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1) US plays aid card to fix war crimes exemption 2) War crime vote fuels US anger at Europe 3) State Department Reeker: ICC Article 98 Agreements --------------------- 1) http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,975416,00.html US plays aid card to fix war crimes exemption Ian Traynor in Zagreb Thursday June 12, 2003 The Guardian (London) The US is turning up the heat on the countries of the Balkans and eastern Europe to secure war crimes immunity deals for Americans and exemptions from the year-old international criminal court. In an exercise in brute diplomacy which is causing more acute friction with the European Union following the rows over Iraq, the US administration is threatening to cut off tens of millions of dollars in aid to the countries of the Balkans unless they reach bilateral agreements with the US on the ICC by the end of this month. The American campaign, which is having mixed results, is creating bitterness and cynicism in the countries being intimidated, particularly in the successor states of former Yugoslavia which perpetrated and suffered the worst war crimes seen in Europe since the Nazis. They are all under intense international pressure, not least from the Americans, to cooperate with the war crimes tribunal for former Yugoslavia in the Hague. "Blatant hypocrisy," said Human Rights Watch in New York on Tuesday of the US policy towards former Yugoslavia. Threatened with the loss of $73m (£44m) in US aid, Bosnia signed the exemption deal last week just as Slovenia rejected American pressure and cut off negotiations. Of all the peoples of former Yugoslavia, the Bosnians suffered the most grievously in the wars of the 1990s, from the siege of Sarajevo to the slaughter of Srebrenica. The Bosnians signed reluctantly, feeling they had no choice. Former Yugoslavia is particularly central to the US campaign to exempt Americans from the scope of the ICC because there are US troops in Bosnia and Kosovo. Washington is vehemently opposed to the permanent international criminal court, arguing that US soldiers, officials and citizens will be targeted for political reasons, an argument dismissed by the court's supporters, who point out that safeguards have been built into the rules governing the court's operations. Under President Bill Clinton, Washington signed the treaty establishing the court. But the US did not ratify the treaty and Mr Bush rescinded Mr Clinton's signature. While the Slovenes have said no to the Americans, probably forfeiting $4m in US aid, Croatia, Serbia and Macedonia are now being pressed to join the 39 other countries worldwide with which Washington has sealed bilateral pacts granting Americans immunity from war crimes. "While the United States rightly insists that the former Yugoslav republics must fully cooperate with the [Hague tribunal], it is turning the screws on the very same states not to cooperate with the ICC," said Human Rights Watch. Croatia is sitting on the fence, refusing to accept what the prime minister, Ivica Racan, dubbed "an ultimatum", but still hoping to reach a compromise with the US. The American ambassador in Zagreb published a letter in the Zagreb press last week warning that Croatia would lose $19m in US military aid if it did not capitulate by July 1. In Serbia, too, where the issue of war crimes is explo sive, the US pressure is being attacked as a ruthless display of double standards. The EU has sent letters to all the countries in the region advising them to resist the US demands and indicating that surrender will harm their ambitions of joining the EU. Regional leaders are waiting to see what kind of offers or promises this month's EU summit in Greece makes to the region before deciding on their stance towards the ICC. One idea being floated is that the EU could make up the lost US aid money in return for Balkan refusal to toe the American line. Although the eight east European countries joining the EU next year are expected to follow the Brussels policy and reject the US demands, the Poles in particular are also being pressed to reach an immunity deal with Washington. Sources in Warsaw say that the US state department has made several requests in recent weeks for a deal by July 1. Poland is the biggest American ally in the region but has not yielded to the US requests. firstname.lastname@example.org -------------------------------------- 2) http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,974891,00.html War crime vote fuels US anger at Europe Gary Younge in New York and Ian Black in Brussels Wednesday June 11, 2003 The Guardian (London) The US has bitterly attacked European leaders for trying to stop the UN security council voting tomorrow to renew America's exemption from prosecution by the new war crimes tribunal. The Bush administration has accused the EU of "actively undermining" American efforts to protect its peacekeepers from prosecution by the international criminal court, which was set up to try cases of genocide, war crimes and systematic human rights abuses. A note written by a US official says Europe's objections "will undercut all our efforts to repair and rebuild the transatlantic relationship just as we are taking a turn for the better after a number of difficult months", according to the Washington Post. "We are dismayed that the European Union would actively seek to undermine US efforts." The row began in April when the EU issued a letter to prospective members urging them not to sign up to bilateral agreements with other countries granting them broad immunity from prosecution. The US, which was seeking such agreements with many eastern European countries, regarded the letter as hostile. EU officials insisted that they had a right to enforce union policy with candidate countries and denied any hostility towards the US. "The Americans see this as a campaign against them, but it's just a question of how we see things," said one. Under an agreement reached last year, American peacekeepers are exempt from trial or arrest by the ICC because Washington fears the court could be used for frivolous or politically motivated prosecutions of its troops. The agreement, which is backed by the EU, is up for renewal tomorrow at the security council. Despite opposition from Germany and France, the resolution extending the exemption will be adopted, as there is little stomach for another bruising row with the Bush administration, although it is not clear whether some countries will use their veto. Last year's vote was 15-0 after the US threatened to veto UN peacekeeping