chateau at Rambouillet, France. French Foreign Ministerth
Hubert Vedrine and British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook co-chaired the conference.
The start of the talks was briefly postponed for the late arrival of KLA members of
the Kosovo Albanian delegation. The Serbian government had temporarily denied
travel documents to the three KLA members. At Rambouillet, the FRY was
represented by a 13-member delegation. Sixteen Kosovar Albanians represented the
other side. The peace conference was to conclude within two weeks.
--A bomb exploded in downtown Pristina, killing three ethnic Albanian
civilians. OSCE mission chief Walker said that the timing of the explosion with the
start of the Rambouillet talks was “no coincidence.”
02/09/99--Yugoslav Foreign Minister Zivadin Jovanovic firmly reiterated
Yugoslavia’s opposition to the possible deployment of NATO peacekeepers in
Kosovo. In response, State Department spokesman Jamie Rubin warned that, if the
Albanians agreed to the Contact Group plan and Yugoslavia did not, the Serbs would
be subject to air strikes.
--In the first press briefing after the start of the Rambouillet conference,
the team of three international negotiators (Ambassador Chris Hill of the United
States, Ambassador Wolfgang Petritsch representing the EU, and Ambassador Boris
Mayorsky of Russia) reported that the talks were “moving ahead,” but cited no
02/10/99--NATO ambassadors approved an accelerated timetable for the
deployment of an international peacekeeping force for Kosovo. The plans reportedly
involved a swift deployment of an advance rapid reaction force, or “enabling force,”
within days of a peace settlement.
--Serbian authorities released the bodies of 40 ethnic Albanians killed
at Racak in January. The bodies were returned to their families after being held by
Serbian authorities for autopsies for nearly a month.
02/12/99--Peace conference co-chairmen British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook
and French Foreign Minister Herbert Vedrine returned to Rambouillet at the mid-
point of the talks. Secretary Cook stated that the Serb delegation was blocking
02/13/99--During his weekly radio address, President Clinton stated that the
United States would participate with 2,000-4,000 U.S. troops in a future NATO
peacekeeping force in Kosovo, should the parties reach a strong peace agreement.
02/14/99--The Contact Group extended the Rambouillet conference into its
second week. A statement by the Contact Group acknowledged that “progress has
been slower” than expected and warned that “time (was) now very short to reach a
negotiated settlement.” The Contact Group urged the parties to agree on the
proposals for Kosovo’s self-government and to accept the implementation
arrangements included in the proposals.
02/15/99--At a news conference at Rambouillet, Serbian President Milan
Milutinovic rejected the notion of any foreign troops on Yugoslav soil, stating that “if
the agreement is good and fair...no foreign force is necessary to make them implement
02/16/99--U.S. envoy Christopher Hill flew to Belgrade to meet with Yugoslav
President Milosevic in an attempt to make progress on the issue of the NATO
peacekeeping presence. Milosevic continued to refuse to accept a future NATO
deployment on Yugoslav soil. In Washington, Secretary of State Albright called such
a position a “deal-breaker,” and warned that it would be “followed by NATO
the KLA’s political representative who refused to attend the Rambouillet talks, in
Slovenia. Demaci reportedly urged Thaci to take a hard-line stance on the Kosovar
02/20/99--Contact Group foreign ministers extended the deadline for the
conclusion of the Rambouillet talks for three additional days, until Tuesday afternoon,
February 23. U.S. Secretary of State Albright stated that the NATO-led force
component of the peace agreement was essential; without it, the agreement was “just
a piece of paper.”
02/21/99--With Serb agreement appearing extremely doubtful, Contact Group
negotiators reportedly concentrated their attentions on achieving Kosovar Albanian
agreement to the Rambouillet accords. Without agreement by the Albanian side,
Secretary Albright predicted that there would be no NATO air strikes against Serbia.
02/22/99--Secretary of State Albright spent most of the day in talks with the
Kosovar Albanian delegation. Among other items, the Kosovar Albanian delegation
reportedly objected to the absence of the word “referendum” in the peace agreement.
The draft agreement called for an international conference at the end of the three-year
interim period to determine the “will of the people.” NATO SACEUR Gen. Wesley
Clark flew to a military airfield near Rambouillet and met briefly with the Albanian
02/23/99--UNHCR officials warned that recent fighting in northwest Kosovo had
forced thousands of ethnic Albanians to flee their homes. UNHCR estimated that
about 9,000 additional persons had been displaced over the previous weekend.
