- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 13, 2002

The European Union yesterday told all countries hoping to join the bloc that they should not sign U.S. accords granting immunity to U.S. peacekeepers from the new International Criminal Court.
Yugoslavia said yesterday it would not sign such a pact.
The warning by European Commission President Romano Prodi to aspiring EU members followed an EU announcement of regret that Romania had become the first country to sign an ICC-immunity agreement with the United States.
"Other candidate countries which have also been approached by the United States, for now in any case, should not make any more moves to agree to sign such an accord," said a spokesman for Mr. Prodi in Brussels yesterday.
Mr. Prodi "would like that before going forward, the other candidate countries wait for a complete analysis to be completed by the EU" on the consequences of this type of accord, said the spokesman.
The 15 EU member nations are currently considering applications for membership by 10 former Soviet-bloc nations Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania and Slovenia as well as Cyprus and Malta.
A Washington spokesman for the European Union said the warning against bilateral immunity treaties with the United States was not a threat directed at aspiring EU members.
"There is no reason to believe if you don't comply [with the Prodi warning yesterday] something will happen to you," said the official, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
The United States has refused to sign the Rome Treaty creating the International Criminal Court, designed this year to try war crimes such as genocide. China, Russia and Israel have also refused to sign.
Fearing its peacekeepers abroad could be tried in a court that is not accountable to U.S. laws or officials, the Bush administration is seeking to negotiate treaties with each ICC member state to grant immunity to U.S. peacekeepers under Article 98 of the Rome Treaty.
Only Israel and Romania have signed such accords with the United States.
Yesterday the State Department repeated a warning that nations that refuse to grant Article 98 immunity to American troops might be barred from U.S. military assistance.
"If you look at the American Service Members Protection Act, there is a section that prohibits military assistance to a variety of countries or to countries that enter into the Rome Statute of the ICC," said spokesman Philip Reeker yesterday.
"These restrictions do not apply to assistance to NATO member countries or major non-NATO allies or others, and it also provides the president with the authority to waive these restrictions where a country has signed an Article 98 agreement and also in other cases where it's in the national interests."
Ambassadors from several countries have been invited to the State Department to receive similar warnings in the past two weeks.
Romania said Sunday its decision to sign the immunity accord with the United States did not undermine its loyalty to the European Union.
"It is wrong to speak of a conflict of interest, it is wrong to call into question our loyalty toward membership in NATO or the EU," Foreign Minister Mirco Geoana said.

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