The “RACAK MASSACRE”: Casus Belli for NATO – Doris & George Pumphrey

Doris & George Pumphrey
Background material on Racak massacre allegations
(Berlin 2000)
Copy Deadline: 31.3.2000

The “RACAK MASSACRE”: Casus Belli for NATO

On January 16, 1999, the US-American head of the OSCE Kosovo Veri-
fication Mission (KVM), William Walker and journalists of the in-
ternational press, were led by members of the KLA to a gully at
the edge of the village of Racak, where the bodies of some twenty
persons were lying.

Speaking in emotional terms to international  media, Walker immediately accused Serbian security forces of having committed a frightful massacre of ethnic Albanian “unarmed civilians”. He declared: “I don’t hesitate to accuse the Yugoslav security forces of this crime.” 

The “Berliner Zeitung” (March 24, 2000) reported: 

“The following day, the OSCE mission summarized in a ‘special
report’ written under Walker’s direction that proof of
“arbitrary arrests, killings and mutilation of unarmed
civilians” had been found. The report listed details: 23
adult men in a gully above Racak, “many shot at extremely
close range”, another four adult men, who were apparently
shot while fleeing, as well as 18 bodies in the village
itself. “Among the last group were also a woman and a boy.”


The US president Clinton condemned the “massacre” in the most ab-
solute terms and spoke of “a deliberate and arbitrary act of mur-

A statement made public by the German foreign ministry proclaimed:
“Those responsible have to know that the international community
is not prepared to accept the brutal persecution and murder of ci-
vilians in Kosovo.” For Joschka Fischer, Racak is a “turning

NATO immediately convoked an emergency meeting. Jan. 19, Madeleine
Albright, called for bombing Yugoslavia as “punishment”. 

The Yugoslav government categorically denied the allegations and
called it a manipulation. It accused the KLA of having gathered
the corpses of their fighters, killed in the preceding day’s
battle, and arranging them so as to resemble a mass execution of
civilians. The day before, there had been a battle between the Yu-
goslav police and KLA terrorists in Racak. 

The “Racak massacre,” is without a doubt the “trigger” event ma-
king NATO’s war against Yugoslavia ineluctable. The “Washington
Post” (April 18, 1999) described Racak as having “transformed the
West’s Balkan policy as singular events seldom do.”

Though much is still shrouded in secrecy, the facts that have come to light give grounds for a prima facie case for believing that the “massacre of
Racak” is a hoax, staged in order to pressure hesitant politicians
and the populations of the NATO countries into accepting a war of
aggression against Yugoslavia. 

According to the version of events that was subsequently broadcast
around the world, the Serbian police and military entered the vil-
lage, in an operation resembling that of a Latin American death
squad, kicked in doors, forced the women to remain inside while
gathering the men in the middle of the village. The men were then
marched to the outskirts of town to a hill where they were execu-
ted – shot in the back of the head and neck. Some were tortured
before being killed. 

This Walker/KLA version forms the basis of the indictment before
the Tribunal in the Hague, May 24 1999, against the government
leaders of Yugoslavia. The indictment was handed down during the
bombing of Yugoslavia, at a time when European governments were
becoming more and more uncomfortable with the further escalation
of the bombing campaign against more civilian targets. 

The indictment charges Slobodan Milosevic and other leading mem-
bers of the Yugoslav government with “crimes against humanity and
violations of the laws or customs of war”. One of the concrete
crimes charged, was specifically relating to what is called the
“Racak Massacre”.

This Walker/KLA version of events quickly proved to have serious
flaws. Doubt was cast that the police had been a death squad com-
mando, the victims, innocent civilians, and their death, an execu-

*  A Death Squad operation of the Police? 

A few  days following the incident in Racak the French daily press
began publishing  information that  shed a different light on Wal-
ker’s version of events. 

The correspondent  Renaud Girard reported in Le Figaro (Jan. 20,

“At dawn, intervention forces of the Serbian police encircled
and then  attacked the  village of Racak, known as a bastion
of KLA  (Kosovo Liberation  Army) separatist guerrillas. The
police didn’t  seem to have anything to hide, since, at 8:30
a.m., they  invited a television team (two journalists of AP
TV) to  film the  operation. A warning was also given to the
OSCE, which  sent two cars with American diplomatic licenses
to the  scene. The observers spent the whole day posted on a
hill where they could watch the village. 

At 3  p.m., a  police communique  reached the  international
press center in Pristina announcing that 15 KLA “terrorists”
had been killed in combat in Racak and that a large stock of
weapons had been seized. 

At 3:30 p.m., the police forces, followed by the AP TV team,
left the village, carrying with them a heavy 12.7 mm machine
gun, two automatic rifles, two rifles with telescopic sights
and some thirty Chinese-made kalashnikovs. 

At 4:30  p.m., a French journalist drove through the village
and met  three orange  OSCE vehicles.  The international ob-
servers were  chatting calmly  with three  middle-aged Alba-
nians in  civilian clothes.  They were looking for eventual
civilian casualties. 

Returning to  the village  at 6 p.m., the journalist saw the
observers taking  away two very slightly injured old men and
two women.  The observers,  who did  not  seem  particularly
worried, did  not mention  anything  in  particular  to  the
journalist. They  simply said that they were “unable to eva-
luate the battle toll”. 

