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April 13, 1999: Working to Bring Peace in Kosovo

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We and our allies did everything possible to end this crisis peacefully, but now we are at arms. We and our allies are united on this point--we must stay the course and persist until we prevail.

President Bill Clinton
April 13, 1999

Today, at the White House, President Clinton met with Congressional leaders to discuss NATO's efforts to end Serb repression and ethnic cleansing of Kosovar Albanians, provide humanitarian relief, and restore democratic self-government to Kosovo. The President underscored his commitment to persist in the air strike campaign until the United States and our NATO allies prevail, and called for bipartisan support in Congress for our armed forces in the Balkans.

NATO's Military Strength Is Working. Three weeks of sustained NATO air strikes are diminishing Milosevic's military capabilities and damaging his apparatus of repression. The Yugoslav army and special police are now vulnerable to continual attack and degradation. The United States and our NATO allies have successfully attacked fuel and ammunition supply depots, lines of communication, and critical infrastructure. Other highlights include:

  • The Security Ministry headquarters, military training institutes, and aircraft manufacturing facilities have been targeted;
  • Yugoslavia's modern fighter inventory has been reduced by more than half;
  • Ten bridges have been damaged and destroyed, reducing the Yugoslav army's mobility;
  • Aircraft and helicopter repair capability have been severely degraded; and
  • Air strikes against radio relay sites have been effective.

NATO's Demands Are Clear. Milosevic can end the bombing and end the suffering of the refugees at any time by:

  • Withdrawing his military, police, and paramilitary forces from Kosovo;
  • Accepting the deployment of an international security force; and
  • Allowing the unconditional return of all refugees and unimpeded access for humanitarian aid.

Milosevic must take these essential steps as we move toward a peaceful, multi-ethnic, and democratic Kosovo, where Kosovar Albanians live with security and self-government.

Humanitarian Relief Efforts Are Providing Help To Kosovar Albanians. The United States and our NATO allies have continued to supply humanitarian relief to refugees driven from Kosovo by Milosevic's ethnic cleansing. Approximately 314,000 refugees are currently in Albania and another 116,500 refugees are in Macedonia. The Disaster Assistance Response Teams, who were dispatched by the President at the beginning of the Kosovo crisis, are now working closely with NATO forces to deliver relief supplies to refugees, including food, mattresses, blankets, hygiene supplies and field kitchens. On April 12, helicopters from the U.S.S. Inchon flew 24 missions and delivered 66,168 daily rations into Albania.

A Presidential Call To Action. President Clinton called on Congress to support our troops by fully funding the United States' military operations and our humanitarian efforts in the Balkans. The President announced that he will submit an emergency supplemental budget request to cover our military operations and humanitarian efforts. The emergency supplemental budget will also provide economic assistance to the front-line states--those nations bordering Kosovo that are struggling to cope with the waves of refugees crossing the borders and preserve their own stability in the wake of the crisis in Kosovo.

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