US envoy "promised Milosevic US would not recognize Kosovo"

Ivica Dacic seems to be in charge of making waves these days - after the Kosovo "delimitation" proposal, he has spoken about "Holbrooke's Kosovo letter."

Source: B92
Richard Holbrooke (L) is seen with Wesley Clark (Getty Images, file)
Richard Holbrooke (L) is seen with Wesley Clark (Getty Images, file)

The Serbian foreign minister and first deputy prime minister spoke for the tabloid Srpski Telegraf, to recall that no state body in the country is in possession of the original copy of the Dayton Agreement - the peace accord that in 1995 ended the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Dacic then pointed out to another missing document - late US diplomat Richard Holbrooke's letter allegedly sent to late Serbian and Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, in which Holbrooke stated that the United States "will never recognize Kosovo," and "signed it."

"They all feign ignorance when I ask, but it's unthinkable that Serbia would not have a copy of the Dayton Agreement. All Milosevic's aides claim, his secretary swears that Milosevic called her and gave her a piece of paper where Holbrooke - then the chief negotiator between the West and Serbia and the US envoy - signed for Milosevic (during the negotiations in 1998 and 1999) that America will never recognize Kosovo," said Dacic.

Dacic went on to accuse his former coalition partners - the ones that he was allied with before 2012 - of "pillaging everything."

"That paper is gone too, they pillaged everything. When they were arresting Sloba (Milosevic), nothing was left," the minister said, adding that both the Dayton agreement and UN Security Council Resolution 1244 on Kosovo were "the work of Milosevic."

Speaking about the letter mentioned by Dacic, Nikola Sainovic - Milosevic's close associate and one of Serbia's representative during the Rambouillet talks in 1998 - said that he "does not know if such a document was signed" - but that he does know the official US position was that Kosovo is a part of Serbia.

However, it is worth recalling that Sainovic recently told the weekly Ekspres that Holbrooke "wanted to negotiate about Kosovo much earlier than 1998 - that is, during the Dayton Agreement negotiations (in 1995)."

Judging by Sainovic's story, it seems that even before Rambouillet, Holbrooke was open about what the United States wanted to do with Kosovo. True - not as open as he was a decade later, when, speaking in Pristina, he said that the EU should not allow Serbia to join as long as the country "has pretensions toward Kosovo and considers it a part of its territory."

Sainovic also said that Milosevic refused to talk about Kosovo "and the NATO protectorate story" in 1995 in Dayton, while Holbrooke officially became active again around the southern Serbian province a few years later.

As Sainovic said, the Hague Tribunal's archives show that Holbrooke in 1998, in Geneva, "promised a state to Albanians" - i.e., this happened around the same time when he allegedly made the promise to Milosevic.

This former Serbian official also said that Milosevic and Serbia's state leadership were prepared for the US moves, and anticipated their policy toward Kosovo's independence.

As for the disappearance of the original Dayton Agreement, that story is not particularly new.

Many articles dedicated to the anniversary of the signing of the peace accord mention that "some originals" had been lost - while it is known that France has kept its copy, and is now "dispatching stamped photocopies" when someone from the former Yugoslavia requests them.

It first came to light that the original held by Bosnia-Herzegovina was missing, and speculation started then that former EU envoy to the Balkans Carl Bildt had "modified the document" - which, incidentally, has never been ratified, nor officially translated in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The Belgrade daily Politika then investigated the whereabouts of the Serbian copy, with no success.

Vlado Nadezdin, the chief the foreign minister's cabinet in 1995, told the newspaper that after the signing, he personally took the Serbian copy to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs - but 13 years later, it was not there.

Ivica Dacic said at the time - several months before he struck a deal to join the Democrats (DS) in a ruling coalition - that the document was "most likely in the ministry" - but that it was "possible that the Belgrade copy was missing."

The Presidency has told B92 that they keep documents created after 1998, and that the Directorate for Joint Affairs of the Republic Organs (UZZPRO) might be the place to look. However, this institution said that they were never in possession of the Dayton Agreement.

Former Foreign Minister Goran Svilanovic said that after assuming his office in the wake of October 5, 2000 changes, he was "unable to find that document - so the one ratified in the National Assembly was a 'stamped copy' that arrived from Paris."

No information is available about the fate of the copy of the original that went to the third signatory from the former Yugoslavia - Croatian President Franjo Tudjman.


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