The scene  of Albanian  corpses in civilian clothes lined up
in a  ditch, which  would shock the whole world, was not dis-
covered until  the next  morning, around  9 a.m., by journa-
lists soon  followed by  OSCE observers.  At that  time, the
village was  once again taken over by armed KLA soldiers who
led the  foreign visitors,  as soon  as they arrived, toward
the supposed  massacre site.  Around noon, William Walker in
person arrived and expressed his indignation. 

All the Albanian witnesses gave the same version: at midday,
the policemen  forced their way into homes and separated the
women from the men, whom they led to the hilltops to execute
them without more ado. 

The most  disturbing fact is that the pictures filmed by the
AP TV  journalists — which Le Figaro was shown yesterday —
radically contradict that version. 

It was  in fact an empty village [smoke was rising from only
two chimneys,  reported Le Monde Jan.  21, 1999,  the grand
majority of the inhabitants of the village having fled Racak
during the summer of 1998 during the Serbian offensive] that
the police  entered in  the morning,  sticking close  to the
walls. The  shooting was intense, as they were fired on from
KLA trenches dug into the hillside. 

The fighting  intensified sharply on the hilltops above the
village. Watching  from below,  next to  the mosque,  the AP
journalists understood  that the  KLA guerrillas, encircled,
were trying  desperately to  break out.  A score  of them in
fact succeeded, as the police themselves admitted. 

What really  happened? During  the night, could the KLA have
gathered the bodies, in fact killed by Serb bullets, to set
up a  scene of cold-blooded massacre? A disturbing fact: Sa-
turday morning  the journalists  found only  very few  spent
cartridges around  the ditch  where the  massacre supposedly
took place. 

Intelligently, did  the KLA  seek to  turn a military defeat
into a  political victory? Only a credible international in-
quiry would  make it  possible to  resolve these doubts. The
reluctance of  the Belgrade  government,  which  has  consi-
stently denied the massacre, thus seems incomprehensible. 

The correspondent of Le Monde in Kosovo, Christoph Châtelot, rai-
ses the question in his report January 21, 99, whether the version
of a massacre in Racak is not a bit too perfect. His own investi-
gation led him to have considerable doubt about William Walker’s
version. He asks: 

“How could the Serb police have gathered a group of men and
led them calmly toward the execution site while they were
constantly under fire from KLA fighters? How could the ditch
located on the edge of Racak have escaped notice by local
inhabitants familiar with the surroundings who were present
before nightfall? Or by the observers who were present for
over two hours in this tiny village? Why so few cartridges
around the corpses, so little blood in the hollow road where
twenty three people are supposed to have been shot at close
range with several bullets in the head? Rather, weren’t the
bodies of the Albanians killed in combat by the Serb police
gathered into the ditch to create a horror scene which was
sure to have an appalling effect on public opinion?” 

March 24, 2000 the “Berliner Zeitung” explains: 

“Christophe Châtelot had been in Racak the preceding day –
the day of the massacre was supposed to have taken place.
Together with representatives of the OSCE, he entered the
village in late afternoon, as the Serbs were withdrawing.
The foreigners discovered four wounded and heard of one ha-
ving been killed. As it began to get dark, Châtelot returned
to Pristina. In Racak nothing special had happened, he told
his colleagues. The following day, when Walker and a big
troop of journalists drove to Racak, Châtelot turned down
the invitation and remained in the hotel. How it is possible
for the OSCE – who could only register a single casualty in
the village of Racak on the afternoon of Jan. 15th – to
suddenly find 13, even 18 corpses, in the streets and the
back yards the following morning is a mystery to Châtelot:
“This riddle is beyond me.” “

A Yugoslav press statement adds the following details about fur-
ther developments following the battle in Racak. 

“Immediately after the fighting, the police investigating
team came to the scene headed by Magistrate Danica Marinko-
vic of the Pristina District Court and the Deputy Public
Prosecutor Ismet Sufta, but the KLA who were concentrated in
the neighboring highlands opened fire and prevented the
further on-site investigation. The next day, on 16 January
1999, the on-site investigation was again prevented because
the OSCE KVM insisted that the investigating magistrate
carry out the investigation without the police presence,
explaining that the fighting might be resumed. (Yugoslav
Daily Survey, No. 2008, Belgrade, 18.1.99)” 

This was not only a flagrant violation of Yugoslavia’s and Ser-
bia’s sovereignty but, given the fact that the KLA had already re-
taken the village of Racak, also a direct threat to the life of
the magistrate. 

On the other hand, no report was made of Walker or the KVM making
an effort to secure evidence or to research the circumstances in
which these people died or how their bodies came to be at this
site. The Figaro Journalist, Renaud Girard, rushed to the scene
with the other journalists January 16, and observed Walker in ac-
“Walker is a Profi, when it comes to massacres”, says
Girard. “Every Profi knows, what he has to do in such a
case: he closes off the area, so that the evidence can be
secured. Walker didn’t do anything of the kind. He himself
trampled all over the place and let the journalists fumble
with the bodies, collecting souvenirs and destroying evidence.”
(Berliner Z. March 24, 2000)” 

According to journalist reports, Walker spent over half an hour in
secret consultations with KLA leaders in Racak, but never went to
the nearby Serbian police station to demand an explanation, a nor-
mal procedure for someone seeking to learn what really happened. 

*  The victims: “unarmed civilians”? 