missions, one by one. America is said to have been threatening some Balkan countries with a withdrawal of aid if they do not sign bilateral deals. Last month Albania became the third European country, after Romania and Georgia, to sign a deal. Now Macedonia, Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia and Montenegro have been told to follow suit or lose US aid and support. The US has so far signed agreements with 37 countries worldwide. Defending the union's appeal to eastern Europeans, an EU diplomat said: "You can hardly describe this as heavy-handed pressure. Unlike the Americans, we have not threatened to disrupt funding." In response to pressure from Washington, Spain was seeking last night to persuade fellow EU members to tone down attempts to prevent bilateral agreements being signed. "The European Union is asserting the principles they have adopted and urging those states that want to join the EU to keep those principles in mind," Richard Dicker of the New-York-based advocacy group Human Rights Watch told the Washington Post. "It's the US putting those governments that have ratified the treaty between a rock and a hard place." Jose Maria Aznar, the Spanish prime minister, was one of President Bush's strongest supporters during the Iraq war. Britain and Italy have also been seeking to avoid a new row before the EU-US summit this month. "There are a number of member states who are very keen not to antagonise the US on this issue and want a softer line," an EU official said. email@example.com ------------------ 3) http://www.scoop.co.nz/mason/stories/WO0306/S00166.htm State Department Reeker: ICC Article 98 Agreements Thursday, 12 June 2003, 9:54 am Press Release: US State Department State Department's Reeker on ICC Article 98 Agreements (Excerpt from June 10 State Dept. briefing) The United States is trying to work with its friends "to find practical solutions" to the International Criminal Court (ICC) issue "and preserve everyone's interests," State Department Deputy Spokesman Philip T. Reeker said during the daily briefing June 10. Reeker was responding to a question about a newspaper report that said the United States had warned the European Union not to interfere with its negotiations with other countries on bilateral Article 98 agreements, which aim to ensure that Americans are not brought before the ICC. "We have been very clear with Europeans and others all around the world that we are not trying to sabotage the ICC," Reeker said. "Our efforts are geared at, first of all, protecting the integrity of international peacekeeping efforts, and we have respected the European Union's request not to attempt to influence other countries regarding their decisions to become a part of the Rome statute to join on to the ICC." While the United States respects the rights of other countries to become parties to the Rome statute that created the ICC, Reeker said that at the same time "we have asked other countries to respect our right not to do so." Thus far 37 countries have signed Article 98 agreements and Washington is continuing negotiations with others. Following is an excerpt from the briefing: (begin excerpt) U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing Index Tuesday, June 10, 2003 1:05 p.m. EDT BRIEFER: Philip T. Reeker, Deputy Spokesman [....] QUESTION: July 1st [is] the deadline for any -- for countries that receive military -- U.S. military assistance to either sign Article 98 agreements or lose their cash. I understand that you have got two new -- you're now at 37. You signed Bolivia and Thailand. But I'm wondering, if you know, how many countries right now have not signed them that would, if they don't sign them by the 1st, lose their U.S. military assistance? MR. REEKER: I haven't done that math, Matt. I'll have to find the time to sit down with my list of countries. QUESTION: Well, so have I. That's why I was hoping you guys had done it already. MR. REEKER: I'll leave you to do the calculation and read about it in your -- QUESTION: Okay. Well, then on a related matter then, there was a report today out of the UN that you guys have warned the European Union not to interfere with -- MR. REEKER: Report out of the UN that we have warned the EU? QUESTION: Yeah, it was datelined the UN. There was a report in The Washington Post today that was datelined United Nations. MR. REEKER: Okay. I just want to make sure I have got the -- QUESTION: Yeah. It said that you had warned the European Union not to interfere in your negotiations with these -- for these agreements with either current EU members or aspiring EU members. Is there any substance to that? MR. REEKER: I think we have been quite clear and transparent all along. We certainly discussed it from here in this forum many times that we are trying to work with our friends to find practical solutions to [the] International Criminal Court issue and preserve everyone's interests, and the solution has been to pursue these agreements under the Rome statute under Article 98 of that statute. We have been very clear with Europeans and others all around the world that we are not trying to sabotage the ICC. Our efforts are geared at, first of all, protecting the integrity of international peacekeeping efforts, and we have respected the European Union's request not to attempt to influence other countries regarding their decisions to become a part of the Rome statute to join on to the ICC. We certainly respect the rights of other countries to make their decisions, to become parties to the Rome statute, but, at the same time, we have asked other countries to respect our right not to do so. And so an essential element in that, in respecting our right and separating U.S. citizens from the ICC, is negotiating these Article 98 agreements. And we've taken that quite seriously. It's a serious matter. It's been addressed by our Congress and our laws. And this was, in fact, the course that was suggested by several EU member-states and we understand was approved by the EU Council. So, once again, our proposal in terms of negotiating Article 98 agreements is couched within the framework of the Rome statute which created the ICC, and we see no conflict either legally or even in respect to the spirit of the treaty. So we've been quite clear that we want to pursue these as bilateral agreements with individual countries. As you noted, 37 countries have signed Article 98 agreements and we continue to pursue that with others. _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email firstname.lastname@example.org All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk