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April 16, 1999: Committed to Peace in the Balkans

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To everyone here, I want to say that we will not rest until we achieve our goals. So that the killing stops. So that Serbian soldiers and police leave Kosovo. So that all the refugees can return with security and self-government. So that an international force can deploy to protect them. That has always been our goal, and before long, it will be their reality.

President Bill Clinton
April 16, 1999

Today, in Michigan, President Clinton met with Albanian Americans and relief organizations participating in the humanitarian aid effort in Kosovo. He also visited National Guard members and reservists at the Selfridge Air National Guard Base who are preparing to join NATO Operation Allied Force.

Presidential Leadership in the Balkans. The President's remarks focused on U.S. support for the international relief effort, new efforts to build temporary facilities for refugees in Albania, his reaffirmation to persist until we prevail in ending Milosevic's repression, and NATO's commitment to restoring a multi-ethnic, tolerant, inclusive democracy in the Balkans.

Providing Relief to Kosovar Albanian Refugees. President Clinton and our NATO allies have approved "Operation Allied Harbor," which will utilize 8000 troops, including 200 U.S. military personnel, to transport and distribute supplies to refugees in Albania. To date, the U.S. has contributed an estimated $150 million to the relief effort and has delivered rations, water, blankets, tents, plastic sheeting, hygiene kits and water containers to displaced persons in Macedonia and Albania. NATO is also exploring options for reaching the tens of thousands of refugees still trapped in Kosovo.

Pride in the Efforts of Our Military Men and Women. President Clinton commended the servicemen and women serving in Operation Allied Force. He expressed our nation's pride in their commitment to this important mission and thanked them for their personal sacrifices. And their commitment and sacrifices are paying off: after more than three weeks of airstrikes, NATO has weakened Serbia's air defenses, destroyed all of their fuel refineries, and directed attacks against Serbia's tanks, artillery, supply trucks, radar and missiles. This campaign will continue until NATO's goal is achieved: the withdrawal of Serbian security forces from Kosovo, the safe return of displaced Kosovars, and the placement of an international security force with NATO at its core to ensure that the Kosovars will be allowed to work peacefully towards self-government.

A Commitment to Restoring Peace and Freedom to Kosovo. The immediate goal of President Clinton and our NATO allies is to restore peace and freedom to the people of Kosovo, both Albanians and Serbs. Looking to the future, we are committed to restoring a multi-ethnic, tolerant, inclusive democracy to the Balkans. The United States can play a special role in restoring peace to the Balkans, as Americans with ancestors from Serbia, Albania, Macedonia, Bosnia, and every other country in the world work together to end the strife and divisiveness that have marked the past decade in Southeastern Europe.

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