The OSCE Reports “Kosovo/Kosova: As Seen, As Told” (OSCE Reports:
Kosovo/Kosova: As Seen, As Told) shed light on the background leading to the police action and on the extent of the civilian nature of the inhabitants of the village of Racak. From a resumé of this report by Diana Johnstone one arrives at the following picture: 

Racak, a village strategically located only half a kilometer south
of the crossroads town of Stimlje, where the main road between Ko-
sovo’s two main cities, Pristina and Prizren, connects to a
southern turnoff to the important town of Urosevac on the road to
the Macedonian capital of Skopje, had been abandoned by its 2,000
inhabitants and occupied by only about 350 people. Racak was un-
questionably a KLA stronghold when attacked by Serb police on 15
January 1999. The KVM was quite aware of the KLA presence in Ra-
cak: “The KLA was there, with a base near the power plant”. The
village was surrounded by trenches, a common practice of the KLA
which turned the villages it occupied into fortresses. 

The KVM also knew that the KLA had been carrying out armed am-
bushes, abductions and murders nearby for several months. “A num-
ber of Kosovo Serbs were kidnapped in the Stimlje region, mostly
during the summer of 1998”, the KVM report notes (p.353). Mo-
reover, the local KLA regularly abducted Kosovo Albanians in an
obvious effort to establish the rebels’ power over the Albanian

A month before the police raid, on December 12, 1998, the KLA
“arrested” nine Albanians for various offenses: “prostitution”,
“friendly relations with Serbs” and “spying”. Rather than release
them, the KLA told the KVM that the kidnapped civilians were
“waiting to be sentenced” and generously granted their families
the right to send them gift packages. Subsequently, first six and
then two more Albanians were abducted by the KLA for a total of 17
missing persons. (This behavior never ceased but is not viewed in
the general (western) public as reprehensible. The KVM reports
that the KLA even took advantage of the February 11 funeral for
Racak victims, attended by Walker, world media and thousands of
Albanians, to kidnap nine Kosovo Albanians accused of such crimes
as “having a brother working with the police; being suspected of
having weapons; drinking with Serbs; having Serb friends; or ha-
ving a Serb police officer as a friend”.) Little of this informa-
tion was “newsworthy” for the “western” media, only on the lookout
for “atrocities” – real or imagined – committed by Serbs.

January 8, a KLA armed ambush on police vehicles left three poli-
cemen dead and one wounded. Three Kosovo Albanians in a passing
taxi were wounded in the same ambush. “The ambush was well prepa-
red: there was a camouflaged firing position for up to 15 men,
which had been occupied for several days, and small arms, heavy
machine-guns and rocket-propelled grenades were fired at the po-
lice convoy”, the KVM reported (p.354). 

On January 10, yet another policeman was fatally wounded in an am-
bush south of Stimlje. It was at this point that the Serbian po-
lice prepared their operation against the KLA base in Racak. 

During the battle that took place, several KLA fighters were kil-
led. The “Berliner Zeitung” (March 24, 2000) reports: 

“Already on the morning of January 16, the KLA announced in
an initial communique, that eight of its fighters fell in
combat around Racak. The names of these casualties do not
appear among the names listed by the Tribunal in The Hague.
Just as strange: Also on January 16, the KLA gave the names
of 22 people who had been executed in Racak. Of these only
eleven of those listed, appear in the protocol of the Tri-
bunal. Only the number 22 comes close to the number of those
found on the hill behind Racak. (…) KLA leader Hashim
Thaci declared recently in the BBC: “We had a key unit in
the area. It was a wild battle. We lost a lot of people. But
the Serbs did also.” “

Serbian authorities have always insisted that the dead found in
Racak, were KLA fighters who were killed in battle. Since the
autopsies carried out by a team of Serbian and Belarus patholo-
gists were not considered “sufficiently credible” by western go-
vernments and their media, the European Union (EU) called in an
“independent” team from Finland, which was accepted by the Yugos-
lav government. 

*  Execution – or Battlefield deaths? 

The final report of the EU’s pathological expert team from
Finland, which investigated the causes of death of the bodies
found in Racak, was completed at the beginning of March 1999.
It would take Helena Ranta, the team’s coordinatrice, another
two weeks before she would confront the press. 

From information in the “Berliner Zeitung” (March 10, 16, and
19, ’99) and “Die Welt” (March 8, ’99) evolves the following

The EU had the publication of the final report postponed re-
peatedly. March 5 became March 8, the date Ranta said she
would submit the report to the German EU Council Presidency
and added that “the German Foreign Ministry has taken respon-
sibility for deciding whether the report would be made public
or not.” A spokesperson for the ministry announced that only
after the report had been submitted would “there be further
thought about what comes next, how and when it will be made

Even though Helena Ranta explained March 2, that no more than
3 days would be required to wrap up the finishing touches on
the report, the March 8 submission of the report was also
canceled. Because of “unsolved technical details” the exper-
tise on Racak had to remain in the hands of the team of ex-
perts for at least another week, announced the Finnish For-
eign Minister, Ms. Tarja Halonen. 

According to circles within the OSCE, the Finnish expertise,
was at first withheld out of deference to the negotiations in
Rambouillet. Only after repeated inquiry in Helsinki and Bonn
and pressure from within the OSCE, did the German EU presi-
dency declare that the report would be handed over March 17,
– possibly in the assumption that the Kosovo Conference’s se-
cond round – having been originally planned to be limited to
March 15 – would in any case be over. 

