|CLINTON ON KOSOVO|
April 28, 1999
President Clinton urged Congress to approve money for military and humanitarian efforts in the Balkans. Later in the day, the House of Representatives voted to limit the president's ability to send ground forces into Kosovo.
THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon. I just had a good meeting with a large
bipartisan delegation from both Houses of Congress on Kosovo. It was
our fourth meeting since the air strikes began. We spoke about the NATO
Summit, its unity and determination to achieve our objectives in Kosovo;
about the progress of our military campaign and the intensification
of economic sanctions; about the humanitarian challenge that we face
and the work that we and our allies are doing to meet it.
Our partners in Southeastern Europe, the frontline states, who are risking so much and who have borne such a heavy burden, have followed through on their pledges of support. We are also providing more funds to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, and to NGOs to deliver food and supplies to the refugees. Our Defense Department has found a site for the facility it will build in Albania for up to 20,000 refugees. We hope it will begin taking in refugees in about two weeks.
I spoke to members of Congress about all these efforts today. I told them that now is the time to pass the supplemental funding for Kosovo that I requested nine days ago. We need it to maintain our military readiness. Just as important, we need to sustain humanitarian relief and support for the frontline nations that have absorbed the brunt of this emergency.
Let me stress that my request fully funds our military and humanitarian
needs in Kosovo. Congress should resist the temptation to add unrelated
expenditures, even important ones, which could delay the process, because
that would undermine the very goals that this funding is intended to
meet. We must get a Kosovo funding measure passed and to my desk now.
Each day, our military campaign takes a toll on Serbia's machinery of repression. The Serbian leadership has failed to divide us and will not outlast us. The combined military might and moral determination of Europe and North America will endure.
We know what the final outcome will be. The Serbian forces will leave
Kosovo, an international security force will deploy to protect all the
people there -- Serbs as well as Albanians. And the refugees will return
with security and self-government.
Q Did you say you promised Congress you would ask
Q -- how can you say the strategy is working when 40,000 troops remain in Kosovo?
Q Mr. President, do you see any signs that Milosevic is losing his grip, sir? Any signs at all?
THE PRESIDENT: We have some indications that there are differences of opinion, obviously, developing in Belgrade, and we saw some of it public this week. There are some things that we know that I think I should not comment on. But the thing I want to tell the American people is, we know objectively what damage has been done. We know now we're going to be in a position to fly around the clock at lower altitudes from all directions in better weather.
Historically, the weather is better in May than in April, better in
June than in May, better in July than in June. And I feel very strongly
that we should stay with and be very strong in determination to pursue
our strategy, as well as the very important decisions we made at the
NATO conference to intensify the economic pressure. And I believe that
if we do these things, we will be successful.