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May 20, 1999

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“We need to stay focused and patient in pursuit of our simple objective, to defend the right of a people to exist on their land without being subject to mass expulsion and mass murder.”

President Bill Clinton
May 20, 1999

Today, at the White House, President Clinton urged the Senate to approve supplemental funding to continue the air campaign, maintain military readiness and support humanitarian efforts in Kosovo. The President cited new evidence of Serb atrocities and pledged to continue the air campaign until NATO's conditions are met.

Urging Approval for Supplemental Funding. The President said that our efforts in Kosovo were strengthened by the vote in the House of Representatives to approve his request for supplemental funding. He urged the Senate to approve the measure without delay, in order to:

  • give our military the resources to continue its mission while maintaining military readiness;
  • allow us to continue to provide aid to the refugees until they can return home; and
  • assist neighboring countries who are feeling the brunt of the crisis.

New Evidence of Atrocities. President Clinton spoke of new evidence of atrocities committed against Kosovars, including some of the first photographic proof of massacres of unarmed people. According to refugee reports, Serbs continue to use ethnic Albanians as human shields to protect military convoys from airstrikes. Other reports of Serb activity in Kosovo include:

  • close to a million Kosovar Albanians forced from their homes;
  • mass executions in at least 75 towns and villages in Kosovo; and
  • systematic rapes; detentions; and burning and looting of over 500 villages.

Restating the Conditions for Peace. The President restated NATO's demands for an end to the air campaign:

  • refugees must return home with security and self government;
  • Serb forces must leave Kosovo; and
  • an international security force with NATO at its core must be deployed.

The President is committed to achieving a durable peace in the Balkans that meets these conditions, and NATO is determined to persist in the military campaign until it achieves these goals. He referred to reports of desertions in the Serbian Army, dissension in Belgrade, and unrest in Serbian communities as evidence that the campaign is working.

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