Just before the expertise was to be officially handed over,
the “Washington Post”, in an apparent attempt set the tone of
the atmosphere, reported that the report confirmed that a
massacre had taken place in Racak. As the “Berliner Zeitung”
(March 19, 1999) observed: “Observers saw in this a direct
link to the hard negotiation line followed by the US in Paris
and were reminded of the role played by this journal in the
propagandistic preparations for the Gulf War 1991.” 

“Whether it was a massacre, no one wants to know anymore” was
the headline in the German journal “Die Welt” and quoted an
OSCE diplomat in Vienna as saying: “This report is a hot po-
tato, that no one wants to touch.” The head of the OSCE mis-
sion, William Walker, had again in February repeated, “It
will be confirmed that it was a massacre by the Serbs.” 

March 13 the “Berliner Zeitung” titled its article “OSCE re-
presentatives prove Walker wrong” and reported: 

 “The head of the OSCE Verification Mission in Kosovo,
the US American, William Walker, should be replaced as
soon as possible – according to the wishes of several
European states. As the “Berliner Zeitung” learned in
the lead up to the negotiations from OSCE sources in
Vienna, Germany, Italy and Austria demanded that
Walker leave. According to these sources, high ranking
European OSCE representatives have the evidence that
the 45 Albanians found in Racak in mid-January were
not civilian victims of a Serbian massacre, as Walker

 According to the OSCE, inside the organization it has
long since taken for granted that Racak “was a hoax
arranged by the Albanian side.” This conclusion was
arrived at on the basis of data from the communication
center of the Kosovo Mission, in other words in-
dependently from the awaited expertise of Ms. Ranta’s
team of experts. “Most of the dead were gathered from
a wide radius around Racak and deposited where they
were later found.” Most of the Albanians died in com-
bat under fire from Serbian artillery. Many were
“subsequently dressed in civilian clothes” according
to a representative of the OSCE. 

 This evidence concords with the Serbian version of
events in Racak: that the Albanians were killed in
combat between the KLA and Serbian units, and the
scene of a massacre arranged afterward from the Alba-

Up to the very end, Helena Ranta did not know if her team’s
investigation results would be made public, “The decision
will be made at the last minute when we see what happens at
Kosovo Negotiations in Paris.” 

From the time Helena Ranta took on the job as head of the ex-
pert team, she was repeatedly under pressure particularly from
the German government which at the time was president of the
EU Council. Also at the press conference March 17 in Pri-
stina, where the final report of the Finnish team was suppo-
sed to be transmitted to the German presidency of the EU
Council and the Serbian Circuit Court, she had to follow the
German ambassador’s instructions when she responded to que-
stions from the media. (“Berliner Zeitung”, 16.3.99) 

March 17 a written press statement was distributed that had
been prepared by the press department of the foreign ministry
in Bonn. The statement announced that on the same day, Dr.
Helena Ranta would transmit the Finnish forensic team’s final
report to the relevant Serbian officials. The following 5 pa-
ges are comments that were introduced with the following:

“These comments are based upon the investigation of the EU
team’s forensic expert in Pristina, as approved by the Cir-
cuit Court of Pristina in accordance with the Yugoslav penal
process standards. (…) The comments reflect the personal
opinion of the author, Dr. Helena Ranta and do not represent
an authorized statement from the Pathological Medicine sec-
tion of the Helsinki University or the EU forensic experts. 

These comments and the answers given by Helena Ranta during
the press conference in Pristina, were in the decisive points
kept so vague that no clear-cut conclusions could be drawn.
She declared “the garments most probably had neither been
changed nor removed”. This answer to the question of whether
a number of the dead had not been originally wearing KLA uni-
forms, as the Serbian side claims, is left as inconclusive as
that of the time of the victims’ death. According to Ranta,
“at best, it could be ascertained that the victims appear to
have died at around the same time”. 

Was it a “massacre”? Helena Ranta does not want to answer,
because “such a conclusion is not within the EU pathological
team’s competence. She refuted the “Washington Post’s” ar-
ticle, according to which the results of their investigation
confirm that a massacre had taken place in Racak. Under pres-
sure of persisting questioning she stated that the dead of
Racak were victims of a “crime against humanity”. The possi-
bility that the dead were inhabitants of Racak, who could
have gotten caught in a cross fire between Serbian units and
the KLA, she also did not want to exclude. Ranta also did not
contradict the Yugoslavian and Belarus pathological experts,
whose investigation arrived at the conclusion that the vic-
tims had not been shot at close range. 

The Pathologist Branimir Aleksandric, at the University in
Belgrade stated after Helena Ranta’s press conference that
she had only spoken in her name as a private person and had
not reflected the views of the Finnish team, led by the world
renowned Pathologist Antti Penttilä. From the medical stand-
point, her answers were kept so vague, one could surmise,
as if she wanted to avoid contradicting William Walker and
those who pull his strings. Her answers show also that she
does not know about gunshot wounds. “She is a dentist by pro-
fession. Her expertise in forensic medicine is limited to
identification. She is not competent therefore to give an
opinion on the mechanics of inflicting injuries, which is
what the Yugoslav, Belarus and Finnish pathologists were
entrusted with doing in their medical examination of the Ra-
cak bodies.” Her comments and answers along with the fact
that her name was missing on the 40 individual findings of
the Finnish team shows that their is a gulf between the pro-
fessional and the political in the Finnish team. (“Tanjug”,
March 8, 1999) 

Yugoslav and Belarus pathologists published the results of
their investigations already in February. These were carried
out in accord with the Finnish pathologists, even though at
the time they did not sign the reports. To consider the refu-
sal of the Finnish experts’ signatures as resulting from a
difference of opinion was repudiated by Helena Ranta, who in-
sisted that on the professional level there was no problems
in cooperation and that all had agreed on common methods and
procedures. The difference lay apparently only in the
time that the documents were signed. The Finnish team did not
want to sign solely on the basis of the autopsy, but wanted
first to perform a comprehensive evaluation of the data at
the Pathological Medicine section of the Helsinki University
before signing. 

