ROBIN COOK, British Foreign Secretary: Last night Alliance forces
pursued our vigorous air campaign against Milosevic's war machine. The
new intensity of our air campaign represents a step change in our action
against the Serb forces in the killing fields of Kosovo. Last night
three times as many Allied planes were involved in operations over Kosovo
than last week. We had further success in targeting Milosevic's fuel
supply as part of our strategy of making it the vulnerable choke point
for his tanks and artillery. British Harriers and Tornadoes were in
operation last night as part of the allied effort, focusing again on
targets in Kosovo.
Yesterday I attended a meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers in Brussels.
The discussion was impressive for its strong sense of resolve. Every
Minister present supported the clear objective of securing the return
of the refugees to Kosovo under international military protection. Not
one Minister was prepared to contemplate anything less. Yesterday NATO
demonstrated its unity behind our objectives and our determination to
press home the military campaign until we have secured those objectives.
If President Milosevic had hoped that the Alliance would grow weary
of the struggle, or show a split between its members, he must be a very
disappointed man this morning. If he is ready to meet our objectives
he can have peace today, but if it is going to be a long haul then NATO
has demonstrated that we have the political unity and we have the military
strength to see it through.
The firm foundation for that Alliance unity is our common belief that
the revival of fascism which we have witnessed in Kosovo must have no
place in modern Europe. NATO was born in the aftermath of the defeat
of fascism and genocide in Europe. NATO will not now allow this century
to end with a triumph for fascism and genocide.
Fresh evidence continues to reach us of the brutal atrocities with which
Milosevic's forces have pursued their deliberate programme of ethnic
cleansing in Kosovo. We have known for some time that young men were
frequently separated from the refugee columns and were not seen again.
We are now getting a pattern of repeated reports that young women were
also separated from the refugee columns and forced to endure systematic
rape in an army camp at Jackovica near the Albanian border. This completes
the pattern of brutality of Milosevic's forces in Bosnia.
I was struck in my private conversations with a number of Foreign Ministers
yesterday that it is not just in Britain that we are seeing public support
for the military intervention increase, across the countries of the
Alliance, public opinion has registered a rise in support for the campaign,
reflecting the revulsion of decent people at the evil Milosevic has
wrought in Kosovo.
As we speak my colleague, Madeleine Albright, meets the Russian Foreign
Minister in Oslo. On Sunday I had a lengthy and a positive conversation
with Igor Ivanov. I stressed to him then that all the countries of the
Alliance want to keep open the door to dialogue with Russia. Russia
played a full part in the Rambouillet peace talks and helped us shape
the peace plan that we put to both parties. Russia was also clear in
pinning the blame for the collapse of those talks on the Serb side.
Russia would be made welcome if it is ready to join us in seeking a
just settlement of the Kosovo crisis. The starting point in the search
for such a settlement must be agreement on objectives.
I met yesterday after the end of the NATO meeting with Madeleine Albright.
I know that she goes to Oslo, strengthened by the strong, clear commitment
of NATO to reverse ethnic cleansing in Kosovo and to secure the return
of the refugees under international protection. We want Russia to share
those goals and to work with us to achieve them. If we can get the agreement
of Russia to the same objectives that could clear the way for a resolution
in the UN Security Council, where we already have the support of the
overwhelming majority of members, it would also enable us to explore
with Russia how they could make a contribution to the international
military force that can be the only credible guarantee of cease-fire
in Kosovo. Russia already works alongside NATO forces in Bosnia, we
have always made it clear they would be welcome if they were willing
to do so in Kosovo. But long experience with President Milosevic has
taught us that he will only start serious dialogue when he has been
forced to accept that he cannot get his way by force.
That is why the Alliance continues to step up its military assets in
the theatre. The first of the 8,000 additional NATO troops have arrived
in Albania and the first of the extra US warplanes are being deployed
to bases within range of Yugoslavia. HMS Invincible will be on station
in the region within 48 hours. Britain can be justly proud of the role
our forces have played in humanitarian relief for the victims of Milosevic's
ethnic cleansing. We continue preparations for the major British role
in the international force that will protect them when they return to
their homes and in this regard Tony Blair will be making a major announcement
in the Commons this afternoon.
As the Alliance gets stronger in the region, Milosevic's forces continue
to get weaker. While in Brussels yesterday I met with Jacob Kaznici,
the Deputy Political Spokesman for the KLA. He repeated the full support
of the Kosovo Albanians for the NATO campaign. He told me that there
are a number of reports coming out of Kosovo of increasing desertion
by Serb soldiers. These have led to confrontation between the Yugoslav
Army and the special police who have been turning soldiers back to the
front line. The Serb Army now knows it has no real protection against
our air attacks and spends most of its time hiding and worrying. The
growing strength of NATO's forces in the theatre increases the psychological
pressure on Milosevic and his military. They know that with every passing
day the balance further tilts against them. No wonder the Yugoslav Deputy
Prime Minister said yesterday: Serbia cannot defeat NATO. And those
extra resources that we are sending to the theatre also help us plan
for success. When the time comes for the refugees to return, we will
be ready to give them the international protection they will need.