REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
ON THE SITUATION IN KOSOVO
The South Lawn
THE PRESIDENT: I want to give you a brief update aboutthat situation in Kosovo and make a few comments.
It is clear that Serb forces are now engaged in furtherattacks on Kosovar civilians. Already more than 40,000 Serb securityforces are poised in and around Kosovo, with additional units on theway. These actions are in clear violation of commitments Serbia madelast October when we obtained the cease-fire agreement.
As part of our determined efforts to seek a peacefulsolution, I asked Ambassador Holbrooke to see President Milosevic andmake clear the choice he faces. That meeting is either going on nowor should start in the next few minutes. If President Miloseviccontinues to choose aggression over peace, NATO's military plans mustcontinue to move forward.
I will be in close consultation with our NATO allies andwith Congress. Over the weekend, I met with my national securityteam to discuss the military options. I also spoke with other NATOleaders by telephone. There is strong unity among the NATO allies.We all agree that we cannot allow President Milosevic to continue theaggression with impunity. I have also sent a letter to PresidentYeltsin about the urgency of the situation.
Our objective in Kosovo remains clear: to stop thekilling and achieve a durable peace that restores Kosovars toself-government, the self-government that President Milosevicstripped away from them a decade ago. We and our NATO allies, andRussia, all agree that this is the right goal. The Kosovar Albanianshave accepted this course. Only President Milosevic and Serbia standin the way of peace. Serbia's mounting aggression must be stopped.
Since the adjournment of the peace talks in Paris lessthan a week ago, an estimated 30,000 more Kosovars have fled theirhomes. The number now exceeds more than a quarter of a millionpeople, one out of every eight people in Kosovo. Many of them noware in neighboring Albania, Macedonia and Montenegro, all of whichcould be quickly drawn into this conflict. So could other nations inthe region, including Bosnia where allied determination ended aterrible war, and our allies, Greece and Turkey.
Seeking to end this tragedy in Kosovo and finding apeaceful solution is the right thing to do. It is also the smartthing to do, very much in our national interests, if we are to leavea stable, peaceful and democratic Europe to our children. We havelearned a lot of lessons in the last 50 years. One of them surely isthat we have a stake in European freedom and security and stability.I hope that can be achieved by peaceful means. If not, we have to beprepared to act. Thank you.
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