The reports of the autopsies of the 40 bodies from Racak per-
formed by the Yugoslav/Belarus pathologists and those done by
the Finnish pathologists do not contradict one another.
(Both autopsy reports are at our disposal.) 

The following is a summary of the autopsy reports: 

*  The corpses show essentially no wounds other than gunshot
wounds (some light scratches and bruises etc. – only one
elderly male showed traces of a violent blow to the face
with a blunt instrument) 

*  3 corpses had been postmortem bitten by animals (head and

*  Gunshot wounds were the cause of death in all cases 

*  Both teams conclude: there is no evidence of wounds cau-
sed at contact discharge or close-range firing (only one
corpse showed the possibility that one of two gunshot
wounds could have been inflicted at a relatively close

*  In the reports of the Finnish team is repeated for each
case: “Based on the verified autopsy of (classification
number), the categorization of manner of death, as recom-
mended by the World Health Organisation, could not be de-
termined. On the basis of external findings, the appli-
cable alternatives are criminal homicide, war, or in-

*  None of the finds showed evidence of an execution. 

Strikingly the reports made no mention of results of examina-
tions for traces of powder on the hands of the corpses. This
would have furnished essential evidence about whether the
victims were unarmed civilians, as The Hague indictment
claims, or KLA guerrillas, whether it was an execution or
battlefield deaths. To such a question posed by a journalist
of the “Berliner Zeitung” (March 24, 2000), Helena Ranta re-
sponded that the Finnish team had not even examined the hands
for traces of powder. 

The KVM Report refers repeatedly to the decisive event that
determined the attitude of the “international community”, but
unlike William Walker, the report admits that the event in
Racak remains a mystery. Five months following NATO’s de-
struction of Yugoslavia, the “Berliner Zeitung” explains un-
der the headlines: OSCE will reopen the case of Racak; Euro-
pean Union report about the tragedy remains secret

 “The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe
(OSCE) will again concern itself with the case of the
corpses found in the Kosovo village of Racak in January
1999. This was announced in Vienna by the new OSCE Chairman,
Austria’s Foreign Minister, Wolfgang Schüssel, in answer to
a question posed by Willy Wimmer, Vice President of the OSCE
Parliamentary Assembly. Wimmer raised the question before
the Assembly’s Standing Committee, where he referred to
media reports concerning the Finnish Pathologist, Helena
Ranta’s return to Racak for new investigations, months fol-
lowing her having submitted her findings – still held secret
– to the European Union. In view of the significance the
finding of the corpses in Racak had for the developments
leading up to the Kosovo War, stressed Wimmer the necessity
for comprehensive clarity in the affair. Schüssel promised
to “examine the case.” 

The exact text of the final report, terminated in March 1999, has
yet to be rendered public. The Foreign Ministry of Germany, having
placed this report – made under the auspices of the European Union
– within the confines of the German Archive Law and is holding it
secret even from the other member states of the European Union. 

*  OSCE Mission: A House Divided 

As with the other Yugoslav civil wars, also the civil war in Serbia was seen by the US government as an opportunity for insuring
further its uncontested hegemony over its European allies through
the further extension of the power, prerogative and presence of
NATO under its leadership to also this region of Europe. 

The “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” (Dec. 12, 1998) wrote in its re-
port on the OSCE summit meeting in Oslo (Dec. 1998), “that some of
the delegations suppose that NATO and the USA, they wouldn’t put
it past them, only wanted to let the OSCE get engaged as ombudsman
in the Kosovo conflict, to set a trap: If also the OSCE, after al-
ready the UN has failed to measure up to Milosevic, is not up to
the task and fails, NATO can be left to pose as the last bulwark
and the primadonna. Such conspiracy theories nevertheless do have
grounds, the unarmed OSCE observers on the ground will hardly be
able to develop authority without NATO Operation Eagle-eye aerial

“At this time the media in the USA was applying pressure for mili-
tary intervention in Kosovo” wrote Heinz Loquai (ret. Br.Gen. of
the German armed forces and assistant to the German representation
to the OSCE in Vienna) in the “Blättern für deutsche und interna-
tionale Politik”, (Sept. 99). “The USA evidently also wanted to
establish a precedent for NATO’s military engagement outside of a
UN mandate. But not all European allies, at the time were in ac-
cord. Particularly France was blocking. Also in Germany there were
doubts. Besides, in Bonn a change of government was in the ma-

With the accord reached between Richard Holbrooke and Slobodan Mi-
losevic, October 13, 1998, under threat of a NATO aggression, the
US moved a step closer to its goal of direct NATO warfare against
Serbia. During his negotiations in Belgrade, Holbrooke insisted
that NATO augment the military pressure on Yugoslavia by threate-
ning intervention. Heinz Loquai explains further: 

 “Already Sept. 24, 1998 NATO unambiguously threatened the
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia with bombing attacks. Oct.
13, 1998 – the same day that the Holbrooke/Milosevic-Agree-
ment was reached – the NATO Council authorized the Secretary
General of the Alliance to give the go ahead for “bombing
attacks” against Yugoslavia – in other words, to begin the
war. This unmistakable threat of war, according to
participants in the negotiations in Belgrade, was what made
the Yugoslav leadership to yield. (…) During the ne-
gotiations the Yugoslav side repeatedly demanded the annul-
ment of NATO’s war threat. The threat remained intact. 

