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April 1, 1999: A Commitment to Bring Peace to Kosovo

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Our mission now is clear. To change Mr. Milosevic's calculations by exacting a punishing cost for his present policy of repression. To diminish his capacity to carry out that policy. To attack his military from the air when he wants to preserve it and conduct an offensive on the ground.

President Bill Clinton
April 1, 1999

Today, President Clinton travels to Norfolk where he meets with the families of military personnel serving in the Balkans, discusses our mission in Kosovo, and the reaffirms the dedication the United States and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies have to ensure that this crisis ends peacefully.

President Clinton Exhausted All Peaceful Ways To Settle This Crisis. President Clinton has spearheaded international efforts to achieve a durable peace in Kosovo through diplomatic means. In October of last year, the U.S. and our NATO allies brokered a ceasefire in the region that successfully reduced the violence, prevented it from spreading, and allowed hundreds of thousands of Kosovar Albanians who fled the fighting to return safely to their homes before the onset of winter. When the fighting again flared in January, President Clinton joined our allies in calling for peace talks in Rambouillet, France that ultimately led to the Kosovar Albanians signing a interim political settlement. When the Serbs failed to join the Kosovars at the bargaining table, President Clinton and NATO were left with no other choice but to begin an air campaign to degrade Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic's ability to wage war against the Kosovars.

President Clinton And NATO Are Committed To Bringing Peace To Kosovo. In today's speech, President Clinton will reiterate our firm resolve to exact a punishing cost on Milosevic for his actions and to stay the course until our objectives are met:

  • Our Goals are Clear. Force Milosevic to make peace that will give Kosovo the self-government and security they deserve or we will severally damage his capacity to conduct these actions now and in the future;
  • Our Message to Milosevic is Clear: We will not stand by and let you take these actions without exacting a heavy price. This message is unambiguous to Milosevic and others in the future who would challenge the authority of the international community and create such ethnic cleansing;
  • The Endgame. The conflict in Kosovo can end in one of two ways. It could end tomorrow, if Milosevic agrees to the settlement and embraces peace. Specifically it means Milosevic must agree to the framework of the Ramboulliet accords, which provides for Kosovar self-government and a NATO implementation force. If Milosevic does not choose this course, we will continue the NATO operation until his capacity to conduct operations against the Kosovars are seriously damaged.

Providing Critical Humanitarian Assistance. The actions of Serbia have led to a humanitarian crisis not seen in Europe since World War II. In response to these atrocities, the United States:

  • Has provided a total of $91 million in humanitarian assistance for Kosovo since early 1998 through funding of multilateral organizations and non-governmental organizations;
  • Is working with NGOs to redistribute approximately $8 million in NGO project funds suspended in Kosovo to efforts in neighboring countries;
  • Continues to deliver tents, winter clothing, medicine and food throughout the region, and has a Disaster Assistance Response Team on the ground in Macedonia;
  • Is providing $25 million from the Emergency Refugee and Migration Account (ERMA) to be dispersed to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees and other international entities involved in the relief effort;
  • Has approved $25 million from the Department of Defense, including, needed relief material, shelter, and food, as well as the transport of those materials and personnel into the region.

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