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[casi] US plays aid card to fix war crimes exemption etc

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


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

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

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

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

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

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ratify the treaty and Mr Bush rescinded Mr Clinton's

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

"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.



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

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

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

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

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.



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

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

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.

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