Milosevic accepted a strong OSCE presence in Kosovo, which
he before had always even in weaker proportions linked to
preconditions. The verifiers were assured full and unhinde-
red freedom of movement. The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
accepted responsibility for their security. She committed
herself to supporting the OSCE mission administratively in
its carrying out of its duties, to establish liaison posts
to the mission and to cooperate. Army and police must inform
the OSCE of troop movements. The armed forces and the
special police were to be reduced to a predetermined level.
This was concretized in a special accord Oct. 25, 1998.” 

Yugoslavia was forced to accept responsibility for maintaining the
peace and security in this region of Yugoslavia, while “agreeing”
to limiting its possibilities to do so, and thereby “accepting” to
leave the opposing partner in this civil war, a free hand to pro-
fit from all limitations imposed. It must be noted that the accord
was made only between Yugoslavia and the US, the NATO and the
OSCE. (The KLA was not only not a party to any of the accords nor
was the KLA even mentioned in the accords. The accords had no bin-
ding effect on the KLA. This means that Yugoslavia was even held
accountable for the consequences of KLA behavior.)

Such accords could not bring peace and stabilization to the re-
gion. The fact is, they created optimal conditions for the KLA to
continue its war against Serbia and its peoples. Racak must be un-
derstood in this context. 

Just a few weeks before the Holbrook-Milosevic Accord, “The KLA
appeared to have been completely eliminated as a result of the
Serbian summer offensive of 1998. Only to reappear like a phoenix
from the ashes, reorganized, with newer weapons and determined “to
draw NATO into its fight for independence by provoking Serb forces
into further atrocities” as a U.S. intelligence report frankly put
it. “More and more often KLA terrorists were seen in new German
camouflage uniforms – even bearing the black-red-gold emblem of
the German flag.” (Matthias Küntzel, Der Weg in den Krieg, pg.

The principal deputy Head of Mission of the KVM, the French diplo-
mat, Gabriel Keller explains: 

“The KLA never really tried, as a whole, to participate in
the improvement of the situation on the ground. Every pull-
back by the Yugoslav army or the Serbian police was followed
by a movement forward by its force, which the other side of
course considered as a violation of the cease-fire (or at
lease a violation of the commitment to restrain, for the KLA
did not sign a cease-fire). OSCE’s presence compelled the
state forces to a certain restraint, at least at the
beginning of our mission, and KLA took advantage of this to
consolidate its positions everywhere, continuing smuggling
arms from Albania, abducting and killing people both
civilians and militaries, Albanians and Serbs as well.”
(Keller Gabriel The OSCE/KVM: Autopsy of a Mission; Sta-
tement delivered by Amb. Gabriel Keller, principal deputy
head of mission to the watch group on May 25th) 

William Walker, having been picked by Madeleine Albright to head
the OSCE Kosovo Verification Mission (KVM), proved not the the
person to successfully handle such a delicate non-partisan job.
The German daily, “Die Welt” (Jan. 20, 1999) described William
Walker and his mission: 

“The 63 year old Walker until now had mostly been engaged in
Middle and Latin America to defend US interests. What has
made his name an evil omen for Belgrade is his deployment in

 “Walker had hardly arrived in Kosovo, when the Serbian lea-
dership began to complain that the entire OSCE mission was
only there for the purpose of fabricating excuses for a NATO
military intervention. The mission and Walker were accused
of systematically overstepping the bounds of their mandate. 

This was true. Under Walker’s leadership the OSCE mission
was experiencing what the Americans since the UN deployment
in Bosnia call “mission creep” – the slow, steadily creeping
change in the mandated profile of the mission. At first the
OSCE monitors were supposed to only be observing and
ascertaining if the cease-fire reached Oct. 12 is being
respected, or who is responsible for its violation. “

 “The monitors also did that. But they did much more. Repea-
tedly they transported wounded from both sides out of the
battle zone and mediated occasionally between Albanians and
Serbs to attain a return to the cease-fire. Following the
attacks of Serbian security forces since Sunday on the vil-
lage of Racak, the OSCE observers have been successfully
escorting refugees through Serbian police roadblocks. 

Racak has also become a symbol for the powerlessness of the
OSCE. And also for an almost cowardly behavior, that Wal-
ker’s more aggressive interpretation of the mission coun-
tered. First, after observers determined that a massacre had
been committed on more than 40 Albanians, Walker said
publicly that this is a war crime committed by Serbian se-
curity forces, for which Yugoslavia’s head of state, Slobo-
dan Milosevic could personally be held accountable. 