--Shortly after the deadline for the Rambouillet conference had expired,
the Kosovar Albanian delegation conditionally accepted the peace proposal. Though
it did not sign the draft peace plan, the delegation signed a declaration that said it
could sign the agreement after a two-week period for consultations back in Kosovo.
U.S. officials expressed relief at the Albanians’ last-minute acceptance.
--The Serbian delegation issued a statement that called for further
negotiations. It continued to reject a NATO-led military force in Kosovo but stated
that Yugoslavia would consider “the size and character of an international presence
in Kosovo for the implementation of an agreement.”
--Adjourning the talks at Rambouillet, the Contact Group issued a
statement that said that the parties had reached “consensus” on substantial autonomy
for Kosovo. It said that the parties agreed to reconvene in France on March 15 to
discuss all aspects of implementation. It called on the parties to uphold the cease-fire,
abstain from all provocative actions, and abide by the commitments made in the
October 1998 agreement. Western officials claimed partial success; they said that
while the parties had made “substantial progress” at Rambouillet, a final agreement
had not been reached. Western media reported that Contact Group countries had
been surprised by and unprepared for Kosovar Albanian resistance at the Rambouillet
02/25/99--Under Secretary of Defense Walter Slocombe told the Senate Armed
Services committee that the possible deployment of up to 4,000 U.S. troops to a
NATO-led peacekeeping force in Kosovo would cost $1.5 to $2 billion per year.
02/26/99--The U.S. Department of Defense stated that the Yugoslav Army had
massed about 4,500 troops along the Kosovo border. A week later that figure
increased to about 10,000 troops.
--Western media later reported that Yugoslav officials had detained 21
OSCE monitors near the Kosovo border with Macedonia. During the time of their
detention, NATO troops stationed in Macedonia were placed on a high state of alert.
In response, Yugoslav army units were dispatched to the region. The situation was
defused after the monitors were released.
03/01/99--After meeting with President Milosevic OSCE Chair-in-Office and
Norwegian Foreign Minister Knut Vollebaek reported that the Yugoslav leader had
flatly rejected the possibility of allowing an international military presence into
Kosovo. Vollebaek reportedly tried to emphasize the prospective non-NATO
participation in the future force as well as the U.N.’s role in authorizing the force.
U.S. envoy Christopher Hill met with ethnic Albanian leaders to urge their final
acceptance of the peace accords. Hill afterward expressed optimism that the Albanian
delegation would sign the agreement.
--The State Department announced that former Senate majority leader
Bob Dole had accepted Secretary Albright’s request to meet with the parties of the
03/02/99--The KLA designated Hashim Thaci leader of a provisional Kosovar
government. The move appeared to sideline further the leadership of Ibrahim
Rugova, the self-styled President of Kosovo since 1992. The following day, Adem
Demaci resigned from his position as political advisor to the KLA. Demaci again
rejected the Rambouillet accords.
03/05/99--Former Senator Bob Dole met with members of the ethnic Albanian
delegation in Macedonia, rather than in Kosovo. Dole urged the Albanian delegation
to sign the peace accords, calling them the “best possible deal.” Hashim Thaci did not
attend the meeting with Dole.
03/08/99--After a long meeting with U.S. envoy Christopher Hill in Pristina, the
KLA agreed to accept the Rambouillet peace agreement.
03/09/99--U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke arrived in Belgrade for further
meetings with President Milosevic. Holbrooke said that he was going to remind
Milosevic of the consequences of his continued refusal to accept the peace agreement.
He warned that Yugoslavia and the West were on a “collision course” that could lead
to NATO intervention.
03/10/99--The Republican leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives
rejected a plea by the Administration to put off debate on a legislative proposal on
authorizing U.S. peacekeeping forces in Kosovo. Secretary of State Albright had
expressed concern about the timing of the debate, as efforts were under way to get
the parties to sign on to the agreement, especially if the vote opposed such an
authorization. House Speaker Dennis Hastert rejected this argument.
--The House International Relations Committee held a hearing on U.S.
policy on Kosovo, with Robert Dole, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, and
Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick as witnesses. Dole and Kirkpatrick urged U.S.
participation in a future NATO-led force, while Kissinger opposed it.
--Late in the evening, U.S. envoy Holbrooke reported no change in the
Yugoslav position regarding the peace agreement. Holbrooke departed Belgrade the
03/11/99--The House of Representatives passed H.Con.Res. 42 by a vote of 219
to 191. The resolution authorized the President to deploy U.S. armed forces to
Kosovo as part of a NATO peacekeeping operation, subject to several reporting
requirements. The Administration opposed the timing of the congressional debate on
the eve of resumed peace negotiations, although it welcomed the vote afterwards.
03/12/99--Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and Greek Foreign Minister
George Papandreou held talks with President Milosevic in Belgrade. The Russian and
Greek officials expressed hope that their countries’ close ties with Yugoslavia would
prove useful to persuading Milosevic to accept the agreement. Russia remained
opposed to NATO’s threat of air strikes against Serbia. After the talks, Foreign
Minister Ivanov announced that Belgrade “decisively and finally” rejected the
possibility of a foreign military or police presence in Kosovo.
03/13/99--On the eve of another round of peace talks, at least six persons were
killed and dozens injured after three bombs exploded in the towns of Podujevo (north
of Pristina) and Kosovska Mitrovica (northwest of Pristina). The OSCE reported that
the bombs were targeted at crowded public places, with the aim of inflicting the
maximum amount of civilian casualties. Ethnic Albanians and Serbs blamed each
other for the explosions.
03/15/99--On the opening day of the peace conference in Paris, the Kosovar
Albanian delegation issued a letter to the French and British sponsors, and to
Secretary of State Albright, that gave formal agreement to the accords. The letter
said that the delegation “would be honored to sign the agreement in your presence at
a time and place of your choosing.”
03/16/99--A delegation from NATO joined the peace talks in Paris to discuss
military implementation of the accords. NATO representatives had not been present
during the negotiations at Rambouillet.
--A Finnish forensic team issued a report on the January 1999 killing of
over 40 ethnic Albanians in Racak. The team found that the victims were unarmed
civilians killed in an organized fashion. The findings contradicted Serbian claims that
victims were either armed rebels or civilians accidentally caught in cross-fire. The
forensic team leader, Dr. Helena Ranta, called the killings a crime against humanity.
03/17/99--Negotiators at the Paris conference said that the talks were nearing
deadlock. The Yugoslav delegation had submitted a long list of requested
amendments to the accords, but refused to engage in talks on “implementation” of the
agreement, according to western officials.
--NATO SACEUR Gen. Wesley Clark and U.S. Undersecretary of
Defense for Policy Walter Slocombe testified before the House Armed Services
Committee on policy in the Balkans. In his testimony, Slocombe outlined U.S.
interests at stake in the region.
03/18/99--Ethnic Albanian leaders -- Hashim Thaci, Ibrahim Rugova, Veton
Surroi, and Rexhep Qosja — signed the Rambouillet accords in Paris. Secretary of
State Albright, among others, congratulated the Albanian delegation on its decision
and urged its members to stay united. In response, Serbian President Milutinovic
called the Contact Group negotiations a “fraud” and warned that his country was
prepared to fight against NATO attacks.
--At a hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, U.S.
armed forces service chiefs spoke to the situation in Kosovo in terms of the threat
environment in Serbia/Yugoslavia, the capabilities of allied fighter aircraft massed in
the region, and likely phases of a NATO air campaign against the FRY.
03/19/99--The Paris conference co-chairs, French Foreign Minister Hubert
Vedrine and British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, adjourned the peace talks, citing
“no purpose” in extending the talks any further. The co-chairmen said that the
conference would not resume until the Serbs expressed their acceptance of the
--In light of the failed negotiations, the OSCE Chair-in-Office
Norwegian Foreign Minister Knut Vollebaek decided to withdraw the Kosovo
Verification Mission from Kosovo immediately.
--At a news conference, President Clinton stated that the Kosovo
conflict threatened U.S. national interests. He warned that there would be more
massacres if NATO did not act. He said that “action and resolve can stop armies and
northwest of Pristina, uprooted thousands of additional Kosovar Albanians. Nearly
1,400 OSCE verifiers were evacuated from Kosovo to Macedonia. OSCE mission
chief Ambassador Walker said that the decision to withdraw the monitors
demonstrated that NATO was serious about air strikes. Western officials estimated
that Milosevic was taking advantage of the departure of the monitors by intensifying
according to western reports of witnesses’ accounts. Seven villages around Srbica
were also shelled. Western media reported that Yugoslav army units were now being
paired with Serbian Interior Ministry troops in their assaults. Nearby in Prekaz, where
Kosovar Albanian Adem Jashari and his relatives were killed one year earlier, Serb
forces burned the deserted town. Refugees continued to flee the area, mainly heading
--The Clinton Administration announced that it would send U.S. envoy
Richard Holbrooke to Belgrade on a last-ditch effort to end the violence in Kosovo
and forestall NATO air strikes. Holbrooke stopped in Brussels en route to Belgrade
to confer with NATO allies. The next day, Holbrooke said that all of the NATO allies
agreed that they were on the brink of military action. NATO SACEUR announced
that NATO forces were ready and prepared for such action.
General Javier Solana to engage in air strikes against Serbia. The allies agreed to let
Solana broaden air operations against Serb targets if necessary.
--After meeting with President Milosevic for a number of hours in
Belgrade, U.S. envoy Holbrooke reported no significant change in the Yugoslav
leader’s position. Holbrooke held a final “last chance” meeting with Milosevic the
following day. Upon leaving Belgrade, Holbrooke called the situation the bleakest
ever. But he invited Milosevic to change his mind, stating that “comunications are
always open even in times of conflict.”
--The Senate passed S.Con.Res. 21, by a vote of 58 in favor to 41
against. The resolution authorized the President to conduct military air operations
and missile strikes against the FRY. The Senate withdrew from consideration
amendments on a supplemental appropriations bill (S. 544) that would have imposed
restrictions on the use of funds for the deployment of U.S. troops in the FRY.
03/23/99--After a telephone conversation on the Kosovo situation with U.S. Vice
President Al Gore, Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov broke off his trip to
the United States in mid-flight over the Atlantic Ocean, in protest of the imminent
NATO air strikes, and returned to Moscow.
--The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia declared a state of emergency
throughout the country and called up thousands of armed forces reservists.
Montenegro, junior partner in the Yugoslav federation, refused to recognize the
--NATO Secretary-General Solana directed NATO SACEUR Gen.
Clark to initiate air operations in the FRY.
local time. In this initial phase, NATO attacked Yugoslav military targets and air
defense systems with cruise missiles and bombs. Thirteen of NATO’s nineteen
member states participated in the operation. Serbian officials reported strikes at about
--President Clinton gave two statements on Kosovo on national
television. Clinton said that NATO air strikes would have three objectives: to
demonstrate NATO’s opposition to Serbian aggression; to deter President Milosevic
from continuing his attacks on Kosovo’s civilians; and to damage Serbia’s capacity
to wage war by diminishing its military capabilities. He said that “if President
Milosevic will not make peace, we will limit his ability to make war.”
--Russia suspended cooperation with NATO and recalled its
representative to the alliance from Brussels.
--The House of Representatives adopted H.Res. 130 by a vote of 424
to 1 that expressed support for U.S. military personnel involved with the NATO air
operation. S.Res. 74, adopted by the Senate on the same day, also expressed support
for U.S. troops engaged in NATO military operations in the FRY.
03/25/99--In Skopje, Macedonia, an estimated 1,500 pro-Serb demonstrators
attacked U.S. embassy facilities and vehicles. The demonstrators chanted anti-NATO
and anti-U.S. slogans in response to the NATO air attacks on the FRY.
03/26/99--After two nights of air strikes, NATO reported that its aircraft and
missiles had hit 50 Yugoslav targets. NATO’s bombardment continued into its third
day, with strikes being launched by daylight for the first time. Two Yugoslav MiG
fighter jets were shot down by U.S. aircraft over Bosnia, where NATO maintains a
peacekeeping force. Some NATO allies expressed anxiety over a possibly prolonged
NATO air campaign. In public statements, Italian and Greek officials emphasized the
need, in their view, to return to negotiations as soon as possible.