This statement confirmed the fears of the Serbs: Walker was
seeking grounds for a military intervention. The government
declared him persona non grata.” (Boris Kalnoky, “Die Welt”

With military-like hierarchical structures the KVM was tailored to
giving the Walker, the American “Head of Mission” (HOM) and his
closest deputies, the maximum of control over the mission. Wal-
ker’s deputy, Gabriel Keller, made the following critical observa-
tions of the mission under Walkers leadership: 

 “The political dimension of the mission was too small. (…)
Some of the mission members chose from the beginning to
adopt a very aggressive behavior with the official
[Yugoslav] authorities. The potential benefits of diplomacy
were thus deliberately sacrificed. (…) We never tried, at
the upper level of the mission, to associate the Yugoslavs
to our work. In the Regional Committees, such a work was
done, sometimes very successfully, which proves it was not
an impossible challenge. A growing number of mission mem-
bers, nationals of OSCE countries not belonging to NATO, who
did not approve this behavior, felt more and more un-
comfortable in a mission which did not reflect the sensiti-
vity of their countries. (…) 

“The even-handedness of the mission was questioned from the
very beginning. We never managed to clear this impression.
(…) After some weeks of our presence, the global image of
OSCE/KVM was to be anti-Serb, pro-Albanian and pro-NATO. It
was easy, when we drove through different parts of the
country, to guess by whom it was populated: in Serbian
areas, bad gestures and sometimes stones (…), in Albanian
areas, applauds, smiles and signs of victory. Nothing was
done to correct this image. 

“I would distinguish two periods in the mission’s life: be-
fore Racak and after Racak. Before the 15th January, every-
thing still seemed possible. Although difficult, some dia-
logue was possible with the Serbs, the level of violence in
the field was acceptable. (…) After Racak and the disa-
strous decision from the Yugoslav authorities to declare
[Walker] persona non grata, the mission faced crisis after
crisis. The already low level of confidence with the autho-
rities came down to zero. Our verifiers came more frequently
under threats from MUP and VJ. Access to wider zones were
restricted. More unjustified troop movements were observed.
On the other side, the level of aggressiveness by KLA
remained high: abduction of policemen, mine laying, murders
of civilians were more frequent after January 15th.” 

General Loquai explains further: 

“The developments show that the possibility of finding a pe-
aceful solution to the Kosovo conflict was existent. The
chance was within reach in the period from mid-October to
the beginning of December 1998. During these weeks the Fe-
deral Republic of Yugoslavia was embarked on a peace course.
The doves had evidently won the upper hand. It would have
been necessary to have brought – or forced – the Kosovo
Albanians also over to this course. A swift stationing of
the OSCE mission all over the area would have been able to
secure the route to peace. Neither was accomplished.” 

Evidently Walker did not intend to give “a peaceful solution” a

Walker and other American members of the mission had been under
suspicion of sabotaging the functioning of the mission to prepare
a justification for NATO to go to war. Recently it has been con-
firmed that there was a whole team of American intelligence agents
at work – against the OSCE and peace. The Sunday Times (London
March 12, 2000) provided the following information: 

“American  intelligence agents have admitted they helped to
train the Kosovo Liberation Army before NATO’s bombing of
Yugoslavia. The disclosure angered some European diplomats,
who said this had undermined moves for a political solution
to the conflict between Serbs and Albanians. 

  “Central Intelligence Agency officers were cease-fire moni-
tors in Kosovo in 1998 and 1999, developing ties with the
KLA and giving American military training manuals and field
advice on fighting to the Yugoslav army and Serbian police.

“When the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Eu-
rope (OSCE), which coordinated the monitoring, left Kosovo a
week before air strikes began a year ago, many of its sa-
tellite telephones and global positioning systems were se-
cretly handed to the KLA, ensuring that guerrilla commanders
could stay in touch with NATO and Washington. Several KLA
leaders had the mobile phone number of General Wesley Clark,
the NATO commander.

“European diplomats then working for the OSCE claim it was
betrayed by an American policy that made air strikes inevi-
table. Some have questioned the motives and loyalties of
William Walker, the American OSCE head of mission. 

“The American agenda consisted of their diplomatic obser-
vers, aka the CIA, operating on completely different terms
to the rest of Europe and the OSCE,” said a European envoy.
Walker, who was nominated by Madeleine Albright, the Ameri-
can secretary of state, was intensely disliked by Belgrade.
He had worked briefly for the United Nations in Croatia. Ten
years earlier he was the American ambassador to El Salvador
when Washington was helping the government there to suppress
leftist rebels while supporting the contra guerrillas
against the Sandinista government in Nicaragua. 

Some European diplomats in Pristina, Kosovo’s capital,
concluded from Walker’s background that he was inextricably
linked with the CIA. The picture was muddied by the conti-
nued separation of American “diplomatic observers” from the
mission. The CIA sources who have now broken their silence
say the diplomatic observers were more closely connected to
the agency.” 

  “It was a CIA front, gathering intelligence on the KLA’s
arms and leadership,” said one. (…) 

   “The KLA has admitted its long-standing links with American
and European intelligence organizations. Shaban Shala, a KLA
commander now involved in attempts to destabilise majority
Albanian villages beyond Kosovo’s border in Serbia proper,
claimed he had met British, American and Swiss agents in
northern Albania in 1996.” 

*  Overcoming hesitations in Washington: 

In the Clinton Administration, it was Madeleine Albright who cru-
saded for war against Yugoslavia, and finally won. Preceding the
Racak incident, the recognized US government policy had been for-
mulated in the classified strategy paper, known as the Status Quo
Plus proposal: 

“promote regional stability and protect our investment in
Bosnia; prevent resumption of hostilities in Kosovo and re-
newed humanitarian crisis; preserve U.S. and NATO credibi-

Racak changed that. With Racak, the policy of attempting to
“promote regional stability” was replaced with a promotion of re-
gional chaos through support for ethnic warfare. The “Washington
Post” (18.4.1999), sheds light on developments leading up to this
change of policy in the US administration: 

“Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright was pressing — and
losing, for the moment — a campaign to scale up U.S. and
NATO intervention in Kosovo. (…) Albright said muddling
through was not working, and the time had come to tie the
threat of force to a comprehensive settlement between
Serbia, the dominant Yugoslav republic, and Kosovo, its se-
cessionist province. (…) Albright, who used her seat at
the Cabinet table as U.N. ambassador to press unsuccessfully
during Clinton’s first term for earlier intervention in
Bosnia, saw Kosovo as a chance to right historical wrongs.
(…) By the first days of March 1998, the secretary of
state had begun a conscious effort, as one aide put it, “to
lead through rhetoric.” Her targets were European allies,
U.S. public opinion and her own government. (…) “

   In Washington, a defense policy official said Albright’s
[threats against Serbia made in talks with West European
allies] reverberated with some anxiety in the Pentagon.
“Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves in terms of making
threats,” he said of the atmosphere. Berger, at the White
House, was described by colleagues as worried about damaging
U.S. credibility by appearing to promise more in Kosovo than
the president was prepared to deliver. (…) 

 But the period between [June – September 1998] saw a furious
internal debate [in NATO] on whether the alliance could act
militarily without explicit authority from the Security
Council. On Sept. 24, a day after a carefully ambiguous
Security Council resolution, Washington finally persuaded
its allies to issue an ultimatum to Milosevic to pull back.
Oct. 13 brought the first “activation order” in NATO’s
history, a formal agreement to authorize the bombing of
Yugoslavia. (…) Warnings to the rebel leaders from
Washington restrained them somewhat, but they assassinated a
small-town Serb mayor near Pristina and were believed re-
sponsible for the slaying of six Serb youths at the Panda
Cafe in Pec on Dec. 14. (…) One U.S. official said, “one
of our difficulties, particularly with the Europeans . . .
was getting them to accept the proposition that the root of
the problem is Belgrade.” (Barton Gellman, “Washington Post”

To “draw NATO into its fight for independence” the KLA, like its
Bosnian and Croatian predecessors, uses the famous atrocity provo-
cation scenario. Racak is but the last of a series leading up to
the war. 

According to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (March 28, 2000)
Western diplomats confided to the KLA, that for less than 5,000
civilian casualties, there would be no western presence in Kosovo.
“Promptly the Albanians intensified their attacks against the Ser-
bian police, to get them to retaliate against civilians. Simulta-
neously they put pictures of massacres in the internet and sent
children before the cameras to tell stories about [war] crimes”. 

Gen. Loquai notes a change in developments: 

“Beginning in December (1998) the armed altercations became
more often. The Yugoslavian side called repeatedly for a
swifter stationing of the OSCE verifiers, accusing the in-
ternational community of working hand in hand with “Albanian
terrorists”. The Albanian leaders continued to proclaim that
their objective was the independence of Kosovo and to call
for the military intervention of NATO. Better commanded and
armed, they intensified their struggle with a “hit and run”
tactic. The Serbs struck back – often disproportionately
hard and went over onto the offensive. The October accords
were being respected less and less from both sides. 

Yugoslavia, frustrated with the attitude of the OSCE mission, be-
gan to reinforce the troops on the ground – in violation of the
accords. The “Washington Post” (Apr. 18, 1999) reported that Clin-
ton’s advisors saw no possibility of using this fact to mobilize
the allies. “You’re not going to get people to bomb over the spe-
cific number of troops.” 

The mood for bombing had to be created. The New York Times (Jan.
19, 1999) exposes clairvoyant capacities of Mme. Albright: 

“According to an Administration official Secretary of State
Madeleine K. Albright warned on Friday, a day before the
massacre [in Racak] became public, that the fragile Kosovo
agreement brokered last fall by an American envoy, Richard
C. Holbrooke, was about to fall apart. Ms. Albright told the
White House, the Pentagon and other agencies that the
Administration faced a “decision point” in Kosovo, the of-
ficial said. (…) She told others in the Administration
that Mr. Milosevic needed to realize that he faced a real
potential for NATO action, if he did not get that message,
he would not make any concessions, she argued”. 

The “Washington Post” explains that Ms. Albright realized that the
galvanizing force of the atrocity would not last long. “Whatever
threat of force you don’t get in the next two weeks you’re never
getting,” one adviser told her, “at least until the next Racak.” 

Madeleine Albright got what she wanted. The consequences will be
felt for generations to come. 

The scepticism concerning the “massacre” version became irrelevant
in the rapidly changing events leading to a war, long since plan-
ned and prepared. Even though it should have been clear that Racak
was needed to justify this aggression, there was no one on the po-
litical level willing to publicly demand a closer investigation.
The Walker/KLA version was allowed to predominate. This version
prepared the next stage: the Rambouillet ultimatum.