--By a wide margin, the U.N. Security Council defeated a Russia-
sponsored measure that would have demanded an immediate halt to the NATO air
strikes. The resolution failed by a vote of 3 in favor (Russia, China, and Namibia) to
03/27/99--NATO officials announced that the NATO bombing operation was
moving to “phase two,” with attacks targeted directly on Yugoslav troops, tanks, and
other heavy weapons inside Kosovo itself and elsewhere in southern Serbia. Such
attacks would require aircraft to fly at lower altitudes than previously. U.S. officials
said that all NATO members supported broadening of the NATO air strikes.
--A U.S. F-117 stealth fighter was downed in Yugoslavia, the first Allied
loss in the four-day-old campaign. The lone pilot of the fighter was recovered by an
elite rescue team. The cause of the crash could not be determined.
--In a radio address to the nation, President Clinton said that NATO
must continue its attacks on continued Serbia until President Milosevic accepts peace
or until his capacity to make war is damaged. Other U.S. officials emphasized that
the Administration had “no intention” of introducing ground troops into a combat
situation in Kosovo, and the Defense Department said it was not planning for such a
03/28/99--Citing unnamed officials, the New York Times reported that the
Administration had been caught off guard at the scale of the ethnic cleansing being
conducted by Yugoslav and Serb forces in Kosovo. Officials reportedly said that the
move to quicken the pace of the NATO air strikes was in response to President
Milosevic’s escalated rampage in Kosovo.
--In Brussels, British Air Commodore David Wilby told reporters that
the transition to phase two of the bombing campaign was just beginning. NATO and
U.S. officials revealed few details on the expanded target list.
--Columns of refugees streamed out of Kosovo into the neighboring
republic of Montenegro, and to Albania and Macedonia, at much higher rates than
before. Western officials reported that the majority of refugees arriving in these
countries were women and children, and that Serb forces were burning the homes of
the departing Kosovar Albanians. NATO spokesman Jamie Shea called the situation
a “humanitarian disaster.” Over five days, about 50,000 Kosovar civilians were forced
to flee from their homes.
03/29/99--Russian President Boris Yeltsin ordered Prime Minister Primakov and
other top government officials to Belgrade for talks with President Milosevic.
03/30/99--Russian Prime Minister Primakov held six hours of talks with
Milosevic in Belgrade, and then traveled to Berlin to consult with German
government officials. Primakov reported that Milosevic was ready to end the military
campaign in Kosovo and return to political talks, but said that the NATO air attacks
must end first. Western officials uniformly rejected the proposal.
--NATO members agreed to “broaden and deepen” the target list of air
strikes to include sites in downtown Belgrade. Some bombing runs were canceled
due to bad weather. International officials now estimated the number of refugees
created in the past week to be over 100,000. U.S. officials acknowledged that the
NATO attacks had not yet deterred or prevented Belgrade from continuing its
assaults in Kosovo.
--In a speech at the State Department, President Clinton warned that
continued aggression by Milosevic would result in the destruction of his military by
NATO air strikes. He also stated that international support for Serbia’s claim to
Kosovo would become increasingly jeopardized, signaling a potential policy shift on
Kosovo’s final status.
03/31/99--Three U.S. soldiers in Macedonia came under fire during a patrol near
the Macedonian border town of Kumanovo and went missing. NATO mounted
search and rescue operations for several hours. The U.S. soldiers were subsequently
captured by Yugoslav armed forces under uncertain circumstances.
--NATO opened its expanded bombing campaign. The Defense
Department reported that NATO strikes had hit the headquarters of the Yugoslav
Army’s Special Unit Corps in downtown Belgrade.
--Serbian police boarded hundreds of residents of Pristina were boarded
onto trains heading toward the border with Macedonia. UNHCR estimated that, since
March 24, over 100,000 persons from Kosovo had fled the province into the
neighboring states of Montenegro, Albania, and Macedonia, with the number climbing
hourly. From March 1998 and through March 1999, it estimated that well over
--Russia ordered a reconnaissance ship from its Black Sea fleet to the
--President Clinton authorized an additional $50 million to be made
available to aid Kosovo refugees, of which $25 million would come from refugee and
migration assistance funds and $25 from the Department of Defense. The United
States would provide aircraft and other assets to support humanitarian aid airlift
operations to the region.